Tropic of Cancer  北回归线

When he finally pulls himself out of bed and starts to shave the afternoon is already well advanced. I've finally succeeded in switching his mind to other things, to the moving principally. The maid comes in to see if he's ready – he's supposed to have vacated the room by noon. He's just in the act of slipping into his trousers. I'm a little surprised that he doesn't excuse himself, or turn away. Seeing him standing there nonchalantly buttoning his fly as he gives her orders I begin to titter. "Don't mind her," he says, throwing her a look of supreme contempt, " she's just a big sow. Give her a pinch in the ass, if you like. She won't say anything." And then addressing her, in English, he says, "Come here, you bitch, put your hand on this!" At this I can't restrain myself any longer. I burst out laughing, a fit of hysterical laughter which infects the maid also, though she doesn't know what it's all about. The maid commences to take down the pictures and the photographs, mostly of himself, which line the walls. "You," he says, jerking his thumb, "come here! Here's something to remember me by" – ripping a photograph off the wall – "when I go you can wipe your ass with it. See," he says, turning to me, "she's a dumb bitch. She wouldn't look any more intelligent if I said it in French." The maid stands there with her mouth open; she is evidently convinced that he is cracked. "Hey!" he yells at her as if she were hard of hearing. "Hey, you! Yes, you! Like this…!" and he takes the photograph, his own photograph, and wipes his ass with it. "Comme ça! Savvy? You've got to draw pictures for her," he says, thrusting his lower lip forward in absolute disgust.

当他终于从床上爬起来、开始刮胡子时下午已经快过去了,我最终才成功地把他的思路吸引到其他事情上,主要是吸引到搬家上。侍女进来看他收拾好没有—原先叫他中午就得腾出房子—这时他正在穿裤子。他既不请求原谅也不转过身去,这使我略有几分惊奇。看着他满不在乎地站着系裤扣,一边还吩咐她做这做那,我不禁吃吃笑了。“别管她,”说着,他极其轻蔑地瞪了她一眼。“她不过是一头肥母猪。你想拧就在她屁股上拧一把,她不会说什么的。”接着范诺登又用英语对她说,“过来,你这婊子,把手放在这上面!”听到这话我再也忍不住了,哈哈大笑起来。这一阵歇斯底里的大笑也感染了那个侍女,尽管她不明白我在笑什么。侍女开始把钉在墙上的一排绘画和照片取下来,这些画儿和照片上大多是范诺登本人,“你,”他用大拇指戳戳,“到这儿来!这儿有件可以纪念我的东西。” -说着他从墙上撕下一张照片 “等我走了你就用它擦屁股好了。”说完他又转向我,“她是一个傻婊子,就算我用法语说她也不会显得聪明些。”侍女大张着嘴站在那儿,显然是认为范诺登疯了。“喂!”他朝她大喝一声,好像她耳朵不好似的。“喂,你!对了,说你呢!像这样……”他边说边拿起照片,他自己的照片,用它擦了擦屁股。“像这样!懂了吗?看来你得给她画张图才行。”说着他嗝起下唇,表示极度厌恶。

He watches her helplessly as she throws his things into the big valises. "Here, put these in too," he says, handing her a toothbrush and the douche bag.


Half of his belongings are lying on the floor. The valises are crammed full and there is nowhere to put the paintings and the books and the bottles that are half empty. "Sit down a minute," he says. "We've got plenty of time. We've got to think this thing out. If you hadn't come around I'd never have gotten out of here. You see how helpless I am. Don't let me forget to take the bulbs out… they belong to me. That wastebasket belongs to me too. They expect you to live like pigs, these bastards."


The maid has gone downstairs to get some twine… "Wait till you see… she'll charge me for the twine even if it's only three sous. They wouldn't sew a button on your pants here without charging for it. The lousy, dirty scroungers!" He takes a bottle of Calvados from the mantelpiece and nods to me to grab the other. "No use carrying these to the new place. Let's finish them off now. But don't give her a drink! That bastard, I wouldn't leave her a piece of toilet paper. I'd like to ruin the joint before I go. Listen… piss on the floor, if you like. I wish I could take a crap in the bureau drawer."


