Stories 01


                                                    1. A Difference of One Word                  by Ci Yuan (Sentimental, ♥♥)
                                                    2. Arranging Little Blackie’s Marriage   by Ci Yuan (Humor, ♥♥♥)
                                                    3. The Sequence of Three Questions   by Ci Yuan (Imaginative, ♥♥♥)
                                                    4. The Swindler                                        by Yearning for Rainy (Crime, ♥♥♥)

1. A Difference of One Word (一字之差)
by Ci Yuan茨园

      While the Educated Youths were straggling back to the city [at the end of the Cultural Revolution], a young city girl remained on the slope in Ci Yuan Village, one leg bowed and the other pushing a hoe into the ground. She hadn't slept well, tossing and turning all night. Eventually she'd gotten up and lit the kerosene lamp.
      At first, she'd intended look at herself in the mirror while she applied two ounces of cucumber slices to her face [as a beauty treatment], and then lie back down. She really couldn't stand to see how dark her skin had been tanned, though, so instead she'd taken out pen and paper and, in a few quick strokes, written a letter to her boyfriend who'd returned to the city before her. It said, "Bro', with y'all's help, my belly's growing and growing!"
      Her boyfriend got the letter three days later. When this brother saw the address and handwriting on the envelope, his heart went thump-a-thump and skipped a beat. "Boy, so soon and she's already missing me!" But when he found a place by himself to read the letter, his tears started to flow.
      He tossed and turned in bed the entire night, unable to fall asleep. Over and over he muttered, "Things have changed, things have changed, oh, how things have changed! I never thought things would turn out like this after only three months away from my kindergarten playmates, Green Plum and Bamboo Pony! Jeez! It's just like she did to that guy. Still, she shouldn't goad me like this in a letter!"
      The next day, after a sleepless night, the brother was on a bumpy ride, clank-clanking along, first in a train and then in a bus, going back to Ci Yuan Village to end it with the young girl.
      When they met, he stood there staring blankly at her belly. Her body was rather thick, but maybe that was because it was a cold day and she was wearing a bulky coat. She really didn't look pregnant. After a long time he said, dumbly, "Sister, let's break up!"
      "What do you mean?" The girl who used to hide shyly and playfully behind her pigtails stared up at him angrily.
      "You know exactly what I mean!" he said coldly through the acid taste in his mouth.
      "What is it I'm supposed to know?" she asked, puzzled.
      "In your belly.... You don't get it?" Tears rolled down his cheeks like pearls falling into a jade plate, but he stayed firm.
      "What? Inside my belly, outside my belly? Speak clearly!" The girl patted her belly loudly through the thick cotton padding of her jacket, unable to make heads or tails of what he was saying. Anyone with sharp-enough eyes could certainly have seen a few lice, which had been perched precariously on her coat, fall to the ground.
      "Your belly.... It's growing and growing. That's what you wrote in your letter. There's no use denying it!" As he spoke, he waved the letter in front of her face.
      She took the letter and read it. "Oh, my," she laughed, tittering like a branch in the breeze. "Oh, mother, this is so embarrassing! When I wrote that my 'belly' is growing daily, I was careless. I meant 'bravery' but wrote 'belly' by mistake!"
      And so, in a dilapidated kiln on the slope to the west of the village, after half an hour of trouble and strife, two lovers were brought together by a beautiful and happy fate.
      I don't really know who spread this story around, but the long and short of it is, it caused quite a sensation in our Ci Yuan Village. Later on, this pair of Educated Youths got rich and donated tens of thousands of Yuan to build a primary school for the village.
      Even today, during the daytime in our village it's common to see scenes like this: People holding books in their hands, men and women, young and old, studying religiously under the big trees, with flashlights at hand for use when it gets dark. And at night you can often see scenes like this: There'll still be people holding books, taking advantage of the bright moonlight; the difference being, instead of flashlights, they'll have an onion or something in the other hand, to assuage their appetite when they get hungry.
      Nevertheless, although the villagers are all very studious, they lack the great professors like my colleague who graduated from Beijing University had, who could prepare the lessons of your dreams. Thus, their education level is not high. It also seems that, even if someone can build an atomic bomb, they can't be considered educated if they don't have a diploma. This has often led to some humorous situations.
      Some time ago, a girl in her early twenties from our village was trying to get a fellow two years older than she was to notice her. She took the initiative and sent him a text message from her cell phone: "Hey, guy, my Zhuang* people all say I'm a beautiful lady wolf. If the two of us...."
      Despite the ambiguity of using ellipsis for the last part of the message, the young man replied quickly, politely and at length: "Lady Wolf, thank you for your kind thoughts, but I cannot accept your offer. I'm afraid to! It's a good thing you used a text message to confess your intentions. If I'd met you on the road and dared to utter the word 'no', it might have been all over for me!"
      Of course, it's not only women who can do unthinking and haphazard things. A day ago, a guy in our village sent a text message to a girl he'd been after for three months, and with whom he looked to have some prospects. He meant to type "Hey, girl," but hit a wrong button without realizing it and wrote "Hey, Aunt" instead, using the character for "mother's older sister." He sent it off without reading it.
      As it happens, the girl is one of those cultured people who study by moonlight, so after reading the message and having a good laugh, she sent him back a limerick:

      "I say, dear brother of mine,
      "I don't think we have the time!
      "If you call me your auntie,
      "Your ma is younger than me,
      "And marrying you would be a crime!
      "Think about it, and let's bid each other adieu!"

      This kind of text message naturally makes it through the phone company censors without a problem, so when the button was pushed, and at the cost of a dime, the young guy received it. He wasn't convinced when he read it. "I only got one word wrong, and this is the price I pay?" He doesn't have much education, though, and doesn't understand rhyming and such, so he just dashed off this message: "Mother, girl, aunt, they're written almost the same, so what's the difference?"
      As we all know, intellectuals can be impatient sorts. The girl returned a message that was both polite and vulgar. "So, Baby Bro', you might as well marry your aunt!"
      Ah, in our village, just one wrong word can lead to no end of trouble.
*[The Zhuang are a minority ethnic group who live in southwest China – Fannyi]

2013中国年度幽默作品,《喜剧世界》杂志社选片,丁斯主编
2013 Annual Humorous Writings of China, from Comedy World Magazine, Ding Si, Ed., p. 64
Translated from Version at
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4ba9f46a0102eoj5.html
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2. Arranging Little Blackie’s Marriage (小黑相亲)

by Ci Yuan茨园

      Blackie's one of the young fellows I know. I’ve put a lot of thought into a certain question because of him: A person’s name really is important enough that you can’t just choose one at random. Like Blackie – if his father hadn’t insisted on calling him "Little Blackie" as his childhood nickname back then, I think he might not have grown up to be so small and dark.
      However, the truth is that being small and dark doesn’t keep a person from growing up, and still less does it keep one from falling in love. The day before yesterday, Blackie came to see me and said he wanted to borrow me for something, and while he was at it, he might as well borrow my car. I had to think that was a bit unusual.
      The scene at the time was like this: Blackie said, "Bro’, how about coming with me to see my future mother-in-law? Um, and we might as well take your car." I could understand the first sentence, because I figured for sure it was just Blackie wanting me to go see her like he would want his own brother to go. He wanted me there to help him out as an advisor.
      But I had to feel a little strange about the second sentence. I countered, "Why, little bro’? You’ve got your own car!"
      "It’ll be better to take yours,” he said. "Taking yours’ll be more effective!" He smiled as he said that, so I smiled, too, along with him.
      They’d agreed to meet in a coffee shop. I suggested getting a private room, but he said we’d sit in the public area. "You son of a gun!" I said with a laugh, once again following his lead.
      We hadn’t been sitting there more than ten minutes or so when a statuesque middle-aged lady came in. She was carrying a large package with obvious difficulty. Blackie stood up abruptly. "Hey," he called as he stuck out his hand and waived to her.
      She came over and seemed taken aback when she saw me. “This is your father, then?”
      "No, Ma’am, one of my buddies,” Blackie explained hastily.
      The woman smiled faintly and shot me a kind-hearted look. "Yes, the skin color is obviously somewhat different!”
      Logically, this should have made the scene rather awkward, but it didn’t. Blackie seemed to be used to people treating him like that. But the woman seemed to have been deliberately caustic, and I was fuming. "How could she say such a thing?" I thought. "Like I'd found myself an African wife and had a little black baby!"
      In fact, it was the next scene that was really awkward. The woman created a problem at first when she suggested, "Why not get a private room? It won't be more than a few extra bucks." But Blackie said "As you wish," and his relaxed manner diffused the potential conflict.
      But the next thing was obviously rather difficult to just "as-you-wish." Because, as soon as we sat down in the private room, the woman took a stack of money out of her bag. She put it on the table, pushed to over to Blackie and said, "I had only one reason for agreeing with you to come out today. Um, here's a hundred thousand yuan. If you can just stay away from my daughter, it's yours."
      "I'm sincere about her, Ma'am!"
      The woman just answered, "Don't say that again!" She pulled another stack of money out of her bag. "Two hundred thousand. Deal?"
      "Ma'am, whatever I do...."
      Blackie looked a bit upset, but the woman wouldn't listen to him. She plunked the open bag down on the table in one swift move and, with a dark look on her face, said:" Young man, you've got to learn when enough's enough! There's five hundred thousand yuan here that I just withdrew from the bank. I'll give it all to you! You can consider it a prayer on bended knee! Just stay away from my daughter!"
      "Why do you have to be like this, Ma'am?" Blackie said.
      The woman seemed to disdain saying anything else to him and instead turned to face me. "You, sir, speaking honestly and reasonably, if you had a daughter, would you let her marry Blackie?"
      "Of course, I would!" I answered, without giving it a second thought.
      She paused a moment, clearly surprised, then said, "I mean honestly!"
      "Of course, I would!" I said again loudly.
      "Oh, how could any man be like that?" she mumbled, dissatisfied. Looking at Blackie, she said, "Give me your answer. Whatever, I really don't want you and my daughter to be together! Of course, it's not just because you look a little bit that way. The most important thing is that I think our two families are so far apart in status and social standing and stuff."
      Suddenly Blackie, who hadn't spoken for a long while, fished a bank card out of his pocket. He pushed it over in front of the woman and said, "Ma'am, everything I have is in this account. Take it and let me and your daughter be together, OK?"
      The woman was startled, then suddenly started laughing: "I'm not short of bank cards. I've got five or six! Hey, you said everything you've got. How much is that?"
      "Uh, not a lot. Maybe a million."
      Sometimes a foot is short, and other times an inch is long. A minute dragged by as though it were an hour before the woman exclaimed, "Blackie, you can call me 'Mom' now!"
      Blackie hemmed and hawed but didn't say it.
       The woman looked around and said, "It seems too stuffy in here. It'll be better if we go to our house. I'm a pretty darn good cook!"
      "Um. This...." I don't know, maybe he thought the woman had changed too fast, but Blackie seemed a little hesitant.
      The woman said, "Why are you hesitating? You and my daughter haven't seen each other for a couple of days, right? I noticed she's gotten thinner these last two days!"
      "Ma'am, I know I'm a little dark, and kind of small...." All of a sudden Blackie seemed to be babbling. The woman interrupted him. "What of it! None of that has anything to do with this thing called love, does it?"
      So, Blackie stopped hesitating. He said, "Wait a second," took out his phone and gave his driver a call. "Bring my car over. Be quick about it, ten minutes!"
      Then he glanced at me and, a little embarrassed, said, "Bro', you can do your own thing. I'll take you to lunch some other day!"
      Yeah, aren't people these days just too self-centered, kissing me off like that?

