Có người biết cách biến những trở ngại trong cuộc đời mình thành những bệ phóng, nhưng cũng không ít người lại biến chúng thành những viên đá chắn lối đi.

R. L Sharpe

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Tác giả: Haruki Murakami
Thể loại: Tiểu Thuyết
Biên tập: Truong Ngoc Tuan
Upload bìa: Minh Khoa
Language: English
Số chương: 44
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Cập nhật: 2017-04-13 11:16:02 +0700
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Chapter 11: The Limo And Its Driver
he car came at four, as promised. Exactly on the dot, like a cuckoo clock. The secretary shook me awake from my deep slumber. Whereupon I went to the washroom and splashed water on my face. My drowsiness wasn’t budging in the least. I yawned three times in the elevator on the way down. Yawns you could have built a lawsuit on. But who was there to do the suing? Who was there to be sued but myself?
Looming there in front of the entrance to our building was a giant submarine of a limousine. An impoverished family could have lived under the hood of that car, it was so big. The windows were opaque blue, reflective glass so you couldn’t see in. The body was an awesome black, with not a smudge, not on the bumper, not on the hubcaps.
Standing alertly by the limo was a middle-aged chauffeur wearing a spotless white shirt and orange tie. A real chauffeur. I had but to approach him, and without a word he opened the car door. His eyes followed me until I was properly seated, then he closed the door. He climbed into the driver’s seat and closed the door after himself. All without any more sound than flipping over a playing card. And sitting in this limo, compared to my fifteen-year-old Volkswagen Beetle I’d bought off a friend, was as quiet as sitting at the bottom of a lake wearing earplugs.
The car interior was fitted out to the hilt. You might expect this in a limousine, as the taste of most so-called luxury accessories is questionable, and this one was no exception. Still, I couldn’t help being impressed. In the middle of my sofa-like seat was a chic push-button telephone, next to which were arranged a silver cigarette case, a lighter, an ashtray. Molded into the back of the driver’s seat was a small folding desk. The air conditioning was unobtrusive and natural, the carpeting sumptuous.
Before I knew it, the limo was in motion, like a washtub gliding over a sea of mercury. The sum of money sunk into this baby must have been staggering.
“Shall I put on some music?” asked the chauffeur.
“Something relaxing, maybe.”
“Very good, sir.”
The chauffeur reached down below his seat, selected a cassette tape, and touched a switch in the dashboard. A peaceful cello sonata seemed to flow out of nowhere. An unobjectionable score, unobjectionable fidelity.
“They always send you to meet people in this car?” I asked.
“That is correct,” answered the chauffeur cautiously. “Lately, that is all I do.”
“I see.”
“Originally this limousine was reserved exclusively for the Boss,” said the chauffeur shortly after, his previous reserve wearing off. “However, his condition being what it is this spring, he does not venture out much. Yet what point could there be to letting this car sit there? As I am sure you realize, an automobile must be driven regularly or its performance drops off.”
“Of course,” I said. Apparently, then, it was no organizational secret that the Boss was in ill health. I took a cigarette out of the cigarette case, examined it, held it up to my nose. A specially made plain-cut cigarette without a brand, an aroma akin to that of Russian tobacco. I debated whether to smoke it or slip it into my pocket, but in the end merely put it back. Engraved in the center of the lighter and cigarette case was an intricately patterned emblem. A sheep emblem.
A sheep?
I shook my head and closed my eyes. All this was beyond me. It seemed that ever since the ear photo came into my life, things had begun to escape me.
“How much longer till we get there?” I asked.
“Thirty or forty minutes, depending on the traffic.”
“Then maybe you could turn down the air conditioning a bit? I’d like to catch the end of an afternoon nap.”
“Most certainly, sir.”
The chauffeur adjusted the air conditioning, then flicked a switch on the dashboard. A thick panel of glass slid up, sealing the passenger compartment off from the driver’s seat. I was enveloped in near total silence, save for the quiet strains of Bach, but by this point, hardly anything surprised me. I buried my cheek in the backseat and dozed off.
I dreamed about a dairy cow. Rather nice and small this cow, the type that looked like she’d been through a lot. We passed each other on a big bridge. It was a pleasant spring afternoon. The cow was carrying an old electric fan in one hoof, and she asked whether I wouldn’t buy it from her cheap.
“I don’t have much money,” I said. Really, I didn’t.
“Well then,” said the cow, “I might trade it to you for a pair of pliers.”
Not a bad deal. So the cow and I went home together, and I turned the house upside down looking for the pliers. But they were nowhere to be found.
“Odd,” I said, “they were here just yesterday.”
I had just brought a chair over so I could get up and look on top of the cabinet when the chauffeur tapped me on the shoulder. “We’re here,” he said succinctly.
The car door opened and the waning light of a summer afternoon fell across my face. Thousands of cicadas were singing at a high pitch like the winding of a clockspring. There was the rich smell of earth.
I got out of the limo, stretched, and took a deep breath. I prayed that there wasn’t some kind of symbolism to the dream.
A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel - Haruki Murakami A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel