​​         Chinese Stories in English   

1. Chance Meeting
2. Commander and King
3. Unspoken Rules

4. The Wall of Love
5. Tofu’s Here

Percolator 05
Stories printed in Chinese Mini-Stories 2017
2017年中国年度微型小说, 作家网选编, 冰峰•陈亚美主编
Text at page cited after each story; translated from the webpages cited below.

         Bonus Stories
1. Running a Restaurant
2. Who Says He’s Unaware

1. Chance Meeting (邂逅)
Wang Peijing (王培静)

      Clouds sat on a plane headed from Shanghai to Beijing with her eyes closed, resting up. She thought to herself, it was like someone calling her name from the darkness. She’d felt ill at ease and hadn't slept well for half a year since she’d seen the online job posting from Beijing GQO Winery, Ltd., but now she’d finally made up her mind. She’d not only said goodbye to the friends and relatives around her, but also given up her career and resigned from a high-paying job with the Shanghai Foreign Trade Company.
      She got off the plane at the Beijing Airport and took the airport bus to the Gongzhufen district, where she found a hotel to stay in. She knew it wasn’t far from 49 Wukesong Road. She’d calmed down a bit by then and slept quite well during an afternoon nap.
      That evening she found a bar nearby. It was festive and quite busy. She took a seat in a corner and an enthusiastic server came over, bent down, and smiled as he whispered to her, “And what would this lady like to order?”
      “Bring me a GQO,” she blurted.
      “Sure. Coming right up.”
      She hadn't expected they’d have that label there.
      Three years previously she’d been an exchange student at the University of Adelaide in South Australia. A sophomore, she was in a relationship with one of her classmates, a local named Victor Jones, a tall, handsome young man with naturally curly hair. His full beard gave him an even more manly look. He spoke with wit and humor, and conquered her young girl’s heart in no time at all.
      He took her to see the scenic spots near Adelaide during school vacations. She received her first kiss while he was leading her on a hike at a place called GQO Manor. The Manor was planted with apple, pear and plum trees and lavender bushes, but mostly with many kinds of grape vines including Shiraz, Chardonnay, Merlot and Riesling grapes. Victor and the son of the manor's owner were good friends, so later they met there many times to eat their way through the various types of grapes at the Manor.
      Also, they often ordered GQO wine when they went to bars.
      She asked him to go back to China with her after graduation and learn Chinese, and he promised he would. However, one day while he was driving, he got in an accident and was killed.
      After she graduated, she slipped off to visit his grave and say farewell. “Dear,” she said, “although I won’t be able to come see you often from now on, I’ll always keep you in my heart and carry you with me.” She left that heart-rending place the next day.
      Drinking wine that evening in Beijing seemed like returning to GQO Manor. She recalled many sweet moments from the past.
      Then a foreigner was standing opposite her. “May I sit here, miss?" he asked.
      “If you want,” she said without looking up.
      The man sat down and said to the server, “Please bring me a glass of GQO.”
      She looked at him, her face slightly flushed.
      “And bring another glass for the lady,” he told the server.
      “This lady, she’s already had five glasses.”
      Oh, I’m sorry, you can't have any more. How do you feel about this wine?” The foreign man spoke softly.
      She replied politely in English, “It’s good. A fresh, clean character with a bold and unrestrained bouquet. Quite fragrant.”
      “Yes, right. That's it,” the man said happily. “It’s because Australia has plenty of sunny days year-round, so the grapes grow well in the abundant sunshine. And there’s no pollution, so wine produced there is natural, well-developed and full-bodied, with a soft flavor. It’s quite fruity with a clear, crisp texture, very easy to drink.

***

      She went to the GQO winery for an interview the next day. The interviewer was the man who’d sat down and drank with her the previous evening. They both smiled in recognition when their eyes met. He managed to communicate with her in less than fluent Chinese. She sat entranced as the person in front of her eyes morphed into Victor. His look, his tone, his voice, were all very much like him.
      She told the interviewer the story of her life up till then. The interviewer was silent for a moment, then his face changed to a smile. "Congratulations," he said, you've got the job. Report to work tomorrow."
      The interviewer, Vicks-Jones, was a gentleman when Clouds started work. He took her under his wing and, gradually, she warmed up to him.
      The two fell in love and, afterwards, he told her that he was Victor Jones' twin brother. He knew the story of her and his brother. "This was arranged by God," he said. "I'll protect you and take care of you for my brother."

