Translate: An | Edit: Sae | Proofread: Anasofia
Gu Fei usually hated being bothered and did not like to meddle in troublesome matters. But growing up in this area, trouble was enacted on a daily basis. Every sort of dramatic script that usually played out in dramas could be seen here – and matters were only comparatively worse.
When he was bored, he would watch these scenes occur here as if watching a drama on TV, and for a very long time, his inspiration for writing songs for Ding Zhuxin came from these people who were hopelessly, yet desperately, fighting from this bottom level – and to which it goes completely unseen by others.
You watch him fall in despair, yet he seemed to be living full of vigor and laughed that you’re too maudlin.
Matters like Li Baoguo getting beaten up by people till he rolled on the ground was commonly seen. The main character was sometimes the same person, sometimes it changed, though none of it was a curious matter.
On normal occasions, he would be here, sitting on the back seat of the bicycle, watching for a while.
But today, he couldn’t just sit and watch.
After Jiang Cheng clearly recognized the person to be Li Baoguo, the expression on his face changed so suddenly that Gu Fei didn’t know what to make of it – it was unclear to say if he was baffled or confused.
If he was more familiar with Jiang Cheng – the same familiarity level as he had with Wang Jiuri would do – he would definitely pull back Jiang Cheng and refrain him from going up.
This type of situation usually wouldn’t cause deaths, neither sides were good people anyhow, and no one was unjustly beaten up. To break a few bones and shed a few drops of blood was to receive a good lesson, sometimes it could also solve a few unsettled matters.
Jiang Cheng said nothing as he turned in silence and walked toward them – Gu Fei felt an ominous feeling rise up. It was not exactly sympathy, this world had too many people who needed sympathizing, hence, it didn’t at all matter who sympathized with who.
It was probably helplessness.
Gu Fei did not know that Li Baoguo once had a younger son, nor did he know if it was as Li Baoguo had claimed – he was sent away because they couldn’t afford to raise him. A person like Li Baoguo, it would be of no surprise either if he claimed to have sold off Jiang Cheng.
He could not obtain Jiang Cheng’s thoughts on this in any way; his proud temperament drastically stood apart from those who grew up in this place. A person like this, confronted with a scene like this, and a… father like this, only God knew what that would taste like.
Anyhow, he approached them in utter silence and maybe because the relationship he had with Li Baoguo was so foreign to him, he didn’t appear to be caught in a mood of anxious bewilderment, nor anger.
Gu Fei stretched his back lazily, and from a distance of a dozen metres away, he too slowly moved his way toward them, pulling his glasses on while at it.
Jiang Cheng did not try to intervene in the fight, he didn’t even speak a word. Throwing his bag against the wall, he walked over, and with one elbow, he smashed it right against the back of the person who was busy kicking Li Baoguo on the head.
Jiang Cheng was definitely familiar with how to use his elbow, his hits were all very powerful too – Gu Fei had experienced it.
With this blow, the person yelled out and flipped around. Gu Fei recognized him to be someone from the steel mill, nicknamed Da Diao1, yet no one could textually prove whether this name was based on his actual body conditions. These people came to play cards regularly, and normally only allowed themselves to be slick cheats while refraining others.
Before Da Diao could respond, Jiang Cheng aimed right at his face that had just turned around and smashed against it with his own forehead – centred right at the nose bridge.
Gu Fei suddenly felt his own nose begin to tinkle faintly.
Immediately after, Jiang Cheng grabbed Da Diao by the collar and harshly pushed him to the side; he stumbled and fell into the arms of the two people who stood behind him.
The few people who had their heads down and were focused on beating up Li Baoguo soon realized that someone had sneak attacked them, swearing, they quickly recollected themselves through the momentary chaos and turned their attention to Jiang Cheng.
“Fuck! The damn do you want?” Someone swore, with one hand raised, he swung a fist right toward Jiang Cheng.
To Gu Fei’s surprise, Jiang Cheng did not even bother to dodge. He charged straight toward the fist and allowed it to graze past the corner of his eye before landing his own fist heavily upon the other’s left eye.
And just like that, these people who were still swimming in confusion were completely infuriated. They collectively gave up on Li Baoguo, who had shrunk into a ball on the ground, and flew toward Jiang Cheng with raised fists.
Gu Fei scrunched his eyebrows, looking around to find that the floor was quite clean – if Jiang Cheng couldn’t hold on for too long and he was to help, there wasn’t even a brick in sight.
