The man was walking in the middle of the road. He stumbled, fell to his knees, and then stood up again, swaying slightly as he found his balance.

“小心,”安娜说,英里,他们已经查nged down a gear. She and Miles were looking for a wedding venue. They had driven three hours out of Cape Town in a rented Polo to visit a lavender farm. The farm’s distance from Cape Town was compensated for by the charm of the old stone farmhouse and stables, which had been converted into rooms. It was the first venue that they had both liked. This oasis of mutual agreement was a relief to Anna. For a time it had seemed as if she and Miles would never agree on anything. Apart from the car and the man the road was empty. Dusk was fast approaching and the shadows of eucalyptus trees were cast diagonally across the tarmac. Set back from the road, on the other side of a ditch and slightly obscured by the trees, was a row of five farm laborers’ houses. They were simple, flat-roofed structures, each with windows on either side of a single door. All the windows were dark, although gray tails of smoke rose from two chimneys. Beyond the houses the landscape was flat, rising up only near the horizon where mountains finally broke the monotony, their peaks as blue as oxygen-starved lips. The nearest town was almost thirty miles away.

The man had his back to Anna and Miles. He was barefoot and walking with a pronounced limp. If the tarmac was hot he did not seem to feel it. He appeared not to have heard or seen their car. Anna gripped the handle of the armrest as Miles applied more pressure to the brakes.

“What’s he doing?” she said.



“It’s not our problem.”

Anna looked sideways at Miles. She did not feel like another argument now, not after being in disagreement for so long over wedding venues and dates and costs. Perhaps Miles was right: they had planned to spend the night at a guest farm more than fifty miles away, and there was still some distance to travel on an unfamiliar road. And besides, she thought, the man probably lived with his family in one of the houses nearby.

Miles slowed the car and steered to the left of the man, honking as he did so. The man spun around and faced the car. He was wearing khaki shorts and a T-shirt with a faded green and yellow petrol logo on its front. He was lean, with a deeply creased face and a light beard. His head was moving from side to side, as if he was trying to balance it on his neck. With both arms waving out in front of him he came running toward the car. Miles braked hard and tried to turn away, but it was futile. The man’s arms and torso struck the hood and then, with a loud crack, his head hit the windshield. Miles brought the car to a halt on the verge of the road. A cloud of dust enveloped them. When it cleared, they saw that the man had tumbled off the hood and was lying on his back.


“I didn’t hit him. He hit me. Didn’t you see? He hit the car!”

And then, again, she could not clearly recall whether it was she or Miles who had first climbed out to see how hurt the man was. All she remembered was that they had both crouched down next to him almost simultaneously. The man was trying to say something. He lifted his head and looked at Anna and then at Miles. Mumbled words were coming out of his mouth. And then he let his head drop back onto the tarmac with a thud that made Anna wince. Miles returned to the car and maneuvered it so that the headlights, which were growing stronger as night fell, shone on the man. He brought a shirt from his suitcase to put under the man’s head. The man’s eyes were closed now. His chest rose and fell heavily. A faint groan echoed in his throat every time he breathed out. The air that escaped from him was sweet and thick with alcohol. There did not seem to be any obvious signs of injury to him, although his face bore the scars of a life accustomed to physical damage.



“I couldn’t avoid him,” said Miles. “I tried but I couldn’t!”

“I know.”

“Can you smell it? Can you smell the alcohol on him?”

“Do you think he’s badly hurt?”

“I wasn’t going that fast, was I? I mean, it was more like he fell on the car than the car hit him. What the fuck was he doing? I mean, what the fuck?”




“I’m going to see if anyone in those houses knows him. Maybe they can help. Stay here and if a car comes try and flag it down.”


The evening was settling now and the air was starting to cool. Anna was wearing a denim skirt and a black singlet. She was short and slightly built and seemed to detect shifts in temperature more than most people. She had always struggled to put on weight and she envied women with fleshy curves. Her curly brown hair, which she wore down to her shoulders, was, to her mind, her best feature.

