Chapter 34: Fighting in different places
Let alone Libei County, the standard of Yanzhou City’s economy was already superior to that of Jiannan City. Therefore, Xu Tingsheng roamed randomly around Yanzhou City everyday, looking for inspiration whilst on the other hand also performing some research on the large scale supermarkets there, snapping a few photos and taking down some notes.
When Yanzhou had the ‘stone’ character in its name, its industries had nothing to do with stones at all. Of these, the one which had become famous the earliest was tangerines, and prospering the most were the industries for molds as well as plastic. 90% of the plastic basins and trash cans on sale in Jianhai City and the entire China as a whole were produced in Yanzhou.
The air in such a place naturally wouldn’t really be good. Still, with it currently being the year 2003, the natural environment still had room to be trampled upon. The sky was still blue and the wind still refreshing. Whenever he was tired out from touring the area, Xu Tingsheng would lie back on the slope of the hill behind Xinyan Junior High, looking at the clouds in the sky, listening to the chattering of the young girls from the school field not far away. It was a very leisurely, comfortable affair.
The great life ahead of him following his rebirth was spent not thinking of a way to make easy money but whiling away his time here-actually, Xu Tingsheng rather looked down on himself as well.
When school was dismissed, Xu Tingsheng would appear on that road leading to Xiang Ning’s house, looking warily at everyone walking by who looked like a hooligan. While he knew that Xiang Ning stayed in the school dormitories, who could say for sure that she would not suddenly take leave to go home one of these days?
The time that Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng spent everyday climbing high and crouching low was very stimulating, bringing back the feeling of them digging underground tunnels and stealing eggs from the nests of birds back in those village days. Still, they did not see any gains at all.
Of course, that was if only successfully capturing pictures of the bespectacled man acting in a negative manner could be considered seeing gains.
Fu Cheng sometimes didn’t know how he should think about this person, what sort of an attitude he should have regarding this matter. He would hope to be able to catch him in the act of something, next preventing Ms Fang from marrying a man who might be a secret ‘violent maniac’ as in Xu Tingsheng’s words. After all, selfishness and jealousy were something everyone possessed. However, as he followed the man everyday and found that he was actually very cultured and refined as well as charming, he would feel very conflicted, thinking that if Ms Fang married a good man, there seemed to be nothing he should resent, much less try to obstruct from the side.
Such an inner conflict stemmed from Fu Cheng’s self-awareness, with age playing a very huge role in this. That was to say that if the contrast in their ages and positions did not exist, Fu Cheng would definitely rush up to fairly compete for Ms Fang with the man without reservation.
However, he did not have the power to do so now-at the very least, he himself thought this way.
That day, after his sudden confession, Ms Fang had only said a single sentence, not even going as far as to dish out a rejection, “You should have waited till you’ve grown up before telling me.”
While this sentence appeared completely ordinary, its killing power was actually immense, because this was the problem that Fu Cheng was most unable to overcome.
The two followed the cultured-looking man to beneath the block where he resided.
“Let’s go, this is the last day we’ll be doing this,” Fu Cheng said.
“Don’t, this holiday of mine spans 7 days,” Huang Yaming answered, “Why don’t we keep watch overnight? Usually, it is at night when all those bad things are done. Who knows, maybe he’ll go on a rampage in the middle or the night or something.”
Fu Cheng was just about to reply when sounds of arguing and crying travelled over from within the house, the voice of that ‘cultured man’ amongst them. Of course, though, the way that he was roaring and bellowing right now didn’t seem cultured in the least. The other voice belonged to an older woman.
Fu Cheng and Huang Yaming climbed onto the clothes washing platform by the window.
The first sound: The cultured-looking man slapped that older woman.
The second sound: Fu Cheng pressed the shutter of the camera.
These two noises had actually been emitted at the same time, the cultured-looking man therefore not noticing the situation over at the window. Fu Cheng and Huang Yaming watched on for around half an hour more, during which time they took several dozen photos. Afterwards, they knocked on the door and rapidly fled.
The reason they had knocked on the door was that they really couldn’t take it any longer.
Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng walked on the streets.
“What do we do now?” Fu Cheng asked Huang Yaming.
“Look for Ms Fang, of course. Would there be anything else?” Huang Yaming replied.
Fang Yunyao’s life had been rather fulfilling and blissful these past days. The university entrance examinations being over, while the school term had yet to end, the teachers of twelfth grade were already basically free other than having to await the release of the examination results as well as attend that end-of-term general meeting. In twelfth grade, the students would be nervous as they faced great hardship while there would also be great pressure on the teachers. Therefore, they would feel the much freer days later on to be especially blissful.
Having discarded the pressure, Fang Yunyao felt as if she was back to being the young girl she was back in those university days. Right, what was wrong about a 26-year-old young girl? Fang Yunyao’s old home was in Hunan, only having come to Libei due to being channeled in as a talent. Therefore, she currently still lived in the school dormitory for teachers, waking lazily everyday to the summons of the sunlight and lazing leisurely about on her bed till it was time for lunch. Afterwards, she would go shopping with her friends or colleagues or climb some mountains together. This really was the life of a little landlady, wasn’t it.
