4. Crisis Resolved
5. Soy Sauce Poet
6. Power of Suggestion
7. Tail

  8. Carpool
  9. How's Your Golf?
10. A "Fly"

Merry-Go-Round Stories (Page 5)

1. Work Experience
2. Unfortunate Pharmacist
3. Outrageous Farce

​​         Chinese Stories in English   

1. Work Experience (工作经验)
Cai Zhongfeng (蔡中锋)

      One year a young fellow named Little Zhao was assigned to our section. When Director Qian brought him over to report in, he made a special point of introducing the newcomer to me: "Old Sun has been in the organization over twenty years. He's one of the oldest comrades in the Department. Given his exceptionally rich experience, you really must make every effort to learn from him."
      Little Zhao shook my hand warmly as he listened to the Director. "I hope you'll take the time to teach me the ropes, Mr. Sun," he said. "I'm glad to be your student."
      After that, Little Zhao of course treated me with respect and often asked me questions.
      One time he asked how to be a good employee. I quite sincerely imparted to him the principles I'd garnered from experience. "You must take the work seriously and be diligent; study the knowledge you need for the job assiduously; strictly observe all the regulations and procedures; respect your colleagues and work to build solidarity; welcome the people sent here by our unit for whatever reason, and take care to be polite...." When I finished, Little Zhao said with a laugh, "You really do have a ton of work experience, Mr. Sun!"
      After some time, Little Zhao was lectured by a leader and asked me what to do, so I sincerely explained to him some of the little tricks I had learned about the job. "When you give a report of your work, besides talking about the things you accomplished, also mention some of the difficulties you had to overcome, so the leaders will remember your meritorious service; always sit in the front row in meetings, and be serious about taking notes, so the leaders will have a good impression of you; when you're doing an important job, make sure there are a lot of people around to see it, and it's best if you can ask a leader to be there, too…." When I finished, Little Zhao said with a laugh, "You really do have a ton of work experience, Mr. Sun!"
      Our Section Chief reached retirement age towards the end of this year. Given my work experience, I thought that my promotion to the position was assured. As it turned out, the one the leaders assigned to the job was the very young Little Zhao. How could that have happened? I wasn't able to figure it out.
      Then, one time when Little Zhao and I had both had a lot to drink, I couldn't stop myself from mentioning my puzzlement to him. "You really do have a ton of work experience," he said, "but it's all experience related to being a clerk...."

Translated from this site, also available here.
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2. The Unfortunate Pharmacist (倒霉的药剂师)

Translated into Chinese by Pang Qifan (庞启帆 编译)

      First thing when he got home, Mario found his wife crying, "What is it?" he asked.
      "It's the pharmacist," his wife said through her tears. "I called him this morning, called him several times, and he didn't answer. But what really got me was, when he finally did pick up, he insulted me in terrible language."
      Mario immediately drove to the pharmacy that his wife was talking about to demand an apology.
      The pharmacist smiled bitterly. "Please give me a minute of your time, sir, and let me explain," he said. "This morning my alarm clock broke, so I got up nearly an hour later than usual. I rushed to the garage without eating breakfast, but when I got there I realized I didn't have my keys. The car key was in my house so I had to break a window to go inside and get it. Then, because I was driving a little fast, a traffic cop gave me a speeding ticket. And then I had a flat tire when I was still three blocks away from my drug store."
      The pharmacist took a deep breath and continued, "I saw a lot of customers waiting for me when I finally got here. I opened the door and started to wait on them. And from the moment I entered the door, that damn phone was ringing constantly."
      He paused a moment, then said, "I got a roll of coins from the cash register drawer to make change for a customer, but I didn't get a good grip and the coins spilled all over the floor. I bent over to pick them up right away. All this time the phone kept ringing. When I'd got them all picked up, bang! I hit my head on the open cash register drawer. I stumbled back and fell into the drug rack. Half of the drugs on the rack fell on the floor. And the phone was still ringing. When I finally went to pick it up, it was your wife wanting to know how to use a rectal thermometer. Please believe me, sir, with God as my witness, what I said to your wife was just teaching her how to use a rectal thermometer. I never said anything to insult her.
      "What did you tell her about using a rectal thermometer?" Mario asked.
      "First, clean the anus. Second, disinfect the thermometer with alcohol. Third, put the thermometer along the anus and shove it up your...."

2015年中国幽默作品精选,关河悦选编,第307页
The Best of Chinese Humorous Writings, 2015, Guan Heyue, Anthologist, p. 307
Translated from
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_509ba96e0102vsav.html
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3. Outrageous Farce (极品的闹剧)

Horizon Visitor (涯客)

      Big Forest and Ice were a pair of young lovers.
      Once, after a company banquet, a group of seven or eight coworkers went to a nearby mall to walk around. Men generally take big steps and move fast, but the girls, they always lag behind.
      Ice squatted down and said, "I'm tired, can't go any further!" With her filthy mouth, she also added, "Bastard, you're bullying me 'cause my legs aren't as long as yours. You keep yelling at me to hurry up! Hey, Bro', you up there in the front, give me two yuan! I want to take a bus home."
      That put a damper on things. Everyone turned around and looked at Ice, wondering "What the hell is this kid doing?"
      Big Forest seemed to think it wouldn't be right to be angry. He went back and squatted by Ice. "Don't be like that, okay?" he said. "I'll carry you on my back and you'll be fine."
      The people around them were staring. Off to the side, a woman with big boobs was looking at Ice with a strange expression on her face. She was probably thinking, "This child's very neatly dressed, and she's been bullied enough by that boy. He's provoked her a lot. There's really not much wrong with her."
      Everyone was speechless. This sudden emergency was just too stupid.
      Big Forest stood right back up. He fished around in his pocket and pulled out four yuan in coins. He put them in Ice's hand and said, "Here's a bonus from your old man, four yuan, two more than you wanted, so you can get yourself a bottle of water."
      As he said this, a lot of the people who were watching moved slowly closer. Off to the side the woman with the big boobs got an even stranger look on her face and stared intently at Big Forest and Ice.... Without doubt, her expression was saying, "The girl's really hurt bad."
      Go figure. Big Forest and Iced looked at each other, sniggered, and then started laughing, "Ha ha ha ha...."
      Everyone was back in a good mood. They all laughed until their stomachs hurt.
      What a circus!

[闪小说]当代中国闪小说百家展(添加中)
Translated from
here, also available here, author 019, story 4
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4. Crisis Resolved (危机处理)

Liu Lang (刘浪)

      The company bit the bullet and spent 120,000 yuan to bring in an ultra-fine production grinder from Jiangsu. First they sent off a down payment of twenty thousand and the vendor sent the machine over. The whole company gathered around to look at the strange new thing. People often said that the powder we made wasn’t ground fine enough, but now it would be better. With this guy, we’d see what those nit-picking customers would say now.
      The installer who brought the machine completed the installation deftly, then tested it and found that everything was normal. Upon receipt of the Tech Manager’s confirmation, Financial issued a check for 100,000 yuan. As the installer was leaving, he said that the price included replacement parts and repair of defects for one year, provided they were not caused by human operation.
      A mishap occurred before three days were up. A new worker did something wrong – maybe he put the wrong material in the machine or maybe he screwed something else up – and the machine groaned and stopped working. Oh, no, 120,000 yuan! The Production Manager chewed the new guy out royally and the guy left that same evening without saying anything and without collecting his pay.
      We opened the machine to take a look, and we were all stunned: six of the ten blades had been bent back and broken off, and the bearings had gone bad with them. I heard that each blade cost over a thousand yuan. We looked back and forth at each other while the several Department Managers went into the General Manager's office with their heads down.
      Tech Manager: "Giving a new worker such an important post without training really made a mess of things!"
      Production Manager: "There was definitely a problem with the machine itself. The blades were no doubt substandard. Otherwise, why would they get ruined so easy?"
      Office Manager: "Why didn't you tell me first thing when the accident happened? I would've had Security detain that worker."
      Finance Manager: "We were in too much of a hurry to pay. We should've held back part of the payment at first, until machine was up and running."
      General Manager's Secretary: "Why's everyone so nervous. Aren't repairs warranted for a year?"
      Production Manager: "From Jiangsu to here, carfare expenses, food and lodging, and labor costs will add up to a large fee. Those people aren't fools."
      Tech Manager: "They have a clause in the contract, parts and repairs are warranted only if the problem wasn't caused by human operation. When they see those blades of yours, they'll know it was done by a human."
      Office Manager: "Lots of companies are as good as their word. They don't make empty promises!"
      Finance Manager: "Right, but it's a market economy now. It's hard to get anything done if you don't pay for it!"
      The General Manager didn't say a word. He picked up the phone. "Hello, Manager Wang, how are you! Yes, yes, it's me. That crusher you brought us last time really works well. I want to bring in another one. Send it to me in a couple of days. Can you do it cheaper? No? So be it. The old price, then, cash on delivery. No deposit, this isn't the first time we've done business...."
      The result was, after the new ultra-fine grinder was delivered, they sent back the old one, so they got a new grinder without paying a penny.

