The bourne supremacy, p.137
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.137

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 137


  'I'm the one who should apologize,' said the psychiatrist. 'It was a cheap shot. ' He tilted her head back, gently stroking the grey hair streaked with white. 'Lord, I can't stand that wig. ' 'It's not a wig, Doctor. '

  'My degrees, by way of Sears Roebuck, never included cosmetology. '

  'Only taking care of feet. '

  'They're easier than heads, take my word for it. '

  The telephone rang. Marie gasped and Panov stopped breathing. He slowly turned his head towards the hateful ringing.

  'You try that again or anything like it and you're dead!' roared Bourne, gripping the back of his hand where the flesh was darkening from the force of the blow. The assassin, his wrists tied in front of him beneath the sleeves of his jacket, had lunged against the door of the cheap hotel, jamming

  Jason's left hand into the doorframe.

  'What the hell do you expect me to do?' the former British commando yelled. 'Walk gently into that good night smiling at my own firing squad?'

  'So you're a closet reader too,' said Bourne, watching the killer clutch his ribcage, where Jason's right foot had landed an agonizing blow. 'Maybe it's time I asked you why you're in the business I was never actually a part of. Why, Major?"

  'Are you really interested, Mr Original?' grunted the impostor, falling into a worn-out armchair against the wall. 'Then it's my turn to ask why. ' �

  'Perhaps because I never understood myself,' said David Webb. 'I'm quite rational about that. '

  'Oh, I know all about you! It was part of the Frenchman's training. The great Delta was bonkers! His wife and kiddies were blown up in the water in a place called Phnom Penh by a stray jet. This oh-so-civilized scholar went crazy and it's a fact nobody could control him and nobody gave a damn because he and the teams he led did more damage than most of the search-and- destroys put together. Saigon said you were suicidal and from its point of view the more so the better. They wanted you and the garbage you commanded to buy it. They never wanted you back. You were an embarrassment!'

  Snake lady, snake lady . . . this is a friend talking, you assholes. You don't have many down here. . . Abort It's a no-win!

  'I know, or I think I know that part of it,' said Webb. 'I asked about you. '

  The assassin's eyes grew wide as he stared at his bound wrists. When he spoke, it was barely above a whisper, the voice that emerged an echo of itself, and unreal. 'Because I'm psycho, you son of a bitch! I've known it since I was a kid. The nasty dark thoughts, the knives into animals just to watch their eyes and their mouths. Raping a neighbour's daughter, a vicar's kid, because I knew she couldn't say anything, and then catching up with her on the street afterwards and walking her to school. I was eleven years old. And later, at Oxford, during club hazing, holding a lad under water, just below the surface, until he drowned - to watch his eyes, his mouth. Then going back to classes and excelling in that nonsense any damn fool could do who had the wits to get out of a thunder shower. There I was the right sort of fellow, as befitted the son of the father. '

  'You never sought help?

  'Help? With a name like Allcott-Price?'

  'Allcott-?' Stunned, Bourne stared at his prisoner. 'General Allcott-Price? Montgomery's boy genius in World War Two? "Slaughter" Allcott, the man who led the flank attack on Tobruk, and later barrelled through Italy and Germany? England's Patton?'

  'I wasn't alive then, for Christ's sake! I was a product of his third wife - perhaps his fourth, for all I know. He was very large in that department - women, I mean. '

  'D'Anjou said you never told him your real name. ' 'He was bloody well right! The general, swilling his brandy in his oh-so-superior club in St James's, has passed the word. "Kill him! Kill the rotten seed and never let the name out. He's no part of me, the woman was a whore!" But I am part of him and he knows it. He knows where I get my kicks from, the sadistic bastard, and we both have a slew of citations for doing what we like doing best. '

  'He knew, then? About your sickness?'

  'He knew . . . he knows. He kept me out of Sandhurst - our West Point, in case you don't know - because he didn't want me anywhere near his precious army. He figured they'd find me out and it'd dim his precious image. He damn near had apoplexy when I joined up. He won't have a decent night's sleep until he's told quietly that I'm out - dead out with all the traces buried. '

  'Why are you telling me who you are? 'Simple,' replied the former commando, his eyes boring into Jason's. The way I read it, whichever way it goes, only one of us is going to make it through. I'll do my damndest to see that it's me, I told you that. But it may not be - you're no slouch - and if it isn't, you'll have a name you can shock the goddamn world with, probably make a bloody fortune in the bargain what with literary and cinema rights, that sort of thing. '

  'Then the general will spend the rest of his life sleeping peacefully. '

  'Sleep?' He'll probably blow his brains out! You weren't listening. I said he'd be told quietly, all the traces buried, no name surfacing. But this way nothing's buried. It's all hanging out like Maggie's drawers, the whole sick sordid mess with no apologies on my part, chap. I know what I am, I accept it. Some of us are just plain different. Let's say we're anti-social, to put it one way; hard-core violent is another -rotten, still another. The only difference within my being different is that I'm bright enough to know it. '

  'And accept it,' said Bourne, quietly.

  'Wallow in it! Positively intoxicated by the highs! And let's look at it this way. If I lose and the story blows, how many practising anti-socials might be fired up by it? How many other different men are out there who'd be only too happy to take my place, as I took yours? This bloody world is crawling with Jason Bournes. Give them direction, give them an idea, and they'll flock to the source and be off and running. That was the Frenchman's essential genius, can't you see?'

  'I see garbage, that's all I see. '

  'Your eyesight's not too shabby. That's what the general will see - a reflection of himself - and he'll have to live with the exposure, choke with it. '

  'If he wouldn't help you, you should have helped yourself, commit yourself. You're bright enough to know that. '

  'And cut off all the fun, all the highs? Unthinkable, sport! You go your way and find the most expendable outfit in the service, hoping the accident will happen that will put an end to it before they peg you for what you are. I found the outfit, but the accident never happened. Unfortunately, competition brings out the best in all of us, doesn't it? We survive because somebody else doesn't want us to. . . And then, of course, there's drink. It gives us confidence, even the courage to do the things we're not sure we can do. '

  'Not when you're working. '

  'Of course not, but the memories are there. The whisky bravado that tells you you can do it. '

  'False,' said Jason Bourne.

  'Not entirely,' countered the assassin. 'You draw strength from what you can. '

  'There are two people,' said Jason. 'One you know, the other you don't - or you don't want to. ' 'False!' repeated the commando. 'He wouldn't be there unless I wanted my kicks, don't kid yourself. And don't delude yourself, either, Mr Original. You'd be better off putting a bullet in my head, because I'll take you, if I can. I'll kill you, if I can. '

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