Istanbul – The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is the one of the few tourist destinations in the world that attracts more locals than foreigners.  But there are still enough yabancilar bargaining for trinkets to allow a couple sitting with their helva and coffee to go unnoticed.  Dreyfus loved these kinds of places – busy with people, commerce and history – smooth-stone old and full of stories.  Plus he knew that the very best way to remain unseen is to stay in plain sight.  Emily, on the other hand, wasn’t sure how to act inconspicuously and kept adjusting her pashmina and sunglasses – until Dreyfus gave her his guidebook and told her to quit.  They sat on the edge of a crowd of tables so Dreyfus could see Café Havuzlu’s crowd of tables and both approaches.  He had watched Sylvia Harrow and her granddaughter Madison walk in and sit down and was only mildly surprised that grandma didn’t look like a grandma, at all.  However, Madison was exactly the kind of pouty teenager he thought she’d be.  He sipped his coffee.

“Can you take care of the granddaughter?  I want her away from the table,” Dreyfus said evenly without turning his head.

“Are they here?”

“Straight across on the right.  No rush.  Finish your coffee.”  Dreyfus’ expression didn’t change.

Emily gave the market an exaggerated casual glance.  It didn’t matter: Dreyfus already knew that no one was being watched or followed.  Ms. Harrow had covered her tracks.  She knew what she was doing, and Dreyfus preferred to work with people who did.  He relaxed – barely.  Emily did not and nervously ate another helva.  A minute or so later, Dreyfus raised a finger to the waiter and pulled a 50 Lira note out of his pocket.  He folded it once and put it underneath his coffee cup.  Then he stood up and reached for Emily’s hand.

“We’re going to walk straight across, no hurry, no purpose,” Dreyfus said and stepped forward.  Emily caught his hand and stepped in beside him.

“Well, hi!  Imagine running into you guys here!” Dreyfus’ voice was North American loud but still mostly lost in the noise of the market.

“Look, Emily!  It’s Sylvia and Madison.  What are you two doing in Istanbul?”

Before anyone could answer, Dreyfus sat down and, in a much quieter voice, said, “Emily, why don’t you take Madison shopping and … stay where I can see you.”

Emily stepped forward. She had one job: she hooked her hand under Madison’s elbow, practically pulled her out of the chair and moved her quickly into the market.  They were deep in the crowd before Madison reacted and shook her arm out of Emily’s grasp.

“What the hell are you doing?”

Emily stopped. “Sinclair has some business to discuss with your grandmother, and from what I understand, we don’t want to hear it.  Okay.  So let’s just …”

“I’m not going anywhere.  I don’t know you.”

“I don’t know you either, but from what I do know about Sylvia Harrow, you and I need to be somewhere else right now.”

“You don’t know my grandmother.”

“Apparently, neither do you.  She’s a bit of a legend around here.”

“Yeah, so everybody keeps telling me,” Madison said sarcastically.

Emily grabbed Madison by the shoulder, reached up with her other hand and pulled off the girl’s sunglasses.

“Alright, little girl!  Lose the attitude!  Look, in case you haven’t noticed, these people are serious and they don’t have time to deal with a petulant teenager.  You need to keep quiet and let the adults work.”

“My grandmother …”

“Your grandmother is busy.  She’s trying to make sure some other silly kid doesn’t end up with a short and very nasty movie career.  Okay?  They’re not planning the prom over there.  And if they don’t do it right, people are going to get killed.  Do you understand that?”

Emily could see that Madison didn’t – not really.  But her eyes said she was trying hard.  Clever child.  And for that couple of seconds, Emily remembered, without thinking, when she was young – nothing more than a girl — suddenly dealing with a dose of lethal reality.  She knew what the beckoning fear in Madison’s stomach felt like.  The terror of not being able to run and not knowing what to do if you don’t.  She felt a lot more sympathy for this poor girl who was clearly out of her depth.

“Don’t worry,” she said, gently. “Your grandmother knows what she’s doing.  Back in the day, she used to play hide and seek with the Russian army.  And believe me, that’s a good trick.  I know a little bit about dealing with Russians.”

Emily fluttered her left hand, showing off her missing ring finger.  Madison moved her eyes in surprise.  Emily smiled and dropped her hand.

“Do you know how your grandmother got away?  How she escaped?”

“No, I … she never told me.” Madison said, utterly deflated.

“The story goes, on the prison train from Kiev to Siberia she got one of the KGB guards in a chokehold and jumped.” Emily arched her eyebrow, “Moving train.”

Emily made a diving motion with her hand.

“I – uh – didn’t …”

“Hey,” Emily half laughed, “Your grandmother’s hard core.  If anybody can do this thing, she can.  It’s going to be alright, but you need to keep your mouth shut and just do as you’re told.  Okay?”

