Denver Nightshade

Original link: https://yihui.org/cn/2022/07/denver-shadow/

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When the night falls

And you are all alone

In your deepest sleep

What are you dreaming of

When you know you’re in a nightmare and you can’t wake up no matter what, how do you get out of it or overcome it?

1. The silhouette of the wooden house

After driving into Colorado, I realized what a plain is. The clouds in the distance were almost touching the ground, and I had never seen a cloud that low. Under the sky, except for the endless yellow grassland, there is only one highway 80 going straight west. It would be nice if Van Gogh was here, I think. I randomly hooked the steering wheel with one finger of my left hand, and drove at a speed of eighty-five miles to the gap in the distance. The lonely shadow of heaven and earth let me go. Probably the most free person in the world. I thought so at the time.

The song in the car is placed in “Chess Pieces”. It was once said to be one of the “Humble Quintets”.

On Colorado’s highways, there is a warning sign every other section to inform drivers: Colorado law stipulates that the left lane can only be used for overtaking, and normal vehicles must use the right lane. There are only a few cars on this Tongtian Avenue, it’s just superfluous, I laughed at it. I want to choose which road to choose, and why do I care so much. Even if I drive in the left lane, I will not stand in my way or be chased by anyone. I thought so at the time.

The prelude to “Sunshine Airport” sounded in my ears. Someone once said that the song sounded like a ghost.

There was still more than an hour before the destination, and there were many cars on the road, and the hot summer air suddenly became cold, and then the gust of wind blew the car a little bit, and I started to hold the steering wheel with my whole hand. It didn’t take long for it to rain heavily, and the sky was dark at four in the afternoon. I slowed down a bit, turned on the lights, and put the wipers in the fastest gear. The wipers were as fast as the drowning people were waving for help, or waving frantically, warning people not to go any further. At some point, the tire pressure indicator light on the dashboard came on again. It’s weird that all the tires were freshly changed before the trip. Could it be because of Denver’s high altitude?

Just after six o’clock, I got off Route 34 and arrived in front of the B&B community I booked. The eight-hour drive made my body a little stiff, but the thought of being able to stay away from the depressing hustle and bustle and enjoy the mountains and rivers here in the next few days relieved most of the fatigue along the way. The community is located on a mound beside Yingshan Lake on the west side of the Rocky Mountains. The landlord had told me that there was a large dirt slope to climb before reaching the house. At first I climbed the wrong hill and drove to a dead end. At the end of the road was a seemingly empty house with a wide open backyard door. Like most American houses built in the mountains or in the suburbs, it bears a sign: Private residence, no trespassing. From the backyard of this house, I saw that the house I rented was on a higher slope on the right, but I didn’t see where the way to there was.

After detouring for more than ten minutes, I didn’t meet anyone in the community, and I finally found the slope that the landlord said. It was really steep, close to forty-five degrees. Since I got to Denver, the accelerator has been flaky, so I slammed on it up the hill and parked the car in front of the garage.

I entered the password 3719 and pressed the open button, but the garage door didn’t move. Tried twice, still can’t open. I inadvertently realized that the four numbers in this code were joined together to form a cross.

This is a brown-red double-storey wooden house, which seems to be a little old, and it is at least 100 meters away from the nearest houses and woods around it. In the open space, except for large weeds and yellow dandelions, there is only a solitary spruce on the right, like the guard of the house, standing there quietly.

There is snow in the empty forest, and no one returns on the wild road.

I looked back at the car and the right front wheel was indeed a little slack. The landlord also gave me the code for the front door, so I walked up the porch stairs. Seven or eight meters away, a crow landed on a crooked cross-post and stared at me, with a dead branch or maybe a bone in its mouth.

On the outer glass door was a combination padlock that had rusted a bit, and it took me a few tries to turn it open. After entering through the door, there is a spacious living room. The ceiling of the living room is the roof, about eight meters high. The two ceiling fans above are squeaking and spinning, blowing two woodcarved wild ducks on the coffee table. Now I regret that I was greedy and booked such a big house. The east, northeast, and south sides of the living room are all tall shutters. Pulling up the shutters, you can clearly see the Yingshan Lake below and the snow-capped mountains in the distance. Outside the east window is the spruce. The crow on the cross has disappeared.

I walked through the living room and kitchen, found the garage door switch, raised the garage door, drove the car in, unloaded my luggage and groceries on the road. In the messy garage, I saw the barbecue grill the landlord had mentioned earlier. BBQ is my favorite and one of the reasons I booked this room. When I opened the grill, it was covered with black grease, as if it hadn’t been cleaned in years, which was a little disgusting. I went into the kitchen with a large bag and a small bag, and put all the food in the refrigerator. After closing the refrigerator door, I was surprised to find that snow began to fall outside the window. It still snows in Denver in the summer. I came to the living room window. It was dark outside, and the spruce branches were swaying in the wind. The ceiling fan was still running. It’s kind of ridiculous to blow a fan on a snowy day. I found the switch, but found that the ceiling fan can only turn down the wind speed, but not shut off.

Take a breath. I took out the computer, sat down on the sofa, casually put my feet on the coffee table and the computer on my lap, and started writing a travel note. When I finished writing, I accidentally kicked off a wooden duck. Maybe its material is too brittle, and it broke the neck when it fell.

Just when I was thinking about how to glue it, I heard a faint sound of running water from the bedroom upstairs, so I put down the duck first and followed the sound upstairs. In the corner at the end of the stairs stood a small ceramic bear, staring blankly at me. I turned and entered the bedroom with the door open and heard the sound of water coming from the toilet tank. When I opened the pool cover, it turned out that the rubber valve underneath was slightly suspended by the buoyancy ball, and the flushing port was not tightly covered. I closed the water valve, the water level in the pool rose to withstand the buoyancy ball, and the sound of the water stopped.

I went downstairs and went back to the kitchen to start making dinner. Ripped through all the drawers and cabinets and found the cookware to be very old. I took out a non-stick pan and wanted to make a simple stir-fry, but the coating on the bottom of the pan was already rough, so I gave up, threw it on the stove, and used my own pressure cooker to cook a little at will. The small red mud stove, it is snowing in the evening, so naturally I have to drink a few cups. The hot pot was eaten with half a bottle of red wine, and the snow stopped. Tiredness mixed with a hint of drunkenness hit me, I cleaned the pots and pans, and prepared to go upstairs to sleep.

After confirming that the door to the living room was locked, I turned off the lights in the living room, and was about to go upstairs when I suddenly saw a figure on the ground climbing up the blinds. , it’s just my own shadow from the lights on the porch outside. I didn’t look back to confirm.

There seemed to be a slight click at the door, perhaps the snow from the eaves fell to the ground.

I plan on taking a quick shower and going to bed. The bathroom is very small, which happens to be that I like small bathrooms because I am a bit cold in the shower, and small spaces are warmer. The water flow is not very strong, but it is enough. I finished shampooing, and when I was about to finish the lather, I felt that the water in the nozzle was getting colder and cooler. I adjusted the water valve to the hottest end, stepped up the flushing, and the water was already cold. Seeing that there was no hope of hot water coming out, I had to come out to dry, put on my pajamas, and then go downstairs to the boiler room to see why there was no hot water.

The boiler room is at the back of the kitchen. The closet on the right and the washing machine and dryer below take up half the space, the sink on the left, and the large boiler in front and the various water and gas pipes and wires that connect it. There was a hissing sound from the boiler, as if it were about to die. The panel flashed the code E05, about an error code, I didn’t know anything about boiler repairs and had to contact the landlord online. The landlord apologized repeatedly, saying that it was already past eight o’clock in the evening, and it was impossible to find a repairman tonight. He suggested that I go out and find a hotel to stay for one night, and he would reimburse the expenses. In addition, he said that there is a black switch at the bottom left of the boiler, you can try turning it off and restarting a few times. I turned it on and off a few times, and each time the boiler let out a deep roar as if it was trying to gather enough energy to spit, and then returned to the hissing sound before it died.

I went to the garage to turn on the lights, and saw that the wheel that was slack seemed to be more slack. I thought that there was a steep dirt slope outside, and it might not be easy to drive after the snow. I pressed the garage door switch to see how thick the snow was at the door, but the switch didn’t work. I wonder if the garage door’s circuit was frozen. It seemed that there was no choice but to stay in this house tonight.

The air conditioner panel shows that it is now twenty-six degrees. When the boiler is broken, there is no heating. Under normal circumstances, the room temperature in an unheated house will drop by about half a degree every hour, so it should still be nineteen degrees before the maintenance worker is called tomorrow morning, which is not too cold for me.

I went back through the kitchen to the second floor again. The house has various ornaments hanging on the walls, such as deer heads, bows, oars, etc. on the living room wall. There are two accessories on the kitchen wall that amuse me a little bit, a metal wiper for shredding vegetables on the west wall and a cast iron pot on the east wall. What kind of accessories are they?

The bedroom has a skylight on the sloping roof, and the night sky can be seen from the bed. I opened “Tao’an Mengyi” and read it for two minutes, before I fell asleep before turning the page.

2. Grim bear

In a cedar forest, a little black bear was catching fish beside a turbulent mountain stream. There were a lot of fish trying to migrate, and the bear could easily catch the fish that he couldn’t finish, so it only took a bite of each fish and then lost the brain, which was very comfortable. It kept eating and eating, and the water kept rushing and rushing. Clap la la… Clap la la… In the end, the fishes that were thrown away all lined up in a square array and flew towards the west sky, their scales gleaming. After the black bear was full, he lay down on the ground full of dead branches and leaves, and gradually turned into a white doll bear, and the ground began to grow green, full of the breath of spring. I went up and lay down with the white bear, feeling the warmth and softness of its fur. The water in the creek is still splashing…crashing…

I don’t know what time it was at night, but I stretched my legs that had been curled up for a long time and kicked a hard and icy object at the end of the bed. I thought it was the railing at the head of the bed, but the cold thing seemed thick. I retracted my feet, and was half asleep and half awake, thinking about what the hell was going on, when I suddenly felt a chill on my back, as if something had got into my bed, exuding a chill. As a cold air blew on the back of my neck, a hoarse voice sounded in the silent bedroom, saying: “Why did you turn off the water?”

This time I lifted the quilt and jumped to the ground, completely awake.

The thing stood up slowly against the quilt, and exposed its feet first. By the dim light of the skylight, I could see that it didn’t look like a human foot; the left foot had white fur, and the right was a bone.

“Why did you turn off the water in the toilet?”

The quilt slid to the ground behind, and a white bear stood on the bed. Except for the missing right ear and a black scar on its head, it is completely white, and even the eyeballs are white, or maybe it has no eyeballs, I can’t see it clearly. It jumped out of bed, and another burst of cold came. I retreated to an armchair in the corner.

“Hmph, it seems that you have forgotten. Ten years ago, you pretended to approach me, but then knocked me unconscious and took the soles of my feet. In order not to be discovered by the forest guards, you brought me back and imprisoned me in this bedroom. In ceramic molds outside. Didn’t expect you to be back here today.”

My head was gooey and I asked, “What are you talking about? I just thought the toilet was leaking too loud and wasting water, so I shut it down. I don’t understand what you’re saying, I haven’t done that cruelty. thing.”

“It hurt me so badly, and I was imprisoned for ten years, and now I’m still arguing!” The white bear stretched out his hand and grabbed my neck. It was like a can of liquid nitrogen with the valve open, and it exuded a cold mist. The temperature in the bedroom dropped to about freezing point, and the skylight glass cracked a crack. I felt a little suffocated, shivering in the thin pajamas.

“Please let go…” I pleaded, squeezing my voice, “Let me think about…”

It loosened slightly and I could breathe, but the air was still so cold that my nose hairs were stuck. I seem to think of the warm and supple white bear, but what happened after that, I really can’t remember.

“Now that I am disabled, I can’t leave this house. The only thing I can do is listen to the sound of running water from the toilet. It also reminds me of the free days by the stream in the past, and you are so hard-hearted. took my last solace,” he continued, breathing cold.

“Ah, I’m so sorry! I’ll go and turn the water back on right away!” I pushed its hand away with difficulty, got up from the sofa and ran to the bathroom, quickly locked the door, and didn’t know if I could stop it. In any case, its resentment must be quelled first. I removed the lid of the toilet sink and found that the buoyancy ball was missing, so I had to gently lift the chain on the water valve with my hand to let the water flow down.

Through the cracks in the door, I could see the shadows of those feet. “Not enough! Not enough! I want more water!” it cried. So I went ahead and turned on the sink faucet and the shower head in the bathroom. “Why did the sound of the toilet stop?” I had to go back to the toilet and carry the chain in the water.

