Jiang Wang responded hurriedly.
“We’ll go this weekend, don’t worry.”
After hanging up the phone and returning to the room, he saw Peng Xingwang who had already finished his math homework awkwardly drawing letters on his notebook.
The child didn’t ask what he was curious about, but Jiang Wang couldn’t help himself and still mentioned it.
“Teacher Ji called.”
“Huh?” Peng Xingwang pricked up his ears, “Did he praise me?”
“He told me to have you take a bath and rub off more mud.” Jiang Wang said lazily, “Write quickly, and I will help you wash later.”
Peng Xingwang gave a quick snort, and went back to doing his homework as he swayed in the chair left and right.
There were only four small TV stations in China. Except for the local news, which usually replays the World Cup, the other two stations were both playing advertisements for health products.
“The peerless prescription of the thousand-year-old genius doctor!”
“One course of treatment and you wouldn’t have to worry about your kidneys! Three courses of treatment will make you able to last all night long!”
“My wife took this Lu Fang Bone Strengthening medicine! Now, she doesn’t have high blood pressure anymore and no longer suffers from migraines!”
“Lu Fang’s secret medicine, Lu Fang’s godly medicine, the magic medicine of the Lu family for the past hundred years!!!”
Jiang Wang turned off the TV with a blank look on his face.
The child glanced at him quietly.
“Concentrate on what you’re doing.”
“Did you come to our city to find medicine?”
Peng Xingwang jumped in front of him holding the Chinese textbook after finishing the English homework, his face full of anticipation.
“The teacher asked us to read the text three times and asked the parents to sign when we’ve completed it.”
Peng Xingwang was very happy that someone could finally sign his homework.
“The Little↗ White → Rabbit ↑ Is→ Bent…”
Jiang Wang pushed the textbook down a bit to look at the child’s face.
“Read it in human words.”
Peng Xingwang felt that this older brother had become fierce again, so he shook subconsciously. Then he cleared his throat and started again.
Jiang Wang pushed down the book again.
“Don’t read anymore, I’ll sign it.”
Peng Xingwang showed disappointed eyes, “Am I not good at reading?”
“You should use an ordinary and plain tone.” Jiang Wang patiently taught him, “Don’t learn to croak like a three-yellow chicken.”
Peng Xingwang held back his voice and read it flatly in a dead fish-like tone.
“Very good.” The eldest brother nodded in satisfaction, “Read it like this from now on.”
After the business was done, the two moved to the shower room to rub the mud off Peng Xingwang.
Before, Jiang Wang took a bath every day, and his sturdy body was wheat-colored. So he simply washed twice to not waste any more water.
The child had been soaking in the slum-like environment for several years, and rarely took a proper bath. Jiang Wang could even smell a sour scent when he was close to him.
Although he was rubbing himself now, Jiang Wang still couldn’t help but pinch his nose. He frowned and rubbed the sweat on his neck with a towel.
Peng Xingwang seemed to be obedient and upright like a puppy, he didn’t even dare bark when he was occasionally rubbed hard.
The man felt unhappy seeing his obedient and tame appearance.
“Just say it if it hurts.”
Peng Xingwang blinked and flexibly avoided the topic.
“brother, do you have a teacher you like?”
Jiang Wang rubbed the dead skin on the back of his neck with his hands, and said casually, “There is a teacher who I trust very much.”
“He treated me very well. When he found out that I was too poor to eat properly, he gave me food.”
“Ah.” Peng Xingwang raised his head and blew a snot bubble, “They must be as good as Teacher Ji.”
The man didn’t answer. He turned around and continued to rub the mud off him. When he saw that the flesh had already turned red, he remembered to squeeze some shower gel.
“It’s a pity that that person didn’t have a good life later on.”
“He treated everyone very well. He didn’t accept red envelopes during the New Year holidays and instead took care of his students. It seemed that he was born to be a teacher.”
Peng Xingwang was very good at reading the atmosphere. When the time came, he handed over a piece of soap, and stretched out his arms, “Is your teacher sick?”
Jiang Wang shook his head.
“He’s very healthy.”
