34. Precious Place
35. Ai’s Bus Incident
27. Giving Up Your Seat
28. People More Fun
29. Two Students
30. Fully Red
31. Butcher Family
32. Water and Bananas
Medicinal Tea (Page 3)
Living in This World (Nanometer Series) 活在人间 (纳米小说系列)
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Chinese Stories in English
27. Giving Up Your Seat (给美女让座)
Su Qinghe and I became good friends when I was in college. His whole life, he’s been one to value sex over friendship.
One day he and I were going to West River. While we were waiting for the no. 109 bus at Warriors’ Sutra Gate, he instructed me about his "Sex Sutra": "One needs courage to give up his seat to a beautiful woman. Courage is needed if an old person is standing beside her, and even more courage is necessary if her boyfriend is at her side.”
I’d never given my seat to a beautiful woman. Usually I’d give up my seat relatively conscientiously if I encountered an elderly person, a pregnant women or a woman who had a child with her, but I really never had given my seat to a beautiful woman.
"It normally doesn’t take smarts to give your seat to a beautiful woman, but if you offer her a seat and she’s unwilling to take it, then you need smarts. You can pretend your stop is coming up and she’ll give in obediently.”
Just then the no. 109 came. We got on and sat in the third row from the rear on the right side. He sat by the window and I was by the aisle.
"Giving your seat to a beautiful woman also takes...." Su Qinghe was still talking, but I was tired of listening.
When we got to the intersection with Southern Sun Street on May First Road, the door banged open and five or six people got on, with several more people trying to crowd on behind them. The first person to get on walked toward the rear of the bus and, when she got to our row, I noticed that she was a beautiful woman. She was slim and graceful, with delicate features and fair white skin.
"Here’s your chance to practice giving your seat to a beautiful woman!" Su Qinghe said as he poked my leg.
I ignored him.
"There’s no man beside her, so you don’t need much courage."
I still ignored him.
"I know you’re an intelligent fellow, and you’ll have a way to succeed."
I still didn’t make a move.
We were almost to the Pacific Street stop at the east end of the Xiang River Bridge. Suddenly Su Qinghe slapped my thigh. "Oh, man, you’ve been so focused on talking to me, you’ve missed your stop. Your girlfriend's gonna chew you out again!"
Su Qinghe's voice was loud and sounded like he was telling the truth. That beautiful girl standing half a meter in front of me pursed her lips to keep from laughing.
The bus arrived at the stop and Su Qinghe gave me a shove. "Why aren’t you hurrying? Get off and run back!"
"You—" All I could do was get up and move toward the door. At the door I looked back and saw that the beautiful woman was already sitting down in my seat.
"What’re you lookin’ at me for? Hurry up! I’m through being a third wheel with you guys."
I’d been going to West River, but ended up getting off the bus in East River. Su Qinghe, on the other hand, was sitting self-satisfied beside that beautiful woman.
28. People are More Fun than Dogs (人比狗好玩)
It’s been a long time since anyone has known what Light Spring Village was called before it got that name. In the year when Song Dynasty general Yue Fei led his troops through the area, the soldiers at the head of the march said they’d discovered a well under a huge boulder alongside the road, just as the first light of dawn was glimmering. The Yue Family Army, with its thirsty people and horses, was overjoyed when they heard the news. Yue Fei pulled up his horse and ordered that lines be formed to drink, first the people and then the horses.
After the men and horses had drunk, Yue Fei looked at the boulder by the well. He also saw how invigorated his troops were, and the moment inspired him. He pulled up several bunches of rice seedlings from a paddy by the road and used them to write two words in mud on the boulder, each three meters square – "light spring".
After the army had gone, the local landlord discovered the two muddy words that Marshal Yue had left behind. Right away he hired stone carvers to engrave the words on the boulder, and also renamed the village "Light Spring" to commemorate Comrade Yue Fei, who had put down the peasant rebel armies.
