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William King

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  1. William King

    Chapter 31

    I'm pleased you liked the book, but there will not be any sequel. I doubt I could write a refugee's perspective of life in my own country, let alone in Canada, a country I've never been to and know very little about (although I did know a Canadian girl when I was sixteen...lol).
  2. William King

    Darker Themes

    I agree with BHooper. If it's a mature story you've got your warning. You are also free to stop reading at anytime the story takes you towards somewhere you don't want to go. I doubt you open a book that starts with a graphic rape scene or violent murder, but I could be wrong. In any event I regard 'mature' as an adult library, for adults. You can easily wait for a book to be finished, read the comments and reviews, before embarking on the story. If you choose to post chapter warnings, that's up to the author, but personally I think they are in the wrong place. Who wants to get halfway through a book to find a chapter they can't read. If the book is violent etc. tell the reader in the summary using the description of the story or adding a specific warning if you like.
  3. William King

    Chapter Fifteen and the epilogue are posted

    Chapter Fifteen and the epilogue are posted.
  4. William King

    Old vs New

    I don't think we have fundementally different ideas, we are looking at things from a different angle, that's all. "We simply ended up 'lucky' enough to have our dice rolled." I'm not picking you up on phraseology, but that does kind of beg the question - who rolled the dice! But I get what you are saying, it's random chance that we are here. However, there is one big question, do you have an immortal soul?
  5. William King

    Darker Themes

    There are only three categories of books on GA, suitable for everyone, teen, and mature. That is reasonably clear. Thus any books with descriptions of graphic sex, violence, drug abuse, rape, fall into the label mature. Meaning, for adults 18 years or over. There is no need for trigger warnings on chapters. There are no warnings whatsoever on published books and I see no reason to change things. Any warnings such as 'Some of the content of this book is graphic and includes....' should if required be at the beginning of the book and such warnings should be compiled by the website owners, whose responsibiity it is for the material published on their site. So if required a choice of warnings, or a warning, to be checked on the new story publication process. This really is up to the website to decide it's policy. I think it would be difficult to introduce given the hundreds of books already published, so there really is no debate. If you think you might be adversely affected by something you read, do not read the category 'mature.' I did a quick search of books by rating and it is roughly 50:50 split between mature, teen and everyone, so there is plenty of choice for every type and age of reader.
  6. William King

    Old vs New

    No it isn't, I disagree. There is chance and luck and all sorts of twists and turns in life, but it is not meaningless. You have this life to live, but that is not all there is. Life is a journey from the cradle to the grave and one where it is encombrant upon you to make the best of it that you can, to not be selfish and to try to be good in all things. 'Do the right thing,' is not a few words to be taken lightly. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. William Shakespeare - Hamlet. We are all seekers of the light, and that includes everyone whether you realise it or not.
  7. William King

    Chapter 31

    I could never tell you how it would end, although I tried to hint that it would not be all bad and there would be hope. I think there is always hope for things to get better.
  8. William King

    Chapter 29

    @JeffreyL Thank you for you comments. It was written to be real, so I guess if it provoked an emotional reaction, it succeeded. It was emotional to write, and I should be pleased that this came across, although I never set out with this in mind, only to tell their story and do it justice.
  9. William King

