The bourne supremacy, p.31
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.31

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 31


  McAllister spun the globe; it whirled around as he walked towards the desk. 'Perhaps I shouldn't say it, but I will,' he said, standing in front of Raymond Havilland. 'I think you're the most immoral man I've ever met. '

  'Appearances, Mr Undersecretary. I have one saving grace which supersedes all the sins I have committed. I will go to any lengths, indulge in all venalities, to stop this planet from blowing itself up. And that includes the life of one David Webb - known where I want him as Jason Bourne. '

  Chapter Eight

  The mists rose like layers of diaphanous scarves above Victoria Harbour as the huge jet circled for the final approach into Kai Tak Airport. The early morning haze was dense, the promise of a humid day in the colony. Below on the water the junks and sampans bobbed beside the outlying freighters, the squat barges, the chugging multi-tiered ferries and the occasional marine patrols that swept through the harbour. As the plane descended into the Kowloon airport, the serried ranks of skyscrapers on the island of Hong Kong took on the appearance of alabaster giants, reaching up through the mists and reflecting the first penetrating light of the morning sun.

  Webb studied the scene below, as a man under a horrible strain and as one consumed by an eerily detached curiosity. Down there somewhere in the seething, vastly overpopulated territory was Marie - that was uppermost in his thoughts and the most agonizing to think about. Yet another part of him was like a scientist filled with a cold anxiety as he peered into the clouded lens of a microscope trying to discern what his eye and his mind could understand. The familiar and the unfamiliar were joined, and the result was bewilderment and fear. During Panov's sessions in Virginia, David had read and re-read hundreds of travel folders and illustrated brochures describing all the places the mythical Jason Bourne was known to have been; it was a continuous, often

  painful exercise in self-probing. Fragments would come to him in flashes of recognition; many were all too brief and confusing, others prolonged, his sudden memories astonishingly accurate, the descriptions his own, not those of travel agents' manuals. As he looked down now, he saw much that he knew he knew but could not specifically remember. So he looked away and concentrated on the day ahead.

  He had wired the Regent Hotel in Kowloon from Dulles Airport requesting a room for a week in the name of one James Howard Cruett, the identity on Cactus's refined blue-eyed passport. He had added: 'I believe arrangements were made for our firm with respect to Suite Six-nine-zero, if it is available. Arrival day is firm, flight is not. '

  The suite would be available. What he had to find out was who had made it available. It was the first step towards Marie. And either before or after or during the process there were items to purchase - some would be simple to buy, others not; but even finding the more inaccessible would not be impossible. This was Hong Kong, the colony of survival and it had the tools of survival. It was also the one civilized place on earth where religions flourished but the only commonly acknowledged god, of believers and non-believers alike, was money. As Marie had put it: 'It has no other reason for being. '

  The tepid morning reeked with the odors of a crowded, rushing humanity, the smells strangely not unpleasant. Kerbsides were being hosed ferociously, steam rising from pavements drying in the sun, and the fragrance of herbs boiling in oil wafted through the narrow streets from carts and concessions screeching for attention. The noises accumulated; they became a series of constant crescendos demanding acceptance and a sale or at least a negotiation. Hong Kong was the essence of survival; one worked furiously or one did not survive. Adam Smith was outdone and outdated; he could never have conceived of such a world. It mocked the disciplines he projected for a free economy; it was madness. It was Hong Kong.

  David held up his hand for a taxi, knowing that he had done so before, knowing the exit doors he had headed for after the prolonged drudgery of customs, knowing he knew

  the streets through which the driver took him - not really remembering, but somehow knowing. It was both a comfort and profoundly terrifying. He knew and he did not know. He was a marionette being manipulated on the stage of his own sideshow, and he did not know who was the puppet or who the puppeteer.

  'It was an error,' said David to the clerk behind the oval marble counter in the centre of the Regent's lobby. 'I don't want a suite. I'd prefer something smaller, a single or a double room will do. '

  'But the arrangements have been made, Mr Cruett,' replied the bewildered clerk, using the name on Webb's false passport.

  'Who made them?'

  The youthful Oriental peered down at a signature on the computer print-out reservation. 'It was authorized by the assistant manager, Mr Liang. '

  'Then in courtesy I should speak with Mr Liang, shouldn't


  'I'm afraid it will be necessary. I'm not sure there's anything else available. '

  'I understand. I'll find another hotel. '

  'You are considered a most important guest, sir. I will go back and speak with Mr Liang. '

  Webb nodded as the clerk, reservation in hand, ducked under the counter on the far left and walked rapidly across the crowded floor to a door behind the concierge's desk. David looked around at the opulent lobby, which in a sense started outside in the immense circular courtyard with its sprays of tall, gushing fountains and extended through the bank of elegant glass doors and across the marble floor to a semicircle of enormously high tinted windows that looked out over Victoria Harbour. The ever-moving tableau beyond was a hypnotic mise-en-scene for the open curving lounge in front of the wall of soft-coloured glass. There were dozens of small tables and leather settees, mostly occupied, with uniformed waiters and waitresses scurrying about. It was an arena from which tourists and negotiators alike could view

  the panorama of the harbour's commerce, played out in front of the rising skyline of the island of Hong Kong in the distance. The watery view outside was familiar to Webb, but nothing else. He had never been inside the extravagant hotel before; at least nothing of what he saw aroused any flashes of recognition.

  Suddenly his eyes were drawn to the sight of the clerk rushing across the lobby several steps ahead of a middle-aged Oriental, obviously the Regent's assistant manager, Mr Liang. Again the younger man ducked under the counter and quickly resumed his position in front of David, his accommodating eyes as wide as they could be in anticipation. Seconds later the hotel executive approached, bowing slightly from the waist, as befitted his professional station.

  This is Mr Liang, sir,' announced the clerk.

  'May I be of service?' said the assistant manager. 'And may I say it is a pleasure to welcome you as our guest?5

  Webb smiled and shook his head politely. 'It may have to be another time, I'm afraid. '

  'You are displeased with the accommodations, Mr Cruett?'

  'Not at all. I'd probably like them very much. But, as I told your young man, I prefer smaller quarters, a single or even a double room, but not a suite. However, I understand there may not be anything available. '

  'Your wire specifically mentioned Suite Six-ninety, sir. '

  'I realize that and I apologize. It was the work of an overzealous sales representative. ' Webb frowned in a friendly, quizzical manner and asked courteously. 'Incidentally, who did make those arrangements? I certainly didn't. '

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