​​         Chinese Stories in English   

3. Park Activities

1. A Lost Pen
2. Sharpshooter

4. The Remains at Fortress Mountain
5. Wages

Long River (page 04)
Stories printed in Best Chinese Mini-Stories 2017
2017年中国微型小说精选, 长江文艺出版社,责任编辑:孙晓雪
Text at page cited after story; translated from the webpages cited below.

1. A Lost Pen (一支失落的笔)
Yu Xianbin (余显斌)

      I got my wish to be Homeroom Monitor when I was fifteen and in my third year of junior high. I need only two words to express my feelings: Heavenly bliss.
      When I took office, I had to say a few words expressing my feelings about getting the job.
      I stood on the podium radiant with delight. “I feel very fortunate at this moment,” I said. “I promise I will lead this entire homeroom to the title of the entire school’s Most Civilized Homeroom.” My words won a round of applause.
      But my sworn friend, Angelica Zhu, wasn’t clapping. She was pretending to be asleep.
      After class, Outstanding Zhang came up to me. "Hey, Chief,” she said. She rolled her eyes. “What a bullshit best friend. I’m kicked." She was the Deputy Homeroom Monitor at the time, so we were on the same track.
      Outstanding had another reason to be dissatisfied with Angelica. Angelica had taken one of her pens.
      It was a really nice pen. Outstanding had got it in a calligraphy competition, but it wasn’t long before it disappeared. About that time, I noticed that Angelica had the same kind of pen.
      I quietly told Outstanding.
      I was feeling pretty good at the time because the Homeroom Monitor position was within my sights.
      And, yes, Outstanding [sic: s/b Angelica] was also in the running for the job.
      She’d said to me privately, "Let’s compete fairly, Colorful Mo."* She snapped her fingers with a “pop” as she spoke. My heart sank at that moment and I knew I was going to lose, because Angelica was a better candidate than me in all respects.
      I wanted to be Homeroom Monitor, really wanted it. That would be as phat as it gets.
      I thought, “I have to put my head down and go for it. I’ll find Angelica’s Achilles’ heel and stick it to her.”
      After she lost, she gave me the cold shoulder every time she saw me.
      I couldn't be that way, of course, because I was Homeroom Monitor, the leader of the whole homeroom, and leaders are magnanimous. Once I caught up to her and made a special effort to be friends. "Let's walk together, Angelica,” I said. She smiled faintly but didn’t answer.
      Later Outstanding Zhang told me, "She’s jealous." She also said that when I was elected Homeroom Monitor, the whole homeroom cast 53 votes, and Angelica was the only one missing.
      Thinking about all these things, Outstanding sighed deeply. "Someone like that, who likes to take other people's things, if she were Homeroom Monitor, it would’ve been impossible to be the Most Civilized Homeroom like we wanted." She shook her head, bemoaning what the world had come to.
      As for Outstanding’s stolen pen, Outstanding had at first been ready to report it to our Homeroom Teacher, but I’d stopped her. Outstanding had snorted and said she’d let it go this once. Afterwards, I didn’t spread it around the whole class – I only talked about it in my own small circle of friends. Even so, it was still bad news for Angelica.
      The upshot of that bad news was, first, her campaign to be Homeroom Monitor failed.
      Second, everyone gave her the cold shoulder, like she had germs on her body. Whenever she walked past, everyone stood aside to let her by.
      There was no way she could stay in that homeroom, so she transferred to another one.
      No one paid any attention to her or said goodbye when she left. A light rain was falling incessantly outside.
      Later I found out it was Outstanding’s little brother who had taken her pen.
      He’d seen how pretty the pen was once when she was doing schoolwork at home, so he snuck off with it to show off to the kids in the community. After he finished showing it to them, it disappeared. He was afraid Outstanding would fix her [sic: s/b him] so he dared not tell her.
      The entrance examination for high school had just ended when Outstanding told me about it. It was blazing hot outside.
      I was so mad. "Why didn't you tell me earlier?” I demanded.
      She batted her eyes and said, very sadly, that she’d just found out herself.
      After we talked about that, we both stood there in the sun and didn’t say anything more. But the cicadas in the trees were calling out, “Zhr! Zhr!” It sounded like they were saying, “We know! We know!” It made me want to cry.
      Later the Homeroom Teacher listened to me tell her my tale. She sighed. "The pens we gave out as prizes that time were provided by a pen company." She went on to explain that the company’s head was Angelica’s father.
      It hit me in a flash. That’s why Angelica’d had a pen like that.
      Actually, she could’ve told me that at the time. Why did she keep it to herself? I sent her a text message and asked her. I got her reply before long. “We’re friends. If I’d explained what it was, everybody would’ve suspected that you’d deliberately made up the story of a stolen pen to frame me because we were competing to be Homeroom Monitor. What would you have done?”
      The implication was, since one of us was going to be hurt, she chose to bear that cross herself.
      My tears started to flow. It was the first time I knew what true friendship is. Friendship is, when one of you will be hurt, you’d rather be beaten black and blue and let your friend escape unharmed.
      I didn’t learn this too late, though, because Angelica and I would still be together in high school.
*[The girl’s name, Colorful Mo (Mo Yan, 莫颜) is a homophone of the Nobel Prize-winning author Mo Yan (莫言) – Fannyi]

