Chinese Stories in English
Shi Laogong 石老公
6. Tender Tonight
7. Unexpected Denouement
8. A Day in the Life
9. Waking Up from a Dream
10. Big Chicken Big Profit
Li Zhaoqing 李兆庆
1. Going to Shenzhen
2. Acceptance Speech
3. Phony Certificate
5. Is It a Little Fast?
Rainy Wong (王雨)
An Exhibition of Contemporary Chinese Flash Fiction Writers (In Process)
Translated from here, also available here.
Author 25, Li Zhaoqing (李兆庆)
1. Going to Shenzhen (去深圳)
Some people get tired of scraping the dirt for their food and resolve to “change lifestyles”, so they throw down their hoes and head for other places. The ones who run fast get to Shenshen on the coast, and those who go more slowly get to other large or medium-sized cities.
Little Li’s buddy, Second Idiot, was one who went to Shenzhen early on. There he muddled along, putting on airs like a city man. When he’d left home, no matter how Little Li looked at him, he figured Second Idiot was one string short of a fiddle. He’d only taken some dry food with him and was sure to come back hungry. Nevertheless, Second Idiot got along pretty well after a while. Once people are doing OK, it’s easy to remember their former buddies, and thus it was that Second Idiot thought of Little Li and invited him to Shenzhen for a visit.
Little Li felt a bit like he was seeing a stranger when he saw Second Idiot looking so dapper. It wasn’t until they’d eaten a few dishes at their first meal back together, and sung a few songs their first time back at a karaoke, that the Second Idiot he’d known so well slowly appeared before Little Li.
“Fuck, he’s a stupid prick, just like when he was in North Plum Village. He’s just changed his wardrobe.” With that discovery, Little Li felt quite complacent for several days.
He noticed the way Second Idiot looked when he stuck a crocodile-skin man purse under his arm and went to talk business with customers. It was no different than when he went to collect wheat in the fiends with a cloth bag under his arm, except he filled the cloth bag with wheat and the man purse with money. He also noticed how he talked with his hands when he addressed the white-collar types at the company, no different than when he’d herded sheep in the village – except then he’d been howling at a flock of sheep and now he was leading over a hundred white-collar workers. Little Li got his confidence back by making such comparisons.
Second Idiot spent several days getting Little Li to open his eyes. They went singing in karaoke clubs, ate in high-class restaurants and drank western booze from slender bottles. He even took Little Li to Shenzhen's highly developed industrial park and showed him around.
When Little Li was leaving, Second Idiot took him to the airport. Every corner of Shenzhen along the way was all money. It littered the ground like the autumn leaves in North Plum Village. “When you get home,” Second Idiot said, “call the people along the beaches of the Yellow River together, young and old alike. Get them to bring their rakes down and rake in some of this money. They should give Shenzhen a good, clean sweep.”
His words were like a conductor’s baton. Little Li felt the road ahead was suddenly illuminated by the bright southern sun.
2. Acceptance Speech (获奖感言)
April had just reared its head and the Vice Principal, focusing on ideological and cultural matters, started to get busy. He needed to prepare for Youth Day no matter what, and had me fill in a form and write out some materials. He said he’d hoodwinked the Prefecture’s Education Committee into having an Outstanding Teacher competition. Each county would nominate three candidates, and I was to be the nominee from County Number One High School. He wiped his brow when he said that, as though making the pick hadn’t be easy and he was sweating on my behalf.
Looking at the form with so many items on it, I felt quite apprehensive. "Accomplishments? I just graduated half a year ago and wasn’t even a leader in my graduating class. What accomplishments could I have had?"
The Vice Principal smiled. "The Principal thinks you’re satisfactory,” he said. “Just write down how you’ve engaged in innovative teaching and what impressive achievements you’ve made. Besides, didn't you get an Educational Talent Award a few days ago? It wasn’t small potatoes for someone in the Chinese Department to arrange that."
