The world felt so unfair when both their heads hurt. He Chusan had to wrap his head like a turban, but Xia Liuyi only needed a band-aid. When he came to check the film set on the next day, the band-aid even had a character “Xia” written on it. He Chusan thought it was one of the silliest things that he had ever seen, but all the underlings praised, “Boss Liuyi, stylish!”
Xia Liuyi sat cross-legged on the desk, deftly eating fish meat shumai*1 with a stick in his left hand. He couldn’t help rolling his eyes at He Chusan, “What the heck are you looking at?!”
He Chusan stared at his rice-dumpling*2-like right hand, his mummy-like right arm, and swallowed, “Does it hurt?”
“Hurt?! Shall I cut your hands off and give you a try?! Crap you said!”
“Is your sister alright?”
Xia Liuyi stopped his movement. His countenance turned cold.
“Is ‘sis-in-law’ alright?” He Chusan immediately changed his words.
Xia Liuyi picked up another shu mai, still quiet.
He Chusan swallowed again and observing his expression, he thought that even though Xia Liuyi wasn’t very happy, another beating breaking out seemed unlikely, so he continued speaking boldly, “Thank you for saving me yesterday.”
“Kid.” Xia Liuyi finally spoke. He looked pretty impatient.
He Chusan opened his eyes wide, waiting for his following sentence.
“Don’t overthink your importance. You work for me, then you’re my 49er. It’s my responsibility to take care of my brothers. After you finish this script, there’s no crap between us. I won’t cast another glance at you even if you were to die by the road, so shut up now! If you dare say another meaningless sentence, I’ll pull out your tongue!”
“……” He Chusan’s true heart turned into crap.
A rascal is a rascal, he won’t turn into a good person even though he saves your life – he eventually came to understand such a shallow principle.
So he became quiet too. He continued, lowering his head and gloomily writing dialogues. The beautiful female lead was bound on a high platform, crying, and spoke to the male lead who fought in a bloody battle below her: Don’t fight anymore. Do I deserve it? The male lead vomited blood and said, You deserve everything.
Crap, do you think he likes you? He only likes fighting! – He Chusan scolded quietly in his mind, the first curse word that he had ever said in his life.
Forgive him, for although he was pure as white paper, he had been in such a dark, messy place for weeks and was affected by what he heard and saw. It was unavoidable for him to blacken a little.
After Xia Xiaoman made a scene on the film set, she rested for a week away from there. She sounded okay in the calls, but Xia Liuyi was still worried. Today, he managed to take half of a day off to go out from Snapdragon Walled City to Azure Dragon’s villa near the sea to see her.
Xia Xiaoman didn’t expect him to come and she hadn’t even put on her makeup. She looked gloomy in a limpid pajamas as if she could be blown away by the sea wind at any time.
“Where’s Mr. Big?” Asked Xia Liuyi.
“He was out.” Said Xia Xiaoman. She lay against her brother’s back and said absentmindedly, “He never comes back.”
“Mr. Big is busy.” Xia Liuyi patted her arm.
“What about you? You’re busy too. You never come and see me.”
Xia Liuyi patted her again, “I’m here now, right? Whenever you wanna see me, call me and I’ll be here at once.”
He used the toilet as an excuse, went out, and asked the butler in secret, “Did madame take her medicine recently?”
“She did, Boss Liuyi.”
“For real? She didn’t throw it away?”
“No, madam was nice when she took her medicine recently.”
When he got back, Xia Xiaoman bent over the window like a ghost, stood on her tiptoes, and opened her arms. She looked like a meager white swan.
“You asked them about my medicine?” She said, “I’m taking them just as you want.”
Xia Liuyi held her in his arms.
“I really did,” Xia Xiaoman leaned on his chest, lifting her head and playing with his eyelashes, “I’m fine. I’m just annoyed, for y’all ask me to take medicine, for y’all see me as a psycho, for you’re always not here, for he……”
Her demeanor changed abruptly. She cried out, “Wuuu! Little Liu! Tell me honestly! Does he go out with someone else outside! Wuu……Ain’t I good enough? Where did I go wrong? Why does he like someone else……”
Xia Liuyi patted her back lightly, “He goes out with none other than you. He’s really busy.”
“You’re lying,” Xia Xiaoman choked more as she cried, “I won’t blame you. I know you don’t wanna see me sad, so you helped him cheat on me……If he goes out with no one else, why doesn't he love me……”
“Do you know? Little Liu,” She raised her head with a sudden might; mysteriously yet lifelessly grasping Xia Liuyi’s arm, “He seldom holds me. When he did, I took a close look at him. He was thinking of someone else! He was definitely thinking of someone else! He can only hold me when there’s someone else on his mind! Tell me who that b*tch is, that coquette! In which way is she better than me! Where did I go wrong……”
“Big sis……” Xia Liuyi stopped her madness, pressing her head onto his chest. He sighed and stroked her hair, “Big sis, you truly thought too much. You’re tired. Have some sleep. I’ll be here for you and I’ll go nowhere before Mr. Big is back, is that okay?”
At midnight, Xia Xiaoman was wrapped in her sheet. She rolled up and fell into a deep sleep. Xia Liuyi found his way out of the room in the darkness and closed the door gently. He went downstairs and smoked in the living room.
The roar of the car engine came from the other side of the door. Soon Azure Dragon came in with a few bodyguards following him.
Seeing he was here, surprise emerged from Azure Dragon’s eyes. He calmly waved his hand and the bodyguards left respectively.
“Why’re you here?” He said, “I heard you get hurt?”
Xia Liuyi lifted his head, looked at him, and scratched his hair with the hand wrapped by a bandage. He didn’t speak.
Azure Dragon didn’t mind. He took off his blazer and covered him with it, “It’s so late. Don’t go back. Sleep in the guest room.”
Xia Liuyi had the warm blazer with his scent draped on his shoulders, smoked for a couple more clouds and asked, “My Mr. Big, can you treat her better?”
Azure Dragon’s movement paused, “I’ve tried my best.”
“You haven’t!” Xia Liuyi was irritated, dropping the cigarette end onto the tea table, “Look how she is now!”
Two bodyguards ran in from the door and looked at Xia Liuyi alertly.
Azure Dragon waved his hand indifferently, and they stepped back.
Azure Dragon sat beside Xia Liuyi, “I’ve given her the best life. I give her anything she wants. She already has everything a woman needs.”
“Those are not what a woman needs! You must know! Can’t you use your true heart……”
“I can’t.” Said Azure Dragon.
“You……” Xia Liuyi suddenly squeezed his fist.
Azure Dragon simply looked at him silently.
Guilt and bitterness filled Xia Liuyi’s heart. He dared not look back, lowered his head, and smoked harder, “……Spend more time with her, can you?”
Azure Dragon stood up, “It’s too late. Go to sleep. Little Hao, make the guest room.”
Xia Liuyi chased behind him and grasped his arm, “This is the only request I have! Spend more time with her! Can you?!”
Azure Dragon paused his steps with a blank expression on his face. After a long while, he sighed, became amiable and calm again, turned around, and ruffled Xia Liuyi’s hair.
“Has Mr. Big ever refused you if he can do it? I will spend more time with her. Alright, go get some sleep.”
He forcefully moved Xia Liuyi’s hand off his arm.
He Chusan pinched the pen, sat properly before the desk, and wrote with his head lowered. Not far from the script was Xia Liuyi’s hip covered tightly by jeans. If he raised his head, he could see his thin, robust waist.
Xia Liuyi didn’t notice He Chusan’s glance moving up and down. He was looking at Xia Xiaoman with a smile melting at the corners of his mouth and listening to her.
Xia Xiaoman was back filming. The scene to act for her today was dating the male lead on the rooftop and viewing stars, so she dressed up like a blossom. She smiled like a blossom, too. She leaned on Xia Liuyi softly, “He had western food with me in Repulse Bay yesterday.”
“Was it fun?”
“What did you eat?”
He Chusan speechlessly listened to this meaningless dialogue, thinking the intimacy between the sister and brother had gone too far. Where else could you find another pair of an older sister and a younger brother hugging in this way? Xia Liuyi looked more like an older brother doting on his younger sister instead.
He lowered his head and wrote another few lines, his mind flying away again. He moved his sight beside the script – to Xia Liuyi’s hip.
So small, so bouncy, so round……so tempting for him to lift and beat!
He Chusan was greatly scared by his sudden violent thoughts. He shook his head in a hurry and continued moving his pen.
Half a month later, the filming finally ended and He Chusan was freed. He was packed and sent back to the dark alley near his home by a few big men. Before he walked away, one of the big men viciously called him to stop and gave him a thick paper package, “Your paycheck from Boss Liuyi!”
He Chusan ran back home, gasping for breath. He unfolded the paper package on his bed and counted in the dim candlelight, twenty thousand in total!
