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Two Short Stories of Pat O’Connor

1.Advice and Sandwiches

At lunchtime, Julie came out of Hodgeson & Co and clattered down the steps into the street. She kept her face down so no one could see how choked-up she was. Her numbers were good, her clients commended her, she’d worked extra hours so long she couldn’t remember any other way; yet she’d been passed-over for promotion again. Julie blinked furiously. It was like being clouted on the side of the head with a brick.

Normally she would bounce right back. It was her inheritance from her dad- he was always cheerful, always optimistic no matter what, to his very last breath. But that morning, Garry her boyfriend–no, her ex-boyfriend - had announced he was leaving her, barely a month after suggesting they move-in together. He said he’d met someone “really exciting”. And he had that self-indulged look; he actually expected that she would be delighted for him. And now this promotion thing. Swerving along the crowded sidewalk, Julie’s face convulsed as she tried not to sob. In many aspects of her life she just didn’t know which way was up. How could she bounce back when she didn’t know which way was up?

She moved fast away from anywhere she might meet her colleagues. She headed along the route she took to work each morning. A shop-space that had long been vacant was a buzz of activity. A voice was calling out, people were straining their necks and laughing. A sign over the opening said Advice and Sandwiches, and a placard said Queue here - Advice from $7 - gourmet sandwiches free. The queue was the shape of a U, with a rope on little white poles to keep order. A burst of laughter rose from the crowd; a good-natured sound. Julie strode past. There was a cheer and clapping. She took a quick, grudging glance. People were saying ‘Aww’, like they were affected by what they heard. A sandy-haired man wandered out, looking dazedly at a wrapped sandwich. People turned to watch him go; they nodded knowingly to one another, until laughter from inside made them turn, crane their necks to see. Julie walked on, and the laughter faded behind. Street sounds closed around her, everything was grey and worn and bare. Before the next intersection she wheeled around and went back. She joined the end of the queue.

She was too short to see what was happening. The queue was three lines by now. A man’s voice shouted “Next!” and a woman called out some sort of enquiry. Julie couldn’t quite catch what happened, but things seemed to be funny. A woman left the shop looking embarrassed and amused; she scuttled off, gripping her sandwich in both hands. Next to leave was a younger woman whose sandwich hung in her hand.

She moved slowly, wide-eyed, like she might bump into things.


Julie was no longer the last, and neither could she see over the people in front. A male voice called out: ‘I hate my job. What’ll I do?’

‘Either make it so you like it, or else live cheaper, build up cash, then resign and look for a job you do like. $7. What you want to eat?’

‘Ahh… gimme a ham and cheese and tomato sandwich. No, a sub. A sub, please.’

‘One ham, cheese, tomato sub. Look at that, ready already. How about that? Next!’

There was a low voice up the front.

‘Can’t hear you honey. A little louder.’

A woman’s voice became shrill.

‘My boyfriend’s going to leave me and he only asked last month if I’d move in with him. What’m I gonna do?’

A murmur rippled around. Julie’s skin froze. She waited with her mouth open.

‘Honey, you might want to think – do you love him all over or do you just like the way he looks? If you love him then give it your best shot and keep doing it, but if it’s everything or nothing with him then it ain’t you he’s thinking of. Start over and just really enjoy your life and love will come. That’s $7. What’you want to eat?’

‘Emm… oh anything…’

‘Tuna lettuce tomato pannini. Green wrapper. Next!’

Someone behind Julie reminded her to move along. She jumped to close the gap.

Many of the customers couldn’t say what they wanted to eat. If they delayed, the man giving the advice ordered for them. Nobody objected.

‘My wife’s a bitch. What’m I goin’ to do about it?’

A cocky voice, his friends egging him on.

‘Go and ask her forgiveness for your own shortcomings. That’s $10. What you wanna eat?’

‘Hey, I thought it was seven dollars a sandwich!’

‘Sandwiches are free – read the signs. Advice starts at seven dollars and goes up from there. You got the ten dollars?’

‘Aah…yeah, ok.’ The voice was contrite now. There was knowing laughter, some jeering.

‘What you want then?’

‘Ham and cheese… ahh… with mustard and pickle. On white.’

‘Ham, cheese, mustard, pickle on white!’

‘Can I get the green wrapper?’


Everyone laughed outright. Julie didn’t get the joke - people were too closepacked to see. She began to feel nervous. At the first bend in the queue, she saw notices on the wall.

Advice Average $7. Free sandwich with all advice

No advice, no sandwich

Green wrappers share lunch between two

No loitering at counter

A man wearing mirrored sunglasses was calling out the advice. He had three

people behind him making the orders.

The line was moving at amazing speed. Julie became to fidget. A girl with frizzed hair and blue eyeshadow was waiting at the end of the counter. Julie thought it must be the girl whose boyfriend was leaving.


‘Where’s the best place to get a sandwich round here?’

A burst of laughter all around. It was a youngish man in a black pinstriped suit. He laughed too.

‘Right here Sir. Only honest advice and honest ingredients. $7. What you want?’

‘How about a BLT sub?’

‘One BLT sub, side order barbeque oyster and crispy cress pannini. Cut all that in small slices, green wrapper and give it to that girl there. You ok with that?’- he asked the girl with the blue eyeshadow. She nodded, wide-eyed. He turned to the pinstripe. ‘You ok with that?’

The man looked taken aback, but he nodded. ‘Yeah, no problem.’

