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The Bodhisattva and Bedbugs
Men can't live without money, women as well.
Money can cause problems, women can cause even more.
There is another similarity between women and money: the easier it comes, the faster it goes.
× × ×
Big G always considered himself to be a man of principle, he had principles for everything he did.
His principle for eating duck: "When there is meat, don't nibble the bones, when there is skin, don't eat the meat."
The duck's skin had already been stripped clean. A duck without any skin resembled that of a fifty-year old women stripped of her clothes, suddenly appearing bloated and ridiculous beyond expression.
Peeling a grapefruit was like a twenty-year old women, the more you peeled the better it looked.
It was rare that someone would look at a duck and think about women, but not Big G.
When his belly was full of alcohol, and when his pockets were full of money, almost anything could make him think about women.
He had drank his full, the spoils had been divided into four.
Big G was blinking his eyes, "What's the plan?" he suddenly asked.
What Plan? n.o.body had any plans.
Swally looked at him: "Do you have some kind of plan?"
Big G was staring at his skinless duck, "We have gone long enough, we should all go out and have some fun, otherwise the equipment might get rusty."
Swally: "We aren't like you, itching to spend money the moment we have some."
Big G exhaled, "Even if my equipment is slightly despicable, I still want to go out and have some fun," he said laughing.
Swally: "Do you need some alone time?"
Big G: "Yeah."
"I always knew that some people would only be your friend when they're poor, as soon as they have some money, you see their true colors," he laughed scornfully.
"You mean to say that you have never needed some alone time?" Big G glared at him.
Swally turned his head away, "If you need to go, then go, n.o.body is stopping you."
Big G stood up and then sat back down, "I only need some alone time for half a day or so, I will see you all tomorrow night," he said smiling.
n.o.body was paying attention to him.
Big G was rubbing his hands, "Old Mr. Barley was arrested, there isn't even one good restaurant here anymore. I know of a Lunar Mansion restaurant in the county, the food and drink aren't bad, the county isn't too far away, how about we all meet there tomorrow night?... my treat."
They continued ignoring him.
He started to get anxious, "Really, it's not even ok if I have some alone time for one day?"
Dash rolled his eyes, "No one said it wasn't ok."
Big G: "Then are you going tomorrow?"
Dash: "Can't you just order the food to go and treat me at home?"
Big G: "I am begging you, can you please stop being so lazy? You should go buy some new clothes, otherwise you're going to grow moldy as well."
Dash suddenly stood up and slowly walked out.
Big G: "Where are you going?"
Dash: "I am going to Old Mr. Barley's bed."
Big G: "To do what?"
Dash exhaled, "What else can you do on a bed? Obviously I am going to sleep, are you planning on doing something else on a bed?"
Big G just laughed, he really did have something else in mind, and it certainly involved a bed.
He stood up, "You might as well get a good sleep, we are going to the county tomorrow anyway and this will save you a trip home. The less you have to walk the better," he said smiling.
Big G glanced over at Swally, "Are you going to leave tomorrow with old Mr. King?"
Forest was shaking his head yes, but Swally casually replied, "Tonight, I am going with you."
Big G froze, "But... I..."
Swally glared at him, "You what? As soon as you have a little money to spend you don't have any time for your friends?"
× × ×
Big G was sighing as he walked along.
Swally was watching him from the corner of his eye, "What is wrong with you? Are you not feeling well."
"I think I have food poisoning, my stomach doesn't feel so good," he said with a painful expression on his face.
"I doubt it is your stomach that is feeling restless," Swally said coldly.
He suddenly laughed, "I am very aware of what is actually wrong with you."
Big G: "Are you sure?"
Swally rolled his eyes, "Most people with a little experience have heard the saying, 'whoring alone, gambling with a friend', how couldn't I be sure."
Big G took some time to think about it, he just laughed, laughed bitterly, "You think I'm avoiding you all to sneak off and find a women?"
Swally: "Isn't that what you are thinking?"
Big G was silent.
"You know, there is nothing to be embarra.s.sed about, when a man has money, who wouldn't think about finding a women?" he said calmly.
