“My mom likes to hug me like this.”
After a long time, Xiao Li suddenly spoke. This time, his voice was more distinct as the warmth took over. The darkness looming around them seemed to have softhearted him, taking away all of his misgivings.
“When she was sixteen, she gave birth to me. At that time, she didn’t know anything and it didn’t help that her temperament made her useless and annoying. In order to support the two of us, she became a prostitute. Sometimes, when she returned after being wronged, she liked to hug me like this for a while.” He paused for a moment as if thinking his thoughts through before slowly saying, “Afterwards the leader of a gang appeared and was willing to her under his wings, so she stayed with him for several years. By that time, she had already gone insane. Once she was unable to be a prostitute any longer, she started to became his procurer . Who knew what she was thinking at that time, she even took me to the place she was staking around. Then she would say proudly to herself, ‘Xiao Li, look at how impressive mom is right now at this place……’ she was truly a fool. Who would show off this kind of place to their own son……”
Qi Xiu Yuan could only feel a few drops of warm tears dripped on his shoulder. As the cold breeze pass by, he couldn’t help but to stretch his hands out and lightly pat Xiao Li’s back as to console him.
Xiao Li stiffened all of a sudden as if he suddenly felt resentment towards Qi Xiu Yuan’s hug, but it was also as if he had remembered all the bad things that had happened to him in the past. Ultimately, he lowered his voice even more, saying, “When I was fifteen, the leader that she worked for, saw me. He went to talk to her, saying he wanted me to keep him company. She disapproved immediately and had even said some wrong words that provoke and make that gang leader mad. In the end, she fought with one of the subordinate and was pushed down a staircase. On the night of that day, she died.”
To say that it was shock that welled up inside Qi Xiu Yuan wouldn’t sufficiently describe his current emotion. He was struck by countless bolts that traveled into the core of his body and wrung his heart tighter than it had ever been. Feeling the slight trembles that consumed the person in his arms, he tightened his hold on him; it was as if, only by doing this could he convey even the most insignificant form of comfort to the other person.
Xiao Li’s voice went silent for a long while.
It was only when Qi Xiu Yuan felt his own shoulder entirely drenched did Xiao Li started to speak again.
“Afterwards, that gang leader brought the subordinate that had pushed her down those stairs to my house. In front of my mother’s memorial tablet, he made that subordinate stab himself three times as an apology. When his blood flowed to the ground, Xiao Yang was so scared, he cried for a long time……he paid us with his subordinate’s life and gave us money. Every day, he would come and see us and he’d even helped Xiao Yang enter a good school. I knew the meaning behind his actions, I was afraid, soon or later I won’t be able to escape so without any better option, I went to look for him. I told him, I was willing to be his subordinate in order to repay his kindness, but anything else I couldn’t. He……he……I pulled out a knife and drag it along my face. At first, I wanted to cut along the center of my face, but he suddenly blocked me and the knife slid the other way and became like how it is now. When he saw that the situation had turned out that way, he could only agree to what I had told him.”
Xiao Li let out a long sigh, “But Xiao Yang began to hate me instead. Perhaps it was when I became a member of the gang that had scared him that he began to hate me; or it was also possible that his hatred for me started to grow when our mother died……right before my mother died, she wanted me to promise her. Promise her to take care of Xiao Yang and not let him enter the underworld. Actually, after all these years, if it weren’t for the thoughts of taking care of Xiao Yang, I would have already……if Xiao Yang was dead, what would be the reason for me to continue on living?”
Qi Xiu Yuan doesn’t know much about Xiao Yang’s affairs, he could only say in a low voice as to console Xiao Li, “He’s only going to work at a difference province, as long as everyone is still alive, what problems can’t be resolve huh?”
Trembles took over Xiao Li once he heard those words; he suddenly pushed Qi Xiu Yuan away and turned around, walking toward the side of the riverbank.
Thinking that it was strange, Qi Xiu Yuan anxiously followed behind him, “Xiao Li, did something happened today? You’re acting really strange!”
Xiao Li kicked the empty beer bottles, “There’s no more beer, go buy some.”
“Oh,” Qi Xiu Yuan could only agree. He let his eyes settled on Xiao Li before he stammered, “I didn’t bring any money with me.”
Amused, a smile appeared on Xiao Li’s face. He pulled his own wallet out and threw it over to him.
“What do you want to drink? Wait, that’s wrong, you can’t drink alcohol. I’ll go buy you fruit juice, wait for me!”
Qi Xiu Yuan seemed to have been encouraged by his smiling expression as he himself also smiled excitedly.
