Their Friday passed quickly in a relaxing atmosphere. But their typical get-off-work ritual was interrupted by a downpour.
Because it was raining heavily, the three of them couldn’t go anywhere but to chat in the office to while off time, waiting for the rain to stop.
Xiao Xiaoyu proposed.” Do the two of you have time during the weekend? There are a couple of new films just released, and I heard they are pretty good. Care to watch it together?”
“I have agreed to see my grandpa this weekend.”
Xue Meng shrugged.” It has been a while since I last visited him. I probably would get kicked out of the family if I didn’t pay him a visit any time soon.”
Jiang Lan added.” I have to pick up a person who was discharged from the hospital on Sunday.”
Grandpa Yao was going to be discharged from the hospital on Sunday; he had to come to lend a hand.
Xiao Xiaoyu shrugged.” Another day then.”
At that time, the rain slowed to a drizzle, and three of them said goodbye and left for home.
Jiang Lan didn’t carry an umbrella, so he hailed a taxi home. The taxi driver was a middle-aged man. He must be a local because he spoke in a thick accent. After seeing Jiang Lan’s arms wrapped around his backpack, he mocked.” Is it a luxury brand, young man?”
This taxi driver had seen many young girls carrying luxury brands in this way on rainy days to protect their bags from rain. But it was the first time he saw a man doing it.
In the passenger seat, Jiang Lan wiped off water from the bag while smiling.” I carry my pet cat in this bag.”
The driver was surprised.” What breed is the cat? How come the cat doesn’t make a sound?”
“It is just an ordinary cat.” Jiang Lan opened the bag a little.
The driver vaguely saw a brown cat wagging tail and heard a soft meow.
“Your cat is well-behaved and not naughty.”
Jiang Lan took it as a compliment and agreed with a smile.” Yes, indeed. It followed my instructions. It’s not hard to raise it.”
Hearing the conversation, Suan Ni in the bag meowed as if in agreement. His soft paws stretched out of the bag to touch Jiang Lan’s finger playfully.
Jiang Lan’s home was not far away from his office. It usually takes him no more than twenty minutes to cycle to the office. But the circuitous route the car takes plus the rain-induced traffic jam meant he would take a longer time to reach home today.
The driver was very chatty. While listening to the radio, he talked with Jiang Lan about the recent news.
They happened to pass an intersection. The driver pointed to a side road on the right.”See the apartment complex this road leads to? Did you know a girl died there last night?”
Jiang Lan nodded.” Hong Jing Apartment Complex? I have read the morning news. It says because a manhole cover has been stolen, a girl fell into the manhole and hit her head.”
The driver lowered his voice as if talking about a conspiracy.” It’s not so! I heard that girl was murdered.”
Jiang Lan had read the news word for word. The Police didn’t mention murder, and this was supposed to be a death by accident. The victim wasn’t a local. It looked like she was a migrant worker who leased a flat in Hong Jing Apartment Complex.
The driver snorted with an air of superiority while shaking his head.” You can’t trust the news. I have a relative who lived there. He said she wasn’t a decent girl.”
Then he flashed a knowing smile.” She was in the flesh business. Last month, she brought a client to her home, but the deal didn’t go through because they disagreed on the price. After the client was gone, she called the Police claiming she was raped.”
Jiang Lan said with a furrowed brow.”The news said she was a bar waitress.”
The driver didn’t seem to care much about his contradiction.” A decent girl would never work in disreputable places like bars. My relative said she only went out to work after nightfall, wearing heavy makeup, and returned in the small hours. The whole neighborhood knew she was in the flesh business.”
Jiang Lan’s knowledge about the victim was limited to that news. But he was unwilling to go along with the baseless, malicious accusation made by the driver. He turned to look outside to ignore him.
But the driver apparently enjoyed talking about these.” Everyone said because she angered the client by calling the Police, the client took revenge. If you ask me, I think she deserved what she got. They were both consenting adults. Why bring this thing over to the Police? She acted as if she was on the moral high ground while selling her flesh.”
At this time, the car arrived at the entrance of the apartment complex. After scanning the barcode to complete the payment, Jiang Lan couldn’t help but say this.”It’s better not to spread those baseless rumors. Otherwise, we might bring heavenly punishment upon us.”
The driver didn’t think this mild-mannered young man would contradict him and even suggest Heaven might punish him. His face immediately looked grim, and he started to curse him loudly in the local dialect. Stepping on the gas, the driver sped away, spraying water all over the place.
Luckily Jiang Lan acted quickly to evade the spraying water.
Back home, Jiang Lan took a hot shower and changed into fresh clothing. Now he felt relaxed.
The drizzle seemed to go on forever. He ate a gemstone and ordered takeout food. Then he sat cross-legged on the sofa with Suan Ni, eyes glued to the phone screen.
