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《渺小一生》:他本来以为里头是个地牢

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2020年07月04日

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  “You have a venereal disease,” the man said, “I can smell it on you,” and he cringed, and bent his head, and nodded.

“你有性病。”那男人说,“我闻得出来。”他觉得很难堪,低下脸,点点头。

  The man sighed. “Well,” he said, “you’re in luck, because I’m a doctor, and I happen to have some antibiotics in the house.” He got up and padded over to one of the cupboards, and came back with an orange plastic bottle, and took out a pill. “Take this,” he said, and he did. “Finish your milk,” the man said, and he did, and then the man left the room and he waited until he came back. “Well?” the man said. “Follow me.”

那男人叹气。“好吧。”他说,“你运气很好,因为我是医生,而且家里碰巧有抗生素。”他站起来走到一个碗橱前,拿着一个橘色塑料瓶回来,取出一颗药丸。“吃掉。”他说,于是他吃了。“喝掉你的牛奶。”那男人说,于是他喝了,之后那男人离开房间,他等着,那男人又折回来。“怎么了?”那男人说,“跟我来啊。”

  He did, his legs stringy beneath him, and followed the man to a door across from the living room, which the man unlocked and held open for him. He hesitated, and the man made an impatient clucking noise. “Go on,” he said. “It’s a bedroom,” and he shut his eyes, weary, and then opened them again. He began preparing himself for the man to be cruel; the quiet ones always were.

他照办,觉得双腿虚弱,跟着那男人走到客厅另一头的一扇门前,那男人打开锁,拉开门等着。他犹豫了,那男人发出一个不耐烦的啧声。“进去,”他说,“里头是卧室。”他疲倦地闭上眼睛又睁开。他有心理准备这个男人会很残酷;安静的男人通常都很残酷。

  When he reached the doorway, he saw that it led to a basement, and there was a set of wooden steps, steep like a ladder, that he would have to descend, and he paused once more, wary, and the man made his strange insect-like sound again and shoved him, not hard, against the small of his back, and he stumbled down the stairs.

他走到门口,看到门通往地下室,有一道木头阶梯,陡得像梯子。他知道自己必须下去,他再度停下来,提防着。那男人又发出了那个像昆虫叫的奇怪声音,轻轻朝他后腰推了一下,于是他跌跌撞撞地下楼了。

  He had been expecting a dungeon, slippery and leaking and dank, but it really was a bedroom, with a mattress made up with a blanket and sheets, and a blue circular rug beneath it, and lining the left-hand wall, bookcases of the same unfinished wood the staircase had been made from, with books on them. The space was bright-lit in that aggressive, relentless way he remembered from hospitals and police stations, and there was a small window, about the size of a dictionary, cut high into the far wall.

他本来以为里头是个地牢,滑溜、漏水、阴暗潮湿,但结果里头真的是卧室,有毯子和床单铺成的床,底下铺着一条蓝色的圆形地毯。左手边的墙壁上有一排书柜,跟楼梯一样以没上亮光漆的木板制成,上头放着书。整个空间灯光很亮,是他记忆中医院和警察局那种具有侵略性、无情的亮法。另外还有一盏小窗子,大小跟一本字典差不多,在另一头墙上的高处。

  “I put out some clothes for you,” the man said, and he saw that folded on the mattress was a shirt and a pair of sweatpants, and a towel and toothbrush as well. “The bathroom’s there,” the man said, pointing to the far right-hand corner of the room.

“我帮你准备了一些衣服。”那男子说。他看到床上有折好的一件衬衫和一条运动裤,还有一条毛巾和一把牙刷。“浴室在那里。”那男人说,指着房间右手边的角落。

  And then he began to leave. “Wait,” he called after the man, and the man stopped his climb and looked at him, and he began, under the man’s gaze, to unbutton his shirt. Something changed in the man’s face, then, and he climbed another few steps. “You’re sick,” he said. “You have to get better first,” and then he left the room, the door clicking shut after him.

那男子转身要离开。“等一下。”他在那男子后头叫道,那男人爬楼梯爬到一半停下来看着他。他在那男子的注视下,开始解开衬衫扣子。那男人的脸色变了,又爬了几阶。“你生病了,”他说,“你得先养好病。”然后走出房间,把门关上。

  He slept that night, both from lack of anything else to do and from exhaustion. The next morning he woke and smelled food, and he groaned to his feet and walked slowly up the stairs, where he found a plastic tray with a plate of eggs, poached, and two lengths of bacon, a roll, a glass of milk, a banana, and another of the white pills. He was too wobbly to bring it down without falling, so he sat there, on one of the unfinished wooden steps, and ate the food and swallowed the pill. After resting, he stood to open the door and take the tray to the kitchen, but the knob wouldn’t turn because the door was locked. There was a small square cut into the bottom of the door, a cat door, he assumed, although he hadn’t seen a cat, and he held back its curtain of rubber and poked his head out. “Hello?” he called. He realized he didn’t know the man’s name, which wasn’t unusual—he never knew their names. “Sir? Hello?” But there was no answer, and he could tell from the way the house was silent that he was alone.

