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NECATI BEY / Michael Gurian IT'S MANY YEARS later. Necati Bey is presumably still doing his business in Ankara, in that area of the old city called Copper Alley, and I've been back in the States for years. My hair is turning grey at the sides—only little filaments, but enough to make a statement. I've settled in with a second wife, a child on the way. It's still hiding inside her; sometimes I think it's watching us. I often asked Necati Bey why I had the urge to move back to Seattle after so many years overseas. He sat across from me at the backgammon board in his tiny shop, produced one of his store of Turkish proverbs—"It seems there is bread there for you to eat"—then took advantage of my distracted concentration. I lost a lot of money to him, but he predicted a good life for me upon my return to the States and perhaps I've found it. And in a few months, more sustenance, in the form of a young mystery is coming. Perhaps this is why I am remembering Necati Bey. But there is of course more. I said' he's presumably still doing business in Ankara, because I don't know. When I left Turkey, he did not notice me go. He had stopped being present in his shop at the times he knew I would come. His son, who was taking over the business, invariably stood in his place—politely, firmly—and sent me on my way. "Can I at least speak to him?" I would ask. "Is there a problem?" "No, no. No problem. My father is tired today," Or, "My father sends his regards." Or, "My father is back in his workshop, not to be disturbed." I would therefore go back to the workshop, wondering if in fact his son were not unconsciously sending me there. Necati Bey's store sold copper and brass bowls, figurines, trays, belts, lanterns, canteens, some of them very old, but most of them new. He did the pounding and chiselling decoration on these items in a workshop down an alley nearby. Often I walked along there, hearing around me the clanging of countless similar workshops. Sometimes I thought I heard his particular chiselling in the cacophony, and moved a little faster toward his door. But when I arrived at the window of his place, looked through the glass filmed with a transparent patina of dust, noted the fire in red coals, tools heating at the fire, a half-drunk tea on the edge of The Missouri Review · 33 the worktable, but the place otherwise empty, I saw—or imagined I saw—a whiff of steam rising from the tea glass, as if he'd left everything suddenly, escaped. Once, just after sunset, I went into the empty workshop. I cleaned off a gritty stool and sat, waiting. Men walked by, stepped in, chatted, left again. The son appeared, asked me why I was there. "You said he might be here," I reminded him. "But won't you please leave?" he asked. "You know everything. There is nothing left to say." With my hands folded over a package on my lap, I remained where I was, rudely silent. The silence gave me, I hoped, an air of being intensely insulted, of holding back righteous anger. The son, in his middle twenties, just a few years younger than I, wanted neither to insult nor to confront me—my problem with his father was, after all, not directly his business, and he might have sided with me, in a way. We were only a few years apart, as I've said, and a father is, in a sense, an enemy when you are young. He murmured that he would try to find his father; I said I would wait until he did. Twice he came back, looked in, saw me still there. Thirty minutes passed before he gave in. He brought his father to the door, left him there, and Necati Bey walked into the room out of the noisy, darkened street. "You've been avoiding me," I said, putting my...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 33-43
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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