The bourne supremacy, p.138
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.138

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 138

 

  'You're asking me to destroy what you can't live with. '

  'Cut the crap, Bourne! I don't know about you, but I get my kicks! I want them! I don't want to live without them!'

  'You just asked me again. '

  'Stow it, you fucker!'

  'And again. '

  'Stop it!' The assassin lurched out of the chair. Jason took two steps forward, his right foot again lashing out, again pounding the killer's ribs, sending him back into the chair. Allcott-Price screamed in pain.

  'I won't kill you, Major,' said Bourne quietly. 'But I'll make you wish you were dead. '

  'Grant me a last wish,' coughed the killer through an open mouth, holding his chest with his bound hands. 'Even I've done that for targets . . . I can take the unexpected bullet but I can't take the Hong Kong garrison. They'd hang me late at night when no one's around, just to make it official, according to the regs. They'd put a thick rope around my neck and make me stand on a platform. I can't take that?

  Delta knew when to switch gears. 'I told you before,' he said calmly. That may not be in store for you. I'm not dealing with the British in Hong Kong. '

  'You're not what?'

  'You assumed it, but I never said it. '

  'You're lying?

  Then you're less talented than I thought, which wasn't much to begin with. '

  'I know. I can't think geometrically?

  'You certainly can't. '

  Then you're a premium man - what you Americans call a bounty hunter - but you're working privately. '

  'In a sense, yes. And I have an idea that the man who sent me after you may want to hire you, not kill you. '

  'Jesus Christ-'

  'And my price was heavy. Very heavy. '

  Then you are in the business. '

  'Only this once. I couldn't refuse the reward. Lie down on the bed. '

  'What?

  'You heard me. '

  'I have to go to the loo. '

  'Be my guest,' replied Jason, walking to the bathroom door and opening it. 'It's not one of my favourite sports, but I'll be watching you. ' The assassin relieved himself with Bourne's gun trained on him. Finished, he walked out into the small, shabby room in the cheap hotel south of the Mongkok. The bed,' said Bourne again, gesturing with his weapon. 'Get prone and spread your legs. '

  That fairy behind the desk downstairs would love to hear this conversation. '

  'You can phone him later in your own time. Down. Quickly!'

  'You're always in a hurry-' 'More than you'll ever understand. ' Jason lifted his knapsack from the floor and put it on the bed, pulling out the nylon cords as the deranged killer crawled oh top of the soiled spread. Ninety seconds later the commando's ankles were lashed to the bed's rear metal springs, his neck circled with the thin, white line, the rope stretched and knotted to the springs in front. Finally, Bourne slipped off the pillowcase and tied it around the major's head, covering his eyes and ears, leaving his mouth free to breathe. His wrists bound beneath him, the assassin was again immobilized. But now his head began to twitch in sudden jerks and his mouth stretched with each spasm. Extreme anxiety had overcome former Major Allcott-Price. Jason recognized the signs dispassionately.

  The squalid hotel he had managed to find had no such conveniences as a telephone. The only communication with the outside world would be a knock on the door, which meant

  either the police or a wary desk clerk informing the guest that if the room was to be occupied another hour, an additional day's rent was required. Bourne crossed to the door, slipped silently out into the dingy corridor and headed for the pay phone he had been told was at the far end of the hallway.

  He had committed the telephone number to memory, waiting - praying, if it were possible - for the moment when he would dial it. He inserted a coin and did so now, his breath short, the blood racing to his head. 'Snake lady!' he said into the phone, drawing out the two words in harsh, flat emphasis. 'Snake lady, snake-'

  'Qing, qing,' broke in an impersonal voice over the line, speaking rapidly in Chinese. 'We are experiencing a temporary disruption of service for many telephones on this exchange. Service should be resumed shortly. This is a recording . . . Qing, qing-'

  Jason replaced the phone. A thousand fragmented thoughts, like broken mirrors, collided in his mind. He walked rapidly back down the dimly-lit corridor, passing a whore in a doorway counting money. She smiled at him, raising her hands to her blouse; he shook his head and ran to the room. He waited fifteen minutes, standing quietly by the window, hearing the guttural sounds that emerged from his prisoner's throat. He returned to the door and once more stepped outside noiselessly. He walked to the phone, again inserted money and dialled.

  'Qing-' He slammed the telephone down, his hands trembling, the muscles of his jaw working furiously as he thought about the prostrate 'merchandise' he had brought back to exchange for his wife. He picked up the phone for a third time and dialled O. 'Operator,' he began in Chinese, 'this is an emergency! It's most urgent I reach the following number. ' He gave it to her, his voice rising in barely controlled panic. 'A recording explained that there was difficulty on the line, but this is an emergency-'

  'One minute, please. I will attempt to be of assistance. ' Silence followed, every second filled with a growing echo in his chest, reverberating like an accelerating kettledrum. His temples throbbed; his mouth was dry, his throat parched -burning.

  'The line is temporarily in disuse, sir,' said a second female voice.

  The line! That line?

  'Yes, sir. '

  'Not "many telephones" on the exchange?

  'You asked the operator about a specific number, sir. I would not know about other numbers. If you have them I will gladly check for you. '

  'The recording specifically said many telephones yet you're saying one line! Are you telling me you can't confirm a. . . a multiple malfunction?'

  'A what?' 'Whether a whole lot of phones aren't working! You've got computers. They spell out trouble spots. I told the other operator this is an emergency]'

  'If it is medical I will gladly summon an ambulance. If you will give me your address-'

  'I want to know whether a lot of phones are out or whether it's just one! I have to know that!'

  'It will take me some time to gather such information, sir. It's past nine o'clock in the evening and the repair stations are on reduced crews-'

  'But they can tell you if there's an area problem, goddamn it!'

  'Please, sir, I am not paid to be abused. '

  'Sorry, I'm sorry I. . . Address? Yes, the address! What's the address of the number I gave you?'

  'It is unpublished, sir. '

  'But you have it!'

  'Actually, I do not, sir. The laws of confidentiality are most strict in Hong Kong. My screen shows only the word "unpublished". '

  'I repeat! This really is a matter of life and death!'

  'Then let me reach a hospital. . . Oh, sir, please wait. You were correct, sir. My screen now shows that the last three digits of the number you gave me are electronically crossing over into one another, so the repair station is attempting to correct the problem. '

 
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