Ever since he had woken up the following morning, Wang Xiaoming kept trying to guess Baal’s mood.
Baal said nothing as Wang Xiaoming changed into his exercising shoes.
Wang Xiaoming breathed out a sigh of relief and took the bus to the company.
His coworkers at the company didn’t think that, after causing so much trouble yesterday, Wang Xiaoming would still dare come to work today. In addition to being surprised, they also admired his irregular way of thinking. How thick-skinned and shameless was he? But they were more interested in seeing how the manager would react to seeing Wang Xiaoming. It would be exciting.
Wang Xiaoming merely smiled in response to all the curious, disdainful, or teasing looks he was getting.
He had experienced so much turmoil in his life that this was just a small case.
Under everyone’s watchful eyes, the manager finally came out of his office.
Everyone noticed that he wore a baseball cap so that it only showed his eyes and everything below it. When they remembered the unfortunate row of streetlamps and that innocent wall in the office, everyone remained quiet in an unspoken understanding.
The manager took a deep breath and was about to speak when he accidentally spotted Wang Xiaoming, isolated by the rest of the crowd, from the corner of his eye. The air he had breathed in got stuck in his lungs and he exploded into a violent coughing fit.
Wang Xiaoming looked at the chubby, radish-shaped finger that was pointing at him and shaking. He gathered up his courage and took a step forward, saying quietly, “Manager, give me one more chance?” As he whispered this, he looked over at Baal.
Actually, whether the manager gave him another chance or not was a minor concern.More importantly, Baal had to give him the chance.If Baal didn’t cooperate, just having the manager reluctantly agree to a second chance would only mean more trouble for Wang Xiaoming and the company.
Baal leaned against the wall and lifted his eyebrows, not caring what happened next. Truth be told, he didn’t believe the manager would give Wang Xiaoming another chance. That type of person was narrow-minded and self-centered. He probably didn’t have someone beat up Wang Xiaoming for the previous day because he was a scrooge. Expecting him to keep Wang Xiaoming on would be dreaming!
“Dream on!” On this point, the manager and Baal were in agreement. He breathed in and out and stabbed his fingers once more at Wang Xiaoming’s nose. “What do you want? Tell me—who sent you? What’s your goal? Say it!”
Wang Xiaoming answered humbly, “I just want a job.”
“Bullshit!” The manager jumped up. Which company could hire him and not go bankrupt? How could anyone work like this? He looked at Wang Xiaoming and suddenly questioned, “It’s not because all the previous employers who hired you have gone bankrupt that you have to keep looking for a job?”
Wang Xiaoming answered, “This is my first full-time job.”
“So we’re likely to become the first company to go bankrupt because of you?” The manager glared at him. If Wang Xiaoming dared to say “yes,” he’d immediately rush over, put his hands around Wang Xiaoming’s neck violently,choke him violently, choke himto death… choke him so he couldn’t breathe, until his eyes rolled, until his face turned blue…
Of course, that was all his fantasy.
Wang Xiaoming answered slowly, “I really want this job.”
“Why?” The manager came back to reality and demanded harshly.
“Because I don’t want to go to the Silver House.”
Absolute silence greeted Wang Xiaoming’s declaration.
At least half of the employees were locals. To them, the Silver House was infamous.
The manager looked around uncomfortably at the various expressions of surprise, disgust, ridicule—and so on—before asking, curious, “What is that place?”
“It’s a cathouse1Cathouse (n, American English) – a place with prostitutes. The original Chinese is 鸡鸭店 (literal: chicken and duck store). In Chinese slang 鸡 refers to female prostitutes and 鸭 refers to male prostitutes. [/mfn] someone answered quietly.
The manager turned to look at Wang Xiaoming. “It’ll be a party house for animals1鸡飞狗跳 (literally: chickens flying and dogs jumping), Chinese idiom used to describe a scene of chaos.. Perfect for you.”
It was hard to imagine that, for someone who looked like they had lived a sinful life, the manager was such a chaste and pure soul at heart. Clearly you couldn’t judge someone by their looks, sighed the employees collectively.
Wang Xiaoming pleaded with every cell in his body. Aside from being afraid of going to a place as tricky as the Silver House, he was also terrified of Baal finding “someone suitable” and forcing Wang Xiaoming onto someone. He thought of what happened to Chang Haitao and refused to be the cause of another human’s misery.
