Chapter 105: The Xu Family’s Fireworks (2)
After the Xu Family’s first wave of fireworks.
However much the people within the county were heatedly discussing them, the Xu Family continued heartily downing their wine where they were. Perhaps others might feel that this was the main event. Mr Xu and Xu Tingsheng, however, were clear that this was not the true pleasant surprise that the Xu Family was bringing to Libei tonight-far from it, in fact.
Mr Xu, Uncle Rong and a few other old employees squeezed together, drinking wine as they reminisced on their youthful days back in the factory. There was joy and laughter, whilst also tears of emotion which involuntarily sprung to their eyes.
“I say, you’ve still got that lousy old machete of yours?” A tipsy Mr Xu asked Uncle Rong.
“What lousy old machete? That’s a precious, treasured blade whose overwhelming aura intimidates the world all round,” A drunk Uncle Rong laughed as he rebutted.
“You…can still hold it up? Can still scare others with it?”
“Whenever you need it, I will be able to hold it up, will be able to scare others with it,” Uncle Rong replied.
At this point, Mr Xu fell silent.
Such was the friendship of the older generation. Those brothers who had walked through that era together had painstakingly established a business to support their families together, standing united in facing all the difficulties that lay before them as they strived simply to be able to continue getting the food into their mouths.
Clinking glasses with Mr Xu, Uncle Rong tilted his head and said, “Old Xu, I already couldn’t accept it back then. Now, I still can’t accept it…See, you’re always just so fortunate. Now, you’ve even gotten yourself such a good son.”
Mr Xu laughed happily, “So what if you can’t accept it? Tingsheng, come! Give your Uncle Rong a toast!”
In truth, on the pretext of having to drive, Xu Tingsheng hadn’t drunk much at all that night. Still, he definitely had to toast Uncle Rong. While the Uncle Rong that day had been dressed in old, tattered work clothes and carried an old machete, he had resembled a huge mountain as he stood before him, barring the path of all who would think him harm.
He was just the simplest farmer. Just like he himself had said, he couldn’t even speak the common language well. Still, he knew well and true what friendship was.
“Uncle Rong, this toast is to express my respect for you,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“Alright, Uncle will drink this toast heartily,” Uncle Rong said.
As Xu Tingsheng and Uncle Rong were drinking, Mr Xu was going around toasting people everywhere.
When toasting Uncle Zhao, Mr Xu said rather emotionally, “My son’s told me all about it. Old Bro Zhao, thank you. Sorry that you were made a laughingstock for the past few days…I’m chagrined.”
Having been called Old Fool Zhao for quite a number of days, Uncle Zhao just laughed loudly, “What does that matter? Just look at how good things are now. Enough said, let it all be in the wine.”
After toasting Uncle Rong, Xu Tingsheng carried his wineglass and went over to find Li Xiu. Seeing this, Mr Xu went over as well, the two together toasting the greatest meritorious general of Happy Shoppers.
Yet, however great the atmosphere was there, quite a few amongst them still remained worried. Even while the Xu Family had temporarily tided through this crisis, there now existed enmity between them and the Huang Family. Things would perhaps be very tough for the Xu Family from here on out.
There we many who thought this way. It was so with those present; it was so in the villages; it was so in Libei County.
“Having released those fireworks, isn’t the Xu Family blatantly flaunting before the Huang Family?”
“How audacious! That’s the Huang Family, you know. However fast the Xu Family climbs, however tough a stance they take, they’ll surely still lose out in the end.”
“I heard that the Xu Family set up more than ten tables, with two or three of them still being unoccupied. Do you dare to go?”
“Me? …I’ll not be joining in these crowds now. Earlier, the Huang Family said that they would leave the Xu Family unable to usher in the new year, and then the Xu Family kid said that his Dad would definitely return in time for it. Now that his father’s out, this banquet…is clearly giving the Huang Family a slap on the face…This party is not a good one to join in.”
