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The Rum Diary / Ромовий щоденник: vol 3

Оригінал англійською Переклад українською

I slid down the bluff to the hard-packed sand on the beach. Yeamon threw up

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his arm and ran at an angle toward the surf. I tossed the nut high and long, watching it

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fall just beyond him in the water and make a quick splash. He fell on it and went

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under, bringing it up in his hands.

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I turned and sprinted away, watching it float down at me out of the hot blue

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sky. It hurt my hands again, but this time I hung on. It was a good feeling to snag a

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long pass, even if it was a coconut. My hands grew red and tender, but it was a good

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clean feeling and I didn't mind. We ran short, over-the-middle passes and long

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floaters down the sidelines, and after a while I couldn't help but think we were

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engaged in some kind of holy ritual, the reenactment of all our young Saturdays —

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expatriated now, lost and cut off from those games and those drunken stadiums,

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beyond the noise and blind to the false color of those happy spectacles — after years

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of jeering at football and all that football means, here I was on an empty Caribbean

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beach, running these silly pass patterns with all the zeal of a regular sandlot fanatic.

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As we raced back and forth, falling and plunging in the surf, I recalled my

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Saturdays at Vanderbilt and the precision beauty of a Georgia Tech backfield,

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pushing us back and back with that awful belly series, a lean figure in a gold jersey,

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slashing over a hole that should never have been there, now loose on the crisp grass of

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our secondary and an unholy shout from the stands across the way; and finally to

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bring the bastard down, escape those blockers coming at you like cannonballs, then

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line up again and face that terrible machinery. It was a torturous thing, but beautiful in

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its way; here were men who would never again function or even understand how they

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were supposed to function as well as they did today. They were dolts and thugs for

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the most part, huge pieces of meat, trained to a fine edge — but somehow they

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mastered those complex plays and patterns, and in rare moments they were artists.

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Finally I got too tired to run anymore and we went back up to the patio, where

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Sala and Chenault were still talking. They both seemed a little drunk, and after a few

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minutes of conversation I realized that Chenault was fairly out of her head. She kept

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chuckling to herself and mocking Yeamon's southern accent.

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We drank for another hour or so, laughing indulgently at Chenault and

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watching the sun slant off toward Jamaica and the Gulf of Mexico. It's still light in

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Mexico City, I thought. I had never been there and suddenly I was overcome by a

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tremendous curiosity about the place. Several hours of rum, combined with my

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mounting distaste for Puerto Rico, had me right on the verge of going into town,

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packing my clothes, and leaving on the first westbound plane. Why not? I thought. I

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hadn't cashed this week's paycheck yet; a few hundred in the bank, nothing to tie me

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down — why not, indeed? It was bound to be better than this place, where my only

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foothold was a cheap job that looked ready to collapse.

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I turned to Sala. "How much is it from here to Mexico City?"

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He shrugged and sipped his drink. "Too much," he replied. "Why? Are you

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moving on?"

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I nodded. "I'm pondering it."

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Chenault looked up at me, her face serious for a change. "You'd love Mexico

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City, Paul."

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"What the hell do you know about it?" Yeamon snapped.

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She glared up at him, then took a long drink from her glass.

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"That's it," he said. "Keep sucking it down — you're not drunk enough yet."

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"Shut up!" she screamed, jumping to her feet. "Leave me alone, you goddamn

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pompous fool!"

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His arm shot out so quickly that I barely saw the movement; there was the

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