I huddled in the closet, listening indifferently to Roxette. After three times, I became sleepy. Through the crack, I saw Li Chuan sitting up on the bed with the computer and the two large monitors on. He concentrated on drawing while listening to the music.
Besides Roxette, in the entire room, there was only the sounds of the mouse clicks.
Gradually, there was no more Roxette. She was replaced for light music, spa style, the kind with birds and waterfalls.
Sleepiness attacked me.
What was I going to do! This person didn’t seem like he wanted to sleep at all. But, as for myself, I could barely keep my eyes open from sleepiness.
I planned to take a nap to restore some energy, wait until he was asleep, and then get up and slip away in the middle of the night. I quickly fell asleep leaning against the wall and hugging his shirt.
I fell asleep because I believed that before Li Chuan went to sleep, he would definitely go take a shower. The sound of the water in the bathtub would definitely wake me up. But the sound of the water didn’t wake me up. I slept very soundly and even had a beautiful dream. I dreamt that Li Chuan held me, carried me onto the bed, and then gently kissed me. I grabbed onto his collar and said, “Doesn’t count, another one.” He wasn’t willing at first, and then said, “If you promise me you’ll give up smoking, I’ll give you another one.” I heroically patted my chest and agreed, “I promise!”
He leaned over, and sweetly kissed me. His ice cold fingers touched my face, lingering for a long time and not releasing. Afterwards he asked, “Is that enough?” I couldn’t help but reach out to hug him, but he grasped my hands and stuffed them under the blanket, saying, “Sleep well.” I said, “I am sleeping. I am currently dreaming.” He laughed. The laugh was faint, carrying a trace of helplessness, “Then have a good dream.”
The Li Chuan in my memory was filled with energy and could jump out at any time to interfere with my daily life. This was a challenge that I had not been able to overcome in the past six years. I’ve never studied up on Sigmund Freud and didn’t understand why some memories were dead and could be buried for tens of years while other memories were alive and floated to the top like oil, not sinking not matter how much you stir.
…Li Chuan, my rainbow, my gravity. Li Chuan, my Titanic, my iceberg. Li Chuan, you threw away a pebble towards the sky as you you were walking. That pebble was me.
Beep beep beep, beep beep beep, beep beep beep. I was awoken by an alarm clock. I looked at my watch. Time: 7:45.
Character: Xie Xiao Qiu.
Mr. Wang Li Chuan’s bed.
I rubbed my eyes, rubbed my eyes, and rubbed my eyes again. It couldn’t be like this!
Character: Xie Xiao Qiu.
Li Chuan’s bed.
It must be his bed. Even though the bedrooms in the hotel appeared pretty much the same, the standards for Li Chuan’s room were higher. Though there was little furniture, each item was very luxurious. And if this wasn’t proof enough, there were two movable frames on either side of the bed. On the left and right, each side had a huge apple monitor.
I was still wearing what I wore yesterday and his button down shirt was still in my hands. The white wrinkled shirt now had my eye shadow and lipstick on it. I found my socks at the foot of the bed. I got out of the bed and looked around. The room was very quiet, not a soul in sight. I looked for Li Chuan’s computer, wanting to complete my mission from yesterday. But I discovered that it was taken away by Li Chuan.
I took a huge breath, then went to the bathroom to wash my face with hot water. Li Chuan hadn’t left for a long time. His toothbrush was still dripping water and the vapor in the bathroom hadn’t completely dispersed yet. I tidied up my clothes and hair. Pretending to have a working appearance, I purposely took up the two “Wenzhou Annals” book and held them. I looked at the time: 8:05.
At this time, every CGP person would be in the meeting in the the conference room. Besides me, no one dared to be late.
I listened to the outside, there was no movement. (English) Coast is clear. Thus, I calmly opened the door and calmly returned to my own room. I took a shower and put on makeup again. I changed into a light purple fleece shirt and a grey checkered skirt before going to the dining room to eat the first breakfast I’ve had since getting to Wenzhou.
The meeting had just finished and everyone from CGP was in the dining room.
Li Chuan and the two directors as well was the two guests, who arrived last night, were chatting while drinking coffee at the bar.
To get coffee, I had to pass by the bar. I courteously smiled at the guests, but didn’t go up to greet them. I was just about to get a cake from the table next to it, Director Jiang called out to me, “Annie, come over here!”
I stopped, turned around, and then strolled forward.
Mencius says: No matter how high the position of the other person is, when speaking to him, one must not exhibit humbleness. Neither servile nor overbearing manner is best.
“This is Mr. Wang Ji Chuan, Mr. Wang’s older brother.”
I shook his hand, “Hello, Mr. Wang. I am Annie, Mr. Li Chuan’s translator.”
“Hello, Annie.” His hands were warm and his grip was very solid when we shook hands.