Text at p. 86; Translated from 苏北快报 at
 
http://www.guojiribao.com/shtml/gjrb/20161102/292516.shtml
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2. Commander and King (将军与王)

Hou Yonghua (侯拥华)

      The commander and the king met in troubled times.
      The commander wasn’t yet a commander at the time. He was just a young monk secluded in a Daoist temple deep in the mountains, a man who paid no attention to worldly disputes. The king, on the other hand, was already a prince and wanted to set up an independent kingdom. He had a mind to save the people from calamities and he aspired to world domination, but he begrudged the fact that the incompetent strategists and generals at his side were always mumbling and complaining about something.
      The king began to search the world for outstanding personnel, secretly growing his own strength. He encountered the commander in that remote mountain area.
      The king was dressed as a scholar that day. He’d climbed the mountain with a few attendants to seek ancient wisdom through meditation. The gods perversely made things difficult for him. The rain started when he was halfway up the mountain, and before long it was coming down like a raging waterfall. After searching all around the mountain for a place to shelter from the rain, the king happened to burst into a Taoist temple.
      Inside the decrepit temple, the king found only a young monk with a delicate, refined face.
      The monk prepared a simple dinner for the king and his entourage. He also set up a rattan frame on which they could dry their clothes. The king was in the mood for a game after the meal, so he had his attendants set up a chessboard and invited the monk to play. The monk initially declined, and when he saw how extremely cordial the king was, he sat down opposite him. Several wax candles danced like fireflies, their glimmer illuminating the king's eyes as well as the chessboard. The rain outside the window was noisy as a city’s downtown, but inside was quiet except for the occasional faint sound of the chess pieces being moved and set down again on the board. Both the king and the monk held their breath, fighting hard.
      Suddenly there was a loud noise and several intruders dressed in black broke in through the window.
      While the king was still coming to his senses, the young monk had already covered him behind his own body. The king knew the killers represented an extreme danger, but he was terrified and had no idea what to do. His attendants were armed and rushed forward to give their all in a fight to the death. The young monk didn’t panic and kept the king behind him to protect him as he moved forward and back in the fight. At an opportune moment, he grabbed a double-edged sword from the wall. He leapt out and, with just a few flashes of his cold steel, the black intruders had all fallen.
      That night the king, as he had done before, genuflected to the monk and, clasping his hands in front of him in the traditional gesture of respect, saluted the young man as a general. The monk hurriedly genuflected to the king and, supporting the king with both hands, helped him to his feet. The monk was part of the king’s entourage from that moment forward, becoming the king’s bodyguard.
      The king’s benevolence shook the world and his warriors were invincible. Before too many years had gone by, he was being called “the Mighty One.” By this time, the monk had won countless awards and become Commander in Chief. But he was still an attendant to the King and followed him as closely as his shadow.

***

      It was a most ruthless and dangerous battle. The king personally led the troops into the fray but, who could have known, the enemy had set a cunning trap and circled the king's army on all sides. They were heavily outnumbered and surrounded. The commander stayed with the king, rushing back and forth and dashing to the left and to the right, trying to kill enough enemy to open a bloody path for the king, but they were surrounded by so many that even his sharp sword couldn't behead them all. At this moment of imminent peril, the commander suddenly remembered something. He swung his hand deftly and some white lights flashed, and a large number of those surrounding them fell. He swung his hand again and many more went down....
      Once again the commander used his own body to protect the king as they fought and retreated that day. They broke through the encircling enemy. On the way back to their camp, the king gasped in admiration of the commander's martial skills. He asked the commander in surprise, "Why have I never seen you use this secret weapon before? What was this secret weapon you used today? How could it be so powerful?
      The commander smiled and said nothing except, "It's a secret. I'll tell you about it someday."
      Later the king and the commander regrouped. They had a stronger army and the lost land was quickly recovered. After that, the king held a broader territory and more subjects, and the world began to be at peace. But the commander remained by the king's side.

***

      One day, when the king had gotten old, he decided to pass his throne on to future generations. He arranged for the commander to come to the palace in the middle of the night for a private discussion. The commander was in his prime at this time, healthy and strong, and a hero. The king had a banquet prepared for him and the two talked low while drinking. They drank a bit too much that night as they talked about the old days, about their first meeting in the Taoist temple and about the commander’s cutting a bloody path for the king in that battle. The king furrowed his brow and suddenly remembered something. He patted his head like he'd just had a sudden realization. "Do you still remember? On our way back to camp that day, I asked you what kind of secret weapon you used to cut our way out through the surrounding enemy. You said it was a secret, but you would tell me one day. Can you tell me now that the world is at peace and I am old?"
      The commander was shaken to the bone by the king’s words. He looked up and glimpsed a fierce light flashing through the king's eyes.
      He stared blankly for a moment, then smiled and said, "OK, I'll show you now." He raised his arm gently as he spoke....
      However, it was entirely too late. The commander's arm was suspended in the air, not fully extended. Suddenly his brow wrinkled and he spit blood. His strong body fell to the floor with a crash like an earthen wall collapsing.
      Laughter loud enough to shake tiles from the roof filled the hall instantaneously – the king was kicking the commander's body and laughing heartily.
      He turned the commander's body over. Tears dripped from the commander's face and rolled down in a stream. The king tore open the commander's sleeves with both hands, looking for something.
      Deep in one sleeve, the king found a faded cloth bag.
      He shook the bag open. Inside were some crystal-clear chess pieces – the black ones black as ink, the white ones white like snow.

Text at p. 88; Translated from 侯拥华的博客 at:

http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_605256d10102xlk3.html
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3. Unspoken Rules (潜规则)

Zhao Xin (赵欣)

