​​         Chinese Stories in English   

1. In My Experience
2. A Distant River
3. I Really Got Drunk

Midis Page Twelve

4. Talking Jade
5. Speaking of Dreams
6. The Director's Lost Diary

1. In My Experience (这是我的经验)
by Lü Ruixian (吕锐先)

      Now, about Old Ma. He wasn't really old, just a little over thirty. He was a very genial sort, but he did have a fault. He really loved his booze, and when he drank he drank till he was drunk, and when he got drunk he did stupid things.
      His drinking gave his mom and dad headaches. They told him about the harm caused by drinking, and chewed him out, and pleaded with him, but none of it mattered. His mother said helplessly, "We're getting old, and can't take care of him anymore. Find him a powerful wife and let her take care of him."
      Later Old Ma really did find a powerful wife. She was stronger than him in all kinds of ways. First of all, she made more money than he did. She was an English teacher at a "key" high school and made five or six thousand Yuan a month. He just worked for a company as a clerk with a salary of two thousand a month, less than half what she made. She was tall and built like a horse, too, while he was thin and small. She could take him at arm wrestling without much trouble. Aside from that, she was eloquent, but when he spoke it was little more than a jumble of words. So he played second fiddle when she was around.
      When she was young, Old Ma's wife had been too picky about finding a match. She couldn't get the man of her dreams but was unwilling to accept anything less. In the blink of an eye she was thirty and still hadn't found anyone to her liking. Then someone introduced Old Ma to her. To be honest, she wasn't very impressed with him, but she felt that a woman over thirty is as worthless as a devalued banknote. She was afraid that if she kept on being picky, after a few years she wouldn't be able to find anyone even as good as him. She faced up to reality and reluctantly agreed to marry him.
      Old Ma's wife was particularly opposed to men drinking. She and Old Ma made a pact when they got married: He was not allowed to go out drinking. He'd agreed to the condition in order to get married, and for a few days after the wedding he kept his word.
      Before long, though, he sinned from old habit. Someone asked him out for a few drinks, and he went. He drank until the wee hours before staggering drunkenly home. This was his first offense after getting married, so his wife was rather nice to him and let him sleep on the living room sofa.
      When he saw that his wife hadn't treated him as harshly as he'd imagined she would, Old Ma got braver. He went out drinking again a few days later. This time his wife made him sleep on the floor. This didn't bother him either, because when he was a child in the countryside he'd often slept on the ground when he went with his family to look over the fall crops. Since he didn't think much of his wife's punishments, he went out to drink again.
      This time his wife was furious and got hard-nosed about it. As before, he got staggering drunk when he went drinking and didn't come home until the middle of the night. As soon as he walked in the door, his wife told him to kneel down on the floor and stay there until dawn. Old Ma felt this punishment was a bit severe, so he didn't kneel.
      His wife was in front of him in one stride. With one hand around his neck, she picked him up like an eagle snatching a chicken and dragged him into the bedroom to the side of the bed, where she pushed him down and made him kneel. This move by his wife taught him just how powerful she could be.
      He knelt there for a while until he saw his wife close her eyes, and then he stood up quietly to go lie down on the sofa. But it seemed like his wife was wearing a sensor. Her eyes popped open and she jumped out of bed as soon as he moved. Once again she picked him up like an eagle catching a chicken, then pushed him down and made him kneel. This time he knelt there the rest of the night. The next day he looked at his knees and saw they were swollen from kneeling, and he was walking with a severe limp.
      That morning his wife asked, "How'd you like that little taste last night?" He didn't dare say anything.
      Then she asked, "Do you dare go drinking again?"
      "No, no, no way," he said over and over.
      "If I ever catch you drinking again," she warned him loudly, "you'll spend another night kneeling on the floor!"
      The Mid-Autumn Festival was just a few days away, so his wife took Old Ma back home to visit her parents. He wanted to talk to his mother-in-law about how her daughter had been behaving, but his wife was always chatting with her and he didn't get a chance to say anything. As it happened, his father-in-law came and got Old Ma to go into the next room with him to raise a couple of cups. When he heard that the old man would let him drink, he started shaking his head. His father-in-law understood immediately.
      "Don't be afraid," he said, "it's a holiday." Old Ma realized that his father-in-law was the host, so he plucked up his courage and went with the old man to hoist a few.
      At first the two didn't talk, but after they got a few glasses under their belts, the conversation started to flow. "Son," the old man asked, "what happened to your legs? You've got quite a limp."
      The booze gave Old Ma courage. He sighed deeply and told the old man. "I went out with a friend one day and had a few. I got home kind of late, and your daughter made me kneel on the floor."
      At that point he looked up at his father-in-law and saw a compassionate look in the old man's eyes, which gave him even more courage. He stood up again and looked toward the bedroom. The mother and daughter were still chatting up a storm, so he told the whole story of how his wife had made him kneel on the floor the entire night.
      "I only had a couple of drinks too many," he said in conclusion, "and her making me spend the night kneeling on the floor was really too much!" Then he pulled up his pant legs and let his father-in-law see his swollen knees.
      The old man stroked Old Ma's knees sympathetically. "That was a bit much."
      Old Ma was feeling complacent and swore at his wife under his breath. "If you ever again make me kneel on the floor, I'll come here and tell your father on you."
      Just then his father-in-law disappeared. He came back after a few minutes, squeezed up close to Old Ma and whispered to him, "Here's some of my own money, son. Take it and buy yourself a thick rug. In my experience, that'll make it easier the next time you have to kneel."

