Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Yu Chu only went to the kitchen, looked around, and put the phone on the knife rack next to the gas stove. He made sure that the frying pan and plate were in the camera, and rolled up his sleeves, ready to start.
“Wait!” Xie XingMu’s voice came out of the phone, “Where’s your apron?”
“Apron?” Yu Chu paused to move his sleeves.
“Like the one I’m wearing.”
On the opposite side, the screen began to shake, and the pink cat and the words “Everyday Supermarket” appeared before Yu Chu’s eyes.
“I know what an apron is, but I don’t have one.” Yu Chu explained.
“Then pay attention. Try not to let the oil splatter on your body. The next time you go to the supermarket, buy an apron, gloves, and a disposable shower cap. When you are frying, wear it on your head, and you won’t be stained with oil.”
Yu Chu began to wield the spatula under the direction of Xie XingMu, and everything went in an orderly manner.
“The oil isn’t hot yet, wait a little longer… Now pour in the diced meat… Stir it a few more times. Have you mixed the diced meat with the seasonings?… Then sprinkle the right amount of salt… Do you know the right amount? It’s a spoonful… The spoon from the spice jar, of course!”
When all the dishes were served, Yu Chu wiped the sweat from his forehead, grabbed a piece of diced meat and put it in his mouth, then brought it to the phone, “Want to try it?”
Xie XingMu looked at his bright eyes, suddenly put the phone down, so that the camera pointed at the apron of the kitty cat, where his smile was out of Yu Chu’s sight and said, “Not interested.”
He hung up the video call after that.
He put away the phone to go out to eat, just turned around and paused. DuoDuo had come down from the table, and was standing at his side of the cooking table, staring at him. DuoDuo wondered, “Uncle, who were you talking to?”
Xie XingMu replied, “It was my colleague.”
“Oh, what were you talking about?”
“We were talking about work.” Xie XingMu took off his apron and hung it on the shelf.
DuoDuo said, “But I thought I heard you talking about stir-fried diced beef.” He added, biting onto the spoon in his hand, “I want to eat diced beef.”
“Didn’t we make your favorite cola chicken wings today?” Xie XingMu asked him.
DuoDuo said, “I want to eat fried diced beef now.”
Xie XingMu picked DuoDuo up with one hand and put him under his arm, then walked to the table and put the little person on the chair, “No fried diced beef today, we will do it tomorrow. Now eat up.”
DuoDuo spooned up a spoonful of tomato eggs and said, “I want fried diced beef.” After saying that, he fed it into his mouth, chewing it and saying, “It’s really good.” Then he scooped up a spoonful of rice mixed with soup and fed it into his mouth, saying vaguely, “It’s not fried diced beef.”
Xie XingMu shook his head and began to eat the bowl of rice in front of him.
At night, Yu Chu lay on his bed in his new bedroom with his eyes closed, listening to the sounds around him. The building wasn’t soundproof and anyone who flushed their toilet in the middle of the night, the baby who suddenly cried, the heavy footsteps in the hallway of the night shift people could be heard clearly.
He rarely slept comfortably. Only on the island when Zhou Mu slept in his room did he kind of sleep on those nights. For him, it was difficult to fall into deep sleep.
He didn’t know when he fell asleep in a daze. The second half of the night, he dreamt. The moment he fell off the cliff, he stayed in the air, endlessly falling. The sky became full of dandelions flying around, and he couldn’t see the sky overhead…
When he finally woke up, it was already dawn, he blinked and lay in bed for a while before turning over and washing up. Throughout the day, he stayed in the house to watch TV shows, and when he got hungry he ate yesterday’s leftovers mixed together and stir-fried it. He poured it onto a large plate, and ate it while watching TV.
It wasn’t until the sun went down that he was ready to go out for a stroll and find a job. He stood in front of the mirror in the small bathroom and examined himself, thinking that a white short-sleeved T-shirt might not be appropriate. He found the paper bag Xie XingMu had given him and pulled the stuff out of it.