Well, yes, I really did get an “Educational Talent Award”. It seems to have been issued by some dicky little department under the National Education Commission. I’d reported in at County Number One High School shortly before, just in time for a Student Invitational Essay Contest organized by the government’s Education Department. The Principal, the Vice Principal, the Director and the Assistant Director all considered this a very important competition, and the total responsibility for mentoring every student in the school fell on my shoulders.
When it was over, I’d brought a bit of honor to the school. Several students had won second or third place prizes, and others got honorable mentions. I was in the right place at the right time and got a little certificate for being their mentoring teacher. When the Principal placed this lousy certificate in my hand, he was laughing so hard his eyes looked like melon seeds. It was like his menopausal wife had suddenly borne him a fat baby boy. I remember very clearly that the entry fee for that contest was ten yuan per student, and everyone who entered got a prize. Could such a ridiculous thing be counted as an accomplishment for me? Even now I blush when I think about it.
So, under the Vice Principal’s imposing presence, I wrote out my qualifications and, indeed, wrote like flowers floating down a river. It was majestic and made me seem like an educational pacesetter.
You won’t believe me when I say it, but when I was in college I got a certificate as “Poet Laureate of China”. It was said that such-and-such organization in such-and-such country took a liking to one of the noxious poems I’d entered in the contest, and further, that the poem had been translated into the languages of several countries. They wanted me to send money to buy a few books to give to friends or keep as souvenirs. Later I did tighten my belt resolutely and, for better or worse, spent my living expenses for two months to get that dreadful certificate. I made it through those two months of abysmal suffering by nibbling on old pickles and eating steamed bread. My subsequent pickles-and-bread habit stems from that extraordinary period. The beautifully named “Educational Talent Award” was, I thought, not such a big deal.
Not many people have the nerve to mention this sort of so-called "honor” in their own circles, but the awards do have some power to intimidate outsiders. Those old gentlemen who sit around all day until their butts ache may not know the fishy goings-on behind my award. Every system has its own commemorative prizes, some comparing accomplishments and some comparatively shameful. Ordinary people simply cannot make heads or tails of how special correspondents, senior engineers, renowned doctors and world-famous cultural celebrities get these things.
If I brought out my “Poet Laureate of China” certificate and showed it off around a construction site, two or three admirers might be impressed enough to fall head first off the dizzyingly high scaffolding.
Now, of course, I can spout off on this form about how I should be considered a "national award" winner, and make it a giddying asset. That’s the good thing about edifying people “outside the system ". You can’t possibly fool the insider bigwigs if you can’t cover those on the outside first.
3. Phony Certificate (办假证)
At noon on Monday, we connected online with a guy who does fake documents and agreed on a good time. I’d previously contacted a woman through a telephone number in a “We Do Documents” ad written on a toilet wall that looked like it’d been soaked in dog piss. I’d given the guy a photo and a hundred-yuan deposit, and he’d promised I’d get the document in one week.
Coincidentally, that day the foreign investment bank also notified Number Two Son of the time for his interview the next week. Now, if nothing went wrong, Number Two would have his English language level six certificate within the hour. Then he’d head straight to that bank and smirk while he pulled out that fresh-from-the-oven certificate and let the boss decide whether it was a fake or not.
We hooked up with the documents guy and he led us into the hidden depths of the long, windy Capital Charm Alley. We didn’t see anyone on either the left or the right side. In less time than it takes to eat lunch, we’d skipped whoosh-whoosh to a traditional style home where, under tiled eaves covered with mottled green moss, he took out the merchandise and handed it to Number Two.
The level six certificate was done pretty well, with an olive green cover and Number Two’s simpy photograph attached on the inside. In black characters on a white background, it said, “This certificate is issued to attest that” candidate Number Two Son “passed the National English CET-6 exam with qualifying marks”.
The smile on Number Two’s face burst forth as explosively as popcorn. “It really is good,” he said, “realer than real.”
The documents guy picked up on that topic with obvious pride. “Of course. Those of us in the business have a saying we often toss around: ‘The fake is reality and reality is fake.’ Our craft not only reaches the point of perfection – at bottom it’s also the border line where truth and falsity are hard to distinguish. Besides level six certificates, I also do drivers licenses, marriage and divorce certificates, certificates of compliance with the one-child rules, proof-of-age certificates, diplomas....”
