Merry-Go-Round Stories (Page 4)

1. Brilliant Move
2. Deficient Memory
3. Late Arrival
4. A ¥300,000 Loogie

9. One Gulp Zhen
10. Repayment
11. Section Leader
12. Who Should’ve Won?

​​         Chinese Stories in English   

5. Lost Money
6. Manager’s Lunchbox
7. Odd Beggar
8. On and Off the Stage

1. Brilliant Move (高招)
Chestnut (栗果)

            Old Zhang operated a roadside shop selling wreaths. The business did quite well. Early one morning when he came to open up, he noticed in front of the shop several piles of burned “joss money”, the paper scrip people burn to ensure that their departed relatives will have money in the afterlife. The ashes were being blown around in the wind, which was truly annoying.
            After he’d managed to clean up the ash piles, he wrote a notice that "Burning Paper Forbidden Here" and attached it to the door. Next day, though, ash piles had appeared in front as before. Old Zhang wondered if the words on the notice weren’t written too small for the people burning paper to see, so he made another notice with larger characters and attached it to the door. But for the next several days, heaps of ash still appeared there every morning.
            Old Zhang was depressed. He couldn’t very well stay awake watching all night because of this. While he was worrying about it, a friend came to see him. When he saw the unhappiness written all over Old Zhang’s face, the friend asked what was the matter. Old Zhang explained the situation and ended up by muttering, "You tell me, is this a pain or what? I’ve turned into a volunteer street sweeper.”
            The friend thought for a moment, and then smiled and said, "Hey, this is easy to take care of.”
            Curious, Old Zhang asked, "What’s your idea?"
            The friend asked Old Zhang for a pen and paper. “Swish, swish, swish, he wrote out several characters. “Post this,” he said, "and I guarantee no one will burn josh paper in front of your door ever again.”
            Old Zhang read the notice. "Just these few words?” he asked. “Will it work?"
            The friend smiled mysteriously. "You should have thought of writing this line yourself. If it doesn’t do the trick, I’ll buy you dinner."
            Old Zhang was skeptical, but he posted the notice written by his friend.
            The next day, Old Zhang went to his shop early. When he got to the door he looked and, wow, it was perfectly clean. There wasn’t even one pile of ashes!
            What it was, the words written on the notice were: “Joss money burned here will not be received by the dearly departed!”

Translated from 分节阅读16, also available from 故事大全 here
2. Deficient Memory (记性太差)

Yu Yonghai (于永海)

            My wife’s memory is by no means up to snuff. Although she’s not yet thirty years old, she’s always either losing this or forgetting that. I’m often moved to tease her, "You can barely keep from losing yourself."
            One day I came home from work and saw her squatting in front of the door with a pouty, piteous look on her face. Given the circumstances, it didn’t take any brains to figure out – she'd lost her key again!
            So I sidled up and asked her, "Silly girl, what’re you squatting here for? Why don’t you go on in?" I’d wanted to tease her, but who could’ve known, she looked up at me and “Waa”, started crying. It wouldn’t be good for me to joke around while she was crying, so I fished out my key and opened the door. No matter what had happened, we could talk about it after we got inside.
            Sitting on the sofa, my wife wiped her tears and said, as though she were nursing a grievance, "I know my memory’s lousy, but today, I don’t know what’s going on, my head is just a pile of mush!”
            "You didn’t just lose your key? It wouldn’t be the first time, or even the second."
            “It’s not that simple. I went to the market when I got off work today. After I finished shopping I came home and realized I’d left my key at the vegetable vendor’s stall, so I went back there to get it, taking the veggies with me. That vendor’s a good guy and he'd put the key aside for me. I chatted with him for a while, thanking him, then came home with the key and opened the door. But when I started to cook dinner, I found I’d left the vegetables back there at the vendor’s stall, so I went back to get them. When I got back home with the food I went to open the door and realized I’d locked the key inside on the shoe rack.... "

Translated from 分节阅读14, Also available from here.
3. Late Arrival (迟到)

