Paushuan\’s Stories

五月 21, 2006

紫羅蘭街

Filed under: Chinese Articles — paushuan @ 7:22 下午

紫羅蘭街 楊寳璇

我們一家在紫羅蘭街已經住了十七年了。我居住的社區很可愛,所有的街名一概用植物來命名,大多是南加州常見的花草樹木,如玫瑰紫藤雛菊鬱金香夾竹桃榆樹冷杉尤加利樹等等。我們當初挑中紫羅蘭街這棟房子,主要是因爲它位于街頭轉角処,地比較大,孩子玩耍的空間多些,和我偏愛紫羅蘭沒有直接的關係。

街上的住家族群不算太複雜,除了少數幾家亞裔外,其餘都是白人。但我們也不見得和亞裔特別親近,尤其隔壁的日裔一家,除了名叫“瑞”的壯碩男主人偶爾出來整理花圃外,終日門戶深閉,窗簾拉的密不透風,裏面一點聲息都沒有。我看他們一副堅持“門前清”的樣子,也就識相地不叩門叨擾,以免摸門釘。他們家斜對門也是日裔,女主人籐田太太在孩子就讀的小學教書,教的是美術勞作,對孩子們很和善,常發貼紙橡皮擦等小獎品給他們,可是和大人就只限于點頭微笑而已。和瑞隔了三道門是一對年輕俊美的菲律賓裔夫妻,剛生了寶寶,夫妻倆常單衣短褲,推著嬰兒車慢跑,看到我們就揮揮手,算是打過招呼了。

和我們相處得最熱絡的,是對們的史密斯一家。史先生萊力身高一米八,瘦長個兒,方臉,臉上什麽都大,尤其是嘴巴,一咧嘴眼睛鼻子全都得靠邊站,下巴上有個像寇克道格拉斯一樣的深洞,一喝酒那個洞就泛紅。史太太珍妮只比她丈夫矮半個頭,是個胖大健壯的日耳曼裔女人,一頭捲曲淩亂的短髮,貼在和身材不成比例的小尖臉上。膝蓋因爲承擔不了她的體重,走路有點一瘸一瘸地。珍妮是個樸素的女人,臉上脂粉不施,全年穿短袖綫衫配黑布長褲,連聖誕新年也是這麽一身打扮。

史家有一兒一女,我們剛搬來時一個上大學,一個上高中,正是不戀家的時候,從不見人影。萊力是一飛機製造廠的高級工程師,每天早出晚歸,珍妮則是全職家庭主婦,做完家事後就端張椅子坐在前院,丟皮球讓他們家的德國種大狼狗追著玩,有時狗跑遠了,珍妮就尖著嗓門吆喝牠回來。狗名叫“克力特”,紫羅蘭街上夏日寂寂的午後就像一張脆而薄的白紙,一聲聲的“克力特”就是紙上突然添加的驚嘆號,有時會讓人神經短路,有時又覺得像小時街頭巷尾小販的叫賣聲,可親可愛。到了周末萊力就會和珍妮做伴,一人一杯馬丁尼,一同坐在門口和“克力特”玩丟球遊戲,順便看路過的車子和慢跑的行人。

他們不閒坐的時候,就在車房前的車道上鋸東西,和水泥,砌磚塊,沒完沒了的在整修房子。我們第一次和他們打交道,就是爲了要借一把鋸子。萊力知道我們的來意後,一邊吆喝著大聲狂吠的克力特,一邊打開車房門,大手指著一排長長短短的鋸子,咧嘴叫我丈夫“幫助你自己”。

歸還鋸子時,少不了帶上一包茶葉,表示謝意。珍妮則邀我們到他們後院,觀賞他們新築的魚池裏的錦鯉,以及池畔萊力栽種了十年,鬱鬱蔥蔥的盆景。一到後院,就聽到震耳欲聾的貝多芬第五號交響曲,音響之大,令我猶如置身室外音樂廳。萊力一邊打著啤酒嗝,一邊對著老公的耳邊舌頭打結地說:“除了交響樂外,我就是喜歡東方的東西!”珍妮則在一旁斜著眼看萊力,吃吃笑道:“他常覺得自己是日本人,也把我當日本太太來使喚。”萊力則聳聳他又寬又平,跳水板樣的肩膀,一臉無辜地說:“我以爲是你喜歡伺候人”。

珍妮伺候萊力到了無微不至的地步,每次到他們家,就看到萊力坐在沙發上,一雙枝枝椏椏的大腳掌擱在面前的茶几發號施令:“蜜糖,給我倒杯冰水”,“親愛的,添點炸薯片吧”,“嘿,拿我的眼鏡來”,珍妮則瘸著腿,在客廳臥房廚房忙進忙出的當他的勤務兵。我心想這個大男人比起咱們中國的大老爺也毫不遜色,就有幾分不以爲然,但也不便替人打抱不平,更何況珍妮臉上非但沒有任何不豫之色,還隱隱的有點自得。

史家和他們隔鄰的車諾家來往密切,所以在史家也常見到查理車諾和他太太芭芭拉來串門子。查理原籍瑞士,七十多了,臉上皺成一團,頭上童山濯濯,看上去比實際年齡要老。芭芭拉比他年輕二十嵗,相貌還算端正,卻溜著一雙精明的三角眼,時不時在人身上打量。據珍妮說查理有錢,芭芭拉是看在錢的份上离了婚嫁給他的。芭芭拉和我們對門的單親體育老師維吉尼亞很合得來。維吉尼亞高脁身材,小麥色的健康肌膚,瓜子臉上一雙水靈靈的大眼,長髮紮成馬尾,走起路來一翹一翹的,煞是好看。我們搬來時,維吉尼亞剛和第二任丈夫離婚,獨自帶著兩個男孩子自力更生。後來就看到一位肌肉發達的魁梧男性時常來走動,替她倒垃圾,油漆房子,修剪樹枝,據芭芭拉說那是她的新任男友。

女兒和車諾右邊鄰居米盧家的老大娜塔莎是同班同學,我們也因此和米家有了來往。米先生鮑勃是人壽保險推銷員,看上去比米太太雪莉年輕些,雖然他天平已開了頂,但是一雙嬰兒藍的眼睛,以及一張稚氣的娃娃臉卻讓他在年齡上佔了便宜。雪莉在法院做速記員,淡金的及肩長髮,衣著得宜,臉上總是脂粉眼影口紅樣樣周全的化了粧,但是還是掩不住疲倦的眼角和嘴邊深深的笑紋。據珍妮說,鮑勃是雪莉的第二任丈夫,娜塔莎是她和前夫所生。

由於萊力和珍妮的好客,我們經常受邀,成爲他們座上客的一員。大夥在史家後院觀賞園中千姿百態的盆景,水裏五色斑斕的錦鯉,聼交響樂喝啤酒,用各種腔調的英語罵罵政府,笑談社區大小瑣事,其樂也融融。丈夫愛熱鬧,每請必到,而我則寧可在家陪孩子,睡回籠覺。更何況我懶得對著眨著無邪藍眼睛的鮑勃,一再解釋文化大革命不是蔣介石發動的;也不願聼芭芭拉拉著我的手,親昵地訴説她的越南修甲師如何按摩她的腳趾,她的針灸醫師如何用一劑草藥醫好她的頭痛。再説,看到珍妮瘸著腿裏裏外外的張羅,也讓我有犯罪感。

白喫白喝久了,大家都有點不好意思,於是有人就主張輪流做東。先是維吉尼亞請我們吃烤肉,講明各家自擕飲料。那天天氣炎熱,維吉尼亞的男友脫掉上衣,露出一塊塊賁張的肌肉,揮汗如雨地生火烤肉抹醬料添炭火,美麗的女主人在一旁用毛巾溫柔地替他抹汗,令在場的男人羡慕得眼露金光,人人紛紛作勢要脫上衣,好接受同等待遇。在米家的那一次説好了是自擕食物飲料,結果除了查理芭芭拉二人外,也都到齊了,辭行時雪莉要我們把吃剩的北平烤鴨帶回去,要面子的丈夫哪裏肯收,雪莉也就不堅持了。

輪到我們請客的那次,丈夫叫了外賣,同時捎來各式酒水,準備好好的賓主盡歡一番。除了雪莉帶了一盒蘇打餅乾以及洋蔥乳酪沾醬外,大家都是如約空手而來。那天連隔壁的瑞也來了,雖然只逗留了五分鐘,也讓大家驚喜望外。酒過數巡後,雪莉開始發牢騷,說她的前夫拖欠娜塔莎的撫養費已有三個月之久,芭芭拉聞言鼓勵她立即追討,結果她趁著酒興就在我家廚房撥了電話,只見她兩頰緋紅,雙眼圓瞪,對著話筒大吼:“你再不寄來我們就法庭見!”芭芭拉在旁一邊摟著她的肩說:“蜜糖,冷靜些”,一邊向我心照不宣地眨眨眼。我知道芭芭拉一向不喜歡雪莉,嫌她小氣,這下逮到機會讓她出醜,心裏正樂得直冒美滋滋的泡呢!回到飯廳,發現那裏的一群人也喝得東倒西歪了,只見萊力將手摸著他下巴上紅得像在淌血的小洞,又在津津有味地說他那關於莎士比亞第十二夜的黃色笑話:“第一夜是仲夏夜夢,第二夜是暴風雨,第三夜是空愛一場………..”。珍妮在旁笑著堵他的嘴,那裏堵得住,反被他抱著親了一口,直把維吉尼亞和肌肉先生笑得噴了一身酒,芭芭拉瞧見了連忙去廚房取紙巾來,體貼地替二人擦乾淨,順便在肌肉先生身上捏了一把。

不記得他們閙到幾時才離開的,總之,他們走時,在樓上看錄影帶的小孩們都已和衣睡著了,得叫醒了才揉著惺忪的睡眼回家的。臨走前雪莉沒忘了打開冰箱,取囘原封不動的蘇打餅乾和乳酪醬。

可是沒過多久,紫羅蘭街上發生了一件大事,使我們意興闌珊,不得不暫停街坊派對。事情發生時,應該是萬聖節之前吧,因爲我清楚記得那時瑞家鐵柵前挂滿了小南瓜燈飾。瑞每年都張燈結彩的掛燈飾慶祝萬聖節,雖然附近的孩子都知道,他們是從來不開門給糖的。那天我照常下班,可是剛到路口就被扯上黃布條的路障攔住,接著就有荷槍實彈的警察走過來,說是紫羅蘭街上有歹徒持槍劫持人質,整條街都戒嚴,不准居民進入。我按住狂跳不已的心臟,問警察我剛放學的孩子在那裏,他囘說所有的孩子都集中在街尾一戶人家,沒有一個孩子被劫持。我這下才放下心來,於是便在車上等到天黑,直到警察通知衆人說是歹徒已繳械投降,撤了路障,我才到街尾領囘茫然不知情的孩子,回到家中。

當天晚上珍妮就過來告訴我,說所謂的歹徒就是肌肉先生,因爲維吉尼亞要跟他分手,他就拿了槍來搶天呼地的要自殺,結果沒射成自己,倒是把天花板射穿了一個洞,於是維吉尼亞就打電話報警。珍妮搖搖頭嘆道:“這之後你就知道發生什麽事啦”。從此之後,維吉尼亞見到大家就訕訕的,衆人雖然也當沒發生過這囘事,但是街上的氣氛說什麽都無法和從前一樣了,加上感恩節和聖誕這兩個年節將近,大家也就各忙各的,懶得聚會了。

接著又發生史家和車家交惡的事。事情是這樣的,一天珍妮好心載全身肌肉酸痛的芭芭拉去看他的針灸醫生,路上發生車禍,珍妮的車子不幸撞上前面的汽車。據芭芭拉說,她的頸子嚴重受傷,不能轉動。芭芭拉怪珍妮開車不小心,於是就請律師告珍妮一狀。珍妮對我叫屈,她說她的車子只輕輕碰了前面的車子一下,連保險桿都沒撞彎,她自己也沒事,怎麽偏偏她芭芭拉是個玻璃做的人,一碰就碎?從此他們就成了仇家,端賴律師傳話。

不多久芭芭拉和查理就發現自己成了紫羅蘭街上不受歡迎的人物,於是就迅雷不及掩耳地搬了家。搬家前還特地來找我,告訴我她的新家有多麽富麗堂皇,後面還有一個“奧林匹克”型的游泳池。“有空帶孩子們來游泳嘛”,她殷殷邀約。然而丈夫叫我千萬別去,要是孩子不小心在她泳池裏撒了一泡尿,可能會挨上惡意破壞的罪名而被告。車諾家才搬了兩個月,維吉尼亞也因肌肉先生不時來糾纏不清,而毅然決然賣了房子。之後鮑勃和雪莉也因添了一個小寶寶,覺得房子不夠寬敞,而搬到鄰近的杜鵑路上的一棟兩層樓房去了。

我們和史家倒是一直待在紫羅蘭街,兩家的友誼也數十年如一日的維持到今天。這期間萊力退了休,珍妮減了重,走起路來輕快多了,但是耳朵不像從前那麽靈光,因而所以對萊力的命令時時充耳不聞。他們家基本上已整修得美輪美奐,所以再也聼不到門前的電鑽電鋸的吱吱聲。可是兩人卻還是照常坐在門前,一邊啜著馬丁尼,一邊丟皮球和狗玩,雖然“克利特”已經蒙主寵召,可他們又領養了新的大狼狗,先是“克麗絲”,再來就是“可可”。如果你
在夏日某一個午後偶爾經過紫羅蘭街,你就可以聽到一聲又一聲的“可可”,“可可”……….

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五月 14, 2006

羅密歐

Filed under: Fictions — paushuan @ 1:11 上午

羅密歐 楊寳璇

鮑勃是我旅行社的雇員,可是有一段時期,公司裏的小姐都不叫他的本名,而稱他為“羅密歐”。他之所以得到這個雅號,是實至名歸的,因爲他的確太多情了。

多情的鮑勃個子不高,但是塊頭很大,四肢粗壯,尤其是兩截手臂,厚厚實實的,像兩根超大的棒球棍子,走起路來一晃一晃的,看起來有點像大力水手Popeye。他五官長得還不錯,眼珠是灰藍的,像加州夏天清晨天空的顔色,鼻子又高又挺,嘴唇是健康的紅色,兩排牙齒,雖然被煙熏得有點發黃,也還算整齊。可惜這些好東西,不幸放在一張風乾橘皮般的大疙瘩臉上,卻是大大的壞了風景,就像一道色香味俱全的好菜,被放一個污垢有裂口的盤子上一樣,讓人一看就跌足嘆氣。

不過即便如此,鮑勃溫文的氣質,得當的談吐,再加上他白蘭地似的,醇厚中摻著感性的聲音,讓他平白加了許多分,扳回他在皮膚上的劣勢,變成一個可愛的、有吸引力的男人。最起碼,從我辦公室的莎莎、蒂凡妮,甚至於已婚的、有兩個小孩的雷蒙娜,這三個女人中間,因他的到來,而引發的微妙而帶醋意的互動上,我看得出來,鮑勃在女人心目中,是有他一定的魅力的。

他進公司的時候,才二十五嵗,剛從旅遊學校畢業。我看他年輕,又沒經驗,本來不想請他的,但是他半個屁股懸空,恭恭謹謹的坐在我面前的皮椅上,灰藍的眼睛盯住我,求懇地説道:

“給我一個機會吧!往後妳就知道了,妳絕不會後悔的!”

他的眼神,忽然使我想起二十年前,我剛來美國的那個夏天,去紐約打工,面對著布魯克林一家貝果店的猶太老闆,在他精光閃閃的三角眼逼視下,我操著夾生的英文,囁嚅著,請求他給我一個機會,暫時試用我的情景。

我心裏一陣牽動,就決定錄用了他。

結果證明我的決定是正確的。鮑勃開始上班沒多久,我就發現他的口才一流,很討顧客的歡心,他們只要跟他說過一次話,鮮有不回頭再找他的。他的辦事能力強,效率高,交給他的工作,幾乎都能準時完成。鮑勃天天興高采烈的來上班,對顧客殷勤親切,和同事之間相處融洽,對我呢,更是尊敬又體恤,往往自動替我跑腿、打雜、處理書信、應付難纏顧客,減輕我的負擔,讓我的工作輕鬆不少。

鮑勃在工作上的熱誠,是有目共睹的。 然而因爲他除了公事外,別的一概三緘其口,所以他的私生活,就分外撩起衆人的好奇心,尤其是包打聽莎莎。在百般旁敲側擊都不得要領後,莎莎下了這麽一個結論:鮑勃理應有個把女朋友的,光看他梳理得一絲不苟的短髮,燙得稜角分明的衫褲,還有午餐盒裏,去了外皮的,抹了厚厚美奶滋和芥末的三明治麵包,以及一支支,切成一樣長度的小紅蘿蔔條,就判斷有人在照顧他,細心的,無微不至的。要不然,一個二十五嵗的單身漢,說什麽也不會把自己料理得如此妥善的。而且他對這個女人,肯定非常死心塌地。莎莎說:“你們有沒有留意到,來客中無論男女妍媸,鮑勃都一視同仁,即使美女當前,他也從來不會心動。“我仔細想想,覺得她的話也不無道理。別的不提,單挑不動心這檔事來説吧,上回那個高脁美麗的菲律賓女孩仙莉,一上門就指定要鮑勃招呼她。這時若是換了別的男人,都會因了她的美色,而另眼相看,從而大獻殷勤的。可鮑勃就有這能耐,只見他神閒氣定,禮貌而有分寸的,把人家當成一個普通顧客對待,就像招呼才出門的辛克萊老太太一樣,親切周到有之,至於過分的諂媚殷勤,那是絕對沒有的事。

半年之後,由於對鮑勃的信任度一路飆高,公司裏大大小小的事,我都逐漸交給他處理了。我開始遲到早退,拖長出外午餐的時間,身體微恙時,也不再抱病上班,甚至有時興起,還一天躲懶在家,只爲了要享受久違了的,無所事事的樂趣。鮑勃的到來,讓我終於體會到做老闆的好處,從而大肆享用,本該屬於我的特權。

可惜我優游的日子才過了不多久,就平地一聲雷的,起了變化。

事情發生在感恩節前那個禮拜一。那天鮑勃沒來上班,打電話去他家也沒人接,一天下來音訊全無。他這種反常的行徑,一點都不像往常九點不到,就笑嘻嘻的出現在公司門口,連遲到五分鐘,都要預先通知,守時守到被蒂凡妮打趣為:“抱著時鐘出世”的那個人。時間一分一秒的過去,而鮑勃始終杳如黃鶴,大夥的心情遂由疑惑變成焦慮:莎莎頻頻張望窗外,篤信天主教的雷蒙娜,不住低頭默禱,蒂凡妮三不五時打開收音機,聼車禍報告。辦公室裏空氣凝滯,外面颯颯的風聲,隔著玻璃窗,聼起來有輓歌的味道,令人想潸然落淚。我雖然也憂心忡忡,但還得力持鎮定,一邊安撫屬下的情緒,一邊指揮若定, 以免她們慌成一團,影響到整個公司的運作。

一直到衆人都下了班,我獨自留在辦公室作票務報告時,鮑勃才出現。

當他跌跌撞撞的閃進門時,我簡直不敢相信自己的眼睛。只見他鬍子沒剃,下半張臉爬滿了咖啡渣似的鬍鬚樁子,頭髮亂七八糟虯成一團,雙眼紅腫成一條縫,上身套一件皺巴巴髒兮兮的白毛衣,下面一條泛白的卡其短褲,大腳丫子上一雙夾腳拖鞋,形容憔悴又狼狽,有點像在垃圾遍佈的街道暗角,躞蹀而行的遊民。

“鮑勃,你怎麽了?”我又喜又驚,站起來迎向他。

“我的…室友…走了。”他的鼻音很重,顯然是才哭過。

好啊!原來他就爲了這等芝麻小事,蹺了一整天的班!我氣得本想槌他幾下,或者說幾句重話教訓他的,可是看他憂傷的面容,聼他吞吞吐吐的語氣,我下意識的覺得,事情大概不是那麽簡單,於是便快速冷靜了下來。我進一步猜測,那室友和他的關係,肯定非比尋常,想來多半是他的戀人。他們倆昨天一定吵架了,結果一個盛怒而去,一個傷心欲絕。看著鮑勃令人心碎的眼神,我的心遂漸漸軟化成一小團黏乎乎的麥芽糖。於是我上前握住他多肉的大手,在他手背上輕輕拍了兩下。哎,可憐的,多情的鮑勃!

“你們小倆口吵架了嗎?”我問他。

“不,他…他不告而別。”鮑勃的鼻音更重了。

我猜對了,那室友果然是他的情人!但是且慢,鮑勃剛才提到那人時,用的字眼是“他”,而不是“她”。難道說,鮑勃想要告訴我,他的愛人是個男人,而他本身,則是個同性戀?不會吧!我望著眼前這個壯碩的,陽剛氣十足的男人,心裏一百個不相信。

“他?” 我問。

鮑勃灰藍的眼睛,直直的迎向我詫異的目光,點點頭。接著,他伸手到口袋裏,窸窸索索的掏出一包香煙,可是才拿出來,又輕輕嘆了一口氣,放了回去。鮑勃知道公司的規矩,在辦公室内,是不准抽煙的。

“下班了,想抽就抽吧。”我網開一面。凡事都有個例外,不是嗎?

他抖著手點著了煙,閉上眼深深吸了一口, 然後仰頭吐出一條灰白的煙龍。它騰騰飛升,隨即消失在空氣裏,留下一屋子的煙味。

“真沒想到,我愛了將近兩年的人,會這樣對待我。”他呆呆的看著對面的白牆,愣了半晌,然後低下頭,把長長的煙灰彈在垃圾桶裏,接著說:“他昨天趁我上班的時候,把我銀行存款提光,屋子搜刮一空,然後就一走了之。我一切值錢的東西,包括西裝、大衣、皮鞋,他全都拿走,只留下來幾件夏天的衣服,還有身上這件毛衣。”他扯了扯脫了綫的毛衣下擺,歪著嘴苦笑了一聲。“好在,他沒把我的車子也開走,”他扭頭望了一眼他泊在窗外的中古馬自達,説道:“要不然,我真是窮途末路,連班都上不了了!”說到這裡,他的眼睛潤濕了。他偏過身子,坐在身旁的桌子上,狠狠地吸了一口煙,同時順手去抹眼角的淚水,但是那裏抹得掉?舊的才去,新的又來了。

我拿了一張面紙,遞過去給他,他默默的揩乾淚水,然後把它捏成一團,憤憤地丟到字紙簍裏。

“這個世界很小的,我縂有一天會找到他!”鮑勃鐵青著臉,上面密密麻麻的小坑洞,在煙霧裊繞的燈光下,竟然還顆粒分明。

“找到又怎樣呢?你不會做出什麽愚蠢的事吧?“我從沒見過鮑勃生氣的樣子,乍看有點害怕,我真怕他在盛怒之下,會把那人幹掉。

“噢,不,我不會的。”鮑勃到底是個聰明人,他一看我臉上的神色,就知道嚇到我了,連忙把語氣放軟:“ 我只是要問問他,他爲什麽這樣對我!”他用大姆指彈了一下煙灰,接著說:“認識我們的人,都知道我對他有多好。他自從跟了我,就沒有上過一天的班,我把所有的薪水交給他,放在我們的共同戶口裏面,我的錢,就是他的錢。所有的賬單,包括房租、水電、食物、汽油費,連同他車子的貸款,沒有一樣不是我付的。還有,大半的家事也都歸我,他頂多就是洗洗衣服,替我做個三明治,就不得了了。我這樣寵著他,他還嫌不夠,竟然毫無預警的捲逃了,多狠心啊…”鮑勃說到這裡,就捂著臉說不下去了,我連忙又遞一張面紙過去。他擋住我的手,意思是不需要。

我把紙巾捏在手裏,面對著把兩條滾圓而多毛的粗腿吊在桌邊,半歪著身子飲泣的大男人,有點不知所措。該不該去摟著他的肩,像哄我四嵗的兒子一樣,叫他不要哭呢?還是坐下來,慢慢跟他演繹“天涯何處無芳草”、“舊的不去,新的不來”、“留得青山在,不怕沒柴燒”的中國哲理?

結果我兩樣都沒做,只靜靜地走到後面,打開保險櫃,拿了一曡現款出來。數額不大,不過也足夠他買幾件冬衣,以及預付一個月的房租了。

“拿這筆錢,去買幾件衣服吧。”我把錢塞在鮑勃的手心裏。他倒也沒推託,只是紅著眼睛,謝了又謝。

“那麽,我先走了,”他把錢捲成一筒,放在褲袋裏,然後勉強擠出一個笑容:“趁百貨公司還沒關門。”他才走了幾步,又想起什麽似的,慢慢囘過身來,一邊用手指扒梳他散亂的頭髮,一邊遲遲疑疑地問我:“現在,妳知道我所有的秘密了,妳對我的…想法,不會改變吧?”

“當然不會!”我斬釘截鐵的說。說完還覺得不夠,又補上一句:“你放一萬個心!”我知道他擔的是什麽心,他怕在曝露了他的性向偏好後,我會辭退他。當時確實有些公司,是絕不雇用玻璃圈裏的人的,他的憂慮,我可以理解。然而他實在是不必擔這個心的,須知我的用人原則是:只要這人能替我分憂解勞,他愛的是男人或是女人,是他家的事,与我毫不相關。

“不過,同事們也許持著不同的看法。”

“鮑勃,這件事,只要你不說,我是不會說的。”我有點氣惱了。哎,這個人疑心病真重,竟然怕我替他義務宣傳。剛才話説得太多,太快,現在後悔了,是不是?

