Morning came in laced with the sounds of traffic along Moda Caddesi and children shouting. Bright, angled sunlight along the sidewall of the room he’d chosen to sleep in and the reluctant conclusion that out here at the back of the apartment there was a school playground directly under the window. He pried himself out of bed, shambled about looking for the bathroom, stumbled in on a lightly snoring Ertekin in the process; she slept sprawled on her back with her mouth half open, long-limbed and gloriously inelegant in the faded NYPD T-shirt and tangle of sheets, one crooked arm thrown back over her head. He drank in the sight, then slid quietly out again, found the bathroom, and took a long, much-needed piss. A faint hangover nagged rustily at his temples, not nearly as bad as he’d been expecting. He stuck his head under a tap.
He left Ertekin to sleep, padded to the kitchen, and found a semi-smart grocery manager recessed in next to the heating system panel. He ordered fresh bread and simits both, not knowing Ertekin’s preferences, milk, and a few other bits and pieces. Found an unopened packet of coffee—Earth-grown, untwisted—in a cupboard and a Mediterranean-style espresso pot on the counter. He fired up the stove and set up the pot; by the time it started burbling to itself, the breakfast delivery was buzzing for entry down at the main door. He let them in, found a screen phone, and carried it through to the kitchen table. He unwrapped the simits—gnarled rings of baked and twisted dough, dusted with sesame seeds, still warm—broke one up into segments, poured himself a coffee, and went looking for Stefan Nevant.
It took awhile.
The duty officer at the internment tract HQ in Ankara wasn’t anyone he knew, and he couldn’t pull UNGLA rank because his operating codes were six months out of date. Naming friends didn’t help much. He had to settle for a referral to one of the site offices, where, apparently, Battal Yavuz was putting in some overtime. When he tried the site, Battal was out in a prowler and not answering his radio. The best the woman on site could do was take a message.
“Just tell him he’s a reprobate motherfucker, and a big bad thirteen’s going to fly right out there and steal his woman if he doesn’t call me back.”
The face on screen colored slightly. “I don’t think—”
“No, really. That’s the message. Thanks.”
Noises from the corridor. He cut the call and broke another simit. Found an unexpected grin in the corner of his mouth, frowned it away. Ertekin used the bathroom, went back to the bedroom by the sound of it, and for a moment he thought she was going to go back to sleep. Then he heard footfalls in the corridor again, approaching. He leaned back in his chair to watch her come into the kitchen. Wondering if she’d still be in the T-shirt. His hangover, he noticed vaguely, was receding.
She was dressed. Hair thickly untidy, face a freshly scrubbed scowl.
“Morning. Sleep well?”
She grunted. “What are you doing?”
“Working.” He gestured at the phone. “Waiting for a callback on Nevant. Why, what did you think? I’d skip out on you as soon as you passed out? Perfidious, self-regarding thirteen motherfucker that I am.”
“I didn’t pass out.”
“Well, you dropped your glass while you were resting your eyes then. I figured you’d finished drinking anyway, so I went to bed. How’s your head?”
The look she gave him was answer enough.
“Coffee still in the pot, but it must be nearly cold. I can—”
The phone chimed. He raised an eyebrow and prodded it to life. Ertekin busied herself with the coffee, and he dropped his gaze to the screen. A picture fizzled into focus, grainy with patch-through. Wide angle on an arid backdrop through the dust-plastered windshield and side window of an all-terrain prowl truck. Battal Yavuz in the driver’s seat, chubby features narrowed in peering disbelief.
“Carl? No fucking way that’s you.”
“The one and only.”
“They had you in a Jesusland jail, man. Di Palma told us. Special powers invoked, indefinite retention without trial. How the fuck you get out of that?”
“I got out of Mars, Battal. What did you think, Jesusland was going to hold me?”
“Man, you never know. They’ve got a history of that indefinite retention shit. Fucking barbarians.”
Across the table from him, Sevgi Ertekin snorted. Carl flashed her a quizzical look. She shrugged and sipped her coffee.
“So what are you doing in Istanbul, anyway? You coming out to visit?”
“Don’t think I’ve got time for that, Battal. But listen, I was hoping you could do me a favor.”
When he’d hung up, Ertekin was still slumped opposite, staring a hole in the bottom of her coffee cup. He eyed her curiously.
“So what was that about?”
“What was what about?”
He mimicked her snort. “That.”
“Oh. Yeah. Just kind of amusing to hear a Turk talking about someone else’s barbarism.”
“Well, he was talking about Jesusland.”
“Yeah, whatever.” She sat up suddenly. “See, Marsalis, my father left this country for a reason. His father and his uncle both died back on that fucking square in Taksim because the illustrious Turkish military suddenly decided freedom of speech was getting a little out of hand. You know, you fucking Europeans, you think you’re so fucking above it all with your secular societies and your soft power and your softly softly security forces that no one likes to talk about. But in the end—”
“In the end,” he said, a little harshly because Battal was a friend, and he didn’t have many, “Turkey’s still in one piece. They had a psychotic religious element here, too, you know, and a problem with rabid patriotic dogma. But they solved it. The ones who stayed, the ones who didn’t cave in to fundamentalist idiocy or just make a run for some comfortable haven elsewhere—in the end they made the difference, and they held it together.”
“Yeah, with some judicious funding from interested European parties, is what I heard.”
“None of which invalidates the fact that Jesusland is a fucking barbaric society, which you’re not from anyway, so what’s your point?”
She glared back at him. He sighed.
“Look. My head hurts, too, all right. Why don’t you talk to Battal when he gets here? He’s the one filled me in on local history, guy used to teach in a prison before he got this gig, he knows his stuff. He wrote his doctoral thesis on Turkey and the old US, how they were more similar than you’d think. Talk to him.”
“You think he’ll come here?”
“If Nevant comes, he’ll have to have an escort. And I don’t see Battal passing up the chance to see his teahouse friends in Istanbul at someone else’s expense. Yeah, he’ll come.”
Ertekin sniffed. “If Nevant comes.”
“Don’t worry about Nevant. Just the fact I’m asking for his help is going to be enough to get him here. He’s going to love that.”
“Maybe he’s going to love turning you down.”
“Maybe. But he’ll come here to do it. He’ll want to see my face. And besides—” Carl spread his hands, gave her a crooked grin. “—there’s a good chance this’ll be his only opportunity to get off the internment tract for the next decade.”
She nodded slowly, like someone assimilating a new concept. Gaze still on her coffee. He had the sudden, uneasy feeling that what she’d just grasped wasn’t much to do with what he’d just been saying.
“Of course,” she said, “there’s really no need for either of them to come here at all. We could just as easily have gone out to them, couldn’t we?” And her gaze flipped up, locked onto his face. “Out to the tract?”
It was only a beat, but she had him.
“Yeah, we could have,” he answered, smoothly enough. “But we’re both hungover, and I like the view from this place. So—why bother going there, if we can get him to come to us?”
She got up from the table and looked down at him.
For a moment, he thought she was going to push the point, but she just smiled, nodded again, and left him sitting there in the kitchen, memories of the tract and those he’d dragged back to it swirling through his mind in hungover free association.
He was still sitting there when Nevant called.