2012中国年度幽默作品,《喜剧世界》杂志社选片,丁斯主编
2012 Annual Humorous Writings of China, from Comedy World Magazine, Ding Si, Ed., p. 92
Translated from text at
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_7d19d2e80100xxz0.html
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2. A Distant River (河在远方)

Wei Zhiyuan (魏志远)

      Nature – a forest, a river, a flock of chattering sparrows – is getting farther and farther away from us. We live in cities, and the sounds we're familiar with are the clangings of iron machines.
      I had a child ask me, "Sir, 'well'. What's a well?"
      I told her about wells. Told the child. She was nine, in a white dress, with layer upon layer of lace. This girl was like a princess. She'd seen lions and foxes in a zoo, and also snakes and peacocks, and she knew that people and animals are not the same. Really not the same, since animals are kept in cages. But she didn't know about wells. What are wells?
      How could I explain it clearly?
      "A well is a deep hole. It's like a cup. There's water in it. Yes, there's always water. We put a bucket down in it and give it a shake, and then we bring up the water."
      She didn't get it. This girl, I mean. She was wearing a white dress, and was just like a princess in a fairy tale who'd lost her way. She asked, "Can I see one?"
      She knocked on my door a few days later. She said she'd seen a well. "It's like those elevators we ride in," she said.
      What she'd seen was a coal mine shaft, one with modernized equipment. She'd seen it on TV.
      When I realized that, my heart ached. Ached for these children, my children, our children. They live in cities. They see birds singing in cages and grasslands that look like handkerchiefs. The rivers are far away, the forests and fields are far away. There's no way they can imagine what a surging river is like.
      Ah, nature.
      I've seen those rivers, those woods and birds. I've seen the scattered wildflowers that look so much like tiny fruits we've gnawed away at, impatiently, one by one. I think I'm just a folk tale in all my son's thoughts, absurd and bizarre.
      "Dad, was there really a river here?"
      "Yes, son."
      "Was the river really clear? Were there ospreys and river otters trying to catch fish? Were there flocks of egrets on the beach? And large stretches along the banks with crows flying all around?"
      "Yes. Son?"
      "That's really incredible." My son was shaking his head, and the thread of a smile drifted around the corners of his mouth. It was a sarcastic smile, I noticed. "Dad," he asked, "you write fiction, don't you?"
      It was summer vacation, and my son had been home waiting for a notice of admission to high school. In the evenings, we'd walk through a world built of steel and cement, looking for traces of the river. The wind blew at us, bringing particles of dust and the stench of decay with it and into our nostrils. "Dad," my son asked again, "was there really a river here?"
      We looked at the puddles under our feet. The water was green turning to black. The puddles were like a giant trash bin with pieces of litter floating in it. Bodies of dead cats and dogs, too.
      "What can I say, son? There was indeed a river, with ospreys and otters. There were egrets and crows, too, like those that flash by in your dreams. It wound its way toward us and zig-zagged away. It flowed past me, and past your grandpa and past his grandpa. It was a river of milk for us, a river of life."
      Now, I seemed to see it hide its face and sob, that river. It was crying, letting out sobs of pain. As it left us bit by bit, its tears swirling, it kept turning back to look. It was leaving us and would never be able to return.
      My son is fourteen. A few days ago, after he'd finished his last bit of schoolwork, he announced to us that he was going to burn all his junior high textbooks. He said, "Now I can play for a couple of days, huh?"
      So what does the boy want to play? What would make him want to play? We live in a city and can no longer hear frogs croaking or crickets chirping. When we watch TV or movies, we're happy for other people or shed tears for them, but we're living in those people's lives. Sure, there are parks and playgrounds, but my son doesn't like them. He says those places are like the markets. You can see people's faces there, but what else is there to look at?
      My son asks, "Can I can read the books I like to read?"
      He likes to read fiction. He wrote in his diary: "I like to dream. Dreams are a kind of life. I like living in a dream. I dream there's this one island, and it's me, and there aren't any people or any animals that can get in."
      My son is beside me now, sunk down in the sofa with his body humped over like a prawn. He's lost in a book, Romain Rolland's Jean-Christophe.
     I thank writers. I thank them for giving my son such precious gifts for his holidays. They give him seas and rivers, and they give him forests and wild places. They give him one new world after another. Son, are you content?
      I see another youngster. He's running back and forth on a stretch of sand, not wearing a stich; his slingshot flashing and flashing again in the woods; his stare as straight as a tow rope pulling sailboats across the horizon. The wind starts to blow, coming slowly along the riverbank, rising and falling like the youngster's hair. It blows, and stirs up magnolia petals that fall upon the youngster's shoulders like fluttering snowflakes. That youngster is me.
      It's still the same sky and the same sun and the same moon, but the flowing river has disappeared. And the youngster is no longer that boy. Today's youngster leans against the window looking out into the distance. He lives in a city, and the sound of the city is the clang of iron against iron. He says he likes to dream, and he says that dreams are a kind of life.
      Son, what should I do to help you?

小小说名作、佳作阅读与欣赏 Famous Mini-Story Masterpieces to Read and Appreciate
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_6ceb4af10101f1qd.html, Story #15
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3. I Really Got Drunk This Time (这次真的喝醉了)

by Jiang Zhengwu (蒋争武)

      Not long after Buck arrived in Amida, the famous tourist destination, he received a phone call from his wife. She said the bun in her oven was just about done and she hoped he could come home early. This put him on the horns of a dilemma. He was the guide for this tour group, more than thirty people, and they could not do without him. Fortunately his friend Annie helped him out. She had a friend who was also a tour guide, who happened to have a few days off and could take his place.
      But as luck would have it, he didn't have a way back. Because of Amida's unique geographic location, there was usually only one bus every three days. That is, since he had just arrived there, it would be another three days until the next bus. His wife had already called him three times from home urging him to get back right away. Buck was so worried he walked around like an ant on a hot frying pan.
      Fortunately Annie came to his aid again. She had a friend who drove a minivan and would be leaving Amida the next day. The minivan could seat four and Buck could have one of the seats. Annie said she would talk to her friend that evening and she was sure he would agree.
      Buck was ecstatic. Thinking about becoming a father, he couldn't keep his heart still. He strutted into the bar, humming happily.
      There were a lot of people in the bar. It was busy and noisy. Everyone was drinking and many of them were already red in the face. "I'm going to be a father," Buck thought, "and it's been too many years since I've drunk anyone under the table. Shouldn't I do it now? Tonight I'm going to get someone drunk", he decided.
     Having settled on this ambitious plan, he looked around the room and noticed a man sitting alone by the window. Sitting there quietly, with only a glass of fruit juice on the table in front of him, he looked to be a scholarly type. Buck walked over quickly and asked, in a friendly manner, "Hello! Excuse me, may I sit here?"
      The man returned his friendly smile and nodded.
      As they talked, Buck learned that that the man's name was Roman. Buck offered to be the host for the evening and said that all the drinks were on him. He thought Roman was so quiet and bookish, while he might drink a bit, he wouldn't be able to hold very much. But then Roman told him that, in fact, he was a master at drinking!
      Roman smugly claimed, "I've been drinking for thirty years, and I've never been drunk. I can drink more than anyone else in the world. I'm invincible!"
      Buck started to have some regrets. He thought he may have been a bit hasty, but was too embarrassed to say anything.
      "Are you a drinker?" Roman asked "It looks to me like one bottle of XO would be more than enough for you, right?"
      "A lot more than one bottle," Buck boasted, getting right into the spirit. "Three bottles won't be a problem!"
      "Good!" Rowan also let it all hang out. "Tonight we're going to drink till we drop!"
      The two had really hit it off. They called for two bottles of the good stuff, and raised their glasses to toast each other.
      They drank and drank, and Buck started to feel woozy. He saw that Roman's face was getting flushed and thought the man wouldn't be able to stay upright much longer. Let him have a few more glasses and Buck would win. Roman was also feeling pretty good and certainly wasn't ready to quit, but Buck matched him glass for glass. All thoughts of becoming a father and taking a bus had been thrown to the winds long ago.
      After a while, Buck was thoroughly drunk. He passed out under the table.
      He woke up eventually, not knowing how long he'd been out. His head was heavy as a rock and he felt terrible. He couldn't have felt any worse if he'd contracted a serious illness.
      He saw Annie looking at him with concern.
      "My God, you're finally awake," she said anxiously. "Do you know you've been dead drunk for four days? Your wife's called twenty times!"
      Buck rolled out of the bed right away. "Why didn't you wake me up, for God's sake?" he said angrily.
      Annie smiled bitterly. After Buck had gotten drunk, he'd lain there like a dead man. Lightning could've struck him and he wouldn't have moved. You could've killed him and he wouldn't have known.
      Four days! Buck slapped his forehead painfully. He'd have to wait three more days for a bus.
      Suddenly his eyes lit up. He looked at Annie and asked: "Your friend with the van. Did he leave?"
      "No," she said.
      Buck's happiness knew no bounds. "Go call him and tell him to take me back," he said quickly. "I'll pay him whatever he wants."
      "Don't think about going back just yet," Annie replied. "Think about the four bottles of XO you drank the other night and still haven't paid for!"
      Buck thought for a moment. "What about that – Roman?" he asked. "He would've paid for them."
      "He's just like you," Annie said. "He got drunk and still hasn't woken up!"
      "I can't worry about Roman now," Buck thought to himself. "First I've got to get back. My wife will be mad as hell, and that's worse than four bottles of XO."
      "I'll go pay for booze," he told Annie as he started to leave. "You go get your friend to take me back."
      "Do you know who Roman is?" Annie asked.
      Buck shook his head.
      "He's my friend who drives the van!"

2012中国年度幽默作品,《喜剧世界》杂志社选片,丁斯主编
2012 Annual Humorous Writings of China, from Comedy World Magazine, Ding Si, Ed., p. 72
Translated from text at
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_7d19d2e80100xxyt.html
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4. Talking Jade (会说话的玉石)

Miao Xiangdong (苗向东)

      At the time I had a job in Fuzhou with a company that dealt in Shoushan jade, a special type of jade used for making seals and name-stamps. One day I saw a help wanted ad from a well-known jewelry company in Beijing and decided to apply.
      When they heard the news, friends from my hometown urged me not to do it: you’d be throwing away a good job to go all the way to Beijing, and you don’t really fit their requirements; when they said they wanted a college graduate they meant someone with a degree relevant to the jade business, and you’re just a high school grad; they want someone under 25 and you’re almost 30; you don’t have any friends or relatives in Beijing…. But I love jade and had studied and collected it for almost ten years. I decided to go for it.
      A week before the interview I decided to do a couple of things to get ready. First I returned to my home town in Jiangxi Province to get the rock samples that I’d collected in recent years on extensive travels to various places. Each rock would be proof of my work experience, you know. Then, since the hottest jade nowadays is yellow dragon jade from Longling County in Yunnan Province, I decided to go there and take a look. But once I had done all that, would you believe it, I ran into a typhoon. I sent a text message to the company’s General Manager requesting that he not make a hiring decision before seeing me.
      When I got to the company’s office, I found that all the interviewees were dressed neatly in formal attire. I was just in regular work clothes, a pair of jeans, and carrying great big bag of rocks. The receptionist says to me: “You’d be better off not interviewing. A hundred or so people have interviewed before you over the last couple of days, and they were all completely prepared. If you go in to the interview like that, it certainly won’t go well.”
      I hurried to explain: “I’m really sorry, but I just got in from out of town and haven’t slept in two days, and I got in a traffic jam. I sent your GM a text message. I’m the best candidate for the job.”  When the receptionist saw how confident I was, he smiled and said: “Well, then, I’ll give you a chance.” I sighed with relief when I heard that.
      I was the last person being interviewed, so when I went in, the GM was already pretty tired. I opened my bag straight away and pulled out a rock. He perked up immediately. Sitting up on the couch, he took the rock and started examining it closely.
      I took the opportunity to tell him about it: “The price of yellow dragon jade has gone up from a little over ten Yuan a truckload a few years ago, to tens of thousands of Yuan a kilo nowadays. For some top quality unprocessed yellow dragon, the price even shot up almost overnight from one thousand Yuan several years ago to ten million Yuan today. Before I came here for the interview I took a special trip to Yunnan and picked up these few pieces. That’s why I was late.”
      The GM smiled and said: “You’re really into this stuff, aren’t you!”
      Then I explained to the GM how I had come to love rocks. In order to embellish a bit the extent of my passion, I told him how many provinces I’d gone to, and how many mines, and how many kinds of jade I’d become familiar with…. I also took the rocks I’d personally collected out of my bag and told him about them, one by one. Every rock had a thrilling and fantastic story, you know.
      The GM was interested in every bit of it and didn’t interrupt me. Once I got started talking about jade I couldn’t shut up. I went on saying: “In the jade business, you’re always ‘gambling on the jade,’ and the common strategy is ‘make sure you know what you’re buying.’ That’s why a good eye and experience are so important. The kind of knowledge you learn in college doesn’t help you much. With the experience I’ve accumulated over several years, I’ll be much more useful to you than someone just out of college….”
      Just like that I was hired. That evening I was assigned to a room in the employee’s dormitory. You know, I didn’t have any money left to stay in a hotel or to cover the costs of going back to Fuzhou. Later I got a chance to ask the boss why he’d picked me. He thought it over then laughed as he answered. The answer was really simple: “It’s like none of the others brought rocks! Your rocks know how to talk! You used rocks to knock open our front door.”
      I’d like to use my experience to tell my friends who don’t have much background but want to find a good job: Do you have something to “knock on the door” at the interview? A person who takes a “rock” to an interview shows the passion for the career he’s in. This is a very captivating quality. It’s called a “stepping stone.”

(原载《做人与处世》2010年第11期河南司志政荐)
http://www.hao1111.cn/plus/view.php?aid=17494
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5. Speaking of Dreams (说梦想)

Wang Shuo (王朔)

