فصل 08

مجموعه: جیسون بورن / کتاب: هویت بورن / فصل 8

فصل 08

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Chapter eight

At Home with the General

“Villiers is a hero here,” Marie said when they were back in their hotel room. “It’s unbelievable to connect him with Carlos.”

“But there is a connection. Is he still an army officer?”

“No, he went into politics. But he continues to argue for a strong France, with a strong army.”

“Leland was assassinated because he tried to stop France buying and selling guns. There’s the connection.”

“But his son was killed - assassinated,” Marie remembered. “He was a politician, too, and very popular. Surely his father wouldn’t work with an assassin?”

“I’m going to talk to him,” Bourne said. “If he doesn’t know about Treadstone, he can find out. I’ll tell him that the newspapers would be very interested in his relationship with Carlos.”

A few hours later, Bourne was sitting in the Renault on a tree-lined street in the area of Parc Monceau when the old general came into view, leaving the house. Bourne stared at him. What madness had driven a powerful man like him into the terrible world of Carlos? As Villiers drove away, Bourne followed him.

After several hours in a country restaurant with other men of a similar age, all clearly army officers, Villiers left to drive home. Now was his opportunity. Bourne passed the general in the darkness, then turned suddenly and blocked the road. He opened his window and gave a cry.

He heard the old man climb out of his car and walk toward him.

“What has happened? Are you all right?” the general asked. “Yes, but you’re not,” Bourne answered, holding up his gun. “Go back to your car and drive it off the road.”

“What?” The old man stood up straighten “Who are you? You will get nothing from me - and my family have orders not to pay terrorists. Use your gun, garbage, or get out of here.” Bourne stared at the old soldier, suddenly uncertain. “No one’s ever doubted your bravery,” he said. “But a general of France has become Carlos’s tool…”

The anger in Villiers’s eyes was joined not by shock, as Bourne expected, but by hate. His hand shot up and hit Bourne across the face, hard.

“Pig! Dirty pig!” Villiers screamed. “Garbage!”

“I’ll shoot,” Bourne shouted, but he could not. He threw his gun out of the window and caught Villiers’s arm. “Are you telling me you’re not Carlos’s man? Yes or no?”

Tears appeared in the old man’s eyes. “Carlos killed my son,” he said quietly. “That is why I left the army and went into politics.” They were soon sitting together in the front of Villiers’s car. “I’m being hunted by Carlos and I’ve discovered that your home telephone is being used,” Bourne explained. “Someone is receiving and passing instructions. Do you answer the phone yourself?”

“Actually, I don’t.” The general was calmer now, but still shocked. “I have a private line. That number is answered by my cook or my driver, by my assistant or my wife.”

“You’d better look closely at your employees.”

“Impossible! I do not doubt their loyalty.” He looked away. “An unnamed man traps me on a road at night, points a gun at me, says terrible things about me, and expects me to believe everything he says.” He paused, then turned to Bourne. “And I do believe you - only because the anger in your eyes was real, and because you threw down your gun. Follow me back to Parc Monceau and we will talk more in my office.”

“If someone recognizes me, I’m dead - and you are, too.”

“It’s late. Wait outside and I will call you if the house is quiet.” An hour later, Bourne parked the Renault in Villiers’s street and looked across to the house. The old man was parked in front of him. Bourne noticed a light in the doorway, and then a figure on the step. Recognition followed - but a recognition that was beyond belief. Was this a trap? Had the old man lied?

He looked around but could see nothing else that was suspicious. No, it was not a trap. Something was happening that Villiers knew nothing about.

Two people were talking on the step: a youngish woman and a gray-haired man - the switchboard operator from Les Classiques. A face that brought back other memories, violent and painful. He heard explosions in his head, saw darkness, and had to look away.

When he looked again, the gray-haired man was walking down the street and the front door had closed. Bourne went quietly to the general’s car and knocked on the window.

“Who was that woman, on the step?” he asked.

“My wife,” said the general in surprise. “My second wife.”

“Your wife!” Bourne’s shock was on his face. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “General, I can’t go inside that house. The man with your wife… He’s one of Carlos’s contacts.”

The blood left Villiers’s face.

They drove to a park in another part of town. The old soldier knew that the younger man was not lying. It was in his eyes, in his voice. The old man wanted to cry. The man without a memory told him that he had to find Carlos, learn what the assassin knew; there would be no life for him if he did not. He said nothing about Marie St. Jacques, or the island in the Mediterranean, or a message sent through a newspaper report, or a hollow shell who could not be sure that his few memories were really his own. Instead, he told Villiers everything he knew about Carlos, while the general looked at him in surprise. Because of his son, the old man had seen the French government’s secret papers on Carlos, and this stranger knew much, much more.

“My wife and I are often in different places,” Villiers explained. “In many ways, we live separate lives. But I have always discussed my work with her - she is an intelligent woman, and I have found her opinions helpful. There could be a simple explanation for what we saw tonight - I hope there is, and I shall give her the opportunity to explain. But in my heart, I know there isn’t.” He looked sadly at Bourne. “Carlos does not only kill, and sell guns and bombs. He also sells countries’ secrets. I and only five other men see all documents about our country’s war plans. But regularly, we find that Moscow, Washington, or Beijing have this information. When I think back… She wanted the marriage, although she is so much younger. She has many interests that take her away, and sometimes I have wanted her with me but she has refused to come.”

“Where was she last August?” Bourne asked.

“At home, and then in Marseilles, at a conference.”

“On August 24 Howard Leland was assassinated in Marseilles.”

“I know… My God!” The old man’s head fell. “She was with him. Carlos called her to him and she obeyed.” He screamed in pain. Then he said, slowly, “I shall do what has to be done.”

“You’re going to kill her?”

“I will ask her to explain. If she tries to kill me, I will know - and then, yes, I shall kill her.”

“Don’t do it!” Bourne asked. “Hunt the killer, not his assistant. Help me - for your son. No one has ever been as close to him.” There was a silence, and then the old man spoke again. “You are right. So what can I do?”

“Carlos is looking for me, and he’s near. Your telephone will become busier. I’ll make sure of it. I’m going to talk to others at Les Classiques. Stay at home, pretend you’re sick. Listen to phone conversations. Even if they realize you’re listening, it will make their communications difficult. He’ll need to have a meeting with your wife. Make sure that you know where she’s going, and then call me on this number.” He gave the number of his hotel room. “A woman will answer…”

“A woman? You have said nothing about anyone else.”

“There is no one else. Only her, and you can trust her. Carlos has tried to kill both of us. She didn’t believe that you could be his.”

“Then thank her for me. Now, begin your game.”

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