March 19, 2010


We should have known, walking in through the red-lit corridor and confronted with a mirror the size of Hades, that this was a brothel.

Inside, over-painted women sit at lone tables, and men slither to buy them drinks and take them up a set of stairs. It’s a sad, sagging place. In the far darkness, a woman sings throaty Eastern ballads to a backing of keyboard-beats and violin. The most disinterested violinist I’ve ever seen; his bored eyes fixed on the ceiling-tiles while he plays flourishes between the lines. There’s a small group of men bothering the singer, pulling at her dress and requesting numbers while she sings.

Billy and I check the price of a beer. The waiter says six lira, which is about three quid so we shrug and order two, interested in spite of ourselves. A group of men in the corner talk loud over the music, and a distinctly American voice among them exclaims “Jesus Christ!”. They look like they might be soldiers. Two of them get up and walk out, straightening their shirts.

An unsteady man joins a girl at her table and leans in close to say something in her ear. She nods and he calls the waiter over with a triumphant wave of his arm. We finish our beers and get up to go. At the till, a grim-faced motherfucker with an angry moustache tells us we owe him sixty lira. Sixty! I refuse. He calls to the waiter. The waiter calls to his boss, who’s young and swarthy with a shiny shirt and passable English. He explains with a rational smile that the extra charge is for the chips. We didn’t have chips. I give him fifteen lira and demand my change. He smiles at me again, and cocks his head. A large man in a tuxedo appears behind me. Billy says perhaps I should forget about the change. We leave.

Comments are closed.