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Now. Jason sprang up and ran straight ahead across the aisle, between the cars to the second aisle, catching up with the running man, hurling himself at the man's back and throwing him to the concrete floor. He hammer-locked the man's thick neck, crashing the outsized skull into the pavement, the fingers of his left hand pressed into the man's eye sockets.

'You have exactly five seconds to tell me who's outside,' he said in French, remembering the grimacing face of another Frenchman in a lift in Zurich. There had been men outside then, men who wanted to kill him then, on the Bahnhofstrasse. 'Tell me! Now!'

'A man, one man, that's all!'

Bourne relocked the neck, digging his fingers deeper into the eyes. 'Where?'

'In a car,' spat out the man. 'Parked across the street. My God, you're choking me! You're blinding me!'

'Not yet. You'll know it when and if I do both. What kind of car?'

'Foreign. I don't know. Italian, I think. Or American. I don't know. Please! My eyes!'

'Colour!'

'Dark! Green, blue, very dark. Oh my God!'

'You're Carlos's man, aren't you?"

'Who?'

Jason yanked again, pressed again. 'You heard me! You're from Carlos 1 *

'I don't know any Carlos. We call a man; there is a number. That's all we do. '

'Has he been called?' The man did not reply; Bourne dug his lingers deeper. 'Tell me!'

'Yes. I had to. '

'When?'

'A few minutes ago. The coin telephone on the second ramp. My Cod I I can't see. '

'Yes, you can. Get up!' Jason released the man, pulling him to his feet. 'Get over to the car. Quickly!' Bourne pushed the man back between the stationary vehicles to the Renault's aisle. The man turned, protesting, helpless. 'You heard me. Hurry!' shouted Jason.

'I'm only earning a few francs. "

'Now you can drive for it. ' Bourne shoved him again towards the Renault.

Moments later the small black vehicle careened down an exit ramp towards a glass booth with a single attendant and the cash register. Jason was in the back seat, his gun pressed against the man's bruised neck. Bourne shoved a note and his dated ticket out of the window; the attendant took both.

'Drive!' said Bourne. 'Do exactly what I told you to do!'

The man pressed the accelerator and the Renault sped out through the exit. The man made a screeching U-turn in the street, coming to a sudden stop in front of a dark green American Chevrolet A car door opened behind them; running footsteps followed.

'Jules! Qu'est-ce que c'est que ca? Vous conduisez?' A figure loomed in the open window.

Bourne raised his automatic, pointing the barrel at the man's face. 'Take two steps back,' he said in French. 'No more, just two. And then stand still. ' He tapped the head of the man named Jules. 'Get out. Slowly. '

'We were only to follow you!' protested Jules, stepping out into the street. 'Follow you and report your whereabouts!'

'You'll do better than that,' said Bourne, getting out of the Renault, taking his map of Paris with him. 'You're going to drive me. For a while. Get in your car, both of you!'

Five miles outside Paris on the road to Chevreuse, the two men were ordered out of the car. It was a dark, poorly lighted, third-grade highway. There had been no shops, buildings, houses or telephones for the past three miles.

'What was the number you were told to call?' demanded Jason. 'Don't lie. You'd be in worse trouble. '

Jules gave it to him. Bourne nodded and climbed into the seat behind the wheel of the Chevrolet

The old man in the threadbare overcoat sat huddled in the shadows of the empty booth by the telephone. The small restaurant was closed, his presence there an accommodation made by a friend from the old days, the better days. He kept looking at the instrument on the wall, wondering when it would ring. It was only a question of time, and when it did he would in turn make a call and the better days would return permanently. He would be the one man in Paris who was the link to Carlos. It would be whispered among the other old men, and respect would be his again.

The high-pitched sound of the bell burst from the telephone, echoing off the walls of the deserted restaurant. The beggar climbed out of the booth and rushed to the phone, his heart pounding with anticipation. It was the signal. Cain was cornered! The days of patient waiting merely a preface to the fine life. He lifted the phone from its curved recess.

'Yes?'

'It's Jules!' cried the breathless voice.

The old man's face turned ashen, the pounding in his chest growing so loud he could barely hear the terrible things being said. But he had heard enough.

He was a dead man.

White hot explosions joined the vibrations that took hold of his body. There was no air, only white light and deafening eruptions surging up from his chest to his head.

The beggar sank to the floor, the cord stretched taut, the phone still in his hand. He stared up at the horrible instrument that carried the terrible words. What could he do? What in the name of God could he do!

Bourne walked down the path between the graves, forcing himself to let his mind fall free as Washburn had commanded a lifetime ago in Port Noir. If ever he had to be a sponge, it was now; the man from Treadstone had to understand. He was trying with all his concentration to make sense out of the unremembered, to find meaning in the images that came to him without warning. He had not broken whatever agreement they had; he had not turned, or run. . . He was a cripple; it was as simple as that.

He had to find the man from Treadstone. Where inside those fenced acres of silence would he be? Where did he expect him to be? Jason had reached the cemetery wall before 1:00, the Chevrolet a faster car than the broken-down Renault He had passed the gates, driven several hundred yards down the road, pulled off on to the shoulder and parked the car reasonably out of sight On his way back to the gates it had started to rain. It was a cold rain, a March rain, but a quiet rain, little intrusions upon the silence.

He passed a cluster of graves within a plot bordered by a low iron railing, the centrepiece an alabaster cross rising eight feet out of the ground. He stood for a moment before it. Had he been here before? Was another door opening for him in the distance? Or was he trying too desperately to find one? And then it came to him. It was not this particular grouping of gravestones, not the tall alabaster cross, nor the low iron railing. It was the rain! A sudden rain. Crowds of mourners gathered in black around a burial site, the snapping of umbrellas. And two men coming together, umbrellas touching, brief, quiet apologies muttered, as a long brown envelope exchanged hands, pocket to pocket, unnoticed by the mourners.

There was something else. An image triggered by an image, feeding upon itself, seen only minutes ago. Rain cascading down white marble; not a cold, light rain, but a downpour, pounding against the wall of a glistening white surface. . . and columns . . . rows of columns on all sides, a miniature replica of an ancient treasure.

On the other side of the hill! Near the gates! A white mausoleum, someone's scaled-down version of the Parthenon. He had passed it less than five minutes before, looking at it but not seeing it. That was where the sudden rain had taken place, where two umbrellas had touched and an envelope been delivered. He squinted at the radium dial of his watch. It was fourteen minutes past one; he started running back up the path. He was still early; there was time left to see a car's headlights, or the striking of a match or. . .



Tags: Robert Ludlum, Eric Van Lustbader Jason Bourne Thriller
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