​​         Chinese Stories in English   

Raindrops Dripping from the Eaves
Ye Zhaoyan
Plus bonus stories by Qing Fu and Rainy Wang

      In December 1978, while the crucial Third Plenary Session of the Communist Party’s Eleventh Central Committee was being held in the capital city of Beijing, Shaolin Lu's* father passed away in a hospital in Nanjing. The doctor had talked to Shaolin and he was psychologically prepared for his father’s departure. His father had also spoken calmly to him about his impending death and comforted him. He’d told the boy not to be too upset, to take the time to review his schoolwork and prepare to retake the college entrance examination, and that he would certainly pass the test this time.
*[The protagonist’s given name, Shaolin, literally “Forest at Lesser [Mountain]”, is the name of a famous Zen Buddhist monastery and martial arts academy. See
here – Fannyi]
      The relationship between Shaolin and his father had been particularly good – exceptional, one could say – and his father’s impending death had been hard for the boy to accept. He shed tears several times and didn’t dare think about what was going to happen, but he also couldn’t stop thinking about it. When the above-mentioned event finally did happen, Shaolin gripped his father’s hand tightly as he was dying. Gradually he realized that the hand was like black ice, and was getting colder and blacker. For a moment he couldn't understand why his father's hand was like that, but then the thought flashed through his mind. The nurses were busy, so his mother and big sister helped change the dead man’s clothes, and then the family took him to the morgue.
      No one wailed in mourning, not his mother, nor his sister, nor even Shaolin. His mother and father had not gotten along well, and the relationship between his sister and his father wasn’t very harmonious, either. Shaolin hurt inside and really wanted to bawl out loud, but his mother’s and sister’s indifference made him feel embarrassed, so he could only shed his tears quietly while he pushed the gurney.
      The morgue administrator was obviously used to scenes like that. He took the key to the morgue from a large number of keys on a ring, opened the iron door and had them push the gurney with his father’s body inside. He told them to put it in a corner while they filled out a form. They agreed on a time at the crematorium, what specifications they required, how much they wanted to spend, and this and that other things. Shaolin’s mother handled all these matters.
      The day his father died was the saddest day of Shaolin’s life, and not only because his father left forever on that day. At a family meeting that evening, his mother said something very amazing in front of his sister. She was very calm as she told Shaolin and his sister that the man who had died was not Shaolin's biological father. No other news could have hit him harder or tormented him more than that. The twenty-year-old Shaolin looked at his sister, who was stunned beyond words. He felt as hurt as if someone had pounded his head with a stiff wooden stick.
      His sister looked at their mother woodenly, like she didn't understand. Shaolin had obviously been her father’s favorite while he was alive, so she felt if one of the two children wasn’t his, it should have been her.
      During the previous year, the college entrance examination had resumed after being cancelled for many years. Shaolin had sat for the exam twice and failed. The first time was in December '77 and he’d made it to the second round. The second time was during the spring of 1978, when he’d failed by just three points. Coincidentally, I’d sat for both those exams, too. We’d signed up together, reviewed together, and walked into the same examination room.
      Shaolin didn’t live far from my home, and neither of us was a recent high school graduate. I’d been a worker for four years when the entrance exams resumed. He was the same age as me and had been working as a waiter in a small restaurant. Preparing for the exam together had a lot to do with our becoming close. We’d taken a refresher course at the same night school, hired the same tutor and memorized the same review materials. There was another reason as well, of course. His mother and mine were colleagues. While we didn’t live in the same dependents’ compound, they often come to our place to socialize.
      I had an unforgettable conversation with Shaolin soon after his father died. It was on the eve of the winter vacation, as I recall, and we hadn’t yet taken the final in Marxist philosophy. He came to the school unexpectedly and sought me out to tell me his father had passed away. He was very unhappy and hurt and needed someone to chat with, someone to talk to. I told him we still had a test the next day. He could see I was a little upset and stopped talking. I didn’t have the heart to disappoint him and felt embarrassed, so I told him that as long as he was there, we might as well talk about it. The test was just a Hail Mary effort, anyway. The teacher had dished it out to us, and we would dish it back, and no one knew what we were talking about.
      Shaolin said “I really don’t have much to say. I just wanted to tell you that my pa’s dead.” Even after so many years, I can't forget his expression when he said that. It was very cold, not sad at all. I didn't understand why he’d had to run over just to tell me this.
      We were sitting in one corner of the school. He took a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and handed one to me, knowing full well that I didn't smoke. He took one for himself and we both smoked without saying a word. Before long, when we’d finished our cigarettes, he said “Go on back to your studying. We’ll talk later.” That’s what he said, but we continued talking for more than an hour. I felt rather distracted the whole time, unable to get the next day’s Marxist philosophy test out of my mind, so I don’t recall what he said except for a few essential points. He said he’d never known, until his mother told him after his father died, that he and that man weren’t related by blood.
      He told me he’d brooded over two things after his father died. First, he’d wet his bed when he was a child, and his mother and sister had made fun of him. They threatened to tell his teacher and that all his classmates would know about it. He said he’d been extremely worried and ashamed. He got frightened when he thought about it and didn't dare go to sleep at night for fear he’d wet his bed while he slept.