Text at p. 56. Translated from 新浪 BLOG at
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_6372a9950102wpby.html
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2. Sharpshooter (神枪手)

Chen Zhenlin (陈振林)

      It was like he was nailed in place. No, he was a tree growing on that small slope, standing quietly in an unobtrusive corner of the thick forest.
      Actually he was more like a huge frog laying there on its stomach, not moving a muscle. He’d been laying there since the middle of the night. It had been eleven hours already.
      Eleven motionless hours counted as nothing for him, excellent sniper and sharpshooter that he was. In his sharpshooting career, he’d once spent twenty-two hours in a reservoir before successfully completing his assignment. He never failed on an assignment, as long as the target appeared. He was clever and good, and he just laughed when his comrades called him "Sharpshooter".
      His mission was simple this time. The most reliable info indicated that the enemy’s second in command would appear on the path on the hillside in front of him in the next two days, on his way to enemy headquarters. His mission was to immediately shoot to kill when the target appeared.
      He’d drunk some water twice during those eleven hours, sipping it slowly through a straw from a small water bag on his right shoulder. Drinking water was the most enjoyable part of those hours. He absolutely could not reveal himself, because if he did, it would mean he could be a goner at any time.
      He’d completely familiarized himself with the environment in the few minutes after he lay down. In his field of vision, there were twenty-three trees on the hillside to the left, of which the third tree was the thickest and might come in handy. There were only eight small trees to his right, and then some weeds growing crazily. Two of the seven types of weeds were poisonous, so he couldn’t let their secretions touch his skin. The ants on the ground were a bit annoying. They got into his clothes like they were playing some game, and it felt itchy as hell. It was hard to take, but all he could do was endure it. Three crows were perched on the third tree on the right, and they cawed intimately to one another from time to time.
      It was already light. For more than ten hours, his right index finger had constantly kissed the trigger firmly, ready to release a bullet at any time, a bullet that had eyes and would kill the target within a tenth of a second. The windspeed was low, and he kept his rifle aimed toward six o'clock so it would have even less effect on the bullet.
      The sun had jumped up from behind the mountain. He saw a building not far away, with the smoke of a kitchen fire spiraling from it. He saw weeds on the path below him, and sparkling pearls of dew on the weeds. Small flowers, some red and some white, were sprinkled among the weeds.
      There was a sound, not loud. A little girl, not more than six or seven years old, came skipping out from a spot about fifty meters away. She was singing, but he didn't know the name of the song. Her grandmother followed along behind her, constantly calling out to her, most likely telling her to go slower.
      His right index finger kissed the trigger firmly.
      He thought of his daughter, who was two thousand kilometers away. He hadn’t been home for three years. His daughter was eight years old now and must be over four feet tall. She could certainly skip, too, and would definitely be able to sing children’s songs, and sing them well. She could sing better than him and better than her mother, too. Her mother, his wife, was a grade school teacher and should be teaching children in her classroom at this very moment. He thought of their granny, too. Her legs should be better by now, letting her walk without a cane.
      He saw the small flowers on the path before the slope swaying in the wind, and a touch of their fragrance blew toward him. The little girl and her grandmother had gotten farther away. He could only see their backs.
      He craned his neck forward slightly to take another look at the little girl skipping along, and at her grandmother.
      His body was bent slightly lying on the hillside. Then there was a bullet, a bullet that had eyes and hit him in the right shoulder. He felt that the bullet with eyes had flown out of those little flowers with their faint, flowery scent.
      His right index finger still kissed the trigger firmly.
      His comrades rescued him from the hillside in the nick of time. Back in camp, the medical staff took the bullet out of his right arm. He looked at it, staring with all his might. The doctor wanted him to rest for three days, but he immediately asked his commander to let him leave the sniper corps. He gently placed the sniper rifle he’d used for twelve years on the commander’s desk along with his request.
      A month later he applied to leave the service and returned to his hometown. After a few years, one of his war buddies took a train and bus to come see him from a long ways away. The guy affectionately called him "Sharpshooter" while they were at a dinner party. Unexpectedly, he balled his hand into a fist and hit the guy who’d been his buddy for many years. The dinner broke up in discord.
      Some of the people at the dinner secretly called him "Sharpshooter", but more people were suspicious: “He’s a sharpshooter? Does he really know how to shoot a gun?” He didn’t say anything. When he calmed down, he gently stroked the fleshy part of his right index finger with the index finger of his left hand. There was a thick callus on that part of the finger. After that, he drank a sea of booze by himself, more than a pound* of high-proof
Laobaigan.
      His favorite pastime is listening to his daughter sing, and he also likes to take her to school. She’s twelve already, and skips all the way, like a happy little elf.
*[Chinese sometimes measure alcohol by the pound – Fannyi]

