“Welcome to the first episode of Moron-Watching With Cheng-ge.”


Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3

         The two of them sat there in silence. Jiang Cheng didn’t know what Gu Fei was thinking, but he himself wasn’t thinking about anything. He just sat there and stared into space, his brain was still turning, but it wasn’t clear what it was revolving around.

         When it was almost 9PM, Gu Fei stood up, “Let’s go, I’ll ride back with you?”

         “Oh,” Jiang Cheng stood up as well, then asked after a second of confusion. “Ride back with me? Why are you riding back with me?”

         “In case you get lost.” Gu Fei said.

         “Damn it,” Jiang Cheng laughed. “I can get back even with my eyes closed now.”

         “Velly implessive.” Gu Fei put on his jacket.

         “I’ve always been zis implessive.” Jiang Cheng followed him out the door. [1]

         Gu Fei’s home was in the same direction as Jiang Cheng’s apartment. They first had to pass the intersection that led to Gu Fei’s home, and keep going straight for a stretch before they could reach Jiang Cheng’s apartment. 

         They both stayed quiet on their ride home. Jiang Cheng kept wanting to say something, but couldn’t seem to find anything substantial to say, so he resorted to staring straight ahead the whole way. 

         Gu Fei didn’t turn when they passed the intersection to his place. Jiang Cheng noticed, but didn’t say anything. The two of them kept going until they stopped outside of Jiang Cheng’s building.

         “Are you going to school tomorrow?” Jiang Cheng asked.

         “Sure.” Gu Fei said. “Didn’t Captain Wang want us to practice from lunchtime through to the afternoon?”

         “That injury of yours,” Jiang Cheng glanced at him. “Will you be OK playing in the final match?”

         “Don’t worry,” Gu Fei patted his side where the wound was. “It doesn’t affect me. And anyway, the guys from Class-2 are pretty straight shooters.”

         “Mmn.” Jiang Cheng nodded.

         The conversation came to a stop, but neither of them moved. Jiang Cheng didn’t get off his bike and go into the stairwell, and Gu Fei didn’t turn around to head back.

         After a stretch of silence, Jiang Cheng cleared his throat, “I’ll be going up then.”

         “Mmn.” Gu Fei answered.

         Still, nobody moved. They both seemed to be paralyzed, stuck in the same position with their butts on the seat and feet braced against the ground. 

         It wasn’t until another short while later, that Gu Fei spoke up again, “You go on up then, I’m leaving now.”

         “Oh,” Jiang Cheng finally moved; he picked up the handlebar and moved to the sidewalk. “Goodnight.”

         “Goodnight.” Gu Fei said.

         Jiang Cheng pushed his bike into the stairwell, and after locking it, took a glance back toward the road. Gu Fei was still there. Only after this glance did Gu Fei finally wave at him and turned his bike around to leave.

         Jiang Cheng returned to his apartment, and after a shower, sat down in front of his desk to stare at the day’s homework. A long time passed, and still he couldn’t make out a single word of it.

         He felt like his brain had experienced one too many shocks in the span of a single afternoon and evening. it was filled to the brim with a convoluted mishmash of information. There was almost no space for information such as homework.

         It took him at least ten minutes before he was able to quiet down his mind and start working.

         His phone chimed once, it was a message from Pan Zhi.

– the material i’m sending u is on its way, pay attention to ur phone ok, ur address changed right, is it far

– not too far, gimme the tracking number

         Pan Zhi quickly sent him the tracking number for the package.

         Jiang Cheng looked up the phone number for the courier service. He planned to give them a call tomorrow and ask them not to deliver to his door, he would go pick it up himself. He really didn’t want to go again to the street where Li Baoguo lived, in case he ran into Li Baoguo. He wouldn’t know how to deal with him.

– also, there’s a USB drive in there, i made a copy of all the lecture materials from our courses this semester, see if u find anything useful

         Jiang Cheng stared at the text. If Pan Zhi was in front of him right now, he would go over and give him a big hug. What a devoted grandson. 

