He Chusan deliberately wore a mask and clattered down the stairs. A frequenter who came for an appointment was waiting in the shop downstairs for his dad’s operation. The frequenter asked indistinctly with cotton in his mouth, “A-san? You didn’t go to school today?”
“He got a cold and is resting at home, he-he!” Dentist He cooperated with his son wearing a mask hurriedly. He didn’t want to open the clinic today since he was absolutely terrified and they had hidden a great Buddha*1 in their home, but He Chusan thought that a sudden rest would make people doubt. The dad and son cleaned the bloodstain in the shop when it was still early, and allowed the clinic to remain open for customers.
He Chusan greeted the random sir with a raucous cough and went out in a hurry. He turned to the Fat Sis Snack Shop next door and bought a huge bowl of curry beef entrails and carried it back while it was hot.
“You eat beef entrails while having a cold?” The frequenter asked with the cotton.
“How could you not eat beef entrails during a cold! The beef entrails supplies qi and brings nutrients to your blood. It’s the best among meats!” Dentist He said hurriedly.
How can beef entrails be meat? He Chusan glanced at his dad speechlessly, thinking to himself that he was too nervous and would definitely goof.
Dentist He was actually so nervous that the only thing he hadn't done, was rushing to the street, beating drums, and shouting “There’s absolutely no one hiding on the first floor of my home.” Jittery and sending his son carrying the beef entrails upstairs, he thought to himself that the breath he held could have pricked a hole in his lung.
He Chusan held Xia Liuyi up for the beef entrails. Xia Liuyi’s back was covered by knife wounds. He leaned on the wall twistedly with the arm that hadn’t been shot. He had no expression but ate. He Chusan squatted back down to study.
Sucking and puffing, Xia Liuyi finished a whole bowl of beef entrails in a few seconds. As if he had finally started recovering, he had a long exhalation. He leaned on the wall and stayed absent-minded for a while, then suddenly said, “Water.”
He Chusan poured a big glass of water for him and supported him to finish it. The lord spoke again. “Cigarettes.”
This time, He Chusan shook his head, “There’s no cigarette. You are hurt and you can’t smoke.”
“F*ck!” Said Xia Liuyi, “Cigarettes!”
He could only watch as this f*cking Indi*n a-sir show such pride, sitting back to continue reading with his neck stiff and straight, totally ignoring him.
Xia Liuyi glared for a while and felt bored, so he leaned back on the wall and continued being absent-minded. The two people respectively remained silent and unexpectedly spent a morning peacefully in this way.
When it was noon, He Chusan closed his book and stood up to stretch his body. He then asked Xia Liuyi, “Do you wanna eat something?”
He Chusan found the “paycheck” that Xia Liuyi previously gave him from the little iron box, clattered downstairs and bought him three entire bowls of beef entrails. The Fat Sis began to wonder if there happened to be a pack of “white flour” falling into her beef entrails pot, or how else could it be so addictive.
Xia Liuyi observed the room while eating the beef entrails. This was a little room, less than ten square meters. Basically, besides the bed, there was simply a big chair, a small short chair, and a bookshelf in the corner. The curtain, washed clean and white, was closed. He couldn’t see how it was outside.
The bookshelf, the head of bed, and the floor were densely covered with books. Most of them were yellow and old, and seemed to be picked up from old-book stalls. Besides them were some big books, looking new and delicate.
He Chusan tidily put the big books that he borrowed from the school library back into his little broken backpack. He then put a big bowl onto the chair that was used as a table. In the bowl, there was rice, two thin slices of char siu*2 and a fried egg.
“Hey,” Xia Liuyi showed him the rest of the bowl of beef entrails, “I don’t wanna eat anymore.”
He Chusan walked closer and poured the beef entrails into his own bowl. He mixed the soup and began sucking and puffing his meal.
He finished this rare big meal and went downstairs to the big water tank. He scooped out half a spoon of water and cleaned the bowl and chopsticks carefully. Then, he went back to the first floor. Xia Liuyi still had a lifeless look.
He Chusan couldn’t help asking, “Is there anyone after you? What did you do?”
Xia Liuyi didn’t even look at him and gave a brief reply: “None of your cr*p.”
He still had the terrible manners of the triad! He Chusan obediently shut the cr*p up and prepared his backpack. He went to the school with his mask.
Xia Liuyi dawdled at He Chusan’s home with a blank expression for three more days. Besides “beef entrails”, “fish balls”, “rice noodle rolls”, “phoenix claws”, “crab roe bao”, and “F*ck you! Cigarettes!”, he said nothing.
On the third night, Dentist He finished his work and closed the clinic. He went upstairs to change the bandage dressing. He expressed extreme anger and disapproval towards the food bags, bamboo sticks, and all kinds of food wreckage that piled in the room, “He merely ate beef entrails for these days?! What’s this, curry fish ball? He even ate spicy food?! Unreasonable, unreasonable! Did he have the medical soup yesterday?”
He Chusan looked honest, “No, he disliked the bitterness and made me pour it away.”
Doctors’ hearts are just like those of the parents. Dentist He’s anger broke out. He hit He Chusan’s front head hard in front of Xia Liuyi and scolded, “You only reviewed the books. Will you just follow everything he says? A punk isn’t educated, but aren’t you? You brought this person back. If he died this way, where are you gonna throw him? Let him become smelly at home?”
Xia Liuyi was laying there for a nap, and became annoyed and cussed. He lifted his hands with difficulty to cover his ears, but his chin was abruptly pinched by the Dentist He, who had rushed to him.
He opened his eyes wide. Dentist He proficiently dug his finger in and forced his mouth open! His fingers pricked in and pinched, and he lifted this mafia big boss’s tongue out. He commented to He Chusan, “Look, you see? The tongue coating is too thick and it’s white with yellow in it. His liver*3 is too hot and he lacks qi and blood, and neither has enough nutrients. And these teeth, tsk-tsk! How dirty they are! It’s all dental plaque!”
He Chusan immediately reported, “He hasn’t rinsed his mouth these days!”
Dentist He parted his hands and forcibly exposed Xia Liuyi’s tusks, “These days?! How can this be caused by a few days! He must have always gone to bed without brushing his teeth after eating! Look at these back teeth. His roots were almost decayed! Tsk-tsk!”
While shaking his head in exclamation, he moved the broken fanny pack behind his butt to the front, “Press him down. I really can’t bear such a mouth of teeth. Let me do something for him.”
“Uhhh……”Xia Liuyi tried his best to rebel, but his tongue was pinched and whatever he did, he couldn’t pull it back.
He was greatly angered. As he intended to get up to jump away, the little Indi*n a-sir climbed up swiftly. He carefully obeyed his dad’s instructions and wrapped Xia Liuyi like a baguette with the sheet in a moment. He rolled him around! And sat on his waist!
“Uhhh! Uhhhh --!!!”
An hour later, Dentist He hissed and hustled downstairs with a few tar black teeth. Xia Liuyi’s mouth was filled with poor-quality cotton. His own saliva covered his neck. He lay on his stomach in bed in a miserable situation, and couldn’t even believe that he himself had encountered such a bully!
Sadly and angrily, he punched the bedpan. The corner of his sight was captured by He Chusan, who had his back facing him and was pretending to review, but was also bowing his waist and kept shaking his shoulders.
As Xia Liuyi wanted to cuss out, a great amount of saliva came out again.
F*ck, laugh! Xia Liuyi dug his fingers into the sheet and thought with hatred. Puk gaai! Pretending,silly brat, secret snitch. You just wait to joke with me! When I can move, I have a lot to play with you!
He Chusan even laughed his tears out. He wiped them in secret and stood up seriously, “I’ll make some soup. Daddy said that you can only have soup and congee from now on.”
Xia Liuyi punched the bedpan again with hatred. A tiger getting down to level ground eats dog food!*4
He was teased by the united pair of father and son. As if anger revived him, he abandoned the corpse-like depressing aura and became detestful and homicidal. However, he was heavily hurt, and not to mention a knife, he couldn’t even lift up the chopsticks. Both sides of his cheek were rammed by cotton. His new teeth were stuck in it as if it were stuck in a cactus. Every move was painful and he couldn’t even curse anything out. There was little fight left for him. The people of Xiao Qi Tong searched for him in the big and small alleys in Snapdragon Walled City every day. Sometimes he could even hear the distant yell of hatchet men outside of the windows. He was too feeble to go out and kill his enemy for himself, so he could only put these hatreds and rage onto He Chusan – killing this Indi*n a-sir with his eye knives thousands of times over every day.
He Chusan had steeled himself with the struggles and his mind became stronger and stronger. He showed complete ignorance to this sight, which could terrify common people into defecating. Moreover, when he tended to Xia Liuyi’s wounds, helping clean the body and changing the dressing, he even managed to order Xia Liuyi around.
“Boss Liuyi, could you lift up your hand?”
“Boss Liuyi, let’s turn your body.”
“Boss Liuyi, spread your legs for a bit. I can’t clean in between your butt. Do you need me to clean the front?”
“Boss Liuyi, could you get up and pee? I’m going to school now and if not, you will have to wait until night.”
Xia Liuyi. “……”
Xia Liuyi scratched the bed every day, and there were holes all over the sheet.
People who lived on the small street were basically good citizens who made a living with their skills. Along the sides of the alleyway, there were only a few certificateless clinics, some snack shops, and raw meat shops. After ten PM, the trace of human activity diminished and it became silent. The curtain was black without light, and the room was tar black as well.
Xia Liuyi rolled his body with a little difficulty on the iron bed. Supported by his elbow on the bed, he sat up, and then stretched his legs with effort, before he kicked He Chusan who was sleeping on the ground.
He Chusan sat up dizzily, “Boss Liuyi?”
“Is there a platform on the top floor?” Said Xia Liuyi. The cotton in his mouth had already been removed, and besides the unfamiliar feeling that came when he spoke, it had basically recovered.
He Chusan supported Xia Liuyi. They went out sneakily. Rubbing the oily walls of the narrow passageway, they went to the roof step by step. There was little sunshine these days, and on the narrow and cramped rooftop, there was only a lonely sheet fluttering.
“There’s a sharp iron pole, watch out,” He Chusan warned and supported Xia Liuyi while crossing the sheet, and sat by the side of the rooftop.
This small tang lau only had about five floors. It was surrounded by a few tall buildings and its view was like the sight of a frog down a well. From the spaces between the buildings, the bustling Tsim Sha Tsui district faraway could barely be seen, and if they looked up, they could see the bright moon and a few sparse stars.
Xia Liuyi leaned on the stone-board guardrail and sat. He unconsciously searched for his pocket, and eventually remembered that he hadn’t smoked for two weeks.
This Puk gaai brat didn’t agree to buy cigarettes for him even though he glared at him with promised death, and the brat reasoned boldly “My dad and I never smoke, and it would make us seem suspicious.”
He faced the sky, leaned on the guardrail, and took a deep breath. He was going to breathe out slowly with ease, before he heard a grating beside him.
He Chusan lit up a candle, put his little backpack as a mat on the floor, sat cross-legged and started reviewing with his book.
“……” Xia Liuyi.
“Hey, I let you come up and sit with me for a while.” His veins couldn’t help popping out of his temple.
“Please sit Boss Liuyi. I won’t disturb you.” He Chusan said with full respect. He was going to have a final exam tomorrow and he ought to catch every second possible to do his review.
“……” Xia Liuyi really wanted to slap his head. This f*cking little fox, nerd!
Heaven was just. After all, it favored Big Boss Xia for once. The candle was soon extinguished by the wind. He Chusan searched for a match again to light it, and soon it was extinguished again. When he searched again, there was no match left.
Xia Liuyi lifted the corner of his mouth, looking at him. He Chusan was defeated. He tidied up his backpack and sat beside Xia Liuyi obediently.
“Is there anyone after you? What did you do?” He mentioned the topic from two weeks ago again.
This time, Xia Liuyi didn’t smash him with cr*p. He tilted his head and stayed silent for a while, “My big sis and big boss were killed.”
He was so peaceful. In front of Xia Xiaoman’s and Azure Dragon’s corpses, he didn’t let his tears out. During the days where he was chased after like a rat, he had no time at all to care about this. Then he lay on his stomach in a cold, narrow little room, staying wordless and motionless, and used the entire two weeks to accept such a reality.
He Chusan was quite shocked, “Your sister died?”
He Chusan was stunned for a minute, “She’s a good person.”
“I know.” Xia Liuyi looked up to the sky.
Being quiet for a while, he said in a low volume, “I lived in Xi Tou*5 Alley before. It wasn’t far from here.”
He Chusan made an “eh” sound.
“What the cr*p do you ‘eh’ for? I’m only three years older than you. We might have seen each other before in our childhood.”
“You robbed me?” He Chusan said and tried very seriously to remember if there was such a living terror in the place where he was teased and beaten in his childhood.
“What mess are you thinking of?” Said Xia Liuyi, “I didn't like robbing when I was a kid. All I thought about everyday was how to get something to eat. My dad was a powder customer. He consumed powder, gambled, and drank. My mom ran away with someone after giving birth to me.”
“Xiao Man was three years older than me. When other children were learning to speak, she had already learned to cook flavor paste to feed me, and carried me to get some sunshine. Dad beat us every day and asked us to steal for him. If we couldn’t then he would beat us to death. Xiao Man protected me every time. She was beaten so badly that she couldn’t even leave the bed.”
Xia Liuyi rubbed his forehead with his arm frustratedly. He hadn’t reminisced about those days for a long time, “When I was ten years old, dad was going to sell Xiao Man to be a ‘chick’*6. I took Xiao Man to run away and we were caught by him. We were almost beaten dead in a small alley. All the people who passed by merely watched. No one came to save us.”
“Then Azure Dragon came.”
“He led a group of underlings, and looked imposing. He glanced at my dad, and my dad kneeled down to kowtow for him. He held me up and let Xiao Man hold his hand. It was the first time we were protected by someone.”
“It was June 1st. He said that it was called Liuyi Children’s Day on the mainland and that it was a holiday for Xiao Man and me, so he would let us have cakes. I ate a cake for the first time in my life. I thought that day was the first real birthday that I ever had. I changed my name to Xia Liuyi and called him Mr. Big. I told him I would follow him forever in this life. I could eat cakes if I followed him.”
Under the dusky sky, He Chusan saw the happiness caught by his mouth corners.
“He let Xiao Man and I live in his home. There was a butler tending to us and we could go to school. Neither of us liked studying and we soon dropped out from school. Xiao Man loved singing, so he sent her to study music. I liked playing with knives and poles, so he found a teacher for me. When I was fourteen, I thought I grew up, so I begged him to take me, lit the incense, swore to heaven*7, and made him my Big Boss.”
“In the beginning years, he didn’t let me go out to do any business, saying that I was so young and I should simply follow him on the side. When I was eighteen, he was trapped. He only took a few people with him and was stuck in an alley with no way out.”
Xia Liuyi grinned, “I was almost insane when I rushed in to save him with two machetes. I can’t even remember how many people I hacked. I saved him, but he slapped me. He slapped me for the first time……the only time in my life.”
“I was sent to the hospital and Xiao Man held me and cried. I didn’t tell her that after Azure Dragon slapped me, there were also tears in his eyes.”
“His tears greatly terrified me, but also greatly satisfied me. In this world, besides Xiao Man, I didn’t expect there to be another person caring about me.”
He Chusan hugged his arms to himself secretly. The night wind was bleak. He was so smart and thoughtful, and he already felt the slight coldness from these words.
The love between Azure Dragon and Xia Liuyi had gone far beyond the boundary for a big boss and an underling. He finally understood why Xia Liuyi took a chair and ferociously beat him after hearing his second-version script – this mafia who looked cruel and merciless was concealing the mess and chaos in his heart, because such inappropriate love that was buried deep inside him, was exposed by a bystander so easily.
“Xiao Man became more and more beautiful as she grew up and many big bosses were attracted to her. Azure Dragon wanted to find her a husband, but she chose none of them. One night, she told me secretly that the person she loved was Azure Dragon and she wanted to be Azure Dragon’s woman.”
“I would give her whatever she wants. My twentieth birthday came soon, and Azure Dragon asked me what I wanted. I said, “I want Xiao Man to be my sis-in-law.”
He stopped, paused for a long while, and continued to speak in a low volume, “Azure Dragon looked at me for a long time, and told me, your Mr. Big will give you whatever you want.”
He didn’t state the words after that—
Your Mr. Big will give you whatever you want……except this.
I want this only.
Do you know what you are talking about?
She’s my sister! She loves you!
What about you?
I……I’m your 49er, your adherent who had swore to heaven. I made you my Mr. Big, and I will follow you all throughout my life.
“He married Xiao Man.”
“He also built an additional pair of azure-dragon knives for me and led me to see the elders of our gang. He told them that this was the adherent that he was most proud of, the youngest ‘red pole’ and he would gradually hand a portion of his business to me and make me manage it.”
“From that on, I was the 49er, he was the Big Boss, and Xiao Man was the sis-in-law. I thought it would be a lifetime.”
“At the beginning of last year, Xiao Man began to suffer from depression.”
“She said that Azure Dragon didn’t love her. Though he treated her well, even better than he did when she was a child, he didn’t love her at all. She believed that Azure Dragon went out with someone else outside and asked me if that was so. I said it wasn’t. She said I was lying to her.”
“I begged Azure Dragon to treat her better, and he promised to. I begged him to love Xiao Man, and he said he couldn’t.”
Has your Mr. Big ever refused you if he can do it?
--This is the only thing I can’t do.
“Xiao Man quarreled with him……”
He closed his eyes tightly and turned his head in unbearable pain.
The headache almost cracked his head. Huge, black tides surged up in his mind. He envisioned the situation of their quarrel, as if he was there—
You go out with someone else outside! Who is it? Tell me who it is?! Tell me who it is hidden in your heart?!
What nonsense are you talking about? Stop thinking of unreasonable notions!
He, he-he……You can’t speak the name? You think I don’t know? I’m so foolish. I didn’t find out until today……You perv! Shameless! The one you really like is—
“He slapped Xiao Man. Xiao Man stabbed him once, and then jumped off the rooftop……”
“He was sent to the hospital. I chose to see Xiao Man. When I eventually arrived at the hospital, he was already killed, by my knives.”
“By what he gave me, the azure……dragon……”
Xia Liuyi abruptly broke out a hoarse whimper. Being concentrated on his story, He Chusan lifted his head in amazement, seeing Xia Liuyi lowered his head and tightly grabbed his own knees, his shoulders shivering slightly.
He Chusan hesitated for a moment, and carefully covered the back of his hands, intended to prevent him from harming himself. He seemed to be crushing his kneecaps.
Xia Liuyi shivered for a while and lifted his head slowly. There were sparse traces of tears on his face.
He gently swept He Chusan’s hands off and continued talking with no expression, “The one who killed him was the Deputy of our gang. He changed Xiao Man’s antidepressant to worsen her situation and murder her. Then he killed Azure Dragon and framed me. He led others to kill me. The people who searched in alleys during the days were all his people.”
“What are you gonna do now?” He Chusan asked softly.
Xia Liuyi looked at the sharp iron pole standing straight on the far away floor, “Kill him to avenge Azure Dragon and Xiao Man.”
This bloody answer didn’t disgust He Chusan. He was still immersed in the grief that this mafia boss who looked merciless suddenly released. He looked at Xia Liuyi’s face with a solemn coldness in his complex demeanor, and asked softly again, “And then?”
Xia Liuyi closed his eyes, and then opened them again, “Care for the brothers that Azure Dragon left, and make Xiao Qi Tong the largest gang in Hong Kong.”
When Azure Dragon was alive, he owed him. When Azure Dragon went away, this was the only thing he could do for him.
He Chusan had no words for him and sighed deep in his heart – a mafia is always a mafia. There was only fighting and killing on his mind and after a slaughter, it would only be a greater slaughter. The forces expanded and the gangs fought each other, making this city a mess. Wasn’t it the innocent citizens who took the bitter result eventually?
He grew up in this dark and hopeless slum with dirt hidden everywhere since he was a child, and he has seen the coldness and hardship in this world. As an oppressed good citizen, disgust was the only feeling he could have for these things.
Xia Liuyi cut off his words and wiped his face numbly, “Don’t misunderstand me. I didn’t make you an outlet of bitterness. I just wanna find something to talk to. There’s not even a cat.”
He Chusan shook his head to clarify at once, “I did not.”
He was aggressively criticized when he misunderstood the last time, and he has never flattered himself since then.
“I just felt strange,” He hesitated and said, “Why couldn't you confess to Azure Dragon that you loved him too? Why did you force him to marry your sister? Why would he agree? There won’t be sweetness in a forced relationship. Didn’t you know it?”
If they were willing to stand against the pressure from the secular world for their feelings, the random Deputy might not have gotten a chance to find a crucial point for them to create such a tragedy.
He pointed this out so boldly and straightforwardly, but Xia Liuyi didn’t become hostile and beat him like he did last time. He simply stayed quiet for a while and lifted his hand indifferently and ruffled He Chusan’s hair like petting a dog, “Brat, you don’t understand. We were burdened by so many things.”
He Chusan looked downward and let him play as he wanted. He Chusan was still very confused inside his mind. His love history was as clean as a white paper for these twenty-one years, and he didn’t know how they were burdened. He simply felt that when Xia Liuyi spoke out these words, deep helplessness and loneliness overflowed from his tone.
“Let me sleep for a while,” Xia Liuyi frustratedly stretched his legs and put his arms under the back of his head, “I spoke too much. It took up my energy.”
He Chusan advised at once, “You’ll get a cold if you sleep here.”
“Shut up, brat! Sleep!”
- *A buddha in a house requires offerings from this household. Here it means that Xia Liuyi was not a simple person. They needed great efforts to hide him in. ↑
- *A kind of Cantonese barbecued pork. ↑
- *Dad He was talking about Traditional Chinese medicine. The liver here in TCM terminology is different from the liver in anatomy. ↑
- *The original Chinese idiom is “a tiger getting down to level ground is bullied by dogs”, meaning a dignified person being bullied by ordinary people when they unfortunately leave their previous position. ↑
- *Xi Tou means kneecap. It is casual and very uncommon to be used to name somewhere. ↑
- *A “chick” is a female prostitute and a “duck” is a male prostitute. ↑
- *The Chinese word here is “拜堂” (bai tang), and it was commonly used as a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony. The groom and the bride would show their respect to heaven, parents and their future partner in this ceremony. Here “bai tang” refers to a ceremony for Xia Liuyi to swear to be Azure Dragon’s brother, a member of Xiao Qi Tong. ↑
TN: Edited by our efficient editor Mio Rio :D