Mr. Policeman sir! That’s the guy! It’s me!

Author: Wu Zhe, Translated by Ami <3

         To Gu Fei, this bowl of noodles was as uninteresting as it gets. Their original plan to go get meat pies at Wang Xu’s place was put to the side. Compared to the lofty meat pies, these instant noodles were particularly dull. 

         Especially as he looked up occasionally and saw Jiang Cheng sitting across from him, spacing out in his own mind, these noodles became even more dull.

         Gu Fei was a little worried. Jiang Cheng’s current mental state really didn’t seem like the calm after he collected himself, more like he was still in a daze, having not completely recovered from the shock.

         He didn’t want to leave Jiang Cheng alone by himself tonight, but he was also afraid to open his mouth and suggest that he stay with Jiang Cheng for the night, or that Jiang Cheng could just stay here. He was afraid that at this point any one sentence or trigger could cause Jiang Cheng to explode.

         After he finished the noodles and washed the bowl, Gu Fei walked back into the store to find that Jiang Cheng hadn’t moved from his spot.

         He folded the table back up and set it to the side, then stood next to Jiang Cheng. 

         “That room in the steel works factories,” Jiang Cheng finally said after a long time. “Will there be anyone staying there tonight?”

         “No.” Gu Fei answered.

         “Can you keep me company there then.” Jiang Cheng said. “I don’t want to spend the night in a familiar place.”

         “Alright.” Gu Fei nodded.

         He stood for a while longer, but still Jiang Cheng didn’t move. Gu Fei didn’t rush him. He went and sat down behind the cash register, and took out his phone.

         His Friend Circle had practically been bursting until this point. The word on the street was someone had jumped off a building nearby, and everyone was trying to get some details, a few spoke with such authority as though they had been downstairs at the time ready to catch Li Baoguo themselves.

         Gu Fei exited from the Friend Circle, and was just about to play a round of game to give his mind a break, when he got a message from Wang Xu.

– I heard the one who jumped is from the street next to yours?

         Gu Fei didn’t answer.

         Wang Xu sent him another message.

– Somebody said it’s Jiang Cheng’s dad, he lives on the next street over right?

         Gu Fei frowned. In this modern era filled with various tools of instantaneous communication, the rumour mill within neighbouring communities was even quicker than before, scarily so.

– If I hear this being spread around tomorrow, I won’t let you off easy!

– I wasn’t spreading it around! Did I not come ask you about it first thing? I didn’t even ask Jiang Cheng

– Doesn’t matter, if I see anyone talking about it, I’ll come for you!

– Fack! Fine fine fine, I’ll go give them a warning okkk?

         Gu Fei didn’t respond, just turned off the screen. He didn’t feel like playing Aixiaochu anymore.

         “What time is it?” Jiang Cheng asked.

        “A little past 8, 8:26.” Gu Fei glanced at him. “You……”

        “Let’s sit for a little longer.” Jiang Cheng said. “Right now, I just don’t feel like moving for some reason. I want to just sit here and blank out for a while.”

         “Mhm.” Gu Fei answered, picked up his phone again, and opened Aixiaochu.

         He very much understood Jiang Cheng’s current state of mind. Him not wanting to move was not only a physical need, but mental as well. He needed to sit and blank out like that, as though any sort of movement would pull him back to reality, afraid that with the slightest movement, all those fears and anxiety he was afraid to face would come rushing back like the tide.

         In the period after Gu Fei watched his father die in the lake, he lost count of how many nights he spent sitting and staring off into space like this.

         He wouldn’t find it strange even if Jiang Cheng spent a whole day and night sitting on that little stool.

         But to him, these were things that Jiang Cheng was never supposed to face, and experience, and carry. Only for some unfathomable reason, he was sent back here.

         Jiang Cheng wants to leave. Even if he was born here, even if his parents were all native products of this place, he still didn’t belong here. Gu Fei sometimes felt afraid, afraid that Jiang Cheng would sink.

         Fortunately, that bit of pride in Jiang Cheng’s bones had always been there to prop him up. No matter where he was, he stood tall.

