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Dark Angle(翻译连载五)

(2009-09-24 09:03:06)





分类: UNCLE赵&他国际事务部的同事们

“Dah-ling,” Conrad Vickers said.


He kissed the air at the either side of my cheeks. He split the word, as he had always done, into two distinct syllables. It conveyed, in his case, neither affection nor intimacy, since darling was a term Vickers used both to close friends and to perfect strangers. He found it useful, I suppose, since it disguised the fact that he had often forgotten the name of the person he was greeting so warmly. Vickers did forget names-unless they were famous ones.


He made a few airy gestures of apparent delight. Conrad Vickers, in his customary plumage: an exquisite figure in a street—a five-minute walk from Constance’s apartment on Fifth Avenue. A blue silk handkerchief flopped from the pocket of a pale-gray Savile Row suit; it harmonized with the blue of shirt; the blue of the shirt matched his eyes. A fuzz of soft white hair, now receding; the complexion of a girl. Conrad Vickers—once, like my uncle Steenie, a famously beautiful youth—had aged well. The vigor of his insincerity appeared undiminished.


 “Such an age! I’m so glad you rang. Dah-ling, you look radiant. Sit down and let me look at you. Years and years. Loved what you did on the Antonelli house—and Molly Dorset’s. Terribly clever, both of them. You are hitting your stride.”


“亲--爱的” Conrad Vickers说。


他亲吻了我的脸颊。一直以来他都把“亲--爱的” 分成两个音节。对于Conrad Vickers来说“亲--爱的”并不表示友好或者亲密,因为它既可以对亲密的朋友也可以对完全陌生的人使用。我想他是觉得这个打招呼的方式有用,因为他常常忘记打招呼的人的名字,这样的方式可以伪装成对他们友好亲切。除非是名人,Conrad Vickers才不会忘记他们的名字。

    他摆出了几个手势显示他的喜悦。Conrad Vickers惯于优雅的出现在某一条街道上——在第五大道上从Constance的公寓漫步5分钟,灰白的Savile Row西装口袋里插着蓝色丝绸手帕;蓝色丝绸手帕和蓝色T恤是合称的,蓝色的T恤和他眼睛是合称的。他的头发已经褪色白色,气色像女孩一样红扑扑的。曾经Conrad Vickers和我的叔叔Steenie一样——是一个极好的美丽的青年——曾经有过美好的年纪。但是他的伪善却一点也没有改变。

   “这样好的年纪!我很高兴你打电话给我亲--爱的,你看起来容光焕发。坐下来,让我看看你。这些年你从事Molly Dorset 和Antonelli的房子的设计工作,这两个设计都是绝顶聪明的设计。你正在突飞猛进的时候啊。“



I sat down. I wondered why Vickers should bother to flatter me now, when he had never done so before…unless he had decided I was becoming fashionable.


“Isn’t it hot?” Vickers was still in full flood. “Quite unbearable. What did we do before air conditioning? I’m a bird of passage, dah-ling, just flitting through. Trying to finalize these” – he waved a hand toward a pile of photographs. “Sheer hell. I mean, fifty years of work, dah-ling- where does one begin? Who to leave in? Who to leave out? Those museum people are totally ruthless, my dear. They want the Royals, of course. Margot and Rudy, Andy and Mick, Wallis and Lady Diana. Oh, and they want Constance, of course-well, they would. But anyone they haven’t heard of is O-U-T out, dah-ling. I shall lose half my friends”


A small wail of distress. The next instant, distress forgotten, he was waving a hand at the arrangement of flowers on the table next to me.


“Aren’t they divine? Don’t you just love delphiniums? English garden flowers- I insist on them, wherever I am. And now I’ve found this terribly clever young man who does then just the way I want them. Madly original- I can’t bear flowers that look arranged, can you? No, of course you can’t-you’re far too clever. Now, shall we have some champagne? Do say yes. I can’t bear the martini habit-too noxious. One feels quite blind the next day. Yes, champagne. Let’s be madly grand and open the Bollinger-”




“不觉得热吗?” Vickers依然热情高涨,“真是难以忍受,都不知道这空调有啥用。 亲爱的,我是只飞来飞去信使鸟,为的就是完成这些。”他的手朝堆起来的摄影作品一指。“亲爱的,我的意思是,五十年的摄影生涯——该由谁开始呢?谁该留下?谁又该离开呢?亲爱的,到博物馆参观的游客都很残忍,他们希望看到皇室家庭成员的摄影照,如Margot ,Rudy, Andy, Mick, Wallis, Lady Diana他们的照片,他们渴望永恒。我想他们从没听过别人对他们吆喝“滚开”。亲爱的,我这么说,会令我失去很多朋友。”




“难道它们不是上帝赐予我们的礼物?难道有人能不钟情于它?我深爱飞燕草,我家乡的花,英国花园里不可缺少的花。我发现这聪明绝顶的年轻人把它摆弄地恰合我口味,像天然的一样。我最无法忍受艺术插花,你呢?你肯定也无法忍受,你那么聪明。不如我们来点香槟?请你一定要同意。我无法忍受酗马提尼的坏习惯,对身体不好,要命的是喝完第二天,整个人都混混沌沌。 好吧,来杯香槟啦。我们开开心心地喝一杯,来,我们打开这宝林葛香槟----”




Vickers came to an abrupt halt. He had just pronounced the name of my uncle Steenie’s favorite champagne. Color seeped up his neck; his face reddened. He fidgeted with the cuffs of his shirt. He turned away to give instructions to the houseboy who had admitted me and who had been waiting by the door all this time.


