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To Kill and to be Killed
The tables had been parted and the blankets put away.
The Lunar Mansion's customers would be arriving soon. The four of them were still the only people upstairs. They were just sitting there motionless, like four wooden puppets.
Puppets who could drink.
The first jug of alcohol was disappearing like the ocean's low tide, drinks all around, they were pouring for themselves, drinking at will without trying to be polite.
Then, Swally, Dash, and Big G all broke out into laughter at the same time, as if it was rehea.r.s.ed.
Even if they were idiots, by now it was clear to everyone that they had been fooled.
That person dressed in black didn't have any official connections, and he wasn't some spy sent by the captain general to investigate the Golden Lion and The Rod, it was merely black eat black.
They were fooled good, and it should have been extremely frustrating.
But they thought it was hilarious.
Swally was pointing at Big G, "Old Mr. King was absolutely right, you are so muddle headed when you need to be smart; stupid and confused, stupid beyond belief," he laughed.
Big G was also pointing at him, "What about you? You weren't much smarter than me," he laughed.
Forest had been sitting there quietly the whole time, watching them, he waited for them to finish laughing, "Are you all finished laughing?" he asked.
Big G was gasping for breath, "Not yet, but I don't have enough energy to laugh anymore."
Forest: "You all think this is hilarious?"
Dash suddenly rolled his eyes back, "What should we do? Cry?"
This was their philosophy on life.
They laughed, dared to laugh, and they understood the meaning of laughter.
Laughing not only makes you feel better, it can give you the courage and strength to face life head on.
Blessed are those who laugh, life belongs to them.
It appeared that Forest was not capable of laughing.
Big G: "Why aren't you laughing with us?"
Forest: "If laughing could solve problems, I would be laughing harder than all of you right now."
Big G: "Even if laughing can't solve problems, at least it won't make things worse."
He kept laughing, "Not to mention, if you learn how to face life with a smile, you will slowly realize that there is no such thing as a problem that can't be solved," he added.
Forest: "No matter how happy you are laughing, it doesn't change the fact that you were fooled."
Big G: "Well you were tricked whether you laugh about it or not, since you were already duped, why not laugh?"
Forest stopped talking.
Big G: "What is wrong with you anyway?"
Swally: "Why do you care about this so much?"
Forest remained silent for some time, "Because that person was Hideous Nangong."
Swally: "How do you know?"
Forest: "I just know."
Big G: "What kind of connection do you have with Hideous Nangong?"
Forest: "Nothing—it's because I have no connection to him, that I..."
Big G: "That what?"
Forest: "That I wanted to kill him."
Big G looked at Swally, and then looked at Dash, "Did you all hear what he said?"
Dash didn't move.
Swally nodded his head.
Big G: "This kid wants to kill somebody."
Dash still wasn't moving.
Swally nodded again.
Big G slowly turned his head, looking at Forest.
Forest's face was expressionless.
Big G: "Didn't you just see him."
"Then why didn't you kill him just now?" Big G suddenly smiled.
Forest's expression was still completely blank, as if he was wearing a mask.
A dark steel mask, it was rather frightening.
"I already killed him," he said word by word.
× × ×
Their jug of alcohol was full again, because Dash had ordered them, "Fill up our jug if you see that it's empty."
The waiters from Lunar Mansion listened to every word Dash said.
The four of them were just staring at the jug, eyes wide.
"You can't drink with your eyes," Big G suddenly laughed.
Swally: "My mouth is busy."
Big G: "With what?"
Swally: "Busy swallowing the words I wanted to speak."
The customers had slowly drifted in, it wasn't a good place to talk anymore.
Big G raised his gla.s.s, then put it back down, "Boss Guo doesn't always have the pleasure of..."
Swally: "You got off easy this time, let's go."
Forest was the first to stand up, Dash actually stood up as well.
Big G extended his hand in front of his face.
Dash looked at him, "What are you doing? Do you want me to read your palms?"
Big G laughed awkwardly, "No need, I am destined for poverty; the d.a.m.nedest thing is, when I want to treat someone, even if I had money in my pockets it would find a way to fly away."
Dash: "Are you asking for money to pay the bill?"
Big G coughed dryly a couple of times, "You know, I engaged in some pretty expensive fun last night."
Dash wanted to laugh, but after looking at Forest, he just sighed, "You are asking the wrong person."
"You spent all your money as well?" he asked in astonishment.
Big G: "You... How did you spend it all?"
Dash: "I was also engaged in some very expensive activities last night."
Big G: "What were you doing?"
Dash: "There is only one thing in this world more expensive than women: gambling."
Big G: "You lost everything? Who did you lose to?"
Dash: "The workers from this restaurant."
