Half-Heartedly

Chapter 11

     “Hey, Tutto!” I waved cheerfully at the tall boy with the orange eyes.

     The boy swirled around, his long limbs flying wildly about. “Jame-sy called Tutto by his first name! Hahaha!

     After that night on the roof, after listening to Tutto talk about how his father disdained suicidal people, I came to realize one thing: even if Tutto wasn’t the person who had stopped my self-affliction twelve years ago, he had taught me how to live on even in the worst situations. He had showed me that it wasn’t so hard to laugh in the face of misery, just like what he had done after being turned into a heap of human dough, after he had been painted as a beaten-up zombie. He had been humiliated in front of practically the entire department, yet he never allowed anything to let him down. He hadn’t been angry at anyone; he was happy of the fact that he had brought joy to everyone. He hadn’t been going to the stream, stabbing himself; he simply came up to our Secret Hiding Place, having chocolate, getting drunk, enjoying himself.

     Tutto Freeman was still my orange-eyed saviour.

     Ever since that night, I found it easier to understand Tutto’s thinking pattern. He was a person who thought of the world as a fantasy—a fantasy not of magic and myths, but of animated symbols and metaphors. Every little detail had its meaning; it had its reason for existence. Every minute thing he said had its association with his life, and the lives of everybody else.

     Perhaps it was his father who had taught him to think in this way. His father had told him so many fantasies: guardian angels, vulnerable angels, wars happening in people’s chests. All these stories made no sense to me when I first heard them. They were riddles, unsolvable problems for the people who believed in logic, in science and in evidence. I was one of those people, who thought it odd for a person to explain the meaning of life with such vague statements, who were pragmatic about things and needed proof before they could appreciate anything. Most of us had been taught to be skeptical, and may think of fantasies as merely imaginary tales with nothing to do with reality. But the stories that Tutto’s father had told him were far from meaningless. They possessed the valuable lessons of life that people had taken for granted, yet were long forgotten, lying deep under the pile of stress, depression, and resentment that had gathered inside people’s minds.

     I longed to rid myself of these large heaps of junk. I longed to be able to see life as an abstract sculpture. At first glance, it would seem confusing, unreal, and even ugly. Many people would take it this way, and turn from it as soon as they see it. They believed in first impressions, and they would dislike the sculpture forever, never giving it a second chance. 

     But some people would look at it again. They might walk closer to it; they might step back a bit. They might walk around it, witnessing the glamour as the shape and interposition of each part of the sculpture alters with each step. It would be like watching a ballet dance, with the dancers twirling and moving with the music, each second being in a different position and location. Or, it would be like noticing how each night, the stars would appear to be in a different place in the sky; it wasn’t the stars that were travelling, but the Earth itself that was spinning.

     If life were a sculpture, we should walk around it, and see how beautiful and ever-changing this magical artwork can be.

     “You’ve helped me out a lot.” I put a hand on Tutto’s shoulder. “From now on, in order to thank you, I’ll call you by your first name.”

     “Jamesy did a lot for Tutto, too.” Tutto’s grin wasn’t mischievous; it was filled with the excitement of being a part of this living world. “Does Tutto have to call Jamesy ‘Ryan-y’?”

     I laughed out loud. “No. Just call me James.”

     “James-sy.”

     “No. James.”

     “James. Sy.”

     “Whatever.”

     “You guys seem to be having fun.”

     We spun around and were met with Albert Hunter, Paul O’Lee, and Daichi Yamamoto.

     “What are we missing out here, James?” Albert said, coming over to slap me on the back. A sudden uneasiness swept over me. I felt like a rabbit in the middle of the night, paralyzed by the blinding light of a spotlighting hunter.

     “I never knew Zombie-Boy could talk.” Daichi nudged Tutto in the ribs. “Come on, dude. Say something.”

     As usual, Tutto didn’t respond. All he did was stare blankly at Daichi with his wide, orange eyes.

     “Gosh. We were too far away to hear him. But he definitely was talking.” Paul turned to me. “How d’you make him talk?”

     Sweat rolled down the back of my neck. “He didn’t talk. It was just me who was speaking.”

     “Oh, really?” Daichi eyed me suspiciously. He was always the hardest to trick.

     I raised my eyebrows, trying to act cool. “Yeah. He never talks to anyone. Why would he suddenly talk to me?”

     Albert crossed his arms in front of him and frowned, showing that he was thinking about something. “Y’know, James. This isn’t the first time we found you up here on the roof with the Zombie.”

     Daichi snapped his fingers. “That’s a fact.”

     My sweat-drops had drenched the back of my sweater. “I always come up here for some air. He’s only recently showed up here. We just coincidentally both come to this place for peace and quiet, I guess.”

