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一名按摩女的死亡(下):母亲和弟弟的追寻

更新时间:2018-10-16 19:29:45 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Case of Jane Doe Ponytail
一名按摩女的死亡(下):母亲和弟弟的追寻

In the dark of an early December morning, two weary travelers shuffled through the multicultural scrum of Kennedy Airport. One was a tall, reedy man named Song Hai; the other, a slight, older woman named Shi Yumei, whose protracted weeping on the long flight from Beijing had concerned an attendant.

在一个12月早晨的暗色中,两个疲倦的旅客穿过肯尼迪机场来自各种文化背景的人流。一人是声音尖锐、名叫宋海的高大男子。另一人是年纪较长的石玉梅,她在从北京飞来的漫长航程中不断抽泣,引来了一名空服人员的关注。

Song Yang’s mother and brother had traveled 7,000 miles to better understand the how and the why of her death.

为了能更明白地搞清楚宋扬是怎么死的、以及死因,她的母亲和弟弟飞了7000英里。

A telephone call from her husband several nights earlier had disrupted everything. Song Yang is dead, he had said. Police say she jumped from a building.

几晚前,宋扬丈夫打来的一个电话打乱了一切。宋扬死了,他说。警察说她从楼上跳了下来。

Her distraught parents had telephoned their other child, Song Hai, to deliver words so heavy that he dropped his smartphone, cracking its glass. Not accepting what he heard, he sent a WeChat message to his sister that depicted a pair of clinking coffee mugs, along with a gentle request to please call home.

她悲痛欲绝的父母打电话给了他们的另一个孩子宋海,告诉了他这个消息,消息如此之沉重,以至于他接听时手机从手里掉了下来,摔裂了屏幕。他无法接受自己听到的一切,忍不住给姐姐发了一条微信,内容是一对碰杯的马克咖啡杯,还有一个请她给家里打电话的温和请求。

The lack of an answer was the answer.

回答是没有收到回答。

The mother and brother spent their first two weeks in Flushing tending to the affairs of death. Then, on a dismal day of late December rain, they made their way to the Chun Fook funeral home, a few blocks from 40th Road. Though some had recommended a modest ceremony, the family had insisted on a more elaborate service, in a spacious room with a chandelier.

母亲和弟弟在法拉盛的前两周主要是料理后事。然后,在12月月底一个阴沉的雨天,他们到了位于40路几条街外的全福殡仪馆。尽管有人提议办一个更简朴的仪式,但这家人坚持要在一个有水晶吊灯的大房间里办一个更精心设计的葬礼。

The dark wood coffin sat at the front before rows of chairs that would remain empty. No women from 40th Road. No Lao Li. A pair of vertical scrolls with parallel aphorisms written in Chinese calligraphy — “Put Down Your Burdens and Return to the Lord” and “Take Up Tranquillity and Celebrate Everlasting Life” — hung on either side.

深色木棺放在一排排椅子的前方,但椅子都空着。40路的女人没有一位来参加。老李也没来。一幅用中国书法写的对联:“放下尘纷归天父”、“修来清福享永生”,分别挂在棺木两边。

One minister delivered prayers in English, while another repeated those prayers in Mandarin. The few mourners included Song Yang’s close friend Paul Hayes; the community advocate Michael Chu; Chen Mingli, the lawyer who had tried to help her seek permanent residency; her husband, Chau Chuong, now 78, who had come from California, where he had been living for his health; and her mother and brother, their heads bowed and hands folded.

一名牧师用英语做了祷告,另一位牧师用普通话将祷告复述了一遍。为数不多的几位前来参加的人包括宋扬的密友保罗·海耶斯;社区倡导者朱立创;曾试图帮助她获得永久居留权的律师陈明利;她现年78岁的丈夫周章,他是从加州赶来的,由于健康原因,他一直住在那里;还有她的母亲和弟弟,他们低着头,合拢着双手。

The ceremony ended with the reading from the Book of Common Prayer that we are all from dust, and to dust we shall return. Alleluia, the mourners mumbled. Alleluia.

仪式以朗读《公祷书》中的我们都从尘土中来,我们也将归于尘土。哈利路亚,悼念者嘟哝道。哈利路亚。

Then it was a short drive along the Grand Central Parkway to the All Souls Chapel and Crematory at St. Michael’s Cemetery. This is where Song Yang’s battered body was returned to dust, and where, in his frustration and grief, her brother vowed justice and punched a wall.