    Chapter 31

    Chapter Thirty-One - Goodbyes. It's sometimes odd how things work out, fall into place, in a way you could never imagine. Something is said, something happens, one thing leads to another. The ripple effect. A tiny drop in the ocean spreads out in all directions, touching different people in different ways. They were all four there to meet Jeff and Alec off the plane. It was kind of weird, like a family event. Only Jordan and Amelie were not old enough to be the parents, but Jeff and Alec certainly qualified as grandparents. Suddenly there they were, emerging from behind a real family. Pushing a trolley loaded with two cases and hand luggage. Samir waved at Alec, who smiled back nodding and raising a hand from the trolley in acknowledgement. Soon after, they were standing around in a group, speaking all at once. “Good flight?” Jordan asked. “Okay,” Jeff replied. “You look like the photo,” Samir told Alec. “Well yes, I guess that's good then,” he smiled. “I can't believe you came,” Firas was saying. “Why? Why Not?” Jeff replied. “Because...” And now Firas went all shy. Jeff put an arm around the boy, “Because what?” He said gently. “Because it’s so far for one thing, because you only just spoke once with us, because you...” he trailed off again. “I know,” Jeff told him, squeezing his shoulder. “Because we don't know you. And you don't know us either.” “But that will all change soon enough, if you want?” Alec added. “Yes we do, we do,” Samir was just so excited. Firas was too, but he couldn't believe it was really happening. “We want, yes... please,” Firas said, bowing his head and looking down at the floor. He didn't know if he had said the right thing or the wrong thing. Alec came over and gently lifted his chin up. “Don't worry, my boy. We are here for you and you can count on us. Sometimes there will be misunderstandings. Language, life, whatever. We'll get through it all together. Okay?” He smiled his biggest, friendliest, smile. He knew it would not be easy, but this seemed like destiny. Something that the two of them had talked about, but never thought would happen. 'God it's strange how things work out,' he thought. ***** They'd arranged to eat again at the little restaurant where the vines climbed over the roof of the terrace. The food, even if it was a hamburger and fries, was simple and good. It was a place where everyone could feel relaxed and talk. There was a lot of getting to know you to be done. Amelie chatted to Jeff during the trip from the airport. She explained what Bazyli had done through the people he knew. There would be no need to attend an interview in person. It was more or less all arranged, almost a formality. But it would take a couple of weeks. Then both boys would, all things going as planned, be granted asylum – refugee status. Jeff and Alec could return to Canada once the boys had their papers. The rest was over to them to sort out. Amelie explained her time was almost up and she had to be on a plane home at the end of the week. She also told them Jordan would inevitably be going home when they left with the boys. “He could always fly back with us to Toronto,” Jeff told her. “I don't know. You will have to talk to him about it. But not when the boys are around. The separation is going to be hard.” “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?” “Well, it depends what it is.” “Are you and Jordan, um, together or…?” “We've become close friends,” she interrupted him. “Nothing more.” “I see.” Alec wondered about that as well, but he said nothing. The boys were with Jordan in another taxi ahead of Jeff, Alec and Amelie. They passed the journey asking Jordan endless questions about Jeff and Alec, which Jordan was unable to answer. “You will have to ask them those questions. They are nice people, but I don't know much more than you do.” “Yes, but you know a bit more,” Firas replied. Jordan ruffled his hair. “What do you think, I'm hiding something?” He laughed. “No, but, why?” Firas asked. “That question Firas is like you asking me why I took you to Antalya. Like asking why Burhan let you all live with him. Why Ayberk helped Samir and Amar cross the border. I am sure there are lots of reasons. And I am sure that Alec and Jeff will tell you. Even then, sometimes we don't know ourselves why we do everything. Why we make certain