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Tác giả: Haruki Murakami
Thể loại: Tiểu Thuyết
Biên tập: Truong Ngoc Tuan
Upload bìa: Minh Khoa
Language: English
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Chapter 31: Night In Junitaki
egotiations with the caretaker went smoothly with supplementary monetary lubrication. The caretaker was to pick us up at the inn at eight in the morning, then drive us up to the sheep farm on the mountain.
“Disinfecting sheep can wait until afternoon, I figure,” said the caretaker. A hard-line realist.
“There’s one other thing that bothers me,” he said. “The ground’s going to be soft from yesterday’s rain, and there’s one place the car might not be able to get through. So I might have to ask you to walk from that point. Not through any fault of mine.”
“That’s okay,” I said.
Walking back down the hill, I suddenly recalled that the Rat’s father had a vacation villa in Hokkaido. Come to think of it, the Rat had said so a number of times years back. Up in the mountains, big pasture, old two-story house. I always remember important details long afterward. It should have struck me the moment I got the Rat’s letter. If I’d thought of it first, there’d have been any number of ways to follow up on it.
Annoyed with myself, I trudged back to town down a mountain road that was growing darker and darker. In the hour and a half I walked, I encountered only three vehicles. Two were large diesel trucks loaded down with lumber, one a small tractor. All three were heading downhill, but no one called out to offer me a ride. So much the better as far as I was concerned.
It was past seven by the time I reached the inn, and the night was already pitch black. My body was chilled to the core. The shepherd puppy stuck its nose out of the doghouse and whined in my direction.
She was wearing jeans and my crew-neck sweater, totally absorbed in a computer game in the recreation room near the entrance of the inn. Apparently a remodeled old parlor, the room still boasted a magnificent fireplace. A real wood-burning fireplace. In addition, there were four computer games and two pinball tables; the pinball tables were old Spanish cheapies, models you’d never be able to find anywhere.
“I’m starved,” she said.
I placed our order for dinner and took a quick bath. Drying off, I weighed myself, the first time in a long while. One hundred thirty-two pounds, same as ten years ago. The extra inch I put on around the middle had been neatly trimmed away over the last week.
When I got back to the room, dinner was laid out. Scooping morsels out of the steaming hot pot and washing them down with beer, I told her about the municipal sheep farm and the caretaker with the Self-Defense Forces background. She kicked herself for missing the sheep.
“Still,” she said, “I think we’re like one step away from our goal.”
“I hope you’re right,” I said.
We watched a Hitchcock movie on TV, crawled into bed and turned out the light. The clock downstairs struck eleven o’clock.
“Maybe not tonight,” I said. “We’ve gotta get up early.”
She didn’t say a thing. She was already asleep, breathing steadily. I set my travel alarm and had a smoke in the moonlight. The only sound was the rush of the river. The whole town seemed to be fast asleep.
After a day of running around, I felt physically drained, but my mind was going a mile a minute. There was no way I could get to sleep. The sound of the river was just another noise to me, and it fastened itself on my brain.
Holding my breath in the darkness, I let images of the town melt and ooze all around me. The houses rotted away, the rails rusted and were gone, weeds overwhelmed the farmland. The town came to the end of its short hundred-year history and sank into the earth. Time regressed like a film running backward. Once again Ainu deer, black bears, and wolves came to live on the plain, thick swarms of locusts filled the sky, an ocean of bamboo grass swayed in the autumn wind, and the luxurious evergreen forests hid the sun.
All the works of man faded into nothingness, yet still the sheep remained. They stood there, staring at me, eyes flashing in the darkness. Saying nothing, thinking nothing, they only stared and stared—directly at me. Tens of thousands of sheep. The monotonous clacking of their teeth covered the earth.
The clock struck two and they were gone.
And then I fell asleep.
A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel - Haruki Murakami A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel