Izmir HTML version

“Adopters!” Barney had intoned in his scratchy baritone, “Dumb bastards missed
having a couple of smart bastards!”
“Are you bragging?” Isabel had asked, she could see the self esteem showing off
in Barney’s shining brown eyes. She liked him. She understood that he, like her,
was excited about the possible roads their intelligence might lead them on. As
the two grew closer they started sharing- first orphanage jokes and stories,
then, after awhile, private dreams: Barney wanted to be a CIA operative, nothing
less. He felt he had an almost photographic memory, a passion for intrigue,
adventure, maybe even danger. Isabel wanted the State Department, the Foreign
Service- overseas; she’d read novels about diplomatic colony life. She was handy
with languages, loved statistics and economics and learned a lot from the library
reference books she’d consumed. As they plotted their plans ran together; they
applied to Columbia University for prestige school backgrounds and both received
full scholarships. In the year of their Cum Laude graduations they changed their
names and they got married. They had heard things about the Agency and the
Foreign Service; that they were still “Old Guard” despite all their claims of
reform and diversity. A good Eastern school and a good Eastern name still meant a
lot...people said. Barney’s last name had been Padgett; they changed it to
Barnaby Girard ( Philadelphia Girards...?) Her name had been Isobel Belensky; she
became Isabel Chapin, good Manhattan stock. They looked good; she with ginger
colored hair and blue eyes, he with agent-short brown hair, deceptively clean cut
face, physique buffed up by manic training. When they sat the Agency and Foreign
Service exams and interviews they were’nt even asked about their origins - the
powers that be had their folders; they may have presumed that two society debs
had given away their unwanted babies years before, and those good blood lines had
come together nicely on their own. Luckily the background checks, which
discovered the legal name changes, came after the agency selection process. They
were each contracted and were even assured that they would likely be posted
jointly on overseas assignments.
Breakfast: They did’nt eat sitting across the table from one another anymore,
now they copied the way Jamel and Shamika jammed their chairs together and sort
of reclined together to eat out of the same plate:
“Dahlin’, it sucks you can’t tell me what it is you do all day...”
“Shhhh, Hunny, the very fact that I do something all day is classified...”
She glanced up at his cheshire cat smile and frowned. “I bring you all the skinny
on all the crazy business I handle in Consular Affairs Office... like that
incident on May day, when all the Americans in town where supposed to stay off
the streets, especially near the radical University district, and of course we
got a call that an army G.I. in uniform had struck a Turk student with his car
outside the school.. About a thousand Turkish students and street toughs had
surrounded him...”
“Yeah , what happened, how’d you keep that from flashing?” he asked.
“Luck!, seems the kids wife was with him and she started bitching at him in the
street,- ’he’s a loser, wrecked their last car in Texas...’- she threw her bag at
him and stomped off...”
“And, the Turk men rushed in to cushion the poor guys male ego...they righted his
car, -which they’d flipped on its side, even the “injured” guy helped, they
patted the G.I. on the back and kept saying “Gecmes olsun!...”
“Which translates to “forgetaboutit..”
“Yeh, roughly”, she said. “You know Turks, they’re like the Americans over here:
Unpredictable. Turkey changes people who stay here awhile... alters the DNA, I
think: especially in Izmir, which is so sleek and flashy compared to the rest of
conservative Turkey. Izmir types drink good liquor, dress like Paris, party at
night and love American things - if not Americans in person. And, God, there are
thousands of Americans in Izmir; Army and Air Force units, the NATO headquarters,
my Consulate people...all with spouses and rugrats aplenty.”
Everyone lived in downtown Izmir, sharing luxury midrise apartment complexes with
the Turkish upper and middle class; social interaction between the two worlds
came mainly through the black marketing of goods from the PX and Commissary
supermarket, and that thrived. High ranking military and civilian officials and
their wives did genteel crime with their Turkish and foreign counterparts,
exchanging furs, silks, cognac and cigars for cash to build their retirement
rocking chairs. Enlisted people dealt in cigarettes, liquor, blue jeans and
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