She opened the trunk and found her denim jacket. She had bought it only two weeks before, in Covent Garden. London seemed like an impossibly distant place now. Though she could not tell which was more foreign: the landscape she was in now, or London. She did not put on the jacket but instead clutched it against her side, as if for security. In Miles’s suitcase she found a sweatshirt with which to cover the man. When she closed the trunk the man was sitting up. Insects flew in and out of the beams of the headlights and around the man’s head. He tried to stand and then fell back, leaning on his elbows. It was clear now that he had a large swelling on his forehead, the size of a tennis ball cut in half.

“You must keep still,” Anna said. “People are coming to help, OK? Just relax. Are you cold? Here, here’s a jersey.”

He just stared at it.



“No,” said Anna. “You must sit down. People are coming to help you.”


“Wait,” said Anna, trotting after him and putting a hand on his shoulder. “Where are you going? Where do you live?”

那人停了下来,看着安娜。车头灯lit up his face, emphasizing the swelling above his left eye. His eyes were unfocused. Then he put both arms around Anna’s shoulders and fell against her. She could not hold up his weight and they both collapsed to the tarmac, he on top of her. She rolled from side to side until she was free from him. She pushed his legs off hers and stood up. A feeling of terror gripped her throat and sent her heart into a spasmodic set of beats. It had only occurred to her then that the man could have been bluffing his injuries.

He was lying still again. Anna stood back at a safe distance and watched for possible signs of treachery. But it seemed unlikely to her that he was faking it. She patted him on his back and asked if he was OK. He didn’t reply. She walked around him slowly, watching him. Then she got down on her knees and listened for his breathing. It was very faint. A branch snapped somewhere out in the darkness. Voices were coming nearer.

“Anna?” Miles ran up to her. “Did he move?”

“He got up and walked a bit. But he’s out again.”

Two men stepped into the light behind Miles. They were both of modest height and their bodies seemed to carry only weight that was essential. One of the men was wearing blue overalls and a white shirt. He was smoking a pipe. The other man was dressed in polyester tracksuit pants and a short-sleeve collared shirt, patterned with a brightly colored row of palm trees. Several buttons were missing from the shirt. The resulting gap offered Anna a glimpse of his stomach muscles, in the same way that a wall with peeling paint exposes its underlying brickwork. The men were not much older than Miles and Anna, perhaps forty at most.

吸烟的那个人用他的舌头发出了点击的声音。“塞缪尔?塞缪尔(Samuel),沃特·马克(Wat Maak Jy)?het jy weer seer gekry?”


The man in the palm-tree shirt said, “Jy’s oppie verkeerde pad, Samuel.”

“Do you know him?” said Miles.

“ Ja,Dis Samuel,”那个烟斗的人说。“ Sy Kop Issie Reg Nie。”他用管子的末端轻拍了头的侧面。

“Is he mentally disturbed?” Anna asked.

“Looks like it,” said Miles.



“Who looks after him?” asked Miles.

“Sy broer,” said the man in the palm-tree shirt. “Ons sal hom huis toe vat. Kom, Samuel, jy moet probeer opstaan.”

One of the children picked up a stone and threw it at Samuel. It bounced off his chest and landed at his feet, but he did not react in any way.

“Hey! Voetsek!” shouted the pipe-smoker. The children giggled and ran back into the darkness.



“Have you seen his forehead? What if he’s got a fracture or something? We can’t just leave him.”


Anna grabbed Miles by the forearm and led him back to the car.




“There’s a town about half an hour back. Let’s at least drop him off at a hospital.”

“How do you know he’s not just pissed? He’ll be fine once he sobers up.”

“We don’t know that. He could have a serious head injury. We’re not leaving him here, Miles.” Anna was speaking in a tone Miles had not heard before. There was a surprising level of authority in her voice. But fear too.

He walked over to the three men. He was taller than all of them, and thicker limbed. His shoulders were wide and lent his appearance a sense of resilience. But his round face was covered with a smooth skin that was always pink around the cheekbones. At thirty-five years of age he still did not have to shave every day. He kept his blond hair short. It would not be long before the hair on his crown was gone for good.

“Hang on,” he said. “He should see a doctor. We can take him.”