“Don't bullshit. How much?” Number Two was getting impatient.
“I know you just graduated, so you don’t have much money. I’ll take twenty percent off. Three hundred yuan.” The documents guy stuck up three fingers with criminally long fingernails and waved them in front of Number Two’s eyes.
Number Two dug into his back pocket. Damn it! He discovered his wallet was gone. Maybe a thief had lifted it while he was on the bus on his way here. If it was a male thief, that was one thing, but if it was a female he was doubly screwed – he’d not only lost money, but had been sexually harassed as well.
The documents guy grabbed the certificate out of Number Two’s hand. “Don’t give me that crap,” he said. “I’ve seen a boatload of people like you. You college students have high IQs, but you’d better not think us people with less education are easy to fool.”
Seeing that the kid was really flustered, the documents guy not only poured it on China's educational system, but also laid personal insults on our college students. But Number Two was going to his interview at two o'clock in the afternoon and was desperate.
Then Big Guy, our friend who’d been following along behind us, rushed up in one long stride. One of us three, I don’t know which one, said “Let’s be done with it. Just do the deed!” In the blink of an eye, the words became reality.
After he’d snatched the certificate from the documents guy, Number Two looked at his watch and saw his interview was half an hour away, so we let the documents guy make us a contribution – in effect we’d stolen the money we were going to pay the punk right out of his pocket.
Truth be told, that punk of a documents guy had been taking the three of us for a ride. He’d actually been selling a level four certificate for more than a level six certificate goes for. He thought that an English test is just like a chef's appraisal – the fewer the words, the higher the rating. When we robbed him, the punk turned into a docile little boy. He didn’t run off at the mouth at all, just said “What’re you doing, what‘re you doing?” nothing else. After all, the three of us were younger, stronger and feistier.
4. Retired (退团)
Capable Wang from Moon Bay Village had thought he’d take back the honorary “Advanced Village Collective" certificate at the year-end awards ceremony. It never crossed his mind that, in addition to not getting the certificate, he’d be criticized viciously by the Township Party Secretary for a too-many-births problem. When he came back to Moon Bay Village from the Township with his tail between his legs, he sought out the Brigade’s Party Secretary: "Toad Mouth! Get Stinky Boy in here for me right now!"
Toad Mouth knew this was about Stinky Boy’s family having four kids too many. He immediately pleaded with Capable Wang. "Village Chief,” he said, “I sent Stinky Boy’s woman, Cat Girl, to the township clinic today to have her tubes tied!"
"That’s not what I asked you! You just go through to motions without understanding what you’re doing." The Village Chief was so mad there was smoke blowing out of his ears. "I’m asking, what can we do about his connections in the Brigade?"
Toad Mouth played it down. "No need to do anything. Stinky Boy retired from the Brigade last year."
"Oh? Retired? Doesn’t that get him off the hook? But the Township Party Secretary came down hard on me for him and Cat Girl playing house and having so many kids!"
"Well.... Well, you tell me. What should we do?"
"This won’t be easy." Capable Wang gritted his teeth. "Un-retire him,” he said fiercely, “and then make up some reason to kick him out.”
5. Isn't It a Little Fast? (是不是太快了点)
Along the way, Eyebrows worked hard at scratching her head while she walked. She didn’t talk much. Little Prosperous, following close behind her, was lost in thought. “She’s probably wondering a little about whether she should go back on her promise.”
They went in through the school gate. When they were almost to her dormitory, she dragged Little Prosperous into the gloomy shadows where the streetlights didn’t shine. She rubbed his neck with both hands." You wouldn’t lie to me, would you," she said with a serious look on her face. “You won’t just find some way to dump me after you go to bed with me?”
Little Prosperous was aggrieved to the pit of his stomach when he heard that. “How could I do such a thing?” he said, feigning seriousness. "A guy like me could never get another girlfriend as pretty as you, try as I might.”
Eyebrows beamed with joy. Feeling relieved, she said, "We’ve just met. If we do it, wouldn’t it be going a little too fast?"
