Ying Qiao drove his black Honda to the movie theater quickly.
On the way there, he imagined how they would spend the time together. They could choose a romance film or a comedy. A film with a lot of romance might help produce some chemistry between them. He even decided on the restaurant where they could have dinner and picked a park where they could take a walk after the meal.
And he almost stopped to buy a bouquet of flowers when he spotted a florist on the way.
But he thought better of it. Buying him flowers might appear too abrupt before the Little Monster knew his mind.
Instead, he settled for two fruit flavored lollipops at a convenience store and walked into the movie theater with a warm smile on his face.
Since today was a work day, there were fewer people in the movie theater. Ying Qiao instantly saw Jiang Lan in the reception hall.
On seeing a familiar figure beside Jiang Lan, he frowned. While approaching them, he confirmed that the figure was Xue Meng and the warm smile on his face was instantly replaced by a frosty look.
He greeted Jiang Lan and gave Xue Meng a side glance.” Xue Meng is here? Doesn’t he have work to do at this time of the day?”
He obviously forgot the fact that Jiang lan and Xue Meng were colleagues. If Jiang Lan didn’t work now, naturally Xue Meng must be free too.
Meeting his eyes, Xue Meng found his look a bit scary. He whimpered.” No… I don’t work…”
Jiang Lan didn’t sense anything unusual in Ying Qiao’s attitude. Checking the time, he urged them.” The movie will start anytime now, let’s get in.” Then he shoved a ticket into Ying Qiao’s hand.
On the ticket the film’s title was printed: Rainy Night, a newly released horror movie which generated a lot of buzz with high ratings. It’s said that the film was very scary.
He took a deep breath and squeezed a smile. Touching his lollipops, he went in with them.
The movie had just started. Luckily their seats were in the back row. They took their seats quietly and began to enjoy their movie.
With Jiang Lan sitting in the middle, Ying Qiao was finally satisfied. He thought that the Little Monster might find the movie too scary and the opportunity would arise for him to comfort him.
His love guidance book had some advice for his current situation. If you offer a strong shoulder to your scared lover, he will quickly fall in love with you.
While others were watching the movie, Ying Qiao’s whole attention was on Jiang Lan.
A few minutes later, on screen appeared a narrow alley in the rainy night. A murky shadow moved slowly along the alley. A few meters ahead of the shadow, a girl with a red umbrella was humming a melody, walking at a leisurely pace.
She was totally unaware of the approaching shadow, who was drawing closer by the second. Meanwhile, the raindrops quickened their pace. Suddenly the screen went dark with screams reverberating in the theater.
Ying Qiao curved his lips, expecting the Little Monster would seek his comfort by leaning against his shoulder.
The darkness only lasted a few seconds before the screen lightened up again.
The raindrops continued, but the girl was nowhere to be seen. Only the red umbrella lied on the ground.
Jiang Lan sat tight in his seat with his right arm grabbed by Xue Meng.
Ying Qiao’s expectation didn’t materialize.
Xue Meng was obviously in shock. He was totally unprepared for the scary scene in the movie. When the screen went dark, he grabbed Jiang Lan’s arm without thinking.
Ying Qiao glared at Xue Meng threateningly.
Now the movie moved to a bright daylight setting.
Xue Meng finally sensed the threatening look and let go of Jiang Lan’s arm.
The movie continued with unexpected twists and turns. Audience could never guess when the next horror scene would appear. Xue Meng was utterly gripped by this movie and Jiang Lan’s arm became his source of comfort.
While watching the movie, Jiang Lan often made fun of him.
On the other hand, Ying Qiao was totally ignored.
Ying Qiao’s face grew dark.
This situation was not what he expected.
When the movie ended, Ying Qiao emerged from the theater with a blank look on his face while the other two seemed to be still recovering from the movie.
Xue Meng hadn’t recovered from his shock.” After the Three Water Village, I thought horror movies would never scare me. Turns out I am too naïve.”
Jiang Lan said.” You will get used to them if you watch a few horror movies.”
Xue Meng shook his head.” No, thank you. Video games suit me more. Will you come back to the office?”
Jiang Lan said.” Yes, I need to pick up Nini.”
They parted before the movie theater. When Xue Meng left, Jiang Lan suddenly realized that Ying Qiao hadn’t uttered a single word so far.
He turned to look at him.” I will go back to my office. What about you?”
Without that third wheel around, Ying Qiao’s mood lightened a bit.” I will drive you there. How about we had dinner together afterwards?”
Jiang Lan agreed.
Before leaving the office in the morning, Jiang Lan left Suan Ni and Jiao Tu in the office. When they arrived, their office had already closed and only Zhang Tianxing remained there, holding a cat teaser. When they entered the office, Suan Ni was jumping up and down, seeming to enjoy his time with Zhang Tianxing.
Jiang Lan picked up Jiao Tu from his small aquarium tank and Ying Qiao picked up Suan Ni without being asked. When Ying Qiao passed Zhang Tianxing’s desk, he nodded to him as a greeting.
