The bourne supremacy, p.10
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.10

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 10


  'What's wrong with a few drinks and cigarettes?' he had said to the doctors, stating his genuine preference. 'The heart beats faster, the body doesn't suffer, and the mind is certainly far more relieved. '

  'They're depressants,' had been the reply from the only man he listened to. 'Artificial stimulants that lead only to further depression and increased anxiety. Run, or swim, or make love to your wife - or anybody else, for that matter. Don't be a goddamned fool and come back here a basket case. . . Forget about you, think of me. I worked too hard on you, you ingrate. Get out of here, Webb. Take up your life -what you can remember of it - and enjoy. You've got it better than most people, and don't you forget that, or I'll cancel our controlled monthly blowouts at the saloons of our choosing and you can go to hell. And hell for you notwithstanding, I'd miss them. . . Go, David. It's time for you to go. '

  Morris Panov was the only person besides Marie who could reach him. It was ironic, in a way, for initially Mo had not been one of the government doctors; the psychiatrist had neither sought nor been offered security clearance to hear the classified details of David Webb's background where the lie of Jason Bourne was buried. Nevertheless, Panov had forcefully inserted himself, threatening all manner of embarrassing disclosures if he was not given clearance and a voice in the subsequent therapy. His reasoning was simple, for when David had come within moments of being blown off the face of the earth by misinformed men who were convinced he had to die, that misinformation had been unwittingly furnished by Panov and the way it had happened infuriated him. He had been approached in panic by someone not given to panic, and asked 'hypothetical' questions pertaining to a possibly deranged deep-cover agent in a potentially explosive situation. His answers were restrained and equivocal; he could not and would not give a diagnosis on a patient he had never seen - but yes, this was possible and that not unheard of, but of course, nothing could be considered remotely material without physical and psychiatric examination. The key word was nothing; he should have said nothing! he later claimed. For his words in the ears of amateurs had sealed the order for Webb's execution - 'Jason Bourne's' death sentence - an act that was aborted only at the last instant through David's own doing, while the squad of executioners were still in their unseen positions.

  Not only had Morris Panov come on board at the Walter Reed Hospital and later at the Virginia medical complex, but he literally ran the show - Webb's show. The son of a bitch has amnesia, you goddamned fools! He's been trying to tell you that for weeks in perfectly lucid English - I suspect too lucid for your convoluted mentality.

  They had worked together for months, as patient and doctor - and finally as friends. It helped that Marie adored Mo - good Lord, she needed an ally! The burden David had been to his wife was beyond telling, from those first days in Switzerland when she began to understand the pain within the man who had taken her captive to the moment when she made the commitment - violently against his wishes - to help him, never believing what he himself believed, telling him over and over again that he was not the killer he thought he was, not the assassin others called him. Her belief became an anchor in his own crashing seas, her love the core of his emerging sanity. Without Marie he was a loveless, discarded dead man, and without Mo Panov he was little more than a functioning vegetable. But with both of them behind him, he was brushing away the swirling clouds and finding the sun again.

  Which was why he had opted for an hour of running around the deserted, cold track, rather than heading home after his late afternoon seminar. His weekly seminars often continued far beyond the hour when they were scheduled to end, so Marie never planned dinner, knowing they would go out to eat, their two unobtrusive guards somewhere in the darkness behind them - as one was walking across the barely-visible field behind him now, the other no doubt inside the gym. Insanity] Or was it?

  He had been driven to Panov's 'strenuous exercise' by an image that had suddenly appeared in his mind while grading papers in his office. It was a face - a face he knew and remembered, and loved very much. A boy's face that aged in front of his inner screen, coming to full portrait in uniform, blurred, imperfect, but a part of him. As silent tears rolled down his cheeks, he knew it was the dead brother they had told him about, the prisoner of war he had rescued in the jungles of Tarn Quan years ago amid shattering explosions and a traitor he had executed by the name of Jason Bourne. He could not handle the violent, fragmented pictures; he had barely got through the shortened seminar, pleading a severe headache. He had to relieve the pressures, accept or reject the peeling layers of memory with the help of reason, which told him to go to the gym and run against the wind, any strong wind. He could not burden Marie every time a floodgate burst; he loved her too much for that. When he could handle it himself, he had to. It was his contract with himself.

  He opened the heavy door, briefly wondering why every gymnasium entrance was designed with the weight of a portcullis. He went inside and walked across the stone floor through an archway and down a white-walled corridor until he reached the door of the faculty locker room. He was thankful that the room was empty; he was in no frame of mind to respond to small talk, and if required to do so, he would undoubtedly appear sullen, if not strange. He could also do without the stares he would probably provoke. He was too close to the edge; 'he had to pull back gradually, slowly, first within himself, then with Marie. Christ, when would it all stop"! How much could he ask of her? But then he never had to ask - she gave without being asked. Webb reached the row of lockers. His own was towards the end. He was walking between the long wooden bench and the connecting metal cabinets when his eyes were suddenly riveted on an object up ahead. He rushed forward; a folded note had been taped to his locker. He ripped it off and opened it: Your wife phoned. She wants you to call her as soon as you can. Says it's urgent. Ralph.

  The gym custodian might have had the brains to go outside and shout to him! thought David angrily as he spun the combination and opened the locker. After rummaging through his limp trousers for change, he ran to a pay telephone on the wall, inserted a coin, disturbed that his hand trembled. Then he knew why. Marie never used the word 'urgent'. She avoided such words.


  'What is it?

  'I thought you might be there,' said his wife. 'Mo's panacea, the one he guarantees will cure you if it doesn't give you cardiac arrest. '

  'What is it?

  'David, come home. There's someone here you must see. Quickly, darling. '

  Undersecretary of State Edward McAllister kept his own introduction to a minimum, but by including certain facts let Webb know he was not from the lower ranks of the Department. On the other hand, he did not embellish his importance; he was the secure bureaucrat, confident that whatever expertise he possessed could weather changes in administrations.

  'If you'd like, Mr Webb, our business can wait until you get into something more comfortable. '

  David was still in his sweat-stained shorts and T-shirt, having grabbed his clothes from the locker and raced to his car from the gym. 'I don't think so,' he said. 'I don't think your business can wait - not where you come from, Mr McAllister. '

  'Sit down, David. ' Marie St Jacques Webb walked into the living room, two towels in her hands. 'You, too, Mr McAllister. ' She handed Webb a towel as both men sat down

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