Today's Reading

There was a bust on the counter. The face had high, pronounced cheekbones and a wide forehead. The eyes were intense under arched eyebrows that drew together into deep lines. The man appeared both severe and noble. Will had seen portraits of this same man everywhere he'd been in Ankara—in the airport when they'd arrived, over the hotel reception desk, in the restaurant last night, and in several shops he'd passed this morning.

"Atatürk?" he asked, referring to the father of modern Turkey, who Will had read about in the little time he'd had for research. The leader of Turkey's revolution in the 1920s, Atatürk transformed the country from a sultanate to a republic. Among other sweeping reforms, he'd outlawed the fez, a symbol of the Ottoman Empire; had linguists invent modern Turkish using a modified Latin alphabet, replacing the Arabic; and given women the right to vote. Without Atatürk, Turkey would likely not be the country it was today, seeking its place in progressive Western culture. And the dam Will was here to help build would likely not be underway.

"Evet, evet, Atatürk!" The baker folded her hands over her heart.

This adoration of their deceased leader was yet another sign this wasn't just any city. At least, not any city in the States. Even in Philly, where so much US history resided, the forefathers' portraits were not ubiquitous. And as for Nixon, it looked like he might end up in jail, rather than the White House. So much for reverence. What a relief to be away from the Watergate scandal headlines screaming across the front pages of the papers back home.

"Tesh-a-cure-edearim." Will struggled with the Turkish for "thank you."

"Evet." She bobbed her head, another smile playing on her face. "Çok tesekkür ederim."

He returned the smile and sank his teeth into the bread. Even the bread here tasted of adventure, unlike the packaged fluff on the supermarket shelves of Moorestown, the New Jersey suburb that had been home for the past five years.

* * *

Will slid into his jacket at the entrance to DECCO's office. The company logo spanned the width of the door; drawn in bold block letters, it increased in size from left to right, ending with the O in the shape of a globe. Under DECCO, in smaller print, it read We Build the World.

Some four hundred miles east-southeast, DECCO was building Kayakale Dam. It would rank among the ten largest dams in the world. It would double the electricity Turkey could generate. It would provide water for industry and irrigation for crops. It was progress.

Or it will be, he thought. If we can get it built.

Will straightened his tie, pulled his shoulders back, took a deep breath, and stepped in. He'd rehearsed "good morning" in Turkish for the last few blocks of the walk, günaydin...günaydin, but there was no one in the reception area to greet. Across the room were two office doors topped with panes of frosted glass, both closed. A shadow was visible through the pane of the door with the nameplate reading Gus Browning, the man Will was here to see. The other office appeared to be unoccupied, and Will didn't recognize the name on it from any of the DECCO reports he'd seen so far.

A utilitarian metal desk sat along the left wall. Four brown vinyl chairs lined the right. Framed photographs—ground views and an aerial shot—and plans, maps, and cross sections of the Kayakale site hung on the walls. Since he was early, Will began at the far left and scanned the displays, searching for a hint of the story they told. Interpreting landscapes was what Will did, and studying maps and photos, particularly aerial shots, was a good start to the process.

From the time he took Geology 101, Will had been translating what he observed, mapped, and drilled in the field into words and drawings. As a professional engineering geologist, he'd been doing that primarily for engineers designing dams and water supply systems, and, most recently, the new port structure in Philadelphia. Because he could draw what he saw in the field, he could reverse the exercise. By studying a drawing or photograph, he could conceive the third dimension in his mind.

He examined the one aerial photo, squinting as he projected what he saw in the picture underground. He pulled out the notepad and pen he kept handy in his shirt pocket, and made a crude sketch, noting areas to investigate in the field.

He checked his watch again, then knocked on Gus Browning's door.

"Yeah."

Will entered the office, reaching his right hand forward. "I'm Will Ross. I'm here to...."

"I know who you are," Browning said, interrupting before Will could finish. His beefy hand covered the receiver of his phone. "It'll be a minute," Browning said, and jerked his head toward the door.

Will stepped back to the outer office and pulled the door shut. He scowled at his watch, then shoved his hands into his pockets. He'd been staring at a photograph as the seconds ticked away, before he realized he wasn't seeing it. He shook his head, refocused. There were seven men in the photo, two he recognized. John Heatley, Will's new boss from DECCO's New York office, was front and center. He was shaking hands with a man Will presumed to be Heatley's counterpart with DSI, Turkey's Directorate of State Hydraulic Works and DECCO's client on the project. Browning was second from the right in the photo and towered over the others. He probably played football back in the day.

The group was posed in front of a huge 'dozer. They all smiled widely at the camera. Must've been the groundbreaking.

But now the ground is breaking the project, Will thought.
...

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