The bourne supremacy, p.110
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.110

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 110

  'I don't know. It was eyes-only for the SC!'

  'That's "station chief", Doctor,' said Conklin, looking over at Panov. 'It's the oldest cop-out we have. We use it all the time when we get in rhubarbs with other government agencies. "What do I know? Ask the SC. " That way our noses

  are clean because no one wants to hassle a station chief. You see, SCs have a direct line to Langley and, depending on the Oval Yo Yo, Langley has a direct line to the White House. It's very politicized, let me tell you, and has very little to do with gathering intelligence. '

  'Very enlightening,' said Panov, staring at the prone man, not knowing what else to say, grateful that the platform was now practically deserted and the pillar at the rear was in shadows.

  Wo cop-out!' yelled Richards, struggling under the pressing weight of Conklin's heavy boot. 'Jesus, I'm telling you the truth! I get out next February! Why would I want any trouble from you or anybody else at headquarters?'

  'Oh, Matt, poor Matt, you never were the best or the brightest. You just answered your own question. You can taste that pension just like me, and you don't want any waves. I'm listed as a pick-up, a tight surveillance, and you don't want to louse up a directive where you're concerned. Okay, pal, I'll wire back an evaluation report that'll get you transferred to Central American demolitions until your time's up - if you last that long. '

  'Cut it out!'

  'Imagine, being skunk-trapped behind a pillar in a crowded train station by a lousy cripple. They'll probably let you mine a few harbours all by yourself. '

  'I don't know anything!'

  'Who are the Chinese?'

  'I don't-'

  'They're not the police, so who are-they?

  'Government. '

  'What branch? They had to tell you that - the SC had to tell you. He couldn't expect you to work blind. '

  That's just it, we are! The only thing he told us was that they were cleared by DC on the top floors. He swore that was all he knew! What the hell were we supposed to do? Ask to see their drivers' licences?'

  'So no one's accountable because no one knows anything. It'd turn out nice if they were Chin- comms picking up a defector, wouldn't it?'

  'The SCs accountable. We lay it on him. ' 'Oh, the higher morality of it all. "We just follow orders, Hen General. "' Conklin employed the hard German G for the rank. 'And, naturally, Hen General doesn't know anything either because he's following his orders. ' Alex paused, squinting. 'There was one man, a big fellow who looked like a Chinese Paul Bunyan. ' Conklin stopped. Richards's head suddenly twitched, as did his body. 'Who is he, Matt?'

  'I don't know . . . for sure. '

  'Who?'

  'I've seen him, that's all. He's hard to miss. '

  'That isn't all. Because he is hard to miss and considering the places where you've seen him, you asked questions. What did you learn?'

  'Come on, Alex! It's just gossip, nothing set in concrete. '

  'I love gossip. Tattle, Matt, or this ugly, heavy thing on my leg may just have to pound your face. You see, I can't control it; it's got a mind of its own and it doesn't like you. It can be very hostile, even to me. ' With an effort, Conklin suddenly raised his club foot and pounded it down between Richards's shoulder blades.

  'Christ! You're breaking my back!'

  'No, I think it wants to break your face. Who is he, Matt? Again, grimacing, Alex raised his false foot and lowered it now on the base of the CIA man's skull.

  'All right! As I said, it's not gospel, but I've heard he's high up in Crown CI. '

  'Crown CI,' explained Conklin to Morris Panov, 'means British Counter Intelligence here in Hong Kong, which means a branch of MI6, which means they take their orders from London. '

  'Very enlightening,' said the psychiatrist, as bewildered as he was appalled.

  'Very' agreed Alex. 'May I have your necktie, Doctor?' asked Conklin as he began removing his own. 'I'll replace it out of contingency funds because we now have a new wrinkle. I'm officially at work. Langley is apparently funding - by way of Matthew's salary and time - something involving an ally's

  intelligence operation. As a civil servant under a like classification I should put my shoulder to the wheel. I need your necktie, too. Matt. '

  Two minutes later, Case Officer Richards lay behind the pillar, his feet and hands tied and his mouth drawn taut, all accomplished with three ties.

  'We're sterile,' said Alex, studying what remained of the crowd beyond the pillar. They've all gone after our decoy, who's probably halfway to Malaysia by now. '

  'Who was she - he! I mean, he certainly wasn't a woman. '

  'No sexism intended, but a woman probably couldn't have made it out of here. He did, taking the others with him - after him. He jumped over the escalator railing and worked his way up. Let's go. We're clear. '

  'But who is he? pressed Panov, as they walked around the pillar towards the escalator and the few stragglers forming a short line.

  'We've used him occasionally over here, mainly as a pair of eyes for out-of-the-way border installations, which he knows something about, since he has to get past them with his merchandise. '

  'Narcotics?"

  'He wouldn't touch them; he's a top notch jock. He runs stolen gold and jewels, operating between Hong Kong, Macao and Singapore. I think it has something to do with what happened to him a number of years ago. They took away his medals for conduct unbecoming just about everything. He posed for some raunchy photographs when he was in college and needed the money. Later, through the good offices of a sleazy publisher with the ethics of an alley cat, they surfaced and he was crucified, ruined. '

  That magazine I carried!' exclaimed Mo, as they both stepped on to the escalator.

  'Something like it, I guess. '

  'What medals?'

  'Nineteen seventy-six Olympics. Track and field. The high hurdles were his speciality. '

  Speechless, Panov stared at Alexander Conklin as they rose on the escalator, nearing the entrance to the terminal. A platoon of sweepers carrying wide brooms over their shoulders appeared on the opposite escalator heading down to the platform. Alex jerked his head towards them, snapped the fingers of his right hand, and with the thumb extended, jabbed the air in the direction of the terminal's exit doors above. The message was clear. Within moments a bound CIA agent would be found behind a pillar.

  That'd be the one they call the major,' said Marie, sitting in a chair opposite Conklin, while Morris Panov knelt beside her, examining her left foot. 'Ouch? she cried, pulling back her crossed leg. 'I'm sorry, Mo. '

  'Don't be,' said the doctor. 'It's a nasty bruise spread over the second and third metatarsals. You must have taken quite a spill. '

  'Several. You know about feet?

  'Right now I feel more secure with chiropody than psychiatry. You people live in a world that would drive my profession back to the Middle Ages - not that most of us aren't still there; the words are just cuter. ' Panov looked up at Marie, his eyes straying to her severely styled grey-streaked hair. 'You had fine medical treatment, dark-redhead-that-was. Except the hair. It's atrocious. '

 
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