Read Remo The Adventure Begins Online

Authors: Warren Murphy

Remo The Adventure Begins (5 page)

BOOK: Remo The Adventure Begins
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“This organization would get America through the troubled times. And our country would emerge safe and with the laws still intact. Do you see now why we needed an organization that didn’t exist? The very admission of its existence would mean we weren’t America anymore.”

If Remo had a watch, he would have looked at it.

“This is a precious country, Remo. Many have died for it. Many have vilified it, but this is still the land people escape to, not from. And if I had any other choice, I would not have recruited you this way.”

“Uh-huh,” said Remo. “Look, is there a place I can get a bite to eat?”

Smith cleared his throat. “In any case, we found we needed someone special.”

“A killer. You needed a killer.”

“Ah, so you have figured that part out,” said Smith.

“What happens when all those agencies realize they are reporting to someone illegal, or at least that someone illegal has access to their secrets?”

“I thought you noticed that. That’s why I let you look over my shoulder. They don’t know whom they’re working for. Eighty-five percent of all the people in every job do not know what they are doing. Even the smart fifteen percent can be fooled. They don’t know where reports go. Sadly, the highest percentage don’t care where their information goes.”

“So who does know?”

“You. Me. McCleary. And each President.”

“That’s it?”

“It,” said Smith.

If I kill these two, thought Remo, I am home free. What is the President going to do? Claim the man his secret organization kidnapped has committed murder? Hell, I can kill these two.

And then as though the fates that had denied him a mother and father were making up for all of it, McCleary handed Remo a pistol.

“It’s for you. You’ve got your first hit tonight. We are a busy, busy group. You are our muscle. I told you you were going to save this country, laddie,” said McCleary.

Remo took the gun, and because McCleary had offered it handle-forward, let the barrel sit facing McCleary for a moment. McCleary only thought that was humorous. Remo couldn’t shoot a smiling man, and besides, he didn’t have to.

“Okay,” said Remo. “I’ll try a hit.”

“Good,” said Smith.

“Good,” said McCleary, and he was laughing.

“What are you laughing at?” said Remo.

“You’re such a good boy,” said McCleary, and he gave Remo a friendly pinch on the cheek. Remo gave a friendly shove of the heel of his hand into McCleary’s chin.

Smith shook his head. “Gentlemen, please.”

“Smitty doesn’t mind the fighting so much as the idea that someone might be enjoying himself. He’s from an old New England family. They don’t trust us midwesterners, and they don’t trust you, laddie, to know everything. Just their own. I think his ancestors came over on the

Smith looked at his watch.

“I didn’t ask that you wait until the target dies of old age,” he said. “Good day, Remo. And good hunting.”

McCleary had new clothes waiting for Remo, even a wallet with money and credit cards for Remo Williams, along with a driver’s license.

“You never have to worry about money. That’s a plus,” said McCleary.

Remo gave him the usual smile in lieu of saying drop dead.

There was a new car also. McCleary drove Remo into the West Side of New York City. Remo wondered if he would ever return to Brooklyn, just to look at his old apartment. But he thought not. That belonged to a dead man. And besides, there was more cash in his wallet now than he had been worth as a New York City patrolman.

The car stopped in front of a three-story brownstone, just north of Harlem and west of Central Park. A crack of red dawn was coming up between the buildings behind them. The street smelled of uncollected garbage.

“He’s in there. The first floor. Don’t take any chances. Go in. Put the gun in his face, and fire. Okay?”

“Right,” said Remo.

“Don’t be fooled by what he looks like.” McCleary’s voice was hushed. “And look, fella. There was nothing personal in any of this. I want you to know that. The computer picked you.”

“The first floor?” said Remo.

“Right,” said McCleary. He hasn’t laughing now.

Remo left the car and shut the door noiselessly. His mouth was dry. He felt the handle of the door. It was unlocked. He pushed it forward. His feet were quiet. He went forward. The inner door opened with a touch. He entered a hallway. A door was open at the other end. He went forward. The room was lit. An old man knelt before a table. He was painting. Wisps of white hair fell over his parchment-yellow skin. He was an oriental. He looked up.

“Speakee English?” asked Remo.

The oriental was quiet, his head set regally as though looking at a supplicant who had made himself too humble. There was an annoyance about the man.

“Does a nightingale sing?” answered the old man. Remo didn’t want to hurt him.

“Is there a way out of here?” asked Remo.

“You may leave the way you entered,” said the oriental.

“Listen. There is someone out there who wants me to kill your boss.”

“Boss? I have no boss. I am not a slave, or a worker.”

“Well, who else is here?”

“Else? Else? I am here.”

“Look, I don’t want to make any trouble for you, I have nothing against you, and I have no intention of killing you. I don’t want to kill anyone. I just want to get out of here.”

“Kill me?” said the oriental. With delicacy he put down the brush he had been writing with. He rose.

The oriental’s flowered kimono glistened in the lamplight. He moved with such quiet it appeared as though he floated. But he did the one thing an ex-patrolman could not let him do. He reached inside the kimono, and before a gun could come out, Remo fired.

Outside Con McCleary heard a shot. Then three more. A patrol car pulled up, checking out the noise. McCleary flashed a badge and identification.

“Check with your precinct. This is a joint Secret Service/FBI stakeout. You can’t enter. That’s federal property.”

“Oh, that’s the house,” said one of the patrolmen.

“That’s the house,” said McCleary, and turned off the engine, got out of the car, and entered the brownstone. There was silence inside. McCleary walked very carefully.

Inside, Remo almost strangled the handle of the Colt. Remo knew it fired. He saw the flash. He knew it wasn’t firing blanks. He felt the kick. He saw the table behind the oriental shatter. There was the oriental, there was the barrel of the gun, there was the squeeze of the trigger, there was the shot. And bang. A lamp went. He shot at the man’s head. A plaster wall spat out a shower of white dry cloud. He unloaded the gun at an elderly man he couldn’t possibly miss in a small room, and all he accomplished was to shoot up the furniture and wall. And the old man in that absurdly glaring robe had hardly even moved. Just enough each time so that the head or body was not there to meet the bullet.

And the old oriental moved like a nightmare. It did not seem that he was fast, but that Remo was slow. Somehow every previously adequate movement was made to seem a form of slow motion.

The old man had fingernails that looked as though they would break in a breeze, long and curving like quills. But the fingernails seized the gun, turned it around, and Remo wondered whether there was another bullet in the chamber. He looked at the barrel. And then he heard the remaining bullets fall to the floor as the old man stripped the magazine and discarded the pistol with contempt.

Remo threw a punch. He almost threw out his shoulder. He felt his arm being straightened.

“No. No,” said the oriental. “You smash. You crush. No. Why do you do these things?”

“I want to kill you,” gasped Remo.

“That’s not a way to kill anyone,” said the oriental. “You couldn’t kill a fly, you impertinent piece of duck dung.”

Remo threw another punch. That missed. Then he threw his arms around the man who could be no more than five feet tall, and weigh no more than ninety-five pounds. Remo would just drop him to the floor, and then let him wriggle out from under two hundred pounds. Take away his speed. Remo’s arms went flying back as if blown there by a hurricane wind, yet he could swear that the frail little old man did not move.

Remo saw the grinning face of McCleary enter the room. He threw a punch at McCleary’s chest. He was surprised that it landed. He had become used to missing. McCleary went back against the wall with a thud.

McCleary groaned and reached for the large numb spot on his chest. Remo felt himself put down on a chair, guided by one of those incredibly frail fingernails.

“Don’t encourage him by allowing yourself to be hit like that,” said the oriental to McCleary.

“He’s got quite a punch,” said McCleary.

“Even a pebble falls like a mountain into goose down.”

“Well, Chiun, Master of Sinanju, what do you think of him?”

“He bangs. He clubs. But all white men think like that,” said Chiun.

“Do you think you can do anything with him?” asked McCleary.

“He is very slow, and clumsy and poorly coordinated.”

“He’s got one of the best nerve-time responses in the country. We tested for that, Master of Sinanju.”

“Among whites?”

“Among whites and blacks,” said McCleary.

“Well, if this is your best, this is your best.”

“What do you think?”

