The Accidental Murder
NOTES: Murat is a conservative working class Turkish man. He’s married to a woman who refuses to have sex after a serious case of cervical cancer. He is frustrated. He hadn’t planned to kill, but when a young girl approaches his car for reasons he doesn’t understand, he views it as an opportunity. I hardly ever write in first person, but on this occasion wanted to. This exercise was to look at character.
I lit my fifth cigarette of the hour and opened the window to let in some air, not that it did much good. The radio said it was the hottest day of the year and I’d have bet my weekly pay-cheque on that being right. I undid the top button of my shirt, but it didn’t help. The cotton was stuck to my skin because of the humidity infiltrating my car, since the air filters were blocked and the AC no longer worked. There was about an hour before my wife would expect me home and Perhaps I should find a cool café to sit in, but even that felt like too much effort. I could barely breathe in this oppressive heat, but it was better than the atmosphere at home.
This part of Istanbul is dull compared to our neighbourhood with its kids playing on the tarmac and vendors hustling to make ends meet. The buildings there are shiny, unlike our crumbling apartment block with its brightly coloured laundry strung from the windows on old TV cables. I bet they don’t wake up to howling street dogs, fighting couples or gunshots around here. I bet they get a proper night’s sleep.
I pulled hard on the cigarette and the smoke gushed down my throat and out through my nostrils. I shut my eyes and leaned my head against the headrest I’d just fitted that week. The car was my territory and it was where I was happiest. My prayer beads felt smooth passing them between my fingers, a habit that was calming. Work had been demanding and my wife was being difficult since she’d had the operation. I watched the foreman across the way lock up and let my mind remain idle.
I didn’t see the girl approaching and to be honest it was a bit of a surprise when she stopped by the open window.
‘Are you the flower man?’
I looked up at my nicotine stained air-freshener, the shape of a rose, hanging from the rear view mirror, then back at her. ‘Yes,’ I said, because she was young and pretty.
She walked around the car and climbed into the passenger seat. What was I supposed to do? She just hopped into my car with her legs dangling from her summer shorts and smiled back at me. She wore a hoody that didn’t fit with the heat we were both sweltering in. She smelt of lemons. She was shiny and smooth. Her legs were as long as the horizon stretching out before us. Before I knew what I was doing, I’d started the engine and we were pulling out of the car park. I offered her a cigarette, but she said she didn’t smoke although she took the packet from me anyway and looked inside. I got on with driving because I didn’t know what else to do.
‘Would you like some tea?’ I suggested for lack of anything interesting to say.
‘Maybe next time.’
‘Would you like something to eat?’
‘No. I need to get home. Got stuff to do for tomorrow.’
‘Okay. But I need to get some petrol.’ I needed a destination while deciding what to do. I turned on the lights and attempted to shut out the call to prayer by closing the window. ‘Where are you from?’
‘Germany, but my dad’s Turkish.’
‘Yeah? Your Turkish is good.’
‘Thanks. I’m working on it, you know.’
I was keen to show her I knew cool people in the area so I slowed down and honked my horn at the porters outside the nightclub. They waved back. She didn’t look impressed.
‘The petrol station is just ahead.’
‘Okay. Then you give me the flowers, yeah?’
‘Sure.’ We drove in silence for a few minutes until we reached the station. Thankfully, it wasn’t busy. The attendant put the desired amount in the tank, not much, twenty liras worth, just enough to get me somewhere else. She looked at the dial as if assessing the small amount of petrol the attendant had put in the tank.
‘Are you scared?’ I asked as I started the car. I don’t know why I asked her that.
‘No, should I be?’
‘I’m not going to rob you if that’s what you think. Look, I have plenty of money.’ I showed her the stack of notes I’d just got from my boss that day. ‘See?’ I pulled out of the petrol station and turned north.
‘This isn’t the way home.’ She said, her voice sounded different.
‘We’re going in the right direction. Don’t you worry.’
‘Doesn’t look like the right direction.’
I’m not sure when I decided to do what I did to her. I hadn’t planned it. But there comes a time in every man’s life when one must decide to take control. Anyway, she was the one that had gotten in my car. It wasn’t my doing.
‘Look, haven’t you got the pot?’ She asked.
‘Pot. You know. Smokey smokey.’ She made a hand gesture as if she were smoking a joint.
Me carry drugs. Was she kidding?
‘Look we’re going in the wrong direction.’ She was clutching the bottle of water I’d bought her at the station.
Stupidly I’d asked for the most expensive one and it was made of glass. What was I supposed to do? She might have used it against me.
I took the turn onto the interstate, she kept asking me to stop and buy some flowers as we passed some gypsy flower sellers on the side of the road. I agreed and suggested red, yellow or perhaps pink. I had no intention to buy flowers. The colours became a blur as we passed them by.
‘You need to take me home. This isn’t the way.’ She pointed at the signs, but she was bluffing. She didn’t really know where she was.
‘Look at the lights.’
We passed a bridge and I took the slip road east away from the interstate. She became quite annoyed and told me to stop the car but I kept driving. It was too late for that.
As we turned the bend, she opened the passenger door. ‘Stop the damn car. I’ll jump.’ She was serious. Her feet were now hanging out of the car.
I leant over and pulled her hoody with my right hand. She was struggling and tried to hit me with the bottle so
I grabbed her hair and next thing you know she’d hit her head against the dashboard. Her body went limp. We were out of the city now. I drove for a few hundred metres with the door flapping, holding onto her hair with my right hand. The road was deserted, so I slowed down.
She was still breathing at this point but her head was bleeding all over the seat. There was a forest up ahead, which was a stroke of luck. I kept driving. She should never have gotten into my car, foolish girl. I mean, who does that? A girl who buys drugs, that’s who. Far be it from me to let that go unpunished.