Perking the Pansies
Jack and Liam move to Turkey

La Crème de la Crème

This is a preview to the chapter La Crème de la Crème from the book Perking the Pansies by Jack Scott.
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Weighed down by heavy suitcases and boxes of groceries, the under-powered hire car valiantly fought to scale the north face of Mount Tepe. Ascension required an ultra-low gear, iron grip tyres and nerves of steel. As he drove, Liam kept his eyes firmly shut. I walked up on foot as the smell of burning rubber filled the air. We were greeted at base camp by a muscular man with rough shovel hands, a life of hard labour etched deeply into a florid face. This was our resident kapıcı, our caretaker, Tariq the Toothless. We mumbled something in Turklish, shared a cigarette and pointed at the magnificent view. Tariq was more interested in his new residents and stared at us with uncomfortable concentration, unable to fathom our status, relationship or intention. We must have seemed like creatures from another planet.
“Kardeş?” He looked at me and pointed at Liam.
“He’s asking if we’re brothers,” said Liam. “Just nod. He’ll
find out soon enough.”

We arrived at the house just in time to rendezvous with a large truck delivering our pre-ordered IKEA house pack. Their no-nonsense ascent put Liam’s wimpish efforts to shame. A gang of boys in matching vests jumped out and began to unpack and assemble. While they worked, we chain smoked, made tea and avoided Clement. Four hours later, our room sets were ready to be dressed and accessorised. As the IKEA crew reversed down Mount Tepe, the phone rang.
“That’ll be Chrissy expecting an invite over,” said Liam. “Tell her I’m dead.”
“Hello Chrissy. Jack says he’s dead.”

Several sun-blessed days of happy home-making passed without interruption. We took time to explore our immediate surroundings, wandering up and down Mount Tepe, snooping around the other villas and peering through the windows. Most of them were unoccupied.
“Either that,” said Liam, “or the inhabitants have croaked it from boredom and the en-suites are stuffed with rotting corpses.”
“This isn’t Midsomer, Liam. We’re out of season, that’s all.”
Liam wasn’t convinced and continued to play detective for days. A week later, we discovered a tatty shop at the foot of the hill, a small outfit run by three handsome brothers. Each of the Pretty Boys was blessed with the squarest of chins, the strongest of jaws and the thickest of curly mops. Each had a physique to rival Hugh Jackman on steroids. Each spoke with a voice so mellifluous and dreamy that we could only stay in the shop for short periods without feeling weak at the knees. On his third visit, Liam introduced himself to the eldest of the unbearably handsome Samsons.
“Ben Liam.”
“Memnun oldum, Liam. Nice to meet you.” “You?”
“You have names?” asked Liam. “Yes, we have names.”
“What are they?”
“Just ask for Tepe Market boys.”
‘You don’t have first names?”
“Yes, we have first names.”
‘So, my name is Liam…”
“I know. You like my onions? Or maybe you want my milk?”
The disarmingly attractive trio never did divulge any information about themselves and seemed to revel flirtatiously in their anonymity. We didn’t particularly mind and even when the shelves were sparsely stocked we were more than happy with their friendly, personalised service. They kept us constantly supplied with American cigarettes and emergency wine. For a small cover charge, they also home-delivered twenty litre barrels of drinking water, effortlessly hauling the heavy load up Mount Tepe on a single shoulder. Our only other distraction was Tariq, an all-in-one gardener, landscaper, sweeper, postman and chain-smoker, easily identifiable by the cigarette permanently dangling from his mouth and the elongated arched barrel of ash always about to fall to the ground. He would smile occasionally, point at the sky, shout something unintelligible but generally gave us the space and time to do what gay boys do when they set up home: shop, argue about where to place the designer cushions and get drunk.
“Not there, more to the right.”
Liam groaned and pretended to drop the vase.
“Don’t piss about.”
“Does it really matter?”
“Of course it matters. There comes a time in every gay boy’s life when he needs to step up to the plate. Let’s give a certain little lady a splash of homo panache.”
“Chrissy? Waste of time. I suspect she has a rather different take on panache.”
Undeterred, we dressed, pressed, arranged and embellished for days. The final touch was the official hanging of the Lady of the House. Our treasured Matisse print had never looked better, despite her long journey from the grey skies of Walthamstow. She looked on enigmatically as we clinked champagne glasses and congratulated each other on our self-proclaimed good taste.
“Well, we’ve done it,” I said. “We live in Turkey. And look at that view.”
Liam laughed. “Something’s about to spoil it, mein Herr.”
Right on cue, Chrissy turned up to check on progress. Actually, it was more like a military inspection, and we dutifully stood by our proverbial beds. The painted Welsh dragon nodded approval as she wandered through each room.
“Amazing what you can do with IKEA,” she said. “Simply amazing.”
Liam recoiled. “Patronising bi…”
“The store of choice for the middle class poor everywhere,” I interrupted.
Chrissy wasn’t listening and rushed upstairs to scrutinise the bedrooms. We left her to it. She let out an ear-splitting scream.
“Maybe she looked in a mirror,” said Liam.

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"Perking The Pansies is not so much about Jack’s Adventures Through The Looking Glass, but more about Who He Found..."

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