1rst -【Smells so good】
Qingchuan Road was an old street filled with broken down and dilapidated buildings where advertisements for certificates, loans, medicine, and engraving seals seemed to grow on the dusty, gray concrete walls.
The rubber-insulated power lines densely draped overhead were covered with such a thick layer of dust that their original color could no longer be seen.
Chu Yu had been wandering around the area for more than half an hour and had successfully lost his way.
It was the hottest time of the day in August and Chu Yu felt upset.
Sincerely recalling, he’d seen directions to a hidden, local culinary delicacy on some public account’s post. The photos and texts depicting the beef stew made his mouth water such that he rushed straight to this old and run down ghost town—
How fucking stupid.
With all these messy thoughts in his head, Chu Yu continued to walk. He turned at a corner and caught the faint sound of a scuffle. He hesitatingly walked a few steps forward and took a peek. Incredible. Surprisingly, there were still people willing to face high temperatures of 30 to 40 degrees and gather to fight?
In the narrow alley stood two opposing parties.
On one side, there were approximately seven to eight individuals wearing black tank tops which sported huge sleeve tattoos. So long as skin was exposed, there would be an azure dragon1Azure Dragon, one of the four symbols of the Chinese constellations, also known as Azure Dragon of the East. tattooed on that entire region. At a glance, they appeared exactly like hooligans— aggressive and not to be trifled with.
On the other side stood a lone man. From Chu Yu’s perspective, only a tiny half of his profile could be seen. He wasn’t very old. He wore a simple, refreshing white T-shirt with jeans; his exposed wrists meager and fair. Compared to the group of tattooed men opposite him, he looked very casual.
Chu Yu pondered for several seconds and concluded that this was following a certain pattern of criminal activity. He nimbly dialled 110 and called the police.
Typically, in this kind of a confrontation, the party who started the beef would first give an opening remark. They would talk about the cause or highlight their deterring might.
The boss of the tattooed men wore a pair of bright red sports shorts. He was burly, with garish muscles and a shiny nose ring. With a gang leader’s posture, he took a step forward, raised his chin, and looked down as if staring at a chick. “Lu Shi, if you fucking kneel down, kowtow to your grandpas and apologize, us grandpas will let you leave with an arm today!”
After he finished speaking, the row of younger brothers standing behind him played along and roared with laughter.
Chu Yu held his breath as he quietly watched, though he couldn’t help but judge inwardly. Brother sleeve-tattoo, this line is just too lame, clichéd and lackluster.
“Why talk so much shit? I haven’t had lunch yet and I’m a bit hungry so let’s save time and you guys come at me together.”
Chu Yu gasped!
The voice was relaxed and unhurried, very pleasant to the ear and very easy to grasp. However, the message was really too lacking and when coupled with such a loose and contemptuous tone, it hundred percent became a taunt.
Chu Yu originally thought that those sleeve tattooed guys wouldn’t be able to bear it and go for a punch, but they didn’t follow the norm. Instead, the boss in red shorts stayed still, as if he were partially— scared?
The person called Lu Shi had an easy-going attitude. Still in a relaxed tone, he taunted them, mimicking, “Don’t dare? Then kneel down and call me grandpa three times. I’ll let your group of grandchildren go, how about it?”
He spoke in a steady tone, without even a slight tremor. However, such speech in these circumstances during such a time was akin to throwing a lit match into a barrel of gunpowder. It exploded with a ‘boom’!
The red shorts wearing boss with sinister triangular eyes and bulging muscles raised his fist and resolutely slammed it down upon Lu Shi.
Chu Yu was so frightened that he took half a step back and was about to close his eyes when, in the next second, he saw that the azure dragon tattooed hand was stopped. Lu Shi grabbed his opponent’s fist and ruthlessly yanked it down while his right leg bent at the knee and went straight up towards the boss’ abdomen.
The dull sound of colliding skin made Chu Yu, who simply heard it, feel pained!
Bashed by a knee, the red-shorted boss instinctively arched his back backwards, opened his mouth and retched, before being kicked to his knees by Lu Shi. In the blink of an eye, he was left choking and coughing on the ground like a dead dog, unable to get up.
Lu Shi spoke again, “Tsk, you can’t even take a hit?” It was a clear assertion full of contempt, he even raised the lilt at the end.
Sure enough, the big-sleeve-tattooed guys at the back were triggered. They rushed up like a swarm of bees, raging profanities.
It was then that Chu Yu finally saw Lu Shi’s face clearly.
Damn, he’s actually a really handsome guy!
The visual impact of that face was a bit strong so it took Chu Yu a moment to return to his senses. At this time, Lu Shi had already brought down two people one after another with agile finesse.
There wasn’t the least bit of flush or excitement on his face while he was fighting. On the contrary, he looked indifferent. There was no trace of warmth in his pitch-black eyes that were penetratingly cold.