Another matter that she had rather some anticipation for was that thesis that had been published earlier, having unexpectedly attracted a great amount of attention. An older teacher in the same group as her had recently heard some rumours that the city might be considering marking her as a target for grooming as well as a member of the group for educational topic reform. Since she was already walking down the path of an educator, however much she lacked the ambition for such, Fang Yunyao still wanted to properly develop down that path. Therefore, if such a chance really came to her, she would definitely not want to let it go.
The final matter was that she had been confessed to.
26 years old was actually no longer young. Fang Yunyao’s family had constantly been pressing her to get married, while she herself had also always been looking forward to this. However, looking forward did not entail being in a rush. Fang Yunyao’s perspective was that that person must definitely have been arranged for her by the heavens since long ago. Only fated love was truly love; he would appear when the time came.
Of course, this person should not be that little boy who confessed to her in a drunken state. Even though his confession had actually left Fang Yunyao rather prideful in secret, even though that little boy was actually pretty cute, still….it wouldn’t be him. Just look at how old he was.
Afterwards, another person had appeared. He was called Zhang Junming, and was a public servant. Similarly aged to her, he could also be considered cultured and handsome.
It should be him, right?
The second time the two had met, Zhang Junming had made a very sincere confession. While Fang Yunyao had not agreed to it back then, she had felt very sweet inside. It was just that she had felt that it was too quick, that the two not yet understood each other sufficiently. She had wanted to extend this dating process a little further.
However, Zhang Junming had been very persistent about this. The third time they met, he had even brought his mother along. Not having known about this beforehand, Fang Yunyao had been given a huge scare that day. Still, no matter what, it was still true that she had already met with Zhang Junming’s family, and she had quite a good impression of Zhang Junming’s mother.
“If I really do marry Zhang Junming, our mother-daughter in-law relationship shouldn’t be as terrible as in the television serials, right?” Fang Yunyao thought rather embarrassedly.
Now, knocking noises resounded from the door.
Thinking that it was a colleague coming to eat lunch together with her, she hurriedly yelled, “Wait a moment, I’ll go change.”
Having changed, as Fang Yunyao opened the door, she found that there was already no one outside, with just a single envelope that lay before the door.
“This is…” Harbouring doubts, Fang Yunyao picked up the envelope and returned to her room.
Within the envelope were a few dozen photographs.
That evening, Fang Yunyao gave Zhang Junming a call, expressing her thoughts in a roundabout manner. She hoped that their relationship would come to an end right there, not developing any further.
Zhang Junming pleaded repeatedly on the phone, even weeping.
Fang Yunyao hung up very helplessly. As the phone rang once more, she hung up again. It rang again. She hung up once more.
Around half an hour later, as the phone kept on ringing, Fang Yunyao could only pick it up again.
“I am downstairs now. Can we speak in person?” Zhang Junming asked.
Fang Yunyao went downstairs. She did not explain the reason. While she did not know where those photographs were from, having seen their contents, she was extremely resolute.
Zhang Junming begged her repeatedly, even making as if to kneel down and beg her, but when he understood that the matter had already gone past an irreversible stage, he changed.
…Zhang Junming roared savagely, even saying, “Bitch, this promiscuous bitch. Tell me why, what’s wrong with this old man?”
Fang Yunyao was taken greatly aback. A person could actually have two sides to him that contrasted so greatly in nature. With the cultured, refined Zhang Junming actually turning so savage and frightening all of a sudden, she was shocked, now believing even more resolutely in the authenticity of the photos.
Not rebutting, not arguing, Fang Yunyao apologised, then turned and headed back up the stairs.
Zhang Junming grabbed her arm from behind very forcefully. It hurt a lot, but she was unable to shake it off. Afterwards, she turned and stumbled backwards as he pulled her back. Zhang Junming raised his hand, slapping down forcefully on Fang Yunyao’s face.
Then, he raised his hand again.
A figure lunged wildly over, howling like a mastiff as he pinned Zhang Junming down to the ground. The two very quickly became engaged in a sprawling fight on the ground.
Fang Yunyao recognised it to be Fu Cheng.
Afterwards, another figure joined in the brawl. Fang Yunyao knew him as well. It was Huang Yaming.
The three fought for a while before Fu Cheng crawled up, his cheekbone swollen and bleeding as he asked, “Ms Fang, are you okay?”
Collapsed on the ground, Zhang Junming sat up, his teeth clenched and his face twisted savagely as he looked at Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng, “This old man’s a public servant, this old man’s from the Trade and Industry Bureau. This old man will kill you two little scum dead, and this bitch as well.”
“Don’t this old man this, this old man that. His old man’s name is Fu Qizhi,” Huang Yaming pointed at Fu Cheng, telling Zhang Junming.
Fu Qizhi was Fu Cheng’s father. He was the Vice Chief of Libei County’s Trade and Industry Bureau, the utmost boss of Zhang Junming’s utmost boss.
