Уровень B2 (продвинутый)
Toni Prescott hated working at Global Computer Graphics. She was twenty-two years old, impish, vivacious, and daring. She was half smoldering, half firecracker.
Her face was puckishly heart shaped, her eyes were mischievous brown, her figure alluring. She had been bom in London and she spoke with a delightful British accent. She was athletic and loved sports, particularly winter sports: skiing and bobsledding and ice-skating.
Going to college in London, Toni had dressed conservatively during the day, but at night, she had donned miniskirts and disco gear and made the swinging rounds. She had spent her evenings and nights at the Electric Ballroom on Camden High Street, and at Sub-terania and the Leopard Lounge, mixing with the trendy West End crowd. She had a beautiful voice, sultry and sensuous, and at some of the clubs, she would go to the piano and play and sing, and the patrons would cheer her. That was when she felt most alive.
The routine inside the clubs would always follow the same pattern. «Do you know you’re a fantastic singer, Toni?» «Та.»
«Can I buy you a drink?» She smiled. «A Pimm’s would be lovely.» «My pleasure.»
And it would end the same way. Her date would lean close to her and whisper in her ear, «Why don’t we go up to my flat…»
«Buzz off.» And Toni would be out of there. She would lie in her bed at night, thinking about how stupid men were and how bloody easy it was to control them. The poor sods did not know it, but they wanted to be controlled. They needed to be controlled.
And then came the move from London to Cupertino. In the beginning it had been a disaster. Toni hated Cupertino and she loathed working at Global Computer Graphics. She was bored with hearing about plug-ins and so on. She desperately missed the exciting nightlife of London. There were a few nightspots in the Cupertino area, and Toni frequented those. She wore tight-fitting miniskirts and tube tops with open-toed shoes having five-inch heels or platform shoes with thick cork soles. She used a lot of makeup -thick, dark eyeliner, false eyelashes, colored eye shadow and bright lipstick. It was as though she were trying to hide her beauty.
Some weekends Toni would drive up to San Francisco, where the real action was. She haunted the restaurants and clubs that had music bars. She would visit Harry Denton’s and One Market restaurant and the California Cafe, and during the evening, while the musicians took their break, Toni would go to the piano and play and sing. The customers loved it. When Toni tried to pay her dinner bills, the owners would say, «No, this is on the house. You’re wonderful. Please come back again.»
On a Saturday night, Toni was having dinner in the French Room at the Cliff Hotel. The musicians had finished their set and left the bandstand. The maitre d looked at Toni and nodded invitingly.
Toni rose and walked across the room to the piano. She sat down and began to play and sing an early Cole Porter number. When she was finished, there was enthusiastic applause. She sang two more songs and returned to her table.
A bald, middle-aged man came up to her. «Excuse me. May I join you for a moment?»
Toni started to say no, when he added, «I’m Norman Zimmerman. I’d like to talk to you.»
Toni had just read a glowing article about him. He was a theatrical genius.
He sat down. «You have a remarkable talent, young lady. You’re wasting your time fooling around in places like this. You should be on Broadway. I’d like to audition you for—»
«I’m sorry. I can’t.»
He looked at her in surprise. «This could open a lot of doors for you. I mean it. I don’t think you know how talented you are.»
«I have a job.»
«Doing what, may I ask?»
«I work at a computer company.»
«I’ll tell you what. I’ll start by paying you double whatever you’re getting now and—»
Toni said, «I appreciate it, but I… I can’t.»
Zimmerman sat back in his chair. «You’re not interested in show business?»
«I’m very interested.»
«Then what’s the problem? Because of your husband or — ?»
«I’m not married.»
«I dont understand. You said you’re interested in show business. This is the perfect showcase for you to — «
«I’m sorry. I can’t explain.»
If I did explain, he wouldn’t understand, Toni thought miserably. No one would.
A few months after Toni started working at Global Computer Graphics, she learned about the Internet, the worldwide open door to meeting men.
She was having dinner at the Duke of Edinburgh with Kathy Healy, a friend who worked for a rival computer company. The restaurant was an authentic pub from England that had been tom down, packed in containers and shipped to California. Toni would go there for Cockney fish and chips, prime ribs with Yorkshire pudding, bangers and mash and English sherry trifle. One foot on the ground, she would say, I have to remember my roots.
Toni looked up at Kathy. «I want you to do me a favor.»
«I want you to help me with the Internet. Tell me how to use it.»
«Toni, the only computer I have access to is at work, and it’s against company policy to—»
«Sod company policy. You know how to use the Internet, don’t you?» «Yes.»
Toni patted Kathy Healy’s hand and smiled. «Great.»
The following evening, Toni went to Kathy Healy’s office, and Kathy introduced Toni to the world of the Internet. After clicking on the Internet icon, Kathy entered her password and waited a moment to connect, then double clicked another icon and entered a chat room. Toni sat in amazement, watching rapid, typed conversations taking place among people all over the globe.