     The back of my shoulders tightened with stress as I explained, being aware of the fact that Tutto Freeman, who knew my every word was a lie, was standing right behind me. I could literally feel the pressure of his large, orange eyes staring intensely at my back.

     I found myself once again caught in the flowing river that forked into two, forcing me to make a choice in such a brief period of time. Last time, when I was still hesitant on which way to go, my boat had been stopped by a confusing tangle of leaves and branches, which allowed me to temporarily rid my mind of the dilemma, and gave me more time to think over the alternatives. I thought I had wanted to choose the path that led to the truth, where I could say what was real, where I could be honest with my friends, with Tutto, and also with myself. I had thought I wouldn’t mind if my friends thought different of me. I had thought I wouldn’t care if they didn’t accept the real me.

     Now, the branches and leaves that had gotten tangled to my boat had given way, and I was sailing down the rushing water again. Just when I thought I would head straight for the waterway that flew to the truth, a strong impulse had struck me, and I had propelled myself towards the opposite direction. The other waterway had somehow seemed wider, brighter, and safer, even though I had known all along that it consisted of dishonesty and deception, and that it led to doom.

 But I had lied, and it was too late to head back.

 “Alright, you guys.” Paul stepped in front of me as if to defend me. “Stop giving Jamey such a hard time.” I fought back the urge to hug him.

 Paul turned and said to me, “Hey, Jamey. We were actually looking all over for you.”

 Albert walked up beside me and slapped my back. I could swear I heard something break. “Yeah. We kinda figured that you might have felt a little left out.”

 I gave him a confused look. “Left out? No. Not at all.”

 Daichi nudged me in the ribs. “Ah. Don’t you start pretending. We know we haven’t been including you in things for some time already.”

 Paul smiled. Albert grinned. Daichi tapped his chin thoughtfully. I didn’t even have to use my sixth sense to know that something bad was going on.

 “Well. We’re throwing a surprise party, and we wouldn’t want anyone to know all the details.” Daichi raised his eyebrows at Tutto, and then set his eyes onto me. His expression was a challenging smile. “Meet us in the lobby room when you’ve had enough air.”

 The three boys walked away. I stood paralyzed on the spot, staring dumbly at their backs until they disappeared behind the iron doors.

 “James.”

 I spun around to see who had said my name, and was met with blank, orange eyes.

 Tutto Freeman was looking at my direction, but he wasn’t looking at me. He was staring expressionlessly at something behind me, staring right through me, as if I were invisible.

 He couldn’t see me.

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第十一章

  「喂,土豆!」我高興地對著橘色眼睛的高男生揮手。

  那男生四肢亂飛地轉身過來。「小-詹詹叫土豆的真的名字ㄝ!哈哈哈!

  那一晚在屋頂上,聽完土豆說他爸爸看不起自殺的人後,我意識到一件事:就算土豆不是十二年前阻止我自殘的人,他還是教了我怎麼在最艱難的時候繼續活著。他教了我在痛苦面前大笑不是件難事,就像他即使被變成一團人形麵糰也好,被畫成僵屍也好,都還是開開心心地過。他在幾乎全系的人面前被羞辱,但是卻沒有讓這些事讓他難過。他沒有對人生氣,還說他很樂於讓大家開心。他沒有跑到小溪去刺自己,他只是來到我們的秘密基地吃巧克力,把自己弄醉,享受著。

  土豆‧福利曼仍然是我的橘眼恩人。

  自從那一晚,我開始慢慢瞭解土豆的思考規則。他是個把真實世界看成奇幻世界的人,不是魔術和神話的奇幻,而是擬人化的符號和譬喻。每一個小細節都有它的意義,有它存在的理由。他說的每一件小事都和他生活有聯繫,和所有人生活有關係。

  可能是他爸爸教他這種思考模式,因為他爸爸跟他講了好多奇幻的故事:守護天使、小天使、戰爭在人的胸中。這些故事對我來說一開始都無法理解。它們是謎,對於堅信著邏輯、科學、和證據的人是無法解開的難題。我就是這一種人,覺得用這樣不直接的方式解釋生命的意義很奇怪,覺得人應該實際一點而需要看到證據才願意接受。大部份的人被教導要有懷疑之心,也把奇幻當成是想像出的東西而和現實沒有關聯。但是土豆爸爸告訴他的故事不是沒有意義的。它們述說這生命可貴的課程,這些被人們視為理所當然的道理卻被埋沒在人們腦中的壓力、憂鬱、和憤怒下。

  我多麼希望可以擺脫這一大堆垃圾。我多麼希望可以把生命視為一座抽象的雕像。第一眼看見時,這座雕像令人感到疑惑,甚至不真實而醜陋。很多人在這時就會走開,無法改變第一印象,永遠對雕像厭惡而不再去看它。