      It was his father who’d gotten him over his worries. He told Shaolin that bedwetting was no big deal and that his sister had wet her bed, too. He didn’t know whether Shaolin’s mother had, but he himself had wet his bed when he was a child. Shaolin said he’d felt relieved when he heard that.
      As for the second thing he’d brooded about, he’d started having wet dreams when he was an adolescent and didn't know what to do. Just like when he’d wet his bed, he was frightened and embarrassed. When his mother found out, she’d told his sister first thing and the two of them had burst out laughing. They said he was immoral and shameless. They told him that if he kept on doing it, he’d have to wash his underpants himself because no one else would wash the filthy things for him. His sister was five years older than him, and in his mind, she never did anything remarkable except bully him.
      When it happened again, he’d washed his underpants in secret and then put the wet shorts on. He didn't know that the same thing happened to all boys. Finally one day his father told him that wet dreams are even more common than bedwetting. He said that boys get past it when they’re a little older than him and can get married.
      To tell you the truth, I didn’t understand why Shaolin had been in such a hurry to tell me these things. It was like he was talking to himself. He’d sigh heavily, then be silent for a while. He said he’d planned to have a big cry in front of me, but then suddenly he didn't want to cry. Things had been weighing on his mind, but he felt better when he spoke of them out loud. I couldn't tell he was better, though. All I could see was his sorrow at the double attack he’d experienced – such a good father gone, and the man wasn’t his biological father.
      The next day I couldn't keep my mind on the Marxist philosophy test. I kept thinking about Shaolin, remembering what he’d said. The test proctor, a kindly fellow, wore reading glasses and read a newspaper throughout the test. He said it was a closed-book exam, but we didn’t pay attention to the rules. If we ran into a question we couldn’t answer, we quietly took out the book or discussed the matter. We told each other the answers and which paragraphs to copy.
      Lu Shaolin took the college entrance exam again, but still didn’t pass. He was somewhat disheartened and wondered why he kept failing. Truth is, when he and I were reviewing together back then, he always did better than me, especially in mathematics. His essays were beautifully written, too. At night school, the instructor chose his essays as exemplars more than once.
      A year later he became a student at a college offering televised classes. He had to keep working because he didn't have leave to go to school, and he found the televised classes boring, so he simply decided not to graduate and never got a diploma. Young people didn’t change jobs often in those days, unless they got admitted to a college.
      Shaolin was a cook in a small restaurant run by a collective. All of a sudden he began to develop an interest in calligraphy, and he had his nose in a calligraphy copybook every day. He became obsessed with making ink stones, the mortars used to grind and hold calligrapher’s ink, and would get stones together to process himself. For a time he often came to the school where I was and sat in on classes. He audited classes on ancient literary history and Classical Chinese. To tell you the truth, he was quite a bit better at those subjects than me.
      We chatted when we had the chance. Mostly he liked to tell stories about his father. He told me that after his adoptive father died, he’d continuously wondered why the old man had been so good to him. His impression was that his sister was always complaining how their father preferred sons to daughters. He and his sister didn’t care much for each other, and one important reason was that his sister felt their father was partial to him.
      Shaolin's adoptive father was a teacher at a high school level vocational school. I’m not sure what he taught, but anyway it had something to do with radio equipment. He was labeled a Kuomintang spy during the Cultural Revolution because the rebels saw him in a group photo wearing a Kuomintang military uniform. Shaolin said that he had in fact been in the Kuomintang, but he’d later joined the Liberation Army and the Communist Party. He’d served in the War against US Aggression in Korea and been wounded, and a picture of him in his Volunteer Army uniform had hung on their wall at home.
      There were a lot of things that Shaolin couldn’t understand about his father – why he didn't much like his own daughter, and why he’d forgiven his wife for having an affair. In the end, he’d only been able to come up with a rather preposterous conclusion, that his father had treated him well just to please his mother.
      "You don't know how good he was to my mother. You really can't imagine that kind of decency." Shaolin couldn't help but sigh whenever he talked about how well his adoptive father had treated his mother, how he’d loved, honored and obeyed her.
      Old Liang, a friend of his mother’s, had often came over to their house to visit when Shaolin was a child. Once he’d accidentally come across his mother and old Liang embracing each other. He hadn't known what was going on at the time. The mother had screamed at him and bawled him out, and told him go outside to play and be quick about it. He hadn’t understood why she was so angry, or why the man she called Old Liang would come over when his adoptive father wasn’t at home. Sometimes he did come over when his adoptive father was at home, and everyone would laugh and talk warmly and affably.
      Shaolin heard people talking about them behind their backs when was a child. They said his adoptive father was really good-natured, but he kept things too bottled up inside. Wearing the green hat time after time put him in a class by himself. Because he was still a child, he didn’t know that wearing a green hat was a euphemism for being a cuckold.
