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[崑南詩與小說] THE PIER 碼頭 (英文小說)

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崑南 超級版主 2017-12-24 16:51:16 灘主

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《碼頭》是早年的創作,寫一個終日想遠離家鄉的人,最後還是根本步未出戶,全篇收集於《戲鯨的風流》短篇小說集內。
年前,出版的 Killing the Angel  英文小說集,也有選這篇,由我自己翻譯。
評論者認爲我這篇東西,最富有電影感,作者本人也同意。

pier_fb.jpg

THE PIER


The house is but a house. A home is not a house. The door has often loomed as a shadow, silent, strange and closed. Citti wants to push it open and get far away from where he is living. But he remains standing there and dreaming of nowhere, like the shadow, the shadow behind the door.

Citti is making his way to the other part of the village. Under the clear sky with the green slope running beyond his eyes, he finds the things around him all the same. The same aging cow is drinking. There is the same patch in the meadow upon which a tree never grows green. Even the birds are gathering on the same roof at the same moment. Nothing seems  to signal change for the sake of changing.. He can smell the staleness of the seasonal wind as it runs around his house day after day.

‘My son, what’s the problem with you having a life in the village?’ His mother puts the question before him. Tic-tac, tic-toc and tic-tac…. Again and again. The same tone of the clock. Even the same gestures . Citti is prompt in his response by saying that the odious sight of the old rusty clock has often made him weak and wistful, hoping she would try to share his yearning for foreign places. His mother can make out every corner of the house without opening her eyes but it seems she never knows how to reach out to hold her son in her arms when she wants to. Instead, she rather reminds him of the important moments in family history – for instance, her own mother and she herself were both delivered in the same bed, a big shaky iron bed. She says, ‘Since you were born here, right here, also in this very bed, your soul must always move with the muscles of the house.’

Citti is now strolling about an arrow’s shot away from the house, but he wishes he could manage to get further away for at least the next two or three days. He feels freer in the breeze. First, he thinks he would like to take a book with him, but soon he makes up his mind to bring the camera along instead. He has been obsessed by taking pictures on his way getting away from home. Some scenes like the clouds are moving, changing and escaping with rapid colors. The trees over the hill seem to gallop away and soon will vanish out of sight. Only fragments of dreams stay for a while, but they are growing fast, stirring up something elusive in his mind. Anyhow, he keeps on loitering around, not going in any particular direction.

One of those mornings, an unusual, good and sweet morning, whistling a tune, Citti walks into the landscape and the landscape walks with him. Nobody else is around. A flash of strange emotion sweeps over him after taking a few wonderful pictures. For an instant he manages to catch the images of those distant hills, appearing and disappearing, but often linked with huts, roads and the sea rolling altogether – for some reasons or perhaps for none at all.

The man in the village tells him that a new pier has been built already. ‘It's just magnificent. Have you seen a ferry boat coming in lately?’ Citti shakes his head. A strange shimmering of light is shown in the man’s eyes. Citti watches, ponders and keeps silent. He doesn’t even bother giving the ghost of a smile. The man continues, ‘How miraculous, it looks like a structure of the marble church hanging over the water. When a boat glides over the surface of the sea, the swell follows the moving sky with the secret sound of the cloud.’
Citti asks, ‘Were you there on the opening day?’
‘Everyone present that day believed that from now on, our place would grow more prosperous than ever before.’
‘Where is the site of the pier?’
The man stretches out his right arm, saying, ‘Over there. You ought to look at it.’
Citti follows the finger, but finds no pier at all. Do they just go into putting on airs? Over there, over there, the man keeps on shouting, but over where, where is the pier? Well, over there, as far as Citti can see, is the sun; yes, the sun seen by every villager, is already going down, and down behind a parade of trees.

As a matter of fact, no pier is to be found when he at last arrives at the site they have been talking about. Instead, he is drawn by the sight of two parallel concrete planks paved with slab stones, one or two feet above the ground. He is filled with uncertainty. He knows every inch of soil in his birthplace. He has never seen these stone bars before. He cannot help but touch them with his fingers. The surface is completely covered with moss, moist with a smell of the sea. Oh, but where is the sea? Again, where is the sea? He has been told  that the entire village has been flooded and submerged long time ago. He looks around, hoping to find an elderly in the village to put up more questions about the legend. No trace of any living soul. Familiar huts beyond at the foot of the hill still stand there within sight. When he turns around again, he finds that the old huts are well placed, but the hill is not seen. It was now about noon. All things are standing without a single trace of shadow. But where are those hills? He makes up his mind to explore and capture the field of vision with his camera.

Another good day. High noon again. A girl is standing on the concrete plank of raised stones. She notices Citti straight away.
‘Are you living here now?’
This is the same question he wants to ask her.
He nods and shakes his head almost at the same time.
She rolls her eyes and spreads a smile, ‘Anything wrong?’
‘I hail from this village, positive. But I’ve just come back after a long journey.’
She delivers another gentle smile, as if swirling the sunlight in the air. He is clearly elated.
He stands there quietly at a distance from her. He imagines her to be a mermaid from somewhere curling herself up on the rock. He almost stultifies himself. Ridiculous. A mermaid comes into view without a view of the sea?

Citti says to his younger brother, ‘I always dreamt I would enjoy the moment of strolling around the cobbled streets in Denmark.’
‘Sorry, I really don't think so. I don’t even like places  like Paris. I’d rather pick the city of Rome.’ Citti stops saying anything more to displease a person, especially his brother who has a record of many travels. They’re born of the same mother, but they live, sharing with different dreams. Not a big deal anyway. He often reminds himself.  Without further conversation his brother turns around and gets back to his room.
Citti also turns around. He turns around again, this time to catch sight of the girl on the raised stones. He is standing there watching her from maybe two or three feet away.
‘Do you like the cobbled pavements here?’ she asks.
‘Oh, yes, I love this place.’
‘Have you been told that a new pier is to be built around here?’
‘Ferry boats are coming in soon?’
‘So they say.’
‘But I can’t find the old pier. It used to be right here where we’re standing. But now as you can see, there’s just this ugly worn out jetty things in separate parts. ‘
The memory of the old pier does not stir at all in his mind. In fact, he has never seen the sea here before. An old pier was built here, but without the presence of the sea. He takes it as a joke. He begins slowly getting a close look at her. She has a slim body with full breasts and long legs. She is standing there, a short distance away from him; barefooted, smooth and trim, pale and perfect, strikingly without any mark on the skin. He remains there, not moving a muscle, but falling quickly into a web of seduction like the sun, the same sun in red going down, not far away from them.

Time passes and soon its pace quickens. A long siren is heard. From the mooring of the ferry boat maybe. He does not bother to find out the truth. He is thinking that she must have gone since he has ignored her for some time. Nevertheless, she is still there, strangely occupying the exact position. Still there with the same shape, the same movement and the same complexion. Nothing has been changed yet.


She asks, ‘Do you like swimming?’
Her voice seems to draw the sea nearer and nearer. Is the sea still there? Oh yes, it is not the sound of the engine of the ferryboat. It is the sound of siren straight from the sea. Citti hears it now. The sea is real, maybe hidden somewhere.
‘I love swimming, but I’m not allowed. Mom fears it’s dangerous and I might be drowned. She finds ways to keep me away.’
‘I see,’ after a pause, she continues, ‘For my part I wish I could swim as far as I can, far away, or rather fly high enough to find out whatever is unknown lurking behind those hills.’
He swallows the thing he is about to say. He does not want her to realize that he also shares the same thought of longing for freedom.
‘I know you like reading.’ Her voice echoes strangely in the air. The sea now seems nearer, close enough to take hold of it. The wind is becoming wilder but elusive. He does not know why once with her presence all things around are beginning to turn rapidly into the shapes and forms he has hankered after. ‘Do you agree with what my mother says about the mystery of destiny? I mean the destiny of my future death  in the water.’
She has ignored him for a while. She cuts in with another topic, ‘I’ve come across some people like you. They’ve been reading  a lot, thinking a lot and finally they all share an obsession of committing suicide.’
‘Do you really think so?’ He feels his ears burn and snaps out of it, ‘How and why you come to catch such an idea, if not a conclusion?’
‘Simple. From the books, to be exact. Words themselves, same as life are always revealing the truth, nothing but the truth.’ She looks out into the space solemnly.
He thinks it is the right moment to take challenge by saying, ‘By the way, have you ever fallen in love?’
She replies without any hesitation, ‘We’re not worthy to talk about it.’
‘Really? But why?’
A kind of vision is escaping from the camera. An unseen but real challenge of movement. He is approaching her slowly. Time passes and steps in again, but in a single stride this time. Their eyes are eventually locked. He is close enough to find her wearing nothing underneath. She stares into his eyes for the first time. He raises and rests his head between her breasts. Now he is in touch with the warmth of her breath, or rather the rhythmic murmuring, or in fact, it is the siren flirting about in its own way.
He reaches for her cheeks, her arms and then her nipples. Her  legs begin unfolding the vastness of the sea. Mom is right again! He has been cursed to swim in the waters without knowing any danger. Now, right now, he is determined  to defy his fate. He plunges himself into the surge of her flowing body, breaking himself free before being overwhelmed. The strands of her long hair are ebbing out in the air  rapidly. They are, in front of his eyes, the gestures of hungry gulls, the ridges in the moving landscape and the intricate markings of flights between chasing clouds. She holds him tight, tight enough until he dwells on somewhere for a while and then goes away without a whisper.

Citti fails to recall the location of raised stone platform again. No other traces have been found except the footprints, perhaps, which are believed to be copies in the folder of fantasy or just vague images in his dream. He has taken all the scenes around with his camera, but not a single representation of a human being to be found. He wants to be sure. The fact is that he is not sure, not sure at all unless a girl is to be seen again, standing there before him. But when? Where? And how?


A man is watching. A girl is watching. They are not watching in the same direction. Not on the raised stones. There are in fact no raised stones. After a while, both the girl and the man turn around and look at each other. They do not know about each other.
‘I came here from the town a hundred miles away. I’m visiting my best friend.’
He responds, ‘I’m just a passer-by. I’ll leave here soon by the ferry boat. Tonight is my last stay.’
A stranger she is without a slight curve of a smile on her face. But the man still hears the splashing sound of laughter, like pouring rain at the time of sundown. For the first time his memory prompts him to recognize the sound of the waves, flagging harder and harder. Oh, dear, the sea is coming. He feels it, a sensation in his body.

The splashes of laughter like pouring rain echo every evening as the villagers gather to talk about the site of the pier, though the sea still fails to come into view. Somewhere, not far away from the raised stones, a timeworn camera is seen, which has been deserted for quite a long time. The villagers pass it every morning, but nobody bothers to pick it up.

Citti is coming home at last.








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