In the WeChat office group chat, Xue Meng was live broadcasting his suffering at the hands of his grandfather. His grandfather was an old revolutionary who idolizes Chairman Mao. Any visiting grandchildren were required to recite a passage from Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung Called the Little Red Book. Everyone was required to carry one during the Cultural Revolution, but many younger generations never even heard about it.
But today, Comrade Xue Meng had the misfortune of getting one sentence wrong. Now he was locked into a study to copy assigned passages from the Little Red Book.
While he was doing it, he complained about it in the group chat, like a comic monologue.
Jiang Lan was amused by the group chat, and the unpleasant memory with the taxi driver faded away quickly.
All sorts of people live in human society. But he still maintained the impression that humans as a whole are kind and lovable.
After going through the group chat, he checked the unread messages, which were surprisingly from Ying Jiao.
The messages were sent when he was in the taxi.
Ying Jiao sent several pictures of various candies, asking him which one he likes. He will bring it to him next time they meet.
While browsing through these pictures, he could almost taste the peach flavor in his mouth. He selected one and sent the picture back to Ying Jiao.
Little Monster: [this(with the attached picture)]
Then added: [how come you bought a lot of candies?]
Several cans of candies of different brands lie on the coffee table in front of Ying Jiao. He sent someone to buy these this morning.
He didn’t intend to send them over all at once. Instead, he planned to bring him one piece at a time so their every meeting would be flavored with surprises and expectations.
The book titled raising cubs said that parents need to prepare a small gift for cubs from time to time. In this way, they can give them something to look forward to while increasing the intimacy between parents and cubs.
After a little thought, he replied.:[These have been gifted to me, I can’t have them all.]
Sending even a small gift could not appear to be too intentional; otherwise, it might weigh on the mind of the little monster.
As expected, Jiang Lan’s tone seemed relieved: [Then I will help you destroy them. (Cheer emoji)]
Ying Jiao:[ Ok, next Monday I will drop by your office, I will bring them to you.]
Jiang Lan happily agreed.
He picked up Suan Ni. With his chin rubbing Suan Ni’s fur head, Jiang Lan announced with a smile.” We will have candies next Monday.”
They can always buy candies for themselves. But receiving sweets as gifts seemed to add an extra layer of sweetness.
Suan Ni obviously thought so, raising his head to rub back.
This sudden rain lasted until Sunday afternoon. With an overcast sky after rain, the temperature dropped several degrees. Wearing a thin coat, Jiang Lan left Suan Ni at home and went out alone to pick up Grandpa Yao and Xiao Hei.
Grandpa Yao’s wound wasn’t severe. His one-week stay in the hospital was mainly due to his advanced age. In the next phase, he will recuperate at home.
It just took Xiao Hei one week to swiftly adapt to human society. When Jiang Lan arrived, the discharge procedure had already been taken care of by Xiao Hei. Grandpa Yao was sipping tea on the bed while Xiao Hei was busy packing their belongings.
Jiang Lan helped him finish packing. Xiao Hei brought in a wheelchair and carried Grandpa Yao over to sit in it. Then they went together to fetch prescribed medicine in the outpatient building.
The inpatient building and outpatient building are not far apart. While Xiao Hei went to pick up medicine, Jiang Lan and Grandpa Yao tended the luggage. The hospital was usually crowded during the weekend, more so after a sudden temperature drop caused many people to catch the flu. For a brief time, eight or nine people out of ten walking past them were coughing.
“I don’t feel the chill until walking out of the ward.” Grandpa Yao took out his wallet and counted out five hundred yuan.”Xiao Hei doesn’t have a decent piece of clothing, and he refused my offer to buy him clothing. So I have to ask for your help. Could you please take him out to buy some clothing? I am afraid he might catch a cold.”
Before Jiang Lan had time to say he had spare clothing for Xiao Hei, no need to squander money buying, Grandpa Yao firmly shoved the money into his hand.
A banknote slipped from Grandpa’s hand and fell to the ground. The moment Jiang Lan bent to pick it up, a mean voice shouted.” Idiot, you block my way!”
This voice was very high-pitched. At that moment, Jiang Lan and nearly everyone nearby was stunned by that voice, turning to look at the source. Jiang Lan also followed the voice and was surprised to find a gentle-looking girl. It was hard to reconcile that voice with her appearance.
Jiang Lan was about to say something, only to see the girl’s face turn red and then avert her eyes awkwardly.
It was Grandpa Yao who couldn’t take it.” How come a decent-looking girl like you sounded so rude?”
With a surprised and uncomprehending look, she paused for a second and retorted.” It’s none of your business, you old shit.”
Grandpa Yao had never been talked to in such a way, and it took him a long time to react. He patted his chair in anger.
Someone in the crowd also couldn’t take it.” Your eyes were glued to the phone screen while walking. Why do you put the blame on this young man?”
“Oh, yes, and you hear the nasty words she talked.”
After people’s attention was on her, her cheeks were flushed, and she ran away.
|↑1||Called the Little Red Book. Everyone was required to carry one during the Cultural Revolution, but many younger generations never even heard about it|