      For a time after his adoptive father died, he kept thinking that Old Liang was his biological father. He mulled it over while looking in the mirror, and the more he looked, the more he could see a resemblance to the man. After his sister got married, her relationship with their mother deteriorated even further, but on the other hand her relationship with her younger brother greatly improved. In the past, she hadn't known that they had the same mother but different fathers. She’d always resented the man, but once he was gone, she felt rather sympathetic toward him and thought he’d been quite selfless.
      His sister hadn’t been married long when she got into a new romantic relationship. It created some serious problems and she acquired a bad reputation. She finally ended the affair, but that didn’t resolve the problems. She talked it over with her brother and said her basic nature must be flawed, that she was like their mother and could’ve inherited her bad habits. She really had to apologize to Shaolin’s brother-in-law. Shaolin took this opportunity to ask if she still remembered the man named Old Liang. She laughed and said “How couldn’t I? I remember him all too well.”
      "Is he my biological father?"
      "Of course not."
      "How do you know ‘of course not’?”
      She told him that a man had come around after their father died, and that man was his natural father. When he’d mentioned that he’d come to have a look at Shaolin, their mother raised a stink and chased the guy away. That got Shaolin excited. Right away he asked what the man looked like and where he could be found. His sister said she’d only got a quick look at him and, at the time, she hadn't even known who he was. She’d only heard their mother mumbling after the guy left. It seems he was from somewhere in Xinjiang and he was no longer young. His features were very similar to Shaolin’s but he looked to be quite tall, seemingly a bit taller than Shaolin.
      Later Shaolin found an opportunity to question his mother directly about his biological father. She was furious. “The two men I hated most in my life,” she said, “one is that dad of yours. He knew full well that you weren’t his, but he just had to act like he didn’t care. You thought he was being oh so good to you. Bullshit! The only reason he treated you so well was to make me feel bad, to make me feel like I owed him so I couldn’t ever hold my head up high.”
      The other man she hated most was Shaolin’s biological father. “That heartless asshole,” she said, “as long as I have a breath left in me, he better not think about seeing you and you better not go looking for him. That’s absolutely not allowed. If you dare look for him, I’ll die right away and it’ll be on your conscience. I’ll get a rope and hang myself right then, whether you believe it or not.”
      Later Shaolin got in good with a female coworker who was a few years older than him. I was a little surprised when I heard the news because I’d seen her in the small restaurant where they worked. She was a server who brought dishes to the table after a waitress had taken the order. She had thin slits for eyes, and when she saw you she’d look like she was mulling something over, as if as if she’d met you before and was trying to remember where. Her skin was very white and she wasn’t very tall. She was married with one son and one daughter.
      Shaolin didn’t shy away from a relationship with her. When I asked him if it was the real thing or if he was just playing around, he answered that it didn't matter, either way would be OK. It all depended on her attitude. He was just going with the flow and watching to see how she felt about it. She’d said she would get a divorce to be with him, and he’d told her, “OK, go head and get a divorce.”
      Then she’d changed her tune and said “Let’s keep on like we have been. I don't want a divorce. Everybody take it one day at a time.”
      When he said, “OK, then it’s one day at a time”, she got really mad and pissed and moaned about it. As a result they’d broken up and gotten back together a couple of times. They always longed for each other when they were apart.
      Shaolin lived quite close to me those days, in an old house on the street. I went there often to visit, and sometimes that woman was there, too. It was a small room with a small spring bed and a large desk. He’d strung up some cords and used wood clothespins to hang his calligraphy. He’d gotten into engraving
seals and also liked to carve hard-to-read characters on inkstones. On his desk was a copy of the ancient dictionary “Shuowen Jiezi” that he’d borrowed from me and never returned.
      It was during that period that the woman got divorced. They lived together for a while and then broke up peacefully. He told me that her grandfather had gone to Taiwan on the eve of Liberation and later went to the United States. He was a person of some status. They’d had no contact for many years but had reconnected after China opened to the West. The old man died suddenly and left a large legacy, which the entire family shared.
      Shaolin still liked to talk about his adoptive father when I visited. He felt he should write a novel and said that, while it seemed at first sight there was nothing particularly eventful in a man’s life, in fact there were lots of stories. The details he talked about and the examples he cited might seem trivial in others' eyes, but in his opinion, they all had special meanings. The tears would flow while he spoke and he said he really owed the man an apology. He said that if his father were still alive and could see his son now, see how his son had failed to live up to his expectations, he’d certainly be broken-hearted. His adoptive father’s greatest wish in life was that his son would be admitted to a university. Shaolin said he’d definitely go to college if his adoptive father was still alive, even if only to please him.
      "I know going to college isn’t such a big deal, but for him, I’d certainly do it."
      The small restaurant where Shaolin worked was scheduled for demolition because it faced the street, and was in fact demolished faster than you could say the word. He was in the first group of workers to be laid-off. Nobody had imagined this urban renewal project, or that getting laid off meant they wouldn’t have jobs. He hadn’t thought about this when he’d said that going to college wasn’t a big deal. A college diploma is a fig leaf, after all, and can turn into your last means of protection before you know it.
      After the layoff Shaolin opened a small restaurant of his own, then worked as a security guard and then as a shop assistant. He didn’t do any of these jobs for very long. Later he hid himself away in the suburbs, where he worked making inkstones in an empty factory building.
      The inkstone on my desk is one that Shaolin made. He did a careful job of selecting materials and engraving it – to get a good product, go to an expert who knows what he’s doing. One day a famous calligrapher came to my house as a guest, and when he saw that inkstone, he loved it so much he couldn’t put it down. He said he had many valuable inkstones in his collection but mine was excellent and quite remarkable. He insisted on visiting Shaolin, so I took him there. When they met, the guy commissioned ten inkstones at a price that would’ve been difficult for anyone to refuse. Calligraphers are too rich these days, and money isn’t an object for them.
      Shaolin turned into a hermit, hidden away as he was in the remote suburbs. He found a woman from Anhui Province in the nanny market to take care of him. She also had small eyes and white skin – he said he liked those things in a woman because they were easy on the eyes and looked reserved. The place where he lived was rather rudimentary, with a small workshop, a lot of stones and dust everywhere. He kept a mutt. When you make inkstones by hand, you still have to use a machine. It’s really hard work and very noisy.
      The woman Shaolin had been in good with back then came looking for him. She’d gotten remarried, some bigshot businessman she’d met, so she had more money than ever and was a typical rich lady. She hung around for half a month renewing the sweet feelings of bygone days. Joking with her, Shaolin asked if the Anhui nanny he’d hired looked like her. That made her quite unhappy. How could he compare her to a nanny from the countryside? Shaolin later said that it was good for his ego to have two women get jealous over him. It was stimulating and great fun to have each of them find fault with the other behind her back. The one didn’t think much of the Anhui nanny, and the Anhui nanny didn't think much of her, saying she’d be ugly as an old witch if she didn’t wear makeup.
      Later Shaolin gave me another inkstone for bringing the famous calligrapher to him. People who’d seen it had offered him a high price, but he wouldn’t sell it. I was embarrassed to accept it, but Shaolin said, “It’s not as valuable as you think. Consider it as something you’re just keeping for me.”
      He no longer makes inkstones. There’s no market because too few people are knowledgeable about them, and it’s impossible to make a living by handcrafting them. The suburbs are also being torn down and his small workshop is no more. A fellow from Taiwan bought the inventory of inkstones he’d built up over the years for an extremely low, bargain basement price. He’s now working the night shift in a parking lot. He told me that he prefers the night shift. No one’s around in the dead of night, and the little cars lay in the parking lot like coffins, especially the black, high-end sedans. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when he asked me to be his teacher. He said he was considering whether to learn how to write a novel.
      "I’ve gone back and forth over it,” he said, “and I still want to write down my father's story."
      I didn't know which father he was talking about, his adoptive father or the biological father he’s never met. He’s often mentioned both. At first it was his mostly his adoptive father, but later he spoke more often about his natural father. The past was like smoke, but his love for his father was like a mountain. The illusions of reality and the truths of the dream world were, of course, just casual conversation, and he’d never actually put pen to paper.
      His mother had died young, and he’d questioned her again on her deathbed. “I told you before,” she said. “I’ll die before I tell you anything. Now I’m about to breathe my last and you think I’ll change my mind. Dream on!”
      Her name was Admire Chastity Lü. After she died, Shaolin’s hope of finding his biological father was more remote than ever. He’d gone to Xinjiang many times during the years he was making inkstones. He went to find stones to process, at the same time hoping to get news of his natural father. There was never any news, of course. There couldn’t have been.
      “He flew like Pegasus, lightning fast through the air; Up to Heaven and down to Hades, looking everywhere.” Shaolin made every effort to get clues to his father’s whereabouts. Once he got the idea of placing an ad in a Xinjiang newspaper. It read, "Admire Chastity Lü’s son seeks biological father." Except for his mother's name, he couldn't think of any worthwhile information to put in the ad.
      He daydreamed about getting into a car accident in Xinjiang. His father would see the report and make a special trip to see him. He was indeed in a dangerous rollover once, but his father didn’t show up. Or he’d imagine getting some kind of incurable disease, and his father would immediately rush over when he heard about it, only to find that his son had already departed this mortal coil.
      Shaolin was quite serious when he discussed his plans with me. He knew Reader Magazine is a publication with a very large circulation, and he wondered if he could publish his “Seeking Father” ad in it.
      He even described an imaginary scenario to me: He’d depart the world of mortals – it didn’t matter how, but anyway he’d be dead and gone “back from whence he came.” His biological father would rush to Nanjing from his faraway home and arrange to meet me at a teahouse. He’d express his regret at not being able to see his son in this life. He’d have me talk about the son he’d never met, and recount the story of his son's life, and tell him about his son's adoptive father and his mother and what he thought about his natural father.
      It would be raining off and on outside, sometimes heavy and sometimes a drizzle, and raindrops would be dripping from the eaves of the teahouse. His father would be old and white-haired, and would have to turn his head to the side to be able to hear. Suddenly tears of experience would cross his cheeks, and he wouldn’t be able to say anything through his sobs.
      Many musical instruments haven’t been played in this world for a long time. I don't understand why Shaolin wants to have me take on a role in his imaginary scenario, or why he comes to me for someone to narrate these ancient stories about ancient people on his behalf.
      He isn’t a novelist. He doesn’t write fiction.