The two men looked at one another and then at Samuel. “Nee, hy’s oraait, master,” said the man with the pipe.

Miles pointed to the bump on Samuel’s forehead and then at Anna. “She’d feel better if we took him. Please.”

The men shrugged their shoulders and clicked their tongues. There followed a brief discussion on how to find the hospital in the town. Then they helped lay Samuel down on the backseat of the car. He went straight to sleep.

To get to the hospital, which was on a hill overlooking the town, they had to drive down the main street, passing second-hand furniture shops, a farmers’ co-op, a pharmacy, at least two liquor stores, and a white two-story Art Deco building with a neon HOTEL sign over the entrance. At the end of the street was a dimly lit, cream-colored Dutch Reformed church with white buttresses sticking out from its sides like ribs on an emaciated animal.

The hospital was a cluster of red-roofed Victorian buildings. They parked next to the only building with any lights on. The sudden silence that followed the cutting of the car’s engine woke Samuel. He sat up, leaning on one arm, but keeping his head bowed. A plump, bespectacled woman in a light blue uniform appeared at a window. She disappeared from view before emerging outside the main doors. She looked nervous and asked if she could help them. Miles explained what had happened. The woman tilted her head sideways to get a better view of Samuel. She went back into the building and returned pushing a wheelchair. Miles helped her to drag Samuel onto it. The front of Samuel’s shorts was soaking wet. The woman looked at the wet patch and shook her head.

“At least it’s not blood,” she said.


“In the morning?” said Anna. “But shouldn’t he be examined tonight?”

The sister looked at Samuel, slouched over in the wheelchair, and then back at Anna. “Would you like me to call the duty doctor?”


Sister Steyn checked a number on a list on the wall behind her and picked up the phone. After a brief conversation she hung up and pointed to a wooden bench in the main corridor where she said they could wait for a Doctor Prinsloo to arrive. A nurse pushed Samuel down the corridor and through a pair of swing doors. Sister Steyn picked up a clipboard and followed them.




“I don’t want to stay here any longer than we have to.”

“It’s dark, Miles. And we don’t know the road. It’s not safe.” She paused, then felt the words slipping over her tongue: “We’ve already had one accident.”

Anna could feel Miles’s eyes boring into the side of her face.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he said.




He stood up and faced her. “But you think it was my fault, don’t you?”

“No, of course not. Sit down. You’re right, let’s just wait and see what the doctor says.”

Miles remained standing. He placed his hands on his hips. “The doctor is going to tell us exactly what I’ve already said. The guy is pissed and didn’t know what he was doing. The car was hardly moving when we hit him. Tomorrow morning he’ll have a headache, nothing more.”


“Yes, well, obviously. So would I. And then you’ll see that coming all the way here was a waste of time.”




“How do you know that?”

“Christ, I don’t know. But it was just a bump. He’s probably not even going to remember it in the morning. Why are you acting like I’ve committed some terrible crime?”

“I’m not. Don’t be ridiculous. Let’s just wait till the doctor’s been, OK?”

“That’s exactly what I’ve been saying. Let’s wait for the fucking doctor to tell us what we already know.”

“Good evening.”


“Is Sister Steyn here?” she asked.

“Yes,” said Miles.




“No, a stranger. A pedestrian,” replied Anna.



Twenty minutes went by before Doctor Prinsloo and Sister Steyn returned. They were deep in conversation and walked straight past Miles and Anna, who had stood up expectantly. At the admissions desk the sister sat down and began typing. The doctor came back down the corridor. She gave Anna and Miles a brief but insincere smile, as if it was something she was obliged to do. Two pimples were clearly evident on her chin, undisguised by any cream or base. Her face was not feminine and the bone structure was broad and uncomplicated. She had a capability for beauty, but this was a result of a careful balancing of proportions rather than a combination of striking features. Her eyes were a dull gray and her lips, though a rich plum color, were thin strips of parsimonious flesh.