choices.” For awhile there was only the sound of the engine and the music the driver had playing on the radio. Neither Firas nor Samir spoke. Until after several minutes, Firas posed another question. “Why did you take us to Antalya?” “That's easy,” Jordan smiled. “Because there were three spare places in the jeep.” “And why did you sail the yacht from Greece to rescue us and take us to Europe?” “That is a harder question. I felt like I had made you a promise. I was responsible for you in some way. So I had to do whatever I could. Actually, that sounds kind of grand. It was an adventure. One thing just led to another.” “You're a very good man,” Samir told him. “Not really.” 'He wasn't any kind of hero, just an average American,' he told himself. “When I got pulled from the rubble after the bomb. When our apartment was destroyed. The doctor told me ‘We will take care of you.’ But it never happened. Amar and you did though. You both took care of me.” There were tears in the young boy's eyes and also in Jordan's eyes. He hugged them both. ***** “Amelie's gone with the boys to see Halil and Rifat. You remember I mentioned they were all living together in the camp?” Jordan was telling Jeff and Alec. “She wants to give them Bazyli's number and also to say goodbye.” “Will this friend of hers be able to help them too?” Jeff asked him. “I wish it were that simple, but I don't think so. You see their situation is quite different. Their family is living in Turkey, so it's more complicated.” “Because they're not orphans?” Alec asked. “You know I am far from being any sort of expert in all this. Amelie probably knows a lot more than I do. But yes, I suppose because they aren't orphans. Halil is an adult. It could also be argued they are safe in Turkey. It may not be the best place in the world for them to live, but it's not a war zone.” “I guess everyone wants to come to Europe,” Jeff added. “The land of promise they call it. Yeah it’s the dream, the goal.” “So what about you?” Alec asked him. “What about me?” “Do you want to come back with us to Canada?” “Oh, I see. No Alec, I don't think so. You and Jeff will be more than able to look after the boys and to give them a great new start in life. I can't really imagine it working out better than with you.” “You will come and see us won’t you?” Alec asked Jordan. “The boys will want to see you, Amelie would like to see you, and so would Jeff and I.” Jordan smiled. “My whole life,” Alec continued, “I've had one ambition unfulfilled. I always made excuses, not enough time, no inspiration, I won’t be any good.” “And what was this great ambition Alec?” Jordan posed the question. “To write a book. But you need a good story don't you?” “I imagine you do,” Jordan grinned. “And I'm sure you're about to tell me you've got it.” “Too right I am, and what a story. One that deserves to be told. So I need you to visit us to check up on how we're doing.” “With your book? You could email it.” “Not with the book, idiot,” Alec smiled gently. “Oh I see.” ***** Athens airport was becoming as well known to them as the port and town of Piraeus, Jordan kissed Amelie on the cheek and hugged her. Samir and Firas hugged her, and made her promise to visit when they followed her home to Toronto. Alec and Jeff thanked her for everything and said they would be in touch soon. It should not be long before they were all back home. Jordan watched her go through the gate into the departure lounge. He wondered about his feelings. He felt a pang of loss as she walked away, but he told himself he had let her go. He had made a choice, he could have done things different, but he hadn't. ***** “Are you both happy to go and live with Alec and Jeff?” Jordan asked the boys. “Of course we are,” Samir told him. “Yes, definitely,” Firas added. “But...” He didn't know how to say what he wanted to tell Jordan. Jordan looked at Firas, something passed between them that was indefinable, but they both felt it. They looked each other in the eyes. “I know,” was all Jordan could say. Samir felt it too, there was an emotion floating just out of reach. He loved Jordan, he could never repay him for what he had done, but he knew for Firas there was something more. It made him think of Amar – ‘we made it Amar, we all made it, just not maybe quite how we imagined!’ □ □ □ THE END.
  10. William King