2017年中国短篇小说精选 Best of Chinese Short Stories 2017, p. 036
长江文艺出版社,责任编辑:刘程程,周阳; Translated from旅行中拒绝旅行的博客
at
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_abed6d3c0102x83k.html
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Bonus: Mini-Stories by Qing Fu (青夫)
From: An Exhibition of Contemporary Chinese Flash Fiction Writers (In Process)
当代中国闪小说百家展 (添加中), Translated from
here, also available here


1. Love in the Mountain Wilds (山野之恋)
      A huge snowfall covered the sky. The wind howled crazily.
      An avalanche. The entire Field Geologic Group was buried in a cavity in the snow.
      Hungry, cold and almost unconscious, I crawled toward the side hoping to see rescuers.
      A ray of sunlight reflected off the snow and glimmered through the tent.
      Lan saw me and smiled.
      I crawled over close to her with some difficulty. "An SOS has been sent out,” I said in a weak voice. “But now the radio and our mobile phones are out of electricity. I’ve lost contact with the outside world…. Our superiors will send people, but this hollow’s so deep in the mountains there’s no way they can reach us. It’d be tough just to find this place even if they sent helicopters...."
      Lan was a little scared. She shed tears as she said softly, "So we’ll have to depend on luck...."
      "There’s a way to live for a few more days, Lan. I don't know if you’ll be willing...." I explained slowly. "It's just that, it’s our only hope... You and me, together, we can create the miracle of life!..."
      She blushed but didn’t answer.
      "I don't want to take advantage of you, really. I don’t have any other purpose…. I just want to make a stab at living for a few more days.... OK? Just nod if it’s OK, or shake your head if it isn’t...."
      She looked at me. She didn’t nod, but she didn’t shake her head, either.
      I wanted to crawl up beside her, to take her hand.
      I was freezing and didn't even have the strength to crawl. I turned over and rolled. I grasped her hand and smelled her breath and her scent.
      We hugged. Our lips pressed together....
      Warmth flooded my body instantly and I suddenly gained strength.
      We waited quietly, waiting for death, waiting for rescue….
      Lan and I each woke up from a coma in a hospital emergency room.
      There were fresh flowers next to the beds....

2. See
here, story #25

3. Severity (伤害)
      The child looked less and less like me as he grew. The neighbors questioned whether I was spineless.
      A DNA test confirmed that the child had no blood relationship with me.
      There was an earthquake at home. My wife wanted to jump off a building. My mother was in critical condition.
      We went to the Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital to investigate whether we’d been given the wrong child.
      After many consultations with the other family, we exchanged children happily.
      My natural child looked like me. We had a party to celebrate.
     I was happy for a while, but also felt a little lost. I spent time with the child, and it was like being with a stranger.
      The child was sad all the time, not willing to call me “Dad”, and not willing to call my wife “Mom”.
      Suddenly the child was gone....
      I got a text message on my phone: "I’ve returned to my old home!"
      The child I’d sent away stood in front of me again, completely miserable. Tears streamed down the poor thing’s face.

4. Hatred for a Child Killer (杀子之仇)
      His child was kidnapped for ransom, then killed. The murderer got away clean.
      Public Security pursued him for a year with no results.
      He was disconsolate from the grief of losing his child. He was withering away in both body and mind.
      He offered a reward of one hundred thousand yuan for the killer’s capture.
      He abandoned his company and ran almost all over China looking for his murderous enemy.
      One day three years later, at the end of the earth, he discovered the murderer.
      The murderer was arrested and brought to justice.
      Then he saw an item in a newspaper: The murderer’s wife had left home and abandoned a young child.
      He slapped the table and stood up, all sorts of feelings welling up in his heart – anger, pain, compassion – and rushed to the murderer's hometown. He saw the abandoned baby, now parentless, and remembered the tragic death of his beloved son.
      He stared at the orphan, and hugged and kissed the child. Again, all sorts of feelings welled up in his heart. Tears came to his eyes and his heart broke.
      He determined to raise the child to adulthood.