‘Ok young lady, you take the green wrapper and you give him one slice at a time, I got the feeling his mouth is wider than his neck.’ Everyone laughed. The pinstripe hung his head in mock shame. ‘We don’t want him to choke, right?’

There was a cheer as the pair left with their green wrapper. Everyone moved along. Julie felt exhilarated and nervous. Coming to the final line, she barely heard the questions. People got fidgety, kneading their hands, hopping from foot to foot. Julie realised she was only three people from the end. She moved her elbows to cool herself. What would she ask? How quickly the remaining few were being served…

Julie was looking directly into the mirrored glasses. Her lip trembled. The man smiled.

‘Is it about work?’

Julie nodded.

‘Come right this way.’

He lifted the flap on the counter.

Julie mumbled: ‘No… no, that’s not…’

She tottered forward. What else could she do? The man took her handbag and put it in a cupboard.

‘Wash your hands and make yourself a nice sandwich. Then get an apron and, well, start making the orders. Ok?’

Julie nodded slowly. She made a roll from ingredients near her; roast beef and cold baked vegetables. The sandwich maker at the end, a stout middle-aged man, slid tubs of mayonnaise and salad toward her. Julie smiled at him. She sat on a blue plastic crate. One of the other makers, a red-haired woman, gave Julie a cup of water and a smile in the easy stride of getting lettuce from a fridge.

Julie ate her roll like she was hovering over the scene. The sandwich makers worked quickly but not hurriedly. They spent time getting things right. Julie finished her roll and sat looking. The man with the reflective glasses gave longer advice depending on how busy the sandwich makers were, although one time he gave advice for so long all the makers became idle.

Julie went to the worktop. She found disposable gloves, a paper hat and an apron. Next time a sandwich of the ingredients near her was called, she made it and handed it to the sunglasses man. After that first sandwich, time rolled like honey from a jar. She made sandwich after sandwich in a daze.


‘What’s the best sandwich for someone who loves cats?’

‘A shared sandwich. $7. What you want?’

‘Oh? Emm… chicken, some salt, light mayo.’

‘On plain?’


‘Chicken, some salt, light mayo on plain, green wrapper. Next!’

‘Yeah, umm… how do I get to share lunch with that girl?’

‘Bring flowers tomorrow, something small for her cats, and don’t expect a thing in return. Maybe the day after you might get the green. $7, what’d you like?’

‘Umm… Chicken roll. Just chicken. Is there smoked chicken?’

‘One smoked chicken roll…’

‘Emm… excuse me? Excuse me?’

‘Yes Ma’am.’

‘I don’t mind, I mean… could that man get the green wrapper today?’

‘Ma’am, you can ask anyone to join you any time you want, you don’t have to ask me…’

‘Yeah but… you know…’

‘Ok, make that smoked chicken roll in the green wrapper. Thank you. Next!’

A young man with a knapsack was next. His hair was shiny, curly at the sides.

He looked dazzled.

‘I’d like a … I don’t know…’

‘What advice d’you want?’

‘Advice? Emm… what could I do that’s kinda worthwhile, I guess?’

Everyone laughed. The young man looked around, bemused.

‘Well, Sir, so happens we have a vacancy coming up right here.’

Julie and the other makers looked up. There were only four spaces. They looked at one another to see who might be leaving. The counter-hatch was lifted and the young man came in just like Julie had done. He looked happily bewildered. The man in the mirrored glasses smiled.

‘Do any of you guys have sunglasses?’

The makers quickly shook their heads. Except Julie. She had sunglasses in her handbag. The man in the mirrored glasses looked directly at her. Julie felt a thickening in her throat. She had been enjoying herself so much. How long had she been there? She had been floating. Her dad used to say all things come to an end, there had to be an end so there could be a beginning. She looked at the new young man. He had beautiful eyes. Julie turned to the man in the mirrored glasses.

‘I have sunglasses.’

‘Ok! So after this fella has himself a sandwich, if you give him your apron, that’d be great.’

   Julie made sandwiches until the young man was finished eating. He stood, stiff and self-conscious, while she put her apron over his head. She told him how the making was organized, and it was astonishing how much she could tell him. Everyone beamed at them. His eyes were green and brown, and they were honest. When he was ready to make his first sandwich, she cupped his face in her hands and she kissed him.

Julie barely heard the commotion. The man in the mirrored glasses said: ‘Ok Miss, let’s see those glasses.’

Julie got her handbag. She took out the sunglasses. With sunglasses on, nobody would be able to see her eyes and she was glad of that. It was a good idea. She said to the man in the mirrored glasses: ‘I’d like to thank you. Really. It was great.’

‘No, thank you, Miss. We appreciate what you’re doing.’

He reached out and she shook his hand. Then he lifted the hatch and he walked away past the queue. She stood gaping after him, her hand still extended.

‘Hey Miss! What’s the best stock on NASDAQ for a quick punt?’

Two young men in suits, jostling each other. They found the question hilarious.

Julie looked at them blankly. Then she said: ‘Do you own the place you live in?’

‘Me? Uuh…no?’

‘Then you can’t afford a punt on the NASDAQ. That’s $10. What do you want to eat?’




































































































   一方面写了三明治小店经营有方,可能有过一段不够景气的经历,才想出这个精明的办法,以提供咨询来吸引顾客, “忠告7美元起,美味三明治免费。” 这个促销办法很奏效。





2. 译者对小说的叙事语言和人物对话语言的翻译,特别是后者,把握得很好,能够展现人物的心理和神色。

3. 店面前场景的描写译得也比较好。


5. 译者对原文理解比较好。




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