      Mr. Wu taught new students this semester and a co-ed named Model Jade caught his attention. This student didn't talk much and her reactions were slow – she seemed a bit mentally retarded. He made a point of asking her questions in class and, every time, she stood up in confusion, looked around, and then hemmed and hawed as she answered. Overall, though, her answers were pretty good. She was also able to complete her homework assignments on time.
      In his off hours, Mr. Wu had a part-time job at the radio station hosting an evening call-in show where people could discuss emotional problems. One day, toward the end of the program, a call came in from a person who laid bare her innermost feelings of dejection in a hesitant voice. Over a period of time, this person called in several times, always at the same hour and always with the same kinds of problems. This was a common situation and a lot of the show's listeners were like that, but Mr. Wu was anxious enough about this one that he recorded the conversations. Sometimes, in class, he'd become distracted by this matter and stand staring out at his students from the podium.
      The semester was almost over when a middle-aged woman called to him in the corridor after class. She was a beautiful woman, smiling ingratiatingly.
      "Are you Mr. Wu?"
      He nodded.
      "How are you? I'm Model Jade's mother."
      Model Jade's mother? He couldn’t help but look her over. He saw almost no resemblance between the two. "Hello. What can I do for you?" He asked. His next class was about to start and he acted like he wanted to leave.
      She blushed and looked from side to side. "It's like this, Mr. Wu," she whispered. "You're going to have a test, aren't you? I want Model Jade to pass. You've seen this child...." She abruptly moved close to him and put an envelope in his hand. Here's some money for you!"
      Mr. Wu was taken aback and hurriedly refused. "This won't do," he said firmly. "It won't do!"
      "Please accept it," the woman begged. "A small kindness!"
      "Do you do this with other teachers?"
      "You're the first. I'll go see the others tomorrow. Don't worry, there's something for them all!" She again stuffed the envelope in his hand, and when he pushed it away, his hand inadvertently touched her breast. He pulled it back as though he'd been shocked. Her face grew redder.
      He thought for a moment. "Let's do this. If it's convenient, come see me after class. It'll be quite late, though." Indeed, it gets dark before 5:00 p.m. in the winter in the north.
      He left with a wave of his hand. The woman watched him go, looking like she had something on her mind.
      The woman was waiting for him when classes were over and he returned to his office. He smelled her perfume from some distance away. Under the light, he saw that she'd changed clothes and put on fresh makeup. She looked quite fetching. His nerves tingled.
      "Please come in!" he said politely, pointing to the sofa.
      She sat down and looked at him softly. She seemed to understand the rules and was ready. "Our family's going through some tough times," she said. "Model Jade's father is doing time in prison. If she doesn't pass the exam, what'll we say to him? Her performance will help him reform himself and return home as soon as possible." Her eyes were filled with sparkling tears. She stood up, lowered her eyes and said, "Please help us, Mr. Wu! I'll do anything for the child's father and for the child."
      "Does Model Jade know what you're doing?"
      The woman gestured with her hands. "There are some things I can't let her know, of course, but she should know if I give each of her teachers a little money. Do you believe she'll pass, however she does?" When she saw he wasn’t saying anything, her voice became coy. "Don't turn me down, Mr. Wu. Surely you had me come here at this time because you wanted to help me, right?"
      He seemed to understand her intentions. He stood up right away and waved his hand. "Don't, don't. You misunderstood! Wait a minute, I'll play a recording for you."
      He hurried to put a flash drive into his computer. When the recording was finished, he asked the woman, "Could you tell who it was?"
      She stared blankly for a moment and then burst into tears. "It was Model Jade, my daughter! Since her father went to prison, she hasn't hardly talked to anyone, even me. I didn't expect her to see things that way, or have such principles."
      He sighed. "If you buy her grades, Model Jade can't do anything about it. She can only do what she's told and put up with it. But that way her self-confidence will be completely extinguished. You know that?"
      She stood up and wiped away her tears. "I understand," she said with gratitude. "Whether she passes or not, she's worked hard. That's an accomplishment and her father will be gratified! I'm the one not qualified to be a mother! I'll go now. Sorry to have bothered you. Thank you!"
      As she was leaving, Mr. Wu stood up and said, "Wait."
      She turned to look at him doubtfully. "Do you want to...?"
      "Don't let Model Jade know I'm the host of the radio program!" he said with a laugh. "Let's work together, okay?"
      Her eyes were again filled with tears. "I understand, Mr. Wu," she said, bowing deeply. "That'll be great. Thank you so much!
      Mr. Wu looked at the time after she left. He was already late getting to the radio station and it would be deducted from his salary. But he felt today’s job had the most practical impact of any since he'd started hosting the call-in show for people with emotional problems.

Text at p. 90; Translated from 荒原星语 at:
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4c92b4510102xi12.html
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4. The Wall of Love (爱心墙)

Wan Jixing (万吉星)

