Three months ago, Ma Lei moved all the dormitories of the freight drivers in his employ out of this small courtyard. Ma Lei had rebuilt a two-story single courtyard in the east of the village. This Courtyard was located closer to Zhuhai City. It was spacious and bright, and each person was assigned a single room. Everyone heartily approved of this arrangement.
Every holiday, this group of big men would visit the city and spend on entertainment, venting all the depression they had accumulated by driving long distances.
Unlike the other employees, Chen Yuanming never participated in this kind of social networking, partly because he was the youngest and did not like to talk, and partly because the goods he was running were on the second-in-command’s special line.
He therefore had an invisible estrangement with the other colleagues. Although these old freight drivers were not particularly smart, they were inherently perceptive and had their own pride. Naturally, they would rarely invite him to join them on their outings.
Over time, Chen Yuanming was once again isolated from the collective.
But this “isolation” was what he wanted. He obviously had more important things to do than spending time on food, drinks and fun.
The second shipment for this month had been completed and once again, the warehouse was empty. The idle drivers went to the city to revel and the entire dormitory building was dark. Only the window on the east end of the second floor was lit. Meanwhile, sitting at his desk in the dormitory, Chen Yuanming was reading a new newspaper.
In this room, which is only a few square meters long, there was no extra furniture, no electrical appliances, and no entertainment facilities. All that could be seen were piles of newspapers.
These were all the newspapers and periodicals that could be subscribed to at the Zhuhai Post Office over the past six months. From current events to business news, all the news that Chen Yuanming needed or did not need was here. Until today … he swiped his fingertips across a headline in the corner of the newspaper. Chen Yuanming exhaled… It was finally coming.
A sudden shout interrupted his thoughts, followed by an impatient knock on the door. Scarface? Chen Yuanming frowned slightly and got up to open the door.
“You really didn’t go out.” As soon as he entered the door, Scarface looked around the room in a probing manner, and sighed with emotion, “You don’t have to save money to such a degree. Is it enough to just read the newspaper? Hello? You can also buy a few copies of Gulong and Jin Yong! Or get a TV. There’s a show airing recently, its acted by Qiu Guan. It’s pretty good.
“Qiang ge, is anything the matter?” Chen Yuanming asked indifferently, interrupting Scarface’s unceasing flow of words. Although the man in front of him always acted frivolously, he was still the real second-in-command of this smuggling pool. It was impossible for him to be here in the middle of the night just to chat.
Scarface really felt suffocated.
He carefully looked over at the boy several times from top to bottom. When he had first met him half a year ago, the boy was as skinny as a monkey and his face was dark and mottled. He was not much better than a refugee.
Six months later, his figure had been built and strengthened by a lot. His face was completely open, his nose and eyes were clear and defined, he was full of spirit, and his appearance looked really good. But then, when the boy used his black eyeballs to stare at a person, it could make one feel a little bit oppressed. This was similar to the sense of oppression one felt when facing Scarface’s elder brother. He really didn’t look like a child who hadn’t even grown hairs.
Was this what elder brother valued? Scarface grinned, stretched out his uninjured arm and patted Chen Yuanming’s shoulder. “It’s okay, you’re in luck.”
Chen Yuanming froze for a bit, but still couldn’t figure out the other party’s intentions. Scarface opened his mouth and asked, “Do you have plans for tomorrow?”
“Is something up?” Chen Yuanming responded with a question.
“Yes.” The smile on the corner of Scarface’s mouth had a veiled feeling. “It’s a good thing, I’ll pick you up at 3 pm tomorrow, don’t go anywhere.”
With that, he patted Chen Yuanming’s shoulder and turned to leave the dormitory building. Chen Yunaming stood at the doorway for a long time, then closed the door silently.
In the afternoon of the next day, Scarface came by in a car to pick Chen Yuanming up on time. The driver was an unfamiliar face. Scarface pulled the man to sit in the back seat and patted the back of the leather chair.
“Audi 100, have you heard of it?”
Chen Yuanming’s complexion was poor. He smiled reluctantly and looked down at his feet. Scarface did not miss out on the opportunity to show off. He leaned back comfortably in the driver’s seat and raised his legs.