“Thank you for looking after them.” Jiang Lan said to Zhang Tianxing.
Zhang Tianxing nodded. Then his attention shifted to Ying Qiao’s wrist. With a surprised look, he said.” You like collecting watches? I have been dying to get the Patek Philippe Limited edition on your wrist for a while. Pity it’s so rare, I couldn’t find one anywhere.”
He seemed to be genuine in his desire for the watch.
Ying Qiao watched him without moving. Zhang Tianxing looked him in the eye. Smiling, he asked him.” May I have a look?”
He looked down towards Ying Qiao’s wrist. There was indeed an expensive-looking watch on his wrist.
Even though he was not a watch aficionado, he had heard about Patek Philippe watches. It was said a limited edition Patek Philippe cost millions Yuan.
Ying Qiao had such a watch on his wrist?
He glanced at Ying Qiao with questions in his eyes.
Ying Qiao’s face turned grim, but he said calmly.” This watch is a fake.”
It made total sense to Jiang Lan. How can Ying Qiao afford a watch like this?
Zhang Tianxing sighed.” Is that so? I thought it was an authentic Patek Philippe.”
Having regained control of the situation, Ying Qiao appeared calm.” The Workmanship of this fake watch is quite good. Goodbye.”
They looked at each other briefly. Then Zhang Tianxing said.” Bye.”
Jiang Lan had been planning to visit a newly opened restaurant serving River Snail Rice NoodleTranslator’s note: 螺蛳粉. A stinky local specialty from Guangxi Province. I hate its smell.
Ying Qiao was a little worried that Jiang Lan might bring up the topic of his watch again. But Jiang Lan didn’t mention it at all on the way to the restaurant. He obviously believed Ying Qiao’s explanation. Ying Qiao felt relieved.
Until he walked into the restaurant and the smell assaulted his nose.
What’s that smell?
Jiang Lan ordered two bowls of rice noodle with an extra portion of pickled bamboo shoots to his bowl.” Have you tried River Snail Rice Noodle before?”
Ying Qiao felt suffocated by the smell. Shaking his head, he felt his body had been contaminated by this stink.
Jiang Lan advocated this food enthusiastically to Ying Qiao.” You have to try it. It smells, but it tastes so good.”
Two large bowls were placed before them and Jiang Lan dug in eagerly. But Ying Qiao watched this bowl and reluctantly picked up his chopsticks.
Luckily the taste was acceptable to him.
He finished half of the bowl in silence. But Jiang Lan had already devoured all the noodles and was now savoring the taste of the soup.
After finishing the noodle, Ying Qiao felt this stink had invaded every cell of his body. But Jiang Lan was in a better mood after his hankering for this stinky rice noodle had finally been satisfied. He suggested a walk along the river.
Torn between his urge for a quick shower and the equally strong desire to be with the Little Monster, Ying Qiao finally decided to go with him.” Ok.”
The river was a little far from the restaurant. Jiang Lan originally planned to rent bicycles. But Ying Qiao had never ridden a bicycle in his life. So they ended up hailing a taxi.
When they reached the riverside, the sky had turned dark. Street lights cast a warm glow on the people walking the pedestrian road beside the river.
With Jiao Tu in Jiang Lan’s arms and Suan Ni sitting on Ying Qiao’s shoulder, they mingled into the crowd, as if they were just a normal family like the people who were walking with their wives and kids alongside them.
This feeling gave Ying Qiao much comfort after the ordeal in the restaurant.
After walking for a while, they chose to sit in a less crowded place. During a period of little rainfall, the water level of the river had dropped so low that they could take a stair straight down to the water and enjoy dabbling in the water.
Suan Ni leapt down Ying Qiao’s shoulder and tried to grab Jiao Tu from Jiang Lan’s arm.
He put Jiao Tu’s big shell on his head and ran towards the river. With a big splash, he threw Jiao Tu into the river.
The gemstone-encrusted shell slowly rose to the surface and Jiao Tu leaned out of the shell. Suddenly a stream gushed out of his mouth straight towards Suan Ni and Jiao Tu quickly withdrew back into his shell.
Suan Ni retaliated by splashing some water back to the shell. Quickly a water splashing game started.
Jiang Lan watched their merrymaking and soon Suan Ni was soaked through.
But Ying Qiao’s whole attention was on Jiang Lan.
The Little Monster was watching his little brother while Ying Qiao was watching the Little Monster.
With an exclamation of surprise, Jiang Lan’s attention suddenly shifted to the middle of the river where a sizable turtle was swiftly swimming towards the shore.
That turtle was swimming towards a patch of poorly lighted slope without any people around except a shadow dressed in a hoodie. That shadow held one end of a nylon rope and the other end was dipped in the river.
Jiang Lan could see that the other end was attached to a cage used to catch turtles.
|↑1||Translator’s note: 螺蛳粉. A stinky local specialty from Guangxi Province. I hate its smell.|