那天晚上他睡了,因为没有其他事可做,而且他累坏了。次日早晨醒来,他闻到食物的气味,呻吟着站起来,慢吞吞地爬上楼梯,在楼梯顶端发现一个塑料托盘,里面放着一盘水蒸蛋、两条培根、一个面包卷、一杯牛奶、一根香蕉,外加一颗白色药丸。他整个人摇晃不稳,没办法把食物端下楼,于是就坐在那道没上亮光漆的木板阶梯上吃掉那些食物,吞下那颗药丸。他歇了一会儿,站起来要开门把托盘送回厨房,但门把转不动,锁上了。门的底部开了一个小方窗,他猜想是猫洞,不过他没在这屋里看到猫,于是他把小洞上的橡胶盖揭起,头探出去。“哈喽?”他喊道。这时他才想到自己还不知道那男子的名字,这也不稀奇,他从来不知道顾客的名字。“先生?哈喽?”没有人响应,整栋房子一片安静,他感觉只有他一个人。

  He should have felt panic, he should have felt fear, but he felt neither, only a crush of tiredness, and he left the tray at the top of the stairs and worked his way slowly down again, and then into bed, where he slept once more.

他应该觉得恐慌,应该觉得害怕,但他没有,只有一种彻骨的疲倦,于是他把托盘留在楼梯顶端,缓缓下楼,上了床继续睡。

  He dozed for that entire day, and when he woke, the man was standing above him again, watching him, and he sat up, abruptly. “Dinner,” the man said, and he followed him upstairs, still in his borrowed clothes, which were too wide in the waist and too short in the sleeves and legs, because when he had looked for his own clothes, they were missing. My money, he thought, but he was too addled to think beyond that.

他睡了一整个白天,醒来时,那个男子又站在他上方看他,他猛然坐起身。“吃晚餐了。”那男子说。他跟着他上楼,仍穿着借来的衣服,腰部太宽,袖子和裤腿都太短。稍早他想找自己的衣服,发现都不见了。我的钱,他心想,但他的脑袋太昏乱,没法想得更远。

  Once again he sat in the brown kitchen, and the man brought him his pill, and a plate with brown meat loaf, and a slop of mashed potatoes, and broccoli, and another plate for himself, and they began to eat in silence. Silence didn’t make him nervous—usually, he was grateful for it—but this man’s silence was closer to inwardness, the way a cat will be silent and watching, watching, watching so fixedly that you don’t know what it sees, and then suddenly it will jump, and trap something beneath its paw.

他又坐在褐色的厨房里。那男人拿了一颗药给他,还有装了褐色肉馅糕、土豆泥及西兰花的盘子,另外一个盘子是那男子自己的,两个人开始沉默地吃了起来。沉默不会令他紧张,通常他还会很庆幸,但这个人的沉默却是更本质的,就像一只猫沉默地观察、观察、观察,目不转睛地看着,搞得你不知道它看到了什么,接着它忽然间跳起来,爪子底下抓住了猎物。

  “What kind of doctor are you?” he asked, tentatively, and the man looked at him.

“你是哪一科的医生?”他小心翼翼地问,那男子抬头看着他。

  “A psychiatrist,” the doctor said. “Do you know what that is?”

“精神科医生。”那医生说,“你知道这个词是什么意思吗?”

  “Yes,” he said.

“知道。”他说。

  The man made his noise again. “Do you like being a prostitute?” he asked, and he felt, unaccountably, tears in his eyes, but then he blinked and they were gone.

那男人又发出那个声音。“你喜欢当男妓吗?”男人问。他忽然莫名其妙地觉得眼睛上浮了一层泪,但他眨眨眼,眼泪就没了。

  “No,” he said.

“不喜欢。”他说。

  “Then why do you do it?” the man asked, and he shook his head. “Speak,” the man said.

“那你为什么要做?”那男人问。他摇摇头。“说话。”那男人说。

  “I don’t know,” he said, and the man made a huffing noise. “It’s what I know how to do,” he said at last.

“不知道。”他说。那男人发出一个吐气的声音。“因为我懂得怎么做。”最后他说。

  “Are you good at it?” the man asked, and once again, he felt that sting, and he was quiet for a long time.

“那你很擅长吗?”那男人问。再一次,他又觉得眼睛刺痛,沉默了好久。

  “Yes,” he said, and it was the worst admission he had ever made, the hardest word for him to say.

“是的。”他说。这是他这辈子承认过最糟糕的事情,是他讲过最困难的一个字眼。


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