Liu Lang (刘浪)

            It was getting late. The streetlights were flickering.
            The air was stifling hot. Humid, and sort of equivocal.
            He stood under the ancient banyan tree, a little nervous, a little anxious.
             It was the time they’d agreed on, but she hadn’t come yet.
            He waited in the darkness, feeling bitter.
            He was thinking, “Will she come?”
            Ten minutes passed. Then another ten minutes.
            Finally he saw a red motorbike carrying a petite figure approaching in the distance.
            He stepped up to meet it. “Hey, you’re late,” he said with pretended casualness.
            She smiled naughtily. “Am I?”
            “If you don’t believe me, take a look.” He turned on his phone and handed it to her.
            She was startled by the flash of fluorescent light and turned the throttle of her motorbike way up. The bike surged forward....

            He phoned her but she didn’t answer; he sent her text messages but she didn’t reply!
            He spent a restless, sleepless night.
            The next day they met by the elevator at work.
            He stared at her, trying to find an answer, but she looked like nothing had happened.
            She turned her back to him.
            After a while, he got a text message from her: “I was late.”
            He thought it over but couldn’t think of an explanation. Then, right at the moment he was turning off his phone, he had a sudden realization. On the phone’s screen was a photo of him and his wife.

Translated from 浪不起来 Surf's Not Up, story 17. No longer available online.
4. A ¥300,000 Loogie (一口痰30万)

Liu Lang (刘浪)

            It’s a poor town, but it’s nestled against a lake with all the mushrooms, deer, rabbits, fish and similar natural resources that it should have. Officials in leadership positions all said that the place had delicious wild foods and was environmentally protected, so the guest house run by the local government to entertain them was always bustling.
            Master One-Hand Liu, the Head Chef, was going to be laid off at the end of this month. He’d been at the guest house’s cafeteria so long that the leaders had all grown tired of the way his cooking tasted. They’d recommended that the town find a new master chef who would vary the flavors.

            Another table of leaders came in at noon. Chef Liu hustled around without saying anything, but his apprentice Little Mountain Wang was mad as hell. To think that they’d lay off a blameless person just for the sake of some good food and drink! Wang felt that, no matter what else, he had to give vent to his resentment on behalf of his master.
            While he was carrying food to the leader’s private room, Wang took advantage of the fact that no one was around. He hawked up a loogie and, “ptui”, spat into the food. He used a chopstick to stir up the surface and then carried the food into the room as if nothing were amiss.
            The unfortunate thing was, when he spit into another dish as he was carrying it over, he didn’t notice a leader who’d gotten high and was squatting outside the room. He was caught in the act!
            When they understood what had happened, each and every one of the leaders began to run around like a wild animal. A few of them lacked self-control and immediately started to throw up.
            Leaders deserted the guest house as soon as the news got out. Every once in a while some of them would come there to stroll around, but when they were invited to stay for a meal, they would shake their heads in fright. The town fired Little Mountain Wang, of course.
            Later I heard that while the town’s mayor was giving his report at the year-end awards ceremony, his nose started to itch and he said with emotion, “Truth is, the person most deserving of recognition this year is Little Mountain Wang from the guest house. His one loogie saved us three hundred thousand Yuan in operating expenses for the guest house to entertain leaders. Three hundred thousand, man, what a huge economic benefit...."

Translated from 浪不起来 Surf's Not Up, story 22. No longer available online.
5. Lost Money (丢钱)

Liu Lang (刘浪)