The two brothers looked very alike. However, Ji Chuan’s outline was more gentle than Li Chuan and he was slightly taller than Li Chuan. He was the complete version of Li Chuan. Comparing them, I still thought Li Chuan was better looking. He had more of a noble air than Ji Chuan. His outline was more distinct and the lines were bolder.
Next to Ji Chuan stood a chestnut haired, dark eyed foreigner of similar age. I didn’t think he looked like a French person. More like a British person. His face was thin and long. His chest was straightened up the entire time, some what like the earl in “The English Patient” before he was disfigured.
“This is Mr. René Dubois.” Ji Chuan introduced.
“Hello, Mr. Du…bois. I am Annie.”
Dubois. This name was hard to pronounce. Ji Chuan’s French pronunciation was fast and gentle, I was a bit nervous.
I wasn’t just nervous because of this. I was afraid of the kissing as greeting of the French. I was a Chinese woman. I wasn’t very traditional or conservative, but I stood to my principles. I would only be open with the man I fell in love with. Once, I went to play at a classmate’s home. Her boyfriend was French and kissed me twice as soon as he saw me, turning my face bright red.
“Ah…Annie, hello! Call me René. I am from Paris. Therefore, the second e has a rising tone.” He was very affectionate when shaking hands, but there were very long hairs on the back of his hands. So he could also speak Chinese. However, it was stammering and strange sounding.
“Mmm, rising tone. I’ll remember.”
He could only deal with this much Chinese. Afterwards, René spoke in English to me. His English was smooth and fluent, and the syntax was very graceful. It just contained an obvious French accent.
“Alex said that you would take me to Yandang Mountains.”
I had never heard of this name.
He stared blankly for a bit, then turned his head towards Li Chuan. Li Chuan had his head lowered, drinking coffee. He raised his head and looked at me, after awhile, he said two words, “Middle name.”
Very well. You think you know a person, but then you realize suddenly that you didn’t even know his entire name.
I maintained a professional smile, “I’ve also never been to Yandang Mountains. I would gladly go with you. I heard that it would only take an hour to get there by bus.”
“Can you ride a bike?”
“How about riding bikes there? It can reduce air pollution.”
“Annie, breakfast is over there. Do you want me to help you carry your coffee?” The French were so polite.
“Thank you, there’s no need.”
René walked me to the table, pulled out my chair, and I sat down.
Actually, every time we ate out, Li Chuan would always open the door for me, take off my jacket, and pull out the chair. He did this countless times, yet I was still not accustomed to it.
The light breakfast on the table was Western style. Cake, bread and so on. There were many things whose names I could not say. René said to Li Chuan, “Alex, Leo, you need to go to the construction site soon. Do you guys want to eat a bit of the strawberry muffin beforehand to fill your stomachs?” He said in English.
The two brothers both came over and sat, each holding a place.
“Of course, we need to eat a bit. The muffin is too sweet, Li Chuan will not be eating it.” Ji Chuan said and then took the muffin from Li Chuan’s plate onto his. While doing so, he also threw a slice of dark bread to him, “Eat this wheat bread. It’s nutritious.”
Li Chuan’s tastes were actually very picky. He definitely wouldn’t want to eat wheat bread. Sure enough, he wrinkled his brows, stood up, and then got half a plate of fruit from the salad counter. He had just sat back down when René, holding his fork, stretched his neck over and examined the plate while shaking his head, “Hmm…This isn’t good. This isn’t good. You can’t eat this. Or this grape. It’s too sweet. This won’t do. This kiwi is ok. It has lots of vitamins.”
He forked half of the fruit on Li Chuan’s plate into his own mouth.
What kind of people are these? I was depressed for Li Chuan.
Afterwards, Li Chuan, took out a small steamed bun from the tray on the side and was just about to bite into it before René swiftly took it away, “My god, this definitely has pork! Let me try it.” After saying his, he pull apart the bun and smelled it. He nodded, “It is indeed. Alex, you never eat pork. Right? You like to eat steamed bun. I’ll go ask the server and see if there are ones with vegetables.”
I thought that I was about to go crazy for Li Chuan from witnessing these two people. First, Li Chuan wasn’t an infant. Second, Li Chuan could eat pork. Last time at my Auntie’s, he ate the pork dumplings and kept saying it was delicious.
“Don’t go.” Li Chuan stopped him and picked up the slice of wheat bread, “I’ll just eat this. Okay?”
René smiled and looked at me, “Annie, what do you want to eat?”
I quickly said, “Wheat bread.”
In order to show consideration towards me, everyone spoke English. Li Chuan kept silent, eating his bread. It was Ji Chuan and René who were warm and talked to me without stopping. They asked about Yandang Mountains, asked about Wenzhou’s climate, asked about the local customs, and asked about the current news in the area. Indeed they were French, they were experts at conversing.
