Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Shen Jize could hardly coax Lu Rong to stop crying and tried to find the light mass, but Lu Rong was so scared that he wouldn’t let go of him. He had no choice but to continue coaxing, trying to think of words to soothe him.
The poor guy was just an elementary school student, and he was language-deprived, tossing and turning only those few words. “I was wrong, I shouldn’t have gone alone, I was really wrong. Brother will not throw you in the trash, believe me.”
Lu Rong was strangely secure from his dry rhetoric and slowly stopped crying, only humming like a mosquito. Rather than crying, it was more like pouting.
Shen Jize looked at his face, tentatively asked, “Finished crying? If you’re done crying, let’s go find the light?”
The humming sound instantly became louder.
“Okay, okay, then wait a little longer.” Shen Jize hurriedly said.
After several repetitions, Shen Jize stared helplessly at the ceiling and asked, “Are you done crying?”
“Not yet.” Lu Rong didn’t cry again, but with a strong nasally voice, he was still hugging him, not wanting to move.
Shen Jize rested his chin on the top of his head, thought for a moment and then asked, “Rong Rong, what did you say about me throwing you in the trash? The trash can won’t fit you, and who’s going to throw you in there?”
Lu Rong buried his face in a different position, the piece of material was already wet and uncomfortable against his face.
“I’ll fit.” He said.
“Huh?” Shen Jize didn’t understand the meaning of the words.
“I said the garbage can fit me.” Lu Rong’s voice came out of the fabric, a little jarring.
Shen Jize gestured to the size of the person in her arms and laughed silently, “Maybe you would fit, but who would put you in a trash can? How did you come up with that idea?”
Lu Rong was silent in his arms, not saying a word, just as Shen Jize was about to ask him if he was better now, he suddenly said in a very soft voice, “I was thrown in the trash by my family when I was four years old.”
Although his voice was very soft, Shen Jize still heard it clearly, he took a breath and froze in place.
Lu Rong continued very quietly, “I was thrown away by my family when I was very young, and was abducted by traffickers on the street to the village, where my grandfather saved me and raised me.”
In Shen Jize’s world, his biggest worry was that his parents would know he failed another quiz, lost to Xiao Yong when he played CS, and his teacher found him texting during class. His world was simple and peaceful but full of security, never thinking that there would be children who would be thrown away by their own families.
He had heard of such things, but that was someone else’s story. It appeared in the conversations of adults listening to a friend at the police station, or in the mouths of the dignified and solemn female anchors of the TV news. It was all extremely distant, so distant that it was as unreal as the story of Xiao Ming and Xiao Hua in the textbook.
But the boy who was with him every day, who smelled like milk, who was lying softly in his arms, told him in a calm but slightly trembling voice that those stories were true, and that they had happened to him.
Shen Jize floated in a strong sense of unreality, and, at the same time, felt as if a hand had reached into his chest, and then gripped hard.
The two of them hugged each other tightly and stood in silence.
After a few moments, Shen Jize released his hand and gently stroked Lu Rong’s back, “Rong Rong, do you remember the idol we saw in the temple at the back of the mountain?”
Lu Rong didn’t know why he was asking, but he nodded his head in his arms.
Shen Jize said, “The one with the red cloth, the name of the Moon God. The master said that after worshipping it, it will make people love each other until they grow old. Do you know the meaning of white head to old age? It means we will still be together even once our hair is white.”
He paused, and after two seconds of hesitation, he continued, “How about this, let’s also go to worship. With the Bodhisattva watching, you will always feel assured that I will not throw you away, right?”
Shen Jize couldn’t think of anyone with whom he could love and grow old together. Not Xiao Yong… the two of them often fight over a word, who wants to fight with him all the way to old age? The other students in the class are also no good, no relationship was particularly good.
As for the future wife, in his heart, it was just a vague term, and he didn’t understand the real meaning of the representative. Only the little boy in his arms did he feel that growing old together in love would be a good plan.
Especially after hearing Lu Rong’s story, his heart was sour and soft, and he wanted to offer Lu Rong whatever good things he had, just to beg him not to be sad and not to think he would throw him away.
——and what damn trash can.
Worshiping the Bodhisattva, that was the only way he could think of at the moment to make a promise to Lu Rong.
Lu Rong’s heart did move and he tilted his head up from his arms, his tear-washed eyes burning with light.
Shen Jize saw these eyes, and the little hesitation he had was left behind, hastening to add, “Worship the Bodhisattva, and you will no longer be afraid that I will throw you away, and all the garbage cans will be whacked by me.”
He put his hands together and made a punching motion.
Lu Rong still had a few tear marks on his face and his eyelashes were wet in a tuft, but when he saw Shen Jize gesticulating as he spoke, he also gave a light smile.
“How’s that?” Shen Jize asked.
Lu Rong did not reply, still smiling like that, two small dimples indenting his cheeks.
Shen Jize understood that he was happy, and continued to gesture with his hands, simulating the action of pounding a garbage can.
“Then when they’re flattened, they’ll be thrown into the field and eaten by the pigs.” Lu Rong finally spoke, his voice was hoarse from crying, yet leaping with joy.
“Pigs don’t seem to eat tin.”
Lu Rong said, “They like to eat the garbage cans. All the garbage cans will be flattened and eaten by the pigs.”
“Okay, they eat it. We’ll feed them to the pigs after they’re flattened.” Shen Jize only obeyed.
“Big Black wants to eat two… no, five.”
“Hahahaha, a hundred ah, hahaha.”
Lu Rong was happy and no longer hugged Shen Jize while grunting, and began to move his hand, moved his feet like a pig finding vegetables and made a gesture to swallow a garbage can, making chewing sounds.
“Then it’s a deal, we’ll go to the temple and worship the gods when we get out.” Shen Jize lifted the hem of his T-shirt to wipe the sweat from Lu Rong’s forehead.
“Mn, go out and worship. But… but it says we have to bring our wives to worship, where are we going to find wives to bring with us?” He asked in a milky voice.
Shen Jize tsked, “We’re going to the Moon God to get him to be a witness that we’ll always be together, not to take our wives with us.”
“Oh.” Lu Rong nodded his head in understanding.
Shen Jize finally coaxed the person, gave a sigh of relief, and only now noticed Lu Rong’s still naked white body, and began to twist and turn again to find his clothes.
He looked around and saw the clothes scattered not far away and said, “Why are you naked again? Whenever something goes wrong, you strip yourself naked, and you don’t stop even after being told several times.” He went to pick up the shorts and T-shirt and sandals in front of Lu Rong, “This behavior is very bad, you know. Not correct. If anyone in our class liked to strip naked, they would definitely be laughed at.” He said this while pulling the T-shirt over Lu Rong’s head, “In other words, I’m good to you, so I won’t laugh at you.”
“Yes, brother is really good to me.” Lu Rong’s head was covered with the shirt, as he kept nodding his head.
Shen Jize stopped and asked, “So, do you like Brother?”
“Yes, Brother,” Lu Rong said in a voice that was both whispery and draggy.
Shen Jize loved to hear him speak in such a tone, and was very happy.
Lu Rong dressed, went to take Shen Jize’s hand, his eyes swept over his calf and suddenly stopped, then he hurriedly squatted down to see.
Shen Jize followed and looked down and saw the scraped wounds on his legs when he fell in the fog.
“Brother, what happened to you? Did you meet a female ghost again?” Lu Rong’s face was scrunched up, and his big eyes were filled with anxiety. He stretched out his finger to touch the wound, and then retracted in the air, obviously afraid of hurting the person.
If Lu Rong didn’t mention it, Shen Jize forgot about it, but when he did, he felt his whole leg was on fire.
“It’s not another encounter with a female ghost, it’s something I did on the way—” Shen Jize almost mentioned his fall, but changed his mind, “It’s from the fight with the female ghost from earlier.”
Lu Rong saw that some places had broken skin, oozing blood. Feeling heartbroken, his pouting mouth gently blew on the wound.
“Hey, be gentle! Ah, hiss…” Shen Jize frowned and closed his eyes, a look of pain.
Lu Rong made his movements lighter and after blowing for a while asked, “Does it still hurt?”
“Let me check.” Shen Jize curled his leg and felt better, so he said, “It doesn’t hurt anymore, let’s hurry up and go.”
Lu Rong just got up and saw the scrape on Shen Jize’s elbow and was shocked, “Brother, you have one on your arm too.”
“Ah! Is that so?” Shen Jize lifted his elbow and looked at it, and instantly felt his whole arm start to hurt.
“Come and blow, come and blow, hiss…” He busied himself with urging Lu Rong.
