Istanbul — The Escape

There are three bridges over the Bosporus, and Dreyfus was driving hard for the middle one, Sultan Mehmet.  He’d memorized the route and there wasn’t much traffic, but he was having trouble – a lot of trouble.  The truth is Dreyfus wasn’t a very good driver, and he knew it.  Plus, unlike lines on a map, Istanbul streets were narrow and indistinguishable.  And it didn’t help that there was a military-green Land Rover appearing and disappearing in his rear view mirror, or that Emily was on her knees beside him, leaning into the back seat with her damn ass in the air.  She was struggling to untangle a tangle of terrified arms and legs.  The five girls were trying their best, but they were frightened and confused, shaking and sobbing.  One poor thing, directly behind Dreyfus, had drunk the water too fast and was gagging it back up in long, slimy strings.  Dreyfus tightened his concentration.

“Just sit up.  Sit up!  There.  Now put your foot.  No, no, here … move just a bit … Like.  Yes, there!” Emily turned her head to Dreyfus.  “We have to stop so I can fix the seats!”

“No!” Dreyfus’ voice was measured, “Not until we get across the bridge.”  Dreyfus turned into another nondescript street.  “Do the best you can.”  Forward, he still couldn’t see the approach to the highway.  He checked the rear view mirror.  Not there now – not yet, anyway.  Then. there is was again – the Land Rover.  This wasn’t just someone out for an evening drive; it was definitely the Albanians, likely a spotter car, sent after them from the firefight and probably already calling for reinforcements.  If he could get to the highway, Dreyfus knew he could lose them in the asphalt knots of entrances and exits – but where the hell was it?

A car surprised him, coming out of a side street.  Dreyfus automatically swerved, throwing everyone screaming sideways, and the other driver jammed his brakes and lay on the horn.  Just past the avoided collision, Dreyfus stomped his own brakes, found reverse by feel, spun the steering wheel and, less than five seconds later, was accelerating backwards.  He hit the stopped car just in front of the passenger door, crumpling the hood and the front quarter panel.  More screams and Emily with some industrial-strength swearing, but the thick rubber bumper of larger Rav 4 absorbed most of the impact.  Dreyfus shifted back to drive, pushed hard on the gas pedal and sped off.  The Land Rover was trapped behind the wrecked car – for now.  But it was the two or three minutes Dreyfus needed to find the bridge and get over to the European side.  Once he was there, he could get off the highway and disappear out of the range of the traffic cameras.

Thirty minutes later, that’s where they were — away from the cameras, parked on a side street.  Dreyfus had folded the back seats down, and Emily had rearranged the girls so that, even if they weren’t comfortable, they could at least lean on each other.  They didn’t care.  They were still in shock, hollow-eyed, empty with exhaustion and clinging to Emily’s voice.  She left the passenger door open and stepped back to where Dreyfus was closing the hatchback.

“Alright, that should do for now.  Are you sure you don’t want me to drive the rest of the way?”  Dreyfus didn’t miss the slight slap against his automotive skills.  Lady Perry-Turner was nothing if not resilient.    

“No, the alibi’s more important.  But I don’t see any cabs around here.”

“Don’t worry about that.  I’ll find my way to the St. Regis.  But I’m going to have a big drink before I go back to the hotel.”

Dreyfus smiled, “Have one for me.”  He exhaled and raised five fingers.  “This blows the hell out of Plan A.  I’ll deposit our girl, whichever one she is, but I’m going to have to get the others over the border.  They’re not safe here.  Russians?”  Dreyfus shook his head, “They’ve got a long reach in this town.”

“Do what you do.  Just fix it.  I’ll be at the hotel until you get there, and if anybody asks, you’re upstairs — dying of diarrhea.”  Emily smiled.

Dreyfus rolled his eyes skyward.

“Go, you’re going to be late.”  Emily reached up and kissed him, turned and went back to the passenger door.  She stuck her head in.

“Girls.  Okay, just a little bit longer.  Stay quiet, and we’ll get you out of here as soon as we can.  Alright?”  Emily closed the door.  She wasn’t sure if the girls understood or not, but she didn’t think it mattered anyway.  She walked away.

Dreyfus got in the driver’s seat and started the engine.  He watched Emily for a few seconds, then turned the car into the street and drove past her.  He only had the original route to the Mall of Istanbul in his head.  That meant getting back onto the highway and being seen by the traffic cameras, but he knew he had at least a twenty minute head start on the Albanians, and he didn’t want to waste it.

Emily walked around the corner and stopped at the first open shop window.

Taksi nerede?” she asked.

“One street more,” the man answered in English and pointed, “Busy street, lady.  A lot of taxis.  You go there.”

Tesekkurler,” Emily said, turned and walked away, vaguely wondering how Dreyfus was going to get those girls over the border.

You can start reading this Emily and Dreyfus adventure here

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