“What present do you want for your birthday?”
Editor(s): juurensha, Jane, jelly
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A small, silvery white bird sped through the endless white snow drifting down outside, catching up with the train, before it gently pecked at the window. Xiang Cheng turned his head to look out the window, and that little bird flew up high again before vanishing entirely.
Xiang Cheng scooted to the side of the window to peek. His lips moved a little, and he said quietly, “Go ba, go, don’t chase after me anymore.”
The small bird vanished, and Xiang Cheng took off his hat, ran his hand through his hair, scratched his head a few times, and stuck his hands into his pockets. He curled his long legs up, leaning in front of the swaying bathroom, nodding off.
At six in the early morning, the train had already been on this journey for twenty-one hours when it arrived in Guangzhou. Xiang Cheng, swept along by the flood of people returning south for the New Year’s travel rush, was squeezed out of the train station. Because he couldn’t find his ticket, as he was exiting, he was almost locked up in a little black room.
After leaving the train station, he heard Cantonese all around him. A light rain was falling from the sky, and at the newspaper stand, the owner was watching TV while warming himself with a heater, causing Xiang Cheng to be filled with confusion as he watched this scene.
“I want to make a call,” Xiang Cheng said.
The owner didn’t notice him at all. Xiang Cheng raised his voice a little and said, “Boss, I want to make a call!”
“Then make a call!” the owner said. “What are you staring at me for?”
Xiang Cheng put down his leather trunk and pulled out his cellphone to browse through his messages. Then, according to a message there, he gave a friend of a friend, who his old acquaintance from the same hometown had introduced, a call to find somewhere to stay temporarily.
No one picked up the phone, so Xiang Cheng could only wait to the side as the owner glared at him.
A moment later, Xiang Cheng tried again, but still, no one picked up. He still had ten dollars left on his phone; the roaming fees were too expensive, so he had to use his phone wisely. Plus, this phone had been used for too many years, and as battered as it was, it sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. Sometimes, it’d even automatically hang up the call, which frustrated him to no end.
Every ten minutes, Xiang Cheng made another call, for a total of four times. The owner stared at Xiang Cheng the entire time, obviously resenting this damned migrant worker standing in front of his newspaper stand taking up space. Xiang Cheng could only give up, and he bent over to pick up that huge backpack that loomed like a mountain, only to suddenly realize - the handheld leather suitcase on the ground had disappeared!
Xiang Cheng immediately froze on the spot, before he looked left and right, slinging the backpack over his shoulder, his face filled with shock and anger as he realized that it had been stolen. With quick steps, he walked to a part of the street empty of people, suppressing his rage as he huffed for a while, before lighting a cigarette to calm himself.
With two fingers clamped around the cigarette, Xiang Cheng narrowed his eyes and sketched out a circle in the air.
As if the smoke was alive, it made a revolution in the air, before taking the form of a strange sprite. It circled around Xiang Cheng’s body a few times before turning around and flying in the opposite direction.
Xiang Cheng turned and sprinted away, still carrying that huge bag that was easily as wide as two people. Like a burst of wind, he once again passed by the entrance of the newspaper stand. He crossed the road, just as a private car slammed on its brakes, the driver flinging insults at him. Xiang Cheng, pressing down on the stone railings in the center, vaulted over the railings with a flip and rushed down the overpass, running towards a calm, still alley.
Two teenagers were currently standing in front of a locksmith’s shop, fussing with Xiang Cheng’s handheld leather bag. Xiang Cheng let out an infuriated roar and pulled out a wooden pole from inside his bag. He rushed forwards, waving it at the thieves, and at that, the owner of the store, who both unlocked locks and fixed leather shoes, shouted, completely unexpectedly, “If you’re going to fight, then do it outside!”
With a kick, Xiang Cheng sent the stall into disarray, but the thieves hugged the leather bag to them and ran. As they ran into the hallway and rushed up the stairs, Xiang Cheng’s backpack got stuck outside the anti-theft doors, and he swiftly put the bag down before shouting, “Give it back!”