“對不起,我不是這個意思…“他紅著臉分辯。

“快去吧,百貨公司快打烊咯!”我揮揮手,催他快走。

第二天,鮑勃身上穿著新買的紅夾克,腳蹬一雙雪白的新球鞋,光鮮整潔的回來上班了。雖然遲了一個鐘頭,但是我諒解,肚子裏滿腹辛酸,一夜輾轉反側的人,哪能期待他“聞雞起舞”呢?給他一些時間,讓他慢慢開解自己吧!我身為老闆,能夠如此“體貼民情”,確實有點自鳴得意,不過即便如此,還是在心中默禱,希望他盡快恢復原狀,好讓我繼續過我逍遙自在的好日子。

但是轉眼間兩個月過去了,“好日子”卻始終芳蹤渺杳。在這段期間,鮑勃遲到早退自然不在話下,再加上情緒低落,心不在焉,因而犯錯連連, 累得我時常要替他善後。然而因爲要顧及他的自尊,還得處處替他掩飾,否則他面子上下不來,肯定會掛冠求去的。但是我不能讓他走,這麽好的一個員工,我得拼命留住,不管目前的情況有多令人沮喪,他很快就會想開的,他隨時會搖身一變,又變囘原來那個精神抖擻、勤奮敬業的鮑勃, 我有信心。

鮑勃在工作上的表現一落千丈,已經是夠糟的了,沒想到還有一件更麻煩的事等在後頭:那就是鮑勃的秘密,不知何故,竟然被公司裏其他的人發現了。這麽一來,就發生了一連串的骨牌效應。先是有人買了幾大盒馬桶墊紙,以及強力消毒藥水,放在廁所裏。帳單呢,則放在我桌上。接著就是工讀生琳娜,突然對我宣佈,她以後不能再來上班了,問她原因,她又抵死不肯講。一直和鮑勃形容親密,常常你一口我一口,共吃一個蛋捲冰激淋的蒂凡妮,現在突然和他拉開距離,連鮑勃偶爾打個噴嚏,她都避得遠遠的。至於雷蒙娜呢,則隨手帶著酒精棉,走到那裏檫到哪裏。莎莎的態度雖然沒有太大的改變,但我猜想那賬單是她放的,因爲上面的店名,正巧是她常去購物的地方。

根據這些蛛絲馬跡,我很快就歸納出原因。我知道,這些女孩子之所以有如此怪異的行爲,主要是因爲怕被同性戀的鮑勃,傳染到愛滋病!我雖然覺得她們無知,但也不怪她們。九零年代初期,正是愛滋肆虐,人人自危的時候,而同性戀,又不幸的和愛滋病劃上等號,再加上她們又聽信流言,以爲這種濾過性毒,可以通過唾沫、尿液、甚至汗液等體液傳播,所以纔有這麽歇斯底里的反應。

我知道,除非我及時開除鮑勃,否則再下一步,她們就會步琳娜的後塵,集體辭職了。可是鮑勃目前的境遇已經夠慘的了,我怎忍心做出這種落井下石的勾當呢?然而話又說回來,萬一她們全部走人,公司光靠我和鮑勃兩人,勢必會因人手不足,而陷於運轉不靈的困境的。再說,讓這些年紀輕輕的女孩,日日生活在疑懼中,也非我所願呀!我進退維谷,不知如何是好,每天一起床,就恨不得把公司鑰匙丟到陰溝裏,從此不去上班,不用面對這兩難的煎熬。

好在老天有眼,這件事最後還是圓滿解決了,而且還絲毫不用我去勞神,端的是應了“解鈴還需繋鈴人”這句話:善於察言觀色的鮑勃,毅然去醫院騐了血,結果是情勢一片大好—HIV呈陰性反應。鮑勃把報告放在我桌上,另附一函,上面說每隔三個月,就會重騐一次,確保健康無虞云云。我雙手捧信,心裏狂呼哈利路亞,大哉鮑勃!

鮑勃善意而謙卑的舉動,除了把我從困境中解救出來之外,還令他的同事們既慚愧又感動。她們不但和他恢復舊誼,還因爲摸清了他的性向,更進一步的把他當作姐妹淘看待,而分外的親密無間。她們之間說體己話,交換秘密時,也不再因爲他在場,而有所忌諱。下班時間也常約了他一同逛街購物,因爲鮑勃對女人的衣著,常有獨具慧心的見解。“鮑勃替我挑的衣服,我朋友看了,都嫉妒得眼睛發綠”蒂凡妮有一次穿了件白地撒鵝黃小花,挖肩翻領的縐紗洋裝,一手勾在鮑勃臂彎裏,得意洋洋的宣稱。莎莎還短衫牛仔褲的中性打扮,自告奮勇的陪著鮑勃,去了幾趟位於長堤的同性戀酒吧,説是要幫他選揀合適的伴侶。至於雷蒙娜呢,因爲家有幼兒,行動不太自由,可也時常把和老公嘔氣的事,跟鮑勃傾吐。“你是個男人,應該比較了解男人的想法。”雷蒙娜甜滋滋的對他說。

所以,鮑勃在公司裏,男人和女人應得的好處都沾上了,變得更有人緣,更值得信賴,是個人見人愛的安琪兒。可是,唯一美中不足的,是他在愛情上,卻依然是傷心人別有懷抱,抑鬱不得志。他在工作上的表現,也因此而停滯不前。我的耐性,到了這時也已消磨得差不多了。

就在我瀕臨放棄的關頭,鮑勃突然來個一百八十度的轉變。幾乎在一夜之間,他像冬眠醒來的大蛇一樣,卸下了懨懨無生氣的那層外皮,又開始春風滿面、走路有風的出現在大家面前。從前那個老鮑勃終於回來了!促成他改變的因素,一點都沒錯—是愛情,鮑勃又重新墜入愛河了!

人說戀愛中的女人最美麗,其實戀愛中的男人也不賴。這時的鮑勃,日日頭髮梳理得好像剛從髮廊走出來,戒了煙,牙齒變白了,身上噴了Tom Hilfiger 牌柑桔味兒香水,味道濃郁得只要他一進門,我就忍不住噴嚏連連。他的身材,也因爲厲行魔鬼式痩身計劃,以及一週五次的健身運動,變得結實堅韌,緊身白襯衫裏面,一塊塊的腱子肉隱約可見。在短短的兩個月内,他整個人可説是脫胎換骨,要不是臉上的疙瘩太顯眼,簡直可以晉身美男子的行列。關於這一點,鮑勃也不無遺憾,在用過各種果酸換膚美容霜都一無成效之後,他決定找醫生替他磨皮。因爲所費不貲,於是便找我商量。

那天,當鮑勃輕手輕腳地走進我的私人辦公室,掩上門,脹紅著臉,乾啞著嗓子,説是有要事要和我商量時,我心中就已經有個預感,知道他的“要事”可能跟錢有關。但是當我聽到他爲了整容,一張口就要借四千美元時,還是嚇了一大跳。我想我當時的臉色大概很難看,只見鮑勃頭一垂,身一矮,瞬間就屈膝半蹲在我桌旁。我以爲他接下來就要下跪了,慌得我連忙跳起來,強拉他坐在椅子上。

“鮑勃,這是很大的一筆數目,我得好好想一想。”我站在他身旁,一手撐著椅背,吸了一口大氣。員工借錢的事,我 不是沒經歷過,到最後不是自認倒楣,主動把債務化整爲零,就是閙得兩造不歡,沒個善了。真沒想到鮑勃也會這樣,而且還是這麽大的一筆錢。

“這筆錢—,你可以從我薪水裏扣除,每個月四,不,五百,幾個月下來,就可以還清了。”他擡頭望我,那執坳的表情,使我想起我的兒子,前天在玩具店裏,懷裏摟著一輛上百元的電池遙控大紅跑車,鼔著腮幫子,一步也不肯退讓的樣子。

看著鮑勃堅定的目光,抿得緊緊的嘴巴,同時也無可避免的,看到他臉上的青春痘疤痕。我從來沒有像現在那樣,在這麽近的距離内,正視過他的臉。這時,我才第一次發現,原來他臉上那些坑坑窪窪,不只是密密麻麻,還形狀不一,深深淺淺,有大有小。看久了,覺得自己的臉,像被千百個針頭輕輕碰刺一般,一陣陣的發麻。我不忍心再看下去,只好移開目光。哎,多麽可憐的一張臉,多麽可憐的鮑勃!

“這件事,真的對你這麽重要嗎?”我心一狠,到底還是沒鬆口。

“是的,這影響到我和愛德華的關係。”

“是他要你磨皮的嗎?”愛德華這小子,想必就是鮑勃的愛人吧。這個膚淺的,只注重外表的傢伙,凖是他慫恿鮑勃去整的容!

“不,是我自己的意思,”鮑勃搖搖頭,灰藍的眼裏,藍色褪盡,只剩下沉重的鉛灰。“愛德華長得太好了,我站在他旁邊,覺得不配。”

“還是讓我考慮幾天,再作決定吧。”對他這種自慚形穢的想法,我雖然充滿了同情,但想想磨皮到底不像心臟開刀,不是性命交關的事。如果拒絕幫忙,最多落個小氣的惡名,還不至於被人罵作見死不救的。再説,雖然我絕不懷疑鮑勃的誠意,然而我對他分期付款的還錢方式,也毫無信心,像他這種寅食卯糧的年輕人,我見得多了,一個月省下四、五百塊來,簡直就像天方夜譚。若是把心一橫,乾脆把這筆錢送了給他,又覺心理上不平衡,四千美金呢,要賣多少張機票才賺得回來?再説,女兒的牙齒需要矯正,費用大致也是這個數目,這筆錢理應用在她身上的,怎麽可以親疏不分,給了員工呢?老公知道了,會怎麽想呢?

經過好幾天的掙扎,我最終還是答應了他的要求。我雖然心裏一百個不情願,可是實在怕他在失望之餘,會離開公司,另覓碼頭。損失那麽好的員工,公司的虧損,應該遠遠超過四千元吧。再説,即使他不辭職,我每天面對著他那張疙疙瘩瘩的臉,肯定會心生歉疚,仿佛他的每一個斑痕,都在指責我:妳看,都是妳這個小氣鬼,妨礙了鮑勃一輩子的幸福,都是妳,都是妳!每罵一聲,我的良心就多了一個小坑洞。

關係到鮑勃一生幸福的事,到底不算是個小手術,加上那名醫特別忙,光排期就得在三個月之後。據鮑勃說,手術之後,他不能立即上班,因爲怕傷口染菌,需要在家休息兩個月。

“你的意思是,你需要請兩個月的病假?”我勉強撐住發暈的頭,盯著鮑勃問。

“最起碼兩個月。假如恢復情形不好的話,可能需要更久。”鮑勃抱歉地說。

“我知道,我有個朋友作過這種手術,已經一年了,傷口還在滲血水。”蒂凡妮在旁邊插嘴。鮑勃爲了情人磨皮的事,到如今已是公開的秘密,只差還沒讓人知道,出錢的人是我。

“鮑勃,你也太偉大了,爲了愛情,肯吃這麽多苦。”莎莎嘆了一口氣説道:“聽説每一個小坑疤,都得用一個電動小錐子鑽進去,又挖又磨的,光這麽想就讓我牙仁發酸,全身起雞皮疙瘩。”

“是啊,我老公那麽胖,會爲了我減半磅嗎?別傻了! 鮑勃,你真好,真多情,是個名副其實的羅密歐!”雷蒙娜也加把嘴來湊熱鬧。

“啊哈,從今以後,我們就叫你做羅密歐,好不好?”蒂凡妮向鮑勃擠了一下大眼睛。他樂呼呼的傻笑,算是欣然接受了。我雖然也隨著大家嘻嘻哈哈的附和著,但是心裏卻隱隱有不祥的預感,羅密歐—到底是個年紀輕輕就自殺殉情的人啊,怎麽可以隨便亂叫呢?因此我一直沒改口,還是老老實實的叫他做鮑勃。

眼看“羅密歐”對愛德華那麽癡迷,大家都迫不及待的,想見見愛德華的廬山真面目。特別是他又被描述得那麽完美, 使我想起希臘神話裏的兩個美少年—為女神Aphrodite所迷戀的Adonis,以及臨水照影,最後化爲水仙花的Narcissus—英俊的面龐、頎長的身材、大理石般的肌膚…。然而鮑勃卻一直推説愛德華害羞,不肯把他帶出來,直到有一天,鮑勃的車子壞了,在情急之下,請愛德華送他來辦公室,我們才有幸見到他。

結果大家都很失望。

愛德華個子瘦瘦小小,三十幾嵗的人,看上去卻像個發育不良的大孩子。細細的脖子上,頂著個油光水滑,像John Travolta在 “油脂“裏梳的大包頭。皮膚是椰子樹皮的淺棕色,眼睛眉毛卻是漆黑的,像南美熱帶雨林沒有月光的夜晚。他長長的鼻管鷹鈎得厲害,鼻梁中間隆起,像個小小的山丘,嘴唇又薄又小,像支曬乾的紫天椒。總而言之,他全身上下沒有一點好看的地方。當他站在大家面前時,三個女孩子你看我,我看你,搞不清楚爲什麽鮑勃對他這樣的著迷。

“這是愛德華。”鮑勃有點害羞,又有點得意地向大家介紹。

愛德華向我走過來。看到他走路的樣子,我就明白他的魅力所在。他的腰肢很軟,隨著輕柔的步伐,款款的、有節奏的擺動著,像一條隨著印度魔笛起舞的長蛇。他無聲無息的,在我面前停下來,伸出手,矜持的微笑著。我發現他的眼睛很大,而且潮濕,好像心裏有多大的委屈,隨時可以痛哭一場似的。對著那雙會嗔會怨會説話,而且多汁的大眼睛,我開始替鮑勃擔心,怕他再吃一次虧。

結果證明我的擔憂是對的,鮑勃果然吃了虧。愛德華用情不專,瞞著鮑勃另交朋友!結果無巧不成書,有一天在路上被鮑勃撞見,於是一個紅了眼,上前興師問罪,另一個在惱羞成怒之下,當場翻臉。到最後愛德華揮劍斬情絲,和鮑勃從此一刀兩斷,而且非常決絕,無論鮑勃多麽委曲求全,他都不願覆水重收。當然,這些事情,都是鮑勃在事後告訴我的。

“那四千塊錢,我不需要了。”鮑勃檫乾眼淚,平靜的對我說:“我已經跟醫生取消了磨皮手術。”

“你確定?”我一方面替自己的荷包高興,一方面又替鮑勃惋惜。這個手術,如果成功了,很可能會改變鮑勃的一生,讓他更有自信,更快樂。不過,萬一失敗了呢?聽説會因此刺激表皮色素生長,以致黑斑滋生,到時臉上坑洞沒填好,反倒長出漫山遍野的黑芝麻,那就弄巧成拙了。在内心深處,我快速的和自己展開辯論。是順水推舟,不借呢?還是好人做到底,逼著他收下這筆錢呢?哎哎,人都是自私的,我當然也不例外,總是往對自己有利的方向傾斜。我望著他,盡量掩飾心中的愧疚。

“確定。”鮑勃似乎明白我的盤算一樣,用力點點頭。接著又有點難爲情地說:“老實告訴妳吧,磨皮這件事…原來也不是我的主意。我一直很害怕,怕弄不好,會變成個大黑臉。”

唔,果然一開始就被我料到了,本來就是愛德華出的主意嘛,虧得鮑勃當時還煞有其事的騙我。原想責備他兩句的,可是看他失魂落魄的樣子,也就作罷了,何必在傷口上撒鹽呢?再説,像我這麽個自私自利的小人,又有什麽資格去教訓他呢?

這一次的創傷,鮑勃倒是很快就復原了,原因是他立即又找到了一位新歡。對這位名叫阿爾伯特的新人,他依然是羅密歐式的一往情深,經常聽到他打手機去花舖訂玫瑰、鳶尾花、龍舌蘭等昂貴的鮮花,送給阿爾伯特;每逢節慶,必定不忘準備包裝精美,噴了香水,打上蝴蝶結的禮物;有一次,鮑勃還砸下重金,租了一輛座位上舖滿玫瑰花瓣的大型禮車,載兩人去賭城共度情人節。這種種羅曼蒂克的表現,令情感生活一片空白的莎莎和蒂凡妮豔羨不已。
可惜的是,在我們和阿爾伯特還緣慳一面時,這段感情就宣告結束了。原因是阿爾伯特嫌貧愛富,認爲鮑勃在旅行社賣機票,前途暗淡,於是便拍拍翅膀,另擇高枝去了。

“這樣也好,反正我也應付不了他昂貴的生活方式。”鮑勃嘆了一口氣,帶點如釋重擔的口氣對我說。這次他非但沒有流淚,反而學會自我解嘲了。 看著面前這個二十七嵗的,情場上栽了一次次跟斗的男子,心裏覺得頗爲欣慰,他到底學會自我療傷了。

基於鮑勃在感情上的連連挫敗,我便推斷,喜新厭舊是一般同性戀人的通病。於是,在一個單獨相處的機會,我便異想天開的,建議他去追求異性戀。爲什麽不呢?他是這麽好的一個男人,理應結婚生子,享受天倫之樂的。同時,我還有一個極大的隱憂,就是怕他再這樣頻頻換 性伴侶,縂有一天會得愛滋病的。

“鮑勃,你不覺得,女人對你也許比較合適嗎?她們感情比較穩定,不會那麽容易見異思遷。”我説這話的時候,外面下著傾盆大雨,嘩嘩的雨聲,多少給我壯了膽,感覺自己不是那麽唐突。

他聼了我的話之後,爆出一連串歇斯底里的大笑,好不容易收了聲,才斂神答道:

“你大概不大了解我們這種人,我們的生理結構,讓我們只對同性有興趣,至於異性行嘛,即使是脫光了衣服,站在咫尺之内,我們都不會動心的。就拿我個人來説吧,我自從十二嵗開始,看到漂亮的男孩子,就會心跳加速,手心流汗,可是看到女孩,卻一點反應都沒有。”

“可是,你曾經試過和女孩子交往嗎?也許交往了一段時期,你就會改變你的想法。”我還是不肯放棄,只差沒説白了,拜托你,和女孩子交往吧,這樣你得愛滋的機會就少多了。

“我當然試過,十九嵗那年,還和一個女孩訂過婚呢!可是後來還是退婚了,我不能生活在謊言中!”

不知道他是編個謊,就此堵住我的嘴呢? 還是確有其事,不過,看他嚴肅的表情,我相信多半是真的。算了吧,話已經說過頭了,還是讓他順著自己的本性,過他喜歡過的生活吧。再説,我又有什麽權利發言呢?充其量,我只是他的老闆,根本管不著他的私事的,更何況,這種事,即使是美國總統都管不了,遑論區區的我呢?

“好吧,既然這樣,就萬事當心了。”我語重心長地說。

“我會的,”他拍拍我放在桌面上的手,説道:“請放心。”

鮑勃是個冰雪聰明的人,我想他應該知道我的言外之意的,既然他叫我放心,想來我也不必杞人憂天了。於是在這接下來的一年中,我便心平氣和的,看著他又談了幾次戀愛。從他處變不驚的對待每囘的分分合合,我就知道,鮑勃在處理自己的感情方面,已是更上層樓了。看來,“羅密歐”這個外號,也不再適合他了,應該改稱他為“唐璜”或“卡薩諾瓦”纔是。不過,因爲叫慣了,莎莎他們還是照樣叫他作“羅密歐”。

“嘿,羅密歐,三綫,又是傑瑞。”蒂凡妮叫鮑勃聼電話,她雖然盡量壓低聲音,還是被我聽見了。傑瑞是鮑勃的新情人。

“嗨,是你嗎?”鮑勃偷偷瞄了我一眼,然後背過身子,溫柔的貼著話筒咕噥了幾句話,就急忙掛斷了。這麽些年了,鮑勃應該知道公司的規矩,上班時間,是不能講私人電話的。然而他最近不知為什麽老犯規,而且還魂不守舍,交待得好好的事情,一轉身就忘了。還有就是,他近來常請病假,不是感冒就是腸胃不適,常常一連好幾天,都不能上班,即使銷假回來了,看上去還是病懨懨的,蒼白的臉上寫滿了疲倦。這種種跡象,都令我忐忑不安。尤其是他請病假的那幾天,我眼看著他空蕩蕩的座位,看久了就犯愁。會不會是終於逃不過劫數,得了那個病呢?應該不會吧!這麽多年下來,他都沒事,怎麽會突然發病呢?何況他還鄭重其事的答應過我,說他會多加小心的。可是話又說回來,已經超過半年了,都沒聽他提到驗血的結果,是否忘了騐呢?還是已經騐了,發現情況不妙,所以 不敢聲張?

起先我以爲只有我一個人疑神疑鬼,後來才發現,原來辦公室裏人人都有同樣的焦慮。她們背著鮑勃和我,交頭接耳,議論紛紛,到最後終於忍不住了,就推莎莎出來,向我探聽消息。

“我也不知道啊,這麽緊張的話,乾脆自己去問個清楚嘛!“看到莎莎那惶恐的表情,就想起她們幾個,當初發現鮑勃是同性戀時,所作出的各種小動作,於是心裏一不高興,舌頭就跟著犀利起來。

“不是啦,我們也只是關心他的健康啊。”莎莎被我這麽一說,差點就哭出來了。

“哎,”看到莎莎委屈的神情,我於心不忍,就拍拍她的肩膀,安慰她,順便安慰自己:“我想他沒事的,有事他一定會告訴我們,他答應過我的。”

“可是,假如他沒事,爲什麽要請一個月的假呢?”

“什麽?誰告訴妳的?”我大吃一驚,鮑勃從來沒跟我提過請長假這囘事。

“噢,妳不知道啊?”莎莎十只手指掩住嘴巴,顯然覺察自己說漏了嘴。

第二天,我決定和鮑勃單獨談談。我把他請到我的私人辦公室,開門見山地問他:

“鮑勃,聽説你打算請一個月的長假,是怎麽囘事啊?”

“目前是有這麽個念頭,可是,因爲還沒做最後決定,所以就沒有驚動妳。”他看來很鎮靜,定定的站在我面前,像一根柱子。想來莎莎已經將洩密的事,預事先通告過他了。他低頭沉吟了一囘,接下來吞吞吐吐的說:“事實上,我…我的假可能比一個月長很多…我的意思是,我…我也許不回來了。”

“你說什麽? 你要走了?“我腦子裏一片空白,不可能的!鮑勃不可能離開公司,他熱愛他的工作,他的顧客,以及這幾年和我們相處,所累積下來的友誼和溫情。他不會走的,除非不得已,除非他真得了那個天殺的病!“爲什麽?”我猛地站了起來,膝蓋不小心撞到桌子,把桌上的筆筒碰翻了,原子筆滾了一地。鮑勃彎身,默默幫我把筆一支支撿起來,放囘筆筒裏。

我全身乏力的坐囘椅子上,神經抽緊,心怦怦跳動,等著他親口告訴我一連串的壞消息:HIV呈陽性反應,免疫系統失調、全身疲勞、關節疼痛、淋巴腺腫瘤、長期住院治療、….。我不敢正視鮑勃,只好把目光移向窗口,看早晨的陽光,穿過百葉窗簾的罅隙,將窗外木芙蓉搖曳的枝葉,投影在粉白的牆上;看金色的塵蟎,在一簇簇的陽光下,靜靜的飛舞著。多麽可愛的一天,多麽美好的世界!而這美好的一切,卻即將与面前這個二十八嵗的年輕人絕緣了,人生何其殘酷可悲!古人說得沒錯,真是“天地不仁,以萬物為芻狗”啊。

“傑瑞病得很重,我打算搬到新墨西哥,就近照顧他。”鮑勃坐了下來,兩手搭在桌沿,面色凝重地對我說。

什麽?原來這就是鮑勃之所以離開的理由?他要走,不是因爲他得了病,而是別人病了,一個叫傑瑞的人病了!我把鮑勃的話在腦海裏再過濾一次之後,終於鬆了一口氣。謝天謝地,鮑勃沒有病!病的是傑瑞!我簡直太高興了,我伸出手來,緊緊握住鮑勃放在桌上的手。

“妳知道傑瑞是誰嗎?”鮑勃也許被我反常的反應嚇到了,只見他忙不迭地掙開我的手,瞪大眼睛問道。

“他不是你的新朋友嗎?”唔,傑瑞,我雖然從沒見過他,但是鮑勃和他頻頻通話,好像也是最近的事。沒想到他竟然住在外州,而且還病重。

“不,我認識他很久了。記得我幾年前不告而別的室友嗎?他就是傑瑞。我們最近又聯絡上了。”

“噢—,”當時傑瑞捲逃時,鮑勃恨得牙癢癢的,巴不得馬上追殺過去。可現在不但前嫌盡棄,還打算放棄這裡的一切,幫他渡過難關,這不是太奇怪了嗎?

我大概是一臉的不以爲然吧,鮑勃見狀連忙解釋:

“傑瑞當時離開,也是不得已的。那時他剛拿到HIV報告,知道自己呈陽性反應,慌得不得了,怕我追問他從前的荒唐事,還怕連累到我,所以只好一走了之。”

“那他也不該把你的錢財搜刮一空呀!”逆耳的話,還是出爐了。傑瑞分明是個沒良心的小混混,不值得鮑勃這樣為他犧牲的,尤其是,他的犧牲,還牽涉到我公司的利益。

“哎,這些事,虧你還記得,我老早忘記了。再説,我那時什麽都和他混著用,也搞不清東西到底歸誰了。”

“你真大量!”