Little Prosperous dismissed the thought. "Sheesh, still hanging on to those old mores in this day and age! Look, Americans have been sexually liberated for several years. And look at Japanese girls after they come of age, they feel ashamed if they’re still a virgin by that time. Compared to them, what’s the problem for us? At most, we’d be speeding to become communist!"
Eyebrows settled down quite a bit when she heard his insightful opinions, and in two shakes they were at her dorm. She looked at him affectionately as they stepped through the door, and then they disappeared inside. Little Prosperous waived his hand to cover an evil grin, an action just as depraved as the male leads in those TV soap operas from Hong Kong and Taiwan waving goodbye to their girlfriends.
Author 26, Shi Laogong (石老公)
6. Tender Tonight (今夜温柔)
Bureau Chief Liu was relaxed and carefree after he retired from a leadership position to assume an advisory role. His wife’s disposition, on the other hand, turned from cloudy to dark and stormy.
That had not always been the case.
The Chief’s first wife had died ten years previously. His current wife, a typist in the bureau at the time, had still been waiting for a husband. She’d helped him dispel his melancholy and loneliness by inviting him out for tea one day and to see a ball game the next. She praised all his calligraphy, saying he had a “Heaven-sent talent”; and she applauded everything he said as "truly splendid, like poetry". His son, who was eight at the time, said, “She’s like a mother to me.”
Thus the two of them had come together. Afterwards, whenever she was talking to someone, she’d call him "my Old Liu....".
Things had changed recently. She corrected everything Chief Liu wrote, saying it was "too obscure” or “too obvious." As for the poems he wrote to her, she thought he didn’t “know how to make the words flow” and revised them to make them more elegant. Most depressing of all, a couple of days previously she’d actually told him, “I must have been dizzy at first. Otherwise, how could such a pile of grade B meat have caught my eye?”
On this night, though, his wife had suddenly become tender again – she fixed him two seafood dishes for dinner and added a pot of wine; and watching the TV broadcast of the All City Calligraphy Competition Awards, she said, "That wins first prize? It lacks the spirited expressiveness of your writing!”
So, when he went to bed, Old Liu didn’t feel like going right to sleep. But as he was about to climax, his wife abruptly said, “You’ve got to arrange things for my little brother in this round of hiring civil servants at the bureau.” – Her younger brother only had a college diploma which he’d purchased for a high price, and he wasn’t much good at anything except chatting online. The mention of hiring him terrified Old Liu.
This time, her mention of the subject broke the mood for him and he lost all interest in her body. With a snort, he turned his back to her and lay still.
2. An Unexpected Denouement (意外结局)
I was on the way home from another festive banquet that day.
The wind under the lonely street lights chilled me to the bone.
The sounds of great moments in life came to my ears: sweet rice dumplings cooking in bamboo tubes, sausages on the grill....
I looked up and saw that old man I’d often passed on the street before, but with whom I’d never exchanged a greeting. His hands rested on a pushcart from which he was selling snacks and refreshments.
Maybe it was the booze, or maybe it was a devil or an angel that gave me the idea, but I went up to talk to him. “Your business is doing alright, eh?”
He nodded in reply. “They’re buyin’ what I’m sellin’. Can’t say it ain’t goin’ good.”
“It’s getting late,” I said. “You should go home and take it easy.”
“No hurry,” he said. “I’ll get some more business when night school lets out.”
On a sudden, inexplicable impulse, I got out a few yuan and bought some sausages. “Whether we eat them of not,” I thought, “it still counts as doing the guy a good turn. He’s got it tough for such an old fellow. What’s with his kids?”
But such a little thing is as common as leaves fallen on the street. It certainly wouldn't be on my mind for long, as busy as I am attending banquets all day. But when I got home from a business trip one day, I came in the door and saw my wife staring at a newspaper. “What’s so fascinating?” I asked. She sighed and pointed to the headline:
“Lonely Old Man’s Good Deed – Fifteen Years After Adopting Abandoned Baby – Boy Bites Hand That Fed Him – Commits Violent Crime and Steals Money to Play Online Games”
Astonishingly, the photo accompanying the article was that old vendor.
