It was early evening when Jordan pulled up at the hotel. Maybe hotel was too grand a name, but no one was complaining. They were just wondering how they'd pay Jordan back. A meal in a restaurant and now a night in a hotel.
The boys followed Jordan inside and waited while he registered then got the key. They were thrilled as they climbed the winding staircase to the first floor.
Firas was bumping shoulders with Samir, while Amar was talking to Jordan. "This is really good," he told him, "hard to believe I'm not dreaming."
Jordan looked at him and smiled, at the same time he couldn't help but notice how excited the other two were. He put the key in the lock, turned it, and pushed open the door. Stepping aside he nodded. There was a mad rush as they all tried to squeeze through the doorway and then just stood there looking.
Jordan followed them in, closed the door and stood behind them. Two large beds were separated by a little bedside table, an armchair was placed in one corner by the window, and a little dresser with a mirror stood against the opposite wall. It looked to Jordan like the stage set from an old black and white movie, one ravaged by the passage of time.
"Well, I guess one of you will have to share with me," he stepped over to the bed, sat down, and dropped his bag on the floor. He looked up, watching them decide.
There was no real decision to make. Amar went and sat on the bed opposite and Samir joined him.
Firas took a step towards Jordan. "Oh come on." Jordan smiled patting the bed with his hand." I ain't gonna bite you."
Firas sat down beside him and as he did so Jordan grabbed him and tickled his side. Which immediately relaxed Firas, and made Samir giggle. Jordan stopped tickling Firas, who was half-heartedly pushing him away to escape the playful onslaught. Although he didn’t really want to, because he too was enjoying the moment.
Amar thought this was the first time he'd ever seen Samir so happy.
"Okay, so I'm sure everybody's hungry. Right?" Jordan glanced at Amar and Samir. Samir smiled shyly, but Amar stared down at the floor. He was finding this difficult.
Amar had conflicting emotions. He was happy for Samir and Firas, he wanted to enjoy everything they had suddenly been given. Somehow though, he just couldn't help thinking it would end badly. For one thing, even if Jordan was one of those very rare nice guys, like Ayberk, and didn't want paying, it would all end soon. Tomorrow, or the day after, Jordan would go to the airport to catch his plane home.
Jordan knew that mixed with their excitement and obvious happiness there was something wrong. He decided to ignore whatever it was. "Come on." He stood up." Let's go find something to eat."
That was probably the best thing to do, because the boys simply followed his lead. They left the room, walked out of the hotel, and down the street towards the busy main road a few hundred meters further on.
At the first street side café, Jordan stopped and looked at the variety of food displayed behind the glass counter in front of them. It was an explosion of colours and aromas, delicate exotic flavours hovered in the air. The boys surrounded him, a pair on one side, and Firas on the other. Without asking them, he ordered lahmacuns for each of them and three ayrans for the boys, a beer for himself, and then turned to find a table. Arranged in a long row, the tables led away from the street into the back of the cafe. They took their place at the first empty table, nearest the entrance.
Firas sat next to Jordan, with Amar and Samir opposite. They weren't kept waiting long before the food and drinks arrived. Lahmacan is a kind of Turkish pizza, mincemeat and thinly chopped vegetables on a doughy bread usually topped with parsley. To eat it you roll it up to make a sort of sandwich. Ayran is a cold yogurt drink.
Needless to say, the boys lapped it up; Jordan couldn't help noticing the speed with which they ate. It was almost as if they thought it might disappear off the table before they got to eat it. The cold Ayran was a good choice as it contrasted nicely with the spicy meat.
With their stomachs full, they headed back to the hotel. Amar and Samir following behind Firas and Jordan, who had his arm over the boy's shoulders. Once back in their room Jordan suggested they take a shower. He handed out one towel to each boy and then held his arm up with the bar of soap, "Who's first then?" he asked.
Amar piped up. "Samir and me."
Jordan thought it was kind of cute the two of them wanted to shower together. But not wanting to be left having to share the shower with Firas, he suggested, "Why don't you all go together. It's at the end of the hall." He handed the soap to Amar.
Jordan lay on the bed propped up on the pillows, with his hands folded behind his head. He wondered what he could do to help these boys; for the moment, he had no idea. Never in his life had he been in a situation like this.
Jordan was the first to wake. He found Firas had snuggled up next to him with one arm lying across his side. Looking over to the bed opposite, the other two boys were asleep together. Amar was facing away from Jordan; his back uncovered and the sheet resting halfway down. For a minute, he just took in the scene, which was somehow very peaceful and beautiful. It put him in a good mood for the day.