         He picked up his phone and took a selfie with a thumbs-up, then added some funny stickers and sent it to Pan Zhi. 

         A few minutes passed and Pan Zhi still didn’t reply. He set the phone to one side, feeling like he finally made some room in his brain, so he sat down again to continue his homework.

         There wasn’t a lot of homework at Fourth High. Even if he started writing at this time, it still wouldn’t interfere with his sleep. But he still felt a little unsettled. He considered perhaps he should ask Pan Zhi to send him a copy of their daily homework as well……

         After almost an hour of writing, his phone chimed again. It was a message.

         He picked it up and took a look.

– the caption for this selfie of yours should be “good thing I’m handsome”, I’ll send you some of the photos I took of you later, don’t take any more selfies

         Jiang Cheng froze, then as he collected his thoughts he took a quick glance at the name on the top of the screen.

         Good Little Bunny!

         “The fuck?” He was shook. He swiped a couple of times, and finally confirmed that he sent the photo that was meant for Pan Zhi to Gu Fei instead!

– dafuq how did i send this to u?????

– who did you mean to send it to

– i was sending it to my friend!

         There wasn’t an immediate answer from Gu Fei’s end. Jiang Cheng received another reply from him after he re-sent the photo to Pan Zhi. 

– you should send this one to your friend

         There was a picture under the message. Jiang Cheng felt an intense wave of embarrassment as he was suddenly confronted with his own face filling up an entire screen.

         It was the close-up Gu Fei took the day he had a cut on his lip. 

         There was even an extremely cringey line of glowing text on the side of the photo: Me & My Unyielding Wound.

– holy shit, what’s ur problem

         He replied to Gu Fei.

– way better than your selfie, I shopped it with great care

– fuck off!

– you would trample on my sentiment like this!

– yea and what are you gonna do about it

[SCREW_HIM.jpg]

         Jiang Cheng stared at the meme Gu Fei just sent him and couldn’t stop laughing, then eventually sent back a reply.

– i’m fking doing homework right now

– add oil overachiever

         When he got up the next morning, Jiang Cheng felt like his brain was weighed down with lead. He sat spacing out on the edge of the bed for several minutes, but couldn’t recall all the chaotic dreams that troubled his sleep the night before.

         The only thing he could remember was Gu Fei, the zoo, and cameo appearances from Pan Zhi and Wang Xu. It was rather lively.

         He sighed and got up to wash his face.

         Perhaps it was from the separation of a night’s sleep, but now when he thought of the things Gu Fei had told him about his childhood and the ‘fair duel’ with Monkey, he no longer felt the same shock as he had the day before. Instead, it had begun to feel unreal, as though it was only a very realistic dream.

         Jiang Cheng went downstairs to buy breakfast, then slowly pedaled his bike toward school. He kept one hand on the handlebar while holding the fried pancake in the other, munching on it as he went.

         The days really were getting warmer. He was halfway through the pancake and it still hadn’t completely cooled down……

         When he passed the intersection, he squeezed on the hand brake, but didn’t hear Gu Fei’s whistle. He turned and looked around, and did not spot a Gu Fei waiting for him by the side of the road.

         He sighed. At this time in the morning, if there wasn’t a special occasion, Gu Fei must not be up yet.

         Jiang Cheng got to school with some time to spare before class started. He parked his bike in the parking shed, and walked toward the front gate.

         He stopped abruptly when he was still more than ten meters away.

         It was Lao-Xu’s turn in the rotation, so he was standing at the gates at this moment. And in front of him, was another person.

         Li Baoguo.

         Jiang Cheng suddenly felt a wave of irritation and panic. He stilled for a few seconds before putting his head down and crossing the street. He made a big detour around the gate, then ran toward the fence up ahead.

         The spot that Gu Fei told him about last time was not too hard to find.

         The concession stand had just opened. As he was making his way up the fence, the owner who was in the middle of sweeping the floor looked up at him in surprise, “Kid, the bell hadn’t gone yet, the gate’s still open.”

         “I… know.” Jiang Cheng looked back at him with one hand clinging to the fence.

