11-به هیولا غذا دهندهکتاب: زندگی در چند بخش / فصل 11
11-به هیولا غذا دهنده
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متن انگلیسی فصل
I picked up a job a few blocks from my home, preparing the Sunday Los Angeles Times for delivery. Boring. But on the plus side, I got to work with Reuben Valdez. Reuben was an excellent athlete, with a great personality and a smile that made him popular with girls. I, on the other hand, didn’t make the baseball team, and I had a crooked smile. I was unremarkable and shy. I liked working alongside a beam of light like Reuben. Maybe some of his light would rub off on me.
We arrived at our jobsite, an industrial garage unit, at 3:00 a.m., and the unmistakable scent of newsprint hit us before we even rolled up the metal door. We went to work assembling all the sections of the paper that had been dropped off at the door. Then one of us fed the beast, an ancient paper-folding machine with an assembly line of rollers and a wrapper; the beast made a horrible crunching sound as it bent the thick paper and tied it with string. The guy who wasn’t feeding collected the finished products and stacked them for our boss, Leroy Waco, whose name was pronounced with a long A like the city in Texas, but of course we called him “Wacko.”
At dawn, when we were finished feeding and stacking, we’d stuff Leroy’s car. He’d go off to deliver, and I’d walk home in an exhausted stupor.
Leroy was busier than a one-armed man flinging newspapers from a stick-shift VW Bug. Actually, that’s exactly what he was. The guys at the paper called him the one-armed bandit. He had lost his right arm. (I never asked how.) He’d slip his left arm through the steering wheel and rest it on the shifter. When he approached a customer’s home, he’d slow down, put the car in neutral, and pull his arm free, steering with his knees. He’d grab a paper and then hurl it toward a porch or driveway. He never, ever missed his target. He had the elegance, precision, and timing of a Gold Glove shortstop turning a double play.
Occasionally when we were ahead of schedule and the papers were wrapped and ready to go, I would ride shotgun. “Coming up!” Leroy would say. That was my cue. Wedged into the passenger seat, I’d prepare to toss a paper out my window. We’d slow to a crawl. “NOW!” Out it went. I did not have a fraction of Leroy’s skills. I hit a lot of trees. A lot of gutters. “Goddamn it, kid,” Leroy grumbled. He called both Reuben and me “kid.” I don’t think he ever knew our names. We’d come to a stop, and I’d run out and put the paper where it belonged.
It didn’t take long for Leroy to reconsider my role. “Just keep a steady supply of papers for me to grab when I’m ready,” he’d say with a sigh. Just feed the beast.
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