         In this convenience store, there was a little clock. Every time the hour hand moves forward a block, it would make a little click sound.

         After the third click, Jiang Cheng knew that it was 11 o’clock.

         He felt sleepy, very sleepy, like he could close his eyes and fall asleep right away. But when he did close his eyes, even if he pressed his eyelids together until they were sore, he still couldn’t sleep.

        It was torturous.

         He didn’t directly bear witness to Li Baoguo’s last jump, but the sound of him hitting the ground, as well as the shoe that flew across his field of vision, were like scenes from a dream he couldn’t shake off, moving in front his eyes with a somewhat realistic but blurry filter. In his daze, he had trouble separating what he dreamed from his actual lived experience.

         The days were getting warmer, he had sweated that afternoon during the tattoo session. But at the moment, his hands felt cold. In fact, his whole body felt cold, waves of goosebumps washed over him.

        The only scalding hot place left on his body were his eyes, it felt as though they had been burned in a fire. He had no urge to shed tears, even though his tear ducts had been getting quite a workout since he came here. He knew he didn’t want to shed tears for Li Baoguo’s death, they didn’t have that kind of relationship. It was only that his eyes felt hot, and if it continued feeling hot like this, he would surely get a headache. He had no choice but to keep a hand pressed against his eyes in order to make himself feel better.

         At long last, Jiang Cheng let out a breath and stood up. When he looked back at Gu Fei, he saw that Gu Fei had also just stood up, stuffing his phone back in his pocket.

         “Did you pass that level?” Jiang Cheng asked.

         “Yep.” Gu Fei said.

         “Bull-fucking-shit.” Jiang Cheng said. “This whole time I didn’t hear the levelling up sound, it was all sounds of failure. You didn’t even finish this round.”

         Gu Fei started laughing, “Good ears, I’ve even lowered the volume to one block.”

         “Give it to me.” Jiang Cheng reached out. “I’ll play for a bit.”

         Gu Fei handed his phone to him. Indeed, he hadn’t passed the level on the screen, but even though there were only seven steps left, there was much hope. Jiang Cheng looked down at the screen, “Let’s head over to the room.”

         When Gu Fei pulled open the grates and glanced out, he could see that all the streetlamps had come on, and the shops on the street were closed. The entire street was deserted, the hustle and bustle of earlier were all wiped away by the dark of night.

         In that instant, he had a strange feeling. It felt like any supposed scary or shocking thing, whatever got the people of several streets screaming and yelling in a frenzy, had all disappeared in a matter of hours.

         It had all turned into meal accompaniments for each of these households, to be chewed on over and over under the glow of their lights. Give it a few months, or years, and it would evolve into an unrecognizable local tale, much like the way Gu Fei ‘killed’ his own father.

         How bizarre, and how scary. 

         Jiang Cheng stared down at the game on the phone screen, and drew back his peripheral vision. This way, he could feel like he was a little egg yolk surrounded by its shell.

         As they headed in the direction of the steel works factories, Gu Fei walked by his side with one hand pushing against his back. Whenever there was an obstacle in front of them, he would give Jiang Cheng a little tug, and Jiang Cheng would go along with the motion to avoid whatever rocks, bricks, or holes on the ground.

         When Gu Fei opened the door to their room in the factories, Jiang Cheng dropped down on the sofa, and finally let out a breath of relief. He glanced up and around them, then handed the game back to Gu Fei, having already shot past two levels.

         “Badass huh.” Gu Fei said. “I should change my display name to ‘Someone’s Carrying Me’.”

         “Do it.” Jiang Cheng leaned back on the sofa and smiled.

         Both the fabric cover and blanket on the sofa had been changed to a soft linen type material. It felt cool and fresh against his skin, he started feeling insanely sleepy again.

         “Can you…… get up first.” Gu Fei lifted the sofa, trying to drag it out into a bed. “It’s gonna break if I drag this with you still on it.”

