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《渺小一生》:几个月过去,他的背部痊愈了

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2020年07月02日

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  But one afternoon—this was in March, shortly before he turned fourteen—he had turned the corner and had seen the counselor, a man named Rodger who was the cruelest, the most demanding, the most vicious of them all, and he had stopped. For the first time in a long time, something in him resisted, and instead of continuing toward Rodger, he had crept backward down the hallway, and then, once he was certain he was safely out of sight, he had run.

但是有天下午(那是三月,在他满14岁前不久),他走过转角,看到那个来接他的辅导员,是个叫罗杰的,也是所有辅导员里最残忍、最苛刻、最恶毒的,于是他停下脚步。好久以来第一次,他心里开始抗拒,他没继续走向罗杰,而是悄悄往后退回走廊。然后,一确定没有人看到他,他就跑了。

  He hadn’t prepared for this, he had no plan, but some hidden, fiery part of him had, it seemed, been making observations as the rest of his mind sat cocooned in its thick, cottony slumber, and he found himself running toward the science lab, which was being renovated, and then under a curtain of blue plastic tarp that shielded one exposed side of the building, and then worming into the eighteen inches of space that separated the decaying interior wall from the new cement exterior that they were building around it. There was just enough room for him to wedge himself in, and he burrowed himself as deep into the space as he could, carefully working himself into a horizontal position, making sure his feet weren’t visible.

他没有准备,没有计划。但长期以来,当他心灵的大部分都被隔绝在厚厚的、大茧般的休止状态里时,他心底某个隐秘的、热烈的部分似乎一直在观察,于是他不自觉地跑向正在整修的实验室,进入遮盖裸露侧墙的蓝色塑料布后头。他看到烂掉的内墙和新建的水泥外墙之间,有一道十八英寸宽的空间,就往里面钻。那个空间只够他勉强进去,他尽可能地往里面挤,小心翼翼地让自己躺平,确保自己的脚不会露出来。

  As he lay there, he tried to decide what he could do next. Rodger would wait for him and then, when he didn’t appear, they would eventually look for him. But if he could last here for the night, if he could wait until everything was silent around him, then he could escape. This was as far as he could think, although he was cognizant enough to realize that his chances were poor: he had no food, no money, and although it was only five in the afternoon, it was already very cold. He could feel his back and legs and palms, all the parts pressed against the stone, numbing themselves, could feel his nerves turning to thousands of pinpricks. But he could also feel, for the first time in months, his mind coming alert, could feel, for the first time in years, the giddy thrill of being able to make a decision, however poor or ill-conceived or unlikely. Suddenly, the pinpricks felt like not a punishment but a celebration, like hundreds of miniature fireworks exploding within him and for him, as if his body were reminding him of who he was and of what he still owned: himself.

他躺在那,试图决定接下来该怎么办。罗杰会在那里等他,等不到的话,他们就会开始找他。但如果他可以在这里撑过一夜,等到周围安静下来,他就可以逃走了。他只能想到这里,不过他的脑子还够清楚,知道这个机会很渺茫:他没有食物,没有钱,尽管现在才下午5点,但已经非常冷了。他可以感觉到自己的背部、双腿、手掌,所有抵着水泥墙面或地面的部分,全都麻了,他可以感觉自己的神经变成千万个针孔。但他也同时感觉到,几个月以来第一次,他的心神警觉起来,可以运转了;几年来第一次,他感觉到那种可以自己做决定的狂喜,尽管这个决定有多么糟糕、多么欠考虑、多么不可能。忽然间,那些针孔就像是几百支袖珍烟火,在体内为他绽开,好像他的身体在提醒他是谁,提醒他还拥有什么:他自己。

  He lasted two hours before the security guard’s dog found him and he was dragged out by his feet, his palms scraping against the cement blocks he clung to even then, by this time so cold that he tripped as he walked, that his fingers were too iced to open the car door, and as soon as he was inside, Rodger had turned around and hit him in the face, and the blood from his nose was thick and hot and reassuring and the taste of it on his lips oddly nourishing, like soup, as if his body were something miraculous and self-healing, determined to save itself.

