Chapter 494: The faces of all beings
“In my thirties, I grew to live like what you are seeing now,” Old Jin said, “As for the current you, you still do not know what you live for and how to live. So, I say that you have still yet to see yourself. You’re still living beneath the sights and expectations of others...there’s still time, though. No rush.”
The topic of Xu Tingsheng ended there.
“As for the two of you,” Old Jin turned to look at Huang Yaming, “When sitting downstairs just now, I was actually thinking if I should cold-heartedly watch on as you are swallowed whole and eaten alive or do a little something...”
The answer to this question was obvious. Had it been the former, he definitely wouldn’t be here right now, saying these words.
“Did you really think tonight was just a drinking party, to see whether the bar is good and worth investing in? Do you really think that people who can secure their foundations in a place like Binzhou are just a bunch of rough, reckless men? Let me tell you, we actually would invest in you for sure without even having to come to Yanzhou. What we truly prize is your foundation, a large part of this being Xu Tingsheng.”
“We want to borrow your foundation to pave the way for us, because this is something we lack.”
“The main reason we came was to see whether you are easy to deal with...after tonight, at least ten of the twelve will have concluded that you’re easy prey. After the path has been paved, we’ll gobble you up. We’ve already gobbled up countless people who came to invest in Binzhou’s mining industry. We have once treated every one of them as bros, giving them our fullest assistance…”
This was directed towards Huang Yaming.
"How many franchises and how much dough did you talk about with Twelve and the rest earlier?”
“Twenty franchises, three hundred million.”
“Do you really think that the money of people like us is so easy to take?”
“I know it isn’t easy.”
“What are you being so anxious for then?”‘
“I want to...stake a bet on it. If it succeeds, it’ll be able to save me many years of time.”
“Are you really lacking of time? You’ve already made it this far in your early twenties. With Xu Tingsheng as your foundation, your future ahead is smooth sailing, with countless chances. Why do you have to stake a bet? ...You read it in a book? Heard some twisted principles?”
Huang Yaming was rendered speechless because he really could not give a reason. Where did such a mentality originate from? It seemed like a worldview that had unknowingly been imparted to many within society. In life, a few rare opportunities will come within grasp. Life is a series of gamble after gamble. How invigorating and stimulating that sounded…
“Do you know anything about management? Twenty franchises?”
“Do you have sufficient trustworthy people you can rely on?”
“Financial power, strength, methods-in which area can you stand against the likes of us?”
“You are still in the stage of accumulating experience. If you had totally no foundation in life whatsoever, I wouldn’t mind if you staked a bet. But now, since you have a foundation, you shouldn’t bet it all on one thing. Whatever you do now, you should do so stably such that it guarantees that you can extricate yourself and make a comeback. The aspect I acknowledge you for exceeding Xu Tingsheng in is that you are more ambitious than him. Still, you must know the extent of the universe around you and your own limits within it.”
Huang Yaming closed his eyes and pondered on it for a while. He seemed worried while unwilling to give it up too.
“Do you know what the sole rule of the Binzhou Thirty unit is?” Old Jin suddenly asked.
Then, he answered his own question, “Not to let outsiders know of our inside conflicts.”
The trio knew full well that these men lived in a lawless grey area. Still, that this overt, unconcealed rule was the sole rule still took all of them by surprise.
“What do you lot think of Twenty-seven?” Old Jin eased down somewhat and asked.
“His vibe feels different than the rest of you. A bit gentle and refined,” Tan Yao said.
“From how he acted towards Tongtong, he felt pretty sincere, and pretty magnanimous too,” Xu Tingsheng added.
Old Jin looked at them, “Did your minds ever suddenly try to look at it from another perspective? If he really is such a person as you believe, how could he have gained stable footing in Binzhou and rise to this position at such a young age?”
The trio exchanged looks. All of them including Xu Tingsheng had naturally gained high opinions of Twenty-seven earlier, gaining goodwill for him that was inferior only to Old Jin out of everyone present. They had felt that they could get closer to him.
