Chapter 23 of The Holy Lance, a fantasy thriller

Chapter 23 - a sunburned Chet Brinker gets spotted on the streets of Tel Aviv. Comments are welcome.

Chapter 23

Chet Brinker, badly sunburned, kills time until his dinner with Efraim wandering through Tel Aviv’s Namal district taking in its streets crowded with partygoers, and lined with crowded bars, restaurants, and cafés. About half an hour ago he spotted a man–trim, about forty, in khaki pants and a white shirt–keeping track of him from no more than half a block away, sometimes on the same side of the street, sometimes across the street. Brinker decides 30 minutes is enough and it’s time to make a move.

He suddenly changes direction and walks briskly towards the man who just as suddenly mirrors Brinker’s move keeping a uniform distance between them. After two blocks of maintaining his quickened pace to weave in and out of people on the sidewalk, Brinker ducks into an old, narrow alley, pulls a small Israeli pistol, an SP-21 Barak, from the back waistband of his pants, and waits. Moments later, the man tailing him turns into the alley almost crashing into Brinker in the process. Brinker slams the man against a sandstone wall, and shoves his pistol into the man’s neck. Brinker realizes that the barrel of a pistol is sticking into his stomach, just below his solar plexus. He suppresses a wince of pain as the barrel of the pistol unfortunately finds the single most sunburnt spot on his body.

“Having fun?” Brinker asks.

“Slow down, slow down,” the assailant suggests as he looks out of the alley and back across the street. What he sees is a man dressed in a short-sleeved, black turtleneck, gray slacks, watching the two of them. He knows he’s been spotted. He puts his hand to his ear and says something inaudible at that distance. A car instantly pulls up to the curb. The man across the street jumps into the front passenger seat, closes the door, and the car speeds away. 

“Why don’t we both put the guns away?” the assailant suggests as he turns his attention back to Brinker.

Brinker isn’t buying it.

“Fuck you.”

“No need for the tough guy act, Chet. I’m from Shin Bet. Efraim sent me. I’ve been tailing you all day. My only mission is to make sure you make your dinner meeting tonight. Name’s Buchwald. Seth Buchwald.”

Brinker relaxes slightly.

“Efraim?”

“Seems he’s worried about you. Can’t say that I blame him. I’ve been with you for the last four hours and this is the first time you’ve noticed me.”

Buchwald tucks the Barak into the back waistband of his pants. Brinker follows suit.

“I was just trying to decide when I was going to kill you,” Brinker says with a slight chuckle.

“And what were you going to do about the FSB agent?”

“FSB?”

“He just took off. We could have gotten a license plate, but you were too busy deciding when to kill me, remember?”

“They must be watching you,” Brinker offers halfheartedly.

“I’m sure it’s just a coincidence. With that sunburn, they could follow you from a satellite. No need to engage assets on the ground.”

“Fell asleep on one of your beautiful beaches. A victim of jet lag.”

“Looks rough. Come on. Let’s get to the hotel. We can just make your 9:30 reservation.”

Brinker nods in agreement.

“You’d better lead the way. I must be losing my touch.”