I didn’t care. I chatted with him using it as a way to practice my speaking.
After chatting for half an hour, we were still going to continue chatting when Li Chuan stood up first, took out his blackberry and examined his (English) ‘to do list’. “Ji Chuan will accompany me to the construction site. René, I’ve already instructed people to buy the material for making the model. Paper knife, candle, various kinds of glue and paper of varying thickness have all been prepared. You have an assistant. That’s right, in my design, there are a few arches that might be difficult to make. How do you plan on making them?”
“Can there not be arches?” René teased.
“Does the thickness exceed 1.5 centimeters of paper?”
“Leave it to me. I have a way. Last time, Leo designed a melon shaped chair and I was able to create it. Right, Leo?”
“He is a genius. He’s just a little dumber than Li Chuan.”
“Hey, I am a (English) doctor!”
“Only stupid people would get a doctorate in architecture.” The two brothers said in unison.
“This isn’t good. The two of you together will just gang up. That’s not nice. Don’t go to the construction site, Leo. Stay here and help me.”
“No, Leo needs to help me draw the design. You can do it yourself. I’ll get an assistant for you.”
“Then, we’ll leave it at this. You owe me one, Alex.”
“Owe you what? Last time…and…last year..and…three years ago…”
“Okay, Alex, you don’t owe me. Next time, when I go to Las Vegas, you just need to lend me money.”
“Speaking of that, you still haven’t returned the money I lent you last time. It’s been a couple years, right?”
“Leo said he helped me pay it back. Leo, right?”
“Uh-huh…It’s nothing between brothers. Right, Li Chuan?” Ji Chuan patted Li Chuan’s shoulders, all smiles.
René suddenly turned towards me and said, “Annie, do you like to play with paper? You can be my assistant, okay?”
“Your assistant is Xiao Ding of the design department.” Li Chuan said, “Today, Annie needs to translate all the design sketches I’ve finished drawing.”
“Then remember to give me the designs.” I said according to official business principles.
“I’ve already sent it to your email.”
“I can’t open CAD files. Can you print one for me?”
“How about this? Give me your laptop, I’ll install CAD for you.”
“No, my eyes will hurt after staring at the screen for too long.” I quickly said. Actually I was afraid that Li Chuan will take advantage of the situation and make a copy of my entire hard drive.
“It’s like that? Then okay, the drawing is on my office table. It’s in a blue paper tube. I’m going to the construction site now. You can get it yourself.”
I spread out my hands, “How can I get it? I don’t have a key.”
He was already going to leave, and then stopped, looked at me, and raised his eyebrow, “You don’t have a key? How is that possible?”
“Why would I have the key to your room?” I said. Neither my heart raced nor my face turned red.
I could tell that this person was already angry beyond words.
“You don’t have the spare key?”
“I returned it a long time ago.”
“I’ll come with you!” His face couldn’t be anymore cloudy. The dark clouds were lowering and the storm was going to come.
Outside the dining room was a small kiosk. Thinking about the heavy amount of work I had today, I had the urge to smoke again.
“Wait, I’m going to the kiosk for a bit.”
“I’ll go with you.”
Li Chuan followed me. He followed me up to the kiosk. The attendant sold cigarettes to me every time and was very familiar with me.
“Morning, Annie! The same brand? One or two packs?”
I thought about it. And then thought about it again. Then I finally asked, “Do you have candy for giving up smoking?”
“No, only the pharmacy sells it.”
I didn’t say anything and intended to drop the subject. Unexpectedly, Li Chuan, standing on the side, asked, “Where is the closest pharmacy?”
“Turn right after exiting, past the park, turn left, follow that Hua Jiu (Nostalgia) street. It takes fifteen minutes. Tong Ji Tang is there.”
“It’s too far. I’ll see about it tomorrow. How about, you give me a pack…”
Someone glowered at me.
“Of pads.” I quickly finished my sentence.
After leaving the kiosk, Li Chuan said to me, “Do you have interest in taking a walk with me?”
I looked at him in shock, suspicious of the gift that dropped from the sky. Is Li Chuan speaking to me?
I swept a glance at his leg, asking, “Can you go for a walk?”
“It’s not too far of a walk.”
“May I ask…this walk, is it of a business nature?”
“Yes, are you willing?”
“Very willing. Who wouldn’t want to be on friendlier terms with the boss? Which way are we going?”
“Going right. Past the park, then left. We are going to Hua Jiu (Nostalgia) street.”
The park was directly on the right side of the doors. We cut through the park. It was very lively in the park. Some people were performing a sword-dance, some were shadowboxing, some were dancing, some were practicing martial arts, some were drinking tea and some were strolling. Everyone was enjoying life.
“Are there a lot of drawings that need translation?” I asked. Since it was a business stroll, I could only discuss business.
“Seven, eight of them. There not too many.”
