Baal fell silent for a while and then said, “When my body recovers, then you can burn it for me.”
Had he misunderstood the meaning of “burn”?
Wang Xiaoming contemplated and then decided to let him continue misunderstanding it.
Xiang Wenxun had put thought into ordering the dishes. For example, the drink he was having wasn’t red wine but rather Sprite.
Wang Xiaoming sipped at it and continued fighting with the lamb chop.
A man wearing a black swallow-tailed suit and a dark-red tie walked over holding a violin. He put his feet together and nodded politely at Wang Xiaoming. “Mr. Wang, what would you like to hear for music?”
Wang Xiaoming’s fork stopped in midair.
Such a scene required some kind of international music.
He thought and answered, “L’internationale.”
The man’s face blanked for two seconds and then put the violin on his shoulder, slowly playing it.
The passionate music made Wang Xiaoming cut the meat faster and filled his face with fighting spirit.
Baal frowned and asked, “What music is this?”
Wang Xiaoming snuck a look at the performer and realized the guy was wholeheartedly absorbed in the music. So he answered, “‘L’internationale’, a song in praise of communism. It’s to encourage the propertyless to band together and become their own masters and fight against the oppressive capitalists.”
Baal stroked his chin and seemed to think of something before he nodded and said, “Not bad.”
Wang Xiaoming was so surprised his jaw almost dropped. He had actually heard the words “not bad” come out of the critical Baal’s mouth. Though he was praising the song “L’internationale,” it was a human-made product and Wang Xiaoming felt proud on behalf of humans.
The man finished playing the song, put his violin down, and looked at Wang Xiaoming without a word.
Under his gaze, Wang Xiaoming could barely chew his meat. He said after a while, “So how about you play it again?”
The man silently lowered his eyelids, closed his eyes, hauled the violin up to his shoulder, and played the song again as he ignored the rest of the world.
Wang Xiaoming thought that after a practice round, the man was performing much better now. He could vaguely sense the flames of anger burning beside him.
He put his fork down and listened devotedly.
After the song, the man stared at him again.
Wang Xiaoming debated with himself. Though the man’s skills would only get better if he played it again, just playing that one song over and over would probably be boring, right? But what other famous international songs were there? He was quite vexed.
The man was about to cry when Wang Xiaoming suddenly turned around and said happily, “‘Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears’.”
The man’s lips twitched slightly.
Wang Xiaoming patted his chest. Luckily he’d had a roommate who really liked that song before and would hum it every day in the dorm. It was finally useful. To have a Russian song infiltrate the Chinese market and get translated into Chinese, it had to be popular internationally.
Wang Xiaoming waited for a while and still, the man stood unmoving. He asked softly, “Do you not know how to play? Don’t worry, we’re Chinese and it’s quite normal not to know how to play a song from Moscow.”
“…” The man’s eyes turned red.
Wang Xiaoming felt really bad. He should have known better and asked for a simpler song. “Then how about ‘The Two Tigers’?”
The man continued to look at him in silence.
Finally, Baal couldn’t take it anymore. “He’s probably waiting for a tip.”
Blood instantly rushed to Wang Xiaoming’s cheeks and he used both hands to pat his pockets.
Finally, the man’s expression brightened a bit.
Wang Xiaoming spent a long time patting his pockets before saying apologetically, “I didn’t bring any more. Let me write you an ‘I Owe You.’”
The man froze.
He had played the violin here for so long and this was the first time he’d had a customer write him an “I Owe You.”
Wang Xiaoming summoned the waiter and asked for a pen and paper. He started scribbling.
When the man’s attention returned, Wang Xiaoming was already starting to write the amount.
Out of interest for his own profits, the man still slightly stretched out his neck and saw the tip of the ballpoint pen first make a vertical line on the paper, followed by a zero, a zero, and another zero.
The man’s heartbeat sped up. Rich guys who’d hand out money like candy were becoming rarer and rarer. Usually, a hundred was a good run. He hadn’t thought that this foolish-looking youngster would actually give him a thousand.
His mood turned from sour to sweet and felt like he could play another “L’internationale” for him.
Wang Xiaoming’s pen paused.
Was he going to add another zero?
The man’s eyes instantly widened.
Wang Xiaoming moved the pen back to the middle of 1000 and then put a black dot right after the first zero—10.00.
The man, “…”
Wang Xiaoming finished writing the number out carefully and then clearly signed his name on the signature line. Then he smiled in satisfaction. “All done. Hey, where’d he go?”
Baal propped himself up with one hand and was so bored he moved the roses around. “Your dot drove him away.”
“Hmm?” Wang Xiaoming was very confused.
“Are you done eating?” He smashed the red rose on Wang Xiaoming’s head.
Wang Xiaoming scrunched up his neck and caught the red rose as it fell down. “Yeah, I’m full.”
The server walked up at the right moment and asked, “Mr. Wang, President Xiang has ordered dessert for you. Should we bring it out now?”
“Can I return it?” Wang Xiaoming started worrying about his wallet.
The server answered with a smile, “President Xiang will take care of all charges except for the tip.”
“But…” Instinctively, Wang Xiaoming didn’t want to owe Xiang Wenxun any favors.
Baal gave a cold laugh. “The Silver House is his property. What fees are there for him to bear?”
The server continued, “Or maybe I can have the desserts boxed up and taken to the Game Hall. If your friend arrives, I’ll bring him over to meet up with you at the Game Hall after he’s had his meal.”