Big G replied instantly, "Are you actually thinking the same thing?"
Swally was silent.
Swally: "To be honest, I am following you because I want you to take me, I know you have some experience in this department, am I right?"
With a "hmm," he suddenly started to cough.
Swally: "Someone like yourself, an unrestrained, easygoing playboy, you must know where to find the best woman."
He was watching Big G from the corner of his eye, "Since we're all good friends, why don't you show me the way."
Big G's face was a little flush, "Of course... obviously..." he muttered.
Swally: "Alright then, so how do we get there?"
Big G: "Obviously... let's get to the city first and take it from there."
Swally laughed again, "Actually, you should have brought Dash and forest as well, to broaden their horizons, I really don't understand why you wanted to hide this from them."
× × ×
Big G didn't enjoy hiding things from others, and he also felt that enjoying the company of a women was nothing to be ashamed of.
Not finding a women, now that was embarra.s.sing.
He didn't want them to know, only because, he himself wasn't entirely sure where to start looking.
He had never gone before, and that was why he couldn't stop thinking about it, because he had never actually tried it.
The journey to the county seemed short.
As soon as they arrived, "Which way should we go now, in what direction?" Swally asked.
Within ten paces there should be some green gra.s.s on the other side.
"Any road will do, it's all the same," Big G coughed dryly.
Swally: "It's all the same?"
Big G: "There are women on every road."
Swally: "I am aware that there are women on every road, but there are many different kinds of women, how do I know which road has the type of women that I am looking for?"
Big G was wiping away his sweat, he suddenly had a plan, he pointed towards a teahouse on the side of the road, "Go have a rest over there, I will make some inquiries."
Swally was blinking, "Why do you want me to wait over there, can't we go together?"
Big G turned very serious, "You don't understand, these places are very secret, the more secret the better, but if they see strangers, they might not agree to anything."
Swally sighed, "Fine, you're the old horse that knows the way, I will listen to whatever you say."
Seeing Swally enter the teahouse, Big G finally breathed a sigh of relief.
Swally looked back at Big G unexpectedly, "I am waiting right here, you better not run off," he said loudly.
"Of course I wouldn't ditch you," Big G replied loudly.
He really didn't want to run off, but he had to figure out where to go first so he could impress Swally.
"If an unrestrained, easygoing playboy like myself can't even find this kind of place, I will never hear the end of it from Swally, he will probably be laughing at me for the next three years."
He walked as quickly as possible to the next street, but it was the exact same as the last street: a teahouse, some stores, some men, and of course there were some women.
"But where are the kind of women that I need to find?" He kept looking back and forth, none of them had that look, all of these women seemed pretty normal.
"The people engaged in this line of business, it's not like they are going to have a sign hanging from their face."
Big G was standing on the side of the road, not knowing what to do, he started to console himself, building up some courage, "As long as you have money, how could you not find a women?"
He figured that buying some nice, new clothes would be a good start. "Clothes make the man," dressing a little fancy would definitely give him the upper hand.
The funny thing was, finding a shop that sold clothes wasn't that easy either.
He finally found a shop, when he suddenly noticed someone picking out clothes inside, it was Swally.
"Look at this guy, he is not even waiting for me at the teahouse."
He heard Swally's laughter coming from inside, "I want the best looking outfit, no matter the price, I have a gorgeous date I need to impress tonight."
Big G started to frown, "Did this guy actually figure out where to go?"
Seeing Swally's face, as pleasant as a spring breeze, Big G found it infuriating and amusing at the same time.
"Since you didn't keep your word, there is no need for me to play the nice guy, now you can't blame me for ditching you."
He decided that he didn't need new clothes, he decided to go his own way.
The girls love handsome, madams love money, I am handsome and have money, new clothes won't make much of a difference.
This street also had a teahouse, and there was an impressive looking man walking out, carrying a bird cage.
He wasn't very old, but he had a dark expression and lifeless eyes. His faced looked exhausted, and anyone could tell what he had been doing to cause such excessive fatigue.
