Tom Law THE ROTTEN TOWN
The Ace In the Hole Tavern was packed that evening and thanks to the free drinks provided by the Police department, most of the people who had gathered there were soon quite drunk. Don Windmill and his four friends from The Barbershop Quartet were standing in the corner. If you’re wondering why the quartet had five members, it was because Windmill, who had a beautiful baritone voice, was asthmatic and often missed concerts due to his condition. He was talking to Tony Smith, the one who often filled in for him. “This town eats its children,” said Windmill. “Do you know that?” “What do you mean, eats them?” asked Tony Smith. “Eats them up and doesn’t bother to spit them out. I’d never have kids with any woman from Hog Town, you can bet your life on that.” The men, both bachelors, looked around the room and especially at the faces of the women. The faces were patchy and blotchy and drunken and mean. The Jordan woman, the one who’s own daughter had disappeared earlier that year, came up to them at that moment with a heavy tray with beer bottles. “Drink up, boys,” she said. “This will be the last of it. The tab is run out and you’ll be paying on your own after this.” Her face had deep Marlboro lines running down it. “Yuk,” said Don Windmill, louder than he had wanted. But the Jordan woman was too drunk to get it, and said: “It ain’t that bad. Besides, beggars like you can’t be choosers.” She smiled wickedly and showed a mouth of brown and partly uprooted teeth. “Wasn’t it her daughter who disappeared this year too?” asked Tony Smith, after the Jordan woman had moved on to bother someone else. “The one and the same,” said Windmill. “She’s never been happier in her life. I’m telling you. These women eat their own children.” “What, like literally?” Don Windmill nodded gravely. “And as for this Davies girl. Well, you know what her mother is, don’t you?”
to fill in for sb – zastępować kogoś to bother – martwić się, przejmować to spit out – wypluwać bachelor – kawaler patchy – plamisty blotchy – plamisty tray – taca to get it – skumać ain’t = isn’t (kolokwializm) beggars can’t be choosers – gdy się nie ma, co się lubi, to się lubi, co się ma uprooted – tu: brakujący to move on to – zabrać się za literally – dosłownie
to scare the shit out of sb – wystraszyć na śmierć
to swing open – otworzyć się na oścież fellow – gość, koleś
acne vulgaris – trądzik młodzieńczy feverishly – gorączkowo
Tom Law THE ROTTEN TOWN
“Odd?” Don Windmill coughed up a little beer. “Yea, odd, sure. She’s the leader of them crazy women who go out every Halloween and scare the shit out of any kid stupid enough to go out trick-or-treating.” “I heard that was a group of boys from the high school, dressed up as witches.” “Well,” Windmill said, “you heard wrong.” There were many other conversations going on in the tavern that night. Cathy Lange from the Nordic Walking Society was telling her friends: “You know, it’s just unbelievable. Just yesterday I walked right past that place. God knows, I might have walked right over the grave. It’s enough to make your blood run cold.” At that moment, the door to the Tavern swung open and a blast of cold autumn wind made everyone look in that direction. Almost for dramatic effect, the Reverend Samuel Peabody stood as a statue in the doorway. Some drunk fellow at the bar said: “Shut the God-damn doo…” then cut himself short when he saw who it was. Satisfied that all eyes were on him, the Reverend, while keeping the front of his body facing into the tavern, closed the door behind himself. The place had gone quiet and for the first time that night you could hear that a radio was playing country music behind the bar. To the rhythms of Johnny Cash, the Reverend approached the bar with dignity. He was a big man, almost two meters tall, a chest as broad as the Mississippi River and a grave face that was scarred from his youth when he suffered from acne vulgaris. He finally reached the bar, and placed his surprisingly delicate hands onto the wooden surface. “Give me a Bloody Mary. And don’t forget the celery stick.” At that, the mood lightened and people started talking feverishly again. “So, what do you think, Reverend? Was it murder?” asked one mousey woman who had crowded up close to the Reverend. “What should we do, Reverend?” asked her husband, who had whiskers like a cat.