Xiao Li watched him walk away.
He watched him leap over the railing.
He watched him ran into the far distant before his figure disappeared.
Then, he turned around, went to his own car and drove into the city.
On the road, he received a phone call.
“I heard you called my house looking for me?”
“Zi Cheng, if I remember correctly, at that time I suffered a knife for you?”
“……Xiao Li, don’t be like this. I won’t tell you any information about Lu Wu and Luo Dong’s contacts. There’s also no need for you to ask Fan Peng. Qing Ye had already instructed us not to.”
“I won’t implicate you.”
“Xiao Li, wake up. If Luo Dong could be satisfied with only killing you, why didn’t he contact you directly? Think, why would he throw that hand in front of Qing Ye’s house?”
“He wants to make it difficult for me.”
“He wants to find something to use against Qing Ye. If Qing Ye take no action, he’ll remain passive. Even if……even if the hostage was killed, nothing big would come of it. But if Qing Ye makes a move, the one that would remain passive would be us. We’ll only be led by the nose by him. Xiao Li, Luo Dong have been fighting with us for such a long time, what doesn’t he understand? He’s taking a gamble here; he’s gambling that even if you were to die, you’ll still help your brother. He’s also gambling that even if Qing Ye were to lose money, he will want to help you.”
Liu Zi Cheng then sighed, “Qing Ye coming this far in the underworld hasn’t been easy, he won’t easily let it go. Even if you die, it would be in vain. Drink some alcohol and sleep. Forget about your brother, this is the best option for everyone.” After saying it that, Liu Zi Cheng hung up.
Xiao Li stopped his car and glanced at the black case lying in the front passenger seat for second. Then he pressed another number, “Qing Ye, it’s me.” He said, “I want to ask you something.”
Qi Xiu Yuan was in a supermarket buying beverages, along with some yogurts. Not knowing which flavor Xiao Li would like, he picked out every kind.
It’s not my money anyways so if he thinks that he’s suffering some sort of loss, then next time I’ll invite him out instead.
With those thoughts in mind, he happily went to the counter to pay. Since it was very late at night, the supermarket did not have enough small changes, so he searched through the wallet for smaller change. Suddenly, his finger was scratched by something hidden in a concealed spot.
“What is this?” he muttered to himself.
Curious, he pulled a card out. It seems to be a screenshot from the traffic videotape. Although it was fuzzy, it was the image of Qi Xiu Yuan with only his underpants on, carrying a rather stiff Xiao Li on his back. He was in the middle of the road, hailing a taxi. One of his hand firmly held onto Xiao Li holding him up on his back, while the other hand along with his foot both stretched out, blocking the cars. This posture was extremely amusing to look at.
Qi Xiu Yuan’s entire body went into a state of shock causing him to remain still in the same position. He could only feel hot bubbles boiling upward from his chest and warming every bones in his body.
There’s still hope for me. My wish isn’t so big after all!
Trying his best to suppress the smile that beckoned to spring on his face, he instead let a slightly embarrassed and happy expression paint across his face. Then, he carefully placed the card back to its hidden compartment again.
But, by the time he arrived at the riverbank, this expression collapsed from his face. In spite of everything, Xiao Li was gone.
Shocked, he quickly pulled out his cellphone and gave Xiao Li a call.
The first time, there was a busy tone. A moment later, it was still busy and by the third time, it finally went through.
“Sorry, there’s an urgent matter within the gang.” Xiao Li’s voice sounded exhausted and tense, “So I wasn’t able to tell you. You can drink the juice.”
Hearing as though he wanted to hang up, Qi Xiu Yuan quickly said, “Your wallet is with me.”
“You can hold onto it for now.”
“Xiao Li……” Qi Xiu Yuan hesitated for a moment.
“What is it?”
“This picture in your wallet……”
“What picture?” Xiao Li’s doubt was very obvious.
“The picture of me carrying you on my back, hailing a taxi —-“
“Oh, that picture.” Xiao Li’s voice relaxed a bit, “That’s the police evidence. I told you about it before, did you forget?”
“I remember now.” There was a tint of regret in Qi Xiu Yuan’s voice.
“At that time, I thought it was interesting so I put it away. If you like it, you can take it.” Xiao Li’s voice became tense again, “I still have some things to deal with, we’ll talk again later.”
Once Qi Xiu Yuan heard the call disconnect, he silently looked at the bag full of fruit juices and yogurts in his hand for a while. Afterward, he decided to bring it home and give it to Susu.
 procurer – a person who finds prostitutes for people who want to have sex with them