Big G suddenly walked over, saluting him with clasped hands, "My family name is Guo, I know you don't know me, and I don't know you, but it's nice to make your acquaintance," he said with a smile.
He liked being very direct.
Fortunately, this person was no stranger to the streets, after a brief pause he smiled, "My good friend Guo, what can I do for you?"
Big G: "What is the point of being young if you can't have a little fun, you must know what I am talking about."
"So Brother Guo is looking for a good time," he replied.
Big G: "Exactly what I was thinking, I am just having a little trouble finding my way to the rooftop."
"Relax brother Guo, you found the right guy. But having fun costs money, you will be thrown out if you can't pay," he said with a smile.
× × ×
Big G was thrown out.
He suddenly realized women don't love handsome.
Women love money.
× × ×
Big G wasn't an easy target, he would never take a beating from just anyone, but how could he put up a fight against these kind of women?
There were two bite marks on his upper arm and he had a b.u.mp on his head. Now he was rubbing the b.u.mp on his head with one hand, and searching his pockets with the other hand.
His pockets were empty, emptier than his stomach. He remembered very clearly that he had put the precious gems in this pocket, but now they were gone.
The duck skin he ate for breakfast, was digested completely, the alcohol he drank was now sweat.
As evening arrived, his sweat had all dried up.
Big G found an old dilapidated temple, he sat before the alter, staring blankly at the clay Bodhisattva idol. It seemed to him that the G.o.ddess was staring back at him.
He had planned out everything so well: He was planning on enjoying a nice meal, then a relaxing bath, he could even image a pair of beautiful jade like hands scrubbing his back, what an exquisite scene that would have been.
The only thing rubbing his back was a bedbug, more than one. He was sitting on the cattail cus.h.i.+on used for praying, feeling like the base camp for bedbugs, it seemed that all of the bedbugs in the world were gathering here now, marching through his clothes rank by rank, preparing to enjoy a nice meal on his back.
Big G slapped himself in the face, he wished he was dead, it could all be over with one strong blow.
"Was he destined to be poor? Couldn't he go one day without being hungry?"
He suddenly thought about how good it was to have friends.
"Why did I insist on going out by myself? Why did I decide to ditch Swally?"
Swally was probably enjoying a big feast right now, but he was so hungry he was almost considering eating a mouthful of bedbugs.
"n.o.body should ditch their friends, no matter what you're doing, it is better with friends. Other than friends, what else is in this world is worth cheris.h.i.+ng?"
Big G suddenly cherished friends.h.i.+p, he was getting sentimental—hunger and poverty would make most people feel the way he did right now.
Thankfully he would be seeing them tomorrow, the sooner the better.
"I am missing them so much, but they have probably forgotten me already. Dash will be sleeping soundly by now, and Swally is probably flirting with his new lover."
These thoughts caused Big to take a long drawn-out sigh, he suddenly realized how much he truly valued friends.h.i.+p, he started to feel that he always treated his friends better than they treated him.
So he felt comforted, comfort and a little sadness.
These emotions let him momentarily forget about everything else.
He quickly drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, as soon as he woke up he decided to head to the Lunar Mansion restaurant, and wait for his friends there.
He decided that he would enjoy a nice feast, and wait for his friends to come and pay after.
He decided he was going to order all the best dishes, to make up for the suffering from the night before.
He truly felt that they all owed him, because he practically forgot about why he suffered so much in the first place.
Perhaps this was because he was faint from hunger, in his half-conscious state, he somehow imaged that all of this was a sacrifice for his friends.
He felt a lot of empathy towards himself.
Too bad the boss of Lunar Mansion didn't feel the same way. Not only was the door shut, the windows were closed as well.
He naturally didn't blame himself for coming too early, but blamed them for being too lazy. Why didn't they open the door, were they actually trying to make him angry?
People weak from hunger are often irrational.
He was thinking about knocking, when someone from behind suddenly tapped him on the shoulder, "Morning."
Swally was dressed in brand-new clothes, standing fresh as a spring breeze, with a well rested face, looking very well fed.
Big G couldn't stomach it, "Still morning? Can't you feel the sun burning your a.s.s," he grumbled.
