Chapter 19 of The Holy Lance, a fantasy thriller

Chapter 18, in which Chet Brinker defies the powers that be and shows up in Tel Aviv. Comments are welcome.

Chapter 19

Chet Brinker’s career arc would undoubtedly have been different were he more disposed to doing what he is told to do by his superiors. While his willingness to buck authority is a trait the CIA expressly seeks in its field agents, the fact that he is now a desk jockey has done little to dampen his spirit of covert defiance. It is not surprising, then, that less than 72 hours after being told stay the hell out of Tel Aviv, he grabbed a flight to Frankfurt where he caught a nonstop on El Al to Tel Aviv. While he obeyed Bill Johnson’s direct order to take his unused vacation, he just could not bring himself to keep himself and his nose out of Tel Aviv for the duration. Instead, he called Efraim Moscowitz, his long-time contact at Shin Bet, the Israeli Security Agency, asked him to dig through some documents, and told him he would be in Tel Aviv in 48 hours to discuss the results. The way Brinker sees it, if Efraim comes up empty-handed, then he can spend a couple of weeks relaxing on one of Israel’s beautiful beaches before heading back to another dead end year at the Agency.

Moscowitz, exactly six feet tall, athletic and trim, in his late 30s with a head of thick dark hair cropped fairly short, sports a white, short-sleeved shirt and gray slacks. He and Brinker, flight bag in hand, overcoat slung over his shoulder, chat cautiously as they stride through the main passenger terminal of Ben Gurion Airport.

“Why all the secrecy if this isn’t official?”

“Old instincts die hard, I suppose.”

“Well, my question actually is, why aren’t you here officially? Chet, are you in trouble again?”

“Not exactly, at least not yet. I pitched it and got shot down. Story of my life since Kiev.”

“It wasn’t your fault. I’m afraid we got too close to the wrong people.”

“I’m over it.”

“Bullshit.”

“All right, I’m not over it. Let’s change the subject. Was I right about the border control docs and your archives?”

Moscowitz glances around before answering.

“You got lucky, but, yes, we’ve got them.”

“When can I see them?”

“Chet, this is Shin Bet we’re talking about.”

“I have my Agency ID. It should be a cinch.”

“I might be able to get the documents for you, but you’re not getting in the building, I guarantee it. I don’t care if your ID says you’re the President of the United States. Americans can’t just walk in and out of Shin Bet. Besides, do you think there wouldn’t be a quick call to Langley? Chet, please.”

“Either way suits me. As long as I get a look at what’s there.”

“I did some checking after we talked. No one’s looked at that stuff for years. It’s not even digital. It’s still on microfiche.”

“Not a problem. All I need is a lamp and a magnifying glass. You still have stores in Tel Aviv, right?”

“You’d better give me the dates you’re looking at in case I can’t get the film out.”

“A week on either side of July 1, 1924. Any name that appears as having come in and then leaving the country. Any name at all.”

“That’s it? All right. I’ll see what I can do. I’ll drop you at your hotel, which is?”

“Haifa Suites.”

“The Old Port district, right on the water. Good choice.”

“Thought I might as well get some sun while I’m here. Go back to work with a tan. It’s thin, but it’s cover.”

“If I can get what you need I’ll bring it by this evening. There’s a restaurant just off the lobby. We’ll have a late dinner. You’re buying.”

“My pleasure. Nine thirty suit you?”

“Good.”

They walk out of the terminal. Moscowitz signals and within seconds a black sedan pulls up to the curb. Its trunk pops open. Brinker puts his flight bag in the trunk, closes it, and gets in. Moscowitz slaps the roof of the car, and the sedan speeds off.