The thieves opened the leather case around the corner, and their expressions grew stunned. In that brief span of time, Xiang Cheng had already nimbly flipped over the railing right up to the third floor hallway. In the dark apartment complex, the thieves rapidly and vigorously upended the contents of the combination-locked leather case onto Xiang Cheng.
The white powder inside spilled out with a hua, and it mixed in with some odd chunky objects, spraying all over Xiang Cheng.
In that instant, Xiang Cheng grew bug-eyed. The thieves turned and ran, and Xiang Cheng let out an angry roar of despair from the depths of his heart as he rushed forward, grabbed the collar of the thief that had fallen behind and slammed him into the wall. With a dull thud, the thief instantly went limp and collapsed.
Xiang Cheng immediately grew dumbfounded, standing there as he panted rapidly, his entire body covered with white powder, which floated through the daylight in the apartment complex, drifting down like snow.
Xiang Cheng’s eyes were bright red, and as if he had lost all of the energy in his body, he knelt down on the ground, trembling as he gathered up all of the powder. As he continued to shiver, he put it back into the leather briefcase.
Outside, the cops had arrived, and they shouted a sentence through the megaphone. Xiang Cheng sensed that trouble had come; he lifted his case, preparing to leave. But he hadn’t expected that the lock had already been broken, so when he lifted the case with his hand, the powder spilled all over the ground again with a huala.
The cops rushed up to the second floor. Xiang Cheng said, “I’m not a bad guy!”
Without letting him get in another word, the cops took him away.
Twilight, in the police station.
A cop was recording down Xiang Cheng’s ID card, and everyone exchanged looks.
“What do you do? What’s your profession?” the cop asked.
The large backpack was opened, and all of Xiang Cheng’s things were poured out. A string of ancient copper coins, a large bundle of red thread, a tube of Zhonghua toothpaste, a toothbrush whose bristles were sticking every which way from use, a collapsible stainless steel rod, an umbrella, three large stacks of yellowing parchment, a copy of Story Collections, a copy of Selected Poems of Dickinson, a pack of multi-colored chibi versions of evil-warding statues, two packs of pocket tissues, a few pairs of colorful underwear, three tank tops with sweat stains, painkillers, Yunnan Baiyao, a glass bottle filled with boiled water, a stack of red paper where the top three pieces had several strange, long-tongued beasts crookedly drawn on them, a supermarket sack used to store food, inside of which was stored half a jin of soybeans, two bags of pickled Fuling mustard, a few hardened steamed rolls, a snuff box, a cotton bedroll, a tent, a pillow, and a red cloth about the size of a bedsheet, embroidered with many odd, unique yaoguai.
“I sell handicrafts,” Xiang Cheng said.
The cop lifted the copper coins, studying them closely, as if he was trying to figure out if they were antiques or not. He replied, “I can’t return the copper coins to you, I need to find someone to appraise them.”
Xiang Cheng stayed silent, and the cop continued, “I’ll write you a slip, and if there are no problems, then come back three days later to pick them up. I’ve made note of your ID card already. You gave that brat a concussion with that slam of yours, he’s been sent to the hospital.”
Xiang Cheng asked, “Where are his parents? I want them to give an explanation.”
“You leave quickly ba,” the cop said. “If his parents come, then you won’t be able to leave, them demanding medical expenses alone will annoy you to death.”
Xiang Cheng could only pack up his things, stuffing all of his belongings that he carried with him back into his bag. He slung it over his shoulder and under the curious gazes of a group of cops, he walked away.
When he returned to the apartment complex, Xiang Cheng bought a broom and dustpan from the department store downstairs, but when he climbed up the stairs, he saw that down the hall, one family’s door was opened. A middle-aged woman was splashing water down the stairs, using detergent to diligently clean the floor.
Xiang Cheng: “...”
“What are you doing?” the woman asked. “Destroying public hygiene, dumping your trash everywhere, do you even have any civic spirit?”
Xiang Cheng turned and went down the stairs, chucking the dustpan and broom into the trash can, before sending an angry kick at it. He then knelt down in front of the dirty water flowing out from the hallway and kowtowed three times in front of the sewer.