“Don’t hit!” Li Baoguo held his head while scrunched on the ground and screamed, “Stop hitting!”
Those people who dove toward Jiang Cheng didn’t bother to acknowledge him. Though no one had any weapons on them, they had large builds – a fist thrown by them was quite something to endure.
One, two, three, four, Gu Fei slowly counted, there were four people circling Jiang Cheng. There was also one who couldn’t squeeze in and instead jumped around outside the invisible ring.
But before this person could jump a third time, someone already flew out from the circle and landed on the ground.
He was kicked out by Jiang Cheng.
Jiang Cheng soon dashed out and aimed one foot right toward the stomach of the guy on the floor.
“Fuck!” The blood flowing from Da Diao’s face was smeared all across his face. While screaming and jumping up, he threw a kick onto Jiang Cheng’s back; his posture was unseemly, yet it was full of power.
Jiang Cheng stumbled forward quite a few steps before eventually coming to a full stop and raising his hand to wipe the corner of his mouth.
He turned around to see Da Diao running up to build momentum for a second kick. Jiang Cheng stood still, and when Da Diao jumped up, he suddenly leaned forward, body charging forward with his arm aiming right at Da Diao’s… da diao.
Da Diao couldn’t even make a sound and just like that, he fell to the ground, gasping with his mouth wide open – a face full of searing pain.
Gu Fei lifted his glasses, if he saw correctly, Jiang Cheng probably didn’t hit right on the ‘spot’ with this blow, otherwise, Da Diao would have probably fainted from pain by now.
Did he miss accidentally, or was it that even in a situation like this, Jiang Cheng could still control his temperament and not cross the line?
But due to the fact that Da Diao’s posture was overtly tragic, his buddies – Two, Three, Four, Five Diao2 – were caught in momentary hesitations.
This is how these people are. When beating up someone like Li Baoguo, they all acted as if they were courageous warriors, but once they come across someone hardcore, they instantly become cowards. Afraid of going one on one, yet even if the whole myriad was to be dispatched, they would still have to wait for someone to take the lead.
But in their moment of hesitation, Jiang Cheng had already rushed toward them again, striking ferociously into the one standing in the front. Perhaps because a xueba was adept at learning, he actually jumped for this strike – a move learned from Da Diao – though his posture was much, much more beautiful.
Not only that, what he used was his shoulder, hence when he jumped, his shoulder went for the person’s chin as the crow flew.
The person was struck till he retreated at once, and his eyes met the sky in a jump before collapsing on the ground – though it was not known whether that strike caused him to bite into his tongue or nick his lips but he covered his mouth, and once he released his hands, they were drenched in blood.
After two of them were taken down, the remaining three probably felt somewhat threatened but seeing that the number was on their side and they still had the upper-hand, they charged at Jiang Cheng simultaneously.
Jiang Cheng estimated that he was injured when he was surrounded just now, and since he did not escape at this time, he was encircled in the middle.
Gu Fei could clearly see that his stomach and waist had received several hard punches; he sighed and walked over.
Just as he walked down the sidewalk, he caught sight of someone being thrown down by Jiang Cheng. His face was pressed to the ground, followed by several swift and precise swings – two of which landed heavily on the neck – that person struggled in between coughs and howls.
The two that were unsuccessful in pulling Jiang Cheng away lifted their feet and kicked his back as a result. After suffering a few of those kicks, Jiang Cheng swung his arm back and grabbed one of the legs then with a rough yank and a turn of his body, he pressed down on it.
That person was not flexible, and obviously unable to bear such a forcible split – evident by the loud sounds of wailing tearing from his throat. When he attempted to kick yet had no strength, he could only swing at Jiang Cheng but even those held no strength.
At that moment, the other person that was still standing lifted his leg; Gu Fei saw him aim at the back of Jiang Cheng’s head.
“Hey,” Gu Fei screamed and agilely pulled out a dictionary from his schoolbag.
When that person looked up, Gu Fei savagely smashed the dictionary in his face.
An English-Chinese dictionary – whoever didn’t bring it to English class, Lao Lu would be irritated with them. Though the price was not expensive, it was nevertheless also quite practical and the hardcover kind. Gu Fei had never before opened it, hence, the integrity of its sturdiness persisted from when it was first purchased – so, as it flew over without opening, it smashed the face with the same effect as a brick.
After that person was struck with this dictionary, inadvertently, going motionless all at once, they looked at Gu Fei.