Text at p. 58, translated from 91读网 at
www.91du.net/filedownload/139527
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3. Park Activities (园区行动)

Camel (骆驼)

      “It’s that things are really a mess. You’ve got to take a trip back home!”
      When someone says something like that to me over the phone, all you guys would think it was one of the elders in my family. But you’d be wrong. The elders in my family never talk to me like they’re issuing orders. This time, it was a classmate of mine who said it. He was serving as mayor in the township where my hometown is located.
      I got his call while I was interviewing a farmer in Cool Mountain Prefecture, Sichuan Province. Our newspaper had contacted the county government there in connection with the War on Poverty.
      One weekend after I finished my job there, I went back to my hometown. It was hundreds of kilometers from Chengdu.
      As was customary, I went to pay my respects to my father, who was then living in the town. First thing after that, of course, I went to the countryside to see what had happened. My classmate said, “We know you’re ‘hard-nosed’ and won’t show any bias towards your hometown, and we haven’t pinned our hopes you, but this time, you’ve got to listen to what we’re telling you.”
      I answered by way of a smile.
      “You live in another place,” my classmate said, “far away from here. You can't come home more than a few times a year. This time, I’ll just take you to look around Nine Dragons Village, where your home was.”
      I laughed out loud. “You’re not from Nine Dragons Village and you’re going to show me around the place? I know every shrub and every blade of grass there better than you do! I spent my childhood and my teens there.”
      He snorted. "You’re a sentimental literati, but when the time comes you’ll be sniveling."
      And so we drove off. Nine Dragons Village had been a difficult place to get to, but I knew that the asphalt Village Throughway had opened three years before and solved the problem.
      “Let's go take a look at the Kiwifruit Industrial Park first” my classmate said.
      I was no stranger to industrial parks. They’d sprung up like bamboo shoots after a spring rain during the height of the War on Poverty. But building a large-scale park in the area of my hometown was a simply a fantasy worthy of the Arabian Nights. At the risk of being long-winded, Nine Dragons Mountain is high and steep, with a lot of land but not much suitable for fields. All the land, whether fields or not, is formed of zigzagging mountain topography. It’s definitely impossible to imagine an industrial park built like the ones on the plains, flat as far as the eye can see.
      “Out of the car!” We were halfway up the mountain when my classmate’s roar interrupted my thoughts.
      I took my time getting out. I stretched and took a few long, deep breaths before following my classmate.
      We were at Luo Family Gully. My family’s courtyard home was at the bottom. We followed along a path hardened by foot traffic, which narrowed as we got lower. Kiwi trees were growing well on both sides of the path. They’d been planted in three, four or five unequal rows depending on the width of the available land. They were all like that, everywhere I looked.
      “Is it like you remember?” my classmate asked.
      “A lot’s changed, really,” I answered. I hadn't expected the scale of the changes.
