Chapter 1: Mutton Skewer Seller
In the evening, in the farmers’ market located in the west region of Zhong Hai city, there were numerous noisy pedestrians and vehicles indifferently passing through. Vegetable leaves and dirty water were strewn all over the ground. There was an enormous amount of different fading store signboards, and occasionally there would be some single-colored neon lights lit up. There were workers returning home, children that finished school, elderly buying groceries, and the many different travel-worn passersby, causing the gray dusty sky to seem more and more depressing.
Perhaps within a metropolitan city like this, such a region was the stain that people looked down upon the most, a region they wished never existed.
By a wall next to an intersection, was a man who was leisurely and contentedly doing what others viewed as shameful.
This was a young man covered in oil and grime, selling mutton skewers. He was sporting a white vest, coffee-colored pants, and a pair of stiff blue plastic slippers.
The young man’s hair was messy, but had a rather mature and handsome face, if one took a closer look, one would notice this was a man with backbone. It’s a pity that no matter how he looked, the ladies walking along the street wouldn’t even pay him a glance, because, he was just a mutton skewers seller.
The young man placed the mutton skewers he just cooked to the side. With the hot weather, grilling was easy but selling was hard. 50 cents for two skewers was considered cheap, but after a whole day, he only earned a little over 10 dollars, barely enough to have 2 meals.
However, the young man didn’t seem to be dejected by this, he instead had a relaxed and satisfied expression. He sat down on his stool, looking towards the crowded street, as if such a view was the prettiest scenery.
“Old Li, it’s about time you paid for what you agreed upon 2 days ago!” A high-pitched male voice suddenly appeared from the side.
The 3 approaching males didn’t look above 20 and were dressed like gangsters, with upright hair, silver chains, holey jeans, scraggy faces, and a cigarette in their mouths.
OId Li was a peddler selling deep-fried snacks right beside the young man. Similarly, due to the hot weather he didn’t have much business and was on his seat with a worried expression.
“This…….” Old Li showed a bitter face, “My Young Master, please be patient. With this hot weather, how am I able to pay without any business……”
“Listen here Old Li, don’t take a yard after being given an inch. If it wasn’t for big bro Feng protecting you, this stall of yours would’ve been wrecked long ago.” A henchman said in a threatening, yet flattering way.
The hooligan called big bro Feng seemed extremely pleased, he patted his henchman, and said, “Today’s protection fee, you can choose to pay or you can choose not to pay. I must get the money either way. Otherwise, I will wreck your stall now!” with that said, he picked up a skewer of sausage, took two big bites and threw the remainder on the ground.
Old Li was stuck without a way out and tightly gripped the small stack of notes in his pocket, considering whether or not to spend it like that. The money was meant for his wife to see a doctor, how could he bear to use it as a “present” for these rascals!?
“I’ll pay for him.” The man from the mutton skewers stall suddenly walked over, and fished out a few notes from his pocket, not even amounting to 100 dollars. He handed it over and indifferently said: “This is all I have, Old Li is getting on in years and urgently needs money, you guys should accumulate some good karma.”
The little hoodlum squinted his eyes and laughed, then took the notes and passed it to his henchman behind, “Yang Chen, you want to pretend to be a good person, but you haven’t paid your own protection fee!”
Yang Chen creased his eyebrows, lamenting in his heart about why these fellas were not properly studying at their age. Why be a hoodlum, but as he wasn’t their father, it wasn’t his position to say anything. He also didn’t want to stir up trouble, so he dully said: “Tomorrow, I will pay tomorrow.”
“Good, I’m not an unsympathetic person, everybody should cooperate. I protect your businesses and you pay me money as a matter of fact…… I will come tomorrow to collect then.” After speaking, the little hoodlum and his two henchmen strutted towards other stalls, bringing them grief.
The eyes of Old Li had already reddened, he bitterly looked towards Yang Chen, “Little Yang, why do you trouble yourself? You are always helping me pay those thugs, how can I let this go on….”
“Old Li, don’t say such a thing. When I just arrived and wasn’t used to life here, I probably wouldn’t even have a friend to talk to, if it wasn’t for you. You are my benefactor, and this is my way of repaying you.”
“You kid….. What should I say to you…..” Old Li seemed to understand that he couldn’t convince Yang Chen and could only sigh.
Yang Chen didn’t mind and laughed, it was a dull yet sincere laugh. As if the extortion earlier didn’t affect his mood, “By the way, how is your wife’s illness?”
Old Li’s eyes were filled with gratitude, “It’s all thanks to you for giving me the money to have an operation for my wife. Right now she only needs to go for a few more check-ups, take some medicine and then she’ll be fine.”
“Oh, that’s great! I wish her an early recovery.” Yang Chen satisfyingly nodded.
Old Li gave a bitter laugh, “Little Yang, the money you lent me will definitely be returned, if I’m unable to return everything before I die, my daughter will carry on the debt…… Alas, if it wasn’t for me, that 100,000 dollars of yours can definitely be used to open a nice shop. You wouldn’t need to come here and sell mutton skewers, and wouldn’t need to endure those hoodlum’s torment.”