Gu Fei did not speak as he walked over to pick up his dictionary, rub the dirt off of it with his pants and returned it back into his schoolbag.
At that moment, Jiang Cheng also released his hand from that person’s leg and stood up.
“You fucki…” The one that suffered a hit from the dictionary stared at Jiang Cheng, unsure of what to say but before he could finish, Jiang Cheng interrupted him.
“Is there anything else?” Jiang Cheng asked.
The one standing and the one on the ground were both stunned, and no one spoke.
“If there’s nothing else, I’m leaving.” Jiang Cheng turned around to pick up his schoolbag and walked in the direction of the other street.
“You know him?” someone asked Gu Fei.
Gu Fei glanced at him: “Just get lost.”
His whole fucking body hurt, and he could not tell clearly which part hurt exactly.
Jiang Cheng gritted his teeth and every step he took forward simply felt strenuous.
But it was refreshing, like after running a marathon – the ache, the pain and the weakness, yet each deep gasp was penetrating, and each breath could cool down to the intestines.
Exactly why did Li Baoguo suffer a beating, he originally wanted to ask that, but after going through this, he no longer wanted to know. He only knew that this was how this person lived, crawling on the ground to live – regardless of whether it was himself or Li Baoguo, nothing would change.
Extreme anger and hopelessness.
Agitation, hatred – all derived from those.
He was not such a great person. He did not want to save anyone or change anyone. He had only thought that this person was his biological father. He could not erase this no matter what, so he must strive to adapt.
But he could try to adapt to Li Baoguo’s vulgarity, his sloppiness, his male chauvinism, his gambling addiction, his alcohol addiction, however, he discovered that Li Baoguo displayed not only those. There were just too many that he was unable to adapt to and also unable to accept, little by little emerging before his eyes.
Stealing, getting beaten up till he was rolling on the ground.
What else was there, and how many more?
Someone whistled from behind him.
Even without turning his head, he knew that it was Gu Fei, hence, he did not turn – turning meant that his neck would hurt.
“Go get it checked at the hospital,” Gu Fei said from behind.
“No need,” Jiang Cheng answered depressingly.
“Wanna bet on it?” Gu Fei did not catch up to him but followed from behind.
“What,” Jiang Cheng said.
“Your rib is broken,” Gu Fei said, “Go get it checked. If it’s broken, you have to help me write my assignments for a week and let me copy off of you during exams but if it’s not broken, I’ll treat you to a meal.”
Jiang Cheng stopped.
Gu Fei walked up and stood by his side, “Is it broken?”
“I don’t know, I’ve never broken a bone before – never experienced it.” Jiang Cheng swept a glance his way, “You must be experienced, do you break it often?”
Gu Fei laughed: “I should have let that person break your neck just now.”
“Thanks for that,” Jiang Cheng said.
My rib must be broken… Jiang Cheng felt that normally when he fought, any hits would strike the stomach, but it should not still hurt this much after a long while.
“Which is the nearest hospital?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“There’s a coal mine hospital,” Gu Fei said. “It’s about five minutes by taxi.”
“Mm,” Jiang Cheng took a few steps forward then gritted his teeth again and turned around, “Thanks.”
“You’re so polite that I want to bow and say, ‘you’re welcome’,” Gu Fei said.
Jiang Cheng did not speak anymore. After leaving the street and waiting for just two minutes, with some luck, a taxi drove over and he hailed for it.
“I’m handing this over to the next shift. You have to get another taxi,” the driver said.
“I need to go to the hospital, any later, I’ll die on the street.” Jiang Cheng looked at him, “I probably have acute enteritis.”
The driver stared at him: “Get in then, I’ll take you to the hospital then hand it over.”
“Thank you,” Jiang Cheng got in the car.
The moment he sat in the back seat, he almost cried out in pain – the change of position made the ribs on the right-side ache severely as if they had been punched again.
“Fought with others right,” the driver drove while looking at him from the rearview mirror. “Acute enteritis doesn’t injure the face.”
“Is my face injured?” Jiang Cheng asked – the injury on his mouth, he knew about since it was reeking of blood.
The driver laughed: “There, but it doesn’t look too serious, definitely doesn’t damage your look.”
“Oh,” Jiang Cheng uttered.
“Young man, don’t be so impulsive,” the driver said. “You might be indifferent if something happens to you, but your family will be worried. Tell me, isn’t that so.”
