当前位置:首页 -英语龙8娱乐官网 - 英语美文 - 正文*

Salvation|救星

I stood on tiptoe and handed the card from my school’s help-wanted board to the man behind the counter of Mort’s Deli2 at Farmers Market in Los Angeles. Even before I opened my mouth, he was frowning3 and shaking his head.
“This is a tough job for any high school kid,” the man said. “I need somebody big and strong.”
At 16, I looked younger and was barely five feet tall. “Really, we need someone bigger,” he said, “You’ll find something easier than this, kid.”
  It was September 1957, and my family had just arrived in California. Without seniority in the local union, my father, a sheet-metal worker, was lucky to get work two or three days a week. Our meager4 saving was gone, and as the oldest boy of the family, I was the only one able to help. I’d applied at retail stores, but without local references shopkeepers were reluctant to let me handle cash.
“Tell you what,” I said, “let me work the rest of the week, and if you don’t like the way I do the job, don’t pay me.”
The tall man stared at me, then nodded,“I’m Mort Rubin. What’s your name?”
At Mort’s, I worked very hard. As closing time approached on Saturday, I was in agony5. I also had no idea whether Mort would pay me. Near the end of the day he called me up front.“How much did that card at school say this job paid?” he asked.
“One dollar an hour,” I murmured, “the minimum wage.” I was willing to take less.
“That’s not enough for someone who works as hard as you,” Mort said, “You start at $1.25.”
  Over the next few weeks I learned a lot about Mort. A few years older than my dad, he was from Chicago and had a daughter my age. When things were slow, he often shared stories from his army days. Early in World War Ⅱ, he was nearly killed in a savage battle in New Guinea. He’d spent some time recuperating6 from the terrible head wound he had suffered.
  We were closed Sundays, so every Saturday evening Mort urged me to take home the leftover7 soup in a huge jar. It was a meal in itself, a treat for my struggling family.
  My father usually picked me up after work those days because the soup was too hard to bring home on my bike. Then one Saturday he let me take the family car.
  After work I drove home and parked. With the warm jar in my arms, I crossed the lawn and passed the living-room window. As I glanced inside, I almost dropped the jar. In my father’s chair was a large bald man. He was cursing my father. My brothers and sisters sat like statues, Dad’s face was stone, Mom wept.
I crept into the kitchen, set the soup on a counter and listened through the door. The man wanted to take our car. Dad offered to make the three payments that were in arrears8, but the man demanded the entire sum—$325—or the car. I had been in Los Angeles just long enough to understand how essential a car is. I slipped out the door, pushed the car down to the corner, started the engine and circled the neighborhood, thinking furiously. Who might have $325? Who would even consider lending me such a large sum?
  The only person I could think of was Mort. I drove back to his deli, rapped9 on the rear door, then waited until the window shade went up. I found myself staring down the barrel of an army 0.45.“What do you want?” Mort growled10, lowering the gun.
  I stammered out my tale. “So, could you possibly loan my father $325?” I finished, realizing how absurd11 it sounded.
  Mort’s eyes bored holes in my face. His cheeks began purpling12, and his lips quivered13. Realizing he was still clutching the gun, I took a step backward. At that, he smiled. “I’m not going to shoot you,” he said, placing the pistol on his tiny desk. Then he knelt, pried14 a worn red tile from the floor to reveal a safe, and began to twist the dial.
  He counted the money twice and placed it in an old envelope. “This is $325,” he said. “When school is not, you’ll work full time. I’ll take back half your wages until it’s repaid.”
“Thank you,” I said, trembling. “Do you want my father to sign something?”
  He shook his head. “No, son. I’m betting on you.”
  I went in the back door like the lord of the manor15, and Dad came rushing into the kitchen, the bald man on his heels. “Quick!” my father cried, “Drive the car away!”
  I calmly handed the man the envelope. “Count it, give my father a receipt and get out of our house,” I said, a speech I’d rehearsed16 all the way home.
  That night I was a hero to my family. But the real hero was Mort Robin, who not only saved us from certain penury17, but also quietly raised my salary every month, by summer, I was earning $2.50 an hour, double the original wage. I worked for Mort until I graduated two years later and joined the Army. We stayed in touch for many decades, but I lost track of him several years ago and don’t even know if he’s still alive.
  But this I do know: Mort Robin made the world a better place.
我踮起脚尖,将我们学校的求助证明卡递给了洛杉矶农贸市场莫特熟食店柜台后的那个人。还没等我开口,他就皱起眉摇了摇头。
“这项工作中学生可吃不消,”那人说,“我需要一个身高力壮的人。”
  16岁的我看上去比较瘦小,几乎还不到5英尺高。“我们的确需要一个大个子,”他说,“孩子,你要找一个比这轻松的工作。”
  这是1957年9月,我家刚搬到加州。我父亲是一名金属薄板工,在当地工会还没有资历,所以一周能工作两三天已经很幸运了。我们家微薄的积蓄已经用完。身为家中长子,我是惟一能帮上忙的人。我到一家零售商店去应聘,但没有当地人的推荐,店主们不愿让我接触现金。
  “能不能这样,”我说,“让我在这周剩下的时间打工,你要不喜欢我干的活,就别给我工钱。”
  那个高个子盯着我,然后点了点头:“我叫莫特·鲁宾。你叫什么名字?”