         The owner didn’t say anything more, but the expression on his face was as though he was speaking to a halfwit.

         Jiang Cheng didn’t bother explaining to him. He pushed off with one foot on the fence, and pulled himself to the top. He was just about to check out the pile of bricks at the bottom to find a good landing spot, when he suddenly saw a person standing next to the brick pile.

         “ …… Principal Liu?” Jiang Cheng straddled the top of the fence, frozen in shock.

         Principal Liu was even more baffled than the concession stand owner outside. He stared at Jiang Cheng for a long time, but didn’t manage to say anything.

         “Principal Liu… good morning.” At this point, Jiang Cheng wasn’t sure if he should jump down into the school or out of the school.

         “Ah, good morning.” Principal Liu looked at him and answered reflexively.

         Jiang Cheng hesitated for a few seconds, then decided at last to jump into the school. The pile of bricks at the bottom must have been used recently, there were less bricks around the edge than before. He jumped down from the fence, and happened to land in the clear space right in front of Principal Liu. 

         When he stood back up, Principal Liu’s eyeballs were practically coming out of their sockets.

         “I… I’m going to class now.” Jiang Cheng pointed straight ahead and raced off before Principal Liu could get a word out, only slowing down when he finally reached the lecture building.

         Jiang Cheng wasn’t sure if it was because Principal Liu was caught off-guard, or if he intended to let him off easy; after all, he didn’t climb the fence because he was late, nor did he step on any trees…… Either way, three class periods passed by and nobody came looking for him.

         Lao-Xu didn’t come for him either. He had just finished attending Lao-Xu’s class. Lao-Xu had left the classroom as soon as the lecture was over, and did not come have a heart-to-heart with Jiang Cheng. 

         Jiang Cheng felt a little bummed out. He didn’t care much about fence-climbing, but Li Baoguo coming to the school made him uneasy. He didn’t know what Li Baoguo wanted to do, or what exactly he told Lao-Xu……

         He was more than a little annoyed.

         Furthermore, Gu Fei still hadn’t come to school; the seat beside him continued to be unoccupied, the desk drawer beside him was stuffed chaotically with all kinds of books, notes, and mock-tests that Gu Fei took but never wrote on.

         Nobody else gave a second thought to Gu Fei skipping class; the guy skipped class every week.

         Perhaps out of everyone here, he was the only person who felt some discomfort at Gu Fei’s absence. With the space beside him empty, he also felt a little emptiness in his heart.

         He was so used to the fact that very time he turned around he would see Gu Fei with his head down playing the idiotic Aixiaochu.

         It was halfway into the last period when a figure flitted past the backdoor of the classroom. Jiang Cheng swiftly turned around, and saw Gu Fei dart into the class.

         “I thought you weren’t coming.” Jiang Cheng said quietly.

         “I said I would come,” Gu Fei smiled. “We have practice at lunchtime after all.”

         “ …… I thought you meant coming to class.” Jiang Cheng said.

         “I went to bed late last night, and overslept this morning. I came as soon as I woke up.” Gu Fei pulled out a few textbooks at random and tossed them on top of the desk. “It makes no difference whether or not I listen to this lecture, I stopped being able to understand it long ago.”

         Jiang Cheng didn’t answer, just pulled out a tube of wound closing ointment and tossed it onto his desk.

         “What a fancy thing,” Gu Fei picked it up and studied it, then put it in his pocket. “Why don’t you treat me for lunch today.”

         Jiang Cheng glanced at him, “What for…”

         “Based on the fact that I treat you all the time.” Gu Fei interrupted him.

         “ …… Fine, but at lunchtime I have to go pick up a parcel first. Oh yeah, take a look at this place,” Jiang Cheng took out his phone and showed Gu Fei the pickup address for his parcel. “Do you know where this is?”

         “Yeah,” Gu Fei glanced at him. “It’s by the railway bridge.”

         “Ah.” Jiang Cheng’s mind wandered all of a sudden at the mention of the words ‘railway bridge.

