Master opened the front door of his house. ‘I knew you came home with the little girl, but I didn’t think you’ll visit me.’
Zhen Lang gave boxes of herbal medicine. ‘Did you actually think I wouldn’t visit you?’
Master accepted the herbal medicine and he scoffed. ‘You only know how to make others miserable. Even your gifts aren’t as carefree as the little girl’s gifts.’
‘You’re getting older, you should cut back on the alcohol. Master you have an old injury and the herbal medicine are nutritious for you. You’ll feel refreshed during summer and warm during winter so every year will be comfortable for you,’ Zhen Lang said.
‘You’re too noisy. You’re a doctor but you only know how to lecture people. My body is in good condition. I don’t need nutritious herbal medicine. In the future you can’t give me these kind of gifts otherwise I’ll curse you,’ master said affectionately.
‘I brought ingredients to cook dishes suitable for drinking so master show me a face that’s easier on the eyes,’ Zhen Lang said.
Master helped Zhen Lang carry the bags of food inside and he sighed. ‘You only brought food. Where’s the alcohol?’
‘Later isn’t she bringing alcohol for you? Then it’s good that I brought food,’ Zhen Lang said.
Zhen Lang walked toward the kitchen. He saw kick pads, gloves and mats scattered in the living room. ‘Master you haven’t changed your habit of giving your best pupils private training cla.s.ses at home.’
Master unpacked the ingredients on the kitchen bench. ‘Hehe… I want to see if I can train pupils to become future champions. I knew you and the little girl are coming here tonight. Let me cook you two a delicious dinner.’
Master held a knife but his hand trembled.
Zhen Lang gently took the knife from master. ‘Let me cook for master. I want master to taste my cooking.’
Master nodded his head and he smiled.
Zhen Lang washed and chopped the vegetables. ‘Master come visit me soon in the city. I want to help you find a good nurse to take good care of your old injury.’
‘It’s a waste of time. I’m ok, it’s not necessary,’ master said.
‘Then I want master to listen to my advice as your doctor,’ Zhen Lang said. He put the knife down on the kitchen bench. ‘Master, there are other martial arts teachers who can subst.i.tute you for a few days.’
‘Little boy, why are such a bad little boy? You were like this since you were a little boy and you haven’t changed as an adult. I don’t blame the little girl for hating you,’ master said.
Zhen Lang smiled. ‘The two of you are stubborn like each other. Impulsive like each other and think like each other. I’m happy to chase her. But why do I need to chase master too? I’m giving master a month to visit me otherwise I’ll write a letter to the princ.i.p.al.’
‘Do you believe me if I say I’ll give you beating?’ master asked.
Zhen Lang laughed. ‘Indeed like master like pupil. You two speak like each other too. Master’s precious darling pupil says she’ll give me a beating several times a day. Master do you think it’s an effective threat?’
Master wanted curse and tear of his handsome pupil’s face.
‘If my precious darling pupil threatens to give you a beating every day then it shows she still hates you. She resents you for preventing her from trying out on the national taekwondo team. You deserve her resentment because you made me separate from my precious darling pupil too early. If you didn’t then my precious darling pupil will be the most famous martial arts athlete in the world,’ master said.
‘I don’t need her to be famous or rich. It’s enough for me to see her healthy and lively. Back then we had an agreement. If she gets an injury then I won’t agree for her to compete in tournaments anymore,’ Zhen Lang said.
‘Where is the little girl’s injury? I did a good job protecting the little girl. You only know how to play around,’ master said.
‘Master don’t you know about her old ankle injury? Back then she broke her ankle during a tournament. Everyone knew after she broke her ankle she didn’t rest and she continued to train,’ Zhen Lang said.
‘That’s a common injury. If she rests for a period then her ankle will heal,’ master said.
‘But the point is she refuses to rest. Also master wanted her to enter the national team. If she’s on the national team then she would have competed in fiercer and gruelling matches. She’s reckless and unpredictable. Everyone knows what will happen if she continued on that path so what I did wasn’t playing around,’ Zhen Lang said. He didn’t hold back. ‘She knows she doesn’t need to be famous. She’s happy to be lively and active. I didn’t want her to be too impulsive and reckless in her younger years, because she’d regret it as an adult. Master look at her now, isn’t it good she’s like a boiling pot?’
‘By not letting the little girl then-’ master said.
Gu Jing knocked on the front door. ‘Stinky old man, I brought good strong wine for master. Open the door.’
Master laughed and he ran to open the front door. ‘Stinky pupil!’
‘Stinky old man!’ Gu Jing said.
Gu Jing gave master two bottles of wine. ‘Master keep these two bottles of wine for yourself to drink. I brought a carton of beer too. Later we can drink beer together.’
‘Little girl, are you scared I’ll drink too much and faint?’ master asked.
Gu Jing laughed. ‘I’m scared master will drink too much and master can’t tell the difference between sky and ground. Master you’re getting old, don’t turn into a corpse.’
‘Show me your moves!’ master said.
‘I’m not scared of you. I’ll show you my moves!’ Gu Jing said.
Zhen Lang heard master and Gu Jing’s loud commotion and he shook his head helplessly in the kitchen.
Gu Jing attacked master for a while. ‘Hey old man, how’s your old injury? It seems like you’re holding back.’
Master scoffed. ‘I’m going easy on you because you’re my pupil. I’m scared you’ll faint if I attack you using my real strength.’
Gu Jing retrieved her leg and she sat on the floor. ‘Old man, if your arm is in bad condition then come to the city with me. I’ll ask Mr Vet to find you two good specialists and I’ll pay for master’s treatments.’
‘Mr Vet?’ master asked.
‘Mr Vet is Zhen Lang. Back then master said he’s a pretty face but a black belly. Master’s right, back then he’s a black belly and now he’s still a black belly,’ Gu Jing said.
‘Back then you two were close. Now why are you gritting your teeth talking about him? But he’s a black belly. On the outside he looks easy to bully but he’s a dangerous bad person,’ master said.
Gu Jing opened the carton of beer. She pa.s.sed a can of beer to master and she took out a can of beer for herself. ‘He’s not a complete black belly. At least he doesn’t pee on the streets, he’s not an alcoholic, he’s not a playboy, he’s not a gambler, he knows how to cook, he knows how to save money, he knows how to do housework, he’s a hard worker, he’s handsome-’
‘Little girl you know a lot about the little boy. The way you talk about him sounds like you’re choosing a husband,’ master said.
‘Of course I know him. I’ve seen him since he’s a little boy. I even know how many hair strands he has on his chest,’ Gu Jing said.
‘How many?’ master asked.
Gu Jing laughed. ‘Guess, if master guess the wrong number then you need to drink beer. Master, you can guess how many times you want.’
Gu Jing thought about Zhen Lang in his bathrobe and his chest looked more beautifully sculpted than a girl’s chest.
Gu Jing shook her head to get rid of her smile. She didn’t want to think about the hateful Zhen Lang.
Master scratched his head and he spoke loudly. ‘Little boy, how many hair strands do you have on your chest?’
Zhen Lang brought bowls of hot dishes to the dining room. ‘What do I get if I tell master how many strands of hair I have on my chest?’
Gu Jing’s hands trembled and she nearly dropped the can of beer in her hand. ‘Why are you here?’
‘Taste the dinner dishes and tell if it’s delicious,’ Zhen Lang said.
‘Did you add poison? First tell me why you’re here. Master is my teacher, master isn’t close to you,’ Gu Jing said.
Master drank a can of beer. ‘We’re close. Who says we’re not-’
‘In the past I used to wait for you while you trained. Master watched me grow up too. Of course we’re close,’ Zhen Lang said.
Zhen Lang exchanged a secret look with master whilst Gu Jing nodded her head and she ate dinner.
‘Mr Vet, help master find specialists for his old arm injury,’ Gu Jing said.
Master rotated his arms. ‘Master is healthy, it’s not necessary.’
Gu Jing and Zhen Lang raised their eyebrows and they stared at master’s arms.
Master picked up a pair of chopsticks, he ate dinner and he didn’t dare to refuse treatments for his old arm injury.
‘Where’s a good spot to sit?’ Zhen Lang asked.
Zhen Lang wiped food stains off the corner of Gu Jing’s mouth. She moved her face away from his hand, but his hand brushed her hot cheeks.
‘Mr Vet, you can choose to sit anywhere,’ Gu Jing said.
Gu Jing reasoned by the morning, Zhen Lang would be married so she wouldn’t need to put up with him anymore.
‘Ok, I’ll think about it,’ Zhen Lang said.
Zhen Lang cooked and cleaned the whole night. Whilst Gu Jing and master drank, ate, sang and laughed merrily.
Zhen Lang picked up the empty beer cans and he put them in the recycling bin. He saw Gu Jing and master rolled around on the floor and he sighed. He pulled Gu Jing off the floor. ‘Little girl, let’s go home.’
‘Um,’ Gu Jing said.
Gu Jing drank too much and she felt tipsy. She waved bye to master and she followed Zhen Lang home.
Zhen Lang held Gu Jing’s hand and he led her home. The moonlight lit the long road home.
‘How long has it been since we walked home together like this? More than ten years?’ Zhen Lang asked.
‘Since you sabotaged my chances to try out for the national team,’ Gu Jing said.
‘Don’t you mean since you secretly received my love letters from other girls and ate their gifts? Then you didn’t dare to face me, right?’ Zhen Lang asked.
‘More like since you told the school girls if they play with me then they’ll fall in love with me. It’s your fault I didn’t have any girlfriends to play with at school,’ Gu Jing said.
‘You didn’t have school girlfriends because you told them if they come near me then you would give them a beating. It’s your fault you became their enemy,’ Zhen Lang said.
‘My threats were aimed at the school boys. It’s your fault school girls misunderstood me,’ Gu Jing said.
‘You used my name to write love letters to the school girls. It’s your fault the school girls hovered around me,’ Zhen Lang said.
‘You promised me that you belonged to me. It’s your fault for attracting the school girls and you broke your promise to me,’ Gu Jing said.
Gu Jing felt like the beers she drank made the two decades of memories she shared with Zhen Lang clearer in her head.
‘What about you? You promised you’ll marry me but you ran away,’ Zhen Lang said.
Gu Jing scoffed. ‘At least I’m not bad like you. It’s only been a few days and you found someone else. You’re a stallion!’
Zhen Lang held Gu Jing’s shoulders and he pressed her back against a wall outside their home. ‘Stallion? Did you call me a stallion?’
‘Of course you’re a stallion!’ Gu Jing said.
Zhen Lang kissed Gu Jing for a long time and she felt like her body melted.
After Gu Jing regained her senses she didn’t see Zhen Lang outside their home. But what he said to her after he kissed her echoed in her head – ‘I consider this as a deposit for me to find specialists for master’s old arm injury.’
Gu Jing rubbed her lips and she fisted her hands. She cursed Zhen Lang – ‘You black belly! Chen Wei marrying you is a waste!’
End of Chapter Thirty-Seven