“… mm,” Jiang Cheng pulled back the corner of his lips, smirking.
The corner of his mouth was probably injured too, just that slight pull extended the pain all the way to the root of his ears.
Your family will be worried.
Tell me, isn’t that so.
Who is family huh?
His previous family would never know his current situation at all, and when he fought before, he would not let them know either, yet now… his father was beside him, holding his head the entire time without saying a word.
And when he left, Li Baoguo didn’t even glance at him.
Who will be worried huh?
When he arrived at the hospital, he went to the emergency room, but no one was there.
After telling the doctor that his rib might be broken, the doctor placed his hands around his chest and pressed: “Does it hurt anywhere?”
Jiang Cheng tried to sense it out seriously, “… no.”
“Doesn’t hurt?” the doctor said, “Let me check.”
Jiang Cheng unzipped his jacket and when he lowered his head to lift up his sweater, he suddenly saw bloodstains on it. He froze, “The heck?”
The doctor lifted his shirt: “You were cut here, right? From the appearance, it doesn’t look like a fracture… let me listen to detect if there are any crepitus3 again.”
“… oh.” Jiang Cheng was baffled about the mysterious phenomenon of how his clothes weren’t torn yet he was injured and gushed quite a bit of blood.
The doctor examined it thoroughly and finally pressed his hand on the wound: “Does the bone hurt?”
“The muscle,” Jiang Cheng answered.
“There are no bone fractures,” the doctor said. “If you’re still worried, we can get an X-ray of it.”
Jiang Cheng let out a sigh of relief: “There’s no need.”
The wound above his rib area was not serious, and the doctor simply treated it with a piece of gauze.
Jiang Cheng sat down on the hospital chair and stared blankly for a long time. Eventually the pain that riddled his body slowly subsided substantially, and the intensifying soreness in his muscle that had first seemed to explode deeply within was alleviated.
He pressed his finger on his clothes to feel his ribs one by one but couldn’t sense anything – anywhere.
Gu Fei, that mental case. He sounded so positive in his conviction, as if he had plenty of experience. Jiang Cheng had no intentions of visiting the hospital but now he was scared into doing so.
However, his first reaction upon knowing that his rib was not fractured was surprisingly – great – since it would not affect the basketball competition.
He actually had such a strong collective sense of honor, perhaps, Lao Xu’s magnanimous love runs a silent.4
The phone rang in his bag, and as he pulled it out and saw the number on the screen, he froze.
It was mother’s call. Although he had already deleted the family of four’s phone numbers, he could not erase mother’s number from his mind in such a short time.
“Hello,” he answered the call.
“Xiao Cheng ah?” Mother’s voice transmitted over, “I haven’t been in touch with you for a while now, there’s a lot of things happening at home, how are you doing?”
Jiang Cheng went silent for a long time and did not speak. He did not know what to say nor what he could say. His mind was chaotic like the fighting scene just now, with only a buzzing sound remaining.
“Did you receive everything I sent over?” Mother asked again.
“I got it,” Jiang Cheng closed his eyes and sucked in a breath of air.
“You and your… dad, how are you getting along?” Mother asked.
“Quite well.” Jiang Cheng bit his lips, though the pain in the corner of his torn lips caused him to frown, “He is my father after all.”
Mother laughed: “That’s good, I was a bit worried at first since I thought he was a rather rough person. I was afraid that you…”
“I’m fine,” Jiang Cheng said.
Mother went silent on the other side, seemingly trying to find a topic to talk about.
“I’m doing quite well,” Jiang Cheng lowered his head and looked at his shoes, unaware of when it was stepped on for there to be mud on a section of it. “Don’t worry.”
“Xiao Cheng…” Mother called him and then sighed again.
“I’m doing fine now and have adapted pretty well. I still have things to do,” Jiang Cheng said. “I have to go.”
Without waiting for Mother to speak, he hung up the call.
He absent-mindedly stared at the black screen for a while before he stood up and left the hospital.
“I wasn’t gonna come over,” Yi Jing stood in front of the cash register, backpack in her arms. “But I was passing by coincidently… Xu Zong said you guys are getting ready to compete in a basketball tournament. I was thinking you probably don’t have time to review for your midterms, right?”
“I’m not reviewing whether or not I have time,” Gu Fei poured her a cup of hot water and dropped a slice of lemon inside. “You’re more anxious than Lao Xu.”