Translated from 浪不起来 Surf's Not Up, story 30.
No longer available online.
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5. Old Cai, the "Soy Sauce Poet" (“酱油诗人”老蔡)

Li Hongquan (李洪泉)

[Fannyi doesn't claim to be a poet. You'll have to read the Chinese to get the full flavor of this story.]
      Old Cai is the trade union officer for our unit. He’s dark-skinned and fat, and though he doesn’t look the part, he’s a scholar and literati who likes various styles of poetry. Whenever we told him the twaddle he wrote was really good, he always said, “Good or not, I’m just buying soy sauce!" That’s slang meaning it was no big thing, just something he did. Anyway, we called him the "soy sauce poet."

In Praise of Spring, A Song of Spring

      This spring, my circle of friends on WeChat sent out a lot of pictures and texts relating to the season. One coworker sent out a group of pictures from a springtime tour, to which she appended this short poem:
            "Chirping birds wake the willows from their dreams.
            "They explore new twigs and for mates they sing.
            "Nightingales and orioles on the branches,
            "Open their throats to sing the music of spring."
      Another coworker matched her with this poem:
            "Willows droop uncountable sprigs of green.
            "Peach blossoms open countless buds of red.
            "The days are warm, and the birds in flight sing.
            "A soft breeze goes to the traveler's head."
      The two poems were widely praised. Old Cai of course couldn't let such a golden opportunity pass. He added this poem:
            "You may praise the spring, and you may sing its songs,
            "But it seems to have brought more changes this year.
            "Look with a cold eye to take its measure,
            "It is ever this way in springtime, I fear.
            "You cannot say that it's different this time,
            "Inflation, its terrible head again rears.
            "In the market yesterday the shoppers found
            "That leeks were five bucks a bunch, I hear."
      WeChat got even wilder because of that.

Grandson Packs Grandson

      I joined a China Studies group on QQ. One day a guy with the screenname "Romantic Wit" popped up in the group. He claimed to "know everything there is to know about the five thousand years of Chinese history*, and ten thousand poems are a cinch for me." He also wrote that:
            "I rinsed my mouth in the Jinsha River,
            "The train on its track my leg did sever."
      He further posed the first line of a couplet which, he said, no one in "five hundred years could ever possibly" complete: "The Old One reads the Old One". He explained that the first "Old One" refers to himself, while the second refers the Taoist philosopher Laozi, who is known in China as the "Old One".
      I went to Old Cai for help. He thought a bit, then sent this doggerel to the guy in reply. It refers to Sun Tzu, the reputed author of the Art of War, who is known in China as the "Grandson".
            The Old One reads the Old One, the Grandson packs the Grandson.
            He respects the Old One in times of peace, when no one wants to pack the Grandson.
      A few minutes later, "Romantic Wit" bid farewell to the QQ group.
*[Fannyi –Strictly speaking, China's written historical record goes back about 3,000 years. The additional 2,000 years is based on oral tradition and archeology.]