“If it is urgent, I can finish translating in the afternoon and hand them to you tonight.”
“Not too urgent, you can give it to me tomorrow.”
He slowly walked as he spoke.
“Then, when do you think I will accompany René to Yandang Mountains?”
“When he has pretty much completed the model, the two of you can leave. By car, two days should be enough, right?”
“Didn’t we say that we would ride bikes?”
“Don’t listen to him. The mountain paths are not safe. I’ll have the driver take you.”
“You don’t want to go yourself?”
I wanted to find some other irrelevant thing to speak about, but he didn’t speak anymore. With his cane on the ground, he concentrated on walking.
I laughed bitterly inside. In fact, I didn’t require much. Having Li Chuan walk with me, even if he didn’t speak a word, was already enough for me.
After leaving the park’s dirt road behind, we headed left. Because the street on the left sold a lot of used CDs, they played oldies all day long. That’s why it was called Hua Jiu (Nostalgia) street.
“Why did we come here? You don’t want to buy old CDs do you?”
“Since we’re here already, might as well buy a few.”
“Then I’ll choose it for you.”
“I’ll give you five minutes.”
“Boss, this one by Teresa Teng. Can you play it to see if it’s scratched?”
The CD was placed into the player and Teresa Teng sang out, “I smiled when I saw you. Your graceful elegance is too beautiful. Being together with you, I never have any worries…”
“Boss, this one too. Zheng Jun.”
The player started singing again, “She seemed cold as ice She didn’t let you understand her, but in fact her heart was lonely Full of joyous dreams, we met one day The lonely heart was saved when facing her craziness I didn’t know whether to be happy or panic After an awkward silence, I said, what do you want to do She suddenly embraced me and said, Aha I can’t take anything else into consideration because my loved has already been bared My love has already been bared…You can’t let me be lonely again…”
Nothing could be done. No matter what song the boss played, Li Chuan’s expression looked like he was at a funeral. There was nothing to be done. Towards such a person, I could only pull out the best weapon. I picked out the extremely moving (English) Trisha Yearwood: “Without you There’d be no sun in my sky There would be no love in my life There would be no world left for me And I Baby I don’t know what I would do I would be lost if I lost you If you ever leave Baby you would take away everything real in My lifeAnd tell me now How do I live without you I want to know How do I breathe without you If you ever go How do I ever ever survive？
How do I How do I O how do I live?...”
This time, someone finally said without expression, “(English) Could you stop it?!”
Blockhead. I had nothing else. I was defeated. Time to pay. The pile of CDs were placed into a plastic bag. I held it myself. And then, I followed him, walking forward blankly. After walking not even five minutes, he suddenly stopped. I raised my head and looked. The door had three words, “Tong Ji Tang.”
“Li Chuan, do you need to buy medicine? What medicine do you need to buy? Tell me and I’ll go buy it so that you don’t misread the characters.” I took a basket and discovered that the pharmacy was like a supermarket. The medicine was all placed on rows and rows of shelves. There was also cosmetics.
“You go buy what you need. I’ll buy what I need.”
We each took a basket and went in, getting lost in the crowd. I found the Wu Ji Bai Feng Wan I wanted and also got a bottle of moisturizer and a bottle of face wash. I want up to the counter to pay. Li Chuan followed behind me. There were many black cases in his basket. Each black case had the huge words “NO” written on them.
After I checked out, I turned to him and said, “What is this?”
“Candy for giving up smoking.” And then he added, “Ji Xiang Tong Bao brand.”
“Don’t scare me. This many cases?”
“Each treatment is six boxes. You don’t need to buy any for eight weeks. Two pieces each time. When you want to smoke, you eat the candy and then drink lots of water.”
“Are you concerned about my health, or is this for business.”
“It has nothing to do with your health. Whether you want to smoke is none of my business.”
I became angry.
“But, I have lung disease. I can’t inhale smoke. Not even a bit.” He said coldly, “Therefore, when you work with me, you must quit smoking. This is a business requirement.”
I didn’t utter a word.
He checked out and came out. He got a taxi, “I’m tired, we’ll take the car back.”
I didn’t say anything on the whole way back. When we got to the hotel, I saw Ji Chuan chatting with the service employee at the entrance. When he saw us enter, he smiled, saying, “Where did you go? We said we’d be going to the construction site. You caused me to wait here for nothing.”
I smiled courteously.
Li Chuan handed the bag of candy for giving up smoking to me.
In front of them, I threw the entire bag into the trash can on the side. And then I calmly said, “Wang Li Chuan, feel free to fire me. I won’t starve to death.”
It’s too bad that Li Chuan is such a noble idiot. We can totally see how much he still cares for Xiao Qiu. Sadly, he’d never tell her. With the introduction of Ji Chuan and René, hopefully they’ll be able to push this relationship along a little bit more.