“That’s not it,” Yi Jing smiled timidly. “I just have a lot of spare time on hand.”
Gu Fei smiled too: “Sure, how ‘bout you let me copy today’s homework, I’ll…”
“No copying,” Yi Jing spoke immediately. “If you don’t understand something, I can teach you.”
Gu Fei then thought, well I could just copy Jiang Cheng’s, but he still took out his textbook from his bag: “Fine, then teach me English, I only plan on doing English homework today.”
“Fine,” Yi Jing sighed. “English is the only homework that you’re afraid of not doing right?”
“Mm,” Gu Fei stood up and erected the small table on the side. “Lao Lu’s homework is not something anyone isn’t afraid of lacking.”
Yi Jing pulled over a stool and sat down. She opened the textbook and started to work through the questions with him.
Gu Fei’s interest was adrift – anything that had to do with studying, he had always been adrift. Even if it was Lao Lu sitting in front of him right now, his mind would still be wondering the universe right now.
Yi Jing is Lao Xu’s number one helping hand, and like Lao Xu, she held a heart full of enthusiastic passion for this class. Despite the fact that last semester, when she just assumed her position, Wang Xu had angered her to tears – twice – during the self-study period, she still hadn’t forgotten her initial passion.
“This is…” Yi Jing said as she wrote on the draft paper. “Look here……”
The shop curtains were lifted by someone, and Gu Fei turned only to see Jiang Cheng standing frozen at the entrance with a hand still holding up the curtains.
“Jiang Cheng?” Yi Jing turned to look and stared at him somewhat surprised.
“Ah,” Jiang Cheng responded, seemingly a bit awkward, and pointed outside. “How ‘bout I…”
“No, don’t, you need Gu Fei for something?” Yi Jing responded immediately and also stood up somewhat awkwardly, “I just came here to teach him the homework… if you have matters to talk about, I’ll leave first… actually why don’t you teach him?”
“Ah?” Jiang Cheng froze again.
“Lu Laoshi said your English grades are really good,” Yi Jing smiled while gathering all her belongings. “I’ll be leaving then.”
“Hey, you…” Jiang Cheng didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence, Yi Jing had already slipped past him in an embarrassed manner.
“Did you go to the hospital for a look?’ Gu Fei asked.
“Mm,” Jiang Cheng walked in, he hesitated while standing beside the stock shelf. “Treat me to a meal.”
“It’s not broken?” Gu Fei was surprised.
“What, are you disappointed that it’s not broken?” Jiang Cheng said. “Then why don’t you come over and break it for me.”
“What do you want to eat?” Gu Fei asked.
“I don’t know, anything is fine,” Jiang Cheng scrunched his eyebrows. “I’m starving to death, and annoyed.”
“Okay,” Gu Fei stood up and gave it some thought. “I’ll take you to eat my favourite food.”
Please take note of who the translator is for each chapter, thank you.
Look at our boy Gu Fei getting a date with Jiang Cheng heheheh – we’re not delusional!! ρ(￣ﾍ￣ ﾒ)
1 Da Diao 大屌 – male genitalia
2 Diao refers to ‘Da Diao’ (male genitalia); so they are literally… dickheads. (please correct me if I am wrong)
3 Crepitus (骨擦音) – is grating, crackling or popping sounds and sensations experienced under the skin and joints or a crackling sensation due to the presence of air in the subcutaneous tissue. Bone crepitus: This can be heard when two fragments of a fracture are moved against each other.
4 “… love drenched yet makes no sound at all.” (… 润物细无声) – I believe it is derived from Du Fu’s poem “Delighting in Rain on a Spring Night ( Du Fu or Tu Fu is considered with Li Po to be one of China’s greatest poets of the Tang dynasty) The title and the poem itself had many translations and interpretation, thus, depending on which translation/interpretation one reads, there’s a slight difference.
Delighting in Rain on a Spring Night(春夜喜雨） Dù Fǔ（杜甫）
A good rain knows its proper time;（好雨知时节）
It waits until the Spring to fall.（当春乃发生）
It drifts in on the wind, steals in by night,（随风潜入夜）
Its fine drops drench, yet make no sound at all.（润物细无声）
The paths between the fields are cloaked with clouds（野径云俱黑）
A river-skiff’s lone light still burns.（江船火独明）
Come dawn, we’ll see splashes of wet red （晓看红湿处）
The flowers in Chengdu, weighed down with rain （花重锦官城）