  然而,還是會有人會再看雕像一眼。他們可能會靠近一點看,可能會退後一點看。他們可能會繞著雕像走,欣賞每踩一步雕像會有的變化。這樣看像是在觀賞一齣芭雷舞演出,舞者隨著音樂舞動,每一秒都在不一樣的位置擺不同的姿勢。也像仰望著夜空,星星們每一晚都會出現在不同的方向。這不是因為星星在動,而是因為地球本身在轉動。

  如果人生是個雕像,我們應該繞著它走,欣賞這奇妙的藝術品是多麼美麗而多變。

  你幫我很多啊。」我把一支手放在土豆肩上,「現在開始,為了報答你,我會叫你的真的名字。」

  「小詹詹也幫土豆很多呀。」土豆的笑不是頑皮而是對活在這世界上的興奮。「那土豆是不是要叫小詹詹『小萊萊』?」

  我大笑。「不用啦。叫我詹姆斯就好了。」

  「小詹詹姆斯。」

  「不是啦。詹姆斯。」

  「詹姆ㄙㄧㄠˇ-詹。」

  「隨你便。」

  「你們看起來很開心吔。」

  我們翻過身來面對亞伯特‧亨頓、保羅‧歐里、和山本大智。

  「我們錯過什麼了,詹姆斯?」亞伯特說著走過來要拍我的背。我心裡一陣不適,感覺像是一隻半夜中的兔子被獵人的獵燈嚇到無法動彈。

  「我從來不知道殭屍男會說話吔。」大智用手軸戳土豆的肋骨,「說話給我們聽嘛,老兄。」

  一如往常,土豆不吭一生。他只是用橘色的大眼看著大智。

  「可惜我們站得太遠聽不到,可是他絕對有在講話。」保羅轉向我,「你怎麼讓他講話的啊?」

  冷汗在我脖子後面滴下。「他沒講話啦。是我在講而已。」

  「真的嗎?」大智懷疑地看著我。他一直是三個裡面最難騙的。

  我抬起眉毛裝沒事。「當然呀。他從來不講話的,怎麼會突然跟我講話咧?」

  亞伯特雙手叉在胸前,皺著眉頭,很明顯他在動大腦。「可是呀,詹姆斯,這不是第一次我們在屋頂上找到你和殭屍男吔。」

  大智彈了一下手指。「真的。」

  冷汗已經把我的背整個弄濕了。「我一直都會來這裡享受新鮮空氣呀。他最近才開始來這裡的。我們只是剛好都會來這裡安靜一下吧。」

  我越解釋,肩膀就越僵硬,因為知道我說的每一句話都是謊的土豆‧福利曼就站在我後面。我可以感覺得到他的大眼睛瞪著我的背。

我又再一次像急流中的泛舟者面對著兩道水流,需要盡快選擇往哪裡走。上一次,當我還在猶豫時,我的小舟被一些葉子和樹枝勾住了,讓我可以暫時不用想我的困境,也給我多一點時間可以作決定。我以為我最後會選擇通往真心的水道,往我可以說真話並對我的伙伴們、土豆、和我自己誠實的聖地。我以為我不會在乎我的朋友們對我有異議,以為我不會在乎他們不能接受真正的我。

現在,那些葉子和樹枝放開我的小舟了,而我又被急流推向前方。當我正以為我往著真心水道流時,一股強大的衝動使我把船往另外一個水道划。即使我知道它淺藏著偽裝和欺騙,另一個水道看起來較為寬敞、明亮、和安全。但是我很明瞭他最後的目的地是毀滅。

然而,我已經說謊了,已經來不急回頭。

「好了啦,你們。」保羅站到我面前捍衛我。「不要這樣刁難他了啦。」我抑制想抱他的衝動。

保羅轉向我說,「那個啊,阿詹,我們其實在找你。」

亞伯特走到我身旁大力打我的背。我好像真的聽到什麼斷掉了。「對呀。我們在想你可能覺得有一點被冷落了。」

我給他一臉困惑。「冷落?沒有啊。」

大智戳我的肋骨。「唉唷,不要裝了啦。我們已經很久沒有把你包括在活動裡了。」

保羅微笑,亞伯特竊笑,大智用手指彈自己的下巴。我連第六感都不需要就可以知道壞事要發生了。

「可是啊,我們要辦一個驚喜派對所以不想讓別人知道細節。」大智對土豆舉眉,然後看著我。他臉上的笑在挑戰我。「你享受好空氣的時候去大廳找我們。」

三個男生終於走掉了。我呆呆地站著,無法動彈,只是看著他們的背影直到他們消失在鐵門後。

「詹姆斯。」

我轉過身子看誰說我的名字,結果面對著的是一雙空白的橘色眼睛。

土豆‧福利曼往我的方向看,但他不是在看我。他面無表情地看著我後方的某物,彷彿我是透明人。

他看不見我。

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-羅寗 Michelle Ning Lo

 

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