They teach the brush pass in the second phase of field training. It’s as it sounds. The first man carries the package and walks the predetermined route. At some point the courier will come by, usually walking the other way, and “brush” past, picking up the package without ever the two drawing attention. You do it in public, at a busy place like a train station. It’s the rabbit in the hat trick of field operatives — as basic as it gets. You do it at busy places like train stations. Not bus stops. At bus stops people are bored. Their minds and eyes wander and anything even slightly unusual, like two guys bumping into each other, becomes as interesting as Lady Godiva.
Jeremy’s had forgotten his handkerchief back at the bureau office. He was not a field man. He had not performed a brush pass in years. The courier was late, which made things immensely worse. A man in a black suit (how could he be wearing a black suit in Hong Kong in August?) fiddled with a pack of cigarettes. Jeremy clutched at the package.
At home, his wife was cheating on him. He was sure of it. It was deeply ironic, he thought, that a clandestine agent could be hoodwinked by his own wife. It was probably his neighbor, the accountant. The man was fat and balding but Jeremy had caught him and his wife sharing a vibrant laugh once in the lobby of their building.
The downtown bound G bus came. The door opened but no one got on or off. Frustrated, the bus closed its door and huffed off.
The courier was now inexcusably late. Jeremy reached for the handkerchief he didn’t have. It wasn’t like couriers to be like this. Couriers were usually astute, cunning, ruthless people. Couriers were never late.
Unless, of course, Jeremy thought, the courier wasn’t late at all. He suddenly didn’t feel the need to wipe his brow. Meanwhile the man in black smiled at Jeremy.