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Tropic of Cancer  北回归线-第十四章第一节

It was close to dawn on Christmas Day when we came home from the Rue d'Odessa with a couple of Negresses from the telephone company. The fire was out and we were all so tired that we climbed into bed with our clothes on. The one I had, who had been like a bounding leopard all evening, fell sound asleep as I was climbing over her. For a while I worked over her as one works over a person who has been drowned or asphyxiated. Then I gave it up and fell sound asleep myself:

我们从奥德萨街同电话公司的几个黑女人一起回到家里时已快到圣诞节的黎明了。火熄了,我们都太累了,于是便穿着衣服上了床。我的那个姑娘整个晚上都像一头豹子一样蹦蹦跳跳,我爬到她身上时她已睡熟了。我在她身上费了一阵劲儿,犹如在一个被淹死或闷死的人身上使劲儿一样。后来我放弃了努力,自己也睡熟了。

All during the holidays we had champagne morning, noon and night – the cheapest and the best champagne. With the turn of the year I was to leave for Dijon where I had been offered a trivial post as exchange professor of English, one of those Franco-American amity arrangements which is supposed to promote understanding and good will between sister republics. Fillmore was more elated than I by the prospect – he had good reason to be. For me it was just a transfer from one purgatory to another. There was no future ahead of me; there wasn't even a salary attached to the job. One was supposed to consider himself fortunate to enjoy the privilege of spreading the gospel of Franco-American amity. It was a job for a rich man's son.

节日期间我们天天喝香摈,早上、中午和晚上,有最便宜的,也有最好的。过了年我就要到第戎去了,人家在那儿给了我一个微不足道的差使:当被交换的英语教师。这是促进法美和睦相处的一项安排。旨在增进这两个姐妹国家的互相了解和友善。对于这一前程菲尔莫比我更感到鼓舞,他这样想是有充足理由的,而对于我这不过只是从一个受苦受难的地方转到另一个受苦受难的地方去而已。我面前没有希望,这份工作甚至连薪水也没有。他们指望得到这份工作的人自认有福气,能够享受传播法美和睦这一福音的特权,这是为一个阔佬的儿子预备的工作。

The night before I left we had a good time. About dawn it began to snow: we walked about from one quarter to another taking a last look at Paris. Passing through the Rue St. Dominique we suddenly fell upon a little square and there was the Eglise Ste. Clotilde. People were going to mass. Fillmore, whose head was still a little cloudy, was bent on going to mass too. "For the fun of it!" as he put it. I felt somewhat uneasy about it; in the first place I had never attended a mass, and in the second place I looked seedy and felt seedy. Fillmore, too, looked rather battered, even more disreputable than myself; his big slouch hat was on assways and his overcoat was still full of sawdust from the last joint we had been in. However, we marched in. The worst they could do would be to throw us out.

启程前一天晚上我们玩得很开心。天快亮时下起了雪。我们走过一个个街区,最后再看一眼巴黎。穿过晕多敏克街时我义。正在发生什么事情,正在上演一出哑剧,它没有使我完全惊呆,却也叫我惶惶不知所措。在全世界,凡有这些灯光黯淡的坟墓的地方你都会看到这一令人难以置信的场面,同样的恼人的温度、同样的朦朦胧胧的光线、同样的嗡嗡声。在特定的时辰内,整个基督教世界里穿黑衣的人都俯在祭坛前。牧师就站在那上面,手里拿着一本小书,另一只手里拿着一只吃饭铃或喷雾器。他对众人喃喃布道,他的话即使能叫人听懂也不再有一点儿意义。很可能他是在乞求上帝保佑他们吧,也保佑国家,保佑统治者,保佑枪炮、战舰、军火和手榴弹。祭坛上围在牧师身边的是一群小男孩,穿着打扮像上帝的安琪儿,他们唱男高音和女高音。全是纯洁的小羊羔,全穿着裙子,看不出性别,像牧师本人一样是扁平足和近视眼。真是绝妙的不辨雌雄的猫叫春、是符合J一mol节拍的松紧内裤里的性行为。

I was taking it in as best I could in the dim light. Fascinating and stupefying at the same time. All over the civilized world, I thought to myself. All over the world. Marvelous. Rain or shine, hail, sleet, snow, thunder, lightning, war, famine, pestilence – makes not the slightest difference. Always the same mean temperature, the same mumbo jumbo, the same high laced shoes and the little angels of the Lord singing soprano and alto. Near the exit a little slot box – to carry on the heavenly work. So that God's blessing may rain down upon king and country and battleships and high explosives and tanks and airplanes, so that the worker may have more strength in his arms, strength to slaughter horses and cows and sheep, strength to punch holes in iron girders, strength to sew buttons on other people's pants, strength to sell carrots and sewing machines and automobiles, strength to exterminate insects and clean stables and unload garbage cans and scrub lavatories, strength to write headlines and chop tickets in the subway. Strength… strength. All that lip chewing and hornswoggling just to furnish a little strength!

我在昏暗的光线下尽量仔细地观察这儿的情况,既令人眼花镣乱,又叫人目瞪口呆。我自忖,整个文明世界、整个世界都是这样,真是太棒了。不论下雨还是天晴,下冰雹、雨夹雪、雪、打雷、闪电、战争、饥馑、瘟疫,都不受丝毫影响。总是同样的恼人温度,同样的胡言乱语,同样的在脚腕上系带子的鞋和上帝的小安滇儿唱男高音和女高音。靠近出口处有一只开了一个孔的小箱子,是为了继续天国的工作的,于是上帝的恩典便会像雨点一样落在帝王头上,落在国家里,落在军舰、高效炸药、坦克和飞机上,于是工人会增强臂力,有力气屠宰马、牛和羊,有力气在铁大梁上钻孔,有力气在别人的裤子上缀扣子,有力气出售胡萝卜、缝纫机和汽车,有力气消灭虫子、打扫马棚、倒垃圾箱、洗刷厕所,有力气写新闻标题、在地下铁道里剪票。力气……力气,原来这喃喃自语和戏弄人的把戏只是为了给人一点力气。

We were moving about from one spot to another, surveying the scene with that clearheadedness which comes after an all night session. We must have made ourselves pretty conspicuous shuffling about that way with our coat collars turned up and never once crossing ourselves and never once moving our lips except to whisper some callous remark. Perhaps everything would have passed off without notice if Fillmore hadn't insisted on walking past the altar in the midst of the ceremony. He was looking for the exit, and he thought while he was at it, I suppose, that he would take a good squint at the holy of holies, get a close up on it, as it were. We had gotten safely by and were marching toward a crack of light which must have been the way out when a priest suddenly stepped out of the gloom and blocked our path. Wanted to know where we were going and what we were doing. We told him politely enough that we were looking for the exit. We said "exit" because at the moment we were so flabbergasted that we couldn't think of the French for exit. Without a word of response he took us firmly by the arm and, opening the door, a side door it was, he gave us a push and out we tumbled into the blinding light of day. It happened so suddenly and unexpectedly that when we hit the sidewalk we were in a daze. We walked a few paces, blinking our eyes, and then instinctively we both turned round; the priest was still standing on the steps, pale as a ghost and scowling like the devil himself. He must have been sore as hell. Later, thinking back on it, I couldn't blame him for it. But at that moment, seeing him with his long skirts and the little skull cap on his cranium, he looked so ridiculous that I burst out laughing. I looked at Fillmore and he began to laugh too. For a full minute we stood there laughing right in the poor bugger's face. He was so bewildered, I guess, that for a moment he didn't know what to do; suddenly, however, he started down the steps on the run, shaking his fist at us as if he were in earnest. When he swung out of the enclosure he was on the gallop. By this time some preservative instinct warned me to get a move on. I grabbed Fillmore by the coat sleeve and started to run. He was saying, like an idiot: "No, no! I won't run!" "Come on!" I yelled, "we'd better get out of here. That guy's mad clean through." And off we ran, beating it as fast as our legs would carry us.

