Refugee: Part Three - The Kingdom of Heaven

by William King

Chapter 4


Regugge, Part three, by William King - Piraeus

It was just another ordinary day until finally things seemed to be moving and changing for the better. Dimitri came to fetch them and opening the cell he led them out and along the corridor to the office where the Captain was sitting behind his desk. He addressed Dimitri in their own language as they all arrived, then he produced a large brown envelope from his desk draw, which he pushed across the desk.

The boys stood side by side in front of the Captain's desk, Samir focused on the envelope, Rifat was simply looking at the desk and wondering what this was all about, Firas glanced over at Dimitri.

He picked up the envelope and withdrew the documents inside, handing one paper to each boy. The Captain seemed sympathetic and was even smiling as Dimitri explained what was about to happen.

"You will be put on board a ferry, leaving tonight for Piraeus, which you know is on the mainland. This document is to be given to the officials who will be meeting the boat. They will take you to a refugee centre for minors, children."

Dimitri looked at the boys to make sure they were following what he was saying. Firas nodded. "Later, the officials in Piraeus will issue you with a White Card. This is an International Protection Seekers Card, and you will have a date shown for your meeting with the officials to decide your right to be granted asylum. That means that if this is granted you will be able to stay, and will be under protection until you become eighteen."

The Captain indicated to Dimitri to continue, he seemed to be wanting to get this over and done with as quickly as possible.

"You must not miss the time and date fixed for your interview. That is the one most important thing to remember. Miss it and it's all over."

The Captain spoke to Dimitri and he turned to the boys, telling them they needed to follow him back to the cell now.

As he locked the cell door for probably the final time, Dimitri told them he would be back this evening to take them to the ferry. He tried to reassure each of them that everything would be alright, things were progressing in a positive way.

Once on their own, the boys were both excited and apprehensive, talking about the trip on the boat, about getting refugee status and about how they would find Amar and Halil, Rifat's cousin. What they didn't know is that the Captain had managed to shrug off the responsibility of the boys, just as he had done with the adults. If the strict letter of the procedure was followed, then they should register for asylum in Rhodes. But the Captain knew that the process could easily take six months, maybe longer. He didn't want them stuck here for that length of time, there was nowhere to put all these refugees.

Once issued with the White Card, they would not be able to move until the hearing on their refugee status and being granted or rejected asylum. Nothing was actually certain despite a new found enthusiasm amongst the boys, the document they each had was nothing more than a neat side step by the Captain – passing the buck.

Everything went more or less as Dimitri had said it would. He was there when they were taken out of their cell and put into the back seat of a police car, they even got their back packs including Amar's. Dimitri wished them good luck as they boarded the ferry, and each of them knew that he genuinely meant it.

The port was lit up with the glaring white light from the lamps on top of tall posts, and the rear of the boat with the ramp, was illuminated in a halo of light from each side. They walked aboard as the last of the vehicles finished loading. They climbed up the metal stairs to the rear passenger deck, and Samir thought to himself – I hope this was the ferry Amar was on and that I will find him again.

Piraeus port, a vast desert of concrete, the dropping off and embarkation point for vehicles, people, and refugees. But whilst the vehicles are just passing through, and the people board buses, the refugees arriving join the 1500 or so already there in the camp. Of course they could just walk out, any security there might be, is very lax. But get stopped outside without any papers and that is goodbye to any hope of staying in Europe.

Firas, Samir, and Rifat, knew nothing of this, the only thing stopping them from walking out was their desire to search the camp and find Amar and Halil. No officials met them on arrival, no one demanded to see the papers given them by the police Captain in Rhodes, they simply got pointed in the direction of some large hangers across the far side of the concrete wasteland.

Samir had not slept much overnight on the ferry, he didn't think either of the others had. They spent a lot of the night talking, about their past, where they were from, family, friends, the life before the bombs and the war. They knew each other pretty well now, not surprising considering all the time they had been together, and not surprising either that a real bond had formed between them.

The first thing he noticed was the hangars were filled with rows of tents, the coloured material of these flimsy makeshift homes added a weird feel to the bareness of the place. The blue, yellow, and orange contrasting with the rusted steel beams and dirty brickwork. There was hardly any room between the tents, so they passed in single file looking, searching to see if they could find Amar or Halil.

Portable toilets stood at one end like the sentinels of some robotic army, motionless, and basic, as were the washing facilities. Along the length of the first row, back up the next, and so on, slowly. Sometimes they would stop to ask, but no luck. After going up and down each row they thought checked all the hangers and all the tents inside. Samir was starting to feel anxious. He never said anything, but his hopes were high to find and be reunited with Amar. Now he was choking back the tears, the sadness was about to overwhelm him. The long journey to nowhere was going to destroy him, wash him away in the desolation that was reflected all around them.