“The water is too fast!”…”The water is too small!”…

I keep tweaking it with its complaints, but it’s always unsatisfactory. One hour, two hours, three hours… I was numb, sleepy and tired standing in front of the toilet, and the chill of the air didn’t go away at all. I had already wrapped all the towels on the shelf. The water in the toilet sink was getting colder and colder, and finally it started to freeze. I changed my left hand to hold the chain, and put my right hand on my face, but it didn’t get hot.

The complaints outside the door continued. I wanted to change my hands again, but found that my right hand was stuck to my face and couldn’t be removed, and my left hand was frozen in ice and couldn’t be pulled out. Looking down again, my feet began to turn into ice cubes, and then my calves and thighs turned into transparent icicles. The white bear outside the door was extremely dissatisfied. It stretched out its bone claws from under the crack of the door, and was about to turn the door lock, but I couldn’t move.

While I was anxious, I suddenly thought, how could my legs freeze into transparent icicles? It must be a dream! Thinking of this, I tried my best to pull my hand away from my face, it hurt so much that it seemed like I was about to lose a layer of skin, and finally woke up. When I opened my eyes, my face was glued to the cold book cover, and my hands and feet were numb from sleep.

I rolled over and lay down for a while before recovering. Looking out from the skylight, it was dimly lit outside; I glanced at the time, it was only half past four in the morning. I couldn’t sleep, so I got up and went downstairs to make breakfast. Walking out of the bedroom, I saw that the ceramic bear was still standing at the entrance of the stairs, as if nothing had changed. When I touched it, it was cool, just the touch of normal ceramics. As I was going down the stairs, I heard a few bangs and bangs in the living room below, as if a pile of things had fallen to the ground.

3. Decapitated Duck

The ceiling fan was still creaking softly, blowing a faint wind. I walked to the sofa in the living room and saw a small pile of wooden ducks scattered on the ground. Each one had a broken neck, and the black eyes on the severed head seemed to shoot a hateful look at me.

I only broke one duck last night, why are there several more now? I looked at the seven dead ducks in bewilderment, thinking that no matter what, I don’t know how much the landlord will make me lose if I break things in the house, so I still try to stick them up so that the landlord can’t see flaw.

I rummaged through the drawers and cupboards on the first floor and couldn’t find any glue. Otherwise, just like when I was a child, stick with rice. Anyway, I have to eat breakfast in a while, so it is better to cook a pot of porridge, so that after eating, you can stick the duck with rice grains. I added rice and water to the pressure cooker, set the time, and went back to the living room.

Suddenly I remembered that I bought a bottle of honey yesterday, maybe it was sticky enough. I went back to the kitchen and got the honey from the workbench. Passing by the stove, I found that the pan I didn’t use yesterday was standing on the stove, leaning against the stove power switch, with the handle facing up. I remember last night I just lay it flat and don’t know why it’s standing this morning. Looking into the pot again, there was still burnt oil residue stuck to it, giving off a rotten smell similar to tung oil, as if it had not been washed for several months. I’m reminded of the grease residue from the grill in the garage, has anyone brought them to the pan?

Am I still dreaming? I looked around, and nothing else was out of the ordinary. Perhaps the metal wiper hanging on the wall was more rusted, and the cast iron pan seemed darker.

I leaned on the sofa in the living room, and while vaguely suspicious, I smeared honey on the broken neck of the duck, and then pressed the duck head tightly against my neck. The excess honey squeezed out of the crevices, like tears squeezed out of closed eyes.

If a person has been instilled with the concept of “be strong and persevere” since he was a child, he will bear it to the end and never shed tears when he encounters an unbearable thing as an adult. However, unless he has unparalleled luck, he will eventually encounter something that will break his spine and make him cry. Even so, he closes his eyes hard, quickly squeezes the tears away, and wipes them dry, continuing to maintain his strong label.

I glued the last duck and held it half-ly on the sofa, waiting for the honey to dry and watching the sky slowly light up outside. The spruce was still standing straight out the window. In the distance, there are mountains with white heads one after another, and there are countless lakes under the mountains, full of endless tears of white-haired people. Whose bitter and desperate tears are in this long, narrow and quiet Yingshan Lake? …

My body swelled rapidly, getting taller and taller, and the Rocky Mountains soon dropped below my knees, and my head was already sticking out of the clouds. Maybe it’s because the air is too thin, I’m having difficulty breathing. I raised my hands to look, but they were transparent, I couldn’t see them, they just felt strange, swollen, numb, and numb. In the daze, I waved my arms with brute force like Xingtian, to disperse the dark clouds that surrounded me. Soon, the clouds were all fanned out by me. The poisonous sun in summer hit the ground, sunning all the snow-capped mountains, drying the lakes, and finally drying a flock of wild ducks. I crouched down and looked at the scorched earth, unable to believe that I did it all. I did not mean it. At least, I don’t have such great malice.

beep…beep…beep…

The rapid beeping of the pressure cooker pulled me back to the couch in the real world, where the porridge should have been cooked. It seems that getting up too early is easy to get sleepy. The wooden duck was still in my hand, but when I looked down, its head fell to the side, and the broken neck was densely filled with ants, crawling out in a black pressure. Soon some of them crawled into my hands, hairy. I got goosebumps. I quickly threw the ducks away, jumped off the sofa, and shook my hands vigorously. The ants that I couldn’t get rid of were blown away with my mouth.

The other six ducks I glued on the coffee table were the same, all their heads fell off again, and the ants on the coffee table were crawling in all directions. So much honey attracts so many ants?

Oh no, not six ducks! There were dozens or even hundreds of dead ducks on the ground around the coffee table, all staring at me with black eyes.

I only broke one duck, why are there so many out now? So many decapitated ducks, when do I have to stick? And what happened to the ants here?

Could it be that I didn’t really wake up? I looked up at the deer head on the living room wall. The deer head seemed to read my mind and began to spin, turning into a puff of white smoke and drifting away from the fireplace chimney. Yes, I must still be dreaming. But the swarms of ants still looked very uncomfortable, so I ran from the living room into the kitchen and closed the sliding living room door. There was no lock on the door, so I tied one end of a lamp’s plug wire to the dining table leg and the other to the doorknob so the door wouldn’t open.

