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Deer And His Friends(2)

2006-08-11 13:20

  One day a resident, noticing Frankie waiting by a door for Jean, invited the deer in. Glen Gardner housed old people who had been in state mental hospitals and needed special care.

  When Frankie was discovered inside, the staff rushed to put him outside. But when they saw how eagerly one resident after another reached out to touch him, they let him stay. When Frankie appeared, smiles spread and people who seldom spoke asked the deer's name.

  Discovering a line in front of the payroll's clerk's window one day, Frankie companionably joined it. When his turn came, the clerk peered out at him. "Well, Frankie," she said, "I wouldn’t mind giving you a paycheck. You're our best social worker!" The deer had the run of Glen Gardner until late fall, when the superintendent noticed he was growing antlers. Fearful he might accidentally injure a resident, the supervisor decreed banishment. Frankie continued to frequent the grounds, but as the months passed he explored farther afield. When he was a year old, the evening came when he didn't return to the powerhouse; now he was on his own.

  Still, every morning he was there to greet Jean, exploring the pocket for the treat Jean always brought, and in the afternoon he would reappear. Residents who had refused to go outside before would join him on the front lawn to scratch his ears. George, a solitary resident with a speech defect who didn't seem to care if people understood him or not, taught Frankie to respond to his voice, and they often walked together.

  When Frankie was two years old——a sleek creature with six-point antlers and a shiny coat——he failed to show up one April morning. Nor did he answer anyone's calls. It was late the next day before Jean and George found him lying on a sheltered patch of ground. His right front leg was shattered, jagged splinters of bone jutted through the skin.

  "Oh, you old donkey, “ Jean whispered. "What happened?" The deer's eyes were clouded with pain, but he knew Jean's voice and tried to lick his hand.

  "There's no way to set a break like that without an operation," said the veterinarian who examined Frankie. They would have to haul Frankie out of the woods on an improvised litter and drive him to Round Valley Veterinary Hospital, five miles away.

  有一天,格伦加德纳疗养中心的一位老人看见弗兰基在门旁等琼,就请小鹿进去。中心住着在州立精神病院接受过治疗、需要特别照顾的老年人。工作人员一发现小鹿,就急忙要把它轰走。但是当他们看到人们都迫切地伸出手去摸它,就让小鹿留下了。从此每当弗兰基一出现,到处可见到微笑,连那些平常极少说话的老人也打听小鹿叫什么名字。

  一天,弗兰基发现发工资的窗口前面有人排着队,它也跟着人们排队。轮到它时,负责发工资的工作人员盯着它说道,“是啊,弗兰基,我真想给你张支票,你是我们最好的社会工作者!”

  暮秋前,弗兰基在疗养中心一直行动自由。直到有一天,中心的主管注意到它开始长角了。中心负责人担心它会意外伤着住宿的老人,决定禁止它出入。弗兰基仍常去附近的场地。随着时光流逝,它去更远的田野探索。年满1岁后的一天傍晚,它没有回到老年中心的电工室,它开始独立生活了。

  每天早上,弗兰基依旧来和琼打招呼,把嘴伸到他口袋里找为他准备的好吃的东西。午后它再次出现。疗养中心那些原来不愿意出来的老人们也开始来到楼前草地搔它的耳朵。乔治是个有语言障碍、不合群的老人,他从不在乎别人是否理解他,但他教会弗兰基对他的语声作出反应。他们俩经常在一起散步。

  弗兰基两岁时,毛色油亮,长着6叉茸角。4月的一个早晨,它没有露面。谁叫它都没有回应。第二天晚些时候,琼和乔治发现它躺在有遮掩的一处地面上,右前腿折断,露出锯齿状的碎骨。

  “啊,你这个家伙,”琼喃喃自语。“出了什么事?”弗兰基的目光因痛苦而混浊。但它听出琼的声音,尽力去舔他的手。

  给弗兰基做检查的兽医说,“这样的骨折,不动手术没法接骨。”他们得把弗兰基用临时做的担架从树林里抬出来,开车把它送到5英里外圆谷地方的兽医院去。

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