No matter what, it was the majority of people who didn’t think well of the Xu Family’s chances. After all, the Huang Family had so many years of authority accumulatively piled up there.
Some who had smugly gloated at the Xu Family’s plight earlier, whilst feeling rather despondent over the news of Mr Xu’s release, began speaking of the Xu Family’s tough predicament even more enthusiastically, “The days ahead will not be good for the Xu Family.”
It was around 11pm when the winds of this debate began to change.
Accompanied by the departure of a few military vehicles into the night, the news which had been kept in the utmost secrecy for the entire day gradually began to spread-Libei’s Huang Family, had collapsed.
This shocking news was repeatedly digested before finally being accepted by the people of Libei. When guessing what had caused the sudden collapse of the massive entity that was the Huang Family, what naturally came to mind was the recent clash between them and the Xu Family.
“Did the Xu Family topple the Huang Family?”
“But that doesn’t make sense! The Xu Family shouldn’t have that level of ability.”
“You tell me then. If it wasn’t the Xu Family, who else could it have been?”
However had the Xu Family achieved it? Just what might they have relied on? No one knew. However, the authoritative and prosperous Huang Family that had reigned over Libei for more than a decade had indeed collapsed just like that.
Another doubtful point was this: The Xu Family having been taken by surprise with Xu Jianliang having been incarcerated over this period of time, even if the Xu Family had possessed the ability to topple the Huang Family, just how might they have done so then?
Some who had met Xu Tingsheng and knew of him began to speak, “Don’t you know? On the very night of that incident, the son of the Xu Family returned.”
“I hear he’s called Xu Tingsheng.”
“Oh, I’ve heard of him before. I think he was even the top scholar or something. Still, didn’t he just graduate from senior high last year? He’s still a hairless brat, right? How old is he?”
“After the year’s ended, he should be 20, I guess. Hairless brat? Didn’t you see when the Xu Family was pressured by over a hundred people for money that day? If you did, you would know what that kid is like, smoothly and comfortably suppressing the full hundred over people there all on his own. Who would dare take him as a mere hairless brat?”
“Like formidable father, like formidable son! It seems like the heavens of Libei are really about to change.”
It was at this moment that the people over at the Xu Family banquet began receiving this news as well. Many who had originally thought that they already understood the Xu Family’s foundations sufficiently well began wondering over how much of an additional level of ability the Xu Family possessed that they were unclear about.
How exactly had this father and son pair that was currently smilingly toasting glasses of wine everywhere managed to do it?
Those who were already sitting over with the Xu Family rejoiced at their wise decision. Those who had originally wanted to come yet had been pulled back by their wives were feeling angry at their wives, while those who had hesitated were feeling angry with themselves.
As for those such as Li Xiu who had staunchly stood by the Xu Family’s side all the way, they finally knew how wise their decisions back then had been. The Xu Family’s ship would head unstoppably on, riding the winds and breaking the waves, while they would be on that ship.
When the clock ticked down to 12am, the fireworks set off in Libei reached a peak. Countless people opened their windows or stepped out of their homes, admiring the fireworks that were brightening up the night sky.
Over at the Xu Family, twice the previous amount of fireworks were laid out on the grain sunning ground.
“Light ’em up,” Xu TIngsheng said.
“Boom!” Half the sky was shining as even the entire county’s worth of fireworks was unable to overshadow the Xu Family’s all-encompassing dazzling light.
Everyone could not help but take notice as that corner which was illuminated bright as daylight, incomparably splendid as it was, seemed to be telling them all: The heavens of Libei have changed. The Xu Family, has truly risen.
It had been with great difficulty that Xu Tingsheng had earlier convinced Mr Xu regarding two consecutive money-burning sessions of magnificent fireworks. The fireworks were for celebration, celebrating Mr Xu having safely returned home for the new year, celebrating the Xu Family’s momentous rise to power over just a mere half year.
More importantly, however, was intimidation.
