Chapter 320: Someone else’s life
They had agreed upon eating dinner at Wu Kun’s house during the weekend.
That afternoon, the four of them got together and discussed the gifts they had prepared.
Tan Yao had bought toys, a remote-controlled car and a toy gun. Fang Yuqing had brought two purportedly very valuable bottles of wine from his house. Huang Yaming had bought fruits…
Xu Tingsheng couldn’t decide on what to buy even after a long time. Under such circumstances, he would be too embarrassed to take out that ‘valuable French perfume’ and go bluffing his way around with that…
In the end, he decided on the classic move of buying flowers.
Xu Tingsheng specially made a trip to that flower store where he had bought flowers when going to visit Zhang Yan at the hospital. The Lady Boss of the store had left an impression on him as a very gentle and down-to-earth person.
On the whole, Xu Tingsheng was a person who was very afraid of troublesome things, whether it was in associating with people, handling matters or whatnot. Anybody and any affairs that he did not find to be troublesome and complicated, he liked.
Xu Tingsheng briefly explained what he needed to the Lady Boss, who recommended to him a matching bouquet and potted plant.
As she was wrapping up the flowers, Xu Tingsheng played with a cute little boy inside the store.
Now, a din arose outside the door of the store. Hearing it, Xu Tingsheng led the little boy by the hand out for a look.
A young man threw a potted plant which had already withered to the ground, soil spilling out onto the ground as he demanded, “This potted plant cost over five hundred yuan, but it died before even a month had passed. What is this if not a scam? What can you say about this?”
Xu Tingsheng did not understand much about plants, being unable to distinguish what species this was. Still, it had cost more than five hundred yuan, which did seem to be rather expensive.
“Sorry, but you may have to wait for a bit longer,” The Lady Boss apologised to Xu Tingsheng.
Xu Tingsheng said, “It’s okay. Go ahead and settle your affairs first.”
The Lady Boss put down the half-wrapped bouquet before walking out and smiling genially, “Simmer down. Let me have a look. I’ll compensate you if it’s a problem with the plant itself.”
With that, the Lady Boss took a small shovel and dug a small hole at the bottom of the potted plant, next holding a handful of soil in her hand and examining it before she looked up and said, “You shifted this plant after buying it, didn’t you? There’s a problem with the soil you used. Such a problem wouldn’t have occurred if you had used the soil from the original pot.”
Xu Tingsheng observed the expression of the young man changing slightly after the Lady Boss had said this. The Lady Boss had evidently hit the nail on the head.
Still, a moment later, that guy resumed his original ferocious manner as he roared threateningly, “What soil what? I don’t get this at all. You’re trying to push the responsibility away, aren’t you?”
“But this was really caused by the plant being shifted to different soil,” The Lady Boss rebutted in a still cordial tone, after which she stood up and washed her hands, wiping them dry before continuing to wrap up the bouquet.
The young man looked like he had nowhere to vent his dissatisfaction as he stiffened for a moment before casually reaching out and overturning a pot of kumquat that was displayed at the front of the store. Falling onto the ground, the porcelain pot instantly shattered, the kumquat left covered totally in soil as a result.
The Lady Boss glanced at him before putting down the bouquet again, saying, “Let’s be civilised and talk about this. Don’t be so hasty.”
“Me, hasty?” The young man seemed to have found her very good to bully as he reached out and toppled a pot of orchid, “I’m being hasty?! If I wasn’t in a good mood, I’d wreck this whole rotten store of yours, believe me? This bro’s a gangster, you know?”
Looking at the remains of the two potted plants on the ground, the Lady Boss was silent for a while.
As the young man reached out to topple a third potted plant, Xu Tingsheng extended a hand and grabbed his wrist, telling him, “Bro, you shouldn’t go too far.”
Looking at him, the young man jutted up his chin, “Mind your own business! Who do you think you are?”
Xu Tingsheng had still yet to reply when the little boy behind him rushed over, kicking the man’s ankle before raising his head to look at him and exclaiming, “Who asked you to bully my Mum.”
“Hey, you little brat!”
As the young man lifted a hand as if to hit the little boy, Xu Tingsheng pulled the boy behind him to protect him.
The Lady Boss hurried over, saying, “Sorry, the kid’s insensible. Let me just compensate you for that plant.”
With that, she went back into the store and counted out five hundred yuan, giving it to that man.
Receiving it, the young man nodded before saying, “Not enough. Gimme another five hundred.”
The Lady Boss was taken aback by this, “But the price of the potted plant is five hundred yuan.”
“Yes, the price of the potted plant is five hundred. Don’t you have to compensate me for your kid kicking me? Also, I gave this plant to my girlfriend’s parents, you know? And it died so quickly! Is that auspicious? Where’s all my face go? You don’t have to compensate for that?” He continued roaring loudly.
Xu Tingsheng was actually put in quite a spot by this. It was not that he did not want to step in and help the Lady Boss out or could not do so. In truth, during the two times that he had come here, there had only been the Lady Boss and a young female employee in the store at most. Xu Tingsheng feared that if he were to step in this time yet was not able to continue monitoring the situation here in the future, the flower store and the Lady Boss might continually be harassed.
This person here was clearly shameless and unreasonable.
As Xu Tingsheng was considering asking for the Lady Boss’s opinion, intending to step in and teach that guy a lesson if she felt that that was okay, the Lady Boss had already retrieved two hundred yuan and handed it over even before he could say anything, saying, “I’ll compensate you another two hundred then. Any more really won’t do.”