            When Lu Four walked out from the alley early one morning, he spotted a piece of light green paper lying on the road in the distance. His heartbeat intensified as he walked several steps closer. When he got a better look, he saw his judgment had been right. It really was a 50-Yuan bill.
            “Not a bad piece of luck!” Lu Four’s heart blossomed. He bent down and reached out resolutely to reap this unexpected harvest.
            But then he had a sudden flash of inspiration. This might be a trick. These days, people still playing this sort of split-the-found-money scam would be just too far behind the times!
            Lu Four wanted to laugh. He stood up and looked around, but no one was there. All was quiet in the alley.
            He touched the money gently with his foot and his heart took a nosedive. There was a custom in his village for sick people to throw some money on the ground in the belief that they’d be cured, because whoever picked the money up would take the illness along with it. If this wasn’t a con, maybe that was it. If so, it wouldn’t be worth it to get sick for a mere fifty Yuan. What kind of flu was going around right now?
            Lu Four raised his foot decisively and walked on, but before he’d gone two steps he hesitated again. This city was a thousand miles away from his village. How could anyone here know about that old, worn out custom?
            There was only one possibility. It was a counterfeit bill. He turned around to go back and get to the bottom of things.
            That was when some guy came up from behind him, snatched up the bill and stuffed it into his pocket.
            Lu Four felt a burst of pain in his heart. Who wouldn’t, losing fifty Yuan so early in the morning?

Translated from 浪不起来 Surf's Not Up, story 19.
Also available from 文学论文 at, third story.

6. The Manager’s Lunchbox (厂长的饭盒)
Liu Lang (刘浪)

            To give expression to his “in touch with the people” management style, the new factory manager closed down the small restaurant they used to have and, like everyone else, lined up at the window of the employees cafeteria get his lunch.
            It wasn’t too long, though, before the manager stopped appearing in the line. He was invited to attend too many luncheons, after all. When he did eat in the cafeteria on occasion, he would casually ask a subordinate, “I’ve got things to do. Would you pick up a lunch for me?”
            One day he left the factory and, when he came back and asked someone to get his lunch for him, he noticed that the lunchbox wasn’t the same. He asked about it and was told that his lunchbox couldn’t be found. He had an obsession with cleanliness and lost his appetite immediately.
            His lunchbox was extremely clean stainless steel, and the inside was divided into bigger and smaller sections for different foods. It was kept on the utensils rack in the cafeteria along with everyone else’s lunchboxes. Who would be brave enough to steal the manager’s lunchbox?
            The security department opened an investigation. That evening, without public announcement, an apprentice named Young Li in the Machine Repairs Section was apprehended. The manager asked him, “Why did you steal my lunchbox to eat out of. Don’t you have your own lunchbox?”
            Young Li, an especially thin fellow, stammered under the manager’s withering stare. “Because, because, taking your lunchbox, I got a lot more food.”

Translated from 浪不起来 Surf's Not Up, story 25, Also available from
7. An Odd Beggar (奇丐)

Liu Lang (刘浪)

            I was getting ready to take a postprandial nap when a middle-aged beggar came to the door.
            I’m a soft-hearted guy, so I took the cover off the rice left over from lunch and carried the bowl over to him. I was surprised when he cupped his hands in front of his chest as a sign of respect and said, "I'm sorry, Brother, I’ve already been to a lot of homes and I’m really full. May I trouble you for a little something else.
            I hadn’t expected the beggar to be quite so picky. Well, I did what my mom taught me and went to the jar of uncooked rice to get him a handful. Before I got back to him, though, he nudged the heavy rice bag on his shoulder and said, "Brother, I’ve got more rice than I can carry. Please don’t give me any more.”
            I was a bit put out. "You don’t want this and you don’t want that. What exactly do you want?"
            "If you really want to do a good deed,” he said, “you can give me a couple of bucks for pocket money."
            Such arrogance really got me mad. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have any change. If you don’t believe me, take a look in my wallet." I took out the wallet and flashed a few hundred-Yuan bills to show him.
            The beggar took the bag off his shoulder, patted his body and pulled out a transparent plastic bag with a bunch of loose money in it. While I was standing there wondering what he was doing, he said: "It’s no problem if you don’t have any small bills. I can make change for you.”
            I was somewhat ameliorated, so I went ahead and handed over a hundred-Yuan bill. "OK, I’ll give you five Yuan. Give me ninety-five in change!"
            The beggar took a big handful of money out of the bag and counted out bills one by one for me. He stopped suddenly when he got to sixty Yuan. "Brother, if you take so much loose change out the value will drop, because the market will be flooded."
            I looked at him coldly. “What, you want me to give you forty Yuan? Your appetite is a bit too big."
            The beggar promptly shook his head: "That wasn’t my intent, brother. Tell you what. I’ll give you this bag of rice. It’s worth at least fifty Yuan, so you’ll be making ten...."

