SWFM 95

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Chapter 95: Bashing with a rod or grappling with bare hands

 

The next morning, Xu Tingsheng got on a train for home.

The green train still traversed the mountainous regions slowly and leisurely. Because it was a rainy day, it was not so bright outside the windows. Previously, it had been six of them who had rode the train together. This time, they were without Apple and Fang Yunyao.

Wanting to break the rather silent atmosphere, Xu Tingsheng bought two sets of poker cards from the attendant’s cart, saying, “Let’s us four play Shuangkou.”

Song Ni took the poker cards, telling Fu Cheng and Huang Yaming, “Let’s play Dou Dizhu, the three of us.”

There is a tragedy in this world, when you think that three other people are a player less and they end up playing Dou Dizhu.

Watching pitifully on from the side, Xu Tingsheng pointed at the cards in Song Ni’s hand after a while, saying, “Play this, and this. They already don’t have any jokers left.”

Song Ni ignored him, throwing out a pair of threes.

“You’re done for, you. Sigh, why didn’t you listen,” Xu Tingsheng commented.

Huang Yaming said, “Pass.”

Fu Cheng said, “Pass.”

Xu Tingsheng knew that he was being shunned as he complained, “Look at you people, acting all emotional like this. It’s still fine for Song Ni who’s a girl, but Huang Yaming, Fu Cheng, why are even you two men being like this?”

Huang Yaming glanced at Xu Tingsheng and said, “Three eights.”

Fu Cheng said, “Pass.”

Xu Tingsheng felt like he was going mad. He said: If the three of you really keep on being like this, I’m going to shun you. I’m going to shun the three of you just on my lonesome. He said: If you have some opinions about me, say them! Even though I won’t accept them regardless!

Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng glanced at Xu Tingsheng, not speaking. While they wanted to put on cold expressions, they could not help but smile a little at his current sorry plight. The two were actually not at the point where they definitely had to look disfavorably upon and collectively shun Xu Tingsheng. It was mainly to take care of Song Ni’s feelings that they were doing this, standing together on a united front with her.

Finally, it was still Song Ni herself who was unable to hold it in, her face dark as she paused with each word, “Xu Tingsheng, I feel that you’ve been unfair to Apple.”

As compared to Fu Cheng and Huang Yaming who had been shunning Xu Tingsheng half-jokingly, half-earnestly, as a girl, Song Ni would naturally get emotional more easily as she needed to vent it out even more as well.

With her first sentence, the floodgates then opened as it all gushed out emotionally, “I don’t know who this Xiang Ning is or how she’s like. I’m not acquainted with her. Still, I know Apple. I just feel that Apple is good, and I just feel that you’ve been unfair to her.”

“Alright, I’ll not talk about Xiang Ning then. What about that, that Lu Zhixin? Is she better than Apple, or is it that she’s done more than Apple?…”

“On what basis is it that you’ll coax even a stranger who got hurt? And that method of coaxing as well. But what about Apple? You didn’t do it for Apple.”

“Xu Tingsheng…the day before yesterday, I really felt like helping Apple to throw that rose at your face.”

Feeling very emotional, Song Ni turned to look out of the window with tears in her eyes after she had finished, in a huff as she completely ignored Xu Tingsheng.

Xu Tingsheng pushed at Huang Yaming’s arm, telling him to help coax her a little.

A mother raised a child in the air, shouting as she rushed through the aisle of the carriage, “Give way, give way! The child’s about to pee.”

And so Xu Tingsheng thought about Apple, thinking about how she had sat opposite him, a dirty little kid in her embrace whom she had coaxed like a precious little thing. She had carried the kid whilst traversing the aisles just like this, brimming with satisfaction as she looked at him when she had returned.

During Xu Tingsheng’s senior high farewell match after graduation, he had held up a ‘heart’ and ran before the entire stretch of stands after scoring, to which Apple had said that very night, “Xu Tingsheng, I like you. When you held up a heart and ran along the stands today, I coaxed myself, telling myself that it was meant for me…did you know? I am especially good at deceiving myself; it’s been like this ever since I was a child.”

Such happiness, however illusory, had been given by Xu Tingsheng to the stranger, Lu Zhixin, but yet not to Apple who had walked into his heart, that girl who had gotten on a bus in the middle of the night to come over to see him due to having detected him to be emotionally unstable.

That day, she had said: Xu Tingsheng, you’re just like a child. She was the first girl who had viewed Xu Tingsheng as she would a child. What others mostly saw were Xu Tingsheng’s maturity, composedness and strength.

She had once said: Xu Tingsheng, carry me someplace bright. Xu Tingsheng had carried her on a journey, and she had kept this within her heart, never able to forget the memory of back then.

Xu Tingsheng could not tell Song Ni why what others could have, Apple could not have. It was because: She’s already in my heart.
……

This time, Xu Tingsheng and the others did not stop by Jiannan City, immediately getting on the Libei-bound bus after having disembarked from the train. Earlier, in a call with a relative from Libei, that relative had mentioned one thing during their conversation. That Huang Tianzhu had spread the word that ‘I’ll have your Xu Family unable to usher in this new year’.

Mr Xu had not mentioned this to Xu Tingsheng. As a man, as a father, he was too used to bearing all the weight on his shoulders, protecting his family.

