Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent me.

Anatole France

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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 33: She Leaves The Mountain; Hunger Strikes
he clock struck six and I woke up on the sofa. The lights were out, the room enveloped in dense evening gloom. Everything from the core of my being to the tips of my fingers was numb. Darkness had spread over my skin like ink.
The rain had let up, the nightbirds sang through the window glass. The flames of the heater cast faint, undulating, elongated shadows on the white walls of the room. I got up and switched on the floor lamp, walked into the kitchen, and drank two glasses of cold water. A pot of stew, still warm, was on the stove. An ashtray held two clove cigarettes, crushed out.
Immediately, instinctively, I knew she was gone.
I stood there, hands on the cooktop, and tried to sort out my thoughts.
She was no longer here, that much was certain. No argument or guesswork about it. She was, in fact, not here. The vacated atmosphere of the house was final, undeniable. It was a feeling I had known well in the couple of months between the time my wife left me and the time I met my girlfriend.
I went upstairs to check. I opened the closet doors. No sign of her. Her shoulder bag and down jacket had vanished. So had her boots in the vestibule. Without a doubt, she was gone. I looked in all the places where she might have left a note, but there was nothing. She was probably already down the mountain.
I could not accept the fact of her disappearance. I was barely awake, but even if I were totally lucid, this—and everything that was happening to me—was far beyond my realm of comprehension. There was almost nothing one could do except let things take their course.
Sitting on the sofa, I felt a sudden hunger. And not an ordinary hunger either.
I went from the kitchen into the provisions cellar and uncorked a bottle of red wine. Overchilled but drinkable. Returning to the kitchen, I cut a few slices of bread, then peeled an apple. As I waited for the stew to heat, I had three glasses of wine.
When the stew was ready, I moved to the living-room table and ate dinner listening to the Percy Faith Orchestra playing “Perfidia.” After dinner, I drank the coffee left in the pot, and with a deck of cards that was sitting on the mantel I dealt myself a hand of solitaire. A game invented and fashionable in nineteenth-century England, it later became less popular and then forgotten due to its complicated rules. A mathematician once calculated the success rate as one in 250,000. I gave it three tries—without success, of course. I cleared away the cards and dishes. Then I finished off the rest of the wine.
Night had come. I closed the shutters and lay down on the sofa to listen to scratchy old records.
Would the Rat ever come back?
I had to assume he’d be back. After all, he’d stocked up on a winter’s supply of fuel and provisions.
But that was assuming. The Rat might have given up on the place and returned to town. Or maybe he’d taken up with some woman. Practically anything was possible.
Which could mean that I was in a fine mess. My one-month time limit, now exactly half over, would soon be past. No Rat, no sheep, just the man in the black suit dragging me into his Götterdämmerung. Even though I was nobody, he’d do it. I had no doubt about it.
In the city, the second week of October is a most urbane time of year. If all this hadn’t happened, I’d be eating omelettes and drinking whiskey now. A beautiful time in a beautiful season, in the evening as the rains lifted, chunks of ice and a solid-wood bar top, time flowing slowly, easily, like a gentle stream.
Turning all this over in my mind, I started to imagine another me somewhere, sitting in a bar, nursing a whiskey, without a care in the world. The more I thought about it, the more that other me became the real me, making this me here not real at all.
I shook my head clear.
Outside, night birds kept up a low cooing.
I went upstairs and made the bed in the small room that the Rat hadn’t been using. Mattress and sheets and blankets were all neatly stacked in the closet by the stairs.
The furniture was exactly the same as in the Rat’s room. Bedside table and desk and chair and lamp. Old-fashioned, but products of an age when things were made to be strong and functional. Without frills.
Predictably, the view from the window at the head of the bed looked out over the pasture. The rain had stopped, and the thick cloud cover was beginning to break. There was a lovely half-moon that illuminated the pasture now and again. A searchlight sweeping over what might as well have been the ocean floor.
Crawling under the covers, still in my clothes, I gazed at the scene that soon dissolved, soon reappeared. A faded image of my girlfriend rounding the unlucky bend in the road, heading alone down the mountain, came to mind. Then that disappeared, to be replaced by the flock of sheep and the Rat taking their photograph. Again the moon hid behind a cloud, and when it reemerged, even they had gone.
I read my Sherlock Holmes by lamplight.
A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel - Haruki Murakami A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel