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Diplomats said to be linked with fugitive terrorist known as carlos - 3


'All right. Mind, not head... which is really the brain.'
'Good.' Washburn flipped his thumb through the pages on the clipboard. These are filled with several hundred observations. There are the normal medical notes - dosage, time, reaction, that sort of thing - but in the main they deal with you, the man himself. The words you use, the words you react to; the phrases you employ - when I can write them down - both rationally and when you talk in your sleep and when you were in coma. Even the way you walk, the way you talk or tense your body when startled or seeing something that interests you. You appear to be a mass of contradictions; there's a subsurface violence almost always under control, but very much alive. There's also a pensiveness that seems painful for you, yet you rarely give vent to the anger that pain must provoke.'
'You're provoking it now,' interrupted the man. 'We've gone over the words and the phrases time and time again...'
'And we'll continue to do so,' broke in Washburn, 'as long as there's progress.'
'I wasn't aware any progress had been made.' 'Not in terms of an identity or an occupation. But we are finding out what's most comfortable for you, what you deal with best It's a little frightening.'
'In what way?'
'Let me give you an example.' The doctor put the clipboard down and got out of the chair. He walked to a primitive cupboard against the wall, opened a drawer and took out a large automatic hand gun. The man with no memory tensed in his chair; Washburn was aware of the reaction. 'I've never used this, not sure I'd know how to, but I do live on the waterfront.' He smiled, then suddenly, without warning, threw it to the man. The weapon was caught in midair, the catch clean, swift, and confident 'Break it down; I believe that's the phrase.'
'What?'
'Break it down. Now.'
The man looked at the gun, and then, in silence, his hands and fingers moved expertly over the weapon. In less than thirty seconds it was completely dismantled. He looked up at the doctor.
'See what I mean?' said Washburn. 'Among your skills is an extraordinary knowledge of firearms.'
'Army?...' asked the man, his voice intense, once more apprehensive.
'Extremely unlikely,' replied the doctor. 'When you first came out of coma, I mentioned your dental work. I assure you it's not military. And, of course, the surgery, I'd say, would totally rule out any military association.' 'Then what?'
'Let's not dwell on it now; let's go back to what happened. We were dealing with the mind, remember? The psychological stress, the hysteria. Not the physical brain but the mental pressures. Am I being clear?' 'Goon.'
'As the shock recedes, so do the pressures, until there's no fundamental need to protect the psyche. As this process takes place your skills and talents-will come back to you. You'll remember certain behaviour patterns; you may live them out quite naturally, your surface reactions instinctive. But there's a gap and everything in those pages tell me that it's irreversible.' Washburn stopped and went back to his chair and his glass. He sat down and drank, closing his eyes in weariness. 'Go on,' whispered the man.
The doctor opened his eyes, levelling them at his patient. 'We return to the head, which we've labelled the brain. The physical brain with its millions upon millions of cells and interacting components. You've read the books; the fornix and the limbic system, the hippocampus fibres and the thalamus; the callosum and especially the lobotomic surgical techniques. The slightest alteration can cause dramatic changes. That's what happened to you. The damage was physical. It's as though blocks were rearranged, the physical structure no longer what it was.' Again Washburn stopped.
'And,' pressed the man.
'The recessed psychological pressures will allow - are allowing - your skills and talents to come back to you. But I don't think you'll ever be able to relate them to anything in your past.'
'Why? Why not?'
'Because the physical conduits that permit and transmit those memories have been altered. Physically rearranged to the point where they no longer function as they once did. For all intents and purposes, they've been destroyed.'
The man sat motionless. 'The answer's in Zurich,' he said.
'Not yet. You're not ready; you're not strong enough.'
'I will be.'
'Yes, you will.'
The weeks passed; the verbal exercises continued as the pages grew and the man's strength returned. It was mid-morning of the nineteenth week, the day bright, the Mediterranean calm and glistening. As was the man's habit he had run for the past hour along the waterfront and up into the hills; he had stretched the distance to something over twelve miles daily, the pace increasing daily, the rests less frequent. He sat in the chair by the bedroom window, breathing heavily, sweat drenching his undershirt. He had come in through the back door, entering the bedroom from the dark hallway that passed the living-room. It was simply easier; the living-room served as Washburn's waiting area and there were still a few patients with cuts and gashes to be repaired. They were sitting in chairs looking frightened, wondering what le medecin's condition would be that morning. Actually, it wasn't bad. Geoffrey Washburn still drank like a mad Cossack, but these days he stayed on his horse. It was as if a reserve of hope had been found in the recesses of his own destructive fatalism. And the man with no memory understood; that hope was tied to a bank in Zurich's Bahnhof-strasse. Why did the street come so easily to mind? The bedroom door opened and the doctor burst in, grinning, his white coat stained with his patient's blood.
'I did it I' he said, more triumph in his words than clarification. 'I should open my own hiring hall and live on commissions. It'd be steadier.'
'What are you talking about?'
'As we agreed, it's what you need. You've got to function on the outside, and as of two minutes ago Monsieur Jean-Pierre No-Name is gainfully employed! At least for a week.'
'How did you do that? I thought there weren't any openings.' 'What was about to be opened was Claude Lamouche's infected leg. I explained that my supply of local anaesthetic was very, very limited. We negotiated; you were the bartered coin.'
'A week?'
'If you're any good, he may keep you on.' Washburn paused. 'Although that's not terribly important, is it?'
'I'm not sure any of this is. A month ago, maybe, but not now. I told you. I'm ready to leave. I'd think you'd want me to. I have an appointment in Zurich.'
'And I'd prefer you function the very best you can at that appointment My interests are extremely selfish, no remissions permitted.'
'I'm ready.'
'On the surface, yes. But take my word for it, it's vital that you spend prolonged periods of time on the water, some of it at night. Not under controlled conditions, not as a passenger, but subjected to reasonably harsh conditions - the harsher the better, in fact.'
'Another test?'
'Every single one I can devise in this primitive hole of Port Noir. If I could conjure up a storm and a minor shipwreck for you, I would. On the other hand, Lamouche is something of a storm himself; he's a difficult man. The swelling in his leg will go down and he'll resent you. So will others; you'll have to replace someone.'
Thanks a lot'
'Don't mention it We're combining two stresses. At least one or two nights on the water, if Lamouche keeps to schedule -that's the hostile environment which contributed to your hysteria - and exposure to resentment and suspicion from men around you - symbolic of the initial stress situation.'
Thanks again Suppose they decide to throw me overboard? That'd be your ultimate test, I suppose, but I don't know how much good it would do if I drowned.'
'Oh, there'll be nothing like that,' said Washburn, scoffing.
'I'm glad you're so confident. I wish I were.'
'You can be. You have the protection of my absence. I may not be Barnard or DeBakey, but I'm all these people have. They need me; they won't risk losing me.'
'But you want to leave. I'm your passport out!'
'In ways unfathomable, my dear patient. Come on, now. Lamouche wants you down at the dock so you can familiarize yourself with his equipment. You'll be setting out at four o'clock tomorrow morning. Consider how beneficial a week at sea will be. Think of it as a cruise.'
There had never been a cruise like it. The skipper of the filthy, oil-soaked fishing boat was a foul-mouthed rendering of an insignificant Captain Bligh, the crew a quartet of misfits who were undoubtedly the only men on Port Noir willing to put up with Claude Lamouche. The regular fifth member was a brother of the chief netman, a fact impressed on the man called Jean-Pierre within minutes after leaving the harbour at four o'clock in the morning.
'You take food from my brother's table!' whispered the netman angrily between rapid puffs on an immobile cigarette. 'From the stomachs of his children.'
'It's only for a week,' protested Jean-Pierre. It would have been easier - far easier - to offer to reimburse the unemployed brother from Washburn's monthly stipend but the doctor and his patient had agreed to refrain from such compromises.
'I hope you're good with the nets!'
He was not.
There were moments during the next seventy-two hours when the man called Jean-Pierre thought the alternative of financial appeasement was warranted. The harassment never stopped, even at night - especially at night. It was as though eyes were trained on him as he lay on the infested deck mattress, waiting for him to reach the brinks of sleep.
'You! Take the watch! The mate is sick. You fill in!'
'Get up! Philippe is writing his memoirs! He can't be disturbed.'
'On your feet! You tore a net this afternoon. We won't pay for your stupidity. We've all agreed. Mend it now!'
' The nets.'
If two men were required for one flank, his two arms took the place of four. If he worked beside one man, there were abrupt hauls and releases that left him with the full weight, a sudden blow from an adjacent shoulder sending him crashing into the gunwale and nearly over the side.
And Lamouche. A limping maniac who measured each kilometre of water by the fish he had lost. His voice was a grating, static-prone bullhorn. He addressed no one without an obscenity preceding his name, a habit the patient found increasingly maddening. But Lamouche did not touch Washburn's patient; he was merely sending the doctor a message: Don't ever do this to me again. Not where my boat and my fish are concerned.