Huang Tianzhu’s intentions should correspond to Huang Tianliang’s intentions. Libei’s local snakehead? This was the first time after Xu Tingsheng’s rebirth that he was facing a crisis of this level.

It was more than 8pm when the bus arrived at Libei station. When Xu Tingsheng got home, his parents and his sister were still waiting for him to have dinner together.

In terms of wealth, the Xu Family was already no longer that Xu Family of before. However, it had retained its warmth. In that sense, the Xu Family had not changed.

The atmosphere over dinner was a little repressed, even though everyone was trying hard to keep up the mood.

Afraid that his mother and sister might get worried, Xu Tingsheng did not ask Mr Xu about the current situation over dinner. Having found him after dinner, before he could ask about things, Mr Xu patted him on the shoulder, “Just having come back, you should rest properly for the night. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.”

Yet, the Xu Family did not pass that night in peace.

Around 3am, Xu Tingsheng was awakened by a huge din with someone kicking open his door, shining a torchlight on his face and shouting, “How are you related to Xu Jianliang? Which room is he in?”

Seeing their uniforms, Xu Tingsheng understood.

“Xu Jianliang is my father. Having rushed in like this, do you have an arrest warrant? Also, what crime has my father committed?” Xu Tingsheng calmed himself down and asked.

“Illegal collective investments, is that enough? Hurry up and tell. Where is he?” One of them answered.

“What’re you explaining to a kid for?” The other said.

Xu Qiuyi’s sobs resounded from the neighbouring room. As Xu Tingsheng rose from his bed and tried to go over, he was restrained by one of the men.

Xu Tingsheng said heavily, “My little sister’s crying.”

The man did not release him.

Then, Mr Xu’s heavy voice resounded from up the stairs, “Don’t scare the children, I’m here.”

As Xu Tingsheng walked out from his room, he saw a neatly dressed Mr Xu about to enter a police car.

Seeing Xu Tingsheng, Mr Xu looked at him and said, “Take good care of your mother and your sister. Also, don’t shrink back. Nothing will happen.”

Xu Tingsheng nodded.

Tonight’s matter had been completely out of his predictions. He had considered many methods that their opponents might employ, but never had he thought that they would have been so arrogant and extreme in employing a method such as this.

Perhaps they truly believed that they were the only law around here.

This was Xu Tingsheng’s first ever frenzied fury since his rebirth. However, he knew that the more this was so, the more it was that he had to keep calm. Firstly, the two women at home, his mother and his sister, needed him to take care of them. Only having ensured that he was sufficiently calm would he be able to comfort and pacify them. Secondly, he had to keep his cool to face this matter, to resolve this matter.

Xu Tingsheng, Mrs Xu and Xu Qiuyi sat in a room, Mrs Xu embracing her daughter and comforting her.

‘Your Dad told me to call these numbers if anything happened to him,” Mrs Xu took out a note and handed it over to Xu Tingsheng, next hesitating for a moment before continuing, “If we really can’t hold on, just hand the store over to them. It’s enough as long as our family’s fine.”

This was the simplest and most normal state of mind for a mother in a farming family who had been honest and diligent her entire life thus far. Afraid of officials, afraid of trouble, rather suffering an justice. All she wished for in her entire lifetime was that her family would be able to live a peaceful life, not having to grow cold or starve.

Xu Tingsheng looked at his mother and sister, saying gently, “Mom, don’t panic. Out family’s situation is insufficient to be called illegal collective investment. Actually, it’s not that they can really do anything to Dad. What they’re primarily doing with this is trying to intimidate us.”

“Still, they’ve overestimated themselves, also underestimating our Xu Family.”

“Now, don’t you and Qiuyi panic or feel afraid. Take good care of yourselves and also support me properly from behind. Leave this matter to me.”

Xu Tingsheng took a look at the slip of paper his mother had passed to him. On it were written around eight numbers, and in front of these numbers were names which were virtually all foreign to Xu Tingsheng. Perhaps these were the connections that Mr Xu had accumulated over this period of time.

Not seeing any need to feel apologetic at all, Xu Tingsheng called all of them before the day even broke.

After having finished the final call, Xu Tingsheng sorted out his thoughts. While these people might be able to ensure that Mr Xu wouldn’t suffer any injustice where he was being held, they could not be of any help at all in resolving this matter.

Most of them were from some ministries within Libei County, but in this very Libei County, there was virtually no one who dared to stand against Huang Tianliang directly.

Around 4am in the morning, Xu Tingsheng decided to give Fang Yuqing a call.

He was not clear on the exact situation regarding the Fang Family. However, he knew that no matter what, the Fang Family’s power must also far surpass that of a bureau Chief of a single county.

This gap might be great to an unimaginable extent.

In truth, this matter might finally also be resolved without having to draw on the Fang Family’s power. However, Xu Tingsheng did not hesitate in the least. If something having happened to his father, he would still rationally and objectively calculate regarding gains and losses, benefits and detriments, he would no longer be Xu Tingsheng.

Also, if a wild dog were to bite you and there was a rod in your hands, why ever would you fight it empty-handed?

Bashing with a rod or grappling with bare hands?

Xu Tingsheng chose to bash with the rod, regardless of the costs.


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