Posts Tagged ‘International Espionage’

Turkish Espresso: a looking glass into the future

There were certainly warning signs. While wandering across the plains of Asia Minor I stopped at a petrol station for some coffee, which led to an ill omen. There is a Turkish tradition of divining coffee sludge to read into your future. While I waited for my driver to secure my entry into the underworld of camel wrestling, I decided to employ an ancient to decipher what sort of fortune my caffeinated beverage told. While I may not have been able to interpret the native tongue, the dark and foreboding coffee cup spoke for itself. Yes, I had been warned.

I was in Istanbul on an academic mission, researching the Fourth Crusade, but my time was increasingly occupied by the companionship of a Chinese seductress who called herself, “Diana”. Her presence was fleeting and erratic, but her influence was persistent. She was playing the muse and I began to neglect my studies in favor of writing a theatrical screenplay based on my late night imaginings of where this relationship was going. I called my semi-erotica, “The Iliad Part 2: Hot Trojan Nights”. Nothing good was to come of this.

And who was this Diana? If she was a Communist agent, as I highly suspected, what did she want of me? Did the Maoists consider me a espionage pawn of my own government? Diana never vocally dismissed my cover story as Gyozo the Hungarian carpet monger, though she likely saw through this fabrication after introducing me to a local expert in Oriental rugs. When her Turk merchant inquired on Hungarian industry, I stammered in my faux accent, lying to cover my ignorance, “I do not know how to say in English… In Magyar, we call this weave method ‘umdula-boomdula’.”

Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt

It is apparent as I now look back upon these days with a nervous nostalgia that at this point in the story, Diana – this goddess of the hunt, decided she required answers I was not supplying and turned to a professional truth-seeker. Unsuspecting the trap being set, I allowed myself to be coerced by my Artemis into going to a Turkish bathhouse. She claimed the bathhouse had cultural significance and dismissed my disinterest in massages (paranoids don’t like to be grabbed from behind). I was not convinced, but my hungry imagination found countless reasons to follow this exotic beauty into this steamy netherworld. Persuaded by my own curiosity for the huntress, I agreed to meet her at the agreed upon location in the old city of Istanbul.

I arrived at the bathhouse, a subterranean series of chambers that had been employed since the Byzantines ruled Constantinople. At the door, I exchanged Turkish Lire for a towel and was ushered to something of a locker room. As was custom, the women did not congregate with the men and my escort Diana disappeared. Cautiously pessimistic, I undressed and wrapped the small swath of fabric around my waist, barely covering my frightened loins. Angry-looking attendants ushered me through a pair of doors where I saw a herd of beasts who appeared chimerically as bison-man hybrids dumping steaming water on each other. This was all of the cultural enrichment I needed, but as I turned to leave, a great mound of Turkish monstrosity seized me by the arm. This was a man who called himself Hussein, I now believe him to be Diana’s “wet works” professional. His eyes were as dark as sin and his nostrils flared like a horse on dope.

The GOLEM, give him a mustache and you have a Hussein lookalike

In this sweltering dungeon his unrelenting grip was cool and his silence colder. Hussein brought to mind a hairy version of the Jewish folklore figure, the Golem – a soulless beast made of clay and powered by some magical Cabalistic scroll, but something told me Hussein wouldn’t care much for my comparison. Something told me Hussein didn’t care for anything, but his singular mission – incurring pain and making lesser men (a vast majority of mankind) squeal.

At this point, I wasn’t entirely certain of what was playing out, though I began to fear the worst. Hussein brought me into a hotter, damper, room that was filled with other “patrons”. Surely, my guide to the underworld wasn’t going to murder me in front of other people. Within this large, round, room was a magnificent slab of steaming stone. Hussein pushed me upon the rock, where I tried to find enough room to lie down juxtaposed to the other bodies – bodies who were covered as minimally as myself, much to my chagrin (here I shall forgo the redundancy of mentioning again the largeness and hairiness of my captors). Finding no where else to look, I steadied my gaze to the ceiling and focused on positive thoughts as the scorched stone cooked my innards.

As one would be tempted to do in my position, I tried to flee. Hussein put a meaty hand on my chest and shoved me back onto the rock. Apparently, I was only half-baked. I sweat it out a few more eons of eternity before Hussein grabbed me by the ankles and swung me towards the stone’s edge as I yelped and tried to hold my towel in place. Hussein fought my hysteria by dousing me with scaldingly hot water. I held my breath as he dumped bucket after bucket down on me. It wasn’t quite water-boarding, but I figured it was just the foreplay of some Ottoman torture technique. Once saturated, Hussein moved his giant paws against my flesh, kneading me like dough. The NeverMom was not present in this dungeon, but I cried out for her Nevertheless. Hussein mangled my body in ways that the memory even now wrenches pangs from amongst my shattered chakras. I have been more gentle with empty toothpaste tubes than Hussein was on me this fateful night.

Hussein continued to alternate between dousing me with hot water and manhandling my body, each cycle increasing my nausea as I became delirious from the pain. I began babbling uncontrollably. In my panic, I first began asking questions, which was futile as Hussein neither spoke English nor had any reason to respond. Still, between each bucket of water, I would ask:
– Why are you doing this?
– Are you working for the Chinese?
– What do you want from me?

Eventually, though, I began regurgitating raw data, hoping I could provide the answers he was looking for and end my inquisition:
– Okay, okay, I am not Hungarian. I am not really even that into paprika
– I am not a spy. I am not a spy. I am not a spy.
– My real name is Vic Neverman. I mean, that’s my real alias.
– I am writing a book on the 4th Crusade, but I can’t get past my introduction that is already 500 pages long about the 3rd Crusade.
– I am a spy. I am a spy. I am a spy.

Apparently, one of my admissions was the confession the Council of Ten was looking for. I was released back into the night.

Fleeing the dungeon, I attempted to diligently drown my torqued torso with the limp local beers, but these liquids merely puddled somewhere within this hollowed shell of man. I was just a tourist from the west, yet I had stepped into intrigues I could not have fathomed and fallen victim to the plots of an Oriental seductress in this most ancient of settings.

Did I, Vic Neverman, slither a spineless shape back to a secure hotel room? No. I dusted off my cargo pants and utility vest and went seeking the huntress who deemed me prey. It was time to learn who this “Diana” was.

Vic Neverman posing as a Hungarian carpet merchant and in the clutches of Diana, Chinese spy hunter