The Rum Diary / Ромовий щоденник: vol 6

Оригінал англійською Переклад українською

We had breakfast at the table by the window and afterward we drank coffee

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and read the papers. That morning was the only time I ever felt a sense of peace in the

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apartment, and when I thought about it I felt dumb, because that was the only reason

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I'd wanted it in the first place. I lay on the bed and smoked and listened to the radio

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while Chenault washed the dishes. There was a good breeze, and when I looked out

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the window I could see across the trees and the red-tiled rooftops all the way to the

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horizon.

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Chenault was wearing my shirt again, and I watched it bounce and flutter

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around her thighs as she moved in the kitchen. After a while I got up and crept over to

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her, lifting the shirt and seizing her rump with both hands. She shrieked and spun

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around, then fell against me, laughing. I put my arms around her and playfully jerked

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the tail of the shirt up over her head. We stood there swaying slightly and then I

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carried her over to the bed, where we made love very quietly.

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It was mid-morning when I left the house, but the sun was already so hot that

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it felt like mid-afternoon. Driving along the beach I remembered how much I'd

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enjoyed the mornings when I first came to San Juan. There is something fresh and

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crisp about the first hours of a Caribbean day, a happy anticipation that something is

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about to happen, maybe just up the street or around the next corner. Whenever I look

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back on those months and try to separate the good times from the bad, I recall those

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mornings when I had an early assignment — when I would borrow Sala's car and go

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roaring along the big tree-lined boulevard. I remember the feel of the little car

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vibrating beneath me and the sudden heat of the sun on my face as I zipped out of the

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shade and into a patch of light; I remember the whiteness of my shirt and the sound of

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a silk tie flapping in the wind beside my head, the unhinged feel of the accelerator and

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a sudden switching of lanes to pass a truck and beat a red light.

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Then into a palm-lined driveway and hit the rasping brakes, flip down the

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Press tag on the visor and leave the car in the nearest No Parking zone. Hurry into the

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lobby, pulling on the coat to my new black suit and dangling a camera in one hand

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while an oily clerk calls my man to confirm the appointment. Then up a soft elevator

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to the suite - big greeting, pompous conversation, and black coffee from a silver pot,

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a few quick photos on the balcony, grinning handshake, then back down the elevator

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and hustle off.

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On my way back to the office, with a pocketful of notes, I would stop at one of

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the outdoor restaurants on the beach for a club sandwich and a beer; sitting in the

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shade to read the papers and ponder the madness of the news, or leaning back with a

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lusty grin at all the bright- wrapped nipples, trying to decide how many I could get my

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hands on before the week was out.

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Those were the good mornings, when the sun was hot and the air was quick

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and promising, when the Real Business seemed right on the verge of happening and I

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felt that if I went just a little faster I might overtake that bright and fleeting thing that

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was always just ahead.

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Then came noon, and morning withered like a lost dream. The sweat was

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torture and the rest of the day was littered with the dead remains of all those things

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that might have happened, but couldn't stand the heat. When the sun got hot enough it

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burned away all the illusions and I saw the place as it was — cheap, sullen, and garish

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- nothing good was going to happen here.

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Sometimes at dusk, when you were trying to relax and not think about the

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general stagnation, the Garbage God would gather a handful of those choked-off

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morning hopes and dangle them somewhere just out of reach; they would hang in the

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breeze and make a sound like delicate glass bells, reminding you of something you

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