医生普林斯罗folded her arms and said, “The patient is too intoxicated for me to make an accurate assessment of his condition. It’s very difficult to tell the extent of his concussion, or even if he is concussed. He’s dehydrated and we’ve put him on a glucose drip. I’ll examine him again in the morning when the effects of the alcohol have worn off. He’s still conscious so I don’t think an X ray is necessary, but I’ll take one tomorrow. Other than that there’s not much I can do for him tonight.”


“There is significant bruising on his forehead, but as I said, I can’t tell now how concussed he is. His pupils are dilated, although that could be from the alcohol. I’ll know more in the morning. Are you staying in town tonight?”


“He was walking in the middle of the road,” said Miles.

医生点点头。“We get a lot of injured pedestrians in here. Most of them are drunk.”

She turned and walked back to Sister Steyn who was still typing at the desk. They spoke softly, and then the doctor left.


“What for?” said Miles. “The doctor doesn’t seem too concerned.”


“He’s drunk, Anna. What is there to tell the police?”

“I don’t want to argue about this. We’re going to the police. End of story.”

Sister Steyn told Anna and Miles how to find the town’s police station, a plain yellow brick building a block away from the Art Deco hotel they had passed earlier. They reported the accident and were told to return the following day to get the case number. Miles canceled their booking at the guest farm and they went to the hotel. There was no one at reception, but on the opposite side of the parquet entrance hall there was a door leading into a noisy bar. A black-and-white sheepdog was curled up asleep on an armchair to the right of the door. As Anna and Miles approached the door the dog lifted its head and thumped its tail.

The bar was smaller and emptier than it sounded from the outside. Five men of varying ages sat at a wooden counter. Behind the counter a woman in her early twenties was doing a magazine sex quiz. The men were trying to help her, shouting out their suggestions over the music, which seemed to be cascading down all four walls. The walls were covered in beer labels from around the world, a surprising number of outdated South African bank notes, photographs of people raising their glasses to the camera, and a vinyl record framed and signed by a local musician. Above the record was a cardboard sign with WORK IS THE CURSE OF THE DRINKING CLASS written on it in felt-tip pen. The quote was attributed to Idi Amin.

No one noticed Anna and Miles standing in the doorway. Miles went over to the bar and waited until one of the men tapped the barlady on the arm. The other four men turned around and looked first at Anna and then at Miles.

“Who do I speak to about booking a room?” said Miles. He had to repeat himself twice to be heard over the music.

The barlady pointed to a corner of the bar. Only then did Miles register a man sitting in a low chair next to an empty fireplace and smoking a cigarette. The barlady finally turned down the music.

“帕帕!Hulle Soek’n Kamer。”




“Seeing as it’s midweek and we’re a bit quiet you can have the honeymoon suite.” He winked at Anna. “And if you have any problems my name is Danie.”

The honeymoon suite was up the stairs and at the end of a bare corridor. To Anna it felt as if the floor of the corridor was sloping downward. She had to put her hand on the wall to steady herself.

The undulating whine of a vacuum cleaner woke Anna. It was growing louder. Sunlight was leaking into the room through gaps in the curtains. Anna lay in bed, waiting for Miles to finish in the bathroom. She thought of getting up to open the curtains, but she was prolonging the start of the day for as long as possible. She did not want to acknowledge the previous night’s events until she was more awake. The hotel room smelled of stale sweat and sour breath.



It was this relationship with Miles, she realized one Sunday morning as she watched him on top of her, that had begun to define her more than anything else. They were invited to parties together, were referred to as “Anna and Miles” in conversations, and even received Christmas cards addressed to the both of them. It eventually occurred to Anna that Miles was perhaps not defining her, but undefining her.


英里浴室裹着米色拖走了出来el that looked as if it could’ve once been white. The towel was tucked high above his bellybutton so that his plump stomach didn’t show. He started picking clean clothes out of his bag. He smelled of sandalwood aftershave. There were still droplets of water clinging to his freckled shoulders, and a smudged line of blood mingled with shaving cream was running below his ear.