"There are other people camped across the railway tracks underneath the overpass," someone was telling Firas.

"Thanks, "Firas replied, then turning towards his two friends he said, "Come on, let's check it out."

He tried to sound upbeat and positive, this was their last chance, and he could sense how Samir was feeling, and probably Rifat as well. He put one arm around each boy and together they headed off across the railway.

It was getting dark, day was slowly changing into night, at least we have the tent, he thought, because pretty soon they would have to find somewhere to sleep, and that was probably their only choice. Pitch the tent somewhere.

All of a sudden Rifat shouted out, "Halil! Halil!" He almost screamed as he ran towards the shadowy figure of a young man. The man turned at hearing his name, saw his cousin and opened his arms as Rifat rushed headlong into his embrace.

Firas and Samir were close behind. All kinds of thoughts and emotions were going through Samir's mind – they are here, they made it, they must all be here... where, where is Amar.

"Where is AMAR!" Samir screamed, he couldn't help it.

Halil looked up from hugging his cousin. He knew what the boy was feeling, he was overcome with emotion himself. Amar had talked about his friends and their life together, their journey out of Syria, through Turkey. He grabbed hold of Samir with one arm and pulled him close.

"He's here. I'll take you."

The tears were welling up in his eyes as they all moved off together to find Amar. He saw the boys approaching, he had been looking out for Halil who had gone to find some food. In the next instance Samir was in Amar's arms and Firas was brought into the embrace, which ended with all five of them in one large group hug. Samir's face was wet with salty tears, Firas too was crying, and so was Rifat.

After five weeks in this desolate place they had done what was required by way of registration, but the waiting was interminable, and the conditions very basic. One positive thing was that with each of them having the White Card they had a date fixed for there meeting to see if they would be given asylum. They could leave the camp freely, there was little control, but outside did not offer anything more than they had in the camp.

They were not welcomed by the local residents and there were some dark characters hanging around the outside of the camp, even inside sometimes. Although they were safe from the terror of the war, they were not living a life without danger. The essential thing was to be aware and simply hang on for as long as it takes, but their hearing dates were in six months, a long time to survive in the camp doing nothing.

They had each other and they had pitched their tent in a space under the road bridge, across the railway tracks. To the tent they had added some canvas sheeting and a large piece of clear plastic. All this tied together with string and somewhat precariously hung up, did give a semblance of living space. How they would fare after the summer and through the winter remained to be seen.

Firas wanted to get access to a phone, to call Jordan. It was way too long since he left them on the beach in Rhodes, he must be back home in America by now, he thought. The problem was they had no money and neither did anyone else. Halil had lost his phone, Firas knew he would have helped if he could, but he had no money either.

They had become a solid little group, the five of them, and happily shared the space together. Halil frequently talked about leaving, and taking Rifat with him, to make the journey to Thessalonica in the North of Greece, but that was a long way and a big risk.

It was a day like any other, when Firas met Stefan. He was not a local Greek, but an Eastern European, from Serbia or Croatia, one of those countries further north. Stefan had arrived in a car, which he parked outside one of the gates, but Firas had seen the car pull up, a black Mercedes, sleek, expensive. His uncle had one very similar, Firas always remembered taking a ride in that car with his cousins, but that was another world, a long time ago.

Stefan must also have noticed Firas looking, because he gave a sign for him to come over, nothing very obvious, just a small gesture, a movement of hand and head.

"I saw you looking," Stefan said as Firas arrived, and looked at the man, who was well dressed. "It's a nice car ah?" He gave a nod of his head.

"Yeah, super." Firas was unsure of this guy. He had seen him hanging around, talking to some of the boys. Once he saw him leave with somebody he had come to pick up, but he didn't know much about who he was, or what he was doing here.

"How long you been here?" Stefan asked him.

"Too long," Firas replied, kicking the dirt with his feet.

""Firas!" He turned on hearing his name called. It was Samir, who came running up to join them. "I was looking for you," Samir said.

"Well you found me," Firas replied smiling.

"Who's your friend?" Stefan asked, and Samir looked at the guy standing there with Firas, someone he had not paid any attention to.