Swally smiled, "An adventurous spring evening is priceless, why aren't you enjoying the sun in the lap of a beautiful women?"
Big G: "There were too many bedbugs."
Swally: "Bedbugs? How could the sanctuary of a beautiful women have bedbugs?"
Big G realized that he had slipped up, he coughed a couple times, "I mean, not actual bedbugs, her hands were crawling all over my body, it was more annoying than bedbugs," he said laughing.
Swally was winking while shaking his head, "You don't know how to enjoy the blessings of a beautiful women, I wanted to have someone crawling all over me, but I didn't even know where to look," he sighed.
Big G: "Haha, haha."
He wanted to laugh happily, but his laugher sounded like a dying donkey, like someone was strangling a donkey with their foot.
Swally looked him up and down, "Do you have a stomachache? You must have eaten too much again."
Big G: "Yeah."
"Since that women treated you so well, she must have cooked up a special feast just for you, to help replenish your vitality with all that delicious food," Swally chuckled.
Big G gave him a cold sidelong glance, "I never thought you would be so experienced all of a sudden."
Swally sighed, "There is no way I was as blessed as you."
Big G: "Where did you go last night?"
Swally: "You have the nerve to ask me that, I waited for you at the teahouse all night. There was no trace of you, so I just walked aimlessly around all by my lonesome self, I barely managed to find a decent place to sleep."
"This guy also knew how to play dumb."
Big G was seething inside, but he had to play along, "Whose fault is it that you were too impatient to wait? I had to take care of those ladies all by myself, I nearly died of frustration," he laughed bitterly.
Swally was shaking his head, he kept sighing and coughing as if he was dying of regret.
Big G started to feel better about the whole situation, "No need for you to feel bad, there will be opportunities next time. Especially with this one girl, she was not only pretty, but exceptionally gentle and caring, you didn't even have to tell her what you wanted, and she was already taking care of you."
Swally was listening eyes wide, "She sounds like the Bodhisattva incarnate, saving you from your suffering."
Big G was stunned, "Bodhisattva? What is with the Bodhisattva?"
He suddenly remembered the clay idol from the old temple last night.
Swally laughed, "I mean a female G.o.ddess, you know the kind who specializes in saving men."
Big G breathed a sigh of relief—people with something to hide, were always a little anxious.
Swally: "Did your Bodhisattva make you anything special for breakfast this morning?"
Big G licked his lips, "Nothing special really, just some swallow eggs, chicken soup, noodles, steamed buns, ham and eggs..." he said casually.
He simply named all of the things he wanted to eat, even though he didn't actually have something to eat, it satisfied his appet.i.te a little.
Too bad he couldn't keep talking about all this delicious food, he was going to start salivating if he didn't stop.
Swally sighed again, "Looks like you were entirely satisfied, in more than one way, but I am starving, I need to find somewhere to eat right away..."
Big G interrupted him before he could finish, "Where are you going to eat? I will come with you."
Swally: "That's ok, since you're already full, I wouldn't feel comfortable eating in front of you."
Big G was getting impatient and a little upset, he was just about to confess the truth, but at that very moment, the door of the restaurant suddenly opened. A person from inside poked his head out, his eyes were half shut, like he had been hibernating, he looked at them lazily from the corner of his eye, "We have food here, no need to look any further," he said casually.
Swally and Big G both laughed.
"You have a strange way of doing things, when did you get here? Since when are you working for the Lunar Mansion?" Big G said laughing.
"It's not every day that Big Boss G treats me to a meal, if I overslept, I would never forgive myself for missing such an opportunity. I might as well just sleep here and save myself the trip in the morning," he said casually.
"Great idea, Old Mr. King is so reliable, having such a faithful friend to treat sure is a great honor," Swally said smiling.
All Big G could do was hold back his bitter feelings, laughing dryly, "I am truly honored, so full of d.a.m.n honor," he muttered.
Dash: "It's too soon to feel honored, wait till we start eating, that will really make you proud."
"That's right, we will make him so proud he will be moved to tears," Swally said laughing.