         Jiang Cheng stood up and slowly took a couple steps forward, thought for a second, then sighed, “Should’ve showered first before coming, at least brush my teeth or something.”

         “We got stuff here.” Gu Fei pulled the sofa out and pushed the back down. “Go look in that bin in the bathroom, Li Yan should’ve left some disposable toothbrush, towels, and what not in there. Just do a wipe, your leg can’t touch water anyway.”

         Jiang Cheng went into the bathroom and looked. There was practically nothing in the bathroom, though the plastic bin in the corner was fairly well equipped. However, all the toiletry sets were printed with names of various hotel chains.

         “Where did he get all these hotel stuff?” Jiang Cheng asked as he walked out of the bathroom while brushing his teeth.

         “It’s his mom’s company, he’s got plenty at home. He brought these over a while ago, it’s been cold so nobody’s used it.” Gu Fei said. “These guys aren’t very particular anyways.”

         Jiang Cheng smiled. 

         Chatting idly about nothing with Gu Fei was the only way he could hold a conversation at the moment. This kind of chatter eased his mind, and didn’t evoke any sort of unpleasant emotions.

         They both did a simple washing up, then laid down on the sofa. After the lights were off, the only brightness left in the room was the moonlight seeping in from outside, the later it was the brighter it got. Hanging outside the curtainless window, it made one feel strangely unsettled.

         Jiang Cheng turned around to face Gu Fei’s profile.

         “Want me to hold you?” Gu Fei turned to him and asked.

         “Go away.” Jiang Cheng said. “It’s hot.”

         “This way then.” Gu Fei grabbed his hand and held it. “Hurry up and go to sleep, there’s class tomorrow.”

         “Good night.” Jiang Cheng said.

         “Good night.” Gu Fei squeezed his palm.

         Jiang Cheng closed his eyes, and Gu Fei’s fingers continued to squeeze his palm rhythmically. This method of soothing as if he was coaxing a child might be a little amusing, but it still made him feel grounded.

         Only, Gu Fei clearly fell asleep before him. The rhythm of his squeezes slowed down little by little, and eventually stopped. Jiang Cheng smiled, and listening to Gu Fei’s steady and slowed breathing, breathed along with him. He fell asleep soon after.

         When he woke up in the morning, Gu Fei had already gotten up. Jiang Cheng could smell the aroma of beef noodle soup.

         “You’re up?” Gu Fei asked from behind him.

         “Mhm.” Jiang Cheng turned around, and saw two bowls of beef noodle soup takeout set on top of the little rickety table by the sofa. He sat up and rubbed his face.

         Throughout the whole night’s sleep, he surprisingly did not jolt awake, but the dreams never stopped. As a result, when he woke up just now, he never had the chance to experience a process of remembering the previous day’s events, re-experiencing the shock, then getting used to it again.

         Li Baoguo had died. In front of his three kids and a crowd of neighbours. A jump from the top of the building, to conclude a life that might or might not have had any meaning.

         These were the images that flashed through his dreams for the whole night. Now that he was awake, it only made the images clearer.

         “Nobody’s called me.” Jiang Cheng grabbed his phone and glanced at it. “Do I not need to be…… involved in dealing with Li Baoguo’s affairs?”

         “They’ll call you when they need the money.” Gu Fei said. “And when they’re splitting up the assets.”

         “Does Li Baoguo have any assets?” Jiang Cheng swiped at his phone absentmindedly.

         “Dunno.” Gu Fei held up a loaded toothbrush in front of him. “Gotta have something, maybe a few thousand.”

         “If he really has a few thousand, he wouldn’t go around asking for money.” Jiang Cheng took the toothbrush and stuffed it in his mouth. “But it doesn’t matter, even if he has a million bucks it wouldn’t have anything to do with me, I don’t want a single penny.”

         “Just put something in for the funeral, and don’t worry about the rest.” Gu Fei said.

         “Mhm.” Jiang Cheng answered, and slowly brushed his teeth.

         Theoretically, with the death of his biological father, it was entirely within reason for him to take a few days off from school. But Jiang Cheng couldn’t think of any need for him to take time off, or what he should do with the time if he did.

