选登 科幻小说 北京折叠(一)

英文联播 2019-06-13 09:01:36

Folding Beijing

BY HAO JINGFANG

TRANSLATED BY KEN LIU

2016年4月27日,美国第74届雨果奖初赛结果公布,中国天津女科幻作家郝景芳的作品《北京折叠》入围。她在微博上说:“能入选雨果奖很惊喜。当初小说只发在一个新创的电子杂志上,没想到会有这样的结果。再次感谢宇昆兄的翻译。小说的翻译与被接受程度紧密相关。不能和大刘的作品一同入选,心中的遗憾甚至大过了惊喜。宇昆兄在帮助华人作品推广方面居功至伟。”


CHPATER ONE


At ten of five in the morning, Lao Dao crossed the busy pedestrian lane on his way to find Peng Li.

清晨4:50,老刀穿过熙熙攘攘的步行街,去找彭蠡。


After the end of his shift at the waste processing station, Lao Dao had gone home, first to shower and then to change. He was wearing a white shirt and a pair of brown pants—the only decent clothes he owned. The shirt’s cuffs were frayed, so he rolled them up to his elbows. Lao Dao was forty–eight, single, and long past the age when he still took care of his appearance. As he had no one to pester him about the domestic details, he had simply kept this outfit for years. Every time he wore it, he’d come home afterward, take off the shirt and pants, and fold them up neatly to put away. Working at the waste processing station meant there were few occasions that called for the outfit, save a wedding now and then for a friend’s son or daughter.

从垃圾站下班之后,老刀回家洗了个澡,换了衣服。白色衬衫和褐色裤子,这是他唯一一套体面衣服,衬衫袖口磨了边,他把袖子卷到胳膊肘。老刀四十八岁,没结婚,已经过了注意外表的年龄,又没人照顾起居,这一套衣服留着穿了很多年,每次穿一天,回家就脱了叠上。他在垃圾站上班,没必要穿得体面,偶尔参加谁家小孩的婚礼,才拿出来穿在身上。


Today, however, he was apprehensive about meeting strangers without looking at least somewhat respectable. After five hours at the waste processing station, he also had misgivings about how he smelled.

这一次他不想脏兮兮地见陌生人。他在垃圾站连续工作了五小时,很担心身上会有味道。


People who had just gotten off work filled the road. Men and women crowded every street vendor, picking through local produce and bargaining loudly. Customers packed the plastic tables at the food hawker stalls, which were immersed in the aroma of frying oil. They ate heartily with their faces buried in bowls of hot and sour rice noodles, their heads hidden by clouds of white steam. Other stands featured mountains of jujubes and walnuts, and hunks of cured meat swung overhead. This was the busiest hour of the day—work was over, and everyone was hungry and loud.

步行街上挤满了刚刚下班的人。拥挤的男人女人围着小摊子挑土特产,大声讨价还价。食客围着塑料桌子,埋头在酸辣粉的热气腾腾中,饿虎扑食一般,白色蒸汽遮住了脸。油炸的香味弥漫。货摊上的酸枣和核桃堆成山,腊肉在头顶摇摆。这个点是全天最热闹的时间,基本都收工了,忙碌了几个小时的人们都赶过来吃一顿饱饭,人声鼎沸。


Lao Dao squeezed through the crowd slowly. A waiter carrying dishes shouted and pushed his way through the throng. Lao Dao followed close behind.

老刀艰难地穿过人群。端盘子的伙计一边喊着让让一边推开挡道的人,开出一条路来,老刀跟在后面。


Peng Li lived some ways down the lane. Lao Dao climbed the stairs but Peng wasn’t home. A neighbor said that Peng usually didn’t return until right before market closing time, but she didn’t know exactly when.

彭蠡家在小街深处。老刀上楼,彭蠡不在家。问邻居,邻居说他每天快到关门才回来,具体几点不清楚。


Lao Dao became anxious. He glanced down at his watch: Almost 5:00 AM.

老刀有点担忧,看了看手表,清晨5点。


He went back downstairs to wait at the entrance of the apartment building. A group of hungry teenagers squatted around him, devouring their food. He recognized two of them because he remembered meeting them a couple of times at Peng Li’s home. Each kid had a plate of chow mein or chow fun, and they shared two dishes family–style. The dishes were a mess while pairs of chopsticks continued to search for elusive, overlooked bits of meat amongst the chopped peppers. Lao Dao sniffed his forearms again to be sure that the stench of garbage was off of him. The noisy, quotidian chaos around him assured him with its familiarity.

他回到楼门口等着。两旁狼吞虎咽的饥饿少年围绕着他。他认识其中两个,原来在彭蠡家见过一两次。少年每人面前摆着一盘炒面或炒粉,几个人分吃两个菜,盘子里一片狼藉,筷子扔在无望而锲而不舍地拨动,寻找辣椒丛中的肉星。老刀又下意识闻了闻小臂,不知道身上还有没有垃圾的腥味。周围的一切嘈杂而庸常,和每个清晨一样。


“Listen, do you know how much they charge for an order of twice-cooked pork over there?” a boy named Li asked.

“哎,你们知道那儿一盘回锅肉多少钱吗?”那个叫小李的少年说。


“Fuck! I just bit into some sand,” a heavyset kid named Ding said while covering his mouth with one hand, which had very dirty fingernails. “We need to get our money back from the vendor!”

“靠,菜里有沙子。”另外一个叫小丁的胖少年突然捂住嘴说,他的指甲里还带着黑泥, “坑人啊。得找老板退钱!”


Li ignored him. “Three hundred and forty yuan!” said Li. “You hear that? Three forty! For twice–cooked pork! And for boiled beef? Four hundred and twenty!”

“人家那儿一盘回锅肉,就三百四。”小李说,“三百四!一盘水煮牛肉四百二呢。”


“How could the prices be so expensive?” Ding mumbled as he clutched his cheek. “What do they put in there?”

“什么玩意?这么贵。”小丁捂着腮帮子咕哝道。


The other two youths weren’t interested in the conversation and concentrated on shoveling food from the plate into the mouth. Li watched them, and his yearning gaze seemed to go through them and focus on something beyond.

另外两个少年对谈话没兴趣,还在埋头吃面,小李低头看着他们,眼睛似乎穿过他们,看到了某个看不见的地方,目光里有热切。


Lao Dao’s stomach growled. He quickly averted his eyes, but it was too late. His empty stomach felt like an abyss that made his body tremble. It had been a month since he last had a morning meal. He used to spend about a hundred each day on this meal, which translated to three thousand for the month. If he could stick to his plan for a whole year, he’d be able to save enough to afford two months of tuition for Tangtang’s kindergarten.

老刀的肚子也感觉到饥饿。他迅速转开眼睛,可是来不及了,那种感觉迅速席卷了他,胃的空虚像是一个深渊,让他身体微微发颤。他有一个月不吃清晨这顿饭了。一顿饭差不多一百块,一个月三千块,攒上一年就够糖糖两个月的幼儿园开销了。


He looked into the distance: The trucks of the city cleaning crew were approaching slowly.

他向远处看,城市清理队的车辆已经缓缓开过来了。


He began to steel himself. If Peng Li didn’t return in time, he would have to go on this journey without consulting him. Although it would make the trip far more difficult and dangerous, time was of the essence and he had to go. The loud chants of the woman next to him hawking her jujube interrupted his thoughts and gave him a headache. The peddlers at the other end of the road began to pack up their wares, and the crowd, like fish in a pond disturbed by a stick, dispersed. No one was interested in fighting the city cleaning crew. As the vendors got out of the way, the cleaning trucks patiently advanced. Vehicles were normally not allowed in the pedestrian lane, but the cleaning trucks were an exception. Anybody who dilly–dallied would be packed up by force.

他开始做准备,若彭蠡一时再不回来,他就要考虑自己行动了。虽然会带来不少困难,但时间不等人,总得走才行。身边卖大枣的女人高声叫卖,不时打断他的思绪,声音的洪亮刺得他头疼。步行街一端的小摊子开始收拾,人群像用棍子搅动的池塘里的鱼,倏一下散去。没人会在这时候和清理队较劲。小摊子收拾得比较慢,清理队的车耐心地移动。步行街通常只是步行街,但对清理队的车除外。谁若走得慢了,就被强行收拢起来。


Finally, Peng Li appeared: His shirt unbuttoned, a toothpick dangling between his lips, strolling leisurely and burping from time to time. Now in his sixties, Peng had become lazy and slovenly. His cheeks drooped like the jowls of a Shar–Pei, giving him the appearance of being perpetually grumpy. Looking at him now, one might get the impression that he was a loser whose only ambition in life was a full belly. However, even as a child, Lao Dao had heard his father recounting Peng Li’s exploits when he had been a young man.