He was Japanese, a pretty and delicate-looking young man kitted out in black jacket and striped trousers.


As the young man left the room and Vickers sat down, I understood at last why I had been invited. Vickers was more than embarrassed; he was guilty. This invitation of his owed nothing to Constance and everything to my uncle Steenie.


Since Conrad Vickers had been my uncle’s friend for more than fifty years, and his lover—on and off—for at least half of that time, and since he had contrived to be conspicuously absent when Steenie lay dying, I could understand that guilt. I said nothing. I wanted to see, I suppose, how Vickers would wriggle out of it.


For a while he was silent, as if waiting for me to raise the subject of Steenie, and help him. I did not speak either. I looked around his drawing room, which—like all the rooms in all his many houses—was in perfect taste. Vickers’s sense of loyalty might be weak and his friendships facile, but when it came to the inanimate, to fabrics, to furniture, his eye was as unerring as Constance’s this had seemed to me important once. I had believed there was virtue in taste. Now, I was less certain.


Vickers fingered the arm of his French chair. The silk that covered it, a clever pastiche of an eighteenth-century design, was one I recognized. It had come from the most recent Constance Shawcross collection. The chair was painted. It had been restored, I thought, and then cunningly distressed. A wash of color over gesso: Constance’s workshops? I wondered. It was impossible to tell—almost impossible to tell—if the wash of pale slate-blue had been applied two hundred years before or the previous week.


Vickers 突然把话停了下来。 他刚刚提到了我叔叔Steenie最钟爱的香槟酒的名字。他的脖子和脸一下子都变红了,手慌张地拨弄着他的衬衣袖口。他赶紧起身,转脸召唤那位领我进门并一直站在门旁的男仆。






因为Conrad Vickers是我叔叔相识50多年的老朋友,而且至少在20多年的时间里,我叔叔把他视为知己,帮助他,爱护他。但在Steenie即将去世的那段时间,他却从没来看望过他。我可以理解这种内疚感。我一句话也没说。我想我是想看看Vickers将如何逃避这种内疚。




Vickers的手指触碰着他法式座椅的扶手。看得出来,那丝制的扶手套是模仿十八世纪风格而设计的。也是Constance Shawcross的最新产品。座椅被刷上了漆。我想,这个座椅是在被修复后,然后被巧妙地亏本卖出了。石膏底上的刷色:难道来自Constance的工作间?我对此感到疑惑。几乎不可能分辨得出这种淡淡的岩蓝色是200年前刷上去的还是在前一周才刷上去的。




“Last month.” He sighed. “And yes – I know I can’t fool you – that restorer Constance always uses. Oh, God.” He leaned forward. He had apparently decided to take the leap.


“We’d better talk about Steenie. I know I should have been there. But I just couldn’t … face it, I suppose. Steenie, dying. It seemed so out of character. I couldn’t imagine it, and I certainly didn’t want to witness it. Ah, the champagne.” He rose. His hand trembled a little as he passed me the glass.


“Would you mind terribly if we drank to him? To Steenie? He would have liked that. After all, Steenie never had any illusions about me. I expect you think I’m a terrible coward, and of course I am. Sickrooms make me queasy. But you see, Steenie would have understood.”


This was true. I raised my glass. Vickers gave me a rueful look.


“To Steenie, then? Old times?” he hesitated. “Old friends?”


“All right. To Steenie.”


We both drank. Vickers set down his glass. He rested his hands on his knees; he gave me a long, appraising look. The blue eyes were alert. Vickers, for all his affectations, was a great photographer; he had a photographer’s ability to read a face.


“You’d better tell me. I do want to know. When you called … I felt like a worm. Was it easy? For Steenie, I mean?”


I considered this. Was death ever easy? I had tried to make it easy for Steenie, as had Wexton. We had succeeded only to a limited extent. When he died, my uncle had been afraid; he had also been troubled.


He ahd tried to disguise this at first. Once he realized there was no hope, Steenie set about dying in style.


Uncle Steenie had always valued the stylish above everything. He intended, I think, to greet Hades as an old friend, remembered from past parties; to be rowed across the Styx as carelessly as if he took a gondola to the Giudecca. When he met his boatman at the Ritz: Steenie might flounce past, but he would bestow a large tip.



























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