    Chapter 30

    Chapter Thirty - Voices Off. They went to collect Firas from the camp and Amelie made a rendezvous with Bazyli’s friend who had the apartment. Nikaia was a long walk from the port and to find streets, even when you have the address, is difficult. The Greek alphabet is nothing like English, so street names become almost impossible. Amelie had directions, which should help, and the guy's phone number if they got completely lost. If you looked at the city from the air, you would see what resembles a patchwork quilt. Hundreds of streets crossing each other at right angles, making little squares of houses which were all different. There were no large, tall buildings here, just a mish mash of quirky little dwellings all jumbled together, but neatly arranged by the grid system of streets. They reached the street eventually, after several wrong turns and asking for help, and they found the apartment. You would naturally think of an apartment being in a large building, but not here. Jordan knocked on the door of what, as buildings go, seemed like an after thought by the builder. A narrow construction squeezed in between the others that adjoined it on each side. Nikos answered the door, looked at the three of them and smiled. “So you found it?” Obviously, they had or they wouldn't be standing there knocking on his door. “Follow me.” And they did, along a dark narrow corridor that ended in a staircase. After a couple of steps, it turned a corner, then another, until they reached the top. This turned out to be the second floor and the roof. Across an open space was another door and to the right a window. It looked like a brick-built hut thrown together in one corner of the roof terrace. Which is more or less what it was. “Come in,” Nikos invited, and they followed him into the room. Looking around, the only person who appeared not to be surprised by what they were seeing, was Firas. The apartment was one room, about twenty square meters, with a large mattress, maybe it was two mattresses, hard to tell, on the floor. A sink and cupboard against one wall with a shower and toilet next to the sink behind a curtain. It was basic. “The roof you share with the family,” Nikos explained. “You can use it, but it's not part of the rental.” “The bed stays?” Jordan asked. “What you see is what you get. You won't find better for this rent, and the family are very nice.” Jordan looked at Amelie who raised her eyebrows in an expression that summed things up. Firas jumped into the conversation having had a good look around, “It's fine.” “So it's good for you?” Nikos asked. “It's good for us,” Jordan couldn't help smiling. It was very different from the hotel room he was in at the moment, but it was somewhere to live he could afford. “Okay, great. I'll introduce you to the family. You pay the rent, and I give you the keys. You move in when you want. I've already moved my stuff out.” That was what happened, they met the Kamborakis family. Mum, dad, two daughters, and a son. Nikos did the translating, Jordan handed over the rent, and it was a done deal. He would move in tomorrow he told them. Which only meant leaving the hotel and fetching Firas. Amelie said she would stay at the hotel. “Look who picked the short straw,” he joked. She smiled, but made no reply. ***** Bazyli seemed to know everybody, and if he didn't know someone directly, he knew a person who did. Or he knew a person, who knew someone, who knew that person. You see, he was very well connected. This served to greatly facilitate things for Firas and Samir. Amelie took a day away from Jordan and Firas to allow her the time to write the history of the boys, from Syria, through Turkey, to Greece. It took her all day, but it was something that needed to be done. There were two reasons behind this, and two slightly different versions of what happened. The first account she wrote was to send to a person that a friend of Bazyli’s knew. He was well positioned in the immigration service. Here Amelie was careful to write the history without implicating Jordan in the illegal part of their entry into Greece. The second version was more detailed and more accurate; this was for Jeff and Alec to read. Amelie discussed this with Jordan, and he agreed with her they needed to be open about everything and that was the only way the Canadian sponsorship could work. If they read it and for whatever reason felt unable to go through with things, then they would just accept that and move on. Better it was all up front than discovering things later, which would make it look like they had been lied to and used. The two of them felt justified in not telling the whole story to the Greek authorities, because it was obvious the boys should be granted asylum and not just allowed to stay until they reached eighteen, not knowing what the future might be. Usually there would be a scheduled interview to determine whether or not asylum would be granted, and usually the reason for a decision was not given. But, knowing someone, who knows someone, and presenting the case with the prospect of moving to Canada would hopefully smooth things through. So Amelie spent most of Tuesday working on this, then she emailed the boys histories to Bazyli, and Jeff and Alec. Tomorrow morning they would collect Samir from the hospital; Doctor Jukas was happy to discharge him. ***** Jordan and Firas were on the roof watching it get dark, Saleukos had joined them. He was almost exactly the same age as Firas and spoke some English, so they could all converse, sort of. Jordan couldn't help noticing the glances the boy gave Firas, but Firas seemed not to pay any attention. There was a lot of light pollution from the city, so it was difficult to see the night sky and the stars. They talked a little about Piraeus, the neighbourhood, school, and even about Saleukos’ sisters. However, he soon realised Firas was off in a world of his own, hardly even listening. Saleukos excused himself and retreated downstairs, leaving Jordan and Firas alone. “Let's get some sleep,” Jordan turned back towards the room on the roof and their front door. In bed together, there was after investigation only one very large mattress, Firas finally decided to get talkative. “Jordan.” “What?” “Are you and Amelie like boyfriend and girlfriend?” “No. We've only known each other a short time, and besides she lives in Canada.” “But you like her?” “Yes, I