​​         Chinese Stories in English   

Stories 09

                                                1. After Old Liu's Suicide                   by Chu Shaoqing (Sentimental, ♥♥♥)
                                                2. A Weak, Not a Strong, Name       by Mai Jia (Essay, ♥♥♥)
                                                3. A Beautiful Encounter                   by lily (Sentimental, __)

1. After Old Liu's Suicide (老刘自杀以后)
by Chu Shaoqing (初绍庆)

      It was standing room only in the meeting room at the Bureau for the Development of Spiritual Culture. Bureau Chief Big Liu was sitting on the rostrum. "To grasp spiritual culture," he said with complete assurance, "one must begin by first grasping the concept of respect for one's parents. The Hundred Good Deeds of Filial Piety* are primary. A lamb knows enough to kneel at its mother's teats, and even crows know how to repay their parents for raising them. We are born of our mothers and raised by our fathers. They've known hardship and troubles. Could it be acceptable for us not to support them in their old age? Sons and daughters who don't honor their parents aren't human! They're animals, worse than pigs or dogs!"
      "Huaaa –" As thunderous applause was roaring through the hall, a secretary rushed up and bent close to the Bureau Chief's ear. "Your father has passed away," he whispered.
      "What? How did he die? Go find out more and then come back and tell me."
      "What's to be done with his body?"
      "Put it in a mortuary for now and I'll decide later."
      The secretary left hurriedly.
      The people in the hall had started shifting around a bit in their seats. Bureau Chief Liu coughed lightly and the room immediately quieted down again. He cleared his throat and continued his speech.


      Old Liu's body was lying peacefully in the hospital mortuary. The hospital had brought in a beautician to apply make-up, with the bill to be settled when his son Big Liu got there. They tried to contact Big Liu after the body had lain there for a full week, but his cell phone was always turned off. The hospital could do nothing but wait.
      Reports that Old Liu had committed suicide spread quickly in the media. Reporters from newspapers and tabloids were like flies around a stink, filing story after story after follow-up report.
      People came to understand a lot about Old Liu through these reports.
      His actual name was Liu Jin. He had turned sixty-five this year, and his son was Bureau Chief Big Liu of the Bureau for the Development of Spiritual Culture. His wife had died when he was young, so he had been both mother and father to his son. He had raised the boy all the way to adulthood from the time he was too young to wipe his own butt. The kid had depended on the money his father earned from construction work for everything from grade school through high school and college, until he was assigned his own job.
      From the time he got married and started his own family, and later got promoted to Bureau Chief, the boy had very seldom come home to visit his father. He abandoned his father to a lonely life at home. When the old man wanted to get married again, Big Liu was adamantly opposed because he was afraid it would hurt his image as a bureau chief. So Old Liu stayed shut up at home, depressed, with little joy in his life. He became schizophrenic. Big Liu was afraid people would find out he had a mentally disturbed father, so he had his secretary quietly send the old man off to a mental hospital for treatment. After he was admitted, this guy who was supposed to be his son never once visited him.
      Old Liu underwent a comprehensive course of treatment and completely recovered his faculties. Every day he volunteered to help the nurses with a lot of their work. There's no need to mention how excited and happy he was when he heard he was about to be released from the hospital. He smiled and sang like a child all day long. He got his things straightened up and ready to go well in advance, and waited for his son to come and get him and take him home. He waited several days and didn't hear anything whatsoever from his son. He was especially downcast those days, sitting there muttering to himself, calling himself a useless lump that nobody wanted. Then one day he came out to help a nurse take a fellow sufferer to the cafeteria to get something eat, and before anyone knew what was happening, he had climbed up a chimney and taken the road of no return….
      One day, just after the doctors started work, a court summons was placed on the desk in front of the Hospital Director along with a copy of the plaintiff's civil complaint. The complaint said that the hospital's supervision was inadequate, leading to the patient's suicide and death. It demanded an apology from the hospital and 500,000 Yuan compensatory damages. Big Liu cried bitterly in the courtroom on the day the trial opened. He told about how tough things had been for his father, and how he had loved the old man, and how his father had committed suicide at the hospital because of his mental illness, and why the hospital should accept complete responsibility and recompense him for all loses.
      While the trial was in progress, the doctor who had been Old Liu's primary care physician in the hospital burst into the courtroom, covered with sweat and still in his hospital gown. "There's a note, there's a note," he cried breathlessly. "Old Liu left a note—"
      The judge took the note. First he asked Big Liu if he recognized the handwriting, and to ascertain whether it was in his father's own hand. After Big Liu verified it, the judge read it out to the whole courtroom:
                       "My name is Liu Jin, and my son is a bureau chief. Since he got that job, he hasn't cared about me or asked after                    me. This caused me to have mental problems. Then he put me in a mental hospital, but he never once came to                        see me. I've become excess baggage in this world, so I've chosen to commit suicide. But first I want to make a                            statement. I'm killing myself in sound mind. It has nothing to do with the hospital. That son of mine, if he still has                      any moral integrity, should bury my ashes beside his mother. If he's lost his integrity, he can just throw the ashes                   away and be done with it. They didn't even keep Zhou Enlai's ashes, so why keep mine, as inconsequential as I am.                   After I'm gone, give all my death benefits to the mental hospital, so that a few people who are difficult to treat                           because their families have no assets can get timely care.
                      "I thank the hospital administrators, doctors and nurses for their meticulous concern for me while I was sick.
                      "Farewell, doctors! Farewell, nurses!
                      "Liu Jin. day, month, year"
      Everyone's gaze focused on Big Liu as they listened. He was sweating in profusion. He stood up and, completely flustered, said, "It's not true. It's totally false." Then he left the courtroom, shaking his fist.
      "Chief Liu, what's to be done with the old fellow's body," the Hospital Director asked.
      "I don't want it," Chief Liu said. "You guys do whatever you want with it!" He walked away, without even looking back.
*[A Reference to the book One Hundred Lines on Filial Piety 百孝经。 See
here -- Fannyi]

中国股市 Story China
2. A Weak, Not a Strong, Name (名弱不名强)

Also titled "Who Can Get the Last Laugh" (又做《谁能笑到最后》)
Mai Jia (麦家)

[In Fannyi's opinion this is a prosaically typical Chinese essay, the author's skills as a writer of fiction notwithstanding. The essayist is not overly concerned with communicating any sensible ideas to the reader; he first and foremost wants to impress the reader with his erudition by stringing together trite homilies, intellectualized vocabulary and obscure historical references. On the other hand, since this essay was published in a collection of humorous writings, maybe the author intended it as a parody of the typical Chinese essay. Hmmmm….]
      I once heard a young friend chatting about an incident that had happened on the internet. He was a strapping young fellow, almost six feet tall, about 165 pounds, with broad shoulders and narrow hips that formed a classic "inverted triangle". And he was handsome as well.
      But once, on a bulletin board, someone had asked about his appearance. He told the truth, straight out, and this resulted in some people thinking he was a braggart and others condemning him [as an outright liar]. When he didn't argue with them, they figured he must have a guilty conscience. They started calling him the guy who "pushes trains with his hands", meaning that he was a blowhard. From then on he was often laughed at, ridiculed, and subjected to verbal abuse.
      Later he changed his screen name and filed a post saying he was only five feet three inches tall. He compared himself to
Wu Dalang, [a fictional character who was short and ugly and who was ultimately cuckolded and murdered by his wife]. All the people who had been attacking him turned into amicable and benign friends who quoted chapter and verse from history to console and encourage him, as though he were the next best thing to Napoleon Bonaparte.
      This was a minor incident, just something to chat about. For some reason, though, that day it really moved me. My new work "Whispers in the Wind" was being serialized in People's Literature, and that magazine's Editor Li Jingze had written in the preface: "For a long time literature has striven to get back to [focusing on] people, but in this process we may have, in spite of ourselves, simplified and denigrated people. We haven't been afraid to imagine people's weaknesses but have been unwilling to imagine their strengths."
      This is true not only in literature. It is a long-standing and well established practice to act this way in our daily lives. Toward the end of the Warring States period [475-221 BCE] Xu Gu, an official in the State of Wei, was jealous of the great skill and strategic abilities of his colleague, Fan Ju. He falsely accused Fan of being in collusion with the State of Qi and not differentiating between the powerful ministers of the two states. He was beaten half to death and thrown into a latrine to live with the maggots. Fan wouldn't reconcile himself to that fate and, narrowly escaping death, he absconded to the State of Qin. He won the recognition and admiration of the King of Qin by advocating a policy of "be friendly to those nearby while attacking those far away", and in due course he worked his way up to become Prime Minister.
      Before long Qin attacked Wei, and as Qin was a strong state, the result was a foregone conclusion. Xu Gu was ordered to go to Qin to sue for peace. Fan Zhu put on tattered clothing and went to live on the streets to meet him. He lied to Xu, claiming that his situation in Qin was like that of a homeless dog whose owner had died. He said he had to roam around trying to make a living, and that he was worse off than the beasts of burden.
      When Xu saw how far Fan had fallen, and saw that Fan was left trembling in the cold wind because he lacked enough clothing to cover his body, he was moved to compassion. He bought a large robe made of tussah silk from India and gave it to Fan, and then he invited Fan to a meal where he could eat his fill. Because of this, Fan spared his life.
      As it was with Xu Gu, so it was with both of them. The former did evil because of jealousy, and the latter did good because of sympathy. Similar incidents in the vast ocean of our country's history are too numerous to catalogue here, and are so commonplace in our daily lives as to be considered hackneyed. Thus, those wearing a false front of humility run rampant. This is considered acceptable only because "having low tolerance for people's strengths but readily accepting their weaknesses" is considered highly moral conduct by us Chinese.
      Some claim that Xu Gu's gifts of clothing and food demonstrate his good side – and it may be because Fan Zhu had such thoughts that he spared the man's miserable life. In my view, though, [Xu Gu's] goodness was false. It was kindness and charity produced by the smugness of seeing someone in dire straits. It was the other side of the coin of his [previous attitude that] "shameful conduct is good". Your excellence became a burden on him, and he sympathizes with you now only because you're not in a good situation. If you want my opinion, this kind of sympathy is more despicable than taking potshots at people when they're down and out. It's in the nature of trickery and has a well-hidden ability to be hurtful.
      Xu Gu was a man of ancient times, but which of our organizations doesn't have one or two of him? And because there are Xu Gus in every place and time, the people of our country have learned the art of "considering weakness a strength". Thus we give up on the heights and cancel the difficult, while at the same time the bottom line of what we will honor gets continually lower, and the forms we honor get ever murkier.
      Today schools are calling for, and parents are hoping that, children will have a youth in the sunlight. But forgive me for asking, where is the sunlight? It's lacking in our veins. We give good repute to weakness and not to strength, and if something gets strong we need to pretend it is weak.
      People fear being strong like a pig fears being fat [because it can get you slaughtered]; a fence of grass can lean with the wind; a high spot won't get you out of the cold; the ocean is vast and the sky is empty, so yield for a moment [and the waves and wind will subside]; a large tree invites the wind [to blow it down]; and a large house can hold a lot of ghosts.... We have various theories advising you not to strive for victory, to quit while the quitting is good, to take what you can get and leave, to dare to pretend, to be brave in crying because crying gets you milk, and there's great wisdom in playing the fool.
      So, try to ask this: Who will have the last laugh? It must be the people who can cry, the people who can pretend. [The last sentence is on author's website but was not published in the book.]

2013 Annual Humorous Writings of China, from Comedy World Magazine, Ding Si, Ed., p. 249
Translated from version at
3. A Beautiful Encounter (一次美丽的邂逅)


[Fannyi's note: We present this story as a "slice of life" in today's Middle Kingdom, without regard to literary merit.]


      Maybe it was the stifling heat that made me so frazzled. All of a sudden last Friday my head started buzzing and I got dizzy. It felt sort of like sunstroke. I didn't go anywhere for my two days off, just stayed at home both days to recuperate. Still, as soon as I got to work on Monday I fell into a funk. My passion for work had disappeared.
      As it happened, we weren't too busy on Wednesday, and I thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of the lull to spend an afternoon strolling around town, to take my mind off things. As soon as I got the idea, I asked the manager for time off, and by two o'clock I was rushing toward Chegongzhuang Avenue. I'd been wanting to buy some things at the Guanpi Wholesale Shops, and I hadn't had my hair cut in a long time, and I figured I could do both that day.
      On the way I thought about what to do first, go shopping or get a haircut. Actually there was no need to get stressed out about it. The more reasonable "procedure" was of course to get a haircut before going to Guanpi, for a very simple reason. After shopping at the wholesale stores I'd be carrying a bunch of packages, which would be inconvenient while getting a haircut. When I left the subway the first beauty parlor I came to was a place on Southwest Guanyuan Bridge Street with the name "She Comes with Beauty" on its signboard. It was on the first floor of a residential building and was fairly large, and from the outside it looked all right for me. I have definite requirements for a barber shop: First, I certainly won't go to a small place in an alley; and second, I've never patronized a place that didn't look nice outside.
      A young assistant welcomed me warmly when I opened the door and went in. He wasn't very old, making me "suspect" that he was a child worker. I don't know if I'm "behind the times" or if the youngster had just "come out", but surprisingly he didn't understand when I said "wash, cut and dry." Instead, the quick-witted manager was the responsive one. He immediately quoted me a price, "Fifteen Yuan." I was secretly delighted. It's really cheap here, I said to myself.
      After I checked my bag and sat down, the assistant started to wash my hair. He made small talk, asking me about this and that, but we didn't really talk a lot. I felt a little hesitant, with such a young guy waiting on me, so when he finished I told him to skip the shoulder massage. I preferred to sit by myself and wait for the stylist. The assistant was quick to bring me a glass of water and a copy of the Beijing Times to read. Gradually I noticed that there were a fair number of customers in the shop. Two were getting perms, two haircuts, and one was getting a shoulder massage. Two stylists and three assistants were happily working away. As I started to relax I had time to check out the stylists' "circumstances". One of the two was sort of tall, and the other medium sized. The tall one had on a white T-shirt and white pants and had wavy hair. He really looked sort of like Gao Tianrui in the TV miniseries "Hong Kong Sister", which I'd just seen. He was in the middle of styling a middle-aged lady's hair. The other stylist had on a blue T-shirt and dark pants, and was cutting the hair of a gentleman who'd come in before me.
      I sat reading the paper, getting bored, waiting for a stylist to come over and serve me. Maybe it would be the tall one, maybe the medium-sized one. Even though I wasn't trying to, I could vaguely hear the conversation between the tall one and the middle-aged lady. It seems the lady was using work time to "sneak out" for a haircut. That made be so jealous! I'd had to ask for a half-day's vacation to get out of work, you know. And that gentleman getting a haircut looked like he'd gone AWOL during a coffee break. Only the two getting perms and the guy being massaged looked like "people of leisure", not hurried at all, just enjoying themselves…. I wouldn't have wasted my time coming here if I'd realized there were so many people, I thought to myself. Besides, I've still got "activities" later on.