Eight hundred years later, Light Spring Village produced a man named Liu Huo who was well known as an unlucky devil. He had five wives in succession and seven or eight children, all of whom died, if not from illness, starvation or drowning, then from falling to their death or being bitten by a poisonous snake while cutting firewood in the mountains. One other son died at age eight when a water buffalo he was herding became frightened and gored him.
Liu Huo suffered so much that Peng Qiansheng, a man with whom he had studied the ancient texts for several years, could only quote Confucius’s lament: “Only women and servants are difficult to support! Only women and servants are difficult to support!”
In 1970 Liu Huo’s neighbors, Peng Nianfu and his wife, hung themselves because of the unbearable pressure of being spawn of the landlord class. Before they hung themselves they placed their daughter, Peng Mingyan, who was only eight months old, on Liu Huo’s doorstep. That’s how Liu Huo picked up a daughter.
Liu Huo was afraid his unlucky fate would descend on Peng Mingyan, so from the time she was small he wouldn’t let her call him father. He was also afraid she’d be discriminated against because of her parents’ class status, so he told people he’d brought her home from another village. It wasn’t until 1982 that he finally told her the truth. When he did, she flew into his arms and called him dad, then burst into tears.
Liu Huo always looked after the girl prudently, for fear of a mishap. But after being a single person raising a child to the age of twenty as both father and mother, he finally relaxed and let her be so bold as to start seeing young men, as did other girls her age. But for the sake of her stepfather, Peng Mingyan turned down the affections of several young men.
As to whether Liu Huo was in the end a student of the old texts, we’ll pretend not to know. He took on the feeding of some stray dogs and, when the animals had puppies a year later, he had a whole pack of dogs at home. And with more dogs, they inevitably had more puppies as well.
But Peng Mingyan was very concerned about hygiene, which led to conflict. Liu Huo liked the dogs very much. Peng Mingyan, on the other hand –
One day, the big black dog actually jumped up onto Peng Mingyan’s bed while she happened to be in the room. She picked up a hoe and waved it at the beast. The black dog slipped away, limping.
At dinner that evening, the anger showed on Liu Huo’s face. Knocking on the edge of his bowl, he told his daughter, "If you have a problem with me, just tell me straight out. Don’t take it out on my dog!”
Peng Mingyan was extremely indignant. That year she found herself a boyfriend, a guy from Ranking Court, about three miles from Light Spring. They got married the next spring.
Once she was gone, Liu Huo was all alone. The old man who used to pretend to like his dogs gradually came to really like them. He’d take the pack out every day, maybe for a run in the mountains or maybe a stroll along the river. Sometimes the dogs would scare up a rabbit. Liu Huo would lift his gun and there’d be delicious meals for a couple of days. Three meals a day, he’d eat half and the dogs would get half. He slept with a bunch of dogs on his bed, like loyal guards protecting their leader. His life was looking pretty good.
In 1996, Peng Mingyan gave birth to a chubby baby boy. When she brought him over for Liu Huo to see, the old man thought of his own children, all prematurely dead. He wasn’t willing to show his joy, so he made a face as long as a horse’s and said, "What’s the big deal about having a baby? I think my dogs are cuter that he is!” Peng Mingyan got mad and left.
Liu Huo had a stroke in the winter of 2000 and was paralyzed in bed. Someone in the village sent word to Peng Mingyan. Without even taking the time to tell her husband, she picked up her child and headed off to her “family home".
The old man took a turn for the better under his daughter’s attentive care. He remained confined to bed, however, so naturally day by day he grew alienated from his dogs, who liked to run wild outside. But gradually they grew closer to his grandson.
One day the little boy said, “Grandpa, your dogs are always outside. Won’t they play with you?”
"Heh, heh. Maybe."
"Do you like the dogs, Grandpa?"
"Yes, I do."
"Then I'll be a dog and play with you." The four-year-old boy got down on all fours and crawled around on the floor like a clumsy dog.
Peng Mingyan come in and saw her son crawling on the floor like a dog. She was about to say something but Liu Huo spoke first. "My grandson’s a good little kid. I guess people are more fun than dogs. Ha, ha, people are more fun than dogs.”