  在莫特熟食店,我非常卖力地干活。星期六快要打烊时,我浑身酸痛,也不知道莫特是不是会付我工钱。这天下午收工时,莫特把我叫到前台,问道:“学校这张救助卡要求我支付多少工钱?”
  “每小时一美元,”我低声说,“最低工资。”我还准备接受更少的工钱。
  “像你这样拼命工作的人是不够的。”莫特先生说,“先给你开1.25美元。”
  在接下来的几周中,我了解到了莫特先生的很多情况。他比我爸爸大几岁,来自芝加哥,有一个跟我同龄的女儿。不太忙时,他经常给我讲他当兵时的一些故事。二战初期,他在新几内亚的一次恶战中差点儿阵亡。过了一段时间,他才养好可怕的头伤。
  星期天,我们关门休息。所以,每到星期六傍晚,莫特先生就催我将大罐里剩下的汤带回家。其实那本身就是一顿饭,这对苦苦挣扎的我们一家人更是一顿盛宴。
  下班后,爸爸经常顺路把我捎回家,因为汤放在我的自行车上很难带回家。后来,有个星期六,爸爸让我开起了家里的汽车。
  下班后,我驱车回家,将车停好,然后怀里抱着暖暖的罐子,穿过草坪,从我们家的起居室窗下走过。我向屋里瞧了一眼,差点儿把罐子摔在地上,只见一个身材高大的秃顶男子坐在爸爸的椅子上,那人正在责骂我爸爸。弟弟妹妹坐着一动不动,像石人似的,爸爸面色铁青,妈妈呜呜直哭。
  我悄悄溜进厨房,慢慢将汤放在台子上,然后隔着门听着。那个人想要拿走我家的汽车。爸爸本打算分三次付清欠款,而那人却要一次付清325美元,否则就开走汽车。我们刚搬到洛杉矶没有多久,明白一辆汽车是多么必要。我悄悄地从门里溜出来,将汽车推到拐角,发动引擎,绕过附近地区,怒气冲冲地想道:谁会有325美元?谁又会借给我这么大一笔钱呢?
  我惟一能想到的人就是莫特。我将车开回到他的店里,叩响了后门,然后站在那里等着,直到窗户打开。只见一把0.45英寸口径军用手枪的枪口正对着我。“你想干什么?”莫特放下枪吼道。
  我结结巴巴向他讲了事情原委。“您能借给我父亲325美元吗?”说完,我意识到这个要求是多么荒唐。
  莫特的目光就像要在我的脸上钻几个洞似的。随后,他的脸开始发紫,嘴唇颤抖。我意识到他的手里仍然攥着枪,就后退了一步。看到这种情形,他露出了微笑。“我不会向你开枪的。”说完,他将手枪放在了小桌子上。随后,他跪下来,从地板上撬起一块旧红砖,露出了一只保险箱,然后开始转动密码盘。
  他把钱数了两遍,然后放进一个旧信封。“这是325美元,”他说,“等你不上学时,可以全日工作。我每月扣你一半工资直到你还清。”
“谢谢,”我声音颤抖着说,“您要我父亲的签字吗?”
  他摇了摇头。“不,孩子,我打赌你能还。”
  我像一个庄园主般走进后门。爸爸冲进了厨房,那个秃顶男人也跟了进来。“快,”我父亲喊道,“把车开走!”
  我镇定自若地将手里的信封递给那个人。“把钱数一下,给我父亲开个收据,然后从我们家滚出去。”我说,这些话我早已在回家的路上排练好了。
  那天夜里,我成了家里的英雄。但真正的英雄是莫特·鲁宾,他不仅使我家摆脱窘境,而且不动声色地每个月给我提高了薪水。到了那年夏天,我每小时的工资长到了2.5美元,是我最初薪水的两倍。我为莫特打工,一直到两年后毕业参军。在以后的几十年中,我们始终保持联络,但几年前我和他失去了联系,不知道他现在是否还活着。
  但我的确知道:是莫特·鲁宾使这个世界变成了一个更加美好的地方。
=========================
1. salvation  n. 救助,拯救
2. deli  n. 熟食店
3. frown [fraun] v. 皱眉
4. meager  adj. 不足的
5. agony  n. 剧痛
6. recuperate  v. 恢复,复原
7. leftover  adj. 残留的,残余的
8. in arrears  拖欠,拖延  arrear  n. 欠款
9. rap  v. 敲击,急拍
10. growl [graul] v. 咆哮
11. absurd  adj. 荒谬的,可笑的
12. purple  v. (使)成紫色
13. quiver  v. 颤动,抖动
14. pry [prai] v. 撬起,撬动
15. manor  n. 庄园
16. rehearse v. 排演,练习
17. penury  n. 赤贫