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Diplomats said to be linked with fugitive terrorist known as carlos - 40

'We regret that the number you have called is no longer in service.'
'It was the other day,' broke in Marie. This is an emergency, operator. Do you have another number?'
The telephone is no longer in service, Madame. There is no alternative number.'
'I may have been given the wrong one. It's most urgent. Could you give me the name of the party who had this number?'
'I'm afraid that's not possible.'
'I told you; it's an emergency! May I speak with your superior, please?'
'He would not be able to help you. This number is an unpublished listing. Good afternoon, Madame.'
The connection was broken. 'It's been disconnected,' she said.
'It took too goddamn long to find that out," replied Bourne, looking up and down the street 'Let's get out of here.'
'You think they could have traced it here! In Paris? To a public phone?'
'Within three minutes an exchange can be determined, a district pinpointed. In four, they can narrow the blocks down to half a dozen.'
'How do you know that?"
'I wish I could tell you. Let's go.'
'Jason. Why not wait out of sight? And watch?'
'Because I don't know what to watch for and they do. They've got a photograph to go by; they could station men all over the area.'
'I don't look anything like the picture in the papers.'
'Not you. Me. Let's go!'
They walked rapidly within the erratic ebb and flow of the crowds until they reached the boulevard Malesherbes ten blocks away, and another telephone box, this with a different exchange from the first. This time there were no operators to go through; this was Paris. Marie stepped inside, coins in her hand and dialled; she was prepared.
But the words that came over the line so astonished her:
'La residence du General Villiers. Bonjour?... Allo? Allo?
For a moment Marie was unable to speak. She simply stared at the telephone. 'Je regrette,' she whispered, 'un faux numero.' She hung up.
'What's the matter?' asked Bourne, opening the glass door. 'What happened? Who was it?'
'It doesn't make sense,' she said. 'I just reached the house of one of the most respected and powerful men in France.'
'Andrel Francois Villiers,' repeated Marie, 'lighting a cigarette. They had returned to their room at the Terrasse to sort things out, to absorb the astonishing information. 'Graduate of St Cyr, hero of the Second World War, a legend in the Resistance, and, until his break over Algeria, de Gaulle's heir-apparent. Jason, to connect such a man with Carlos is simply unbelievable.'
The connection's there. Believe it.'
'It's almost too difficult Villiers is old-line honour-of-France, a family traced back to the seventeenth century. Today he's one of the senior deputies in the National Assembly – politically to the right of Charlemagne, to be sure – but very much a law-and-order army man. It's like linking Douglas MacArthur to a Mafia hit man. It doesn't make sense.'
'Then let's look for some. What was the break with de Gaulle?'
'Algeria. In the early 'sixties, Villiers was part of the O.A.S. -one of the Algerian colonels under Salan. They opposed the Evian agreements that gave independence to Algeria, believing it rightfully belonged to France.'
'The mad colonels of Algiers,' said Bourne, as with so many words and phrases, not knowing where they came from, or why he said them.
'That means something to you?"
'It must, but I don't know what it is.'
'Think.' said Marie. 'Why should the "mad colonels" strike a chord with you? What's the first thing that comes to your mind? Quickly!'
Jason looked at her helplessly, then the words came. 'Bombings... infiltrations. Provocateurs. You study them; you study the mechanisms.'
'I don't know.'
'Are decisions based on what you learn?'
'I guess so.'
'What kind of decisions? You decide what?'
'What does that mean to you? Disruptions.'
'I don't know! I can't think!'
'All right... all right. We'll go back to it some other time.'
'There isn't time. Let's get back to Villiers. After Algeria, what?'
There was a reconciliation of sorts with de Gaulle; Villiers was never directly implicated in the terrorism, and his military record demanded it. He returned to France – was welcomed, really – a fighter for a lost but respected cause. He resumed his command, rising to the rank of general before going into politics."
'He's a working politician, then?'
'More a spokesman. An elder statesman. He's still an entrenched militarist, still fumes over France's reduced military stature.'
'Howard Leland,' said Jason. "There's your connection to Carlos."
'How? Why?'
'Leland was assassinated because he interfered with the Quai D'Orsay's arms build-ups and exports. We don't need anything more.'
'It seems incredible, a man like that...' Marie's voice trailed off; she was struck by recollection. 'His son was murdered. It was a political thing, about five or six years ago.'
Tell me.'