“Game Hall?” Wang Xiaoming’s eyes brightened.
“Yes, President Xiang has made the arrangements. Tonight, you’ll be the only guest at the Game Hall.”
The only guest?
Wang Xiaoming had the premonition that he’d need to sell himself to pay off the debt.
But Baal was quite interested. “What kind of games?”
Wang Xiaoming asked, “Are they those giant game machines?”
“Yes.” The server shifted and said, “This way please.”
Wang Xiaoming and Baal were both very excited.
As soon as he walked into the Game Hall, Wang Xiaoming was bedazzled.
Various game machines glinted in every hue under the dim lights.
The server brought over a box of game tokens and then brought over dessert and drinks. He said, “I’ll be waiting outside. If you need anything at all, you can pick up the phone and it should directly connect to my phone.”
Wang Xiaoming pinched his arm to make sure that he wasn’t dreaming. There really was an entire game hall that had been booked just for him. There really was an entire box of gaming tokens in front of his eyes. Everything had really and truly happened.
The server closed the door from the outside.
Baal made himself at home and sat down in the seat of the race car. “How do you play this?”
Wang Xiaoming grabbed a fistful of coins and tossed it in for Baal.
The car on the screen started to count down.
“Remember to press the gas and hold the steering wheel.” Wang Xiaoming said and then realized Baal was staring at him wordlessly. “Uh, why don’t you control the steering wheel?”
Baal said, “Then I might as well control the car.” He pointed at the car on the screen and moved his finger slightly.
The car actually moved.
But it quivered and moved very slowly.
“Speed up, speed up, speed up!” Wang Xiaoming cheered on from the sidelines.
Bang. A collison.
Baal remarked expressionlessly, “The car sucks.”
“…” Wang Xiaoming sighed. He really shouldn’t have too high expectations when it came to Baal’s talent at gaming.
After the car race was the shooting game.
Wang Xiaoming looked at the tragic score and didn’t dare do too well, so he hurriedly ended the competition.
But Baal was very insistent; so insistent that he could be described as being willing to stick it out for eternity.
Wang Xiaoming had originally thought that they could each play their own thing, but Baal said shamelessly, “If you leave, who’s going to witness my glory?”
Wang Xiaoming really wanted to say, at least have some glory for him to witness. What was there to witness with these gray scores?
But he didn’t dare do so.
After Baal experienced countless failures, he finally found a game that he was very well suited for—
The ball toss.
Wang Xiaoming picked up the basketball again and again and then watched as it automatically flew out of his hands and into the basket. Finally, he couldn’t resist remarking, “Actually, you don’t need me to hold the ball. You can toss it into the basket yourself.”
Baal lifted an eyebrow.
Another ball went in.
“Then why do you insist on having me pick up the ball?” Wang Xiaoming was upset.
“So you can share in my glory.”
So were all the caddies on the golf course actually just sharing the glory?
Wang Xiaoming felt embarrassed.
“But this is just the beginning,” Baal said in a conceited tone. “Very soon you’ll know that receiving my favor is such an honor.”
Wang Xiaoming identified the keywords, “You… favor me?” If he remembered correctly, that word included affection and value in its meaning.
Baal gave him an unhappy look. “Don’t you think the main point of that sentence is honor?”
Wang Xiaoming suddenly straightened up and smiled broadly until his eyes were squeezed into a line. He answered firmly, “Yes, I am honored.”
Maybe it was because he never counted on Wang Xiaoming being this cooperative, but Baal paused before nodding in satisfaction. “So you have to hurry up and fall in love with me. When my body recovers, I’ll take you to Hell.”
Wang Xiaoming blinked. “Wouldn’t that be too soon?” He hadn’t finished enjoying life yet.
“I think it’s too slow.” Thinking of healing his body and returning to his violent days of glory, Baal couldn’t wait.
Wang Xiaoming lowered his head and tried to think whether he should tone down the cooperation for the sake of his life.
Baal realized Wang Xiaoming wasn’t speaking and assumed he didn’t want to go to Hell. So he said, “If you want to go to Heaven to look around, that’s fine too. But there are so many naggers up there that you’ll get annoyed sooner or later.”
Wang Xiaoming hesitantly asked, “Could I stay in the mortal realm and live to be a hundred?”
Baal’s face sank.
Wang Xiaoming became more and more nervous in the silence. Could it be that after Baal’s body recovered, Baal would decide that he had to be killed?
He regretted it very much. Having heard the story of Mr. Dong Guo, how could he be so foolish as to invite a wolf inside his home1The story of Mr. Dong Guo is a Chinese fable that describes how Mr. Dong Guo saves a wolf only to have the wolf turn around and demand to eat him instead of being grateful.? Baal was clearly going to burn the bridge after he crossed it, clearly going to kill him to silence him…
The more he thought, the heavier he sweated.
A long time passed, so long that Wang Xiaoming almost couldn’t remain standing anymore.
Baal finally opened his mouth.
“I promise you.”
He kept trying to persuade himself that Wang Xiaoming could, at the very most, live a hundred years. For someone who had eternal life as he did, it would pass if he just gritted his teeth. He didn’t need to rush things. “As long as you’re willing, I’ll stay with you in the mortal realm while you’re alive.” Let Lucifer and Michael have their fun for a hundred years!
- 1The story of Mr. Dong Guo is a Chinese fable that describes how Mr. Dong Guo saves a wolf only to have the wolf turn around and demand to eat him instead of being grateful.