他撑了两个小时就被警卫的狗找到了,两脚被人抓着硬拖出来时,双手还是猛扒着水泥砖不肯放弃。此时,他已经冷到走路都走不稳,手指冰得没法打开车门。一上车,罗杰就转向他,一拳打到他脸上。他鼻子流出来的血又浓又热,令人安心,嘴唇尝到的血出奇的营养,像浓汤,好像他的身体里发生了奇迹,可以自我疗愈,决定要救活自己。

  That evening they had taken him to the barn, where they sometimes took him at night, and beat him so badly that he had blacked out almost immediately after it had begun. He had been hospitalized that night, and then again a few weeks later, when the wounds had gotten infected. For those weeks, he had been left alone, and although they had been told at the hospital that he was a delinquent, that he was troubled, that he was a problem and a liar, the nurses were kind to him: there was one, an older woman, who had sat by his bed and held a glass of apple juice with a straw in it so he could sip from it without lifting his head (he’d had to lie on his side so they could clean his back and drain the wounds).

那天傍晚他们带他去谷仓(之前有时他们夜里也会带他去那里),狠狠地痛打他,狠到才刚动手,他几乎就立刻失去意识。那天晚上他被送去医院,过了两三个星期伤口感染,又进了医院。那几个星期,他被独自留在医院里。尽管医院的人都被告知他是不良少年,说他很会闯祸,说他有毛病,而且爱撒谎,但护士们都对他很好。有一个年纪较长的护士会坐在他床边,拿着一瓶苹果汁插一根吸管,好让他不必抬头也可以喝(他只能侧躺,好让人清理他的背部,同时让伤口干燥)。

  “I don’t care what you did,” she told him one night, after she had changed his bandages. “No one deserves this. Do you hear me, young man?”

“我不管你做了什么,”她有天晚上帮他换完了绷带后说,“没有人应该被打成这样。你听到没,小伙子?”

  Then help me, he wanted to say. Please help me. But he didn’t. He was too ashamed.

那就帮我,他想说。拜托帮帮我。但他没说,他太羞愧了。

  She sat next to him again and put her hand on his forehead. “Try to behave yourself, all right?” she had said, but her voice had been gentle. “I don’t want to see you back here.”

她又在他旁边坐下,一手放在他额头上。“尽量乖一点,好吗?”她说,但她的声音一直很温柔,“我不希望又看到你回来这里。”

  Help me, he wanted to say again, as she left the room. Please. Please. But he couldn’t. He never saw her again.

帮帮我,她离开病房,他又想这么说。拜托。拜托。但他说不出口。从此他再也没见过她。

  Later, as an adult, he would wonder if he had invented this nurse, if he had conjured her out of desperation, a simulacrum of kindness that was almost as good as the real thing. He would argue with himself: If she had existed, truly existed, wouldn’t she have told someone about him? Wouldn’t someone have been sent to help him? But his memories from this period were something slightly blur-edged and unreliable, and as the years went by, he was to come to realize that he was, always, trying to make his life, his childhood, into something more acceptable, something more normal. He would startle himself from a dream about the counselors, and would try to comfort himself: There were only two of them who used you, he would tell himself. Maybe three. The others didn’t. They weren’t all cruel to you. And then he would try, for days, to remember how many there had actually been: Was it two? Or was it three? For years, he couldn’t understand why this was so important to him, why it mattered to him so much, why he was always trying to argue against his own memories, to spend so much time debating the details of what had happened. And then he realized that it was because he thought that if he could convince himself that it was less awful than he remembered, then he could also convince himself that he was less damaged, that he was closer to healthy, than he feared he was.

后来,成年以后,他会好奇这个护士是不是自己想象出来的,他是不是出于绝望凭空变出了这个人,她只是个仁慈的幻影,好得简直像真人一样。他会跟自己争辩:如果她存在、真的存在,她难道不会把他的事告诉其他人吗?相关单位不会派个人来帮他吗?但他这段时期的记忆有点模糊且不可靠,随着一年年过去,他逐渐明白,他一直都在试图把自己的人生、自己的童年改造得更容易接受、更正常一点。他会梦到那些辅导员而惊醒,然后试着安抚自己:利用你的只有其中两个,他会告诉自己。或许三个,其他人没有。并不是每个辅导员都对你很坏。接下来好几天,他会设法回忆到底有几个:是两个?或是三个?有好几年,他都不懂为什么这一点对他这么重要,为什么他要这么在乎,为什么他总是反驳自己的记忆,花那么多时间去争辩往事的种种细节。然后他明白,那是因为他以为,如果他能说服自己事情不像他记得的那么可怕,他也就可以说服自己:他没有损伤得那么严重,他比自己担心的更健康一点。

  Finally he was sent back to the home, and the first time he had seen his back, he had recoiled, moving so quickly away from the bathroom mirror that he had slipped and fallen on a section of wet tile. In those initial weeks after the beating, when the scar tissue was still forming, it had made a puffed mound of flesh on his back, and at lunch he would sit alone and the older boys would whip damp pellets of napkin at it, trying to get them to ping off of it as against a target, cheering when they hit him. Until that point, he had never thought too specifically about his appearance. He knew he was ugly. He knew he was ruined. He knew he was diseased. But he had never considered himself grotesque. But now he was. There seemed to be an inevitability to this, to his life: that every year he would become worse—more disgusting, more depraved. Every year, his right to humanness diminished; every year, he became less and less of a person. But he didn’t care any longer; he couldn’t allow himself to.

