Chapter 173: Calculation

Old lady Liu looked like she had been slapped in the face. Her smile remained frozen on her stiff face. "You are busy with your work. I mean, when you’re free!"

"Have you eaten?"

"Not yet. I arrived early in the morning without a bite."

Wang Xifeng picked up her mobile phone. "I'll order a takeaway and we can eat together."

"You don't have to spend a lot of money. We can just have a casual meal. In rural areas, we are used to coarse tea and plain rice[1]."

Pingzi laughed, "Aunty, it's easy to order takeaways in the city. You don't even need to pick up the phone to call anyone."

"Oh, it’s so different in the city." Mrs. Liu nodded.

After Wang Xifeng ordered the takeaways, she picked up the remote control and turned on the TV to watch the rerun of the Spring Festival Gala Night. When she laughed, Mrs. Liu followed along, pointing at the TV from time to time and saying that the small-time actor had acted for many years. Wang Xifeng ignored her.

Dog Egg came out of the bathroom and Pingzi beckoned him to come over. She grabbed a handful of small lollies from the sugar box to give him. Although the atmosphere was full of awkwardness and embarrassment, Pingzi’s actions made the young Dog Egg feel like this Sister Pingzi was a good person.

After a while, someone knocked on the door. Old lady Liu was so frightened that she quickly got up from her little foldable chair. Pingzi smiled and motioned for her to sit down. "Aunty, it's the takeaways."

"Oh!"

Pingzi brought in the takeaways and greeted everyone for lunch.

The takeaways consisted of an oversized box and a few small boxes of rice. When they opened it to take a look, it was a fragrant grilled fish topped off with red peppers. Old lady Liu said, "Oh, I can’t eat things this spicy. My throat can’t handle it.”

"It's okay, it only looks spicy." Wang Xifeng clipped some meat on the back of the fish with her chopsticks while she kept her eyes on the TV.

Pingzi clipped a piece of meat and gave it to Dog Egg, who thanked her in a small voice. He suddenly spit it out of his mouth and whispered something to old lady Liu. Old lady Liu quickly put down her chopsticks and quickly put her hands up in prayer.

Wang Xifeng glanced in disgust at the bit of fish spat on the coffee table. She asked stiffly, "What? Don't like it?"

Old lady Liu said, "We don't eat black fish. Black fish is filial to the monks. If we eat it, we will suffer."

Wang Xifeng's revulsion rose to the extreme. "I wouldn't have bought such a big thing if it weren't for four people eating it."

Pingzi added, "That's all superstition. Why wouldn’t you be able to eat it? We often eat it and we’re still here."

Old lady Liu smiled and said, "It's all right, I will just eat some pepper."

Wang Xifeng said, "What would that look like? You can eat with peace of mind. It's really okay."

Pingzi said, "We usually eat it as well and we’re all good... Child, you eat it!"

Dog Egg shook his head and old lady Liu couldn't hold herself together anymore. She nudged Dog Egg with her elbow and said, "Eat it. Don't bother other people."

"Hey!" Dog Egg raised his face in disbelief at the old lady’s “rebellion”.

"Look, I’m eating it too." Old lady Liu took a piece and ate it.

"Eat up, eat up!" Pingzi urged.

Dog Egg took a bite in silence and felt a wave of unpleasantness in his mouth. The fish in his mouth tasted as if he were chewing wax.

Wang Xifeng smiled for the first time as if she had just won. "That's right. What kind of era are we living in? You’re still living with feudal superstition?"

The meal was not very pleasant. The toothless Old Lady Liu kept making faces as she had some chili peels stuck in her throat and uvula halfway through the meal. She ran to the bathroom to cough. She coughed out a lot of yellow and thick phlegm straight into the toilet. The sound of it hitting the water was so crisp that Wang Xifeng had no appetite when she heard it.

She dropped her chopsticks, lit a menthol cigarette, and ignored the low coughs of Dog Egg. "How long do you plan to stay here?"

"We’ll head back tomorrow and take the morning bus," replied Old lady Liu.

"There’s no place for you here. Should I take you to a hostel?"

