Chapter 34: I’ve Warmed Up Your Spot
My grandpa was in charge of cooking dinner. Every dish was slightly saltier than usual. Dr. Wei couldn’t resist the enthusiasm of my family. He ate as much as they served him, and he drank red wine mixed with Sprite to quench his thirst.
He could only handle two cans of beer. After a few sips, his skin would turn slightly red. His complexion was fair, so the redness was particularly noticeable.
Dr. Wei knew his limits and usually controlled his intake. Today, he was probably too happy and couldn’t refuse the toasts from my dad and others. He drank more and more, and by the end, his eye sockets looked like he had applied blush.
The funniest part was that he would talk nonsense after drinking. He went from discussing ear, nose, and throat issues to rheumatology and immunology. These topics, which bored me, fascinated the older members of my family.
Dr. Wei poured more red wine, saying, “And another thing, you shouldn’t hold your urine. This is important. Everyone needs to remember that. Do you know the harm that holding urine can cause to the body?”
I rubbed my forehead and saw Zhang Yaoyang suppressing a laugh.
Grandpa became interested in the topic and asked curiously, “What kind of harm does it cause?”
Dr. Wei gestured with his left hand in the shape of a bladder: “You see, this location here is the tip of the bladder. This is the ureter, and next to it is the body of the bladder. Further down is the base of the bladder, the prostate. The process of urination involves the kidneys producing urine, which then flows to the bladder. When the urine accumulates to a certain level, the bladder sends signals to the brain cortex through the central nervous system. Holding urine for a long time increases pressure on the bladder’s inner wall, making the bladder wall thinner due to expansion. The elasticity of the smooth muscles decreases. As you get older, you may experience issues like incontinence, cardiovascular disease, prostate problems, and so on…”
“Oh my, that’s terrifying! Xiao Qi, you can’t hold your urine, especially in the winter when you stay in bed longer!”
“Don’t worry, Mom,” Dr. Wei put his cup down on the table, passionately declaring, “I’ll keep an eye on him at all times.”
“You manage everything, heaven and earth, and now even when I go to the bathroom?”
“Of course.” Dr. Wei stood up and raised his glass, “Cheers to kidney health!”
Dr. Wei’s tolerance for alcohol was decent, and aside from being talkative, he was fine. He even had a touch of cuteness.
My mom thought he was in the way in the kitchen, so she shooed him out. He sat quietly on the living room couch, slightly hunched, with both palms on his knees, looking like a kindergarten kid.
“Are you full?” I asked him.
Dr. Wei nodded, “Yes, I’m full.”
“Do you want to go for a walk outside? Are you feeling hot?”
He nodded vigorously, “Hot.” His eye sockets were still red, and no matter his expression, he looked pitiful.
I reached out and touched his back; indeed, it was quite warm. “Where do you want to go?”
Dr. Wei smiled and pointed outside, saying, “Go play with my kind.”
For some reason, looking at his pitiful appearance, I couldn’t help but speak to him in the tone of a kindergarten teacher.
“Let’s make an agreement. We’ll play for a while and be back home by eight to take a bath and sleep, alright?”
The temperature was low that night, but luckily there was no wind. The sky was filled with stars, resembling diamonds scattered on a black curtain. One bright light stood out, and upon closer inspection, it turned out to be an airplane.
A red dot blinked, moving from south to north.
On the road, many young couples were walking towards the beach, whispering and occasionally bursts of laughter were heard.
Dr. Wei walked for a while and suddenly came back, holding my hand.
His palm was warm and firm, and he lightly stroked my hand’s back with his thumb, eventually tucking it into his coat pocket.
This gentle and skilled gesture made it hard for me to determine whether he was drunk or sober.
Feeling a bit thirsty, I pulled him to a small shop by the roadside to buy water, passing by a dark green garbage bin.
Garbage sorting hadn’t started here yet; all the food and drink were dumped together, almost overflowing. A tri-color cat sat motionless by the trash can, its vigilant eyes fixed on us.
By the time we came out after buying the water, the cat was gone, replaced by a small kitten about the size of a palm, trembling as it walked towards the middle of the road.
Not far away, a beam of light shone over from an electric scooter. The tiny creature continued to move towards the other side of the road, nearly about to collide. I instinctively shouted, and the driver immediately hit the brakes, pushing up the windscreen of the helmet.
“Hey, little cat.”