Translated from 浪不起来 Surf's Not Up, story 26
Also available
here under the name 乞丐
8. On and Off the Stage (上台下台)

Liu Lang (刘浪)

            The company’s eighth anniversary was drawing near as construction of its new plant was completed. The General Manager decided to put on a grand, showy ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate. After half a month of preparation, the ceremony was held as scheduled.
            This gave the GM lots of face. Invitees included not only customers and peers in the business, but leaders from departments of the township, district and prefecture as well. In order to express his appreciation for the leadership, the GM decided to pitch in and personally host the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
            On the day of the ribbon-cutting, the general manager wore leather shoes and a Western-style suit with a flower in his lapel. He walked onto the stage and introduced the leaders from the various levels of government one by one. They were wearing fresh flowers in the same way and stood on the stage to participate in the ribbon-cutting. When they heard their names as they were being introduced, the leaders waved graciously to the audience.
            Music played while the ribbon-cutting was performed. Everything was going smoothly until the GM rashly announced into the microphone, "Now let us applaud the leaders as they leave the stage”, forgetting that “leave the stage” is a euphemism for politicians being removed from office. This phrase had some of the leaders who were walking off the stage shaking their heads, while others were visibly displeased. The spectators were roaring with laughter.
            The GM also realized his language was inappropriate and hurried to remedy the situation. "Let us once again give our warmest applause to invite those leaders who have just stepped down to come back up on the stage – to take a group picture as a memento!" So the leaders turned around and, as a group, walked back the way they’d just come. Each one smiled broadly as they mounted the stage again.
            The sound of applause filled the air. The GM had really reacted quickly.

Translated from 浪不起来 Surf's Not Up, story 29. No longer available online.
9. One Gulp Zhen (甄一口)

Feng Jicai (冯骥才)