The young man cursed as he extended a hand and took the money, next kicking the soil on the ground as he walked away, proclaiming triumphantly, “Heck, if this old man does nothing, y’all won’t know my true abilities, where I’m from. Ya just had to force me…and only then did you know how to listen good. If you provoked me mad, I’d wreck your store, ya know?”
The Lady Boss did not speak.
After he had ridden his motorcycle away, the Lady Boss apologised to Xu Tingsheng, then thanked him.
“Sorry, I nearly dragged you into this,” The Lady Boss said apologetically, “Also, thank you for helping me to protect my son just now. Otherwise, things could really have gotten out of hand.”
“It’s nothing,” Xu Tingsheng said, “It’s just-if you give in to them so easily, Lady Boss, aren’t you afraid that they might get addicted to extorting money from you and come again in the future?”
“They generally won’t. This also happened a few times before, but they didn’t come again. I would like to avoid unnecessary trouble and just run this little store in peace. If he really does come again, I could just call the police or something. There’d surely be a way to resolve things.”
The Lady Boss finished wrapping up the bouquet as she packed it together with the potted plant and handed it to Xu Tingsheng.
Due to that earlier incident, the Lady Boss refused to charge Xu Tingsheng anything. Still, Xu Tingsheng insisted on setting the money down.
He even considered leaving his number there for the Lady Boss, asking her to look for him if that guy came again. Still, after hesitating a little, he ultimately decided against it.
Firstly, he was intrinsically unable to be concerned with so many affairs.
Secondly, it is best not to disrupt the ways of living that others are used to and love. While you may feel that others have been bullied, suffering an injustice, it may actually be that they really enjoy this kind of stability and normalcy, living very happily as a result.
Leaving the flower store as he headed for Starry Splendour to meet up with Fang Yuqing and the others, Xu Tingsheng was rather astonished to find that young man who had just been at that flower store and his motorbike toppled at the side of the road together, seemingly having fallen as his head was wounded, covered in blood.
“What goes around comes around.”
Xu Tingsheng smiled.
Wu Kun’s ‘mysterious’ home ended up being not far away from the back alley of Starry Splendour, a small bungalow with three and a half storeys that seemed rather aged.
They followed Wu Kun, entering the courtyard.
“Right, Tongtong has an older brother who does drugs. He was arrested and forcibly sent into cold turkey two days ago. Her younger cousin also already came to work at Starry Splendour since yesterday. As for Tongtong herself, she’s learning wine management just like you said. She’s a hard worker, very diligent,” Wu Kun said to Xu Tingsheng, then smiled.
Xu Tingsheng knew the meaning behind this smile. These matters should all be related to Wu Kun, having been arranged by him. He had put Tongtong and those around her completely under his control. Also, the most volatile factor, Tongtong’s drug addict brother, had been directly sent off into cold turkey by him.
“Although we may not have the purest of motives, this is actually a good thing for Tongtong,” Wu Kun said.
Xu Tingsheng nodded in agreement. In comparison to the terrible mess that it had been before, Tongtong’s life was at least heading in a good direction now.
“Let’s not talk about all this after we’ve entered. Your Sister-in-law doesn’t like hearing about these things. You guys should chat with her about other stuff.”
Wu Kun patted Xu Tingsheng’s shoulder and opened the door.
“Wifey, our guests are here! Four authentic university students, and that very famous Xu Tingsheng. Come on out! Hey, where’s our son? Where’s the little brat run off to again?”
“Alright, I’m cooking now. I’ll be out in a jiffy. Look after them and get them seated first. Our son’s probably upstairs. Try yelling for him!” Came the reply from what was likely the kitchen.
“You guys sit then. Let me yell that brat of mine down first.”
Wu Kun went upstairs. Just after the four had sat down and were in the midst of appraising Wu Kun’s home that could not be considered grand and luxurious, the door between the living room and the kitchen was opened. A woman in her thirties who could not be considered beautiful now emerged with an apron tied around her waist.
“Welcome to our home…”
She paused mid-sentence, looking at Xu Tingsheng. Xu Tingsheng was looking at her as well.
“So you’re Sister-in-law. Hello, Sister-in-law. I’m Xu Tingsheng,” Xu Tingsheng soon regained his wits and greeted her with a smile on his face.
“…hey, look, what a coincidence. So you’re Xu Tingsheng,” Sister-in-law smiled back at him.
“What? You’ve met Sister-in-law before? Hello, Sister-in-law,” Huang Yaming said.
Fang Yuqing and Tan Yao also greeted ‘Hello, Sister-in-law’.
“Well, hello. Welcome to our home. It’s rare that we have visitors. With four of you university students coming this time, I’m exceptionally happy. I’ve been preparing for this for a few days already,” Sister-in-law replied.
“Sister-in-law is from the incident that I told you about just now…in the afternoon, the Lady Boss of the flower store,” Xu Tingsheng turned towards Huang Yaming, explaining with a wry smile on his face.
Earlier, he had already told the trio about the incident that had occurred that afternoon.
Hearing Xu Tingsheng say so, the three of them unconsciously shrunk back, shaking their heads. This was really too unimaginable. In Yanzhou, the wife of Yanzhou’s one and only Wu Kun who ran a flower store had actually been extorted by some random hooligan, threatened by him to have her store wrecked…
Yet…the extortion had really been a success.
What was the world coming to! Wasn’t the dude afraid of getting thrown in the river?
“He wouldn’t already be at the bottom of the river with a large sack of stones, right?”