The fabric of the set of clothes was good, and when soaked in water, it was fine, but it wasn’t ironed, so there were some wrinkles. He laid the shirt flat on the coffee table, went to boil a pot of boiling water and poured it in a glass to use as an iron.
After ironing his shirt, he ironed his pants then changed before he left the house. Outside the building, there were several bare-chested people sitting in the flower bed, and when they saw Yu Chu, they stopped talking and fixed their eyes on him.
Yu Chu was aware that although his face could be described as pretty, it was still too harmless and meek. With the chameleon attitude, he had been aware of his own face. If he could pretend to be a good boy but would be restrained in his job choices.
But he didn’t know that his inadvertent knitted brows and turned head caused others to stop and look at him. He ignored the stares and walked through the small courtyard and down the narrow, rugged alleyway.
As for finding a job, he didn’t count on going to school or a course, but had his own calculations. He went into the store casually for dinner, and the lady sitting behind the cash register, counting the day’s flow, asked, “What would you like to eat?”
Yu Chu looked at the menu hanging on the wall, “Beef noodles, I think.”
“The beef is sold out.”
“What about noodles with miso?”
“We’re out of miso, too.” The lady said without looking up, “We’re going to close for the day.”
Yu Chu, “What else is there to eat?”
“There are still milk buns left,” the lady said.
Yu Chu frowned. He had never eaten sweet buns, and they tasted like milk, so he left and bought some meat pie from the next store and ate it while walking down the street. The meat was so oily that the paper bag wrapped around it was soaked with a layer of grease. After he ate most of it, he looked around and saw a trash can not far away next to him, so he put the rest of it on the trash can lid.
He was waiting for a bus at the next bus stop when he swept his eyes over the trash can and saw a janitor who threw the paper bag with the pie into the trash.
Yu Chu was about to open his mouth but shut it again.
Yu Chu got on the bus and got off at a certain stop half an hour later, walked a little further and turned to a street on the left. The street was lined with bars, and the moment the doors opened and closed, loud music could be heard coming out, and the people on the street were dressed in fashion.
The nightlife of the city was about to begin.
Yu Chu picked one at random and was stopped by two strong men in black backs and tattoos before entering the main entrance, “Wait, no minors allowed.”
“I’m an adult.” Yu Chu said.
The two men didn’t budge and wouldn’t let him go.
Yu Chu didn’t want to show them his ID, but took out four bills, rolled them into two small rolls, and stuck them in the backs of their chests, pressing them with his hands.
A strong man waved his head at the door and made a gesture ushering him in. The bar was filled with music, and although it was still early, there were already a lot of people sitting in the booths, and there were people on the dance floor twirling to the music.
Yu Chu took a look around, went to the bar and sat down, snapped his fingers and said to the bartender, “What do you recommend?”
The bartender looked up at him and said, “Milk or juice.”
There were several customers sitting next to him who were drinking, and they all looked at Yu Chu and laughed at the words.
Yu Chu didn’t get angry and said with a smile, “Then give me a glass of milk and juice.”
The bartender put down his hands and said seriously, “If our store sells alcohol to minors, if it’s reported, we’ll be fined, and if serious, we’ll be suspended.” After saying that, he instructed a barman next to him, “Go to the door and check on Da Qiang and the others, why did they let students in too?”
Yu Chu helplessly said, “I’m an adult, don’t be afraid.” He said, “Don’t go, I’m not a student, I’m an adult.”
The barman stopped and turned his head to look at the bartender, unsure of his decision. In the middle of the standoff, Yu Chu saw a deck of cards on the left side of the bar, so he reached over, slowly pulled out the cards, handed them to the bartender, and said, “Shuffle them.”
The bartender didn’t understand what he wanted to do, so he didn’t move, and a drinker beside him said with interest, “I’ll do it.”
It was a middle-aged customer in a casual suit. Yu Chu smiled at him, his hand changed direction and let him take the whole stack of playing cards.
The customer’s playing cards were shuffled three times before being handed back to Yu Chu, who took them face down, folded them quickly in his hands, and then shuffled them twice more. His thin white fingers flipped quickly and with unparalleled skill, his eyes only looking at the bartender throughout the process.