      He pointed to a fat man about forty years old who was also walking on the path. He called him Manager Zhang and said he was the one who’s planned it all out. He was from another village in our township. He’d started a factory as an entrepreneur in Guangdong Province and was now investing in his hometown. He’d built this large-scale kiwifruit industrial park along a strip of seven villages, including the villages of Three Houses, Five Houses and Five Stages in addition to Nine Dragons.
      Manager Zhang smiled modestly and quickly stuck out his hand. "We already know you. We were all hoping you could come home for a look and help us with our publicity."
      I reached out to take his hand right away and thanked him.
      We continued forward.
      Because it was far from the road, the path was getting harder and harder to walk on. Weeds were growing crazily in the summer and were as tall as a man, and engulfed the path along the borders of the fields. My classmate the mayor was walking in front to show the way. He used both hands to spread the weeds apart, then stamped them down with his feet. Moving back and forth like this, before long he’d made a simple, thatched path that could barely serve as a walkway. Fewer and fewer people live in the countryside these days, and the trails I’d walked along so freely when I was a child no longer looked the same.
      I asked my classmate if we could find another way. He said it wouldn’t be necessary. “Once we get past a few more fields, we’ll come directly to your family’s courtyard home. The car’s parked on the road at the bridgehead.”
      “What bridgehead?” I asked. “Since when is there a bridge in Nine Dragons Village?”
      “Don’t ask so many questions. Just keep walking.”
      We’d walked along like that for less than fifty meters when a different scene appeared in the field in front of me. All the weeds on this field had been cut off right at the ground, and fresh-cut weeds were piled along both sides of the path. We walked past several more fields along this path of newly cut weeds.
      I turned to one side and told Manager Zhang, “You have a fine eye for the details, sir. This path connected the First Team with the Fifth Team. I had to travel along it to visit relatives when I was a child. Thank you for keeping it open for pedestrians during the economic development. All of us from Nine Dragons Mountain are grateful.”
      His face flushed. “It wasn’t us,” he said. “How could we have the time to worry about these places that visitors could never get to? It was that old retired comrade that did it.”
      “Who?”
      “I’d recognize him, but I couldn’t tell you his name”.
      I turned around abruptly to ask the mayor, my classmate, who it was.
      He didn’t say anything at first, but after a short pause, he pushed his glasses up on his nose and said, “Who else? It was your father, of course! For years he’s been in charge of maintaining the paths that people have to take but haven’t yet been paved. He’s the one who works hard to fix anywhere that’s collapsed or subsided! He says people have to be able to walk the paths our ancestors walked! We can't let these paths fall into disrepair over the years and cut off mobility between neighbors and relatives!”
      I felt my heart tightening.
      “Day before yesterday,” my classmate continued, “your father learned you were coming back. It took two whole days to clear this path. He said if he hadn’t been sick recently, he would never have allowed the path left by his ancestors to become inaccessible!”
      Tears flowed down my cheeks.
[Tears also flow down our cheeks when we read such Party-pleasing drivel. No wonder the author declined to put his real name on it – Fannyi]

