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“Guan Yue is dead!”
Tianhe, who had slept all afternoon, was lying on the sofa, his curly black hair disheveled and a wool blanket over his body. The chef was cooking dinner while the housekeeper, Aunt Fang, went up to the second floor and put aside a large stack of debts sent by the company. She folded them up and took them back to the study.
The driver followed Aunt Fang from the living room to the study and whispered something about the situation.
In the study, when the macaw saw Aunt Fang, it flapped its wings and cried incessantly. “Guan Yue is dead! Guan Yue is dead!”
“Shhh,” Aunt Fang said patiently to the macaw. She drew the curtains, dimmed the lights, and told the driver, “You should eat dinner too. It’s been a hard day. If you return to your hometown this weekend, you should bring back two chickens.”
The driver nodded and thought about what kind of chicken he would eat if they went bankrupt. The villa, the furnishings, and both the large and small properties would be auctioned off in less than a month.
Perhaps half of the chickens would be sold.
“Xiao Tian?” Aunt Fang woke Tianhe and said, “Dinner.”
Tianhe rose bleary-eyed. For a moment, he thought everything that happened today was a dream.
Aunt Fang entered the dining room and sat behind the bar wearing reading glasses, to count last month’s account.
A cup of matsutake stewed chicken, a plate of steamed saury, and a plate of stir-fried Shanghai green cabbage was on the table.
“July eel, August bream, and September crucial carp,” Aunt Fang said. “Eels are the best in this season. Unfortunately, you don’t like it, but if you want to try them, I’ll pick them myself some other day,”
Tianhe sighed. He picked up the chopsticks, looked at the dishes, and put them down again. “The company is going bankrupt.”
Aunt Fang still looked down at the account and said, “Bankruptcy is bankruptcy. We still have to eat.”
“Second Brother didn’t tell me anything. He kept it from me for more than a year.” Tianhe added.
“He didn’t want you to worry.” Aunt Fang said.
Tianhe, “I hope so. Where’s my phone? I have to call him. I think he’s in San Francisco now.”
Aunt Fang, “I’ve called. I wanted to find him too, but I couldn’t get a hold of him...”
Tianhe threw his chopsticks on the table. Full of anger, he stroked his hair and said, “I’ll arrange the house tonight to take turns calling him. Everyone will call him for three hours until he answers.”
Aunt Fang grunted.
Tianhe casually ate some food and went to the study on the second floor. Uncovering the cloth covering the parrot’s cage, he fed it some food. Then he shook his head, sat down, and retrieved the legal documents for transfer of ownership from the drawer.
Three months ago, Second Brother had handed him this pile of documents. Before he signed his name, Tianhe hadn’t read it carefully.
When the parrot was full, it flapped its wings yelling, “Guan Yue is cold—”
Whether Guan Yue was now cold or not, Tianhe didn't know, but looking at the contract page by page, he got cold when he turned to the last page which had a note stuck on it.
Tianhe laughed like a madman.
He got up, walked to the bookshelf, and picked up the framed photo of his parents and brothers when they were still together.
With the sound of broken glass, the photo frame flew out of the study and landed, shattering into pieces outside the house.
Three days later.
“The commercial streets, inns, restaurants, racecourses, handicraft workshops, processing plants and so on that are under your brother’s name will go through the process of evaluation and auction one by one. The two charitable funds and donated libraries will not be affected. In addition, your family’s private club in Changshan villa...”
Tianhe, “The club has been bought by a friend. All the formalities have been completed in July. I know this.”
“You and Tianyue have 30 million in joint assets. A family trust fund has been established. For that, we have made more effective isolation. I suggest you don't touch it for now.” The financial advisor said.
“Is there only 30 million left?” Tianhe got up and poured a glass of wine for the financial advisor.
“Yes.” The FA said, “Your brother transferred the working capital and entrusted it to us for management in the past year. The remaining 30 million is the minimum amount for a family trust.”
“Transfer six million to our company’s account first.” Tianhe looked at the number under the payroll and said, “The financer will check with you tomorrow morning.”
FA, “Mr. Wen, relatively speaking, I personally recommend...”
Tianhe glanced at the financial advisor. The advisor immediately nodded and said, “Okay.”
“It’s been almost ten years since you began helping my family manage funds,” Tianhe said.
The 40-year-old bank financial advisor nodded. Tianhe thought for a moment and said, “You’re laughing at this.”
“You’re too serious.” The advisor replied. “You’re a kind person, you still think about the salaries of the employees. Before I left, our head also said that as long as you get through the present difficulties and rise again, it will not be a problem.”
Tianhe, “This matter has spread outside.”
The advisor thought about it and said, “There are rumors, but most of them are reasonable.”
Tianhe, “What other hedging methods can you teach me?”
The advisor appeared embarrassed. This was obviously beyond his tolerance.
Tianhe only looked into his eyes. The financial advisor said earnestly and seriously, “Never fall prey to usury. This is my only advice, never help anyone guarantee loans. Originally, as long as the assets were not sealed up, this could have been postponed by a year, but this...ah,”
Wen Tianyue was incapable of running a company. However, a few years ago he had also been an investment expert. He was completely self-sufficient in his asset income and supplemented the technology company. But once the capital chain was broken, and once one enters the bankruptcy process, all assets must be auctioned at a discount. No matter how much your industry worth was, the bank discounts cashback, with 20% off for cars, and 30% off for real estate... The valuation was horribly low and it would also cut off almost all the asset income of the family.
Soon, Aunt Fang sent the financial advisor out.
Tianhe, “Xiao Jiang, look at you.”
Jiang Zijian leaned on the sofa and seriously poked the blue cat’s two balls. The cat was born with intellectual defects. If you didn’t move, it wouldn’t move. No matter how you tossed it, it wouldn’t get angry.
Tianhe took the birdcage out and handed it to the servant, who hung it in the garden to bask in the sun.
Jiang Zijian, “I broke off the relationship.”
“I’m broke too.”
Tianhe sat down on the sofa and asked, “Wine or coffee?”
Jiang Zijian, “I need both. The company hasn’t gone bankrupt, yet it’s on the news. Epeus’s former CEO ran away. You can’t contact your brother?”
“First, tell me about your breakup.”
“Hey, I’ll tell you.” Jiang Zijian ranted about his sufferings, “I don’t think I can go on like this anymore. The one I talked about last time took me for a fuckboy! He didn’t let me fuck him, saying he’s afraid of pain and having a psychological shadow. Okay then, I endured it. Sex is nothing that can’t be compromised on. Everyone wipes their guns when they’re empty. It’s just that this kind of lifestyle is...intolerable. I brushed 800,000 off my card in a month! Where did it go? All towards buying fucking Apple...”
“Apple! Mobile phones, computers, speakers, desktops, watches, various models of iPads, and Mac Pros. I even bought fifty protector cases… Why is that? Because he said he used to use Xiao Lajiao's when he attended school...”
“What’s Xiao Lajiao?”
“A counterfeit phone? I don’t know. He said that he wanted revenge because he was laughed at by his roommate. I drove my car to my hometown to attend a college classmate’s wedding. When I got back, I didn't know who had thrown up in my car, and someone was asking for a million to fix the road in their hometown. Four sisters, one of whom wanted a suite, told their parents that their brother was outside. When I said that I would emmigrate with him and get married, his parents couldn’t stand the fact that their son was homosexual, and the sisters were afraid that their 67-year-old mother would hang herself...”
“He came to live with me for three months and scolded Xiao Zhou for not preparing his bath water. Although Xiao Zhou can’t compare with Aunt Fang, he has also taken care of me for seven years.” Jiang Zijian said and took the Irish coffee, “Thank you, Aunt Fang.”
“After three months of being together, I finally managed to take off his shorts once, and guess what I saw?” Jiang Zijian angrily complained to Tianhe.
Tianhe immediately turned his attention. Jiang Zijian lowered his voice and solemnly said, “Stainless steel underwear.”
Jiang Zijian, “There was also a combination lock on it! Let me guess the password? Guess, guess my ass! I told him we’re breaking up and to stop this nonsense. He asked for compensation for mental damages and I refused. He threatened me by saying that he would release pictures on the internet showing that I made several scars on his ass by scalding him with cigarette butts in order to fuck him! I haven’t even seen whether his ass is round or flat!”
“What happened then?” Tianhe faced Jiang Zijian, faithfully playing the role of the supporter.
“I found the man who really scalded his ass, deleted the post, and now silence, finally.” Jiang Zijian said, “It’s your turn. How were the properties lost?”
“My brother applied for a transfer of legal ownership three months ago.” Tianhe said. “Transferred the position to me then ran off. I don’t know where he is now.”
Jiang Zijian, “Maybe something happened.”
Tianhe pulled a note out of his pocket, which stated, “Baby, I’m sorry. Brother screwed up. You can do what you want at your own discretion.”
Jiang Zijian breathed a sigh of relief, “It has not been auctioned yet. I can lend you some money to turn it around first.”
Tianhe, “The pit is too big to fill. How much can you lend me?”
Jiang Zijian, “I’ve been rummaging through my accounts. I can lend you no more than 200 million. It’s all I can take out.”
Tianhe naturally couldn’t watch Jiang Zijian lend him the money. Even if he accepted it, with the current situation, the five-point annual profit was still not enough.
“The bank will come to seal up the house and car next week.” Tianhe said abstractedly, “Everything must be auctioned and the house is to be rented.”
“What about the company? When will the liquidation be wrapped up?” Jiang Zijian asked again. “No wonder my father bought all the shares of Jiangyue Clubhouse last July.”
“I’ll stick the seal tomorrow and pay the employees their wages before dismissing them.” Tianhe replied.
“Will Xiao Jin be auctioned?” Jiang Zijian looked up at the parrot outside the living room as the sun shone in brightly.
Tianhe expressionlessly said, “Xiao Jin can only say three sentences: ‘Guan Yue is dead,’ ‘Guan Yue is cold,’ and ‘A-Shares crashed again.’ Who will buy it? Guan Yue?”
Jiang Zijian laughed with Tianhe.
Tianhe looked at his best friend, Jiang Zijian, a very handsome athletic figure with perfect muscular lines. His skin shimmered in the sun in his thin white shirt. His facial features held a classic beauty. Although he was not as handsomely bright as Tianhe, he was rather masculine. Jiang Zijian had multiple nicknames. The most elegant one being ‘Handsome Jiang’. The rest were ‘Wolf with a Teddy’s Heart,’ ‘Sex Engine,’ ‘Nuclear Fusion Pile Driver,’ ‘Master Athlete in Marathon Bed-Friendly Match,’ and so on.
There was a proverb in Cambridge’s Philosophy Department: Science and technology were the first productive forces of human society. Sex was Jiang Zijian’s first engine. There was also another saying that went, ‘sex was Jiang Zijian’s first instinct.’
Jiang Zijian was a ‘laid-back’ person, which was one of the reasons why Tianhe became best friends with him. As long as young master Jiang liked and loved you, nothing would be a problem. Even if he acted like a loyal dog gong and came to your classroom’s front door by helicopter to deliver breakfast and send Brazilian iris flowers. Tie him to the bed, make him the bottom, lash him with a whip, he totally won’t mind.
“Why don’t you take all my money. I will just be a working-class teaching assistant at the University. Maybe I’ll find true love there?”
Tianhe, “No need. I recommend this book, 'An Actor Prepares.'”
Jiang Zijian and Tianhe had been close for many years. Hearing this, they suddenly came to their senses and patted their thighs. “Right!”
The two fell silent. After a minute, the macaw screamed out of the window, “Guan Yue is cold.”
The water was boiling in the president’s office of the International Finance Center on the 37th floor of the HSBC Building at the Qingsong Capital China Fund.
Guan Yue rolled up his shirt sleeves, lifted the pot, poured the hot water, shoveled out a bit of Assam tea, took out a box of milk and put another kind of tea to boil, and watched the day’s industry news while sipping his tea.
Guan Yue: 27 years old, an Aquarius, 188cm, 20 cm. He was one of the partners of Qingsong Capital China Fund, CEO of the local branch, owned an unknown amount of property and was part of the rental social group. He was originally from Taiyuan Shanxi Province and had a master’s degree in PPE from Oxford University. His hobbies were stock speculation and equestrianism.
Sexual orientation: unknown.