2015年中国幽默作品精选,关河悦选编,第205页
The Best of Chinese Humorous Writings, 2015, Guan Heyue, Anthologist, p. 205
Translated from version at
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4ba9f46a0102v470.html
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3. The Sequence of Three Questions (三个问题次)

by Ci Yuan茨园

      The County Bureau of Statistics published a set of authoritative data showing an imbalance in the ratio of men to women. On average, there were only two marriageable women for every three men.
      "That's phony, right?" My brother didn't believe it, and he expanded his critique by using us as an example: "There's three of us brothers and none of us has a wife. For better or worse, they'd have to give us an average of two wives for these statistics to be true!"
      My brother's in his thirties. Years ago he used to dream about getting married, but we're all just farmers in our family. We go through a lot of pain and agony, busting our butts and breaking our backs, and still never make any money, let alone enough to get married.
      My brother saved up all the wheat he harvested, trying to get a wife as soon as possible, but after saving up for several years he still didn't have even one granary full. What's more, eyeballing it, the amount of grain seemed to be getting smaller every day.
      One night he hid quietly in a dark corner and stared continuously at the granary, without even blinking. When the night was at its darkest, he spied a fat old rat, as round as a ball. Believe it or not, the rat was sitting up with its legs crossed, crunch-crunching away on the wheat.
      That was more than my brother could handle. He jumped up and shouted angrily, "What are you doing that for? Don't you have any sense of shame? All these rich people around, but you don't go eat their wheat! How come you have to eat mine? And eat until you're so fuckin' fat!"
      Logically, being asked so many "?" one after the other would have made anyone feel ashamed, but that rat eyed my brother calmly and said, "Hey, hey, hey, listen to you asking so many questions like a man of learning. Don't you know that there're only eight grains of rice in life? You've traveled the world but haven't learned to act reasonably?"
      My brother was startled and actually began to feel a bit ashamed of himself. "You should practice what you preach!" he said in embarrassment.
      "If I knew how to do that, I'd be the best rat ever, now wouldn't I? You'd better take your questions to the Taoist Immortals for answers!"
      Those words inspired the dreamer. It occurred to him that a great number of Immortals lived at Prostrate Cow Mountain, three hundred miles from our village. There were men and women, young and old, and witches, too, of course, and demons. My brother made a promise to himself right there on the spot. He would find an Immortal and ask when he would get rich, and when he would be able to take a wife.
      He set out the next day, early in the morning. He had a kitchen knife clipped at his waist and was carrying half a burlap bagful of dried sweet potato buns on his shoulder. Two gourds, one filled with water and one with booze, were slung around his neck like the guerrillas used to carry land mines during the war. He left the village quietly, though. I don't know if he was just thinking of himself, and was afraid we'd make a scene fighting over a woman if we followed along; or maybe he was being unselfish and just wanted surprise us.
      He walked and walked until, at dusk, he came to a home with a courtyard – the kind of place city folk call a "villa". He looked all around but didn't see anyone, not even a dog. He knew that if he didn't spend the night there, he would have to sleep out in the wild, under an open sky. Feeding the mosquitos wouldn't be a big deal, but feeding a tiger would be a very ignominious end, so he plucked up his courage and knocked on the door.
      It creaked opened and an old man with a huge belly stood there looking my brother up and down. He was wearing flowery pants and flip-flops, but definitely looked like a kindly sort.
      "Wow, this late and you're still hustling on down the road," the man said with apparent curiosity.
      "I've got a problem, you know, and I want to find an Immortal to ask about it," my brother said with a shrug.
      The old man rolled his eyes. "Young people always have hopes for the future," the old man said as he ushered my brother into the room. He went off into the kitchen and prepared a plate of deep-fried peanuts, then brought out a bottle of liquor and ate and drank with my brother.
      Early the next morning, when my brother was getting ready to go, the old man insisted on giving him a stack of hundred-Yuan notes. It was a bit like the old warrior sending his son-in-law off to Beijing to take the Imperial civil service exam. Although the scene lacked only the old man saying, "Good boy, this is for your wedding night, after you've succeeded in the examination," my brother was still moved to tears as he clenched the money tightly in his fist.
      "Excuse me, sir, why are you treating me so well?" he asked.
      "Oh, God," the old man sighed as he squatted down on the ground, tears flowing down his cheeks. "I won't lie to you. My daughter is very beautiful, but she's already twenty-eight and no one has come calling to ask for her hand, because she's a mute. The reason I drank with you and am giving you money, my good man, is because, when you see the Immortal, I want you to ask him a question for me: Can anything can be done to make her able to speak?"
      My brother nodded seriously, and left with the old man's cries of "I'll wait for you to return in triumph" wafting after him on the breeze. He walked and walked, and once again walked a long way. Eventually he came to a big river where there was no boat to ferry him across.
      "How am I going to get to the other side?" he cried anxiously. He looked toward Heaven and cried again. "Lord in Heaven," he sighed, "why does one man have to suffer so much in this life?"
      Suddenly several huge whitecaps rose up out of the calm river. A turtle as big as a twelve-person dinner table floated atop one of them. The turtle looked at my brother, and looked again. "I say, brother, what are you crying about, huh?"
      "There's no way a fellow can get across the river," my brother said, choking back his tears.
      "What'll you do if you get across?" the turtle asked.
      "I want to find an Immortal and ask him some questions."
      The turtle rolled his eyes, just like the old man my brother had met the previous evening. "Well, my friend, how about this? We'll make a deal. I'll carry you across on my back, and when you find an Immortal, you'll ask this question for me: Damned if I haven't been practicing the spiritual life for around a thousand years, so why am I still stuck here just swimming in the water?"
      My brother promised, so the turtle took him over to the opposite side.
      "No matter where you go, Brother, remember, I'll be here every day waiting for you!"
      These last words from the turtle kept ringing in my brother's ears as he walked and walked, without meeting any Immortals. "Am I going to be like
Tang Seng, traveling around over ten years, meeting with eighty-one challenges?" Feeling perplexed and aggrieved – in fact, extremely perplexed and aggrieved – he fell into a delirious sleep.
      But in the midst of his dream, an Immortal appeared to him. Oh, this Immortal was a lanky one, with two eyes on his face and two nostrils in his nose, overall not so different from ordinary people. The difference was his long, white hair blowing in the breeze, on a head that seemed always bent upwards to bask in the sunlight.
      Tears of happiness poured from my brother's eyes as soon as he saw the Immortal. The Immortal said: "I counted on my fingers. You've been looking for me for eight months, right? Hmm. Tell me, sir, what has brought you from such a faraway place to see me?"
      "Honorable Immortal," my brother said as he wiped the tears of excitement from his eyes. "I have some questions I'd like to ask you."
      The Immortal knitted his brow and stuck his nose up into the air. His belly protruded as he clasped his hands behind his back like a high-level cadre on an inspection tour. "What do you think I am?" he asked. "All you have to do is ask, and I have to answer? Well, I guess it wasn't easy for you to come all this way, so I might as well go ahead and answer one question for you!"
      "Jeez," my brother thought. "There's three of them – my question, the old man's, and the turtle’s. What should I ask? Whose question should I ask?"
      My brother couldn't be any more magnanimous. Logically speaking, his search for a wife should have had priority, but he had a sudden thought. The turtle had had it really tough, stewing for more than a thousand years, so he said: "Honorable Immortal, there's a turtle who wanted me to ask you something. He's been an aesthetic for a thousand years. Why hasn't he ascended to Heaven yet?"
