Thất bại lớn nhất của một người là anh ta không bao giờ chịu thừa nhận mình có thể bị thất bại.

Gerald N. Weiskott

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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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Chapter 43: The Twelve-O’Clock Rendezvous
have been waiting for you,” said the man in the black suit. “Albeit only for twenty minutes.”
“How’d you know?”
“The place? Or the time?”
“The time,” I said, setting down my backpack.
“How do you think I got to be the Boss’s secretary? Diligence? IQ? Tact? No. I am the Boss’s secretary because of my special capacities. Sixth sense. I believe that’s what you would call it.”
He was wearing a beige down jacket over ski pants and green Ray-Ban glasses.
“We used to have many things in common, the Boss and I. Things that reached beyond rationality and logic and morality.”
“Used to?”
“The Boss died a week ago. We had a beautiful funeral. All Tokyo is turned upside down now, trying to decide a successor. The whole mediocre lot of them running around like fools.”
I sighed. The man took a silver cigarette case out of his jacket pocket, removed a plain-cut cigarette, and lit up.
“Smoke?”
“No thanks,” I said.
“But I must say you did your stuff. Much more than I expected. Honestly, you surprised me. At first, I thought I might have to help you along and give you hints when you got stuck. Which makes your coming across the Sheep Professor an even greater stroke of genius. I almost wish you would consider working for me.”
“So I take it you knew about this place here from the very beginning?”
“Naturally. Come now, who do you think I am?”
“May I ask you something, then?”
“Certainly,” said the man, in top spirits. “But keep it short.”
“Why didn’t you tell me right from the start?”
“I wanted you to come all this way spontaneously of your own free will. And I wanted you to lure him out of his lair.”
“Lair?”
“His mental lair. When a person becomes sheeped, he is temporarily dazed out of his mind and goes into retreat. As with, say, shell shock. It was your role to coax him out of that state. Yet in order for him to trust you, you had to be a blank slate, as it were. Simple enough, is it not?”
“Quite.”
“Lay out the seeds and everything is simple. Constructing the program was the hard part. Computers can’t account for human error, after all. So much for handiwork. Ah, but it is a pleasure second to none, seeing one’s painstakingly constructed program move along exactly according to plan.”
I shrugged.
“Well then,” the man continued, “our wild sheep chase is drawing to a close. Thanks to my calculations and your innocence. I’ve got him right where I want him. True?”
“So it would seem,” I said. “He’s waiting for you up there. Says you’ve got a rendezvous at twelve o’clock sharp.”
The man and I glanced at our watches simultaneously. Ten-forty.
“I had better be going,” the man said. “Must not keep him waiting. You may ride down in the jeep, if you wish. Oh yes, here is your recompense.”
The man reached into his pocket and handed me a check. I pocketed it without looking at it.
“Should you not examine it?”
“I don’t believe there’s any need.”
The man laughed, visibly amused. “It has been a pleasure to do business with you. And by the way, your partner closed down your company. Regrettable. It had such promise too. There is a bright future for the advertising industry. You should go into it on your own.”
“You must be crazy,” I said.
“We shall meet again, I expect,” said the man. And he set off on foot around the curve toward the highlands.
“Kipper’s doing fine,” said the chauffeur, as he drove the jeep down. “Gotten nice and fat.”
I took the seat next to the chauffeur. He was a different person than the man who drove that monster of a limo. He told me in considerable detail about the Boss’s funeral and about his Kipper-sitting, but I hardly heard a word.
It was eleven-thirty when the jeep pulled up in front of the station. The town was dead still. Except for an old man shoveling away the snow from the rotary and a gangly dog sitting nearby wagging its tail.
“Thanks,” I told the chauffeur.
“Don’t mention it,” he said. “By the way, have you tried God’s telephone number?”
“No, I haven’t had time.”
“Since the Boss died, I can’t get through. What do you suppose happened?”
“Probably just busy,” I suggested.
“Maybe so,” said the chauffeur. “Well now, take care.”
“Goodbye,” I said.
There was a train leaving at twelve o’clock sharp. Not a soul on the platform. On board only four passengers, including myself. Even so, it was a relief to see people after so long. One way or another, I’d made it back to the land of the living. No matter how boring or mediocre it might be, this was my world.
The departure bell sounded as I chewed on my chocolate bar. Then, as the ringing stopped and the train clanked into readiness, there came the sound of a distant explosion. I lifted the window all the way open and stuck my head out. Ten seconds later there was a second explosion. The train started moving. After three minutes, in the direction of the conical peak, a column of black smoke was slowly rising.
I stared at it until the train cut a curve to the right and the smoke was out of sight.
A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel - Haruki Murakami A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel