1. An Especially Effective Weight-Loss Treatment (特效减肥药)
Text by Chen Qiumei (陈秋梅)

      I got laid off three years ago, and now I've set my sights on promoting a "weight-loss and beauty center" in the city. For one thing I'm slender and fair-skinned, a regular walking advertisement for such a place. For another, I've put my hopes for making money on my peers, women over 30. This is a group who are strong economically and who fear the passing of youth, women who earn so much money that they never run out.
      Business was surprisingly good from the start. In one year I made back my investment. It seemed like every one of my sisters who walked in the door got slender and beautiful, and that made me happier than the money I was earning. Recently, though, one thing has been giving me headaches. It's the first time I've run into this situation since I opened the place.
      It's the wife of a Bureau Chief. Someone recommended that she come to my shop to lose weight, but no matter what I've tried over the last three months, she's so stubborn that she hasn't lost even a pound. This lady is over 40 years old, with soft white skin, but she's just too fat – she's around 5"2' tall and weighs 176 pounds.
      Bottom line, she's the wife of a Bureau Chief – extremely bad tempered. She accused this shop of mine of being a scam. I kept a smile on my face and told her, "I'll definitely think of something." I knew that her success at losing weight, or lack thereof, would have a huge effect on whether I'd be able to continue in business.
      One Sunday I was at home doing some research. Just when I started feeling over-wrought at being so busy, one of my best friends from college came over to visit. She seemed to be in poor spirits and said her husband had betrayed her. I wasn't surprised at all – how many men in this modern society stay true to one wife?
      I advised her to keep an open mind, but she said it was different this time. He'd found himself an unmarried woman and would want a divorce. "Look how skinny I've gotten," she cried. She really had lost her love handles.
      I jumped for joy. "I've found a good way to lose weight!" I was so excited I forgot where this good idea had come from. I decided right then that I would use this trick to get the Bureau Chief's wife to lose weight.
      I made an appointment to have her come in to the weight-loss center. "I've heard," I told her mysteriously, "that someone learned the Bureau Chief is keeping a little secretary.* And what's more, she intends to 'rob the castle'."
      For a while, there was an obvious drop in the number of times she came to the weight-loss center. She always said she didn't have any free time whenever I called to make an appointment for her. After three months, I saw someone at the farmers' market who looked a lot like her, but who was very slim. I went up to her and said happily, "It really is you, Ma'am! Your weight-loss program is really working, now!"
      "Yes, it is." She smiled very awkwardly.
      I was secretly quite pleased. It seemed that my plan had been a success.
      Watching TV after dinner, I learned that the Bureau Chief had been "double tracked".** The reason was, not only had he been taking care of 5 "concubines", but he'd also taken bribes approaching ten million yuan. The thought struck me: Does this mean that my "especially effective weight loss treatment" had dug up a really big worm?
[Fannyi's notes:
*"Little secretary" refers to a pretty young woman hired as an official's personal assistant for reasons other than her typing skills.
**"Double tracking" is an extra-judicial system for disciplining wayward Party cadres (or at least those who have fallen out of favor).

Translated from 分节阅读10, also available at http://www.scimao.com/read/1051092
2. The Mayor's Painting (市长的画)

by Phoenix (凤凰)

      Liu Yong was a thief. He'd always been a petty thief and never had a big score, although he dreamed about it.
      One day someone told him that the Mayor could paint. Not only could he paint, but he was good at it. His paintings sold for between one hundred and two hundred thousand Yuan.
      Liu's heart started to itch when heard that, thinking how great it would be if he could get his hands on one of the Mayor's paintings. With that in mind, he started to ask around about the Mayor's home, and within just two days he'd learned something. He'd found out where the Mayor lived. But he was stymied, because it was a gated community and he wouldn't be able to get in. Even if he dressed up as a garbage collector or maintenance man, he still couldn't get in the community, let alone into the Mayor's home.
      While Liu was stewing about this, the city decided to hold a painting and calligraphy exhibition. Liu's eyes squinted in laughter when he heard the news. The Mayor's home might be inaccessible, but he could go to the exhibition when they held it, and that would give him his chance.
      Before long the exhibition opened in the Cultural Plaza downtown. A whole lot of people came to see the artwork, a virtual human sea. There were a lot of cops as well, of course, to maintain order and protect the paintings. Liu Yong spent a day casing the place, and on the second day, he succeeded in stealing one of the Mayor's paintings.
      It was a landscape, and after Liu stole it, he spent some time admiring it. Of course it was beautiful, you couldn't say enough about it. He thought he'd be able to get over two hundred thousand for it. This time he'd struck it rich! His eyes squinted in laughter.
      That night Liu took the redeye bus to the provincial capital. There was an art market there, where he'd be able to get the best price for it.
      In the morning, he hurried to take the painting straight to the market. The shopkeeper greeted him with a smile when he walked into the first store with it. But when Liu showed him the painting, the shopkeeper shook his head and said he wouldn't buy it.
      "Do you know who painted this?" Liu asked. The shopkeeper smiled and said he did, and that was precisely why he wouldn't buy it. When Liu insisted that it was very valuable, the shopkeeper said that, in his eyes, it wasn't worth a penny. Seeing how the shopkeeper felt about it, Liu took the painting and left. There's so many shops here, he thought, he didn't need to waste his time nattering with someone who didn't know the value of things.
      Liu took the painting into another store and was again greeted by a smiling shopkeeper. He presented the painting with confidence, but this shopkeeper also needed only one glance before shaking his head to say no.
      Liu told the man that it had been painted by a mayor and was very valuable. The shopkeeper said he knew it was a mayor's work, but it wasn't worth anything and he wouldn't buy it, and further, that no one thereabouts would. When Liu asked why, the shopkeeper told him that it was valuable only in his own city, and outside of that city it was worthless.
      As he listened to the shopkeeper's explanation, Liu came to an understanding: A mayor was the leader of only one city, and only in that city would people recognize the value of his paintings.
      So Liu returned to his own city with the painting. Of course he didn't dare go parading around from shop to shop to promote the painting as the Mayor's work. Instead, he got the phone numbers of several collectors.
      First he called a well-known collector named Zhang. He said he had one of the Mayor's paintings in his possession and asked if Zhang was interested. Zhang guessed that was the Mayor's stolen landscape and declined. Liu suggested that the price was negotiable, but Zhang said it wasn't a matter of price, that the painting simply had no value as a collectable item.
      Liu called several other collectors but none of them wanted the painting. They all said it was worthless as a collector's item. Liu was quite dismayed. If he couldn't sell the painting, he wouldn't get rich.
      He thought about it for several days and finally figured it out. The reason the Mayor's paintings are valuable is that people want the mayor to do something for them. The collectors didn't need anything from the mayor and only recognized the value of the painting as art, so in their eyes, it was worthless. But in the hands of a person who wanted a favor from the mayor, it would indeed be valuable.
      Right away, Liu set about getting the phone numbers of several influential people. First he contacted a businessman named Niu, and told him he had possession of one of the mayor's paintings, but Niu said he was already too late. When Liu asked what he meant, Niu told him that the mayor was on the way out, and once he was gone, no one would buy his paintings!
      Liu was stymied. It seemed that the painting wasn't worth anything. He decided to store it and wait to see what might happen. In the meantime, he kept his eye on the Mayor's career.
      When the Mayor went to another city to be the Party Secretary, Liu was delighted. The Mayor had been promoted, and that was great, because his paintings would be worth more.
      Liu took the painting to that city. He figured, with a new administration in office, there would doubtlessly be a lot of people who wanted to curry favor with the Party Secretary. He got the phone number of an official and called to say he had a painting by the city's new Party Secretary, and asked if he wanted to buy it.
      "Of course I'd want to buy a painting by the Party Secretary," the official replied, "but not from you! I'd have to buy it direct from the Party Secretary himself before it would do me any good!" Liu was stunned. In his hands, this painting really was just a piece of scrap paper!

2012中国年度幽默作品,《喜剧世界》杂志社选片,丁斯主编, 第212页
Translated Version from
3. Getting the Bill (埋单)

Xie Qing (解青)

      Several of us high school classmates meet every year on the sixth day of the Spring Festival. This is our fifth consecutive year. Actually, we’d all gone our separate ways after we graduated, and lost touch with each other. But once at a reunion we agreed to invite our Class Advisor, a teacher named Ms. Wen, to get together with us every year on that day.
      I remember the first year. Ms. Wen suggested that we’d save money by going to her home, and have a better time, too. Classmates who had been separated for over twenty years pitched in to make dumplings and stir-fry together. We did a whole table-full of goodies.  Seeing each other again after such a long time, we talked and laughed and had a ball. That not-so-very-big room in Ms. Wen’s house was filled with the sounds of friendship….
      The second year some of the guys suggested that going to a restaurant would be less trouble. Ms. Wen reluctantly agreed. When the bill came each of us tried to pay and eventually our class president got it.  At the time I was aware that he had taken an early retirement and was on an 800-Yuan pension.
      The third year Ms. Wen said we should go to a restaurant again, but Dutch treat, and we all agreed. A relaxed meal and interesting conversation for 100 Yuan each….
      The fourth year someone told our “class clown,” Yu Deli, about it.  He’d become an Assistant Director in the Power Supply Department. When he heard about the party he came over with two bottles of expensive booze. Some of the women shouted that he should treat us. He patted his prosperous belly and said: “No problem, it’s trifling”, then barked out an order for a “seafood banquet” more expensive than our two previous dinners together. When the bill came Ms. Wen smiled and said “Deli, who made you such a Big Man, paying this bill?” Deli waived it off and pulled out a Department Voucher. “Waitress, the check.” Ms. Wen wasn’t too happy.
      “Deli, when classmates have a party, the food isn’t the important thing. It’s getting together and chatting. You really shouldn’t use public funds.
I think I should foot the bill this time.” Seeing that she was angry Yu Deli quickly said, “Give me a break this time, Ms. Wen, please, just this once.”
      At this year’s party, besides the regulars, Yu Deli dragged along Ma Wanliang, who had been a member of the Athletic Committee at our school. We soon learned that Ma was Captain of the Upper District Urban Control Police. From the moment he arrived he complained that we hadn’t told him about our get-togethers, then volunteered: “I’ll get the bill for this banquet.” We all cried out and Ms. Wen admonished him: “Wanliang, you can get the bill, but no vouchers.”
      Ma saw what she was getting at and replied, “No problem, Ms. Wen, I guarantee I won’t use public funds.” “That’s about the size of it.” Ms. Wen looked meaningfully at Yu Deli as she said this…. In an instant we all started talking and laughing, chatting about anything and everything: how late the spring was, the financial crisis, stocks, prices, our kid’s educations, all were topics of our dinner conversation….
      “Wanliang, it’s getting late, time to ask for the check,” Ms. Wen prompted. “At your service!” Ma left our private room with his cell phone in hand. Ms. Wen was concerned and asked me to go watch, to see if he was paying by voucher. I went into the passageway just as he was making a phone call. “Wang Section,” he yelled at the top of his voice. “How’d the raid go today? How many did you get for putting up illegal ad posters? What, only three? OK, we’ll just fine ‘em. Pick one to come and find me in the VIP room of Seafood City, across from Peace Plaza, to pay a bill for me.”
      A typical looking peddler with disheveled hair appeared at the door after a bit. “Is Captain Ma here,” he asked, quaking in his boots. No one except me knew what was going on when Ma Wanliang forked a piece of watermelon into his mouth, got up and headed for the cashier’s desk with the peddler….
      My classmates were a little flushed from the wine at the time, but the conversation was still lively. They still had lots to talk about as they finished the meal, eating fruit and drinking tea…. Only I sat there like a dummy, looking at the leftovers on the table, thinking about the scene I’d just witnessed. “Next year I’m going to get the bill,” I promised myself.

文章来源: 北京晚报 Originally published in the Beijing Evening News, republished at http://www.china.com.cn/culture/weekend/2009-02/12/content_17266546.htm
4. A Nose Discusses the Sense of Smell (鼻子谈嗅觉)


      Ladies and gentlemen, I am your nose. I grow in the most prominent position on your face. If you admire yourself in the mirror, you will see that I am the center of the five senses, the central beam of your face that adds much to your handsomeness or beauty. That's why, since ancient times, people have used the phrases "straight nose and square mouth" and "pillar of jade reaching the sky" to describe a dignified appearance.
      Of course, aside from appearance, the thing that concerns most people is my performance. Some people, when they have the sniffles, or a cold, or sinusitis, or nasal congestion, complain that I'm an "orifice with many afflictions", but this just shows how important I am to breathing. Do you know why the sound of singers' voices makes one want to listen? It's because, in addition to having special singing voices, they also maintain and make the most effective use of their noses. It's my resonance that adds beauty to a melody.
      However, my most important talent is something that people generally overlook – the olfactory function. People consider the sense of smell much less important than the senses of sight and hearing. One often hears people say, "It's no problem if the nose can't smell!" Or worse, they think "It'd be better if you couldn't tell the difference between good smells and stinky ones!" This is an idiotic notion, but doesn't it give rise to a lot of lessons?
      A certain one of my owners started out by losing the sense of smell on one side of his nose. He wasn't aware of it until he couldn't smell anything on either side. He still didn't care, but eventually cancer was found in his brain near the olfactory sphere. Then he suddenly realized he had a problem, but it was already too late.
      For another of my owners, as soon as a tumor appeared in the temporal lobe of his cerebrum, I used hallucinations of bad odors to warn him. He didn't think anything of it, and eventually the brain tumor took his life.
      Experts point out that a loss of sensitivity to bad odors is an early indicator of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases in almost all cases. There are even people who believe that some dementias are caused by a virus which enters the brain through me.
      That's right. There's only one partition between the nasal cavity and the brain, and it's no more than a porous sieve. My nasal olfactory receptors are located in the top of the nasal cavity, below the sieve. Their olfactory cells are a double layer of nerve cells. The layer which protrudes outward is called the olfactory dendrite and has rounded ends called olfactory vesicles. Many odor-sensing hairs called olfactory cilia stick out from them.
      The inner layer of olfactory cells consists of axons. They extend through apertures in the sieve and into the brain where they connect with second-level sensory nerve cells in the olfactory sphere. They can send olfactory stimuli directly to the central nervous system.
      My sensitivity to olfactory sensations has long been known. People can smell musk with a concentration of just a hundred millionth of a milligram per liter of air. Nevertheless, the high level of my ability to discriminate various other odors has only been brought to light in recent years. Two researchers at Columbia University have found that humans can smell more than ten thousand different odors.
      The magic is in those olfactory cells and olfactory cilia. A large number of micro-receptors made of proteins are distributed on these structures. Each micro-receptor is only responsible for collecting the type of odor molecules with which it is compatible. This corresponds to the capillaries in the ear which distinguish between and receive different frequencies of sound waves. Humans in the past have only made use of the ear's ability to appreciate music, and have not yet been able to fully and consciously appreciate the joys of the nose's ability to experience aromas. That's truly a shame.
      Of course, some smart people have occasionally used my special features to attain "heaven shattering" results. It's said that, the year when Maotai liquor was first put on a display shelf at an international alcoholic beverages exhibition, it was received coolly because its packaging was so crude. Then, after several days, a clever operator deliberately let a stack of bottles of the liquor slide to the ground, where they broke to pieces. Within seconds the aroma of the liquor had spread all around, stimulating the educated smell receptors of the attendees at the exhibition. They differentiated the fragrant elegance of Maotai from the countless other wines there, and its fame spread far and wide.
      Recent studies have further confirmed that my differentiation of pheromones is as sensitive as ever. The term "pheromones" refers to chemical substances secreted by special glands, through which information is exchanged between individuals by means of the sense of smell. They have a particularly important impact on the sexual behavior of mammals. It was previously believed that the human sense of smell has degraded. But at a recent seminar on pheromones in Paris, many scholars argued persuasively that humans still have a built-in ability to detect pheromones. This function of mine just may be the invisible bond at the root of family intimacy, family harmony and spousal love.
      The most interesting thing is that more and more people in recent years have begun to make use of me in the collection and dissemination of various odors, directly impacting human behavior. They use the scent of mint to focus people's energy; and the scent of vanilla to ease the tension of patients on the operating table.
      The Japanese companies Shiseido and Kajima Construction have developed an aromatic preparation that can ease on-the-job tensions. The principals of these companies can be considered to know my temperament well. They use a dose of some fragrance to seduce me, to make my owner go all out to serve them without knowing the meaning of fatigue.
      The executives of America's General Motors use another kind of fragrance to desensitize me so that my owner, a driver, can concentrate fully on driving the vehicle and avoid accidents.
      None are more interested in me than proprietors in the perfume business. They devise ways to uncover the mysteries of my sense of smell, and dream of penetrating the natural disposition of my every olfactory cell to develop products tailored to the characteristics of my micro-receptors.
      I think the day when humans will fully mobilize their olfactory abilities to achieve higher levels of pleasure and enjoyment is not too far away.

Translated from this version, also published here and here.
5. Blood (血)

Zhou Hailiang (周海亮)

      They hid in the deep underbrush for two full days. Their home was nearby but they couldn't get to it. They couldn't even leave the brush – heavily armed soldiers all over the woods wouldn't let any activity get by.
      Because they were terrified.
      They were terrified, so they had to kill all the people; they were still more terrified because they were people. In the past they'd never even seen cows or sheep or pigs or chickens get killed, but they came here fighting – they came fighting, and villagers who were full of life became corpses in an instant. Corpses piled up on the village threshing ground like dead cows, sheep, pigs and chickens. They turned the hard ground into a bloody swamp, and then turned the swamp into a hard, bloody scab. Flies circled and swooped and feral dogs swarmed around, and the stench of decay filled the air. The place was covered with severed limbs, hair, body-less skulls, twisted intestines....
      The brother looked at his older sister. I'm hungry, he said.
      Quiet. His sister covered his mouth.
      I'm hungry. His voice squeezed out from between her fingers.
      Deal with it. She covered his mouth with both hands.
      There was no way he could take any more. He saw a bullet split the sun, and the sun exploded with a bang into tiny fragments, dark green, purplish black, sickly white, deep blue, drifting, floating. A green eye was hidden among the fragments, with a red drop of blood hidden in the eye, and a gray bullet hidden in the blood. And he saw his dead mother and father – half of his father's head was missing, and his mother was dragging the legs that she'd lost. They helped each other as they came up to him and gently caressed his bald crown. His mother smiled broadly as she pulled apart a piece of bread that had been baked to a golden brown, and gave the pieces to him and his sister. He shut his eyes tight, and when he opened them his mother and father were gone. The golden sun dropped behind the trees, and a foxtail swayed back and forth.
      I'm hungry. He licked his deeply chapped, bloody lips as he spoke, and heard a sound like sandpaper grinding clay tiles.
      She pushed his head down.
      There's food at home. In the pot, he said, a chunk of bread.
      Just hang on a little longer....
      I'm going home. He pushed sister's hand away.
      She grabbed him and hugged him tight. She was hot as fire, and a string of white blisters had been baked onto her lips. The blisters made a pop-bang sound as they ruptured, and it seemed like she was drying up and going to explode.
      I'm going home. He said, I want to eat the bread and get something to drink....
      He ended up staying in the bushes while his sister crawled out. She emerged slowly, like a flat leech sticking close to the ground. He counted to thirty and she crawled a bit, and he counted back down to one before she crawled forward a bit more. She was a chameleon, the colors and patterns on her body fluctuating constantly, blending in with the rocks and weeds beside her so that it was hard to tell one from the other. She crawled to the threshing ground, made smooth as ice by the blood congealing there, and climbed over the huge pile of corpses. She pulled someone's black and blue intestines away from her neck. She was appalled but didn't make a sound....
      He dozed off, and when he woke up to a purple sunset, his sister was still crawling, looking purple herself; He dozed again and woke up in the gray twilight, and his sister, still crawling, was gray, too; He dozed, and woke up in the silvery moonlight, and his sister, still crawling, was silvery; He dozed and was abruptly wakened by the sound of gunfire. First one burst, followed closely by three more, and after the four bursts of gunfire the deathly silence returned to the woods. He craned his neck and saw the moon, like a paper-cut silhouette, and later the paper-cut silhouette of the sun.
      He climbed out of the bushes around noon, sticking close to the ground like his sister had, and he smelled the fishy, salty odor of blood from deep in the dirt. He counted from one to twenty and crawled forward a bit, then counted back down to one and crawled a bit more. He crawled over the corpses. They were piled high, but he almost couldn't find any there that were complete. He saw his father and mother, for real this time, but all he saw was one of his father's arms and one of his mother's legs, and he climbed over them. He was starving, and dying of thirst, and was too terrified to grieve for them.
      He crawled, and he saw his home. He crawled, and he crossed over the high threshold. He crawled, and he saw his sister, older than him but still young. She had died with her eyes wide open and one hand protecting her chest. He crawled, and rolled over his sister, He crawled into the room, but he didn't find any bread.
      He drank enough water to slake his thirst and returned to the courtyard. He turned his sister over and saw the golden brown bread. It had been tucked in the pit of his sister's stomach and had four round bullet holes in it. He grabbed the bread and took a bite, and then another, and another. The bread calmed him and comforted him – he chewed it and tasted the fishy taste of blood.
      His sister's blood. The bread was soaked in it, which made it first soft and then hard. It glistened like pottery in the ultraviolet rays of the midday sun. He held the bread and kept eating, eating, eating, eating. He ate every last bit, not leaving a crumb.

Mini-Stories about War, http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4bc9df890102duyu.html
5. The Leader's Problems were My Problems (领导有难就是我有难)

Xu Junsheng (徐均生)

      I'm thinking of the old days. Whenever the leader had a problem, the first person he'd look for was me. I'd just passed the test for a civil service job back then, and I was in love, too.
      The leader called me into his office. Without preliminaries, he said, "Young Xu, I'd like to ask you a favor."
      At that time, whenever a leader spoke like that to me, I'd get very serious and say, "Please tell me. I'll do whatever I can."
      Very calmly, the leader said, "It's like this. My cousin is pregnant, but she can't have another one. I'd like to ask you to go to the hospital with her. You understand?"
      Of course I understood. The leader wanted me to take his cousin to the hospital for an abortion.
      Honestly, though, I was a little reluctant. It's not a very good thing to do, after all. But I'd already told him I'd do whatever he wanted, and I couldn't take it back. The leader made his offer clear up front. "When it's done, I'll promote you to Deputy Office Director." That really was a great temptation.
      The leader's cousin was a pretty young girl. She wasn't embarrassed in the least when she met me. "You're curious, I bet," she said bluntly. "Truth is, there's really nothing strange about it. I'm not your leader's cousin. I'm his lover." I'd thought that was the case, because otherwise the leader wouldn't have asked for my help.
      I went with the leader's cousin to a hospital in the outskirts of the city. After the surgery, she stayed in a hotel in the city. I made a point of asking the hotel's chef to prepare some special meals to aid her recovery. The leader made a point of secretly coming to visit her. He whispered his instructions to me: "Can you take care of her for a couple of weeks? I'll put you down as being on a business trip." I gave him my word without hesitation.
     I was promoted Deputy Office Director when I got back to work. I had my own office and a bus pass. However, my girlfriend cut me no slack at all, and bid me adieu. I don't know where she'd heard about it, but she told me I'd taken a woman to the outskirts of the city to get an abortion. She said I made her sick! I couldn't think of any excuse, but I couldn't tell her the truth, either.
      A year later, the leader sought me out again. "Young Xu, we're like brothers, aren't we?" I looked at him and nodded. "And I treat you especially well, don't I?" I nodded energetically. "And you trust me, don't you?" he asked.
      "Of course," I said, nodding vigorously.
      "I want you marry my cousin," he said.
      It took me some time to recover my composure after he said that.
      "It's like this," he continued, and I wouldn't lie to you for anything. That cousin of mine is about ready to give birth, but she doesn't meet the requirements for having a baby."
      I knew exactly what he meant, and it really put me in a tough spot. The leader seemed to understand my problem and said, "Register the child after it's born so it'll have a residence permit, and then you two can get a divorce. I'll pay for it all, of course."
      Once he'd said that, what could I do? Sheesh! I agreed to his proposal, and did it. So, in a flash I was married, and in another flash I had a son. The leader's cousin – no, my wife, now – she actually treated me quite well. She thanked me over and over and promised to repay me one day, no matter what. I told her it was no big deal, but in my heart I was thinking, "How can you ever repay me for this?"
      The leader was as good as his word. He transferred me to the Political Department as the Deputy Director. Being Deputy Director there was about the same as being Office Director, but supervising personnel, too, so I had real power. "Do this thing for a while," the leader said, "and when I have a chance I'll transfer you again."
      To be honest, I'm very grateful to the leader. Really, if I hadn't helped him out, could I have done it? No, I would certainly still be a very ordinary clerk, different from how it is now. Now I can just sign my name to take a bus, or eat in a restaurant, or get a room in a hotel, with no limit on the amount. At times I think it was worth it, too. You've got to give a little to get a little!
      After the child was registered for a residency permit, legal restrictions prohibited the wife and I from getting a divorce while she was still breast feeding. When we got the divorce a year later, and I went home to get my luggage, the little fellow had grown up enough to actually call me "Poppa". I was so surprised I got flustered and didn't know what to do. It wouldn't be right to answer him, but it wouldn't be right not to answer, either. Fortunately the leader's cousin was there, and she told me, "Go ahead, answer him!" I answered him, "yeah", and looked at him with tears in my eyes and a lump in my heart.
      Two years later, the leader asked for my help with another problem. By that time, he'd already promoted me to Political Department Director. He was quite distressed as he told me, "That boy of mine, he just won't call me 'Poppa'. Help me get him to do that."
      Really, now! What could I do to help him?
      With genuine caring and sincerity, the leader said, "If you can do this, I'll find a way to convince the guys upstairs to promote you to be my deputy."
      "I'll give it a try," I said sincerely.
      Unexpectedly, as soon as the leader's son saw me, he came running over with a look of pleasant surprise on his face. "Poppa! Poppa! Poppa!" he shouted three times, and three times I answered, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" So this is how I'm helping? I didn't expect that.

2012中国年度幽默作品,《喜剧世界》杂志社选片,丁斯主编, 第245页
Translated from version at
7. Lottery Prize: A Hospital Stay (有奖住院)

West East (西东)

      A hospital in the city put out an ad saying it was setting up a lottery for in-patients. Tickets for the drawing would be issued based on the amount the patients had spent for their hospital stays. The ad indicated that the highest prize would approach 100,000 Yuan.
      The hospital went wild as soon as the news of the lottery spread. The tiny little in-patient ward got so crowded that not even a drop of water could squeeze through. Everyone was thinking of that 100,000 Yuan grand prize.
      Old Zhang was a talented old cuss. His blood pressure was high, but because his company had great benefits, he was reimbursed for all his treatment costs. For hospital stays, he would not only continue to receive his salary, but would also get supplemental assistance for in-patient expenses. In-patient care of course has many advantages over out-patient care, like the ability to get more medication.
      Every quarter, the medical expenses for Zhang's whole family were deducted from his benefits, and his blood pressure would go up for a few days. Now, when he heard about this opportunity to get rich quick, how could he let it slip by? He spent that very night in excitement and didn't sleep a wink, and made up his mind that the grand prize would be his. The next morning he called in sick and went to check in at the hospital.
      After fighting the crowd the whole morning, Zhang was finally able to score a single-patient room. Right after he moved in, the Director of Internal Medicine, who was responsible for his care, discussed the rules of the lottery with him. There would be three divisions depending on the amount spent for the hospital stay. Those spending 5,000 Yuan or less would be in the third division; those spending 5,000 to 10,000 Yuan would be the second division; and those spending over 10,000 were the first division. Each division would have first, second and third place prizes, and those whose expenses totaled over 10,000 Yuan could hit the 100,000 Yuan grand prize. Old Zhang thought to himself, "If I stay a few extra days, I don't believe I won't win that 100,000 Yuan prize."
      Although Zhang wasn't really sick, he still had to look like he belonged in the hospital. He thought, "There's no downside to getting some extra nutritional supplements and preventatives. I'll have the Director of Internal Medicine hang up an IV bottle for me. With all those drugs going into me, I can fight to break into the 10,000 Yuan division as soon as possible, and then I'll take the grand prize home.
      But after ten days in the hospital, Zhang couldn't take it any longer. This hospital was deficient in advanced technology. The entire nursing staff took turns giving him his daily shots, and he'd been stuck so much his back and arm were looking like he'd been in a hornet's nest. He complained to the Director but the Director just justified things by saying that there were a lot of trainee nurses on staff, and you've got to give them a chance to practice, otherwise how can they complete their apprenticeship as soon as possible and go out to serve the people? Zhang got so mad he got dizzy, and when they checked his blood pressure it was 120 over 120!
      Zhang yelled that he wanted to check out of the hospital. The Director said he could do that, but his expenses did not yet total 10,000 Yuan. Zhang said that that wasn't a problem because they could just prescribe some imported medicine for him, and they wouldn't lose any money on it.
      When Zhang finally got his discharge papers, he went to the admissions office to settle his bill. He was quite happy to learn that the total cost was indeed over 10,000 Yuan. Right away he asked where he should go to collect his prize. The admissions clerk told him to first take his bill to the Prize Distribution Section and draw a ticket, and then he'd see.
      When he got to the Distribution Section, Zhang drew a ticket and, as he'd expected, hit the first prize. The people in the office gave him a card and told him he could claim his prize by presenting it. When he heard the words "claim your prize", both his hands started to shake, his blood pressure shot up by several tens of points and he fell to the floor in a faint right there in the office. The office personnel immediately took him back to the in-patient ward.
      When he woke up after being rescued, Zhang immediately grabbed the Director's hand and asked where he should go to get the money for his first-place prize. "You've already started to enjoy the benefits of our first-place prize," the Director said.
      Old Zhang was confused. He hurried to ask the Director why he hadn't seen the money.
      "We set up a prize for being hospitalized," the Director explained, "so of course you only get the prize when you're hospitalized. You got our Diamond Membership Card, didn't you? You can use your card for one more stay in our hospital. Our standards are: Cancer patients and AIDS patients get fifty percent off, cerebral hemorrhages get forty percent off, hypertension and heart disease are thirty percent, and twenty percent off for colds and fevers. We worked a whole morning to rescue you from your high blood pressure, which in any event would cost eighteen thousand Yuan, so your first-place prize could save you two or three thousand."
      Zhang felt cheated. "You guys are con men," he said, his voice filled with righteous indignation. "You said the highest prize was a hundred thousand Yuan, didn't you? I'm gonna sue!"
      "How can this be called a con?" the Director answered. Getting one hundred thousand Yuan isn't an easy thing to do. If you get one treatment for cancer or AIDS it's at least two or three hundred thousand Yuan, so the discount would be more than a hundred thousand."
    "You talk about AIDS and say this isn't a con," Zhang said. "Can you cure AIDS in this dilapidated old hospital?"
      "No, we can't," the Director admitted. "Even treating hypertension is a waste of effort, let alone AIDS. It's easy for you to get the disease, but we have to worry about curing it. No one in the world can cure it, anyway. When you die, you die, and it doesn't matter to you where you are. But if you die here, you'll be making a contribution to our city hospital by [providing a training opportunity that will] increase our proficiency…."
      Before the Director had finished speaking, Zhang fainted away again from anger....

Translated from 分节阅读1, also available here.

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1. Effective Weight-Loss Treatment
2. The Mayor's Painting
3. Getting the Bill
4. A Nose Discusses Smell

Midis Page Eleven

5. Blood
6. The Leader's Problems
7. Lottery Prize: A Hospital Stay

​​         Chinese Stories in English