昨晚,他们在床上做爱,床上撒上了从服务站购买的鸡肉和蘑菇馅饼的碎屑。(这家酒店餐厅已经在签入时已经关闭。)事故发生后,医院的争论在安娜需要熟悉的身体而不是和解的言论。那是在迈尔斯最喜欢的位置,他的嘴在她的乳头上,双手握住她的臀部。当他们第一次开始睡觉时,她害羞。她并没有认为自己特别吸引人,并且经常对男人似乎从身体的柔软褶皱中获得多少乐趣感到惊讶。And her face, she felt, lacked any defining elements, so that when she first met people she was often aware of their eyes desperately searching its surface for a place of interest on which to focus, in the same way a mountaineer’s hands frisk a cliff face for somewhere to grip. Men usually ended up staring at her breasts.

Miles opened the curtains and daylight immediately filled the room. Anna had forgotten how enthusiastic the African sun was.


安娜把表在她的脸。她搜索ed inside herself for something to help her rise and go through the pretense of being in control. Sometimes when she bathed and had finished washing she would pull the plug out and lie on her back as the water drained away. Gradually she’d feel her body getting heavier and heavier and pressing against the bottom of the bath. When all the water had gone she’d slowly lift her arms with what felt like a great effort. It made her appreciate how much gravity her body silently coped with. There were times, though, when she felt as if she was too weak to climb out the bath without someone’s help.

A new shift of staff was on duty at the hospital. There was furtive activity in the corridors and the bench in the main corridor was occupied by three sullen-looking women with plastic packets at their feet. The packets were filled with clothes and toiletries. Anna and Miles stood in a short queue at the admissions desk. When their turn came the nurse behind the desk could not help them.

“I cannot give out information about patients,” she said. “The doctors are doing their rounds at the moment. Come back at visiting time and perhaps someone can help you then.”

“Can’t we just find out if he’s all right?” said Miles.

“Try again this afternoon. You can visit from three o’clock to half past.”


The woman sighed. “She’s either doing her rounds, or she’s back at her practice in town. But if you come at visiting time one of the sisters can help.”


“That’s true. Speaking of which, we should get our case number,” said Anna.


“It’s like a glorified retirement village,” said Miles.




They returned to the hotel to change. At the café across the road they bought cool drinks, a newspaper, and a packet of crisps. Although Samuel was far from forgotten, they had not discussed the accident since the previous night’s argument in the hospital. Anna and Miles rarely saw an argument through to its final conclusion. Their arguments were often interrupted by sleep or by having to rush off to work or answering a telephone call. The contents of these arguments were then stored for later use, like fatty deposits in a body, until the relationship started to lose its original shape.

Anna was looking forward to the cool grip of the water on her arms and legs. She had bought her bikini in a little boutique off Kensington High Street. The sales woman, unable to disguise her envy, had asked Anna where she was going on holiday.


说这些话使她充满了奇怪的欣慰。让她感到安慰,知道她在与伦敦的合同中有一个逃生条款。但是在与迈尔斯的关系中,她尚未确定她的逃生条款是什么。六个月前,她发现自己怀孕了。迈尔斯建议婚姻没有被她提示。他已经知道,堕胎不是一种选择。安娜患有多囊卵巢,她设法怀孕真是一个惊喜。这是她认为永远不会发生的事情。因此,她准备让孩子有或没有数英里。一个星期六的早晨,他们出去买了一个戒指。 But after thirteen and a half weeks her body had announced, by way of torrential bleeding, that it just wasn’t equipped for the capricious business of reproduction. She was reminded of this every time she looked at the ring on her finger.

The town seemed resigned to the heaviness of the midday heat. Sunlight bleached the streets and houses. Dogs lay in driveways, apparently comatose; at a crossroads a man was sprawled on a grass verge, his weed-eater and plastic visor discarded by his side; a child’s tricycle stood abandoned and glinting on a scorched pavement. It could have been a scene from a movie in which a town has been struck by a deadly virus.


Miles took Anna’s hand as they walked up to the pool’s entrance. Something—the touch of his skin, the prospect of swimming—drove a wave of blood through her body. There was no sound of splashing from the pool and the thought of being alone in the water with Miles sent a warm tingle down to her navel. Perhaps, she thought, for the first time in weeks she would initiate sex. Miles pushed the wooden doors and they swung back, almost with too much ease, to reveal a large rectangular pool, twenty-five yards in length, surrounded on all sides by knee-high grass. Anna walked to the edge, and then groaned. The pool was empty.



