Unit 04 Big Tom………………………………………………55
Of all the males in our company’s dormitory, I felt the most affection for Tom. He was a genius, I thought, but the other guys took him for a nut. He came from far away, and at first had a strong Spanish accent. Now, after a year with the company, he spoke English very well. But his English accent had an exaggerated precision that the other guys didn’t like. In the crude environment of the dormitory, Tom’s accent seemed artificial. But he was a big man, a giant, and strong as an ox, and the others feared him and left him alone.
I on the other hand had a weak constitution. I couldn’t digest any real food and lived on little more than coffee. My arms and legs were as thin as stems. And what work did I do there, you may well ask. I was chief garbage man for the dormitory.
Our company had a big project to build a reinforced concrete reservoir out in a suburb surrounded by hills. At night a portion of the project was closed to us by means of a big square gate made of brass. One cold evening I was depositing the garbage from supper behind our dormitory when I saw a torch and the shape of a man passing through the grass gate. I walked over.
“I knew it was you,” I said to Tom.
“It’s open,” he said. “Shall we go in?”
“Don’t you know we shouldn’t?” I said. “You still haven’t adjusted to the company.”
“Adjust?” he said. “I’d rather quit. Come. What are you afraid of? Don’t you want to investigate this portion?” He knew I did. Already it seemed inevitable that I would to with him. I only feared that the torch would be noticeable on the TV monitor of the chief watchman.
“Turn off the torch,” I said, and we walked through the brass square gate. Tom and I penetrated all the way to the crane, and no watchman had yet pursued us. This giant crane was used for moving and placing the reinforced concrete blocks. In the dark we recognized it by its shape—an immense pillar of zigzag rods. At the top of it, we knew, at the peak, would be the flag. And far over our heads, up in the dark sky, would be the crane’s giant arm. On the arm was the banner that we saw everyday, with the letters ABC, the initial letters of our company’s name. We had ABC written on our shirts, too, and on the chairs and beds with which our dormitory was furnished.
“Let’s go up!” said Tom. I laughed—but Tome had spoken in earnest. Strong as he was, he really had no concept of authority.
“Tom, you are a nut!” I said, wanting to show him that I was reluctant. But in the end he convinced me, and we mounted the ladder to the lift. There were two buttons, a red one and a green one. I pressed the latter, just to see if the lift might be operational. It was. I pressed the red button and stopped it. Tome got in. I pressed the green one again and we rose and rose and finally reached the top. We were at the peak of the pillar, just underneath the flag. Even in the dark we were close enough to see it. Before us the crane’s giant arm led of like a road into the night. Its rods and all zigzag, made me feel that over there would be, I saw, a square gate, some garbage and a dormitory. But no. Off the end of that zigzag road really would be nothing but dark night. The geometry of the crane scared me.
“Let’s walk out to the banner!”
To the banner? Oh, no. This was too much.
“I want to see the ABC!” said Tome. “Come on!” why was his voice so urgent? What did the want that ABC banner for?
“Tom, you are too bold,” I said. “You really have no concept…..” But he had set off. I was very scared, but somehow rose to the challenge and went with him. It became a contest: who would be the first one to touch the long banner? I was halfway along the arm when I heard the water of the reservoir, far underneath us. It was then that I remembered that the chief crane operator, before stopping his work for the day, would always swing the giant arm so that it projected out over the water. Now I was really scared. I held on to a rod. I could feel the coffee I had drunk could and undigested inside me. I did not have Tom’s ox-like constitution.
“Tom!” I said. I did not possess hi boldness, and not his urgency.
“You can’t quit now!” Said Tom. But I could not move. I was trapped.
Tom had reached the banner. He was a dark shape, loosening the knots that held the banner to the rods.
“I possess the ABC!” he said, in that precise English of his. The dark shape on the arm put a thumb up to show me that he had got what he wanted. He put his other hand on what he thought was a rod, but it was the wire that would shock him.
They said later that the nuts on the box that surrounded the wire were loose and had come unscrewed(螺丝钉旋松的). The box had fallen away, and the wire was exposed.
Tome never panicked. He looked at me as if I were far away. But his legs would not hold him up. Wrapped in the banner, he fell, like a baby bird from a nest. It was I who panicked, when I heard him hit and vanish underneath the water of the reservoir. Maybe his fall had not been fatal, but would my beloved Tom now drown? It was possible.
I began to cal for help.
We spent an anxious fortnight in the dormitory. While the others would talk about his vitality(生命力), I stared at jeans and socks of the vanishing nut. The dorm was a different place without his precise English. An X-ray scan had revealed that he would need an operation. And of course the big ox had to recover from the exposure to the cold water. There was a mention in the media of Tom’s shock and fall, and the TV guys were going to come and see what we were doing at the reservoir project, until their investigation was canceled. But the authorities did investigate our company. Their investigation revealed that the square gate had been left open, and the box surrounding the wire had come off.
The company reinforced the square gate with more brass, and put a new box back onto the arm, screwing its nuts tightly. They tightened up the knots of the new banner, and even put anew banner all down the crane’s pillar, this latter one having not only the initials ABC but all the letters of the name of the suburb. And they put a bigger flag on the crane.
The company enhanced the authority of the chief watchman. Now we had to sign in when were came back to the dormitory, and sign out. Even when I took out the garbage in the evening, I had to sign in and out! Besides, they furnish their chief garbage man with a torch in case I should see any shapes of people.内容来自 听力课堂网：http://www.tingclass.net/show-8583-246742-1.html