​​         Chinese Stories in English   

Stories 02

                                             1. A Most Awesome Acting Troupe            by Chen Yisheng (Humor, ♥♥♥)
                                             2. Is Last Place an Automatic Wash-Out? by Wu the Delayed (Essay, ♥♥♥)
                                             3. God Recruits a Helper                             by Phoenix (Imaginative, ♥♥♥)
                                             4. A Strange Case of Spirit Hooking          by Zhang Jinchu (Imaginative, ♥♥♥)
                                             5. Provoked Calamities                               by Wu Shuiqun (Humor, ♥♥)

1. A Most Awesome Acting Troupe (最牛演技派)
Chen Yisheng (陈移生)

      Yesterday I was about to take a train out of town on a business trip. The train was late, so I was sitting in the waiting room, waiting along with everyone else.
      I was bored stiff when I noticed that the three or four-year-old boy sitting next me, who had been licking a lollipop, had dropped it onto the floor. He had started crying and rubbing his eyes. A beautiful young woman in the next seat over quickly opened her purse and brought out a pack of gum. She opened it and gave the boy a piece.
      As I watched, I thought, "She's probably the boy's mother, eh? Young mothers these days really don't get it. How could such a small child be able to chew gum? And what'll she do if he swallows it?"
      In my pocket I had a package of haw-flakes candy that I use to prevent car sickness. I hurried to get it out and handed it to the young woman. I told her directly, "Give him some of these. Too much chewing gum isn't good for him."
      She glanced, then took the haw-flakes and gave them to the boy. He ate them gladly. Then he climbed down from his seat and tried to climb up my leg. He was giggling as he climbed. "Daddy, Daddy," he screamed, "I want more."
      My head started to spin. I'm not married yet, even though I'm pushing thirty this year. When am I going to add a son to my life? I picked the little fellow up and put him on my knee. Smiling, I explained, "I'm not your daddy. You've made a mistake."
      I glanced at the young woman in embarrassment but saw that she showed no reaction. All I could do was to put aside my manners and accept the title "daddy".
      After the little boy kissed me, he continued to clamor for more haw-flakes as he groped me with his pudgy little hands. He was so lively and cute that I had to smile and tell the woman, "This child is really interesting, like a little adult."
      She smiled and said meaningfully, "Yes. He looks like you, maybe."
      How could he look like me? I'm not his father. I was about to explain that to her when, suddenly, the boy got down from my knee. He ran over to the woman and said, laughing, "Mommy, Mommy, I want to play cell phone."
      The woman blushed and hesitated a moment before she brought out an iphone. The boy took it and, still giggling, turned it on.
      After a while an even smaller child, a girl, ran over and hit the boy, then turned and ran away. The boy was angry and chased after her with a tiger's fierce look on his face. As we watched the two children happily chase each other around the waiting room, the young woman and I struck up a conversation. All we talked about was unimportant nonsense.
      My train pulled into the station before long, and I quickly gathered my things and got up to leave. When I said goodbye to the woman her face suddenly paled. "What about your son? Where's he gone?
      I scanned the entire waiting room carefully and found that little boy was indeed gone. "He's not your son?" I asked in surprise.
      Her eyes opened wide. "Who said he was my son? I heard him calling you 'daddy' just now."
      I realized I'd been mistaken. No wonder she hadn't known better than to give the boy chewing gum a while ago, and also hadn't objected to my fake "Daddy" title – it was because she wasn't the boy's mother. I felt rather disappointed at the turn of events.
      I subconsciously checked in my pockets and suddenly realized that my wallet was gone. Good Lord, the little boy had actually taken my wallet.
      I guessed that he couldn't have run far because he was so small. I hurried towards the waiting room exit to chase after him.
      The woman must have been afraid that I was trying to get away. She ran after me in hot pursuit, all the time shouting, "Where are you going? Stop! Stay right there...!"
      When I got outside, I saw the boy with my wallet in one hand and an iphone in the other. He was with the little girl who'd hit him and together they were walking toward a taxi. I was furious. I walked forward quickly and cut them off. "So, I've got you. Give my wallet back to me right now."
      However, before I'd even finished my demand, the boy started screaming shouted: "Help! Robbery! Someone's robbing me...!"
      I looked around, afraid that people wouldn't understand what was happening. I quickly covered the boy's mouth with my hand and said, as nicely as I could, and said, "Now, now, my little man, please don't shout. Just give me my wallet back and I'll let you go."
      Unexpectedly, the boy pointed to the taxi parked by the side of the road. In an imperious tone of voice, he said, "The truth is, we've got people with us. I'm telling you, you'd better be careful. If you don't let us go, I'll have them come over here and beat you up!"
      I looked up towards the cab and saw a big guy sitting inside shaking his fist at me. I shrunk back in fear and had to let go of the boy.
      The young woman came up behind me just as the boy and the little girl were getting into the taxi. The boy turned and waved at me from inside the taxi, and shouted loud and clear, "Daddy, the woman's coming! Run away! Quick!"
      The woman heard him. She grabbed my shirt and said, "You damn crook! Get your son to give me back my phone right now or I'm calling the police."
      I stood there, momentarily speechless, watching the taxi drive off into the distance.

2013 Annual Humorous Writings of China, from Comedy World Magazine, Ding Si, Ed., p. 141
Translated from version at
2. Is Last Place an Automatic Wash-Out? (末位一定淘汰吗)

by Wu the Delayed (吴迟)

      On the evening before New Year's Eve, manicurist Yao Li of the Manicure Club was full of expectations as she hurried to a restaurant for the company's annual meeting. First thing when she entered the room, she saw a group of her co-workers crowding around Ms. Zhang, the company's CFO, signing their names to get their bonuses in red envelopes.
      Yao Li signed for her envelope. It felt like there was a thick stack of bills inside, and her heart suddenly started to beat faster. Her performance at work had not been satisfactory this past year, so why would she be getting such a big red envelope? She thought it was strange.
      The annual meeting got really lively, and everyone was half drunk. When the waiters brought out the chicken soup, one of Yao Li's co-workers said. "This is the night before New Year's Eve. I read a story in Stories Magazine…. The boss giving us chicken soup like this, there might be a reason for it."
      All at once, everyone got interested. They put down their chopsticks to listen. "In the old days," she continued, merchants in Anhui Province had this custom. The bosses liked to throw a banquet for their shop assistants and apprentices on the night before New Year's Eve. It was called a "Goodbye Dinner", and afterwards everyone would get their things together and go home to celebrate New Year's. There was a special dish that had to be served at the Goodbye Dinner, a whole chicken, and they were very precise about it. Whoever the chicken's head pointed to, that person knew for certain that he needn't bother coming back to the shop after New Year's."
      Everyone's eyes turned to look at the chicken soup. Only then did Yao Li notice that the head was facing her. She suddenly remembered her red envelope.
      Yao Li excused herself to go to the rest room. She hid in a stall and tore open the envelope. She found a piece of paper tucked inside, printed with the impressive title "Labor Contract Notice." It stated clearly that the company had decided to terminate the labor contract with her, as allowed by the rules regarding the Last Place Wash-Out system, because she had placed last in the annual performance evaluation. She counted the bills accompanying the notice and they amounted to exactly one month's salary. Oh, God, it was just her "severance pay"!
      Yao Li refused to accept it. Everyone's results in the performance evaluation had been posted in the lobby and she had seen that she wasn't the one in last place. It was a newcomer, Xiao Feng, who had just been hired this year. So now how could she be the one getting washed out?
      Yao Li got back to the table just as the manager was coming around to offer a toast. She couldn't keep from telling him: "Thank you, sir, for the care you've shown us this year. As for me, I'd like to make a little suggestion. Shouldn't the appraisal process be more open and transparent from now on? That way the person in last place will be more accepting of the results."
      Everyone looked at each other. The manager froze a moment, then chuckled. "A very good suggestion," he said as he turned to leave. "We will certainly consider it. Yes, certainly."
      Yao Li wanted to chase after him, to debate the rights and wrongs of the situation, but she found that someone behind her was gently holding her back. She turned to look. It was the newcomer, Xiao Feng. "Miss Yao, the evaluation results aren't wrong", she said, blushing. "I was in last place, but.... At the last minute I bought a Valued Customer Card for myself...."
      Yao Li was stunned. At the critical moment Xiao Feng had bought herself a Value card, taking her from last place to next-to-last [in yearly sales], and allowing her to pass the evaluation by the skin of her teeth. Yao Li couldn't think of anything to say, and stood there for a moment, staring blankly. Then she picked up her bag and walked out of the restaurant.
      After she got home, Yao Li became more and more frustrated. She felt compelled to call her cousin to complain. "That place is like a battlefield, you know! Xiao Feng was such a guileless kid, you know, but even she came up with a dirty trick. It's obvious that I wasn't the worst employee there, you know...."
      "Xiao Feng was just trying to keep her job," her cousin said calmly. "It's your boss that was being mean. The circumstances under which an employer can unilaterally terminate a labor contract are governed by law. Someone has to come in last every time there's an evaluation. Do they always have to be let go? That probably won't make it under the law."
      Her cousin's words got Yao Li to thinking. With her cousin's support, she initiated arbitration proceedings. The arbitration committee eventually ruled that the Manicure Club would pay complete compensation for breaching the employment contract with Yao Li.
A Lawyer's View:
      The story "Is Last Place an Automatic Wash-Out?" touches mainly on a legal issue, namely, how can employers effectively and legally implement a last-place elimination system. Under the law, if an employee seriously violates workplace discipline or cannot do the job, the employer may terminate the contract. However, the key is that a last place evaluation is not necessarily a violation of workplace discipline, nor does it necessarily mean that the employee is incompetent. Further, even given that someone is unable to do the job, they should first consider whether adjustments can be made, by changing the job, or additional training, or some other method, so that the employee will be able to perform satisfactorily.
      Therefore, as for the Manicure Club reported in this story using a last-place elimination system to breach the labor contract with Yao Li, even if it falls within the scope of the regulations, and even assuming she could not do the work, her release is still incompatible with the law because there was no training or adjustment of the job, even though there was a series of legal procedures such as 30 days written notice in advance or payment of an additional month's salary.

故事会, 2013, 6 月, 上半月, 第53页
Stories Magazine, June 2013, 1st Semimonthly Issue, p. 53
Republished at
3. God Recruits a Helper (上帝的招聘)

Phoenix (凤凰)

      One day God decided to recruit an assistant in Yellow City, in the country of Strange. The people of Yellow City are compassionate, so He would certainly be able to hire a good helper there.
      When God arrived at the City Center Square, He was holding a piece of cardboard which said that He was God and that He had come to hire an assistant. People started gathering as soon as He held up the piece of cardboard. Row after row, and then more rows, until a crowd not less than a hundred deep swarmed around. God was surrounded and almost couldn't get any air. He was all smiles, though, with so many people answering his call for an assistant.
      In a clear, loud voice, God said, "Quiet, everyone, quiet!" Everybody stopped talking and stopped pushing and shoving as soon as He spoke, craning their necks to see. God was very satisfied at that: Ah, such obedient people!
      "I need an assistant to be in charge of human affairs," He continued. "Either a man or a woman is OK, as long as the person is in good health. Scholarly ability and physical appearance are also not important if the person has a loving heart."
      When they heard God say that only a loving heart was needed, everybody started to holler – "I have a loving heart!" "I have a loving heart!" "I have a loving heart!"
      And God was even more satisfied to hear everyone saying that they had loving hearts. "Only a loving heart is needed," He said, smiling, "but I only need one assistant...."
      The people in front immediately interrupted Him. "We know you only want one assistant, but God, if there are any other requirements, tell us right away!"
      God smiled and said:" No other requirements, really. But as for the salary...."
      A young fellow couldn't hold himself back. "Does it pay two hundred thousand a year, God?" he asked.
      God was taken aback. "Two hundred thousand? No, it doesn't!"
      "Well, a hundred thousand?" the young man asked:        God shook His head. "No, not a hundred thousand, either."
      "How much, then?"
      "Not a cent!" God said.
      The young man and the others in the crowd were shocked. "Not even a penny in salary?"
      "That's right," God said firmly, "not a penny in salary!"
      The young man's mouth fell open in surprise. "Oh, Good Lord, it's a fool's errand!"
      "Yes, a fool's errand," said God. When they heard these words, eighty or ninety percent of the people in the square left right away. God looked at those who remained. "Anyway," He thought with a satisfied smile, "there're still a lot left."
       Then a man inquired, "God, if I were your assistant, could I create 'God's Foundation' in your name?"       "Why would you use my name to set up a foundation?" God asked.
      "If I set up a foundation," the man said, "I would get contributions from kind-hearted people from all levels of society. I could start many types of projects with those donations, and really do some impressive works!"
      God smiled and said: "And whoever's the assistant can use the received donations to feather his own nest, right?"
      "No, no," the man said, "I wouldn't do that!"
      "I would absolutely not allow My assistant to establish any foundation in My name," God stated categorically, "and would absolutely not allow the use of My name to collect anything of value from people."
      "Well, if that's the way it is," the man said, "this assistant's job really is a fool's errand, and I'm no fool!" The man turned and left, and eighty or ninety percent of the remaining people went away as well.
      God looked over the rest of the people and smiled with satisfaction. "Anyway, there're still a few left," He thought, "and these are the finest people, the ones who truly have love in their hearts."
      Then a beautiful woman said, "God, if I became your assistant, I'd be a celebrity. If someone wanted me to do commercials and things, that would certainly be OK, wouldn't it?"
      "That wouldn't be permitted, either," said God.
      "If I couldn't do commercials," the woman said, "I could write a book, like God's Affairs, or Secrets Between God and Me. That'd surely be OK, right?"
      God shook His head. "That would not be OK!"
      "So I couldn't use Your name to make money," the woman said, "and couldn't use my own name to make any, either. You mean there's no benefit in being Your assistant?"
      God said. "None at all. It's a fool's errand."
      The woman pursed her lips. "Heavens," she said, "no benefit at all. No way would I do that!" She turned and walked away, hips swaying. The rest of the people turned away as well, saying: "He comes here looking for an assistant but doesn't offer any benefits!"
      In the blink of an eye, all the people who had surrounded God were gone. "Don't worry," God said to comfort Himself," "there's no doubt I'll find an assistant. With so many people, there are certainly some special ones with loving hearts, who seek only to give of themselves without asking anything in return!"
      God sat in the center of the square all day that day, but no one else came to talk with him. Eventually he stayed in Yellow City ten days without hiring anyone. Everyone knew He wanted an assistant to work for nothing, so whenever they saw Him they would look the other way.
      God was grief-stricken. "Back in the day," He said with a sigh, "when God came here to recruit assistants, a crowd of people answered. Everyone was happy to sacrifice and nobody wanted anything in return. God ended up having to pick one by a variety of evaluations and assessments. He chose the best and brightest from among thousands of people to become His assistant. I bore the trials and tribulations over the decades as though it were only one day. Later, when God grew old, he gave His position to Me. If I'd been looking for benefits back then, I certainly wouldn't have taken on the position of God!"

2012 Annual Humorous Writings of China, from Comedy World Magazine, Ding Si, Ed., p. 52
Translated from text at
4. A Strange Case of Spirit Hooking (蹊跷勾魂案)

Zhang Jinchu (张金初)

      It was not yet light outside when Magistrate Cui, one of the Underworld's judges, came running frantically into The King of Hell's Palace. He reported to the King that five people in the human realm had died at one time. He wanted to hook their souls as quickly as possible to bring them to Hell.
      The King's face paled in surprise. "Five people died at once? Was it a car accident?" Magistrate Cui said it wasn't.
      "A fire?" the King asked, confusion showing on his face. Magistrate Cui shook his head no.
      The King frowned. "So how did they die, anyway?"
      "All five were Bureau Chiefs," Magistrate Cui said disconsolately. "They went out drinking with their superiors and drank themselves to death."
      The King sighed deeply. "It's unhealthy the way these guys eat and drink when they're spending public funds." Having said that, he instructed the
Black and White Ghosts of Impermanence to hook those five people's souls and bring them down to Hell. No mistakes would be permitted.
      Magistrate Cui offered a suggestion. "Although the five people died at one time, they are scattered among five different cities that are far apart from one another. Hooking all those souls would be more work that those two ghosts can handle. As I see it, the Ten Generals of the Shade should all be dispatched: the
Day and Night Patrol Deities as one pair, the Black and White Ghosts of Impermanence as a pair, Ox-Head and Horse-Face as another pair, Panther Tail and Bird Beak together, and Ghost King, Fish Gill and Yellow Bee as the final group."*
      The King thought it over and agreed.
      Magistrate Cui issued the orders, and the Ten Generals of the Shade set out. They all travelled nonstop to find the person whose ghost they had been instructed to hook. The Black and White Ghosts of Impermanence found who they were looking for without delay.
      His name was Zhang Mingde. He had returned home and gone to bed drunk as a skunk the previous evening after a session of heavy drinking with his boss. He had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died shortly before dawn. The Black and White Ghosts of Impermanence were saddened to see his family and friends scurry around and wail in mourning.
      Zhang Mingde knew he was dead. Without a word of protest, he followed the Black and White Ghosts of Impermanence when they set off for
Yellow Springs, the land of the dead.
      Before long, the Day and Night Patrol Deities also came to the home of Zhang Mingde, panting and out of breath. The strange thing was, Zhang's ghost was gone, leaving only his physical body. The Day Patrol Deity said in surprise, "This dead man's name was Zhao Youbing! Why are they calling him Zhang Mingde?"
      The Night Patrol Deity also thought it was astonishing. "Zhao's soul is gone, too, so how are we supposed to hook him?" With their quest a failure, they hurried to get back to Hell.
      They had just left when Ox-Head and Horse-Face also came to Zhang's home, sweating profusely. They hadn't expected that his soul would already be gone. With shock written all over his face, Ox-Head exclaimed, "This dead man's name was Qian Wenti! Why are they calling him Zhang Mingde?"
      Horse-Face also couldn't imagine what had happened. "Qian Wenti's soul is gone, too, so how are we supposed to hook him?" With their quest a failure, they hurried to get back to Hell.
      When they had just set foot on their way, Panther Tail and Bird Beak also came to Zhang's home looking for the person they wanted to find. Their bodies ached from fatigue and they suffered from leg cramps, but what left them wondering was, the man's soul was gone. A loud voice resounded in Panther Tail's skull: "This man's name is obviously Sun Guocuo, so why are they calling him Zhang Mingde?"
      Bird Beak also felt it was quite odd. "Since Sun Guocuo's soul is gone, what are we supposed to hook?" Having discovered that their quest was a failure, they anxiously headed back toward Hell.
      Shortly after they left, Ghost King, Fish Gill and Yellow Bee came to Zhang Mingde's home. What puzzled them was, his soul was gone. Ghost King, not understanding what had happened, said, "This man's name was Li Shiyu. How can they call him Zhang Mingde?"
      Fish Gill and Yellow Bee looked at each other. "Li Shiyu's soul is gone, so we won't be able to hook him even though we want to." Seeing as their quest was a failure, they headed back to Hell in great trepidation.
      When the Ten Generals of the Shade returned to the King of Hell's palace, the King and Magistrate Cui were as perplexed as they were. Magistrate Cui scratched his head and said, "We sent you to hook ghosts, and obviously there were five people, so why did you all go to hook Zhang Mingde's? What about the other four?"

      Puzzlement was written all over the King's face. The Ten Generals of the Shade were also filled with doubts.
      Everyone was silent for a long time. Eventually the Ghost King said respectfully, "Lord King of Hell, something strange is definitely going on here, but not so strange that we can't handle it. Just ask Zhang Mingde, and we'll know: How did we all coincidentally come to his place to hook his soul, even though it's obvious that five people died?"
      The King's face showed no emotion, but he said resignedly, "This Zhang Mingde won't say anything, regardless."
      The Ghost King got angry. "Of course he'll talk, if you let me knock him around a bit."
      "No, that's not acceptable," Magistrate Cui interjected. "He has the right to remain silent."
      While they were anxiously going round and round,
Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy suddenly entered the room. Smiling sweetly, she asked, "What is it that makes the King of Hell pull such a long face?" The King gave her a quick version of the whole story.
      Guan Yin smiled and said, "That's easy." She pulled a bunch of poplar and willow branches from a clear bottle of liquid and drizzled a few drops of the liquid on Zhang Mingde's body.
      Zhang immediately burst into tears. "There's nothing strange about it," he said. "I have five ID cards in different names from different cities. Zhang Mingde is my public identity, the one I use for my government job as a Bureau Chief. The others are fakes."
* [Fannyi is aware that eleven entities are named in this list, but, hey, who's counting? See here for a listing (in Chinese) in which the Black and White Ghosts of Impermanence [黑白无常鬼] are considered a single entity, yielding a total of Ten Generals of the Shade [十大阴帅].]

2013 Annual Humorous Writings of China, from Comedy World Magazine, Ding Si, Ed., p. 59
Translated from Version at
5. Provoked Calamities (都是闹出来的祸)

by Wu Shuiqun (吴水群)

      Old man Yang died of old age. On the day of his funeral, the Yang family invited all their neighbors to help out. The old man had had two daughters and their families were both fairly well off. The older daughter's husband, Ma Ming, came over at around ten in the morning. He was going towards the altar to pay his respects when he heard a bald man say to the bookkeeper, "Don't write his name down yet. He's got to pay the tax first!"
      What was going on? When a father-in-law dies, a son-in-law can't pay his respects without being taxed? In fact, this tax was only imposed on the sons-in-law. It was a local custom to have a wake when an old person died, and to have the sons-in-law foot the bill. In this way they could have a lively wake and also show their appreciation to the people who helped out with the arrangements.
      Ma Ming understood this rule, so he obediently took out fifty Yuan, but to his surprise, the bald steward said it wasn't enough. And when he pulled out another 50, the guy still thought it wasn't enough.... Ma Ming eventually passed muster only after digging out five hundred Yuan.
      Ma Ming had just recovered from the shock when a tall, thin steward suddenly ran up and said: "We can't close your account yet! You've got to pay a tax!"
      "Didn't I just pay the tax?" Confused, Ma Ming looked inquiringly at the bald guy. Baldy laughed and said: "That five hundred was the local tax! There's also a national tax."
      At this point in the story, we have to talk a little about Baldy and Stretch. Baldy's name was Dayou, and Stretch was called Jinhai. The two men were very animated and loved to talk trash. You couldn't have a wedding or a funeral in the village without them. They'd had a dry spell recently so their appetites were bigger than ever. They'd gone from wanting tens to demanding hundreds, and if they came across a guy with big bucks, they figured they could get their hands on thousands.
      Ma Ming could see that he wouldn't pass the test unless he gritted his teeth and came up with another five hundred. But to his surprise, after taking the money, Jinhai snickered and said, "How could our 'national tax' be set at the same rate as the 'local tax.' You paid five hundred in 'local tax', so no matter what you say, for the 'national tax' you'll have to come up with two or three thousand, right?"
      Ma Ming was a working man, too. He'd already put out a lot of money when his wife's father got sick and was hospitalized. Then for the old man's funeral, he'd spent thousands for the musicians and the ritual gifts. Now he runs into these two "tax bosses ". He'd given them a thousand, and that still wasn't enough! He got mad and said indignantly, "I'm only paying the thousand. You want more, forget about it!"
      Dayou and Jinhai were Ma Ming's brothers-in-law, or "little cousins" according to clan reckoning. Seeing him get tough just spurred them to push back. Dayou looked Ma Ming in the eye and said, "Do you really want to play the tough guy in this?" Then he winked at Jinhai and shouted, "This one objects to his taxes. What should we do?" As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Jinhai and some young people beside him immediately hollered, "Get him!"
      Ma Ming thought they were just trying to scare him and didn't expect it when they really started after him. They knocked him to the ground, then picked him up and started throwing him back and forth between them.... All of a sudden one of them missed and Ma Ming's head pounded the ground. This meant big trouble. Ma Ming couldn't even utter an "oof" before his eyes closed and he fell silent.
      Everyone was scared silly when they saw what they'd done. Director Zhao, the head of the village, came running when he heard the news and quickly dialed 120, the emergency number. The ambulance came. After the medics examined Ma Ming, they said: "It's very serious! Possible brain damage! Better get your wallets out!"
      Dayou and Jinhai were in a daze. Director Zhao said angrily: "You two have really done it this time! What are you standing there gawking at? Shouldn't you be out getting some money together? I'll handle things here!"
      The ambulance took Ma Ming away. Dayou and Jinhai scraped together some money and, when they went to the hospital to pay the bill, they were flabbergasted at how much it was. With fees for tests and for the ambulance, one day in the hospital took more than half of the 20,000 Yuan that the two of them had managed to come up with. What scared them even more was, after a day and night had passed, Ma was still unconscious. The doctors said: "We can't rule out the possibility that he will turn into a vegetable."
      That scared Dayou and Jinhai even more. If things really turned out like that, not only would the medical expenses be a bottomless pit, they could also be convicted of criminal recklessness!
      Two days later the doctors announced that, because Ma Ming had still not regained consciousness: "Our hospital is small our technical equipment is limited! You should take the patient home for now, but get the money together and make arrangements to transfer him to a big hospital in Beijing right away."
      Dayou and Jinhai looked at each other in dismay.  How could they afford a big hospital in Beijing? That would cost at least a hundred thousand or so, plus transportation and lodging.
      Director Zhao hired some men to take Ma Ming back to his home, and he ordered Dayou and Jinhai to borrow some money right away.
      That night, Dayou went to his uncle's home to borrow money. When his aunt heard why he needed the money, she thought that it was very strange. Puzzled, she asked: "Can that be right? Hasn't Ma Ming's family told you? He's recovered consciousness...."
      It seems that his aunt's mother and the Ma family were next-door neighbors. Two days previously, she'd heard Ma Ming's voice on the other side of her wall!
      Dayou was thrilled: Maybe Ma had revived, and they hadn't had the time to tell him about it yet!
      At this thought, Dayou got on his electric scooter and hurried off to Ma Ming's home. But when he got there, what he saw disappointed him – Ma Ming was still lying in bed unconscious.
      Dayou thought that something fishy was going on, so that evening he snuck back to Ma Ming's home. He had just climbed the wall and was ready to drop down into the courtyard when a huge wolfhound suddenly growled and jumped up at him. All he could see was that big wolfhound's gaping maw right below him, snarling!
      All the noise alerted Ma Ming's family. The door opened and Dayou saw a man and a woman come outside. Dayou took one look at the man and immediately shouted excitedly, "Ma Ming! ——"
      The man was indeed Ma Ming. It seems that he woke up the day after he had been beaten unconscious. He was extremely angry, and he pretended that he remained unconscious to teach Dayou and Jinhai a lesson. When the doctors learned how he'd been injured, they were also disgusted with the practice of badgering sons-in-law for money, so they'd made the announcement about him becoming a vegetable.
      Just now Ma Ming had instinctively run outside when he heard the dog barking, but when he saw Dayou he knew right away what was happening. He rushed back into the house to resume acting like a vegetable.
      Ma Ming's wife knew even better than he did how to deal with her brother. She immediately called the police precinct to make a report. A policeman rushed to the scene, and a lively scene it was: Dayou saying Ma Ming had committed fraud by feigning illness, while Ma Ming's wife is accusing her brother of theft.
      Policeman said sternly: "Ma Ming, keep control of your dog. Dayou, you come to the precinct with me to explain yourself."
      When Dayou's wife heard that he'd been taken to the police station, she went without delay to Director Zhao for help.
      As Director Zhao was listening to Dayou's wife explain what had happened, he suddenly knew exactly what to do. He knew that, even though Dayou loved to get the better of people, he would never do anything really dishonest. So he went to the police station and bailed Dayou out.
      When he saw Director Zhao, Dayou started to complain about how terribly he'd been wronged. He told how Ma Ming had pretended to be in a coma, and how that made both he and Jinhai miserable....
      Director Zhao listened for a while, then couldn't help but tell Dayou a thing or two. "All you do is complain about other people's faults," he said. "Why can't you recognize what you yourself did wrong? When the neighbors on your street have weddings and funerals and ask you to help out, it's because they think highly of you, so you should put your whole heart into doing the job conscientiously. But you and Jinhai are just too much. As soon as you get the chance, you start hounding the son-in-law, first a local tax and then a national tax, and before you know it you've extorted the guy out of several thousand. Was that really the right thing to do?"
      Hearing this, Dayou hung his head down and didn't say a word.

故事会, 2013, 5 月, 下半月, 第29页
Stories Magazine, May 2013, 2nd Semimonthly Issue, p. 29
Republished at

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