'His car was blown up on the rue du Bac. It was in all the papers everywhere. He was the working politician, like his father a conservative, opposing the socialists and Communists at every turn. He was a young member of parliament, an obstructionist where government expenditure was concerned, but actually quite popular. He was a charming aristocrat.'
'Who killed him?'
'The speculation was Communist fanatics; he'd managed to block some legislation or other that favoured the extreme-left wing. After he was murdered, the ranks fell apart and the legislation was passed. Many think that's why Villiers left the army and stood for the National Assembly... That's what's so improbable, so contradictory. After all, his son was assassinated; you'd think the last person on earth he'd want to have anything to do with would be a professional assassin.'
'There's also something else. You said he was welcomed back to Paris because he was never directly implicated in the terrorism...'
'If he was,' interrupted Marie, 'it was buried. They're more tolerant of passionate causes over here where patriotism and the bed are concerned. And he was a legitimate hero, don't forget that.'
'But once a terrorist, always a terrorist, don't you forget that.'
'I can't agree. People change.'
'Not about some things. No terrorist ever forgets how effective he's been; he lives on it.'
'How would you know that?'
'I'm not sure I want to ask myself right now.'
"Then don't.'
'But I am sure about Villiers. I'm going to reach him.' Bourne crossed to the bedside table and picked up the telephone book. 'Let's see if he's listed or if that number's private. I'll need his address.'
'You won't get near him. If he's Carlos's connection, he'll be guarded. They'll kill you on sight; they have your photograph remember?"
'It won't help them. I won't be what they're looking for... Here it is. Villiers, A. F. Pare Monceau.'
'I still can't believe it. Just knowing whom she was calling must have put the Lavier woman in shock.'
'Or frightened her to the point where she'd do anything.'
'Doesn't it strike you as odd that she'd be given that number?'
'Not under the circumstances. Carlos wants his drones to know he isn't kidding. He wants Cain.'
Marie stood up. 'Jason? What's a "drone"?'
Bourne looked up at her. 'I don't know... Someone who works blind for somebody else.'
'Blind? Not seeing?'
'Not knowing. Thinking he's doing one thing when he's really doing something else.'
'I don't understand.'
'Let's say I tell you to watch for a car at a certain street corner. The car never shows up, but the fact that you're there tells someone else who's watching for you that something else has happened.'
'Arithmetically, an untraceable message.'
'Yes, I guess so."
'That's what happened in Zurich. Walther Apfel was a drone. He released that story about the theft not knowing what he was really saying.'
'Which was?'
'It's a good guess that you were being told to reach someone."
'Treadstone Seventy-one,' said Jason. 'We're back to Villiers. Carlos found me in Zurich through the Gemeinschaft. That means he had to know about Treadstone; it's a good chance that Villiers does too. If he doesn't, there may be a way of getting him to find out for us.'
'His name. If he's everything you say he is, he thinks pretty highly of it. The honour-of-France coupled with a pig like Carlos might have an effect. I'll threaten to go to the police, to the papers.'
'He'd simply deny it. He'd say it's outrageous.'
'Let him. It isn't. That was his number in Lavier's office. Besides, any retraction will be on the same page-as his obituary.'
'You still have to get to him."
'I will. I'm part chameleon, remember?'
The tree-lined street in Pare Monceau seemed familiar somehow, but not in the sense that he had walked it before. Instead, it was the atmosphere. Two rows of well-kept stone houses, doors and windows glistening, metalwork shining, steps washed clean, the lighted rooms beyond filled with hanging plants. It was a monied street in a wealthy section of the city, and he knew he had been exposed to one like it before, and that exposure had meant something.
It was 7:35 in the evening, the March night cold, the sky clear and the chameleon dressed for the occasion. Bourne's blond hair was covered by a cap, his neck concealed beneath the collar of a jacket that spelled out the name of a messenger service across the back. Slung over his shoulder was a canvas strap attached to a nearly empty satchel; it was the end of this particular messenger's run. He had two or three stops to make, perhaps four or five if he thought they were necessary; he would know in a moment. The envelopes were not really envelopes at all, but brochures advertising the pleasures of the Bateau Mouche, picked up from a hotel lobby. He would select at random several houses near General Villiers's residence and deposit the brochures in letterboxes. His eyes would record everything they saw, one thing sought above everything else. What kind of security arrangements did Villiers have? Who guarded the general and how many were there?