I was shocked. “How could it be him?!”
Wiping tears from her eyes, my wife said, “It’s a pity.... Hateful....”
8. A Day in the Life (某人某日某事)
First: Rectification or Ruin
A certain senior official got transferred and the Managing Director was filling in. At the first staff meeting, the new leader talked about the importance of personnel management. He repeatedly enumerated the abuses of the first leader’s one-man-rule management. “If we don’t rectify the situation,” he lamented, “we’ll be on the road to ruin!” Finally he announced, “From now on, the final decision on all appointments made by the person in charge of any unit will be made by me personally. Authorized comrades will make recommendations for deputy positions and the decision will be made after research by the collective.
The crowd of bureaucrats nodded their heads in silence.
Second: A Pre-Meeting Meeting
One day the upper echelon sent someone to organize the unit’s recommendations for reserve cadres. All members of the unit gathered together in one hall. Before the upper-level guy got there, the leader gave everyone a warning. “For this round of recommendations, everyone must fill in the names *** and ***. Taking liberties and inundating us with names is absolutely prohibited. The purposes are: First, to maintain the unit’s image of cohesiveness; and second, to facilitate the creation of conditions and lay the foundation for more comrades to display their talents in the future. This point is very important!”
The entire hall was silent.
Third: Recruiting Merchants is a Basket
The Director was turning in his expense claim and receipts. In accordance with precedent, the accountant asked him to sign each page. The Director said, “Entertaining foreign merchants” as he signed the first sheet. He signed the second sheet and said, “Travel to recruit merchants.” The third sheet he signed as: “Merchants’ Celebration”.... The accountant commented, “These are all the same. I’m afraid it’s inappropriate.” The Director said: “Recruiting merchants is a basket – you can put anything in it.”
The accountant smiled and quickly proceeded.
9. Waking Up from a Dream (一梦醒来)
Director Lu called his dad while it was still dark out.
His dad chewed him out over the phone. “Bastard, you can’t even let the old man have some peace.”
“I saw Grandma in a dream,” Lu said.
“What? That’ll be the day.”
“Grandma said the town wants to make Big Few Lu’s grave a tourist spot?”
“That’s right. He was a famous general in the Anti-Japanese War, you know. Hey, the nether world knows about it?”
“Grandma said they’re going to demolish the disorderly graves around him, too, and evict those people.”
“Hmm, that’s odd. Really. In what way could the disorderly graves affect Big Few Lu! You and the Mayor are the same rank. See if you can talk to him about not moving them, OK?”
“Grandma said the neighbors at Big Few Lu’s spot are close friends, and moving them away isn’t right....”
“Exactly! Besides, putting a war hero away with the masses is like keeping a fish in water! You really have to see the Mayor to talk about this.”
“It hurts me when Grandma cries. Demolishing, eviction, both worlds are in a stew about this. I really do have to talk to him about it, Dad.”
Old Lu, who’d never been superstitious, kept thinking about the dream straight through until he went to work the next morning. He felt his grandmother’s pain.
Young Liu came in after a few knocks on the door. “Everyone’s here,” he said.
“To do the Old Zhen Seven job”.
Director Lu tapped himself on the head. “Look how my memory is.”
——City Center Village in the city was undergoing urban renewal. Only Old Zhen Seven was dragging his feet. The old man’s son had died in a car accident some time previously, and his daughter-in-law was about to give birth. For the life of him, Old Zhen Seven was going to wait for his grandson to see the light of day before talking about moving. No one could persuade him otherwise no matter what they did, so Director Lu was going to go there personally to light a fire under him.
You couldn’t blame Old Lu. Since he’d signed the Military Order for the city to evict Old Zhen Seven and tear down the house within a set time, if the old man wouldn’t move, Director Lu would inevitably have to resign his position.
But today Old Lu was hesitant. “Young… Young Liu, I tossed and turned last night, going back and forth about this in my mind. How about we wait until Old Zhen Seven’s grandchild is born before we do anything? The city requires eviction and demolition to be harmonious....
