The bourne supremacy, p.111
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.111

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 111

 

  'It's brilliant,' corrected Conklin.

  'What do you know? You were a patient of mine. ' Mo returned to the foot. They're both healing nicely - the cuts and the blisters, that is, the bruise will take longer. I'll pick up some things later and change the dressings. ' Panov got up and pulled a straight-backed chair away from the small writing table.

  'You're staying here then?' asked Marie.

  'Down the hall,' said Alex. 'I couldn't get either of the rooms next door. '

  'How did you even manage that?'

  'Money. This is Hong Kong, and reservations are always getting lost by somebody who isn't around. . . back to the major. '

  'His name is Lin Wenzu. Catherine Staples told me he was with British Intelligence, speaks English with a UK accent. '

  'She was sure!'

  'Very. She said he was considered the best intelligence officer in Hong Kong, and that included everyone from the KGB to the CIA. '

  'It's not hard to understand. His name is Lin Wenzu, not Ivanovitch or Joe Smith. A talented native is sent to England, educated and trained, and brought back to assume a responsible position in government. Standard colonial policy, especially in the area of law enforcement and territorial security. '

  'Certainly from a psychological viewpoint,' added Panov, sitting down. There are fewer resentments that way, and another bridge is built to the governed foreign community. '

  'I understand that,' said Alex, nodding, 'but something's missing; the pieces don't fit. It's one thing for London to give a green light for an undercover DC operation - which everything we've learned tells us this is, only more bizarre than most - but it's another for MI6 to lend us their local people in a colony the UK is still running. '

  'Why? asked Panov.

  'Several reasons. First, they don't trust us - oh, it's not that they mistrust our intentions, just our brains. In some ways they're right, in others they're dead wrong, but that's their judgement. Second, why risk exposing their personnel for the sake of decisions made by an American bureaucrat with no expertise in on-the-scene deep cover administration. That's the sticking point, and London would reject it out of hand. '

  'I assume you're referring to McAllister,' said Marie.

  Till the cows come home from a field of new alfalfa. ' Conklin shook his head, exhaling as he did so. 'I've done my research, and I can tell you he's either the strongest or the weakest factor in this whole damned scenario. I suspect the latter. He's pure, cold brains, like McNamara before his conversion to doubt. '

  'Knock off the bullshit,' said Mo Panov. 'What do you mean in straight talk, not chicken soup? Leave that to me. '

  'I mean, Doctor, that Edward Newington McAllister is a rabbit. His ears spring up at the first sign of conflict or off-the-wire lapses and he scampers off. He's an analyst and one of the best, but he is not qualified to be a case officer, to say nothing of a station chief, and don't even consider his being the strategist behind a major covert operation. He'd be laughed off the scene, believe me. ' 'He was terribly convincing with David and me,' broke in

  Marie.

  'He was given that script. "Prime the subject," he was told. Stick to the convoluted narrative that would become clearer to the subject in stages once he made his first moves, which he had to make because you were gone. ' 'Who wrote the script?' asked Panov. '1 wish I knew. No one I reached in Washington knows, and that includes a number of people who should. They weren't lying; after all these years I can spot a swallow in a voice. It's so damn deep and filled with so many contradictions it makes Treadstone Seventy-one look like an amateur effort - which it wasn't. '

  'Catherine said something to me,' interrupted Marie. 'I don't know whether it will help or not, but it stuck in my mind. She said a man flew into Hong Kong, a "statesman", she called him, someone who was "far more than a diplomat", or something like that. She thought there might be a connection with everything that's happened. ' 'What was his name?'

  'She never told me. Later when I saw McAllister down in the street with her, I assumed it was he. But maybe not. The analyst you just described and the nervous man who spoke to David and me is hardly a diplomat, much less a statesman. It must have been someone else. ' 'When did she say this to you?" asked Conklin. Three days ago when she was hiding me in her apartment in Hong Kong. '

  'Before she drove you up to Tuen Mun?' Alex leaned forward in the chair. 'Yes. '

  'She never mentioned him again?' 'No, and when I asked her, she said there was no point in either of us getting our hopes up. She said she had more digging to do. '

  'You settled for that?

  'Yes, I did, because at the time I thought I understood. I had no reason to question her then. She was taking a personal and professional risk helping me - accepting my word on her own without asking for consular advice, which others might have done simply to protect themselves. You mentioned the word "bizarre", Alex. Well, let's face it, what I told her was so bizarre it was outrageous - including a fabric of lies from the US State Department, vanishing guards from the Central Intelligence Agency, suspicions that led to the higher levels of your government. A lesser person might have backed away and covered herself. '

  'Gratitude notwithstanding,' said Conklin gently. 'She was withholding information you had a right to know. Christ, after everything you and David have been through-'

  'You're wrong, Alex,' interrupted Marie softly. 'I told you I thought I understood her, but I didn't finish. The cruellest thing you can do to a person who's living every hour in panic is to offer him or her a hope that turns out false. When the crash comes it's intolerable. Believe me, I've spent over a year with a man desperately looking for answers. He's found quite a few, but those he followed only to find them wrong nearly broke him. Dashed hopes are no fun for the one hoping. '

  'She's right,' said Panov, nodding his head and looking at Conklin. 'And I think you know it, don't you?

  T happened,' replied Alex, shrugging and looking at his watch 'At any rate, it's time for Catherine Staples. '

  'She'll be watched, guarded? It was Marie who now sat forward in her chair, her expression concerned, her eyes questioning. 'They'll assume you both came over here because of me, and that you reached me and I told you about her. They'll expect you to go after her. They'll be waiting for you. If they could do what they've done so far, they could kill you!'

  'No they couldn't,' said Conklin, getting up and limping towards the bedside telephone. 'They're not good enough,' he added simply.

  'You're a goddamned basket case!' whispered Matthew

  Richards from behind the wheel of the small car parked across the street from Catherine Staples's apartment.

  'You're not very grateful, Matt,' said Alex, sitting in the shadows next to the CIA man. 'Not only did I not send in that evaluation report, but I also let you get me back under surveillance. Thank me, don't insult me. '

  'Shit!'

  'What did you tell them back at the office?'

  'What else? I was mugged, for Christ's sake. '

 
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