最后,他终于出院,被送回了少年之家。他第一次看到自己的背部时,吓得整个人往后缩,迅速从浴室的镜子前退开,在一片湿漉漉的瓷砖上滑倒。刚挨打后的几个星期,那些疤痕组织还没定型,在他的背部形成一片膨胀的肉丘。午餐时他独坐着,比较年长的男孩就会用湿纸巾捏成的小球朝他背部扔,就像对着靶子般,击中了就欢呼。在此之前,他从没仔细想过自己的外貌。他知道自己很丑,他知道自己毁了,他知道自己染了病,但他从来不觉得自己怪诞。可是现在他是了。他的人生似乎必然如此:每一年他都变得更糟糕、更令人厌恶、更堕落。每一年,他身而为人的权利就减少一点;每一年,他都变得越来越不像个人。但他再也不在乎了;他不能容许自己在乎。

  It was difficult to live without caring, however, and he found himself curiously unable to forget Brother Luke’s promise, that when he was sixteen, his old life would stop and his new life would begin. He knew, he did, that Brother Luke had been lying, but he couldn’t stop thinking about it. Sixteen, he would think to himself at night. Sixteen. When I am sixteen, this will end.

无论如何,没人照顾的生活很艰难,于是他发现自己很古怪,无法忘记卢克修士的承诺。他曾说满16岁时,他旧的人生就会停止,新的人生将会展开。16岁,他夜里会告诉自己。16岁。等我16岁,这些就会停止了。

  He had asked Brother Luke, once, what their life would be like after he turned sixteen. “You’ll go to college,” Luke had said, immediately, and he had thrilled to this. He had asked where he would go, and Luke had named the college he had attended as well (although when he had gotten to that college after all, he had looked up Brother Luke—Edgar Wilmot—and had realized there was no record of him having ever attended the school, and he had been relieved, relieved to not have something in common with the brother, although it was he who had let him imagine that he might someday be there). “I’ll move to Boston, too,” Luke said. “And we’ll be married, so we’ll live in an apartment off campus.” Sometimes they discussed this: the courses he would take, the things Brother Luke had done when he was at college, the places they would travel to after he graduated. “Maybe we’ll have a son together one day,” Luke said once, and he had stiffened, for he knew without Luke saying so that Luke would do to this phantom son of theirs what had been done to him, and he remembered thinking that that would never happen, that he would never let this ghost child, this child who didn’t exist, ever exist, that he would never let another child be around Luke. He remembered thinking that he would protect this son of theirs, and for a brief, awful moment, he wished he would never turn sixteen at all, because he knew that once he did, Luke would need someone else, and that he couldn’t let that happen.

以前有回他问卢克修士,满16岁以后,他们的生活会是什么样。“你会去上大学。”卢克当时立刻说。他听了很兴奋。还问他会去哪里,于是卢克说出他读过的那所大学的名字(他后来上了这所大学,还特别去查卢克修士的名字,埃德加·威尔默特,才发现根本没有他就读的纪录。他松了一口气,因为这件事他们没有共通点,不过当初的确是卢克修士让他得以想象自己会到波士顿念书)。“我也会搬到波士顿,”卢克说,“我们会结婚,住在校园外的公寓里。”有时他们会讨论这件事:他会上什么课,他去上课时,卢克修士会做什么事,他毕业后他们会去哪里旅行。“也许有一天我们会有个儿子。”有回卢克说,他听后全身僵住,因为卢克不必说出来,他就知道卢克会对他们这个孩子做出以前对他做过的事。他还记得当时想着,这种事情绝不能发生,他绝对不会让这个幽灵孩子、这个不存在的孩子有机会存在,他绝对不会让另一个孩子接近卢克。他还记得当时他想着会保护他们这个儿子,然后有个短暂、可怕的片刻,他真希望自己永远不会满16岁,因为他知道一旦自己满16岁,卢克就会需要另一个孩子,他不能让这种事情发生。

  But now Luke was dead. The phantom child was safe. He could safely turn sixteen. He could turn sixteen and be safe.

