The bourne supremacy, p.109
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.109

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 109

 

  'He has to stay with me. If we separate now, at the least they'll follow him, at worst they'll take him in. '

  'What about you?

  'They won't touch me beyond a tight surveillance. '

  'You're confident. '

  'I'm angry. They can't know what I've left behind or with whom or what my instructions are if there's a break in any pre-arranged phone calls. For them, right now I'm a walking - limping - mega-bomb that could blow apart their entire operation, whatever the hell it is. '

  'I know you say there's no time, Alex, but I've got to tell you something. I'm not sure why, but I have to. I think one of the things about you that so hurt and enraged David was the fact that he thought you were the best at what you did. Every once in a while, when he'd had a few drinks or his mind wandered - opening a door or two for him - he'd shake his head sadly or pound his fist furiously and ask himself why! "Why?" he'd say. "He was better than that . . . he was the best". '

  'I was no match for Delta. No one was. Ever. '

  'You sound awfully good to me. '

  'Because I'm not coming in from the cold, I'm going out. With a better reason than I've ever had in my life before. '

  'Be careful, Alex. '

  'Tell them to be careful. ' Conklin hung up the phone, and Marie felt the tears rolling slowly down her cheeks.

  Morris Panov and Alex left the gift shop in the Kowloon railway station and headed for the escalator that led to the lower level, Tracks 5 and 6. Mo, the friend, was perfectly willing to follow his former patient's instructions. But Panov the psychiatrist could not resist offering his professional opinion.

  'No wonder you people are all fucked up,' he said, carrying a stuffed panda under his arm and a brightly-coloured magazine in his hand. 'Let me get this straight. When we go downstairs, I walk to the right, which is Track Six, and then proceed to my left towards the rear of the train, which we assume will arrive within minutes. Correct so far?

  'Correct,' answered Conklin, beads of sweat on his forehead as he limped beside the doctor.

  'I then wait by the last pillar, holding this foul-smelling stuffed animal under my arm while glancing through the pages of this extremely pornographic magazine, until a woman approaches me. '

  'Correct again,' said Alex, as they stepped down into the escalator. The panda's a perfectly normal gift; it's a favourite with Westerners. Think of it as a present to her kid. The porno magazine simply completes the recognition signal. Pandas and dirty pictures with naked women don't usually go together. ' 'On the contrary, the combination could be positively

  Freudian. '

  'Score one for the funny farm. Just do as I say. ' 'Say? You never told me what I was to say to the woman. ' Try "Nice to meet you", or "How's the kid?" It doesn't matter. Give her the panda and get back to this escalator as fast as you can without running. ' They reached the lower platform and Conklin touched Panov's elbow, angling the doctor to the right. 'You'll do fine, coach. Just do as I say and come back here. Everything's going to be all right. ' That's easier said from where I usually sit. ' Panov walked down to the end of the platform as the train from Lo Wu thundered into the station. He stood by the last pillar and as passengers by the hundreds poured out of the doors the doctor awkwardly held the black and white panda under his arm and raised the magazine in front of his face. And when it happened, he nearly collapsed. 'You must be Harold!' exclaimed the loud falsetto voice as

  a tall figure, heavily made up under a soft, wide-brimmed hat and dressed in a grey pleated skirt slapped his shoulder. 'I'd know you anywhere, darling!'

  'Nice to meet you. How's the kid?' Morris could barely speak.

  'How's Alex?' countered the suddenly bass male voice quietly. 'I owe him and I pay my debts, but this is crazy! Has he still got both his oars in the water?"

  'I'm not sure any of you have,' said the astonished psychiatrist.

  'Quickly? said the strange figure. They're closing in. Give me the panda, and when I start running fade into the crowd and get out of here! Give it to me!'

  Panov did as he was told, aware that several men were breaking through the straggling groups of passengers and converging on them. Suddenly the heavily rouged man in women's clothes ran behind the thick pillar and emerged on the other side. He kicked off his high heels, circled the pillar again and like a footballer back raced into the crowd nearest the train, passing a Chinese who tried to grab him, dodging through pummelled bodies and startled faces. Behind him other men took up the chase, thwarted by the increasingly hostile passengers who began using suitcases and knapsacks to ward off the bewildering assaults. Somehow, in the near riot, the panda was put in the hands of a tall Occidental female who was also holding an unfolded train timetable. The woman was grabbed by two well-dressed Chinese; she screamed; they looked at her, yelled at each other, and plunged ahead.

  Morris Panov again did as he had been instructed to do: He quickly mingled with the departing crowd on the opposite side of the platform and walked rapidly along the edge of Track 5 back to the escalator, where a line had formed. There was a queue but no Alex Conklin! Suppressing his panic, Mo slowed his pace but kept walking, looking around, scanning the crowds as well as those riding up on the escalator. What had happened! Where was the CIA man?

  'Allo'

  Panov spun to his left, the brief shout both a relief and a warning. Conklin had edged his way partially around a pillar thirty feet beyond the escalator. From his quick, rapid gestures he made it clear that he had to stay where he was, and for Mo to reach him, but slowly, cautiously. Panov assumed the air of a man annoyed with the queue, a man who would wait for the crowds to thin out before attempting to get on the escalator. He wished he smoked or at least had not thrown the pornographic magazine down onto the tracks; either would have given him something to do. Instead, he clasped his hands behind his back and strolled casually along the deserted area of the platform, glancing around twice, frowning at the waiting people. He reached the pillar, slid behind it and gasped. At Conklin's feet lay a stunned, middle-aged man in a raincoat with Conklin's club foot in the centre of his back. 'I'd like you to meet Matthew Richards, Doctor. Matt's an old Far East hand going back to the early Saigon days when we first knew each other. Of course, he was younger then and a lot more agile. But then, again, weren't we all. '

  'For Christ's sake, Alex, let me up!' pleaded the man named Richards, shaking his head as best he could in his prone position. 'My head hurts like hell! What did you hit me with, a crowbar?'

  'No, Matt. The shoe belonging to my non-existent foot. Heavy, isn't it? But then it has to take a lot of abuse. As to letting you up, you know I can't do that until you answer my questions. '

  'Goddamn it, I have answered them! I'm a lousy case officer, not the station chief. We picked you up from a DC directive that said to put you under surveillance. Then State moved in with another "direct" which I didn't see!'

  'I told you, I find that hard to believe. You've got a tight unit here; everybody sees everything. Be reasonable, Matt. We go back a long time. What did the State directive say?'

 
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