            If you want to talk about boozing, no one could out-drink One Gulp Zhen
            There was no limit to what he could hold; mixing his liquors was no problem; and if he drank when he was anxious, he wasn’t concerned about getting more anxious, more violent or more fierce. When he drank beer he’d tilt his head back and turn the bottle upside down in his mouth. Without using his hands, and with the bottle’s mouth in his, he’d pour the whole bottle straight down into his stomach. It would only go down his throat and not the least bit down his windpipe. If he was going to choke, he'd have chocked to death already. Who else could do that? He could drink two cases of beer in one night, twenty-four one-liter bottles, and drink it all down that way. That's where his name came from.
            Some people weren't impressed. They said he was a County Commissioner, so when he drank beer he didn't have to spend his own money. When he opened wide and drank, he could drink as much as he wanted. Even a dog could learn to drink like that. While some abilities are learned, however, being able to drink a sea of booze without getting drunk was an innate ability of his. One Gulp Zhen never had been drunk. He said, "My mom told me, if I ever really did get drunk, I wouldn't be able to wake up."
            Others thought it was just a joke, but you shouldn't think the old lady was telling tall tales. Let's leave it at that for now.
            Someone asked, "When you put away dozens of bottles of booze, where does it all go?" That question was right on point, and was asking about the knack of drinking.
            When one drinks, the alcohol enters the body, but it can't just go in and never come out again. Could even a huge stomach hold twenty or thirty bottles of booze? Alcohol in the body must be got rid of, and in vulgar speech it's called "losing the booze".
            People who can drink have to lose the booze, and the methods for doing so vary. Some piss it away, getting rid of it from the lower half of the body; others turn that upside down, and throw it up out of the top half of the body; some sweat, losing it through pores all over the body.
            There was a bureau chief in a tax department who, when he sat down at the drinking table, had to bring along a towel to wipe away the sweat. When he'd had enough, the towel would look like it had been soaking in a vat of booze and had just been pulled out.
            One Gulp Zhen didn't use any of these methods. He had another trick – he'd lose the booze through his feet.
            When he wasn't drinking, he had dry feet; when he was drinking, he had sweaty feet. But what came out of his feet wasn't really sweat, it was booze. When a lot of booze entered his mouth up above, a lot of booze left his feet down below.
            Whenever he attended a banquet, he'd be sure not to wear silk socks or leather shoes; he'd have to wear cotton socks and cloth shoes. Leather shoes would hold in the booze while cloth shoes would soak it up. His accouterment also included a thick rug to soak up the booze better. Before the banquet started, he'd place it in front of his chair where his feet would rest.
            Every time a drinking session ended and people left, his feet would look like he'd been wading in a river of booze. The first thing he'd do when he got home was soak his feet in hot water to clean away the booze that was left on them. Otherwise they'd turn into drunken chickens or tipsy ducks. Because of this, One Gulp's feet never stank. They were smooth, white and soft, like a woman's feet.
            There came a day when One Gulp went to his superiors' place for a meeting. Afterwards, just as he was about to go home, one of his superiors asked him to stay for a meal to talk about some things. It was his "on-the-spot" supervisor, the one who held One Gulp's ladder of promotion in his hands, so he couldn't refuse and could only say yes.
            A fellow who was with him said, "Commissioner, you should probably take it easy if you drink today. You're not wearing your cloth shoes and you didn't bring your rug."
            "I know what I'm doing," One Gulp replied.
            But at the dinner table when they served the booze, it was another matter entirely. At first, One Gulp kept his intake low by pushing away his glass, but this supervisor was a real drinker, so he couldn't refuse too hard. But when the guy had a mere seven or eight cups in him, it went to his head. His spirits picked up and he started acting frisky; and after seven or eight more cups, he was even more lively.
            He shouted, "Everyone calls you by the name One Gulp Zhen. They say when you drink beer, the mouth of the bottle goes right into your mouth. Well, seeing is believing, and today I have to see it with my own eyes. Otherwise you'll be disrespecting me."
            One Gulp was forced into it. He couldn't not drink, and didn't dare not drink. They brought a case of beer to the table, opened it, and opened the bottles. The two of them agreed: For every bottle of beer One Gulp downed, his supervisor would drink a cup of baijiu.
            His supervisor took advantage of the confusion around the table to spill most of the booze he poured into his cup. There was nothing phony about One Gulp, though. He lifted a bottle of beer up above his head, tipped his head backwards, and with a powerful twist of his wrist, the bottle's mouth was in his. Without moving his mouth, and keeping his neck straight, he poured the entire bottle of beer into his stomach in an instant. Another turn of the wrist and the empty bottle was on the table. No one else in this world could drink like that.
            The supervisor looked happy and shouted "A rare talent!" He picked up another bottle of beer, "banged" it down in front of One Gulp and shouted, "Encore!" It was both praise and an order, because he wanted to see even more of this eye-opening talent. In this way one bottle after another went bottoms up.
            It wasn't long before One Gulp felt his feet getting hot. They were burning and itched uncomfortably. He thought, "This isn't good. My feet are losing the booze and the leather shoes won't let it leak out. What am I going to do?" Before he got it figured out, his brain had stopped working.
            When it was over, the fellow who'd come with One Gulp said that when he took One Gulp's shoes off for him, each shoe held a full bottle of beer.
            So in the end, One Gulp Zhen really did live up to what his mother had said: If he ever really did get drunk, he wouldn't be able to wake up.
            But how did his mother know?
                                                                                                             From Extraordinary People in our Ordinary World