但现在卢克死了。那个幽灵孩子安全了。他可以放心地满16岁。他可以满16岁,而且很安全。

  The months passed. His back healed. Now a security guard waited for him after his classes and walked him to the parking lot to wait for the counselor on duty. One day at the end of the fall semester, his math professor talked to him after class had ended: Had he thought about college yet? He could help him; he could help him get there—he could go somewhere excellent, somewhere top-flight. And oh, he wanted to go, he wanted to get away, he wanted to go to college. He was tugged, in those days, between trying to resign himself to the fact that his life would forever more be what it was, and the hope, small and stupid and stubborn as it was, that it could be something else. The balance—between resignation and hope—shifted by the day, by the hour, sometimes by the minute. He was always, always trying to decide how he should be—if his thoughts should be of acceptance or of escape. In that moment he had looked at his professor, but as he was about to answer—Yes; yes, help me—something stopped him. The professor had always been kind to him, but wasn’t there something about that kindness that made him resemble Brother Luke? What if the professor’s offer of help cost him? He argued with himself as the professor waited for his answer. One more time won’t hurt you, said the desperate part of him, the part that wanted to leave, the part that was counting every day until sixteen, the part the other part of him jeered at. It’s one more time. He’s another client. Now is not the time to start getting proud.

几个月过去,他的背部痊愈了。现在他去社区大学上完课后,会有一个安全警卫等着他,陪他走到停车场,把他交给当天负责接送的辅导员。有一天,秋季学期的最后一天,他的数学教授下课后找他谈:他有没有想过上大学的事?他可以帮忙;他可以帮他申请到学校——他可以去一家顶尖的学校。啊,他好想去,他好想离开,他想要去上大学。那阵子他很纠结,想设法接受现实,看清他的人生往后只会跟以前一样;但同时心底又有个小小、愚蠢、顽固的希望,希望以后会有所改变。放弃与希望,这两者之间的态势强弱,每天、每小时都在改变,有时甚至每分钟都会改变。他总是设法决定自己该怎么做,想着自己该接受现实,或是设法逃走。那一刻,他看着数学教授,正当他要回答是的——“是的,请你帮我”时,有个什么阻止了他。那教授向来很关心他,但那种关怀不就跟卢克修士一样吗?如果教授的帮助会需要他付出代价呢?他在心里跟自己争辩着,同时教授等着他回答。再试一次不会有什么影响的,他绝望的那部分、想离开的那部分、每天数着还有几天满16岁的那部分说。但另外一部分嘲笑他,又要来一次了。他只是另一个顾客。可别又得意忘形了。

  But in the end, he had ignored that voice—he was so tired, he was so sore, he was so exhausted from being disappointed—and had shaken his head. “College isn’t for me,” he told the professor, his voice thin from the strain of lying. “Thank you. But I don’t need your help.”

但最后,他没理会那个声音。他很累,全身酸痛,被失望搞得精疲力竭了。他摇摇头。“大学不适合我。”他告诉教授,因为努力撒谎,声音变得尖细,“谢谢你。但是我不需要你的帮助。”

  “I think you’re making a big mistake, Jude,” said his professor, after a silence. “Promise me you’ll reconsider?” and he had reached out and touched his arm, and he had jerked away, and the professor had looked at him, strangely, and he had turned and fled the room, the hallway blurring into planes of beige.

“裘德,我想你犯了一个大错。”他的教授沉默了一会儿说,“答应我你会再考虑?”他伸手要摸他的手臂,他猛地闪身躲开,那教授看着他,表情怪怪的。他随即转身跑出教室,经过的走廊模糊成一片片米色的平面。

  That night he was taken to the barn. The barn was no longer a working barn, but a place to store the shop class’s and the auto repair class’s projects—in the stalls were half-assembled carburetors, and hulls of half-repaired trucks, and half-sanded rocking chairs that the home sold for money. He was in the stall with the rocking chairs, and as one of the counselors seesawed into him, he left himself and flew above the stalls, to the rafters of the barn, where he paused, looking at the scene below him, the machinery and furniture like alien sculpture, the floor dusty with dirt and the stray pieces of hay, reminders of the barn’s original life that they never seemed able to fully erase, at the two people making a strange eight-legged creature, one silent, one noisy and grunting and thrusting and alive. And then he was flying out of the round window cut high into the wall, and over the home, over its fields that were so beautiful and green and yellow with wild mustard in the summer, and now, in December, were still beautiful in their own way, a shimmering expanse of lunar white, the snow so fresh and new that no one had yet trampled it. He flew above this all, and across landscapes he had read about but had never seen, across mountains so clean that they made him feel clean just to contemplate them, over lakes as big as oceans, until he was floating above Boston, and circling down and down to that series of buildings that trimmed the side of the river, an expansive ring of structures punctuated by squares of green, where he would go and be remade, and where his life would begin, where he could pretend that everything that had come before had been someone else’s life, or a series of mistakes, never to be discussed, never to be examined.