4. A searing pan

But the indicator light of the pressure cooker is on, which means that I have indeed cooked porridge just now. The panel of the pressure cooker shows red L0:01, which means that the food has been cooked and then kept warm for one minute.

Anyway, I definitely don’t want to go back to the living room. Fill your stomach first. I can’t get enough with just some porridge, so I think I’ll have to bake two egg pancakes. When I went to the stove and looked again, the pan was flat on the hotplate again. The rough pan bottom coating is the same as seen last night, and the pan is clean and free of oil stains.

Pancakes can only be used in a pan. Although the pressure cooker I brought has many functions, it is not a non-stick pan after all, so I can’t use it. I rinsed the pot with water, wiped it dry and put it back on the electric stove ring, then took out the eggs, flour and potatoes from the refrigerator, and planned to bake a few shredded potato omelettes. Take a potato to peel and find that the skin of the potato is wrinkled and seems to be stale. I’ve bought potatoes at Walmart for so many years and I’ve never come across a potato that goes stale overnight. When I cut it down, I saw that it was dark brown inside, and it seemed to have rotted. I took the second potato and slashed it again. The black juice like pus flowed through my fingers and dripped into the pool from the back of my hand. I was shocked, and suddenly felt that the air in the kitchen was not right, and there was some kind of corrosive thing filling the kitchen.

I no longer want to think about whether this is a dream or a reality. Dongpo once sighed that the world is a big dream; Zuo Shuai also said that entering the world is an illusion. We can’t escape the big dream of the world, so why should we care which small dream or the deeper dream in the small dream.

Luckily the eggs didn’t look bad. I cracked four eggs in a large glass bowl and added a few teaspoons of flour, a pinch of salt and a handful of chopped green onion to the egg mixture. Heat the oil pan, stir the egg mixture, then hold the silicone spatula in the right hand, lift the heavy glass basin with the left hand and pour some egg mixture into the pot. I felt that the first time I poured a little egg liquid, so I lifted the pot and wanted to add some more egg liquid, but when my hand slipped, the pot fell into the pot, and my left arm also scalded on the scorching edge of the pot. I reluctantly moved the basin out of the pot, and then went under the faucet to rinse my scalded arm. When he turned over his elbow, he saw a scar more than an inch long underneath. After a few minutes, I served the omelette. Looking at the arm, there was a series of small blisters on the scar. This is the worst burn I’ve had in over ten years of cooking.

“Is a pressure cooker that good?”

I was looking at the scar in front of the pool when a word came from behind. I hurriedly looked back and the pan stood up again.

“As soon as you came yesterday, you despised me for being rough and shabby, and when you dropped me, you picked up your favorite pressure cooker.” Pan said angrily, “It’s clean, beautiful, dignified, and versatile. It cooks meat, cooks porridge, Evaporated cakes, roasted chicken legs, brewed sweet wine, fermented yogurt, everything, no wonder you can’t live without it all day.”

I don’t understand this allegation. I do think the pressure cooker works great, it’s a handy cookware, but it’s just a cookware. Every piece of kitchen utensils has its own purpose, and there is no strong or weak purpose for these purposes, or I will be particularly biased because of a certain purpose.

“No, last night it was because I was a little late when I got here, and I was too hungry and tired, so I cooked something in a pressure cooker and ate it.” Time and starvation are only part of the reason, and part of the reason is that the coating of the pan is not looking good. I’ve been taught in the past that a rough coating can be toxic. Although I don’t really believe this statement, when faced with an unfamiliar pot in an unfamiliar kitchen, I still choose to cook with a stainless steel pressure cooker. “I’m not in a hurry to make breakfast today, and I have energy, so I still use you to bake egg pancakes. You and the pressure cooker have their own advantages.”

“I don’t care about this morning! I’m only talking about last night. You used all the pressure cookers last night, and what about me? You say, is it useful?” The frying pan entangled.

“It’s useless.” I admitted.

“Look, look! What you’re thinking is that I’m useless! I’m a useless kitchen utensil!”

I didn’t expect it to catch such a talk. If I had heard this conversation from someone else, it would have been a good joke. But here, I just feel speechless.

It shouted loudly, the body of the pot started to get hot again, smoke was coming from the pot, and gradually puddles of black oil stains I had seen slid down on the stove, like a pile of dead ants.

It continued: “The pressure cooker can not only cook all kinds of meals, but also call you when it is ready. After the porridge was cooked just now, it saw you and winked at you. I can’t stand it!”

wink? I’m scratching my head. Oh, it’s probably talking about the time indication at L0:01 just now, the two zeros are like a pair of eyes, and the colon in the middle is blinking, maybe like winking. This observation and interpretation is beyond my expectations, and I still can’t answer the call.

“Finally, you finally remembered me, but you didn’t care about me, and smashed me hard with a glass basin. I have to give you some color to see.”

It turned out that I scalded my arm… “Yes! Report to the commander! I saw the color, it’s brown!” I raised the brown scar on my arm and joked helplessly like a good soldier.

It seems that the potatoes on the ground were also corroded by it last night, and the eggs survived in the refrigerator. I don’t have a lung with two lobes strong enough to filter rot, so I can’t stay in this air for long.

I didn’t say more, I ran to the dining table with the porridge and egg pancakes in my hand, finished breakfast in silence, stared out the window for a while, thinking about what happened just now. In this house, whether I actually sleep or not, it seems that as soon as I stop moving, I fall into a new dream.

The metal wipe was rubbing on the back of my hand, and I could see the flesh at the joints being wiped off by small pieces, and the blood poured out like teardrops, filling the pit, and then dripping down. I already knew it was a dream, and the wound was painful, but it didn’t need to be bandaged. Just wait and time will heal it.

The cast-iron pan was getting thicker and heavier on my head, and it was about to break my spine. Although I just had to bow my head to get rid of it, I couldn’t get rid of it because a pot so heavy would break the furniture in the house. I’ve broken wood ducks and can’t break anything more.

The cabin has been off the heating since last night, and I was already feeling a little cold in my pajamas. I woke up and the wiper and wok were back on the wall. It was nine o’clock in the morning, and the person who repaired the boiler hadn’t come yet. I wanted to try again to see if the boiler could be restarted successfully overnight.