like her.” “And she likes you?” “Firas, where is all this going?” “We’ll, you could both live together in Canada, or in America. If you wanted.” “Yes, we could, but I don't want to.” Jordan was getting a little irritated at all the questions. He turned away from Firas, he wanted to get some sleep. Tomorrow they would have Samir here. “Do you like me?” Firas said to the back of his head. “Of course I like you.” Then it suddenly dawned on him, where all this might be leading. But nothing more happened, Firas turned over and Jordan heard a muffled “Goodnight.” “Goodnight,” he answered, and then they must have each fallen asleep. Jordan's sleep was disturbed by visions of Firas and Samir with Amar. During all this mixed up dreaming, Amelie was there looking down from the ceiling or the sky. Like some kind of Greek goddess, that wasn't quite real. A painting, or just an image in the clouds. ***** Jeff and Alec had been together since their twenties, a lifetime. Alec had wanted them to adopt, but they were born at a time when that wasn't a very easy thing to do for two gay men. “You don't have anyone to inherit when you're gay,” Jeff once commented. “We could find someone to adopt,” Alec replied. They talked about it, and fantasised a little about finding the person who would come into their lives and bring the enthusiasm of youth. Someone who would be a worthy inheritor of whatever they had accumulated together over the years. Jeff eventually decided they were too old, even if they could have a child. “A boy doesn't need a dad who’s older than his grandfather.” The subject was dropped, faded away into the background until they heard about Firas and Samir. They had not even thought about sponsoring two teenagers when they got involved in Mrs Westmuller’s refugee programme. It was doing something that could help someone or perhaps even a family. Now they were reading the tragic account a young lady called Amelie had emailed them from Greece. And they were in tears. There really was no decision to make; they would have contacted Amelie immediately if it wasn't the middle of the night in Greece. They of course wanted to meet the boys, but they had no doubt about doing it, about bringing them to Canada. No, the only important thing was if the boys wanted to live with them. That was the only real question. They sent an email reply to Amelie asking her when would be a good time for them to talk. ***** Wednesday morning they were all at the hospital to collect Samir, and they decided to go for a meal together at the same cafe-restaurant they had eaten at with Firas. The one with the terrace and grape vines, and chocolate, vanilla, and coffee ice cream. Samir was very quiet, but then he never was a boy who talked a lot. Amelie had only met him the once, on their first visit to the hospital, so she thought him not talking was due to him coming home. But Jordan felt he might be reverting back to how he used to be, when he didn't speak a word. He was relieved when over lunch Samir started speaking. “It's very different here,” he suddenly said. “Different to where?” Amelie asked. “The island, Rhodes.” Then he was quiet again. Jordan thought he was daydreaming, if that was possible whilst eating. He seemed so detached, like he was there physically, but his head was off in the clouds. As he ate he seemed not to pay any attention to the food on his plate. In stark contrast to Firas who was obviously enjoying this dinner as much as the previous one a couple of days ago. Jordan was worried about Samir. He was pleased he had spoken, but concerned somehow he wasn't all right. Not anything like he used to be, if that made any sense. Because he used to be silent, but even then, he was there, now it seemed like no one was home. ***** When the phone rang, Jordon knew immediately it was either Jeff or Alec. “It's Jeff,” the voice at the other end answered. Jordan spoke for some ten minutes with Jeff and then another ten minutes with Alec. Mostly he actually listened as the two of them told him their reactions to the boys’ history Amelie had emailed. He handed the phone over to Firas, who also talked to both of them for some time. “Alec is asking if they can speak to Samir?” Firas looked at Jordan. “Do you want to talk to the two Canadian men, Jeff and Alec?” Samir hesitated before taking the phone from Firas. This time it was Alec who spoke first. “Hello, Samir,” he said in a soft voice. Then he talked as Samir listened. Of course, neither Jordan nor Amelie knew what Alec was saying. He was in fact telling Samir his own story, quite simply, quite normally. How he had lived his life with Jeff, how they met, what they liked, didn't like. He told Samir about the first boy he had fallen in love with. John was his name, he was just a few years older than Samir. He explained how they were always together, did everything together. He described their first kiss, and their first experience. Samir listened and Jordan for the first time sensed the boy was actually there with them. Listening to Alec, he was really there in his body, not floating in the clouds. When Alec told Samir how John died from an illness for which there was no cure in those days, Samir cried. Amelie and Jordan didn't know why he was crying, but the tears streamed down his face and he sobbed. Jordan was worried about Samir and he had tears in his own eyes. Amelie held Samir and so did Firas. After what seemed like an awfully long time, Samir gave the phone to Amelie, who in turn handed it to Jordan. “What happened? Everyone here is in tears and Samir is sobbing his heart out.” “I know, I'm sorry. I shared something with Samir from my past which has definite echoes with what has happened, with him losing Amar. I hope I wasn't wrong to do this.” As he was talking on the phone to Alec, Samir began pulling at Jordan's arm. “Hold on, Alec, I think Samir wants to say something to you.” Jordan gave Samir the phone. “I... understand Alec,” he gave Jordan the phone back. “Well, I wish I understood,” Jordan told Alec. “You will when I tell you the story. Listen, I think we need to be there with you. I'm going to see if I can get us booked on a flight to Athens. See you soon.” The intensity of the phone conversation faded into silence as they dried their tears. Recovering his emotions, Jordan announced Alec and Jeff would be here soon, as soon as they could get on a plane. ---
  11. William King

