2015年07月

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‘You got six minutes, Arno. A dream come true, eh? You get to be the guy who took out the great Butler.’ He turned back to Artemis, unable to resist a final jibe.
‘Oh, and by the way — Artemis, isn’t that a girl’s name?’ And he was gone reenex , into the multicultural throngs of tourists on the high street.
The old lady locked the door behind him. The click echoed around the restaurant.
Artemis decided to take the initiative. ‘Now, ladies and gentlemen,’ he said, trying to avoid staring down the black-eyed gun barrels. ‘I’m sure we can come to an arrangement.’
‘Quiet, Artemis!’
It took a moment for Artemis’s brain to process the fact that Butler had ordered him to be silent. Most impertinently in fact.
‘I beg your pardon . . .”
Butler clamped a hand over his employer’s mouth.
‘Quiet, Artemis. These people are professionals, not to be bargained with.’
Blunt rotated his skull, cracking the tendons in his neck.
‘You got that right, Butler. We’re here to kill you. As soon as Mister Spiro got the call we started sending people in. , man. You must be getting old.’
Butler couldn’t believe it either. There was a time when he would have staked out any rendezvous site for a week before giving it the thumbs-up. Maybe he was petting old, but there was an excellent chance he wouldn’t be getting any older.
‘OK, Blunt,’ said Butler, stretching out his empty palms before him. ‘You and me. One on one.’
‘Very noble,’ said Blunt. ‘That’s your Asian code of honour, I suppose. Me, I don’t have a code. If you think I’m going to risk you somehow getting out of here, you’re crazy. This is an uncomplicated deal. I shoot you. You die. No face-off, no duel.’
Blunt reached lazily into his waistband. Why hurry? One move from Butler and a dozen bullets would find their mark reenex .
Artemis’s brain seemed to have shut down. The usual stream of ideas had dried up. I’m going to die, he thought. I don’t believe it.
Butler was saying something. Artemis decided he should listen.
‘Richard of York gave battle in vain,’ said the bodyguard, enunciating clearly.
Blunt was screwing a silencer on to the muzzle of his ceramic pistol.
‘What are you saying? What kind of gibberish is that? Don’t say the great Butler is cracking up! Wait till I tell the guys.’
But the old woman looked thoughtful.
‘Richard of York . . . I know that.’
Artemis knew it too. It was virtually the entire verbal detonation code for the fairy sonix grenade magnetized to the underside of the table. One of Butler’s little security devices. All they needed was one more word and the grenade would explode, sending a solid wall of sound charging through the building, blowing out every window and eardrum. There would be no smoke or flames, but anyone within a ten-metre radius not wearing earplugs had about five seconds before severe pain set in. One more word.
The old lady scratched her head with the revolver’s barrel reenex.

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There were nearly two hours of helpless anguish and fright before the doctor arrived. During that time it is possible that Ralph suffered more acutely than anyone else. For besides suffering, or believing that he suffered, all the pains that his father must be experiencing, and all of his mother’s grief and anxiety, and all of the smaller emotions of all the smaller people who were present, he suffered deep humiliation. When he rushed in and swept his mother into his arms he felt that his voice and his whole manner were all that they ought to be label printer supplier; that he showed himself to be a man who, despite his own boundless grief, was capable also of boundless strength to sustain others in their grief, and to take complete charge of all that needed to be done.


 But even in that first embrace he could see that his mother was  her desire to draw away from him. He came near her over and over again, hugging her, sobbing over her, fondling her, telling her that she must be brave, telling her she must not try to be brave, to lean on him, and cry her heart out, for naturally at such a time she would want to feel her sons close around her; but every time, he felt that same patient stiffening and her voice perplexed him. Everyone in the room, even Ralph in the long run, knew that he was only making things harder for her; only his mother realized that he was beseeching comfort rather than bringing it. She was not in the least angry with him; she was sorry for him and wished that she could be of more help to him, but her mind was not on him autism treatment, her heart was not with him, and his sobs and the stench of his breath made her a little sick at her stomach. What perplexed him in her voice was its remoteness. He began to realize that he was bringing her no comfort, that she was not leaning on him, that just as he had always feared, she did not really love him. He redoubled his efforts to soothe her and to be strong for her. The harder he tried, the more remote her voice became. At the end of a half hour her face was no less desperate than it had been when he first saw her. And he began to feel that everyone else was watching him, and knew he was no use, and that his mother did not love him. The women watched him one way, the men watched him another. He felt that his wife was thinking ill of him, that she was not even sorry for him; he felt slobbering and fat, the way she looked at him and suddenly with terrible hatred was sure that she would  miniso prefer to sleep with flat-bellied men—what man? Any man, so long as his belly don’t get in the way. As for Jessie, he knew she had always hated him, as much as he hated her. And George Bailey just sitting there looking serious and barrel-chested and always being careful to look away when their eyes met: George thought he was twice the man that Ralph was and twice as good right at this time, better with his in-laws than Ralph could be with his own flesh and blood; and they all knew that George was twice the man and were just trying not to say it or think it even, or let Ralph know they thought it. And even Thomas Oaks, an ignorant hand, who couldn’t even read or write, just setting there with his ropy hands hung between his knees, staring down at a knot in the floor with those washed-out blue eyes, even Tom was more of a man and more good use too. 