“But he was conscious last night,” said Miles.

“Yes. Which is why I think his body has gone into a delayed form of shock. He’s undernourished and probably hasn’t been sober in years. It’s too much for his body to handle. It needs to rest.”

“And the X rays?” asked Anna.

“We found a small hairline fracture at the back of the skull. But I’m not sure whether it was caused by yesterday’s collision. It seems to me that most of the impact was on the forehead, which is just badly bruised, nothing more.”

Anna looked at Miles and then at the doctor. “So what happens now?”

“There’s not much we can do until his condition changes. He’s stable for the time being, so there’s no real cause for concern. As I said, he’s unconscious, not in a coma.”




“It’s impossible to say really. Perhaps another hour or two. Or maybe a couple of weeks. I’m sorry I can’t be more precise, but everyone’s body reacts differently to these things, and God knows what his body has been through.”

“We’re only out here for a short time,” said Miles. “We can’t just wait around indefinitely.”


“Unless he dies,” said Anna.


“What about his relatives?” said Anna.

The doctor shrugged. “No one has come yet.” There was a silence. Then the doctor said, “Where are you from, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“London,” replied Anna. “We came out to find a wedding venue. We’re thinking of moving back next year.”

“To here?”





“We were only planning on staying for one night. But it looks like we might have to stay longer.” Anna turned and looked at Miles. “Don’t you think so?”

“Is it really necessary?” Miles asked the doctor.

“No one can force you to stay, if that’s what you mean, although I presume you’ve been to the police.”

“Yes,” said Anna.

Miles shifted in his chair.

“Then perhaps you’d feel better if you waited for his condition to improve. It’s your decision though.”

“I think we should stay for at least one more night,” said Anna.

The doctor rose to her feet, as if to say that this final bid had been accepted. “I’m sorry but I have to get back to work.”





“当然 。。。好的,”迈尔斯说。

“Is six-thirty all right?”

“That sounds good, thanks,” said Anna.


迈尔斯用冷水溅出了他的脸。他以前从未这样出汗。即使是丝毫努力也导致他的手臂下方或额头下的小洪水。他用手毛巾干燥,然后回到房间里。安娜睡着了。他们已经预订了酒店的同一个房间,并决定通过午睡来避免下午的炎热。但是迈尔斯无法入睡。房间没有空调,他绘制了窗帘,以防止高温。现在,房间不是明亮而炎热的,而是黑暗而闷热的。迈尔斯发现很难呼吸,尽管他能听到安娜的肺部呼气和吸入,稳定地呼出和吸入,好像是由机器支撑的。 It annoyed him that she could sleep with such ease. He lay on the bed and leafed through a brochure from the lavender farm. But the thought of the wedding left him feeling exhausted.

Next he tried reading a woman’s magazine that Anna had bought at a service station because it had a feature on flower arrangements for weddings. Anna muttered something in her sleep and rolled onto her side, facing Miles. Her upper lip twitched slightly. Just above it Miles saw little drops of sweat gathered like dew on the soft hairs that she occasionally had to peroxide. She also had hairs on her chin, which she plucked from time to time.

Miles tossed the magazine onto a chair. With an exaggerated sigh that he hoped would wake Anna he rose, put on a fresh T-shirt and went downstairs to the bar. It was the only air-conditioned room in the hotel. He sat at the counter and smiled at Danie, the hotel owner, who was doing a stock count behind the bar. A cigarette was loosely impaled in the corner of his mouth.

“What can I get for you?” he asked Miles.


“You never get used to it,” said Danie. “But you do get used to sweating.”

Miles did not attempt to take the conversation any further and Danie went back to his stock count. Miles sipped the beer and wondered how long he should wait before waking Anna. Although the more he thought about it the more he realized that he needed some time on his own. He wasn’t sure whether he was just imagining the distance that had grown between him and Anna, but recently when he spoke to her it seemed as if there was a time delay, as if he was speaking to someone on an overseas phone call, complete with the echoes and reverberations of entire continents and oceans, which provided a backdrop to the stilted words being pushed back and forth between them. He knew that the situation could not stay as it was for long. Sooner or later there would have to be either a rapid improvement or a fatal decline.