      The Immortal answered my brother's question effortlessly. "Humph, that piece of work has a luminescent pearl bigger than a goose egg in his shell! Once he lets go of it, damned if he won't become a soaring turtle!" Then, turning around, with his hands still behind his back, he made as though he were going to walk away.
      My brother jumped forward anxiously and grabbed the Immortal's sleeve. Pulling hard with one hand, and with the other taking off the wine gourd that had been hanging from his neck, he said: "Honorable Immortal! Have a couple of drinks with me! Let's have a couple of drinks!"
      "So, you know I like my wine, huh?" The Immortal chuckled as he grabbed the gourd and took a swig, and then another. "Since you're such a wise man, I'll do you a favor and answer another question for you!"
      In a moment of clarity, my brother was struck by the realization that, when all was said and done, the Immortal couldn't withstand the temptations of the flesh!
      All of a sudden my brother had enough confidence to blurt out the old man's question. "Honorable Immortal, what can be done to make a mute 28-year-old girl speak?"
      The Immortal glanced at my brother, chuckled, and asked, "Is she pretty?"
      "I've heard she's not bad."
      "Well, then, why don't you marry her?"
      Startled, my brother said, "Actually, the question I wanted to ask is...."
      "Hold on, hold on," the Immortal interrupted. "Youngsters shouldn't be greedy. When someone has answered your question, you can't just keep on asking more."
      Once again my brother was startled, but he wisely opened his bag, took out two sweet potato buns, and, smiling winsomely, held them up in front of the Immortal. "Come on, have something to eat," he said. "Go ahead, take one!"
      Believe it or not, the Immortal knitted his brow, lifted his hand and, bam! knocked my brother on the head. "Hell's bells, it's been eight months! Are these fit to eat?" And, poof! he was gone.
      My brother had planned to be brazen and ask about his own problem, but he knew right away that he would never again have the chance. Although he didn't want to, he headed for home, feeling downhearted.
      At the river, the turtle was leaning against the pole of a portable sunshade, waiting anxiously for news. When he saw my brother, he rushed up to him and asked: "My friend, what did the Immortal say?"
      "First take me back across the river," my brother answered, "and then I'll tell you."
      Without hesitation, the turtle carried my brother across on his back. When my brother told him about his meeting with the Immortal, the turtle laughed out loud, reached under his shell and pulled out the pearl. "You take it," he said, handing it to my brother.
      Whoosh, in the clear blue sky, my brother saw a turtle soaring through the air, making motions as though he were swimming. Also, words that my brother did not understand resounded in the air: “Go with God...."
      My brother tucked the pearl under his cloak and again set foot on the road home. Within two days, the courtyard villa appeared before him one more time. He knocked on the door, and the old man came out and hugged him.
      "I've been pining away day and night, and finally you've come back!"|
      The old man was quite excited, but my brother felt rather apologetic. He could only speak directly. "Forgive me, sir, but the Immortal just said one thing. He said I should marry your daughter!"
      The old man was taken aback. With a look of hopelessness on his face, he said impulsively, "If that's the way it is, I'll let you marry her."
      My brother was a bit hesitant, truth be told, but an old saying was ringing loudly in his ears: No one's perfect! "OK," he thought, "the only thing is that she can't talk. No matter what, she's still a beautiful young virgin!" Then he thought, "Well, it's a long night, and what else would I dream for?" Overcome with emotion, he looked at the old man and said: "Sir, if you're not opposed, we'll light the candles in the wedding chamber tonight."
      Night. It was so quiet around the villa that one would think nothing was happening. But, in the middle of the night, a shrill female voice suddenly cried out from my brother's bridal chamber: "Oh, mother! Twenty-eight years! At last, a guy with a giant-sized pearl!"
      The Immortals are just too clever!