“He moves like a baboon with two club feet. But he moves.”

“What does that mean?” asked McCleary.

“It means we will do what we can,” said Chiun.

“What about me?” said Remo.

“We’re talking about you,” said Chiun.

“What about my feelings?” said Remo. “What about what I intend to do?”

“You might try gratitude,” said Chiun. “Do you know who I am?”

“I know who this sonuvabitch is,” said Remo, pointing to McCleary. “And if this is another trick, McCleary, I will get you.”

“That’s a yes, then?” said McCleary.

Chiun, Master of Sinanju, listened in stunned amazement. Here was someone about to be given personally, from a Master himself, the sun source of all man’s physical powers, and there was question over whether he would take it. Chiun wondered whether these whites would have to be begged to accept a mountain of gold.

“I dunno,” said Remo. “What else am I going to do? I could run, maybe get away. I think I could use what this Jap has to teach me. I have no place else to go. Right now, McCleary.”

“You’re doing right, Remo.”

“Can I change my name back? Or choose another?”

“Try Remo for a while. See how it hangs.”

“No promises. I’m just going to give it a shot.”

McCleary rubbed his chest and grinned. “As for our promises, we will be able to give you terror for breakfast, pressure for lunch and aggravation for sleep. Your vacations are two minutes when you’re not looking over your shoulder. If you live to draw a pension, it will be a miracle.”

“Are there any disadvantages?” asked Remo.

“You’ll do all right, Remo. You’re the right man for the job. He’s all yours, Chiun.”

“Do I have to live with him?” asked Remo.

“In the Orient, that would be considered an honor,” said McCleary.

Chiun wondered what they were talking about. He was, of course, the first to discover this new nation of American whites, and he had already noted they seemed exceptionally rich and exceptionally crazy. Therefore the white called Remo could be forgiven for mistaking Chiun for a Japanese.

The one thing the Master of Sinanju did not mention to either of them was perhaps the most important thing of all. He was surprised to see it in a white. Yet, there it was in the eyes of the meat-smelling fat white named Remo. You could only see it when a man was fighting for his life. It was not anger. Anger was only fear with a different face. It was that shining, that very cold and very distant shining like a star far off in the universe. Chiun wondered what a white man was doing with it and he wondered if there were more like this Remo. Was this an accident of birth, or the work of the universe?

This observation was too great a secret to share with anyone; it had to be held close. He would have to find out who this white’s parents were. But first, there was so much work to do.


arold W. Smith returned the next morning at eight o’clock, having allowed himself three hours’ sleep. The computer had spit out a judge’s name. He had the lowest prison-sentence record in the country, and one of the fastest-growing real-estate holdings. The computer was programmed to coordinate such things. In fact, Smith didn’t even have to tell an FBI office to look into it. The computer did that automatically.

But he was not thinking about corrupt judges this morning. After years of struggle they now had their killer arm, a man who would end helplessness in certain areas, areas in which some got away with crimes because they shot away witnesses. Terror would be met with terror. If it worked.

Con McCleary ambled into the headquarters at the Wall Street bank about one
with beer on his breath.

“How is it going?” asked Smith.

“Fine. The beer’s good. The women are willing. I love New York.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Oh, Remo and the Master of Sinanju. Wonderful. Fine. That’s why I am celebrating.”

“That’s a little premature, isn’t it?” asked Smith.

“I am celebrating the fact that Remo said yes and Chiun said yes.”

“I still have my doubts. I don’t believe in the effectiveness of karate. A bullet travels much faster. And electronic devices travel a lot faster than that.”

“But we can’t leave anything that would be traced. We need a hand killer.”

“Yes,” said Smith. “That’s why I agreed. Agreed to everything.”

“Don’t be so glum,” said McCleary. “The old man can dodge bullets.”

“I’d have to see it to believe it.”

“You’ll believe,” said McCleary. “Those assassins live in legends of the east for centuries, thousands of years. There are even references to them in western courts.. Did you know they stopped Alexander the Great because he killed a client of theirs, Darius, the Persian emperor?”

“That’s history,” said Smith, returning to the computer.

BOOK: Remo The Adventure Begins
3.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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