Lamouche's schedule called for a return to Port Noir at sundown on the third day, the fish to be unloaded, the crew I given until four the next morning to sleep, fornicate, get drunk, or, with luck, all three. As they came within sight of land, it happened.
The nets were being doused and folded at midships by the netman and his first assistant. The unwelcome crewman they cursed as Jean-Pierre Sangsue scrubbed down the deck with a long-handled brush. The two remaining crew heaved buckets of sea water in front of the brush, more often than not drenching the leech with truer aim than the deck.
A bucketful was thrown too high, momentarily blinding Washburn's patient, causing him to lose his balance. The heavy brush with its metal-like bristles flew out of his hands, its head up-ended, the sharp bristles making contact with the kneeling netman's thigh.
Sacro diable!'
'Je regrate,' said the offender casually, shaking the water from his eyes.
'The hell you are!' shouted the netman.
'I said I was sorry,' replied the man called Jean-Pierre. 'Tell your friends to wet the deck, not me.'
'My friends don't make me the object of their stupidity!'
'They were the cause of mine just now.'
The netman grabbed the handle of the brush, got to his feet, and held it out like a bayonet. 'You want to play, leech?'
'Come on, give it to me.'
'With pleasure, leech. Here!' The netman shoved the brush forward, downward, the bristles scraping the patient's chest and stomach, penetrating the cloth of his shirt.
Whether it was the contact with the scars that covered his previous wounds, or the frustration and anger resulting from three days of harassment, the man would never know. He only knew he had to respond. And his response was as alarming to him as anything he could imagine.
He gripped the handle with his right hand, jamming it back into the netman's stomach, pulling it forward at the instant of impact; simultaneously, he shot his left foot high off the deck, ramming it into the netman's throat.
'Tao!' The guttural whisper came from his lips involuntarily; he did not know what it meant.
Before he could understand, he had pivoted, his right foot now surging forward like a battering ram, crashing into the netman's left kidney.
'Che-sah!' he whispered.
The netman recoiled, then lunged towards him in pain and fury, his hands outstretched like claws. 'Pig!'
The patient crouched, shooting his right hand up to grip the netman’s left forearm, yanking it downwards, then rising, pushing his victim's arm up, twisting it at its highest arc clockwise, yanking again, finally releasing it while jamming his heel into the small of the netman’s back. The Frenchman sprawled forward over the nets, his head smashing into the wall of the gunwale.
'Mee-sah!' Again he did not know the meaning of his silent cry.
A crewman grabbed his neck from the rear. The patient crashed his left fist into the pelvic area behind him, then bent forward, gripping the elbow to the right of his throat. He lurched to his left; his assailant was lifted off the ground, his legs spiralling in the air as he was thrown across the deck, his face impaled between the wheels of a winch.
The two remaining men were on him, fists and knees pummelling him, as the captain of the fishing boat repeatedly screamed his warnings.
'Le medecin! Rappelons le medecin! Doucement! The doctor! Remember the doctor! Easy!'
The words were as misplaced as the captain's appraisal of what he saw. The patient gripped the wrist of one man, bending it down, twisting it counterclockwise in one violent movement; the man roared in agony. The wrist was broken.
Washburn's patient viced the fingers of his hands together, swinging his arms up like a sledgehammer, catching the crewman with the broken wrist at the midpoint of his throat. The man somersaulted off his feet and collapsed on the deck.
'Kwa-sah!' The whisper echoed in the patient's ears.
The fourth man backed away, staring at the maniac who simply looked at him.
It was over. Three of Lamouche's crew were unconscious, severely punished for what they had done. It was doubtful that any would be capable of coming down to the docks at four o'clock in the morning.
Lamouche's words were uttered in equal parts, astonishment and contempt. 'Where you come from I don't know, but you will get off this boat.'
The man with no memory understood the unintentional irony of the captain's words. I don't know where I came from, either.
'You can't stay here now,' said Geoffrey Washburn, coming into the darkened bedroom. 'I honestly believed I could prevent any serious assault on you. But I can't protect you when you've done the damage.'
'It was provoked.'
'To the extent it was inflicted? A broken wrist and lacerations requiring sutures on one man's throat and face and another's skull. A severe concussion, and an undetermined injury to a kidney? To say nothing of a blow to the groin that's caused a swelling of the testicles? I believe the word is overkill.'
2010-07-19 18:44 Читать похожую статью
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