      After I'd been looking at the scenery for about ten minutes, the taller stylist finally finished what he was doing and ushered the middle-aged lady out the door. Maybe she was a regular customer; she didn't pay any money directly, just pulled out a small card. The manager wrote something down and then the stylist signed his name on it for verification. I sat there muttering to myself: a stylist personally escorts a customer to the door instead of making good use of his time to wait on the next customer, leaving me sitting here sweetly by myself, unnoticed….

      Actually my judgment, my mistaken impression, soon softened. A lovely chance encounter was just starting….


      The tall stylist apologized over and over as I sat down in the barber chair, which showed he knew he had made me wait too long. I responded with smiles. "How do you want your hair cut," he asked quietly. I gestured to show him I wanted it just a little shorter.
      "How short? You want it bobbed?" "No, I guess this much would be OK," I said, indicating the length with my hand.
      "Suppose I cut it a little shorter?" "How short do you mean?" "To here." He appeared to be pointing at the base of my ear.
      "Oh? That short? I really don't want a bob for summer. It's too hot. I like to comb it up in a bun," I retorted.
      "You mean you don't eat things you like unless it's the right season?" he asked.
      He had a point, but I wasn't prepared to debate the subject. "No I don't want it so short this time. When it cools off I'll get it cut again." I could only counter him by speaking stubbornly.
      "Suppose I give you bangs?" He didn't want to quit. "With your high forehead, you really should have a smooth transition from your face to your hair," he said, pointing at my brow.
      "Wearing bangs isn't my style, because people tell me I look better without them."
      "That's not right. You'd be better off listening to me. I have a different way cutting bangs. Why don't you give it a try."
      When I didn't answer, he brought out a hair-style book, found the right page and let me look. "How about it. Doesn't this look great? Well, that's OK, you can think about it while I cut the back, then we'll talk some more about bangs."
      "Won't that make a difference to how you cut the back? I know if you cut bangs, some hair from the back gets put up front."  "It won't matter. I'll cut off this much, OK?" He gestured as he talked, indicating probably only about one inch.
      "That's too short, too. A little more, please." He looked at me in astonishment. "Oh, I mean, the amount you're cutting off is too short. You can cut off a little more than that, and leave a little less."
      He didn't say anything, but I could tell he understood by what he was doing. Clippity-clip, the sound of his scissors rose and fell.
      His phone rang. "Excuse me," he said as he read a text message and used one hand to type out a reply. He was very fast, maybe because he was used to working with his hands, and he was back to cutting my hair after only ten seconds or so. He was so fast I hardly knew what he'd done.
      "You live far from here?" This is "stylist-talk" that they use to find out whether you might become a regular customer. "I don't live nearby. I live in Dong Dan."
      "Well, do you work in this area?"
      "No, I was just passing by. I chose your place because it's closest to the intersection. Otherwise I would have gone to the shop next door."
      "Oh." He looked at me as though he didn't quite understand.
      "I came on the subway. Yours was the first place I came to after I crossed the intersection. I'm actually going to the Guanyuan Market in a bit."
      He looked a little disappointed when he heard I didn't live or work nearby. I guess he figured I was just a one-time customer who'd never come back. But then he abruptly changed the subject.
      "Is your hair naturally wavy?" "No, I got a perm." "Oh."
      I thought it was a bit strange. Why didn't he suggest that I get another perm? It'd been more than a year since I got one, you see, in April of last year. One of my co-workers had gotten two perms in just the last six months. I'd gone to a barber for a haircut just after New Year's and the stylist had pressured me to get a perm in his shop. I'd turned him down firmly.
      "How about it? You thought it over? You want bangs?


