Copyright © 2017-2018 William King. All Rights Reserved.
The phone was ringing... Amelie learned over to pick it up. Bazyli said he would ring in the evening.
“So did you get everything you needed?”
“Yes,” she told him without elaborating.
He sensed things weren't quite right. “Yes, that's it? What’s the story?”
“I’m just starting something, but it’s complicated.”
“That's what people say when they don't want to tell you anything.” He paused, took a breath, she listened. Of course he was exactly right, she didn't want to tell him.
“Are you okay? You sound kinda odd?”
“It's been a long day, and emotional.”
“I understand,” he said sympathetically. “It's always like that, refugees equal harrowing stories.”
It was much, much, more than that. She was prepared for some terrible histories, but not something that concerned people she felt she knew. And absolutely not to hear that one of those kids whose story she already knew a great part of, was dead.
Dead, killed in some stupid incident that should never have happened.
“You still there?”
“Yes, sorry.” She had to pull herself together.
“Okay, so I'll pick you up at ten tomorrow, at the hotel, and we will go and see Ariana.”
“I need you to do something for me.”
“Can you find out who the police Captain was that was involved recently in a hit and run where a refugee, a Syrian boy called Amar, was killed?”
“You know about It?”
“Of course... everybody knows about it, but I thought the kid was in a coma in hospital.”
“I’ve been told he died. I really need to find out. And I need to talk to that police Captain.”
“Okay. I'll make some calls and phone you back later. Will you be there?”
“I meant in your hotel room. I thought maybe you would go to eat.”
“I don't feel much like eating.”
“Okay, I'll call you later.”
The phone went dead, she put the receiver down and collapsed back on the bed. Staring up at the ceiling she wished that he would call back to say it was all a mistake and Amar was okay. That she thought was not very likely.
It was much later when Amelie was startled from sleep by the phone ringing for the second time that evening. She picked it up quickly, knocked back into consciousness, everything had been playing in her head, she needed confirmation about Amar.
“Sorry it’s late,” Bazyli apologised.
“It doesn't matter,” she was anxious to discover what he had found out.
“You're right. I'm sorry. The boy died, he never came out of the coma. I'm really very sorry.”
There was a silence, but he could hear her breath, or was it tears.
“We can go and see Alex. Tomorrow afternoon. He's the captain in charge, Alexio Constantinou.”
“Thank you Bazyli. I'll see you tomorrow, right now I have a call I need to make.”
“Goodnight.” He knew she was upset, but he didn't know what to do.
Amelie composed herself, plucking up the courage to make the telephone call.
“Mason residence.” It was Jordan's mum who answered the phone.
“Mrs Mason, it’s Amelie, you remember me, the Canadian journalist?”
“Yes of course I remember you Amelie,” she replied cheerfully. “Where are you? I thought you would be in Greece?”
“I am. That's where I’m calling from.”
“Is everything alright?” There was genuine concern in her voice.
“I'm fine Mrs Mason, but I need to speak to Jordan, I'm afraid I have some bad news. Is he there?”
“Yes. Just a minute. I'll get him.”
Amelie heard Jordan's mom call him, saying Amelie was on the phone from Greece.
A few seconds later Jordan came bounding in and his mother handed him the phone. She didn't want to eavesdrop on the conversation, but she was concerned when Amelie had announced she had some bad news. So she sort of hovered at a discrete distance out of earshot.
“Amelie how goes it?” Jordan sounded happy. “What you doing calling me from Greece?”
Amelie took a deep breath, but even so her voice trembled and tears welled up in her eyes. “I'm sorry,” was all she could get out before she had to pause.
A cold shiver passed straight through his body, he felt himself sag, he had to literally lean against the wall to support himself. His mother watched, saw him half collapse, the phone shaking in his hand. He knew, at that moment he just knew. Amelie didn't need to say anything. It was as if he was touched ever so lightly by a feather. A tiny breeze that caressed his cheek.
The rest of the conversation passed in a haze. He took in what Amelie was telling him as she tried to relate the facts about what happened, but very soon they had to agree to speak again tomorrow. It was just too difficult.
As he put the phone down he sank to the floor and buried his head in his knees. His mother sat on the floor next to him and put an arm around his heaving shoulders. The tears just flooded out. It was exactly like when he was a little boy and fell over, came crying to his mom for her to comfort him.
“Are you okay?” Bazyli had spotted Amelie sitting in the hotel lobby.
She gestured to him to take a seat next to her.
“Last night I had to make one of the most difficult calls I have ever had to do.”
She went on to explain briefly about Jordan and the boys. Bazyli listened, occasionally nodding, but not interrupting.
“That's some story,” he concluded when Amelie had finished.
“I guess we should get going?” Amelie glanced at the rather large round clock above the reception desk. “It's quarter to ten.”
Conrad and Catherine looked at each other as they sat at the dining table watching Jordan move the food around on his plate. His mother finally broke the dreadful silence and spoke.
“Jordan, you really should eat something.”
His father was at a loss for words, he was wondering what they should do. It was obvious this had hit Jordan very hard, and he could see why that would be. He kept thinking that they had made a big mistake. That if they had never allowed him to go to Turkey then none of this would have happened. But you can't keep your kids cocooned all their lives. He's twenty-one years old, twenty-two next month!
“I'm not hungry mom.”
Then his father made a bold move. He even surprised himself, because he wasn't the kind of person to make snap decisions. No, he was very much like his brother Ted in that respect, level headed. They would both weigh up the alternatives, consider the pros and cons, before arriving at a decision. But, exceptional circumstances called for a new approach, and whilst normally he would have discussed this with his wife, this time he just threw the idea out on the table.
“How about we get you a ticket and put you on a plane to Athens?”
Catherine was surprised, but Conrad was looking at her when he said this, and a sort of silent agreement passed between them.
Jordan was completely taken aback. “Really?”
“Yes, why not?” His father now turned his gaze on his son. “We know how much these boys mean to you, and... well, you may not be able to right all the wrongs in this world, but I don't see why the hell you shouldn't try. And if the only thing that comes out of it is that you get to see... What were they called? Oh yes, Samir and Firas. Well it will be money and time well spent .”
“I agree with your father. Let's do it. Just one thing Jordan.”
He looked at her, “What's that?”
“Don't try smuggling them back when you have to come home.” She smiled, and Jordan watched his father reach out and take hold of his mom's hand.
He wondered just how much they knew about what he had done to help the boys get to Greece, and how they might have found out more than he had actually let on. But it didn't matter, what was important was that they were allowing him to go to Greece.
“Don't worry, I won't do anything stupid.” Jordan assured them.
Ariana greeted them with a wonderful smile and an air of concern for Amelie, it was obvious she knew what had happened.
“We can find a quiet corner in the canteen,” she was addressing Amelie more than Bazyli. “It's never very busy at this time.”
Amelie instantly took a liking to Ariana, she was one of those people who was just, well, nice. She was agreeable to be with, and it was evident that Bazyli felt the same. He kept glancing at Ariana as they spoke. ‘What is it with those two,’ Amelie wondered.
They spent nearly two hours together, just up until people started coming in and the place began to fill up for lunch.
Ariana explained everything she knew about what had happened on the night Amar was brought into the hospital. She had received a call from the police, to see if she was available to help if they needed a translator.
Amelie wanted to know where Samir was. Ariana told her he was in the Aghia Sophia Children's Hospital which had a facility for dealing with children with psychiatric problems. She also gave Amelie the name of a doctor whom she knew worked there and should be able to help.