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'I told you, I didn't know. Treadstone didn't exist for me; in many ways it still doesn't. '

'I forgot. You lost your memory. What was the word? Disorientation?'

'Yes, but it's not strong enough. The word is amnesia. '

'Let's stick to disorientation. Because it seems you oriented yourself straight into Zurich, right to the Gemeinschaft. '

There was a negative surgically implanted near my hip. '

'There certainly was; you insisted on it. A few of us understood why. It's the best insurance you can have. '

'I don't know what you're talking about. Can't you understand that!'

'Sure. You found the negative with only a number on it and right away you assumed the name of Jason Bourne. '

'It didn't happen that way! Each day it seemed I learned something, one step at a time, one revelation at a time. A hotel clerk called me Bourne; I didn't learn the name Jason until I went to the bank. '

'Where you knew exactly what to do,' interrupted Conklin. 'No hesitation at all. In and out, four million gone. '

'Washburn told me what to do!'

Then a woman came along who just happened to be a financial whizz kid to tell you how to squirrel away the rest I And before that you took out Chernak in the Lowenstrasse, and three men we didn't know but figured they sure as hell knew you. And here in Paris, another shot in a bank transfer truck. Another associate? You covered every track, every goddamned track. Until there was only one thing left to do. And you - you son of a bitch - you did it. "

'Will you listen to me! Those men tried to kill me; they've been hunting me since Marseilles. Beyond that, I honestly don't know what you're talking about! . . . Things come to me at times. Faces, streets, buildings; sometimes just images I can't place, but know they mean something, only I can't relate to them. And names - there are names, but then no faces. Goddamn you! I'm an amnesiac I That's the truth!'

'One of those names wouldn't be Carlos, would it?'

'Yes, and you know it! That's the point; you know much more about it than / do! I can recite a thousand facts about Carlos, but / don't know why. I was told I had an agreement with Treadstone by a man who's halfway back to Asia by now, a man who worked for Carlos; He said Carlos knows. That Carlos was closing in on me, that you put out the word that I'd turned. He couldn't understand the strategy, and I couldn't tell him. You thought I'd turned because you didn't hear from me, and I couldn't reach you because I didn't know who you were; I still don't know who you are. '

'Or the Monk, I suppose. '

'Yes, yes . . . the Monk. His name was Abbott. '

'Very good. And the Yachtsman? You remember the Yachtsman, don't you? And his wife?'

'Names. They're there, yes. No faces. '

'Elliot Stevens?'

'Nothing. '

'Or . . . Gordon Webb. ' Conklin said the name quietly.

'What?' Bourne felt the jolt in his chest, then a stinging, searing pain that drove through his temples to his eyes. His eyes were on fire! Fire! Explosions and darkness, high winds and pain . . . Almanac to Delta! Abandon, abandon! You will respond as ordered. Abandon! 'Gordon . . . ' Jason heard his own voice, but it was far away in a faraway wind. He closed his eyes, the eyes that burned so, and tried to push the mists away. Then he opened his eyes and was not at all surprised to see Conklin's gun aimed at his head.

'I don't know how you did it, but you did. The only thing left to do and you did it! You got back to New York and blew them all away. You butchered them, you son of a bitch. I wish to Christ I could bring you back and see you strapped into an electric chair, but I can't, so I'll do the next best thing. I'll take you myself. '

'I haven't been in New York for the past six months. Before then, I don't know, but not in the last six months. '

'Liar! Why didn't you do it really right? Why didn't you time your goddamn stunt so you could get to the funerals? The Monk's was just the other day; you would have seen a lot of old friends! And your brother's*. Jesus God Almighty] You could have escorted his wife down the aisle of the church; maybe delivered the eulogy, that'd be the kicker! At least, speak well of the brother you killed!'

'Brother? . . . Stop it! For Christ's sake, stop it!'

'Why should I? Cain alive! We made him and he came to life!'

"I'm not Cain. He never was! I never was!'

"So you do know! Liar! Bastard!'

'Put that gun away. I'm telling you, put it down. '

'No chance. I swore to myself I'd give you two minutes because I wanted to hear what you'd come up with. Well, I've heard it and it smells. Who gave you the right? We all lose things; it goes with the job, and if you don't like the goddamned job you get out! If there's no accommodation you fade; that's what I thought you did and I was willing to pass on you, to persuade the others to let you fade! But no, you came back and turned your gun on us!'

'I didn't turn my gun on you. '

'Tell that to the laboratory techs who have eight fragments of glass that spell out two prints. Third and index fingers, right hand. You were there and you butchered five people! You - one of them - took out your guns - plural - and blew them away! Perfect set-up. Discredited strategy. Varied shells, multiple bullets, infiltration. Treadstone's aborted and you walk out free!'

'No, you're wrong! It was Carlos! Not me, Carlos. If what you're saying took place on Seventy-first Street, it was him! He knows! They know! A residence on Seventy-first Street. Number One hundred and forty. They know about it!'

Conklin nodded, his eyes clouded, the loathing in them seen in the dim light, through the rain. 'So perfect,' he said slowly. "The prime mover of the strategy blows it apart by making a deal with the target. What's your take beside the four million plus? Carlos gave you immunity from his own particular brand of persecution? You two make a lovely couple!'

That's crazy!'

'And accurate,' completed the man from Treadstone. 'Only eight people knew that address before seven-thirty last Friday night. Three of them were killed, and we're two of the other five. If Carlos found it, there's only one person who could have told him. You!'

'How could I? I didn't know it! I don't know it!'

'You just said it. ' Conklin's left hand gripped the cane; it was a prelude to firing, steadying a crippled foot.

'Don't,' shouted Bourne, knowing the plea was useless, spinning to his left as he shouted, his right foot lashing out at the wrist that held the gun. Che-sah! was the unknown word that was the silent scream in his head. Conklin fell back firing wildly in the air, tripping over his cane. Jason spun around and down, now hammering his left foot at the weapon; it flew out of the hand that held it.

Conklin rolled on the ground, his eyes on the far columns of the mausoleum, expecting an explosion from the gun that would blow his attacker into the air. No! The man from Treadstone rolled again! Now to the right, his features in shock, his wild eyes focused on . . . There was someone else!

Bourne crouched, diving diagonally backwards as four gunshots came in rapid succession, three screeching ricochets spinning off beyond sound. Jason rolled over and over and over, pulling the automatic from his belt. He saw the man in the rain; a silhouetted figure rising above a gravestone. He fired twice; the man collapsed.

Tags: Robert Ludlum, Eric Van Lustbader Jason Bourne Thriller