5. Small boiler room

Just in case I happened to be unable to hear in one of the inner rooms when the repairman came knocking on the door, I was going to go to the living room and turn the lock behind the door first, so that he could open the door himself and come in. I untied the wires that tied the door between the living room and the kitchen and pulled open the sliding door. The ants in the living room are gone, but a whole bunch of dead ducks are still there. After turning the lock and opening the door, I found that the storm-proof glass door on the outer layer of the door was locked, and the combination lock that I had hung on the side after I opened it yesterday was put back into the keyhole. I tried to push and shake for a long time, but I couldn’t open the door.

So I went to the garage again, and the garage door still wouldn’t open, and my tires were completely flat. I took out my mobile phone, and it showed that the indoor wireless network was still connected, but I couldn’t access the Internet, and there was no mobile phone signal in this remote mountainous area. Now I am really trapped in this wooden house, with no way out, I can only hope that the repairman will come to help me open the door sooner.

With a crunch I pushed open the boiler room door and walked through the narrow passage between the sink and the washing machine to the boiler. It was still breathing in a low voice, and the effect of restarting was similar to last night. It seemed that professional maintenance personnel had to come.

There was a small dusty window above the sink, and a few small cobwebs in the corner. I saw that it was already bright outside, but the window was not very light, so it was a little dark in this small room. When I looked back at the boiler again, I found that the black and red wires had turned into snakes, twisting and crawling from the wall and ceiling towards the door. Immediately, the door behind me was covered with black and red snakes, intertwined and wriggling, hissing red letters at me. Although I’ve always been bold, snakes are hideous and terrifying creatures, not to mention when I’m faced with a horde of snakes.

At this moment, what little sanity is left of me thinks back to my drive on Interstate 80 yesterday. I used to be so free to run to a wider freedom, but the road to freedom is getting narrower and narrower, and now I am trapped in a small boiler room. Is this what I have been negligent, or is it a trick of fate? I thought I could choose all the lanes without having to pay attention to some pedantic traffic rules, but when I randomly chose the pressure cooker, the result was a scarred punishment. Who the hell is making irresistible rules for me?

“Cough…you…don’t even think about…going out…” A weak voice came from the boiler, “you…have to…fix me…cough…”

It turned out that the boiler was trapping me. “Why keep me here? I don’t know how to fix boilers!” I asked it aggrieved.

“You turn the switch on and off…I’ve been tossing me to death…a dozen times…I can’t let you…just go away like this!” The boiler’s tone became stern, “My intake pipe is blocked with hay…suck it… No gas…my heart is already cold…I need gas…or my parts will freeze…”

“I’m sorry, but I said I can’t fix the boiler, and I’m very cold now. Even if you imprison me with a house full of snakes, I really can’t give you what you want.” I said there was nothing I could do. . A few snakes came up through the gaps in my slippers and climbed up around my ankles. I know it’s probably not true, but the skin is rubbed against the scales of these cold-blooded animals. If it wasn’t for the fear that the snakes might come and bite me together, I really wanted to pick up the tails of these snakes and slap them on the ground or wall.

Things are so strange. The door was unlocked, but the handles were full of snakes. The window was not closed, but a few beams of light could not pass through. Cold people ask for energy from cold people in a cold way.

I carefully removed the snake from my legs, then climbed into the washing machine, put a towel on it, and sat cross-legged, hunched over to maintain my body temperature. I stared out the window, waiting for the repairman who would not come.

6. The Spruce Redemption

It was about three o’clock in the afternoon in the blink of an eye, and mottled shadows appeared on the window glass, which seemed to be the shadows of trees, but I remembered that there were no trees on the west side of the log house. When the shadow got closer, I saw a spruce moving slowly towards the window.

“Hello! I know you’re surprised, but don’t panic,” said Spruce. “I’m the spruce tree to the east of this log house. You don’t know me, but I’ve known you for a long time.”

“How did you know me?” I was indeed a little surprised.

“We were neighbors and good friends in our previous life, and we played together from childhood to adulthood. Later, you continued to be reincarnated as a human being, so your memory of the world was erased, and I became a tree, and the memory was preserved. You don’t need to worry about it. Now, I know that you are in big trouble now, so I will come and check the situation, but first of all I want to explain that I am just a tree, there is no way to save you directly, at most I can only talk to you here.”

“Okay, I know that the only one who can really save me is myself. But it’s a bit too miraculous to meet an old acquaintance from a previous life in this wilderness.”

“Self-help is your only way, you just understand.” Yunshan nodded, “Every family has a book that is hard to read, and everyone thinks their own book is the hardest to read. If you don’t mind, I’ll give it to you. Read my scriptures.” Next, Yunshan told me some past events.

“I came here six years ago. Before that, I lived in the woods in the distance, playing around all day long without worrying about it. One day, another tree told me that there was a lonely wooden house here. It looked Weird. It also encouraged me and dragged me to look at it. At the time, the wooden house was closed and gray, and it was dark inside, but I could vaguely see its solid foundation, and the whole room was very unique. Very good A house, it just looked a little dejected, but the dejection was mixed with a little bit of fun, and it also revealed a bit of pity. At that time, my heart was a little turbulent, and I even wanted to laugh. Later, I decided to protect it. Accompanying it, its windows gradually brightened, but I quickly ran into two troubles.”

“What’s the trouble?” I asked curiously, this former friend who had just reunited with me.

“First of all, it’s not long since I moved here, the cabin may be a little over-reliant on me, after all, it has been isolated for too long before. Every time I go back to the old woods to play, it is a little unhappy and will turn off the lights. , pulled the curtains, and even smoked me from the chimney. After it was upset for several times, I finally asked why. It turned out that it was worried that the tree that dragged me over would drag me away again, because那棵树看起来高大威风、阅历丰富,而我本性又喜欢到处疯玩。我考虑了很久,决定再也不回树林了。”

“所以你再也没见过那棵带你来的树?”我问它,心底泛起一股佩服之情。

“是的。不光是那棵树,这几年来我就一直站在这里,几乎都没和其它任何树说过一句话。之前我已经玩了好多年,该安定下来了。我不想等将来我离开这个世界时,只留下玩乐一生后的一片空茫。”

我沉默了一会儿。我感到有些不可思议——当它被烟熏、被怀疑时,竟然没有想逃走,反而更坚定地留了下来,那是怎样的胸怀与情感。而我,一旦察觉到那种空气,便只觉得自己被腐蚀着,一心只想逃离。我看着胳膊上的伤疤,想起达里奥那句在我脑中重复过无数遍的话:不要对痛苦感到烦躁或被它压垮;痛苦是上天对你的提醒,提醒你有什么重要的东西等你学习。

