Chapter 5: Cell Phone
Translated by Shiya of Exiled Rebels Translation
Lu Shang’s employees were ditching their usual low-key selves and they started hassling Lu Shang to blow a condom up on stage. Some younger females covered their own faces in embarrassment. If the company were to hold a “Top Guys to Jack-off to Chart”, Lu Shang would probably top that list. He was young and successful, good-looking and also rich. Though there are some rumors about his sexuality, that didn’t affect his charisma. Moreover, rumors were just rumors, no one really saw it happening.
“Thank you, but just me blowing it isn’t fun. Let’s find two people to compete.” Lu Shang remained his gentlemanly self and kicked the ball to Xe WeiLan. The still single legal department manager cursed Lu Shang hard in his heart, but he had no choice but to go on stage and receive the ball Lu Shang kicked over.
“Director Liu fought through mud and forest before, I’m sure he has a good lung capacity. How about we let him come up to have a go too?” Lu Shang smiled at Liu XinTian who was just enjoying the show.
Liu XinTian was one of the co-founders of Tong Yan, he fought with Lu Shang’s father in Vietnam before. They were something like sworn brothers, but sadly there were people who could shoulder hardships with you, but not share riches. There were times when money and power were more frightening than bullets and guns. After Lu Shang’s father died, the last bit of Liu XinTian’s compassion died out as well. His ambitions were fully shown, him and Lu Shang’s relationship, in recent days, was like fire and water.
Of course, all of the in-fighting was happening under the table. Except for Lu Shang and Liu XinTian themselves plus a few of their close employees, no one knew of their rocky relationship.
Liu XinTian had a scar on his face, going across his forehead down through his eye, it looked gruesome. He didn’t smile much, his whole aura was gloomy like a raincloud. Everyone in the company was a little scared of him, so when Lu Shang mentioned his name, everyone was taken aback. The hall went silent for two seconds or so.
“Since Lu Lao Ban is so passionate about it, then this inferior Liu will oblige.” Liu XinTian stood up amongst the silence, he walked to the stage with soldier-like footsteps.
Assistant Xiao Yeung immediately stepped up to open the pack of condoms for them, she took two out, giving one to each. The employees began to regain their curiosities, some whistled and many cheered, there were also people who jeered. Things got heated again, and everything was a fun mess. Lu Shang took this chance to get off the stage, turning around to leave the room.
“Zuo, do something for me.” Lu Shang held his phone and turned to the staircase, “Do a background check on the new assistant Yeung.”
“Her? Why her?”
The scene of her handing the condom to Liu XinTian crossed Lu Shang’s mind, “Not sure, but I suspect she might be a mole.”
“Tch, no way. How do you know?”
There weren’t walls that don’t let a shred of air pass through in this world, you could try to cover facts up, but habits and details were hard to change. As someone from an average family and just started working, her taste in perfume and clothing brands were too expensive. Even though Liu XinTian was a traditional old guy, he loved western drinks, especially coffee and red tea, he was also quite peculiar in the methods of making them. The two drinks she handed Li Sui subconsciously made Lu Shang suspicious. However, the final nail was when she was handing the condoms to Liu XinTian and Xe WeiLan respectively. Both of them were supposedly males she wasn’t familiar with, she was also handing them the same thing. Yet she seemed to be at ease when handing the package to Liu XinTian, but not when she was handing it to Xe WeiLan. That little interaction seemed odd to Lu Shang.
Lu Shang listed so many points in his mind, but he spoke none of it, “Nothing, just a hunch. But check her just in case.”
He hung up the phone, resting on the closed glass window, he leaned forward and pressed a hand against his chest. He breathed in the cold air that sipped through the gaps of the window, trying to relieve the discomfort from standing for so long.
The snow continued for days, a thick blanket of whiteness covered the ground. Looking out the window, everything seemed so distant. Lu Shang exhaled in the coldness, the mist quickly dissipated. These past two years, he felt clearly that life was leaving him. Even if Leung ZiRui didn’t remind him, he knew he was a dead fish in a leaking pot. He couldn’t hold on much longer.
Two floors down, cars drove in and out near the entrance of the company. In the range of the headlights was the shadow of a person. Lu Shang’s blurred sight focused on that person, he observed the person for a while, immediately he went down the stairs.
The snow was still falling, the moment Lu Shang stood at the company door, the person from afar recognized him. The person ran over on the snow-covered ground, “Lu Lao Ban.”
“Why were you standing there?” Lu Shang asked.
“I came here to find you, but the guards said that I need a working card to get in.” Lu Shang had no idea how long Li Sui stood there. His head, the hat he was wearing, and his clothes, they were all covered with snow.
Lu Shang was going to ask Li Sui why he didn’t call him, but just as the words were hanging at the tips of his tongue, he remembered. Li Sui didn’t own a cell phone, neither did he have Lu Shang’s phone number. Lu Shang was really busy recently, he left all the little details for Uncle Yuen to deal with. Uncle Yuen was a careful person, without Lu Shang’s permission, he won’t give any means of communication to Li Sui on his own. This was all on Lu Shang.
“You are sober already? Look at you all covered in snow.” Lu Shang batted away the snow on Li Sui’s down jacket, what fell off were pieces of ice.
“I’m sober now. I drank too much and said some stupid things, don’t take them seriously.” Li Sui’s ears were all red, Lu Shang wondered if it was because of the cold or something else.
Lu Shang didn’t wear much, inside the building were heaters, so he didn’t feel especially cold. But now in the snowy outdoors, what he was wearing wasn’t quite enough.