× × ×
The Lunar Mansion wasn't small, there were two floors, with seventeen to eighteen tables on the first floor.
At night, all of the workers would put the tables together and sleep on top.
There were seven staff members slowly crawling out of bed, each one greeted Dash in a very hospitable and friendly manner.
"Brother King, have your guests arrived?"
"Hurry up everyone, take care of Brother King's guests!"
Big G stared blankly, he really wanted to ask Dash since when was he on such friendly terms with all of the staff?
He suddenly realized that Dash not only had a strange way of doing things, he had a real talent for making friends. He never had been able to be on such friendly terms with restaurant staff before.
"Did you come here often?" Swally couldn't help but ask.
Dash: "This is my first time."
Swally was also staring blankly, he was deeply impressed. In one night, he had all the waiters serving him like a boss, that was no easy task.
Dash: "What do you want to eat, just say the word and I'll have them get the fires going."
Swally: "Give me a bowl of stewed chicken noodles, three boiled eggs, two spareribs, some smoked fish, and throw in a couple pieces of salted pork."
Dash: "I will have the same, and you boss G?"
Big G took another swallow of his saliva, "I..."
Before he finished speaking, Swally interrupted, "No need, he is already stuffed to death."
Big G was indignant and getting very anxious, he was biting his teeth, trying very hard not to punch Swally in the mouth.
Swally was rolling his eyes as if he was secretly amused at something, "Where is Forest, is he here yet?" he suddenly asked.
Dash: "He is here, he is upstairs sleeping."
"Seems he is quite talented at sleeping," Swally smiled.
× × ×
There was n.o.body upstairs, it was completely empty.
There were some blankets on the tables in the corner, but there was n.o.body in the blankets.
Swally: "Where is he?"
Dash was puzzled, "He was sleeping right there when I came downstairs, how could he disappear all of a sudden?"
Swally: "You didn't see him go downstairs? "
Dash was shaking his head, he looked over at the window.
"Seems like his behavior is also a little strange, he slipped out and we weren't even asking him to pay?" Swally laughed.
He followed Dash's gaze, looking over at the window.
There were eight windows upstairs, but only this one window was open.
"Was this window open just now?" Swally asked.
Dash: "Nope, I don't like sleeping with the windows open, I am scared of the cold." He quietly walked over to the window. Just under the window was the back door to the restaurant, the back door was facing a little stream, with a little bridge over the water.
Although the water was dirty and didn't smell very good, and the little bridge was in desperate need of repairs, the sun was just rising, with faint rays of sunlight reflecting off the surface of the water. Remnants of the morning fog were floating above the stream, with a light breeze blowing through the willow trees on the bank, the m.u.f.fled crowing of a rooster could be heard through the wind, the imagery was rather poetic.
The only eyesore was a women with a child on her back, who was was.h.i.+ng her potty in the water across from the bridge.
Swally was frowning, his nose flinching, "Miss, did you see anyone jump down from the window just now?" he asked loudly.
The women lifted her head, looked at him, and then looked back down, "It's too early for this, maybe he saw a ghost?" she muttered to herself.
Swally hit a wall, all he could do was smile bitterly, "Where could this guy of gone? What if he fell in the river and drowned?" he muttered.
Big G's stomach was still empty, his vain anger rose up, and he was looking for someone to take it out on, "I hope he did drown to death, would be one less of you," he said with a straight face.
Dash glanced at him from the corner of his eye, "How is this guy so angry early in the morning, didn't he enjoy a good release last night?"
Swally snickered, "Last night he enjoyed the company of the Bodhisattva and bedbugs, even if he was full of rage it should of been completely released by now."
Dash: "The female G.o.ddess? Bedbugs? Did he actually sleep in an old temple last night? It would have been better for him to sleep here on the tables."
Big G's entire face suddenly turned red; thankfully, at that very moment a waiter was bringing up two bowls of noodles.
Two very big bowls of noodles, and two big dishes of smoked spareribs. The delicious smell was wafting towards Big G's nose, how could he stand it any longer?