或许,这道伤疤不是平底锅给我的,而是上天的一道提醒。只是,我似乎还需要更多时间去领悟,那待我学习的东西是什么。

“现在先不用想太多,以后还多的是时间慢慢想。”云杉察觉到了我的沉思,打断了我说:“其实你也不用太严肃认真的。在我眼里,这木屋有时候生起气来就是个十足的逗比。瞧它头上呼呼冒烟,嘴里还拼命吼着’没有啊!”哪有啊?”根本就没有!’否认自己生气。”

我突然意识到我已记不清人生中上一次开怀是何时,大约已经被消极封印太久。听它对负面情绪场景的描述,我惊讶地发现自己居然被逗乐了。过去我特别害怕面对别人的负面情绪、极度厌恶冲突。每当我置身冲突中,我都很难把自己抽离出去、以旁观者的角度看自己和他人,而只会一味被情绪带着转圈、纠缠。也许这就是我要学习克服的。

“再给你讲第二个麻烦吧。”它继续道,“我决心定居这里后,才发现这木屋的建造商非常不喜欢我,她觉得这周围到处都是云杉,在屋前种一棵普通的云杉实在是毫无意义。在很长一段时间里,她对我的态度十分冷酷;今天各种刁难我,明天扬言要把我挖走。她嫌弃云杉太瘦、太高,对这栋木屋没有价值,不如种一棵宽大的柏树,这样室内可以享受更好的隐私,暴风雪来的时候还能帮屋子挡一挡。虽然她那样的态度让我感到伤心,但我并没有怨她。相反,我每天都努力摇摆着树枝向她问好,我会招来各种小鸟在窗前歌唱,有时候我让狐狸、松鼠之类的小动物爬到我的枝头,也为这木屋增添了一些活力与生气。三年后,她终于改变了对我的态度,不仅不再冷若冰霜,而且喜欢我甚至胜过这木屋,没事总是拉着我聊天。”

我又一次被震到。对我而言,以德报怨只存在于传说和故事中,总感觉不那么真实。我很难想象,一个平凡的生物能有毅力付出如此的忍耐与诚意去化开别人的冰霜。我面对冰霜只顾得上自己发抖;别说忍耐三年,就算是三小时,我都感觉自己被冻得支离破碎、痛不欲生。更让我感到敬佩的是,云杉本是无辜的,建造商的冷酷不是它主动造成的,它却能将冰霜最终融化为温泉;我呢,就算清楚冰霜是自己一手造成的,也明白我化解它比云杉要容易得多,但我仍然只会躲藏,陷在冰苦的林野无法自拔。我头一回发现自己其实很懦弱,却自欺地贴了这么多年的“坚强”标签。

“好了,今生的事情我就只讲这些吧。你大约听说过吧:世间所有的相遇,都是久别重逢。我们这次久别,也别得有点太久,一别便是一世。如果你愿意听,我也想给你讲讲前世的一些事情。”

太阳渐渐西斜,窗户上云杉的细影越来越高。

以前我从未想过为什么杉树都那样高而尖,现在我终于隐约体会到,那是它们的坚毅和坚忍。它们把体内那惊人的生命力凝聚于树尖,耐心地等候、等候。终有一天,它们会穿透乌云、刺向夜空,摘取一颗闪亮的星挂在它们的树尖,那是它们努力的终极证明、一生的至高荣耀。它们是平凡的,却也是不可挡的。

停顿了几秒后,云杉继续讲:“小时候你住我家隔壁的小平房里,我家是三层楼房。那时你特别顽皮,又总喜欢干一些冒险的事情。我比你小几岁,胆子也比你小很多,所以经常只能在一边羡慕着看你玩。就比如我家楼顶的天台是奶奶的花果园,四周只围了一圈很矮的砖护栏,你竟敢骑在上面,还往下丢装水的塑料袋子之类的东西玩。水袋啪的一声砸在你家房顶砸开花,然后水从瓦沟里细细流下屋檐,大晴天里就像莫名其妙下了一朵小云的雨。虽然我看着觉得很有趣,但我自己无论如何也不敢那样玩。你带着我上山下河、捞鱼摸虾、放火骑车、弹弓打苍蝇、棉球钓青蛙、鞭炮炸牛粪……一直到你十二岁去了镇上上中学住校,我们才渐渐没在一起玩了。后来你考上大学,去了一千五百公里外的城市。刚开始我们还有书信往来,但也越来越少,慢慢就断了联系。”

它叙旧的这些事情我自然是一丁点都不记得了,但眼前还是浮现出两个充满童趣的小朋友形象。“那再后来呢?我们又重逢了吗?”我问。

“没有。”它笑着回答,“之后我们的人生轨迹完全不同,天各一方,再也没有见过面。不过,你先不要觉得遗憾,故事并没有就此结束。长话短说,我大学毕业后去了一个大城市工作,却不知那将是我一串噩梦的开始。无论是职场还是家庭,都让我伤痕累累。原本天真的我,不知不觉被卷入公司里的权力斗争。我曾经当成亲弟弟妹妹对待的两个同事,暗地里投向了我们的敌对阵营。他们为了打垮我们这方,竟然合伙诱我入圈套,再捏造证据冤枉和污蔑我,以指责攻击我的领导渎职、让公司陷入了巨大风险。我的人生中从未遭受如此的背叛,也从未想过人类竟然可以这样互相欺骗和斗争。一时间,我像一根无根的野草,被一场沙尘飓风狠命拍打、碾擦、撕扯,然后被卷到完全陌生的万米高空,再心惊胆战地被抛下、粉身碎骨地坠地。每天下班后,我都感觉万念俱灰,任凭决堤的眼泪不停奔流。”讲到这里,云杉的语气有些颤抖,没了之前的平静。

我已忘记我在前生是什么样的人,但现在我的心中仍然有很多天真。我也遭遇过一场职场背叛,也曾为之流下委屈的泪水,但与云杉讲的事情相比,我已经算是相当幸运;起码我没有被陷害,我除了遭受精神上的反复折磨,也没有什么其它实质性损失。

