The bourne supremacy, p.76
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.76
 

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 76

 

  'In what way?'

  'I will tell this rich, frightened American - she spoke American - that you and I have not called back the police on her behalf. She will reward us on the spot - very, very generously - for she will understand that she may not retrieve her car without doing so. You may watch me from inside the garage by the other telephone. After she pays I will send another boy for her car, which he will have great trouble finding for I will give him the wrong location, and you will call the police. The police will arrive, we will have done our heavenly duty, and had a night of money like few other nights in this miserable job. '

  The parking boy squinted, shaking his head. 'You're right,' he said. They don't teach such things in school. And I suppose I do not have a choice. '

  'Oh, but you do,' said the attendant, pulling a long knife from his belt. 'You can say no, and I will cut out your talk-talk tongue. '

  Catherine approached the concierge's desk in the Mandarin lobby, annoyed that she did not know either of the two clerks behind the counter. She needed a favour quickly, and in Hong Kong that meant dealing with a person one knew. Then to her relief she spotted the evening shift's Number 1 concierge. He was in the middle of the lobby trying to mollify an excited guest. She moved to the right and waited, hoping to catch Lee Teng's eye. She had cultivated Teng, sending numerous Canadians to him when problems of convenience had seemed insurmountable. He had always been paid handsomely.

  'Yes, may I be of help, Mrs?' said the young Chinese clerk moving in front of Staples.

  'I'll wait for Mr Teng, if you please. '

  'Mr Teng is very busy, Mrs. A very bad time for Mr Teng. You are a guest of the Mandarin, Mrs?'

  'I'm a resident of the territory and an old friend of Mr

  Teng. Where possible I bring my business here so the desk gets the credit. '

  'Ohh. . . The clerk responded to Catherine's non-tourist status. He leaned forward, speaking confidentially. 'Lee Teng has terrible joss tonight. The lady goes to the grand ball at Government House but her clothes go to Bangkok. She must think Mr Teng has wings under his jacket and jet engines in his armpits, yes?'

  'An interesting concept. The lady just flew in?'

  'Yes, Mrs. But she had many pieces of luggage. She did not miss the one she misses now. She blames first her husband and now Lee Teng. '

  'Where's her husband?'

  'In the bar. He offered to take the next plane to Bangkok but his kindness only made his wife angrier. He will not leave the bar, and he will not get to Government House in a way that will make him pleased with himself in the morning. Bad joss all around. . . Perhaps I can be of assistance to you while Mr Teng does his best to calm everybody. '

  'I want to rent a car and I need one as fast as you can get it for me. ' 'Aiya,'' said the clerk. 'It is seven o'clock at night and the rental offices do little leasing in the evening hours. Most are closed. '

  I'm sure there are exceptions. '

  'Perhaps a hotel car with a chauffeur?'

  'Only if there's nothing else available. As I mentioned, I'm not a guest here and, frankly, I'm not made of money. '

  '"Who among us"?' asked the clerk enigmatically. 'As the good Christian Book says - somewhere, I think. '

  'Sounds right,' agreed Staples. 'Please, get on the phone and do your best. '

  The young man reached beneath the counter and pulled out a plastic bound list of car rental agencies. He went to a telephone several feet to his right, picked it up and started dialling. Catherine looked over at Lee Teng; he had steered his irate lady to the wall by a miniature palm in an obvious attempt to keep her from alarming the other guests who sat around the ornate lobby greeting friends and ordering cocktails. He was speaking rapidly, softly, and, by God, thought Staples, he was actually getting her attention. Whatever her legitimate complaints, mused Catherine, the woman was an ass. She wore a chinchilla stole in just about the worst climate on earth for such delicate fur. Not that she, Foreign Service Officer Staples, ever had the problem of such a decision. She might have if she had chucked the FSO status and stuck with Owen Staples. The son of a bitch owned at least four banks in Toronto now. Not a bad sort, really, and to add to her sense of guilt, Owen had never remarried. Not fair, Owen! She had run across him three years ago, after her stint in Europe, while attending a British-organized conference in Toronto. They had had drinks at the Mayfair Club in the King Edward Hotel, not so unlike the Mandarin, actually.

  'Come on, Owen. Your looks, your money - and you had the looks before your money - why not? There are a thousand beautiful girls within a five-block radius who'd grab you. '

  'Once was enough, Cathy. You taught me that. '

  'I don't know, but you make me feel - oh, I don't know -somehow so guilty. I left you, Owen, but not because I wasn't fond of you. '

  '"Fond" of me?'

  'You know what I mean. '

  'Yes, I think so. ' Owen had laughed. 'You left me for all the right reasons, and I accepted your leaving without animus for likeminded reasons. If you had waited five minutes longer, I think I would have thrown you out. I'd paid the rent that month. '

  'You bastard!'

  'Not at all, neither of us. You had your ambitions and I had mine. They simply weren't compatible. '

  'But that doesn't explain why you never remarried. '

  'I just told you. You taught me, my dear. '

  Taught you what? That all ambitions were incompatible?'

  'Where they existed in our extremes, yes. You see, I learned that I wasn't interested on any permanent basis in anyone who didn't have what I suppose you'd call a passionate "drive", or an overriding ambition, but I couldn't live with such a person day in and day out. And those without ambition left something wanting in our relationships. No permanency there. '

  'But what about a family? Children?'

  'I have two children,' Owen had said quietly. 'Of whom I'm immensely fond. I love them very much, and their very ambitious mothers have been terribly kind. Even their subsequent respective husbands have been understanding. While they were growing up, I saw my children constantly. So, in a sense, I had three families. Quite civilized, if frequently confusing. '

  ' You! The paragon of the community, the banker's banker. ' The man they said took a shower in a Dickens nightshirt! A deacon of the church!'

  'I gave that up when you left. At any rate, it was simply statecraft on my part. You practise it every day. '

  'Owen, you never told me. '

  'You never asked, Cathy. You had your ambitions and I had mine. But I will tell you my one regret, if you want to hear it. '

  'I do. '

  'I'm genuinely sorry that we never had a child together. Judging by the two I have, he or she would have been quite marvellous. '

  'You bastard, I'm going to cry. '

  'Please don't. Let's be honest, neither of us has any regrets. '

  Catherine's reverie was suddenly interrupted. The clerk lurched back from the telephone, his hands triumphantly on the counter. 'You have good joss, Mrs!' he cried. 'The dispatcher at the Apex agency on Bonham Strand East was still there and he has cars available but nobody to drive one here. '

 
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