The bourne supremacy, p.27
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.27

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 27

 

  'I'm not here on an inter-agency diplomatic mission,

  General - it is General, isn't it?

  'I'm still called that, yes. '

  'So I don't give a damn about being diplomatic, do you understand me?

  'I'm beginning not to like you. I understand that. '

  'That,' said Conklin, 'is the least of my concerns. What does concern me, however, is a man named David Webb. '

  'What about him?

  'Him? The fact that you recognize the name so readily isn't very reassuring. What's going on, General?'

  'Do you want a megaphone, spook? said the ex-soldier curtly.

  'I want answers, Corporal - that's what you and this office are to us. '

  'Back off, Conklin! When you called me with your so-called emergency and switchboard verification, I did a little verifying myself. That big reputation of yours is a little wobbly these days, and I use the term on good advice. You're a lush, spook, and no secret's been made about it. So you've got less than a minute to say what you want to say before I throw you out. Take your choice - the elevator or the window. '

  Alex had calculated the probability that his drinking would be telegraphed. He stared at the Chief of Internal Security and spoke evenly, even sympathetically. 'General, I'll answer that accusation with one sentence, and if it ever reaches anyone else, I'll know where it came from and so will the Agency. ' Conklin paused, his eyes clear and penetrating. 'Our profiles are often what we want them to be for reasons we can't talk about. I'm sure you understand what I mean. '

  The State Department man received Alex's gaze with a reluctantly sympathetic one of his own. 'Oh, Christ, '1 he said softly. 'We used to give dishonourables to men we were sending out in Berlin. '

  'Often at our suggestion,' agreed Conklin, nodding. 'And it's all we'll say on the subject. '

  'Okay, okay. I was out of line, but I can tell you the profile's working. I was told by one of your deputy directors that I'd pass out at your breath with you halfway across the room. '

  'I don't even want to know who he is, General, because I might laugh in his face. As it happens, I don't drink. ' Alex had a childhood compulsion to cross his fingers somewhere out of sight, or his legs, or his toes, but no method came to him. 'Let's get back to David Webb,' he added sharply, no quarter in his voice.

  'What's your beef?'

  'My beef] My goddamned life, soldier. Something's going on and I want to know what it is! That son of a bitch broke into my apartment last night and threatened to kill me. He made some pretty wild accusations naming men on your payroll like Harry Babcock, Samuel Teasdale and William Lanier. We checked; they're in your covert division and still practising. What the hell did they do? One made it plain you'd send out an execution team after him! What kind of language is that? Another told him to go back to a hospital - he's been in two hospitals and our combined, very private clinic in Virginia - we all put him there, and he's got a clean bill! He's also got some secrets in his head none of us wants out. But that man is ready to explode because of something you idiots did, or let happen, or closed your fucking eyes to! He claims to have proof that you walked back into his life and turned it around, that you set him up and took a hell of a lot more than a pound of flesh!'

  'What proof?' asked the stunned general.

  'He spoke to his wife,' said Conklin in a sudden monotone.

  'So?'

  'She was taken from their home by two men who sedated her and put her on a private jet. She was flown to the West Coast. '

  'You mean she was kidnapped?

  'You've got it. And what should make you swallow hard is that she overheard the two of them talking to the pilot, and gathered that the whole dirty business had something to do with the State Department - for reasons unknown - but the name McAllister was mentioned. For your enlightenment he's one of your undersecretaries from the Fast East Section. '

  This is nuts!'

  'I'll tell you what's more than nuts - mine and yours in a crushed salad. She got away during a refuelling stop in San Francisco. That's when she reached Webb back in Maine. He's on his way to meet her - God knows where - but you'd better have some solid answers, unless you can establish the fact that he's a lunatic who may have killed his wife - which I hope you can - and that there was no abduction - which I sincerely hope there wasn't. '

  'He's certifiable? cried the Chief of State's Internal Security. 'I read those logs! I had to - someone else called about this Webb last night. Don't ask me who. I can't tell you. '

  'What the hell is going on?' demanded Conklin, leaning across the desk, his hands on the edge, as much for support as for effect.

  'He's paranoid. What can I say? He makes things up and believes them!'

  'That's not what the Government doctors determined,' said Conklin icily. 'I happen to know something about that. '

  'I don't, damn it!'

  'You probably never will,' agreed Alex. 'But as a surviving member of the Treadstone operation, I want you to reach someone who can say the right words and put my mind at ease. Somebody over here has opened up a can of worms we intend to keep a tight lid on. ' Conklin took out a small notebook and a ballpoint pen; he wrote down a number, tore off the page and dropped it on the desk. That's a sterile phone; a trace would only give you a false address. ' His eyes were hard, his voice firm, the slight tremble even ominous. 'It's to be used between three and four this afternoon, no other time. Have someone reach me then. I don't care who it is or how you do it. Maybe you'll have to call one of your celebrated policy conferences, but I want answers - we want answers!'

  'You could be all wet, you know!'

  'I hope I am. But if I'm not, you people over here are going to get strung up - hard - because you've crossed over into off-limits territory. '

  David was grateful that there were so many things to do, for

  without them he might plummet into a mental limbo and become paralysed by the strain of knowing both too much and too little. After Conklin left for Langley, he had returned to the hotel and started his inevitable list. Lists calmed him; they were preliminaries to necessary activity and forced him to concentrate on specific items rather than on the reasons for selecting them. Brooding over the reasons would cripple his mind as severely as a land mine had crippled Conklin's right foot. He could not think about Alex either - there were too many possibilities and impossibilities. Nor could he phone his once and former enemy. Conklin was thorough; he was the best. The ex- strategist projected each action and its subsequent reaction, and his first determination was that within minutes of his call to the State Department's Chief of Internal Security, other telephones would be used, and two specific phones undoubtedly tapped. Both his. In his apartment and at Langley. Therefore to avoid any interruptions or interceptions he did not intend to return to his office. He would meet David at the airport later, 30 minutes before Webb's flight to Hong Kong.

  'You think you got here without someone following you?' he had said to Webb. 'I'm not certain of that. They're programming you and when someone punches a keyboard he keeps his eye on the constant number. '

 
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