Chapter 8: “Don’t waste your time brother, you really don’t have a chance.”
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Xiao Ke’s new love interest was really cool, and he already expected that he would have to fight a long fight. However, Professor Xiao was undeterred since the more he fought, the braver he would become.
He didn’t say anything to Zhou Zui before he went to the parlor on Sunday since he was there with Fang Qimao. When they headed over, there was no one in the front room as the girl from last time was not there. There was only Lu Xiaobei in the back who was playing games and chatting with his friends over voice chat.
“Fuck! There’s someone behind me! Thirty-five degrees, thirty-five degrees! Hurry up!”
“Fuck, bullshit, just scared the shit out of me!”
“Shut up, help me up.”
Fang Qimao walked over. Lu Xiaobei couldn’t hear his footsteps with his headset on so Fang Qimao used the corner of his phone to put it against the back of his bare head as he said in a low voice, “Robbery, don’t look back.”
“Worthless robbery, ah!”1 Lu Xiaobei did not take it seriously, and he took off the headset before he looked back to see Fang Qimao and Xiao Ke whom he greeted with a “hello”, “You’re here, ah?”
“Yeah, you play first, there’s no rush.” Fang Qimao said.
“Then both of you can sit over there and wait for a while, I’ll be done soon. Today the shop girl is not here so I will make you coffee later.” Lu Xiaobei finished speaking and went back to playing. Xiao Ke looked around but did not see Zhou Zui.
He went over to Lu Xiaobei and asked, “Isn’t Zhou Zui here?”
Lu Xiaobei took the time to look up at him before he pointed overhead and said, “There are several rooms upstairs, you can shout his name when you go up to see which room he is in.”
He spoke as fast as ever, but Xiao Ke still heard him so he patted Lu Xiaobei on the shoulder before he said, “Thanks, have fun.”
Xiao Ke then stepped on the concrete stairs to make his way up to the second floor. The overall style here was made of concrete and stone which looked pretty original while those decorations on the walls and shelves that were full of tattoo equipment looked cold but quite chic.
There was a large tattoo room upstairs with several chairs placed there and more tattoo equipment than downstairs that contained a whole shelf of colorful ink.2
There were also several smaller rooms, but Xiao Ke did not have to shout since the door was open so he already saw Zhou Zui.
It was a painting room that had several easels on the floor with many paintings hanging on the walls. There were painting tools on the table which were neatly arranged.
Zhou Zui was sitting cross-legged on the floor with his back to the door, and a drawing board was placed on his lap. Since his head was facing downwards, his back was curved which clearly showed his muscles. There was a sense of power in this man that Xiao Ke liked.
He heard footsteps so he looked back and was momentarily surprised when he saw Xiao Ke.
Xiao Ke raised his eyebrows, “Good morning, Teacher Zhou.”
“Hi.” Zhou Zui greeted with a pencil in his mouth, but he then took it out before he put down the drawing in his hand and propped his hand on the ground to help himself stand up.
“You can draw, don’t mind me.” Xiao Ke stood at the door but did not go in, and his eyes lingered on a painting inside the room. In fact, he could not understand the painting, but he still had a shocked feeling. The power of the paintings could be felt. Most of them were Chinese paintings with a few ink drawings that had only a little color which harmonized the solemnity and seriousness. There were also some oil paintings and watercolors as well as a few sketches and pencil drawings. 3
“Did you do all this?” Xiao Ke asked him.
Zhou Zui said, “Most of them, but there are also some by others.”
“Did you also write the characters?” Xiao Ke pointed to the two words hanging on the wall. In fact, he could guess that they were written by this man without Zhou Zui saying so. For some reason, it felt like it came from his hand. The sense of power in the rough texture fit this person very well.
Zhou Zui nodded. “Mn. I wrote it groundlessly.”
Xiao Ke looked at this room of paintings, and suddenly felt that the impression of Zhou Zui in his heart was a little different from before. How exactly it was different could not be said, but there was still a subtle change. His eyes fell on the one Zhou Zui had just been drawing which was a pencil drawing of a spirit monkey 4 with sharp eyes and sharp teeth, and it was in a crouching position. It looked like a fierce and vicious monkey was about to jump out of the paper.
“It’s nice.” Xiao Ke’s eyes still rested on the drawing until Zhou Zui walked over and brought the drawing board over.
Zhou Zui took a picture of it with his cell phone before he removed the drawing to roll it into a tube and hand it over to Xiao Ke, “Here you go.”
Xiao Ke was a little confused, “Isn’t it so random?”