2016 中国年度小小说第一页, Chinese Mini-Fiction 2016, Page 1
任晓燕,秦俑,赵建宇 选编 Compiled by Ren Xiaoyan, Qin Yong, Zhao Jianyu
Translated from, bottom of page 1
10. Repayment (还钱)

Liu Lang (刘浪)

            Liu Han lent Wang Chao fifty thousand Yuan six years ago. They agreed that the debt would be paid off at the end of that year. But at year’s end Wang Chao’s family was having some problems. He didn’t say anything about repaying the money, and Liu Han didn’t have the heart to bring the matter up.
            Wang Chao didn’t mention repayment at the end of the second year, either. Liu Han couldn’t stifle himself and said to Wang Chao, "Brother, about that fifty thousand Yuan you borrowed...."
            Before he could say any more, Wang Chao asserted, "Oh, yes, that matter. I haven’t forgotten. We were just having some problems last year, weren’t we, so the family didn’t have the wherewithal to pay.”
            By the end of the third year, Wang Chao still hadn’t paid back the money. Liu Han was a little annoyed and took the IUO to Wang Chao’s home. It was written right there in black and white, so Wang Chao couldn’t dodge it. He went out for most of the day, and when he came back he repaid Liu Han twenty-nine thousand Yuan. He said he’d run all over town borrowing money and that was all he could get.
            Liu Han could only take the money, sigh and go home.
            By the end of the fourth year, Wang Chao still hadn’t paid off the debt.
            By the end of the fifth year, the two men were no longer on speaking terms.
            This is the sixth year. Liu Han told his son, who has just graduated from college, "I lent money to Wang Chao before you started college. Now you’ve graduated but I still can’t get the money back.”
            "Don’t worry about it, Dad, I’ll think of something!”
            The next day, Wang Chao received a note from someone sent by Liu Han. That evening he paid back the money.
            This is what the note said:
            “Wang Chao, you’ve paid back twenty-nine thousand Yuan of the money you borrowed from me, so you still owe twenty thousand. Repay that amount within three days or I’ll see you in court!”

Translated from 浪不起来 Surf's Not Up, story 18
Also available from 文学论文 at, second story
11. Who Was Our "Old Section Leader" (谁是“老班长”)

Liu Lang (刘浪)

            Ten or so of us who had been high school classmates, and who now work in the Pearl River Delta, decided to have a reunion over the long May Day holiday. We chose a location in Shenzhen. Since our classmate Zou had started a business there and already had a net worth of over 10 million Yuan, he would naturally perform the "host’s duties" for this reunion.
            All of us arrived at the appointed restaurant on May second. Classmate Zou came driving a BMW, which left some of our male classmates feeling rather chagrined.
            At noon, the time came for us to put down our soft drinks and start drinking wine with our meal. Classmate Zou of course sat in the position of honor at the table. He spoke expansively about how he’d come to Shenzhen empty handed to make his fortune. His speech made us all take turns standing to propose toasts to him: “To Boss Zou,” and “To Manager Zou”.
            Classmate Wang was the last to stand: "To our old
Section Leader at school, I raise my glass!"
            Classmate Zou was quite surprised. "Section Leader? Was I a Section Leader?"
            Classmate Wang was holding his glass up. "You’re a Manager now. Why should you remember being a little Section Leader back then? It’s been nineteen years, after all. But even if you don’t remember, we do. Speak up, everyone! Was he a Section Leader back then?”
            Classmate Li said, "He was. Seems like it was our junior year."
            Classmate Zhang said, "You were really strict when you were Section Leader. One time I was reading a novel in my desk drawer and you confiscated it at once!”
            Several of the others echoed the thought.
            Classmate Zou looked confused. "How can my memory be so bad? I actually don’t have the slightest recollection of being Section Leader."
            Then we each stood up again to make a toast. "To our old Section Leader. We hope you’ll keep on being our leader, and if any of us have a problem, you’ll reach out a helping hand.”
            Classmate Zou said: "My classmates, as long as your Classmate Zou can do anything to help you out, he certainly will."
            When we were half drunk, Classmate Zou got a phone call and stood up. "I’m sorry, that was one of my leaders. I have to go. Everyone feel free to eat and spend the night. I’ll come back tomorrow and show you all around Shenzhen.”
            We escorted him out to the lobby. "You’re doing important business, now. We understand." We each said something similar. Then we shook hands and he took his leave.
            We went back to the private room and continued eating. I couldn’t hold back. "You’re all full of it. When was Zou ever our Section Leader?"
            Classmate Xu also said, "I was hesitant to say anything just now, but Zou was one of the most ill-behaved students when we were in high school, getting in fights, chasing girls and all that kind of stuff."
            Once the two of us got the ball rolling, the others each started remembering things. After everyone had had their say, we reached a unanimous conclusion: Those vivid recollections of some classmates just now were wrong. Zou not only hadn’t been our Section Leader; the last semester of our senior year, he’d been kicked out of school for tricking the campus darling into going to bed with him.
            We all also remembered that Classmate Wang had in fact been our Section Leader for more than two years. So why had he called Zou "our old Section Leader"?
            Everyone was puzzled and we all told Classmate Wang, "Your memory’s gone to the dogs. It should be you that we call old Section Leader."
            Classmate Wang was a bit high. He slurred his words as he spouted a bit of drunk talk. "Who cares about that academic stuff? Nowadays whoever has money is the Section Leader...."