Guan Yue’s facial features were hard and full of masculinity: sharp eyebrows, tall nose bridge, long fingers, clear knuckles, dark stubble, his Adam’s apple was obvious and sexy, and his hair slightly pushed flat to the side. Under the hands of the hairdresser, two inconspicuous slashes were carved, making the letter ‘X’.
Guan Yue opened two buttons of his shirt, revealing a clear collarbone. Recently, he had been working out quite well. With his shoulder slightly extended, the shoulder line of his white shirt was stretched straight.
“Chairman, what’s the news?” Tong Kai, chief advisor of the Greater China Division of Nuolin Law Firm, sat opposite Guan Yue, idly basking in the sun and brushing his phone with his stiff little finger.
Guan Yue glanced at Tong Kai’s finger and frowned.
Tong Kai saw his line of sight and exclaimed angrily, “My little finger got burned! With all the ointment on it, do you think I want to skip? In yesterday’s meeting, the intern came to pour tea and poured boiling water directly onto my hand. The entire conference room thought I had an electric shock or was scalded from a heartbreak. Do you think I have been unlucky recently because of the adverse effects of water?”
Guan Yue didn’t answer. The two men resumed their phone viewing activity.
Ten seconds, twenty seconds, one minute...
Tong Kai glanced at Guan Yue out of the corner of his eye and found something wrong. He gave a tentative look at his phone.
“Chairman, what are you looking at? Did something big happen?” Tong Kai asked.
Guan Yue, “???”
Guan Yue raised his head from the front of the phone screen, raised his left eyebrow slightly and glanced at Tong Kai.
Tong Kai, “You’ve been on the same press release post for a minute now!”
“Your eyebrows betray you. You’re anxious.” Tong Kai asked suspiciously. “This is abnormal behavior. Is A-Shares going to crash again?”
Guan Yue put his phone aside and turned to look absentmindedly at the kettle.
Tong Kai stretched his neck, glanced at the news headline on the phone screen and murmured, “Epeus has overdue debts. They’ve become insolvent and filed for bankruptcy... Epeus?” Tong Kai’s brow twisted. “How did you know that?”
Guan Yue was silent, his long fingers tapping rhythmically on his desk.
Tong Kai started with his own research. “He started with the development of quantitative trading software and turned to artificial intelligence in the past two years. He’s well known as the founder of a unicorn startup that progressed to E-round funding...the funds were burned out without listing money... Do you know this company? Why do I find it so familiar...”
Guan Yue’s unnatural expression flickered.
Tong Kai put down his phone and no longer bothered about the news, and said, “I don’t want to fall in love anymore. The last time I did, that little executive hurt me badly.”
“Even if I shake my legs after eating, it still shakes. I shake everywhere. When I watched a movie, I shook the row of seats causing others to think it was an earthquake. Then, they ran out halfway through the movie.” Tong Kai learned from the previous boyfriend about shaking his legs and said, “Look at this frequency, this amplitude, are these even two human legs? This is completely non-ergonomic. This is an engine! When shaking, my head goes as askew as I am. When I first noticed it, I thought I was having a stroke!”
“Life habits are also calculated. No one is perfect, you can bear it. But I was cheated and deceived! Tricking me to help them in a lawsuit and consult legal issues! I asked myself why was it that every time we came out for dinner, I was asked to give him an idea. How come there are so many lawsuits?”
“He wanted me to give him an exemption from fees, consultation, and inquiry! In the end, I found out he was a straight man! He has a wife and children, and both children are two years old, huh?”
Guan Yue glanced at Tong Kai. Looking at his expression, he seemed to want to say something, but refrained from doing so.
Tong Kai despairingly said, “I think the most frustrating time in my life was when I waited for him on the night he finally promised me to “bed.” I took a good bath and changed into my bathrobe. I also poured a glass of wine, played some music, and dimmed the lights trying to create a romantic atmosphere, and then he came out with a feather duster. I thought to myself, ‘would you like to play something else? Why don’t you get a whip instead of a feather duster’?”
“As a result, he slumped down on his knees!” Tong Kai said emotionally. “He said, ‘Brother, please let me go. I admit I lied to you. I just wanted to ask what will happen next in this dead-end case of mergers and acquisitions. I didn’t want to lie to you, I dare not! It’s our boss who made me come. Please let my chrysanthemum go’.”