And because he had been convinced he would find either men in cars or other men walking their posts, he was startled to realize there was no one. Andrel Francois Villiers, militarist, spokesman for his cause, and the prime connection to Carlos, had no external security arrangements whatsoever. If he was protected, that protection was solely within the house. Considering the enormity of his crime, Villiers was either arrogant to the point of carelessness or a damn fool.
Jason climbed the steps of an adjacent residence; Villiers's door no more than twenty feet away. He deposited the brochure in the slot, glancing up at the windows of Villiers's house, looking for a face, a figure. There was no one.
The door twenty feet away suddenly opened. Bourne crouched, thrusting his hand beneath his jacket for his gun, thinking he was a damn fool; someone more observant than he had spotted him. But the words he heard told him it wasn't so. A middle-aged couple – a uniformed maid and a dark-jacketed man – were talking in the doorway.
'Make sure the ashtrays are clean,' said the woman. 'You know how he dislikes ashtrays that are stuffed full.'
'He drove this afternoon,' answered the man. 'That means they're full now.'
'Clean them in the garage; you've got time. He won't be down for another ten minutes. He doesn't have to be in Nanterre until eight-thirty."
The man nodded, pulling up the lapels of his jacket as he started down the steps. Ten minutes,' he said aimlessly.
The door closed and silence returned to the quiet street. Jason stood up, his hand on the railing, watching the man hurry down the pavement. He was not sure where Nanterre was, only that it was a suburb of Paris. And if Villiers was driving there himself, and if he was alone, there was no point in postponing confrontation.
Bourne shifted the strap on his shoulder and walked rapidly down the steps, turning left on the pavement Ten minutes.
Jason watched through the windscreen as the door opened and General Andrel Fracois Villiers came into view. He was a medium-sized, barrel-chested man in his late sixties, perhaps early seventies. He was hatless, with close-cropped grey hair and a meticulously groomed white chin beard. His bearing was unmistakably military, imposing his body on the surrounding space, entering it by breaking it, invisible walls collapsing as he moved.
Bourne stared at him, fascinated, wondering what insanities could have driven such a man into the obscene world of Carlos. Whatever the reasons, they had to be powerful, for he was powerful. And that made him dangerous – for he was respected and had the ears of his government.
Villiers turned, speaking to the maid and glancing at his wristwatch. The woman nodded, closing the door, as the general walked briskly down the steps and around the bonnet of a large saloon to the driver's side. He opened the door and climbed in, then started the engine and rolled slowly out into the middle of the street. Jason waited until the saloon reached the corner and turned right; he eased the Renault away from the kerb and accelerated, reaching the intersection in time to see Villiers turn right again a block east.
There was a certain irony in the coincidence, an omen if one could believe in such things. The route General Villiers chose to the outlying suburb of Nanterre included a stretch of back road in the countryside nearly identical to the one in St Germain-en-Laye where twelve hours ago Marie had pleaded with Jason not to give up – his life or hers. There were stretches of pasture land, fields that fused into the gently rising hills; but instead of being crowned by early light, these were washed in the cold, white rays of the moon. It occurred to Bourne that this stretch of isolated road would be as good a spot as any on which to intercept the returning general.
It was not difficult for Jason to follow at distances up to a quarter of a mile, which was why he was surprised to realize he had practically caught up with the old soldier. Villiers had suddenly slowed down and was turning into a gravelled drive cut out of the woods, the parking area beyond illuminated by floodlights. A sign, hanging from two chains on a high-angle post, was caught in the spill.
L'Arbalete. The general was meeting someone for dinner at an out-of-the-way restaurant, not in the suburb of Nanterre but close by. In the country.
Bourne drove past the entrance and pulled off the shoulder of the road, the right side of the car covered by foliage; he had to think things out... he had to control himself. There was a fire in his mind; it was growing, spreading. He was suddenly consumed by an extraordinary possibility.
Considering the shattering events – the enormity of the embarrassment experienced by Carlos last night at the motel in Montrouge, it was more than likely that Andrel Villiers had been summoned to an out-of-the-way restaurant for an emergency meeting. Perhaps even with Carlos himself. If that was the case, the premises would be guarded, and a man whose photograph had been distributed to those guards would be shot the instant he was recognized. On the other hand, the chance to observe a nucleus belonging to Carlos – or Carlos himself -was an opportunity that might never come again. He had to get inside L'Arbalete. There was a compulsion within him to take the risk. Any risk! It was crazy! But then he was not sane. Sane as a man with a memory was sane. Carlos. Find Carlos! Cod in heaven, why?
2014-07-19 18:44
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