The bourne supremacy, p.72
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.72

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 72

 

  Lin Wenzu had all but exhausted his sources. Only one gave him pause for thought. Inspector Ian Ballantyne, as he usually did, answered questions with other questions rather than delivering concise answers himself. It was maddening, for one never knew whether the man from Scotland Yard knew something or not about a given subject, in this case an American attach� named John Nelson.

  'Met the chap several times,' Ballantyne had said. 'Bright sort. Speaks your lingo, did you know that?'

  'My "lingo", Inspector?'

  'Well, damn few of us did, even during the Opium Wars. Interesting period of history, wasn't it, Major?'

  'The Opium Wars? I was talking about the attache, John Nelson. '

  'Oh, is there a connection?'

  'With what, Inspector?'

  'The Opium Wars. '

  'If there is, he's a hundred and fifty years old and his dossier says thirty-two. '

  'Really? That young.

  But Ballantyne had employed several pauses too many to satisfy Lin. If the old warhorse did know something he was not going to reveal it. Everyone else, from the Hong Kong and Kowloon police to the 'specialists' who worked the American consulate gathering information for payment gave Nelson as clean a bill of health as was respectable in the territory. If Nelson had a vulnerable side, it was in his extensive and not too discriminate search for sex, but insofar as it was heterosexual, and he was single, it was to be applauded, not condemned. One 'specialist' told Lin that he heard Nelson had been warned to have himself medically checked on a fairly regular basis. No crime; the attache was a cocksman. Ask him to dinner.

  The telephone rang; Lin grabbed it. 'Yes?'

  'Our subject walked to the Peak Tram and took a taxi to the Wanchai. He is in a cafe called the Monkey Tree. I am with him. I can see him. '

  'It's out of the way and very crowded,' said the major. 'Has anyone joined him?'

  'No, but he asked for a table for two. '

  'I'll be there as soon as I can. If you have to leave, I'll contact you by radio. You're driving Vehicle Seven, are you not?'

  'Vehicle Seven, sir. . . Wait! A woman is walking towards his table. He's getting up. '

  'Do you recognize her?'

  'It's too dark here. No. '

  'Pay the waiter. Disrupt the service. But not obviously, only for a few minutes. I'll use our ambulance and the siren until I'm a block away. ' 'Catherine, I owe you so much, and I want to help you in any way I can, but I have to know more than what you've told me. '

  There's a connection, isn't there? Havilland and Marie St Jacques. '

  'I won't confirm that - I can't confirm it - because I haven't spoken to Havilland. I did, however, speak to another man, a man I've heard a lot about who used to be stationed here -one hell of a brain - and he sounded as desperate as you did last night. '

  'I seemed that way to you last night?' said Staples, smoothing her grey-streaked hair. 'I wasn't aware of it. '

  'Hey, come on. Not in your words, maybe, but in the way you talked. The stridency was just below the surface. You sounded like me when you gave me the photographs. Believe me, I can identify. '

  'Johnny, believe me. We may be dealing with something neither of us should get near, something way up in the clouds on which we - I - don't have the knowledge to make a proper decision. '

  'I have to make a decision, Catherine. ' Nelson looked up for the waiter. 'Where are those goddamned drinks?'

  I'm not panting. '

  'I am. I owe you everything and I like you and I know you wouldn't use the photographs against me, which makes it all worse-'

  'I gave you all there were, and we burned the negatives together. '

  'So my debt's real, don't you see that? Jesus, the kid was what - twelve years old!

  'You didn't know that. You were drugged. '

  'My passport to oblivion. No secretary of state in my future, only secretary of kiddie-porn. One hell of a trip!'

  'It's over and you're being melodramatic. I just want you to tell me if there's a connection between Havilland and Marie St Jacques - which I think you can do. Why is that so difficult? I will know what to do then. '

  'Because if I do, I have to tell Havilland that I told you. '

  'Then give me an hour. '

  'Why?'

  'Because I do have several photographs in my vault at the consulate,' lied Catherine Staples.

  Nelson shot back in his chair, stunned. 'Oh, God. I don't believe this!'

  'Try to understand, Johnny. We all play hardball now and then because it's in the best interests of our employers - our individual countries, if you like. Marie St Jacques was a friend of mine - is a friend of mine - and her life became nothing in the eyes of self-important men who ran a covert operation that didn't give a holy damn about her and her husband. They used them both and then tried to kill them both! Let me tell you something, Johnny. I detest your Central Intelligence Agency and your State Department's so-grandly named Consular Operations. It's not that they re bastards, it's that they're such stupid bastards. And if I sense that an operation is being mounted, again using these two people who've been through so much pain, I intend to find out why and act accordingly. There can be no more blank cheques with their lives. I'm experienced and they're not and I'm angry enough - no, furious enough - to demand answers. '

  'Oh, Christ-

  The waiter arrived with their drinks, and as Staples looked up to signify thanks, her eyes were drawn to a man by a telephone booth in the crowded outside corridor watching them. She looked away. 'What's it going to be, Johnny?' she continued. 'Confirm or deny?'

  'Confirmed,' whispered Nelson, reaching for his glass.

  'The house in Victoria Peak?'

  'Yes. '

  'Who was the man you spoke with, the one who had been stationed here?'

  'McAllister. Undersecretary of State McAllister. '

  'Good Lord?

  There was excessive movement in the outside corridor. Catherine shielded her eyes and turned her head slightly, which widened her peripheral vision. A large man entered and walked towards the telephone against the wall. There was only one man like him in all of Hong Kong. It was Lin Wenzu, MI6, Special Branch! The Americans had enlisted the best, but it could be the worst for Marie and her husband.

  'You've done nothing wrong, Johnny,' said Staples, rising from her chair. 'We'll talk further, but right now I'm going to the ladies' room. '

  'Catherine?'

  'What?'

  'Hard ball?'

  'Very hard, my darling. '

  Staples walked past a shrinking Wenzu who turned away. She went into the ladies' room, waited several seconds then walked out with two other women and broke away, continuing down the corridor and into the Monkey Tree's kitchen. Without saying a word to the startled waiters and cooks, she found the exit and went outside. She ran up the alley into Gloucester Road; she turned left, her stride quickening until she found a phone booth. Inserting a coin she dialled.

  'Hello?'

  'Marie, get out of the flat! My car's in a garage a block to your right as you leave the building. It's called Ming's; the sign's in red. Get there as quickly as you can! I'll meet you. Hurry

 
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