A sound of joints cracking rang with a ‘kua’; a tattooed guy’s wrist was broken, causing him to scream in pain. As if annoyed by his scream, Lu Shi raised his hand and twisted the other’s jaw to dislocate it.
The world fell quiet.
In the alley, only sounds of colliding skin and flesh, pants, and screams of pain remained.
Another man fell to the ground, leaving only one big-sleeve-tattooed guy standing.
This man’s desire to survive was extremely strong. He threw away the wooden stick he’d picked up from who knows where as his legs softened and he knelt down on the ground. “From now on you’ll be my father! My grandpa! My—”
The man with an entire tattoo sleeve immediately shut up.
Tremblingly, he mustered the courage to observe the young man in front of him. The other’s eyes were full of rampant hostility as he stared at himself like he was looking at a wooden stake, with gloom and complete desolation.
In the midst of summer, the gangster felt chills run down his spine.
A bloody curve was cut into Lu Shi’s left arm and blood dripped down his fingertips to the ground, but he didn’t care. He looked down at the shivering man kneeling on the ground and asked, “Had enough?”
Chu Yu had already noticed the wound on the boy’s arm since earlier, and he’d been staring at the dripping blood without blinking. He was in a bit of a daze— suddenly, he felt that his throat was dry, itchy and thirsty, but he didn’t want to drink water. What is this feeling?
Chu Yu wrinkled his nose, as if smelling an especially pleasant fragrance blown over by the hot and humid midsummer wind. However, once he sniffed it carefully, the scent disappeared.
It smells so good ah…
While he was enchanted, he suddenly heard a brief question— right, he was exposed and being spoken to.
Coming from around the corner, he was faced with the deep, black eyes of the arrogant gangster and so Chu Yu suffered a fright. Remembering how ruthless the other party had been when fighting just now, he no longer troubled himself with the question of whether he was thirsty or not, and quickly stated his position, “I was just passing by!”
He blinked and took a breath. Seeing that he was still being stared at by the gangster, Chu Yu straightforwardly blurted, “Actually, I… I just called the police…”
Qingchuan Road Police Station
This was the first time in his life that Chu Yu had entered a police station; everything was novel for him. Inside the medium-sized room, the tattooed gangsters lay on the floor, screaming in pain, “Police officer! That’s the kid! I’m still damn young, why was he so ruthless! Fuck, quickly look for a doctor to check my hand, is Laozi’s left hand crippled or not!”
Two police officers, a man and a woman, were responsible for recording the transcript. The female officer, who was in her thirties, frowned as she slapped her pen on the table. “Quiet! Trying to argue again? Each and everyone of your criminal record is thicker than a dictionary. We aren’t even halfway through the month, can you count the number of times you’ve been in here? You all are even enjoying the air-conditioning without paying for our electricity bill!”
After yelling her piece, the policewoman turned to the other pair and said with an extremely gentle voice, “Come, don’t be afraid, you’re safe now. Can you tell us what’s going on?”
After speaking, she got up and poured two cups of warm water for them and even gave them a piece of fruit candy each.
On the other side, the boss in red shorts, who was about to vomit his gastric juices, rushed to say, “That little bunny—”
The policewoman responded, “You shut up!”
Chu Yu lowered his head. Holding the disposable paper cup with both hands, he secretly looked at Lu Shi who was sitting next to him.
Unlike before, the person beside him had none of his previous hostility and sharpness between his brows, he sat quietly on the light blue plastic stool. With his lean figure and straight back, he sat in a very handsome posture. Resting on his knee, under the cold white light of the police station, was his beautiful right hand with green suffused veins. The wound on his left arm had already stopped bleeding and was covered by his sleeves, unable to be seen. A pity—
What’s a pity?
Ignoring the strange emotions in his heart, Chu Yu put down the cup of water and feeling hungry, he peeled open the fruit candy the policewoman had given him. Stuffing it in his mouth, he sucked on it as he organized his thoughts and prepared to answer the policewoman’s questions.
However, before a sound could even come out of his opened mouth, he was interrupted by Lu Shi.
“My name is Lu Shi, 17 years old and a second year in high school. This is my classmate.”
Contrary to what he thought, this gangster was surprisingly still in school, and a second year at that?
No, that wasn’t the point.
Chu Yu blinked and realized who this “classmate” that Lu Shi was talking about was. Was he going to start making up lies?
Chu Yu suddenly met with Lu Shi’s gaze and was startled, causing him to bite the fruit candy in his mouth to pieces.
Scenes of Lu Shi’s indifferent violence flashed crazily through his mind, as well as the boy’s bone-chilling attitude while fighting. He hesitated for only two seconds before deciding to cooperate.
“My name is Chu Yu, also 17 years old. We’re classmates.”
Chu Yu’s small face was adorned with beautiful features such as his clear eyes which lay upon delicate, white skin. His hair that was naturally a light color became light brown under the sun, giving off a soft feel. Overall, his appearance was non-aggressive. His face was one that would especially make a person trust him when they saw it, he easily aroused the policewoman’s desire to protect.
The female officer looked friendly. “It’s okay, it’s okay. Take your time.” After speaking, she handed another piece of candy to Chu Yu. “Were you scared today?”
Chu Yu reached out and took the candy, politely thanking her. Due to the candy in his mouth, his speech was vague and silky soft. “En, I was really scared.”
After that, Chu Yu didn’t know what to say anymore, so he simply tilted his head to look at Lu Shi and waited for his “classmate” to reveal his acting skills.
From this angle, he found that this gangster looked more and more handsome. His facial features were exquisite; pale skin, a high nosebrige and black irises within a pair of eyes that were long and narrow at the tail, yet beautiful.
Receiving Chu Yu’s hint, Lu Shi tilted his head and glanced at the gang with big sleeve tattoos behind him, then quickly withdrew his gaze. He said, “Today… Chu Yu and I had planned to watch a new movie together. I had just wanted to take a shortcut through the alley and didn’t expect that we’d bump into this group of people fighting.”
Chu Yu was stunned. What movie plan? Lying with such a straight face, this guy is truly worthy of being a gangster!
He silently tore open the fruit candy wrapper and put the candy in his mouth first, trying to suppress his shock.
Amongst the tattooed guys squatting in a row behind them, the boss with red shorts burst out swearing, “Go to motherfucking hell! This son of a bitch is making up bullshit over your Qiang-Ge, you—”
“Quiet! Did you not hear me?” The policewoman scolded angrily, “What would you do if your loud voice scares these little students!”
Chu Yu consciously pretended to tremble, putting on a fragile appearance of being frightened by the rowdy voice of the underworld boss. As such, he received another piece of fruit candy as comfort, which he happily placed in his pocket.
Lu Shi continued to speak, “Chu Yu and I saw that they were fighting and it seemed like there was some conflict that had arisen. We overheard someone say that some of the brothers were injured in some incident before and that Qiang-Ge wouldn’t be able to get out of it, that this boss wasn’t qualified. Someone else retorted and they started arguing and fighting, that was probably all to it. We saw something wrong with the situation and remembered what our teachers had taught us, so Chu Yu called the police with his phone.”
The candy in his mouth was crushed again. Chu Yu’s – the other involved party – eyes were blank as he nodded in agreement, quietly thinking in his heart that this story was logical and sounded pretty convincing.
“Damn it, he’s lying!”
Met with the female officer’s unbendable glare, Qiang-Ge shut up and squatted down again, rapidly stomping on the floor tiles to vent.
Qiang-Ge ran a protection fee racket in the area near Qingchuan Road, and had always been accustomed to oppressing others. He didn’t expect that after walking so many nights on the road, he’d finally encounter a ghost and end up here.
He muttered hatefully in his heart. This little kid looked like he couldn’t fight, but his knee had almost pushed his guts out! Now, he was singing and weaving lies with this classmate who appeared out of nowhere. They sat in this police station and pretended to be innocent, yet no one doubted it! Was everyone fucking blind?
Chu Yu finished the candy and with his sweet manner of talking and soft voice, he said, “Yes, it was me who called the police. This is my phone and here’s the call records on it. The scene at that time scared me to death. Fortunately, you arrived quickly!”
The policewoman spoke softly, “This is our job, don’t be scared. If you come across anything like this again in the future, remember to call the police.”
Chu Yu nodded and Lu Shi also answered, “En, our teacher told us, ‘Maintaining social stability is the duty of every citizen.'”
Hearing Lu Shi quote this fluently, Chu Yu quietly glanced at this “classmate” of his once again.
The matter was eventually cleared up and Qiang-Ge, alongside the others, remained behind to be scolded and re-educated. Chu Yu and Lu Shi signed their names on the transcript and could now leave.
Before they stepped out, Qiang-Ge who was still squatting on the ground with his hands behind his head, arrogantly raised his chin and called to Lu Shi out of the policewoman’s line of sight, “I won’t change my name if I walk, I won’t alter my surname if I sit2Be proud of one’s name and stand by one’s actions.. Laozi and his brothers are from the Azure Dragon Gang. Which gang are you from? Speak if you have the guts! Wait for Laozi to be released and we can exchange pointers again!”
Chu Yu thought to himself that it was no wonder they were uniformly tattooed with azure dragons all over. They’re actually called the Azure Dragon Gang, ah.
“Is the Azure Dragon Gang very powerful?” Chu Yu poked his head out from behind Lu Shi and replied with a loud and clear voice, “We’re from the Communist Youth League3Chu Yu might’ve gotten it from Lu Shi’s “maintaining social stability is the duty of every citizen”.!”
- 1Azure Dragon, one of the four symbols of the Chinese constellations, also known as Azure Dragon of the East.
- 2Be proud of one’s name and stand by one’s actions.
- 3Chu Yu might’ve gotten it from Lu Shi’s “maintaining social stability is the duty of every citizen”.