If the manager knew what he was thinking, he’d be puking out three liters of blood. Can’t harm another human? Was he not a human? Had he not been harmed?
Even though the manager didn’t know what Wang Xiaoming thought, his decision was firm. “Our temple is small and is not worthy of a deity as powerful as you. Please go sell your ducks and chickens2In Chinese slang 鸡 refers to female prostitutes and 鸭 refers to male prostitutes..”
Wang Xiaoming dejectedly walked out from the skyscraper.
Just the other day, he had been filled with happiness at the thought of standing at the starting point of his new life, only to realize he had arrived at its conclusion in a single day.His life was definitely filled with lots of ups and downs, always more exciting than his imagination.
Baal followed behind him, his face as dark and expressionless as the weather.
Wang Xiaoming suddenly started running with long strides.
Baal’s body jerked and then involuntarily followed behind Wang Xiaoming.
Wang Xiaoming’s running speed couldn’t be considered fast. For Baal, it was about the same speed as ants crawling. But for the pedestrians, it was definitely as though a bull ran through the crowd.
Baal heard them cursing and muttering and he frowned in response. So when the people finished cursing, they inexplicably found themselves on the opposite side of the street.
Wang Xiaoming only stopped when he had reached the bridge. The strenuous exercise made his heart thunder so hard he thought it would explode out of his chest. The blood coursed from the bottoms of his feet to his head, surging and expanding.
Baal languidly walked over, put his arms across his chest, and asked, “You done with the tantrum?”
Wang Xiaoming exhaled and looked up.
Baal raised his eyebrows and waited for Wang Xiaoming to start crying and pleading. He didn’t expect Wang Xiaoming to actually nod and agree, “Let’s go to the Silver House.”
“…” Baal was stunned.
“Except I don’t know where the Silver House is?” Wang Xiaoming dug out his phone and called 1143In China, dialing 114 connects the caller to directory assistance, which is a service that provides information on phone numbers and addresses of residences, businesses, and government entities. It’s basically calling the operator. The number for contacting directory assistance varies, typically by country. to ask. Luckily, though the Silver House didn’t have a huge internet presence, it was registered with the 114.
Contrary to Wang Xiaoming’s expectations, the Silver House was not situated in the middle of the city but rather in the suburbs. If he were to work there, he’d need to take three different bus routes across the city every day.
Baal looked at him waiting silently for the bus and was surprised. He thought Wang Xiaoming would use the long commute as a reason to not go. Baal felt inexplicably frustrated at Wang Xiaoming’s silence. “Don’t you hate the Silver House?”
Wang Xiaoming glanced around and when he saw that nobody was paying him attention, he lowered his voice and answered, “I do hate it.”
“So, you’re now surrendering to me?” Baal’s face lit up like the sun bursting through clouds.
Wang Xiaoming had surrendered, but not to Baal. He surrendered to life. Since it was the final stretch before the college entrance exams, a lot of parents would rather pay more money to hire experienced school teachers as tutors. His tutoring workload had been significantly reduced and his family had also decreased his stipend since they knew he was about to start interning and earning his own money. So his available funds for this month were only about half of what he had before. At this rate, never mind buying a computer, he might not even be able to afford rent.
But when he looked at Baal’s pleased expression, Wang Xiaoming decided to let the explanation rot within him.
After two buses, the third actually had soft seats. The bus was also filled with young men and women wearing fashionable clothing. Even the driver was in a dark blue uniform.
“Uhhh, may I ask if this is a public bus?” Wang Xiaoming stood nervously on the front steps of the bus.
The driver smiled at him gently, “No.”
Wang Xiaoming let out a breath and was about to turn around and get off the bus when he heard the driver ask, “Are you heading to the Silver House?”
“Yeah.” Wang Xiaoming looked back.
The driver kept his professional smile. “This is not a public bus, but it’s the one specifically for the Silver House. Welcome abroad.”
Wang Xiaoming asked carefully, “How much is a ticket?”
“Pffft.” Sounds of mocking laughter rang out on the bus.
The driver continued, answering good-naturedly, “It’s free.”
Wang Xiaoming hesitated. He understood the principle of there being “no such thing as a free lunch” in the world4拿人手短，吃人嘴软 (literally: your hand is shortened by taking other’s things, your mouth is softened by eating other’s stuff) is a Chinese idiom that means “by accepting/taking something from people, you now owe them a debt.”. He did want to try his luck at the Silver House, but only that. If the environment was too tricky there, he’d rather die of starvation than go. After all, dying of starvation at least left behind a whole body. Offending some mafia boss and getting chopped up would definitely leave behind a dismembered and disfigured corpse.
His brain supplied bloody scenes from famous Hong Kong mafia movies and he decided to take the taxi there. He’d rather spend the extra money and guarantee his safety. Just as he was about to get off the bus, a force suddenly pushed against his back and then the fresh scent of lemons blew past him. This wasn’t the scent of those dime-a-dozen air fresheners, but rather it was a pure and sophisticated scent. He stumbled forward from the push and, as soon as he had steadied himself, the bus began to move.
Wang Xiaoming looked at the slowly closing door and didn’t have the guts to ask to get off, so he could only silently walk to the back of the vehicle.
The bus was big and there were many empty seats.
Just from glancing around, he estimated that there were maybe only a dozen people.
The young man who had bumped into him just now sat in the last row. He was about 27 or 28 and wore a white shirt, dark gray suit pants, and a golden hoop in his left ear. He couldn’t be called handsome—at least, not as handsome as Baal—but he looked clean-shaven and delicate, like an aloof male side character from an idol drama.
Because Wang Xiaoming’s gaze was too intense, the young man couldn’t ignore it. He turned around, blinked, and apologized, “Sorry about before.”
Wang Xiaoming paused and just then realized that the young man thought the staring was because he wanted an apology. He hurriedly said, “No problem.”
The young man nodded and kept looking outside the window.
“That’s a very good beginning.” Baal’s voice suddenly sounded.
Wang Xiaoming jumped in fear and suddenly remembered that he had a fiend next to him.
“I didn’t mean anything by it,” he answered quietly and then randomly chose a seat.
Baal stared at the young man and smiled meaningfully.
The bus drove speedily but steadily.
Wang Xiaoming sat for a while and then started examining the other passengers out of boredom.
Though they were young, they looked lethargic. Either they looked apathetically out the window, or they were curled up, trying to nap. The entire car was silent and there wasn’t a sound to be heard.
After about 20 minutes, Wang Xiaoming couldn’t open his eyes due to the glaring light from outside.
He shielded his eyes with his hands and could barely make out that there was a large dome-shaped building.
Those sleeping were shaken awake and they sat up slowly.
The bus made a circle and drove toward that building.
Wang Xiaoming knew they had arrived at the destination and couldn’t help but take a closer look at the building. After getting closer, he saw it was a silver building that burned people’s eyes from a distance because of the many sunlight-reflecting French windows.
The bus stopped by the front door and the passengers began to disembark.
Wang Xiaoming stood up and, just as he was about to leave, he cried out, “Dang it!”
“What?” Baal’s eyebrows twitched. Wang Xiaoming was not going to give up right as they were about to go in5到了门口才打退堂鼓 (literally: beating the dismissal drum as [he] approached the front door). 退堂鼓 (literal: dismissal drum) is the drum signal that often indicated the end of a trial session. Now, the phrase is often used to imply giving up., right?
“I didn’t bring a resume.”
- 1Cathouse (n, American English) – a place with prostitutes. The original Chinese is 鸡鸭店 (literal: chicken and duck store). In Chinese slang 鸡 refers to female prostitutes and 鸭 refers to male prostitutes. [/mfn] someone answered quietly.
The manager turned to look at Wang Xiaoming. “It’ll be a party house for animals1鸡飞狗跳 (literally: chickens flying and dogs jumping), Chinese idiom used to describe a scene of chaos.
- 2In Chinese slang 鸡 refers to female prostitutes and 鸭 refers to male prostitutes.
- 3In China, dialing 114 connects the caller to directory assistance, which is a service that provides information on phone numbers and addresses of residences, businesses, and government entities. It’s basically calling the operator. The number for contacting directory assistance varies, typically by country.
- 4拿人手短，吃人嘴软 (literally: your hand is shortened by taking other’s things, your mouth is softened by eating other’s stuff) is a Chinese idiom that means “by accepting/taking something from people, you now owe them a debt.”
- 5到了门口才打退堂鼓 (literally: beating the dismissal drum as [he] approached the front door). 退堂鼓 (literal: dismissal drum) is the drum signal that often indicated the end of a trial session. Now, the phrase is often used to imply giving up.