Xu Tingsheng didn’t intend to conceal their part in the Huang Family’s collapse. He wanted everyone to know that this had been the Xu Family’s doing, making use of this chance to let all those lowlife scum and insatiable wolves who would think to target the Xu Family know this: Unless you think yourselves to be more powerful than the Xu Family, you’d better not have any intentions on us.
The Xu Family needed to focus. After having experienced this incident, Mr Xu had told Xu Tingsheng one thing: I had originally thought that it was fine not going to the plains, forgetting meanwhile that wild wolves also exist on the small hills…The Xu Family must become an elephant, a massive entity that can go anywhere we’d like.
Xu Tingsheng needed to focus. He had his own plans and his own goals, with there also being someone whom he needed to accompany and guard.
Therefore, Xu Tingsheng had designed this intimidation. He wanted to nip all their potential troubles in the bud to the greatest extent possible before they could have the chance to grow.
Those feeling sympathetic towards the Xu Family and those who had been oppressed by the Huang Family before were all rejoicing over this scene.
Meanwhile, those who had been gloating over the Xu Family’s misfortune or had offended the Xu Family before began feeling despondent and uneasy.
In a certain corner of Libei, a particular girl was thinking: If I had gotten on that car at the time…how great it would have been.
Xu Tingsheng drove Li Xiu’s family back on his first trip and Huang Yaming, Fu Cheng and Song Ni on the second. While Fu Cheng and Huang Yaming both lived closer to Xu Tingsheng than Song Ni, the two of them insisted on him sending her home first.
Thinking that they wanted to ask him about the Huang Family’s matter, Xu Tingsheng steadied himself for this after Song Ni had gotten off the car. He had already long since spun up the lie that he would give.
However, they didn’t ask, Fu Cheng instead pulling out a burlap sack from his bag and saying, “Come, let’s go burlap sack Huang Gui.”
So it was this that had been on their minds.
The dishes that had been laid out across the table at noon were still yet to be touched. Mrs Huang sat slumped back against her seat, unmoving. A few teams of police officers already having been here, she had already long since realised what was going on.
In truth, she had known all along that this day would inevitably come. It was just that she had not thought that it would actually occur on a day like this.
As for Huang Gui, he had not returned since going out at noon. She knew that it would be pointless to count on that son of hers who was still out gallivanting about at the age of thirty.
Huang Gui actually only came to know of things much later on. Afraid of being disturbed by his mother, he always kept his phone turned off when out gallivanting about outside. Therefore, those people whom he had been hanging out with learnt of the news much earlier than he did.
Only when the final person had made up some excuse and left did Huang Gui realise that something was wrong. These people who were usually incomparably respectful towards him were suddenly avoiding him like the plague.
Turning on his phone, the innumerable missed calls and text messages informed him of what had happened to Libei, what had happened to the Huang Family.
As Huang Gui set off for home alone, his footsteps were rather unsteady as he tottered along. Rather than drunkenness, this was more representative of the panic and unease within his heart. To him, the very sky had suddenly collapsed.
The Xu Family’s Audi pulled over beside him.
Fu Cheng and Huang Yaming, burlap sack and wooden batons in hand, were about to get off the car when Xu Tingsheng stopped them.
“That won’t be necessary,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“Xu Family?” Huang Gui looked at the car and its occupants and asked, “You, what do you want?”
Xu Tingsheng rolled down the car window, smiling, “Relax, I’m not going to hurt you. Since we’ve coincidentally met, though, I would like to ask you-do you still want to take a proper look at me now? Or know where it is that you’re inferior to me?”
Huang Gui stared at the ground, not speaking.
The Audi’s engine revved, but it was only when the car was already a distance away that Huang Gui summoned up his courage to yell, “Xu Tingsheng, I will have my revenge! This old man definitely won’t forgive you!”
At this yell which, whilst not loud, was still audible within the car, Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng asked Xu Tingsheng to turn back.
Xu Tingsheng shook his head, smiling, “Forget it, he’s just mere trash. He’s already gallivanted himself useless, and not only is he useless, he doesn’t even have guts. Without that bunch of lackeys beside him, he doesn’t even dare to speak loudly anymore.”
