Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The next day was a cloudy day, and the two of them slept until almost noon, then they ate lunch and planned to go for a walk.
“Grandpa, do you want to go for a walk?” Lu Rong asked Grandpa Cai, who was sitting in the courtyard.
Grandpa Cai looked up at the sky, “It looks like it’s going to rain, are you still going out?”
“Mn, it’s been a long time since I’ve been back, I want to go for a walk.”
Grandpa Cai said, “You guys go shopping. I’m not going, bring an umbrella so you don’t get caught in the rain later.”
Not far from the house up the creek, not long after the rain really rained, the temperature dropped suddenly. The rain wasn’t heavy, but fine and misty, with the river’s cold water, the two people were holding umbrellas, walking slowly on the river bank.
“It would be nice if we hadn’t lost touch with each other for so many years.” Lu Rong leaned his head on Shen Jize’s shoulder, “I would swim in the river every summer, and my grandfather would sit on a rock by the river. I always thought, ‘What is my brother doing now?’ It would’ve been nice if you were with me…”
Shen Jize, holding an umbrella in one hand and Lu Rong in the other, was silent, only envisioning that image in his mind.
When he was in elementary school, he would’ve asked Lu Rong to write down the people who bullied him in a small notebook, and he would go to take revenge for him during the holidays. He would’ve attended Lu Rong’s high school graduation ceremony, and he would’ve seen him sitting among his classmates taking pictures, showing a shy smile. He would’ve advised him on which high school to apply to, and not miss any big event in his life.
If that was the case, he could have grown up with that little boy, watched him grow taller and taller, his young face taking on the contours of a teenager, not missing so many years of his life.
Lu Rong gazed at the surface of the river, which was filled with raindrops making small circles, with a bit of sadness in his eyes. At that moment, Shen Jize suddenly handed him the umbrella in his hand, “Take it.”
Lu Rong had just taken the umbrella when he saw Shen Jize stripping his entire body naked in three or two seconds, leaving only a pair of black underwear, revealing his strong and smooth muscles. Then, under his jaw-dropping gaze, he plunged into the river with a splash.
The river splashed then settled, Shen Jize emerged wet, wiped the water from his face, and gave a handsome smile to Lu Rong on the shore.
“Rong Rong, Brother accompanied you to swim.” He wiped back the wet hair on his forehead, and although his face was smiling, his tone showed some seriousness, “This summer, Brother accompanied you to swim in this river.”
A gust of wind blew, rainwater diagonally scattered onto Lu Rong’s arms under the short sleeves, the raindrops were cold. He wanted Shen Jize to come up quickly, saying it was still raining and the river was too cold, but looking at his shining eyes, he finally didn’t speak, just stared at the person in the river with a pursed-lip smile.
A few seconds later, he put Shen Jize’s clothes under a big rock, blocked the rain with an umbrella, stripped himself down to his underwear, and rushed down the river at a trot.
“Ah!” The moment the cold water touched his body, he screamed and almost turned into a deer on the spot.
Shen Jize said, “Get out! Get out! The water’s too cold.”
The good thing was that it was only cold when he entered the water, and after he swam in the river for two rounds, he didn’t feel anything. The two of them started to fight in the water.
The rain was getting heavier and heavier, and some people were passing by the riverbank with umbrellas, holding two arms that were freezing with goose bumps, and looking at the two people in the center of the river who were still playing in the wind and rain. They couldn’t help but feel a chill, tsk, these young people were really hot-blooded.
The summer rain came and went quickly, and when the two went ashore, the rain and wind had stopped and the sun peeked out from between the clouds.
“Rong Rong, I want to go to the temple where we got married.” Shen Jize said with a smile on his face as he slipped his pants over his bare legs.
Lu Rong smiled back, “Let’s go and have a look.”
Although the Longquan Village was gone, the area became a tourist spot, and even if there weren’t many tourists, the town still had a minibus going to the mountain. After Shen Jize put on his sunglasses and hat, covering himself, the two went to the bus station on the street, and saw a minibus about to depart, so they got on.
In the past, the mountain road, which only allowed one car to pass, was widened into a two-lane road, and the road was repaired smoothly. Lu Rong sat next to Shen Jize, their arms pressed together under their short sleeves.
The two of them had soft skin after swimming, and the temperature was slightly lower, so they were very comfortable leaning against each other. Lu Rong rested his head on Shen Jize’s shoulder, comfortably closed his eyes, and rubbed a finger on the inside of his arm, feeling the satin-like touch.
Shen Jize took his finger in his hand and whispered, “You’re grabbing a handful, huh? Little pervert.”
Lu Rong didn’t open his eyes, only pursed his lips to reveal two light dimples.
Shen Jize looked at the renovated building not far away, pointed to a window on the second floor and asked, “Remember?”
Lu Rong knew he was talking about the time when he was a child and entered the site’s illusionary realm, so he said, “Of course I remember.”
Shen Jize patted him on the shoulder and shook his head as if with a sigh, “You guys fucked over Candlelight and we’ll never see those ghosts in the illusion world again.”
Lu Rong asked curiously, “Do you miss them?”
“Not really.” Shen Jize smacked his lips, “It’s just that sometimes the pressure of filming is so great that I want to fall asleep and then go in and beat them up to relieve the pressure.”
The two stared at the window and talked in a whisper, while a man in a bathrobe from a retreat center not far away kept glancing at them with a wary eye. As Shen Jize looked back, he walked back toward the security office on his feet.
“Go, go, go, he thinks we’re bad guys and is going to security.” Lu Rong saw the situation and pulled Shen Jize to hurry out of the parking lot.
The two ran hand in hand like a gust of wind and soon ran out of the convalescent center until the people behind them were no longer visible, then they panted and slowed down and headed for the direction of Longquan Village.
The former fields have become lush woods and a farm has been built where the village used to be. Shen Jize stood at the entrance of the village for a while, took Lu rong who was silent and whispered, “Let’s go up the hill to the temple.”
Climbing up the stone steps at the back of the hill, they soon saw the courtyard on the hillside, and the verdant old trees at the gate, no different from a decade ago.
But when the two went inside, they found that the inside was greatly changed. The tiled rooms where Master Hong himself lived had been renovated, with green bricks and red tiles, carved wooden windows, and a few ancient colors. The temple on the left, which was dedicated to the three gods and the Moon God, was even more magnificent, with high flying eaves and large columns in front of the corridor, adding some solemnity to the courtyard.
“Amitabha Buddha…” A voice came from behind them, and when they looked back, they saw a fat monk dressed in brown monk’s robes, walking with his eyebrows lowered and his eyes averted.
His monk’s robe was worn properly, a string of Buddhist beads were in his hand, with a few hidden in the mountains of the Taoist monk stand. If not for more wrinkles on his face and a bigger belly, the two almost didn’t recognize this man as Master Hong.
“The two masters are very dusty, but they have come a long way. Let’s go into the side hall and have a cup of rough tea to rest for a while.”
Although it was like a line from a costume drama, the Mandarin was very standard, and Lu Rong and Shen Jize looked at each other with astonishment.
The two didn’t make a sound, and Master Hong didn’t ask questions, but turned the string of rosary beads in his hand, still lowering his eyebrows and averting his eyes, his face was unperturbed.
“Uh, Master Hong, you don’t have any chickens now?” Lu Rong finally spoke up to break the silence.
The chicken pen at the corner of the courtyard was gone, and there was a small pond with a few fat carps swimming in it.
Master Hong’s eyebrows jumped and he finally raised his eyes for the first time to look at the people across from him. He quickly swept his eyes over the two men’s faces to make sure he didn’t recognize them, and his eyes continued to slide down, crossing over the luxury logos on their clothes and pants.
“The poor monk has bought chickens to be decapitated from farmers and released all of them at the back.” Master Hong still smiled with the smile of universal life, emitting Buddha’s light, “If you meet, it is fate, and it is the creation of that chicken. The fish in it were also bought by the poor monk from the fishermen, and they have been living here for several years, so they have been tainted with a lot of Buddha’s breath.”
Lu Rong: ???
Don’t think I haven’t seen you sitting by the relief tent chewing on chicken legs and roasted meat.
Shen Jize laughed, turned his head to look at the temple behind him and asked, “Master Hong, are the three idols and the Moon God still there? By the way, one idol’s eye was eaten by a chicken, have you invited the black gemstone eye from Mount Qiuwu?”
