Just a few pages, but they should give you an idea what to expect from me. Have fun. Also, whatever you find wrong with it don't hesitate to tell me.
Book 1: A devil to embrace
The old man snorted in disgust and turned away from the television, where once again a man with untamed beard implored the death of each and every unbeliever and – as a matter of course – the destruction of Israel. He felt tired and worn out. None of this was new. Not for his country and certainly not for his people, but never had the threat been greater.
Never so close, never so powerful.
His gaze went out of the window, over the hectic flickering Tel Aviv, whose noise penetrated loud and jumbled up to him. This, the most vital and intense of all modern cities in the Middle East, assuring itself of its vitality by relentlessly celebrating each and every night louder than the one before.
And she would continue celebrating. Long after those, who so ardently wished for the destruction of this city and the country surrounding it, would be nothing but dust and ashes. So he had vowed, and so it would be. At least if God wanted and his plan was without blemish.
He looked north, where the Satan he was about to embrace lived, luring to join him in a battle against something even worse.
He had raised for himself every possible concern, had lived through each and every imaginable scenario time and time again, but still he had found nowhere else to turn to in this moment of highest desperation and so the decision was made.
The high speed train from Munich, where I was residing these days, delivered me with Teutonic precession right on schedule at Vienna's Western Train station.
According to the old woman, with whom I had shared my train compartment, this was by no means always the case. She was – from the pound of jewelry slung around her wrinkled neck, right up to her condescending demeanor – the classic dyed in the wool high ranking civil servant widow copyright German Kaiserreich and on her way to bless her daughter, which was married to an Austrian, with her presence.
Each and every single word she had fired at me for the last five hours had conveyed the pure conviction, that since the resignation of Bismarck things were steadily going downhill in Germany. Coincidentally, exactly since the time when they had neglected to hang the first Social Democrats at the highest gallows, along with a few suffragettes thrown in for good measure.
How I had managed to stay below her anarchist radar and deemed worthy to be spoken to was a mystery to me, and, frankly, almost a little embarrassing. I just managed to say goodbye to her before she could begin to enlighten me on what was going wrong in Austria. Or worse, introduce me to her clan, which was supposedly awaiting her at the platform.
She and a 1st class train ticket had been my best possible bulwark against border control, hence my enduring her presence. Since I had received my passport out of the hands of an employee of the German BND, which happens to be their intelligence service, there was really no reason to doubt it. Still, I generally prefer not to be noticed by law enforcement agencies at all whenever possible and those who had checked our train would have had to entertain an already very concrete suspicion, in order to fight their way through the disapproving gorgonian stare of the old frigate.
Also, I didn't mind the, compared to air travel, three hours time loss. Traveling by train reminds me – accompanied by only very slight traces of melancholy – of a time when I had friends and not just acquaintances, when I was traveling for fun and considered the unknown exotic and not dangerous.
Nobody out of the crowd of people, I allowed to drift me on the square in front of the station, made a move towards the taxis; thus preventing me from taking inconspicuously the second or third cab in the row. One, which for certain wasn't waiting for a specific passenger to take him for a ride to nowhere.
I regularly flatter myself not to be overly paranoid for someone in my line of business so consequently I opened, with only barely perceptible hesitation, the car's trunk, threw in the little trolley case – which always makes me feel like a stewardess – and slid into the back, telling the driver my desired destination.
I had the feeling that our way involved some quite unnecessary detours, but I didn't mind. I was in no hurry and it had been quite a while since I had been to Vienna.
Not that anything had changed. The town was – as always – of fairytale-like magic at its more beautiful places and of pitiful primitiveness at its uglier ones. As so many times, when I had been here before, the thought crossed my mind how much both of these aspects had to do not only with the particular locations, but with the people crowding them.
The taxi driver delivered me exactly to the street corner I had told him and took my money, but otherwise he had neither by facial expressions nor by words revealed that he had actually noticed me at all.
I had him – maybe a little carelessly from a professional's point of view – depose me only two blocks away from my hotel, so just 10 minutes later I was filling in my registration card at the reception. I had no reservation, but this kind of to the bones optimized hotel had, especially in the off-season, always rooms available. From the outside, the building looked like an awe inspiring manifest to the long gone Austro-Hungarian period; back when the Habsburgers were calling the shots, including those that finally had led to World War One.
Inside, the international hotel chain, which had bought it, had gutted it as thorough as the conscience of your average politician. What was left were suites that managed to squeeze in not quite 20 square meters a double bed with bedside tables left and right, a LCD-TV in front of it, and a small square table including a chair. All this plus a bathroom.
I looked around me and realized once more how much modern interior decorators had learned from all those suicide research the Scandinavians had conducted for the last decades. Bright pastel colors combined with furniture completely devoid of any edges and daylight imitating creamy LED lighting did their best to stifle any possible approach of despondency.
