The bourne supremacy, p.14
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       The Bourne Supremacy, p.14

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 14

 

  'You look at me so strangely - why is that?

  'I've never been in this position, that's why. ' The chimes of the doorbell rang, and Marie, shaking her head to their sound, rose and walked rapidly across the room and into the foyer. She opened the door. For a moment she stopped breathing and stared helplessly. Two men stood side by side, both holding up black plastic identification cases, each with a glistening silver badge attached to the top, each embossed eagle reflecting the light of the carriage lamps on the porch. Beyond, at the curb, was a second dark sedan; inside could be seen the silhouettes of other men, and the glow of a lighted cigarette - other men, other guards. She wanted to scream, but she did not.

  Edward McAllister climbed into the passenger seat of his own State Department car and looked through the closed window at the figure of David Webb standing in the doorway. The former Jason Bourne stood motionless, his eyes fixed rigidly on his departing visitor.

  'Let's get out of here,' said McAllister to the driver, a man about his own age and balding, with tortoiseshell glasses breaking the space between his nose and his high forehead.

  The car started forward, the driver cautious on the strange, narrow, tree-lined street a block from the rocky beach in the small Maine town. For several minutes neither man spoke; finally the driver asked, 'How did everything go?'

  'Go?' replied the man from State. 'As the ambassador might say, "all the pieces are in place". The foundation's there, the logic there; the missionary work is done. '

  'I'm glad to hear it. '

  'Are you? Then I'm glad too. ' McAllister raised his trembling right hand; his thin fingers massaging his right temple. 'No, I'm not? he said suddenly. 'I'm goddamned sick!'

  'I'm sorry-'

  'And speaking of missionary work, I am a Christian. 1 mean I believe - nothing so chic as being zealous, or born again, or teaching Sunday school, or prostrating myself in the aisle, but I do believe. My wife and I go to the Episcopal church at least twice a month, my two sons are acolytes. I'm generous because I want to be. Can you understand that?'

  'Sure. I don't have quite those feelings, but I understand. '

  'But I just walked out of that man's house?

  'Hey, easy. What's the matter?"

  McAllister stared straight ahead, the oncoming headlights creating shadows rushing across his face. 'May God have mercy on my soul,' he whispered.

  Chapter Four

  Screams suddenly filled the darkness, an approaching, growing cacophony of roaring voices. Then surging bodies were all around them, racing ahead, shouting, faces contorted in frenzy. Webb fell to his knees, covering his face and neck with both hands as best he could, swinging his shoulders violently back and forth, creating a shifting target within the circle of attack. His dark clothes were a plus in the shadows but would be no help if an indiscriminate burst of gunfire erupted, taking at least one of the guards with him. Yet bullets were not always a killer's choice. There were darts - lethal missiles of poison delivered by air-compressed weapons, puncturing exposed flesh, bringing death in a matter of minutes. Or seconds.

  A hand gripped his shoulder! He spun around, arcing his arm up, dislodging the hand as he side stepped to his left, crouching like an animal.

  'You okay, Professor?' asked the guard on his right, grinning in the wash of his flashlight.

  'What? What happened?

  'Isn't it great!' cried the guard on his left, approaching, as David got to his feet.

  'What?'

  'Kids with that kind of spirit. It really makes you feel good to see it!'

  It was over. The campus quad was silent again, and in the distance between the stone buildings that fronted the playing fields and the college stadium, the pulsing flames of a bonfire could be seen through the empty bleachers. A football rally was reaching its climax, and his guards were laughing.

  'How about you, Professor?' continued the man on his left. 'Do you feel better about things now, what with us here and all?'

  It was over. The self-inflicted madness was over. Or was it? Why was his chest pounding so? Why was he so bewildered, so frightened? Something was wrong.

  'Why does this whole parade bother me?' said David over morning coffee in the breakfast alcove of their old rented Victorian house.

  'You miss your walks on the beach,' said Marie, ladling her husband's single poached egg over the single slice of toast. 'Eat that before you have a cigarette. '

  'No, really. It bothers me. For the past week I've been a duck in a superficially protected gallery. It occurred to me yesterday afternoon. '

  'What do you mean?' Marie poured out the water and placed the pan in the kitchen sink, her eyes on Webb. 'Six men are around you, four on your "flanks", as you said, and two peering into everything in front and behind you. '

  'A parade. '

  'Why do you call it that?1

  'I don't know. Everyone in his place, marching to a drumbeat. I don't know. '

  'But you feel something?'

  'I guess so. '

  'Tell me. Those feelings of yours once saved my life on the Guisan Quai in Zurich. I'd like to hear it - well, maybe I wouldn't, but I damn well better. '

  Webb broke the yolk of his egg on the toast. 'Do you know how easy it would be for someone - someone who looked young enough to be a student - to walk by me on a path and shoot an air dart into me? He could cover the sound with a cough, or a laugh, and I'd have a hundred cc's of strychnine in my blood. '

  'You know far more about that sort of thing than I do. ' 'Of course. Because that's the way I'd do it. '

  'No. That's the way Jason Bourne might do it. Not you. '

  'All right, I'm projecting. It doesn't invalidate the thought. '

  'What happened yesterday afternoon?'

  Webb toyed with the egg and toast on his plate. 'The seminar ran late as usual. It was getting dark, and my guards fell in and we walked across the quad towards the parking lot. There was a football rally - our insignificant team against another insignificant team - but very large for us. The crowd passed the four of us, kids racing to a bonfire behind the bleachers, screaming and shouting and singing fight songs, working themselves up. And I thought to myself, this is. This is when it's going to happen if it is going to happen. Believe me, for those few moments I was Bourne. I crouched and side-stepped and watched everyone I could see - I was close to panic. '

  'And?' said Marie, disturbed by her husband's abrupt silence.

  'My so-called guards were looking around and laughing, the two in front having a ball, enjoying the whole thing. '

  'That disturbed you?'

  'Instinctively. I was a vulnerable target in the centre of an excited crowd. My nerves told me that; my mind didn't have to. '

  'Who's talking now?'

  'I'm not sure. I just know that during those few moments nothing made sense to me. Then, only seconds later, as if to pinpoint the feelings I hadn't verbalized, the man behind me on my left came up and said something like, "Isn't it great - or terrific - to see kids with that kind of spirit? Makes you feel good, doesn't it?" I mumbled something inane, and then he said - and these are his exact words - "How about you, professor? Do you feel better about things now, what with us here and all?" David looked up at his wife. 'Did 7 feel better. . . HOW? Me. '

 
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll
Add comment

Add comment