         “You bought something?” Gu Fei asked.

         “No,” Jiang Cheng said. “My classmate sent me some study materials.”

         “I’ll go pick it up with you,” Gu Fei said. “Just so happens there’s a pretty good Old Shaan Noodle Shop there.” [2]

         Jiang Cheng started to laugh, “How come you know where all the good food is.”

         “Not all of them, I’ve just eaten at most of the places around here.” Gu Fei said. “I grew up here after all, the radius of my activity is mainly from here to the train station, and from here to the central square. It’s not like I’ve been anywhere else.”

         “Oh.” Jiang Cheng glanced at him.

         “Where are you two off to!” Wang Xu said in displeasure as he got his bike from the parking shed. “We could eat together then head straight to practice, I even spoke to Lao-Xu and excused us from the afternoon classes so we can play through lunchtime! This disorderly uncooperative behaviour from you two……”

         “We’ll be there within one hour for sure.” Gu Fei said.

         “This disorderly and uncooperative behaviour is……” Wang Xu continued.

         “Captain, we’re asking you for leave.” Jiang Cheng said. “Just an hour’s leave to get some errands done, we promise to be back within an hour and make up for it.”

         These words appeased Wang Xu very much. He pondered for a moment, then nodded, “Alright then, granted.”

         The railway bridge looked ancient, it had likely been neglected. The rails in the middle were covered in rust and weeds. The paths along the side were still walkable, but only enough for pedestrians, bikes, and motorcycles.

         Jiang Cheng kept looking around them after they crossed the bridge. The area wasn’t deserted, there were quite a few little shops lining the streets, and might even be described as bustling. He still didn’t see any abandoned residential area or hazardous structures. 

         “It’s over there, we’ve already passed the intersection,” Gu Fei turned and pointed at the first intersection they passed after crossing the bridge. “That’s where you go in.”

         “Oh.” Jiang Cheng looked back at it, but couldn’t make out very much. However, most buildings here weren’t very tall, they were all four or five stories at most. If they were structural hazards, the buildings were probably older, and perhaps even lower. Amen.

         “If you really want to watch tomorrow,” Gu Fei pedaled slowly on his bike. “I’ll have Ding Zhuxin go pick you up, she knows……”

         “No need.” Jiang Cheng quickly cut him off.

         He could sense the subtle cold-shoulder Ding Zhuxin had toward himself. He didn’t want her by his side while he watched.

         “Then…” Gu Fei was looking at him, as if he wanted to say more.

         Jiang Cheng waved his hand, “Don’t worry about me. I told you, I won’t let anyone see that I’m there, and I won’t disrupt your brainless building hopping activity either. You just worry about yourself and try not to get hurt.”

         Gu Fei chuckled.

         “The fuck you laughing about,” Jiang Cheng said. “You’re a member of the Steel Works Morons too.”

         Gu Fei laughed even harder.

         “Hey! You wanna bet I……” Jiang Cheng’s temper was ready to flare at the mere thought of the event, but Gu Fei’s laughter extinguished the embers of his anger before it even started. He let go of the handlebar, and mimicked the meme Gu Fei had sent him the day before, with one hand in a fist and the other hand pointed at Gu Fei. “Screw you!”

         Gu Fei froze for a second, then laughed so hard his bike veered off course, “Uncanny.”

         The materials that Pan Zhi sent over filled up a small cardboard box. It was tied up sturdily, and included a USB drive in its own little paper bag. Jiang Cheng didn’t untie them, but just looking at the spine of the books his mind suddenly felt much more at ease.

         “This is still the same guy who went with you to our school that one time?” Gu Fei glanced at the shipping label. “Pan Shuai?” 

         “Pan Zhi,” Jiang Cheng took the shipping and looked at it. “This shameless guy, this kid even used to write ‘Pan An’ on his test papers.” [3]

         Gu Fei started laughing, “But his handwriting really does look much more handsome than yours.”

         “Slackers all have good handwriting,” Jiang Cheng said. “Us overachievers don’t have the energy to care about frivolous little details like whether our handwriting looks good.”

