Warren Murphy: Kill Or Cure

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    Kill Or Cure
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    Английский
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Kill Or Cure: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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A plot designed by the United States' top-secret agency, CURE, to dispose of a certain corrupt politician, is revealed in what unravels into a national scandal. The agency must be dismantled before greater suspicions arise and one of the top leaders, The Destroyer, is finally destroyed himself. But Master Chiun's days of work haven't ended, and he's not waiting around for his sidekick Remo to be out of a job either. The two are determined to do whatever possible to keep each other in business and continue to bring justice to society.

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* Title : #011 : KILL OR CURE *

* Series : The Destroyer *

* Author(s) : Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir *

* Location : Gillian Archives *

***********************************************

CHAPTER ONE

James Bullingsworth had entertained few original thoughts in his life, but his last one was good enough to get him an ice-pick in his brain, send a multitude of government agents fleeing to obscure outposts, and leave the president of the United States gasping: ‘Why do these things always have to happen to me?’

This particular doozy of an idea came to James Bullingsworth one morning in late spring while doing volunteer work for the Greater Florida Betterment League where he had been volunteering nine to five, Monday through Friday, for the last two years. That Bullingsworth tended not to probe too deeply into the reasons of things was why he got the job, and before he started thinking new things, he should have remembered how he had volunteered.

The volunteer ceremony had been brief. The president of the bank where Bullingsworth worked had called him into his office.

‘Bullingsworth, what do you think of improving the government of the greater Miami area?’ the president had asked.

Bullingsworth had thought improvement was a good idea.

‘Bullingsworth, how would you like to volunteer your time and effort to the Greater Florida Betterment League?’

Bullingsworth would like to do that, but it might interfere with his career at the bank.

‘Bullingsworth, that is your career at the bank.’

So James Bullingsworth, who was known to mind his own business, went to work for the League while he drew his paychecks from the bank. He should have remembered the strangeness of his appointment that spring morning when he noticed a computer printout was incomplete.

He said to his secretary, a young Cuban woman with very high breasts: ‘Miss Carbonal, this computer printout is incomplete. There are great gaps in it. It’s just a bunch of random letters. We can’t forward it in this condition.’

Miss Carbonal picked up the greenish printout and stared at it. Bullingsworth stared at her left breast. She was wearing the see-through bra again.

‘We always send it out like this,’ said Miss Carbonal.

‘What?’ said Bullingsworth.

‘We been sending out printouts like this for two years now. When we mail to the Kansas City office, it’s always like this. I speak to the other girls at other Betterment League offices all around the country and they say the same. At Kansas City, they must be some crazy people, yes?’

‘Let me see that breast,’ said Bullingsworth, with authority.

‘What?’ said Miss Carbonal.

'The printout,’ said Bullingsworth, covering up his slip quickly. ‘Let me see it.’ He busied himself in the random letters with the big gaps. ‘Hmmmmmm,’ said James Bullingsworth, former assistant vice-president of one of the larger banks in the greater Miami area. The idea was born.

‘Miss Carbonal, I want you to get me all the printouts shipped from our office to Kansas City.’

‘What you want that for?’

‘Miss Carbonal, I gave you an instruction.’

‘You be in plenty trouble, asking questions. You want to look at those printouts, you go yourself.’

‘Are you refusing a direct order, Miss Carbonal?’

‘You betcha, Mr. Bullingsworth.’

‘That’s all I wanted to hear,’ said Bullingsworth menacingly. ‘You may leave.’

Miss Carbonal fluffed out undisturbed. A half-hour later as Bullingsworth left for lunch, she called to him:

‘Mr. Bullingsworth, don’t go rocking the boat. You got good money; I got good money. We don’t ask questions. What do you want?’

Bullingsworth approached her desk with great gravity.

‘Miss Carbonal,’ he said. ‘There are ways to do things. Proper, businesslike, thorough ways to do things. There are American ways to do things and that means knowing what you’re doing and not just dumbly—animal-like—sending off garbled printouts for two years. It means, Miss Carbonal, understanding what you are doing.’

‘You’re a nice man, Mr. Bullingsworth. Take my word for it. Don’t go rocking the boat. Okay?’

‘No,’ said Bullingsworth.

‘You can’t get those other printouts anyway. Henrietta Alvarez is the girl who does them. She feeds them into the computer, checks the printout to make sure it’s accurate and then destroys it. That’s what she was told to do. And she was told to report anyone asking questions about the printouts.’

‘You don’t understand Yankee pluck, Miss Carbonal.’

James Bullingsworth exercised Yankee pluck that night after all the other League employees had left the office. He broke into the locked desk of Henrietta Alvarez and, as he had suspected, found inside a foot-high compression of light-green printouts.

Amused at his secretary’s apprehension, Bullingsworth took the thick pile of printouts into his office for inspection. His confidence soared as he read the first line of each printout.

They obviously were in code and he, James Bullingsworth, would break that code for his amusement. He needed a diversion, in a job that occupied only two hours of each working day. Incredible that anyone could think such a thing could escape his notice for long, he thought. Were they fools at the National Betterment League’s headquarters in Kansas City?

The code proved to be quite simple, almost like a crossword puzzle. Putting a week’s printouts together at once, the gaps on the lines were filled. The only question was which order the letters must be read in.

‘Tragf pu,’ scribbled Bullingsworth, and with that he rearranged the sheets again. ‘Fargt up,’ and he rearranged them again.

‘Graft up,’ wrote Bullingsworth. Without rearranging the computer printouts again, he began to copy down the contents of the sheets. He worked all night long. When he was finished, he scrambled the sheets and read his handiwork.

‘Jeeezus H. Christ,’ he whistled. He looked through the glass door connecting his office with outside, saw Miss Carbonal arriving for work, and waved her to come inside.

‘Carmen, Carmen. Look at this. Look at what I figured out.’

Carmen Carbonal stuck her fingers in her ears and rushed from the office. ‘Don’t tell me nothing,’ she yelled.

He followed her to her desk. ‘Hey, don’t be afraid,’ he said.

‘You muy stupido,’ she said. ‘You big, stupid man. Burn that stuff. Burn that stuff.’

‘Aren’t you interested in what we’re really doing?’

‘No,’ she cried, sobbing. ‘I don’t want to know. And you shouldn’t want to know either. You so dumb. Dumb.’

‘Oh, Carmen,’ said Bullingsworth, placing a comforting arm around her heaving shoulder. ‘I’m sorry. If it’ll make you feel better, I’ll burn everything.’

‘Too late,’ she said. ‘Too late.’

‘It’s not too late,’ he said. ‘I’ll burn it now.’

‘Too late.’

With great fanfare, Bullingsworth brought all the copies of the printouts to the private bathroom in his office and burned them, creating lung-choking smoke.

‘Now are you happy?’ he asked Miss Carbonal.

‘Too late,’ she said, still weeping.

‘I burned everything,’ he smiled.

But Bullingsworth had not burned everything. He had saved his notes, which, among other things, told him why his bank was willing to pay him a salary for volunteer work with the Greater Florida Betterment League. It also told him why so many Florida officials had suddenly been so successfully indicted for kickbacks and extortion. It even gave him a hint as to how the upcoming local elections would come out, and why.

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