The Bourne Identity / Page 51

Page 51



The fact is I retained it.'

'Not entirely. You didn't know where the Ilich came from, that Carlos's father was a Communist attorney in Venezuela. They're salient points, I'd think. You didn't mention a thing about the Cubans. If you had, it would have led to the most shocking speculation written here. You didn't say a word about it!'

'What are you talking about?'

'Dallas,' she said. 'November, 1963.'

'Kennedy,' replied Bourne.

That's it? Kennedy?'

'It happened then.' Jason stood motionless.

'It did, but that's not what I'm looking for.'

'I know,' said Bourne, his voice once again flat, as if speaking in a vacuum. 'A grassy knoll... Burlap Billy.'

'You read this!'

'No.'

Then you heard it before, read it before''

That's possible, but it's not relevant, is it?'

'Stop it, Jason!'

Those words again. I wish I could.'

'What are you trying to tell me? You're Carlos!

'God, no. Carlos wants to kill me, and I don't speak Russian, I know that.'

Then what?

'What I said at the beginning. The game. The game is called "trap-the-soldier".'

'A soldier?'

'Yes. One who defected from Carlos. It's the only explanation, the only reason I know what I know. In all things.'

'Why do you say defect?'

'Because he does want to kill me. He has to; he thinks I know as much about him as anyone alive.'

Marie had been crouching on the bed; she swung her legs

over the side, her hands at her sides. That's a result of defecting. What about the cause! If it's true, then you did it, became ... became ...' She stopped.

'All things considered, it's a little late to look for a moral position,' said Bourne, seeing the pain of acknowledgement on the face of the woman he loved. 'I could think of several reasons, clich� How about a falling out among thieves ... killers.'

'Meaningless!' cried Marie. There's not a shred of evidence!'

There's buckets of it and you know it. I could have sold out to a higher bidder, or stolen huge sums of money from the fees. Either would explain the account in Zurich." He stopped briefly, looking at the wall above the bed, feeling, not seeing. 'Either would explain Howard Leland, Marseilles, Beirut, Stuttgart ... Munich. Everything. All the unremembered facts that want to come out. And one especially. Why I avoided his name, why I never mentioned him. I'm frightened. I'm afraid of him.'

The moment passed in silence; more was spoken of than fear. Marie nodded. 'I'm sure you believe that,' she said, 'and in a way I wish it were true. But I don't think it is. You want to believe it because it supports what you just said. It gives you an answer ... an identity. It may not be the identity you want, but God knows it's better than wandering blindly through that awful labyrinth you face every day. Anything would be, I guess." She paused. 'And I wish it were true because then we wouldn't be here.'

'What?'

'That's the inconsistency, darling. The number or symbol that doesn't fit in your equation. If you were what you say you were, and afraid of Carlos - and heaven knows you should be - Paris would be the last place on earth you'd feel compelled to go to. We'd be somewhere else; you said it yourself. You'd run away; you'd take the money from Zurich and disappear. But you're not doing that; instead, you're walking right back into Carlos's den. That's not a man who's either afraid or guilty.'

There isn't anything else. I came to Paris to find out; it's as simple as that.!

Then run away. We'll have the money in the morning; there's nothing stopping you - us. That's simple, too.' Marie watched him closely.

Jason looked at her, then turned away. He walked to the

bureau and poured himself a drink. There's still Treadstone to consider,' he said defensively.

'Why any more than Carlos? There's your real equation. Carlos and Treadstone. A man I once loved very much was killed by Treadstone. All the more reason for us to run, to survive.'

'I'd think you'd want the people who killed him exposed,' said Bourne. 'Make them pay for it.'

'I do. Very much. But others can find them. I have priorities and revenge isn't at the top of the list. We are. You and I. Or is that only my judgment? My feelings."

'You know better than that.' He held the glass tighter in his hand and looked over at her. 'I love you,' he whispered.

"Then let's run I' she said, raising her voice almost mechanically, taking a step towards him. 'Let's forget it all, really forget, and run as fast as we can, as far away as we can! Let's do ill'

'I ... I,' Jason stammered, the mists interfering, infuriating him. "There are ... things'

'What things? We love each other, we've found each other I We can go anywhere, be anyone I There's nothing to stop us, is there?'

Bourne could feel sweat breaking out on his forehead, and there was a hollowness in his throat. 'Nothing to stop us.' He could hardly hear his own voice. 'I have to think.'

'What's there to think about?' pressed Marie, taking another step, forcing him to look at her. 'There's only you and me, isn't there?'

'Only you and me,' he repeated softly, the mists now closing in, suffocating him. 'I know. I know. But I've got to think. There's so much to learn, so much that has to come out.'

'Why is it so important?'

'It... just is.'

'Don't you know?

'Yes ... No, I'm not sure. Don't ask me now.'

'If not now, when! When can I ask you? When will it pass? Or will it ever?!'

'Stop it!' he suddenly roared, slamming the glass down on the wooden tray. 'I can't run! I won't! I've got to stay here! I've got to know!'

Marie rushed to him, putting her hands first on his shoulders

then on his face, wiping away the perspiration. 'Now you've said it Can you hear yourself, darling? You can't run because the closer you get, the more maddening it is for you. And if you did run, it would only get worse. You wouldn't have a life, you'd live a nightmare. I know that.'

He reached for her face, touching it, looking at her. 'Do you?'

'Of course. But you had to say it, not me.' She held him, her head against his chest 'I had to force you to ... The funny thing is that I could run. I could get on a plane with you tonight and go wherever you wanted, disappear and not look back, happier than I've ever been in my life. But you couldn't do that What is - or isn't - here in Paris would eat away at you until you couldn't stand it any more. That's the crazy irony, my darling. I could live with it, but you couldn't.'

'You'd just disappear?' asked Jason. 'What about your family, your job, all the people you know?'

'I'm neither a child nor a fool,' she answered quickly. Td cover myself somehow, but I don't think I'd take it very seriously. I'd request an extended leave for medical and personal reasons. Emotional stress, a breakdown; I could always go back, the department would understand.'


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