Bourne swung the Renault around in a U-turn, waited until he saw the headlights in the distance, then suddenly accelerated, swinging the wheel violently back and forth. The car careened over the road - an out-of-control driver, incapable of finding a straight line, but nevertheless speeding.
Villiers had no choice; he slowed down, as Jason came racing insanely towards him. Then abruptly, when the two cars were no more than twenty feet from colliding, Bourne spun the wheel to the left, braking as he did so, sliding into skid, tyres screeching. He came to a stop, the window open, and raised his voice in an undefined cry. Half shout, half scream; it could have been the vocal explosion of an ill man or a drunken man, but the one thing it was not was threatening. He slapped his hand on the frame of the window and was silent, crouching in the seat, his gun on his lap.
He heard the door of Villiers's saloon open and peered through the steering wheel. The old man was not visibly armed; he seemed to suspect nothing, relieved only that a collision had been avoided. The general walked through the beams of the headlights to the Renault's left window, his shouts anxious, his French the interrogating commands of Saint Cyr.
'What's the meaning of this? What do you think you're doing! Are you all right?' His hands gripped the base of the window.
'Yes, but you're not,' replied Bourne in English, raising the gun.
'What? ...' The old man gasped, standing erect. 'Who are you and what is this?'
Jason got out of the Renault, his left hand extended above the barrel of the weapon. 'I'm glad your English is fluent. Walk back to your car. Drive it off the road.'
'And if I refuse?'
'I'll kill you right now. It wouldn't take much to provoke me.'
'Do these words come from the Red Brigades? Or the Paris branch of the Baader-Meinhof?'
'Why? Could you countermand them if they did?'
'I spit at them! And you!'
'No one's ever doubted your courage, General. Walk to your car.'
'It's not a matter of courage 1' said Villiers, without moving. 'It's a question of logic. You'll accomplish nothing by killing me, less by kidnapping me. My orders are firm, fully understood by my staff and my family. The Israelis are absolutely right! There can be no negotiations with terrorists. Use your gun, garbage! Or get out of here!'
Jason studied the old soldier, suddenly profoundly uncertain, but not about to be fooled. It would be in the furious eyes that stared at him. One name soaked in filth coupled with another name heaped with the honours of his nation would cause another kind of explosion; it would be in the eyes.
'Back at that restaurant, you said France shouldn't be a lackey to anyone. But a general of France became someone's lackey. General Andre Villiers, messenger for Carlos ... Carlos's contact, Carlos's soldier, Carlos's lackey.'
The furious eyes did grow wide, but not in any way Jason expected. Fury was suddenly joined by hatred, not shock, not hysteria, but deep, uncompromising abhorrence. The back of Villiers's hand shot up, arching from his waist, the crack against Bourne's face sharp, accurate, painful. It was followed by a forward slap, brutal, insulting, the force of the blow reeling Jason back on his feet. The old man moved in, blocked by the barrel of the gun but unafraid, undeterred by its presence, intent only on inflicting punishment. The blows came one after another, delivered by a man possessed.
'Pig!' screamed Villiers. 'Filthy, detestable pig! Garbage!'
'I'll shoot! I'll kill you! Stop it!' But Bourne could not pull the trigger. He was backed into the small car, his shoulders pressed against the roof. Still the old man attacked, his hands flying out, swinging up, crashing down.
'Kill me if you can, if you dare! Dirt! Filth!' Jason threw the gun to the ground, raising his arms to fend off Villiers's assault. He lashed his left hand out, grabbing the old man's right wrist, then his left, gripping the left forearm
that was slashing down like a broadsword. He twisted both violently, bending Villiers into him, forcing the old soldier to stand motionless, their faces inches from each other, the old man's chest heaving.
'Are you telling me you're not Carlos's man? Are you denying it?'
Villiers lunged forward, trying to break Bourne's grip, his barrel-like chest smashing into Jason. 'I revile you! Animal!'
'Goddamn you, yes or no!
The old man spat in Bourne's face, the fire in his eyes now clouded, tears welling. 'Carlos killed my son,' he said in a whisper. 'He killed my only son on the rue du Bac. My son's life was blown up with five sticks of dynamite on the rue du Bac'
Jason slowly reduced the pressure of his fingers. Breathing heavily, he spoke as calmly as he could.
'Drive your car into the field and stay there. We have to talk, General. Something's happened you don't know about, and we'd both better learn what it is.'
'Never! Impossible! It could not happen!'
'It happened,' said Bourne, sitting with Villiers in the front seat of his car.
'An incredible mistake has been made! You don't know what you're saying!'
'No mistake, and I do know what I'm saying because I found the number myself. It's not only the right number, it's a magnificent cover. Nobody in bis right mind would connect you with Carlos, especially in light of your son's death. Is it common knowledge he was Carlos's kill?'
'I would prefer different language, Monsieur.'
'Sorry. I mean that'
'Common knowledge? Among the Surete, a qualified yes. Within military intelligence and Interpol, most certainly. I read the reports."
'What did they say?'
'It was presumed that Carlos did a favour for his friends from his radical days. Even to the point of allowing them to appear silently responsible for the act. It was politically motivated, you know. My son was a sacrifice, an example to others who opposed the fanatics.'
'The extremists were forming a false coalition with the socialists, making promises they had no intention of keeping. My son understood this, exposed it and initiated legislation to block the alignment. He was killed for it*
'Is that why you retired from the army and stood for election?'
'With all my heart. It is customary for the son to carry on for the father...' The old man paused, the moonlight illuminating his haggard face. 'In this matter, it was the father's legacy to carry on for the son. He was no soldier, nor I a politician, but I am no stranger to weapons and explosives. His causes were moulded by me, his philosophy reflected my own, and he was killed for these things. My decision was clear to me. I would carry our beliefs into the political arena and let his enemies contend with me. The soldier was prepared for them.'
'More than one soldier, I gather.'
'What do you mean?'
Those men back there at the restaurant. They looked as if they ran half the armies in France.'
They did. Monsieur. They were once known as the angry young commanders of Saint Cyr. The Republic was corrupt, the army incompetent, the Maginot a joke. Had they been heeded in their time, France would not have fallen. They became the leaders of the Resistance; they fought the Boche and Vichy all through Europe and Africa.'
'What do they do now?'
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