“哦,不对,我说错了,我并非无根的野草。”它似乎很快从这段痛苦回忆中跳了出来,纠正补充道:“我是有根的。那时候我马上就要组建家庭,然而因为我整晚整晚地沉浸在痛苦中哭,家里的氛围也渐渐冰冷起来。我不断被数落、呵斥、嫌弃、厌恶、疏离……我受不了耳边一些没完没了的絮叨和对我强行灌注某些偏执的旧观念,一度盯着二十八楼的窗户萌生那可怕的想法。后来我在绝望的悬崖边挣扎,昏头昏脑一把胡乱抓住了一根救命稻草。我满怀希望和喜悦以为那是救命稻草,可是,那只是一根烧焦的木头上冒出来的一缕飘渺的轻烟。很快,烟散了,梦醒了,我头朝下坠入了深渊。在坠落中,我只见自己手心摸了一把焦黑的炭灰。衣服擦不净它,泪水也冲不掉它。就算我离开这人世,也无法再带走这污迹。”

我已经听得目瞪口呆,忘记了周围的一切。那冷酷的熊、粘不好的断头鸭、灼热的平底锅、困住我的锅炉与蛇、逃不出的木屋,仿佛都被暂时收入了另一个时空。在我眼前,只有白茫茫一片大地和高耸的一棵云杉,偶尔有亮晶晶的流星划过夜空。

“过了一些日子,我发现自己又醒了过来,躺在自家的床上,非常虚弱,只能睁眼看看周围,但说不出话。”云杉恢复了一些平静,继续讲。

“然后你的家人应该悉心照顾你到你康复了吧?”我问道,以为这故事差不多讲完了。

“他们是很照顾我,不过我康复是几年后的事情了。”它轻声苦笑着回答,“我逃离了那是非之地,但那个对我絮叨和强灌执念的人没有放过我,而是告诉了我所有家人我手里的污迹。于是我最后的、本来最安全的港湾也变得风雨飘摇。我手心里的炭灰,融进我最后快哭干的眼泪,调成了浓黑的墨汁,一滴滴地滴在我淳朴无辜的家人身上,就像滴在粗糙洁白的宣纸上。我眼见墨汁在他们身上扩散、蔓延,却什么都不能做,也什么都不能说。我觉得我这辈子也无望洗净自己、洗净他们。要洗的太多了,实在太多了……我只是个普通的人,在绝望中犯了一个并非十恶不赦的错,我真的无法承受如此残酷且连绵不断的惩罚。当你不小心踢断一只木头鸭子时,你能料到将来会握着一手的蚂蚁去修复一百只鸭子吗?”讲到这里,它第一次问了我一个问题。

“我不能,我也万万没有料到弥补过失会如此艰难,会像西西弗斯推石头一样,推上滚下怎么也推不完。”我答道。但心想,修复木鸭的断脖应该比修复亲人的碎心容易得多吧。

“是啊,你也是个凡人。你曾是个放牛娃,也是个大学生,是父亲,也是儿子,是引路者,也是打工魂,终归还是个凡人。我们都是凡人,凡人都不完美,都会犯错,都会觉得赎罪之路艰难。”它略微宽慰了我一句,接着讲:“当我失去了世间一切的希望后,不免又想走向那扇窗,只需要一跃三秒,我便可以将一切罪过忘在身后。我知道我的父母一定会万分伤心,但想到我哥已经结婚生子,所以两位白发人还有好好活下去的希望,我可以放心去了。”

我的心提到了嗓子眼,暗喊:“不要啊,千万不要!”但我不可能将我的劝阻挽留之声传到前世之人的耳中。

若你觉得世上已无人在乎自己、在孤独和绝望中想做傻事,请相信远方一定会有人在乎你、有焦急的声音想挽救你,只是他可能离得实在太远,甚至远在来世。无论如何,请保留一丝耐心、一线希望,不要辜负他尚未到来的殷切关怀。

我正这样想着,云杉清清嗓子,语调开始明亮起来:“你知道最后是什么救了我吗?”不等我回答,它说:“我最后整理我的物品时,发现几年前我给你写信的一篇草稿里,曾抄录过一位歌手的一句话:’没有选择的你,你一定要选择你自己!’它就像冥冥中安排好的一句预言,让我从长达半年的梦魇中重新清醒过来。我不能就这样放弃,决不能放弃!”

我心里一块石头落了地,湿润的眼角充满悲悯和欢喜。

“后面的路也并不轻松。白天我努力地生活、努力地重建对人类的信任,可是夜里还是会被过去的创伤反反复复侵袭,经常噩梦连连,而且无论我怎样想醒来都醒不过来。这种状况持续了几年,我才渐渐学会与噩梦共存。我知道那只是回忆的虫子在啮咬我,并不会真的对我造成伤害。不知道你是否明白,受过重伤的心门一旦紧锁,若再要让它重新敞开,会是一个漫长而痛苦的过程。这个过程中哪怕有人善意轻抚一下这扇门,它还是会吓得立刻重新锁上。不管怎样,走在冬日的阳光下真好。”云杉长呼一口气,“前世的故事就讲到这儿吧。”

我又沉默了一阵,问它:“那时的我知道你这些事情吗?”

“你不知,我没告诉过你。我们已经远隔重洋,我偶尔从我妈——也就是你小时候最喜欢的张阿姨——那里听说你的消息,但我们再也没有联系过。我小心保存着当年我们所有的信件。回想起来,我觉得当时写了那封信实在太幸运了。”

尽管开始的时候云杉叫我不要觉得遗憾,但现在我心头还是掠过一丝遗憾,因为我没能听到它彻底摆脱噩梦、打开心门的消息。它现在结束了这个故事,想必后面依然有多年的辛苦心路历程,只是不想再让我知道而已。

我望着夜空,一边沉思,一边静静等待着。云杉不再打断我。两小时过去,我终于等到最亮的一颗流星出现,赶忙用右手手指在左手的手心写下一个字,握紧它,拿出我平时朝湖里扔石头的劲头,奋力把字抛向天空。我闭上眼睛,祈愿流星把这封一字信带回前世。就让我幼稚一回,相信流星真的管用吧。

七、各自的归途

几秒后,流星的尾巴消失在夜空。我睁眼回到了锅炉间。锅炉还在喘息,红色和黑色的蛇依旧满地,但我已经不再恐惧。

“之前我已经说过,你被困在这里,我无法救你出去。”云杉回到了我的困境话题上,“我理解,你是骨子里向往自由的人。你在乡村的池塘里钓到过鲫鱼,也见过白鹤在春天的水稻田里起飞,你至死都会向往自由的生活。你感到束缚,并不全是你自己的问题。”