“You may not know this, but the Audi 100 is a serious “official car”. The police dare not stop an Audi 100 on the road. It took my brother a lot of effort to get it. He looked at the teenager whose face held a prim expression and grinned “Follow my brother so you can see more.”
The car drove very fast, and soon arrived at a street in the eastern district of Zhuhai City. After passing by a few high-end restaurants, it stopped steadily in front of a small building.
Taking a deep breath, Chen Yuanming walked out of the car without any hesitation and looked directly at the building in front of him. This was a small four-storey villa with about a dozen rooms on the first floor. It had a little bit of a European-style architecture. The surrounding wall was a little high and there was a dedicated parking lot next to it.
Scarface put his arm around Chen Yuanming’s shoulders and led him in. “Come in and see …”
As soon as he entered the door of the small building, Chen Yuanming opened his eyes. Scarlet shag carpet, water colored wall-paper, decorated ceilings, and a small fountain in the hall that was spitting out water.
There were two women at the door welcoming guests. Both women were above-standard beauties and while they were dressed a little less decently it was still more conservative than flirtatious. They fully displayed the temptation of uniforms.
A private club? Just by looking around Chen Yuanming understood what was happening. Perhaps in recent years only a few people may have heard of this kind of place, but the name “Heaven on Earth” will eventually spread throughout the north and south, and only few people will not know what this club represented.
He did not expect to be brought to such a place and though Chen Yuanming was fully prepared, he still couldn’t help but be surprised.
Just in time. At last he had finally seen some astonishment on the teenager’s face. Scarface smiled proudly, “Have you ever been to such a place? Let’s go in, brother, let me show you.”
At this moment, a woman came in quickly from the side of the hall. Her makeup was very colorful, her hair was piled high, her figure was full and enchanting, and like wind she could walk on the soft carpet in high heels. She must have been between the ages of 25-45 years, but regardless of her age she displayed a mature charm.
“Qiang ge!” The beautiful woman called out in a charming voice when she saw Scarface. Her voice was soft and sweet like that of a girl next door. The contrast was very confusing. “You are here at last. Elder brother has been waiting upstairs for a long time ~~”
“Yah, Qianqian, every time I see you, you look several years younger. Are you turning 18 this year?” Scarface joked with a laugh.
“Last year I was 18, this year I will turn 16.” The beauty did not mind the lighthearted joke. She turned around and looked at Chen Yuanming curiously.
“Who is he?” Of course, Scarface did not miss the probing look in her gaze. He squinted his eyes triumphantly, “Is this brother handsome?”
“He’s handsome. Just a bit too tender.” The beauty covered her mouth and let out a light chuckle, “Is my brother turning 15 years old this year?” She asked.
“His age at 15 matches you at 16 years, isn’t that right?” he quipped in exchange for a coquettish look. Scarface laughed and slapped the beauty’s buttocks, which had been stretched tightly in her skirt, “Don’t be flirty, my brother is waiting.”
The woman was also a no-nonsense person. Twisting her waist, she led the way. Scarface lowered his head, and whispered in Chen Yuanming’s ear, “Do you like her? Later, my brother will choose a beautiful one for you so that you can open your mind.”
The corner of Chen Yuanming’s mouth was tense and he did not reply. Scarface sneered and without asking anything further he took the teenager directly to the second floor.
When they reached the deepest part of the bar he opened the door to a guest room. Within the room, he saw Ma Lei seated in the middle of the main sofa. A girl in exposed clothing knelt on the sofa beside him. She bowed her head and kissed Ma Lei.
Ma Lei seemed to hear the sound of the door opening. He rubbed her buttocks, pulled himself out of her tangled hair and smiled at Scarface, “Aren’t you coming here?”
Scarface left Chen Yuanming’s side and sat directly on the sofa beside Ma Lei. The woman named Qianqian beckoned and a pure-looking girl in a school girl attire sat next to Scarface and leaned softly on his shoulders.
“Sit down.” This time he was speaking to Chen Yuanming. Ma Lei nodded toward the sofa in front of him and motioned to the other side.
Observing the situation in the room, Chen Yuanming sat opposite Ma Lei without any hesitation. But instead of sinking himself into the sofa like the two of them had done, he leaned forward slightly, folded his hands and put them between his knees in a serious business-like attitude.
Ma Lei looked at the young boy in front of him and smiled. “How do you like this place?”
“It’s very good,” Chen Yuanming responded concisely and comprehensively, “the special car pick up service is great. It looks like it costs a lot of money.”
Ma Lei raised his eyebrows. He seemed a little surprised that the teenager could be so calm. After a glance from Ma Lei, Qianqian issued a soft laugh and leaned over to sit next to Chen Yuanming.
“Do you smoke?” With a casual throw a small box fell on the coffee table.
Chen Yuanming glanced down at the pale-yellow cigarette case and the three gilded numbers on the packaging and shook his head. “I do not.”
Ma Lei smiled, “Don’t be nervous, I just want to talk to you today.”
The expression on Chen Yuanming’s face did not change in the slightest and it was clear that the beautiful snake who was exhaling smoke beside him had failed to ensnare him. Ma Lei glanced at Qianqian, who now looked a little stiff, and leaned back on the sofa.
“According to Scarface, you are no longer doing business in Wuhan?”
Chen Yuanming glanced at Scarface who was drinking and flirting with pleasure by the side and nodded.
“Why? Do you have other plans?”
Chen Yuanming did not hesitate to answer this question simply, “Yes, I have a plan.”
“I think you made 2 or 300,000 yuan in this short half year, can you afford to just throw it away?”
Chen Yuanming smiled a little, “It’s all with brother Ma’s support, otherwise how could I carry my own goods.”
Ma Lei didn’t care too much about the other party’s evasive speech. Instead he turned around and shouted at Scarface, “Scarface, tell me what you were doing when you were 15?”
Scarface who had opened his mouth to suck wine off the finger of the beautiful woman by his side responded vaguely, “Who the hell knows, I was probably spying on San Hua as she bathed and was being chased by her father?”
“Haha.” Ma Lei laughed briefly and turned to look at Chen Yuanming. “At 15, I was still learning carpentry work from my dad till 6, o clock, every day, 6 days a week. I was hammering iron nails every day till my arms were weak. I wished I could sleep 10 hours a day…. Xiao Chen, won’t you say that there are few kids like you?”
Chen Yuanming’s heart stuttered a little. He stared straight ahead and could guess what the other party meant.
Dammit he had been careless.
Looking at Chen Yuanming’s clear eyes, Ma Lei smiled, “The timing with which you applied for a job was opportune, your attitude towards work is strong and you are skilled at buying and selling. If it was not that I had inquired and figured out that you have nothing to do with those Guangdong and Fujian guys, I wouldn’t have known what to make of you. But that’s all in the past. I’ll ask you now. What is your plan?”
He slowed down his voice, and his tone was strong and irrefutable. “If you can throw away tens of thousands of yuan a month it’s not difficult to guess how big your ambition is. At this time there are only a few things you can do to make money. You have also tasted a bit of the sweet life, so how could you possibly give it up? Are you planning to join our group? Or do you want to split profits? Tell me your plans.”
Chen Yuanming smiled bitterly. The time had finally come…
The author has something to say: Note: The first film, starring Zheng Shaoqiu, was broadcast on Taiwanese TV in May 1991. It was premiered in the mainland in 1992. We can assume that Zhuhai received the signal to broadcast the show from Hong Kong. XD
When FAW produced the first batch of Audi 100, only 499 units were manufactured. All of the units were purchased by the government, so it was known as the “official car”.
Audi 100 looked something like this.
Yuanming is in the hot seat now. Whew!
 Gu Long and Jinyong (Louis Cha) were the pen names for Chinese novelists who popularized the Chinese wuxia and xianxia genre of novels. I couldn’t find too many English articles on them but the following are some blog/wiki posts that may shed some light: Gulong: http://shaolan.com/opinions/chinese-novelist-gu-long-must-read-martial-arts-moviegoers/
Jinyong: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jin_Yong and if you read French: https://sinoiseries.wordpress.com/2018/11/01/jinologie-la-mort-du-maitre/
 The author is probably referring to actor Zheng Shaoqiu (Adam Cheng). Around this time the drama starring Zheng Shaoqiu was Chronicles of Emperor Qianlong. It aired in 1991.
 Reference is being made here to 555 brand cigarettes. The case probably looked something like this.