The clerk was not in the lobby when we returned from the beach. We were the only guests in the motel as far as we could tell. We all went to a room where the Americans carved a Jack-O-Lantern out of a large green squash because there were no pumpkins available and tried to explain Halloween to the Turks. It wasn’t easy.
At some point, after more Raki, Mila went to our room, undressed, and got into the shower together. We were doing more than showering.
Five or so minutes later, I heard a loud crashing noise coming from outside the bathroom. I pulled back the shower curtain and saw a sword slashing through the wooden door. The door came splintering off the hinges and I beheld the motel clerk, now dressed in traditional Islamic garb, wielding what I later learned was a kilij, an ancient sword from the Ottoman Empire with its distinct curved blade. It was ideal for slaying infidels.
Mila screamed. I closed the curtain.
The clerk swung the sword and cleaved the shower curtain and I knew my head was next. I stepped in front of Mila and prepared to parry the blow with a bottle of shampoo.
Mila screamed again and then bolted out of the stall. The water was still running. She startled the clerk and he lowered the sword. She grabbed a towel and covered her body. She grabbed another towel, wrapped it around her head like a hijab and then prostrated in front of the clerk. Mila was chanting something. The clerk calmed down and left the bathroom and out of the room. I turned off the water and donned a towel. Mila looked up at me and smiled.
The commotion alerted my colleagues and they rushed into our room. We told them what happened and Bilyun said it was possible the clerk would inform the local religious authorities and we could be arrested and jailed. A Turkish prison! My mind drifted toward The Midnight Express and Lawrence of Arabia and what happened in Turkish prisons.
We needed a plan! Mila and Bilyun conjured the idea to get out of the motel as fast as possible, catch the first bus to Istanbul (they ran 24 hours), and make our escape before the sex police paid us a visit. Bilyun also devised a plan to handle the clerk and gathered up all our unfinished bottles of Raki to present to him as an apology. We also put together a tight roll of American one-dollar bills to offer as a “tip.”
Bilyun grabbed a towel, whipped it around her head and went down to the lobby with the goods. She would apologize profusely to the clerk, hit him up with the greenbacks, and pour Raki down his gullet.
A couple of hours later, the clerk was passed out in the lobby and we slipped out the back without paying the bill. Two more hours and we were bumping down a road in a mini bus at first light, hungover to the roof. Mila sat on my right. A woman holding a chicken sat on my left. Every now and then Mila would grip my hand. I would turn to her and smile.
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