Peng Mingyan didn’t cry, and she didn’t laugh, either. She just stood there stiffly.
29. Two Students Earn Their First Gold (两个中学生赚的第一桶金)
There’s a grove of mandarin orange trees as big as a forest in the hills behind Ancestral Peace Secondary School. When the oranges are in season, you can look out from the boys dormitory and see what looks like an uncountable number of golden beads rolling among a million green bushes.
Equal Li, a student in Section 43 of the ninth grade, was the first one who didn’t just look. "Peace Wang,” he said “just for the fun of it, let’s go steal some oranges when it gets dark.”
Peace was one of Equal’s roommates in the dorm. His home was in the hills four miles from the school. His family was so poor he only got to eat a few pieces of fruit each year, and even those were hard to come by. Equal’s words got his heart going. "If you want,” he said.
Sunset came quickly. Equal and Peace climbed over the school’s wall, trotted for a while, then crept like cats into the orange grove.
"Delicious." Peace gobbled one up on the spot.
"We can eat when we get back to the dorm," Equal said. "Pick some more."
"One for With People Zhang, one for Lucky Liu, one for Slightly Fancy Tan...." Peace was counting off their roommates as he picked.
"Let’s pick four for each, twenty in all," Equal said.
They stuffed oranges into their pockets until they didn’t have room for any more. Peace took off his coat and spread it on the ground. “Wrap them in this,” he said.
Equal thought that was a good idea. He took the oranges out of his pockets and put them on Peace’s coat.
"One, two, three.... We got enough. Let’s go."
Peace picked up the bundle of oranges and hefted it in his hands. It was bulging and kind of heavy. It was like he was carrying gold.
The two of them slunk out of the orange grove. Equal, empty handed, climbed over the wall into the schoolyard first. Peace had just lifted his coat and put it on the wall when somebody behind him shouted, "Hey! You stole some oranges!”
Equal heard the shout on other side of the wall and slipped away on tiptoes, leaving Peace standing there trembling. He turned around and faced the furious owner of the orange grove, Talented Duan.
"A fine of one Yuan per orange. Otherwise I’ll tell your teachers and they’ll expel you!"
"I don’t have that much money. Let’s just say I’m buying these oranges, okay? Weigh them and I’ll pay you whatever they should cost."
"Buy them? Now you say you’ll buy them? No way! A one-Yuan-per-orange fine!" Talented Duan started to count them, "One, two, three, four.... A total of thirty-two, but I’ll give you a break and let you off with a thirty Yuan fine.”
"I don’t have any money on me."
"That's okay, you can get it when you go home on Saturday. I’ll let you have until next Monday to pay me. I know who you are, so don’t try any tricks or I'll stop being so polite!”
Peace was afraid of having the school find out, so he gritted his teeth and agreed. "As long as you won’t tell the teachers.”
"Don’t worry. As long as you hand over the fine on Monday, I promise not to tell the school.”
"Can I go now?"
"Yeah, go on, you."
"You’ll get it when you pay the fine."
"And the oranges?"
"You want the oranges, too?"
"I...." Peace was afraid.
After he climbed over the wall, Peace walked dejectedly toward the dormitory. Equal was waiting impatiently downstairs. He came out when he saw Peace coming at last. He went up to him and asked in a low voice, "Did you tell him about me?
"What did he say?"
"I have to pay a thirty Yuan fine or he’ll tell the school."
"Son of a bitch!" Equal kicked out into thin air. "He’s capable of anything!"
"It’s okay, as long he doesn’t tell the school. If he does, I'm dead."
"Good brother, I’ll pay the fine!" Equal knew Peace’s family was poor and that thirty Yuan wouldn’t be a small amount for him. Equal’s family, on the other hand, had opened three stores facing the street in town. Life was pretty good for them.
Back in their dorm room, the two sat facing each other. They were both down in the dumps.