Big G was shocked, "No wonder they listen to everything you say, they would treat you well after losing everything. Besides, if you lost all that money to me, I would treat you the same way," he couldn't help but laugh.
Dash: "I am not the only big loser."
Big G: "Who else?"
Dash looked at Forest, and then he looked at Swally.
Big G jumped up, "Did all of you actually lose everything?"
n.o.body said a word, the silence was his answer.
Big G sank back down, "Sounds like all of these workers just made a fortune," he laughed bitterly.
Dash: "I wouldn't consider them wealthy—they will lose it all to someone else sooner or later."
Big G slowly nodded his head, "You're right, ease come easy go, they will just lose it in the same way," he mumbled.
Dash: "But at least we made somewhat of a contribution to humanity."
Big G: "What contribution?"
Dash: "The faster money circulates, the more prosperous the markets, that is how humanity has advanced."
Big G thought about it, "Everything you say always seems to make a little sense," he smiled bitterly.
Dash: "So there is no reason to feel down."
Big G: "Why should I feel down? It's not like I lost..."
Dash: "I'm sorry, but we lost your money as well."
Big G was stunned.
Dash: "The clay Bodhisattva from the old temple doesn't charge anything to sleep with you."
Big G's eyes slowly started to bulge, "You guys knew... You all planned this out... The thief who robbed me was..."
Big G's finger suddenly pointed directly at Swally's nose, "It was you!" he shouted.
Big G grabbed him by his clothes, "Why would you do that?" he asked, clenching his teeth.
Swally didn't say anything, but his faced seemed to have turned a little red.
"It was for your own good, he didn't want his friend to get a venereal disease," Dash said casually.
Big G slowly let go, he sank back down into his chair again, "Oh G.o.d... G.o.d, how could you let me have these kind of friends?" he muttered while rubbing his head.
He suddenly jumped up, "Since you all knew our pockets were wiped clean, why did we still splurge on food and drink here?" he asked with clenched teeth.
Dash: "To cheer you up."
"To cheer me up?" Big G shouted out, unable to hold back.
Dash: "Treating friends always makes people happy, doesn't it?"
Big G grabbed his head with both hands, "Yes, yes, yes, I am so happy, so d.a.m.n happy, I could just die from all this happiness."
One of the waiters rushed over, "Brother King, no need to worry about paying the bill, it has already been taken care of."
"I never thought there would be at least one person here with a good conscience," Big G exhaled.
The waiter was a little embarra.s.sed, "I was planning on taking care of Brother King's bill myself, but unfortunately someone beat me to it," he smiled.
"The customer sitting in the corner over there," he replied.
He turned around, wanting to point him out, but all he could do was stare blankly.
There was food and drink sitting on the corner table, but the person had disappeared.
× × ×
Big G was standing farthest back, he walked forward a few steps, then turned around and patted the waiter responsible for escorting customers downstairs on the shoulder, "I have something I need to ask you."
"You won all that money, how are you planning to spend it?"
"I'm not planning on spending it," he replied.
Big G stared at him, as if he was suddenly looking at a saint.
The waiter laughed abruptly, "I plan on using this as seed money, to win even more since my luck has been pretty good lately."
Big G was still staring at him, he suddenly bent over in a fit of laughter, almost falling down the stairs.
He patted the waiter on the shoulder, "Great idea, great idea, humanity needs to keep on advancing, just like this, I would like to express my thanks to you on behalf of everyone in the world," he was still laughing loudly.
"Why are you thanking me?" the waiter wanted to ask.
But Big G was already downstairs.
He sighed, shaking his head, "These guys not only lost everything, I think they lost their minds as well," he muttered.
× × ×
Once upon a time there was someone really smart, who said something really smart: "A person who is deceived on account of his own generosity, even if he is considered a fool, you have to admit it's extremely interesting, much more interesting than people making you out to be a hero or praising you as a saint."
The waiter wasn't very smart, obviously he had never heard this saying before, even if he had, he wouldn't understand what it meant.
The logic behind this saying was rarely understood by anyone.
× × ×
There are two kinds of people in this world.
One type of person is the logical kind, well-behaved with principles, anyone would be able to guess their course of action, as it all makes sense.
The other type of person is completely different. They derive a special kind of pleasure from being unpredictable, not only is it impossible to predict their course of action, it often doesn't even make sense to themselves.
Dash was this kind of person.
So was Forest.
But there was something in this world even more unpredictable than this kind of person.
When you don't need money, it always has a mysterious way of finding you.
When you need money, it often disappears without a trace.
How does it feel to kill someone?
Not many people know.
Among ten thousand people, perhaps only one person has killed someone.
Someone once said: "No matter what it feels like to kill someone, it has to at least be better than being killed."
The person who said this, had certainly never killed anyone before.