After shuffling the cards, he flipped the buckled playing cards to the customer again and said, “Feel free to draw four out.”
The middle-aged customer smiled, and promptly drew four of them and placed them on the bar in a row.
Yu Chu twirled the left one and flipped it upwards, it was an ace of hearts, he flipped the next one, the ace of spades, and continued flipping it, the ace of clubs, when he flipped the last one, the ace of diamonds appeared on the bar. The two customers who were watching next to him were wowed, so they put down their glasses and started applauding.
The middle-aged customer also smiled and applauded, saying, “Good trick.”
Yu Chu put away his poker cards, arched his eyebrows at the bartender and smiled, “Now do you believe I’m an adult?”
The bartender bowed slightly, “Sir, I’d like to recommend the Misty Forest. Iit has a sweet and sour taste with the refreshing fruitiness of plum dew, you’ll love it.”
“Alright, a Misty Forest.” Yu Chu said.
“His drink’s on me.” The middle-aged customer who started to shuffle Yu Chu’s cards interjected coldly.
Yu Chu turned his head and gave him a slight nod, “Thank you.”
The bartender quickly placed a glass of alcohol in front of Yu Chu and went back to his business. Yu Chu picked up his glass and sipped it slowly, turning his head to look at the people on the dance floor.
“Little brother, I see you play cards very well. Are you interested in playing a few hands for me? If you win, we’ll split it thirty-seven, if you lose, it’s on me.” After the middle-aged man finished the wine in his hand, he still didn’t leave, but started to talk to Yu Chu instead.
Yu Chu turned his head to look at him and said indifferently, “Whatever.”
The middle-aged man put his empty glass on the table and gave him a meaningful squeeze, “Okay, let’s go upstairs to the private room and get rich.”
Yu Chu used to run errands for the casino board, so in addition to knowing all the rules of the casino, he also practiced his gambling skills. The casino would often have gamblers who lost a lot of money, and becoming aware of having fallen into a bad situation, would want to salvage it but didn’t have the skills. They would ask some people with high gambling skills to help them, and after winning their money back, they would pay the corresponding payment.
In fact, after he entered the bar at a time, he scanned the crowd to determine how loaded they were, locking the middle-aged man at the bar as a target.
He was sitting in the bar wearing a high-grade suit, didn’t dance, and didn’t look much at the handsome men and women who passed by, so he wasn’t here to find a fling. This kind of bar usually had an underground casino, and looking at his face that was obscure with frustration, he probably just lost money, and came out for a couple of drinks.
He guessed right.
It was an hour past midnight when the bar door was pushed open and Yu Chu walked out, followed by a red-faced middle-aged man.
“I’ll have someone send you home. There’s a car waiting for you over there.” The middle-aged man then said a black plastic bag handed to Yu Chu, which contained 50,000 yuan in cash, “Besides, it’s not safe for you to carry the money with you.”
Yu Chu didn’t refuse and said, “Then thank you, brother.”
“Why? I should be the one thanking you.”
It was already the middle of the night and a lot of the bars were closed, only some barbecue stalls were still open and they could occasionally see drunk people stumbling on the street. The parking lot was on the ground floor of the adjacent mall, with the exit in the other direction, and Yu Chu followed the two security guards down to the underground level in the elevator.
“Area B, number 23.” One security guard read the parking space given by Cheng and headed for that location, while the other guard came down to accompany Yu Chu and waited for someone to bring the car over.
There was no one in the large parking lot, it was both empty and quiet. Yu Chu stood next to the security guard and remembered that when he checked the time earlier, WeChat showed two unread messages, so he took out his phone and unlocked it.
Not surprisingly, the messages were indeed from Xie XingMu.
Xie XingMu: [Where are you?]
Xie XingMu: [What are you doing?]
One was sent after 11 pm, the other was at 1 am. Yu Chu saw how late it was and was hesitating whether to send a response now.