“But… I later heard from relatives that he didn’t get married until he was forty or fifty years old.”
The child didn’t understand, “If one didn’t get married, they were living a bad life?”
Jiang Wang smiled and took the nozzle to help him rinse himself clean.
“I will explain it to you later.”
People in big cities lived freely.
Neighbors may not even see each other for a lifetime, and millions of people seem to be experiencing a parallel time and space from each other in the same steel forest.
But a small town was like a spider web, there were too many ties between right and wrong.
That year, he went back to attend the wedding banquet of his good friend Yang Kai. At the table, there was an aunt who was talking while putting vegetables in a plastic bag.
“The one from Old Man Ji’s family has never been married?”
“He’s almost fifty, right? Doesn’t he care that his hair had already become as white as his parents, sigh.”
The old man in the flower shirt next to him gave a look, and deliberately lowered his voice, “Are you talking about Teacher Ji from Hongshan Elementary School?”
“Yes, when he was young, he was very handsome and good at teaching. Many matchmakers tried but didn’t succeed.”
“What do you know,” the old man stretched out a hand under the table, and hooked his little finger ambiguously. “Generally, most people who don’t get married and don’t find a woman at his age are mostly like this.”
The women pretended to be surprised and stretched out their hands to cover their mouths. It looked like they heard something terrible and stained their ears. They laughed as they got closer to each other and continued chatting, their voices were so high and cumbersome that it was annoying.
Jiang Wang glanced at Teacher Ji, whose sideburns were already turning white, at the wedding banquet that day.
When he was in his twenties, the only thing he knew was that the other person was called Teacher Ji.
Gentle and respectable, well-mannered, and according to some rumors, this teacher had been funding the studies of students living in the mountains for many years.
Jiang Wang knew that homosexuality was not a good word in this kind of small town.
Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou were free and open. As long as they didn’t disturb each other, it didn’t matter who played with who. No one cared even if someone married a hedgehog raised by themselves.
He had also seen these kinds of people in his usual business dealings, and their appearances were no different from ordinary men.
But a man hanging out with another man, and in such a small place. With simple word of mouth, they will directly be squeezed out from the bottom and be ridiculed from the inside out.
He would rather believe that Teacher Ji was still hung up on a girl he met when he was young.
After the bath, he felt slightly dumbfounded that they only had to wash and rinse three times before barely finishing.
The mud and sweat had already formed clumps of dirt in the elbow sockets and the bends of the legs. They had to use a steel ball and brush it vigorously just to remove it.
Peng Xingwang put on an oversized T-shirt and stood in front of the mirror, maintaining the posture of a scarecrow with an amazed expression on his face.
“Big brother! I’ve turned white!”
Jiang Wang, “……”
“Big brother!” Peng Xingwang turned left and right as he looked at himself in the mirror, and couldn’t help but say, “When I grow up, I will help you take a bath too!”
“No need.” Jiang Wang rubbed his hair roughly, his completely zero parenting patience had already been tested to the limit, “Growing up, it’s not a good thing.”
Peng Xingwang looked at him through the mirror, and blinked, “I’ve always dreamed of growing up!”
“When you grow up, you can go to work and earn money, and you can buy whatever you want to eat. Isn’t that good enough?”
Jiang Wang paused, he looked into the eyes of himself 20 years ago through the mirror.
This moment was ridiculous, like a dream.
“Growing up… is the beginning of sobriety.” Jiang Wang said to himself.
The child didn’t understand, he shook his hair flinging water droplets everywhere and ran back into the quilt.
Jiang Wang glanced back at him, he wanted to continue explaining but chose not to speak anything more about it.
“Go to bed. I’ll send you to school tomorrow.”
When the lights turned off, both of them were plunged into darkness, Peng Xingwang wrapped the quilt tighter and turned to look at Jiang Wang.
“What’s the matter? ”
“Are you really… the person my mother asked to come over?”
Jiang Wang thought for a few seconds, and realized that the child wasn’t concerned about him, but his mother.