My luggage, which stows as quickly as it is repacked, didn't impede me appreciable. I glanced at my watch; it already had become half past four. Still one and a half hour until my rendezvous with my contact from the BND in the restaurant I had designated. The only reason why I had chosen it, was that - during my last stay in Vienna - it had distinguished itself by means of an outstanding Austro-Hungarian cuisine, which I happen to embrace very lovingly every time I get a chance. Mainly because here in Austria, just as about everywhere in the vicinity of the Balkans, they take regulations easy and food serious.
Since nothing held me back here, I decided to hit the road again. The meeting point was pretty much on the other side of downtown, which meant I had a long walk ahead of me.
I could live with that. Not that I needed something like an appetite stimulating effect, but there are few cities in the world where a walk resembles so much of a pleasant visit to the museum as in Vienna. I stepped outside and stared to the sky.
Vaguely, like a premonition, fall had begun to come over the land, but the air was still mild while the night slowly began to dig its claws into the city. I took a deep breath of Viennese air and waltzed on.
Vienna's St. Stephen's was, as probably pretty much every day of the year, full of people and only very few of them were here to worship. So it wasn't too difficult to identify Blendi's man.
Just as we had agreed upon he knelt on the third front pew and muttered intensely into his folded hands.
Blendi was Albanian and until the end of the Yugoslavian civil war had worked for the Serbian intelligence service. Actually, as he once had revealed to me in a quite drunken state, his name was Bledi, which in English would translate to something like Dumbi. Due to his intense business relations in the German-speaking countries he had decided to add the 'n', which was all for the better, both for him and his business partners.
Albanians aren't of self-deprecating and cheerful nature anyway, let alone being particularly tolerant when someone suggests towards them - meant humorously or not - that their name implies they might not be very bright. On that tree-covered rock they call home, harmless jokes as that one regularly cause blood feuds, which usually last a century or two.
Anyway. He created a fairly large portion of his income by supplying people, in my and similar lines of business, with things not available on every street corner. Such as guns, fake passports, and plastic explosives. You get the picture.
I assumed strongly, that what I had ordered was in the small package on the kneeler next to the praying man. I sat next to him and identified myself with some short rhythmic fingernail scratching on the bench. He took some time to finish clearing his throat into his fists, unknotted his equally hairy and bony fingers, stood up, and went with the satisfactory feeling of having finished his job successfully. I just continued sitting there, allowing my gaze to reverently wander through the vast halls until I was relatively certain not to be in anyone's focus. Then I slowly grabbed the package, stowed it in the side pocket of my coat, and raised. Still in awe, of course.
Outside, I went straight to the nearest fast food restaurant, whose washrooms I visited gratefully.
In my small enclosed cabin I didn't let myself hinder too long by the wrapped around brown paper; meaning tearing it to shreds.
I checked my order. A Hungarian Walam semi automatic handgun caliber 22, featuring a double-action trigger and aluminium frame. Strictly speaking, nothing more than a shameless rip off of the German Walther PP, albeit with lighter weight. Supplying something so small was actually well below Blendi’s threshold of expected profit margin, but I assumed he counted on me owing him a favor. Something guys like him always have use for.
Many people tend to think, that with these little .22 bullets one can - at best - get a mouse pregnant, but those have rarely ever have fired a major caliber handgun in an enclosed space. Because no matter what movies and television may teach you, your basic action movie hero would be doomed to spend the rest of his career - plagued by deafness and tinnitus - at a desk after just about any average movie shootout.
As for the low stopping power of small calibers, I generally try to compensate for it by combining straight shooting with as many holes as possible in places, where mother nature has not intended them to be. Strictly speaking for myself, I can report that this has worked out quite well so far.
Also, I am always more than willing to rob my nearest victim from his whatever blaster to continue whatever bloodshed. I pressed one of three magazines in the frame and worked the slide slowly. No stuttering and scratching, no rough surfaces galling against each other, which might jam the gun.
So far so good. At my present location I could hardly dwell any longer on testing its reliability, but back in my hotel room that would change decidedly.
However, I somehow trusted Blendi on that one. He lived not too shabby by receiving very good money for supplying reasonably good commodities for mayhem and such, but also knew very well about how short life could be under certain circumstances. This is definitely the one industry in which dissatisfied customers do not just send a complaint. Unless it is charged with a pound of explosives that is, which generally has a very motivating effect on delivered services.
He regularly boasted, that his armourers and gun tuners had previously worked for the Albanian secret service and the Albanian mafia. Probably the only time that one has heard the terms Albania and tuning in the same line, but still.
I stuffed the Walam into the waistband just next to my appendix scar and continued - now ready for the rough world outside - my way