      I've got a great dream. I keep it deep in my heart and have never mentioned it to anyone.
      My blood pounds and tears come to my eyes whenever I think of my dream. It's my greatest psychological support in the chaotic world I live in. I never put it aside, even though I don't know when I'll ever be able to make it come true. It's very gratifying.
      I've only felt like a complete person since I've had this dream. I feel noble, like a man who's left vulgar entertainments behind him.
      Every evening I think about my dream while I'm watching the soap operas. I feel that my day wasn't a total waste, and I'm very satisfied. Isn't that a blessing!
      When it gets late and I lay down in bed, my mind keeps on wandering. That dream is so vivid in my thoughts. I stroke it gently, and it seems I can feel its warmth. It's my most precious treasure. Although I've never succeeded at anything and have nothing – I can't even afford a bottle of cheap wine – as long as I have the dream, I'm the richest man in the world. I can only sleep peacefully at night after I've thought of this, because it lets me know: tomorrow will be a good day.
      When I wake up in the morning and the sun is shining brightly outside my window, it really is a good day. People with dreams will have their dreams come true. I'm very gratified.
      "You're the greatest!" I say to myself. "It's a new day, and you've got to fight for your dream!"
      Thinking of that makes me feel high-spirited and energetic, full of lofty ideals. I can't keep from sighing: It really makes one proud, being a person with a dream.
      I buy breakfast. Old Qin told me that people who have a dream can get gallstones if they don't eat breakfast, and I believe it. I'm such an unsophisticated fellow, and I have to protect my insides for the sake of my dream, because people who don't have guts will never be able to achieve their dream.
      There are a lot of people at the bus stop, all people with a dream. I can recognize them because they're all fellow travelers. We're never alone. You people with a dream are all lovable sorts, and the world is a lovable place because of you. I have to smile when I think of that, a very lovable smile, and I'm very gratified.
      The people swarm aboard when the bus comes. Although I'm a lovable person myself, I get squeezed out by this crowd of lovable people. As I watch the bus fade away in the distance, I comfort myself: "It doesn't matter, you still have a dream, and people with a dream never take minor setbacks like this to heart." So I laugh.
      A dream is full, but reality feels like skin and bones. I can't squeeze onto the next bus, either, maybe because I'm not lovable enough yet. It's not so easy to laugh this time. I have to catch a cab to keep from being late. I comfort myself as I get into the cab: "Money is an external thing, something you spend to stay healthy."
      "I have a dream, I have a dream, I have a dream…." I chant it as though it's a mantra. I'm afraid that, otherwise, I won't be able to keep from bitching, and that's not something a high-minded person ought to do.
      I'm late in spite of taking the cab and feel humiliated. The boss gives me a dirty look and demands sternly why I was late again. I think about saying it was because I wasn't able to crowd onto the bus, but decide that would be embarrassing, so I say it was because of a traffic jam. The boss can't say anything, because on this planet there's no better excuse for being late than "traffic jam".
      The boss often the lectures me like I'm dog shit, but I have no complaints whatsoever, because I figure he's got to be better than other people in order to be the boss. People don't become successful by accident, and getting chewed out is part of a subordinate's job description. I think he might look at me differently if he knew I was a person with a dream. At the very least he might go a little easier on me when he chews me out. I wanted to tell him, but finally put the idea out of my mind. I'm a person with a dream, but I don't want special treatment from anyone because of it. The dream will give me the strength to face up to the lectures.
      I say to myself: For the sake of the dream, whatever I have to pay and whatever I have to endure is all worth it.
      My colleagues laugh and talk as they leave work: some are going home, warm homes; some are going out on dates, sweet love. They leave me totally alone with my back hunched over, editing a tear-inducing power-point presentation, racking my brains to give it a bit of STYLE. It has to be. Whoever allows himself to become a man with a dream must seek perfection in everything.
      In fact, only the streetlights know I'm just trying to avoid the awkwardness of having nowhere to go. Standing in a crowded street with people rushing by, I always feel like I'm in the middle of nowhere. Where are they all going in such a rush? I often fantasize that a girl with a sweet smile will come over and ask me, "What are you doing here?" Unfortunately it's never happened. This time I come to the vague realization that having a dream doesn't mean one will be victorious at everything. At bottom, though, I'm still one who is strong on the outside but fragile inside. I'm very gratified, because I know now that "strong outside, fragile inside" is basically a term of praise.
      One day a man comes up to me with a sincere expression on his face. "Sell me your dream," he says to me. He looks at me with clear, warm eyes, and as he speaks he puts money on the table in front of me, one stack of bills after another.
      I look at him blankly. The pile of money gets higher and higher....
      Finally I flash a smile, a very lovable smile, and say to him, "Thank you for helping me to achieve my dream. My dream was to become a rich man."

2012中国年度幽默作品,《喜剧世界》杂志社选片,丁斯主编
2012 Annual Humorous Writings of China, from Comedy World Magazine, Ding Si, Ed., p. 221
Translated version at
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_48d0b60901010wx8.html
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6. The Director's Lost Diary (局长丢了日记本)

by Zhang Yanxia (张艳霞)

      One morning the Director noticed that his diary was missing. It had been in the top drawer of his desk, which he kept locked, but he'd forgotten to lock it the previous afternoon when he left the office. And now the diary was gone.
      Rather unhappy, he went looking for Secretary Dai. "Who was on duty in the office last night? My diary is missing."
      The Secretary's face paled a bit. "Don't worry. I think it was Chief Hu from the Finance Section."
      "Old Hu?" The Director's face darkened in anger. Last month he'd wanted to take some money out of the office fund. He'd already signed for it and went over to Old Hu's section to get it. This guy Hu, he'd said that doing it that way wasn't in accordance with procedure. The Director had waited restlessly for a long time but the money didn't get issued. Bottom line, Old Hu didn't realize that whatever the Director says should be done, should be done!
      The Director went off to get Old Hu without saying anything more to Secretary Dai. After a bit, skinny Old Hu came into his office. He looked at the Director without timidity, and the Director snarled like a tiger.
      "Were you on duty last night?"
      Old Hu said he was.
      The director pounded the table. "And just what were you doing while you were on duty? My diary has gone missing. Did you know that?"
      Old Hu started to say something, but the Director waved his hand.
***
      At the meeting of the office's Communist Party Committee that afternoon, the Director brushed aside all objections and demanded that Old Hu be relieved of his duties as Chief of the Finance Section. No one dared oppose him.
      Logically, that should have been the end of the matter. Who could have guessed that the boat was just starting to rock. Some people in the office started to talk. They said there were secrets in the diary that the Director didn't want anyone to know, and that's why he got so angry at Old Hu. Secretary Dai told the Director what people were saying, but the Director just smiled. "No problem, no problem. Let them talk."
      Who could have figured? The more people talked, the more it became reality. Until, one day, the Director received a phone call. "I have some business I'd like to discuss with you," a strange man's voice said. "Do you want your diary back?"
      The Director thought for a moment. "Name your price."
      The man said: "You're so straightforward, Director Li. In that case I won't beat around the bush with you. Since there are so many important things written in your diary, let's say five hundred thousand Yuan."
      The Director gently hung up the phone without saying anything. He received several more of these phone calls but none of them came to anything. They were just extortion, weren't they? The desire for money makes people crazy.
      The Director heard all kinds of things. Once, he got really angry. "Are you guys having fun with these blackmail attempts? If you've got the original diary go ahead and post the entries...."
      Perhaps it was because they weren't able to extort any money from him, or maybe because he made the blackmailers mad. Anyway, while the Director was away on vacation for a few days, the situation in the office got as messy as a potful of goulash. Someone posted signs by the office door enumerating, in large letters and great detail, various crimes and misdemeanors that had been committed by the Director. For example, he had embezzled office funds, he had accepted bribes, he kept a mistress....
      Somebody made a quiet phone call to the Party Discipline Committee. When the Discipline Investigator came to the office, one of the Director's confidants tried to call the Director but couldn't get through.
      That evening, the Director's cronies were going crazy making guesses about what was happening. Has the Director already been taken in? Otherwise why would the Investigator have come to the office? What was there worth investigating, anyway? The people who had had dealings with the director came clean about everything they knew. With innocent looks on their faces, they said those were all things that the Director had had them do, and they'd had no choice about any of it.
      The Director returned several days later. A vehicle from the Discipline Committee picked him up and took him away. He was never seen in the Office again.
      A new Director took over. A cleaning lady, Ms. Wu, moved some file cabinets while she was fixing the office up for him. Lying quietly against the wall in a corner, stuck in amongst some record books, she noticed a beautiful diary with English writing on the cover. It was of course the diary that the Director had lost.
      The Director's mistress had brought that diary back from Europe with her. It had reportedly cost over three thousand Euros. It was such a beautiful diary that the Director had never been able to bring himself to write in it.

Translated from 分节阅读12, also available at http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_12f1b52a80101ihtn.html




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