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Remo looked at him in surprise. "You gave Ruby junk?" he asked.

"Would I do that?" asked Chiun.

Later that night, Smith came to their hotel room. He carried not only his gray briefcase, but a small box wrapped in manila paper.

Smith told Remo he had done good work with the two arsonists. "Even though it wasn't technically a CURE assignment," Smith said, "it was the proper thing to do."

"I'm glad you liked it," Remo said. "But I didn't do it for you or your dipshit organization."

"I know," Smith said. "For Ruby." He was silent a moment, then he added, "Remo, I regret what happened to her as much as you do. I really liked Ruby."

"But not enough that you wouldn't ask me to kill her," said Remo.

Smith nodded. 'That's correct. I did not like her so much that I was going to jeopardize our organization and our country. You know that we live on


secrecy, and if we're exposed, our whole government could go under."

"Somehow, Smitty," said Remo, "I just don't give. a rat's ass."

Smith excused himself. He stopped at the door and, as an afterthought, tossed the manila-wrapped box to Remo. "The desk clerk asked me to give this to you." Then he left.

There was no return address on the package.

Remo opened it up. There was a metallic silver box inside. Printed in gold across the top of it was the legend: Ruby's Wig Empoeium, Norfolk, Va."

Remo looked at Chiun in confusion. Chiun's face was blank.

Remo opened the box. It contained a curly blond wig for a man, in a style made famous by professional wrestlers.

He lifted it out of the box as if it were a dead mouse, looked at it, and then looked back inside the box. There was a piece of paper under the wig.

He dropped the wig on the floor and opened the note.

It read, "This is for your pointy little head, turkey."

The note was unsigned, but in his mind, Remo could almost hear Ruby Gonzalez screaming at him across the distance.

He looked at Chiun and caught the old man in one of his rare smiles. Suddenly, he knew the truth. Ruby lived and Chiun knew that she lived.

Remo smiled.

"The medal?" he asked.

"A cheap copy she had made of the one I gave her. She was just waiting for a chance to drop it somewhere to prove her death." said Chiun. "When

179 _

she found that body in the fire, that was her chance."

"She was the one who called you in St. Louis and told us to go to New York?" Remo said.

Chiun nodded. "Of course."

"And Smith?' Remo asked.

"He thinks that Ruby is dead," said Chiun.

"What should we do?" asked Remo.

"We should let sleeping lies lie," said Chiun. "What emperors don't know won't hurt their assassins."