鮑勃對我的譏評置之不理,開始絮絮地告訴我有關傑瑞的故事:

“傑瑞來自新墨西哥州一個保守的家庭。因爲家裏不能容忍他的同性戀,於是他就在十九嵗那年,偷了父母一筆現金,離家出走。他聽説長堤是同性戀大本營,所以就千里迢迢摸了來,白天打打雜工,晚上就去酒吧混,我就是在酒吧裏遇到他的—”

“等等,才十九嵗,能上酒吧嗎?”我打斷鮑勃。

“妳這就不懂啦,證件可以作假的嘛!”他看看我,一副怪我不識時務的樣子。說完伸手摸摸口袋,我知道他又想抽煙了,於是就揮揮手,意思是“go ahead”。

鮑勃向著窗外噴了一口煙,然後轉過身來,對我嘆了一口氣,説道:“我們認識的那年,他二十一嵗,我二十三。他—雖然不是我的初戀,卻是我今生的最愛。”他低頭將煙灰彈在我放零錢的小碟子裏,然後接下去說:“他走了之後,我發瘋的想他,沒有一天忘得了他。”

“那,愛德華他們呢?”我想提醒他,在傑瑞之後,還大有人在的,傑瑞不是你唯一的至愛。

“那些戀情,都是一齣齣自我欺騙的鬧劇。”他搖搖頭,好像要把那些人的影子,一個個甩掉。

“唔,那麽,你們後來怎麽聯絡上的?”看來,他是執迷不悟的了,我只好轉一個話題。

“是他母親找到我的。傑瑞病況加重之後,無路可走,只好回家,説是要死在家裏。雖然他父母願意接納他,可是照顧一個病人並不那麽容易,單單輪椅床鋪之間搬上搬下的,就把兩老弄得精疲力竭,可是又請不起特別護士,這時傑瑞就想起我來,讓他母親找我幫忙。條件是,我住在他們家,他們負擔我的食宿,我只需要照顧傑瑞,陪他說説話,讓他舒服些,直到…”鮑勃的眼睛紅了。

“你答應了?”我心一涼。條件都談好了,相信他是執意要走的了。

“我基本上是答應了,等公司找到合適的人,我就走。”

“可是,你也不必辭職呀。等…等事情完了,再回來。一個月、兩個月,甚至半年都沒關係。”我還在作垂死掙扎。

“這樣不行。第一,我不知道要等多久,第二,這樣對你,或者新來的人都不公平。再説,我也想換換環境。聽説新墨西哥州空氣沒有污染,是個適宜居住的好地方。”

話説到這裡,我知道已經是無可挽回的了,只好同意盡快另外找人,讓他早一點去陪傑瑞。

既然已經作了協議,左思右想的,我就開始痛恨起自己的自私來了。心想,妳到底是怎麽了?一個利字當頭,竟然就惡劣到和一個垂死的人你爭我奪起來?才作了幾年生意,就變得如此的見利忘義,連二十來歲的年輕人,都比妳有愛心,虧得還念了那麽多年的聖賢書,慚不慚愧?

當我羞慚的望著鮑勃瘦了一圈的背影,離開我的辦公室時,我的心突然一緊。一個該死的念頭,像一匹惡狼般,咆哮著竄進我的腦海:如果傑瑞得了愛滋病,那麽,他的親密愛人鮑勃,又豈能倖免呢?

鮑勃走之前,我包了公司附近的一個中餐館,給他開了一個盛大的歡送會。莎莎他們把平時和鮑勃相熟的客戶,以及他的一些好友,都一起請了來,為他送行。她們居然神通廣大,連愛德華和阿爾伯特都找了來。那晚鮑勃很高興,脖子上繞著大夥送他的,粉白兩色夏威夷花環,手上高高擎著香檳酒杯,滿場亂飛,和每個客人拍膀子敬酒,有色笑話說完一個又一個,瘋得不得了。到散場時,他滿臉通紅,腳步踉蹌,還一路追著客人要敬酒。到最後我實在看不過去了,便和老公兩人,硬架他上車,把他送回家。在車上,鮑勃一個勁兒的歪著脖子對我說:“謝謝妳。”“謝什麽呀?”我問他。“謝謝妳為我做的一切。”雖然他是帶著滿嘴酒氣,而且大著舌頭說的,但是看著他孩子般撒賴的表情,我沒理由相信他說的不是真心話。我的眼眶紅了。

鮑勃剛走的那兩個月,倒是確守諾言,隔些時日就會來個電話,或是一封明信片,報告他在新地方的所見所聞,然而可怪的是,關於傑瑞的病況,他卻一字不提。他不說,大家也不好意思問,只是盡量往好的方向去想。孰料到了第三個月,他卻開始音訊全無,打電話去總是沒人接聼,留言也不囘,再過一陣子打去,就是錄音,説是電話號碼已被取消了。我開始有不祥的預感,會不會是傑瑞死了呢?或者更糟,鮑勃也得了愛滋,命在旦夕?抑或是,根本沒有傑瑞這個人,整件事都是他編出來的,捏造出這麽崇高的理由,好讓我站在人道立場,不得不放他走?或者,只是爲了博取我的同情,騙取一點金錢?他走之前,我揮淚送了他兩千塊錢的車馬費。如果就爲了區區兩千元,而撒下漫天大謊,值得嗎?

日子就在漫無邊際的猜疑中,一天天的過去。直到半年過後,才收到鮑勃的來信。信封上雖然沒有發信人的姓名地址,可是我一看那整整齊齊,印刷體似的字跡,就知道來自鮑勃。拆開信封,發現只有一張薄紙,裏面包著一張照片。是兩個年輕男人胳臂搭著胳臂,在海灘照的,一個是鮑勃,另外一個是誰呢?是傑瑞嗎?翻看背面,果然不錯,上面有鮑勃寫的一行小字:鮑勃和傑瑞。1990。於長堤海濱。

多麽珍貴的一張照片!正想把它傳給在一旁圍觀的女孩們,忽然一陣風吹來,把那張薄紙吹到地面。我彎身拾起來,發現那不是張普通的白紙,上面還好像有表格似的,一欄欄的東西。我拿起來仔細一看,原來是一家醫院的驗血報告。唔,我邊看邊唸:病人是鮑勃,日期是八月三日,十天前,HIV的反應是—陰性。哈利路亞!我和大家高興得緊緊抱在一起。“慢著,”莎莎說:“紙張最底下還有幾個字。”我定睛一看,果然是。我高聲唸給大家聼:“我不是跟你說過,我會當心的嗎?”幾個女孩又是一陣歡呼。

我的心頭一熱,眼淚跟著就掉出來了,鮑勃的用意不言可喻,這樣一來,大家都寬心了,他到底是個善體人意的安琪兒!

莎莎她們又趕回各自的辦公桌,忙著一天的工作了。我手裏拿著鮑勃寄來的那張照片,仔細端詳著。鮑勃和傑瑞,兩人站在沙灘上,背景是蔚藍的海,粉藍的天,還有就是泊在遠方的瑪麗皇后號郵輪,以及郵輪上巨人般高高竪起的,幾支紅色大煙囪。在照片上,鮑勃站得稍微前面些,臉對著鏡頭,一手搭著傑瑞的肩膀,另一手叉著腰,臉上的笑容是我從沒見過的,燦爛、開朗、又明顯的洋洋得意,好像在向全世界高呼:“看哪,看我們倆!”旁邊的傑瑞,個子比鮑勃略矮些,滿頭捲曲的金髮,被海風吹得蓬鬆,頭斜斜向鮑勃的方向靠著,眼睛睃著他,嘴角微微有點笑意,表情羞澀,卻又有一絲縱容的味道,像是在說:“哎,由他吧,他就是這樣的!”

看著這張照片,我臉上好像被人打了一記耳光似的,突然熱辣辣了起來。是的,我明白,鮑勃寄這張照片來,是別有用心的。他要讓我知道,他並沒有捏造故事,他的人生,和任何人一樣,都是千真萬確,有血有肉的。他和傑瑞之間的感情,也和世間所有的有情人一樣,是可以打磨上色抛光,然後在藍天白日之下,炫耀世人的,而不是只能壓成扁扁的一小片,小心翼翼的珍藏在黑黑的牀頭櫃裏面的。

鮑勃之所以寄這張照片給我,與其說他了解我,還不如說,他了解人性。

那是鮑勃和我最後一次的聯絡,後來就再也沒有他的消息了。
公司在鮑勃離開之前,請到了一位新職員,是個男孩子,叫羅密歐。不過,我之所以用他,和他的名字完全無關,整件事情,只是一個美麗的巧合。所以,在鮑勃走了之後,公司裏的女孩子,還是會整天“羅密歐—”“羅密歐—”的嚷嚷著,好像鮑勃從來沒離開過一樣。

誣告

Filed under: Fictions — paushuan @ 1:08 上午

誣告
楊寳璇
–潘莉蓮的抉擇–

我挨告了。

我抖著手,悉悉索索攤開那封在我憤怒之下,被揉成一團的律師信,再看了一遍。沒錯,莉蓮要告我。

莉蓮是我去年請的員工,才做了不到半年就不告而別了,而且從此芳蹤渺杳。沒想到一年之後,竟然會躲在律師背後,躡手躡腳地尋上門來,轟地告我一狀。真沒想到啊,這麽個如花似玉的女孩,雖然來自海峽彼岸,但畢竟是和我髮膚相同的華裔,況且,她的家鄉還是我的出生地桂林呢。不要說我當初對她多麽的容忍周納,就是看在同鄉的份上,都該高擡貴手的,然而她卻這樣對待我,真是情何以堪!

莉蓮的律師,署名威廉.麥道爾三世的來函,是這麽說的:

公元一九九九年五月三日,就職於貴旅行社的莉蓮.潘小姐,於午間銜命駕車出外購買餐飲時,在轉彎之際,与反向行駛的湖木市公車相撞。當時潘小姐因爲沒有外傷,以爲無礙,並沒有立即就醫。殊不知事隔半年,開始出現頭暈、背痛、神經麻痹等車禍後遺症,以至於不能工作,從此生活無著,苦不堪言。 因此,潘小姐委託本人,控告台端,要求賠償十五萬元的損失。
本人有一些涉及貴公司營業及台端私人資料的問題,希望能當面問訊。玆訂於十月三十日,週三,与本人進行宣誓作證程序,請務必赴約。

看到這裡,我立刻警覺到,問題是出在“銜命”這個詞兒上。在美國,只要是奉老闆之命出去辦事,都叫出公差,路上萬一發生任何意外,公司得擔當起法律上的責任。可是話又說回來,我從來沒有派莉蓮替我出去辦過任何事。連寄一封信,都是從來沒有的事,她爲何要誣告我呢?當真是走投無路嗎?

哎,莉蓮,莉蓮,妳怎麽會做出這樣的事來呢?妳出車禍時連照會我一聲都沒有,如今肯定是缺錢了,就把歪腦筋動到我頭上來。說真的,我有哪一點對不起妳?當時妳上門應徵時,我一見妳,心裏就暗暗喝一聲采。妳長得可真好:年輕,看上去才二十出頭吧。長著一張桂林人特有的,乾淨靈秀的臉。水亮的眼睛,白皙的肌膚,大波浪卷髮垂在瘦削的肩上,腰肢只有一點點,好像一折就會斷了。看妳楚楚可憐的站在我面前,一臉的期盼,我二話不説,就決定留下妳了。雖然妳在票務上,一點經驗都沒有, 況且英文也說得不太流利。可是妳才上了半年不到的班,就不告而別,然後現在又這樣捅我一刀,這是爲什麽呢?

可是我知道,我不能浪費時間在思考答案上。目前的要務,是尋求解決辦法。我先打電話給我的保險經紀,説明狀況,在他拒絕理賠後,便當機立斷,立即給民事律師伊麗莎白.勞森撥了一個電話。

伊麗莎白是我的顧客,不常來,一年也只來個一兩次,買她囘東岸過節的機票。她三十出頭,一頭削得短短的棕髮,尖臉,大嘴、大眼睛。粗看不起眼,可當她一身珍珠白套裝,拎著古奇小牛皮公事包,刮得光潔瑩白的兩條腿下,一雙尖錐香奈爾高跟鞋,咯咯咯,有韻律地輕敲地面,行路有風地在路邊走過時,任誰都要對她多瞧兩眼。

她在電話裏聼我簡單説明事端後,表示她反正本來就想來,挑幾本歐遊的冊子,作爲明年度假參考用。“你先把那封信電傳過來吧。我看過後明天過來,和妳談談。”說完咕咕笑著加了一句:“第一次咨詢算我請客,不收費。”

於是第二天,她就一身名牌,昂首闊步地走進我的辦公室。

“妳昨天傳真過來的那封麥道爾的來信,我已經看過了。標準的律師信,上過民法101的人都能寫。”她一坐下,就把公事包往旁邊一扔,二話不説,言歸正傳。她聲音清脆,速度又快,一個字緊咬著前面一個,成了一條環環相扣的晶亮銀鏈子。她把下巴往上一揚,嫣然一笑,有點甜姐兒Meg Ryan 的俏皮味兒。“別讓他唬到你了,我們想辦法來對付。”

“怎麽個對付法?“我漫無頭緒。

“唔,我需要證據,比方説,流水帳、日記之類,能夠證明妳當天沒有叫她出去買午餐的書面文件。“伊麗莎白站起來,低頭把我替她挑好的旅遊冊子,放在公事包裏,拉上拉練,然後就看著我,露出她的招牌微笑。我知道,她是準備要走了。律師的時間寶貴,一小時三百五十元。
我擡頭望著她尖尖的下巴頦,心裏暗暗叫苦。須知我疏懶成性,日記是從來不寫的,流水賬嘛,寫寫停停,去年一整年都沒記了,再説,我即使寫,也不會把這些芝麻綠豆的事寫進去。

“有最好,沒有也不要緊,我們另想辦法。也許…”伊麗莎白沉吟了一下,大眼睛在我員工臉上逐個溜過。“萬一需要的話,她們可以出庭作證嗎?”
“大概吧。” 話雖是這麽說,但我心裏實在沒把握。蒂凡妮年紀和膽子都小,一點點事就大驚小怪的,如果知道要她上法庭,她也許立刻就辭職。雷蒙娜是典型的西語裔女子,沒見過什麽大場面的,要她上法庭對著法官和荷槍實彈的法警,肯定會嚇得話都講不出來。能出庭的,也許只有業務經理莎莎了,可是莎莎和我若是日日往法庭跑,公司又如何運作呢?

我想我這時的臉色也許太難看了,伊麗莎白見了不忍,連忙把手搭在我的肩膀上,用力拍了一下,非常哥兒們的。 “別緊張,我們的目標是逼他們主動撤銷告訴,大不了就和解,官司應該是不用打的,妳的寶貝員工,也應該不必出庭。“說到這裡,她擡手看錶,然後大吃一驚:“嘩,不得了,再不走就遲了。下周三見囉。”

宣誓作證程序是在麥道爾所在的辦公大樓中,其中的一間會議廳舉行的,時間是早上十點。 會議間不大,呈扁扁的長方形,淺灰的牆好像才剛粉刷過,聞起來有一股酒精和松節油混合的新漆味兒。屋子裏並排放著兩張長桌,圍著長桌,一溜擺了十幾張黑色軟墊金屬轉椅,此外就空無一物,連一盆綠色盆栽都沒有,顯得單調又凝重。好在後面是一排大窗,百葉窗簾都拉起來了,南加州金色的陽光,大剌剌地潑灑了進來,才給這個房間添了一點生氣。我們推門時,看到裏面已經坐著一男一女。男的坐在中間,臉朝窗,一動也不動。因爲背著光,我只見他寬大的肩膀上,架著一顆碩大的灰白頭顱,以及屹立兩旁的,一雙半透明的粉紅招風耳。他,想必是麥道爾三世了。女的看樣子很年輕,栗色的長髮用個大髮夾,鬆鬆的挽在後面,夾不住的短髮就滑了下來,披散了上半張臉,只露出一個尖尖的鼻子,圓圓的下巴。她坐在靠牆的角落,面前放了三具機器:速記機、攝像機、錄音機。

我跟著伊麗莎白走進房間。麥道爾看見我們進來,忙不迭地站了起來,一個大步上前,伸出一張厚厚實實的大手,遞給伊麗莎白握著。當我對著面前這麽一張兩頰紅潤,肉嘟嘟的老臉時,我一時愣住了。這人真是那個準備誣告我的,壞心腸的律師嗎?爲什麽他的長相,竟然和聖誕老人那麽像,和我想象中的他,差了十萬八千里呢?

“勞森小姐是嗎?我是威廉.麥道爾三世。”他一面搖晃著伊麗莎白的手,一面打量我,眼睛睜得大大的,一副大驚失色的樣子。仔細一看,才知道他原來不是吃驚,而是因他戴的眼鏡,鏡片又大又厚,像個放大鏡,把他的眼睛放得比原來足足大了一倍,於是乍看之下,就覺得他老是圓瞪雙眼,一臉的訝異。“這一定就是徐太太了。”就跟所有不懂中文的美國人一樣,他把“Hsu”唸成“哈蘇”,說完大手就伸到我面前了,我一握之下,發現又綿又燙,像是捏了個溫熱的大號馬鈴薯。這時,那女孩也放下手上的工作,走了過來。

“這是妮娜,全世界最好的法庭紀錄員。”麥道爾放開我的手,誇張地眨了一下他的大眼睛,金黃的、粗大的眼睫毛,一根根清清楚楚地在鏡片下顫動著。不知如何,看了竟令人生了不寒而慄之感。

妮娜擡手把紛披的頭髮往後一撩,露出兩隻綠眼睛,瞄了大家一眼,然後聳聳肩,表示打過招呼了,就回到自己的座位去了。

我們的座位是這樣安排的:我坐在麥道爾的正對面,伊麗莎白也坐在他那邊,中間隔了一個座位,妮娜則挪到伊麗莎白旁邊,所有的配備也移了過去,攝像機鏡頭不偏不倚地對準我,擺出一副“一觸即發”的架勢。妮娜才坐定,卻又立即蹦了起來,急急走到我身後,嘩嘩把幾扇百葉窗簾全密密拉上了。沒了陽光,室内的照明,就全靠天花板上那幾管“滋滋”作響的日光燈了。而空氣,也一下變得厚重了起來,好像用個大口袋一收,就可以放在砧板上,斬成一塊塊似的。一時間,我有了被囚的禁閉感,我用力咬著下脣,雙手按著大腿,拼命按耐著想大聲尖叫,甚至奪門而出的衝動。

麥道爾大概也看出我的不自在了,他用他溫情脈脈的大眼睛們,端詳了我好一會兒,然後才照本宣科的,向我説明我在作證中,所扮演的角色,以及注意事項。

“都說完了,有問題嗎?”麥道爾圓圓的頭顱,帶領著他的大招風耳,往前探了一下。牛大的眼睛盯著我,眼白的地方,幾條細細的血絲,看得分外分明。

“沒—沒有,不過—”我抖索著說。才坐定就發現,我頭頂上就是冷氣出口,森森的冷風一口鐘似的罩下來,剛開始還不覺得,坐久了不全身發抖也難。“可以把室内溫度調—調高些嗎?冷–空氣令我覺得–緊—緊張。”

“怎麽不早說呢?”伊麗莎白睨了我一眼,隨即跳了起來,一箭步走到牆邊,把溫度錶扭了一下,就回到座位上。很快的,風就停了,我的身體開始回暖,情緒也隨著平和了些。我長長的舒了一口氣,哎,臺灣大的人,就是怕冷,即使住了幾十年美國也一樣。

“好,在我正式問話之前,我們還得宣個誓。”麥道爾扯了一下勒在他粗大脖子上的,藍白條紋領帶結,顯然有點燥熱了。“妮娜,請妳帶著哈蘇太太唸一遍誓詞。”

“不是哈蘇,是徐。”我忍不住了,終於鼓起勇氣糾正他。

“噢,對不起,銹—銹—太太”他小心撅起薄薄的嘴唇往外噓氣,發出趕小雞般的聲音。

保證句句真話的誓詞念完之後,麥道爾就劈頭問我第一個問題:“潘小姐是好員工嗎?” 我愣了一下,不知如何回答。實在沒料到他爲什麽會問這麽難答的問題,可又不能問他,因爲遊戲規則不是這麽訂的。哎,這話怎麽說呢?莉蓮剛來的時候,表現得還真算是可圈可點。 她在旅遊學校受過訓練,所以基本上的知識都有,雖然沒經驗,但人倒還聰明,教上一兩遍,也就記在心上了。因此,在她開始上班的兩個月後,我就讓莎莎在一旁看著,讓她做一點簡單的訂位、開票工作了。

莉蓮英文說得雖然不是很流利,但是在她工作上所需要的用語,來來回囘也只有那幾句,不外是:到哪裏去?那個機場?經濟艙嗎?還是商務?需要特別的飲膳嗎?要直飛嗎?轉機行不行?喜歡靠走道還是靠窗的座位?付信用卡還是現金?到底年輕,聼多了,這些話也就能琅琅上口了。只要不讓她安排複雜的行程,她大致上都勝任愉快。更何況,我們的顧客中,中國人也不在少數,她應付起來,就更是得心應手了。

當上門指定要找莉蓮的客人愈來愈多,而她的電話,也愈來愈繁忙的時候,她的自身,也有了驚人的變化。她先是把及肩的長髮,剪成薄薄的,羽毛似貼在面頰上的短髮,額上和頭頂的幾小撮,還挑染成淡淡的金色。臉上也化了妝,因爲白,所以脂粉就用不上了,只是把所有的重點,集中在眼睛上。長長窄窄的雙眼皮上,眼綫描得又粗又黑,眼影是厚重的褐赭色,看上去沉甸甸的,像是飛了一層金。當她在改頭換面的第一天,出現在辦公室時,沒有人一眼認出她來,只是在她露齒一笑,露出她兩只小虎牙時,大夥才驚呼一聲:“莉蓮!”然後一窩蜂擁到她身旁。

“好漂亮哦!”蒂凡妮輕輕摸著莉蓮的頭髮,嘖嘖稱奇。“妳在那裏剪的?我也要去!”

“是我室友替我剪的,她是個髮型師。” 莉蓮紅著臉說。是的,我記得她上星期提過,説是搬了家,和一個朋友合租一個公寓。

“妳的眼睛也是她畫的嗎?”雷蒙娜把鼻子湊到莉蓮面前,睜大眼睛打量。

莉蓮登登向後退了一步,舉起雙手遮住彎彎的眼睛,不無得意地說道:“我自己畫的,畫得不好,都成了大熊貓了。”

“好看是好看—”一直沒説話的莎莎忽然插嘴說:“不過,這種妝還是晚上赴宴時化的好,大白天有點不合適。”

莉蓮聼了,先是一愣,然後就板著臉,一語不發地衝到洗手間,“呯”地把門一関。接下來,只聽到裏面傳來嘩嘩的水聲,夾著若有若無的抽噎聲,持續了一陣子後,水聲哭聲都嘎然而止,跟著就是一片死寂,再沒半點聲氣了。我正在替莉蓮擔心,想去瞧個究竟時,門忽然呀地開了,只見她昂著頭走了出來,頭髮像是沾了水,鬢角濕漉漉的,眼睛紅紅的,妝大致已洗掉,只是沒洗乾淨,還殘留著一點赭色的影子,像是被蚊子叮了一口似的。她神態自若地對著衆人一笑,就婷婷裊裊走到自己的座位,坐了下來。起先,大家對她方才激烈的反應,都有點訝異,尤其是莎莎,更是悔恨交加,沒等她坐定,就走到她身邊,一手搭在她肩膀上,笑道:

“我剛才説話沒經大腦,希望妳別放在心上。”

“我沒事。”莉蓮一張清水臉對著電腦,頭也不擡地說:“對不起,我還有工作要做。”說罷便劈劈啪啪地把鍵盤打得喧天價響,再也不理會莎莎了。

莎莎碰了一個軟釘子,便聳聳肩,識趣地走開了。蒂凡妮和雷蒙娜面面相觀,交換了一個心照不宣的眼神後,也就不作理會,各忙各的。只有我, 還持續被她這種情緒化的行徑困擾著,最後忍不住,便走到我的私人辦公室,偷偷把她的履歷表拿出來,試著從她填寫的資料中,找出一點蛛絲馬跡。當初莉蓮來面談時,因爲一看就喜歡,所以連履歷都不曾看過,就錄用了她。如今想想,也實在是欠考慮了些。

表是用英文打出來的,規格一般,想是旅遊學校沿用的。上面的資料,也著實有限,不過多看幾眼,也就看出莉蓮這個人,是有點與衆不同。主要問題,是出在她的教育背景上。根據履歷表,她四年前就來了美國,可她的英文程度,卻又那麽差,文法、語法錯誤百出,中國新移民所常犯的錯,她一個都沒少犯。還有,她的發音雖然還不錯,但是詞彙卻少得可憐,稍微長一點的句子,就說得左支右絀,詞不達意。怎麽會這樣呢?照說,年紀輕輕的,學習能力特別強,在美國這麽些年了,即使沒念書,在大環境耳濡目染之下,英文都應該有點長進才是啊!不過,話又說回來,有些人的語文學習能力,就是差了些,不時有許多來美幾十年的老華僑,還是一口的洋涇濱英文嗎?至於她的情緒失控,説不準只是她正值生理期,女孩子嘛,在那段期間,心情是多少會受荷爾蒙左右的。我看著她背對著我,曲弓著的,薄薄的肩膀,以及竪在肩膀上,一截細細的,白中透著點青的,漢白玉般的頸項,心驀地一軟,便嘆了一口氣,把她的檔案收囘櫃子裏了。哎,誰叫她是咱們桂林人呢?只要她的舉止,不乖張到影響到別人的情緒,或她自身的工作表現,我就將就點,不再追究了吧,我也不希望小題大做,擔個“惡主”的罪名。

説來也奇怪,在這件事之後,莉蓮和大家的關係,就明顯的生分了許多。除了蒂凡妮偶爾還逗逗她,說點女孩子感興趣的話題外,多數時間,她都是一個人默默的打電腦,午飯也不願和大夥一道吃,不是在外面胡亂吃個快餐,就是在人家吃完後,一個人在餐廳,獨自啃帶來的冷三明治。不過,她對我還是很有禮貌,除了謹守上下分際外,我交代她做的事,也並不敢推託。然而她的表現,和剛來時相比,非但沒進步,還有每下愈況之勢。我注意到,她沒事就盯著電腦發呆,而且效率也不比從前了,往往下班時候快到了,該做的工作還沒做完,訂位單,橫七竪八的攤開來。因爲不得人心,也沒人願意幫她。我見狀連忙把手邊的事擱下來,幫著她,快手快腳的把訂了一半的機位訂完,次日就漲價的飛機票開好,收據和行程表印好,等到事情告一段落,就已經過了下班時間了。

莉蓮總是比我先一步走。當我鎖好門,目送她在夕陽餘輝下,拖著長而淡的影子,走在空曠的停車場時,心裏免不了五味雜陳。這樣的一個身世不明、脾氣捉摸不定、工作效率跌跌不休的女子,留她在公司裏,遲早會闖禍,是不是現在就該請她走路,以絕後患呢呢?可是,當我見到她弓著半個身子,跨進她那油漆剝落,車身凹下一塊大疤的老本田時,心裏一酸,又拿不定主意了。像她這樣高傲的女子,竟然肯開一部如此老舊不堪的汽車,經濟情況肯定有大問題,如果我這時把她開除掉,那不是逼到她走投無路嗎?這時,我眼前就影影綽綽地,出現一幅莉蓮站在深淵邊,面向著一個紅橙橙的大太陽,奮不顧身,望下一躍的悲壯身影。“不,不行!”我幾乎驚叫出聲。哎,算了算了,反正不急,再留她一陣子,看情況再説吧!