Equivalent to his and his dad’s living expenses for a whole year!
He Chusan couldn’t even believe it. He put the money back in the paper package, holding his backpack, and rolled around on his bed. He suddenly stopped.
This money was from the mafia. Selling white flour, opening casinos, opening nightclubs, killing people, and destroying places……He worked for the mafia and got such a large amount of money, was he really different from those lads working in the “powder shops*”3 on the Guang Ming Street of the walled city?
Dad has educated him not to be related to mafia stuff. Mom……Dad said she died for the mafia.
He Chusan’s little heart pounding in excitement cooled down again. Cowering on the bed and being absent-minded for a while, he left the bed and opened up cases and closets to find the small iron box that he used to place awards and certificates when he was a child. He folded that package of money, wrinkling it, and squeezed it in.
He had been absent for a whole month and even missed a couple of quizzes. He was about to be held back a year. But when he took off his shirt in the office and showed the sparse wounds on his chest and arms, even the principal couldn’t help sighing. The principal knew that this student with good grades and morality was from Snapdragon Walled City and must have encountered something unfair and had some bitter reasons he couldn’t explain for his absence. Snapdragon Walled City was an infamous black area and calling the police wouldn’t help there. The black police out of the city had always been connected with the big bosses inside. The Detective himself was a sworn brother of a big boss.
Moreover, He Chusan’s legal name was obviously hung on the advertising poster of Xiao Qi Company’s new film! – So lucky that his dentist dad preferred listening to Cantonese operas and reading newspapers in his daily life instead of those kinds of new stuff, or he would’ve had a stroke and died from anger.
He Chusan continued his boring and satisfying life. He went to school with his little backpack every morning to attend his classes and self-study, then jogged back home in darkness when evenings came. The only difference was he took three nights and a weekend to work at the A-Hua Bing Sutt*4 on the neighboring street and gain some tuition fees every week, and he began to learn Taiji with uncle A-Hua.
Uncle A-Hua fled from the mainland in the 60s and designated himself as the fourth descendant of Yang-style t’ai chi ch’uan. He Chusan’s body was loose. He lacked talent and lacked even more in practice. He learned for about two months but still couldn’t finish half of the t’ai chi set. But doing horse stance for an hour in the morning to push his arms and stretch his legs strengthened his body and soothed his mind indeed.
The sea of his life was at ease, but for Xia Liuyi it felt lively. After the last time he ransacked the shops of Sha Jia Gang, he opened an upscale nightclub in Mong Kok. The nights there were filled with singing and dancing and different thugs and bullies gathered there. After landing his business peacefully, with Azure Dragon’s agreement, he started planning to open a few large-size discos as selling places for his gang’s “white flour”. He was determined to make the seedy entertainment field even seedier.
That day, he invited a couple of detectives to have a meal in a private room of his nightclub. Beauties were around the table and they cheered and drank. It was time to celebrate, but Little Ma jogged in quietly.
Xia Liuyi gestured his apologies to the detectives and followed Little Ma to the corridor.
“Boss Liuyi, Boss Xu came with his people.”
Xia Liuyi extinguished his cigarette indifferently. Before he spoke, a large group of people entered noisily from the other end of the corridor. A few guards under Xia Liuyi blocked them. They hadn’t quarreled much before one of the guards suddenly flew towards him, falling by the feet of Xia Liuyi in a dull sound.
“Boss Xu.” Xia Liuyi looked at the leading man who kicked the guard.
The man had sharp eagle eyes, giving a handsome feel at first glance, but his entire person emitted a malicious feeling. He was like a jackal.
“Little Liu, that’s your fault,” Xu Ying picked out a cigarette and the underling beside him lit it for him immediately, “Why didn't you let me join you when you invited Detective Hua for a meal?”
Xia Liuyi pinched the hand of the underling away and lit the cigarette for Xu Ying for himself. He admitted his fault with a nice attitude, “Boss Xu, I didn’t tell you because I thought you were too busy. Not to mention Detective Hua simply came to take a seat in our nightclub and have an easy meal.”
Xu Ying smiled, “An easy meal.”
He pushed Xia Liuyi aside and walked in, laughed, and greeted, “Long time no see! Detective Hua! Yo, Detective Liu is also here! This is……Oh! Detective Liu who just got a big promotion! Hehe! Enchanté, enchanté!”
The detectives inside were all his acquaintances and they were not bothered to see him intrude in suddenly. They filled their wine glasses and exchanged pleasantries. Xu Ying then said, “What a good mood Detective Hua is in! Why didn’t you come and sit in my place recently?”
“Xu Ying,” Detective Hua was also an experienced fox. He held the cigar Xu Ying gave in his lips and letting Xu Ying light it for him, he smiled, “Your words are alienated. These are all places below your big boss Azure Dragon. Is there any difference for where I sit?”
Xu Ying laughed out loud, “How great Detective Hua’s words are! These are all we Xiao Qi Tong’s places and Detective Hua can sit anywhere you want! Hey-hey, Detective Hua, may I raise a glass to you! He-he-he!”
They talked joyfully inside, and Xia Liuyi wasn’t very hurried to go in. He finished a cigarette silently in the corridor and called Little Ma close, “Why does Xu Ying know I invited Detective Hua for a meal? How many people did you inform when sending the invitations out?”
“Well……” Said Little Ma, “Can it be one of the brothers here today? They all watched Detective Hua come in.”
“It can’t. Xu Ying came too early and he must have been prepared ahead of time. There’s a ‘prick’ among the people who came yesterday, go search for it.”
Xu Ying had a warm conversation with the detectives. Xia Liuyi inviting them for a meal became the underling of Deputy Xu, Xia Liuyi, inviting them for a meal under his command and the second-ranked status of Xu Ying in Xiao Qi Tong was sufficiently proven. After showing his dominance, he said he had something else to do as an excuse and raised a glass to each person at the table and left.
Xia Liuyi sent him off with his usual countenance and went into the room to fill in his spot as if nothing happened, “Distinguished detectives, today we shall not only enjoy drinking but playing! I’ve booked a private room in ‘Tan Xiang Ge’ for us. Shall we have some fun there after our meal?”
Tan Xiang Ge was an upscale business clubhouse under Xiao Qi Tong’s name, located in Kowloon Tong. It was not open to the public and only served members. The golden cards for membership were directly issued by the general manager Cui Dongdong. Most of the members entered with their cards but other individual members entered with their faces.
Xia Liuyi didn’t even need his face. Cui Dongdong has let someone welcome him at the door of the clubhouse beforehand. A group of people clustered around the detectives to welcome them in. The procuress came up flamboyantly and a dozen of popular party girls stood in a line, peacocking and waiting to be picked up by the guests.
Xia Liuyi sent the detectives into rooms with full respect. He turned around and talked to Cui Dongdong, “Xu Ying embarrassed me today.”
“Oh?” Cui Dongdong took the cigarette that he passed. They tilted their heads, lighting their cigarettes on their own, and walked to the office side by side.
The underling opened the door for them and closed it from outside. They sat on the sofa face to face and dropped some cigarette ash onto the tea table. Xia Liuyi said, “I doubt there are his people among my men. You’re close to me and you should be careful of him as well. Honestly, I can’t bear him anymore and I wanna find a chance to stand up to him.”
Cui Dongdong was in his twenties. He wore a pair of sunglasses, had a high-bridged nose and slicked-back hair like Little Ma’s. He looked like a shrewd, capable Big Boss. But his red lips brought a peculiar sense of disharmony.
A smoke cloud came out from his lips. He took off the sunglasses and revealed a handsome but fine figure. He then leaned on the sofa, putting his hands on the back of his head. The shirt was unfastened and a binding bandage on the chest was shown – this is a “she”.
“What’s the attitude of Azure Dragon?” Said she. Her voice was naturally low and gravelly, and people couldn’t tell her gender from it.
Xia Liuyi smoked, “My Mr. Big wants to suppress him for a bit too, or he wouldn’t let me manage the nightclub.”
“Who can tell?” Said Cui Dongdong, “Azure Dragon is willing to give you anything. Maybe he just cherishes you.”
Xia Liuyi lifted his head abruptly, staring at her. Coldness could be seen in his eyes. Cui Dongdong shrugged innocently, “Just kidding.”
“You should be prudent about this.” Cui Dongdong continued her words, “Xu Ying and Azure Dragon are brothers who grew up together. He has followed Azure Dragon for twenty years and made great contributions to Azure Dragon’s ascent, and his prestige in our gang is hard to ignore. Azure Dragon hasn’t shown his sentiments yet and Xu Ying is the Deputy after all. You can’t stand up to him publicly.”
“If I do, who would Big Mouth Cheng stand for?” Xia Liuyi asked her.