Fang Yunyao was escorted by the two youths back up to her home. Due to embarrassment, she did not say anything other than expressing her thanks. After returning to her room, she locked her door very carefully, next moving a stool and luggage up to block it.
Even so, Fang Yunyao was still overcome by fear. She curled up into a ball on her bed, hugging and weeping softly into her pillow.
Only now did she realise that he was truly still a young girl, a helpless young girl. Her hometown, along with her parents, was very far away. Meanwhile, she also didn’t have many friends. There was only her here, solitary and lonely little her.
She was afraid after the fact. If Fu Cheng and Huang Yaming had not been here today, how would it have turned out? What she feared more after the fact was this: If she had not seen Zhang Junming’s true face before marrying him, how would she ultimately have ended up?
Fang Yunyao was unable to fall asleep. Around 2am, she heard the sound of something knocking against her door.
“Who is it?”
There was no response.
Fang Yunyao thought for a long time before crawling up and grabbing a pair of scissors. She opened the door, having decided to shrink back no further.
What she saw was Fu Cheng, sleeping soundly outside her door.
Fu Cheng hurriedly got up, stammering, “Sorry, sorry! I was afraid that he would come again.”
“I know,” Fang Yunyao asked, “Were you the one who took the photos?”
Fu Cheng frantically explained, “No…Yes, but I had no ill intentions. I was just worried that he might be a bad guy, just that one in a thousand chance. Sorry, I really didn’t mean anything else. If he was very good, I would have been happy for you…I was just worried…”
“I know,” Fang Yunyao cut him off, “Thank you.”
Fu Cheng smiled, scratching his head, “It’s alright. After all, there’s nothing else that I have to do now. You can rest assured; if he comes again, I’ll be here. Don’t be dejected, Ms Fang; there’re still many good men out there. Just find a good one next time.”
Fang Yunyao suddenly felt more at ease somewhat as she chuckled, “If I find another, will you be secretly taking pictures of him as well?”
There was a short awkward moment before Fu Cheng said softly, “I’d come back to take them during the holidays.”
Fang Yunyao’s mood took a turn for the better as she asked, “Have you been here all along?”
Fu Cheng nodded, asking, “Do you want me to go over by the stairway?”
There weren’t actually many teachers who stayed in this dormitory building. Most of the teachers in Libei County were locals, not needing to stay within the dorms. Thus, there was actually only Fang Yunyao who resided on this floor that held three apartments.
Fang Yunyao thought for a moment before asking, “How about, you come in?”
After that, she took a step back to the side, opening up the doorway.
Fu Cheng hurriedly waved his hands, “I won’t come in, I won’t come in. If someone happens to see it, it would be bad for your reputation.”
“This mere kid really thinks so much,” Fang Yunyao said, “If you stand here, it’s much more likely that you would be seen.”
Fu Cheng entered Fang Yunyao’s dorm room, then…was rendered helpless, remaining in a position reminiscent of neither standing nor sitting.
“I’m hungry, I’m cooking noodles. Want some?” Fang Yunyao asked.
Fu Cheng hurriedly said that she didn’t have to.
“I’d like some.”
Fu Cheng moved a stool over and sat by the door, eating noodles together with Fang Yunyao. Afterwards, Fang Yunyao sat on her bed and they chatted. They chatted about many things, about the miraculous trio consisting of him, Xu Tingsheng and Huang Yaming, about Fang Yunyao’s high school and university, about the university entrance examinations, about the graduation dinner, about…
The topics stopped with the graduation dinner, because any further and the same thing would come to mind for them- Fu Cheng’s confession.
“You’re pretty good at singing and also play the guitar well. In university, there will definitely be many girls who like you,” Fang Yunyao skipped over that event.
Fu Cheng inhaled deeply, then said, “Before Ms Fang marries, I won’t enter a relationship.”
His bravery ‘killed’ the conversation, the two no longer speaking.
The next day, it was already almost noon when Fang Yunyao woke up. She discovered that she had actually unknowingly entered peaceful slumber before that little boy, actually even having forgotten her fear.
Opening the door, Fu Cheng stood outside, saying as he saw her emerge, “You’ve awoken, Ms Fang. You should eat now; I’ll return home.”
When Fang Yunyao was bullied by Zhang Junming, Fu Cheng lunged over like a mastiff, even really releasing a low howl like one.
At this moment, at a different place, Xu Tingsheng had actually just finished doing a similar thing, just that his situation was a little more tragic. It was 2 vs 1 on Fu Cheng’s side, but it was 1 v 3 for him.
Actually, those three hooligans were still yet to graduate from junior high. Still, Xu Tingsheng accidentally took a few hits from them.
“You are not to harass my sister again, get it?” Xu Tingsheng had on a savage expression as he brandished the bloodied chain in his hand.
Xiang Niang stood not far away, crying as she looked at this man who claimed to be her brother fighting with three hooligans who had constantly been harassing her recently. He had won, but the back of his head was bleeding non-stop.