Young Liu looked at the Director with surprise. He thought, “You gunna wait until the fire singes your eyebrows before you do anything?” But all he did was ask carefully, “What’ll you do about the Military Order?”
Director Lu waived his hand. “Buy a girl a thirty-cent string, maybe she’ll braid her hair – Que sera sera. This piss-ant government job, if they want me to quit, to Hell with it.”
10. Big Chicken Big Profit, Three Stories
First: Show Off Hero
The insufferably arrogant Chicken King was terrified, so terrified that he was a complete shambles.
The source of it all was that vagrant, Little Rooster.
Little Rooster was full of vitality, vigor and chicken-ness. As soon as he arrived, those shameless hens had gone up and pandered to him. He was always horny, and after only a few sentences into a conversation with a hen, he’d get turned on and began copulating with her. Moreover, every time he finished copulating he’d show off with a loud refrain. That made the hens even more affectionate....
No way could Chicken King tolerate anyone openly messing around beside the henhouse. A battle was unavoidable.
As it happened, while Chicken King was massive and possessed of brute strength, Little Rooster was quite nimble. Before Chicken King's sharp beak could get near his opponent, Little Rooster had pecked at his cockscomb until the blood was flowing. After a few rounds, Chicken King was panting and being chased all around by Little Rooster.
The hateful hens not only failed to help Chicken King in the fight, they even stood around snickering “tchee tchee” from afar. "Hussies! You show no affection for your husband!" – Chicken King really hated them.
The owner felt even more hatred. Chicken King was an improved breed that he’d imported from a foreign country. A sacred mission – improving the quality of local chickens – lay on that bird’s shoulders! Each egg that resulted from mating with him was worth over a hundred yuan. Now if a miscellaneous breed got mixed in, the chicken farm would go bust, wouldn’t it? So he grabbed Little Rooster and made to kill him.
But just as he raised his knife, he heard someone shout, “You can’t kill it! A good fighting cock is hard to come by!”
The owner stopped cold and made a generous offer on the spot. “You want it? A hundred yuan and you got a deal!”
The newcomer handed over the hundred yuan, took the bird in his arms and kissed it. “Hey, big chicken, big profits!”. He turned his head and said, “At least two thousand per win!”
“Well, then,” the former owner said, "I regret not keeping the half-breed...."
Chicken King was ecstatic. The hens were distraught.
Soon a valiant warrior made a killing entry in the cockfighting arena. Its name was "Big Profit".
Second: Famous after One Fight
The new owner’s insight was of course dead on. The big chicken Big Profit’s fighting made all the other fighting chickens dispirited and listless from day one.
Right away, the city’s evening newspaper, radio station and TV station reported on Big Profit as their lead stories. The other chicken owners weren’t convinced, though. No matter how they looked, this skinny, shriveled up, country bumpkin of a cock didn’t seem like a champion fighter.
But Big Profit’s owner knew what he was doing. “If you’re not convinced, give it another go!”!
Sure enough, Big Profit lived up to his owner’s expectations. Time and again he came in first in the competitions.
The former champion’s owner circled around Big Profit muttering to himself. “The way I see it, this chicken’s tricks haven’t come from training. Could it be natural talent?”
“What tricks!” Big Profit’s owner said. “The results are the key. How he gets there don’t mean a fuck.”
Big Profit became the city’s number one star chicken and was as proud as his owner. The owner loved him like a bright pearl in his palm and carried him along wherever he went. He even asked an expert to formulate a special feed for him. He took care of Big Profit as though he were paying respects to a deity.
But fame means trouble for people just as fattening does for pigs.
There was never any doubt that Big Profit would be invited to participate in the province's cockfighting competition as the city’s representative. He went through several life-threatening fights and once again came in first.
He didn’t become the provincial champion, however – The organizing committee determined that the samples of Big Profit’s blood contained prohibited hormones.
His owner knew he was the victim of someone’s plotting. He also knew very well, however – in this sort of situation, where all the evidence was long gone, he’d never get to the bottom of the case even if he hired Sherlock Holmes. Thus his prideful expression dissipated as fast as the air from a broken balloon.