«I’ve got to have that!» Toni said. «I’ll get a computer for my flat. Would you be an angel and set me up on the Internet?»
«Sure. It’s easy.»
«Like the song says, ‘Don’t tell me, show me’.»
The next night Toni was on the Internet, and from that time on her life changed. She was no longer bored. The Internet became a magic carpet that flew her all over the world. When Toni got home from work, she would immediately turn on her computer and go online to explore various chat rooms that were available.
It was so simple. She accessed the Internet, pressed a key and a window opened on the screen, split into an upper portion and a lower portion. Toni typed in «Hello. Is anyone there?» The lower portion of the screen flashed the words «Bob. I’m here. I’m waiting for you.»
She was ready to meet the world.
There was Hans in Holland. «Tell me about yourself, Hans.»
«I’m a DJ in Amsterdam at a great club. I’m into hip-hop, rave, world beat. You name it.»
Toni typed in her reply. «Sounds great. I love to dance. I can go all night long. I live in a horrible little town that has nothing to offer except a few disco nights.»
«It bloody well is.»
«Why don’t you let me cheer you up? What are the chances of our meeting?»
«Та ta.» She exited the chat room.
There was Paul, in South Africa. «I’ve been waiting for you to check back in, Toni.» «I’m here. I’m dying to know all about you, Paul.» «I’m thirty-two. I’m a doctor at a hospital in Johannesburg. I—» Toni angrily signed off. A doctor!Terrible memories came flooding through her. She closed her eyes a moment, her heart pounding. She took several deep breaths. No more tonight, she thought shakily. She went to bed.
The following evening Toni was back on the Internet. On-line was Sean from Dublin.
«Toni… That’s a pretty name.»
«Thank you, Sean.»
«Have you ever been to Ireland?»
«You’d love it. It’s the land of leprechauns. Tell me what you look like, Toni. I’ll bet you’re beautiful.»
«You’re right. I’m beautiful, I’m exciting and I’m single. What do you do, Sean?»
«I’m a bartender. I—»
Toni ended the chat session.
Every night was different. There was a polo player in Argentina, an automobile salesman in Japan, a department store clerk in Chicago, a television technician in New York.
The Internet was a fascinating game, and Toni enjoyed it to the fullest. She could go as far as she wanted and yet know that she was safe because she was anonymous.
And then one night, in an on-line chat room, she met Jean Claude Parent.
«Bon soir. I am happy to meet you, Toni.»
«Nice to meet you, Jean Claude. Where are you?»
«In Quebec City.»
«I’ve never been to Quebec. Would I like it?» Toni expected to see the word yes on the screen.
Instead, Jean Claude typed, «I do not know. It depends on what kind of person you are.»
Toni found his answer intriguing. «Really? What kind of person would I have to be to enjoy Quebec?»
«Quebec is like the early North American frontier. It is very French. Quebecois are independent. We do not like to take orders from anyone.» Toni typed in, «Neither do I.»
«Then you would enjoy it. It is a beautiful city, surrounded by mountains and lovely lakes, a paradise for hunting and fishing.»
Looking at the typed words appearing on her screen, Toni could almost feel Jean Claude’s enthusiasm. «It sounds great. Tell me about yourself.»
«Moi? There is not much to tell. I am thirty-eight years old, unmarried. I just ended a relationship, and I would like to settle down with the right woman. Et vous? Are you married?»
Toni typed back, «No. I’m looking for someone, too. What do you do?» «I own a little jewelry store. I hope you will come and visit it one day.» «Is that an invitation?»
«Mais oui. Yes.»
Toni typed in, «It sounds interesting.»
Toni communicated with Jean Claude Parent almost every night. He had scanned in a picture of himself, and Toni found herself looking at a very attractive, intelligent-looking man.
When Jean Claude saw the photograph of Toni that she scanned in, he wrote, «You are beautiful, та cherie. I knew you would be. Please come to visit me.»
alluring — привлекательный, очаровательный
audition — прослушивание, проба (театр.)
authentic — настоящий, оригинальный, аутентичный
bangers and mash — сосиски с картофельным пюре (блюдо, популярное у английских рабочих)
daring — отчаянный, дерзкий
explore — исследовать
haunt the restaurants — часто посещать рестораны
impish — проказливый, шаловливый; злой
jewelry store — ювелирный магазин
leprechaun — эльф
loathe smth, doing smth — питать отвращение, чувствовать отвращение; не выносить
maitre d’ — мэтр’дотель
make a swinging round — (зд.) посещать модные клубы, тусовки
mischievous — озорной; непослушный
patron — (зд.) постоянный клиент
puckish — озорной; проказливый
rival — конкурент
rise (rose,risen) — вставать, подниматься
sensuous — чувственный
sherry trifle — бисквит, пропитанный хересом
showcase — (зд.) возможность показать себя
sultry — (зд.) страстный
trendy — модный
vivacious — живой, оживленный