那天夜里他被带去谷仓。那个谷仓不再被当作谷仓使用,而被用来储存工艺课和汽车修理课的物品,众多小隔间内放着组合到一半的汽车化油器、修理到一半的卡车、打磨到一半的摇椅,完成后院方就会卖掉赚钱。他在放摇椅的那个小隔间里,一个辅导员正朝他不断推进时,他离开了自己,飞到小隔间上方,飞到谷仓的斜椽,暂停下来,看着下方的景象。那些机械和家具看起来像外星雕塑,地板上有泥土和零星的干草,让人想起这个谷仓的原始用途似乎无法被完全抹去,他看着底下的两个人形成一个奇怪的八脚兽,一个沉默,一个聒噪、闷哼、冲刺、活跃。然后他飞出墙壁高处的圆窗,飞过少年之家,飞过那片美丽的田野,夏天会被野芥菜花染成一片绿与黄。而现在,十二月,依然有另一种美,一片月白色的广阔大地闪着微光,那些雪好新好鲜,还没有人踩上去过。他高飞到这一切之上,飞越他读过、但未曾亲眼见识的风景,飞越那些洁净到光是注视都令他感到洁净的高山,飞越大如海洋的湖泊,直到他飘浮在波士顿上空,盘旋着越来越低,来到沿着河流整齐排列的建筑物,像一个巨大的环形结构,中间点缀着四方形的绿地。那就是他要去的地方,在那里,他将会重生;在那里,他的人生将会开始;在那里,他可以假装以前碰到的一切都是发生在别人身上的事,或只是一连串错误,从不讨论,也不检视。

  When he came back to himself, the counselor was on top of him, asleep. His name was Colin, and he was often drunk, as he was tonight, his hot yeasty breath puffing against his face. He was naked; Colin was wearing a sweater but nothing else, and for a while he lay there under Colin’s weight, breathing too, waiting for him to wake so he could be returned to his bedroom and cut himself.

他神游回来之后,那个辅导员还压在他身上,睡着了。他名叫柯林,总是喝得醉醺醺的,今夜也是,酸热的气息吹在他脸上。他全身赤裸,柯林则只穿着一件衬衫,他躺在那儿一会儿,呼吸着,等待柯林醒来,好送他回自己的卧室割自己。

  And then, unthinkingly, almost as if he was a marionette, his limbs moving without thought, he was wriggling out from beneath Colin, quiet and quick, and hurrying his clothes back on, and then, again before he knew it, grabbing Colin’s puffed coat from the hook on the inside of the stall and shrugging it on. Colin was much larger than he was, fatter and more muscular, but he was almost as tall, and it was less wieldy than it looked. And then he was grabbing Colin’s jeans from the ground, and snatching out his wallet, and then the money within it—he didn’t count how much it was, but he could tell by how thin a sheaf it was that it wasn’t much—and shoving that into his own jeans pocket, and then he was running. He had always been a good runner, swift and silent and certain—watching him at the track, Brother Luke had always said he must be part Mohican—and now he ran out of the barn, its doors open to the sparkling, hushed night, looking about him as he left, and then, seeing no one, toward the field behind the home’s dormitory.

这时,他想都没想,简直像一具悬丝人偶似的,他的四肢不经思考就动了起来,扭动着从柯林下头脱身,安静而迅速,接着匆忙穿上自己的衣服。然后,同样是在他意识到之前,他就抓起小隔间内钩子上柯林那件厚厚的大衣穿上。柯林块头大他很多,比较胖也比较壮,但几乎一样高,穿上去并没有看起来那么累赘。接着,他从地上抓起柯林的牛仔裤,抽出皮夹,拿出里头的钱(他没去算有多少,但感觉得到那一沓有多么薄,金额不多),塞进牛仔裤口袋,然后就跑了。他向来很会跑,灵活、安静又坚定。当年看着他在跑道上奔跑的样子,卢克修士总说他一定有原住民莫西干族的血统。现在他跑出谷仓,进入安静、闪耀的夜晚,四下张望,发现没有人,于是跑向少年之家宿舍后方的田野。


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