“You from Cape Town?” asked Danie, who was on his knees behind the counter.

Miles cleared his throat. “Originally.”

Danie stood up and poured himself a tumbler of brandy and Coke. He stirred it with his index finger.


“I don’t think so. We’ve been invited out.”

Danie stopped stirring his drink and sucked his finger. “You have friends here?”

“No. Just someone we met. A doctor.”

“Ah. Doctor Prinsloo.”

“Yes, how—”

“只有两个医生。医生普林斯罗and Doctor Jacobs. And I can’t see Doctor Jacobs making friends with you.” Danie took a long sip of his drink.


“I can’t say I know her, but I’ve been to her once or twice about my arthritis. A pretty girl that one. But I think she finds living here a bit lonely. This isn’t a place for young people. Most of them are like you: just visitors. Another beer?”

Miles nodded.


“Don’t talk to me about guest houses. They’re the reason this hotel is closing down.”

“Why?” Miles leaned forward with both elbows on the bar.

“Look around you. Do you see any guests? Do you see me printing money? Man, I’ve been making a steady loss for the past five years. But every year another moffie arrives in the town and opens a B and bloody B. They bring nothing to this town, man, nothing. They don’t hire locals. They cook and clean themselves. What does that do for the community? They’re not providing jobs. So I’m moving into property. I might as well make some money selling houses to the moffies.” Danie coughed and then lit a fresh cigarette with the embers of his old one.



As Miles lit the cigarette he felt something brush against his leg. He looked down and saw the sheepdog that had been sleeping on the armchair in the foyer the previous night. Miles stroked its head and the dog sat back on its haunches and lifted a paw up against Miles’s shin.

“We went to the municipal pool this morning,” said Miles.

“Ja, that’s a bloody waste of space too.”


“好吧,它曾经很饱。而且它曾经很受欢迎。但这是在过去的,在《单独的便利法》被废除之前。突然,一夜之间,每个人都可以使用游泳池。那时,市政当局仍然是白色的,他们清空了游泳池而不是分享。如今,当然,市政当局是黑色的。但是,当您看到游泳池仍然是空的。为什么?因为他们太血腥而无法负担维护。无论如何,对他们没有任何影响。 They don’t know how to swim. But you can’t blame them for that—they were never allowed in the pool in the first place.”


“Doesn’t anyone complain?”

“抱怨?我的朋友,你是谁要complain to? Are you going to knock on the doors of the municipality in your swimming shorts and sunglasses and ask the mayor to be so kind as to fill up the pool? He’s too busy rebuilding the community, man. Haven’t you noticed all the lovely new bus shelters in town? Have a look when you go out tonight. There’s one on every street. State-of-the-art bus shelters. And they have to be because you’re going to wait a very long time for a bus. There’s never been a bus service in this town. But guess who got the contract to build the bus shelters. The mayor’s brother-in-law. Ja, anyway. Another beer?”

英里高了汽车的空调。Anna was driving, he was giving directions. Dr. Prinsloo’s house was on the outskirts of the town, on a dirt road leading toward a mountain with a hoof-shaped peak that was something of a landmark in the district. Above it, in the early evening sky, an airplane was silently tugging a vapor trail in the direction of Cape Town. A reminder, thought Miles, that the world was still going about its business, no matter what happened with Samuel or Anna. When he’d returned to the hotel room from the bar Anna was already up and going to some effort to make herself look attractive. Miles had commented on this—although probably more because of the beer than Anna’s clothes and make-up—and Anna had kissed him on the lips, sending, momentarily, a quiver through the nerves in his stomach. This was after all, he reminded himself, the woman he was going to marry. He reached over the gearstick and squeezed Anna’s thigh through her skirt. He held his hand there for some time, steady and firm, like a sailor keeping his hand on the tiller in rough weather.

