BY SKEPTIK SINIKIAN
This last week has been an action packed one vis–vis Turkey’s attempts to storm the gates of the European Union. The media wishes the public to believe that this is an issue of a Christian Boys Club wanting to admit the Bad Boy Muslim–painting this issue with a brush that is reminiscent of private clubs in America denying African-Americans or women access during the pre-civil rights era. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Reporters–like their readership–are like children. They like a good story. If the news isn’t interesting–they have to find an angle that is. The media and particularly the American media try to portray this as an issue where Turkey is this poor misunderstood child that has always lived in the neighborhood but the other kids just don’t want to play with him. Turkey sits inside his house–staring out the window at the kids playing soccer (or foot boll in Europe) in the park–and when he runs out to join them–he’s ridiculed and told to go home. (Cue the violins?wait for it?) Poor–sad Turkey. (wow!) What will Turkey do? All it wants to do is play with the other children.
This is the story the media wants you to buy. This is the after school special that wrenches people’s hearts. "The must-see political issue of the winter" –European Times. "Turkey’s performance as the lonely outcast has EU written all over it"–USA Tomorrow. "This tale of hope and courage is perfect for the Holiday Season and reminds all we need to be more tolerant. Two thumbs up–way up!" –State Department and Ebert.
Well–sometimes real life is scarier than anything Stephen King can cook up. Here’s the story that you won’t hear. You know that kid that lives in that house at the end of the street? Yeah–that kid who just sits there and stares at us from his window and never goes to school? Well–you know why the other kids never let him play with them? Sit down and let me tell you the real story of what happened–the Nightmare on Anatolia Street.
Years ago–there was a family that lived in that house. This was before anyone had even moved into this neighborhood and before we had built the bridge across the creek that connects us to them. Well–that house has been there for a long–long time. And actually–that mansion-sized house there was the site of about three or four different houses?at least until they came. Everyone liked the family who lived there. The Armens were a polite family. They were hard working–industrious–always went to church–and never bothered anybody. Then–one day–a new family moved in from across town?way across town. They called themselves the Seljuks or Ossmans or something–but nowadays they go by the name Turk. Well–the Armens didn’t want the Turks moving in but these guys were from a rough part of town. In fact–the reason they even moved to Anatolia Street was because they were pushed out by some rough gang called the Mongols. They were pretty pissed off when they moved out here and they took it out on the poor Armens. Pretty soon–they’d moved into the Armen house too and made the Armens into their butlers–maids–chauffeurs–and gardeners. If it wasn’t for the Armens–that house would have collapsed. One day–they tried to even move into Mr. Austria’s house–but the neighborhood council met and pushed them back to their original property borders.
The Turks tried to fit in with the rest of the neighborhood–but the more they tried–the more they stuck out like sore thumbs. There was that one annual block party many years ago when the Turks came over to Balkans house and allegedly tried to kidnap their youngest son or daughter. I’m not sure about the details now. It was so long ago. But the point is that the Turks never quite fit in.
Well–over time–because the neighborhood kept growing–there came a point where all of the bad things that the Turks had done to the Armens were forgotten. The poor Armens had become so used to being butlers and gardeners that hardly anyone–except the old timers–even really remembered that the Armens used to own that property. Every now and then one of the Armen’s younger kids would move away from the house never to come back. They’d tell us stories of horrible abuse and domestic violence–but no one wanted to rock the boat by going over there and telling the Turks how to live their lives.
Then things got really bad. One day–while the garbage man was collecting trash–he saw what he thought was a bloody rag in the trash and it looked like human blood. He decided to call the cops. And so the cops showed up and asked the Turks a bunch of questions. But in the end–there wasn’t enough evidence to do anything about. Plus–like I said–this was a quiet neighborhood and everyone had their own problems to deal with.
Every now and then–when I’d walk home from school and walk past that house–I’d see ol’ Mrs. Armen either watering the lawn or taking out the trash. She had this sad look on her face. And she was always–and I mean ALWAYS bruised. She’d look at me with these eyes that seemed to call out for help–but I was a kid and there’s nothing I could have done. But after what happened a few years later–I wish I had. I wish someone had.
It was around the time when things were really bad in the neighborhood. The Krmans weren’t getting along with the Francois family and there was always bickering going on between one family or another. The Turks had their own problems. Mr. Turk had lost his job–three of his sons had moved back home from college–and were helping him get his house in order–and the Armens were being beaten worse than before. Then one night–we heard a series of blood curdling screams and everyone was woken from their sleep. The screams went on for a good hour and everyone rushed out of their homes to see what had happened. On the front lawn of the Turk Household was Mr. Armen–Mrs. Armen–and their 9 month old baby sprawled across the lawn–both bodies bruised as usual but unusually bloody and from what we could tell–the entire family lay there lifeless. Mr. Turk stood over them with his hands covered in blood–a look of insane rage in his eyes and kept staring around at everyone. Some say it was only a matter of time before something happened. Others think the Armens were stupid to stick around when all the signs were already there. But can you blame a family for staying in their own household? Wasn’t it our fault that we didn’t act when we saw all the signs? The cops came by and arrested Mr. Turk. His sons escaped but were hunted down in the following months by vengeful relatives of the Armens. The cops kept Mr. Turk for questioning but somehow he was able to post bail. Over time–the case dragged on and on and after another disaster hit the neighborhood and another after that–no one seemed to even remember what had happened on that tragic night. Or at least no one wanted to remember because what Mr. Turk did was pure evil–but what the rest of us didn’t do to stop it was even worse.
Some say that the Turk has the rest of the Armen family members still buried in his backyard. No one–not even the cops are willing to go over and reopen the investigation. Every time I walk by that house–I know that a murderer lives there. And even though all the heads of the different households will politely nod their heads in greeting when they see Mr. Turk or his wife or his poor lonely child in the street–at night–when they are home with their own children–and they’re tucking them away in their beds–they tell them "Stay away from that Turk house. Those people are murderers. They’re not like us."
Skeptik Sinikian would like to be your neighbor or roommate. If you don’t drink or smoke and keep to yourself–contact him at [email protected] or visit his blog at www.sinikian.blogspot.com.