Having reached bottom I caught his arm and twisted it behind him till he screamed. He crumpled in agony. I pulled him down, bringing him on top of me, and there on the dirt we grappled, blow by savage blow.
In this scuffle, there was no pretense of civility. No rules—except one: the man who got the upper hand would live to see another day. I punched him in the gut. He kicked me in the groin. With a grunt I rolled away.
The traitor caught my wrist and sunk his teeth into it. Maddened by the bite I pulled my hand, pulled it free only to come back a moment later and cover his mouth, his nostrils. Gagging, he flailed his arms about, then sank to the ground. I relished the sound of his gasping, gasping for air.
His bloodshot eye bored into mine. It seemed as if any second now, it would burst. The wounds across his neck, where my chain had choked him in our earlier fight, were smeared with dry blood. Under them, a vein that had been barely visible up to now began throbbing furiously.
The beret he had taken from the boy fell from his head and rolled across the dust. He became limp. I thought he might pass out—but then, once more, he bit my hand. With a slight tremor in it, my grip started loosening. He squirmed away, only to come back at me with a blunt punch.
Knock. Strike. Slap.
With that last blow, a strange thing happened to me: time seemed to slow down. I saw his knuckled fist growing larger, coming at me. It seemed so dreamingly sluggish—until at last it hit me.
My head bounced back. For a moment, everything around me became fuzzy.
I wiped the sweat off my eyes, only to see his hunched figure— blurred, still—staggering into a stand over me.
For a while, I must have lost consciousness. When I looked again he was not there anymore, only a hazy background hanging in his stead: distant blue smoke swirling into the sky, marred with ash.
I was too weak to stir. Oh, how easy it would be to give it up, all this senseless suffering!
But no: despite the pain, my body screamed to live. I propped myself up against a tree trunk, and wondered: Where was the traitor? Where did he go?
This scene happens in a forrest, and a fire is spreading from the armed cars that have just been ambushed by the French Resistance fighters. Lenny and the French collaborator, who has helped the Nazis in the selection process earlier, are at each other's throat.
"Uvi Poznansky raises the stakes in a high stakes story, filled with uncertainty, drama and suspense... This book is a nail biter and one I found hard to put down. For me, this is Uvi Poznansky's best novel to date."
- Richard Weatherly, Author