The bourne supremacy, p.42
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.42

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 42


  He had to know the extent of the banker's security. He wanted the lie that he had told a marksman in a deserted office above the harbour walkway to be the truth. Instead of being watched, he wanted to be the one watching. He would memorize each face, each role in the command structure, the rapidity with which each guard made a decision under pressure, the communications equipment, and above all discover where the weaknesses were in the taipan's security. David understood that Jason Bourne was taking over; there was a point in what he was doing. The banker's note had started with the words: A wife for a wife. . . Only one word had to be changed. A taipan for a wife.

  Bourne turned into the alleyway on his left and walked several hundred feet past sights he scrupulously ignored; a resident of the Walled City would do no less. On a darkened staircase a woman on her knees performed the act for which she was being paid, the man above her holding money in his hand over her head; a young couple, two obvious addicts in near frenzy, were pleading with a man in an expensive black leather jacket; a small boy, smoking a marijuana cigarette, urinated against the stone wall; a beggar without legs clattered on his wheeled board over the cobblestones

  chanting 'bong ngo. bong ngo!' a plea for alms; and on another dimly-lit staircase a well-dressed pimp was threatening one of his whores with facial disfigurement if she did not produce more money. David Webb mused that he was not in Disneyland. Jason Bourne studied the alley as if it were a combat zone behind enemy lines. 9: 24. The soldiers would be" going to their posts. The outer and the inner man turned around and started back.

  The banker's whore was walking into position, her bright red blouse unbuttoned, barely covering her small breasts; the traditional slit in her black skirt reached her thigh. She was a caricature. The 'white man' was not to make a mistake. Point one: Accentuate the obvious. Something to remember; subtlety was not a strong suit. Several yards behind her a man spoke into a hand-held radio; he caught up with the woman, shook his head and rushed forward towards the end of the alley and the steps. Bourne stopped, his posture sagging, and turned into the wall. The footsteps were behind him, hurrying, emphatic, the pace quickening. A second Chinese approached and passed him, a small middle-aged man in a dark business suit, tie and shoes polished to a high gloss. He was no citizen of the Walled City; his expression was a mixture of apprehension and disgust. Ignoring the whore, he glanced at his watch and raced ahead. He had the look and demeanour of an executive ordered to assume duties he found distasteful. A company man, precise, orderly, the bottom line his motive, for the figures did not lie. A banker?

  Jason studied the irregular row of staircases; the man must have come from one of them. The sound of the footsteps had been abrupt and recent, and judging by the pace, they had begun no more than 60 or 70 feet away. On the third staircase on the left or the fourth on the right. In one of the flats above either staircase a taipan was waiting for his visitor. Bourne had to find out which and on what level. The taipan must be surprised, even shocked. He had to understand whom he was dealing with and what his actions would cost him.

  Jason started up again, now assuming a drunken walk; the words of an old Mandarin folk tune came to him. 'Me li hua cherng zhang liu yue,' he sang softly, bouncing gently off the

  wall as he approached the whore. 'I have money,' he said pleasantly, his words in Chinese imprecise. 'And you, beautiful woman, have what I need. Where do we go?

  'Nowhere, fancy drunk. Get away from here. '

  'Bong ngo! Cheng bong ngo!' screeched the legless beggar clattering down the alley, careening into the wall as he screamed. 'Cheng bong ngo!'

  'Jour yelled the woman. 'Get out of here before I kick your useless body off your board, Loo Mi! I've told you not to interfere with business!'

  This cheap drunk is business! I'll get you something better!'

  'He's not my business, darling. He's an annoyance. I'm waiting for someone. '

  'Then I'll chop his feet!' shouted the grotesque figure, pulling a cleaver from his board.

  'What the hell are you doing?' roared Bourne in English, shoving his foot into the beggar's chest, sending the half-man and his board into the opposite wall.

  'There are laws? shrieked the beggar. 'You attacked a cripple! You are robbing a cripple!'

  'Sue me,' said Jason, turning to the woman as the beggar clattered away down the alley.

  'You talk. . . English. ' The whore stared at him.

  'So do you,' said Bourne.

  'You speak Chinese, but you are not Chinese. ' 'In spirit, perhaps. I've been looking for you. '

  'You are the man?'

  'I am. '

  'I will take you to the taipan. '

  'No. Just tell me which staircase, which level. '

  Those are not my instructions. '

  They're new instructions, given by the taipan. Do you question his new instructions?' �

  They must be delivered by his head-head man. '

  The small Zhongguo ren in a dark suit?'

  'He tells us everything. He pays us for the taipan. '

  'Whom does he pay?

  'Ask him yourself. '

  The taipan wants to know. ' Bourne reached into his pocket and pulled out a stack of folded bills. 'He told me to give you extra money if you co-operated with me. He thinks his head man may be cheating him. '

  The woman backed into the wall looking alternately at the money and at Bourne's face. 'If you are lying-'

  'Why would I lie? The taipan wants to see me, you know that. You're to bring me to him. He told me to dress like this, to behave this way, to find you and watch his men. How would I know about you if he hadn't told me?

  'Up in the market. You are to see someone. '

  'I haven't been there. I came directly down here. ' Jason removed several bills. 'We're both working for the taipan. Here, he wants you to take this and leave, but you're not to go up in the street. ' He held out the money.

  The taipan is generous,' said the whore, reaching for the bills.

  'Which staircase?' asked Bourne, pulling the money back. 'Which level? The taipan didn't know. '

  'Over there,' replied the woman, pointing to the far wall. The third steps, the second level. The money. '

  'Who's on the head man's payroll? Quickly. '

  'In the market there is the snake bitch, and the old thief selling bad gold chains from the north, and the wok man with his dirty fish and meat. '

  That's all?

  'We talk. That is all. '

  The taipan's right, he's being cheated. He'll thank you. ' Bourne unfolded another bill. 'But I want to be fair. Besides the one with the radio, how many others work for the head man?

  'Three others, also with radios,' said the whore, her eyes fixed on the money, her hand inching forward.

  'Here, take it and leave. Head that way and don't go up on the street. '

  The woman grabbed the bills and ran down the alley, her high heels clicking, her figure disappearing in the dim light. Bourne watched until she was out of sight, then turned and walked rapidly out of the filthy passageway to the steps. He

  again assumed his stooped appearance and climbed up into the street. Three guards and a head- head man. He knew what he had to do, and it had to be done quickly. It was 9: 36. A taipan for a wife. He found the first guard talking to the fishmonger, talking anxiously with sharp, stabbing gestures. The noise of the crowd was an impediment. The vendor kept shaking his head. Bourne chose a heavy-set man near the guard; he rushed forward shoving the unsuspecting onlooker into the guard and sidestepped as the taipan's man recoiled. In the brief melee that erupted, Jason pulled the bewildered guard aside, hammered his knuckles into the base of the man's throat, twisted him as he began to fall and slashed his rigid hand across the back of the guard's neck at the top of the spine. He dragged the unconscious man across the pavement, apologizing to the crowd in Chinese for his drunken friend. He dropped the guard in the remains of a storefront
, took the radio and smashed it.

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