“可是我以为我进了一栋屋子,就应该既来之、则安之。总是想着看窗外不同的风景、闻闻不同的花香、听听不同的鸟鸣、从一个枝头攀爬到另一个枝头,这样感觉自己似乎像个贪婪的坏人。”我说出自己的一个疑惑。

云杉听到我这样说,噗嗤一声笑了。“别想多了,世间哪有坏人自己觉得自己坏的?”它收起笑声,接着说:“是什么驱策着我们的渴望和痴念?这很难归结为某一个特定的动因,不能以简简单单一个’坏’字来总结。你不记得了吧?小时候我们家养的母鸡总是喜欢偷跑到屋后的稻田里啄成熟的水稻吃。从人的角度来看,母鸡这样做很’坏’。但是,从基因的角度来说,母鸡是什么?有人说,一只母鸡只不过是一个鸡蛋用来复制下一代鸡蛋的临时工具,那么它去偷吃稻谷也是’身不由鸡’的。没有人不渴望自由,但同时所有人都要遵守规则,就像古人说的’止乎礼’。世上没有绝对的自由,也不应该有太强力的束缚。自由与束缚之间的平衡点在哪里,也因人而异。像你现在被束缚在锅炉间,锅炉不顾一切找你要能量,而你尚在自身难保的状态,我就觉得锅炉的束缚可能有点过度。有一位前苏联作曲家的回忆录中讲了这么一段话:’若想保住某件东西,最好的办法就是不去理它。爱得太过的东西容易毁灭,要冷眼对待一切,特别是你心爱的事物。那样,它们生存的机会反而多一些。’我想这段话,不妨也请这位锅炉品味一下。”

锅炉终于沉静了。门上、墙上、地上的蛇也都开始往回爬,一条接一条变回了电线。

“我前世的小挚友啊,”云杉呼唤了我一声,“天黑了,我也必须回去了。”

“好的,真的谢谢你啊!”我终于第一次、也是最后一次注视到它的眼睛。

“嗨,谢什么啊?”它觉得我说了句傻话。

“嗯,那么再见!”

“不,我们不会再见了。我没告诉你,我已经用完了灵界允许我与前世转生之故人交谈的所有时间。要是再谈下去,你我都会遭到严厉的惩罚,我们的所有记忆都会被抹掉,从此陌路。别担心,我相信你一定可以走出这重重围困的。要有耐心,别太苛责自己。要知足,要惜福。回去路上专心开车,不要胡思乱想。你要好好的,嗯?”云杉作完最后的叮嘱,便消失在了夜幕中。

“再见!”我对着它的背影默默地说。

现今世上最古老的树是九千五百多岁的云杉。也许我过完我短暂的一生后,很快便能等到来世的下一次交谈机会。或者,来世的来世。让那两个雀跃的小童,世世在记忆中雀跃……

我走出锅炉间,先来到厨房,给平底锅打满洗洁精泡沫,用温水把油渍冲洗干净,收到洗碗机的架子上晾干。高压锅暂时收了起来,这几天不用它也没太大关系。然后我来到客厅,为那些前世被我害得热死的鸭子们重新调大风扇。在呼呼的凉风中,地上的一堆断头鸭子一只接一只消失了,只剩下茶几上原先的两只。我弄断的那只依然是断的,但我打算不再欺骗房东,而是直接告诉他,该赔偿多少赔多少吧。最后我上楼到卧室,在潺潺的水声中,给冰冷的白熊穿上一只白色厚袜子、戴上睡帽、盖上被子。

这一夜我难得睡得相当安稳,睁眼天已经大亮。我起来发现床边有一张纸条,写着:谢谢你重新寻回善意,我已回到溪边,勿念。我感觉室内似乎又暖和起来。下楼一看,原来早上我还没起床时修理工已经来修好了锅炉。它现在像一颗充满活力的心脏,突突跳着,让空调重新开始正常运转。手机叮咚一声,我收到房东的回信,说摔断的鸭子只是不小心的小事故,没关系的,并感谢我告诉他。没想到这么轻松就获得了原谅。我从洗碗机里取出平底锅,锅底竟然已经光滑如新,于是早餐煎了一锅焦脆的土豆丝饼。

收拾行李往车库搬时,我才发现,原来这木屋还有个后门,可以轻松从屋里打开。有时候,人们都觉得自己是被关在牢房里的囚徒,疯狂地推搡摇晃这牢门,想要出去,可是他们不知道,还有很多侧门、后门其实都敞开着。但即便被告知有这些门,他们往往也只是扭头看一眼,还要继续摇晃那扇坚固的“牢门”。因为他们已经摇了太久,坚信那扇门是囚禁他们的唯一障碍。

我按了车库门按钮想打开门,但门还是没动静。这时我试了试另一个按钮,门立刻铛铛地升了起来。弄了半天,我以为这两个按钮的顺序跟自家里的是一样的,这才明白,控制右门的是左开关,而左门那边堆满了杂物,看样子那门已经坏了很久。前天我刚来时成功打开右门,只是歪打正着按到了左开关。生活中我们的恐慌和苦闷,有多少来自小误会和思维惯性?有谁能相信,无比可怕的问题也许存在一个简单的机关去解开?

车轮胎并没有完全瘪掉,跟来时差不多。虽然不是十足饱满,但依旧能开。若待事事圆满才能上路,那我们大概永远也上不了路。

我当然不会忘记到外面再去看一眼云杉。温润的朝阳将它的影子贴上木屋的墙。它静静挺立在窗前,没有动摇。仿佛忘却,前世今生的一切苦难。仿佛,昨夜今朝什么都没发生过。而迎着朝阳的我,却仿佛获得了新生。

离开木屋,坐上车准备出发去下一站时,我感觉扶方向盘的右手中似乎有一股奇异的暖流。车里的音乐放着科尔塔扎献给贝多芬的钢琴曲《Just for You》。幽静的琴键,敲击着我幽静的心弦。

我缓缓翻开右手手心。昨夜扔出去的那个字映入眼帘。一样的温度,一样的十划。

不一样的笔迹!

不一样的笔迹。

本文转自: https://yihui.org/cn/2022/07/denver-shadow/
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