         “You really should practice your handwriting,” Gu Fei said. “Lao-Xu almost started bawling the other day when he talked about the marks you lost for test paper appearance.”

         “That’s because he hasn’t seen what my writing looked like before,” Jiang Cheng said. “I can’t even read what I wrote back then.”

         “Ay…” Gu Fei chuckled and let out a sigh. “Let’s go then, noodle time.”

         Perhaps it was the pile of study materials he just received, or maybe it was the fact that he spent the afternoon playing basketball with Gu Fei, Jiang Cheng felt much of the unhappiness from this morning fade away. Even when he thought of Li Baoguo, it didn’t leave him feeling as bummed.

         When they walked out of the gates after practice, Gu Miao was sitting by the side of the road, her skateboard under her.

         The weather was warmer now, so she no longer wore a hat. The hair that hadn’t been properly tidied since her head was shaved now lay in a mess atop her head. A red headband wrapped around her forehead; it had… character.

         “I’ll give you fifty bucks.” Jiang Cheng looked to Gu Fei.

         “Alright.” Gu Fei said.

         This unexpected answer suddenly left Jiang Cheng unable to continue.

         Fortunately, after a pause, Gu Fei went along with the bit and asked, “Why?”

         “Please take your precious little sister for a haircut, I beg you.” Jiang Cheng said.

         “Alright.” Gu Fei nodded, and stuck his hand out in front of Jiang Cheng.

         Jiang Cheng glanced down at the hand, took out his wallet, and placed a fifty yuan bill in it.

         Gu Fei pocketed the money, “Though it doesn’t cost money to get her hair cut, Li Yan can do it, he’s pretty good.”

         “…… Give me the money back.” Jiang Cheng was rendered speechless.

         “No.” Gu Fei’s answer was clearcut.

         Jiang Cheng opened his mouth, but no words came out. How could there be such unashamed bastards in this world!

         As usual, Gu Miao followed the bike on her skateboard, but today she held onto the backseat of Jiang Cheng’s bike. She happily glided the whole way back to their convenience store.

         “Are you heading back?” Gu Fei asked.

         “Mhm,” Jiang Cheng looked at the bundle of study materials on the backseat. “I’m gonna go back and take a look at this stuff.”

         “Alright then,” Gu Fei nodded. “I’ll wait by the intersection for you tomorrow morning, at eight-thirty.”

         “OK,” Jiang Cheng answered, then waved at Gu Miao. “Bye Er-Miao.”

         Gu Miao waved her hand. He smiled and pedaled away.

         Fourth High scheduled the final match of the basketball tournament for Saturday, probably to make it easier for all the students and teachers as well as the students from nearby schools to watch. The game would start at 10AM, but the anxious captain Wang Jiuri requested that everyone gather at 8:30AM to warm up. After the tournament they were probably going to have a get-together again as a group, maybe even play another game in the afternoon while they were still riding the high……

         Therefore he probably didn’t have much time tomorrow to stake out the location of the building-jumping, he could only go tonight. 

         After he set his things down in the apartment, Jiang Cheng left again with his backpack, setting course straight for the railway bridge.

         The streetside near the railway bridge didn’t look very desolate, but once he turned in at the side street Gu Fei had pointed out earlier, it clearly looked much more deserted. The storefronts by the road each looked more shabby and rundown than the one before.

         At the end of the road, it split off into two directions. He could see the left side led to a duvet factory, while on the right side was a little run-down road with cracks in the path.

         He turned right, and a few minutes later, arrived at some run-down buildings with shattered windows.

         This was it.

         He slowly rode forward while looking around at his surroundings, trying to guess which buildings would be used by the Steel Works Morons to play their jumping game.

         It was probably not these ones on the outside, they were too exposed, anyone passing by would see them. He needed to go further in.

         Jiang Cheng eventually stopped in front of a row of four old buildings.

         The garbage strewn about this area was clearly more than anywhere else. All sorts of empty drink bottles, snack wrappers, and cigarette butts littered the ground. There was also a large metal pail outside the door.