Master Hong was stunned and looked at the two blankly, as if searching for memories, and after a moment slapped his thigh, “It’s you two! The two children who came to worship the gods!”
“You’re really a master, you can even remember this.” Shen Jize said with a smile.
“How could I not remember? Over the years, many children have worshipped the gods, but you two are the only ones who have worshipped the Moon God.”
Master Hong instantly stopped speaking Mandarin and started using the dialect.
“Oops, told you so, I thought it was a visitor from out of town, causing me to panic and wrap my monk’s robe, it’s so hot.” Master Hong began to take off his monk’s robe, revealing his little white coat with his belly open underneath.
“Master, you have spoken well just now, you have made us all look so dumb.” Lu Rong laughed, “Your Mandarin is better than the teachers in our town.”
“Just watch more TV series, especially martial arts movies, which basically have the abbot of Shaolin Temple.” Master Hong turned around and walked towards the few housing units. “Go to the house and have a drink of water, go go go.”
The two people didn’t resist, and followed behind Master Hong.
After entering the door, Master Hong served two cups of herbal tea and said, “You two have grown so big, I’m sure I wouldn’t have recognized you if you didn’t tell me.” When Lu Rong took the tea, he smiled and said, “I remember you, you’re Grandpa Cai’s grandson. You used to let my chickens get away and made me chase them all over the place.”
Lu Rong smiled and apologized, not really sincerely, and Master Hong didn’t mind, saying, “Are you two working here? Look at this fake brand name, I almost thought it was a foreign boss, my heart is rejoicing.”
“I am a part-time worker, and he’s my boss.” Lu Rong gestured to Shen Jize beside him.
Shen Jize, still wearing his sunglasses and duck-tongue hat, leaned back on the sofa without saying a word.
“That sounds pretty good. Is it a restaurant or something? There are a lot of people in town who have gone out and are opening restaurants, and they’re making some money.” Master Hong said.
Lu Rong didn’t answer his question, just looked at the room and said, “You’re the one making money, aren’t you?
“Thanks to the attraction, there are more tourists, so the incense is flourishing. By the way, are you two here to worship the gods? Now there are more gods and goddesses, you can worship anything you want, even the God of Wealth. There’s also a small room over there, which is dedicated to Jesus.”
After saying that he thought of something and started laughing, “You guys were so funny when you were kids, you actually went to worship the Moon God, hahaha… There was a wedding ceremony, where two little kids worshipped heaven and earth, and two worshipped the hall… Hahaha…”
The more he talked, the more he laughed. When he had finished laughing, he realized that Lu Rong and Shen Jize weren’t laughing along with him, but were looking at him with their original expressions, so he stood up and wiped the water stains from the corners of his eyes and said, “Come on, let’s take you two to worship the gods.
“I’m going to worship the Moon God and renew my wish.” Shen Jize said indifferently.
In the newly renovated hall, the statues of the gods were no longer the blurred clay images of the past, the features were clear and painted in bright colors.
Lu Rong and Shen Jize knelt on the futon in front of the Moon God statue, raised the incense and bowed three times. After inserting the incense, Shen Jize took out a red rope from the bamboo basket in front of him, took Lu Rong’s left hand and tied one on the white wrist.
The bamboo basket contained red ropes, incense and candles, gold bills and the like; a package of old moon worship worth 199 yuan bought from Master Hong.
After tying the red rope, Shen Jize didn’t let go, but held Lu Rong’s wrist, and when he saw his white skin with the bright red rope, there was a different kind of beautiful, so he couldn’t help but be stirred, as he leaned down and kissed him.
There was a bang at the door.
The two looked up to see that Master Hong was woefully holding the door frame to stand up straight, stammering, “My foot slipped, that, the Moon God is still very spiritual ah, heh heh, still very spiritual, heh heh…”
Shen Jize had already taken off his sunglasses and duck-tongue cap, and smiled at him as he heard the words, “In fact, seriously speaking, we have to thank the master for us being together.”
Shen Jize smiled and got up, pulled Lu Rong up, and instead of going out immediately, they walked to the side to see the other three idols.
