Warren Murphy: Cold Warrior

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    Cold Warrior
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    Английский
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Cold Warrior: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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When impoverished Cuba is attacked, Castro is sure that the U.S. is behind the assault, and he sends a MiG fighter jet to destroy a nuclear power plant in Florida, prompting Remo and Chiun to spring to action.

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"Don't know if we'll be here that long," Remo said.

The room service manager's voice dropped several degrees Fahrenheit. "May I make a further suggestion? Why don't you ask your rather finicky roommate if, under the circumstances as I have outlined them, the trout Almondine might not be acceptable after all?"

"Hang on."

Remo cupped his hand over the hotel suite phone receiver and called into the next room.

"Hey, Little Father!"

"Trout have bones," came a squeaky, querulous voice.

Remo took his hand off the receiver and said, "He says trout is bony."

"We bone our trout, sir."

The squeaky voice came again. "Ask for the duck." "I did. They say they're out."

"Has every duck in the universe expired?" wondered the squeaky voice.

"Doubt it," said Remo.

"Then I shall have the duck. In orange sauce."

Remo spoke into the receiver. "Says he's really, really set on the duck. And he'd like it in orange sauce."

The last of the oil evaporated from the room service manager's tone.

"Sir, as I have explained-"

"Listen, by chance did you hear about the bellboy?"

"I seldom pay attention to the doings of lower-echelon personnel," the room service manager said bluntly.

"The poor guy ended up in a body cast."

"I believe something was mentioned along those lines. Regrettable."

"He nicked my roommate's trunk carrying it to the elevator," Remo pointed out.

There was a pregnant pause on the line. "This roommate of yours, by chance would he be an elderly gentleman of Asian extraction?"

"Oh, I wouldn't call him 'elderly,' " said Remo, knowing that he would be overheard by the occupant of the next room, who was sensitive about his age. "And I think you shouldn't either. That's worse than nicking a trunk."

"Understood, sir." The tone changed again. This time, it was helpful. "Well, if this is the case, there may be something we can do. Perhaps I could ask the head chef to dig a little deeper into the freezer, as it were. Ah, I trust your roommate would not be offended by frozen duck?"

"Not unless it showed up on his plate that way."

"Splendid. Then duck in orange sauce it will be. I assume you would like the same?"

"Not me. I want the trout Almondine. A side of steamed white rice for both of us, and absolutely pure natural mineral water. Got that?"

"Your meals shall be delivered within the hour," the room service manager promised. "You have our eternal gratitude for your patience."

"And you get to keep your mobility," said Remo happily. He hung up. He looked into the mirror. The face that stared back at him was distinguished by two features: the deep set of his dark eyes, and the high cheekbones. It was a strong face. Too angular to be called handsome, yet too regular to be unpleasant. In certain lights, it looked skull-like. When he frowned, it looked cruel.

Remo wasn't frowning now. He was smiling. He adjusted his smile and put an innocent expression on his face. Then he walked out into the living room of the sumptuous hotel suite, hoping his expression held.

"I got you the duck," he said brightly.

The occupant of the other room sat cross-legged on a reed mat before the hotel television set. He didn't stir a hair. Not that there was much hair to be stirred. The back of his head resembled a seamless amber egg decorated by tiny ears, whose tops nudged twin puffs of cloudy white hair set directly above.

"The duck in this place is greasy," he announced.

"It is?"

"It was greasy last time."

"Want me to call back, have them do it right?" Remo said helpfully.

"It will do no good. They are incompetent. If we demand they leech out the grease, the duck will come dry."

"Better greasy duck than dry duck, huh?"

"Better properly prepared duck."

Okay, Remo thought, he didn't drag me back here for the duck. It must be something else. Remo decided to get to the point.

"Little Father, I am curious."

"So is a monkey."

"True," said Remo, trying not to be dragged into a fight. "But monkeys can't order room service for their jungle friends. And monkeys don't usually find themselves suddenly rushing off to Miami one morning. Especially since they've been there recently."

"On what channel does Cheeta Ching come on here?"

Remo picked up the local TV directory. "Channel 6."

The Master of Sinanju picked up the remote channel-selector and punched up 6. His face came into view then. It resembled the papyrus death mask of some impossibly ancient pharaoh that had been sucked dry of all moisture. A wisp of beard clung to the papery chin. His age was impossible to gauge. Even his wrinkles seemed wrinkled.

A low sound emerged from his wattled throat, curious and faintly pleased. "The black box says 6, and behold, Channel 6 appears on the glass screen."

"I think the cable box is dead."

"Perhaps we will abide here for a time."

"Suits me. I'd just like to know why."

"We are homeless, are we not?"

"Since Smith kicked us out of our home, yeah. I guess I prefer to think of us as footloose vagabonds."

"There are many homeless in this sad land."

"To hear Cheeta Ching tell it, yeah. But what does that have to do with camping out in Miami?"

"The homeless of this land, how do they come to such a sad state?"

"Let me see. They lose their jobs. They don't pay the rent."

"Exactly," said Chiun.

"Huh?"

"We are homeless, therefore we are unemployed."

"Don't tell me we've been laid off."

"I will not."

"Good."

"We have reached an impasse in our contract negotiations with Emperor Smith," explained Chiun.

"How big and how bad?"

"Enough that we are hiding from him, with all our worldly belongings, until he comes to his senses."

"So that's why we're back in Miami. We're hiding from Smith!"

"Exactly. He will never think to look for us here, knowing that we abided in this very place but short months ago."

"Good point. How long you expect to tough it out?"

"Not long."

"Really?"

Chiun nodded sagely. "Smith will cave in shortly."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because only this morning he ordered us to a certain place, there to await further instructions."

"He gave us an assignment?"

"Not exactly. He merely asked me to go to this place and await word."

"Holy Christ, Chiun!" said Remo, reaching for the telephone. "What if it's important?"

"Then the sooner Smith will capitulate," said the Master of Sinanju reasonably.

Remo picked up the receiver. He listened to the beeping and electronic chirping in his ear as he stabbed the 1 button repeatedly-the foolproof contact number he used when he had to reach Harold W. Smith.

Normally, after a dozen or so chirps, an electronic relay kicked in and Remo got a ringing bell.

This time, the chirping simply stopped and he was listening to dead silence.

Remo hung up and tried again. This time, he didn't get so much as a chirp.

"Something's wrong with this phone," he complained, turning.

And the severed plastic line to the wall plug clicked onto his Italian leather shoes.

Remo looked down, saw the neatly snipped end, and looked toward the Master of Sinanju, who sat on his reed mat like a wispy little Buddha, as if he had not moved. Remo hadn't seen or heard him move. Chiun was the only person on earth who could slip something past Remo. His long-nailed bird-claw hands rested open and loose on the bright lavender lap of his kimono. Those deadly nails, Remo knew, had severed the line.

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