"We can’t let him off so lightly!" Peace stood up. "We’ll go steal some more and sell them to get money to pay the fine!"
"Hell with it."
"You stay here. I’ll go get Zhang and the others."
In the middle of the night, several silhouettes slipped into the orange grove.
The next evening, Equal and Peace carried two snakeskin bags of oranges to Equal’s family. Equal plopped the oranges down on the ground and said to his dad, "These oranges belong to Peace’s family. Will you help them out and buy them?”
It took three days for Equal’s dad to resell the oranges. When they were gone, Equal got the money from his dad and counted it. There was forty-three Yuan. After paying the fine, they’d made thirteen Yuan!
30. Fully Red Long Returns to the Village (龙满红回农村)
Cats and dogs in the city live lives no better than the day they die. Their friends are so few that they might as well be nonexistent; the areas they can roam in are piteously small; and they usually have collars around their necks. When they’re in heat, if they don’t find a mate right next door, they can only cry out their agony.
It’s different in the countryside. No matter what village they’re in, cats and dogs won’t ever be alone. They can roam from door to door at will, and if they’re not afraid of getting tired, they can even roam to another village. When they’re in heat, all they have to do is howl, and other cats or dogs will hear the sound and come to make love with them....
In 1998, the only college graduate in Pine River Village at the moment was Fully Red Long. She’d returned to the village after working in the provincial capital, Changsha, for two years. Her yellow dog Ah-Wang, which she’d carried away from home in her arms two years before, had come back with her. The villagers were abuzz about her return, but her father and mother moaned and groaned all day long. Fully Red didn’t tell them the real reason she’d come back to the countryside.
31. Butchering Runs in the Family (屠夫世家)
Old Wang from Mao Family Bridge, his full name’s Wang Like One, and his father was the well-known butcher Wang First Good.
These days the old folks in Mao Family Bridge “tut-tut” non-stop when they talk about Wang First Good. When other guys killed a pig, they’d have to have four or five people catch it for them. Not him, though. All by himself, he could flip the pig over, tie its hind legs up tightly with a rope that had been passed down in his family for over two hundred years, and grab the two front legs in his left hand. Then the knife would come down and the pig, subjected to his power, would politely shed its clean blood.
At that time they usually killed the pigs before dawn. Hiring Wang First Good to kill their pigs saved the owners a lot of hassle, since they didn’t have to ask the neighbors for help.
Wang Like One was born right after Liberation in 1949. When he reached ten years of age, Wang First Good brought him along to watch while he killed a pig. But Wang Like One got sick to his stomach and threw up as soon as he saw the frothy blood gurgling out. That made Wang First Good so mad that he cursed the boy and said he had no prospects for the future.
After he’d been cursed at several times, Wang Like One lost his temper. One day when his father had had too much to drink, he seized the opportunity to steal the old man’s butchering knife and chopper. He ran to the Neighborhood Committee and said his father wanted him to bring the tools in to support the backyard steel refinery.
Fortunately Auntie Liu on the Neighborhood Committee knew all about pig killing in the Mao Family Bridge area, so she didn’t put the tools into the furnace. She sent them back to Wang’s house, and Wang Like One naturally had to endure a beating. If he had to get beaten, so be it, but at least Wang First Good never made his son watch any more pig killings.
Later, Wang Like One got seasoned by life in a rural village for a few years. When he came back to the city he was recruited to work in a stationery factory, and it looked like he’d completely said his goodbyes to the butcher profession. He didn’t expect it when he got laid off in 1995.
He was at home for a year, unable to find work. Then, before his father Wang First Good crossed over, he had the young man find out about the ins and outs of killing pigs. "Boy,” he said, “our family definitely depends on pigs for our livelihood!”
Nowadays pigs are all killed at meat processing plants, and butchers sell the meat in markets. When Wang Like One came back from the cemetery, he went to the public market in Mao Family Bridge and rented a stall. He was new to the knife and unsure of himself when he started out. Sometimes he thought the scales were off, and he often got into arguments with customers.