         Just as he entered the school, he happened to run into Lao-Xu, who must’ve been on gate duty this week.

         “Morning, Xu-zong.” Jiang Cheng called out to him.

         “Ah Jiang Cheng…… morning morning morning.” Lao-Xu seemed to want to say something, but must’ve decided against it. “Go on in, take care in your studies.”

         “Morning, Xu-zong.” Gu Fei also called out behind him.

         “Good kid! You’re not late today!” Lao-Xu clapped his shoulder happily. “If you can listen to the lecture in class later then that’ll be even better!”

         “Uh huh.” Gu Fei answered.

         It might be him being a little sensitive, but as Jiang Cheng walked upstairs to the classroom, he could feel all the eyes on him, but didn’t hear any hushed whispers. Of course, with the way he usually carried himself, nobody would dare to come up and ask him either. It was slightly uncomfortable, but he preferred it this way, it allowed his tightly wound nerves a chance to relax for a bit.

         “Jiang Cheng,” He entered the classroom, and was just about to sit, when Wang Xu pushed Zhou Jing aside and dropped himself down in the seat. “Are you coming to my place for lunch today? I told my mom to put aside some donkey filling for us.”

         “Huh?” Jiang Cheng paused.

         “Are you coming or not?” Wang Xu asked. “You guys haven’t been there for ages, my mom even asked about it last week, she thought I must’ve had conflict with my classmates again.”

         “Okay,” Jiang Cheng gave a little smile. “Will there be lamb soup?”

         “That’s a must! As many meat pies and lamb soup as you can eat.” Wang Xu said. “It’s decided then, we’ll head to lunch together.”

         “Mhm.” Jiang Cheng nodded, then glanced again at Gu Fei.

         “Da-Fei will definitely come too,” Wang Xu stood up and walked back to his own seat. “If you’re coming, how can he not?”

         “Fuck,” Gu Fei watched Wang Xu’s retreating back, and said quietly. “I wish I can say I’m not going.”

         Jiang Cheng started laughing, he bowed his head and giggled at his desk drawer, “Then don’t go.”

         “How is that possible,” Gu Fei sighed. “You’re going, and I’m the free part of the buy one and get one free.”

         “Then……” Jiang Cheng glanced at him. “When I said I’m going to play ball with He Zhou, why wasn’t it buy one and get one free then?”

         “That’s different.” Gu Fei said.

         That’s different. Jiang Cheng didn’t know exactly what was different about it, but wasn’t in the mood to dig deeper.

         Gu Fei reached out a hand in front him, and placed a milk candy on his desk.

         “Just one piece?” Jiang Cheng looked at him.

         “There’s only one left, I saved it from my own mouth.” Gu Fei rummaged through his pockets. “Winter jackets have larger pockets that hold more, these days I can only carry less than 20 at a time, and I forgot to refill yesterday.”

         “And what if Er-Miao comes to you for candy today?” Jiang Cheng asked.

         “I’ll just go buy her a lollipop at the concession stand later, those 50 cents ones.” Gu Fei said.

         “So easy to please.” Jiang Cheng smiled, unwrapped the milk candy, and put it in his mouth.

         “She just likes having a sweet hardcandy to chew on, doesn’t matter if it tastes good.” Gu Fei pulled out his phone and opened the idiotic Aixiaochu. “Fuck, did Li Yan pay for a power leveler or something?”

         “Who the hell pays for a power leveler on a stupid mobile game.” Jiang Cheng said.

         “How is he ranking way above me again, wasn’t I just one level away yesterday?” Gu Fei was unwilling to concede. “Can you catch up for me at lunch?”

         “Call me ge.” Jiang Cheng said.

         “Cheng-cheng gege,” Gu Fei said in a low voice. “Help me catch up please.”

         “Alrighty.” Jiang Cheng laughed and nodded.

         Jiang Cheng maintained that he hadn’t been very affected. He didn’t have much of a relationship with Li Baoguo, so no matter how he looked at it, he shouldn’t be feeling too upset over Li Baoguo’s death.

         However, reality has proven — Jiang Cheng slumped on the desk with his eyes closed — that it wasn’t entirely true. Li Baoguo ended his life in such a way that would leave a permanent mark in a person’s mind, no matter who it was. That kind of mental stimulation isn’t something one can just get over with words like “we don’t have anything to do with each other so I don’t give a crap”. 

         Jiang Cheng wasn’t sad, nor was he in pain, but it was also true that his energy remained low throughout the whole morning. During Lao-Lu’s class, when his thunderous yelling shook the ceiling so much that it caused the drywall to flake off, and the whole class erupted in hysterical laughter, Jiang Cheng couldn’t even bother to open his eyes.

         This was the scariest way to be, mentally. It was a state of mind wherein he couldn’t gather up the energy to care about anything.

         He was most afraid of his emotions sinking to rock bottom like this; if he lost control, it would swell up and overwhelm him. After a while, it would be hard to get it back up even if he wants to.

         The last period was Lao-Lu’s class again. He spent the whole class resetting his emotions amidst Lao-Lu’s thunderous roars, and continued to pump himself up.

         By the time the bell rang, he was no longer slumped over the desk. He straightened and leaned back in his chair, took in a few deep breaths, then slowly let it out.

         It’s no big deal. Since the day he arrived in this place, there had been all sorts of irritating things and irritating people, and didn’t he resolve them all one by one? It’s no big deal. A person’s potential cannot be predicted by themself, as long as he made a start to solve the problem, then it’s no big deal at all.

         He continued to breathe in deep, and just as he took in a big breath and about to let it out, Wang Xu walked past and slammed a hand against his desk, “Let’s go go go!”

         Jiang Cheng almost ejected his pent-up breath out through his eyes. He choked and couldn’t stop coughing, “Ah fuck.”

         When they walked out the school gates, Jiang Cheng felt like his mood had at least improved quite a bit on the surface. When his phone rang, he felt a sudden tightening in his guts, but still took it out calmly and answered this call from an unknown number.

         He never saved this number, but he could guess without even using his brain that the call was from Li Hui. As he answered the phone, he had the urge to thank him for not calling during class.

         “Jiang Cheng,” Li Hui’s voice was a little hoarse, but still as aggressive as ever, as if Jiang Cheng owed him money. Going by this tone of voice alone, it was at least ten thousand yuan. “You’ve been rather carefree huh. Dad’s dead, and you haven’t come by even once? Not even to take a look?”

         “Get to the point.” Jiang Cheng’s voice had also cooled down.

         “Oyy, the point, is it? Straight to the point, huh?! You don’t have anything to do with this family anyways, so you don’t need to know anything else, right?!” Li Hui blasted out in succession.

         “If you don’t talk, then I’m hanging up.” Jiang Cheng refused to take his lead.

         “Don’t you fucking act tough with me!” Li Hui was infuriated. “Did you think just because I didn’t get you back last time that I’m afraid of you? You wanna bet I’ll get some guys to fuck you up today!?”

         “I just want to know what you’re calling me for, if you’re not gonna say it, then I’m hanging up. And if in the future you feel like telling me again, I won’t be here to listen.” Jiang Cheng’s voice was still cold. “I’ll be waiting for you to come for me, and if you can’t, you better wait for me to come for you.”

         “Fucking! You motherfuck……” Li Hui must’ve briefly run out of words to say, he erupted with a stream of profanities after that, which altogether might even be enough for an 800 characters essay.

         Jiang Cheng listened for a while to collect some vocabulary, then just as he was about to hang up, Li Hui’s voice got quieter on the other end, and a female voice carried over, “Ah, Jiang Cheng? It’s your sister-in-law, don’t listen to your brother ramble on, he’s in a bad mood.”

         Sister-in-law? Jiang Cheng had absolutely no impression of this sister-in-law, so he simply made a sound of acknowledgment. 

