熊貓飼養員 / Panda Breeder

by Tang Fei Read author interview September 16, 2019

This story is part of SmokeLong Quarterly’s Global Flash Series. The English translation follows the story in its original language, Chinese.

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熊貓飼養員

熊貓飼養員早於熊貓來到動物園。這是一次危險的迫降。毫無準備。這個哇哇啼哭的嬰兒出現在獅子籠子里的時候,所有人震驚不已。他赤身裸體,精力充沛,象頭野獸不知羞恥。他的哭聲響徹雲霄,驚動天上神祀。獅子們打消了加餐的念頭,而動物園園長則決定打破沿襲已久的用人制度。

年僅5 個月的熊貓被帶到熊貓飼養員面前。他們緊緊擁抱,呀呀兒語,喝著同樣濃稠腥甜的牛奶,在假想的翠綠竹林一起長大。從遠處看,難以分辨他們中誰才是人類。如果冒險走近這對還沒來得及馴化的野生動物,你會發現他們瞪著你的眸子里同樣飽含著陰鬱的綠色陰影。動物園園長對這個結果感到滿意。他應該可以安心退休了。一星期後,善良的老人帶著籠子外獨有的孤獨,離開動物園。

4年後,出於某種不為人知又屬情理之中的原因,老人回到了動物園,作為遊客。他按捺住心情,一一看完其他動物,把心愛的熊貓館留到最後。令人吃驚的是,在熊貓館翠綠色的人工竹林里,他並沒有見到那兩個親密無間的身影。多方打聽後,老人得知以下事實:

熊貓飼養員在一個星期日下午,當著擠得水洩不通的公園遊客面前,公然咬死了他飼養的那頭溫馴世故的動物。當時,熊貓和往常一樣,盡職地發揮一個肥壯動物所有的天賦。他打滾,直立,作揖,走鋼絲,在滾筒上站立。表現靈巧的同時,他花費同樣的力氣去假裝笨拙,假裝為美食誘惑,為掌聲陶醉,假裝跌倒以及艱難的爬起。

就在這時,熊貓飼養員忽然發瘋似的衝過來,把那頭可憐的正在裝瘋賣傻的動物摁倒在地,在人們一連串的尖叫聲中,咬斷他的喉嚨,殘忍地將他撕成碎片。

法庭上,熊貓飼養員對自己的罪行供認不諱。為了喚起他的良知,辯護律師試圖讓他回憶起熊貓生平種種,可飼養員只是用充滿鄙夷的幾句話匆匆帶過。他嘲笑他逐漸孱弱的身體,嘲笑他開始貪吃零嘴的習慣,並且聲稱自己從未教過熊貓任何雜耍技能。

最後,當被問及動機時,他的回答出人意料。

「我只想看看這頭野獸的身體裡面是不是藏著一頭狗的靈魂。」

*

Panda Breeder

translated by Tony Huang

The panda breeder came to the zoo earlier than the panda. This was a dangerous forced landing. Unprepared. Everyone was shocked when this howling baby appeared in a lion’s cage. He was naked, energetic, unashamed, like a beast. His crying penetrated the clouds and could even scare the gods in heaven. The lions dismissed the idea to add a meal, and the zoo director decided to break the long-established employment policy.

The panda, which was only five months old, was brought to the panda breeder. They hugged tightly, prattling, drinking the same thick and gamy milk, and growing up together in an imaginary green bamboo forest. From a distance, it is difficult to tell which is human, but if you venture to get closer to this pair of untamed animals, you will see the gloomy green light shimmering in their eyes. The zoo director was satisfied with this arrangement, and felt he should be able to retire with peace of mind. A week later, the kind old man left the zoo with a sense of loneliness that was exclusively possessed by people outside the cage. 

Four years later, the old man returned to the zoo, this time as a visitor, for some ineffable, yet reasonable reasons. He held his excitement down and visited other animals one by one before his beloved panda hall. Surprisingly, he did not see the two intimate figures in the artificial green bamboo forests. After many inquiries, the old man learned the following fact:

On a Sunday afternoon, in front of the zoo visitors who crowded the panda hall, the panda breeder blatantly bit and killed the docile and sophisticated animal he raised. When this happened, the panda, just like what it often did, was showcasing all the talents a stout animal like it could have. It rolled on the floor, stood straight, bowed, walked on string, and stood on rollers. While showing its deftness, it also spent the same effort pretending to be clumsy, to be tempted by the food, to be intoxicated by the applause, to stumble and to struggle to stand up. 

Exactly at this moment, the panda breeder dashed toward the panda and slammed the poor, and still clowning, animal onto the floor. Amid frightened screams, the breeder bit into the throat of the animal and tore it into pieces. 

In court, the panda breeder confessed to his crimes. In order to evoke the breeder’s conscience, the defense lawyer tried to remind him of the life of the panda, but the breeder just briefly took it with a few words of contempt. He laughed at the animal’s weakening body, mocked its becoming gluttonous, and claimed that he had never taught the animal to juggle or play the fool. 

Finally, when asked about the motivation, he answered, unexpectedly, “I just want to see if in the body of this beast hides the soul of a dog.”

About the Author:

糖匪,sfwa会员。作品散见《上海文学》《花城》《小说界》。多篇小说在国外发表,两次被收录进美国最佳科幻年选。出版小说集《看见鲸鱼座的人》、长篇小说《无名盛宴》,同时涉足文学批评、诗歌、装置、摄影等不同艺术形式。 Tang Fei, sfwa member. His works have appeared in "Shanghai Literature", "Flower City" and "Fiction World". Many stories have been published internationally and have been included in the best sci-fi year in the United States. He published a collection of stories, "The Man Who Sees Whales", and the novel The Unknown Feast. At the same time, he is involved in different art forms such as literary criticism, poetry, installation, and photography.

About the Artist:

Sibylle Schwarz is a German artist who works independently in Stuttgart, Paris and Benin. Her work has been exhibited internationally, and she has worked with high-profile clients such as the New York Times Magazine, Dior, and Bloomingdale's.