Tom Law THE ROTTEN TOWN
“Ya, come on, Reverend!” “Tell us what we ought to do.” “It was those women if you ask me.” “I say, let’s burn down the Davies house.” “Ya! Let’s burn down the Davies house. That’ll learn them!” After thoughtfully taking a gulp of his drink, and smiling approval to the bartender, he wiped tomato juice from his lip and cleared his throat. “There’ll be nothing of the kind,” he bellowed. He let a silence fill the space and someone interjected: “You mean, we don’t get to burn the Davies house?” The Reverend glared into the huddled mass of faces. When the Reverend looked into the faces, he had only one thought: What an unholy assortment of degenerate morons. “Go home now people,” he continued in his commanding voice. “The fun’s over. Go home to your beds and in the morning this will all seem like a bad dream.” There was a kind of hissing sound, as though air had been let out of a balloon. There was a second of reluctant hesitation. The “things could get ugly” moment presented itself briefly. The thing is, the townspeople simply didn’t have it in them. “Well, if you say so, Reverend,” said one voice. “Whatever you say, Reverend.” And one by one the people put on their jackets and pulled on their hats and tightened their scarves around their throats. Then they left, leaving behind the smell of stale beer and bad breath. When the taxi came to pick him up, the Reverend said to the bartender: “How much do I owe you, Joe?” “That’s all right, Reverend. It’s on the house.” The Reverend Samuel Peabody left the tavern the same way he came in. When he climbed into the front seat of the taxi, he audibly grunted. The taxi driver was a 28-year-old woman called Eve Montana. She playfully adjusted her black and white hat so it rested back on her head and reached out her hand to touch his pock-marked face. He was fifty years old, some might say too old for such a young thing.
to learn sb – dać komuś nauczkę gulp – łyk approval – aprobata bartender – barman to wipe – wycierać to clear one’s throat – odchrząkiwać to bellow – wrzeszczeć to interject – wtrącać to glare – wpatrywać się huddled – stłoczony unholy – bezbożny, nieludzki assortment – zbieranina things could get ugly – może być gorąco (niebezpiecznie) stale – stęchły on the house – na koszt firmy audibly – głośno, słyszalnie to grunt – chrząkać to rest on – opierać się na
to pull away – ruszać (autem) curb – krawężnik
Tom Law THE ROTTEN TOWN
Eve knew better. The Reverend was as powerful as a locomotive. “How was it, Reverend?” she asked him. She always called him Reverend, and although he didn’t like it at first, somehow it had become cute over time. “Like pulling teeth, Eve. Like pulling teeth. I’d like to say they’re good people despite it all. But they aren’t, Eve.” “That’s too bad.” “You’re telling me.” “What about the missing girl?” she asked, pulling the taxi away from the curb. “It’s a mystery this town could do without.”
to do without – obyć się bez
1. Decide if the statement is true (T) or false (F). 1. The Tavern was thronged with people because of free beverages being distributed.
2. Don Windmill missed concerts because he suffered from a respiratory condition.
3. There have been reports of cannibals living in Hog Town. T / F 4. Mrs. Davies liked to frighten children on Halloween.
5. There was a lot of chatter in the Tavern that evening.
6. Cathy Lange claimed that she had come across Natalie’s grave and was terrified. 7. The noise trailed away when the Reverend walked in.
8. The Reverend was trying to coax people into setting fire to Mrs. Davies’ house. 9. The Reverend refused to pay for the drink.
10. The Reverend would rather Natalie hadn’t gone missing. T / F
2. Complete the sentences with the missing word. 1. You don’t have to pay – the drinks are on the h_ _ _ _ . 2. I usually avoid giving money to b_ _ _ _ _ _ since I don’t know what they’ll spend it on. 3. The witness is r_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ to confess for fear of revenge. 4. Every time I r_ _ _ an escalator I get dizzy. 5. Your writing is i_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ . You‘ll have to re-write your essay.
6. The archeologists found the skeleton i_ _ _ _ _ . They say it’s rare for such old human remains to be so well preserved. 7. If you don’t have a c_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ , why don’t you try using a penknife to open this wine bottle? 8. Jane had two b_ _ _ _ _ _ _ on her sole after the long trek.