“我再問你一遍,潘莉蓮是不是好雇員?”麥道爾看我久久不能作答,兩條掃把眉虯成一團,顯然有點不耐煩了。

“唔,她剛來的時候還不錯,算是個好員工,可是後來…後來,就不是很好了,到最後他不告而別的時候,她的表現可以説是一塌糊塗。”話才說完,我就知道自己太多嘴了,人家只要一個“好”或“不好 ”我卻加油添醋的,說了一大串。我斜著眼睛,瞄了一下伊麗莎白。只見她的嘴巴彎成一個緊綳的弓形,眼睛直直的看著我,很有點警告的意味。

“哦,怎麽個一塌糊塗法呢?”麥道爾眼睛發亮,果然樂了。

我偷眼看伊麗莎白,發現她的眼光更淩厲了。 我半晌沒説話。屋子裏一片寂靜,連妮娜滴滴答答的打字聲,也聼不見了。最後,我低下頭,結結巴巴地說:“我…我不知道。”

“妳是不是認爲,“麥道爾拿拳頭掩住半張嘴,乾咳一聲,然後繼續問:“她在沒有加班費的情況下,拒絕在下班後,繼續替妳工作,就是表現不好呢?”

我大吃一驚。莉蓮竟然把這件毫不相關的事情,告訴了麥道爾,而且還有意扭曲真相,把我描述成一個刻薄寡恩的雇主。其實,自從她搬家之後,就藉口路遠,經常遲到,有時一遲就是半個鐘頭,我因顧念到她的經濟狀況,不但從來沒有扣過她薪水,連一句重話都沒說過。既然上班遲到,晚走一些也是應該的呀,再説,所謂的加班,頂多也是不到三十分鐘的事,更何況還有我陪著她,幫她一同把工作做完。可是沒想到她卻認爲我在剝削她,隔了沒多久,就搬出種種理由,不願再“今日事,今日畢 ” 了。關於這點,我懷疑多半是莉蓮的男友艾瑞克教唆的。

艾瑞克不是別人,其實就是莉蓮口中的室友,也就是那個替她剪髮染髮的髮型師。這是蒂凡妮在無意間發現後,告訴我的。

第一次看見艾瑞克,是在莉蓮搬家之後沒多久的事。記得有天早上,她遲到了很久,一直到十一點多鐘,還是芳蹤緲杳,連電話也沒一個。我正在著急時,忽然聽見外面傳來一陣刺耳的刹車聲,接著就看見一輛紅色的野馬,在辦公室門口嘎然停下,接下來車門一開,只見莉蓮一條細細的長腿伸在洞開的車門外,半晌又縮了回去,隨即看她匆匆打開皮包,掏出有點像皮夾樣的東西,往開車那人身上一丟,然後便兀自轉身,準備下車了。可正在這時,她像是被人拉了一把,只見她身子一斜,便往駕駛座那邊靠了過去。接下來,就看見她那顆小小的頭顱,埋在一大蓬橘色的,芒草般的長髮裏面。可沒多久,她就掙脫了,逃走一般跳出車門,直直向辦公室跑來,臉上一片紅霞,看不出來是喜還是怒。因爲她跑得太急,車門忘了関,車裏那個只好走出來關門。在將近正午的驕陽之下,我看得仔細,原來窩在那一蓬芒草下面的,是一張乾乾淨淨的,男人的臉。看上去大約三十多嵗,白種人,一條緊身牛仔短褲包著窄窄的臀部,上面貼身一件黑色T恤,雖然是再普通不過的,加州年輕人打扮,可明眼人一看,就知道是一身的名牌。光看他的穿著,黝黑的膚色,平坦的腹部,以及肌腱發達的四肢,就可猜測到,他是個無所事事,成天在海邊衝浪晒太陽的 “海灘浪子 ”。他関上車門後,邊繞回駕駛座那邊,邊朝我們的方向咧了咧嘴,揮揮手。笑容很迷人,動作也瀟灑,如果把那蓬頭髮剪剪短,倒不失爲一個好看的男人。

他們兩人間的關係,絕非泛泛,這是任何人都看得出來的。但令我覺得好奇的是,這兩個截然不同的人,是如何神差鬼使的牽扯到一塊兒的?光看莉蓮新剝殻的熟雞蛋般,平整光滑的臉,是怎樣都看不出來的。饒是如此,自從看過她和艾瑞克在車裏那一幕後,就時時有“山雨欲來風滿樓”的惘惘之感,縂擔心不知那一天,有什麽禍事,會降臨到莉蓮身上。可是我雖然替她擔心,卻又不知如何幫助她,想要在她那裏稍微了解狀況,她就一把尺般僵直的坐在我的對面,濃黑的眼睫毛垂下來,一語不發。看到她這神情,我就問不下去了。一方面是怕她再有什麽情緒化的反應,另一方面是,美國的法律,是絕對保護雇員的隱私權的,雇主一不小心稍越雷池一步,就會給自己找來意想不到的麻煩。即是莉蓮是中國人,不愔美國法律,但我也不能就因爲這樣,而有雙重標準。

可真相,像貓一般伏在黑暗的角落,靜靜窺視著的真相,往往在最出其不意的一刻,就一點一點的顯現出來。在幽暗的月光下,先是一條毛茸茸的尾巴,再來就是兩個尖尖的耳輪,然後兩隻綠瑩瑩的眼睛驀地一睜,腿一蹬,就閃電般的撲到你身上來,令你措手不及。

話説有一天,我的老顧客吳太太,帶著她從波士頓來的朋友汪太太,來要求我幫忙,替她改換機票日期。她們一進門,我就注意到那位汪太太,見到正在握著電話筒,和顧客通話的莉蓮時,臉上緊了一緊。接下來,她一面心猿意馬地和我討論行程,一面斜著兩隻小眼睛,偷覷著莉蓮,可莉蓮卻依舊歪著頭,對著話筒説話,一副渾然不覺的樣子。汪太太臨出門前,還裝作不在意的,回頭攏了一下頭髮,順便又瞄了莉蓮一眼。她們倆出了門之後,汪太太一手勾住吳太太的臂膀,另一手動作很大的比劃著,不久又忍不住回頭望了一次,然後又恢復她激烈的手勢。 她倆邊走邊熱烈地討論著,直到倆人富富態態的背影,消失在停車場的另一端。

第二天一大早,就接到吳太太的電話, 説是汪太太有話要跟我說,問我方不方便。我有預感是關於莉蓮的事,於是便把電話綫接到我私人辦公室去,関起門來聼。汪太太在電話那頭,對我氣急敗壞地說了一大串。我在腦子裏,梳理了一遍才整出個頭緒來。她的意思是,昨天來的時候,看到我辦公室裏的中國女孩子,樣子很像是她在德勒瓦州開餐館的親戚的老婆。四年前去桂林娶回來的,才來了一年多,就吵著要離婚,據説是到餐館幫忙時,被一個年輕洋鬼子勾引的。親戚倒是個好人,居然准了,還大方地給了她一年的生活費。可她才剛走,就從她醫生那裏,發現原來她已經懷了孕。她那親戚也天真,以爲那孩子有可能是他的,就請了一個私人偵探,到處打聽她的下落,可美國這麽大,怎麽找得到呢?所以查了一陣子,也就放棄了。沒想到兩年之後,居然神差鬼使的,讓她在這裡碰上了。

“我和阿炳是遠房親戚,住得又遠,平時很少見面的,但他的喜筵我倒是去了,那天他的餐館就不營業了,関起門來,席開二十圍,遠遠近近的親友都親友都請到了,好熱鬧!大家當著面,都稱讚阿炳好福氣,討了個這麽年輕漂亮的老婆。她是漂亮,有點像像蕭芳芳年輕時的樣子。蕭芳芳妳知道吧?多漂亮!但是我當時就覺得不對,都上六十的人了,討這樣的人回家,不是自找麻煩嗎?人家圖的就是出國,還以爲真愛上他這個老頭子,好糊塗!哎,男人就是這樣…”汪太太嘮嘮叨叨說完之後,才想起來要問我,莉蓮是不是有一個美國男朋友。“聼阿炳說,那個男的大概有三十多嵗,白白淨淨的,頭髮很多,像稻草一樣。”

我心裏雪亮。汪太太眼力不錯,她口中的那個女人,不是莉蓮是誰?七巧板擺來擺去,拼出來的圖,都天衣無縫,連艾瑞克的長相,都八九不離十。唯一的疑點,就是莉蓮並不像是個有孩子的人。若是說她兩年前懷的孕,她剛來上班的時候,應該是孩子生下來才幾個月,可是怎麽看都不像,人那麽瘦,肚子又薄又平,哪有半點才生完孩子的樣子?那麽,難道這人不是莉蓮?要不就是她作了人工流產,把孩子打掉了。這也不是沒可能。假如那孩子是阿炳的, 她既然不愛他,就犯不著留下這個孩子,假如是艾瑞克的呢,她還是不能生下來,因爲像他這種享樂派的“海灘浪子”,是根本就不會想要孩子的。

但在我查清事實的真相之前,我決定不露聲色,我沒有傻到要向一個素昧平生的人,透露有關我雇員的任何綫索。於是我便對她說:“汪太太,天下長得像的人多得是,妳大概認錯人了吧?光就男朋友這件事來説吧,我就相信妳看走眼了,莉蓮一向獨來獨往— ”話説到這,就咬到自己的舌頭了。哎,我這人真糊塗,怎麽輕易就把她的名字說了出來呢?

“莉蓮?“汪太太把 “蓮”字的尾音拖得長長的,像是在唱廣東大戲。可接下來,她的聲音卻又高亢了起來:“她中文名是不是叫秀珍?”

“據我所知,她只有一個名字, 英文叫Lillian,應該就是中文的莉蓮直譯過來的。” 我的話雖然說得斬釘截鐵,其實心中毫無把握。莉蓮一來就自稱爲Lillian Poon,從來不曾告訴我她的中文名字,我雖然問過她,但她卻理直氣壯地說:“就叫莉蓮呀!”事實上,我從沒看過她的綠卡或駕照,並不知道她在美國,法律上登記的名字是什麽。唯一確定的是,每月開支票給她,用的就是Lillian Poon這名字。可見得她手上確實有證件,向銀行證明她的身份,否則連開戶都不可能。

“那她姓什麽?我親戚姓潘,她也姓潘,對不對?妳縂不會連她姓什麽都不知道吧?”汪太太的口氣,開始不那麽友善了。

聼她那一把鋸齒般,割得人耳朵發痛的語調,我也動氣了。“汪太太,說老實話,我沒必要在電話裏,告訴妳我員工的底細。對不起,我手邊還有一千件事等著我處理,再見了。”說完就把電話“卡”地掛上。等到我定下神來,看到溼了一大片的電話筒時,才明白自己剛才出了一手心的冷汗。是的,“潘”這個姓,廣東老僑的拼音,就是Poon。汪太太一點都沒錯,莉蓮是姓潘。申請她居留身份的阿炳姓潘,她理應跟著姓潘的。既然這麽多綫索都吻合了,她的中文名字,想來也必定就是秀珍了。這點,實在也不難求證的,只要看莉蓮的履歷表上,middle name那欄填的是什麽,就應該十拿九穩了。須知很多中國人,把自己的中文名字,當作是姓名中的middle name看待的,就連我本人也一樣。我一向不留意別人的middle name,認爲那是多餘的,就像中國文人一大串的別號一樣,全是無關緊要的裝飾品。 但是這次不一樣,事関莉蓮的身份之謎,一點都馬虎不得。於是我把她的那份履歷又重新翻了出來,在桌上攤開,細細研究。Bingo! 果然沒錯!她在那一欄上,填的就是“秀珍”這兩個字的英文縮寫:X.Z.

我對著她的履歷表發呆,一時不知如何反應。我知道汪太太八成不信我的話,而且説不定已經將莉蓮的行蹤,通知阿炳了。假如我的猜測不錯,那麽阿炳最遲應該在一兩天之内,就會趕到我公司尋人來了。那也不怕,既然婚已經离了,料他也不敢把她怎樣。不過,話又說回來,萬一莉蓮和他真有個小孩,夾在中間的話,情況又不一樣了,他一定不會輕易罷休,非得從莉蓮手裏,將孩子奪回才甘心的。哎,無論莉蓮有多乖僻,說什麽都是我請來的雇員,又是咱們桂林同鄉,我能袖手旁觀,任由事情發展到這田地嗎?再説,我也不能光聼汪太太的一面之詞,就認定阿炳是個好人。萬一他表面人模人樣,床上卻是個性變態,諸如結婚啦、孩子啦,都是亂人耳目的幌子。莉蓮好不容易脫離魔掌,若是又落到他的手裏,都不知會被他折磨成什麽樣子呢!真實人生中, 看過太多羅生門類的故事了,所以無論汪太太的話,聼起來有多合情合理,我都無法輕易置信。再三考慮之後,我決定和莉蓮談談,我要知道她這一方的説辭,才決定下一步該怎麽做。可是像莉蓮這樣的一個人,會對我說實話嗎?我實在沒把握。

我猜得沒錯,當我把汪太太和我的對話,原原本本的向莉蓮復述一遍時,她除了臉上的血色唰地褪去,以及嘴唇微微抖嗦之外,還是一如往常地垂著頭,一語不發。看到她這樣的無可救藥,我終於沉不住氣了,於是我板起臉,把聲調提高到發怒邊緣,説道:

“莉蓮,妳要是再不説話,我就認爲妳默認了。”

她還是抿著嘴。但是垂下來的眼皮蓋開始氾紅,眼睫毛也抖個不停,我看她那樣子,知道她心裏已經認了,於是便嘆了一口氣,説道:“莉蓮,我們倆非親非故,妳的事,我根本不該,也不必管。但是妳有沒有想過,妳在我這裡呆了這些日子,做事不專心,又不合群,換了第二個老闆,老早就請妳走路了,可是我沒有,爲什麽?就是因爲妳我都是桂林人,人不親土親,知道嗎?而且,我剛來美國的時候,受過的罪,都還沒忘,妳心裏的苦,我多少能體會些,所以就處處護著妳,還叫別人忍讓妳。妳明白嗎?”

她點點頭,大串的眼淚開始從面頰滑落,滴到頸項、領口。我在桌面的紙巾盒裏,抽了一張遞給她。

到底還是個知好歹的人!我心裏平順了些,便接下去説道:“好,妳現在知道狀況了。告訴我,妳下一步有什麽打算。” 這時,只見莉蓮雙手捂住半個臉蛋,肩膀一聳一聳的,開始哭泣,不知有多淒涼的樣子,就像我女兒在外面受了委屈,回家向我哭訴的情況一樣,我的心於是就在刹那間變得柔軟龐大,像海洋,可以包容一切,接納一切。我站起來,繞到她背後,環住她的肩膀説道:“別哭了,有什麽事,可以和我商量,如果需要幫忙的話,也不要客氣。”

這下子莉蓮哭得更厲害了,她全身顫抖,大聲抽噎,哭得好像要背過氣來似的。我站在她身旁,輕輕拍著她的背脊,直到她慢慢平靜下來,然後就走到飲水器那裏,倒了一杯水給她。她喝了一口,之後就突然伸出手來,拉住我的,啞聲道:“謝謝妳。我—我沒有孩子,妳不需要替我擔心。”

接下來,莉蓮就擦乾眼淚,開始跟我說她的故事。

莉蓮說,她的老家其實不在桂林,而是在离桂林三十里開外,靈川縣境内,一個叫海洋鄉的村子。村裏有一個林區,區内種了成千上萬株的銀杏,村裏的人就靠銀杏樹上結的白果養家活命,世世代代都是這樣。

“秋天的時候,銀杏樹葉全變成透亮的金黃色,站在小山坡上一眼望過去,就是一片金黃的樹海,看不到盡頭,可好看呢!”說到這裡,莉蓮抿著嘴笑了,兩頰的酒窩一閃,完全像個孩子。可是她隨即嘆了一口氣,悠悠的説道:“可光風景好又有什麽用?又換不了飯吃!”

她接下來又說,家裏除了她外,還有一個弟弟,但是因爲小時候發了一場高燒,燒退了就成了弱智,連從一數到十都不會,平時什麽事都不能做,只有幫著在林子裏打打雜。所以父母就把希望全寄托在她身上,在鄉下上完高中後,就讓親戚在桂林,給她找到一個在遊客區禮品店的店員工作,包吃包住,每月掙的錢,就全部寄回家給父母。

“全部嗎?”我睜大眼睛問她。

“唔,也沒有啦,留點錢買零嘴給自己吃。”她又笑了。沉吟了一會兒,接著又說:“我在那裏做了兩年,就辭工去工廠做女工,後來覺得辛苦,就又不做了。就這樣陸續換了幾個工作,最後在一家旅遊公司做導遊。潘先生就是我有一次,在帶團的時候認識的。”

“妳叫他做潘先生嗎?”心想,這女孩子真是奇怪,哪有這樣稱呼自己前夫的。

她搖搖頭,嘲諷地笑了。“哎,剛認識時是這麽叫的,結婚後改叫阿炳反而不習慣。離開他兩年,老習慣又回來了。”

“他對你還好吧?”

她認真地點點頭。“好,很好。阿炳是個好人,當初嫁給他,我完全是自願的,我爸媽沒有強迫我。他們常說錢夠用就好,尤其是我媽,她是瑤族人,一點都沒有金錢觀念的。是我自己虛榮,看他又是金又是銀的送我,帶我上賓館吃大菜,出手那麽闊綽,好像家裏有座金山銀礦,一輩子用不完似的。還說要帶我去美國,對桂林人來説,去美國就像去天堂一樣,只有世界上最幸運的人,才有資格去的。我一心動,就答應了。”

“妳當時沒想到年齡的問題嗎?他這麽大歲數,做妳爸爸都綽綽有餘。”

“不是沒想過,只是覺得自己有辦法克服。可是等到真和他在一起——”說到這裡,莉蓮的臉就飛紅了。“沒想到,一個老男人的身體,會這麽—不好看,再加上,還有個—味道。”

“所以妳就受不了,等遇到年輕英俊的艾瑞克,妳就提出離婚了,是嗎?”雖然我不認識阿炳,可是卻沒來由地替他感到悲哀,一個老男人,好不容易找到心頭所愛,千辛萬苦地把她接到美國來,錦衣玉食地養著她,疼她、愛她,可才一年多一點,她就背叛了他。莉蓮過河拆橋的行徑,的確是太過分了些。但是轉念一想,又認爲她其情可憫。天下男女,鮮有人能抗拒光滑的肌膚、強健的四肢、優美的曲綫的,芳華正茂的莉蓮,又豈能例外?再説,阿炳娶她之前,應該有自知之明的,如果認爲這樁買賣式的婚姻,可以天長地久的話,也證實了他的愚昧,不值得同情。

無論如何,我的語氣還是硬了些,只見莉蓮聼了,半晌不説話,半個身子陡地直了起來,臉上出現了惱怒的表情,像一隻被人揪住尾巴的貓。我沒反應,只靜靜地看著她。在僵持了好一會兒後,她終於軟化了,搖搖頭,嘆了一口氣說:“我知道妳覺得我無情無義,但是—,”她停了一下,眼睛定定地看著我桌面的竹節筆筒,吸了一口氣,半天接不上話來。我伸出手來,碰碰她擱在桌上的,冷而硬的手背。她翻過手來,捉著我的,點點頭,激動地説道:“是的,事到如今—告訴妳也不妨。我——我自從離開阿炳以後,日子也不好過,甚至——甚至可以說遭到報應了。”這時,她的眼睛又蒙上一層水氣,看著就要汎濫了,於是便抖著手,在我桌上抽了一張紙巾,捂住眼睛。

“哦?”聼她這麽說,我心裏一動,知道她和艾瑞克之間,確實有問題,我的隱憂,不是沒道理的。

“妳一定覺得奇怪,我和艾瑞克怎麽會踫到一起的吧?”莉蓮問,我點點頭。

莉蓮說他們是在阿炳的餐館認識的。阿炳本來不願意她去餐館幫忙的,但是看她一個人悶在家,無聊得發慌,心一疼,就勉強同意,讓她一星期去個兩天,幫著收收錢,帶帶位。沒想到這麽一來,籠子一開,到手的金絲雀就飛了。

莉蓮說艾瑞克是土生土長的德勒瓦人,家境中等,父母就他這麽一個獨子,從小就寵得不得了的。大學念了兩年就休了學,跟父母要了一筆旅費,背個行囊雲遊四海。曾經在麗江大理一帶,住過幾個月,因此就學會說幾句普通話,也學會吃當地的土鍋菜和過橋米綫。他周遊列國,錢用光了,就在當地找個臨時工做,存了點錢,就又繼續雲遊,這樣一晃就是六、七年。他最後終於疲倦了,捲了行囊回家。可回家一時找不到事,整天遊手好閒,父母看看不是辦法,於是便給了他一筆學費,讓他學一門技術,他覺得美髮容易學,於是就選了這行,學成了就興致勃勃地,跑到一向嚮往的加州好萊塢找工作。可是到了好萊塢之後,發現生活程度太高,事情也不好找,倒是在五十哩外的曼哈頓灘,找到了一個髮型設計師的工作。但他很快的就被新交的朋友,捲進衝浪、喝酒、瘋狂派對這些高消費的活動中,於是過不了多久,便窮得連房租都付不起。 在無計可施之下,只好暫時囘德勒瓦的老家,向父母告貸。

莉蓮就是在他回家那段日子,在阿炳的餐館認識的。他在見到莉蓮後,打聽清楚莉蓮那幾天來上班,就專挑那幾天,在客人少的時段來吃飯、買外賣。反正阿炳不是窩在後面,堆滿乾貨的小辦公室打電話訂貨、算賬,就是在廚房裏查看冰箱的存貨,順便監視廚師及幫廚們。於是艾瑞克就大大方方的在前面,捧著他從中國帶回來的“好譯通”,用他有限的中文詞彙,再加上比手劃腳,和盤著黑亮的髮髻,兩只雪白的手臂交叉在胸前,女神一般,高高端坐在櫃檯上的莉蓮搭訕。

“艾瑞克很會説笑話,但是在餐館裏,有別的客人在場,又不敢大聲笑,只好悶在肚子裏笑,把肚子都悶痛了。”莉蓮說,眼睛濛濛的,嘴角有微微的笑意。我知道,此時此刻,她是愛他的。她看了我一眼,知道我讀懂了她的心,於是便點點頭,冷笑道:“沒想到跟了他之後,卻總是惹我哭。“說著鼻頭又紅了,我連忙遞了一張紙巾過去,又見她杯子空了,就給她另外倒一杯水,擱在她面前。她咕嘟嘟地把水都喝盡了,用力一捏,把紙杯捏扁了,接連又捏了幾下,把它弄成皺巴巴的一團,然後大力丟到牆角落的垃圾桶裏,這才像是洩了憤。“除了剛到加州,手頭還抓著阿炳給我的錢,和他過了些好日子外,接下來的時光,真是…有個成語叫不堪什麽的?”