“Mn, someone else wanted one as a tattoo, so I wanted to try it out first.”
“Is this what it will look like after being tattooed?” Xiao Ke unfolded the drawing to look at it carefully, and it was through the drawing that thought he felt like Zhou Zui was really amazing.
“Certainly not, it will be different.” Zhou Zui didn’t care much and said, ” This one didn’t have color and it’s just a simple sample to look at, and there’s a big difference between skin and paper since they are two different textures.”
“Ah, will it be better than the current effect?” Xiao Ke asked.
Zhou Zui nods, “Yes.”
“Awesome,” Xiao Ke looked at Zhou Zui before giving him a thumbs up and repeating, “Awesome.”
Zhou Zui smiled a little and asked him, “Wanna get one?”
“No,” Xiao Ke shook his head. “I’m afraid of the pain.”
Zhou Zui nodded and said, “I’m afraid too.”
In the middle was the tattoo room with two simple bedrooms and a painting room on the side. Zhou Zui was packing up his painting equipment, and Xiao Ke didn’t go out so he leaned against the door while the two of them chatted about one thing or another. Neither of them were very talkative, but the atmosphere was nice and didn’t feel cold.
After chatting, Xiao Ke learned that the shop didn’t only have two tattoo artists but had five who weren’t there every day. It was often only him and Lu Xiaobei since Lu Xiaobei was Zhou Zui’s apprentice who was the only apprentice who had been with him for a long time.
Zhou Zui brought a glass of milk over to Xiao Ke and handed it to him with a straw, and Xiao Ke took it but couldn’t think of anything to say. Zhou Zui took the initiative to ask him, “How did you get here?”
“My friend is filling in the color, so I came with him.” Xiao Ke looked at Zhou Zui and thought about it before he added, “After all, I said I wanted to pursue you, it would be wrong not to take action.”
Zhou Zui could not hold back his laughter, “Stop it, people’s teacher.”
“No, I won’t.” Xiao Ke had a serious expression and asked Zhou Zui, “Why didn’t you reply to my text messages?”
Zhou Zui said, “I didn’t see it.”
“You’re lying, right? Boss Zhou.”
“No, I don’t read many of my text messages. My phone won’t alert me when I reach the highest limit of unread messages.” Zhou Zui took out his phone to open up the screen and tapped on the screen a few times before he then asked Xiao Ke, “What’s wrong?”
“You really didn’t see it, huh?” Xiao Ke was a little unconvinced.
“There’s no need to lie to you.” Zhou Zui said indifferently.
Xiao Ke looked askance at him. “What if you saw it? Would you reply?”
Zhou Zui said, “I don’t know.”
Xiao Ke guessed that he would not even if he saw it, but it really didn’t matter to him. He was thirty years old, not seventeen or eighteen, and he could not dwell on such trivial matters all day long. Xiao Ke said, “Boss Zhou, add me on WeChat.”
Zhou Zui didn’t reject him and threw his phone over again at Xiao Ke. Xiao Ke thought that throwing his phone over every time indicated that he was single and had nothing to hide.
In the end, Xiao Ke didn’t sit for that long before he had to leave. Fang Qimiao’s coloring didn’t take much time. When he went downstairs, the other was already leaning over next to Lu Xiaobei’s computer to help him play his game. Xiao Ke tapped him on the back,“It’s time to go.”
“So soon?” Fang Qimao looked surprised. “I expected it to take more than three hours? Which one of you was it? So unpredictable.”
Xiao Ke took a moment to realize what Fang Qimao had said, and Xiao Ke kicked him. However, before he could say anything, Lu Xiaobei said from the side, “That’s definitely not my big brother.”
“You shut up, too.” Xiao Ke said. He would like to have a chance for the relationship not to last, but at the moment, his relationship was too far from just researching the matter of it not lasting.
Zhou Zui was behind him so he heard them and didn’t say anything, but Xiao Ke was uncomfortable so he turned back to Zhou Zui before he said, “I’m going.”
“Okay.” Zhou Zui answered.
Xiao Ke didn’t care if Fang Qimao was done playing so he pulled his clothes to drag the man away. He has already gained a lot today from the painting and also adding him on WeChat.
That day, Xiao Ke posted Zhou Zui’s painting publicly for his friends. Many people asked him who painted it, but Xiao Ke did not reply.
It was too broad to say that he was a friend, and not very appropriate to say anything else. He found a frame to hang the picture above his bed as he thought to look at it every day when he woke up and before going to bed. However, he took it off within a few days. This monkey was too fierce, and it would sometimes shock him unless he mentally prepared himself.
Xiao Ke sent a WeChat to ask Zhou Zui, [Teacher Zhou, can you give me another picture?]
Zhou Zui replied this time with a very simple phrase, [Will do.]
Xiao Ke laughed and continued to send a message, [I only want what you’ve painted, okay, Teacher Zhou?]
Zhou Zui replied, [Got it.]
Xiao Ke tucked his cell phone away and felt pretty good about it. Zhou Zui was one of those people who looked cold at first glance, but he became more comfortable the more you got in touch with him. He was not very talkative, but he didn’t really keep the atmosphere cold since he was not as distant as he seemed. Xiao Ke always thought that he was cool but not impersonal. He was casual like he didn’t care about anything.
Afterwards, Xiao Ke really went over to pick up the drawing. It was early in the morning on the weekend, and the shop was still open when he went there. It was the young girl who came over first, and she greeted him with a “good morning” when she saw him.
Xiao Ke said, “I’m looking for Zhou Zui.”
“He won’t be here in the morning. He has clients that come during the afternoon, so he probably won’t be here too early. Do you have something for him? Shall I give him a call?” The young girl poured him a glass of water and took out her cell phone to call.
Xiao Ke stopped her, “No, I’m fine anyway. I’ll wait for him to come.”
“That’s fine, then you can sit here or wait inside, I’ll find you some magazines.”
Xiao Ke really waited for Zhou Zui for several hours since he came at nine o’clock, but Zhou Zui came at 2 p.m. Xiao Ke had been watching the girl in the front room give others manicures which were all done beautifully, happily and for free.
Xiao Ke asked her why she did not want to charge, and the girl said that she was still practicing so she did not want money, and the boss ran a tattoo parlor. She didn’t want to charge money for nail art and take advantage of the boss.
Xiao Ke asked her, “The boss is Zhou Zui?”
“Why do you all call him that?” Xiao Ke said with a smile, “It’s funny.”
The young girl laughed as well, “At first I was calling him the same as Lu Xiaobei, but then I got used to it. He’s too cool. Boss, teacher, and brother Zhou don’t feel right.”
Xiao Ke gave a, “Mn.”
The young girl put away her nail art stuff in a box under the bar before asking Xiao Ke with a smile, “Don’t you think he has the feeling of a gangster in him?”
Xiao Ke nodded, “Yes.”
Later on, two more boys came who were also tattoo artists here, and both had appointments with clients where each of them did their own work. One of them talked a lot, and he would always pick up the conversation when Xiao Ke was talking.
Lu Xiaobei was used to talking directly, so after eating, he squatted on a chair to say to Xiao Ke, “Brother, you have no chance.”
Xiao Ke raised his eyebrows at him. “What do you mean?”
Lu Xiaobei shook his head. “Do not waste time, brother. You really do not have a chance.”
Xiao Ke asked, “He has someone in his heart?”
Lu Xiaobei did not admit nor deny and jumped off the chair to play the game.
Zhou Zui came with a client who was an acquaintance at 2 p.m. He saw Xiao Ke and asked, “When did you get here?”
The young girl said, “He came before me, before the door opened. I said I’d call you, but he said no.”
Zhou Zui said to the customer, “Wait for me.”
He waved at Xiao Ke, and the two of them walked through the small door of the studio. He asked Xiao Ke what kind of painting he wanted.
Xiao Ke said, “Just your paintings, something softer. The monkey is too aggressive.”
Zhou Zui let him choose his own painting, and Xiao Ke immediately saw an oil painting. The painting was dark primarily in gray tones while the picture was mainly of a lake that had overgrown weeds and looked desolate.
“Is this one okay?”
Zhou Zui took it off and gave it to him. “Here you go.”
Xiao Ke took the painting and left, and the little girl said Zhou Zui’s work may not be finished even after dark so Xiao Ke did not need to wait any longer.
On the way home, Xiao Ke kept thinking about Lu Xiaobei’s words, and was very sure that the tone meant that he did not have a chance.
‘No chance, ah?’ Xiao Ke laughed, but it would not be him if he really gave in.
Yeah, that monkey would give me nightmares 😂 thanks for updating ❤️
So well drawn👍🏻 All that talent and effort is much appreciated 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
Appreciating the great artwork with this novel.
For sure that monkey picture is not something I’d hang over my bed! Thanks for translating, editing and the T/Ns.
Oh, to have XK’s confidence. I would have given up already.
Thank you for the translation and artwork. It adds a lot to the story.
Aww the fan art are bonus❤️❤️