    Old vs New

    This really is an American thing (problem?). EXAMPLE a survey shows 35% of Americans read Bible verse at least once a week, one third of the country! Compare that to 6% British who read the Bible, attend church, and whom you might define as practicing Christians. In summary: most Europeans don't pay any attention to the Bible and are not concerned by what it says or doesn't say. Whereas a very large number of Americans might be viewed from this side of the Atlantic as religious fanatics that pursue a life style influenced excessively by Christianity, something difficult to relate to in the 21st Century.
  12. William King

    Chapter 29

    Chapter Twenty-Nine - We are the Bearers of Light. 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.” Jordan smiled. “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. “This world may bring deep darkness, but we are the bearers of light. We'll join our flames together, and shine in the blackest of nights.” John Mark Green
  13. The remaining chapters of Refugee are scheduled to post over the weekend (with the pre-requisite eight hour new chapter delay). The book will be complete for Sunday.

     

    Should you be wondering, there will be no sequel, the journey and the book I wanted to write, ends with the final chapter.

     

    Thank you for reading, and I hope you have enjoyed the story.

  14. William King

    Chapter 28

    Chapter Twenty-Eight - A Greek Tragedy. It was a clear blue sky, you could feel the heat even though it was still early, it would without doubt be another scorching hot day. In any other circumstances this would be a wonderful start to a new dawn, but the task in hand was to seal the end a what could only be described as a tragedy. If something good would happen and allow the future to once again hold promise, then first this deadly twist of fate must be expunged. Amelie led the way across the concrete desert, over the old railway tracks, and past some makeshift homes until they were almost there. Firas as if touched by a premonition, if you believe such things are possible, felt a tingling of cool air on the back of his neck, when all around was still and torpid, nothing moved. He put down his tea, stood up and turned. “NO!” He screamed in disbelief. Halil and Rifat jumped up startled. Firas raced towards Jordan, and hit him with a force that almost sent him tumbling backwards. “Jordan! Jordan!” He wrapped both arms around him and buried his head in Jordan's chest. Tears escaped his eyes. He hugged him so tight Jordan thought he would have the air squeezed out of him. After a few minutes, with everyone else just standing looking on, Firas released his hold, turned back to Halil and Rifat and announced proudly, “This is JORDAN!” More tears fell down his face and Jordan too felt his eyes watering. As they found their seats around the little table, Jordan and Amelie sat one on each side of Firas. Halil fetched two more glasses and poured the tea. Jordan turned to Firas and brushed a hand through his hair, pushing it back from his forehead. “I have some terrible news Firas.” Halil knew what the young American was about to say. Amelie just sat still, almost not breathing. “Amar...” Jordan continued. He was stopped, interrupted by Firas. “No, no... Please don’t say it,” Firas blurted out pleadingly. “I'm sorry,” was all Jordan could say, and once again Firas had his arms wrapped around Jordan, his head buried, as the tears poured out. Halil gripped Rifat tightly, he too was crying. It was as if time stood perfectly still for a moment. The soft muffled sounds of crying were all that could be heard. The sun beat down and nothing moved. It was an instant frozen in time. And then like at the end of a minute of silence, sounds once again invaded the space. A seagull screeched. The world was back as if nothing had ever happened, except the five people sitting there knew that it had. It was an instant etched on the eternity of their souls, that would never be forgotten. Jordan walked with Firas across the railway and over to the wharf. They stood there arm in arm, staring out at the water. The sea was calm, so still that the almost flat surface looked like a mirror. They didn't talk, just felt the warmth and safety of being together. They had needed this time alone. Many of the events from their past played through Jordan's mind, perhaps it was the same for Firas, he didn't know. Neither of them counted the time passing, but at some point they turned away from the sea together. Jordan walked with his arm around Firas’ waist and as they made their way back he explained to him about Samir. The need to find somewhere for them to