“Hmn, let’s go buy you a phone.” Lu Shang continued, “There should still be some shops open at this hour.”
Lu Shang walked into the snow after saying that, Li Sui followed immediately, “Is it okay here? It seems like the employees’ dinner is still going on.”
The wind blew pieces of snow and ice around, landing onto the passersby, also melting quickly. A thick layer of smog was in the air, they saw scores of firecrackers on the streets. The “Fire Trees, Silver Flowers (i)” were especially beautiful.
T/N: (i) A kind of fireworks. Traditionally it’s done by splashing molten iron to a tree, the iron would form pretty sparks when they get splashed together. In modern days they are splashed to a man made frame-like thing instead.
Lu Shang didn’t reply, his gaze landed sharply on two cars in the darkness instead. He applauded Zuo Chao’s efficiency in his heart, as he walked towards one of the two cars.
“Lu Lao Ban.” The car window rolled down, inside were the faces of two youngsters. Li Sui recognized them as people at lunch with them, they were Zuo Chao’s people.
“Lend me the car, you guys can go home. There’s no need to follow me now.”
“But brother Zuo said…”
Lu Shang was handed the car keys, “Liu XinTian’s people are here, so it’s fine.” After saying that he called Li Sui into the car too.
Li Sui had never seen Lu Shang drive a car himself, this was the first. Lu Shang took his blazer off, he was only wearing a simple shirt, the sleeve of his shirt were hanging on Lu Shang’s arm rather loosely. Sitting beside Lu Shang, Li Sui could see that he was a little too thin, his hands on the steering wheel had distinct blue veins.
Often, when a person’s aura was too strong, people would overlook tiny details. For example, the fact that Lu Shang’s face was actually quite friendly and kind.
As there was snow on the roads, Lu Shang didn’t drive very fast, but he did drive very steadily. They were at a crossroad, the lights for the cars were already green, but there were still pedestrians on the road. Lu Shang didn’t even press the horn, he just waited patiently for the people to cross.
Among all daily activities, driving could show one’s personality the best. The ones that always went full speed ahead were most likely short-tempered people. The ones that drove at a moderate speed and always let other cars go first were most likely timid people. While the ones that could keep calm during traffic jams, not cursing when other vehicles crossed the line were the most even tempered people.
New Year’s was approaching, plus it was night already, so most shops on the streets were closed. They drove for a few streets and finally they saw one shop that still had the lights on.
When they walked in, the owner was checking the books, he didn’t even raise his head, “The shop’s closed, wait for next year.”
Lu Shang sat on one of the tables in the shop, he never planned on negotiating with him, “Just one phone, it won’t take you long.”
That was when the owner decided to check them out, feeling their menacing ambience, he coughed, asking, “What model do you want?”
Lu Shang looked a little weary, he pointed at the display counters, “Ask him for a tester if anything interests you.”
Li Sui was completely lost. To him, choosing a phone was somewhat like a normal people choosing a private jet. He only looked at their appearances and sizes, he hadn’t the faintest clue about their functions and brands.
The owner tried selling him phones that no one liked, thinking that rich people were probably stupid. Sadly, Li Sui didn’t buy it, he chose a so-called “elderly phone” instead. His reason for it was “big words, easy to read”.
Hearing Li Sui’s answer, Lu Shang’s mouth curved upwards, the tiredness that accumulated in him throughout the day halved immediately. Tong Yan corporation also had business in electronics, they were even cooperating with a major phone brand. This was something that could be done with just a phone call, yet he brought the person all the way here to pick one. Somehow Lu Shang even enjoyed doing something so unnecessary, this was so unlike him.
“Look at this one, you can use your fingers to slide it. You can also surf the internet with it…” The owner continued to try to sell Li Sui another phone, while Li Sui only looked at the one in his hands. After a while, Li Sui turned around to Lu Shang, with eyes of inquiry.
“Take whatever you like.” Lu Shang agreed to it promptly, then he asked, “Do you have the new tablet from company A?”
“Yes, yes, we have it here.”
Lu Shang handed the owner some cash, “I will have one, plus that phone.” His credit cards were all in the car Uncle Yuen drove, so these banknotes were from the company’s red packet. The red packets were actually the company’s welfare, even he would get one. This was the first time he spent one though, usually he’d give it to Aunt Lu.
Not asking the price, nor bargaining. Li Sui saw the owner’s expression turned from morose to ecstatic in an instant, less than a second had past for the change to happen. Li Sui couldn’t stop admiring how flexible the human face was. At the same time, he was worrying, “Is it too expensive? I brought the card.”
“Is there a difference?” Lu Shang smiled and propped his head up.
That was indeed true, his card was Lu Shang’s too, thinking about money was truly useless. However, having been alive for so long now, no one ever bought him anything before, especially not directly in front of him. He suddenly felt super embarrassed, seriously feeling like he was sugared by someone.
The owner happened to hand the receipt over to Lu Shang, he took it and glanced at Li Sui. Lu Shang was in a great mood, also a little mischievous, “Huh, it might be a little too expensive.” Li Sui straightened, but before he could react, Lu Shang said again, “If it’s too expensive, what are you going to do?”
The owner picked up on the slightly lewd conversation, so something lewder slipped out of him mouth, “Pay with your body (ii)?”
“…” Li Sui.
Lu Shang laughed, a very mild one, but it was clear that he was truly happy.
T/N: (ii) This sentence is just two characters in Chinese, so it’s still sort of possible that it slipped out.