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George P. Washburn. He was not comfortable with the name; the owner of the unaltered original had instructed him too well in the basics of projection and association. George P. was a side-step from Geoffrey R. , a man who had been eaten away by a compulsion that had its roots in escape - escape from identity. That was the last thing the patient wanted; he wanted more than his life to know who he was.

Or did he?

No matter. The answer was in Zurich. In Zurich there was. . .

'Mesdames et messieurs. Nous commertfons noire descente vers raeroport de Zurich. '

He knew the name of the hotel. Carillon du Lac. He had given it to the taxi driver without thinking. Had he read it somewhere? Had the name been one of those listed in the Welcome-to-Ziirich folders placed in the elasticized pockets in front of his seat in the plane?

No. He knew the lobby; the heavy, dark, polished wood was familiar . . . somehow. And the huge plate-glass windows that looked out over Lake Zurich. He had been here before', he had stood where he was standing now - in front of the marble-topped counter - a long time ago.

It was all confirmed by the words spoken by the clerk behind the desk. They had the impact of an explosion.

'It's good to see you again, sir. It's been quite a while since your last visit. "

Has it? How long? Why don't you call me by my name? For God's sake. I don't know you! I don't know me! Help me! Please, help me!

'I guess it has,' he said. 'Do me a favour, will you? I sprained my hand; it's difficult to write. Could you fill in the registration and I'll do my damnedest to sign it?' The patient held his breath. Suppose the polite man behind the counter asked him to repeat his name, or the spelling of his name?

'Of course. ' The clerk turned the card around and wrote. 'Would you care to see the hotel doctor?'

'Later, perhaps. Not now. ' The clerk continued writing, then lifted up the card, reversing it for the guest's signature.

Mr J. Bourne. New York, N. Y. , U. S. A.

He stared at it, transfixed, mesmerized by the letters. He had a name - part of a name. And a country as well as a city bf residence.

J. Bourne. John? James? Joseph? What did the I stand for?

'Is something wrong, Herr Bourne?' asked the clerk.

'Wrong? No, not at all. ' He picked up the pen, remembering to feign discomfort. Would he be expected to write out a first name? No; he would sign exactly as the clerk had printed.

J. Bourne.

He wrote the name as naturally as he could, letting his mind fall free, allowing whatever thoughts or images that might be triggered come through. None did; he was merely signing an unfamiliar name. He felt nothing.

'You had me worried, mein Herr,' said the clerk. 'I thought perhaps I'd made a mistake. It's been a busy week, a busier day. But then, I was quite certain. '

And if he had? Made a mistake? Mr J. Bourne of New York City, U. S. A. did not care to think about the possibility. 'It never occurred to me to question your memory . . . Herr Stossel," replied the patient, glancing up at the On-Duty sign on the left wall of the counter; the man behind the desk was the Carillon du Lac's assistant Letter.

'You're most kind. " The assistant manager leaned forward. 'I assume you'll require the usual conditions of your stay with us?'

'Some may have changed,' said J. Bourne. 'How did you understand them before?'

'Whoever telephones or inquires at the desk is to be told you're out of the hotel, whereupon you're to be informed immediately. The only exception is your firm in New York. The Treadstone Seventy-one Corporation, if I remember correctly. '

Another name! One he could trace with an overseas call. Fragmentary shapes were falling into place. The exhilaration began to return.

'That'll do. I won't forget your efficiency. '

'This is Zurich,' replied the polite man, shrugging. 'You've always been exceedingly generous, Herr Bourne. Vorwarts! SchneW

As the patient followed the bell boy into the elevator, several things were clearer. He had a name and he understood why that name came so quickly to the Carillon du Lac's assistant manager. He had a country and a city and a firm that employed him - had employed him, at any rate. And whenever he came to Zurich certain precautions were implemented to protect him from unexpected, or unwanted visitors. That was what he could not understand. One either protected oneself thoroughly or one did not bother to protect oneself at all. Where was any real advantage in a screening process that was so loose, so vulnerable to penetration? It struck him as second-rate, without value, as if a small child were playing hide-and-seek. Where am I? Try and find me. I'll say something out loud and give you a hint.

It was not professional, and if he had learned anything about himself during the past forty-eight hours it was that he was a professional. Of what he had no idea, but the status was not debatable.

The voice of the New York operator faded sporadically over the line. Her conclusion, however, was irritatingly clear. And final.

'There's no listing for any such company, sir. I've checked the latest directories as well as the private telephones and there's no Treadstone Corporation - and nothing even resembling Treadstone with numbers following the name. '

'Perhaps they were dropped to shorten . . . '

'There's no firm or company with that name, sir. I repeat, if you have a first or second name, or the type of business the firm's engaged in, I might be of further help. '

'I don't. Only the name, Treadstone Seventy-one, New York City. !

'It's an odd name, sir. I'm sure if there were a listing it would be a simple matter to find it I'm sorry. '

"Thanks very much for your trouble,' said J. Bourne, replacing the phone. It was pointless to go on; the name was a Code of some sort, words relayed by a caller that gained him immediate access to a hotel guest not so readily accessible. And the words could be used by anyone regardless of where he had placed the call; therefore the location of New York might well be meaningless. According to an operator five thousand miles away it was.

The patient walked to the bureau where he had placed the Louis Vuitton wallet and the Seiko chronograph. He put the wallet in his pocket and the watch on his wrist; he looked in the mirror and spoke quietly.

'You are J. Bourne, citizen of the United States, resident of New York City, and it's entirely possible that the numbers "zero-seven - seventeen-twelve - zero-fourteen - twenty-six-zero" are the most important things in your life. '

The sun was bright, filtering through the trees along the elegant Bahnhofstrasse, bouncing off the windows of the shops and creating blocks of shadows where the great banks intruded on its rays. It was a street where solidity and money, security and

arrogance, determination and a touch of frivolity all coexisted; and Dr Washburn's patient had walked along its pavements before.

He strolled into the Burkliplatz, the square that overlooked the Ziirichsee, with its numerous quays along the waterfront bordered by gardens that in the heat of summer became circles of bursting flowers. He could picture them in his mind's eye; images were coming to him. But no thoughts, no memories.

He doubled back into the Bahnhofstrasse, instinctively knowing that the Gemeinschaft Bank was a nearby building of off-white stone; it had been on the opposite side of the street on which he had just walked; he had passed it deliberately. He approached the heavy glass doors and pushed the centre plate forward. The right-hand door swung open easily and he was standing on a floor of brown marble; he had stood on it before, but the image was not as strong as others. He had the uncomfortable feeling that the Gemeinschaft was to be avoided.

Tags: Robert Ludlum, Eric Van Lustbader Jason Bourne Thriller