一刹那间全部这些流涎水、翁动嘴唇的把戏几乎都有了意我们从一个地方挪到另一个地方,以通宵狂欢后的那种清醒意识审视这个场面。我们这样穿来穿去一定很惹人注意,因为我们的外衣领子竖着,从不画十字,除了低声说几句麻木不仁的话以外嘴巴一动也不曾动。若是菲尔莫不那么固执地要在仪式正进行了一半的时候从祭坛边走过,或许谁也不会注意到这一切。他在找出口,我估计他想到了出口那儿就好好看一看这最最神圣的场面,这就是说要近距离仔细看一看。我们一直平安无事,正在朝很可能是出去的通道那一道光线处走去,这时幽暗中猛地闪出一位牧师拦住了路。他想问问我们要去哪儿,正在于什么,我们相当有礼貌地回答说我们正在找出口。我们说的是英语的“出口”,因为当时太惊恐,我们一时想不起法语“出口”是怎么说的了。牧师一句话不说便紧紧抓住我们的胳膊,推开一道边门把我们狠狠推出去了,我们摇摇晃晃地跌进了刺眼的阳光中。这件事发生得那么突然、猝不及防,待我们到了人行道上仍没有完全反应过来。我们眯上眼睛走出去几步,然后又出于本能转过身来。牧师仍站在台阶上,苍白得像一个鬼魂,像魔鬼那样狠狠地瞪着我们,准是连肺都气炸了。后来又回想起这件事时我也不怪他,不过当时瞧见他穿着长袍、头上扣着一顶小瓜皮帽的滑稽相,我禁不住哈哈大笑。我看看菲尔莫,于是他也大笑开了。我们站在那儿当着这个可怜虫的面足足笑了一分钟,我猜他起初有一点儿茫然不知所措,不过他突然冲下台阶,一边还冲着我们晃拳头,像是认真了。待他冲出围墙便狂奔过来,这会儿某种保护自乙的本能提醒我快溜走。我拽住菲尔莫的袖子跑开了,他还像个傻瓜似的说,“别,别!我不跑!”“快跑!”我嚷道。“咱们还是快点儿离开这儿为妙,这家伙已经完全疯了。”于是我们逃了,拼命竭尽全力逃走了。

On the way to Dijon, still laughing about the affair, my thoughts reverted to a ludicrous incident, of a somewhat similar nature, which occurred during my brief sojourn in Florida. It was during the celebrated boom when, like thousands of others, I was caught with my pants down. Trying to extricate myself I got caught, along with a friend of mine, in the very neck of the bottle. Jacksonville, where we were marooned for about six weeks, was practically in a state of siege. Every bum on earth, and a lot of guys who had never been bums before, seemed to have drifted into Jacksonville. The YMCA, the Salvation Army, the firehouses and police stations, the hotels, the lodging houses, everything was full up. Complet absolutely, and signs everywhere to that effect. The residents of Jacksonville had become so hardened that it seemed to me as if they were walking around in coats of mail. It was the old business of food again. Food and a place to flop. Food was coming up from below in trainloads – oranges and grapefruit and all sorts of juicy edibles. We used to pass by the freight sheds looking for rotten fruit – but even that was scarce.

去第戎的路上我们仍在为这件事情大笑,不过我的思绪又回到了另一件可笑的往事上。那件事同今天发生的事有点儿相似,是我在佛罗里达短暂停留时发生的。那是在出名的繁华时期,我同成千上万人一样冷不防遇到了麻烦,我试图解脱,结果却同一位朋友一道更深地陷入了困境。杰克逊维尔尤其处于被围困状态中,我们就在那儿被困了大约六个星期。天下所有的流浪汉和许多以前从未作过流浪汉的家伙似乎都游荡到杰克逊维尔来了,到处都住满了人—基督教青年会、救世军,消防队和警察局、旅馆和公寓。到处都挂着客满的牌子,绝对客满。杰克逊维尔的居民的心肠已经变得很硬,我觉得他们像是穿着甲胄在来回走。这一回又是食物这个老问题,食物和一个睡觉的地方。食物正从南方用火车运来。桔子、柚子以及各种水份很多的食品。我们常从货车棚旁走过,看看有没有烂水果,可甚至连这也很难得。

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