然后就是沿着大中央公园大道一路开往圣迈克尔公墓的万灵火葬场。这就是宋扬遍体鳞伤的遗体回归尘土的地方,在那里,她的弟弟在绝望和悲伤中发下了要得到正义的誓言,并一拳捶在了墙上。

The official explanation for his only sibling’s death made no sense to Mr. Song. After all, she had already paid for her flight home to celebrate their mother’s upcoming birthday and to meet, for the first time, his 5-year-old son. Suicide was not possible, he reasoned. Darker forces might be at play. He had already begun his own investigation.

对宋海来说,关于自己唯一的姐姐死因的官方解释根本讲不通。毕竟,她已经花钱买了回家的机票,去给母亲过即将到来的生日,还要与他五岁的儿子第一次见面。他推断,自杀是不可能的。里面也许有更黑暗的原因。他已经开始了自己的调查。

One snowy night soon after arriving from China, Mr. Song appeared at his sister’s 40th Road building with Mr. Hayes. Their plan was to break into her apartment, collect her belongings — and, if possible, retrieve any surveillance video.

从中国到这里后的一个飘雪的晚上,宋海和海耶斯一起出现在了姐姐曾在40路住过的地方。他们的计划是破门进入她的公寓,取走她的物品——而且,如果有可能的话,索回任何有关监控视频。

Mr. Song, a learning specialist by trade, and Mr. Hayes, a computer consultant, crept up the 50 tiled steps to the fourth-floor door, which was secured with a locked chain. Fearing the noise of the hammer and small acetylene torch they had planned to use, Mr. Hayes hustled to a Home Depot a mile away and returned with a hacksaw.

宋海的职业是特殊教育,海耶斯则是一名计算机顾问,他两人蹑手蹑脚地爬上铺着瓷砖的50个台阶,到了四楼。门已被上了锁的铁链子封起来了。他们原本打算使用锤子和乙炔焊炬,但担心噪音太大,海耶斯急忙跑到一英里外的家得宝(Home Depot),买来了一支钢锯。

After a few minutes of sawing, the chain gave way, and the two men pushed open the dull-gray door to enter the setting of a life interrupted. The police had taken the surveillance equipment, but everything else made it seem as if Song Yang might return at any minute.

锯了几分钟后,铁链断了,两人推开了暗灰色的房门,进入了一个被打断的生命的世界。警方已经拿走了监控设备,但其他东西看起来像是宋扬可能随时会回来一样。

In the two bedrooms, rumpled sheets. In the kitchen, a Pepsi and a half-empty bottle of Bacardi, sliced carrots and apples, and the black chair that Mr. Song recognized as the one his sister sat in while video-chatting with her family. In the living room, a raised table with a red curtained skirt, on which sat a CD player, a pair of sunglasses and a lucky cat figurine. Placed neatly on the floor, a pair of pink shoes.

两间卧室里的床单很是凌乱。厨房里放着一罐百事可乐和半瓶百家得朗姆酒、切成片的胡萝卜和苹果,还有一把黑色椅子。宋海认出这就是她和家人视频通话时坐的那把。客厅里一张架高的桌子上放着一条红边半裙,上面有一个CD播放机、一副太阳镜和一只招财猫。地板上整齐地放着一双粉色鞋子。

On the snow-dusted front balcony, a broom, an upside-down bucket, a stool, a few plastic bags containing fruit and eggs. And, just beyond, the beckoning lights and shadows of the street below.

在有着积雪的前阳台上,放着一把扫帚、一个倒扣的桶,一张板凳,几个装着水果和鸡蛋的塑料袋。阳台外边就是诱人的灯光和街道的阴影。

Song Hai returned often to 40th Road, a spectral presence in his dark hooded coat and black cap, a cigarette cupped in his hand. He cajoled and confronted the sidewalk’s denizens, asking questions, taking photographs, recording conversations. He saw himself as a lone-wolf investigator, working to prove that corrupt officers of this strange city had thrown Song Yang over the railing.

宋海经常回到40路,身穿黑色连帽外套、头戴黑色帽子、手里夹着一支香烟,像是一个幽灵。他哄骗和质问人行道上的居民,问问题,拍照,把与他们的对话录下来。他把自己看成是一个独狼式调查员,努力想证明这个陌生城市的腐败警员把宋扬从栏杆上扔了下去。

His ever-evolving theory:

他不断演化的推断是:

That his sister had been sexually assaulted by a police officer. That she had filed a complaint. That the subsequent police lineup was fixed to protect the assailant. Then it was payback, which explained why, of all the women along 40th Road, only Song Yang was arrested in September, and was about to be arrested again in late November.