         He went over and peered inside the pail, it was filled with pieces of wood that had since been burned to charcoal. The morons probably used this to keep warm when they gathered at night.

         There was nobody else nearby. Jiang Cheng leaned his bike haphazardly against the wall and walked into another ramshackle building across the way.

         This building stood by itself on this side, and contained five floors. It was the tallest in this whole area, and was also so old and run-down that he could see the dead plants that once grew out of the cracks in the walls. As he walked up the stairs, he felt that if there were two more people with him the building might just collapse.

         Jiang Cheng climbed all the way up to the top floor, walked to the window, and looked across the alley.

         He was pretty certain it would be the four buildings on the other side; the gaps between them were not large. The two on the right were both four story buildings, while the two on the left had three stories. The rooftop of the leftmost building was already half collapsed, so really it was only two stories tall.

         “Hello everyone,” Jiang Cheng raised his left hand and made a ‘V’ with his fingers, moving it slowly in front of his eyes. “Welcome to the first episode of Moron-Watching With Cheng-ge.”

         He walked to the second window, “The four buildings we’re looking at right now, is the site of the brainless building-hopping game of the Steel Works Morons…… We can probably guess that they will be jumping from one building to another building. Based on the degree of brain damage, they might even be going for the quadruple jump… We can see lots of random objects strewn about the site, these things seem to be placed there intentionally, so we can determine that they will likely attempt the jump with obstacles……” [4]

         “Fuck,” Jiang Cheng put his hand down and looked around. “I think we can all see by now, our view here isn’t the greatest for aiming… let’s see if we can find a better angle……”

         Jiang Cheng walked about the various rooms on the fifth floor, and finally found a stairwell that contained half of a staircase that led to the roof.

         He leapt up and grabbed onto the stairs. After a few tries he found it sturdy enough, so he used the wall as leverage and climbed up the stairs.

         “Ladies and gentlemen, friends, let us see……” Jiang Cheng stopped after walking a few steps toward the edge of the roof. “I’m a little… afraid of heights, but for the sake of…… bringing you all on this moron-watching journey……”

         He inched slowly to the edge of the roof, “This is a very good angle.”

         From here, he could see very clearly the sights of the rooftop across the alley, it wasn’t too far away either. However… if he just stood here on the spot, if anyone were to look this way from the other building, they would very clearly see that a person was standing here. 

         There was a little shed on the rooftop. He walked over and stood in front of the shed, this should provide enough cover for him. 

         “Alrighty, now we can see,” Jiang Cheng said as he rummaged around in his pocket and pulled out his slingshot and a steel ball bearing. He squared himself at the platform across the way and pulled the sling back. “What kind of precision we can achieve from this distance, and with what kind of power.”

         After he said this, he drew in a breath and ignored the sensation of his legs turning into jelly beneath him.

         He stared at the building on the other side and took careful aim, then let go. The steel ball bearing shot out.

         Almost immediately, a wooden stand on the other rooftop fell apart.

         “That’s it for today’s show,” Jiang Cheng squinted at the collapsed wooden stand. “Please tune in on time tomorrow after the basketball final, for the second episode of Moron-Watching With Cheng-ge.”


Footnotes:

[1] Original: instead of lihai (impressive) gf said nihai (doesn’t mean anything). He intentionally mispronounced to be cute.

[2] Shaan here refers to Shaanxi, which is a northwestern province in China known for their noodles, buns, and other flour based yummy foods.

[3] Pan An [潘安]: a poet in the Western Jin dynasty, the head of the four most handsome men of ancient China. And Shuai [帅] = handsome

[4] Quadruple jump: this is Jiang Cheng’s term of the triple jump in track & field but with one more hop XD

Some Stats

  • Raw character count: 6383
  • TL word count: 4542
  • TL time: 5:35:48
  • Edit: 1:00:15
  • Curse words: 4x fucks, 1x shit

TL’s Notes

Cheng-ge is back on his shenanigans, and no smoking this chapter ( ̄ c ̄)y▂ξ