The last time I saw my father, it was in 1)Grand Central Station. I was going from my grandmother’s in the 2)Adirondacks to a 3)cottage on 4)the Cape that my mother had rented, and I wrote my father that I would be in New York between trains for an hour and a half, and asked if we could have lunch together.
His secretary wrote to say that he would meet me at the information booth at noon, and at twelve o’clock sharp I saw him coming through the crowd. He was a stranger to me—my mother divorced him three years ago, and I hadn’t been with him since—but, as soon as I saw him, I felt that he was my father, my flesh and blood, my future and my doom. I knew that when I was grown I would be something like him; I would have to plan my campaigns within his limitations. He was a big, good-looking man, and I was terribly happy to see him again. He struck me on the back and shook my hand. “Hi, Charlie,” he said. “Hi, boy. I’d like to take you up to my club, but it’s in 5)the Sixtieth, and if you have to catch an early train I guess we’d better get something to eat around here.” He put his arm around me, and I smelled my father in the way my mother would sniff a rose. It was a rich compound of whiskey, 6)after-shave lotion, 7)shoe polish, woolens, and the 8)rankness of a mature male. I hoped that someone would see us together. I wished that we could be photographed. I wanted some record of us having been together.
We went out of the station, and up a 9)side street to a restaurant. It was still early, and the place was empty. The 10)bartender was quarreling with a delivery boy, and there was a very old waiter in a red coat, down by the kitchen door. We sat down, and my father 11)hailed the waiter in a loud voice. “12)Kellner!” he shouted.“13)Garcon! 14)Cameriere you!”His 15)boisterousness in the restaurant seemed out of place.“Could we have a little service here!” he shouted. “16)Chop-chop.”Then he clapped his hands. This caught the waiter’s attention and he shuffled to our table.
“Were you clapping your hands at me?” he asked.
“Calm down, calm down, 17)sommelier,” my father said. “If it isn’t too much to ask of you, if it wouldn’t be too much above and beyond the call of duty, we would like a couple of 18)Beefeater Gibsons.”
“I don’t like to be clapped at,” the waiter said.
“I should have brought my whistle,” my father said. “I have a whistle that is audible only to the ears of old waiters. Now, take out your little 19)pad and your little pencil, and see if you can get this straight: two Beefeater Gibsons. Repeat after me: two Beefeater Gibsons.”
“I think you’d better go somewhere else,” the waiter said quietly.
“That” said my father, “is one of the most brilliant suggestions I have ever heard. Come on, Charlie, let’s get the hell out of here.”
I followed my father out of that restaurant into another. He was not so boisterous this time. Our drinks came, and he 20)cross-questioned me about the baseball season. He then struck the edge of his empty glass with his knife and began shouting again. “Kellner! Garcon! Cameriere you! Could we trouble you to bring us two more of the same?”
“How old is the boy?” the waiter asked.
“That,” my father said, “is none of you 21)goddamned business.”
“I am sorry, sir,” the waiter said, “but I won’t serve the boy another drink.”
“Well, I have some news for you,” my father said. “I have some very interesting news for you. This doesn’t happen to be the only restaurant in New York. They’ve opened another on the corner. Come on, Charlie.”
“I have to get my train,” I said.
“I’m sorry, 22)sonny,” my father said. “I am terribly sorry.” He put his arm around me and pressed me against him. “I’ll walk you back to the station. If there had only been time to go up to my club…”
“That’s all right, Daddy,” I said.
“I’ll get you a paper,” he said. “ I will get you a paper to read on the train.”
Then he went up to a newsstand and said. “Kind sir, will you be good enough to favor me with one of your goddamned, no-good, 23)ten-cent afternoon papers?” The clerk turned away from him and stared at a magazine cover. “Is it asking too much, kind sir,” my father said, “is it asking too much for you to sell me one of your disgusting 24)specimens of 25)yellow journalism?”
“I have to go, Daddy,” I said. “It’s late.”
“Now, just wait a second, sonny,” he said. “Just wait a second. I want to 26)get a rise out of this 27)chap.”
“Goodbye, Daddy,” I said, and I went down the stairs and got my train, and that was the last time I saw my father.”
John Cheever 约翰·契弗（1912—1982），出生于美国马萨诸塞州，父亲为英国移民。他16岁起开始发表小说，后来成为《纽约人》杂志（The New Yorker）的撰稿人之一，著有长篇小说《瓦卜肖特纪事》（1957），《瓦卜肖特丑闻》（1964），《鹰猎者》（1977）。同时他还写了上百篇短篇小说，并出版了短篇小说集《极大的收音机》（1953）等。他的短篇小说合集《约翰·契弗短篇小说集》获得了1979年普利策小说奖。