Text at p. 66. Translated from 点阅 at
www.dianyue.me/archives/808/xsq5cajte7w642hl/ under the name 路
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4. The Remains at Fortress Mountain (炮台山遗骨)

Chen Lijiao (陈力娇)

      The Soviet Red Army had taken over the waterway and armed locals controlled the land route. They’d only been able to flee westward along Roadway One through the high, densely forested Zhangguangcai Mountains. The group of settlers had suffered numerous deaths and injuries from plummeting temperatures coupled with starvation. They were still wearing unlined clothing in November and couldn’t withstand attacks by the frigid wind, so they came down from Fortress Mountain and moved into a refugee camp in Flourishing Village.
      By this time, the ten thousand-plus settlers gathered there had already lost more than half of their numbers to death or injury.
      The local democratic government called on the people. “Let’s go save them. Otherwise all these Japanese will have to die here. Chinese people are kindhearted. They may hate them deeply, hate them for stealing their land, occupying their homes and starving their children, but once they see what dire straits they’ve fallen into, all that hatred will no longer be hatred.”
      Old Man Zhong walked the streets in the refugee camp. They were full people breathing their last. There were only two hundred buildings, and they were all full, as were the stables and the yards. The crowd had stretched out two-thirds of a mile down the road.
      He was thinking he’d take care of one of them as well as he could. But he didn't know which one.
      Women and children were lying on the ground all over the place. One woman saw him coming and strained to raise her head. She was unable to stand and lay on the ground while she spoke to him. “We can’t go back to our country,” she said, “because Japan doesn’t want us. Too many sick. Save my children’s lives, please.” Then she burst into tears.
      Old Man Zhong stopped to look at her children. The older one was six or seven, and the younger one three or four. The older one sat beside his mother and still had a breath of life in him, but was so cold he’d curled up into a trembling ball. The younger one was about to die; his breath was shallow and he looked like he was falling asleep. The child had peed, and with the land freezing in the cold November weather, the urine had frozen and stuck his clothes to the ground.
      The woman's tears moved him, but which one should he take? Either one would add an unimaginable burden to his life. But they were going to die soon, and could he watch their lives ebb away? He took off his cotton overcoat and spread it out on the ground, then picked up the smaller child and put him on the coat. He was about to wrap the child up and leave when he saw the older child looking at him anxiously. He made a quick decision and put that one on his coat as well.
      The woman on the ground smiled through her tears and closed her eyes.
      Old Man Zhong took the two children home, where his wife bathed them, put them under a blanket on the
kang to warm up and fed them some porridge. They livened up once they had the porridge in their stomachs, but didn’t cry or fuss. The warmth made them forget their mother. Old Lady Zhong worked all night to make them each some clothing out of her own clothes.
      Their lives were saved, but their days were hard going.
      Old Man Zhong got up before dawn every day and went with his skinny horse to haul things for people. He earned only a little money, which he used to buy small amounts of rice, barely enough to scrape by and feed the two children. He and his wife ate frozen cabbage and mountain mushrooms left over from autumn, or went up the mountain to look for wild berries and acorns buried under the snowdrifts.
