Chapter 34 7th Street
Zhao Lingjun remembered an ad that said, “Get on the internet, the internet can give you anything and everything you want!”
It was said that the internet could transform a pig faced person into Prince Charming or an ugly witch into a beauty with a mysterious seductiveness to her. Through the magic of the internet and its magical transformation abilities, it was even possible to change the current trend. Not even history’s most powerful mages could perform such wizardry.
Even after busying himself for half a day, trying to compare ancient writings with those on his bamboo scroll, Zhao Lingjun was left empty handed. But he had faith in the internet’s omnipotent powers and didn’t give up easily. Finally, he managed to find a place called 7th Street, which seemingly had an ancient language research association in its compound.
7th Street was no stranger to Zhao Lingjun.
7th Street wasn’t a small alley nor a street. In the past, a guy named Zhou Dong had indirectly acquired the marketplace, and later on when the business failed, he sold it off to a businessman who made it into a gold antique trading floor. The place wasn’t too far from Zhao Lingjun’s office and when he first joined the company, he had passed by that area. But that place had a problem, there were more fake antiques than real ones. In addition to that, Zhao Lingjun didn’t have any money at all to spend on such displays. Therefore after his first visit, he didn’t bother going again. Zhao Lingjun also didn’t realise that the place had an ancient language research association.
Taking a taxi to 7th Street from the office only cost about 10 or so yuan. After considering for a few seconds, Zhao Lingjun decided to go.
The company’s monthly bonus, compared to the possibility of unravelling the secrets of the bamboo scroll, wasn’t attractive in the least.
Therefore, after lunch, Zhao Lingjun belched and told Zhang Changsheng who was dozing off on the chair, “Boss, help me to request for this afternoon off, I have something urgent I need to attend to.”
“Are you kidding?” When he heard Zhao Lingjun, Zhang Changsheng, who had been close to sleep, jolted upright. “You have already asked for leave yesterday, and it’s not like you don’t know Hao Meili’s tricks. Don’t you want your bonus for this month? If you really take leave again today, I’m afraid that you won’t be able to get your bonus.”
“Whatever, let her deduct it then.” Zhao Lingjun replied as he packed his bag. “Anyway it’s just a few hundred yuan, I, your father here doesn’t care.”
“It’s only a few hundred yuan?” The stunned Zhang Changsheng blurted out, wanting to have a good talk with Zhao Lingjun. But to his dismay, by the time he could respond, he could only see Zhao Lingjun’s back with a bag on it.
“This guy talks so big now. Even ignoring the monthly bonuses.” After thinking for a long time, Zhang Changsheng came to only one conclusion. “He is definitely going on a date with the lady from this morning. But this guy is really too wretched, even after taking the afternoon off, he ate at the company first before going off.”
* * *
“What? You want to take the afternoon off? Don’t tell me you’re going on a date with that nurse from before?”
Zhao Lingjun wanted to sneak out during lunch hour, but was caught red handed by the receptionist, Meng Xue. Even without prior consultation, Meng Xue’s conclusion coincided with Zhang Changsheng’s.
“She’s not a nurse, but an internist.” As he said this, Zhao Lingjun realized that he made an earth shattering mistake.
Because as he spoke, a layer of frost slowly settled over Meng Xue’s face, and masked her whole face.
“No, no, don’t misunderstand.” Zhao Lingjun explained hurriedly, as he saw her face immediately change like the weather. “I’m going out in the afternoon to run some errands, and not to go on a date with her.”
“Really?” Hearing his explanation, her cold and frosty face had visible signs of thawing. “You’re not lying to me, are you?”
“Of course not!” Zhao Lingjun bitterly smiled. “Even if I ate a leopard’s gall bladder, I still wouldn’t dare to lie to you.”
“Then what are you going out for?” Meng Xue asked with a trace of a smile.
“I…” Hesitating, Zhao Lingjun didn’t know what to tell her.
“Good, good, Zhao Lingjun so you’ve learnt how to lie to others eh?” Meng Xue’s expression changed once again when she saw him hesitating.
“I’m not lying to you, I’m just making a trip to 7th Street.” he hurriedly explained himself.
Even a pig when in a hurry can jump a wall. In Zhao Lingjun’s moment of desperation, he had a sudden burst of inspiration, “I heard from a friend that 7th Street had an ancient language research association, and he had happened to obtain an ancient scripture on a bamboo scroll. He sent the scroll over to me, in hopes that I could have it checked out at the association, where hopefully someone is able to read it.”
“Really?” Meng Xue looked at Zhao Lingjun half disbelieving. “You’re not lying to me?”
“I swear to God that I’m speaking the truth.” Zhao Lingjun shamelessly said.
“I don’t believe you.” she pouted.
Zhao Lingjun nearly crashed to the floor with a bang. “Then what can I say to make you believe me? Don’t tell me swearing to God isn’t enough and you want me to add Buddha’s name to it as well?”
“Hehe.” Meng Xue laughed. “Wait for me a little while and I’ll believe you.”
“Wait for you here?” Zhao Lingjun felt a little faint, without a clue as to what she was up to.
“En, before I come back, you’re not to leave. Otherwise… you better not let me see you again.” Meng Xue said as she put on a fiendish expression and wagged her finger at him. “If not… you’ll get beaten up each time I see you.”
After saying her piece, Meng Xue ran into the office with a trail of thuds following her. A short moment later, Zhao Lingjun saw her running back, and started to pack her things on the receptionist desk.
“Just what are you doing?” Zhao Lingjun foolishly asked the busily packing Meng Xue.