Carefully, he removed Firas' arm and slipped out of bed. He'd slept in his boxers, but like usual they did not really cover his morning wood. It crossed Jordan's mind that it might be embarrassing if the boys were awake. For some reason he had a sort of guilty feeling, even though it seemed perfectly normal.
He grabbed his toothbrush, towel and soap, then closing the bedroom door as quietly as possible made his way down the corridor to the bathroom.
On his return, he opened the door to find all three of them up and getting dressed. "Hey, morning, guys," he said, closing the door behind him.
"Morning, Jordan!" That was Firas smiling at him.
"Good morning, Mr. Jordan," That of course was Amar, laughing at his own joke.
Jordan sat down on the bed next to Samir, who looked up and smiled. "Look, when you're ready, we'll head off and we might actually make it to Antalya by lunchtime. What d'ya think?"
It was Amar who answered. "Head off," he said. "No, no, Mr. Jordan. I want my head on."
The other two joined in his laughter. Jordan stood up, grabbed Amar in an arm lock round the waist, and pulled him down on top of him on the bed. "You really are the joker this morning,"
"What me?" Amar said in between his giggles.
Jordan let go of Amar, stood up again, and smiled. "Yeah you, mister."
Why was everybody so excited Jordan wondered? Never mind, it was good they were all in a happy mood. "Okay, come on then. Get your stuff and let's go."
Ten minutes later, they were in the Jeep heading out of town on the main road to Antalya. Firas switched the radio on and found a station he liked. The sun was out and it felt like a perfect day. The female voice from the speakers undulated in that typical fashion of eastern music. Jordan smiled looking at the text display on the radio, which announced Yanki - Simge. Firas swayed from side to side in rhythm with the song and the other two waved their arms above their heads. 'Brilliant title for a song,' Jordan thought, even if he couldn't understand the words.
By early afternoon, they had covered the remaining distance to Antalya and Jordan got Firas to navigate to the address where he had to deliver the Jeep. It took a few wrong turns, lots of arm waving on the part of Firas, and lots of laughter coming from the back seat, before they finally found it.
"You all wait here for me," Jordan told them as they stood in the street in front of the building. "I shouldn't be too long, then I'm coming back to get you and we'll find a room for tonight."
Samir gave him a beautiful smile, which for some unknown reason made Jordan just want to hug him. Instead, he put a hand on the young boy's shoulder and gave him a friendly squeeze. Turning to Firas and Amar, he repeated, "You wait here."
They both nodded and he disappeared into the building. The address was on the first floor, so finding the staircase he climbed up quickly to a corridor, then followed the sign pointing left. It was a frosted glass door with black lettering that announced 'Christian Aid'.
Once inside he faced an empty desk and a room filled with cardboard boxes piled everywhere. There were three doors, two to the rear and another glass door on the right, which was half-open. He heard voices from beyond the door, a man and a woman. Just as he was deciding whether to enter, a woman emerged, stopping short when she saw him.
"Uh, sorry," he apologised, seeing that he'd startled her. She had a pile of files in her arms. "I'm Jordan, Jordan Mason."
The woman observed him a moment before moving across to the desk and dumping the files on top. Quickly recovering her composure, she addressed him, "And what can we do for you, Jordan?"
The woman was quite stunning, a little dishevelled, probably from carting stuff around, but that only made her more attractive. He realised that he was looking at her just a little too long when she smiled and repeated, "Oh, Jordan?" That was his wake up call.
"Yeah, I... I uh," he stuttered and felt the heat in his face, he was sure he was blushing. If she noticed, the woman gave no hint, but just maintained her smile and nodded.
"I have a Jeep outside that I'm supposed to deliver here. I've come from Gaziantep."
"George!" she called in the direction of the office. "Jordan is here with the Jeep, from..." She turned back to him. "Where did you say you were from?"
"Oh yes... From Gaz-nan-tap!" she added for the benefit of George.
A man with greying hair and glasses appeared at the inner doorway, walked over and held out his hand. "Welcome to Antalya young man. I'm sorry, but as you can see things are a bit chaotic. Would you be so kind as to give the keys to Mandy?"
Jordan reached into his pocket and pulled out the keys to the Jeep. Mandy took them from him. "What am I supposed to do with these George?" she asked somewhat annoyed.
"You just keep them in your desk for now," he replied sympathetically, as if he was very used to smoothing her ruffled feathers.
"Come in, Jordan," he turned back into his office. "Move those," he indicated more files on a chair in front of his desk. "Sit down."
Jordan did as instructed, looking around with the pile of files in his hands for somewhere to put them.
"Just dump them anywhere," George said. Then added, "On the floor."
