He’d always been a meek[温顺的] man. A quiet man. A timid[胆小的] man.
Numbers were his life. They were constant[不变的]. Predictable[可预言的]. They always summed[总计] the same. There were no surprises in numbers. They never lied.
He lived alone. A small house, neatly kept. Bushes trimmed[装饰]. Lawn manicured[修剪]. Small flowers planted at the foot of the stairs up to the porch.
His daily movements were like clockwork[发条装置]. Up at dawn. Out to the porch to pick up his paper, in slippers and robe, before the light of the sun was in his neighbor’s window. Exactly 46 minutes later, he left his home, locked his front door, and walked down the street, briefcase in hand, hat on his head, headed for the first bus of the morning going downtown.
In the evening, he would come home on the last outbound[往外开的] bus, walk down the street to his home, unlock the door, walk in, close the door, and turn on the porch light.
At exactly 10 p.m. he’d turn off the porch light, and all the other lights in the house and no one would see or hear of him, again, until the next morning.
The neighbors were surprised to see a young blond[金发的] woman leave his house one evening. No one had seen her arrive. They’d just seen her leave. They were equally surprised to see her again on subsequent[后来的] days. Some saw her come, in a cab, others saw her leave on several occasions and walk down the street. One had seen her flag down[打旗号使停下] a cab at the corner. She never stayed the night. They knew that much.
That last evening, she had come by cab. She went in the house and within a matter of minutes the neighbors heard yelling, and screaming, glass breaking and thumping[极大的] sounds, like things being thrown. And then, it was quiet. A while later, the blond woman left the house, walked to the corner, and caught a cab. And was gone.
At 10 p.m. the porch light did not turn off. At 11 p.m. his light remained on; to his neighbors it was a beacon[信号] flashing like a neon sign[霓虹灯] that said “Something’s Wrong!”
At midnight one of the neighbors called the police.
They found the inside of the house a shambles[混乱的局面]. His body lay on the floor, unmarked but for the dent[凹痕] in the top of his head where the base of the trophy[奖杯] had broken a hole in his skull[脑壳].
The trophy was for “Actuary[保险精算师] of the Year.” It lay on the floor next to his body. Next to that lay a picture, framed, of him, looking rather sheepish[羞怯的], with a paper crown on his head and a bouquet[花束] of flowers on his arm, standing under a banner[横幅] which read, “Man Most In Need Of A Change In Lifestyle.”
“Maybe not,” thought the detective. “Maybe not.”