He feels so utterly disgusted with himself and everything else that he doesn't know what to do by way of venting his feelings. He walks over to the bed with the bottle in his hand and pulling back the covers he sprinkles Calvados over the mattress. Not content with that he digs his heel into the mattress. Unfortunately there's no mud on his heels. Finally he takes the sheet and cleans his shoes with it. "That'll give them something to do," he mutters vengefully. Then, taking a good swig, he throws his head back and gargles his throat, and after he's gargled it good and proper he spits it out on the mirror. "There, you cheap bastards! Wipe that off when I go!" He walks back and forth mumbling to himself. Seeing his torn socks lying on the floor he picks them up and tears them to bits. The paintings enrage him too. He picks one up – a portrait of himself done by some Lesbian he knew and he puts his foot through it. "That bitch! You know what she had the nerve to ask me? She asked me to turn over my cunts to her after I was through with them. She never gave me a sou for writing her up. She thought I honestly admired her work. I wouldn't have gotten that painting out of her if I hadn't promised to fix her up with that cunt from Minnesota. She was nuts about her… used to follow us around like a dog in heat… we couldn't get rid of the bitch! She bothered the life out of me. I got so that I was almost afraid to bring a cunt up here for fear that she'd bust in on me. I used to creep up here like a burglar and the lock the door behind me as soon as I got inside… She and that Georgia cunt – they drive me nuts. The one is always in heat and the other is always hungry. I hate fucking a woman who's hungry. It's like you push a feed inside her and then you push it out again… Jesus, that reminds me of something… where did I put that blue ointment? That's important. Did you ever have those things? It's worse than having a dose. And I don't know where I got them from either. I've had so many women up here in the last week or so I've lost track of them. Funny too, because they all smelled so fresh. But you know how it is…"


The maid has piled his things up on the sidewalk. The patron looks on with a surly air. When everything has been loaded into the taxi there is only room for one of us inside. As soon as we commence to roll Van Norden gets out a newspaper and starts bundling up his pots and pans; in the new place all cooking is strictly forbidden. By the time we reach our destination all his luggage has come undone; it wouldn't be quite so embarasssing if the madam had not stuck her head out of the doorway just as we rolled up. "My God!" she exclaims, "what in the devil is all this? What does it mean?"


Van Norden is so intimidated that he can think of nothing more to say than "C'est moi… c'est moi, madame!" And turning to me he mumbles savagely: "That cluck! Did you notice her face? She's going to make it hard for me."


The hotel lies back of a dingy passage and forms a rectangle very much on the order of a modern penitentiary. The bureau is large and gloomy, despite the brilliant reflections from the tile walls. There are bird cages hanging in the windows and little enamel signs everywhere begging the guests in an obsolete language not to do this and not to forget that. It is almost immaculately clean but absolutely poverty stricken, threadbare, woebegone. The upholstered chairs are held together with wired things; they remind one unpleasantly of the electric chair. The room he is going to occupy is on the fifth floor. As we climb the stairs Van Norden informs me that Maupassant once lived here. And in the same breath remarks that there is a peculiar odor in the hall.


On the fifth floor a few windowpanes are missing; we stand a moment gazing at the tenants across the court. It is getting toward dinner time and people are straggling back to their rooms with that weary, dejected air which comes from earning a living honestly. Most of the windows are wide open: the dingy rooms have the appearance of so many yawning mouths. The occupants of the rooms are yawning too, or else scratching themselves. They move about listlessly and apparently without much purpose; they might just as well be lunatics.

五楼上有几扇窗子没有玻璃,我们站下看了一会儿那几位正穿过院子的房客。快到吃饭时间了,人们正三三两两地回屋里去,他们都显得无精打彩、萎靡不振- 靠诚实劳动换饭吃的人总是这样的。窗子大多都大敞着,昏暗的房间仿佛是许多正打哈欠的大嘴。屋子里注的房客也在打哈欠,或是在替自己搔痒。他们坐卧不宁地动来动去显然毫无目的,说他们是一群疯子也并不过分。

As we turn down the corridor toward room 57, a door suddenly opens in front of us and an old hag with matted hair and the eyes of a maniac peers out. She startles us so that we stand transfixed. For a full minute the three of us stand there powerless to move or even to make an intelligent gesture. Back of the old hag I can see a kitchen table and on it lies a baby all undressed, a puny little brat no bigger than a plucked chicken. Finally the old one picks up a slop pail by her side and makes a move forward. We stand aside to let her pass and as the door closes behind her the baby lets out a piercing scream. It is room 56, and between 56 and 57 is the toilet where the old hag is emptying her slops.


Ever since we have mounted the stairs Van Norden has kept silence. But his looks are eloquent. When he opens the door of 57 I have for a fleeting moment the sensation of going mad. A huge mirror covered with green gauze and tipped at an angle of 45 degrees hangs directly opposite the entrance over a baby carriage which is filled with books. Van Norden doesn't even crack a smile; instead he walks nonchalantly over to the baby carriage and picking up a book begins to skim it through, much as a man would enter the public library and go unthinkingly to the rack nearest to hand. And perhaps this would not seem so ludicrous to me if I had not espied at the same time a pair of handle bars resting in the corner.