The Bourne Identity / Page 27

Page 27



'What are you doing! A man was killed back there!'

'And we must find the killer,' said the driver. 'As you say, he was wounded; he may still be in the area. This is an unmarked vehicle and we could spot him. We'll wait, of course, to make sure the inspection team arrives, but our duties are quite separate.' The car slowed down, sliding into the kerb several hundred yards from Number 37 L6wenstrasse.

The associate had spoken into the microphone while the driver had explained their official position. There was static from the dashboard speaker, then the words, 'Aufenthalt. Zwanzig Minuten.'

'Our superior will be here shortly,' the associate said. 'We're to wait for him. He wishes to speak with you.'

Marie St Jacques leaned back in the seat, closing her eyes, expelling her breath. 'Oh, God, I wish I had a drink!'

The driver laughed, nodded to his companion. The associate took out a pint bottle from the glove comparI'ment and held it up, smiling at the woman. 'We're not very chic, Miss. We have no glasses or cups but we do have brandy. For medical emergencies, of course. I think this is one now. Please, our compliments.'

The St Jacques woman smiled back and accepted the bottle. 'You're two very nice people, and you'll never know how grateful I am. If you ever come to Canada, I'll cook you the best French meal in the province of Ontario.'

'Thank you, Miss,' said the driver.

Bourne studied the bandage on his shoulder, squinting at the dull reflection in the dirty, streaked mirror, adjusting his eyes to the dim light of the filthy room. He had been right about the Steppdeckstrasse, the image of the faded red doorway accurate, down to the cracked window panes and rusted iron railings. No questions had been asked when he rented the room, in spite of the fact that he was obviously hurt. However, a statement had been made by the Vermieter when Bourne paid him.

'For something more substantial a doctor can be found who keeps his mouth shut.' 'I'll let you know.'

The wound was not that severe; the plaster would hold it until he found a doctor somewhat more reliable than one who practised surreptitiously in the Steppdeckstrasse.

With a stress situation results in injury, be aware of the fact that the damage may be as much psychological as physical. You may have a very real revulsion to pain and bodily harm. Don't take risks, but if there's time, give yourself a chance to adjust. Don't panic...

He had panicked; areas of his body had frozen. Although the penetration in his shoulder and the graze at his temple were real and painful, neither was serious enough to immobilize him. He could not move as fast as he might wish or with the strength he knew he had, but he could move deliberately. Messages were sent and received, brain to muscle and limb, he could function. He would function better after a rest. He had no conduit now; he had to be up long before daybreak and find anothei way out of Zurich. The Steppdeckstrasse Vermieter on the first floor liked money; he would wake up the slovenly landlord in an hour or so.

He lowered himself on the sagging bed and lay back on the pillow, staring at the naked lightbuib in the ceiling, trying not to hear the words so he could rest. They came anyway, filling his ears like the pounding of kettledrums. A man was killed ... But you did accept that assignment... He turned to the wall, shutting his eyes, blocking out the words. Then other words came and he sat up, sweat breaking out on his forehead.

They'll pay for your corpse! ... Carlos will pay! By Christ, he'll pay! Carlos.

A large limousine pulled up in front of the coupe" and parked at the kerb. Behind them, at 37 Lowenstrasse, the patrol cars had arrived fifteen minutes ago, the ambulance less than five. Crowds from surrounding flats lined the pavement near the staircase, but the excitement was muted now. A death had occurred, a man killed at night in this quiet section of the

Lowenstrasse. Anxiety was uppermost; what had happened at Number 37 could happen at 32 or 40 or 53. The world was going mad, and Zurich was going with it.

'Our superior has arrived, Miss. May we take you to him, please?' The associate got out of the car and opened the door for Marie St Jacques.

'Certainly.' She stepped out onto the pavement and felt the man's hand on her arm: it was so much gentler than the hard grip of the animal who had held the barrel of a gun to her cheek. She shuddered at the memory. They approached the rear of the limousine; and she climbed inside. She sat back in the seat and looked at the man beside her. She gasped, suddenly paralysed, unable to breathe, the man beside her evoking a memory of terror.

The light from the street lamps was reflected off the thin gold rims of his spectacles.

'You! ... You were at the hotel! You were one of them!'

The man nodded wearily; his fatigue apparent. "That's right. We're a special branch of the Zurich police. And before we speak further, I must make it clear to you that at no time during the events of the Carillon du Lac were you in any danger of being harmed by us. We're trained marksmen; no shots were fired that could have struck you, a number withheld because you were too close to the man in our sights.'

Her shock eased, the man's quiet authority reassuring. 'Thank you for that.'

'It's a minor talent,' said the official. 'Now, as I understand, you last saw him in the front seat of the car back there.'

'Yes. He was wounded.'

'How seriously?'

'Enough to be incoherent. He held some kind of bandage to his head, and there was blood on his shoulder - on the cloth of his coat, I mean. Who is he?'

'Names are meaningless; he goes by many. But as you've seen, he's a killer. A brutal killer, and he must be found before he kills again. We've been hunting him for several years. Many police from many countries. We have an opportunity now none of them has had. We know he's in Zurich, and he's wounded. He would not stay in this area, but how far can he go? Did he mention how he expected to get out of the city?'

'He was going to rent a car. In my name, I gather. He doesn't have a driver's licence.'

'He was lying. He travels with all manner of false papers. You were an expendable hostage. Now, from the beginning, tell me everything he said to you. Where you went, whom he met, whatever comes to mind.'

'There's a restaurant, the Drei Alpenhauser, and a large fat man who was frightened to death ...' Marie St Jacques recounted everything she could remember. From time to time the police official interrupted, questioning her about a phrase or reaction, or a sudden decision on the part of the killer. Intermittently he removed his gold spectacles, wiping them absently, gripping the frames as if the pressure controlled his irritation. The interrogation lasted nearly twenty-five minutes; then the official made his decision. He spoke to his driver.

'Drei Alpenhauser. Schnell!' He turned to Marie St Jacques. 'We'll confront that man with his own words. His incoherence was quite intentional. He knows far more than he said at the table.'

'Incoherence ...' She said the word softly, remembering her own use of it. 'Steppdeck ... SteppdecksIraMe. Cracked windows, rooms.'

'What?'

' "A boarding house in the Steppdeckstrasse." That's what he said. Everything was happening so fast but he said it. And just before I jumped out of the car, he said it again. Steppdeckstrasse.'

The driver spoke. 'Der Alte ist verruckt. Steppdeckstrasse gibt esl'


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