Big Mouth Cheng, whose real name was Cheng Siquan, was in charge of the “Straw Sandal” of Xiao Qi Tong. Among the juniors of Xiao Qi Tong, although his ability, status, and reputation were not as comparable as Xia Liuyi’s and Cui Dongdong’s, he was still a force that couldn’t be ignored.
“Big Mouth Cheng?” Cui Dongdong shrugged again, “There haven’t been messages about him for a few days, who knows where this corpse is – he might really become a corpse.”
Xia Liuyi smoked silently.
“Alright,” Said Cui Dongdong, “I’ll look for Big Mouth and help you check his inclination. But don’t be impatient, as long as Azure Dragon is there, Xu Ying dares not attack you anyway.”
“I’m fine. What I fear is that he would escalate his actions and attack my Mr. Big.”
“How could he dare!” Said Cui Dongdong.
Xia Liuyi shook his head, “Xu Ying is too selfish. I shouldn’t be defenseless.”
“By the way, how’s Xiao Man recently?”
Xia Liuyi glanced at her, “Not bad, her situation is more stable than before.”
“My people brought some nervine aroma from Thailand. Take it back to her for me.” Said Cui Dongdong.
Xia Liuyi didn’t tell her that what she brought last time wasn’t unfolded and checked by Xia Xiaoman at all. They just rotted away in the closet. He simply nodded, “Uh.”
“Little He*5 is waiting for you, are you going?”
Little He stood quietly at the door of a private room. When she saw Xia Liuyi come with a couple of underlings, she bowed a little as a greeting. Xia Liuyi waved his hand to let his people go, and holding her shoulder, he entered the room.
Xia Liuyi was her frequenter, or in other words, Xia Liuyi only went into her room. Usually, he came once or twice a month, which wasn’t frequent, but he had to come every month. Cui Dongdong used to encourage him to make her his mistress, but Xia Liuyi said he had accumulated too much hate on him, and he would only hurt her if he did so.
They had baths one after another and changed their clothes. Little He turned on the record player. Then they went onto the bed.
--Then they each lay on the left and right side, listening to the music.
Yes, her task was simply lying there and listening to the music for two hours with Xia Liuyi, from Audrey Hepburn’s Moon River to Dan Fogelberg’s Longer. They couldn’t understand any of the lyrics, but that was fine as the melody was good enough.
She was from Snapdragon Walled City and was saved by Xia Liuyi when she was beaten cruelly by a few gangsters. She was very loyal to Xia Liuyi and she was nice and silent, having no curiosity towards him. She never asked why Xia Liuyi didn’t touch her – if it was because of an unmentionable disease, or because he was not interested in women. They lay down in this room every month and took what they needed: Xia Liuyi needed her to cover for something and she needed Xia Liuyi as an aegis(shield). Because of Xia Liuyi, Cui Dongdong was nice to her and gave her a doubled revenue each month. Even so, she didn’t tell Cui Dongdong the truth, or anyone else. She was gonna bring this secret to her grave.
The beautiful, lingering, and tender feminine voice coming from the record player washed all of Xia Liuyi’s weariness away. He stretched his legs and laid the back of his head on his arms. He took a deep breath, and then closed his eyes, falling asleep.
About four kilometers away, in the Snapdragon Walled City, He Chusan was also sleeping with his clothes on. His face was at ease. He just got his salary for this month today and according to this pace, he could save half of his tuition before next term started. He could only ask his dad for the rest and borrow some from his neighbors. Dad wouldn’t blame him. He would use this money to study with his best effort. He believed that he was in the best major and as soon as he graduated, he would be able to earn a lot of money to repay his dad.
His dream was a complete contrast to Xia Liuyi’s. There were no arguments or fights under the light and dark, no love or hate, no black past or chaotic present, no love that couldn’t be told or doom couldn’t be escaped from, but only a sweet dream about his future, a very peaceful, calm, and innocent future.
- *Shu mai is a common Chinese food and fish meat shumai is a Cantonese style food (which is very different from other shumais). ↑
- *Rice dumplings are basically rice wrapped in leaves and they look really fat. People eat them for the Dragon Boat Festival. ↑
- *Drug shops. ↑
- *A Bing Sutt is a traditional cold drinking house in the Canton area and it became more popular in Hong Kong in the 50s-60s. ↑
- *The “He” here means lotus and the girl was called “Little Lotus”. ↑
TN: Edited by my dear editor Mio Rio ;) I appreciate her efforts so much (sobbing emoji)