“不堪回首。”

“對,不堪回首。妳看我,才來美國幾年,英文說不好,中文也忘得差不多了–”

我打斷她:“莉蓮,妳和艾瑞克的關係,假如不是太嚴重的話,其實是不必告訴我的,除非妳需要我幫忙。”

“不,我不需要你幫忙。我只是…一個人悶在心裏太久了,想要找個人痛痛快快地說說。”說到這裡,她就低頭,一根根地去撿粘在她裙子上的細毛。“小花這隻貓就是愛掉毛這點點麻煩。”她拍拍手,把沾在手上的毛拍掉,擡起頭來,苦笑著對我說道:“不過也沒辦法,我喜歡小東西,貓啦、狗啦、小人兒啦…我都愛。”她把手輕輕按在小肚子上,嘆了口氣說:“老實告訴妳吧, 汪太太的話是真的,我原是懷過孩子的,只是胎兒還沒成形就沒了– 我知道妳想問什麽—不,孩子不是阿炳的,他老了,沒用了,只是自己不肯承認。”

“妳打掉的?”唉,果然猜得不錯。

“不,不是打掉,是…流產。是…有天我被艾瑞克從樓梯上推下來,當時沒什麽感覺,我還自己把摔破的地方擦了消炎膏,紅腫的地方抹上正骨水,然後才躺在床上,一動也不敢動。可到了晚上,就開始流血不止,肚子也絞痛得厲害,後來在上馬桶時,見到一個大大的血塊‘噗’地掉了下來,那時心裏就明白,孩子沒了!”她說這話時,語氣倒很平靜,只是兩手緊緊抓住椅子把手,雪白的手背上兩條細細的青筋凸了起來,乍看像沒長好的兩道刀疤。

我大吃一驚。雖然料到他們的關係不正常,但卻萬萬沒想到會如此的腥風血雨。於是便帶著質問的口氣問莉蓮:“他既然對妳這樣,妳爲什麽還要跟他在一起?”

“剛開始時我心太軟,他每次打過我— ”

“每次?“我尖叫出聲。“等等,妳的意思是,他除了推你下樓,害你流產之外,還常常的、持續不斷的打你?”

她沉默了半晌,然後點頭默認了。

“妳怎麽能容許他這樣對妳呢?”我望著她那一張楚楚可人的臉蛋,拼命按捺住心頭的憤怒。

“他對我懺悔。他道歉捶胸痛哭發誓下跪,什麽都肯作。有一次不知在那裏,聽到我們中國負荊請罪的故事,竟然脫光了上身,背上綁了一截枯枝,然後把它交給我,要我打他。我哪裏打得下去?只好扔了。沒想到他撿了起來,然後就瘋狂往自己身上抽,我連忙去搶,那裏搶得過,好在那枝子脆,受不起力,沒兩下就斷了,他這才住了手…”

聽到這裡,我心想,這個有虐待狂的人,竟然還會用苦肉計來挽回她的心,說他是良心發現也好,機關算盡也好,總之,艾瑞克不是個簡單人物,莉蓮這個灕江邊上長大的鄉下姑娘,是絕對鬥不過他的。“莉蓮,妳還是早點離開他吧,這種人,有什麽值得你留戀的呢?”

“我知道妳心裏在想什麽,覺得我是個被虐狂,自作自受,對嗎?”說這話時,莉蓮的下巴急劇的抖動起來,情緒變得異常激動。

“莉蓮,我沒這個意思,請鎮靜些。”

她深深吸了一口氣,半天沒説話,然後垂下頭,低聲説道:“對不起,是我自己心裏有鬼,所以特別敏感。其實妳真要這麽想也沒錯,任誰都會這麽想的。可是妳不跟他在一起,妳不會知道,他好起來會有多好,好得讓妳覺得,就是死在他懷裏,也不會遺憾,好得讓妳毫不猶豫地把一切都交給他,妳的心、妳的人、妳的錢…。他會在花光了阿炳給妳的錢之後,讓妳打兩份餐館工,好掙錢給他去買名牌、跑車、毒品,甚至還和他一起吸毒。妳心甘情願的付出,只因爲他愛妳,而妳非得這樣做,才不至於辜負了他的愛。唔–我說的這些–”她擡起頭來,用看多了青山綠水的,純淨清澈的眼睛望著我問:“妳明白嗎?”

我愣了一下,隨即哈哈大笑:“莉蓮,妳未免太小看我了吧,我又不是沒年輕過!”是的,我怎麽會不明白呢?性愛的效應就和毒品一樣,那種令人飃飃欲仙、生死兩忘的感覺,足教天下男女耽溺其中,無法自拔。而愛情,卻不是只圖快意一時的毒品,而是能滋養身心、升華生命的補劑。然而天下人,包括莉蓮在内,又有誰能在芳華正茂之時,分辨出愛情与性愛的區分呢?我笑過之後,就長嘆一聲,對她說:“可是妳有沒有想過,跟這麽一個粗暴的人在一起,危險性有多大嗎?妳的骨肉已經在他手裏喪了命,下一個,就可能輪到妳自己了。就算你自己不怕死好了,但是妳有沒有想過,妳在廣西的家人,萬一知道妳過的是這種日子,會有多傷心嗎?”

“我當然想到過,要不然也不會一再的逃家了。”莉蓮眼睛垂下來,接著說:“可是…可是每次都被他找回來。 他…他知道我的朋友,總共就只有那幾個在餐館打工的同事,所以找起來也並不難。”

莉蓮,莉蓮,別再自欺欺人了,妳難道不會逃囘中國嗎?再説,美國那麽大,若是妳不留下蛛絲馬跡,他大概也不那麽輕易找到妳。或許,其中有一兩次,還是妳自動跑回去的也説不定。女人的心,我還不明白嗎?哎,明知莉蓮下不了決心,告別這種畸形墮落的生活,而我卻又無能爲力,拉她一把。我難過極了,於是便伸手捉住她放在桌面的手,啞著嗓子說道:“莉蓮,我們非親非故,妳要怎樣活,我也沒權管,但是無論如何,請聼我一句勸告,不要再吸毒了。別人傷害妳,或許不是妳能控制的,但是起碼妳不應該火上加油,傷害妳自己。”

她用力掙脫了我的手,霍然站起來説道:“我首先要聲明,我並沒有上毒癮,我只是偶爾悶了,抽兩口大麻,或是嗅一小撮古柯醎罷了。不信,妳可以瞧瞧,我的手腕有沒有針孔。”才說著,她就解了扣子,跟著就要動手挽衣袖,我忙不迭地拉住她,説道:“好啦,好啦,我信妳。到底是廣西人,性子這麽烈!”聼了這話,她才住了手,接著欠身坐下,紅著臉説道:“對不起,剛才反應過分了些,我就是不喜歡被人冤枉,每次一定爭到底,這也就是常惹艾瑞克生氣的原因。”

“生氣也不能打人呀!”我說。然後想想又加了一句:“妳性子那麽剛烈,怎麽肯這樣逆來順受呢?”

“我剛開始還反抗的,但是他力氣大,哪裏打得過他呢?到最後往往沒有力氣再還擊,只好任他拳打腳踢。有一次我實在受不了了,趁他打得氣喘連連,去廚房喝水時,我從地上爬起來,想跳窗逃亡,可紗窗一時打不開,只好硬衝出去,結果紗窗是衝破了,可臉上卻被刮得發疼,一抹 一手掌的血。腳也扭傷了,我顧不得那麽多,一瘸一瘸地跑到大街上。那是一個夏天的午後,白花花的陽光,刺得我眼睛都張不開來,整條街的人都不曉得哪裏去了,靜悄悄的,一點聲音都沒有。我光著腳板,踩在發燙的街心上,沒命的跑,跑,跑,卻又不知道該跑到哪裏,我一邊跑,一邊無緣無故地想起我弟來。記得小時候,在銀杏樹林裏教他捉謎藏,可他怎麽都教不會,一撒腿就跑,沒完沒了的跑,也不知道要躲起來,我看他實在跑遠了,只好追上去把他抓回來,他還扭手扭腳的生氣,説是他一路跑下去,肯定可以跑到美國。好笑吧?”說著說著,莉蓮的眼淚又下來了。她用手背胡亂抹了一把,慘笑了一聲,接著說:“更可笑的是,我現在人已經在美國了,還要拼命跑,而且最滑稽的是,我不是在玩遊戲,而是在逃命。”

莉蓮說,那天的結果,是艾瑞克開車出去,把在一哩外的公園裏,靠在一棵棕櫚樹幹上,氣若游絲的她,像拎小雞般拎回家的。他抱她上樓,替她擦臉,上藥,輕輕把她放在床上,幫她換一身乾淨衣服,然後跪在床邊,握著她的手,淚流滿面地說:“我的愛,我美麗的蓮花,我該死,我不是人,請妳原諒我!”她費力張開被他打得青紫腫脹的眼皮,看了他一眼之後,就把臉背過去,合上眼,假裝睡去。她是完完全全的冷了心了,他連懺悔的話都千篇一律,可見這個人根本沒真心。她咬著牙暗中發誓,她要離開他,愈快愈好!

她試過幾囘,可是因爲人生地不熟,又沒有好好計劃,所以每次都被他順藤摸瓜的逮了回來,除了上次,也是最後一次以外。那次她學乖了,她知道,她得先換工作。光換餐館還不行,前幾囘他就是從餐館這個千絲萬縷的綫索上,找到她的。可是做什麽好呢?她英文不行,跟了艾瑞克將近兩年了,他從來也不多話,就算非得說,也情願用他那破爛中文,所以她在他那兒,除了簡單的會話外,什麽都沒學會。這樣的資歷,找文書工作是絕對有問題的,但是离了餐館,其他的勞力工作她也不會,怎辦呢?這時,有人告訴她,有些工作,是可以先接受培訓的。

“所以妳就選擇了旅遊業?”我問她。

“唔,可以這麽說。”

説來也是因緣際會,話説一天有個客人來餐館吃飯,走時落了一張旅遊學校招生的廣告在桌上,她清桌子時,撿起來瞄了一眼,上面有三個月速成班、負責補習英語、學成介紹工作等等大標題。她一看大喜過望,經過再三琢磨,覺得可行,便悄悄托一個靠得住的餐館同事,變賣了幾樣阿炳給她的,貼身戴的首飾,換了幾千塊放在她那裏。接著在一個中國人家,租了一個月租才三百的小房間。給了定金後,就去旅遊學校報名、交錢。待一切佈置妥當之後,她揀了一個艾瑞克工作最忙的周六,匆匆忙忙把能帶走的東西,塞在她從桂林帶來的那個黑皮箱裏,然後就拖著行李,顛顛扑扑地逃了出去。在門口看到她才收養不久的那隻流浪貓小花,正蹲在窗臺,眼睛滴溜滴溜地望著她,看她要走,便“喵”了一聲跳下窗臺,向她跑來。她心一軟,一把將牠抱起,放在胸前,讓牠毛茸茸的頭她胸口磨蹭。哎,多想把牠帶走呀,但是不行,逃命要緊,這樣牽牽絆絆的,只會拖累了自己。 她最後還是咬咬牙,丟下了牠。

“沒想到丟下牠四個月,艾瑞克找到我時,牠還好好的活著,本來還以爲,牠一定被他虐待死了!”莉蓮吐了一口氣,一邊低頭去撿她裙子上的貓毛,一邊嘆氣:“雖然沒死,也差不多了,瘦得都見到了一根根的肋骨,還有皮膚病,身上的毛一把一把的掉—”

我對貓沒什麽興趣,於是便打斷她:“他後來是怎麽找到妳的?”

“誰知道呢?反正我有天出門上班時,他已經齜牙咧嘴的等在門口了。”

“妳還想逃嗎?或許,我可以幫妳想想辦法。”

“真的?”莉蓮的眼睛亮了一下,但隨即搖搖頭:“不,我試了這麽多次,都逃不掉,我已經死了心了。再説, 我已經沒救了,不值得妳白費心機的。艾瑞克就像一顆打心裏壞的白果,任何人挨上他,就會跟著變壞,要不了多久,就會從肉到皮長黴發臭,遲早被人當垃圾一樣扔掉的。我在鄉下的時候,看到村裏的人,一桶一桶地把壞白果丟掉,心裏覺得可惜,恨不得拿把刷子來,把它們身上的黴一顆顆洗刷乾淨。可是我媽笑我,説是打心裏的壞,是怎樣都洗不乾淨的。我,就是打心裏壞的一顆白果,表面看起來好好的,裏面已經爛了,沒救了。”

“可是妳沒壞,即使染上毒癮,都有得救,更何況妳沒有。”

她臉上一時陰晴不定,幾度彎身趨前,好像想開口説話,卻又欲言又止。在躊躇再三之後,她淒然一笑,顫聲説道:“謝謝妳的好意,可是我實在不想拖累妳。”說罷便站了起來,低頭慢慢撫平裙子上的皺褶,擡頭時,臉上又恢復一貫的平靜。“我們說了這麽久,莎莎她們在外頭一定忙翻天了,我得出去幫忙了。”她伸手將她坐過的椅子擺擺正,然後走到門邊。

看她剛才的神色,以及那吞吞吐吐,欲語還休的態度,我心中暗忖,事情也許比我想象的複雜,而莉蓮的處境,也可能比她所敍述的更令人驚心。我一時猶豫,不知是否該插手管她的事。但是我身上流的,廣西人的血液,卻時常讓我這個平時膽小怕事的人,在最關鍵的一刻,突然澎湃起來,變得居然有點勇敢,有點任俠好義,連自己都嚇了一跳。“莉蓮”我叫住她。“妳確定不需要幫忙?妳知道,我不是嘴巴說說就算的人。”

莉蓮轉身,兩道目光直勾勾地探到我瞳孔深處,讓我覺得她好像已經看穿了,我原來性格中外強中乾的一面。我的臉頰,無端端的燥熱了起來。

“不了,”她搖搖頭。“真的,我不需要幫忙。”說完就開了門,頭也不囘地跨出我的辦公室。

接下來,大家就都忙著一天的業務。那天生意特別好,電話不斷,上門的客人絡繹不絕,直到下半時間到了,我和莉蓮都沒有機會再交談。莉蓮在回家前,出其不意的走到我面前。

“我走了,明天見。”她一手勾在皮包的肩帶上,一手拿著一串鑰匙,對我微笑。

我正在電話綫上,和一個嘮叨的老客人牽扯不斷。我連忙掩住話筒,向莉蓮點頭笑道:“明天見。” 我繼續心不在焉地和客人說著話,目光卻隨著莉蓮的背影,看她緩緩推開門,看她彳亍地走出去,看她那黑色的、開衩的裙擺,被風刮起了一角,在風裏軟軟地翻飛著,像一支瑟縮的小旗子。這時,我心中突然升起了一個不祥的預感,覺得從此就再也見不到她了。

我的預感第二天就成真了。我一到辦公室,就發現桌子中央端端正正的放了一個信封,打開赫然是一把公司大門的鑰匙,以及莉蓮的一封信。信寫得很簡單,潦草的幾個大字,感謝我過去這些日子對她的照顧,她將永誌不忘云云。正在看信,莎莎走來對我說,莉蓮也給他們幾個留了一封致謝的信。又說,莉蓮的桌子,她已清查過,大致清乾淨。她邊說邊把一個紙袋放在我桌上。“不過,他抽屜裏還留下一些東西,妳要不要看看?我點點頭,心裏卻不油然的緊張起來,生怕她留下什麽毒品,到頭來真不知如何收拾善後。 莎莎打開紙袋,一樣樣拿了出來擺在我面前。我溜眼望去,並沒看到可疑的、有可能藏著白色粉末的小紙包小塑膠袋,心頭就鬆了一口氣。

桌上排排放著,有缺了一角的咖啡杯、半盒的奶精、一個牛骨小梳子、還有顧客送她的一些小擺設。突然,我的目光被一樣發亮的東西吸引了,拿起來一看,原來是一面橢圓形的鏡框。黃楊木做的,放在手心沉沉的。裏面鑲著一張褪了色的彩色照片,上面一共有四個人,兩個大人排排坐在板凳上,兩個孩子則站在父母面前。背景是一堵土牆,有一兩処都頹了,只剩蹋蹋拉拉的大半截。兩個大人露出粉紅色的牙肉,憨厚的笑著,臉上的顔色,和後面土牆渾為一體,像是同一把胚泥捏出來的。兩個孩子年紀都很小,頂多八、九嵗的樣子。女孩比男孩高出半個頭,從她臉上清秀的輪廓,可以看出來,那是小時候的莉蓮。她紥兩條細細的短辮,身上穿了一件白襯衫,一條花裙子。雖是普通的粗布衣服,穿在她身上,卻顯得特別清新可愛。那男孩歪歪扭扭的站在她身邊,胖臉上只見一張大嘴巴,像是在瘋笑,又像是狂叫,表情非常怪異。他,想來必定是她那弱智的弟弟了。照片中白皙秀麗的莉蓮抿著嘴微笑著,高貴的,矜持的。那氣質和周遭格格不入,讓她看起來,像個暫時借住在農家的落難千金。我手裏捏著鏡框,心中對莉蓮又多添了幾分同情。哎,水往低處流,人往高処爬,這是千古不變的道理。任誰處在這般粗糲貧瘠的環境之下,都會想盡辦法掙脫的吧?天生麗質的莉蓮,又豈能例外呢?

我嘆了一口氣,把這些東西一一收囘紙袋裏,吩咐莎莎放在後面的儲物櫃中。

莎莎邊收邊念叨:“我猜她是昨晚臨時決定要走,回來清東西,可又沒多少時間,匆忙中這些東西就忘了收了。“說到這裡,莎莎的眼圈紅了。她感情一向豐富,連辦公室裏金魚缸養的熱帶魚死了一條,都要哭個涕泗滂沱的。“等她回來,再交還給她。”

我點點頭,稱讚她想得周到。但是我心裏卻明白,莉蓮是不會回來的了。可怪的是,汪太太從此也沒了下文,也許信了我的謊話,也許另有隱情,誰知道呢?

“酥太太!酥太太!“麥道爾在我對面提高聲調叫喚著。“請回答我的問題。潘小姐是不是因爲拒絕加班,妳就認爲她的表現不好呢?”

“不是!”我這囘學乖了,決定用最簡短的方式回答他。坐在他身旁的伊麗莎白嘴角泛起一朵輕輕的微笑,表示嘉許。

接下來的幾個問題,我大致上都用同樣的方式回答,伊麗莎白臉上的那朵花,也一瓣又一瓣,一朵薔薇花般的,綻放得艷麗,直到他問我該死的那個問題。

“妳平時有沒有派潘莉蓮小姐出去買午餐?“

“沒有。”我謹守原則。

“妳能告訴我爲什麽嗎?“麥道爾笑著問我,臉頰上顴骨的地帶,鼓起兩團紅撲撲肉嘟嘟的小丘,像極了和藹可親的聖誕老人。

“她的車子太舊了,性能不好。而且她有時候精神恍惚,注意力不集中,還常常一副倦容,不忙的時候,還會趴在桌上睡著了,我擔心她吃了—”說到這裡,就知道自己中計了,於是連忙打住,但是已經太遲了。我低下頭,迴避伊麗莎白的眼神。

麥道爾眉毛一挑,大眼一瞪,果然乘勝追擊。“吃了什麽?”

“沒…什麽…“

“妳是在暗示她有嗑葯的毛病嗎?或者只是懷疑?”

説時遲,那時快,只見伊麗莎白忽地站起來,陰沉著臉對麥道爾説道:“麥道爾先生,你沒有權利曲解我委托人的意思!我抗議!”

接著麥道爾和伊麗莎白之間,就展開冗長的辯論,其中牽涉到許多法律用語,我反正聼不懂,於是便把目光移到妮娜臉上。只見她把嘴巴啜成個小尖錐,聚精會神地在速記機鍵盤上飛快地敲著,才攏好的頭髮又披散了一臉。我知道,我剛才說的無心證詞,已經被原封不動地記錄下來了。我明白這對我不利,但是說出去的話,就像潑出去的水一樣,永遠收不回來了。這麽一來,我可能多了一個譭謗的污名,因而罪加一等。 想到自己的愚昧,我懊惱得想搧自己一個耳光,但這樣又於事何補呢?。

兩個律師激辯的結果是:伊麗莎白勝利了,我不必對麥道爾的提問作答。

接下來的問話大多無關宏旨,因而我沒有減分,麥道爾也沒有加分,我們基本打平。不過,程序到了最後,我還一直不能提出任何證據,證明我沒有在莉蓮出車禍的那天,讓她“銜命”替我買午餐,算是一個很大的挫敗。可是正當麥道爾面有得色地,準備宣告口供
結束時,伊麗莎白突然站了起來,露出她Meg Ryan式的笑容,從容説道:

“我們有人證,如果必要的話,公司裏三個員工都可以出庭作證,證明徐太太從來沒有讓潘小姐出去買過午餐。”說完,她偏過頭來正色問我:“是不是,徐太太?”

我大吃一驚,她當初不是說大不了和解嗎?爲什麽又好像巴不得和麥道爾對簿公堂的樣子?我盯著她那琥珀色的大眼睛,呐呐說不出話來。大半天之後,才總算明白了她的用意,於是便鼓起勇氣,虛張聲勢地答道:“是的!”

“哦?“麥道爾瞪大了眼睛,露出他的招牌驚訝表情。可是到底是老謀深算的一個人,他旋即冷靜下來,閑閑地把散在桌上的紙張收拾好,垛起,然後對大家眯眯笑道:“知道了,我們後會有期。“然後她轉頭看著妮娜說:“請宣佈散會吧!”

伊麗莎白默默陪我走出辦公大樓,在停車場上的樹蔭旁,她停下腳步,一手伸在額上,擋住正午的太陽,對我說:“我估計,目前想要這個案子就此消失在空氣中,幾乎是不可能的。我們就設法和他們和解吧,這個,也大概也正是麥道爾希望的,要不官司打下去,他也沒勝算。問題是,不知道潘小姐的胃口有多大,還有就是,妳願意付她多少,這都需要協商的。”

聼了她這番話,我的心情就頓然跌到谷底。無論和解或打官司,我都注定是輸家,錢不是進了莉蓮手裏,就是到了兩位律師的荷包中。我身上一陣燥熱,便一跺腳,咬牙切齒的對伊麗莎白説道:“這簡直是太豈有此理了,我一毛都不願意付!”

伊麗莎白看我反應如此激烈,連忙上前扶住我的肩膀安慰我:“冷靜一點,千萬別感情用事。我們走一步算一步吧!”

在囘家的路上,想到美國這個社會如此的不公,縱容誣告的敗類,而打擊像我這樣奉公守法的好人,就越來越憤怒。莉蓮,莉蓮,你真可惡,明知我們旅行社利潤薄,費盡口舌賣得一張機票,才賺一二十塊的利潤,如何狠得下心來向我敲詐這十幾万?十幾萬哪,要賣多少張機票才賺得回來?我恨不得把她五花大綁地拘了來,雙手緊緊扣住她細白的頸項,問她良心何在。我這麽關心她,極力維護、幫助她,她非但不感激,一走了之不說,還倒轉頭來刺我一個回馬槍。還有就是,自從她不告而別,我戰戰兢兢地,不曉得為她操多少心,明知她電話綫已經切斷,還心存僥幸,隔一陣子就打去,試試看她是否奇跡般的回來了;每次看社會新聞,都先看看是否有華裔女子慘遭不測;在華人聚集的地方,遠遠看到一個瘦高個兒的年輕女子,都千方百計接近她,直到確定不是莉蓮後,才死心塌地走開;我甚至還知其不可而為之的,寫信去廣西靈川縣海洋鄉的公安局,打聽她父母的下落…。

而她,竟這樣的對待我。

往後的日子在焦慮中一天天的過去,轉眼間一個星期過去了,而伊麗莎白卻音訊渺杳。打電話去問她,她總是要我稍安毋躁,等著麥道爾下第二只棋子,再伺機而動,若是沉不住氣而胡亂出招的話,在討價還價上,難免會吃虧。聼她這麽一說,我啞口無言。於是,在欲訴無門,惶惶不可終日的情況之下,我勉強又撐過了兩周。終於,在口供過後三周,家家戶戶都忙著進出超市,買火雞和蔓越橘甜醬,準備過感恩節時,伊麗莎白的電話來了。

“麥道爾來了一封信—”李麗莎白慢條斯理地說,顯然是故意在賣關子。

我的心變成一只青蛙,怦地一跳,就躍到口腔裏了。我嚥了一口口水,強作鎮定。“上面說什麽?”

“他說…他說…哎哎,妳做好準備了嗎?安全帶繫上了沒?“

我張開嘴巴,發現舌頭粘在牙仁上,發不出一個字來。

“潘莉蓮取消告訴了!”

“爲什麽?”才出口,就曉得自己的反應近乎荒謬,於是便噗嗤一聲笑了出來,接著越笑越瘋狂,到了將近歇斯底里的程度。電話那頭的伊麗莎白受到我的感染,也哈哈大笑了起來。還是她比較有理性,笑了一會便嘎然而止,説道:

“誰曉得呀?麥道爾沒解釋,只是說潘莉蓮突然改變主意。在電話中聼得出來他有點沮喪,但還是客氣地恭喜我們,尤其是妳。”說到這裡,她又咯咯地笑了。“好啦,別上班啦,快回家給自己倒杯紅酒,慶祝慶祝,然後倒頭睡個好覺吧。”

“好的,我會。”我掛上電話後又笑了,笑得眼淚淌了滿臉。哎,莉蓮,莉蓮,我心裏明白,妳爲什麽會撤回告訴。我到底沒有錯看妳,你不是一個壞人。你是在艾瑞克慫恿,加上麥道爾在一旁煽風點火,而誤入歧途的,好在懸崖勒馬,否則萬一法庭相見,你哪有臉面對我,抑或自己的良心?