3. Complete the story with a suitable word or phrase in the correct form.
to scare the shit out of sb beggar to swing open fellow to clear one’s throat to bellow bartender
I went to a bar the other day. As I was sitting on a bar stool, ordering a drink and chatting with the 1) ..................................... , the door of the pub 2) ................................. . A forty-something 3) ................................... walked in. Disheveled, unkempt, lanky and a long-neglected beard – a 4) ......................................... , I thought. He approached me, 5) ......................................... twice and said: „Get the hell out of the bar. You don’t belong in here. Now!” he 6) ...................................... . He 7) ..................................... and my legs went soft. I could smell whisky on his breath, so I gathered he was hammered. Only when he came closer and smiled did it dawn on me that it was my colleague from school. I hadn’t seen him for ages and barely recognized him. We chatted for a while, had a few drinks and I headed home.
Tom Law THE ROTTEN TOWN
Natalie Davies’ empty grave was surrounded by a circle of yellow police tape. Two forensic experts from neighboring Kempville Town were kneeling on the ground taking a plaster cast of the footprints in the soil when Mortimer Green received a telephone call. When he hung up, Tom Portas asked: “What’s wrong, chief?” “Natalie Davies has been seen by a small group of school children.” “What?” “Apparently, she’s hiding somewhere in the forest. They saw her as they were coming home from school.” “Did they speak to her?” “No.” One of the forensic experts, Dave Good, looked over his shoulder at Mortimer. “Whoever was in this grave isn’t walking around in the forest,” he said. “There’s at least two litres of blood here, not to mention assorted pieces of lung tissue.” Mortimer had been afraid of this. Quickly, he and Tom got into the squad car and rushed over to the police station where three of the children were waiting with their parents. Mrs. Pound butted out her cigarette and looked relieved when Mortimer and Tom came into the police station. Three 12-year-old girls sat in hard chairs while three mothers and a father stood next to them. The parents looked angry and the girls were as pale as three glasses of milk. One of them, Lynsey Woodbridge, was holding a plastic cup of hot chocolate. “OK, OK,” Mortimer said when he found himself suddenly surrounded by the four parents. “One at a time, please. No, I can’t explain it. Yes, it may be possible it was Natalie. We are still waiting for the blood tests from the lab.” “Well,” said Mrs. Maureen Woodbridge. “If our girls saw Natalie in the forest, who was lying in that grave, I’d like to know.” “Please,” said Mortimer. “This is an ongoing investigation. We have to wait for the results from the lab. Then we can go from there.” “Are we supposed to wait for you?” said another mother, Mrs. Cassie Pearson. “By that time the murderer might strike again.”
forensic – sądowy; śledczy to kneel – klękać plaster cast – odlew gipsowy
assorted – różnorodny tissue – tkanka to rush over – spieszyć do, pędzić pale – blady
one at a time – pojedynczo
ongoing – w toku, trwający investigation – śledztwo to strike – uderzać, atakować
to wade – brodzić, tu: przedzierać się fray – awantura, walka willing – chętny either side – po obu stronach shortcut – skrót bog – bagno, moczary
to glance over – spoglądać na to flash – tu: przesyłać (spojrzenie) defiant – wyzywający, prowokujący to embrace – zaakceptować sordid – nikczemny, podły righteousness – prawość, uczciwość no telling – nikt nie wie mischief – krzywda, nieszczęście
Tom Law THE ROTTEN TOWN
“What murderer?” asked Mortimer. “What murderer!” exclaimed Mrs. Woodbridge. At this time Tom Portas waded into the fray. “Ladies, please. We’re working as fast as humanly possible. Perhaps we should hear exactly what the girls saw.” Mortimer and Mrs. Pound shook their heads in agreement, the parents seemed less sure, but willing to hear the story for the third time. After looking at her friends either side of her, Lynsey Woodbridge told their story: “Well,” she began. “Jennifer and Pamela and I were coming home from school like we always do, through the shortcut.” “The one by Jack’s Bog?” Morimer asked. He was writing her story down in his notebook. “Yes, that’s right. Anyway we just saw her on the other side of the water, you know.” “How far away was she?” Mortimer asked. Lynsey glanced over at her friends and then said: “Not far. I don’t know. But we could see it was Natalie all right.” “Do you know Natalie well?” Mortimer asked. “Well, sure. Everyone knows Natalie Davies.” “Why is that?” Mortimer asked, “I mean, she’s a few years older than you, right?” “I guess so,” the girl continued. “But everyone knows what Natalie Davies looks like, don’t they. How else are you supposed to avoid her?” Mrs. Woodbridge kind of felt guilty at that, but flashed a defiant “go to hell” grimace. That’s the problem with being a hypocrite. When you’re found it, when your lies are uncovered for what they are, there’s nothing left to do but embrace your own, sordid, contradictions. At that point, the contradictions become a virtue of righteousness. No telling what mischief can follow. “Ok,” said Mortimer. “Go on. What was Natalie doing?” “Just kind of standing there, you know. We were surprised because we’d heard she was dead. She was looking at us. The scary thing is, she had a huge hole right in the middle of her chest. I mean,
Tom Law THE ROTTEN TOWN
it was so big, you could see right through her to the other side.” “But girls,” Mortimer said. “People with big holes in their chests don’t walk around the forest.” The three girls looked at each other, as though considering what Mortimer had just said. “Well,” said Jennifer Tebbs, one of the girls, “they do if they’re dead, don’t they?” “Dead?” “Well ya, sure.” “Dead people don’t walk around the forest, girls.” “Well,”, continued Jennifer, “zombies do.” “I see,” Mortimer said, sighing. “Zombies, is it?” Then, looking at the parents. “And murderers.” The three mothers cast glances at the ceiling. The father looked down at his boots. Mortimer casually looked at the man’s boots too: Big Boss hiking boots. Mortimer had always wanted to buy a pair. They were said to be the best built and most waterproof boots you could buy. Once, he was close to dishing out the $200 needed to buy them, but his girlfriend, Mrs. Humphrey, had said at the time: “Those shoes are for fashion conscious farmers. Don’t you know that?” The father, whose name was Wilfred Pearson, saw Mortimer glancing at his boots and suddenly felt uncomfortable. Mortimer sat at his desk. The room had gone quiet. He puts his fingertips together and held his hands to his mouth. He wasn’t going to speak first, that’s for sure. The room was so quiet that the ticking of the clock on the wall sounded like someone pounding a drum. “Well,” said Lynsey finally, “I don’t actually know if she was a zombie. But she did look pretty dead. Right, girls?” The other two girls gravely nodded.
casually – mimowolnie, swobodnie to dish out – rozdawać fashion conscious – podążający za modą fingertips – opuszki palców to pound – walić, uderzać
1. Match the parts to create full sentences.
Natalie Davies’ empty
grave was surrounded 2. If our girls saw Natalie
in the forest, 3. The parents looked angry
We’re working as fast
by a circle of yellow police tape.
and the girls 4.
who was lying in that
and rushed over to the police station.
ticking of the clock resonated like a drum.
5. He was writing his story
as humanly possible.
6. The room was so quiet
were as pale as
that the 7. They got into a squad car
three glasses of milk. g.
down in his notebook.
2. Fill in the gaps with correct prepositions. 1. I’ve been suffering ......................... asthma since I was a child. 2. My teacher is very strict ......................... punctuality. 3. Fix yourself something to eat, please. I’m too busy to wait ......................... you. 4. These cups belong ......................... the cupboard. Put them away! 5. Susan is very devoted ......................... her work. She’s even reluctant to go on a sick leave.
6. Julia is fluent ......................... six languages! 7. Joan takes pride ......................... her eldest daughter. Not only does she excel at math, but she also writes poetry. 8. Would you care ......................... a cup of tea before we set off? 9. The smell of this incense reminds me ......................... Spain. Funny how certain scents conjure up different images, isn‘t it? 10. “What did your gradfather die ......................... ?“ “A heart attack.“
3. Match the words with their definitions.
refusing to obey
to be in a position in which your body rests on your knees
to hit repeatedly
continuing, in process
harm, naughtiness, mockery
7. to pound
a shorter, quicker way to get somewhere
to attack somebody, especially unexpectedly