The bourne supremacy, p.35
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.35

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 35

  Nor was the Mongkok poor. Lavishly manufactured colour was everywhere with bright red the predominant

  magnet. Enormous and elaborate signs could be seen wherever the eye roamed above the crowds; advertisements that successively rose three storeys high lined the streets and the alleyways, the Chinese characters emphatic in their attempts to seduce consumers. There was money in Mongkok, quiet money, as well as hysterical money, but not always legitimate money. What there was not was excess space, and what there was of it belonged to their own, not outsiders, unless an outsider - brought in by one of their own - also brought in money to feed the insatiable machine that produced a vast array of worldly goods, and some not so much worldly as other-worldly. It was a question of knowing where to look and having the price. Pak-fei, the driver, knew where to look, and Jason Bourne had the price.

  'I will stop and make a phone call,' said Pak-fei, pulling behind a double-parked truck. 'I will lock you in and be quick. '

  'Is that necessary?' asked Webb.

  'It is your briefcase, sir, not mine. '

  Good Lord, thought David, he was a fool! He had not considered the attach6 case. He was carrying over $300, 000 into the heart of Mongkok as if it were his lunch. He gripped the handle, pulling the case to his lap, and checked the hasps; they were secure, but if both buttons were jolted even slightly, the lid would snap up. He yelled at the driver, who had climbed out of the car. 'Get me some tape! Adhesive tape!'

  It was too late. The sounds of the street were deafening, the crowds nothing less than a weaving human blanket, and they were everywhere. And suddenly everywhere became the windows of the Daimler. A hundred pairs of eyes peered in from all sides, then contorted faces were pressed against the glass - on all sides - and Webb was the core of a newly erupted street volcano. He could hear the questioning shrieks of Bin go ah? and Chong man tui, roughly the English equivalent of 'Who is it?' and 'A mouth that's full,' or as combined, 'Who's the big shot?' He felt like a caged animal being studied by a horde of beasts from another species, perhaps vicious. He held onto the case, staring straight ahead, and as two hands started clawing at the slight space in

  the upper window on his right, he reached slowly down into his pocket for the hunting knife. The fingers broke through. 'Jau!' screamed Pak-fei, thrashing his way through the crowd. This is a most important taipan and the police up the street will pour boiling oil on your genitals if you disturb him! Get away, away? He unlocked the door, jumped in behind the wheel and yanked the door shut amid furious curses. He started the engine, gunned it, then pressed his hand on the powerful horn and held it there, raising the cacophony to unbearable proportions as the sea of bodies slowly, reluctantly parted. The Daimler lurched in fits and starts down the narrow street.

  'Where are we going?' shouted Webb. 'I thought we were there!'

  The merchant you will deal with has moved his place of business, sir, which is good, for this is not a savoury district of the Mongkok. '

  'You should have called first. That wasn't very pleasant back there. '

  'If I may correct the impression of imperfect service, sir,' said Pak-fei, glancing at David in the rear view mirror. 'We now know that you are not being followed. As a consequence I am not being followed to where I drive you. '

  'What are you talking about?'

  'You go with your hands free into a large bank on Chater Square and you come out with your hands not free. You carry a briefcase. '

  'So?' Webb watched the driver's eyes as they kept darting up at him.

  'No guard accompanied you, and there are bad people who watch for such men as yourself- often signals are sent from other bad people inside. These are uncertain times, so it was better to be certain in this instance. '

  'And you're certain. . . now. '

  'Oh, yes, sir!' Pak-fei smiled. 'An automobile following us on a back street in the Mongkok is easily seen. '

  'So there was no phone call. '

  'Oh, indeed there was, sir. One must always call first. But it was very quick, and I then walked back on the pavement,

  without my cap, of course, for many metres. There were no angry men in automobiles, and none climbed out to run in the street. I will now take you to the merchant much relieved. '

  'I'm relieved, too,' said David, wondering why Jason Bourne had temporarily deserted him. 'And I didn't even know I should have been worried. Not about being followed. '

  The dense crowds of the Mongkok thinned out as the buildings became lower and Webb could see the waters of Victoria Harbour behind high chain-link fences. Beyond the forbidding barricades were clusters of warehouses fronting piers where merchant ship's were docked and heavy machinery crawled and groaned, lifting huge boxcars into holds. Pak-fei turned into the entrance of an isolated one-storey warehouse; it appeared deserted, asphalt everywhere and only two cars in sight. The gate was closed; a guard walked out of a small glass-enclosed office towards the Daimler, a clipboard in his hand.

  'You won't find my name on a list,' said Pak-fei in Chinese and with singular authority as the guard approached. 'Inform Mr Wu Song that Regent Number Five is here and brings him a taipan as worthy as himself. He expects us. ' The guard nodded, squinting in the afternoon sunlight to catch a glimpse of the important passenger. 'Aiya!' screamed Pak-fei at the man's impertinence. Then he turned and looked at Webb. 'You must not misunderstand, sir,' he said as the guard ran back to his telephone. 'My use of the name of my fine hotel has nothing to do with my fine hotel. In truth, if Mr Liang, or anyone else, knew I mentioned its name in such business as this, I would be relieved of my job. It is merely that I was born on the fifth day of the fifth month in the year of our Christian Lord, 1935. ' 'I'll never tell,' said David, smiling to himself, thinking that Jason Bourne had not deserted him after all. The myth that he once had been knew the avenues that led to the right contacts - knew them blindly - and that man was there inside David Webb.

  The curtained whitewashed room of the warehouse, lined with locked, horizontal display cases, was not unlike a museum displaying such artifacts from past civilizations as

  primitive tools, fossilized insects, mystic carvings of religions past. The difference here was in the objects. These were exploding weapons that ran the gamut, from the lowest-calibre handguns and rifles to the most sophisticated weapons of modern warfare - thousand-round automatic machine guns with spiralling clips on near-weightless frames to laser-guided rockets to be fired from the shoulder, an arsenal for terrorists. Two men in business suits stood guard, one outside the entrance to the room, the other inside. As was to be expected, the former bowed his apology and moved an electronic scanner up and down the clothes of Webb and his driver. Then the man reached for the attach6 case. David pulled it away, shaking his head and gesturing at the wandlike scanner. The guard had waved it over the surface of the case, checking his dials as he did so.

  'Private papers,' Webb said in Chinese to the startled guard as he walked into the room.

  It took David nearly a full minute to absorb what he saw, to shake off his disbelief. He looked at the bold, emblazoned No Smoking signs in English, French and Chinese that were all over the walls and wondered why they were there. Nothing was exposed. He walked over to the small arms display and examined the wares. He clutched the attache case in his hand as though it were a lifeline to sanity in a world gone mad with instruments of violence.

 
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