Later he noticed on several occasions that when he made change, customers who got a little too much didn’t care whether the meat was fat or lean. They wouldn’t go get it re-weighed, either. His quick wits went into action. He simply got himself a scale that would weigh eight ounces as a full jin, and then when he made change he’d deliberately give the customer one or two Yuan extra.
It wasn’t long before Wang Like One’s meat stall was red hot. Some people preferred to wait a few extra minutes to buy from him, even more than ten minutes, rather than go to the idle stall next door. The owner of the next stall was envious but, not understanding the situation, he could only sigh and "accept his fate". He said, "Butchering does run in that family after all!”
32. Water and Bananas (水和香蕉的关系)
There’s a row of one-story buildings on the west side of 133 Upper Hemp Ridge, where the railway is. The fruit shop occupying the building on the east end is owned by Old Qin from Peach Source Town in Changde Prefecture. He looks to be fifty-some years old, doesn’t talk much, and likes to sit at a desk behind the fruit stand counter practicing calligraphy with a brush. His calligraphy, like his business, isn’t so good.
The number of people walking by on the railway every day isn’t inconsiderable, but Old Qin, hard at his calligraphy, doesn’t feel like calling out to them to solicit business. If someone does come over to buy fruit they might ask something like, "Boss, what can I get those bananas for?” Without hurrying he’ll put down his brush, turn his head and say "eighty cents" in an obvious Peach Source accent. It’s quite easy on the ears.
One day a water pipe broke downstairs in Building Two of 133 Upper Hemp Ridge. The water was shut off, so everyone in the whole building had to go elsewhere to get their water. The vast majority went to someone’s condo in Building One to get it; people who had been neighbors for many years found it easy to ask for some. Others didn’t go to Building One, though, and Surge Chen on the fifth floor was one of them.
Surge Chen hadn’t been living in the building very long, and he was a sensitive fellow as well. But even sensitive people had to get water, so he grabbed two plastic buckets and headed downstairs.
When he got to the first floor, he heard the noise of running water coming from Old Qin’s shop on the west side. He’d just been worrying about how he would go to someone's home to ask for water, so he sighed with relief and fairly skipped over to Old Qin’s fruit stand. He’d never bought fruit there in the past. This area was close to the Mao Family Bridge Wholesale Fruit Market, and he’d go there when he wanted to buy fruit. Thus he didn’t know what Old Qin’s name was. Old Qin was washing off his produce just then, and he heard Chen Tao ask, "Boss, I live in the next building. The water’s off, so I came over here to get some. Can you give me some water?”
"Go ahead," Old Qin said as he continued to wash his produce. It was cabbage.
The tap was beside the counter. Surge Chen took a look at a bunch of bananas weighing about a pound.
Then he rather abruptly put the bucket under the tap and turned it on. White water gurgled out into the bucket.
"Boss,” he asked, “how much for this bunch of bananas?" He put the bunch he’d taken a fancy to on the scale on the counter.
Old Qin looked up without putting down the vegetables he was washing. He glanced at the scale and said, "One pound, two ounces. Ninety-six cents."
Surge put a one-Yuan coin on the counter. "From now on I’ll come here and buy something every day."
The water was off for ten days. Surge came to Old Qin’s and took twenty buckets of water during that time, and also bought sixteen pounds of bananas. He learned Old Qin’s name and that he was from Peach Source in Changde. Old Qin, for his part, learned Surge Tao’s name and that he was from Tea Hill in Zhuzhou Prefecture. During these ten days, they often had the following conversation——
"Sorry, here I am again.”
"Let me have another bunch of bananas."
The pipe was repaired and the water restored on the eleventh day. Surge Chen didn’t come to Old Qin’s to buy bananas any more, but he still did pass by the fruit shop every day. The first few days after the water supply was restored, Surge kept his head down as he passed by. Later he didn’t look away when he saw Old Qin with his head always buried, writing his brush calligraphy. Surge held his head as high as ever, looking very calm.