Tong Kai cried, remembering the expression of the little executive begging. “‘I have two sons. My wife doesn’t know that I’m doing such a shameful thing…’”
Tong Kai grabbed a golden rice bowl and made a gesture, sincerely shouting, “Hit me! Hit me with this feather duster like my wife hits me. Hit me in the face! Brother! I can accept you hitting me in the face!”
Guan Yue looked at Tong Kai.
“Could I have hit him? How could I beat him? I became a company executive at the age of 25. I worked and fought hard in big cities. I would feel so stressed that my legs would shake and go limp. I felt even more distressed when I noticed it... What else could I have done?” Tong Kai said sadly.
Guan Yue handed Tong Kai a cup of milk tea, took away his golden rice bowl, dug out a tube of universal glue from the stationary box and glued the golden rice bowl to his desk.
Tong Kai took a sip of milk tea, helplessly sighed, and shook his head.
At the age of 29, Tong Kai still looked young, like a college student who was still studying. His brows and eyes were clearly defined, his skin like milk. When he talked, he was always all smiles. He was clingy, liked to laugh, and had a vigorous vitality.
“It’s too difficult to find someone right now. They either want my money or my talent. Is there still true love in this world? Ai, are you even listening?” Tong Kai asked helplessly.
Guan Yue’s expression was a little dignified, seriously looking at his phone.
“Still looking at Epeus’ news? Are you planning to save them?” Tong Kai asked, narrowing his eyes.
“Impossible. I don’t accept junk.” Guan Yue said before he furtively touched his tall, perfect and sexually appealing nose he had inherited from his father’s side.
In the autumn of September, the company began its liquidation. The representatives of the banks and the shareholders gave an ultimatum to enforce the bankruptcy process for personal assets before October 1. On the birthday of the motherland, Tianhe would lose almost all of his property and move out to find another place to live.
The few remaining employees of the company craned their necks and waited. Originally, Tianhe asked the CFO to hand out the money once the discussion was over. However, all colleagues agreed to take a farewell photo with Tianhe. To commemorate it, Tianhe drove over by himself; the driver had resigned and gone home.
In half a month, the family’s four cars would have to be delivered to the bank. If he had time, he needed to find out how to hail a taxi before then.
“There are still so many people.” Tianhe glanced around and said. “Mecy, you can buy Disney tickets for the whole company tomorrow. I’ll invite everyone to have a good time before the group disperses.”
“Okay.” The CFO said. “It’s the last time anyway. It’s better to buy the tour service in advance like last time.”
“Of course,” Tianhe said. “It’s elegant to queue up at Disney even if you’ve gone bankrupt.”
Tianhe’s expression was always so calm. He took photos with them one after another.
From 2:00 PM to 6:30 PM, every employee came to shake hands with Tianhe.
“I can’t bear to...” Many girls cried.
“Can’t bear it?” Tianhe smiled and said. “I’ve only been CEO for less than a week.”
“Can’t bear to give up the company!” the programmers wailed loudly, shaking hands with Tianhe in turn, shedding snot and tears. After waiting for the employees to turn around, Tianhe wiped his nose on Mecy’s coat.
The third floor office gradually quieted down. The employees finally left, leaving the CFO, the Deputy General, and the General Assistant.
“Second Boss, see you again later. If you want to work together again, call me. I’ll return home with my children and do business on WeChat in passing. I’ll be on call.”
“Sure.” Tianhe said. “I would like to lend my Bentley to you, and perhaps, can I take a picture with you?”
“Can you?!” The General Assistant was flattered and received Tianhe’s car key.
“You can drive it for a few days and just park it back in the company garage.” Tianhe then sent the General Assistant away.
The CFO looked around the office as Tianhe said, “Mecy, you should go back too. You still have to spend some time with the legal department. Once National Day passes, just regard it as your official resignation. Have fun tomorrow.”
“Okay, I’ll go now.” Mecy politely said his farewell to Tianhe and left.
Seeing the General’s office was open, Tianhe entered the office which was supposed to be his own, sat on his brother’s swivel chair, and sighed. The Deputy General came in and sat down across the desk. Looking at Tianhe, neither of them said anything.
“You were here when my brother took over the company.” Tianhe said.
“I came when your father was in poor health.” The Deputy General looked around and said. “Want a drink?”