“I took a half day leave as well.” Meng Xue beamed.
“You took the afternoon off? You also have something on?” The dense Zhao Lingjun asked.
Meng Xue beamed at him, unreplying, she said, “Let’s go.”
“Yup, didn’t you want to go to 7th Street?”
“Yea… But what about you?”
“Obviously I’m tagging along with you to go to 7th Street.” Meng Xue craftily smiled at Zhao Lingjun, “How else would I know if you’re lying and was actually going on a date with that doctor?”
“…” Looking at her pleased expression, Zhao Lingjun almost fainted to the ground.
* * *
“Hey handsome, may I know where 7th Street is?”
After getting off the taxi and walking a few steps, Zhao Lingjun and Meng Xue heard someone ask.
Zhao Lingjun turned his head and saw four guys carrying bags of different sizes standing near him; they looked like car mechanics.
When Meng Xue turned around to look at the four guys, she almost burst out in laughter.
Zhao Lingjun too was almost at the point of bursting out in laughter and only after taking in two deep breaths was he able to hold it in.
The one who asked Zhao Lingjun was a fat man looking Maitreya with an amiable smile plastered on his face. Beside the fat man was a thin bamboo pole looking person. Beside that thin person was a dwarf shorter than 1.5m. The last guy beside that short man was a giant taller than 1.8m.
If one was to look at any of the four of them by their lonesome, maybe Zhao Lingjun and Meng Xue wouldn’t find it funny. But, when the four before them, appeared together, their appearance truly resulted in a comedic effect.
But what truly made Zhao Lingjun and Meng Xue almost burst out in laughter was that the four people each wore a pair of sunglasses that covered half their face.
“Isn’t that 7th Street? Zhao Lingjun after having a hard time holding back his laughter, gestured towards a marketplace full of shops no more than 50 meters away. In front of it, stood a rusty metal signboard, with two words ‘7th Street’ written in flamboyant cursive calligraphy.
“Oh, so it’s just here. Looks like we didn’t go to the wrong place.” The forever smiling fat man said to the thin bamboo pole guy.
“Where are you guys from?” Zhao Lingjun suddenly felt their accents were very familiar, and asked.
“We are from the Wuxi prefecture.” The Maitreya looking fat man replied.
“What a coincidence?” Pleasantly surprised, Zhao Lingjun replied. “I’m also from there.”
“Really?!” The fat man’s gang of four exclaimed.
“Haha. Who would have thought that I would meet people from my hometown here!” Zhao Lingjun excitedly said. “It’s really a coincidence! I’m also going to 7th Street, why don’t we go together?”
“Sure, let’s go.” The fat man walked and looked at the Meng Xue, Zhao Lingjun couple and said, “Your girlfriend is very pretty.”
Zhao Lingjun and Meng Xue both blushed a deep shade of red.
“Oh right. What are you guys here for?” Zhao Lingjun quickly changed the subject.
“Ohh. We came to do some business.” replied the fat man on behalf of his group.
“Oh I see. So you guys are businessmen, I had thought you were comedians.” As Zhao Lingjun replied, a group of people entered the door of 7th Street. He then continued, “Then I shall not hinder you guys from striking it rich anymore. I shall go run my own errands.”
“Just as the mountain endures, and the river flows, so too shall we meet again. Farewell.” said the fat man on behalf of his group as he respectfully sent off Zhao Lingjun.
* * *
“Those four guys from your hometown are very intriguing.” said Meng Xue as she looked at the party of four at some stores ahead looking left and right. “What a ‘Just as the mountain endures, and the river flows, so too shall we meet again’. I even wondered if they were part of the Seven Freaks of Jiangnan.” 
“Just ignore them.” Zhao Lingjun gloomy looked left and right, “Just where exactly is this ancient language research association?”
7th Street wasn’t that big, and only after spending about 10 minutes, Zhao Lingjun and Meng Xue had wandered the whole 7th Street. But their fruits of labour came to naught, and didn’t find anything like an ancient language research association.
“Why don’t we ask someone since we can’t find it?” Meng Xue smiled charmingly at Zhao Lingjun and ran sweetly towards the nearest stall. She then used a seductive voice and asked the owner, “Big Brother, may I know if there is an ancient language research association around here?”
“Ancient language… research association?” The middle aged man who was setting up his stall stammered after being loudly called Big Brother by Meng Xue. After dazing for a long time, he finally raised his hand and pointed behind them. “The place you’re talking about should be there.”
Zhao Lingjun and Meng Xue followed the direction the middle aged man pointed at.
All they saw was a shabby, dilapidated two storey building. Hanging above the door/entrance was a sign that was so mottled that the initial/original colour couldn’t be identified. But the words written on it were still clear enough to be read.
“Ancient relic research association?” Zhao Lingjun and Meng Xue both dumbly stared at the sign.
“That friend of yours indeed. Even ancient relic research association can be misread as ancient language research association.” After a short moment, Meng Xue who was in a good mood said as she smiled at Zhao Lingjun. “Is his brain made out of wood?”
“I…” Zhao Lingjun looked at her, speechless. He wanted to find a hole to bury the person who said that the internet was omnipotent.
 Maitreya – A Buddhist God, is always portrayed smiling. Click here to find out more.
 Seven Freaks of Jiangnan – A group of seven strong weirdos in the first novel of The Condor Trilogy. Click here to read more.
 In Chinese the difference between the two is only one character, ancient relic blah blah – 古文物研究会, ancient language blah blah – 古文研究会.