2015年中国幽默作品精选,关河悦选编,第123页
The Best of Chinese Humorous Writings, 2015, Guan Heyue, Anthologist, p. 123
Translated from (substantially edited) version at
this site.
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6. The Power of Suggestion (心理暗示的效果)

Translated into Chinese by Zhang Wei (张维 编译)

      When the lady got home, she told her husband excitedly, "I'm so happy, Dear! Those headaches I've been suffering from the last few years have been cured!"
      The husband was quite surprised. "Really? How so?"
      "My good friend Maggie introduced me to a psychologist," his wife replied. "He used a new method, 'psychological suggestion', to treat me. He had me stand in front of a mirror all by myself, with my eyes wide open, and stare into my own eyes while repeating 'my head doesn't hurt, my head doesn't hurt….' I stood looking in a mirror like he taught me and said it over and over. Before long, it worked! My headache really was gone! See, this psychologist's 'psychological suggestion' therapy is so effective, the problem that's bothered me so many years was cured instantly!"
      "That's amazing!" said the husband.
      Seeing the look of astonishment on his face, she continued, "Dear, you know clearly, with the passage of time since the two of us got married, your passion has disappeared. We haven't had a love life for a long time, not even once. I think you should go see this psychologist and ask him to cure the problem of your unusual lack of ardor."
      The husband nodded in agreement with his wife's suggestion. He drove to the psychologist's clinic the next afternoon and didn't come home until it was almost time for dinner.
      After dinner, the husband couldn't wait and pulled his wife into the bedroom. He tossed her onto the bed and told her, "Lie there and don't move. I'll be right back." He turned and went into the bathroom. When he came out a few minutes later, he got into bed and had a romantic interlude with his wife. Afterwards, as the radiant wife lay there, she said, "That was great! I haven't had this feeling for a long time!"
      The couple went to bed early the next evening. As he had the previous night, the husband left his wife lying there while he spent some time in the bathroom, and was affectionate toward her when he came out.
      He followed the same procedure the third night. He had his wife lie on the bed while he went into the bathroom. But this time the wife's curiosity got the better of her. When her husband turned toward the bathroom, she snuck out of bed and followed him on tiptoes. She wanted to see what mischief he was up to in there.
      The husband walked into the bathroom. The wife saw him stand in front of the mirror, his eyes wide open, staring at his reflection while he repeatedly chanted, "She's not my wife. She's not my wife...."

2015年中国幽默作品精选,关河悦选编,第317页
The Best of Chinese Humorous Writings, 2015, Guan Heyue, Anthologist, p. 317
Translated from version at
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_62db798b0102vz1e.html
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
7. Tail (尾巴)

Zhang Yanxia (张艳霞)

      It was strange, what happened that day. A shabbily dressed man came and stood by the front door of our office building. He said he wanted to see the Director. Young Zhang, the Director’s secretary, went out to talk to him.
      “What business do you have with the Director?” Zhang asked him.
      "Of course I have business with the Director,” the man replied.
      Zhang called the Director’s extension and filled him in. The Director told his secretary to let the man use his phone. The man said something into the phone and, when Zhang took it back, the Director said, “Let him come in."
      The man went in.
      The man had been in the Director’s office for some time when Zhang walked by the door and heard the word "tail" indistinctly. After a bit longer, the Director called Zhang on his phone. "Go over to Finance,” he said, “and get a twenty thousand yuan advance for me."
      Before long, Zhang handed the Director an envelope filled with cash.
      The man came out of the Director’s office after a while and the Director personally escorted him to the front door. The man was holding in his hand the envelope that Young Zhang had just taken in to the Director. Zhang didn’t quite understand what he was seeing.
      Another day, a minor contractor called Boss Jiang came by the office to see the Director. He hadn’t undertaken any projects for the Department in a long time.
      Zhang called the Director’s extension and told him about the visitor. The Director had him give the phone to Boss Jiang. The man said something into the phone and the Director let him come into the office.
      Boss Jiang was in the office for a while, and when Zhang walked by, he again heard the word "tail" indistinctly. When Boss Jiang left a while later, the Director also personally escorted him to the door.
      A month later, the Department determined which company had won the bid for a project. The Director had overridden dissenting opinions and Boss Jiang got the contract without further ado.
      Once again, Zhang didn’t quite understand what he’d seen.
      Zhang was depressed during this period. What about? He’d been serving the Director diligently and conscientiously for years, but when the Department handed out promotions, he never got his.
      One day Zhang came into the office with his head hanging down. When the Director saw how listless his secretary looked, he really chewed the young man out. This made Zhang even more depressed.
      Zhang recalled that the shabby man and Boss Jiang had both mentioned the word "tail". After thinking it over, he knocked on the Director's door and went in.
      The Director was smoking a cigarette. His face was stiff as a board as he looked at Zhang and said, "What is it?"
      Zhang plucked up his courage and said, "I know about your tail, Director." The Director's face suddenly started to show nervousness.
      Zhang was surprised when, for the first time, the Director offered him something to drink. "Tell me, Zhang, what're you thinking?" The Director asked.
      Zhang's heart was still thumping. "I, I'd like a promotion, Director!"
      The Director nodded and said, "Well, that won't be a problem." He also leaned close to Zhang's ear and said, "Just remember to keep the secret for me!"
      A month later, Zhang got an unprecedented promotion to Deputy Office Director.
      That night Zhang had a lot to drink. He patted his head and tried to think. "Does the Director really have a tail? He said he wanted me to keep it secret. Maybe the Director isn't fully evolved...."

[Fannyi – It's not what you know, it's what they think you know. ]

http://wenku.baidu.com/view/afba0c4508a1284ac85043f5, second story
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
8. The Carpool (拼车)

Zhao Qingchuan (赵清川)

      The continual raises in oil prices have brought a new term into our vocabulary – carpool. In point of fact, Little Sun has just given in to the pressure of rising gas prices and posted an ad for a carpool on the internet.
      Three young women responded to his post before long. They each lived near him and worked for a company not far from his, so negotiations for the carpool went smoothly. His terms were: the three girls would take turns buying him gas.
      Just as Little Sun settled on terms with the three girls, a fat, middle-aged woman joined the party. She wanted in the carpool, but Little Sun didn’t want to let her in. He was worried that, if she joined in, her “tonnage” would cause him to waste gas instead of saving it. Further, the fat lady would occupy a large part of his car’s interior.
      He didn’t want to offend the fat lady, so he asked her and the three young girls to get together for a meeting to vote on whether she would get to join the carpool. The result of the vote was that she would not be allowed to carpool in Little Sun’s car.
      Accordingly, from that day forward the three young girls rode with Little Sun to and from work every day. In the mornings he dropped them off at their company’s front door, and in the evenings he picked them up at the same place.
      On the other hand, the fat lady was angry that she hadn’t been accepted in the carpool. She stewed about it and cooked up some gossip. The stories eventually made their way to Little Sun’s company. People started to notice his car with the three young girls in it, and pointed their fingers at the back of the car as it went by. Little Sun was concentrating on his driving, so he didn’t see that people were pointing at him.
      Some time later, the head of Little Sun’s company got wind of the gossip. After he’d heard several of these off-color stories he felt he needed to have a talk with Little Sun.
      The boss took a sip of tea and sat back in his executive chair. He glanced at his computer screen and hemmed and hawed a bit before saying, “Our company has always attached importance to training in political ideology, cultivation of moral integrity, and…. and self- cultivation. Uh, this, now, people are talking about you.... You come in with those girls in your car every day, it doesn’t make a good impression...." When he finished speaking, he took another sip of tea.
      As Little Sun listened, he understood immediately what was happening. He hurried to explain to the boss, "It’s the latest thing, boss. Those three girls and I, I’ve joined together with them….”
      “Paw!” The boss spit out the sip of tea he’d just taken when he heard that. It sprayed all over his computer screen. "What? You’ve joined together with them? One would have been enough, but three? Three! Three!...."

文学100, http://www.wenxue100.com/baokan/32607.thtml
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9. How's Your Golf? 高尔夫打得怎么样?

Higashino Keigo (东野佳语)
Translated from Japanese into Chinese by Yu Lili (译 玉丽丽)

[This is the first section of a short story 'The Man in the Legend 传说中的男人', which in turn is the first story in a collection entitled 'Wry Humor 歪笑小说. Since all or most of the author’s works have been translated into Chinese, Fannyi assumes he is fairly popular in China. Many of his books have also been translated into English, but Fannyi is not aware of any translations of this story. Transliterations of Japanese names herein are WAGs, i.e., Wild _ Guesses. ]
      Aoyama was pleased when he was assigned to the book publishing department. Because of his love of whodunits, it was something he’d dreamed about since early childhood. He’d never thought about becoming a novelist, but he liked to dig up interesting mysteries and recommend them to others, and then exchange views of the stories with them. It was his ultimate joy.
      While he was still trying to get his bearings on the first day he stepped into the company he’d dreamed about for such a long time, a thin man came up to him and asked, “May I help you?”
      Aoyama introduced himself and explained why he was there. The fellow nodded, understanding showing on his face. "So you’re Aoyama? I heard you were coming. Our superiors have arranged for you to come with me. I’ll show you the ropes."
      The man, whose surname was Shohokai, looked to be a straight-forward fellow, and Aoyama breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you for showing me around," he said, and bowed deeply.
      "Let's go over to where the Editor-in-Chief is."
      "Ah, OK." Aoyama got a little nervous. "The Editor-in-Chief, is that the legendary Mr. Raionto?"
      Shohokai stopped and turned to look at him. His eyes seemed to sparkle. "Sure is.”
      "I’ve heard tell that he’s had some super bestsellers."
      Shohokai shook his head. "Not just some, a few hundred!"
      Aoyama had nothing to say to that. What kind of magician was this guy, anyway? He couldn’t help feeling a little fearful at the thought of meeting him.
      "It doesn’t matter. When he’s around people who aren’t writers, he’s just a regular guy." Shohokai smiled broadly.
      Aoyama was led to a smoking room. A short-haired man wearing glasses was in there alone, smoking. He was a burly fellow and his suit was obviously a bit too small.
      "Mr. Raionto, this is Mr. Aoyama, who has just been assigned to our department.”
      Aoyama acknowledged Shohokai’s introduction and said, “At your service.”
      With his chubby fingers still pinching a cigarette, Raionto looked Aoyama over. "Did you play any sports when you were a student?”
      "Sports? I played volleyball a few days when I was in junior high.... but I gave it up after a few days.”
      "Ah, volleyball." A regretful look crossed Raionto’s face. "Are you good at ball games? Well, how’s your golf game?"
      "Uh, golf?”
      "Yes. This." Raionto put the cigarette in his mouth and let it dangle while he made a motion like swinging a golf club.
      "Oh, uh…." Aoyama scratched his head. "I’ve never played."
      "Really? Well, you’ll get some special training starting today."
      "Huh?"
      "I know a cheap practice venue. You take him, Shohokai. I’ll arrange it with the professional golfer who’s been responsible for the technique training. Uh, also, you’ll have to buy golf clothes and shoes as soon as possible, Aoyama. I’ll let you have my clubs. They’re a little old, is all."
      “That, uh, just a moment, please. Why do you want me to play golf?”
      Raionto didn’t seem to quite understand what Aoyama was asking. He blinked his eyes rapidly. “Why? Starting today, you’re a member of our department, right?”
      "Yes, I was assigned to the book publishing department."
      "Then," Raionto said, "you must play golf."
      “Huh?"
      "Shohokai, you tell Aoyama about the teacher, Mr. Hitasen." That said, Raionto took out his phone. It appeared that he'd received a call. "Yes, this is Raionto. I'm more indebted to you than ever for your consideration. I was just thinking of asking you for your opinion, Teacher.... I wasn't lying to you, every sentence was the truth. This work of yours is a masterpiece, Teacher. I was honored to read it. For a long time after I finished reading, I felt at a loss because there wasn't more…. What's that? No I'm certainly not a flatterer. I really was overwhelmed by emotion, shaken to the core.... What? Go to Ginza for a drink? Great, I'd be glad to accompany you any time."
      Raionto walked away, speaking loudly into the phone.
      Aoyama felt lost, like the monk who was too tall to scratch his own head.
      Shohokai pulled a piece of paper out of his breast pocket. "This is for you."
      "What is it?"
      "Read it and you'll know."
      Aoyama took the paper and unfolded it, and was startled by what he saw. On it was written: "Announcing the launch of the twenty-first Golf and Music Concert with Teacher Hitasen Sonoshita...." Aoyama couldn't help but be startled when he saw the name Hitasen Sonoshita. He was the leading scholar of modern popular literature.
      [Fannyi – The following is only in the book]
      "Is this right? Mr. Raionto and I are both listed as participants."
      "Yes, that's right. I hurt my back, so I asked to have you go in my place. Mr. Soji will participate as well. You need to get going if you want to be ready in time."
      "Uh, I'm going?"
      "This Friday. Please.

歪笑小说, 第一页,南海出版公司,责任编辑 张锐
Translated from Chinese text at 北京微梦创科网络技术有限公司
here.
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10. A "Fly" (一只“苍蝇”)

Horizon Visitor (涯客)

      Everybody was sitting at a round table, drinking and eating with gusto. They’d had three rounds of drinks, and five different dishes had been brought to the table.
      "There's a fly in the grilled chicken!" someone screamed.
      Everyone was too embarrassed to speak. Those with delicate stomachs felt like throwing up. Then they all pounded on the table and shouted, “Such a classy restaurant, what happened to your health standards? If this doesn’t take the cake!”
      Could they be trying to beat the check? Could there really be a fly in the food? That was the central issue!
      The waitress with the beautiful smile wasn’t smiling now. She rushed over and scrutinized the chicken. "It’s a piece of chopped green onion that got burned because the heat was so high.”
      The chef was flustered and walked over quickly. “The heat was really fierce. It’s a bit of vegetable matter that got scorched.”
      The manager rushed over when he saw the crowd was starting to boo. "It's some kind of condiment that got burned.”
      "Hey, ladies and gentlemen, don’t form an opinion until you’ve seen it clearly." Everyone flung their heads back in anger.
      "Do you have a health permit?" the crowd roared. They were really angry and looking for something to rebut the restaurant staff’s interpretations.
      "Quiet, please. Quiet! I’m the boss. Let me identify it. I’ll certainly give you all an explanation!" The crowd parted and the boss walked through, gesturing as he went.
      Everyone stared at him with questioning eyes. Let’s see how he gets out of this.
      The boss snapped up a pair of chopsticks and turned the "fly" over. “Heh. heh,” he laughed. "Chef, when you add dried peppers to the stir-fry for flavor, a mild flame can be used. Cut the dried peppers into small pieces before you add them to the wok so there’ll be no doubt that the size is different from a fly’s when they see a scorched bit. What’s the use of giving customers the wrong impression?!"
      "Yes, I’ve got it. I’ll be more careful next time. I’ll be more careful next time." The chef’s head bobbed like a chicken pecking at grains of rice.
      The waitress and the manager also said “yes” over and over.
      "Thanks to everyone for your understanding, and thank you all for joining us this evening! Even though there was no problem with this dish, we’ll serve you another – for free! On me!" When the boss finished speaking, he picked up the “fly” with his chopsticks and popped it straight into his mouth in one smooth move. "The peel of a pepper, yes, a flake of pepper peel. A touch of spiciness; high heat and a peppery flavor!"
      "Uh...." Everyone was speechless. They looked at each other in a commotion with open mouths and tongues hanging out. 
      Was it a fly? Was it a flake of pepper skin? Really – There was no way to know now!
      Everyone quieted down.
      The boss wiped the sweat from his brow with his hand and headed slowly toward the bathroom....

点亮天涯
http://blog.tianya.cn/blog-3471548-2.shtml, second story (after essay)




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