I’d been revelling in madness’ throes all day. The last night in Fethiye was one of those insanely depressing, disconcertingly comforting kind of nights, a microcosm for everything and nothing. Sipping Efes in an empty bar, watching an empty game of football – mid-table Germans bashing each other with mind-numbing mediocrity – we’d been to the so-called ‘ghost town’ earlier but this was the real fucking thing. Not a tourist attraction, not a clump of ruins on a daisy hillside, but a real fucking town with a real fucking dearth of people. I wanted to go to Club Bananas, god knows why. Josh vetoed it, which proved wise when we strolled past, bottle of vodka in hand – a deserted barn, with a sprinkling of greasy cruisers dotted round the entrance, preening to nobody. I was frustrated that there was nowhere to go, and frustrated that I was frustrated, a double dose of self-loathing that always stemmed from the same thing. I had texted her the previous night, when I was bubbling and raging and crying, and now I was empty as well.
It looked like it was going to be another night of spliffs and Portishead, dancing around our freezing room yelling platitudes from the Goo Goo Dolls and other teenage memory-jerkers. But Josh hauled himself up on the gangplank of some vessel and we kotched there, whilst he tried to unsuccessfully persuade me to tightrope walk across the bay. He was wavering on the right end of the drunk-introspection spectrum, nudging the border affectionately. This was after we got thrown out of the hotel courtyard, and before we finished the bottle. I knew the next day would be hellish.
And of course it was. The bus ride seemed standard enough – snow and dark and Johnny Cash and dollops of Mahfouz and salami – but fourteen hours is enough to wear anyone down. I spent one particularly unnecessary stop prowling about in the falling ice, chasing after a pack of stray dogs. Times like that I know I’m falling into my own personal depressive-hedonistic hell, which has become a home from home, but fuck it, the groove is too worn down to escape from. So when we left dog-white middle-of-nowhere-ville I finally fell asleep in the back of bus, dreaming of her.
Josh woke me at 5.30am, announcing with measured concern that we were being ejected from the vehicle. Of course we were, the one time we take the only ‘reliable’ bus company in the country they dump us in some frozen back-corner of Cappadocia in the early-morning light, shivering our arses off. We didn’t even know what fucking village we were in as the behemoth sped off, taking my hat – the last refuge of my addled mind, the one adornment that gave me the veneer of the man I wanted to be, not the shit I’ve become – with it. All I had left to stave off pneumonia was my bloody beanie, a woven joke that Josh said made me look like a cross between a four-year-old and a condom. A dozen dickheads passed our flailing arms before one kind soul drove us a few kilometres towards Göreme. Even so, it was too far to walk with our bags, and the sun was coming up and the snow was falling harder, and we were by the side of the road in the middle of the Anatolian wilderness, and I knew by Josh’s face – and the fact he had begun to belt out Maccabee drinking songs – that he was on the elevator down to his personal hell as well. So we did the logical thing – cracked open the 12-year old malt whiskey that she had given me, and lit some cigarettes. I wandered off to some cliff-top to piss and sight-see through the haze. Josh carried on singing.
Fast-forward ten hours and we’re warm, but gluttons for punishment. So we head off to the tuff, the phallus-shaped fairy chimneys of Volcanic ash and cave-holes. I’ve got frostbite on the right foot, and Josh is harbouring delusions of spending the night in one of these troglodyte-relics, so we climb into one and start a fire, choking on our own fumes as we sing Third Eye Blind and sigh over a semi-charmed kind of life. And now we’re playing it again, while silent restaurant-boy shags his fit girlfriend in the room next door and Josh ponders the patriarchal-significance of squat toilets. And talks to the dog. And now restaurant-boy is back to answer his phone and check we’re not nicking beers, and he has a self-satisfied post-coital glow. And there’s nothing left to do but write and think and dream and squall.