The bourne supremacy, p.98
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.98
 

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 98

 

  The line of women with the shopping bags-'

  'Yes. They crossed the street when you did. We must help you. '

  Marie glanced at the anxious faces of the crowd beyond the bamboo slats, then looked at the banker. 'How do you know I'm not a criminal?'

  'It doesn't matter. The outrage against you resulting from two of our people is what matters. Also, madame, you do not look or speak like a fugitive from justice. '

  'I'm not. And I do need help. I have to get back to Hong Kong, to a hotel where they won't find me, where there's a telephone I can use. I don't really know who, but I have to reach people who can help me. . . help us. ' Marie paused, her eyes locked with Jitai's. 'The man named David is my husband. '

  'I can understand,' said the banker. 'But first you have to see a doctor. '

  'What?'

  'Your feet are bleeding. '

  Marie looked down. Blood had seeped through the bandages, penetrating the canvas of her shoes. They were a sickening mess. 'I guess you're right,' she agreed.

  Then there will be clothes, transportation - I myself will find you a hotel under any name you wish. And there is the matter of money. Do you have funds?

  'I don't know,' said Marie, putting the silks on the counter and opening the white-shelled purse. That is, I haven't looked. A friend - someone who I thought was a friend - left me money. ' She pulled out the bills Staples had placed in the purse.

  'We are not wealthy here in Tuen Mun, but perhaps we can help. There was talk of taking up a collection. '

  'I'm not a poor woman, Mr Jitai,' interrupted Marie. 'If that is necessary and, frankly, if I'm alive, every cent will be returned with interest far in excess of the prime rate. '

  'As you wish. I am a banker. But what would such a lovely lady like yourself know of interests and prime rates? Jitai smiled.

  'You're a banker and I'm an economist. What do bankers know about the impacts on floating currencies caused by inflated interests, especially in the prime rates? Marie smiled for the first time in a very long time.

  She had over an hour to think in the countryside quiet as she sat in the taxi that drove her down to Kowloon. It would be another forty-five minutes once they reached the less quiet outskirts, particularly a congested district called Mongkok. The contrite people of Tuen Mun had been not only generous and protective but inventive as well. The banker, Jitai, apparently had confirmed that the hoodlums' victim was indeed a white woman in hiding and running for her life, and that therefore, as she was in the process of reaching people who might help her, perhaps her appearance might be altered. Western clothes were brought from several shops, clothes that struck Marie as odd; they seemed drab and utilitarian, neat but dreary. Not cheap, but the kind of clothes that would be selected by a woman who had either no sense of design or felt herself above it. Then after an hour in the back room of a beauty shop she understood why such a costume had been chosen. The women fussed over her; her hair was washed and blown dry, and when the process was over she had looked in the mirror, barely breathing as she did so. Her face - drawn, pale and tired - was framed by a shell of hair no longer a striking auburn but mouse-grey with subtle tinges of white. She had aged more than a decade; it was an extension of what she had attempted after escaping from the hospital but far bolder, far more complete. She was the Chinese image of the upper- middle-class, serious, no-nonsense tourist -probably a widow - who peremptorily issued instructions, counted her money, and never went anywhere without a guidebook which she continuously checked off against each site on her well-organized itinerary. The people of Tuen Mun knew such tourists well and their imposed portrait was accurate. Jason Bourne would approve.

  There were other thoughts, however, that occupied her on the ride to Kowloon, desperate thoughts that she tried to control and keep in perspective, pushing away the panic that could so easily engulf her, causing her to do the wrong thing, make a wrong move that could harm David - kill David. Oh, God, where are you? How can I find you? Howl

  She searched her memory for anyone who could help her, constantly rejecting every name and every face that came to her because in one way or another each had been a part of that horrible strategy so ominously termed beyond-salvage -the death of an individual the only acceptable solution. Except, of course, Morris Panov, but Mo was a pariah in the eyes of the government; he had called the official killers by their rightful names: incompetents and murderers. He would get nowhere, and conceivably bring about a second order for beyond-salvage.

  Beyond-salvage. . . A face came to her, a face with tears running down his cheeks, muted cries of mercy in his tremulous voice, a once-close friend of a young foreign service officer and his wife and children in a remote outpost called Phnom Penh. Conklin! His name was Alexander Conklin*. Throughout David's long convalescence he had tried repeatedly to see her husband but David would not permit it, saying that he would kill the CIA man if he walked through the door. The crippled Conklin had wrongfully, stupidly made accusations against David, not listening to the pleas of an amnesiac, instead assuming treachery and 'turning' to the point where he had tried to kill David himself outside of Paris. And, finally, he had mounted a last attempt on New York's 71st Street, at a sterile house called Treadstone 71, that nearly succeeded. When the truth about David was known, Conklin had been consumed with guilt, shattered by what he had done. She had actually felt sorry for him; his anguish was so genuine, his guilt so devastating. She had talked with Alex over coffee on the porch, but David would never see him. He was the only one she could think of that made sense - any sense at all!

  The hotel was called the Empress, on Chatham Road in Kowloon. It was a small hotel in the crowded Tsim Sha Tsui frequented by a mix of cultures, neither rich nor hardly poor, by and large salesmen from the East and West who had business to do without the largess of executive expense accounts. The banker, Jitai, had done his job; a single room had been reserved for a Mrs Austin, Penelope Austin. The 'Penelope' had been Jitai's idea, for he had read many English novels and 'Penelope' seemed 'so right'. So be it, as Jason Bourne would have said, thought Marie.

  She sat on the edge of the bed and reached for the telephone, unsure of what to say but knowing she had to say it. 'I need the number of a person in Washington, DC, in the United States,' she said to the operator. 'It's an emergency. '

  There is a charge for overseas information-'

  'Charge it,' broke in Marie. 'It's urgent. I'll stay on the line

  'Yes?' said the voice filled with sleep. 'Hello!

  'Alex, it's Marie Webb. '

  'Goddamn you, where are you? Where are both of you? He found you!' 'I don't know what you're talking about. I haven't found him and he hasn't found me. You know about all this?

  'Who the hell do you think almost broke my neck last week when he flew into Washington? David] I've got relays on every phone that can reach me!' Mo Panov's got the same! Where are you?'

  'Hong Kong - Kowloon, I guess. The Empress Hotel, under the name of Austin. David reached you?'

  'And Mo! He and I have turned every trick in the deck to find out what the hell is going on and we've been stonewalled] No, I take it back - not stonewalled - no one else knows what's going on either! I'd know if they did! Good Christ, Marie, I haven't had a drink since last Thursday!'

 
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