When Tom got up and said if there wasn’t nothing he could do he reckoned he would get on up to the loft, but if there was anything, they would just let him know, Ralph understood it. He knew Tom might be ignorant but he wasn’t so ignorant but he knew when it was best to leave a family to itself; and when Ralph’s mother said, “All right, Tom,” Ralph heard more life and kindness, and more gratefulness in her voice, than in every word she’d said to him, the whole night; and as he watched Tom climb the ladder, heavily and quietly, rung by rung, he thought: there goes more of a man than I am, he knows how to take himself out of the way, and he thought: he’s doing a power more good by going than I can by staying, and he thought: every soul in this room wishes it was me that was going, instead of him, and he called, in a voice which sounded unfriendly, though he had meant to make it sound friendly to everyone except Tom, “That’s right, Tom, get ye some sleep”; and Tom pulled his head back through the ceiling and looked down at him with those empty blue eyes and said, “That’s all right, Mr. Ralph,” and suddenly Ralph realized that he had no intention of sleeping and would be there alone, not sleeping a wink, just ready in case he was needed; and that Tom had seen his malice, his desire to belittle him, and had belittled him instead, before his mother and his wife and his dying father. “That’s all right, Mr. Ralph.” What’s all right? What’s all right? He wanted to yell it at him, “What’s all right, you poor-white-trash son-of-a-bitch?” but he restrained himself.

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As Hadley did not see fit to express any doubt of this last statement reenex facial, Bill Mosely was content to let the matter drop, assuming that he had gained a victory and recovered his ascendency over his echo.
 
They had met no one for some hours, and did not look for an encounter with anything wearing the semblance of humanity, when all at once Tom Hadley uttered an exclamation.
 
"What is it, Tom?" asked Mosely.
 
"Look there!" was the only answer, as Hadley, with outstretched finger IaaS Solution, pointed to a Chinaman walking slowly up the hill.
 
"It's a heathen Chinee!" exclaimed Mosely with animation.
 
"I should say so," echoed Hadley.
 
Mosely urged his mustang to greater speed, and soon overtook Ki Sing, for it was Richard Dewey's attendant whom the two adventurers had fallen in with.

 Ki Sing turned when he heard the sound of horses' feet ,  such a sound was unusual. He was not reassured by the appearance of the two men, whose intention seemed to be to overtake him, and he turned aside from the path with the intention of getting out of the way.
 
"Stop there, you heathen!" called Bill Mosely in his fiercest tone.
 



As Hadley did not see fit to express any doubt of this last statement, Bill Mosely was content to let the matter drop, assuming that he had gained a victory and recovered his ascendency over his echo.
 
They had met no one for some hours, and did not look for an encounter with anything wearing the semblance of humanity, when all at once Tom Hadley uttered an exclamation.
 
"What is it, Tom?" asked Mosely.
 
"Look there!" was the only answer, as Hadley, with outstretched finger, pointed to a Chinaman walking slowly up the hill.
 
"It's a heathen Chinee!" exclaimed Mosely with animation.
 
"I should say so," echoed Hadley.
 
Mosely urged his mustang to greater speed, and soon overtook Ki Sing, for it was Richard Dewey's attendant whom the two adventurers had fallen in with.

 Ki Sing turned when he heard the sound of horses' feet,  such a sound was unusual. He was not reassured by the appearance of the two men, whose intention seemed to be to overtake him, and he turned aside from the path with the intention of getting out of the way.
 
"Stop there, you heathen!" called Bill Mosely in his fiercest tone.
 

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