stay, together. Even if it was only temporary they needed this space, especially so for Samir. Firas nodded, “But you will go away again?” Jordan didn't know how to reply, he felt as if an arrow had pierced his heart. They crossed back over the tracks in silence. “I don't know what will happen,” he told the boy as they re-joined the others. ***** They spent the entire day at the refugee camp, except for lunch which they ate together in a little restaurant away from the port. Amelie told Jordan she needed to work tomorrow, she had to get her story written and dispatched to the offices in Toronto. She said she would phone Bazyli, he wasn't around but he might know someone who could help find somewhere cheap to rent. “How long are you going to stay here?” “Really, I don't know. I want to make sure Samir’s okay. I would like to say, as long as it takes, but that just isn’t realistic. The money will run out and I can't go back to my parents and ask them for more.” “Yes, I can see that. It's so damned hard.” “What about this Mrs Westmuller?” He asked tentatively. “I'm waiting to hear back from her. We had a very long telephone conversation. I told her the boys story, what happened recently, and the situation here. She explained what they were trying to achieve through the private sponsorship programme.” “And did she sound like she might be able to help?” “I don't know, Jordan. Difficult to say. She was very nice, interested, and wanted me to send her more details be email.” “Did you?” “No, but I will. Maybe I can get Bazyli to take some photos when he gets back.” “I can do that. I have a phone. I'll snap some pics. It will help if she sees the boys, the camp, how they live. Maybe I could add something to the email about Turkey and getting them to Greece.” “Let's take it a step at a time, okay? You should spend tomorrow with Firas, take some photos, but giving the whole story, I'm not sure if that will go down well.” “How do mean?” “Well, Jordan, like you told me back in Virginia when I first met you, Samir was in a relationship with Amar and Firas is also gay.” “Yeah, so what?” “So we need to tread carefully, not everyone will understand.” “They’re just kids that need some loving,” Jordan retorted. “I know, I know. Calm down. Try to see things from a different point of view. Amar was eighteen, right? An adult having sex with a fourteen year old. And Firas is what? Sixteen.” “Yes. I mean yes you are right with the ages, except Amar was seventeen, and yes, you are right about how it could be viewed by people. Some people.” “Good. Okay, so tomorrow I'm working and you're with Firas and taking photos. We'll meet here for dinner, if you want?” “Yes, sounds good. Sorry if I started to go off on one. It's just...” Amelie interrupted. “You don't need to apologise to me, Jordan. I understand. Dinner tomorrow then.” She smiled. “Definitely.” As she walked away from the lobby to go back to her room, he watched her and wondered about that kiss at the airport. He liked Amelie. Actually, she was a pretty fantastic person, what with everything she had done and was still doing. She must like him too, the kiss had been mutual, but now there was Firas and things had become ten times more complicated. ***** As arranged, Jordan spent the whole day with Firas. Firas, Rifat and Halil. They wandered around the port, ate together, and talked. They talked a lot. Jordan learned all about Halil and Rifat and their family back in Turkey. At some point in the afternoon, the other two left Jordan and Firas alone. They walked across to the same spot on the wharf where they had been yesterday, looking out to sea. It was just as calm, kind of relaxing. This time they sat down on a couple of crates left there, maybe used for fishing, plastic crates that previously held bottles. After a long silence between them, a comfortable silence, Firas turned a shy regard towards Jordan. “I never said,” he spoke very quietly, and his fingers played with the torn bottom of the t-shirt he wore. Jordan had to lean down towards him to hear. “But I love you,” he whispered. Jordan thought about how complicated his life was becoming. He should not have been surprised perhaps. There was the incident between them on the yacht, but that was it, a one off. Jordan hadn't really thought about it since. What to say? What should he tell him? Firas was looking at him expectantly, almost frightened. The tension made tiny furrows across his brow, he was almost shaking. Jordan’s arm went around him and his hand gripped Firas’ shoulder. He pulled the boy towards him in a sideways hug. “I don't know what to say.” He felt Firas physically retract, as if his whole body tensed up. “Firas, I love