      "Well, OK, I'll take your advice." For some reason I seem to have suddenly changed my mind, and not stick to my former ideas. Seeing the models in the hair-style book, I decided to try something new. Actually I'd had bangs before, but never quite got used to them, so before long I'd gone back to my old style.
      As the stylist used a comb to shape the front part of my hair, I closed my eyes and waited quietly for my new look to appear. Suddenly his phone rang again. "Sorry", he said hurriedly, stepping aside to answer it. In less than a minute he was back working in front of me.
      "When I'm done, it'll probably feel strange to you at first," he told me gently.
      That's OK, I know a new haircut always takes some getting used to," I said lightheartedly, "but it'll look prettier after I look at it a few days".
      "That's the attitude, girl." He seemed happy, like he'd just found his soul mate. "I'd have felt awkward if you hadn't cut your hair the way I suggested." I knew exactly what he meant. Stylists all have their own ideas about hair designs and don't really want people to mess them up.
      He started talking a little more, too, almost like he didn't want to stop. He seemed to be a real raconteur.
      "You know, if I wasn't thinking about what's best for you, why would I have wanted to cut bangs for you…." He spoke in a teasing tone of voice. What he really wanted was for me to thank him. The price the same whether cut bangs or not, who wouldn't want to make things easier for self, if I hadn't have wanted bangs how could it not have been easier for him. If I'd done what he suggested and cut it really short, how couldn't that have been harder for him. It seemed like he was really serious about his work.
      With that thought I spit out, "You sure take your work seriously. He smiled at me. "Sorry," he said, and again turned to answer the phone.


      "You're really busy," I said as soon as he ended the call. I was a bit unhappy, to tell the truth.
      "A guy from my home village has come to pick up his ID. He's right outside. I'll let him wait. Look," he said calmly, pointing to the mirror. I happened to be sitting facing the main entrance, and I could see directly outside in the mirror. "The one in the white shirt." I looked where he was pointing and, indeed, saw someone waiting outside.
      "Where you from?" I asked, since he'd brought up the subject.
      "Shandong. Folks there treat people right, no matter what." There was no braggadocio in what he said.
      "Where in Shandong?" I like to be inquisitive.
      "Heze Prefecture, Peony Township," I said immediately.
      "Where are you from?" Now he was questioning me.
      "Me? I'm from Beijing, don't you know!" I said proudly. Like he couldn't tell?
      "People in your line of work seem quite mobile. You're always moving somewhere." I raised a new question. At least I could take the lead instead of being passive.
      "That's right."
      "Us guys are always going someplace. Just when you find a stylist you like, you go back and he's gone."
      "So, how long have you worked here?"
      "A few months." He smiled and shrugged his shoulders. It seemed like a reasonable question to be, but he was a bit self-conscious.
      "Well, where did you work before?" I had to keep asking.
      "The __ Shop in Xidan." I perked up when I heard he'd worked in Xidan. I asked further,      "Where in Xidan is that shop?"
      "Xisi South Avenue."
      "Xisi South Avenue. That connects to Xisi North Avenue, right?"
      "I work in Xidan, too. I know the 'Little Riches' shop, and 'Marvelous Pleasure', and 'High Esteem", but I don't know the place you mentioned," I said guardedly.
      "And there's two 'Bright Pearl' shops, and 'Glorious China'," I added.
      "Bright Pearl…." He seemed to be familiar with that shop, which brought us closer together.
      "Where in Xidan do you work?"
      "Near the intersection." I wasn't quite willing to tell a stranger where I worked, so I told him just enough to be polite.
      "There's a lot of intersections in Xidan." He didn't seem happy with my answer.
      "Behind the Bright Pearl," I said, then added quickly: "Oh, I know, it's Bright Pearl intersection."
      "Wow, then it was fate for us to meet here."
      "Right. I didn't find you when you were in Xidan, but after you started here, I came to you for a haircut." It seems I wanted to show him I was sincere.
      "Then I should ask you out to dinner tonight."


      I actually got a little embarrassed when he said that, and quickly changed the subject. "Really, cutting hair lets you show off your skills. Giving a perm, like, even novices can do curls."
      "I wouldn't say that. Cutting and dying are ways to show off a stylist's design concepts." He had a point, and I had no answer.
      When I opened my eyes and saw my bangs, they seemed a little long, right to the top of my eyes. "They're too long, aren't they?" "Don't worry, I'm not finished." Clip clip, a few more strokes and I saw a jagged hairline.
      "How about that? Really pretty, huh?" He was so smug I had to smile.
      "Aren't you just a potter praising his own pots? Happiness is chatting with someone who shares your views."
      He smiled, too, and very sweetly. "I don't chat like this with just anyone."
      "I don't believe that."
      Why not?"
      "Because, weren't you chatting with your last customer while I was waiting?" I congratulated myself for finding another ground for debate. He didn't seem concerned, though, and started to blow-dry my hair.
      Blow-drying was easy for him. The outer layer of my hair dried very quickly, and only the inner layer was still a little wet.
      "The last time I got a haircut the stylist told me I should get a permanent. How much would you charge?"
      "One thirty-eight. We do both hot and cold perms. Hot perms are easier to take care of. You don't have to use any sprays."
      "That's not bad."
      While he was talking he grasped my hair and thinned it. "This way you can either tie it in a knot or coil it up." I was quite impressed as I watch him combing my hair in the mirror. "Look how beautiful you are!"
      "You really know how to complement people."
      Laughing, he grinned at me and said, "My mates call me a flatterer. Phooey. Here, let me give you a little more spray." He brought a bottle out from behind the mirror, some kind of gel or something.
      "I don't care about that. By the way, will you still be here when I come back next time?"
      "Yeah, sure…. Of course I will."
      "Well, give me your card, why don't you?"
      "I don't have a card, but the shop does."
      "That'll do. Just write your name on the shop's card, OK."
      "Good. So, I'll be waiting for you. Don't make me wait until my hair turns white."
      I had to laugh.
      After I stood up and thanked him, I went over to cashier to get their card. The boss was embarrassed and told me there was only one card left. Unfortunately he'd just given the last of them out today. So he tore off a piece of paper and wrote down the shop's phone number and the name of the person to call.
      He seemed to be in a hurry and asked me if I had checked anything. I said I had, and the assistant said it was the white one. The assistant was a little taller and had a better view, and he saw my white bag in a glance. "Let me get it for you." As he was speaking he walked behind the manager and picked up my white bag. "So, patent leather with a Casio timepiece."
      "It's not a Casio, and the bag isn't real patent leather." When summer comes it's my habit to always tie my watch to the strap of my bag. It's easy to see what time it is that way, and my wrist doesn't feel hot from having the watchband on it. I'd discovered the supposedly patent leather bag last month at a small shop in Dongsi.
      "How much," I asked deliberately.
      "Fifteen," the boss repeated emphatically. To tell the truth, if he'd quoted a price of twenty Yuan when I first came in, I'm afraid I still would have gotten my haircut here.
      I opened my bag and handed over the money.
      The boss had written the number on the scrap of paper while we were talking. He handed it to me and I saw "6831…… Teacher Wang." "And Teacher Wang is…." I asked in surprise. The boss pointed to the stylist. "Him."
      I was stunned but smiled to myself. I knew it!
      I felt much more relaxed and refreshed as I went on my way. Looking at my new hair style and thinking over our bantering conversation, a sense of satisfaction began to come over me.
      A chance encounter in a quest for beauty would be worth a second shot!
      I created a real stir in the office the next day, because my style cut had an extra fringe of hair.


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