Yang Chen curled his lips, “I somewhat enjoy such a way of life, selling mutton skewers isn’t bad, it is simple yet able provide enough for meals.”
“You are too……” Old Li was a little depressed as he said, “Little Yang, you are only 23 or 24 years old, other youngsters of your age are either studying in university, or diligently trying to build a career. Right now you don’t even have a girlfriend, are you planning to sell mutton skewers forever? You aren’t worried, but I feel worried as I watch you.”
Seeing Old Li genuinely express worry for himself, Yang Chen unconsciously revealed a slightly bitter expression, it’s not that he was not worried, he just never thought about it at all.
After the night fell, Yang Chen tidied his stall, and pushed the cart back to the crappy apartment he rented.
This was a small apartment that has been around for who knows how many years. The rent for each month was only 100 dollars. It’s only because nobody wanted to live here that it was this cheap. Unlike other people who worried about the house falling apart, Yang Chen decided to move in the moment he saw how cheap it was.
Yang Chen’s house had very simple furnishing, it was mostly second hand goods others dumped away. There was a bed, a cabinet, a chair, and a TV that could only watch some basic channels.
After pushing the small cart into his small house, Yang Chen gazed upon the calendar hanging on the wall. He checked the date, suddenly remembered something, and promptly ran to the toilet.
In less than 5 minutes, he took a cold shower, and got out of the bathroom naked. His skin was a healthy yellow colour, his well-proportioned body wasn’t very conspicuous, but under careful observation, one could perceive a reserved feeling of masculinity.
Walking towards the cabinet beside the bed, Yang Chen scratched his head in distress while looking at the pile of disorderly clothes. He picked out a few and finally put on a yellow shirt, a pair of light linen pants, and wore the same plastic slippers.
After leaving his house, Yang Chen hurried towards the west region’s most prosperous street, which was also the shabby west region’s only respectable street, named “Bar Street”.
The nightlife of feasting and pleasure-seeking was all around, there were colorful skirts, and all sorts of different perfumes. The moment one entered Bar Street, the city’s atmosphere swept through.
Yang Chen didn’t openly stare like some undisguised and unscrupulous young men, and also didn’t secretly peep at the thighs of beautiful ladies on the street that the others were drooling at.
The bar’s neon lit signboard wasn’t considered dazzling, the bar that could only be considered mid-sized contained a mysterious air, brilliantly colored rose shaped lights were decorated on the signboard.
After entering the bar, Yang Chen walked to the side of the counter in a routine manner, and sat at a corner.
“Big bro Chen, you’re here.” The young bartender wearing a vest noticed Yang Chen, and revealed a warm smile. At the same time, he brought out a cup of water, “Big sis Rose has been waiting for you for a long time.”
Yang Chen gave him a smile, then took a sip from the glass, “Big sis Rose isn’t angry right? I returned home a little late, so I arrived late.”
“Not angry, not angry.” Little Zhao smiled, it was as if the few pimples on his round face were smiling at him as well. With an imploring tone he said: “Big bro Chen, when you have time please teach me. What sort of method did you use that you even managed to pick up our big sis Rose? You know, if the people in Zhong Hai who were interested in our boss made a queue, they could queue from the west region till the sea. For so many years I’ve never seen the boss so in love with any other man. Yet today, just the question of whether you’re here yet, had been asked no less than 5 times…….”
“Don’t speak drivel, there’s nothing going on between me and big sis Rose…..” Yang Chen helplessly, and unenthusiastically replied.
Little Zhao had an expression of ‘I won’t believe that even if you kill me’, then sighed, “Geez…… big bro Chen, to be honest, this cold demeanor of yours is too high level, to be able to pick up a world-breaking beauty like our lady boss. Which man wouldn’t stick to her everyday? There’s only you, who comes only once in a while and even lets a beauty wait for you. Otherwise why do people say that things that you cannot obtain are the best? This sentence is suited to be used on women…..”
Right as little Zhao had an expression of a saint at romance and exaggeration, a charming yet dignified and intelligent voice appeared behind him, “Little Zhao, how many more times do you think your pay can get cut?”
As if he was shocked by an electric current, Little Zhao was dumbfounded. Once he returned to his senses, he immediately sidestepped and pretended to mix drinks, as if nothing happened, but the cold sweat on his forehead gave away the fear in his heart.
With an elegant modern qipao, her thighs were vaguely displayed through the slit to the side of her leg which released an arousing sex appeal. In addition her plump breasts, and an exquisite waist matched well with that smooth porcelain-like face that looked like a meticulous piece of art. On her shoulder were strands of light purple hair. This was a young lady with an appearance like she came out from a painting, as she leisurely walked towards Yang Chen.
[ED: Qipao – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheongsam]
Yang Chen smiled with both his face and eyes, looking right at the lady without a trace of awkwardness, and sincerely said, “Big sis Rose, you’re really pretty, happy birthday.”