you too,” Jordan finally managed the words. “But I don't know if I could give you the kind of love that you are looking for.” Firas relaxed, maybe what Jordan thought Firas wanted from him was not at all what he wanted. Perhaps he just wanted to know that Jordan loved him. You might think it was obvious by the actions Jordan had taken, by all the things he had done, even now, flying here from America. But sometimes, no matter what, we just need to hear those three little words – I love you. Firas had long ago told himself Jordan wasn't gay, seeing him here with the journalist, he thought they were sort of a couple. But a doubt crossed Firas’ mind, he was very intuitive. He'd lived by his wits for so long, he'd had to, it was a question of survival. Jordan had said, “I don't know if I could give you the kind of love that you are looking for,” what does that mean, Firas wondered? It was difficult to understand English sometimes and this left Firas confused. ***** It was almost seven when the phone rang in Amelie's hotel room. She had been working all day on the refugee article, a large part of which was devoted to the story of the three boys. There were facts and numbers in there, background to the situation here in the refugee camp at Piraeus, but that was secondary, it served to enhance the main story. After editing, rewriting, and a lot of reading over and over, she was happy it was as good as it was going to be. She titled the piece: A Greek Tragedy – The Road Through Hell. Maybe a little dramatic, but she wanted to punch it home to people. To all those nine to five suburban commuters living their safe comfortable lives. She picked up the telephone when it rang. “Amelie Richter.” “Hello, Amelie. This is Mary-Lou-Ann, Mrs Westmuller.” “Hello, I wasn't expecting to hear back from you quite so soon. I haven't had a chance to write the email I promised. Sorry, but I've just now finished the article for the paper I work for.” “No, that's not why I'm calling dear. It's not to chase you up, but to pass on some news.” Amelie was listening and trying to think what the news might be, good she hoped. “I mentioned the plight of the two boys you told me about, the one in the hospital and the other in the refugee camp. Well, ah hum...” Mrs Westmuller did a little cough. “Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you said these boys were abused.” “No. I mean yes,” Amelie replied somewhat flustered. “They were abused.” “Well, I'll just run this past you. You have a think about it and get back to me. There is a lovely couple in our group who are looking to sponsor. They’re particularly interested in doing something to help these boys. Jeff and Alec are retired, they are a...” there was a slight pause. “A gay couple. Been together donkey’s years. They are, as I said, a lovely couple, and well enough off to be able to do this with or without the support of our little group. They have been active in the group almost since day one. So have a think about how you feel about this. How it might sit with these boys. And then let me know. If you decide to run with it, I will put Jeff and Alec in touch with you directly.” “It sounds very interesting,” Amelie replied. Then she went on to explain that Jordan had flown out from America. They had told Firas about the death of his friend, and she was in touch with the doctor at the hospital.” As she was finishing bringing Mrs Westmuller up to date, there was a knock at the door. “Excuse me one minute,” she told Mrs Westmuller, and went to answer the door. It was Jordan. She hustled him in and went back across the room to pick up the receiver. “Jordan just arrived Mrs Westmuller. I'll put him on so you can have a quick word. Jordan spoke for nearly twenty minutes with Mrs Westmuller, telling her about his two months in Turkey with Christian Aid. How he met the boys, and the death of Burhan whom they were living with. After the call was finished, Amelie told him about Jeff and Alec. “Sounds good to me,” he told her. She smiled, “I think you're the only guy I know who would say ‘sounds good to me’ about an elderly gay couple taking in two abused teenage boys, who also happen to be gay, and not have any questions about it.” “When you put it like that, I suppose it’s odd.” “I'm just kidding you,” she took hold of his arm, leading him to the door. “You know what?” She looked at him, as they walked to the stairs, pulling on his arm. “What?” “Firas told me he loves me,” he said very casually. “Oh, and I was thinking you were about to say something else.” ---
  15. William King

    Chapter 26

    There is hope, keep reading and you will see.
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