Dr. Prinsloo was sitting on the steps that led up to the stoep of her house. On the step next to her was a beer can that she was using as an ashtray. She waved when she saw Miles and Anna pulling into her driveway and stood up to welcome them. She was wearing faded jeans and a white blouse. Her hair was hanging down to her shoulders and the colors of the dying afternoon light emphasized its redness. As she approached the car she lifted her hair up off her neck with both hands, running her fingers through it and then flicking it back over her shoulders. Like Anna, she had put on make-up. Her house was square and solid looking—comfortably modest, thought Miles—with a corrugated roof and a slightly overgrown patch of lawn that went around both sides.







Anna turned to Miles. “Tomorrow we should go back to those houses and tell the people what’s happened to him.”

“Sure. Let’s not talk about it now though. OK?”


“I know, I know. You just want to do the right thing.” Miles put his hand on Anna’s thigh but she crossed her legs and his arm fell into the void between their chairs.

Miranda pushed the bowl of biltong toward Miles and Anna. “So you were just passing through?”

“Yes,” said Anna, and she explained about the wedding and the lavender farm.

英里突然觉得,这间小陋室边因为坐在那里的p and listening to Anna’s small talk was the last thing in the world he wanted to be doing. He was tired and hot and his mind was on other things. They should never have accepted the doctor’s drinks invitation. But it was too late now. It was too late for many things. Mostly, it was too late for him to stand up and calmly announce that he’d rather be doing anything else than sitting there and talking about wedding plans and pretending that all was well. He felt like grabbing Anna’s hand and dragging her off somewhere and having the whole thing out, once and for all. Instead he sat pressed back into his chair as if he were in a car that was attempting to break the land-speed record.

米兰达(Miranda)说,她认为薰衣草农场(Lavender Farm)对他们的婚礼有多合适。它着迷于迈尔斯(Miles)的婚礼如何立即将两个女人束缚。他咀嚼着一块biltong,布置了他的脸,直到它在上面表达最好的表情为止。这是他在宿醉时在工作会议上戴的表情。他不时点了点头,使安娜关于婚礼蛋糕或餐桌设置的某些或其他观点增加了重量。关于现场的事情使他想起了他的童年,听母亲与她的一位朋友谈论他不了解的成人生意。那时他感到自己可能只是假装是成年人,而且在任何一秒钟内,真正的成年人可能会出现在Stoep上,并告诉他直接坐着或塞在他的衬衫上。他在椅子上自觉地转移了自觉,假装在蚊子上打动,以解释他的不安。

“And you?” Anna asked Miranda. “How long have you been living here?”


当迈尔斯假装听时,他用眼睛脱下了米兰达的上衣。下面是蕾丝白色胸罩,轻松地脱落了。米兰达(Miranda)解释了一些关于长期恋爱关系的事情,而她需要离开开普敦,但迈尔斯开始亲吻她的乳房,这些乳房的身材很大。她站起来,以便他可以从腿上滑下牛仔裤。她的大腿很光滑,尽管假定里程,也许有点太白。她没有穿内裤,她的阴毛整齐地修剪成柔软的锈色楔子。米兰达(Miranda)居住在一个小镇上,告诉安娜(Anna)是这座城市之后的重大调整,但她正在医院里享受这项工作,尤其是因为她是该镇中仅有的两名医生之一。安娜说,当迈尔斯搬到米兰达(Miranda)后面,并用一只手轻轻将她的面向桌子推向桌子,同时用另一只手拍打她的臀部。米兰达说,好吧,还有更多的责任,我也在学习自己进行练习,米兰达(Miranda)从后面进入她时稍微吟。米兰达(Miranda)对安娜(Anna)说,还有更多的比尔坦(Biltong),而迈尔斯(Miles)开始深入她的深处。 Anna asked Miranda how long she intended to stay in the town. Miranda didn’t answer straight away because she was busy spreading her arms out wide to steady herself against Miles’s rapidly strengthening thrusts. But Miles decided that it would be better if Miranda were on her back, so he flipped her round, using the break in activity to take a much needed sip of his beer. Miranda placed her legs over Miles’s shoulders and told Anna that she planned on moving back to Cape Town one day, and that she’d keep the house as a place to retire to.