Copyright © 2017-2018 William King. All Rights Reserved.
Things became hectic over the weekend. Amelie phoned Bazyli who gave her the number of a friend with a cheap apartment he was leaving. They needed to contact him soon to go and look at it, because if it was okay for them, that would solve the accommodation problem. Doctor Jukas called and arranged for them to come and see Samir at the hospital. She thought it would be a good idea if they spent the afternoon together as a group, and if they could tell Samir about the death of Amar.
That was going to be difficult, how they would ever manage to do it neither Amelie nor Jordan knew. Doctor Jukas would of course be there, but she said it would be so much better if this came from friends. If, and it was a really big if, everything went well, she could fix a date for Samir to be discharged from the hospital.
With all this going on, Amelie had no time to talk about Mrs. Westmuller and Jeff and Alec. They wanted to spend as much time as possible with Firas, which meant all weekend. He, after all had no one. Rifat and Halil had each other and their family, even if their family were back in Turkey.
They met Firas Saturday morning at the camp, had tea together with Rifat and Halil, then the three of them went into town. Jordan wanted to get clothes for Firas, nothing special, just new jeans and a t-shirt. He thought it would take their mind off things, sort of get everything more normal. During the shopping trip, and over lunch somewhere, they could talk about what was going on.
The shopping went very well, Firas was over the moon to be with Jordan again, and he soon found a pair of Levis he liked. They were a compromise between classic jeans and that washed out with holes look. So they were a little faded, but smart enough to look presentable on a sixteen year old. The t-shirts were easy, Jordan just insisted they ignored the provocative slogans, so no I'm F**king Great! or Suck This. How parents would ever let their kids walk around with slogans like those blazoned across their chests, Jordan couldn't imagine. His own mom and dad would have a fit.
Firas took a fancy to one of those hoodies that are ever so popular. Amelie and Jordan decided it was okay so long as he didn't walk around all day long with the hood over his head. Firas laughed and pulled the hood over his head. “You mean like this?” He danced around in the shop until they caught hold of him. Jordan pulled the hood off and Amelie playfully slapped his butt.
“Ouch!” He said feigning injury, but Jordan and Amelie laughed. He had to promise to not put the hood up.
They found a little café-bar-restaurant for lunch, and sat at a table out on the terrace shaded by a wooden pergola with twisted vines growing all over. Little green bunches of grapes hung down here and there, but it was too early in the year for them to be ready. Nevertheless, it was quite picturesque; they could almost be a family on vacation.
“Firas,” Jordan began, having decided to broach some serious stuff.
“Yes,” he replied looking up from his burger and fries.
“I need to talk to you about some important things, serious things, and man to man.”
Amelie remained silent. Firas stopped eating for a moment, looking directly at Jordan.
“Don't worry, it’s nothing bad.”
He seemed relieved to hear that and went back to finishing off his fries.
“First I...” he glanced over at Amelie. “We, need your help. The doctor looking after Samir would like him to be able to leave the hospital. Before he can there are some things that need to be done.”
Firas finished his plate, took a drink of his Coke and turned to regard Jordan.
“We need to go and see some accommodation that Amelie has sorted out for us, to see if it’s okay.”
He smiled at Amelie, then turned his attention to Firas.
“Then, and this is where we need you, we have to go and see Samir, and...” He paused, thinking what, or rather how he should say the next part.
Firas who had been silent up to this point thought he knew what Jordan wanted to say.
“And,” Firas interrupted. “We need to tell him about Amar.”
Jordan looked away, this was difficult, he was still emotionally raw. It was hard to look at Firas and still keep things together. Despite the reassurance from Amelie, he was unable to believe he was not personally responsible for what happened. In some way, he blamed himself because he brought the boys to Greece and left them alone on the island of Rhodes.
“It's not your fault, Jordan,” Firas told him.
Was this boy psychic, or what? ‘How did he know I was thinking like that,’ Jordan said to himself.
“We will do it together. It will be all right. You will see. It will.”
Jordan could have cried, but he held his emotions in check. This boy was just... simply, completely, too much.
Amelie intervened to ask Firas if he wanted dessert, and when he understood what dessert meant, he smiled a huge grin and nodded his head vigorously. Over chocolate, vanilla, coffee ice cream, with chocolate chips, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream, it was difficult for Jordan to stop smiling as he tackled the next big issue.
He briefly explained, keeping things simple, about the programme to go to live in Canada. Sponsored by a Canadian couple.
“CANADA!” Firas almost choked on his ice cream.
“Yes,” Jordan said calmly, “but nothing is certain yet. Don't get your hopes up too high.”
“I don't understand,” he looked at Jordan.
“It might happen, but it is not definite, not yet fixed, arranged.”
“Oh,” was all he said, but he sounded a little sad.
Jordan wasn't sure if he was doing this right. If he wasn't just building up hopes that might never materialise into reality. It suddenly occurred to him what a huge change this would be. He hadn't properly considered things. He wasn't looking at it from Firas’ point of view. It was so normal for him, the idea of living in Canada, but for Firas it would be life changing.
“I'm sorry. I didn't mean to build things up and tear them down again.”
“It's all right, Jordan. You're doing your best. I know.”
Firas pushed aside his dessert, stood up, and came around to wrap his arms around Jordan and give him a big hug. Amelie looked on, only she could have seen the tiny tear in the corner of Jordan's eye.
“Well,” Jordan had an emotional quiver in his voice he could not hide. “There are a couple of elderly, retired, men who might like to talk to you and us about this.”
“What is re...tired?” Firas asked.
“To be old enough that you no longer work.”
“How old is that?” Firas wanted to know.
“I don't know. Sixty, seventy years old.”
“Wow. That's old. A bit like Burhan, he was old. But I'm not sure how old.”
“You said they are two mens?” Firas questioned.
“A gay couple,” Jordan watched, searching for his reaction.
“Burhan was like that. But I didn't mind. He was nice.”
There was silence as Firas went back to finishing his ice cream. Then he glanced up again. “Is this for me and Samir?”
“Yes, it would be a home for the two of you.”
“Would we have to sleep with these men? I don't mind... really, it’s okay.”
Tears came into Jordan's eyes, and this time he couldn't control his emotions. All he could do was bury his head in his arms on the table and try to cry silent tears. Amelie moved over to comfort him. She too had tear drops glistening in her eyes.
“Did I say something wrong?” Firas looked a little worried.
“No, Firas, you said nothing wrong,” Amelie told him. “Jordan is just... feeling a bit sad.”
“Oh, I'm sorry,” Firas was not sure why Jordan was crying, but if it wasn't because of him, it must be because he is thinking that Amar will not be with them in Canada.
Doctor Jukas led them along the corridor and into a room, which had comfy chairs set out in almost a circle. The wall on the far side was made up mostly of windows. Those large metal framed ones that didn't open. Amelie and Jordan walked around the room, Firas followed behind Jordan, then he moved to look out the window. There were tall trees whose leaves covered the car park, providing great swaths of shaded parking; it was difficult to see more than the tiniest glimpse of the cars below. They were on the third floor; it was quiet, with the exception of the cool air blowing into the room from metal grills in the wall near the ceiling. Old discoloured blinds covered the top half of the windows, lowered at different heights and odd angles. The one on the right sloped down on one side at such a degree as to scrunch up the opposite side into uneven folds. They waited. Doctor Jukas had gone to fetch Samir.
When the door next opened, Doctor Jukas stepped into the room with Samir. There was an initial silence, then Firas walked over and hugged the boy with both arms wrapped around his back.
“Look...” He told him. “Jordan came back to get us.”
Samir, who had not reacted to Firas hugging him, stood with his arms at his side, watching the floor. When he raised his eyes, Jordan smiled and went to join in the hug. He gently brushed his hand through Samir's hair and kissed the top of his head. He felt Samir raise an arm and his little hand gripped Jordan.
Doctor Jukas had been watching this initial encounter, and satisfied everything was well, she spoke quietly, “I'll leave you and come back later.”
She closed the door behind her, the click as it shut seemed unnaturally loud in the silence of the room.
“Come and sit next to me,” Jordan told Samir. He moved two chairs so they were side by side, and they both sat. Firas and Amelie took chairs at each side, Amelie next to Jordan, Firas next to Samir.
“How are you, Samir?” Jordan immediately thought what a stupid question that was. “It's so good to see you.”
“I've really missed you too,” Firas added.
Samir raised his head. He regarded first Firas, then Jordan.
“It's...” This was the only word he managed before tears filled his eyes.
Jordan kneeled down in front of him, hugged him again, stroked his hair, and held his hand.
“You can cry, it’s okay... it's okay.”
For the next four or five minutes Samir bowed his head and sobbed.
“You don't have to talk. Only if you want too,” Jordan told him. “You remember a long time back, I told Firas and Amar not to bother you. I told them you would speak when you were ready.”
Samir looked up again; Jordan wiped the tears on his cheeks with his hand.
“Amar?” Samir said.
Jordan cupped his hands under Samir's chin, he looked him in the eyes.
“Amar didn't make it. He's in paradise with Burhan and all his family.”
Jordan didn't know if this was too soon, too brutal. Would it make things worse or better, he had no idea. Should he have told him? No one else spoke, or even moved. It was strangely quiet again. Samir did not cry.
“I...” Samir whispered. “I thought...”
He stopped, he didn't cry, just fell silent. Jordan couldn't tell what he was going to say. At least, he thought, he is talking, sort of. After a while, Jordan decided the only thing to do was to speak to Samir as if everything was normal. As if none of this had ever happened. For the next twenty minutes, he introduced Amelie, explained about going to look at temporary accommodation, told him about Jeff and Alec and maybe going to live with them in Canada.
At the mention of Canada, Firas chipped in, “They are two re...tired mens, gay mens, but you don't have to sleep with them. They are nice like Ayberk and Burhan,”
Samir gripped Jordan's arm, “I killed him.”
“Samir,” Amelie interjected. “You did not kill Amar. It was a tragic accident. Not exactly an accident. But what I want to tell you is that the guy Rushid was going to run you over. He was crazy. Amar pushed you out of the way, but he couldn't save himself.”
Samir stared at her. Perhaps because they didn't know each other, perhaps because she was a woman, or perhaps simply because of the way she said it, he believed her.
“I spoke to the police. They know exactly what happened. They know everything. So what I am telling you is what they said to me. And it’s what happened. Do you understand? It was not your fault. You cannot blame yourself for something you had no control over.”
He nodded, but did not reply.
“Everyone here is blaming themselves for what happened. Jordan thinks it’s his fault. Firas too thinks he played a part. You think it was because of you. Terrible things happen. Sometimes you can do nothing to stop them. Or, what you do is not enough.”
Jordan felt Samir gripping his arm.
“You have to move on. You have your lives to live. You have a chance. Jordan told me that Amar once said to you back in the camp in Syria, that if he didn't make it, you had to go on alone.”
She paused, looked at Samir holding tight to Jordan. At Firas who was still as a statue.
“That's what you have to do. Go on. It is what he would want. He didn't do everything for nothing. He didn't save your life so that you can throw it away. Be strong. For him. For yourself. For everyone.”
The whir of the cool air escaping through the grills was the only sound that disturbed the silence. Doctor Jukas returned to collect Samir and they said their goodbyes, telling him that they would be back to collect him when everything was sorted out. Samir hugged each of them, including Amelie, then left with the doctor.