Emily gave Madison back her sunglasses with the hand that was missing a finger.  She watched Madison’s eyes.

“It was a business deal.  Sinclair got what he wanted, and I lost a finger.  Now, c’mon!  Let’s go look at some scarves.”

“Ms. Harrow, my name is Dreyfus Sinclair.”

To Sylvia, Dreyfus Sinclair looked like a college professor who needed some sleep, not exactly the sort she had expected.

“Sylvia, please.”

“We need to make this brief.  Right now, we’re just a couple of expats who ran into each other by chance.  Let’s keep it quick and simple.  I have the person you’re looking for, or at least I will very soon.  How are you getting out of the country?”

“You talked to Karga?”

“For our purposes, Ms. Harrow, I’ve never heard of him.  What’s your plan to get out of the country?”

This was business.

“I’ve got passports and a car waiting just inside the Bulgarian border.  We drive across and either …”

Sinclair put his hand in the air. “Since the refugees, the border is a lot tighter than it used to be, and there’s no way of knowing who those guys are working for.”

“I know the roads.  There are a lot of ways for silly women to get into Bulgaria.  The passports are to get out again.”

“Do you know your way in the dark?”

Sylvia nodded.

“And when can you be ready to go?”

“Right now.  All I need is time to rent a car.”

“Don’t.  I’ve rented one for you.”  Dreyfus reached into to his pocket and handed her a key. “Dump it when you’re done.”

Sylvia took the key.

“Walk straight that way until you get to the street, and press the fob.  It’s the exact same model as mine, so you’ll know what to look for, when we make the switch.  The only difference is yours is black and mine is white.  Do you know the Mall of Istanbul?”

“The big one right on the highway?  I can find it.”

“Okay, I’ll meet you there tonight at the main entrance, front and centre, just after dark.  Nine o’clock.  There’ll be lots of tourists, so nobody’s going to notice a couple more.  And I doubt if anybody’s going to think of checking the CCTV at a shopping mall – at least not right away.  We make the switch, and you head for the border.  And don’t stop.  Once the Albanians figure out what’s going on, they’re going to make life very unpleasant around here.  You need to be as far away as possible.  I’m going to use my car as the decoy.  I’ll leave it someplace conspicuous — that should slow them down for a while, but not forever.  They’re going to start checking, and unfortunately you’re already on everybody’s radar.  So, if you can, don’t go back to the hotel, and stay away from your Turkish friends.  That’s the first place they’ll look.”

Dreyfus watched Sylvia trace the plan in her mind.  Yeah, Emily was right: he was a fanboy.

“Okay.  I need a place to stay out of sight today.  Maddy needs some sleep, and I have to make sure my people are in place.”

“Do you know Salema’s?”


“Uh – it used to be – uh — Ev Nabil?”

“Yes, I know it.  It’ll work.”

“Okay, I’ll see you at nine – Mall of Istanbul — and if I’m not there by nine thirty, clear out and run for the border because everything’s gone sideways.”

Dreyfus started to get up.

“Thank you,” Sylvia said sincerely, “I – uh – I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do this.”

Dreyfus laughed, “No worries.  From what I hear, you used to do this stuff in your sleep.  I’ll send Madison back in a minute,” and then louder, “No problem.  Your hotel tomorrow night for dinner.  ‘Til then.”

Dreyfus raised his hand and walked away.

After Madison went back to her grandmother, Emily and Dreyfus wandered and shopped (Emily bought a bracelet) for another half an hour to make certain the two women were gone.  Then they left the market and stood at the entrance.

“There’s a white Rav4 around here somewhere.” Dreyfus clicked the fob in his hand.  There was a flash and a beep at the end of the street.  Dreyfus offered his arm, and Emily fell into step.

“When you go get the girl, I’m going to come with you,” she said.

“No, I don’t think so.”

Emily wasn’t interested in Dreyfus’ opinion. “That girl is frightened out of her skin, Sinclair.  And I have a fairly good idea of how this Karga fellow is going to convince the Albanians to let her go.  Then you’re going to show up with your business face on and scare the shit out of her.”

Dreyfus stopped and turned to Emily.

Without turning to look, Emily pointed her finger forward.  “No!  That girl’s been through enough and that’s an end to it,” she said and started walking.

Dreyfus thought about it and gave one long exasperated exhale.  He took a few quick steps forward and offered Emily his arm, again.

“I’m really not that scary,” he said.

“Dreyfus, you might act like a teddy bear, and I love you dearly, but on dark nights, wolves make fires to keep you away.”


You can read the original draft of “Madison’s Grandma” here

Or find the whole adventure Songs of Sylvia here

You can read more about Emily and Dreyfus “Christmas at Pyaridge Hall” here

Or find Dreyfus and the Duchess here

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