2013中国年度幽默作品,《喜剧世界》杂志社选片,丁斯主编
2013 Annual Humorous Writings of China, from Comedy World Magazine, Ding Si, Ed., p. 156
Translated from version at
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4ba9f46a0102ens2.html
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4. The Swindler (骗子)

by Yearning for Rainy (相思若雨)

      The crew-cut man stood ramrod straight in a western-style suit in front of the waiting room at the Guangzhou train station. He was wearing a pair of sunglasses and had a black leather briefcase stuck under his arm; a cool-looking dude. He was watching carefully all around him. There were a lot of people, some napping, some chatting. He found an empty space and sat down right next to a middle-aged man in his forties, with big eyes and bushy eyebrows. He seemed like a good-natured fellow. The man looked closely at him and decided he was kind-hearted and straightforward. From his clothing he looked to be getting along quite well.
      He gave the man a cigarette and struck up a conversation. They chatted about all kinds of things, and then the talk turned serious. He asked what time the man’s train left and learned they were on the same train. He reached out and shook the man’s hand, and said what good luck it was to meet a kindred spirit, how invigorating to meet a new friend, like meeting someone from home in a faraway place makes both very happy. Slowly the defenses began to soften.
      All of a sudden he shouted, “My ticket’s gone.” The middle-aged man said, “Look again.” He went through all his pockets but still couldn’t find it. Not only was his ticket gone, his wallet was, too. He just had twenty or thirty Yuan in his pocket, not enough to buy another ticket. What could he do now?
      He told the middle-aged man, “Hey, look, man, I’ve lost my wallet and my ticket, how about this: I’ll sell you my cell phone, cheap, whatever price you say.” He took out his phone and the middle-aged man looked at it, and said, “Not a bad phone.” He said, “It’s a Nokia. I paid 1,000 Yuan for it last month. I wouldn’t let it go for a bargain price except I lost my wallet and need money to get home. There’s still over a hundred Yuan of credit on the phone.” The middle-aged man said, “How about 500 Yuan?” They negotiated and finally agreed on 600 Yuan. He said, “You’re a good guy, man, thanks. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get home. Say, maybe there’s one more thing you could help me with. My mom has cancer, and the reason I’m going home is to get her ready to see a doctor. I didn’t figure on getting my wallet stolen. With no money, I don’t know how I’ll get her to the doctor.”
      He sighed and his eyebrows pinched together while he was speaking. The middle-aged man only half believed him and no one spoke for a moment. He slapped his thigh and said, “How stupid of me! I’ve got some more new phones in my bag. Suppose I give you a really good price, my friend. I thought I could make a little money off them, but who would’ve thought I’d run into this problem and have to use them to get out of it.”
       The middle-aged man looked over the phones. They settled on a price and he counted out the money from his wallet. He didn’t have enough, but said, “I’ve got this piece of jade. It’s red jade. How about taking it instead, what’d’ya think? A friend of mine bought it in Cambodia. It’s first class good jade. If you weren’t offering such a good price for the phones, I wouldn’t let loose of it.” The young man took the jade in his hand and turned it over and over, and couldn’t see a problem. As he was whispering to himself, is it real or fake, a man maybe 30 years old came along. He said, “Wow, that’s good jade, really rare. This is my bag. I take one look at any kind of jade and can tell what kind it is. This was bought in Cambodia, right? It’s top grade. Tell me how much and I’ll take it.” The middle-aged man said, “This young man bought it. Ask him if he’ll sell it.” When he heard this the young man stopped doubting whether it was real. He told the 30-year-old, “We’ll talk about the jade in a minute. I’ve got some business with my friend here. Wait for me here, I’ll be back in a bit.”
      They went to a secluded place outside the waiting room. He brought out several phones and said, “I’ll put the phones I’m giving you in this new bag, my friend. I’ve got no use for it, anyway. “OK.” The middle-aged man pulled out his money and counted it, and gave the money and the jade to the young man. The young man didn’t count it, just stuffed it into his fanny pack and said, “Thanks. My mom can get some treatment now. I thank you on her behalf.”
      “You’re welcome.”
      He felt pretty pleased with himself for having hooked another fish. He went somewhere where no one was around to count the money, but when he did, the paper didn’t feel right. “Don’t tell me it’s fake. And the jade, too?” He went back to the waiting room to look for the 30-year-old man but there wasn’t a trace of him. Only then was he sure he’d been taken. He had a friend who knew something about jade to take a look, and the friend confirmed that it wasn’t a bit real. He’d conned more people than he could count, and never suspected that this time he’d get conned himself. As the saying goes, try and steal a chicken, end up with a handful of rice.
      The middle aged man walked quickly into an alley where the 30-year-old was already waiting for him. They took the phones from the bag for a look. One was a real phone, but the rest were toys worth about 10 Yuan. They turned the bag upside down hoping there still might be more real ones and a piece of paper appeared before their eyes: “Stop looking, old buddy, you got one real one but the rest are fakes. See you.”
      When they read the note they said, “That’s OK, at least we got a little something out of it.”


Translated from
this version, also available here.



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