33. Coins (硬币)
From March of last year, probably, Comrade Home Forest Heh of Lucky Bridge started to like the use of coins in his daily life. He traded for them at the bank, or his wife got them in change when she bought things, and he saved them all. When his teenage daughter saw them, she said, "Dad, you’re collecting coins?!"
He smiled and answered, "How come you stick your nose in so many things? Mind your studies.” So his daughter didn’t say any more.
His wife, Favor Wang, always had her mind on mahjong. She had no desire to keep track of what he was doing, so she turned a blind eye to his eccentric behavior when it flared up suddenly.
In the Changsha commodities market, one-fen, two-fen and five-fen coins were almost extinct, so Home Forest naturally didn’t have many. He mostly had one-mao (ten fen) coins (though of course he had some five-mao and one-Yuan coins as well). He stacked some of them in small stacks and wrapped them in transparent plastic wrap.
When he got on a bus, he’d pinch a stack between his thumb and forefinger to pull it out of his pocket. Under the driver’s gaze he’d say, "This is one Yuan," then throw the coins "clink" into the fare box. Sometimes there really was one Yuan, but sometimes only nine mao. Most of the time he preferred throwing a stack of one-mao coins in the box, even though, as far as the sound was concerned, it wasn’t as nice as a one-Yuan coin.
He also liked to use coins for grocery shopping. He liked to stick his hands into pockets crammed with dozens or hundreds of coins and play around with them, and he liked to hear the swishing sound of them when he was on the road. Greens or bean sprouts were five mao a bunch, and he’d pull out five coins and say, "Here you go." The vendors who were short of change were happy to get them.
When he bought produce he was always honest about giving enough money, but not when he bought meat. For example, if he was buying a pound of ham at five Yuan five mao a pound, he’d take a handful of coins from his pocket and count, "two, four, six...." straight to fifty-four. He’d put the remainder back in his pocket and give the coins he’d counted out to the butcher while the butcher still had his cleaver in his hand. He’d say, “Here you are, exact change.” The butcher would look him over and think he seemed honest, so he’d take the coins without counting them, say "mmn", and toss them into his till with one quick motion. Home Forest would pick up the meat and be on his way.
This kind of thing happened over and over. The butcher thought it was strange and asked, “How come you use coins to buy your meat every day?”
"My next door neighbor, Old Wang, was taking advantage of my decency,” he replied. “He owed me three thousand Yuan for, jeez, a lot of years. Last month I asked him to pay me back and he threw a fit. He paid me with bags of coins."
It was a lie. His using coins to buy things had started with news reports he’d seen about coins replacing small denomination paper money. He’d thought it was an interesting idea and had taken it to heart.
He’s used coins for more than a year now, without incident. Coins are as much the People’s Currency as paper money is, so what could go wrong?
34. Precious Place (宝地)
Speaking of Ocean Shen, the sunny place behind the left side of the house where the wind blows toward the hills was precious to him – almost every afternoon, his neighbor Little Orchid Li came there leading her chicks and puppies to sit for a while. She would knit sweaters while she basked in the sun, and occasionally she would have an innocuous conversation with Ocean, who secretly loved her.
Ocean cherished this patch of sunny ground and swept it clean every day. On cloudy days, or days when Orchid went into the city to see her boyfriend, the sunny patch was precious to him. He’d go there and stand, but his mind was in a different posture than when he was bantering and flirting with Orchid.
35. Build Army Ai’s Incident on the No. 116 Bus (艾建军和116路车的一个事件)
Build Army Ai was waiting at the Clearwater City Bridge stop for a bus back to Five Family Bridge. The nos. 9, 115 and 116 all went to Five Family Bridge and they all passed by this stop.
Ai was born on January 16, 1961, and since his birthday had a “1” and a “16 ” in it, he always had to take the no. 116 bus – if he wasn’t in a hurry. He felt it brought him good luck. Two-thirds of the workers at his job had been laid off, but he wasn’t, so he did feel lucky.