姐姐被一名警官性侵。她做了投诉。警方后来安排的指认是为了保护加害人,然后对她进行报复,这就解释了为什么40路上的这么多女人中,只有宋扬在2017年9月被逮捕,而且在11月底又将被再次逮捕。

As is standard when a death occurs during a police action, the Queens district attorney and the police department’s Force Investigation Division were investigating. But Mr. Song was already beginning to believe that nearly every corner of the American criminal justice system — from the police to the medical examiner — was colluding to hide the truth.

按照标准做法,警方行动中发生死亡时,皇后区地区检察官和警察局的武力调查部也都在进行调查。但宋海已开始认为,美国刑事司法系统的几乎每一个角落——从警察到法医——都在串通一气隐瞒真相。

He patrolled downtown Flushing. He interrogated women and shopkeepers. He plastered the streets with leaflets featuring photographs of his sister and promising a “Big Reward!” The plea appeared in Chinese and in fractured English:

他往返于法拉盛闹市区。他询问女人和店主。他在街上贴满了“寻人”启事,上面有他姐姐的照片,并承诺“必有重赏!”启事是用中文和支离破碎的英文写的:

Hello! When you saw the photo, SiSi (Song Yang) was no longer alive. She fell from and died on 11/25/2017 at 135-32 4FL in Flushing. Families as well as the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau are eager to find out the truth of her death. If you have ANY CLUES, please contact me ASAP. Absolutely Confidential … (Her brother Song Hai)

您好!当您看到这个相片的时候,SiSi(中文名宋扬~Song Yang)已经走了。她于11/25/2017晚间七点在法拉盛40路135-32的4楼,发生“意外”坠楼身亡!家属和纽约警方内务调查部目前正在了解死亡真相。恳求社区知情者能够提供线索~以还死者一个公道!绝对保密!(她的弟弟宋海)

The dozens of responses yielded little. One man called to say that Song Hai’s sister was a whore — a word he did not quite understand, and so he continued the conversation: Yes, yes. And do you have information?

启事得到的几十个回复并没有提供多少信息。一名男子打电话说,宋海的姐姐是妓女——宋海不太懂此人用的那个英文单词,所以他继续与之对话:对,对。你有什么信息吗?

His sleuthing occasionally paid off. One evening, amid the Main Street crush, Mr. Song spotted a man he recognized from his sister’s WeChat photographs: short, solidly built, and with a distinctive, block-shaped head.

他的侦查工作偶尔也有点成效。一天晚上,在大街上拥挤的人群中,宋海发现了一个他从姐姐发的微信照片中认出来的人:身材矮小、结实,脑袋的形状像块石头,与众不同。

Excited, Mr. Song crossed the street and, right at the Roosevelt Avenue intersection, near the subway entrance, grabbed the man by the arm. Mr. Song recalled what happened next:

宋海兴奋地穿过马路,在靠近地铁入口的罗斯福大道十字路口一把抓住了那个人的胳膊。宋海回忆了接下来发生的事情:

Are you Li? he asked.

你姓李吗?他问道。

You’re mistaken, replied the startled Lao Li, the boss who controlled Song Yang’s apartment. My name is not Li.

“你搞错了,”吃惊的老李说,这位老板曾是宋扬公寓的控制者。“我不姓李。”

Mr. Song waved down a passing police car, as a crowd gathered and the agitated man in his grip implored him not to involve the authorities. Let’s resolve this ourselves.

宋海挥手让一辆路过的警车停下来,人群开始聚集,被他紧紧抓住的那个焦虑不安的男子恳求他不要牵涉当局。“让我们自己解决这个问题。”

The two officers understood Mr. Song’s intentions, he later recalled, but they explained that this was America, not China, and that he was unlawfully detaining a man who wasn’t present when his sister’s fall took place. They separated the men, and Lao Li floated away in the rush-hour stream.

宋海后来回忆说,车里的两名警官明白宋海的意图,但他们解释说,这是美国,不是中国,他抓住一个他姐姐坠楼时并不在场的男人不放,是非法的。他们把宋海和老李分开了,老李消失在通勤高峰的人流中。

Later that evening, an angry Lao Li telephoned Mr. Song. In the conversation that Mr. Song duly recorded on his phone, Lao Li vented about the audacity of summoning the police — “If you don’t have evidence, how could you say I’m the boss?” — before giving his version of the realities on 40th Road.

那天晚上晚些时候,愤怒的老李打电话给宋海。宋海准确无误地用手机把两人的通话录了下来,老李在通话中对宋海叫警察的鲁莽怒不可遏——“你没有证据,你怎么能说我是老板呢?”后来,他讲了有关40路情况的他自己的版本。

He said that he rented the apartment to Song Yang for $3,100 a month — hardly the $12,000 that was rumored on the street. “She and I really didn’t have any employment relationship,” he said. “Just that at the start of the month, I would take the rent.”

他说,他把公寓租给宋扬的房租是每月3100美元,远低于街上流传的12000美元。“我和她没有什么雇佣关系,”他说。“就是说在月每一个月的月初我会收房租。”

Lao Li said she called him her “boss” so that others wouldn’t bully her, but he insisted that she was her own boss: prone to arrest, sure, but also smart, tenacious and tough.

老李说,她叫他“老板”是为了让别人不欺负她,但他坚持说,她是她自己的老板:确实容易被捕,但她也很精明、顽强,能吃苦耐劳。

Throughout the conversation, Lao Li characteristically remained at a distance — even when describing that fateful night. He rushed to 40th Road after receiving a call that “SiSi had jumped from the building,” he said, but by the time he got there, “your sister had already been taken away.”

在整个通话中,老李一如既往地保持着一定的距离——即使是在描述那个关键的夜晚时也是这样。他说,在接到“西西跳楼”的电话后,他急忙赶往40路,但当他到那里时,“你的姐姐已经被带走。”

As Mr. Song conducted his frustrating investigation, his mother spent her days in the numbing cocoon of grief. Once so proud of her entrepreneurial children, Shi Yumei was now a sorrowful woman in a foreign world, gingerly navigating a small cart down crowded Main Street, her pale gray knit cap pulled low, her mind occupied with worry. How, for example, would she and her son, here on temporary visas, survive on the little money they had brought with them?

宋海进行着令人沮丧的调查,而他的母亲则整天沉浸在令人麻木的悲痛中。石玉梅曾经为自己有上进心的孩子们感到骄傲,但现在她是身在异国他乡的悲伤女人,在拥挤的缅街上小心翼翼地推着一辆小车,她灰白色的针织帽拉得低低的,脑子里充满了忧虑。比如,她和儿子来美国拿的是临时签证,他们怎么能靠随身携带的少量现金生活下去呀?

An encounter with a bellowing street evangelist eventually led her to St. George’s, the old Episcopal church on Main Street whose steeple has long been a Flushing landmark. Its congregation embraced her, smothering her with food, clothing and compassion. Locking hands and forming a prayer circle one day, strangers asked God to grant peace to this new person among them, who felt so blessed that she began to volunteer at the church’s food pantry as a way of giving back.

后来,她与一位在街上大声宣讲的传教士邂逅,最终把她引到了缅街上的圣公会老教堂圣乔治教堂,这个教堂的尖塔一直是法拉盛的地标。会众欣然接受了她,给了她大量的食物、衣服和同情。有一天,会众们手拉手组成了一个祈祷圈,这些陌生人请求上帝赐予他们中的这名新来者宁静,石玉梅感受到如此的荣福,她开始在教堂提供免费食品的活动中充当志愿者,以此来回报教会。

One cool April morning, she donned an orange apron and joined 40 other volunteers, nearly all of them immigrants, as they prepared for the ritual that unfolds every Wednesday along the old church’s north side, opposite a Lucille Roberts fitness center. They unloaded the crates from trucks, bagged the fruit and vegetables, and established an assembly line of food down the sidewalk: turnips and fennel, lettuce and apples, onions and melons.

今年4月一个凉爽的早晨,她穿上橙色围裙,加入到其他40名志愿者的行列,他们几乎都是移民,正在为老教堂北边即将开始的每周三的例行活动做准备,街对面就是露西尔·罗伯茨(Lucille Roberts)健身中心。他们从卡车上卸下板条箱,把水果和蔬菜装到袋子里,沿着人行道上设立起一条食品发配线:芜菁和茴香,生菜和苹果,洋葱和瓜。

The decade-old operation had gradually adapted to the ways of Flushing, with organizers taking note of the tensions caused by different understandings of personal space among ethnic groups. The solution: two alternating lines — one that was entirely Asian, and the other a mix of black, white and Latino.

这个有十年历史的运作已经逐渐适应了法拉盛的方式,组织者注意到,不同族群的人对个人空间有不同的理解,这会导致紧张气氛。他们的解决方法是:设立两条队伍——一条队都是亚洲人,另一条队有黑人、白人和拉丁美洲人。

On this morning, the Asian line ran alongside the church’s cemetery wall, and the other line stretched down to a firehouse. But things moved apace, thanks in large part to the high-spirited efficiency of the volunteers — including Shi Yumei, who smiled at her sense of belonging as she proffered bags of onions.

