The bourne supremacy, p.15
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.15

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 15

 

  'He knew what their job was,' interrupted Marie. 'To protect you. I'm sure he meant did you feel safer. '

  'Did he? Do they? That crowd of screaming kids, the dim light, the shadowy bodies, obscure faces. . . and he's joining in and laughing - they're all laughing. Are they really here to protect me?'

  'What else?'

  'I don't know. Maybe I've simply been where they haven't. Maybe I'm just thinking too much, thinking about McAllister and those eyes of his. Except for the blinking they belonged to a dead fish. You could read into them anything you wanted to - depending upon how you felt. '

  'What he told you was a shock,' said Marie, leaning against the sink, her arms folded across her breasts, watching her husband closely. 'It had to have had a terrible effect on you. It certainly did on me. '

  'That's probably it,' agreed Webb, nodding. 'It's ironic, but as much as there are so many things I want to remember, there's an awful lot I'd like to forget. '

  'Why don't you call McAllister and tell him what you feel, what you think? You've got a direct line to him, both at his office and his home. Mo Panov would tell you to do that. '

  'Yes, Mo would. ' David ate his egg half-heartedly. '"If there's a way to get rid of a specific anxiety, do it as fast as you can, " that's what he'd say. '

  "Then do it. '

  Webb smiled, about as enthusiastically as he ate his egg. 'Maybe I will, maybe I won't. I'd rather not announce a latent, or passive, or recurrent paranoia, or whatever the hell they call it. Mo would fly up here and beat my brains out. '

  'If he doesn't, I might. ' 'Ni shi nuhaizi,' said David, using the paper napkin, as he got out of his chair and went to her.

  'And what does that mean, my inscrutable husband and number eighty-seven lover?'

  'Bitch goddess. It means, freely translated, that you are a little girl - and not so little - and I can still take you three out of five on the bed where there are other things to do with you instead of beating you up. '

  'All that in such a short phrase?'

  'We don't waste words, we paint pictures. . . I've got to leave. The class this morning deals with Siam's Rama the Second, and his claims on the Malay states in the early

  nineteenth century. It's a pain in the ass but important. What's worse is there's an exchange student from Moulmein in Burma, who I think knows more than I do. '

  'Siam?' asked Marie, holding him. That's Thailand. '

  'Yes. It's Thailand now. '

  'Your wife, your children? Does it hurt, David?'

  He looked at her, loving her so. 'I can't be that hurt where I can't see that clearly. Sometimes I hope I never do. '

  'I don't think that way at all. I want you to see them and hear them and feel them. And to know that I love them, too. '

  'Oh, Christ!' He held her, their bodies together in a warmth that was theirs alone.

  The line was busy for the second time so Webb replaced the phone and returned to W. F. Vella's Siam under Rama III to see if the Burmese exchange student had been right about Rama IPs conflict with the sultan of Kedah over the disposition of the island of Penang. It was confrontation time in the rarefied groves of academe; the Moulmein pagodas of Kipling's poetry had been replaced by a smart-ass postgraduate student who had no respect for his betters - Kipling would understand that, and torpedo it.

  There was a brief, rapid knock on his office door, which opened before David could ask the caller in. It was one of his guards, the man who had spoken to him yesterday afternoon during the pre-game rally - among the crowds, amid the noise, in the middle of his fears.

  'Hello there, Professor?'

  'Hello. It's Jim, isn't it?

  'No, Johnny. It doesn't matter; you're not expected to get our names straight. '

  'Is anything the matter?

  'Just the opposite, sir. I dropped in to say good-bye - for all of us, the whole contingent. Everything's clean and you're back to normal. We've been ordered to report to B-One-L. '

  To what?'

  'Sounds kind of silly, doesn't it? Instead of saying "Come on back to headquarters" they call it B-One-L, as if anyone couldn't figure it out. '

  'I can't figure it out. '

  'Base-One-Langley. We're CIA, all six of us, but I guess you know that. '

  'You're leaving? All of you?'

  That's about it. '

  'But I thought. . . I thought there was a crisis here. '

  'Everything's clean. '

  'I haven't heard from anybody. I haven't heard from McAllister. '

  'Sorry, don't know him. We just have our orders. '

  'You can't simply come in here and say you're leaving without some explanation! I was told I was a target! That a man in Hong Kong wanted me killed? 'Well, I don't know whether you were told that, or whether you told yourself that, but I do know we've got an A-one legitimate problem in Newport News. We have to get briefed and get on it. '

  'A-one legitimate. . . ? What about me?'

  'Get a lot of rest, Professor. We were told you need it. ' The man from the CIA abruptly turned, went through the door, and closed it.

  Well, I don't know whether you were told that, or whether you told yourself that. . . How about you, professor? Do you feel better about things now, what with us here and all?

  Parade?. . . Charade!

  Where was McAllister's number? Where was it? God-damit, he had two copies, one at home and one in his desk drawer - no, his wallet! he found it, his whole body trembling in fear and in anger as he dialled.

  'Mr McAllister's office,' said a female voice.

  'I thought this was his private line. That's what I was told!'

  'Mr McAllister is away from Washington, sir. In these cases we're instructed to pick up and log the calls. '

  'Log the calls'? Where is he?'

  'I don't know, sir. I'm from the secretarial pool. He phones in every other day or so. Who shall I say called?"

  'That's not good enough! My name is Webb. Jason Webb. . . No, David Webb! I have to talk to him right away! Immediately!'

  I'll connect you with the department handling his urgent calls, Webb slammed down the phone. He had the number for McAllister's home; he dialled it.

  'Hello?' The voice of another woman.

  'Mr McAllister, please. '

  'I'm afraid he's not here. If you care to leave your name and a number, I'll give it to him. '

  'When?

  'Well, he should be calling tomorrow or the next day. He always does. '

  'You've got to give me the number where he is now, Mrs McAllister! - I assume this is Mrs McAllister. '

  'I should hope so. Eighteen years' worth. Who are you?'

  'Webb. David Webb. '

  'Oh, of course! Edward rarely discusses business - and he certainly didn't in your case but he did tell me what terribly nice people you and your lovely wife are. As a matter of fact, our older boy, who's in prep school, naturally, is very interested in the university where you teach. Now, in the last year or so his marks dropped just a touch, and his aptitude tests weren't the highest, but he has such a wonderful, enthusiastic outlook on life, I'm sure he'd be an asset. . . '

 
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