这时彭蠡出现了。他剔着牙,敞着衬衫的扣子,不紧不慢地踱回来,不时打饱嗝。彭蠡六十多了,变得懒散不修边幅,两颊像沙皮狗一样耷拉着,让嘴角显得总是不满意地撇着。如果只看这幅模样,不知道他年轻时的样子,会以为他只是个胸无大志只知道吃喝的怂包。但从老刀很小的时候,他就听父亲讲过彭蠡的事。


Lao Dao went up to meet Peng in the street. Before Peng Li could greet him, Lao Dao blurted out, “I don’t have time to explain, but I need to get to First Space. Can you tell me how?”

老刀迎上前去。彭蠡看到他要打招呼,老刀却打断他:“我没时间和你解释。我需要去第一空间,你告诉我怎么走。”


Peng Li was stunned. It had been ten years since anyone brought up First Space with him. He held the remnant of the toothpick in his fingers—it had broken between his teeth without his being aware of it. For some seconds, he said nothing, but then he saw the anxiety on Lao Dao’s face and dragged him toward the apartment building. “Come into my place and let’s talk. You have to start from there anyway to get to where you want to go.”

彭蠡愣住了,已经有十年没人跟他提过第一空间的事,他的牙签捏在手里,不知不觉掰断了。他有片刻没回答,见老刀实在有点急了,才拽着他向楼里走。“回我家说,”彭蠡说,“要走也从那儿走。”


The city cleaning crew was almost upon them, and the crowd scattered like autumn leaves in a wind. “Go home! Go home! The Change is about to start,” someone called from atop one of the trucks.

在他们身后,清理队已经缓缓开了过来,像秋风扫落叶一样将人们扫回家。“回家啦,回家啦。转换马上开始了。”车上有人吆喝着。


Peng Li took Lao Dao upstairs into his apartment. His ordinary, single–occupancy public housing unit was sparsely furnished: Six square meters in area, a washroom, a cooking corner, a table and a chair, a cocoon–bed equipped with storage drawers underneath for clothes and miscellaneous items. The walls were covered with water stains and footprints, bare save for a few haphazardly installed hooks for jackets, pants, and linens. 

彭蠡带老刀上楼,进屋。他的单人小房子和一般公租屋无异,六平米房间,一个厕所,一个能做菜的角落,一张桌子一把椅子,胶囊床铺,胶囊下是抽拉式箱柜,可以放衣服物品。墙面上有水渍和鞋印,没做任何修饰,只是歪斜着贴了几个挂钩,挂着夹克和裤子。


Once he entered, Peng took all the clothes and towels off the wall–hooks and stuffed them into one of the drawers. During the Change, nothing was supposed to be unsecured. Lao Dao had once lived in a single–occupancy unit just like this one. As soon as he entered, he felt the flavor of the past hanging in the air.

进屋后,彭蠡把墙上的衣服毛巾都取下来,塞到最靠边的抽屉里。转换的时候,什么都不能挂出来。老刀以前也住这样的单人公租房。一进屋,他就感到一股旧日的气息。


Peng Li glared at Lao Dao. “I’m not going to show you the way unless you tell me why.”

彭蠡直截了当地瞪着老刀:“你不告诉我为什么,我就不告诉你怎么走。”


It was already five thirty. Lao Dao had only half an hour left.

已经5点半了,还有半个小时。


Lao Dao gave him the bare outlines of the story: Picking up the bottle with a message inside; hiding in the trash chute; being entrusted with the errand in Second Space; making his decision and coming here for guidance. He had so little time that he had to leave right away.

老刀简单讲了事情的始末。从他捡到纸条瓶子,到他偷偷躲入垃圾道,到他在第二空间接到的委托,再到他的行动。他没有时间描述太多,最好马上就走。


“You hid in the trash chutes last night to sneak into Second Space?” Peng Li frowned. “That means you had to wait twenty–four hours!”

“你昨天躲在垃圾道里?去第二空间?”彭蠡皱着眉,“那你得等24小时啊。”


“For two hundred thousand yuan?” Lao Dao said, “Even hiding for a week would be worth it.”

“二十万块。”老刀说,“等一礼拜也值啊。”


“I didn’t know you were so short on money.”

“你就这么缺钱花?”


Lao Dao was silent for a moment. “Tangtang is going to be old enough for kindergarten in a year. I’ve run out of time.”