      The community had been around for a few years. It had security bars on windows all over the place and a disorderly mess of internet cables and telephone wires crawling up the red brick buildings like spider webs. Messages could be posted on an empty wall in front of each unit. Except for the occasional due-now notices for water and electricity bills, most of them were covered with advertisements for drain rooters, psoriasis cures and people who would get you a credit card.
      Young Wang and his wife felt like outsiders when they moved in with their baby, who had just turned one month old. This feeling was caused by the indifference and estrangement among people in the community.
      While the new mother was taking the traditional
month off after giving birth, her parents had brought hundreds of free-range chicken eggs from their country home to supplement her diet. Steamed, stir-fried, fried, boiled and deep-fat fried, Wang’s wife had eaten so many eggs that she thought she’d vomit if she saw another. Wang was also anxious since most of the large boxes of eggs hadn’t even been opened yet. The weather was so hot that the eggs would go bad if they sat around for long.
      “How about this,” Wang’s wife said. "We’ll give some to all the neighbors, upstairs, downstairs, left and right. As the saying goes, ‘Distant relatives aren’t as good as nearby neighbors.’ We’ve just moved in, and there’s no chance we won’t have to bother them for things now and then."
      Wang felt that wasn’t a bad idea, so he took a basket of eggs and knocked on the neighbor’s door across the hall. The thick security door presented a face as cold as ice. "Thud, thud, thud,” even the sound of his knocking on the door was gloomy. It wasn’t like the countryside, where you could beat on a door with your fist and hear an echoing “bang, bang, bang”.
      After knocking a few times, Wang put his ear to the door and heard faint footsteps coming from inside. He took a quick step back and ran his hand through his hair. The door didn’t open, but he heard a “hst, hst” sound from inside. He knew that this was the neighbor uncovering the peephole to check him out. The people in the city were happy with all that kind of stuff. He said to the door, "I’m your neighbor from across the hall. Just moved in. We got some free-range chicken eggs from the countryside and I brought you a few."
      Silence from inside for a few seconds, then a woman’s cold voice answered. “Thanks anyway, but our family doesn’t eat eggs.” He could hear her footsteps gradually fading into the distance almost before she finished speaking.
      Wang felt a little disappointed, but he hightailed it upstairs to knock on the upstairs neighbor's door. The door opened, but only a small gap. A man stuck his head out and asked in a coarse voice, "Who’re you looking for?"
      Wang hurriedly held the basket out in front of him and made a gesture to give it to the man, repeating what he’d said downstairs. The man looked at Wang and at the eggs in the basket, puzzled. "Thank you, no,” he said coldly, “we have plenty of eggs in our refrigerator. “Bang,” he shut the door.
      Left standing in the gloomy corridor, Wang felt chilled.
      Within a few days, the Wangs’ child was feeling poorly and would wake up late at night, crying. The young couple could get no rest and figured the upstairs and downstairs neighbors weren’t sleeping well, either. Wang’s wife said, “No way we can go on like this. The baby’s so noisy the neighbors can’t sleep. Why don’t you go and apologize to everyone? They won’t hit you while you’re smiling, so you’d better put on a smile while you’re waiting for them to come to the door and chew you out.” When Wang thought of the doors he’d had slammed in his face the last time, he was a thousand percent unwilling to go.
      Finally the couple put their heads together and remembered, “Isn’t there a blank wall for posting messages downstairs in our unit?” Once they’d talked it over, they decided to write a short note to post there to apologize to everyone at once.
      As soon as it got light early in the morning, people going out saw this handwritten note on the empty wall in front of the unit’s door: "Dear neighbors, we just moved to this community. Our child is so young and noisy at night, it affects everyone's rest. We sincerely apologize and thank you all for the understanding and tolerance you’ve shown to us and our child these last few days. Many thanks to everyone!"
      The child’s cute little footprint was impressed on the note at the bottom. The note displayed a lot of warmth in the midst of all those advertising flyers.
      Another note had been added beside the couple’s note the next day. It read, "We all have children, and we all came here from other places. We understand!" A small heart had been drawn behind the note.
      Still another note was there on the third day. "Is a wet diaper making the child uncomfortable? My family uses XX brand and the child sleeps soundly all night. You can try it!"
      Another appeared on the fourth day. "Is it a lack of milk and the child isn’t full? Peanuts stewed with trotters can spur your milk. My daughter was just weaned and we have a lot of peanuts left. I’ll let you have some!”
      And the fifth day, and the sixth....
      Finally one day, this one was added to the innumerable kindly notes on the wall. "We’ve lived in this community for many years, but none of us knows the others. The Mid-Autumn Festival is coming up. How about we all come outside on that day and have a get-together in the yard!"
      They turned off their TVs and put down their books. Someone on the second floor brought a box of apples; a bushel of peanuts came from someone on the third floor; and a sack of walnuts from the fourth. All of a sudden, it was party time in the courtyard. A clear moon hung benevolently in the night sky and shed its bright light on everybody's smiling faces.
      "It’s been a long time since I’ve had such a relaxing view of the moon. It’s really beautiful!"
      "Oh, so you’re the one who wrote the original note!"
      "You live opposite me? I moved in years ago and, stupid me, didn't know who lived opposite me. Ha ha ha...."
      Hearty laughter broke through the previously lifeless atmosphere of the community.
      It was late at night, but everyone wanted to keep going. When they finally began heading for their doors, they didn’t forget to look back and urge each other, "Everyone bring two dishes this weekend, old family recipes, and we’ll have a

long table banquet in the courtyard. Don't forget!"
      The community became famous! The wall became famous! The director of the
neighborhood committee came, the Community's Administrator, the District Chief and finally the Mayor, they all came....