      The year turned and spring came. The snow melted and everything began to recover. The family could finally say there was reason to hope. The older child had recovered his vitality and could run all over the place, helping Old Lady Zhong cook and gather firewood. The younger one could also climb up on the kang and lean on the window sill waiting for the Old Man Zhong to bring him food. They called Old Man Zhong “Dad” and Old Lady Zhong “Mom”, sweet words that made the couple inexpressibly happy.
      One day Old Lady Zhong agreed to make sweet rice cakes for them, and the older one went out to the yard to get firewood for her. He stood in front of the woodpile for a long time without moving. When Old Lady Zhong came out to get him, she saw he was in a daze and asked him, “What’re you thinking about?” He breathed deeply through his nose and pointed in the direction of Flourishing Village.
      “What’s there?” she asked.
      “The smell,” the child said and took another deep whiff.
      Old Lady Zhong also took a deep breath and, sure enough, she smelled something pungent. It wasn’t a common odor and could be noticed only when it came in on a gust of wind. Old Lady Zhong didn’t take it seriously, but after a few days it worsened. The air above the whole village had an irritating, unpleasant smell that made one want to vomit.
      When the child had smelled it, he'd pointed to Flourishing Village. But what was in the village that could be causing it?
      Old Man Zhong solved the mystery.
      When he came home that day, he told his wife, “Get out my most ragged clothing. I’m going to be carrying dead bodies.” His wife was startled. “The bodies of the Settlement Corps in Flourishing Village are rotting,” he continued. “The snow’s melting and they’re sticking out from under the snowdrifts. We’ve got to grab either the arms or the legs to lift them, and if we don’t do it now they’ll turn to mush.”
      “Where will you take them?”
      “Fortress Mountain.”
      “You’ve got to make sure to take some booze with you. Spray it all over your body so the ghosts don’t get you.”
      “Where am I going to get that much booze? It’ll be three days and nights or more before we can move them all. They’re in the vegetable cellars in the village, in the ditches, under the trees, everywhere. They’re piled up on top of each other in mounds.”
      Old Lady Zhong sighed. “Those Japanese,” she said, “when they bullied us around they were the worst bullies ever. I didn’t figure they’d die such wretched deaths. And their country is really something. They don’t think their own people are worth anything, so it’s no wonder they bully the Chinese people around."
      So Old Man Zhong went to carry corpses. He left every morning before it was light outside, and didn’t come home at night until it was completely dark.
      But on the fifth day he came home at noon. “What should I do?” he whispered to his wife. “I saw the children’s mother. She was in a pile of bodies and I recognized her at once. Tell me, should I burn her, too?”
      “Burn what?” Old Lady Zhong was puzzled.
      “The corpse. Should I light a fire and cremate her with the others?”
      “How could you do that? She’ll only be at peace if she’s buried in the ground.”
      “I can’t bury her if I don’t cremate her first. Besides, all those arms and legs, I can’t tell what belongs to who.”
      “She’s the children’s mother, isn’t she?” Old Lady Zhong asked. Her husband just shook his head.
      “So keep her in a corner in the back,” Old Lady Zhong said. “The two of us can bury her at night.”
      The children were leaning on the window sill as they spoke, watching them. They were both crying.
      "Quick, go ease their pain,” Old Man Zhong said. “They understand what we're talking about."
      She went back inside, and he went back to Fortress Mountain. The forest sobbed....
[Writing about the morally superior Chinese vs. the brutish Japanese bullies is a sure-fire way for a Chinese author to win Party approval and get published – Fannyi]

