The bourne supremacy, p.136
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.136

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 136


  'Ni shuo ne,' answered Bourne, telling her to name a price.

  She did and Delta accepted. With her arms outstretched, the woman walked out onto the road, and the truck stopped. A second negotiation was made with the driver, and the assassin was loaded onto the van, supine, strapped to the bamboo. Jason climbed on behind him.

  'How are you doing, Major?'

  'This thing is filled with lousy, fucking ducks!' screamed the commando, staring around at the banks of wooden cages on all sides, the odour overpowering, sickening.

  A particular bird, in its infinite wisdom, chose the moment to squirt a stream of excrement into the assassin's face.

  'Next stop, Kowloon,' said Jason Bourne, closing his eyes.

  Chapter Thirty

  The telephone rang. Marie spun around in the chair, stopped by Mo Panov's raised hand. The doctor walked across the hotel room, picked up the bedside phone, and spoke. 'Yes!' he said quietly. He frowned as he listened, then as if he realized that his expression might alarm the patient, he looked over at Marie and shook his head, his hand now dismissing whatever urgency she might have attached to the call. 'All right,' he continued after nearly a minute. 'We'll stay put until we hear from you, but I have to ask you, Alex, and forgive my directness. Did anyone feed you drinks?' Panov winced as he pulled the phone briefly away from his ear. 'My only response is that I'm entirely too kind and experienced to speculate on your antecedents. Talk to you later. ' He hung up.

  'What's happened"? asked Marie, half out of the chair.

  'Far more than he could go into, but it was enough. ' The psychiatrist paused, looking down at Marie. 'Catherine Staples is dead. She was shot down in front of her apartment house several hours ago-'

  'Oh, my God,' whispered Marie.

  That huge intelligence officer,' continued Panov. 'The one we saw in the Kowloon station whom you called the major and Staples identified as a man named Lin Wenzu-'

  'What about him?'

  'He's severely wounded and in critical condition at the hospital. That's where Conklin called from, a pay phone in the hospital. '

  Marie studied Panov's face. 'There's a connection between Catherine's death and Lin Wenzu, isn't there?'

  'Yes. When Staples was killed it was apparent that the operation had been penetrated-'

  'What operation? By whom?'

  'Alex said that'll all come later. In any event, things are coming to a boil and this Lin may have given his life to rip out the penetration - "neutralizing it," was the way Conklin put it. '

  'Oh, God,' cried Marie her eyes wide, her voice on the edge of hysteria. 'Operations! Penetrations . . . neutralizing, Lin, even Catherine - a friend who turned on me - I don't care about those things! What about David?

  'They say he went into China. '

  'Good Christ, they've killed him!' screamed Marie, leaping out of the chair.

  Panov rushed forward and grabbed her by the shoulders. He gripped her harder, forcing her spastically shaking head to stop its movement, insisting in silence that she look at him. 'Let me tell you what Alex said to me . . . Listen to me!'

  Slowly, breathlessly, as if trying to find a moment of clarity in her confusion and exhaustion, Marie stood still, staring at her friend. 'What?' she whispered.

  'He said that in a way he was glad David was up there - or out there - because in his judgement he had a better chance to survive. '

  'You believe that?' screamed David Webb's wife, tears filling her eyes.

  'Perhaps,' said Panov, nodding and speaking softly. 'Conklin pointed out that here in Hong Kong David could be shot or stabbed in a crowded street - crowds, he said, were both an enemy and a friend. Don't ask me where these people find their metaphors, I don't know. '

  'What the hell are you trying to tell me?'

  'What Alex told me. He said they made him go back, made him be someone he wanted to forget. Then he said there never was anyone like "Delta". "Delta" was the best there ever was . . . David Webb was "Delta", Marie. No matter what he wanted to put out of his mind, he was "Delta". Jason Bourne was an afterthought, an extension of the pain he had to inflict on himself, but his skills were honed as "Delta" . . . In some respects I know your husband as well as you do. '

  'In those respects, far better, I'm sure,' said Marie, resting her head against the comforting chest of Morris Panov. 'There were so many things he wouldn't talk about. He was too frightened, or too ashamed . . . Oh, God, Mo! Will he come back to me?"

  'Alex thinks "Delta" will come back. '

  Marie leaned away from the psychiatrist and looked into his eyes; through the tears her stare was rigid. 'What about David?' she asked in a plaintive whisper. 'Will he come back?'

  'I can't answer that. I wish I could, but I can't. '

  'I see. ' She released Panov and walked to a window, looking down at the crowds below in the congested, garishly lighted streets. 'You asked Alex if he'd been drinking. Why did you do that, Mo?'

  The moment the words came out I regretted them. '

  'Because you offended him?' asked Marie, turning back to the psychiatrist.

  'No. Because I knew you'd heard them and you'd want an explanation. I couldn't refuse you that. '


  'It was the last thing he said to me - two things, actually. He said you were wrong about Staples- '

  'Wrong? I was there. I saw. I heard her lies!'

  'She was trying to protect you without sending you into panic. '

  'More lies! What was the other?'

  Panov held his place and spoke simply, his eyes locked with Marie's. 'Alex said that crazy as things seemed, they weren't really so crazy after all. '

  'My God, they've turned him!'

  'Not all the way. He won't tell them where you are - where we are. He told me we should be ready to move within minutes after his next call. He can't take the chance of coming back here. He's afraid he'll be followed. '

  'So we're running again - with nowhere to go but back into hiding. And all of a sudden there's a rotten growth in our armour. Our crippled St George who slays dragons now wants to lie with them. '

  That's not fair, Marie. That's not what he said, not what I said. '

  'Bullshit, Doctor! That's my husband out there, or up there! They're using him, killing him, without telling us why! Oh, he may - just may - survive because he's so terribly good at what he does - did - which was everything he despised, but what's going to be left of the man and his mind! You're the expert, Doctor! What's going to be left when all the memories come back? And they damn well better come back, or he won't survive!'

  'I told you, I can't answer that. '

  'Oh, you're terrific, Mo! All you've got is carefully qualified positions and no answers, not even well couched projections. You're hiding! You should have been an economist! You missed your calling!'

  'I miss a lot of things. Almost including the plane to Hong Kong. '

  Marie stood motionless, as if struck. She burst into a new wave of tears as she ran to Panov, embracing him. 'Oh, God, I'm sorry, Mo! Forgive me, forgive me!'

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