Translated from 浪不起来 Surf's Not Up, story 28
Also available from囧历史移动版 at
12. Who Should’ve Won? (谁该得大奖)

Liu Zhongshan (刘忠山)

            A certain workplace held an awards ceremony at the end of the year. When the Unit Chief announced that the winner of this year’s 10,000 Yuan grand prize was Old Man Wang, the gate guard, the whole room suddenly went crazy.
            Noisy, the Office Manager, sitting below the dais, thought to himself, “I’ve been working my butt off this year. If I didn’t earn credits for good work I got credits for hard work. How come I couldn’t beat out the gate guard?” After the meeting, he felt compelled to go find the Chief and ask what he’d been thinking.
            The Chief squinted as he listened to Noisy’s complaint. Then he smiled and asked, "Do you remember when the electricity went out a month ago, Noisy?”
            Of course he did. The upstairs fire alarm had gone off right when the power went out. It made everyone on the floor run downstairs in a panic. As he thought about it, he said, “I remember. It was a system failure. But what does that have to do with Old Man Wang winning the grand prize?”
            "At the time,” the Chief answered, the Provincial Disciplinary Commission was here for an unannounced inspection. By a conservative estimate, no fewer than ten people in the unit were online playing games at the time. If they’d been caught, what consequences would our unit have had to face? Old Man Wang wanted to call to warn people that they were here, but it was too late. We were saved only thanks to his decisive action in turning off the electricity and pulling the fire alarm, but I couldn’t explain and had to say there was a system failure!”
            Noisy broke out in a cold sweat. In that case, it really was thanks to the old man that he himself hadn’t been caught in the unannounced inspection. He could have been sent to counseling, which would have been terrible, or he might even have lost his job! He not only had no reason to complain about the gate guard, in fact he should thank him, so one weekend he invited the old man out for drinks to show his gratitude.
            After a few drinks, Old Man Wang was a little bit the worse for wear. Noisy asked him, "Old fellow, how were you able to recognize the guys from the Disciplinary Commission in one glance, and then be decisive enough to shut off the power and pull the fire alarm? You’re really something!”
            The old man was bleary eyed. “To tell the truth.... I’ll tell you, it wasn't me, it was my cat. Somehow it jumped up on the desk that day and was playing around. It shut down the power and then hit the alarm switch. I was afraid the Chief would blame me, so I lied. I never thought he’d believe me and give me the grand prize! And on top of that, out of twenty people in the unit, counting the Chief, you’re the nineteenth to ask me out for drinks to say thanks!"

Translated from 分节阅读1, also available at 雄鸡春晓

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