Chapter 31: Stuffed Bitter Melon
Translated by Yan of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Yang Xiao wrote the words shakily. After he finished, he stared at the man, trembling, and the man smiled before he took the knives from other two people’s hands and pressed close to Yang Xiao. Yang Xiao was so scared that he was shivering, and he kept saying, “Didn’t I already sign it?! I already signed it!”
The man let out a puff of laughter and curled the corners of his mouth up mockingly. He patted the back of the knife against Yang Xiao’s face. “I know you signed it, why are you so afraid? The two of us are good brothers. Obediently gather the money for big bro, and big bro won’t hurt you, ah, be good.”
No matter how you interpreted those words, they were full of ridicule, but clearly Yang Xiao had to listen to them. When he saw the man finish speaking, he swallowed before pulling away from the ice-cold blade pressed against his face. “Can I go now?”
The man laughed again before moving the knife away from Yang Xiao’s face. “You can.”
Yang Xiao forced his way out the door and ran. Both of his legs were weak, but he wasn’t slow at all.
The man’s voice, full of laughter, carried over from behind him. “Xiao Zi, big bro knows where everyone in your family lives. If you run away or tell the police… you can rest assured that big bro will find you no matter what.”
Yang Xiao’s face went ghastly pale all at once. The man had clearly seen through his intentions.
Yang Xiao felt like he had been living in a nightmare from the afternoon until now. In the blink of an eye, he had been tricked by his good brother, and in the blink of an eye, he owed a debt of a million. He had even signed an IOU. Yang Xiao walked out of the building, dumbfounded. He only stopped running after he had gone far away, and he still glanced back occasionally.
Indeed, nobody had chased after him, but the man’s “big bro will find you no matter what” made Yang Xiao extremely afraid. A million – never mind gathering the money, even if you killed him he wouldn’t have it.
Yang Xiao returned home, muddleheaded. When he opened the door, he bumped into Yang JianGuo, who was just on his way out. He hadn’t come back home for a while in the first place, and now, seeing him come home with a pale face and unkempt appearance made Yang JianGuo’s temper immediately flare. He was about to scold him, but then he felt like something about Yang Xiao wasn’t quite right. Something was really wrong; his eyes looked hazy, and even when he saw Yang JianGuo, he didn’t have any reaction. After he walked inside, he went straight to bed.
Yang JianGuo didn’t know what had happened. He wanted to go ask Zhao XueMei, but he hadn’t talked to her in the past few days, and he couldn’t lower his pride enough to ask. He thought about it a little and decided not to ask for now. After all, he felt like Yang Xiao was already grown up, so nothing much should really happen, and he left for work.
Once Yang JianGuo left, Zhao XueMei walked out. Yang JianGuo had lived in the guest room during the past few days, and they had lived in separate rooms for quite a while now. Zhao XueMei was so angry that she was about to explode, but she wasn’t willing to lower her head and apologize first. What’s more, she didn’t feel like she did anything wrong at all.
“Xiao Xiao ah, you’re home?” She hadn’t been in the living room just then, so naturally she hadn’t seen Yang Xiao’s preoccupied appearance. When she saw Yang Xiao go into his room, she thought it was because he was sleepy, so she knocked on the door.
Yang Xiao stewed inside and didn’t speak, thinking about something unknown.
“Xiao Xiao ah, are you asleep? Did you eat already? If you haven’t, Mom can cook anything you want for you…”
“Can you not bother me!!” Yang Xiao’s thunderous roar came from inside the room, giving Zhao XueMei quite a fright.
The sound of her knocking grew even louder instead of softer. “Xiao Xiao ah, what’s wrong? If something’s happened, tell Mom. Mom will help you think of a way, don’t scare me like this…”
The door was suddenly wrenched open. Yang Xiao’s eyes were completely bloodshot, and he looked extremely terrifying. Even the expression on his face seemed a bit odd. “That’s right, Mom, only you can help me, Mom, you have to help me…”
It seemed like Yang Xiao had finally found a way to vent his feelings, and he threw himself into Zhao XueMei’s arms before he started crying and sobbing, scaring Zhao XueMei quite terribly.
“What happened, hurry up and tell me!”
Yang Xiao didn’t answer. Instead, he asked, “Mom, do you have money? Do you have money?”
Zhao XueMei released a breath of air. “From the looks of you, I thought it was something big? But you just don’t have any more money? How much do you need? Mom will get it for you.”
Even though Yang Xiao was recently spending money shockingly fast, Zhao XueMei still didn’t keep questioning him. After all, from her point of view, as long as Yang Xiao was living well, there wasn’t anything extraordinary about money.
A glimpse of hope flashed through Yang Xiao’s eyes. “Mom, do you have a million? A million!”
Zhao XueMei’s hand paused as she was pulling out her wallet. She turned her head doubtfully. “How much?”
Zhao XueMei laughed before she reached out and patted Yang Xiao’s head. “Son, did you not sleep during these past two days when you were out, so you became dumb? If you need one or two thousand, Mom has it, but a million? What kind of joke?”
The hope in Yang Xiao’s eyes instantly shattered, and he started to shout loudly, “I’m not joking with you! I need a million!! In ten days, I only have ten days! If I can’t get it, he’ll kill me, he’ll definitely kill me!!”
Only then did Zhao XueMei feel as if Yang Xiao had encountered something terrible and had been ensnared. She only had this one precious son, and she had always given him anything he wanted, pampering him to the heavens. Now, when she saw Yang Xiao’s alarmed appearance as he shouted loudly, Zhao XueMei was also scared out of her mind, and she went to take Yang Xiao’s hand. “Xiao Xiao ah, don’t scare your mother. Just what in the world happened? Tell your mother, don’t scare me.”
It was as if Yang Xiao had suddenly used up all of his energy. He slumped against the door and slid onto the ground, his entire face lifeless. He said stupidly, “Mom, I owe somebody money… owe a million…”
Zhao XueMei felt like she’d been struck by lightning out of thin air, taking half of her life with it. Her eyes were opened wide, her mouth hanging open and she murmured, “Xiao Xiao… don’t joke with your mother…”
“Mom.” Yang Xiao turned to look at her, his gaze dull as he watched Zhao XueMei. “I’m not joking. I owe somebody else money, a million. They let me go and said that I only have ten days. If I can’t gather the money and give it to them, they’ll kill me. Mom, I don’t want to die! I don’t want to die! I’m only twenty-three! I don’t want to die yet!”
When he got to the end, he started to scream hysterically again. Zhao XueMei hastily went forward and hugged Yang Xiao, her voice shaking as she said, “Xiao Xiao, you, first tell Mom, what in the world happened? Weren’t you playing outside? In just a few days’ time? How do you owe somebody that much money? Tell me, just what did you do? Hurry and tell Mom!”
Zhao XueMei also subconsciously raised her voice, but it was still constantly trembling. It seemed like she had already believed what Yang Xiao was saying, that it was all true.
“Mom… I’m sorry… I didn’t go to my friend’s house during these past few days… That’s not right either, I did go to my friend’s house, but he wasn’t my friend, he’s a cheater! A huge cheater! Mom, you have to save me!” Yang Xiao started to recount everything that happened in the past month or so after he had met the man. His story was confusing, the sentences not making sense in conjunction with each other. The more he spoke, the more he felt like this whole thing had been one huge trap! He had been tricked!! “Mom, they tricked me! They ganged up and tricked me! Or else how would I have lost so much? How would I owe that much money? I would have definitely lost… they all tricked me!!”
Once Yang Xiao finished speaking, Zhao XueMei was already completely paralyzed at his side. This time, she finally knew just how Yang Xiao could owe somebody that much money in a single night. Or, in other words, it wasn’t one night, but many days – accumulated after he had gambled daily.
Yang Xiao was still chattering nonstop, as if he had gone mad. Zhao XueMei had already calmed down, but less than two minutes later, she suddenly straightened and viciously slapped Yang Xiao’s face so hard that his head whipped to the side. The words that he had been muttering nonstop finally ceased.
“You degenerate son, you want to destroy us!!” Zhao XueMei finally recovered from her shock, and as she slapped Yang Xiao, she cried loudly. She hit him because he had disappointed her, but she cried out of fear. Zhao XueMei knew extremely well just how much money they had, and they had far from enough to fill this empty hole.
Yang Xiao didn’t say anything either, allowing his mother to hit him. Once she stopped, he still sat there just like before, on the ground. As if he had become stupid.
Zhao XueMei glanced around. She didn’t know what she was going to do, what she should do. When she saw her phone, she suddenly remembered. “Let’s tell the police, Xiao Xiao, you were tricked. The police should take care of it, let’s tell them!!”
Yang Xiao leaped up off the ground all at once and grabbed the phone from Zhao XueMei, glaring at her with bloodshot eyes, as if she wasn’t his mother and was his enemy instead. “Do you want to kill me?!! They said I couldn’t tell the police, I can’t!! You want to kill me, right!!”
Zhao XueMei was given a shock by Yang Xiao, and she was paralyzed again. She repeated, hair disheveled, “Then what do we do? Then what do we do?”
Nobody knew what to do. They couldn’t hand over this million, nor did they know anyone who could. But there was no way Zhao XueMei could just sit and watch Yang Xiao walk into a dead end. Just from Yang Xiao’s one-sided story, she knew that this was true, because Yang Xiao had never been like this before.
Zhao XueMei finally lowered her head and reached out to take the phone from Yang Xiao. Yang Xiao reflexively shrank backwards, shouting, “What are you doing?”
Zhao XueMei’s voice grew older all at once. “I won’t tell the police, I’m just going to give your father a call.”
Only then did Yang Xiao hand over the phone.
The phone rang for a long time before somebody answered. Yang JianGuo’s voice was still as indifferent as ever, but the moment Zhao XueMei heard it she burst into tears. “JianGuo, hurry and come home. Something huge has happened.”
Yang JianGuo was stunned. Zhao XueMei had been married to him for so many years, but this was still the first time he had heard such a panicked and frightened voice. “What happened?”
Not even half of Zhao XueMei’s typical imposing manner was left. She cried nonstop, and she didn’t say what had happened either, just that he should come home quickly. Yang JianGuo hung up and quickly requested a leave of absence to go home. He had more or less also guessed; it definitely had something to do with Yang Xiao, who had just returned home. His eyelids jumped continuously on his way home. Yang JianGuo felt like this absolutely wasn’t a good sign.
When he got back, he saw the two of them sitting at the entrance to Yang Xiao’s room. One was stupefied and silent, the other looked as if she had cried so much her tears had dried up. When she saw him, it was like she saw a lifesaver.
“JianGuo, hurry and think of a strategy!”
Yang JianGuo’s brows were knitted tightly together. When he saw Yang Xiao’s dazed appearance, he asked, “What exactly happened?”
Once Zhao XueMei finished talking, Yang JianGuo was also dumbfounded. He smashed the briefcase he was holding in his hand against Yang Xiao’s body. “You absolute disgrace, you actually went and gambled! Actually gambled!! A million! You’ve really matured, hah!!”
At first, Yang Xiao went and tried to block a few of the blows, but in the end he stopped trying and directly scooted closer to Yang JianGuo. “Hit me! If you beat me to death I won’t have to return that million anymore!!”
Zhao XueMei was trying to stop Yang JianGuo from the start, and when she heard that she started to cry again. “Are you trying to beat him to death by hitting him so hard?”
Yang JianGuo finally stopped, but he kept saying, “It’s best if you get beaten to death! Such an evil creature, what’s the point of having him?! It’s all because you spoiled him!!”
This was the first time ever that Zhao XueMei didn’t even have the strength to fight back. The three of them sat dismally in the house for quite a while before they finally calmed down. They needed to take their time in making a decision about this.
Even though telling the police was a good method, what Yang Xiao said was correct. If the other people didn’t have some preparations, they wouldn’t have just let him go without a care and let him come back for ten days. They didn’t dare to play around with Yang Xiao’s life.
But where should they start getting this sum of money from? The three of them had no ideas whatsoever. It was as if Yang Xiao had gone stupid, and Zhao XueMei only knew how to cry. The only one who still kept a bit of his cool was Yang JianGuo.
But a million was still an astronomical number for Yang JianGuo. No matter how calm he was, he couldn’t imagine how he could gather that much money.
Their family looked like they got along fine during the past few years, but his wage alone was only just enough to take care of the entire family and pay mortgage. There wasn’t much he could put in savings, and there was no need to speak of their relatives, as they had all been completely offended by Zhao XueMei. Even if they hadn’t been, there was nobody who had so much money that they could lend him that amount in an instant. What’s more, if they borrowed it, how would they return it?
But could they just let Yang Xiao exchange his life if they couldn’t get that much money? Yang Xiao was the only child of the Yang family. No matter how unimpressive he was, he was still his son; he couldn’t really just stand by and watch him die.
“If we can’t do anything else, then we can sell the house.” Even though they had already lived here for many years, they could still sell it for a few hundred thousand if they sold it now.
Zhao XueMei continuously shook her head. “This is the house that we saved bitterly for. If we sell it, where will we live?”
Yang JianGuo bellowed deeply, “Then can you watch your son go and die?”
Zhao XueMei didn’t speak anymore. After a long while, she shouted, “His grandpa has one! Doesn’t he grandpa still have a rotten house? And that restaurant! If you sell it all, there should be quite some money, right?”
“What kind of time is this, yet you’re still concerned about my dad’s house!”
Yang JianGuo spoke loudly, but Zhao XueMei’s voice was even louder. “What kind of time is it? It’s exactly because it’s this kind of time that we need it!! I won’t open any shop anymore, I just beg that we can return this million! We’re already like this, shouldn’t he be concerned?”
But Zhao XueMei crawled up, unconcerned. She went and tugged at Yang Xiao’s hand. “Let’s go, we’ll go find your grandpa.”
Yang Xiao rolled his eyes blankly. “What’s the point of finding him?”
“Look for him to sell his house. We can’t sell our house, if we sell it where will we live? Go and beg your grandpa. Your grandpa loves you so much, he should agree for you. Let’s go and beg your grandpa!”