Text at p. 95; Translated from 万吉星的博客 at:
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_5b9031a90102wwm5.html
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5. Tofu’s Here (豆腐来了)

Sun Wensheng (孙文胜)

      “Tofu’s – here.” Millet sounded like he had a frog in his throat. The frog seemed to be stuck way down there, maybe because he had too much tofu that day.
      Millet was kind of slow when he was a kid. He was still wobbly standing up when other kids could walk, and when the kids in other families were already talking, he could just squeak out sounds in imitation of his parents. That’s why, when he was learning to sell tofu, his dad told him, “Increase your amounts slowly, expand your area slowly, and you’re bound to make a go of it.”
      Millet listened to what he was told. He only took thirty pounds of tofu a day in the beginning, and it was all sold by the time he’d gone around to a few neighboring villages. After he got his feet wet, he took sixty pounds a day and expanded his route, earning much more money than he had at first. He’d giggle after he went to bed at night. He felt like a pebble thrown into a mud puddle – ripple after ripple he’d stirred up were spreading outward, but waves of money were coming back at him
      He told his dad about his idea of expanding his route. His dad narrowed his eyes. “Can you earn all the money under the sun?” Millet withered into a ball.
      One morning when Millet went to the tofu wholesaler, the boss smiled and gave him a cigarette. “You ought to know, used to be I’d only give these smokes to big customers. Other guys, they could only smell them.” He gave Millet a light. “Help me out with something today, Millet.” Millet thought he wanted help moving something, so he stretched his muscles and answered, “Sure, no problem.”
      The boss pulled him down into the chair. “That’s not it. It’s like this. Old Wang from the west side has a problem. He doesn’t need the tofu he ordered. He’s one of my biggest customers, you know. What he doesn't need, you other guys all take some extra, as much as you can. You’ll take fifty extra pounds today.”
      Millet’s jaw dropped in surprise. “Fifty pounds?”
      “Yeah, fifty pounds, plus your regular sixty.”
      Millet’s face went slack. He wanted to turn the man down, but instead he rolled up his sleeves and started to pack the tofu.
      He sold sixty pounds going around his normal route. Then one family with a baby who’d just turned a month old, and another family whose child had just taken a wife, together bought fifteen pounds of the extra tofu he’d taken.
      Millet was happy about that but still worried. The sun overhead was scorching hot, and people had started eating their lunches. No one would buy more tofu after they’d eaten. He didn’t have a refrigerator at home, and what would he do if the rest of his tofu spoiled? His dad would chew him out for sure when he got home, and the more Millet thought about that, the more anxious he got.
      “If it isn’t Millet! Come on and have something to eat.” Millet turned his head and saw it was Auntie Li from the east side who’d greeted him. She was a dear friend of his mother and was also the mother of his classmate, Little Jade.
      He thought of the time he’d written a secret love letter to Little Jade and his face flushed. He wanted to avoid Auntie Li, but she wouldn’t have it. She took his arm and went into her home.
      He learned over lunch that Little Jade was working in Shanghai and that Auntie Li’s husband had been working with a construction crew and fallen and hurt his back a couple of weeks before. Auntie Li told him that the contractor had taken off after her husband’s accident. “Look, there’s no one to sell the potatoes harvested from our field this year,” she said, wiping a tear from her eye. Her husband, who was lying in bed, gave out a sigh.
      “If you two old folks want to take a load off your minds,” Millet blurted out, “I’ll pick up some potatoes every day and sell them for you.”
      “We can’t ask you to do that. It’d get in the way or your selling tofu, wouldn’t it?”
      Millet didn’t know if it would get in the way or not, but once he’d said it, he couldn’t take it back any more than he could take back water that’d been splashed onto the ground. He loaded a bag of potatoes onto his cart, but on his way out the door, he couldn’t help putting his hand to his forehead to see if he didn’t have a fever.
      He still had tofu to sell, anyway, so why not push his luck. He took his cart around a few more villages. The tofu didn’t move, but he did sell over half the bag of potatoes.
      A bunch of people were gathered by the door of a store at the entrance to one village. Millet pushed his cart over to them and squatted down to smoke a cigarette.
      “The tofu, how much?” someone eventually asked.
      “Ninety cents.” Millet stood up right away.
      The man shook his head. “It’s after lunch and you still want that much?”
      Millet also wanted to sell the potatoes, so he said, “I’ve got potatoes, too.”
      “If I buy tofu, you’ll throw in potatoes?” The man stretched out his neck and his big ears twitched.
      Millet knew the guy was fishing for a deal. He wanted to set the guy straight, but was also afraid he’d walk away. He went with the flow and said, “If you buy two pounds of tofu, I’ll throw in one big potato.” The man didn’t say anything but really did buy two pounds of tofu.
      After he left, more people crowded around Millet’s cart.
      “I’ll take two pounds.”
      “I want one pound.”
      Millet simply wanted to make the best of the situation. “I’m a two-pound dealer. I won’t sell more and I won’t sell less. But whoever buys tofu, I’ll throw in a potato.”
      “Two pounds, so be it.”
      When the people who bought tofu selected their potatoes, they took big ones. Toward the end, when there were no big ones left, some people were reluctant to buy. “How about two potatoes instead of one,” Millet said, “will you buy then?” In two shakes of a lamb’s tail, all the remaining tofu and potatoes were sold.
      Some people snickered at him and others panned him, but Millet’s mood was cheerful. He bought a pack of cigarettes in the store and the shopkeeper said, “Dummy! What kind of tofu seller gives away potatoes?”
      “Boss, the good folks who bought my tofu were helping me out. I gave them potatoes so they could enjoy a discount.”
      The boss laughed. “Seems like there was method to your madness.”
      During the Spring Festival a year later, Millet the tofu vendor took on the role of bridegroom. The bride was Little Jade.

Text at p. 98; Translated from 读览天下 at:
http://m.dooland.com/index.php?s=/article/id/927454.html
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BONUS STORIES
1. Running a Restaurant (开饭店)

Rainy Wang (王雨)

      Someone ambitiously opened a restaurant and bar next to the county government compound. He invested three million yuan, and after one and a half years in business, he held bar tabs of one million, two hundred thousand yuan from just the county government and the county’s Communist Party Committee. After another half a year, he hadn’t collected even one penny of these debts, and in fact had added another six hundred thousand in bar tabs.
      To "put an end" to these losses, the guy bit the bullet and put his interest in the restaurant and bar up for sale. Within the next few days, a man whose last name was Money showed up. The parties haggled and eventually stuck a deal for three million, eight hundred thousand yuan for everything, including the bar tabs. Onlookers were quietly surprised: "This kid dares to take a leap into the fire pit?!"
      A few months later, the man named Money carried a big bag into the County Magistrate's residence like he knew where he was going. He told the Magistrate, whose last name was also Money, "Second Uncle, the amounts due have been collected, one million, eight hundred thousand yuan and not a penny shy. Splitting fifty-fifty, this is your share!"
      Business at the restaurant and bar was red hot every day after that. Bar tabs were cashed out every month.

http://bbs.tianya.cn/post-shortmessage-60605-1.shtml, story #18
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2. Who Says He’s Unaware? (谁说人家觉悟低)

Rainy Wang (王雨)

      The river was polluted. The crops were drying up and dying. Robust Zhao, an old party member in the village, "raised the standard". He wrote about the river’s polluted condition on banners and stuck photos he’d taken on wooden boards. Then he rode a broken-down three-wheeler to put up the banners and signboards all along the way to the county and the city….
      Lower ranking cadres could only report this on up the chain of command. When the top-level cadre heard the story, he was very angry and admonished his underlings. "I see this fellow’s awareness isn’t just high in a general sense, it’s very high!" He instructed his secretary to handle the matter. And so an emergency meeting was convened in the township, a grand affair, with all the county magistrates in attendance. Robust Zhao was awarded a title – "Advanced Model Person Building a New Rural Area" – and was appointed the Township Environmental Supervisor!
      In this way, Robust Zhao, who’d set out in a broken-down three-wheeler, had his head turned around when he arrived in the County Seat!

http://bbs.tianya.cn/post-shortmessage-60605-1.shtml, story #19




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