The beam of light enveloped the kitten, creating a fuzzy halo around it. The little thing was trembling with fear, hopping towards me, stopping at my feet, mewing in a sweet voice, and rubbing against my pants.
My legs felt weak from its cuteness.
Dr. Wei squatted down and cradled the tiny kitten in his palm, “It hasn’t been weaned yet. It might be the offspring of the multicolored cat from earlier.”
“Should we go find that multicolored cat?”
“It can’t even support itself, how can it raise its offspring? It would freeze outside on a day like this.”
“Then what should we do? I already have a 007.”
“The two-child policy has been implemented, isn’t it? The country encourages having a second child.”
Half an hour later.
“007, come quickly! Daddy went out and brought a little sister back for you!”
“It’s a little brother,” Dr. Wei corrected.
“Aren’t you drunk? How can you still differentiate between genders?”
“I might be drunk, but I’m not dumb.”
“Well…” Two seconds later, it dawned on me, “So you’re implying I’m dumb then?”
The addition of a new member to the family was a big event. Everyone in the family paused their activities and gathered in a circle, staring at the tiny kitten.
The little creature emerged from under my dad’s behind and strolled lazily around the living room, seemingly searching for something.
In the dim light by the trash bin, I hadn’t gotten a clear look earlier, but now I noticed that its tiny paws were all white, like four little gloves. Its pupils were large and bright, reflecting a faint glow.
My mom said, “Is it missing its mother?”
My grandmother added, “Possibly.”
My grandfather chimed in, “Where’s its mother then? Xiaoqi, what you did is like stealing. Quickly put it back, its mother might be worried.”
I defended myself, “Its mother ran away, we couldn’t find her. It’s probably just a stray cat from the roadside. When we passed by, it was scavenging for food.”
Dr. Wei said, “We left it by the trash bin for quite a while, but no cat came to claim it. The little thing kept wandering around, almost getting hit by a car. It was quite risky.”
My grandmother sympathized, “Spending a night outside in this weather would freeze it. It’s really pitiful.”
My dad summed up, “Alright, it’s an abandoned baby, and rescuing it doesn’t break any laws.”
Zhang Yaoyang knelt on the ground and imitated an old cat’s voice with a fierce expression, “Meow—”
The little creature got frightened and raised its tail, shivering as it backed away. Dr. Wei seemed to have a bit of trauma about small animals shivering and retreating. He practically lunged forward and covered Zhang Yaoyang’s mouth, saying, “Don’t scare it, it might pee soon.”
After some discussion, the whole family agreed to keep this second child, and the name was chosen by the most cultured person in the family, Dr. Wei. They named it “Sweet Donut.”
Sweet Donut’s teeth hadn’t fully grown. I drove Dr. Wei to the supermarket to buy goat’s milk and also picked up some toiletries. By the time we got home, it was almost ten o’clock.
I entrusted the task of feeding to Zhang Yaoyang and took turns with Dr. Wei to go upstairs and take a shower.
Downstairs, there were several rooms, and the adults in the family preferred to sleep downstairs. There were only two rooms upstairs with beds because my dad had plans for running a guesthouse, so the other rooms were left unrenovated for now.
To my surprise, after Zhang Yaoyang finished feeding, he went straight to my bed to watch TV.
“You didn’t even take a shower and you’re getting into my bed?”
“I showered, I did it when you guys were out shopping.” Zhang Yaoyang said.
I remembered Dr. Wei’s advice, but I also felt awkward about directly sending my little brother away. So, I planned to move the pillow and both kids to the neighboring room. Just as I grabbed a pillow, Zhang Yaoyang spoke up.
“Where are you going? Aren’t you sleeping here?”
“Uh,” I gestured to the bathroom, “It’s his first time here, and he’s not familiar with this side of the house. I’ll keep him company.”
“What’s there to get familiar with just to sleep?,” Zhang Yaoyang looked at me suspiciously from head to toe and asked calmly, “You two aren’t trying to mate, are you?”
Mate, mate, mate, mate!
What kind of talk was that!
In my mind, Zhang Yaoyang had always been an image of a diaper-clad baby, completely unrelated to the concept of “falling in love,” let alone these two words.
I had no idea how he understood these things, and I felt both embarrassed and awkward. A rush of heat surged to my head, “Zhang Yaoyang, what’s gotten into you? Have you been watching something unhealthy?”