Firas saw something in the way Stefan observed Samir. Observed, he wasn't simply looking, it was like an appraisal. The way he was looking reminded Firas of the many times he had been in these situations, when he met Edmund, and Mustafa, the sweat shop owner, the police Captain on Rhodes, even Burhan. They all had this way of looking that amounted to more than just looking, they were summing you up, appraising your worth. But worth for what? With Mustafa it was easy, he was working out if you would be a useful worker, the police Captain was a little more devious, he was all about knowing what type of character you were. With Burhan it was an appreciation of your physique and trustworthiness; Edmund, he was just a deviant prick!

And Stefan, what was he? What was this guy about?

"I'm Samir," Samir answered before Firas said anything.

"Pleased to meet you Samir," Stefan held out his hand.

Firas watched the gentle handshake that lingered, maybe just a little too long. What Firas didn't see, was the third finger with which Stefan stroked the palm of Samir's hand as he held it.

Samir looked into Stefan's eyes, he couldn't read anything there, Stefan smiled at him, and for some unknown reason Samir felt incredibly sexy. He forgot why he had come chasing after Firas, he felt something like an electric current pass between them. From the incredible touch in his palm the feeling coursed through his arm, through his body, and rested in his groin, stirring it to life.

I don't think I like this guy, Firas thought. "Let's go!" He said to Samir, and pulled him away.

Stefan winked, turned and walked off into the camp away from them.

As they were making their way across the open space, away from the hangers, towards the railway, Firas asked, "Why did you come to find me?"

"Oh, I wondered if you was going outside. I was gonna go with you." Samir told him.

They crossed the tracks and made their way back to join the others under the road bridge.

Later that evening, when they were alone, Firas told Amar about Stefan, and said he didn't trust the guy. Amar asked him why, but Firas couldn't explain, "It was just a feeling," he told him. He wasn't sure if Amar took heed, or gave it any real thought.

Three days later Samir bumped into Stefan again, this time it was in their part of the camp, across the tracks, but not anywhere near their actual makeshift home.

"Hi," Stefan exclaimed when they met, "Samir, isn't it?"

"Yes," Samir replied a little sheepishly, remembering the last time they met, and the special handshake.

"How is life treating you?" Stefan asked.

Samir didn't know how to reply to a question like that. "Okay, I suppose," he answered.

"Come and walk with me a bit," Stefan turned away from the thrown together homes under the bridge. Samir stepped up beside him.

They walked a little way in silence, crossing over the railway and moving towards the concrete hangers.

"Is there anything you need?" Stefan asked him.

Samir didn't need to think hard about that, they had often talked about it. "A phone, or to make a call only," he told Stefan.

They continued walking and as they did so Stefan put an arm over Samir's shoulder and squeezed gently, but firmly.

"I think I can help you there," he told Samir.

Samir felt that same excitement he had felt the first time they met. A tingling, feel good current permeated his body.

Stefan stopped. They were at a place behind the corner of one of the hangers, between two concrete posts and the perimeter fencing, out of sight from the rest of the camp. Stefan sat down on the concrete block that rested across the rear of the hanger, there was one way in and one way out from this small hideaway.

He looked at Samir, "Sit," he said, and Samir sat down next to him.

They just sat together, not speaking. Stefan's arm found it's way onto Samir's thigh. His hand gently moving upwards. Samir felt that same feeling as last time. The feeling that centred itself in his groin and made his cock go hard.

"I don't have my phone with me," Stefan told him. "I left it in the car. You know I don't trust everyone here. If you want," he continued, glancing at Samir, and removing his hand. "We could go back and get it. Then you could make that call."

All three boys had memorised Jordan's number, so he knew he could do it. Wouldn't it be great to speak to Jordan, he thought. He also wondered if he shouldn't go get Firas and Amar, but then he didn't want to miss his chance.

"Yeah, okay. If we can, that would be great. It's just one call."

"Fine, let's go," Stefan stood up and together they headed off towards the gate.

Samir did not give it much thought as they strolled out of the camp and along the road. "Is it far?" He asked casually.

"No, just off the main road, next to that building, you see?"

"I see the building," Samir replied.

"Yeah, well it's just around the side."

It wasn't long before they reached the building, turned the corner. "Wow, is that your car?" Samir was admiring the jet black Mercedes.

"Yep," Stefan walked up and opened the passenger door. "Get in."

Samir slid inside onto the soft leather seat. Stefan went around to the driver's side. He reached forward, pressed a button, and the engine spurred into life.

"How about a little ride?" He asked.

It wasn't why he'd come, but then why not, enjoy the moment. "Sure, but you'll bring me back."

Stefan chuckled, "Of course I will, don't worry."

He looked in the mirror, pulled out and turned into the main road away from the port.

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