Their minds...not having been reminded, they had indeed not come to change their perspective and consider such a question.
“We call him ‘devil’ in private. He rose from the bed of his godfather…”
The first description already left everyone shivering in disgust.
“Afterwards, when his godfather happened to enter a mine for once, the mine collapsed. He married his godsister and looked after his godmother...three years later, these two women suddenly applied for emigration. Afterwards, nobody ever saw or heard from them again…”
“He’s sick towards women. There are women who died on his bed before and were buried in the mines.”
“He’s sick towards other people too...it’s just that not that many people know about it.”
“Why did he set his sights on Tongtong? Maybe there really are some feelings involved, like him liking her in that way...more importantly, though, he might already have judged from observation that if he controls this woman, it’ll be useful whether to get closer to or threaten Xu Tingsheng in the future. He wasn’t wrong, was he?”
Xu Tingsheng nodded. In some sense, Tongtong could even be considered as having saved his life before, hence her importance to him.
“When the benefits are sufficiently high, one’s determination will also be sufficiently great. That’s why he is able to lower his posture and slowly work at it even after being rejected.”
The trio broke out in a cold sweat, becoming sorely sober all at once.
“I was still feeling a little regretful for Tongtong earlier, thinking that since it’s impossible between her and Tingsheng anyway, she should be considered lucky having met such a man. It would be a real pity to miss out on this…” Tan Yao slowly murmured aloud.
“Try one, the one at Shenghai. You do it with them,” Old Jin told Huang Yaming.
Huang Yaming forcefully shook his head, “Still work together? With a bunch of devils? No game, not playing.”
“If you never play with devils, how can you grow your experience? If the price is within controllable limits, take it as an experience. Henceforth, I won’t be giving you any further reminders whatsoever or helping you out in any way...you learn on your own,” Old Jin said.
Huang Yaming hesitated for a while. Finally, he nodded.
“Send me to the hotel, Tingsheng,” Old Jin got up and said.
Xu Tingsheng got up after him.
Reaching the doorway, Old Jin suddenly looked back and enquired, “Right, how do you lot see me?”
What was the trio to say to that? He was Old Jin, but he was also Jin Twenty-four. Throughout the entire conversation, he had unabashedly been saying ‘us’...he was one of those devils too.
“People have ten faces. One of my faces is the terrifying guardian deity, yet benevolent as the bodhisatta. That’s for my son and wife. One of my faces is humanity, that which I leave for myself. You saw that earlier. The remaining eight faces are Yamaraja, the lord of death.”
On the way to the hotel.
“Do you know why I was willing to tell Huang Yaming all this?” Old Jin suddenly asked Xu Tingsheng.
Xu Tingsheng shook his head.
“The two of your personalities make up for what each other lack. He’s the only one I’ve seen by your side who can become a wolf or tiger. I fear his fangs might be broken before he can reach that state. While it’s convenient, I’ll help you to rear him a bit, tame him a little...I know that you won’t agree with the words that I’m using. No need to say anything, I don’t need your approval.”
They drove on for a while more.
“Also, if the day comes in the future when it’s necessary, you support your nephew once. Just once is fine.”
After sending Old Jin back to the hotel, Xu Tingsheng sent Tongtong home.
The semi-drunken Tongtong pointed out the path and took out her keys to open the door.
It was a very small rented apartment.
Xu Tingsheng helped her onto the bed. He inadvertently glanced and saw that from the ceiling was hung a small bottle of perfume...Xu Tingsheng had bought that in batches from a street stall in Nice.
Being hung there, one would see it first thing in the morning when they opened their eyes. Once in a while, when the rays of the sun penetrated through the window and illuminated it, it might be very special, very beautiful, as though it was not just one of many mass produced goods.
Tongtong vomited a few times. Xu Tingsheng helped clear it up, pour water, wring towels.
As he was in the midst of walking off.
“I rejected that person today. Do you think that’s a good thing?” Tongtong asked from behind him.