“Fine, fine.” Lu Rong pouted again and blew on his elbow. He carefully cupped Shen Jize’s arm and blew on the torn skin, which made Shen Jize feel much more comfortable.
When everything was in order, the two children walked forward hand in hand, only this time, as soon as they turned a corner, they saw a striking mass of light floating not far away, hanging squarely in the middle of the passage.
“I found it, it’s right here! I just passed by, how come I didn’t find it?” Shen Jize was both surprised and excited.
Lu Rong sniffed the air without moving, and found that there was already the scent of Uncle White, and said, “Yes, this is the light that will let us out.”
Shen Jize realized, “I must have just killed the female ghost in red before it appeared. Of course, the deer warrior also has a lot of credit.”
Lu Rong bounced twice in place.
Stepping out of the light mass, Lu Rong opened his eyes and locked eyes with Shen Jize, who was lying on his side facing each other, and both revealed a smile.
The two were still lying in Shen Yan’s single dormitory, and there was a faint smell of alcohol in the air. There was no longer darkness around them, there was the occasional dog barking in the distance and the sound of crickets outside the window.
Shen Jize reached out his finger and pressed the tip of Lu Rong’s upturned nose, then frowned.
“You smell of alcohol.” He sniffed, “I can’t believe there’s still a smell of alcohol in the room, you’re so drunk it’ll knock me over.”
“I won’t drink this kind of liquor anymore.” Lu Rong smiled cheekily and put his arm around his neck.
“Kids can’t drink. Don’t drink anything.” Shen Jize pushed him out with disgust, “You stink, stay away from me.”
Lu Rong not only did not go out, but also desperately clung onto his arms, Shen Jize pretended to push twice and let it go.
It was still early in the morning, and they didn’t know what time it was, sometime in the middle of the night, so the two of them talked for a while and fell asleep at some point.
When Shen Jize woke up the next day and went to wash up, he found that the scrapes on his body were gone, as if nothing had happened. He looked down at his elbow and knee, not to mention the blood seeping through, there was not even a bruise.
The only thing that felt uncomfortable was his neck being bare, so he reached out and touched it, and found that the jade leaf pendant that never left his body had disappeared.
It was still there during last night’s bath, so he must’ve dropped it in his little uncle’s room. He hurriedly washed up and rushed back to the room, and searched everywhere under the bed.
Lu Rong asked for clarification and helped him look for it. The two of them went through every inch of the place, but couldn’t find the jade pendant.
Shen Jize thought back for a while and thought that he had dropped it when he fought with the woman in red, but how could it be recovered if it fell in that place? He hung his head for a while and started thinking about how to make up an excuse to fool his parents.
“So what should we do? Why don’t we go buy another piece? I’ve seen them in the store in the town down the hill for ten dollars a piece.” Lu Rong squatted in front of him, good-naturedly coming up with ideas.
Shen Jize sighed and scratched his head in annoyance, “My jade is not the kind that costs ten dollars a piece. It’s real jade that my mother bought from an antique dealer and went to a temple to have it enlightened by a monk…”
Seeing Lu Rong look at him with a confused face, so he added, “Forget it. I’ll just say I lost it. Worst thing that can happen is that I’ll be beaten up.”
When he heard beaten up, Lu Rong’s expression became nervous, and Shen Jize glanced at him, understanding that he was frightened of him, and hurriedly went back to comfort him. He said he was very relaxed about the beating, just a couple of pats on the buttocks, it didn’t hurt at all.
After eating breakfast, Shen Jize carried his school bag, stuffed two changes of clothes inside, and took Lu Rong to Shen Yan to tell him that he was going to go back and stay at Grandpa Cai’s house again.
“Going to Grandpa Cai’s again?” Shen Yan asked, wearing a helmet, while a few engineers were looking at the drawings.
Shen Jize said, “Yes, it’s too noisy here, I can’t study quietly.”
Shen Yan thought about it, so he took out his cell phone and dialed, “Xiao Zhu, this is Shen Yan, is Uncle Cai in the village committee…”
After talking to Grandpa Cai on the phone, he waved his hand to Shen Jize, “Go ahead and go, just don’t be naughty. By the way, bring your Grandpa Cai the bottle of wine and two cigarettes I left in the dormitory.”