謝天謝地,這樁大事總算在有驚無險的情況下謝了幕,雖然在伊麗莎白身上,花了幾千元的律師費,但想到年底可用來折稅,就不那麽心疼了。更何況她還吐出絕大部分的錢,來支付她第二年春天,和她男友去歐洲度假的費用,讓我舒心地體會到“失之東隅,收之桑榆”的道理。

春去秋來,轉眼一年又過去了。在這一年間,雖然明知莉蓮不會主動和我聯絡,但心裏卻沒來由地老記掛著她,縂覺得她説不定哪一天,就會一朵雲似的,飄然出現在我辦公室門口。有時甚至還夢到她,不過都不是什麽好夢,她往往一身縞素,在我面前掩面哭泣,哭著哭著就一點一點的,淡化於氤氳的空氣中。一次還夢到她平躺在碧綠的江水上,載浮載沉,白色的衫裙鋪展開,有如蒲扇,像極了在哈姆萊特劇中,癲狂溺水的奧菲利亞。醒後,我心裏忐忑不安,因爲我知道,這些夢都不是什麽好兆頭,真擔心她已經消失在人世。

我就這麽一路提心吊膽,直到收到那個包裹。

包裹是聖誕節前一個星期收到的。光看送件人的地址:中國廣西靈川縣海洋鄉,就猜到是莉蓮寄來的。噢,感謝上帝,莉蓮人還活著,而且還回到她的家鄉!我高興極了,忙不迭地打開牛皮紙,一看,是滿滿一紙盒的,淺褐色的帶殼白果。我剝開其中一粒的堅硬外殼,發現中間嬌滴滴地立著一枚蛋黃色、柔軟得像一滴月光似的果仁。心裏正在嘖嘖稱奇時,突然發覺白果堆裏,露出一角白白的東西,抽出一看,原來是一個信封,裏面是一張折得方方正正的信紙,上面用二號鉛筆,用簡體字寫了一行又一行,密密麻麻的“對不起”。字體很小,又工整,乍看像是印出來的。我心頭一熱,眼眶跟著就溼了。忍淚打開信紙,裏面是莉蓮的一封親筆信。

徐太太:

我終於回到我的家鄉了。

我回來已經有三個多月了,一直想寫信給你,但是又沒有勇氣,因爲我不知道,在我做了這麽對不起的事之後,妳會不會原諒我。但是現在我想通了,不管你願不願意接受,我都應該向妳道歉,還要向你解釋一下,我當時爲什麽會那樣做,要不然我的良心會一輩子不安。

就像你說的,我不是一顆打心裏壞的白果。雖然沒有念過很多書,做人的道理也不是完全不懂。你是對我有恩的人,我說什麽都不該恩將仇報的。可是艾瑞克卻不是這麽想,他覺得我們沒存心害妳,因爲妳的旅行社是投了保的,遇到這種事,保險公司肯定會買單,你一點都沒有損失。可是我當時卻説什麽都不聼,因爲我知道這根本就是無賴,我做不出來!但是我們那時的境況實在很糟,他剛丟了髮型師的工作,我在餐館掙的那點錢(離開你公司後,我又囘餐館打工),根本不夠開銷,房租都付不出了,他還要吸毒,而且毒癮還越來越深,我賣光了阿炳給我的那點首飾,都不夠他的花費,他父母那裏也拒絕幫忙,到最後天天有人打電話來追債,而且眼看就要被房東趕出來睡街了,這個時候他再説,我就點頭同意了。

之後 我天天受到良心的責備(睡不好覺,吃不下飯),並且痛恨自己到極點。最後在餐館一位客人的幫助下,決定又一次出逃,一逃出去我就急急忙忙打電話給麥道爾,讓他撤銷告訴。掛上電話之後,我心裏一輕鬆,就倒頭大睡,睡了整整一天一夜。

我後來就和那個幫我的人住在一起。他對我很好,但是我不並愛他,沒多久就分手了。我自己一個人靠著他給我的錢,無所事事的遊蕩了一會,最後決定回家,我累了,我只想回家休息。

寄上一盒白果,剛收成的,我挑的顆顆都是又大又好的,希望你愛吃。不過也不能一次吃太多,聽説會壞腎的。

問候大家好。

秀珍(Lillian)上

我折好信紙,打算放囘信封時,發現裏面還附了一張照片。照片上的莉蓮站在一個小山坡上,背景是一大片白果林子的海洋,先是貼著山腳激起一咕嘟一咕嘟金黃的浪花,然後就一波捲一波的往前推擠,嘩嘩的一路綿延到地平綫的盡頭。那黃,又濃又艷,像極了梵谷油畫裏向日葵的顔色。莉蓮口中秋天的白果林子,果然美得如詩如畫!畫布的上方,是一片純淨的,粉蠟筆塗出來的藍天,中央極光極亮的,是一枚小小圓圓的,像一枚白金磁碟片的太陽。 莉蓮就站在太陽下。她頭髮留長了,編成兩條又黑又亮的麻花辮子,配上她身上的大紅T恤,洗白的牛仔褲,看上去像個洋氣的村姑。臉胖了些,也可能沒有,也許只是被燦爛的,大大的笑容給撐圓了。 從來沒看她笑得這麽開心過,凝神看久了,也被她傳染到了,不知不覺地笑出聲來。莎莎她們聞聲走了過來,圍在我旁邊爭看莉蓮的照片,順便撈一把白果,放在手心沙沙地溜著玩兒。在我告訴他們,莉蓮已經回到她的故鄉時,蒂凡妮偏頭問我:

“她將來會選擇回來嗎?“

我搖搖頭,説道:“信上沒說,妳認爲呢?“

“唔–” 小姑娘低頭,沉吟了片刻。“假如我是她,我是不會回來的。”

“爲什麽呢?“

“再好的地方,如果不適合的話,就是地獄。再不好的地方,只要能天天笑得像這樣—“她指指照片上莉蓮的笑臉,認真説道:“就是天堂。在天堂和地獄之間,還需要做選擇嗎?”

我點頭笑道:“蒂凡妮,你說得有理,她大概是不會回來的了。”

這話可當真?我心裏暗暗疑慮著。可我到底不能替她擔這麽多心,畢竟,在美國幾十年了,我充其量也不過是一個甘願自我放逐的,在天堂与地獄之間的混濁地帶徘徊流連,在快樂与痛苦的邊緣游走掙扎的異鄉人。

The Lost Dream

Filed under: Short stories in English — paushuan @ 1:02 上午

The Lost Dream

In some distant arcade, a clock tower calls out six times and then stops. The young man slumps at his desk. He has come to the office at dawn, after another upheaval. His hair is uncombed and his trousers are too big. In his hand he holds twenty crumpled pages, his new theory of time, which he will mail today to the German journal of physics.

Tiny sounds from the city drift through the room. A milk bottle clinks on a stone. An awning is cranked in a shop on Marketgasse. A vegetable cart moves slowly through a street. A man and woman talk in hushed tones in an apartment nearby.

In the dim light that seeps through the room, the desks appear shadowy and soft, like large sleeping animals. Except for the young man’s desk, which is cluttered with half-opened books, the twelve oak desks are all neatly covered with documents, left from the previous day. Upon arriving in two hours, each clerk will know precisely where to begin. But at this moment, in this dim light, the documents on the desks are no more visible than the clock in the corner or the secretary’s stool near the door. All that can be seen at this moment are the shadowy shapes of the desks and the hunched form of the young man.

The young man is soundly asleep. He dreams that he has become a butterfly. He flutters his wings and flies freely, thinking that he is nothing but a blue butterfly with shimmering orange circles on his wings. When he is tired, he’ll let the breeze carry him around, or he’ll just perch on a stem and rest. When he is hungry, he’ll suck the nectar until he is full. And when he is thirsty, he will drink the dew on the rose petals. A wasp stings him when he happens to land on its back, mistaking the wasp for a female butterfly. Thus his life as a butterfly comes to an abrupt and tragic ending.

Then he dreams that he comes back to life as a humming bird. Like the butterfly in his previous life, his main source of food is nectar. But occasionally he will eat small insects he finds in the flowers. Unlike the butterfly, which can glide on the breeze and fly with ease, he has to flip his wings eighty beats per second. Since he uses so much energy, his heart beat is very rapid, 1260 beats in a minute. He is tired all the time, but he can’t stop fluttering his wings, otherwise he will fall to the ground and die. One day when he bumps into a wasp in the pistil of a honeysuckle, he kills it and enjoys a hearty meal.
Of course, he has no idea that it is the same wasp that killed him in his previous life. After he eats the wasp, he becomes so heavy that he can no longer flutter his wings; he drops to the ground and dies. A cat finds his body and eats him up as a snack.

The humming bird comes back to life, taking the form of a pit bull. His master is a little boy who loves him dearly. He feeds him, strokes him, takes him for walks, and plays with him. For some strange reason, other people shun even the sight of him. He wonders whether it’s because of his looks. One day he goes to the pond and looks at his own reflection in the water. He finds out that he is not only ugly but fierce-looking. He becomes very sad. One summer afternoon, a cat comes to his backyard. He is so excited, thinking that the cat wants to be his friend. But when he runs over to approach the cat, the cat arches his back like a bow and hisses at him. The cat’s reaction arouses the most savage nature in him. He leaps over and tears the cat to pieces. After the owner of the cat finds the cat’s dismembered body, he shoots the pit bull with a bee bee gun.

The dog reincarnates as a baby boy. He is raised in a happy family with loving parents. For some unknown reason, he never likes his father. He always keeps a distance despite all the efforts his father makes to exemplify his love. Now he has grown into a young man who spends all his time in the library to look for answers to questions that have puzzled people for centuries. Eventually, he will find the keys to unlock all the mysteries of this universe. He knows that for sure.

When he awakes, the dream vanishes in the misty morning fog. He doesn’t remember any part of the dream, especially the face of the man who killed the pit bull, the face of his father on the day he was born.

受保護的文章:Father and Son

Filed under: Short stories in English — paushuan @ 12:58 上午

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The Saucer Fairy

Filed under: Short stories in English — paushuan @ 12:57 上午

Polly Ho Ho/1

The Saucer Fairy
by Polly Ho

It happened when Jing and her three daughters were sitting on her bed, playing the Saucer Fairy game for the first time. The only time.
“I want to know where Kang is,” Jing said, breaking the silence. She noticed the finger she placed on the ring of the saucer was shaking. But the saucer was motionless, as if it were glued to the paper underneath.
Turning her head to face her mother, Jing’s oldest daughter Bin asked, “Mom, why would you ask a question like that?” Her young, flawless face was calm and placid, her eyes clear like spring water. The red blouse she was wearing seemed to have drained all the color from her face; she looked extremely pale, like a
Ho/2
porcelain doll. “We know where eldest brother is, and you do, too,” Bin said. Jing’s heart ached. Even Bin, the one who was closest to Kang, acted this way. What could she expect from the others? Jing could not blame Bin. Children are forgetful. After all, it had been many years since Kang passed away.
“When people die, they are buried in their graves. Where else can they be?” Her second daughter Yuan said, her eyes looking cold behind the thick lenses of her wire-rimmed glasses.
“Nonsense! What does a child like you know about death?” Jing was angry; her face turned red, but under the fluorescent light, it looked almost purple. Enraged, Jing felt her head begin to throb painfully. Propping her head on the pillow, she closed her eyes, thinking that she’d feel better after resting for a while. Then she felt something soft touching her forehead. She opened her eyes. It was Hui, her youngest daughter. She was kneeling in front of her, stretching her hand to massage Jing’s temple.
“Mom, are you all right?” Hui asked gazing at her mother, her eyes widening.

Ho/3
“What a toad-eater!” Yuan sneered, sticking her tongue out and making a funny face.
Jing looked at her sideways, but decided not to say anything. She didn’t have the strength to reprimand this sharp-tongued daughter of hers.
“I’m fine,” Jing said, smiling faintly, taking Hui’s small hand and holding it in her palms. “Just let me rest for a while before we continue.”
Hui, the ten-year-old, was such a good child, a lot more docile than her two sisters. Jing simply couldn’t help doting on her. Yuan was five years older, but the age difference didn’t mean anything. She often found fault with Hui and bickered with her as if they were the worst enemies. As for Bin, a high school senior, Jing hoped she’d treat her little sister with a little affection, but unfortunately, she didn’t.
Oh, if only Kang were alive! He was the most loving brother to Bin and Yuan. He always held Bin’s hand wherever they went, worrying that she’d get lost if he let go of her. And when Yuan was a baby girl, Kang used to carry her on his back. More than once she got him soaking wet, but he just changed his shirt without saying a word. If Kang were still alive,
Ho/4
he would love Hui dearly. It broke Jing’s heart that Hui never got to know him. He was dead by the time she was born.
When people passed away, they ceased to be. But to Jing, Kang was definitely an exception, otherwise how could she explain his visits in past years? And the strangest thing was that he grew bigger and taller each year, just like any normal child. She understood that he only appeared in her dreams, but it seemed so real each time. Although he looked a little older in each visit, she knew it was Kang. No doubt about it. The broad forehead, the thick eyebrows, and the almond-shaped eyes remained exactly as before. Walking toward her, he smiled and waved his hand, as if he were about to call out, “Mom!”
Though not a Christian, Jing went to church sometimes. The priest said that when people died, they either rose to Heaven or descended to Hell. Oddly, where Kang went didn’t seem to bear any resemblance to either place. In one dream, she could clearly see that Kang was standing on a small hill; below lay a village filled with vast rice paddy fields, and golden grains

Ho/5
swayed in the breeze. Surrounding the rice paddies, there was a winding river shimmering under the sun like a silver snake.
Scattered on the field were rows of houses with gray walls and crimson roofs, their black chimneys puffed out slender threads of smoke, which slowly rose into a bright blue sky. She knew she had been there before, but couldn’t remember when.
The saucer remained still. Tilting her head, Jing looked at the clock on the lime- green wall by her bed. The longhand briskly moved forward with a buzzing sound, which startled Jing. It was 8:37. The color of the wall pained Jing’s eyes, as if they had been squirted by lime juice. It was the painter’s fault. Had he not persuaded her to use the “most popular hue of 1962 in Taiwan,” she’d never have picked such a chintzy color. She had thought that a livelier coat of paint would uplift her spirits, dampened by her husband Liang’s sudden departure. She was wrong.
The painter did a sloppy job. There were green speckles all over the hardwood floor; even the black lacquer frame of the picture on the wall was stained with a streak of paint. What a shame! It was
Ho/6 Jing’s favorite picture, taken in a studio on Kang’s first birthday.
Looking closely at the picture, Jing could find droplets of paint on her face right under her eye sockets, as if she were shedding green tears. But she looked happy, smiling, white teeth gleaming. Liang seemed uncomfortable in the new suit Jing made him wear, stiff-necked and taut-faced, but from his gentle, smiling eyes, Jing knew he was happy, too. Baby Kang was sitting in Liang’s lap, stretching out his chubby hand—-so fat that you could see five little dimples on his knuckles– toward Jing, begging for a hug. Kang loved embraces. When he had just learned to walk, he’d wobble over to Jing, tugging her skirt, trying to climb up to her warm bosom. At first, she’d ignore him, or coax him to play by himself. But he wouldn’t let go of her. When she finally gave in and picked him up, he’d kiss her and slobber her face with his dribbling saliva, which smelled like a mixture of sweet vanilla and milk curd. When nursing, Jing was enveloped by this distinct scent, and it gradually seeped into her skin and became part of her. Even now, years after Kang’s death, she could still smell him, especially on a sultry summer night after waking from a dream.
Ho/7
But right now the only scent she could smell was the turpentine in the fresh paint.
How cute Kang looked in the picture! His face was as round as a bun; his fine hair sticking up, tiny nose crinkling, black eyes sparkling, and rosy lips open, laughing. He looked like the dolls Jing used to make from rice dough when she was a child. She remembered how frightened she was bathing him for the first time, she feared he might dissolve in water. What an idiotic mother she had been, Jing thought, shaking her head.
At first, Jing didn’t want to play the Saucer Fairy game, regardless of its overwhelming popularity in Taiwan. It was a game for children, not for adults. Besides, it wasn’t even a game, strictly speaking. The thought of inviting the spirit of a so-called “fairy” to the house was terrifying enough, much less capturing him in a saucer and asking for his advice. That was why she gave her daughters a flat “No!” when they asked for permission to play at home. But she finally gave in, thinking that it probably wouldn’t do much harm if they only played once.

Ho/8
Jing hated to make decisions. Normally, Liang was the one who gave the final word to the girls’ unusual requests. But since he moved out, she assumed his role
as the sole decision maker. In the beginning, she was so indecisive that she often went back on her word, which irked the girls. After six months, she finally had the hang of it, so she thought.
It was a Saturday evening when the girls began to play. They sat at the round dinner table after their mother finished washing the dishes and went to her room to rest. Bin was the leader of the game because she had watched her friends play in school and had learned the rules. After placing a large piece of paper filled with Chinese characters on the table, she fished out a saucer from her book bag and began to tell her sisters how it worked.
“First we’ll invite the fairy to stay under the upside down saucer, then we place our index fingers on top. Then the fairy will collect our Qi and use it to maneuver the saucer.” Putting the saucer in the middle of the paper, Bin said, “Once the saucer is moving, you can ask the fairy a question, and he’ll guide the

Ho/9
saucer to search for the proper character to answer your question.”
Pointing at a black arrow drawn on the rim of the saucer, Bin continued to explain to her sisters, “See
this thing? When he finds the character, he’ll stop the saucer and point the arrow at it.”
“It’s too complicated, I don’t want to play.” Hui said sliding down the chair.
“Don’t you dare quit!” Yuan grabbed Hui’s arm and pulled her back to the chair, grumbling. “It takes at least three people to play, and you know it.”
“Sit still, Hui.” Bin leaned closer to Hui and stared strait in her eye. “Nobody leaves this table until I say so, okay?”
“Okay,” Hui said pursing her lips. She stopped wiggling.
“Now, there are two things that you should never do,” Bin said, her eyebrows knitted. “Number one: Don’t break the saucer. Number two: Don’t say anything disrespectful to the fairy. You don’t want to make him mad.”

Ho/10
“What’s going to happen if he’s mad?” Hui asked, her hips squirming on the chair, which made a squeaking noise.
Bin sneered, “I’m not going to tell you. You always ask too many questions.” Bin said.
“Yeah, Hui’s too nosy.” Yuan snickered, clicking her tongue.
“I’m not!” Hui protested, tears welled her eyes.
“Shush, both of you!” Bin said placing a finger on her lips. “Now everyone put her index finger on the ring of the saucer.”
Both Yuan and Hui did as told.
“Now focus your mind on the saucer and don’t think about anything. I’m going to ask the fairy to come now.” Bin drew in a deep breath, eyes closed. “Oh, fairy, fairy, any good, kind fairy, please stop by and help us answer some questions.”
The three girls waited in silence, gazing at the saucer. It didn’t budge. Bin pleaded again. Nothing happened. Again and again Bin pleaded, but the saucer remained frozen on the spot.
“Umm, let’s stop for a while. I need to think,” Bin said, taking her finger off the ring. “It always
Ho/11
worked in school…” Suddenly, her face lit up. “Oh, yes. There were always four of us when we played in school. We need one more person.”
“But you said three is enough.” Yuan raised her hand to adjust her glasses, gawking at Bin, her voice
low and raspy as always. “Where are we going to find another person this time of the day?”
“Let’s ask Ma to join us!” Hui jumped from her seat, clapping her hands.
“No, she won’t do it!” Hui shook her head, frowning.
“Well, she might, too. I’ll go ask her.” Bin said, leaping from her seat briskly. Trotting to her mother’s room, she turned around, warning her sisters. “Don’t touch anything while I’m gone.”
Jing was reading the evening newspaper in bed, her head propped up on a pillow when Bin walked into her bedroom.
“Ma, we need you to play with us. It didn’t work with three players.” Bin stood by Jing’s bed, wringing her fingers.
Jing took off her bifocals and stretched her arms, yawning. “I’m tired. Don’t want to get up.”
Ho/12
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Bin snuggled next to her mother and smoothed the creases on the bamboo mat. “Why don’t we play on your bed? That way you don’t even have to get up,” Bin said, smiling.
“No!” Jing blurted out abruptly, Bin’s body heat made her feel anxious. She was in no mood to play.
“Please Ma, please!” Bin begged like a little girl, looping her arm through Jing’s.
“You’re sweaty,” Jing brushed Bin’s hand off and sat up straight, pulling a handkerchief from under the pillow and wiping her arm. “Look, you got me all wet, and I’ve just taken a bath.”
Fixing her eyes on her mother for a moment, Bin got off the bed and stood by the wall, hands folded on the chest, lips pursed, eyes welling up. Her expression reminded Jing of Kang.
Ten years ago, Kang had had the same expression on his face when Jing had forbidden him to go swimming with Little Liu. But Jing gave in as Kang looked at her with those sad, damp eyes. “All right, you may go!” she said, fluffing his hair, smiling. “Be careful, promise?”

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Hugging her tight, Kang nodded, his hair tickling her chin and making her laugh.
In retrospect, she understood she shouldn’t have made such a crucial decision without consulting Liang. But she couldn’t. He was gathering data in a remote
village where no telephone was available. Besides, Little Liu had sworn there was no danger.
Patting Kang’s head, Little Liu had said, “Mrs. Zhou, the water in the pool is so shallow, it barely reaches his chest, so there is absolutely nothing to worry about, I promise you on my life, he’ll be safe.” And she had believed him. Little Liu was the top student in the class Liang was teaching, he should know what he was talking about. After all, she had never heard of any accident happening in the swimming pool in the Municipal Recreation Center. Little Liu was right, there was noting to worry about.
Kang walked out of the house in a white button down shirt and a pair of navy blue shorts that Jing had just taken off the clothes line. Raising one arm to sniff the sleeve of the shirt, Kang said, grinning, “Gee, Mom, I can smell the sun.”
Those were his last words to her.
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It baffled Jing why she thought of Kang so often, especially during the time when Liang first moved out. Liang probably would not have left if Kang were still alive. A father was bound to his son. Jing knew that Liang held her responsible for Kang’s death. He blamed
her for allowing his only son to drown. She realized that for the past ten years he was unwilling to forgive her, and leaving her was only a matter of time. Of course, his involvement with his student helped him make up his mind.
The thought of her son softened Jing’s heart. She sighed, reaching out for Bin’s hand and pulling her to the bed. “All right, I’ll play. Go get your sisters.” Jing said nudging Bin’s back.
Now Jing and her three daughters began to play the game, each sat facing each other. Suffering from back problems, Jing had replaced the mattress with a wooden board and a straw mat to vent the summer heat.
“The surface is hard and smooth, no problem for the saucer to move about,” Bin said, placing the paper and saucer on the mat, smiling.
Eager to play right away, Bin only explained the rules to Jing briefly, completely forgetting to mention
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the precautions. Leaning her head against the headboard, Jing glanced at the saucer mindlessly, thinking about the last time that she, Liang, and the girls had lain in bed together.
Both Kang and Bin slept with her and Liang before they were old enough to go to kindergarten. As for Yuan, a colicky baby who cried day and night, she never had a chance to sleep with them. “I don’t know about you, but I need to get some sleep,” Liang said, burying his head in the pillow and fanning his hand. He gestured to Jing to take Yuan out of the room. When Hui was born, Jing and Liang had been sleeping in separate beds already; so the notion of Hui sharing her parents’ bed was unlikely.
“It’s moving! It’s moving!” Hui cried out, pointing a finger at the saucer. Yes, the saucer was moving. At first, it staggered, then inch by inch moved out of the center and started to glide in small circles, like a child learning to skate, timidly, haltingly. Soon it picked up speed and began to draw larger circles.
Jing couldn’t believe her eyes.

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She watched closely and found that everyone was barely touching the saucer, therefore ruling out the likelihood of any intentional maneuvering.
And the way it was moving here and there reminded her of an adept and graceful ballerina.
“Now, the fairy is ready for questions. Who wants to ask first?” Bin said, her eyes darting from one face to another.
“Me! Me! Me!” Yuan’s cheeks turned red; her raspy voice was loud and clear, beads of perspiration shining on her nose. “Saucer fairy, are you a man or woman?”
The saucer slowly glided toward Yuan, stopping briefly as if greeting her, then it began to swirl, circling round and round. Suddenly it stopped. The arrow was pointing at the character “woman.”
Incredible! Out of at least two thousand characters, the fairy picked that one almost instantaneously. Jing was impressed.
Excited, Yuan smiled, bending her head closer to the saucer and spurting out another question. “Where are you coming from?”
The arrow pointed at “Tian,” meaning “heaven.”