Big G suddenly focused all of his attention on staring under the table, it took all of his effort, it seemed as if he was watching invisible goblins performing a play.
Although Swally and Dash were eating their noodles, they couldn't help but look under the table as well.
Big G seized this opportunity, his hand flew out, reaching out to grab the biggest piece of rib.
Who would've known that as soon as he touched the piece of rib, a pair of chopsticks came flying out, heavily swatting his hand away with a "thump."
Swally was looking at him diagonally, "You just ate countless dishes, and now are trying to steal other people's meat, are you consumed by gluttony?" he asked with a smile.
This guy was born with a pair of s.h.i.+fty eyes.
Big G's face was flushed, he awkwardly pulled his hand back, "Such injustice, I was just swatting a fly away, and you had to attack me like that," he muttered.
Swally: "How could there be any flies around on such a cold day?"
Dash: "No flies, but a few bedbugs."
What was wrong with these two, there were constantly hara.s.sing Big G, and confronting him whenever possible.
All he could do was ignore them, he just sat there staring blankly, he suddenly smiled, "Do you know what I am thinking?"
There was no answer, their mouths were full of meat.
So he kept talking, "I was thinking, these noodles are probably delicious."
Swally was slurping the broth and swallowing a piece of meat, "Correct, you don't get to enjoy such delicious noodles very often," he smiled.
Big G: "Do you know why the noodles have a special flavor?"
Swally blinked, "Why?"
"Because they were boiled in water from the stream, water used to clean potty buckets is sure to have a special taste," he said casually.
Swally didn't flinch, "Even if they were boiled in water from a foot basin, it's better than starving with no noodles at all," he said grinning.
Big G just stared blankly for a while, he suddenly jumped up, "I have to eat—if anyone tries to stop me I am going to go berserk!" he yelled loudly with his arms out.
Forest sat there staring blankly.
He had already returned for quite some time, but he just sat there, staring blankly. It seemed as if he was waiting for someone to ask him, "Why did you disappear all of a sudden? Where did you go? What did you do?"
But no one asked him, just as if he had never even disappeared.
Forest was the first to speak, he looked at Big G, "I just saw somebody, you will never guess who it was," he said slowly.
Sure enough, Big G was curious, "Do I know them?"
Forest: "Maybe not know, but you have seen him before."
Big G: "So who is it?"
Forest: "I am not really sure, because I don't know him either."
Big G went blank again, "What language is this guy speaking? Can anyone understand what he is saying?" Big G smiled awkwardly.
Forest ignored his remarks, "Although I don't know him, I recognized his clothes," he kept saying.
"What clothes?" Big G couldn't help but ask.
Forest: "Black clothes."
Big G laughed, "The streets are full of people wearing black, you can find dozens of them anywhere."
Forest: "Other than his clothes, I also recognized that sword."
Big G finally started to understand what he was getting at, "What kind of sword?" he quickly asked.
Forest: "A short sword concealed within a very long scabbard."
"When did you see him?" Big G exhaled loudly.
Forest: "When you guys arrived."
Big G suddenly laughed, "And you think that is strange?"
Forest: "You don't find it strange?"
Big G: "He said he was coming to the county to give a report of what happened, it would be strange if you didn't see him here."
Forest: "He was supposed to bring the Golden Lion, The Rod, The Phoenix, and the stolen property here, to turn them over to the government officials, wasn't he?"
Big G: "Yes."
Forest: "But the local magistrate hasn't heard anything from him, there have been no prisoners brought in during the last two days."
"How do you know?" Big G was starting to be taken aback.
Forest: "Because I already inquired at the government office."
Big G thought for a moment, "Perhaps he is planning to escort them to a different place."
Forest: "No prisoners."
Big G frowned, "What do you mean no prisoners?"
Forest: "No prisoners means that the Golden Lion, The Rod, and The Phoenix, have disappeared, along with the stolen property. I followed him to his hideout, he was the only one there."
Big G was shocked.
Swally and Dash were also stunned.
Forest drank the alcohol in front of Big G in one gulp, "Now do you think there is something strange going on?" he asked subtlety.
Big G: "Very."