Shen Jize led Lu Rong to the dormitory again, took out a bottle of Maotai and two soft Chinese cigarettes according to Shen Yan’s instructions and stuffed them into his school bag.
The book bag couldn’t be closed so he poured out all the homework, leaving only a composition book.
The two of them carried cigarettes and wine and walked down the mountain road to the village, Lu Rong holding Shen Jize’s hand and jumping, clearly happy.
No one was home, since Grandpa Cai was still in the village council. Shen Jize had just put his school bag on the small table when Lu Rong leaned over the table and asked, “What are we going to do next?”
Shen Jize glanced at him and saw him staring at him with a hopeful face, so he knew what he was thinking, but said deliberately, “Let’s do our homework first, and we’ll talk about it when it’s done.”
After saying that, he steadily took out the composition book from his school bag.
Lu Rong saw that he wanted to say something, but he had to go to get his own bag.
Shen Jize waited for him to set out the paper and pencil, but jumped up and ran outside, shouting as he ran, “You write! I’m going to the temple at the back of the mountain to worship the gods!”
Lu Rong froze and saw that he had already run into the courtyard and hurriedly shouted after him, “I want to go too!”
The stationery fell to the ground and the pencils and items inside were scattered all over the place. Puppy was playing with ants in the yard and barked furiously after the two. Chasing and fighting all the way to the temple, the dog scampered to the woods next to play, the two boys hid by the open courtyard door to look inside.
The courtyard was quiet, no one in sight, only a few rutabaga chickens were pacing around in the yard.
“No peanuts or eggs this time. Will Master Hong let us worship the gods?” Lu Rong asked in a whisper, probing.
Shen Jize frowned and said, “I don’t know… It’s a tourist attraction, right? Other attractions can charge admission, but can this temple charge admission?”
He took out a few large bills from his shorts pocket, which his mother had given him before the trip, but he hadn’t used any of it since he arrived here.
“Wow, Brother, you have a lot of money.” Lu Rong’s eyes went straight when he saw the bills.
It was the first time he had ever seen a child have so much money.
“Is this a lot?” Shen Jize asked.
Lu Rong reached out and twisted one of them, “Of course it’s a lot! You could buy all the candy in Li’s commissary.”
“Candy from Li’s commissary? You want to eat candy?” Shen Jize gave him a look.
“No, I don’t want to eat it.” Lu Rong shook his head vigorously, and his two hands complemented the movement, but the word ‘want to eat’ was clearly written on his face.
“What are you two children doing sneaking around?” A voice rang out coldly from the courtyard, and the door was pulled open even more. Only to see Master Hong, who was still wearing the unbuttoned white robe with his belly wide open, walking out with a rice bowl in his hand.
The two children immediately stood up straight.
Master Hong looked behind them and found no one else, so he asked, “Where’s your grandfather?”
The two children shook their heads.
Master Hong looked at them, “This is not a place for children to play, it will disturb the gods’ nap, go and play elsewhere.”
Shen Jize didn’t make a sound, but Lu Rong shouted back, “Master Hong, my brother and I want to come to worship the gods.”
After what happened last time, he wasn’t that afraid of Master Hong anymore, not to mention that this time he was going to worship the Moon God with his brother, so he was even braver.
“Oh, worship the gods? That’s fine. Do it so you can take first place in the exam.” Master Hong shaved a mouthful of rice into his mouth and said with a smile.
“No, we want to worship the god of love and affection to grow old, the one whose name is Moon.” Lu Rong’s voice had a hidden joy.
Master Hong froze and reacted after a moment, with a somewhat bizarre look on his face, as if he was holding back a laugh. He nudged the two of them with his chopstick head, “You two want to love each other until you grow old? You want to worship the Moon God?”
Shen Jize was suddenly a bit bashful and turned his head to look aside, while Lu Rong said in a crisp voice, “Yes, we do.”
Master Hong choked on his rice and began to cough violently, pounding himself on the chest with a red face.
Shen Jize took the money out of his pocket and said with some embarrassment, “Master Hong, we can pay.”
Master Hong glanced at the money in his hand, coughing and pointing to the other side of the courtyard, “No entrance fee. Go yourself… Cough… Go and pay your respects.”
When they passed by Master Hong, Shen Jize gave him a team salute, and Lu Rong followed suit, standing up straight and raising his right hand in a team salute.
Master Hong waved his hand haphazardly and turned his head away with an uncomfortable look on his face.