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The answer obliterated Jing’s misgiving of having confronted an evil spirit from the underworld. Jing let out a long sigh, relieved.
“Who’s next?” Bin asked, her eyes sparkling, her face a pinkish alabaster. She looked elated.
Bin was a typical Chinese beauty: small frame, willowy waist, large eyes, crescent- moon shaped brows, petal-like thin lips, and straight, white teeth. No wonder Liang loved her so much.
“Mom, how about you?” Hui wiggled closer to her mother. “Don’t you have a question to ask?”
“Well, I haven’t come up with one yet, you go first.” Jing said with an amiable smile, raising her hand to pick a piece of lint from Hui’s bobbed hair. She knew that Hui could hardly wait for her turn; she could tell by the feigned calmness in her voice.
“Thanks, Mom, you’re so nice,” Hui said, rubbing her face against Jing’s shoulder while Yuan rolled her eyes. “I… ” Hui took a quick glimpse of her mother and said, “I want to know when Daddy is coming home.”
Jing felt a pang in her heart. How strange Hui would ask such a question, given how little affection her father had shown toward her.
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Liang never loved Hui, and she knew it. That was why she kept shunning him, making herself invisible when he was around. On the day Liang lugged an over-
stuffed suitcase out of the house, Hui stayed in bed, flipping through a comic book while her sisters stood by the open door, looking at Liang’s gradually receding figure and crying their eyes out. Now the truth was rising in the hot sultry summer air. Hui missed her dad. She wanted him home, badly.
The saucer moved. It began to draw large circles on the paper.
Hui fixed her gaze on the saucer, waiting for it to stop, her eyes two blazing black balls, burning with anticipation. Hui loved her dad, regardless of how he felt about her. To this day, Jing couldn’t understand why Liang loathed Hui so much. Even before she was born, he had decided that she was unworthy of his love. He had urged Jing to abort the baby when she first found out about her pregnancy. Jing had blatantly refused. What did the baby have to do with their wobbly relationship? Besides, judging from the shape of her bulging tummy, everyone was positive that it was a boy, including the doctor.
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“Didn’t you always want a boy?” Jing asked Liang, standing akimbo, her small round belly thrusting out fearlessly. This time her mind was set. She wanted to keep this child. And Liang couldn’t do anything to stop her. After all, the baby was inside her, not him.
Jing’s optimism soon affected Liang. He was led to believe that the little tadpole swimming in Jing’s womb was indeed a boy with a tiny penis like a newly hatched sparrow, tender yet vigorous. It was a promise to keep his family name alive, at least for one generation, and maybe two, three, ten, or even hundreds of generations, if he got lucky.
Liang had even named the boy “Nian,” meaning “Longevity”.
They were wrong. Dead wrong. The nurse trotted in the corridor toward Liang, announcing joyously, “It’s a girl!” Liang turned around and hurried out the hospital door without saying a word.
“No, I’d never do a thing like that.” Liang denied it every time Jing retold the story, calling him all kinds of names. But Jing knew it was true. Although she was somewhat lightheaded after childbirth,

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she was not crazy. She remembered what she saw. Jing could not understand why Liang was so heartless.
Although disappointed, she loved Hui just the same. Why couldn’t Liang?
Months later, Jing found out the truth. Liang had been in love with a girl in one of the classes he was teaching. The romance had been going on for quite some time. And he would have run away with that young girl, if Jing were not “positively” pregnant with his son.
In fact, everything had been planned. Liang had even bought himself and his girlfriend train tickets for An Ping, a remote city 300 kilometer from Taipei, where he had found a teaching job and rented an apartment. But because of Hui, he had to put his well plotted scheme to a halt. As the girlfriend found out the truth, she hastily married a man handpicked by her parents.
Jing understood that Liang blamed Hui for his misfortunes and ignored her as if she were nonexistent. Trying to make it up to Hui, Jing tended to lavish attention on her. But in Liang’s eyes, Jing was playing favoritism, an accusation Jing considered remotely justified.
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“You smothered Hui exactly the same way as you did Kang,” Liang had said.
Jing retorted, “Since when have you become such an expert on love? Does it have anything to do with that precious girlfriend of yours?” She sprinkled salt on the spot where it hurt the most, smiling grimly. Infuriated, Liang turned around and left, slamming the door behind him. To avoid fights like this, Liang used all kinds of excuses to stay out of Jing’s way-—meetings, conferences, field trips, and so on. Soon he didn’t even bother to come up with any. He had another affair. She was a taxi dancer in her late twenties, a luscious looking thing with a full figure and long, wavy hair falling down to her slim waist. When Jing questioned Liang about this woman, he narrowed his eyes, raising his eyebrow and asked, “What do you think?”
Throwing a rhetorical question was Liang’s sly way of acknowledging the accused crime without having to admit it. Now Jing knew that he was indeed having an adulterous relationship with the sexy taxi dancer to whom all the professors’ wives called “little enchantress.”
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The saucer moved slowly, as if trying to make up its baffled mind. It circled round and round,
haltingly, haphazardly. At last it stopped. The arrow was pointing at the character meaning “long.”
“How long? A month? Six months? A year?” Bin asked anxiously.
The saucer stopped, and the arrow was pointing at the character “Heng,” meaning “forever.”
“You mean it might take our dad forever to come home?” Yuan asked, glaring at the saucer.
“Yes.”
Dead silence. The answer was what Jing had expected. Well, who cared whether he was coming home or not? Jing didn’t want him home. In fact, she had decided not to take him home even if he knelt on the floor and begged. She could no longer tolerate his treacherous behavior or share a husband with another woman. A wise woman once compared a man with a toothbrush. “They are similar in a way that neither is a public entity,” she said. How true! The thought of shoving a soiled toothbrush in her mouth made her feel dirty. She didn’t know why she had allowed it for so many years. Now that he was gone, she could return to
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her clean self again. Stripped naked in the bathroom, Jing had an urge to scrub every inch of her skin with antiseptic solution. But she changed her mind after dipping her finger in the Lysol bottle and watching it swell up like a sausage.
Instead, she scoured the bathtub for hours till she could hardly move her arm. When finished, she locked herself in the room reeking of disinfectant.
She sat on the damp floor and cried till one of the girls banged on the door, asking to use the toilet.
As Jing threw away the Lysol bottle together with Liang’s old comb, rusted razor, broken scissors, caked Vaseline hair wax, empty after-shave vial; she looked at herself in the mirror and sighed in relief. She had finally gotten rid of him.
Now, judging from her daughters’ anxious expressions, Jing realized that she could never do away with him. He could live in his daughters’ hearts for as long as he wished. How unfair! Was I not a good mother? Jing asked herself. I sacrificed my life, cooped up at home, nursing, changing diapers, cooking, cleaning, laundering for all these years, and they never appreciated me. What did Liang do? Nothing! He
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abandoned them, walking away from all his responsibilities; and yet they missed him. How
heartless could they be! Kang was different. He would never treat me this way. He understood how much I had done for this family.
Oh, Kang, where are you?
So Jing asked the fairy one more time. “Where is my son?”
The saucer stayed still. Holding their breath, Jing and her daughters waited in silence. And they waited. Finally the saucer began to rattle, gliding to one side, then switching to another, as if incapable of making up its mind.
Then it halted abruptly.
“Oh, it’s ‘Tian’, our brother is in heaven,” Hui laughed, pointing a finger at the character.
“No, look carefully, the arrow is pointing at ‘Di’, the character right next to Tian,” Yuan corrected Hui.
“Doesn’t ‘Di’ mean earth or dirt—” Hui gasped, covering her mouth with a hand.
“What are you saying?” Jing glared at Hui, her eyes burning in anger.

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“Take it easy, Mom. Can’t you see the saucer is still moving? Let’s wait and see what the next character is.” Bin said looking at her mother, pleading.
The saucer stopped beside “Xia”, meaning “under”.
Shocked, the girls looked at one another, exchanged weary looks and then fell silent.
“Under earth! My Kang is confined underneath earth,” Jing murmured, repeating it again and again as if savoring the bitter taste of these words. Then she fired off in a fury, “No! My son is in paradise. You lied!”
No sooner had Jing finished shouting when the saucer began to spin. It was twirling so rapidly that it almost lost its balance and flipped over. In the end, it stopped by the character “Wang,” meaning “defiance,” or “recalcitrance.”
“Mom, the fairy is extremely angry. Please say you are sorry,” Bin pleaded, her face taut, her frightful eyes gazing at her mother.
Jing made no response. She didn’t hear Bin. The only thing she heard was a trilling sound, as if hundreds of cicadas were beating their translucent wings. No, this was insane. Kang was
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only a child who committed no crime; he couldn’t be cast to underworld, that horrifying place inhabited by sinners. He was to live in the beautiful place,
growing bigger every day, falling in love, and having a family of his own.
“Why? What did my son do to deserve this punishment? Why? Why?” Pounding the bed with both hands, Jing started to wail.
Bin and Yuan had never seen their mother go berserk before; they sat frozen, not knowing what to do. Hui scooted over, wrapped her hands around Jing’s neck and asked, “Mom, are you okay?”
Jing brushed off Hui’s hands, burying her head in her lap, sobbing, her shoulders shuddering.
“Mommy,” Hui sniffled. “Please don’t cry.”
On her knees, Bin shuffled to her mother’s side, putting a hand on her angular shoulder and said, “Mom, it’s just a game, don’t take it too seriously.”
Jing made no response.
Suddenly, Yuan pointed a finger at the saucer and gasped, “Look, it’s moving on its own!”
Yes, for some strange reason, the saucer began to make circles on the paper again. And this time when it
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stopped, the arrow was pointing at one character first, and then to another as it moved on.
“Suicide!” One of the girls cried out.
Millions of sparkling stars exploded in Jing’s head. And then it was total darkness.
When she came to, she found Yuan and Hui staring at her wearily, and Bin squatting on the floor, picking up little white fragments looking like shards. Now she remembered. She had hurled the saucer to the wall and it smashed to pieces.
“Bin, stop what you’re doing,” Jing sat up waving a feeble hand.
“Mom, I can’t —” Bin said squatting on the floor, putting a piece of shard in a trash bag, averting her mother’s eyes.
“Yes, you can. Just go, all of you!”
Lying in bed, Jing’s head was throbbing in pain as if someone had driven an ax onto her skull and split it in half. She sat up, stretching her arm to take the Tiger balm from the night stand and smearing a generous amount on her forehead. Then she lay down and closed her eyes. Inhaling the bitter-sweet smell of the

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ointment, and feeling its soothing coolness penetrating her forehead, she felt better.
So, that monstrous idiot had the nerve to call herself a fairy! Jing knew she was nothing but an imposter, an evil spirit, who maliciously stirred up chaos in her family. Who was she trying to fool by saying that Kang was confined in the underworld? As if that was not vicious enough, she claimed it was the punishment Kang deserved for taking his own life. Outrageous! Besides, it was a plain accident, and Jing knew it. She heard it loud and clear when Little Liu testified at the police station.
In tears, Little Liu had said that when he went to the bathroom, Kang was in the children’s section, kicking water, waving at him with both hands, laughing cheerfully. But when he returned, Kang was gone. Little Liu went crazy. He ran around the pool like a mad dog, shouting Kang’s name over and over until he lost his voice. Then he dived into the pool, searching, grabbing every little boy’s limbs to get a closer look at their faces. And still no Kang.

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“How am I going to tell my teacher?” Little Liu knelt on the cement floor by the pool and wailed while people called for the lifeguard. By the time they
found Kang in the adults’ side of the pool, it was too late.
Jing never forgot the sight of Kang lying in the hospital bed. He was stripped naked; his bulging tummy looked enormously big, too big for the skinny body of her eleven- year- old baby. And water continued to ooze from all the openings in his bluish, swollen body. Jing threw herself on the bed to cover him, screaming at everyone to leave her alone with her son while the nurses and the police grabbed her by the arms and shoved her out of the room. It was then Liang appeared at the other side of the hallway, one shoe missing, running limping toward her, shouting nonsense. She passed out before he reached her.
For the past ten years, she had tried to erase that last scene in the hospital from her memory. But her thoughts weren’t something she could control. Kang’s gruesome image came and went, quietly, stealthily, like the tide in the middle of the night. Every time the tide ebbed, she felt a small piece of
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her heart was taken away. After all these years, Jing felt so empty that she thought she no longer had a heart. She cried, touching the heart-shaped silver
pendant Liang bought her on their wedding anniversary, a year after Kang’s death.
Jing wiped the tears off her face with the corner of the blanket and buried her head in the pillow. It was stuffed with dried chrysanthemum petals, which made a light chafing sound, like an autumn wind blowing over a reaped cornfield, desolate and mournful.
What if Kang did commit suicide? No! He was only a child, a happy child, regardless of how mature he was compared with other children of his age. At times he seemed lost in his own thoughts and appeared to be indifferent to his surroundings. But by and large, he was cheerful. He always grinned with his tiny canine teeth in full view every time he greeted people. “What a delightful little boy!” Women would pinch his cheek and praise him, while men patted his head, nodding in agreement.
It was Liang’s fault if Kang was unhappy. Liang was too strict with him. He claimed that he loved his son dearly, but the way he expressed his love was
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certainly out of the ordinary. Although Liang never punished Kang physically, he often scolded him. True,
all fathers had high expectations for their sons, but Liang’s standard was too high for anyone. He chided Kang whenever he didn’t measure up: trivial things such as bringing home a mediocre report card, reading comic books, shunning sports, spacing out, or wearing Bin’s clothes.
Liang was angrier than ever the time he caught Kang trying on his sister’s skirt. To Jing, Liang had been over reacting. It was nothing unusual for a boy to dress like a girl, Jing thought. Mother dressed little brother in pink and red outfits when he was young. And Father even went as far as giving him a girl’s nickname—Lotus–and demanded everyone in the household, including the servants, to address him by that name. Jing understood her parents’ reasoning. They thought by disguising him as a girl, they could deceive Heaven, who inclined to snatch a baby boy away from his family out of jealousy.
But Liang didn’t believe in such “superstition,” and Kang’s behavior was definitely unforgiving. Just a few

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days before the accident, Kang was berated for wearing Jing’s pink fingernail polish. Throwing him a bottle
of rubbing alcohol, Liang roared, “Get out of my sight and wipe that off! You are a disgrace to our family!”
Did Liang’s ruthless words drive Kang to end his life? Jing thought. No, it couldn’t be. He loved me. He would not leave me willfully, knowing how heartbroken I would be without him. Oh, Kang, Kang, how could you do this to me?
Jing fell asleep between sobs. She revisited the place Kang appeared in her dreams. But this time, Kang was not standing on top of the hill, smiling at her, instead, he was drowning in the winding river surrounding the village. Struggling in a raging current; he was immersed in water except for a frail, uplifted arm signaling for help.
And Liang was standing on shore in howling wind, hair flying wild in the air, throwing a rope to the water to save his son. But whenever Kang was about to catch the rope, the wind blew it away. Frustrated, Liang began to curse Heaven, clenching his fist in defiance. Finally, Kang caught the rope. Excited,

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Liang tightened all his muscles like a bow to pull his son to shore.
As Kang was a few feet away from the shore, Jing saw a shadowy female figure emerging from the water, holding something sharp and snapping the rope in half. Kang fell into the river and vanished instantly.
“Kang!” She cried out loud, but her voice was gulped down by the wind. All she could hear was the pounding sound of drum beats. Horrified, Jing woke up from the nightmare, soaking wet. As she sat up and pressed the pillow to her chest, she could still hear her heart pounding.
The female figure in the dream remained in Jing’s consciousness. Who was she? Why did she sever the rope when Kang was about to be saved? Who could have done such a malicious thing? Jing tried to remember her face, but couldn’t. She had never shown her face. All Jing saw was her silhouette; even that was partially obstructed by her long hair. Jing couldn’t think of any woman she knew with hair that long, so long that it almost reached her buttocks.

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Jing shrieked as it suddenly dawned on her that years ago her hair was just as long as that faceless
woman. She did it for Liang, who claimed that he couldn’t take his eyes off her silky hair when they first met. “Don’t you dare cut it!” Liang had said, lying on the grass beside her, holding a handful of hair in his palm, sniffing it. She laughed and pushed his hand away. Since then she wouldn’t let any barber
touch her hair, which grew longer and longer till it passed her waistline, almost touching her buttocks. She finally had it chopped short after she had baby Kang. It got in the way when she was nursing, bathing, or changing diapers.
No, it wasn’t me, Jing thought, shaking her head vigorously. I never had a curvy figure like hers. Touching her slightly protruding belly, Jing reassured herself. It must be that phony fairy again. She sneaked into my dream and acted out the terrifying accident to make me feel guilty. How vicious! I didn’t allow the accident to happen, Little Liu did. It was his negligence that got Kang drowned. I trusted him and put my son’s life in his hands, just because he was Liang’s best student.
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What about Liang? Shouldn’t he take part of the blame? Had he not brought Little Liu to our home in
the first place, nothing like that would happen. “You are the one who made the wrong decision at a pivotal point and caused our son’s death,” Liang had yelled at her, his eyes blood- shot, his body shaking.
Even though he was probably right, he should never have blasted out something so hurtful. Didn’t he
understand how distressed I felt losing Kang? How did he have the heart to blame me for his death?
To Liang, playing the Saucer Fairy game must be another wrong decision then. Although reluctant to admit it, this time Jing knew she was absolutely right. Had she not opened the door to welcome the slandering imposter, she would not have heard those hideous lies about Kang. It was unbearable to think that Kang was trapped in hell, surrounded by pools of blazing fire, mountains of sharp knives, ox-headed and horse-faced demons, and despicable, emaciated human forms in cuffs and chains.
Again, it was Liang’s fault, too. He shouldn’t have left her, knowing she could never make a sensible decision on her own. You shouldn’t have left, Liang.
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Didn’t you once agree to stay by me till the very end? What made you change your mind? Am I that terrible?
Oh, Liang, please come home, I need you!
The thought of wanting Liang back surprised Jing.
She didn’t know what got into her head. Since the day he moved out, she never missed him so much.
Suddenly, Jing heard a faint thud in the back yard. Liang! She jumped off the bed and dashed to the window.
Peeking through the sheer curtain, she saw a large shadow under the willow tree. A prowler! Jing’s blood froze. But wait, the shadow moved and split into two dwarf figures. It looked like two little animals. Dogs? Cats? No, it was Bin and Yuan squatting side by side! Relieved, Jing switched her eyes to the clock, wondering what they were doing at this late hour.
Jing decided to rush to the yard to find out. But when she stuck her feet under the bed, looking for her slippers, she heard Yuan’s raspy voice.
“I’m scared, Bin. What if it doesn’t work?”
“Hush! You don’t want to wake up Mom, do you?” It was Bin’s muffled voice.

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It seemed the two of them were up to something mischievous. What could it be? Jing decided to stay in her room and eavesdrop.
“It’ll work, Yuan. We did everything as they told me before. They said all we needed to do was to bury the shards under a willow tree, light three incense sticks, kowtow to the fairy, and beg for her forgiveness.”
What? The girls stayed up just because someone had affronted the fairy? Jing held her breath and continued to listen.
“So, she definitely won’t punish Mom for breaking the saucer, right?”
“No, she won’t.”
“But didn’t you say she might shift her anger and punish us?” Yuan’s voice quivered.
“Yes, there is a chance she might do that. But don’t worry, she won’t. She’s a good fairy who won’t get mad at children.”
“Good. I’m grateful as long as she doesn’t do anything bad to Mom.”
“Yeah, losing Dad is bad enough, how can we afford to lose Mom?”
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“You’re right, Bin,” Yuan began to sniffle as she clung to Bin’s shoulder.
Blood rushed to Jing’s face. She felt ashamed. She never realized how much Bin and Yuan loved her– enough to endanger their own lives. And what did she give them in return?
Pressing her forehead against the window pane to cool off, Jing tried to remember the last time she
showed affection toward Bin and Yuan, but couldn’t. Was it after Kang’s death that she stopped embracing them, nuzzling their hair, and telling them how much she loved them?
Was it the same time she started to push them away, saying, “You’re too old to act like a baby!” whenever they threw themselves in her arms? And after Hui’s birth, things got even worse. She had spent most of her time in her bedroom, door shut, cuddling, cooing Kang, no, Hui, and wouldn’t even budge no matter how hard they banged on the door.
“Liang, go find out what your daughters want,” Jing yelled at her husband, who was grading papers at the desk by their bed.

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What kind of mother was I? A dead fish would be warmer and softer. Tears rolled down Jing’s cheeks as she looked at the two small figures squatting under the
tree, and the incense heads burning like tiny red lanterns.
Now Jing understood that Kang was dead, and no matter where he was he could never come back to her. Also, Hui was not Kang’s replacement or Heaven’s compensation for her loss. She refused to allow her
motherly love to be buried with her son any longer. She needed to dig it up, dust it off, polish it, put it back in her heart to keep it warm and tender for her daughters.
From now on, she would do everything possible to make them happy, even it meant that She had to win Liang back. She wasn’t sure whether she was strong enough to rid herself of all the sinister thoughts lurking in her head, but she was willing to give it a try.
With this in mind, Jing left her room and rushed to the garden.

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“Bin! Yuan!” She ran over to her daughters and put her warm arms around their shivering bodies, tears bursting out her eyes. “I love you!”
Seemingly startled by their mother’s affectionate gesture, the two girls froze.
“I’ve heard every word you said to each other, and I’m ashamed. Can you forgive me?” Jing said, looking deep into her daughters’ eyes.
“There is nothing to forgive, Mom. We love you.” Bin said. Yuan nodded her head and rubbed her eyes.
A sheepish voice suddenly rang out from behind.
“What are you doing this late at night?” It was Hui. She stood by the door, her flowery blanket in one hand, and a cloth doll in the other.
“Oh, Hui, come over here!” Bin and Yuan cried out simultaneously. Hui ran over to her mother and two sisters, dragging the blanket along.
Bin and Yuan opened their arms to embrace Hui, and the four of them huddled together in silence for the longest time. Finally, Jing let go of them and said, “It’s getting chilly, let’s go back to the house and get some sleep.”

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Watching the three girls walk hand in hand in front of her, their delicate frames bathed in translucent moonlight, Jing beamed. Life was good, she thought.

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Facing the sky, Kang kicked water in the pool. Except for a few fluffy clouds, there was nothing on the vast, crystal cerulean vault. He closed his eyes and imagined himself floating in it. Each cloud was
shaped like an animal. He glided past the wagging tail of a dog, swung on an elephant’s trunk, and soared on an eagle’s wings. Finally, he hopped on the back of a whale, which took him to the roaring waves of the ocean. Kang felt as free as a bird. Dad’s chiding, school mates’ ridicules, and Mom’s suffocating love were left far behind. He hadn’t been this happy for a long time. He continued to kick the water, hoping that he could float in the gap of time till eternity.
Suddenly, he felt a piercing pain in the calf of his right leg. It struck him like a thunderbolt and put him in a state of shocking fright. Before he could
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open his mouth to yell for help, he found his body sinking. Through the glass wall of water, he could see people in colorful swimming suits walking by the edge of the pool, but no one saw him. He tried to shout, but the only thing came out of his mouth was a string of bubbles. The bubbles were going up, and yet he was sinking. A million threads of refracted
sunlight were glowing in the water like the green fireworks he saw at the Lantern Festival. How beautiful! Kang thought. He stopped struggling and
let himself go. Before he lost consciousness, he suddenly remembered a village that Mom and Dad had taken him to once. In the small farming town, there lay acres of rice paddy fields, and waves of golden grains swaying in the wind. Surrounding the rice paddies, there was a thin, winding river shimmering under the sun like a silvery snake.
Scattered around the field were rows of houses with gray walls and crimson roofs stood in silence. Chimneys on top of the roofs puffed out slender threads of smoke, which slowly rose up to the blue sky.
(The end)

受保護的文章:The Ghost in the Woods

Filed under: Short stories in English — paushuan @ 12:55 上午

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變奏的月光

Filed under: Fictions — paushuan @ 12:52 上午

變奏的月光
楊寳璇

真不應該來的。明明知道不該來,可還是來了,為的就是要看看他。她心裏明白,他也許根本就不記得她是誰了,畢竟是三十二年前的往事了。更何況,即使在那時,她都不確定在他徹底的傷了她的心後,他是否還把她放在心上。到底,她只是圍繞在他身旁的眾多女孩子當中,不算特別好看的一個。

“噢,是妳呀?”當他在衆人的炯炯目光下,握著她被夜色沁得冰涼的手時,她雖然竭力緊綳著自己,還是覺得全身的血液轟地湧上來,把整張臉龐燒得滾燙。他總算還認得出是她!但他說得那麽稀鬆平常,還帶著那一貫的,漫不經心的語調,完全不知道過去這麽些年來,他帶給她多少的痛苦。

她坐了下來,怦怦跳動的心也慢慢平復下來了。她定定神,溜眼看客廳裏的人。真不該穿這一身洋裝來的,別人都是一件舊襯衫,配上一條軟塌塌的長褲,一副休閒的打扮,自己卻是一襲紫色無領無袖連衣裙,還繫上一條金色細腰帶,太慎重其事了。她好不容易才安靜下來的心,又開始侷促不安起來。他端上茶,笑吟吟地說:“嘗嘗我剛帶從杭州帶回來的龍井。”他一咧嘴,還是那滿不在乎的笑。他可真是老了,眼角魚尾紋一揪一大把,黃黃的眼皮耷拉下來,只露出兩條瞇瞇的細縫。她避開他的目光,低頭抿了一口茶,然後就盯著自己的腳尖看,這時才注意到自己忙亂中穿了一雙抽了絲的絲襪,裂口像一條小蛇一樣,從左腳腳背一直蜿蜒上來,直到膝蓋才止住。她又是一陣懊惱,臨出門前在穿衣鏡前面照了又照,還問過丈夫的意見,他把眼光從電視機前移開,瞄了她一眼,點了一下頭,就繼續看他的湖人球賽了。她明白他的意思,他本來就是個沉默寡言的人,這麽多年的夫妻下來,在語言上變得更是能省則省,往往一個手勢,一個表情,就是他給她最好的答覆。

她穿紫色是爲了他。一輩子也忘不了那次露營。那是她上大學以後,第一次參加的社團活動,而高她兩屆的他,是他們這組的組長。高大魁梧的他在沙灘上繞了一圈,終於有意無意地揀了一個她身旁的位子坐下,然後歪著頭,悄聲對她說:“妳穿紫色真好看!”他的一雙眼睛裏,跳躍著篝火熊熊的光影,像兩把火炬;嘻笑的臉上,多了一絲捉摸不定的情意。她的心顫動了一下,不知怎麽答話。他接著卻又說:“知道嗎?紫色代表憂鬱呢。”這時一陣海風吹過來,他的衣袖像帆一般揚了起來,輕輕摩挲她裸露在月光下光潔的手臂,霎時她只覺得一陣電流通過,於是全身遂滋滋滋地亮了起來,從髮梢直亮到腳心。對著這麽一個通明剔透的自己,十八嵗的她不知所措,恨不得一頭埋在沙裏。但是她卻什麽都沒敢做,只偷眼看他的側臉,矜持地,羞澀地笑著。

整個營火晚會他都坐在她身旁,和她一同就著燃得劈啪作響的火光看歌譜。兩張臉有時會湊得很近,近得她都可以聞到他嘴裏淡淡的煙味。他們在月光下的倒影,隨著火勢,時不時會交曡在一起,像兩個親密的愛侶,她看在眼裏臉漲得通紅,連忙挪了挪身子,他卻似乎一點都不在意,兀自興高采烈地唱著。她張著嘴,尾隨著他的歌聲,一首接一首的唱他們不知從哪裏收集來的歌曲。充滿異國情調的,纏綿醉人的情歌,銀蛇一般的,在她耳畔游過來,游過去,一點點地喚醒了她沉睡了十八年的感官。她覺得自己像一朵千瓣的花,正在一瓣一瓣的開放,越開越大,大到她的身體無法再包容。她緊緊地摟住滿脹的自己,恐怕一不小心就會噗地炸開來。

她知道所有圍坐的女生都在看著她,一雙雙眼睛裏是一把把淬著毒液的匕首。但是她管不了這麽多,她整個人被這份新鮮的,奇異的,蝕骨銷魂的甜蜜給魘住了。此時此刻,她覺得自己幸福得隨時可以縱身跳入篝火之中,死而無憾。
她現在知道,自己之所以這麽容易墜入情網,並不能完全怪罪於當時聖人當道的,嚴禁中學男女交友的清教徒年代。絕大多數的大一女生都和她一樣,剛進大學校門時,對異性充滿了珍奧斯汀或瓊瑤式的幻想,可是也不見得人人都像她這般的愚蠢,這般的一廂情願!