"No need, no need to waste money. It’s just one night. We can stay on the sofa.”

Wang Xifeng turned her head around and rolled her eyes. Pingzi mediated, "The hostel doesn’t cost a lot of money."

"Then... Okay then!"

After eating this lunch at 3PM, Wang Xifeng packed all the boxes into a bag, wiped the coffee table with a piece of tissue paper, tied the bag up and chucked it outside the door.

Pingzi usually took out a bottle of health vinegar[2] to drink after her meals. Wang Xifeng came over and whispered, "Don’t drink it today. If you drink it, they’ll do the same. It’s dozens of yuan per bottle! You should put away the pistachios and pecan nuts on the table. Just give them some melon seeds.”

"When will they stay until?"

"Who knows? Maybe after dinner... These poor relatives are really troublesome!"

"Who hasn't had a few poor relatives?"

Pingzi went to the kitchen and poured a glass of water for herself. Wang Xifeng saw that Mrs. Liu was sitting on the small foldable chair next to the coffee table the whole time and suggested, "Why don’t you sit on the sofa?"

"I’m afraid I’ll dirty it." Old lady Liu responded with a smile.

Wang Xifeng said, "We’re family. What are you afraid of? Come here. You can sit here and watch TV!"

"Pardon me then."

Old lady Liu sat on the sofa and the soft texture startled her. After all the bustling about in the morning, having just finished some food, and also because Wang Xifeng's voice was like a lullaby, sleepiness overcame her. At the beginning, she tried to fight her sleepiness off. However, after listening to a few words from a TV program’s review segment, she couldn’t help but fall asleep.

Wang Xifeng, who was watching TV, heard a low snoring sound next to her, and glanced at the sleeping old lady Liu. The disgust on her face could not be more obvious.

A loud noise came out of the bedroom. Wang Xifeng jumped up and rushed into the bedroom to see what happened. It turned out that Dog Egg had broken a small ceramic ornament. Dog Egg looked downcast and did not say a word.

"Fuck, you uneducated boy. When did you come in?! Who allowed you to come in?! Huh?! Speak! You’re not even going to say sorry even though you broke something? You really have no manners!" Wang Xifeng poked at Dog Egg’s forehead. Dog Egg was poked so much that he staggered and his cheeks became even redder.

Pingzi heard the noises and ran in. "What's going on?"

"Why don’t you see what's going on?" Then, Wang Xifeng fired off at Dog Egg in a vicious voice, "Get lost!"

Dog Egg went away depressed. Pingzi saw the debris on the ground and comforted Wang Xifeng, "It's not worth much. Why be so angry?"

"My things are broken! How can I not be angry? I hate people entering my room the most."

"That depends on who it is though?" Pingzi hinted with a smile.

Wang Xifeng was obviously not in the mood to joke right now. She cursed, "Shut your fucking mouth!"

"Grandma, grandma!" Dog Egg was outside trying to wake old lady Liu while Pingzi's eyes rolled. "Did you not break an antique of your brother-in-law’s a few days ago?"

"So?"

"Just say it was done by the wild boy and ask them to pay for it."

"They’re poor like that. How could they afford it?" Wang Xifeng sneered.

"If they can't afford it, just tell them to go. I can’t even use the treadmill in the living room."

"That's a good idea."

After setting up the scene, old lady Liu happened to come in with Dog Egg and said, "What's the matter, Xifeng? The child broke something of yours? How much does it cost? We’ll pay for it!”

Wang Xifeng looked at the debris on the ground and said, "Compensation? Can you afford it? This is an antique bought by my husband worth hundreds of thousands!"

Old lady Liu was frightened by this number and slapped Dog Egg's face. "What's wrong with you? I told you not to touch or bump into anything carelessly! Now look!”

Dog Egg looked like he had been very wronged. When he looked at the debris on the ground properly, he said, "I didn't break this one."

"Still lying?" Old lady Liu got even more angry and slapped him again.

1. Very plain and simple meals 

2. A drink that supposedly makes you healthier. Kind of like a little bottle of your vitamins. 

Previous Chapter Next Chapter