“Well, she ‘s going to Hong Kong now.” Jiang Wang changed his expression and said, “There is no telephone connection between Hong Kong and here. The long distance is very expensive so it’s impossible for me to make a phone call.”
Peng Xingwang thought for a while, but he didn’t know where Hong Kong was on earth.
“Then, does mom want to tell me anything? ”
Jiang Wang was silent for a few seconds.
“I almost would’ve forgotten, if you didn’t ask me.” He pretended to be relaxed and said, “Your mother asked me to tell you something.”
“Eat more meat and sleep more, play less games and don’t catch a cold.”
The child slept sweetly that night, very satisfied with this sentence.
Jiang Wang thought there was no problem with this at all.
Early the next morning, the phone alarm rang on time. Jiang Wang woke up and yawned deeply as he told Peng Xingwang to get up.
But suddenly, warm soy milk flatbread directly appeared in front of his face near the pillow.
“Big brother, have breakfast!”
The child smiled, a little embarrassed, “You said that the rest of the money I didn’t spend at the stationery shop is my pocket money, and that I could use it casually.”
Jiang Wang had lived like a lone wolf for twenty-seven years. This was the first time he had been served breakfast in bed.
‘……Still, it was served by myself.’
He got up with a strong cough, ate with the child in a muffled voice, and then sent him to school.
The sun was shining very well today, and the whole city was shining golden, making people more optimistic as they walked down the road.
Peng Xingwang hummed while walking, thinking to himself that it would feel even better if he could take his big brother’s hand and walk together with him.
He quietly raised his head and glanced at Jiang Wang.
‘Big brother is so tall, and so cool.’
‘Such a cool person must not want to hold hands with a kid like me.’
People were rushing at the entrance of the elementary school, and the students were still as noisy as screaming chickens.
Jiang Wang delivered the child to the door. He originally wanted to give a few perfunctory words, such as “Have a good day”, but the child in front of him had already cheerfully rushed to the front.
“Big brother! This is my good friend Yang Kai!”
Jiang Wang’s expression froze a little.
The boy with a pigtail next to Peng Xingwang wiped his snot on the back of his hand, and his voice was very loud, “Wangzai! Why do you call him big brother!”
“Because he is the coolest!”
Nearby, a little girl wearing an armband with a three-bar pattern rushed over and yelled fiercely “Hurry up, you two! Be careful not to be late!”
“Zhang Xiaolu’s head! It’s like a ball! Kick it up the skyscraper!”
“You— I’m going to tell the teacher on you!!!”
Jiang Wang watched the three of them fight as they left. He thought to himself, ‘Yang Kai, Yang Kai, do you know that the ball you’re planning to kick is your future wife’s head.’
He stretched out his arms, it was a little bit of a headache but he still found the earlier situation funny.
Close childhood friends whom he had been playing with for more than 20 years, still have their noses dripping with snot right now. Being transferred back to 2006, he determined that he could only find people from his uncle’s generation to become friends with.
In the morning, he routinely went to the sports lottery station and harvested 200 yuan from fake fortune-telling. Then he used 80% of the savings to bet on a match between Argentina and Ivory Coast, 2-1.
This time he only stayed for an hour, then turned to buy a bottle of Arctic Ocean before leaving to go shopping.
It was not a stable job to simply bet on matches, not to mention that the World Cup would only last a month.
Jiang Wang had thought about a lot of ways to earn money in the past few days.
Buying bitcoin, fortune-telling, and becoming an information broker.
Although the development of this small town was average at best, it progressed quickly thanks to the rapid growth of the bamboo forests. It was the place with the lowest printing cost in the surrounding provinces and cities.
Therefore, a large amount of teaching aid materials were produced in this area and sold wholesale. Later it was even awarded the title of an Accomplished Educational City. The first and second modules of the high school entrance examinations, combined with the provincial and city examinations were mainly produced here.
Jiang Wang had planned to open an online shop, but currently, the logistics network in this small broken place had not been opened at all.
The man muttered, he looked around the street holding his Arctic Ocean drink, and nodded reluctantly.
‘If that’s all, I just need to contract with the couriers in this city.’
Releases will now be regular: Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings GMT.