哎,想自己實在是意亂情迷得可以,那天夜裏竟然翻來覆去睡不著,眼睛一閉上,就見到他深情款款的眼神,鼻子一吸氣,就聞到他身上的煙味。半夜裏,她實在興奮得按捺不住,於是便偷偷溜到海邊去。帶著海水鹹味的空氣裏,還殘留著炭火的煙味,海上不知幾時扯起了霧,月亮不知躲到哪裏去了,留下漫天顫抖的星子,而一顆顆星用虛綫連接起來,就是一張張他的側臉。多完美的弧綫!多俊美的臉!難怪社團裏的女孩都當他是偶像般崇拜。然而今晚,他的眼裏卻只有她,其他的人,他連瞧都不瞧上一眼,包括那個大家公認的大美人程念慈在内。想到這裡,她甩了甩被海風吹散的頭髮,吃吃地笑了起來。

他現在正站在一株枝葉扶疏的萬年青旁邊,弓著身和幾個女人説話,不知說些什麽,逗得那群人笑得彎下腰來。從她坐的角度看過去,可以清楚地看到他的側臉。好在他還沒變胖,遠遠看去,輪廓還在,只是原來的飛機頭開了頂,燈光打在上面亮錚錚的一大片,像是上了一層亮光蠟。鼻子還是那管東方人中少見的希臘鼻,又高又挺,可不知爲什麽,鼻尖那裏卻沒來由地多出來一個彎勾,讓他的臉添了幾分陰騭。記得他從前不是這樣的,年紀大了,不知爲什麽,連面相都改了,她感嘆著。她雖然從眼角偷偷看他,但還是被他察覺了,只見他突然轉頭,對她粲然露齒一笑。冷不防被他逮個正著,她臉一紅,連忙偏頭,假意瀏覽旁邊書架上的書籍。真好笑,都是什麽年紀的人了,還儘臉紅。早知道應該叫丈夫一起來的,通常他來不來沒什麽兩樣,反正他到哪裏,都是自顧自的打開電視看球賽,撇下她一個人和朋友寒暄。所以她偶有邀約,都是自己一個人去,省心些。何況,這囘她從頭就不打算讓他陪著,所以根本沒叫他,他也樂得在家逍遙。但現在她卻有點後悔,他人在,她起碼安心些。她吸了一口氣,從書架上抽了一本余秋雨的“山居筆記”,攤在膝蓋上。

“吃點水果吧!”渝生端著一個水晶果盤,婷婷裊裊走過來,對她說。她把書擱一邊,看了看盤裏五顔六色的瓜果,只揀了一小串葡萄。葡萄最安全,不會吃得身上滴滴答答的。渝生把盤子往茶几一放,就在她身旁坐了下來。渝生是女主人,他的堂妹。她和渝生是中學同學,兩人住得不遠,都在舊金山附近的郊區,可這麽多年來,從來也沒想到要來往,偶爾在華人聚集的場合上見面,頂多禮貌的打個招呼便罷了。這次不知道她爲什麽心血來潮,突然會請她參加他們的聚會。“我堂哥也會來呢。”渝生在她答應赴約之後,加了這麽一句,就匆匆掛上電話,根本容不得她反悔。她其實也無意反悔。她想見他!這麽多年了,她陸陸續續的聽到他的消息,結婚了,分居了,離婚了,創業了,成功了,破產了,搬囘臺灣了,搬去上海了…..。事實上,她沒有刻意去打聽他的事情,可縂有人會有意無意的告訴她,因爲人人都記得她當年有多麽在乎他。當時在校園裏,人人都打心裏笑她傻,笑她口無遮攔,讓兩三個“好友”替她把事情渲染得無人不知,而他卻一副沒事人似的,不慌不忙地撇清和她的關係,害得她面子上掛不住,一度痛苦得想退
學。可是現在情況不一樣了,她有一個安定的家,一雙好兒女。而他呢,這麽些年下來,落得孓然一身,浪跡天涯,也沒有一兒半女。她不怕見他!

“妳倒是越來越年輕漂亮了。”渝生咬了一口草莓,兩隻光腳翹到茶几上,笑嘻嘻地對她說。他們兄妹倆很像,說起話來都是同樣的調調兒,閒散而嬾慵,天塌下來都不管似的。

“妳纔是呢。”分明的違心之論。渝生的臉全塌下來了,嘴角兩條笑紋又深又長,像刀割的一樣。頭髮染成了目前流行的淺棕色,可是細心一點,還是可以看到髮根的白髮,星星點點地冒出頭來。至於她自己呢,因爲這幾年注意飲食,加上天天去健身房游泳,所以身材沒走樣,再有就是她捨得花錢做皮膚保養,因而臉上經常容光煥發,看上去比實際年齡小上起碼有十嵗。這也是另一個她不怕見他的理由。

“孩子都大了吧?”
“兩個都大學畢業了,老大念研究所,老二剛找到事,在一家電腦公司上班。”提起她的兩個孩子,她就眉飛色舞。
“哎,你好命喲,我們家小祺生得晚,明年才上大學,還有幾年要熬。”到底是上了年紀了,連渝生都變得婆婆媽媽起來。這時只見他施施然繞到茶几前面,拿了一根牙籤,彎身在水果盤裏叉了一塊西瓜,放到嘴裏。
“哥,坐嘛。”渝生拍拍沙發墊,示意他坐下。他對她點頭笑笑,然後就挨在渝生身旁坐了下來。“哎呀,差點忘了我廚房裏還燒著綠豆湯,我得去看看火,免得燒糊了。” 渝生說著就忙不迭地走開了,留下他們兩個在沙發上。她突然覺得嘴裏的葡萄又痠又澀,於是便欠身,伸手想把沒吃完的葡萄放囘水果盤。該死的指尖,居然微微有點發顫。
“別走嘛。”他按著她的手留她,想是以爲她要走開。她輕輕甩開他的手,坐了下來。她不需要躲著他,她是有備而來的,要不今晚也不會自投羅網了。

“妳都沒變嘛,這麽多年了。”他看著她,一雙眼睛帶著笑。還是那雙眼,雖然小了些,也黯了些。“哎,我可是老多囉。”他嗟嘆著,用力搓自己的臉,仿佛要搓掉一層皮似的。
“看上去倒還好。”她淡淡地說。
“聽説妳家庭事業都滿得意的,真為妳高興。”他說,伸手去叉了一塊哈密瓜,遞給她。她搖搖頭,他就放到自己嘴裏,三兩下吞了下去。“要點喝的嗎?”他又問,嘴角沾著哈密瓜淺綠的汁液。她點點頭,於是他就滿意地起身走開了。她默默看著他的背影。雖然他的步伐很大,可是卻帶著一種做作出來的爽利。而且背脊有點駝了,走起路來頭向前一探一探的,確實顯得有點老態了。眼裏的這個人,難道就是曾經讓自己朝思暮想,失魂落魄的白馬王子嗎?她心頭一緊,一陣巨大的悲哀洶洶襲來,她的眼睛潮濕了。好在她在眼淚還沒掉下來之前,找到了渝生家的洗手間。她關上門,讓淚珠嘩嘩滑落臉頰。她看著鏡子裏眼鼻紅腫的自己,無聲的啜泣著,哀悼失去的青春,他的,以及她的。哭完了,她用冷水拍了一下臉,對著鏡子重新敷了一層粉底,然後嘟著嘴,狠狠地搽了一圈口紅。正待走出洗手間時,一回頭,卻發現牆上一角掛著一個小鏡框,上面是一幅李白的“月下獨酌”。再仔細一看,原來是他的字!沒錯,雖然沒落款,可是那字肯定是他寫的,光看那幾個略往左傾斜的“月”字就知道了。

她永遠都忘不了他的字。那次露營後沒幾天,她就開始收到他的來信了。信封上的字極其整齊娟秀,以至於她誤以爲是那個女同學寫來的,拆開後知道是他,就止不住一陣狂喜。信裏的字和信封上不大一樣,字體大些,也豪邁些。不過無論如何都看得出來,是曾經好好練過書法的人寫的字。相形之下,自己的字就拿不出去了。在信上,他邀她去碧潭划船。現在回想起來,她當時真是應該矜持一點,等他多邀幾次才答應的。可是絲毫沒有經驗的她,卻歡天喜地的答應了他的邀約。

那次的夜遊,是她一生中最美的回憶。她記得自己是穿了一襲桃紅色的洋裝赴約的,裁縫在那件衣服的腰綫上打了兩個小褶,巧妙的把她的腰掐細,而下身拉長了。她嘴上淡淡抹了一點杏黃色的口紅,是當時最流行的顔色。剛留長的頭髮上,別了一個水鑽髮夾,一扭頭就射出萬點光芒。腳上是姐姐新買的白色高跟鞋,走起路來很有點搖曳生姿的味道。出門之前,她在穿衣鏡前一站,眼前看到一個脫胎換骨的自己,正在喜孜孜地笑著。她臉色酡紅,雙眼發光,炯炯期待著即將到來的愛情。

那天夜晚,她真的以爲她和愛情打了個甜蜜的照面,在星光下的扁舟中,在懸著一彎明月的吊橋上,在燈光搖晃的碧波面,在他溫柔的眸子裏,在他寬厚的掌心中。
第二天,他來了一封限時專送,裏面是一首余光中的月光曲,用他那柔中帶剛的字體,工工整整地寫在宣紙上。那首美麗的詩,她壓在枕頭下,寶貝一樣的。她坐在床上,拉上蚊帳,然後偷偷把詩拿出來,一遍又一遍的念。看幾句就發一陣痴,嘆一口氣,要不就一會哭,一會笑,瘋了似的。裏面有幾句,她到現在都會背:

當月光仰泳在塞納河上
當指尖落在鍵齒上
她在想些什麽
想這是
想這是最後的一個暑假
月光一生只浪漫一次
只陪你去赴一次情人的約會

他的情書實在寫得好,細膩的文思,美麗的的詞藻,雖然沒有大膽的示愛詞句,還是令她看了怦然心動。另外,他在每封信上,還不忘夾上一首詩。下雨天收到的是余光中的“等你,在雨中”,颳風了,是胡適的詩句:“風吹亂了窗外的松痕,吹不散我心頭的人影”,雲淡風輕時是辛稼軒的“眾裏尋他千百度,驀然回首, 那人卻在燈火闌珊処”。對十八嵗的她來説,他的用意昭然若揭,她知道,他也愛上了她,雖然他後來竭力否認,説是她誤會了他的意思。可是她相信,他當時的感情是千真萬確的,他並沒有故意欺騙她。

她從洗手間出來時,他已經在沙發上等著她,他蹺起一條腿,手裏托著一杯紅灧灧的葡萄酒,閑閑地地啜著。看到站在面前的她,眼睛唰地亮了一下,等她坐定了,就把茶几上替她留的酒遞給她。
“不知道妳喝不喝酒,要是不喝,我可以去換。”他說。接著又將茶几上的一小碟乾果推到她面前。“我剛去廚房拿的,用來下酒正好。”還是和從前一樣,那麽體貼,那麽會獻小意兒。她對他笑笑,然後端起酒杯,咕嘟吞了一大口。
“唔,還不壞,很醇。”她放下酒杯,説道。
“沒想到你現在會喝酒了。”
“你沒想到的事多著呢。”這些年來,她從事進出口貿易,經常需要和客戶交際應酬,酒量就越練越深了。倒是他自己,看來沒喝多少,兩邊顴骨上卻紅了一大片,有點像京劇裏的老生。
“真高興見到妳,”他舉起酒杯說:“來來,為我們的重逢,乾一杯!”她本想勸他少喝點,後來又覺得輪不到她多此一舉,於是便“叮”地和他碰了杯,之後仰頭一飲而盡。酒下喉頭,她擡眼看他,發現他正怔怔的看著自己,一張臉從老生變成了関公。

這時起居室裏有人開始唱卡拉OK, 起先還人聲嘈雜,後來雜音逐漸沉澱下來,才聼出來原來是一個女聲在唱“偶然”。
“老掉牙的歌了,虧得還有人唱。”他說。

看來,他真是忘了。忘了他最後寫給她的信,裏面除了一張空白的信紙外,就只有一首“偶然”。這首詩她老早就會背的,可是當時反覆的看了又看,腦子裏卻是一片空白。熟悉的,流麗的字跡,變得張牙舞爪,像符咒一樣難讀。“我是天空裏的一片雲,偶爾投影在你的波心,………你記得也好,最好你忘掉,這在交會時互放的光亮”。她掙扎著,一遍又一遍的念著,終於心裏電光一閃,她總算明白了,這是一封絕交信,她被他甩了。

過了幾天以淚洗面,茶飯無心的日子,她終於放下自尊,寫信要求和他當面“談判”。然而他卻拒絕了,他托人帶話來,說他只把她當作普通朋友看,從一開始就是如此,是她誤會了。他要這麽說,她又能怎樣呢?她從抽屜裏拿出那曡厚厚的情書,一封封的地丟到小炭爐裏,看它們轉眼化爲灰燼。橘色的火焰,興高采烈地舞動著,美麗的詞句,隨著縷縷青煙,冉冉上升,而她的心,卻一點點往下沉,下沉,沉到底。

要不了多久,她和他的事,就傳偏了整個校園。他不慌不忙的撇清,而她則落入痛苦的深淵。她開始逃課,怕在校園裏見到他。萬不得已去學校,也是來去匆匆,她低著頭,踩著自己的影子走路,怕迎上那些了然于胸的目光。她絕不到人多的地方,怕聽到充滿憐憫的耳語:“看哪,就是她,那個自作多情的女孩!”

沒隔多久,就有人看到他和程念慈在校園裏出雙入對,再來又有人憤憤不平的告訴她,説是看到李姍姍坐在他腳踏車前槓上,尖叫著在椰林大道上兜圈子。其實,他老早花名在外,只是從前沒人想到要告訴她。校園裏有太多的漂亮女孩子,他又是這麽好看的男孩,實在不必爲了一個相貌平庸的她,放棄和別人交往的機會。她猜到了他心裏的想法,她並不笨。其實,在剛開始時,她也曾納悶過,爲什麽他會看上自己,她眼睛不夠大,鼻子不夠高,皮膚不夠白,只有一張紅殷殷的嘴還過得去,可下脣還是偏厚了些。只怪當時被驟然到來的愛情沖昏了頭腦,以爲他和別人不一樣,看重的是内心,不是外表。她恨自己的天真,恨自己的無知,恨自己的愚蠢,她恨極了自己!

就在她成績一落千丈,瀕臨退學的邊緣時,她猛然醒悟,又重新活了過來。那是因爲有一天,她終於在校園裏遇到他。他推著腳踏車迎面走來,身旁是個高朓時髦的女孩,她們肩並著肩,親昵的交談。她看到他們時,已是走避不及,只好低著頭,与他們檫身而過。她想他是看見她的,卻佯裝沒見到,只一昧偏著頭,不知和那女孩說些什麽,惹得她咯咯大笑。她想他說的是:“就是她,凴她也配!”那是一個美好的春日,滿園的杜鵑都開了,空氣裏夾雜著草香花香,金箔似的陽光篩過椰子樹梢,溫柔的洒在她臉上,和煦的風,輕輕拂過她的髮梢。然而這時她的心卻整個被撕裂了,她捧著鮮血淋漓的心,恨不得自己立刻死去。

到底是年輕,在痛徹心扉一場後,她奇跡似的好了,而且開始新生。她重拾書本,趕上功課進度。她開始主動和活潑開放的南洋女孩們來往,她們教她如何穿衣化妝打扮,教她如何對付男孩子,帶她參加舞會,介紹她認識一群新朋友。她走在路上,開始有人會吹口哨,家裏的信箱,不時有愛慕者的來信,巷口有神色緊張的男孩,在路燈下徘徊。她的生活開始多彩多姿,她交上新的男朋友,談了一兩次不痛不癢的戀愛。

他留給她的傷痕,也就這樣平復了,起碼在當時她以爲如此。尤其在她上大三那年,他已經畢業了,她知道自己再也不會在校園踫到他,於是大大的鬆了一口氣。接下來她畢業,隨著人潮出國,也找到一個老實巴交的人,順理成章的結了婚,安定了下來。

“給你們拍張照吧!”渝生走過來,手裏拿了個照相機,對準他們兩個。“坐近一點,坐那麽遠幹什麽?又不是一邊一國。“渝生說罷哈哈大笑,大概覺得自己很幽默。他聽話的挪了挪身子,靠過來,他靠得那麽近,好像頭一偏,就可以吻到她的臉頰。他閑閑地把手臂繞過來,搭在她冰涼的肩上,手心的熱氣,呼地貼過來,她的心跳了一下,隨即一懍,下意識的就想掙脫,可是當著渝生,又不好他讓他下不了臺,只好由他。
“就這樣,太棒了!”鎂光燈一閃,渝生拍下了一張他倆親親熱熱的照片。渝生走了,他對她笑笑,識相的挪開身子。她也會意地笑笑,又不是十七八嵗的大姑娘,犯不著這麽小家子氣。
“要不要去陽臺上看看?聽説今晚可能會有流星雨。”他說。
“唔,通常肉眼不容易見到….”她猶豫不決,到底老早過了看星星的年齡了,況且,又不知道他到底安的是什麽心。然而心裏又有一個小小的聲音輕輕耳邊催促:“去吧,去吧”。
“去吧,渝生家地勢高,又空曠,看到的機會不小。”他慫恿著。她不由自主地點點頭,然後隨他穿過起居室那群喧鬧的賓客,繞過種滿各色蘭花的花房,到了外面的陽臺。陽臺上空無一人,只有薄薄一輪明月悄悄從欄杆冒出頭來,和他們撞個滿懷。檸檬黃的月光瀉滿了大地,遠山也有了輪廓,淡淡一條弧綫懸在天際,像炭筆畫。因爲月光太明亮,看不到幾顆星星,認出來的只有銀河星群和北斗。

“可以抽根煙嗎?”他問。她點點頭。他從口袋裏拿出一支煙,點著了,噴了一口,然後把手放在欄杆上,紅色的煙頭在夜色裏發出暖暖的光。
“冷嗎?”他偏頭問她。她搖搖頭。聞著他口裏淡淡的煙味,對著天上似曾相識的月亮,她的心又跳了一下。在朦朧的夜色裏,她仿佛又回到那島國的海灘,他在她身邊,笑吟吟的說:“妳穿紫色真好看。”她的心浸在銀河裏,悠悠蕩蕩。
“妳穿紫色還是很好看。”他說。他還記得?她訝異的轉頭看他,他微笑的迎上她的目光。經過月光的淘洗,他臉上的歲月一點點的淡化了,就在她眼前,時光嘩嘩倒退了三十年,他又恢復了往日的風采,變成了昔日的五陵少年。

其實,在她心目中,他一直就是這個樣兒,尤其在夢裏,更是如此。大概是七八年前吧,她開始夢到他。在夢中,他總是突如其來的出現,有時是獨自一個人,有時是夾在人群中,踏著他那滿不在乎的步伐,冷不防走到她面前,低聲問她:“妳幸福嗎?”然後就在她驚愕得不知如何回應時,飄然離去。驚醒過來後,她偏頭看身畔的丈夫,他的臉因汗溼而油亮,卻多了白天不多見的歡愉表情。露在毯子外面的一只手,還鬆鬆握著電視遙控器,她搖搖頭,把它拿開,放到床頭几上。她起身走到窗口,額頭頂住冷冷的玻璃,凝神看著孤寂清冷的月亮,她幸福嗎?她不知道。往往醒來後,她就不能再入睡,她坐在窗前的躺椅上,想著自己是不是幸福,然後慢慢看天空變成魚肚白。爲了長期失眠,她曾經找過醫生,醫生說她是輕度的憂鬱症,開了藥方。吃了葯後,他還是堂而皇之的進入她夢中,只是次數少了些。她很生氣,一方面氣自己到如今還忘不了他,一方面氣他,氣他在這麽多年後,還能變著法子,一次又一次的折磨她。她到底欠了他什麽?

“看流星!”他指著天上一劃而過的璀璨光芒,興奮的大叫。
“別亂指,會帶來厄運的。”她伸手拉他的手臂,他手一縮,把她的手握在他手裏,然後舉起來,輕輕放到他唇邊。沒刮乾淨的鬍髭,輕輕摩挲著她的手,她癢,一直癢到心裏去。她急著想掙脫,他反而握得更緊,她只好讓他握著。她的心怦怦跳著,不知道接下來會發生什麽事。

結果什麽也沒發生。他把她的手翻來覆去的把玩著,沉吟了半晌,然後嘆了一口氣,問她:“妳哥還好吧?”
“還好。”她用力掙脫了他的手。她詫異他爲什麽忽然問起她哥哥來了,因爲他們並不相識。
“聽説他現在是這邊C大商學系的系主任了,是不是?”又是那副若無其事的聲調,裝出來的,她聼得出。
“是,你有事找他幫忙嗎?”她的心一涼,開門見山地冷冷問他。總算狐狸尾巴露出來了,老早就該想到,他找她是有目的的,要不然不會無緣無故的,在他甩了她三十二年之後,突然想到要找她。
“唔…,沒什麽,有個朋友的女兒,想…申請獎學金….”他支支吾吾。
“是你女朋友的女兒吧?或者說白些,就是你的女朋友!”她氣得直發抖。他把她當成什麽人了?還是那個十八嵗的,好騙的小丫頭嗎?都什麽年紀了,還跟她玩這麽拙劣的遊戲,而她自己,還幾乎中了他的計!她用力推了他一把,雖然力道不大,但因爲他沒料到,所以一個趔趄,還是往後退了兩三步。她拉開玻璃門,作了一個深呼吸,調整了自己的情緒,然後再踏著優雅的腳步,好整以暇地穿過那群熙熙攘攘的賓客,到客廳拿了皮包,往腋下一夾,然後頭也不囘地走出大門。

門外迎來的,是透過矮樹叢篩落的,影影綽綽的清冷月光。隔壁人家有人正在練琴,叮叮噹噹的琴聲,把月光攪得更細碎,更淩亂。冷冽的月光,像一把把銀針似的,滲入她的肌膚,她機伶伶的打了一個寒顫。她連忙打開車門,發動引擎,風馳電掣般的開下山去。這時她如果稍一回頭,就會看到遠方的天際,有一蓬燦爛的流星雨,正在飄然降落。可是,她不會再回頭了,因爲她知道,她這一生中,月光曾經陪她浪漫過一次,就足夠了。

受保護的文章:喬遷之喜

Filed under: Fictions — paushuan @ 12:48 上午

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受保護的文章:潘蜜拉

Filed under: Fictions — paushuan @ 12:47 上午

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