His finger landed on the input interface when he suddenly heard a strange sound from the depths of the parking lot. He looked towards the sound, in the direction the security guard had left, and after only a second-long pause, he quickly turned his head to look behind him.
Under the bleak white overhead lights, he noticed several black shadows slowly approaching, and although it was impossible to see their faces, he saw they were holding a long iron bar.
The security guard beside him was still staring at the direction of his companion going to the car, muttering how he hadn’t returned yet, while Yu Chu was staring at those people, and whispered, “Do you have any weapons?”
“Ah, what?” The security guard didn’t know why, but instantly reacted, and also turned his head to look behind him, then pulled out a rubber stick behind his waist, alertly shouting, “Hey, stop! What are you people doing?”
When the people heard the man, not only did they not stop, but raised the iron bar in their hands, and rushed towards them. Yu Chu saw that the security guard had been struck dumb, standing there motionless, then bellowed, “Run!” He rushed out into the depths of the garage.
The guard hurriedly clutched the rubber stick and scurried in the other direction like a rabbit.
The underground garage was huge, and Yu Chu ran wildly out of the way, listening to the sound of approaching footsteps behind him, and suddenly got into the gap between two cars, catapulting himself behind the body blocking him.
The thumping footsteps caught up with him, and Yu Chu looked out of the back window of one car and saw that only four people had come, and the others had gone after the security guard. The four men slowed down, three looked forward down the driveway, and one came in the direction of Yu Chu.
Yu Chu half crouched down, holding the plastic bag with money stuffed under the car, eyes looking in all directions, picking up a thick hemp rope held in his hands. The sound of rustling footsteps was getting closer and closer, his eyes looked at the figure on the ground on the left, and moved to the right very slowly.
Hands holding a stick in both hands vigilantly looking around, he crouched down to look under the two sides of the car. During his creeping around, the man suddenly glanced at the window glass beside him, a figure was lunging from the roof of the car behind him.
His pupils dilated and before turning around, his neck was strangled hard by the rope, while the iron bar in his hand was kicked away. It landed on a stack of cardboard boxes, only giving a slight muffled sound.
Yu Chu was half kneeling on the roof of the car with the rope around the neck of the person, then quickly slid down the other side of the car. His hands held the rope on his shoulder and he used the roof as a support, pulling forward.
Everything happened in just a short time, his hands clenching outside the car door. His face was red, his forehead emerged with veins, and his hands desperately pulled the thick rope around the man’s neck.
Yu Chu gritted his teeth as he exerted his strength. His thin wrists were used to the extreme.
Struggling, he used his feet to kick the car door, making a banging sound. The two who were already far away heard the movement, and immediately turned to run over. Yu Chu let go of the rope, ran quickly to the exit of the parking lot, passed by the stack of cardboard boxes, and picked up the iron bar.
The three had already rushed over, passing by the man that had been strangled to death, without pausing in their steps, they went straight after Yu Chu.
Yu Chu ran desperately toward the end of the driveway, but the sound of footsteps behind him was still getting closer and closer. Looking at the passage a few dozen meters ahead of him, he knew he wouldn’t be able to outrun the people behind him, and suddenly turned around and turned to the next driveway.
This was the driveway to the second underground floor and was curved to go downhill. He ran quickly downhill, and then hid behind the wall at the end of the road. The man behind him turned down the circular slope, and after not seeing Yu Chu, he also slowed down and slowly walked toward the parking lot lobby.
Yu Chu leaned back against the wall, holding his breath as long as he could, his hands clutching the iron bar, his face a little ruthless. He had already looked at the next route to run, ready to knock down one first, then rush to the pile of parked cars, hide inside, and follow the opportunity to solve the rest of the people one by one.
The footsteps were getting closer and closer, and Yu Chu could hear their deliberately light footsteps and heavy breathing. He slowly raised the iron bar, looking at the ground and the gradually enlarging shadow in front of him…
“Don’t move! Hands up!”
Suddenly a loud shout, like a thunderclap, exploded in the entire parking lot, and with a swish, a few lights turned on next to the passage where Yu Chu sat.