The bourne supremacy, p.161
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.161

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 161

 

  'Oddly enough,' said McAllister, frowning, briefly looking at the ground. 'Where you and your wife are concerned, I suppose that's part of it - a minor part. ' The undersecretary of state raised his eyes and continued calmly. 'But the basic reason, Mr Bourne, is that I'm rather tired of being Edward Newington McAllister, maybe a brilliant but surely an inconsequential analyst. I'm the mind in the back room that's brought out when things get too complicated and then sent back after he's rendered a judgement. You might say I'd like that chance for a moment in the sun - out of the back room, as it were. '

  Jason studied the undersecretary in the shadows. 'A couple of moments ago you said there was the risk of my failing, and I'm experienced. You're not. Have you considered the consequences if you fail?

  'I don't think I will. '

  'You don't think you will,' repeated Bourne flatly. 'May I ask why?'

  'I've thought it out. '

  That's nice. '

  'No, I mean it,' protested McAllister. The strategy is fundamentally simple: To get Sheng alone with me. I can do that but you can't do it for me. And you certainly can't get him alone with you. All I need is a few seconds and a weapon. '

  'If I allowed it I don't know which would frighten me more. Your succeeding or your failing. May I remind you that you're an undersecretary of state for the United States government? Suppose you're caught? It's good-bye, Charlie,

  for everyone. ' 'I've considered that since the day I arrived back in Hong

  Kong. ' 'You what?'

  'For weeks I've thought that this might be the solution, that I might be the solution. The government's covered. It's all written down in my papers back on Victoria Peak, with a copy for Havilland and another set to be delivered to the Chinese consulate in Hong Kong in seventy-two hours. The ambassador may even have found his set by now. So, you see, there's no turning back. ' 'What the hell have you done?

  'Described what amounts to a blood feud between Sheng and myself. Given my record and the time I spent over here, as well as Sheng's well-known penchant for secrecy, it's actually quite plausible. Certainly his enemies in the Central Committee will leap at it. If I'm killed or captured, so much attention will be focused on Sheng, so many questions regardless of his denials, he won't dare move - if he survives. ' 'Good Christ, save me,' said Bourne, stunned. 'It's not necessary for you to know the particulars, but you'll recognize the main point of your conspirator-for-a-conspirator theory. In essence I accuse him of going back on his word, of cutting me out of his Hong Kong manipulations after I spent years secretly helping him develop the structure. He's cutting me out because he doesn't need me any longer and he knows I can't possibly say anything because I'd be ruined. I wrote that I was even frightened for my life. ' 'Forget it!' shouted Jason. 'Forget the whole goddamned thing! It's crazy! 'You're assuming I'll fail. Or be captured. I'm assuming neither - with your help, of course. '

  Bourne took a deep breath and lowered his voice. 'I admire your courage, even your latent sense of decency, but there's a better way and you can provide it. You'll have your moment in the sun, Mr Analyst, but not this way. '

  'What way, then?' asked the undersecretary of state, now bewildered. 'I've seen you operate and Conklin was right. You may be a son of a bitch but you're something. You reach into the Foreign Office in London and know who can change the rules. You spent six years over here digging around the dirty-tricks business, tracking killers and thieves and the pimps of the Far East in the name of neighbourly government policy. You know which button to press and where the bodies are buried. You even remembered a squirrelly doctor here in Macao who owed you a favour and you made him pay. '

  That's all second nature. One doesn't easily forget such people. '

  'Find me others. Find me killers for a price. Between you and Havilland the two of you can do it. You're going to get on the phone to him and tell him these are my demands. He's to transfer a million - five million if he has to - over here to Macao in the morning, and by mid-afternoon I want a killer unit here ready to go up into China. I'll make the arrangements. I know a rendezvous that's been used before in the hills of Guangdong; there are fields that can easily be reached by helicopter, where Sheng or his lieutenants used to meet with the commando. Once he gets my message he'll make the trip, take my word for it. You just do your part. Dig around that head of yours and come up with three or four experienced scumbags. Tell them the risk is minimal and the price high. That's your moment in the sun, Mr Analyst. It should be irresistible. You'll have something on Havilland for the rest of his life. He'll make you his chief aide, probably Secretary of State, if you want it. He can't afford not to. '

  'Impossible,' said McAllister quietly, his eyes locked with Jason's.

  'Well, maybe Secretary of State's a bit much-'

  'What you have just suggested is impossible,' broke in the undersecretary.

  'Are you telling me there aren't such men, because if you are you're lying again. '

  'I'm sure there are. I might even know of several and I'm sure others are on that list of names Wenzu gave you when he was playing the role of the white-suited taipan in the Walled City. But I wouldn't touch them. Even if Havilland ordered me to I'd refuse. '

  Then you don't want Sheng! Everything you said was just another lie. Liar!'

  'You're wrong, I do want Sheng. But to use your words, not this way. '

  'Why not?'

  'Because I won't put my government, my country, in that kind of compromised position. Actually, I think Havilland would agree with me. Hiring killers is too traceable, the transferring of money too traceable. Someone gets angry or boastful or drunk; he talks and an assassination is laid at Washington's feet. I couldn't be a part of that. I refer you to the Kennedys' attempts on Castro's life using the Mafia. Insanity. . . No, Mr Bourne, I'm afraid you're stuck with me. '

  'I'm not stuck with anyone! I can reach Sheng; you can't?

  'Complicated issues can usually be reduced to simple equations if certain facts are remembered. '

  'What does that mean?'

  'It means I insist we do things my way. ' 'Why?'

  'Because Havilland has your wife. '

  'She's with Conklin! With Mo Panov! He wouldn't dare-'

  'You don't know him,' McAllister interrupted. 'You insult him but you don't know him. He's like Sheng Chou Yang. He'll stop at nothing. If I'm right - and I'm sure I am - Mrs Webb, Mr Conklin and Dr Panov are guests at the house in Victoria Peak for the duration. '

  'Guests?'

  That house arrest I mentioned a few minutes ago. '

  'Son of a bitch' whispered Jason, the muscles in his face pulsating.

  'Now, how do we reach Peking?

  With his eyes closed, Bourne answered. 'A man at the Guangdong garrison named Soo Jiang. I speak to him in French and he leaves a message for us here in Macao. At a table in a casino. '

  'Move!' said McAllister.

  Chapter Thirty-six

  The telephone rang, startling the naked woman who quickly sat up in the bed. The man lying next to her was suddenly wide awake; he was wary of any intrusion, especially one in the middle of the night, or, more accurately, the early hours of the morning. The expression on his soft, round Oriental face, however, showed that such intrusions were not infrequent, only unnerving. He reached for the phone on the bedside table.

 
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