The first two have been repainted with red and green, and their features have been reshaped, with two red cheeks and an auspicious and festive look, and Lu Rong looked at them for a while, not feeling any connection with his own ancestors, not really able to mobilize the solemn and solemn nostalgia, so he turned to Shen Jize.
“The idols are all imaginary.” Shen Jize squeezed his shoulder.
Lu Rong’s gaze fell on the third, suddenly sensing that something was wrong. This one was wearing a red robe and a black hat, holding a large golden treasure, the style of painting was obviously different.
Master Hong seemed to see his doubts and explained, “The previous god had enjoyed all the incense in the temple and had gone back to the Western Paradise, so the God of Wealth in the side hall was invited here because of the vacancy.”
Shen Jize narrowed his eyes and said, “Master Hong, we’re old acquaintances, so there’s no need to speak so fancily.”
Master Hong paused and said, “One day it suddenly collapsed on its own into shambles, and I couldn’t even glue it back together.”
Shen Jize and Lu Rong looked at each other and asked, “When did it happen?”
“Just a few months ago.” Master Hong rubbed his bald head, “It was strange, because I often inspect the clay statues, and except for a missing eye, there wasn’t even a crack on its body, and I don’t know how, it just suddenly collapsed.”
“It’s good that it collapsed, maybe it wasn’t suitable to stay in the temple to receive incense, that’s why it broke down.” Shen Jize turned his head to look at the two remaining statues, and a guess suddenly popped up in his heart.
“Amitabha Buddha…” Master Hong clasped his hands together, “In front of the seat of God and Buddha, the master must not speak out of turn.”
“What about the collapsed clay statue? Take me to see it.” Shen Jize said.
“It’s in the backyard.”
“Come on, let’s go to the backyard and take a look.”
Master Hong opened his mouth and looked a little embarrassed, “The gods have returned to the west, the mud is not divine…” He saw the teasing in Shen Jize’s eyes and choked up, swallowed the words and simply told the truth, “The mud is quite sticky, I took it and put it on the pig pen in the backyard, just to strengthen the wall.”
Lu Rong and Shen Jize bowed respectfully in front of the two idols and lit the candles as thick as a child’s arm in the worship package.
“My family ancestors, Uncle Bai’s family ancestors, Candlelight has been solved by me and Uncle Bai, so you can rest assured.” Lu Rong silently recited in his heart, “Please also bless Grandpa and Brother, and Brother Tu, Uncle Bai, Uncle Chen and their health…”
After the kowtow, the two of them went out and stood in the courtyard. Shen Jize took out his money clip to pay.
“Just scan the code, you two are acquaintances, so you get a 30% discount.” Master Hong took out his phone and lit up the receipt code.
Shen Jize looked down and scanned the code then said, “I will get someone to repair your temple and recreate the golden bodies of the two idols when I get back.”
Master Hong was so shocked that he almost lost his phone, “This is, this is, you said you want to remodel…”
“Yes, but the funds won’t be transferred to you, I will send someone personally.” Shen Jize finished paying for the moonlight package and the three gods package fee, smiled and closed the phone.
The two of them were about to go down the mountain, but Master Hong was eager for them to stay, “Eat before you go, just have dinner here. Look at the fish in the pond, they’re so fat and tender, they smell the best.”
Lu Rong declined, saying that Grandpa was still waiting at home, and then Master Hong packed a basket of peanuts and eggs and asked Lu Rong to take them to Grandpa Cai. As they parted on the stone steps, he suddenly shouted at their backs, “I think I’ve seen you on TV! Aren’t you…”
Lu Rong turned around and interrupted loudly, “I’m not an actor, my brother didn’t play a country love legend, and he’s not a diver or a basketball player.”
“I know, I didn’t see you, I saw your brother on TV!” Master Hong said.
This time Shen Jize also turned around, and although his face had little expression, his chin was slightly raised, vaguely showing how relieved he was after finally being recognized.
“12 o’clock news today, when the provincial leaders visited those foreign pavilions, one of the restaurants had a very good-looking chef, yes! It was your brother!” Master Hong slapped his head and said excitedly.
Shen Jize indifferently turned back towards the mountain, the back of his hand bulging with veins, almost breaking the leg of the sunglasses he was holding.