Three busses had passed by, but they were nos. 9 or 115, so he hadn’t got on. He was waiting for the no. 116.
Finally the no. 116 came. When the door opened, a glance told him that there was still an empty seat. A woman about his age was sitting in the seat right next to it.
"My luck’s holding, there’s still a seat," he said to himself. He tossed a coin in the fare box, walked back and sat down. The woman sitting next to him by the window glanced at him, but then continued to stare straight forward in the direction they were travelling.
Except for when his wife pulled him into a double seat, Ai preferred a single seat most if the time. When they got to Warrior’s Sutra Gate, a young girl in a single seat on the other side of the aisle stood up to get off the bus. Ai perked up and he told himself once more, "My luck really is good. I’ve got a single seat to sit in again.” He immediately got up and went over to sit in it and – that’s when the fight started –.
As soon as Ai plopped down in his new seat, the woman who’d been sitting beside him in the double seat walked straight over and kicked his shoe. “Wha’djya move over here for?!” she said venomously.
Ai was amazed. "What’s it to ya?" he replied.
"Do I stink?!"
"Are my clothes dirty?!"
"No, they’re not dirty."
"Was there a nail sticking up through the seat you were in?"
"So why dincha wanna sit with me?"
"You!" Ai couldn’t think of anything to say. He looked around the bus hoping to find someone who would speak up on his behalf, but whenever anyone caught his gaze they immediately turned their head away, as though nothing had happened.
"Explain yourself. What did you leave me for?"
"I don’t like it when two people sit together. Why should I have to sit with you?!”
"Then why did you want to sit with me in the first place?"
"There wasn’t any other seat at first, was there?"
"That’s no reason. If I don’t like doing something, don’t think you can beat me to make me do it. If you don’t give me a clear explanation, you’re in no end of trouble today!”
Ai couldn’t help looking the woman over. Seeing how angry she looked, ten times fiercer than his wife looked when they quarreled, he started to get scared. "Okay! Okay! I won’t fight with you. I’ll go over and sit with you, if that’s what you want.”
“’I'll go over and sit with you, if that’s what you want.' What kind of attitude is that? Explain yourself! What did you want to leave me for!?”
"Me!" Ai was getting extremely anxious.
"Didn’t you see the young girl who just sitting in this seat?"
"Didn’t you think she was really pretty?"
"Didn’t you have a favorable impression of her?!"
"Don’t you think that sitting in her seat is like sitting on her lap?!"
"Then why did you fabricate other reasons just now, and lie to me?!" The woman’s voice suddenly got a dozen decibels higher. Ai got even more anxious and fainted away.
When he woke up, there was no one on the bus. He looked at the buildings on either side and realized that this was Pan Family Flats. The next stop was Five Family Bridge.
"What happened?” he asked himself. Then a nurse wearing a white coat came up. She looked at him with curiosity and said, "You’re awake. Are you all right?"
"I’m okay! I’m okay!” Ai really didn’t want to go to the hospital. He stood up to prove he was "all right”.
“Look, I’m okay, see?"
"It’s good you’re okay. Someone up front was run over and killed," the nurse said. Then she got off the bus.
"Run over and killed?" Ai followed her off. That’s when he saw a whole bunch of people crowded around in front of the bus.
They were commiserating, "Tut, tut."
Ai squeezed into the crowd and was amazed to see the woman he had been quarrelling with lying on the ground in a pool of blood. A traffic cop was turning her over, trying to find something to identity her so they could have her relatives come and make arrangements for the body.
Ai couldn’t take the sight of blood. “Arrg”, he started dry heaving and ran out of the crowd.
"There’s a divorce certificate and an identity card!" He heard the traffic cop shout from the middle of the crowd.
"Arrg". He regurgitated a green liquid and spat it out.
"This woman was old school. She got off the rear of the bus and ran around front to cross the street. Then…." Ai didn’t have the heart to hear any more. Another no.116 came along and he boarded it out of habit, even though his home in Five Family Bridge was only seven or eight minutes away from where he was.
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