Jordan disposed of the files and sat down, whilst George took his seat behind the desk and opened a drawer. He removed an envelope, which he pushed across the desk to Jordan "This is your ticket," George announced, "There has, however, been a change of plans."
“But... I am supposed to be on a plane home tomorrow!”
"Your Uncle Ted contacted us. He is apparently on a cruise of the Mediterranean and is presently moored somewhere on a Greek island. Anyway, all the details, and some money, are in there." George tapped the envelope with his finger. “So instead of going straight back home, your uncle thought it would be nice to see you, and we've changed your ticket for Greece."
Jordan couldn't say anything, it was a fait accompli. He needed a minute to let the news sink in. He knew his Uncle Ted had a yacht, but he hadn't seen him in well over a year. Still, they always got on very well together and he thought it could be quite nice relaxing on a yacht.
"It's not too far then?" Jordan asked.
"No, a short hop on the ferry I think." George told him. "It's all in there, telephone numbers, directions, everything. Now if you would excuse me." George stood up and stretched out his hand.
Jordan shook hands for the second time in ten minutes, stood up, and picked up the envelope. As George showed him back out, he glanced over towards Mandy at her desk, but she didn't even look up.
The boys were waiting for him outside, exactly where he'd left them. It was then he remembered George had never given him time to ask about a hotel, somewhere he might find good but cheap accommodation for tonight. 'Oh well,' he thought, 'never mind.'
"Right let's get something to eat," Jordan announced to the three of them.
After ten minutes walking, they turned onto a busy street lined with shops and street side cafes like the one from yesterday. "Great," Jordan said expressing out loud what he was thinking. The boys followed him into the cafe, which this time was quite crowded. They took the last table right at the back.
Firas accompanied Jordan to the counter, leaving the other two guarding their seats. With assistance from Firas, they chose Gozleme, a delicious flat bread filled with lamb, goat’s cheese, herbs, and spices. Jordan ordered tea to drink, although he saw Firas eyeing the cans of soda.
Whilst everybody was busy eating like starving animals, Jordan looked on, trying to think about what would happen next. When they'd finished and were drinking their tea, he removed the envelope George had handed him, from his pocket. He flipped it open and peered inside. There were two wads of bank notes, Turkish Lira and Euros, and two sheets of folded paper, a letter.
Removing the letter, he replaced the envelope and money in his pocket. He opened it and started reading. None of this went unnoticed by any of the boys; although they could not have seen the envelope contained money. Whilst sipping their tea, they observed Jordan as he read the letter.
Martha and I are cruising the Med on The Valiant. We are currently berthed in Crete, where we intend spending a few days or more visiting the island. We both thought it would be lovely to see you, and given that you are not that far away, we contacted the office in Antalya.
In the envelope we sent you is some money and a ticket for the ferry which runs between Bodrum and Kos. I know it’s a long ride from where you are to Bodrum, but then just a short boat trip to the Greek island.
By the time you arrive in Kos we will be there, moored at the marina. That is only a mile from where the ferry docks. When you get here just ask at the office where we are berthed as we won't know until we arrive.
We are both very much looking forward to seeing our nephew, and it will be nice to spend some time together. Mom and dad said to say hi!
See you soon,
Martha & Ted xx
By the time he'd reached the end, all eyes were on him when he looked up. "Ah ha!" He smiled. "I bet you all want to know what's going on?"
Amar was the first to speak. "Only if you want to tell us... Mr. Jordan."
Firas who was sitting next to Jordan, nudged him with his elbow. "Yeah, only if," he said looking up at him and smiling.
"You're terrible boys. You know that?" He looked at Samir who stared back at him, with a big grin on his face. It seemed to Jordan that in the short time they had been together, the youngest of the three boys, Samir, had opened up. "We'll talk about things tonight, after I find us somewhere to sleep. But for now, I'm not flying home, I'm going to see my uncle who's in Greece, which is not so far away."
"Your uncle," Firas replied.
"In Greece," Amar chipped in. "That's next to Turkey," he added.
"It's Europe!" Firas exclaimed excitedly.
"Yes, I know that," Amar replied.
All the while Samir just looked on smiling; turning his head to watch first one boy then the other, finally back to Jordan.
"Yeah, yeah, okay," Jordan stood up. "Let's find a hotel."
Before they left Jordan went over to talk to one of the guys serving behind the counter. He thought he might be able to give him directions. He was in luck, because the Turkish guy was a student who spoke enough English to converse. Jordan got the name and a roughly drawn map to the recommended establishment.
As he was leaving, directions in hand, the young Turkish student asked him, "What is this story with these boys?"
"Good question," Jordan turned back smiling. "I don't know how to get rid of them.”
As he stepped out into the busy street, the guy called after him, "Good luck!"