5. See
here, story #6.

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Second Bonus: Mini-Stories by Rainy Wang (王雨)
From:
http://bbs.tianya.cn/post-shortmessage-60605-1.shtml


Story #12, Broken Rule (坏了规矩)
      As the Spring Festival approached, the anti-corruption and pro-honesty efforts got fierce. Many leaders responded with pro-actively – they sent all kinds of gifts to the higher-ups, so many that a pile of stuff filled the offices of the Communist Party’s Discipline Committee.
      Young Zhao, a college student recently hired on in the Finance Section, took it all in and got worried. He hadn’t received any non-monetary gifts, but had received two thousand yuan in cash each from two banks. Anti-corruption talk on the grapevine was really tight, and the leadership was in the forefront leading by example, so what should he do? ! He’d heard people say that getting some booze and smokes was no big deal, but it was best not to accept cash!
      He thought and thought about it, and came to a painful decision. He took the four thousand yuan in cash and send it on to the higher-ups!
      A small stone can stir up a huge ripple effect. Overnight Young Zhao became the organization’s "alternative ". Behind his back, many comrades complained that "It’s all because that punk broke the rule!"

Story #13, One Goes and Everyone’s Involved (牵一发动全身)
      In August, the Secretary of City A’s Party Committee was sent up before the Party’s Disciplinary Committee for corruption and bribery, and for living a dissipated lifestyle.
      In October, the City’s Mayor was promoted to Party Committee Secretary. The former City A Party Secretary and the Party Secretaries of B County and C Township immediately started to worry, worry to the point of panic!
      The reason was, C Township’s Party Secretary was a die-hard supporter of B County’s Party Secretary; and B County’s Party Secretary was a die-hard supporter of City A’s former Party Secretary. The frightful thing was that the Township Party Secretary and the Township Mayor were deadly enemies; the County Party Secretary and the County Commissioner were deadly enemies; and the former City Party Secretary and the City Mayor were deadly enemies. Now the former Party Secretary had been sent up on charges and the City Mayor had been promoted to his position. Since the Township Mayor was the County Commissioner’s man, and the County Commissioner was the City Mayor’s man, wouldn’t everyone’s position be changing?!

Story #14, Not Knowing the Customs At All (一点不懂规矩)
      Young Wang, a secretary, wanted to take some materials to the provincial government. He went to the small car motor pool and was surprised they didn't have a car. Back in the office he muttered, "Things are all out of whack today. There isn’t even a car around!" No one in the office said anything.
      Ten minutes later he gave the motor pool a call but they still didn’t have a car. He swore and said: "What a screw-up. Where’re all the cars?!"
      The Director gave him a dirty look. In a loud whisper he asked, "Do you understand our routine?!" Young Wang broke into a cold sweat.
      That evening Ms. Zhao called him on the phone. "That was dumb, Young Wang. The day after tomorrow is National Day. All the cars have been sent to out-of-town colleges to pick up the leaders’ kids and bring them home for the holiday. You socialize with people in the organization and still don’t understand this practice?!"

Story #15, A Most Sensible Guy (最懂事的家伙)
      It’s a new year, and the world is changing with each passing day. Things like picking up one’s bowl to eat meat, or putting down one’s chopsticks and cursing your mother, happen all the time. Even the giving of gifts is no exception. Some people make tape recordings when they give gifts, striking as much fear in the hearts of the officials who accept them as if they were walking on thin ice.
      Boss Qian went to County Commissioner Zhao’s home with a thick envelope and notes of things he needed done, and pushed them gently into a small pile in front of the Commissioner. He didn’t mention "official business", just tore off a blank sheet of paper and wrote: “municipal construction” and “economic development”, as if the committee members from the People’s Consultative Conference were making suggestions and recommendations to the Commissioner. After a few minutes, they shook hands and Boss Qian left. There was absolutely no mention of a quid pro quo.
      Commissioner Zhao then counted the contents of the envelope. There was exactly fifty thousand yuan. Overcome by emotion, he told his wife: "This guy Boss Qian, he’s the most sensible guy I’ve ever seen!"



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