         “So here’s the thing, your dad’s gone, we’re all very upset over it, and you…… we can understand too. But now there’s all these matters to deal with, and all these things that need to be paid for, if you are to remove yourself from everything…… that’s not very reasonable, right?” His sister-in-law said.

         “Sis,” Jiang Cheng glanced at Gu Fei, who was dragging Wang Xu along in front of him, and slowed down his steps. “Let me say that first of all, I’m a student. I don’t have a job, or a source of income. Normally, if any family needs someone to shell out money, they’re not gonna come ask someone who’s still in high school, right? That’s just as unreasonable.”

         “Ayy buuut that’s not quite how it works……” At his words, his sis sister-in-law felt a little embarrassed, but also grew more anxious at the same time.

         “Here’s how it works with me,” Jiang Cheng cut her off. “I can pay three thousand. I was going to give it to Li Baoguo before, but didn’t have a chance to; now it can be used on his funeral affairs. However, you have to write me a receipt clearly stating how much money was received. I’m not going to ask where you’ll spend it, but this is once and done, nothing more.”

         “Ah, three thousand……” His sister-in-law hesitated, probably thinking that it was too little.

         “Whether Li Baoguo has any assets, or how much, has nothing to do with me. I won’t ask about that either.” Jiang Cheng said. “But I’m saying this right now, don’t anybody dare come bother me, you people might not be able to handle me when I’m at my worst. Once you have the receipt ready, come to my school and give me a call.”

         Jiang Cheng finished saying his part, and immediately hung up without waiting to hear the response from the other side.

         The moment he put the phone back in his pocket, he let out a long breath.

         In front of him, Gu Fei was also talking to someone on the phone. When he turned and noticed Jiang Cheng had finished with his call, he pointed at Wang Xu, then came walking back toward Jiang Cheng.

         “No but,” Wang Xu stood on the spot unhappily. “If you two have something to discuss can it at least wait till after we eat? I’m the one paying and you keep pushing me off to the side, what has this world come to!”

         “Hm?” Jiang Cheng looked at Gu Fei.

         “I have to ask him first, I can’t guarantee he’ll agree to this one, no but…… don’t they usually look for girls to be lip models? You want this big fella to put lipstick on and pose for photos…… I understand contrast, but the point is he’s not like Li Yan, he doesn’t look feminine, he’s just…… fine fine fine I’ll ask him first.” Gu Fei hung up the phone and looked at him.

         “What the heck is a lip model?” Jiang Cheng asked.

         “It’s uh, for displaying lip care products, and lipsticks and stuff.” Gu Fei said quietly. “Ding Zhuxin’s friend saw your photos, and thought your lips looked…… pretty.”

         “The fuck?” Jiang Cheng was shook as he stared at Gu Fei’s lips.

         He never really paid attention to what his own lips looked like, usually when he looked in the mirror to admire his own dashing handsome face, he liked to look at the whole picture…… But he did always think that Gu Fei’s lips were very sexy, every time he saw them he wanted to give it a kiss or a lick or maybe a bite……

         It could be the side effect from the recent spar with Li Hui, but his mood was a little all over the place at the moment. While staring at Gu Fei’s lips, he could hardly hear what Gu Fei was saying, the only thing in his head was the kind of content one could call the cops for.

         Mr. Policeman sir! That’s the guy! It’s me!

         “I want to do something big for our birthdays.” Jiang Cheng said.

         “So what they’re looking for is the visual impact, but if you don’t want to……” Gu Fei paused in the middle of his sentence, and blinked. “What?”

         “Nothing.” Jiang Cheng said. “Lip model? I’ll even be an ass model as long as you’re the one shooting.”

         “What?” Gu Fei was once again stunned.

         “Oh, it’s not ass model, it’s tush model.” Jiang Cheng said.

Some Stats

  • Raw character count: 6465
  • TL word count: 4585
  • TL time:
  • Edit: 0:49:26
  • Curse words: 9 x fucks, 1 x shits, 3x asses

TL’s Notes

Work’s been busy sorry for late orz