Winter had ended, spring had come, and everything blossomed with new growth.
During today’s blind date, Chi Xiaoduo’s entire mind was almost overwhelmed by how handsome the cop in front of him was. The uniform hit him right at his weak spot; what height and weight, what monthly salary and connections, none of it was important now.
The cop smiled a little self-consciously as he said, “Apologies, they gave me a mission last minute, so I came late.”
Chi Xiaoduo hurried to say, “You’re called Xingjie, right? No worries, no worries, what do you want to eat, I’ll pay?”
The cop nodded and looked at his watch, saying, “I may only be able to stay for two hours. In a bit, I’ll see you home ba.”
“Alright,” Chi Xiaoduo replied. “I’ll tell them to hurry up and bring out the food, no worries, I eat very fast.”
The two of them chatted as they ate. This cop called Yang Xingjie was someone that Wang Ren had introduced to him, and the witty way he talked fulfilled some of Chi Xiaoduo’s requirements very well. He also talked about quite a few of the strange things that had happened in the police station, and halfway through a story, Chi Xiaoduo grew bug-eyed over it.
“And then?” Chi Xiaoduo asked.
“Guess what was in that leather briefcase,” Yang Xingjie said, with a straight face. “You definitely won’t be able to guess correctly.”
Chi Xiaoduo kept mulling over those belongings that that man was carrying with him as he tried to guess at what he had inside the leather briefcase. He then asked, “Why was he carrying pocket tissues? Was he a pervert?”
Yang Xingjie was torn between laughter and tears as he replied, “This person wasn’t telling the truth. He often trekked long distances through the mountains. Perhaps he was a veteran, but he didn’t look like one; the tissues were used to cushion his feet inside his shoes. They’re very good for soaking up sweat.”
“Oh --” Chi Xiaoduo was suddenly enlightened. He then asked, “Why did he walk? Was it to avoid being stopped and searched? Was it drugs in the case? That can’t be, perhaps it was some important traditional medicinal powder? One that he smuggled back?”
“It was his parents’ ashes,” Yang Xingjie said. “At first we suspected that he was a graverobber, but he didn’t have any equipment for digging up graves, so… It was very strange. The bronze coins have been sent for appraisal, and as soon as the results come out we’ll know.”
Chi Xiaoduo: “...”
Chi Xiaoduo pressed one hand to his forehead, completely at a loss for words as he thought , this was really too heart-rending. In his mind appeared the image of a dark-skinned, dirty street vendor, laying out a red cloth the size of a bedsheet by the side of the road, bringing out his random odds and ends on it, squatting there waiting for people to come by and buy them.
After they finished dinner, the two of them walked slowly in the spring breeze under the streetlights at the side of the road. The flowers had all bloomed. Guangzhou had always been known as the Flower Capital, and as soon as spring came, the entire city bloomed with a sea of blossoms, and the spring breeze caused people to feel lazily relaxed.
“Do you have any plans for the future?” Chi Xiaoduo asked. “Are you going to get married?”
“As a civil servant, it’ll be very hard,” Yang Xingjie said. “I don’t want to lie to you, Chi Xiaoduo, you look very handsome, and you’re also a very good person. You’re the type that I like, and I feel like I’ve already… begun to like you a little, though… lying to you isn’t correct either, it’s pretty much like this.”
Chi Xiaoduo’s heart thumped, and Yang Xingjie said, “I’m bisexual, I have feelings towards both men and women.”
“Ah,” Chi Xiaoduo said, nodding. “You were a straight guy before huh.”
“En,” Yang Xingjie said. Then he asked, “No offense, but let me ask you, when did you figure out that you were… like this?”
Chi Xiaoduo said, “I’ve had this feeling since I was small. Does the civil servant system not allow you to be out of the closet?”
“If you want a future, then you can’t,” Yang Xingjie replied. “When you reach a certain age, your department superior will begin to introduce you to some people. If you haven’t married by the time you turn thirty, basically everyone will start to look at you a little doubtfully.”
“Understood,” Chi Xiaoduo said. “En, I know.”
Yang Xingjie said, “Consider it ba. I cannot promise you the future, but at least for now, I’ll cherish you properly.”
“En,” Chi Xiaoduo said. “I’ll head back first, you take care of yourself.”
From his position at the foot of the building, Yang Xingjie took off his hat and waved it at Chi Xiaoduo.
Chi Xiaoduo went home and bit the corner of his blanket, wuwuwu, when Wang Ren called again.
“Did today’s blind date work out?” Wang Ren asked.
The sound of the television from next door was deafening, and Chi Xiaoduo rose to slam the wall, shouting, “It’s already ten! Turn your TV volume down!”
With that, he rolled back and forth on the bed, saying to Wang Ren, “Can’t you find a more reliable one?”
“Damn,” Wang Ren said. “Xingjie said that he’s already sunk into the river of love, so what are you still hung up about?!”
“But he has to get married later!” Chi Xiaoduo said melancholically. “If we date now, what will I do later?”
Wang Ren said, “The future is for the future, don’t you know how to make him quit his job, you idiot?”
“A civil servant!” Chi Xiaoduo said. “And a policeman! How can he quit?! You think he can quit just like that?!”
Wang Ren: “You can write an anonymous letter to expose him and report him to his superiors…”
Chi Xiaoduo: “You’re insane!”
“Alright, alright, I’ll stop joking around. Seriously, you should consider it,” Wang Ren said.
Chi Xiaoduo moaned, “Wang Ren, can’t you introduce someone more reliable to me, someone who can live a good life with me? Right now, I’m so thirsty that when I see the delivery man I almost want to go up to him and woo him!”
Wang Ren: “I introduced them all to you! None of them worked out. You said that as long as they’re male, you’ll want them all, so then why didn’t you want that bald one?”
Chi Xiaoduo protested, “At the very least, he has to be a normal man ba.”
Wang Ren: “What’s wrong with a bald one? Say, Gege’s hairline is currently receding day after day, don’t also lump me in with them, alright?”
Chi Xiaoduo: “...”
Wang Ren replied, “Whatever, whatever, we’ll talk about it later.”
Chi Xiaoduo: “Stop being noisy, you guys! Can you turn your TV down? It’s already ten thirty!”
Wang Ren roared angrily from within the phone, “Are you insane, Chi Xiaoduo?! You make two or three hundred thousand a year, do you need to live in the slums? Can’t you find a more normal area to live in?”
Chi Xiaoduo: “I want to save up money! I don’t have money! I lack a sense of security!”
Wang Ren: “What present do you want for your birthday?”
Chi Xiaoduo: “Find me a boyfriend ba. Twenty-six years of living, and I’m still a virgin, how pitiful is that.”
Wang Ren: “...”
“Let me be blunt,” Wang Ren said. “Chi Xiaoduo, have you actually slept with a man?”
“No…” Chi Xiaoduo said listlessly. “I also want to, but I haven’t found a suitable one.”
Wang Ren said, “Now I’m really curious. Do you little shous want to be held down so much? Does it feel very good?”
Chi Xiaoduo: “I haven’t even been held down before, how would I know if it feels good or not! Let me experience it for myself before I answer you, ay, how come I’m already twenty-six, yet I’m still a virgin…”
Wang Ren: “How about we find someone to let you experience it? The way I see it, don’t tie yourself up in knots over this anymore, just let Gege, me, do it ba.”
Chi Xiaoduo: “...”
Wang Ren was only joking around, and both of them knew that they couldn’t sleep with each other, otherwise they wouldn’t even be able to be friends afterwards. This guy Wang Ren was a die-hard playboy, and even if the dicks of every gong in the world broke off, Chi Xiaoduo still wouldn’t go seeking him out. The two of them nattered for a bit more, before finally Chi Xiaoduo turned belly-up like a mola, and bitterly went to sleep.
moon: hello hello and welcome to regular updates of the oldest work in the exorcism trilogy (time of writing wise) and youngest as well (time period wise), Post Training National First class something something we just call it Mingwang! It’s time to see the adventures of Chi Xiaoduo, mola extraordinare, in getting his dream boyfriend~
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), moon.