老刀沉默了一下。“糖糖还有一年多该去幼儿园了。”他说,“我来不及了。”


Lao Dao’s research on kindergarten tuition had shocked him. For schools with decent reputations, the parents had to show up with their bedrolls and line up a couple of days before registration. The two parents had to take turns so that while one held their place in the line, the other could go to the bathroom or grab a bite to eat. Even after lining up for forty–plus hours, a place wasn’t guaranteed. Those with enough money had already bought up most of the openings for their offspring, so the poorer parents had to endure the line, hoping to grab one of the few remaining spots. Mind you, this was just for decent schools. The really good schools? Forget about lining up—every opportunity was sold off to those with money. 

老刀去幼儿园咨询的时候,着实被吓到了。稍微好一点的幼儿园招生前两天,就有家长带着铺盖卷在幼儿园门口排队,两个家长轮着,一个吃喝拉撒,另一个坐在幼儿园门口等。就这么等上四十多个小时,还不一定能排进去。前面的名额早用钱买断了,只有最后剩下的寥寥几个名额分给苦熬排队的爹妈。这只是一般不错的幼儿园,更好一点的连排队都不行,从一开始就是钱买机会。


Lao Dao didn’t harbor unrealistic hopes, but Tangtang had loved music since she was an eighteen–month–old. Every time she heard music in the streets, her face lit up and she twisted her little body and waved her arms about in a dance. She looked especially cute during those moments. Lao Dao was dazzled as though surrounded by stage lights. No matter how much it cost, he vowed to send Tangtang to a kindergarten that offered music and dance lessons.

老刀本来没什么奢望,可是自从糖糖一岁半之后,就特别喜欢音乐,每次在外面听见音乐,她就小脸放光,跟着扭动身子手舞足蹈。那个时候她特别好看。老刀对此毫无抵抗力,他就像被舞台上的灯光层层围绕着,只看到一片耀眼。无论付出什么代价,他都想送糖糖去一个能教音乐和跳舞的幼儿园。


Peng Li took off his shirt and washed while he spoke with Lao Dao. The “washing” consisted only of splashing some drops of water over his face because the water was already shut off and only a thin trickle came out of the faucet. Peng Li took down a dirty towel from the wall and wiped his face carelessly before stuffing the towel into a drawer as well. His moist hair gave off an oily glint.

彭蠡脱下外衣,一边洗脸,一边和老刀说话。说是洗脸,不过只是用水随便抹一抹。水马上就要停了,水流已经变得很小。彭蠡从墙上拽下一条脏兮兮的毛巾,随意蹭了蹭,又将毛巾塞进抽屉。他湿漉漉的头发显出油腻的光泽。


“What are you working so hard for?” Peng Li asked. “It’s not like she’s your real daughter.”

“你真是作死,”彭蠡说,“她又不是你闺女,犯得着吗。”


“I don’t have time for this,” Lao Dao said. “Just tell me the way.”

“别说这些了。快告我怎么走。”老刀说。


Peng Li sighed. “Do you understand that if you’re caught, it’s not just a matter of paying a fine? You’re going to be locked up for months.”

彭蠡叹了口气:“你可得知道,万一被抓着,可不只是罚款,得关上好几个月。”


“I thought you had gone there multiple times.”

“你不是去过好多次吗?”


“Just four times. I got caught the fifth time.”

“只有四次。第五次就被抓了。”


“That’s more than enough. If I could make it four times, it would be no big deal to get caught once.”

“那也够了。我要是能去四次,抓一次也无所谓。”


Lao Dao’s errand required him to deliver a message to First Space—success would earn him a hundred thousand yuan, and if he managed to bring back a reply, two hundred thousand. Sure, it was illegal, but no one would be harmed, and as long as he followed the right route and method, the probability of being caught wasn’t great. And the cash, the cash was very real. 

老刀要去第一空间送一样东西,送到了挣十万块,带来回信挣二十万。这不过是冒违规的大不韪,只要路径和方法对,被抓住的几率并不大,挣的却是实实在在的钞票。


He could think of no reason to not take up the offer. He knew that when Peng Li was younger, he had snuck into First Space multiple times to smuggle contraband and made quite a fortune. There was a way.

他不知道有什么理由拒绝。他知道彭蠡年轻的时候为了几笔风险钱,曾经偷偷进入第一空间好几次,贩卖私酒和烟。他知道这条路能走。


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