Had he not heard Old Jin’s words earlier, Xu Tingsheng would actually not be able to answer this question. Still, now that he had, having suffered that bone-piercing disgust, Xu Tingsheng could only feel fortunate with regard to Tongtong’s earlier choice.
“Yes,” He blurted out.
“Mm,” Tongtong responded.
Carrying that basin while walking out, Xu Tingsheng did not know just how happy he had made that person behind him just because of a single ‘yes’.
He took care of everything and left Tongtong ready to sleep.
When Xu Tingsheng was once again about to head out…
“Are you leaving?” Tongtong asked.
Xu Tingsheng looked at his watch and said, “It’s past 4am. I’ll lie on your deck chair outside for a while and leave at daylight. Call me if there’s anything.”
Tongtong hesitated for a bit and nodded.
Xu Tingsheng lay on the chair, thinking back on what Old Jin had said that night...
Tongtong was struggling.
Perhaps it was because Xu Tingsheng had decided to leave some room for her thoughts to run wild, or perhaps it was that ‘yes’ which gave her a bit of confidence.
“I don’t want much...I’m drunk, I will...be brazen for once…”
“But, I’m so smelly.”
The door opened, footsteps resounded.
“What is it?” Xu Tingsheng looked over and asked.
“I, I want to take a bath. I’m very smelly,” Tongtong said nervously, her head lowered.
“Can you do it? I mean, you’re still drunk,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“It’s fine. I’m much more sober now.”
As that water drenched down upon her, Tongtong scrubbed herself very forcefully, desiring to wash herself squeaky clean, for just once at least...she washed for a long time, did it so very forcefully, finishing off an entire bottle of soap…
She washed herself over and over.
Memories of the past, from when her first time was bought away by that Bureau Chief with eighty-eight thousand yuan...face after wretched face unceasingly appeared, unceasingly reminding her…
She squatted down.
“I’ll never ever be able to wash myself clean...Xu Tingsheng.”
The water was still gushing down upon her. Thus, it was hard to tell if there were any tears.
She never did do, never did try anything in the end. Tongtong finished her bath, put on her clothes, quietly passed through the living room while simply acknowledging Xu Tingsheng. Finally, she returned to her room to sleep.
Xu Tingsheng went out to buy breakfast and returned.
As they were eating, Xu Tingsheng asked Tongtong, “Why’re you still renting a flat? What about that two hundred thousand I gave you? I remember I told you to pay the downpayment for a flat with it.”
Tongtong hesitated for a time before replying, “I gave my parents a hundred thousand in the beginning. They said it was to build a house in our hometown. Then, my elder brother came. Our family wanted him to get a wife, so he took away sixty thousand.”
“So, is the house built? Did you get a sister-in-law?” Xu Tingsheng questioned exasperatedly.
Tongtong timidly shook her head.
“You couldn’t save enough with your wages too?” Xu Tingsheng knew that Tongtong’s current wages were not low, and yet she was still living in such a small rented apartment.
In that case, her wages definitely weren’t with her. That druggie elder brother was a bottomless pit.
Tongtong dared not answer.
“You still have forty thousand left?”
“Thirty thousand plus…”
“Return it to me.”
Tongtong obediently took out the remainder of the sum.
Xu Tingsheng drove her to withdraw the remaining money and went to a housing intermediary.
He got Tongtong to wait in the car. When accompanying Fu Cheng to look for a flat previously, they had almost decided on a second-hand flat but ultimately given up on it because it was far away from Fang Yunyao’s workplace.
This flat suited Tongtong very well. Additionally, there was also a lot of room for its value to rise.
Xu Tingsheng quickly completed the procedures.
“Of your thirty thousand plus, there’s only a thousand remaining. It’s enough for you to eat before you get your paycheck. As for the remainder, I’ve helped you out with the rest of the downpayment...so, you’ve got to pay for your own flat in the future. I only applied for five years for your housing loan...meaning that in the future, you won’t have much money left every month after paying the installment for your flat. You won’t have any left to give away to other people.”
“No yous. Let’s go take a look at your flat.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter