I stood directing traffic in downtown Istanbul: busy, packed, dangerous, I took a step back and severed myself a million miles from the ground.
I cycled to the nearest town, but we lived in a school, inside an army base. She asked me for, no, sorry, I offered to lend her money, she asked for seven pounds, she was Scottish too. I said do you want more, more, I can give you as much as you need, fifty? a hundred? Ok a hundred she said with an indifferent, sour and condescending look, perhaps I expected thanks, perhaps I expected something else, and how much was a hundred quid in this money anyhow? How could I give her a fair deal and not get ripped off? I had to cross the train tracks at the station to get to the little town, maybe they were having their siesta; it seemed so quiet over there, but then I saw smoke from a chimney, maybe a chimney.
Do we work in this museum? I whispered, but she was paused, freeze-framed, paused climbing through the tall stained glass window at the top of the church, the museum, paused in a figure hugging green latex suit, slim, blonde, stunning in that Scandinavian way, I was beside her on another ladder, lust. The museum was open, why did we not just go in the front door? If we stole something everyone would see. But the closer I looked I saw that it wasn’t open, there were people coming in and out the doors but they weren’t there for… they were plain-clothed police, my eyes zoomed in 12x and I saw that beside the huge copper globe of the world was a large pool of fresh blood and a smashed window also with bloodstained shards of glass hanging down like multi-coloured icicles. The blood of the curator, she killed the fucking curator and now I’m in on it. She was gone, I had to go to, I had to go to IMA, like the letter said, IMA? Where was this place? At first I thought it stood for Istanbul, but apparently not. I had to get my flight there next week and I had to get out of this place before the cops started asking questions. But first, I had to return the bicycle and there were no trains for another 23 minutes the man told me through his mobile phone. I checked both directions and leaped down onto the inflated windsock between the tracks, bouncing just high enough to clasp the edge of the opposite platform with my hands. I pulled myself up and began to sprint away out the station and up the hill towards the town, and it seemed more like evening but they’d told me morning.
Jenni, rolling around in bed with her, winced as I nudged a third finger inside of her, I hadn’t meant it, it was just the passion, that warm cohesive feeling of two bodies wrapping themselves around each other, tangling their passions and strangling their fears. She was happy there, we were young and enthusiastic; thin skinned, cheeky and fearless.
I was hanging through an open window at the museum, the place was fucking open! There were people in there and I was trying to break in! Thatcher was there with forensics. IMA. I made my way to the train platform, fuck, I’d forgotten to return the bike.
When I arrived it reminded me of Paris because it was Paris, but just not the Paris. It was Paris in the way that the littlest of things can bring back the most sought after and unwanted of memories. The bakery smell, the first hush of frost on the pavements introducing winter, the girl in the magazine staring out familiar, the Easter daffodils illuminating her smile that first day we met.
They ran onto the street, formed a line across the road as the traffic stopped, people stopped, wondered what the hell was going on. Sci-fi cops, decked out in SWAT gear, a line of black straight across the road, people fleeing, one knee against the ground each of them, one eye clenched, the other alert down a telescopic sight. I ran towards the grass, people were coming off the big Ferris wheel, children playing, singing on the greenest of grass, their clothes soft, colourful, cotton-fresh, a mirage of happiness and joy beneath the blazing summer sun. My father told me to hurry up, he pulled me by the arm, he was younger, he had hair and didn’t wear glasses, he had a tight-fitting brown suit on and a brown tie. I stopped as he walked away, he approached one of the rides where people huddled round licking at balls of candy floss merging their moods with this brightest of summer days. He turned to face me, he was agitated and motioned again for me to join him quickly. In huge gold letters above what looked like a gigantic cable car, the letters, in gold: IMA.
The balloon appeared slowly from the top of the carriage, unfolding itself calmly as the oxygen pushed it outwards and upwards, a mammoth spherical tower appearing above our heads. The brackets came down over our shoulders locking us in as our feet hung free below our seats. My father was smoking a pipe, reading an old newspaper with charred yellow edges and pictures of people from a century before. We began our ascent and the cathedrals and tenements of the city came into view. She put her hand on my knee. I hadn’t noticed her. She was still wearing the cat suit, a deep military green, and she was smiling now, laughing inanely, telling me that’s what I get for forgetting her birthday. I knew what was going to happen but it was alright, I knew how to land now, I knew how to take the fall, and I knew that she could take care of herself. The gunfire came like popping corn.