The bourne supremacy, p.60
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.60

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 60


  The hydrofoil decelerated, its hull lowered into the water. It passed through a space between the boulders of a man-made reef illuminated by floodlights. They were in Macao, and Bourne knew what he had to do. He got up, excused himself past his seat companion and walked up the aisle to where a group of Americans, a few standing, the rest sitting, were huddled around their seats, singing an obviously rehearsed rendition of 'Mr Sandman'.

  Boom boom boom boom . . . Mr Sandman, sing me a song Boom boom boom boom Oh, Mr Sandman . . .

  They were high, but not drunk, not obstreperous. Another group of tourists, by the sound of their speech German, encouraged the Americans and at the end of the song applauded.


  'Sehr gut!'


  'Danke, meine Herren. ' The American standing nearest Jason bowed. A brief, friendly conversation followed, the Germans speaking English and the American replying in German.

  'That was a touch of home,' said Bourne to the American.

  'Hey, a Landsman! That song also dates you, pal. Some of those oldies are goldies, right? Say, are you with the group?'

  'Which group is that?'

  'Honeywell-Porter,' answered the man, naming a New York advertising agency Jason recognized as having branches worldwide.

  'No, I'm afraid not. '

  'I didn't think so. There're only about thirty of us, counting the Aussies, and I thought I pretty much knew everybody. Where are you from? My name's Ted Mather. I'm from HP's LA office. '

  'My name's Jim Cruett. No office, I teach, but I'm from Boston. '

  'Beanburg! Let me show you your Landsmann, or is it Stadtsmannl Jim, meet "Beantown Bernie". ' Mather bowed again, this time to a man slumped back in the seat by the window, his mouth open, his eyes closed. He was obviously drunk and wore a Red Sox baseball cap. 'Don't bother to speak, he can't hear. Bernard the brain is from our Boston office. You should have seen him three hours ago. J. Press suit, striped tie, pointer in his hand and a dozen charts only he could understand. But I'll say this for him - he kept us awake. I think that's why we all had a few. . . him too many. What the hell, it's our last night. ' 'Heading back tomorrow?'

  'Late evening flight. Gives us time to recover. '

  'Why Macao?'

  'A mass itch for the tables. You, too?'

  'I thought I'd give them a whirl. Christ, that cap makes me homesick! The Red Sox may take the pennant and until this trip I hadn't missed a game!'

  'And Bernie won't miss his hat!' The advertising man laughed, leaning over and yanking the baseball cap off Bernard-the-Brain's head. 'Here, Jim, you wear it. You deserve it!'

  The hydrofoil docked. Bourne got off and went through immigration with the boys from Honeywell-Porter as one of them. As they descended the steep cement staircase down into the poster-lined terminal, Jason with the visor of his Red Sox cap angled down and his walk unsteady, he spotted a man by the left wall studying the new arrivals. In the man's hand was a photograph, and Bourne knew the face on the photograph was his. He laughed at one of Ted Mather's remarks as he held on to the weaving Beantown Bernie's arm.

  Opportunities will present themselves. Recognize them, act on them.

  The streets of Macao are almost as garishly lit as those of Hong Kong; what is lacking is the sense of too much humanity in too little space. And what is different - different and anachronistic - are the many buildings on which are fixed blazing modern signs with pulsating Chinese characters. The architecture of these buildings is very old Spanish -Portuguese to be accurate - but textbook Spanish, Mediterranean in character. It is as if an initial culture had surrendered to the sweeping incursion of another but refused to yield its first imprimatur, proclaiming the strength of its stone over the gaudy impermanence of coloured tubes of glass. History is purposely denied; the empty churches and the ruins of a burnt-out cathedral exist in a strange harmony with overflowing casinos where the dealers and croupiers speak Cantonese and the descendants of the conquerors were rarely seen. It is all fascinating and not a little ominous. It is Macao.

  Jason slipped away from the Honeywell-Porter group and found a taxi whose driver must have trained by watching the annual Macao Grand Prix. He was taken to the Kam Pek casino - over the driver's objections.

  'Lisboa for you, not Kam Pek! Kam Pek for Chinee! Dai Sui! Fan Tan!'

  'Kam Pek, Cheng net,' said Bourne, adding the Cantonese please, but saying no more.

  The casino was dark. The air was humid and foul and the curling smoke that spiralled around the shaded lights above the tables sweet and full and pungent. There was a bar set back away from the games; he went to it and sat down on a stool, lowering his body to lessen his height. He spoke in Chinese, the baseball cap throwing a shadow across his face which was probably unnecessary as he could barely read the labels of the bottles on the counter. He ordered a drink, and when it came he gave the bartender a generous tip in Hong Kong money.

  'Mgoi,' said the aproned man, thanking him.

  'Hou,' said Jason, waving his hand.

  Establish a benign contact as soon as you can. Especially in an unfamiliar place where there could be hostility. That contact could give you the opportunity or the time you need. Was it Medusa or was it Treadstone? It did not matter that he could not remember.

  He turned slowly on the stool and looked at the tables; he found the dangling placard with the Chinese character for 'Five'. He turned back to the bar and took out his notebook and ballpoint pen. He then tore off a page and wrote out the telephone number of a Macao hotel he had memorized from the Voyager magazine provided to passengers on the hydrofoil. He printed a name he would recall only if it was necessary and added the following: No friend of Carlos. He lowered his glass below the bar counter, spilled the drink and held up his hand for another. With its appearance, he was more generous than before.

  'Mgoi saai' said the bartender, bowing.

  'Msa,' said Bourne, again waving his hand, then suddenly holding it steady, a signal for the bartender to remain where he was. 'Would you do me a small favour? he continued in the man's language. 'It would take you no more than ten seconds. '

  'What is it, sir?

  'Give this note to the dealer at Table Five. He's an old friend and I want him to know I'm here. ' Jason folded the note and held it up. 'I'll pay you for the favour. '

  'It is my heavenly privilege, sir. '

  Bourne watched. The dealer took the note, opened it briefly as the bartender walked away, and shoved it beneath the table. The waiting began.

  It was interminable, so long that the bartender was relieved for the night. The dealer was moved to another table, and two hours later he was also replaced. And two hours after that still another dealer took over Table Five. The floor beneath him now damp with whisky, Jason logically ordered coffee and settled for tea; it was ten minutes past two in the morning. Another hour and he would go to the hotel whose number he had written down and, if he had to buy shares in its stock, get a room. He was fading.

  The fading stopped. It was happening! A Chinese woman in the slit-skirted dress of a prostitute walked up to Table Five. She sidestepped her way around the players to the right corner and spoke quickly to the dealer, who reached under the counter and unobtrusively gave her the folded note. She nodded and left, heading for the door of the casino.

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