Text at p. 75. Translated from 陈力娇的博客 at
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_497911370102x7za.html
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5. Wages (工钱)

Hou Fashan (侯发山)

      We'd gone five consecutive months without getting our wages. This had never happened before. In previous years, the contractor we worked for, Tiger Zhang, would pay everyone's wages on time every month, and never default, regardless of whether the project was completed or whether the Party of the First Part had paid his bills. People joked about Tiger's doing this. They said he was as punctual as his wife's curse.
      The workers had asked Tiger about it some time previously. He’d said, "You'll have bread and everything. Everyone needs to calm way on down. I'll clear your accounts at the end of the year and won't short you a penny. "
      He made this vow so solemnly that everyone was too embarrassed to say anything more about it. He'd usually treated us well. Besides, we were all from the same village, and like the old saying, a monk can run away but the temple can't run with him – meaning we could always find him, sooner or later. To be honest, we didn’t need any money. We had free room and board on the jobsite, and Tiger gave us tickets for bathing and haircuts.
      There are all kinds of birds in a big forest, though. Some of the guys vented their dissatisfaction in private.
      Kindness Chen said, "Maybe Tiger socked the money away to get the interest."
      Mountain Wang said, "What'll we do if Tiger pockets the money and takes off? There's been more than a few reports about things like that on TV."
      Kindness said, "He wouldn't dare, even if he was lots braver than he is. If did, how would his wife and kids and mother get along with people back in the village?"
      Mountain said, "I'm worried he'll drag things out until everyone gets over it, so they'll just give him a symbolic slap on the wrist and be done with it."
      "Let him try to short us even a penny!" Forest Zhou waved a tile in his hand. It was a gesture saying that, if Tiger had been in front of him, he just might've cut him.
      They did indeed have reason to complain.
      The jobsite was in an area where the city met the countryside. It was far enough from town that business-minded types had set up tin huts nearby to sell tobacco and booze, fruits, and work safety supplies. There was a snack shop, an eatery, a barbershop complete with a barber pole, and five or six other types of businesses.
      Mountain Wang had met Little Aqua in the "Waiting for You" haircare shop, where she was working as a foot masseuse. She’d offered to give him a massage on several occasions. It wouldn’t cost much, a hundred yuan a session, and he had a mind to do it. He turned her down, though, because he was embarrassingly short of cash.
      And Kindness Chen, he’d met Young Beauty in the "Yellow Ribbon" hair salon. When he got off work, he’d run to see her and they’d make eyes at each other while they talked and laughed, much like a man and woman in love. Once, a customer getting a haircut saw how hot things were between them and had to ask, "Is he your boyfriend, Young Beauty?"
      "Well, my dear brother,” she said, grinning, “he hasn't bought me a dress and he hasn't asked me out to dinner. You tell me, does that count as a boyfriend?" Kindness was so ashamed that he stood up and left. He had a mind to go see her again but was too embarrassed.
      One of the tin huts was a mahjong parlor. Forrest Zhou loved to play mahjong and would go there on rainy or snowy days when the jobsite was shut down. Once, he couldn't help getting in a game to test his skills against the players. He thought he’d win eighty or a hundred yuan he could then use as a stake. Who knew, he lost the shirt off his back in the first game, literally, and was left with just his pants. He figured that when New Year’s came and he got paid, he’d have to play a good hand to save face.
      Several workers on the jobsite were like Mountain Wang and the others. They hadn’t lacked money to spend on such things in previous years, so there's no need to describe the resentment they felt towards Tiger Zhang for not paying their wages. Resentful or not, though, there was nothing they could do about it.
      Time passed quickly. In the blink of an eye, it was the end of the year.
      Forest Zhou quietly gave everyone an idea. "If he still hasn’t paid us when the year’s over, we’ll go to the top of the building in a group and threaten suicide. You think he won’t pay us then?"
      Kindness Chen said, "That won’t do. It’d be illegal. We’ll go to the media and expose him. All of society is concerned now about migrant workers getting paid...."
      In the end, everyone felt that Kindness’ approach was the right one.
      On the last day of the holiday, Tiger Zhang called everyone together for a meeting. He made some brief introductory remarks and a lot of best wishes for the New Year. Then he gave everyone a return ticket back to the village.
      Mountain Wang stared stupidly at the train ticket in his hand and couldn't keep from asking, "Where’s our pay?"
      Tiger giggled. "The money’s already been sent to you at your homes, including interest for these last few months. I suspect that your parents or your wives and children should have received it by now."
      Kindness immediately phoned his wife, Sweet Olive, seemingly wanting to confirm what Tiger had said. He deliberately put the phone on speaker. Before Kindness had a chance to say anything, though, we heard Sweet Olive say excitedly over the phone, "You worthless sack, we got your wages and there’s three or four thousand more than last year.... When will you get home? I’ll make your favorite dumplings for you."
      Everyone started laughing out loud when we heard that. Before long, the happy laughter was resounding over the jobsite. – I don't know who proposed it, but they picked Tiger Zhang up and tossed him high in the air – That was their way of expressing their happiness with someone.

Tezt at p. 78; Translated from 北方文学杂志网 at
http://www.bfwx.org/xiaoxiaoshuo/2017/0324/6470.html




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