“You drink.” Tianhe said in distress. “I have a psychological shadow from foreign wine. My brother came to see me with some the night before he ran.”
The Deputy General took out a bottle of wine and two glasses from the shelf, and said, “We'd better drink some.”
“They all quite like the company.” Tianhe thought, took the cup and said. “When you want to cry, you really are crying. What you loathe to give up, you really loathe to give up.”
“This is how the work goes. If you want to start a group, start one.” The Deputy General casually said. “If you want to ask for leave, then ask for leave. You can go to Paris, London, and Hokkaido. You can play games and have a meal after work. Who doesn’t like that?”
Tianhe, “Mm, even the sweeping Aunt was earning 12,000. I can feel how deeply everyone loves the company, yet none of you tried to persuade him?”
“Would it have been useful?” The Deputy General helplessly asked. “The industry was all flattering him; he had long lost his mind by it. The business upstarts and the myth of technology companies... Look at the wall, it’s still hanging there.”
On the wall was Wen Tianyue’s group photo with several heavyweight officials.
“The state's support must be lived up to. The intangible assets had been mortgaged, and the banks were owed 600 million. The branch head almost couldn't catch his breath when he returned that day.” The Deputy General said.
Tianhe, “I have seen the project’s progress. Is there any hope?”
The Deputy General shook his head. “I don’t think it can be done. The technical director made a copy for you. Would you like to go home and try it for a few more years? The server key is in the file bag, but I’m afraid it won’t work on your home computer.”
Tianhe thought and asked, “Last question. Have you never had an argument with my elder brother in all these years? What kind of decisions did he make?”
The Deputy General reluctantly said, “How noisy. I told him not to bet on Spain, but on France. Now there are still a thousand left. If he gambled again, maybe the company's fortune would be turned around!”
“You can go home.” Tianhe spent great efforts to control himself from saying the words, 'get lost.' “Call me.”
The Deputy General drank the wine in one gulp, hugged Tianhe heavily, before walking out of the office while chicly raising his hand.
At sunset, the setting sun shone in from the window of the floor. The golden light fell on the monitors one after another. Each employee had taken their keyboard and mouse home with them.
Tianhe walked into the 19th floor and quietly looked at the row of seats. When he was a child, his father brought him to their first company. The first company developed quantitative trading software on the second floor of a market in the old city. The company earned its first bucket of gold and moved into a slightly flashier office building. Soon, his father found out he had a brain tumor and left the world six months later.
After his elder brother took over the company, he rented the three-story office of the Science and Technology Park in the New Wisteria District. The project R&D continued to follow the pattern the two brothers had seen in the old building.
Walking between the seats, Tianhe reminisced about the past.
Wen Tianyue was still by his side, sitting in a swivel chair as he said to him seriously, “Baby, all of what father has left us is in the hard disk of the server. You see? He never left.”
Tianhe quietly sat at the CTO’s desk until the last ray of sunlight disappeared. The concerto in G major spilled like a stream of water over the ground.
As night fell, the entire office fell into darkness. In the corner office on the 19th floor, a computer’s monitor lit up as it suddenly started up.
Tianhe turned around and sat at the desk in the corner. The monitor was covered with a thick layer of dust. There wasn’t a famous brand name on it; it was a disused host computer. Why did it suddenly start up? A problem with the motherboard? Tianhe clicked the mouse a few times and pressed F8, but nothing happened, only a blue screen reporting an error. Tianhe leaned down, wanting to press the power button to shut it down, when the blue screen suddenly flashed and lines of code popped up.
“Please insert the secret key and format the backup at the same time...” Tianhe frowned. He found the adapter and plugged in the secret key. He hadn’t checked its connection to the external network, let alone figured out where to back it up, when the monitor flashed and the host started to rapidly read the data.
Tianhe gaped and raised his hands. He hadn’t even touched anything on the keyboard. Was this a set-up?!! Was it a virus? An AI?
Tianhe grabbed the secret key and was about to unplug it when the monitor flickered and its black screen buzzed. Tianhe leaned down again and pressed the power button a few times to restart it. The motherboard reported an error and burned out. Tianhe was puzzled. He inspected the host computer, but no matter how many times he pressed the power button, the computer no longer turned on.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cat, Joyce and Caro.