Not only that, the city's "Chicken Committee" also issued a strict order for the prompt return of "illicit income" that the owner had previously received – Big Profit was a fraud and shouldn’t continue to enjoy the honors he’d won by cheating.
The owner was left with nothing and all his hopes were dashed. In a fit of anger, he sold Big Profit off at a bargain-basement price.
Third: A Hero at the End of the Road
The big chicken Big Profit’s new owner was a housewife. She’d bought him to make “stir-fried rooster” for the family for the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Of course there was no way the big chicken Big Profit could understand the turbulent ups and downs of his destiny, but he knew clearly that the pride, the honors and the good life were long gone. He’d await his end no different from other chickens.
The Mid-Autumn Festival was the next day. The big chicken Big Profit was tied up and stuffed in a cardboard box, but he wasn’t afraid of impending death. In his mind he replayed, one after another, the tender affections that the hens had shown him; the flowers and the applause on the championship stage; as well as the happiness and joy of his master’s expression when he held Big Profit up in his hand and swaggered through the city streets; and the special food he’d enjoyed....
The more he thought the more self-satisfied he became. In the late night hours, right on schedule and in spite of everything, he started to cry out “cock-a-doodle-do”, once, twice, and straight into a third time. The clamor sent a chill down to the bottom of the lady owner’s spine. Gasping for breath, she rushed over and pointed at the chicken. “You don’t know what’s good for you, you con artist chicken,” she yelled angrily. “You’re going to die when it gets light outside, and you’re still here screaming?”
The big chicken Big Profit answered unflinchingly. “How did I con people? Even if the crimes had to do with me, chickens with faults are still chickens. As a chicken, my missions were to, one, go to the cockfighting arena to risk my life in a lottery for human beings to watch; and two, to crow at the proper time. Even if I am soon to die, I must fulfil the duties of my final post.”
The lady owner was suddenly at a loss for words. She thought, “What are the missions of human beings? To win fame? To win profit? To win the enjoyment of gourmet food or the pleasures of the flesh? It seems that many people these days do not live lives as noble as a chicken’s....”
She began to admire Big Profit. On the spur of the moment, she decided to change the next day’s menu from "stir-fried rooster" to a feast for the soul.
Bonus Stories by Rainy Wang (王雨)
1. Tailor-Made (量身定做)
Business was good at a particular township enterprise. It was the township’s fatted calf. Year-end had just come around and various county government associations had sent invitations asking the enterprise to participate in awards ceremonies. The enterprise feigned ignorance and didn’t respond. But the leader of one association couldn’t sit still and came to visit in person, with an ace up his sleeve.
What could they do? They set out a banquet with fine wine and fine food. When everyone was tipsy and feeling good, the government leader pretended the wine was talking and said, “We’re all brothers here, so don’t think of me as an outsider. Tell me honestly, what kind of name do you want for your enterprise? Don’t be polite. Just name it and we’ll hand it to you tailor-made!”
It’s better to hit someone than to make them lose face. Once the leader had made his offer, a deal was of course struck. The enterprise handed over 30,000 yuan and got two plaques. One said “X County's Most Competitive Enterprise” and the other said “Award for Outstanding Social Contributions to X County”.
2. Capital (本钱)
A small-time corrupt official wanted to become a big-time corrupt official, but he lacked the funds. He poured out his troubles to a "backstage fixer". "As the saying goes,” he said, “big results require a big investment."
The fixer was a very big corrupt official. He felt that the small-time corrupt official was okay – he had courage, insight and ambition – so he decided to invest and promoted him to "top leader." A year later, the small-time corrupt official’s talents had come to the fore and he became a big-time corrupt official. After another year, the big-time corrupt official had "built on his success" and become a very big corrupt official.
One day the younger very big corrupt official ran into the older very big corrupt official. He held his clasped hands in front of him and bowed deeply. “Honorable Elder, if you hadn’t lent me your capital two years ago, I wouldn’t be where I am today! Your great grace and virtue will remain engraved on my lowly heart for the rest of my life!”
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