The chaser/追擊者 John Collier(1901-1980)
The short stories of John Collier, who was born and educated in England, were regularly published in leading American magazines from the 1930s through the 1950s.
短篇小說作家 John Collier，出生地和接受教育的地方是在英國，在1930~1950年間一直定期的在美國領先的雜誌上發佈文章。
During that time, Collier also worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood.(He wrote the first draft for the script of The African Queen, which starred Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.)
在這期間，Collier還在好萊塢擔任過編劇。（他寫出的第一部劇本是非洲女王，主演是Humphrey Bogart和Katharine Hepburn。）
Collier’s stories have been collected in several books (including Fancies and Goodnights, 1951, and The Best of John Collier, 1975) and they continue to appear in short-story anthologies in English and in translation.
A comprehensive study of his life and work appears in John Collier by Betty Richardson(1981.)
As novelist Anthony Burgess notes in his introduction to The Best of John Collier, both the film scripts and short stories show Collier’s skill in writing dialogue and his gift for sharp observation.
Burgess also remarks that Collier markes literature out of the intrusion of fantasy, or quiet horror, into a real world closely observed,” often marking fun of both the Hollywood films and the popular fiction of his day, particularly their portrayal of romantic love.
正如小說家Anthony Burgess在他的最好的John Collier書中備註到，無論是電影劇本和短篇小說都顯示出Collier的寫作對白的技能和他敏銳的觀察力。
In “The Chaser,” a young man adores a woman who doesn’t return his affection.
Though he is “as nervous as a kitten,” the young man goes in search of a way to win the young woman’s love.(Like many of Collier’s light-hearted heroines, she is named Diana, after the Roman goddess of the hunt.Diana was also the goddess of the moon, which was believed to affect emotions.)
What do you suppose the fantasy element in this story will be?
A “chaser” is a mild beverage drunk after a stronger one, such as beer used to “chase”whiskry.
What do you think the first drink will be in this story? And the chaser?
This is a story filled with irony- an intended or unintended contrast between what is expected and what actually happens, or between what is said and what is meant. For example, the young man wants to change the young woman without considering all the possible effects of the changes.As you read, look for other examples.
Alan Austen, as nervous as a kitten, went up certain dark and creaky stairs in the neighbourhood of Pell Street, and peered about for a long time on the dim landing before he found the name he wanted written obscurely on one of the doors.
He pushed open this door, as he had been told to do, and found himself in a tiny room, which contained no furniture but a plain kitchen table, a rocking-chair, and an ordinary chair. On one of the dirty buff-coloured walls were a couple of shelves, containing in all perhaps a dozen bottles and jars. An old man sat in the rocking-chair, reading a newspaper. Alan, without a word, handed him the card he had been given.
"Sit down, Mr. Austen," said the old man very politely.
那個年紀大的男人非常和氣地對著Alan 說著：做下吧，Mr. Austen。
"I am glad to make your acquaintance."
"Is it true," asked Alan, "that you have a certain mixture that has-er-quite extraordinary effects?"
"My dear sir," replied the old man, "my stock in trade is not very large-I don't deal in laxatives and teething mixtures-but such as it is, it is varied. I think nothing I sell has effects which could be precisely described as ordinary."
"Well, the fact is. . ." began Alan.
"Here, for example," interrupted the old man, reaching for a bottle from the shelf. "Here is a liquid as colourless as water, almost tasteless, quite imperceptible in coffee, wine, or any other beverage. It is also quite imperceptible to any known method of autopsy."
"Do you mean it is a poison?" cried Alan, very much horrified.
"Call it a glove-cleaner if you like," said the old man indifferently. "Maybe it will clean gloves. I have never tried. One might call it a life-cleaner. Lives need cleaning sometimes."
"I want nothing of that sort," said Alan.
"Probably it is just as well," said the old man. "Do you know the price of this? For one teaspoonful, which is sufficient, I ask five thousand dollars. Never less. Not a penny less."
"I hope all your mixtures are not as expensive," said Alan apprehensively.
"Oh dear, no," said the old man. "It would be no good charging that sort of price for a love potion, for example. Young people who need a love potion very seldom have five thousand dollars. Otherwise they would not need a love potion."
"I am glad to hear that," said Alan.
"I look at it like this," said the old man. "Please a customer with one article, and he will come back when he needs another. Even if it is more costly. He will save up for it, if necessary."
"So," said Alan, "you really do sell love potions?"
"If I did not sell love potions," said the old man, reaching for another bottle, "I should not have mentioned the other matter to you. It is only when one is in a position to oblige that one can afford to be so confidential."
"And these potions," said Alan. "They are not just-just-er-"
“這些藥水，” 亞倫說。 “他們不只是… ”
"Oh, no," said the old man. "Their effects are permanent, and extend far beyond the mere casual impulse. But they include it. Oh, yes they include it. Bountifully, insistently. Everlastingly."
"Dear me!" said Alan, attempting a look of scientific detachment. "How very interesting!"
"But consider the spiritual side," said the old man.
"I do, indeed," said Alan.
"For indifference," said the old man, they substitute devotion. For scorn, adoration. Give one tiny measure of this to the young lady-its flavour is imperceptible in orange juice, soup, or cocktails-and however gay and giddy she is, she will change altogether. She will want nothing but solitude and you."
"I can hardly believe it," said Alan. "She is so fond of parties."
"She will not like them any more," said the old man. "She will be afraid of the pretty girls you may meet."
"She will actually be jealous?" cried Alan in a rapture. "Of me?"
"Yes, she will want to be everything to you."
"She is, already. Only she doesn't care about it."
"She will, when she has taken this. She will care intensely. You will be her sole interest in life."
"Wonderful!" cried Alan.
"She will want to know all you do," said the old man. "All that has happened to you during the day. Every word of it. She will want to know what you are thinking about, why you smile suddenly, why you are looking sad."
"That is love!" cried Alan.
"Yes," said the old man. "How carefully she will look after you! She will never allow you to be tired, to sit in a draught, to neglect your food. If you are an hour late, she will be terrified. She will think you are killed, or that some siren has caught you."
"I can hardly imagine Diana like that!" cried Alan, overwhelmed with joy.
"You will not have to use your imagination," said the old man. "And, by the way, since there are always sirens, if by any chance you should, later on, slip a little, you need not worry. She will forgive you, in the end. She will be terribly hurt, of course, but she will forgive you-in the end."
"That will not happen," said Alan fervently.
"Of course not," said the old man. "But, if it did, you need not worry. She would never divorce you. Oh, no! And, of course, she will never give you the least, the very least, grounds for-uneasiness."
"And how much," said Alan, "is this wonderful mixture?"
"It is not as dear," said the old man, "as the glove-cleaner, or life-cleaner, as I sometimes call it. No. That is five thousand dollars, never a penny less. One has to be older than you are, to indulge in that sort of thing. One has to save up for it."
"But the love potion?" said Alan.
"Oh, that," said the old man, opening the drawer in the kitchen table, and taking out a tiny, rather dirty-looking phial. "That is just a dollar."
"I can't tell you how grateful I am," said Alan, watching him fill it.
"I like to oblige," said the old man. "Then customers come back, later in life, when they are better off, and want more expensive things. Here you are. You will find it very effective."
"Thank you again," said Alan. "Good-bye."
"Au revoir," said the man.