这天早上,亚洲人的队沿着教堂墓地的墙排出去,另一条队一直延伸到消防站。但工作进展得很快,这在很大程度上要归功于志愿者们高昂的工作效率,其中就有石玉梅,当她把装有洋葱的袋子递给排队的人时,归属感让她露出了笑容。

Each evening, after long days of volunteering and investigating, mother and son returned to a worn apartment catering to transients, not far from 40th Road. Some lodgers paid $20 a night for a narrow bed in the living room. But with some financial help from the church and a few nonprofit organizations, Mr. Song and Ms. Shi managed to pay $1,000 a month for a cramped bedroom and first dibs on a shared kitchen.

每天晚上,做完漫长的志愿服务和调查后,母子俩回到离40路不远的、专门为暂住者提供的破旧公寓。有些房客只付得起每晚20美元、在客厅里租用一张小床的租金。但在教会和几家非营利组织的资助下,宋海和石玉梅能够每月支付1000美元,租下一间狭小的卧室,并在一间共用厨房里有优先使用权。

They slept beside a closet packed with clothes and accessories that Song Yang left behind. Tears were shed over a single strand of black hair found on a coat. They lived in the presence of her absence.

他们睡在一个装满宋扬留下的衣服和配饰的壁橱旁。一件外套上找到的一缕黑发让他们流泪。他们的生活中随时都能意识到她的缺席。

To find sleep, the mother would hold a small audio device close to her ear and listen to lively recorded stories about historical Chinese triumphs, cuddled beside one of her daughter’s plush teddy bears. This way, Ms. Shi said in Mandarin, “I know my daughter is here with me.”

为了睡觉,母亲会把一个小播放设备放在耳边,听着用活灵活现的讲解录制的中国历史上打胜仗的故事,她怀抱着女儿的毛绒泰迪熊。石玉梅用普通话说,这样“我知道我女儿和我在一起”。

Two feet away, her son would lie in his twin bed near the window, cigarettes on the nightstand, spent beer cans under the bed, another Long Island Rail Road train clattering in the distance. Here he would try to piece together the stray bits of his investigation.

两英尺外,她的儿子躺在靠窗的单人床上,床头柜上放着香烟,床底下有空的啤酒罐,远处,又一趟长岛铁路公司的火车哐当哐当地驶过。在这里,他试图把调查来的零散线索拼凑起来。

He had found a grainy photograph from his sister’s WeChat feed of the stocky, bald man who had supposedly sexually assaulted her, and convinced himself that a bald police detective, appearing in cellphone videos taken on the sidewalk after his sister’s fall, was the same man.

他在姐姐用微信发来的东西中找到了一张模糊的照片,照片上那个矮胖的秃顶男人据说性侵过她。宋海肯定,姐姐坠楼后,有人拍摄的一段手机视频里的秃顶警察侦探,与模糊照片中的那个男子是同一人。

He had also obtained photographs and forensic notes from the autopsy. Poring over the graphic images, he decided that the discoloration around his sister’s face came from a beating, and that her broken fingernails suggested some kind of struggle — and, therefore, a cover-up.

他还获得了来自尸检的照片和法医笔记。他仔细看过这些照片,从中得出结论认为,姐姐脸上颜色的变化表明她被人打过,她断了的指甲意味着某种反抗——所以,真相被掩盖了。

This was America. Not China. Exactly.

这是美国。不是中国。的确如此。

On a sunny spring day, those invested in the proceedings of the human trafficking court filed into the basement courtroom in Kew Gardens. Among them were Song Hai, in a black blazer and brown work boots, and Shi Yumei, her blue-and-orange scarf recalling the colors seen on the Staten Island Ferry, on Knicks uniforms, on Mets baseball caps — the colors of New York.

一个晴朗春日,履行人口非法交易法庭流程的人们鱼贯进入位于秋园的那间地下室审判庭。他们当中有宋海,穿着黑色西装上衣和棕色工装靴,还有石玉梅,她的蓝橙两色围巾让人想起史丹顿岛渡轮上、尼克斯队队服上、大都会队棒球帽上的配色——纽约的颜色。

They took their seats among the defendants, including a woman in glasses often seen calling out to men on 40th Road. Mr. Song sat with his hands clasped and back erect; his mother was bent forward, as if in prayer. They waited.

他们坐在一群被告人当中,被告人里有个戴眼镜的女人,经常在40路上招徕男人。 宋海紧握双手挺直背坐着;他母亲向前躬着身,像在祈祷。 他们等待着。

An air of empathy defines the court, which is intended to encourage women engaged in the commercial sex trade to avail themselves of counseling and other diversionary programs. On most Fridays, the judge, the prosecutor and the defense lawyer are women, and the lanky head court officer is determined to make the defendants feel safe and respected. He does his best to dissuade any pimps or bosses from taking a seat.

这个法庭的特点是一种共情气息,它旨在鼓励从事性交易的女性充分利用辅导和其他司法之外的程序。 法庭大多在星期五开庭,法官、检察官和辩护律师都是女性,一位瘦长头型的法警一心想让被告人感到安全和受尊重。 他尽最大努力不让皮条客或老板入座。

Prominent in the dozen pews are Chinese women facing the usual massage-parlor-related charges of prostitution or unlicensed massage. Court-appointed lawyers from the Legal Aid Society or Queens Law Associates usually guide them through the process, along with a Mandarin-speaking interpreter and advocates from one of the nonprofit groups specializing in sex-trafficking outreach and immigration services.

十几张长凳上中国女人占多数,她们面临按摩店相关的常见指控:卖淫或无照按摩。由法庭指定的来自法律援助协会(Legal Aid Society)或皇后区法律协会(Queens Law Associates)的律师,辅以普通话翻译,以及一家专长非法性交易救助与移民服务的非营利机构的工作人员,引导她们完成法庭流程。

Defenders of the program maintain that until a better approach is developed, arrests — followed by appearances in trafficking court — provide the best chance for intervention. Even if a woman returns to 40th Road, they say, she will at least have the names of people to contact if she needs help.

这一程序的支持者坚持认为,在更好的办法制定出来以前,逮捕——随后在人口非法交易干预法庭出庭——提供了最佳的干预机会。他们说,即使一个女人又回到40路上,她需要帮助时至少有了联系人姓名。

Others, though, counter that for many women caught in the commercial sex trade, an arrest only exacerbates their trauma. Besides, they say, one doesn’t need to be arrested in order to receive helpful contact information.

不过另一些人反驳说,对许多从事性交易的妇女来说,逮捕只会加剧创伤。他们还说,为了获得有用的联系方式也不必被捕。

Judge Toko Serita, who has presided over the trafficking court for a decade, summons the defendants, one by one, to stand before her, as a court officer calls out, “Mandarin interpreter required, and present.” The judge has short black hair, glasses and a welcoming, even reassuring demeanor, whether it’s the defendant’s first appearance or her last.

主审人口非法交易法庭十年的芹田斗子(Toko Serita)法官逐个传唤被告人在她面前起立,法警喊,“需要普通话翻译,请到场。”法官有一头黑色短发,戴眼镜,不管被告人是头一次出庭还是最后一次,她的态度都是热情的,甚至是令人宽心的。

 How are you today? … Are you studying English? … This is a really good streak … I want to congratulate you for completing all your sessions with Garden of Hope … Stay out of trouble, lead a law-abiding life for the next six months, and the record will be expunged … Good luck to you.

今天还好吗?你在学英语吗?这真是个好势头……我想祝贺你完成了励馨妇幼关怀中心的全部辅导课程……别惹麻烦,接下来的六个月里守法生活,你的记录就会抹掉了……祝你好运。

On this morning, several cases were heard before a court officer finally called out: “03585 dash 17. Yang Song!”

这天早上,几个案子听证完毕后,一位法警唤道:“03585-17.宋扬!”

Even though she was five months dead, Song Yang still had an open criminal case: the arrest on a prostitution charge two months before her fatal fall. The sprawling New York City judicial system may seem overwhelmed, even chaotic, but in the end its books must be balanced. This meant that a formality known as an “abatement by death” — a dismissal, in effect — was required to close the short chapter on Song Yang, or Yang Song, as the system sometimes rendered her name.

尽管已经去世五个月,宋扬还有一桩未审结的刑事案:她在致命坠落的两个月前有一次因卖淫指控被捕。庞大的纽约市司法系统也许看似过于错综复杂,甚至混乱,但到最后该结的案都得结。这意味着要用“因被告死亡而终止审理”——实际就是免除诉讼——的手续来了结宋扬或扬·宋的这件案子,这个系统有时候把她的名字写作“扬·宋”。

Judge Serita was informed that the deceased defendant’s mother and son were present and would like to thank the court. The request stilled the courtroom. The judge sighed in sympathy.

芹田法官得知死去被告人的母亲和弟弟到场并希望向法庭致谢。这一请求使整个审判庭静了下来。法官同情地叹了口气。

“Thank you,” she said. “Um. All right. This case is now going to be abated by death.”

“谢谢你们,”她说。“嗯,好的,本案现在因被告死亡而终止审理。”

She went on to tell Song Yang’s mother and brother that everyone involved in the trafficking court was deeply saddened by their loved one’s “tragic and untimely death.” She expressed hope that they “somehow find peace with these unfortunate circumstances.”

她接着告诉宋扬的妈妈和弟弟,参与人口非法交易法庭的所有人都为他们亲人“不幸的过早离世”深感悲伤。她希望他们能节哀顺变。

Mr. Song and Ms. Shi acknowledged her words with nods. They walked out of the courtroom, past an “Exit Only — No Re-Entry” sign, and into the late-morning brightness. He lit a cigarette. She adjusted her backpack. They continued on in silence.

宋海和石玉梅点头回应她的话。他们走出审判庭,经过一块“仅作出口不得复入”的指示牌,走进上午时分的光明。他点燃一支烟。她理了理背包。两人默不作声继续上路。

Two weeks later, the mother and brother returned to Kew Gardens for a long-awaited meeting with investigators from the Homicide Investigations Bureau of the Queens district attorney’s office. With everyone seated around a dark-wood conference table in a windowless room, the investigators shared the results of their monthslong inquiry, including 22 minutes of video culled from cameras positioned both inside and outside the building at 135-32 40th Road.

两周后,宋扬的母亲和弟弟回到秋园,与皇后区检察官办公室凶杀调查处的调查员进行了期待已久的会面。大家在一个没有窗户的房间落座一张黑木会议桌旁,调查员拿出了他们耗时数月的调查结果,包括从40路135-32号公寓楼内外的摄像头采集的22分钟视频。

In these images, their beloved daughter and sister appears in the fullness of life. Here is Song Yang, leading the undercover officer up the stairs. Here she is, kicking him out of the apartment, watching the officers ascend the stairs — rushing in alarm toward the balcony.

他们心爱的女儿、姐姐活生生地出现在这些画面里。这是宋扬领着那个卧底警员上楼。这是她把他赶出房间,看着那些警察从楼梯上来,惊叫着跑向阳台。

Here, from street level, something falling, and then a beloved daughter and sister, crumpled on the pavement. Watching the video again a few days later, Ms. Shi noticed the headband that flies off her daughter’s head.

这是街道角度的镜头,有东西坠落,然后一个亲爱的女儿与姐姐瘫倒在人行道上。几天后再看这段录像,石玉梅注意到发带从女儿头上飞落。

“She especially loved butterflies,” the mother said.

“她特别喜欢蝴蝶,”母亲说。

The video over, the investigators laid out their sober findings: The police involved in a bust-and-buy sting on 40th Road the night of Nov. 25, 2017, did not cause the death of Song Yang. To begin with, no officer was even in the fourth-floor apartment when she jumped or fell.

录像放完,调查员摆出了冷冰冰的调查结果:2017年11月25日夜警方参与了40路上的一次卧底扫黄行动,该行动并非宋扬的死因。首先,当宋扬跳下或坠落时甚至没有警员在四楼的公寓房间里。

Her brother scoffed at this conclusion. He said something rude in Mandarin. Meeting over.

她弟弟对这个结论嗤之以鼻。他用普通话说了句粗话。会见结束。

Night comes to 40th Road.

夜幕降临40路。

The fruit and vegetable peddlers have boxed up and boarded up, and the last patrons of air-conditioned restaurants have stepped out to evaporate in the late June warmth. But the women are here, as always, calling out an invitation that sounds almost like a plea.

卖蔬果的小贩已经收摊关门,最后一批食客已走出空调开放的餐厅,消散在六月末的温暖中。但女人们还在这里,一如既往,用近乎恳求的腔调招徕顾客。

Massage?

按摩吗?

They stand outside the same doorways, including the one for 135-32, where Song Yang once lingered. Very soon after she died, her fourth-floor apartment became the address for a new massage business. Its name: Heaven on Fourth.

她们还是站在那些楼门外边,包括135-32号,宋扬曾在这里踟蹰。她死后没多久,四楼她那套公寓房间就成了一家新按摩店的地址。名字叫“四楼天堂”(Heaven on Fourth)。

A few steps away, at the entrance to another of the gloomy buildings owned and operated by prominent Flushing businessmen, a thin woman in a brown dress sits in a metal chair with a square of Styrofoam for padding, studying her cellphone through the smoke of her cigarette. Then she pulls out a bag of overripe cherries from the building’s broken mailbox and, between the repeated offerings of her services, spits out the pits and tosses them into the street, not far from a lamppost adorned with a poster bearing the face of Song Yang (“Big Reward!”).

几步路之外,由知名的法拉盛生意人拥有并经营的另一幢灰扑扑的公寓楼门口,一个穿褐色裙子的瘦女人坐在金属椅子上,用一块方形泡沫充当座垫,透过香烟烟雾研究着手机。然后她从公寓楼的破信箱里掏出一袋熟过了头的樱桃,一面反复吆喝她的服务,一面把樱桃核吐出来扔到街上,不远处的路灯柱上贴着印有宋扬照片的寻人启事(“必有重赏!”)。

To the woman’s right, roasted duck carcasses hang in the window of the Corner 28 restaurant, where a man is mop-swabbing the sticky floor. To her left, sorrowful creatures loll in a seafood restaurant’s murky tank. Above her head, scaffolding provides protection from the stucco that city officials say has been coming loose from the buildings. Rain begins to fall.

女人右边,“旺角28”餐厅的橱窗里挂着烧鸭,一个男人正拖着粘腻的地板。在她左边,忧伤的鱼虾在一家海鲜餐厅浑浊的鱼缸里游来游去。她头顶上有脚手架,市政官员说是为了防止从楼体松脱的灰泥落下伤人。天下起了雨。

A nearby tanker truck groans as it sucks away a restaurant’s used cooking oil through a large hose that snakes across the sidewalk and into the bowels of a building. The women adapt: They step over the hose, ignore the smell, raise their voices.

近处一辆罐车呻吟着抽走一家餐厅的烹调废油,粗大的管子蜿蜒着穿过人行道,伸进一幢楼的下水管道。女人们习以为常:她们跨过管子,不理会臭气,提高了嗓门。

One of the women leads a potential client to a building’s threshold, but he keeps walking; she mutters an epithet in Mandarin. Then a buzz-cut junkie, who just hours before was asleep on the pavement, begins to harass the women, disrupting their business by hovering. He enters one of their buildings and urinates in the hall.

一个女人领着一位可能有意的顾客走向一幢楼的楼门,但是他走掉了;她用普通话低声骂了一句。一个寸头的瘾君子,几小时前还在人行道上睡觉,现在开始骚扰这些女人,干扰她们做生意,他在她们身边兜圈子。他走进她们的一幢公寓楼,在门厅里撒尿。

The rain hardens. The whoosh of a shuttered metal gate resounds. A kitchen worker emerges at the end of his shift and wishes the women a good night. They wish him the same.

雨下大了。一扇金属门关上的呼呼声回响着。一个下班的厨工走来向这些女人道晚安。她们也同样问候他。

It is all ephemeral, of course, a realization reinforced daily by the laborers trudging down this street to the subway, bone-weary from working another of the construction projects that are redefining Flushing. Few today remember the Old Roma restaurant that once thrived on 40th Road, just as few tomorrow will remember a Chinese immigrant who once died on 40th Road.

当然,这一切都是过眼云烟,拖着脚步穿过这条街去乘地铁的工人们每一天都在强化这个认识,他们疲惫地干完了建筑工地的活,他们建造的又一个项目正在让法拉盛改头换面。如今很少有人记得曾在40路上生意兴隆的老罗马餐厅,就像明天很少有人会记得曾在40路上死去的一个中国移民。

For now, at least, if you linger on the street, you will encounter those who remember her — including, occasionally, clients still looking for SiSi.

至少现在,要是你徜徉在这条街上,你会遇到还记得她的人——偶尔还有仍在寻找西西的顾客。

You might see Lala, and Kiki, and Yoyo, along with other women who competed with Song Yang. You might see her lanky brother, Song Hai, who still struggles to understand why no one will be brought to justice for all that his sister went through in her adopted country. His grief smolders, as does his distrust of America.

你可能会见到拉拉,琪琪,悠悠,还有别的曾经跟宋扬抢生意的女人。你可能会见到她瘦高的弟弟宋海,他还在努力想搞明白在她选择居住的国家,姐姐遭受了这一切之后却为什么没有一个人被法办。他的悲伤压在心里,如同他对美国的不相信。

Lastly, you might see Song Yang’s mother, Shi Yumei.

最后,你可能会见到宋扬的母亲,石玉梅。

One evening, Ms. Shi paused outside a building where some women were offering massages to passing men. Raising the drooping bags held in her hands, she explained that she had just left the food pantry at the Episcopal church on Main Street, where she had recently been baptized. She said the pastor had emphasized the importance of sharing what you have.

一天傍晚,石玉梅在一幢楼前驻足,一些女人正在向过往的男人兜售按摩服务。她举起手里沉甸甸的袋子,解释说她刚去缅街上的圣公会教堂领了食物救济,不久前她在那里受了洗。她说牧师着重讲,分享你的所有很重要。

The mother placed a bag of sweet potatoes in the doorway that had once been Song Yang’s domain. It was an offering of sorts, a gift to women like her daughter. Then she was gone, assumed into the Flushing blur.

这位母亲把一袋红薯放在曾经是宋扬地盘的那个门口。这是某种施予,是给像她女儿一样的女人们的礼物。然后她走了,没入法拉盛的朦胧中。

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