“How sad for such a competent father to be unable to raise up even a decent son.”
“Heck, you still sympathise with him?” Huang Yaming asked incredulously.
“Even if I wanted to sympathise with him, I wouldn’t have enough of it to go around,” Xu Tingsheng said, “There’re probably many in Libei County who hate him much more than we do. They’ll all be looking to take revenge on him now; it isn’t even certain if he’ll be able to live through all this semi-intact. Therefore, there’s no need for us to waste our time on him.”
“But I’ve got to vent or I’ll feel repressed…did I prepare this burlap sack for nothing then?” Fu Cheng asked depressedly.
A figure swayed on the sidewalk in the distance. Just having finished setting off fireworks with his girlfriend by the flood prevention dams, with a beauty by his side, Chen Yulun’s despondence over the sudden resurgence of the Xu Family had been alleviated greatly as he was currently humming a song whilst walking home.
The three on the Audi exchanged looks, grinning.
“How about him then? We’ve got nothing better to do anyway,” Fu Cheng said, “This guy’s been pretty active again recently, going everywhere telling people about what happened to your family. He even gave Song Ni a call and said a whole bunch of weird stuff.”
“I got someone to warn him to stop disturbing Song Ni, but he even crowed that he’d like to see us try to touch him,” Huang Yaming added.
“I’m fine with the mockery, but just from what he did to Song Ni back then, just from him actually still daring to call Song Ni now, not knowing what’s good for him…Alright, let’s stop finding excuses. We actually just feel like beating him up on sight, isn’t it?…” Xu Tingsheng laughed.
Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng both nodded very earnestly.
“Let’s…go then,” Xu Tingsheng said.
As the screeching of tires as a car came rapidly to a halt resounded behind him, Chen Yulun had still yet to look back when a burlap sack went straight over his head. After that came a merciless, relentless rain of kicks and punches.
And so it was that on New Year’s Eve, the elite student Chen Yulun who hailed from the prestigious Jianhai University haplessly fell victim to a random beating in the middle of the night.
This-who could he cry injustice at?
After sending Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng back, Xu Tingsheng returned home. The adults had basically all gone to bed. In the hall, under his sister’s lead, his cousins were currently seated around the brazier playing mahjong, standing by time.
The coals in the brazier burned red, with crackling noises emitted from time to time. New Year’s Eve in this era was far warmer than the distant virtual red packets over WeChat of the future.
Standing by time-guarding life and longevity, guarding happiness.
Xu Tingsheng also decided to stand by time this year. While watching his cousins play mahjong, he thought back on all that he had experienced over this greater part of a year that had elapsed thus far since his rebirth…
The Xu Family, peaceful and well.
His kin, peaceful and well.
His friends, peaceful and well.
…Then, all was well.
What about he himself? What about the yearning that existed within his heart?
Xu Tingsheng’s phone rang. He answered the call.
“Uncle Liar, are you sleeping?”
“No. Why haven’t you slept yet as well?”
“My cousins are playing mahjong, standing by time for Grandpa. I was bored, so I called you. Happy New Year.”
“Happy New Year. Why aren’t you playing?”
“I’ve already lost all my New Year’s money.”
“Wow. Aren’t you super skilled at it?”
“How did you know that I’m skilled? I only just learnt it.”
“Oh, just a guess.”
“I actually am very skilled, you know. It’s just that I didn’t do well on my end-of-semester examinations. I just got that bit of New Year’s money that couldn’t even stand up to a loss.”
“Uncle, why do you sound so happy? I’m very pitiful here, you know. Mum says that she’s definitely going to find me a home tutor for next semester.”
“Uncle Liar, why do you sound like you’re laughing?”
“Huh? …No, I’m not.”
Standing by time-guarding life and longevity, guarding happiness.
So happiness was actually just that simple. Hanging up the phone, Xu Tingsheng felt great happiness.