Someone also said: "Killing a person is more terrifying than death."
The kind of person who said this, even if he had never killed anyone, he at least had come very close.
× × ×
"Have you killed anyone before?"
"How did you kill him?"
"Why did you want to kill him?"
Forest had been waiting the whole time for them to ask him these three questions.
They didn't ask.
It was as if Dash, Swally, and Big G had planned not to say a word.
The three of them didn't say anything on the way back.
The county wasn't very far from the mountain, but it seemed like a long journey when there was nothing but silence.
Big G would intermittently hum some tunes, the melodies were well known, but the lyrics were definitely his own creation.
Other than him, n.o.body would be able to think of such amazing lyrics.
"We came in glory, but left indifferently. We came riding in, but were swept away by the wind. We came with bells and whistles, but left with nothing. We came..."
"What are you singing?" Swally suddenly asked.
"It's called 'The Song of Coming and Going,' coming and going, a coming and a going, not coming back, not going back."
Swally suddenly started to hum the same tune: "The release is blocked, no release, releasing and blocking, a block and a release."
"Release what?" Big G suddenly asked.
Swally: "Dog farts. It's called dogs farting."
"Stop trying to discredit me, people used to beg me to sing, but I just ignored them," Big G said with a straight face.
Dash was nodding his head: "I know who asked you to sing."
Dash: "Deaf people."
Big G was trying to keep a straight face, but he couldn't help but laugh.
"Deaf people are at least better than people pretending to be deaf and dumb," Forest suddenly smiled coldly.
Big G was blinking, "Who is pretending to be deaf and dumb?"
Forest: "You, you, you."
He pointed at each one of their faces, "There is something you all obviously want to ask, so why aren't you asking?"
Dash: "There is just no need to ask."
Forest: "Why not?"
Dash: "n.o.body is going to miss that kind of person."
Big G: "That's right, that kind of person is better off dead, the less the better."
He patted Forest on the shoulder, "Since you didn't kill the wrong person, what is the point in asking?" Big G smiled.
Forest was biting his teeth, "Have you guys ever killed somebody?" he suddenly asked.
Big G looked at Dash, Dash looked at Swally.
"I have only been killed," Swally said, forcing a smile.
Forest suddenly rushed into the bushes beside the road, they could already hear him sobbing.
Swally was looking at Big G, Big G was looking at Dash.
Dash: "He has never killed anyone before."
Big G nodded his head, "This must be his first time."
"I guess killing people feels worse than being killed," Swally sighed.
Dash: "Hideous Nangong must have realized he was being followed, he definitely would have suspected that he was on to him, so he attacked first, trying to silence him."
Big G: "Who would have thought that the killer ended up being killed?"
Swally: "It seems that Forest's kung fu is more advanced than ours, and he is a lot stronger than Hideous Nangong."
Big G exhaled, "It's called judging by appearances, when I first saw him I thought he was too weak to even subdue a chicken."
He was still crying.
Swally: "Even if someone wanted to commit a murder, doesn't mean they could pull it off, although he killed someone, he never wanted this."
Big G: "Why don't we try talking to him?"
Big G: "Why?"
Dash: "Even though laughing is better than crying, occasionally having a good cry isn't bad."
"I prefer laughter, at least when you want to laugh you don't need to hide behind a tree," Big G sighed.
Swally sighed too, "And no matter how you laugh, you don't have to worry about people coming to see what is wrong."
The harder you try to cover up something, the more people want to come and spectate.
There were a lot of people on the road as it wasn't dark yet, some people stopped, stretching their necks out to get a look, some people even started to walk over.
Big G was wiping sweat away, "I hope people don't suspect he is crying because we bullied him," he whispered with a wry smile.
n.o.body was "suspicious."
They were all confident he had been bullied.
After seeing the look on people's faces, Swally had to start wiping away his sweat as well, "Can you hurry up and think of a way to get him moving?"
"I'm not that talented, the most I can do is dig a hole," Big G smiled awkwardly.
Swally: "Why would you dig a hole?"
Big G: "He could crawl inside, people wouldn't have anything to stare at."
Swally: "You better dig a big hole."
"If you lost a little less, if you didn't lose everything, we could at least hire a carriage, and let him cry as much as he wanted inside," Big G said spitefully.
As soon as he finished speaking, a beautiful horse and cart just happened to pull up right in front of them.
Swally glanced sideways at Dash, "We shouldn't have made that last bet, since we already lost, we shouldn't have tried to go double or nothing," he whispered.
"If people who gamble didn't try doubling up, professional gamblers would starve to death, how could you let people starve to death," Dash replied casually.
The cart driver suddenly jumped down and walked towards them, "Who is boss Guo?" he asked with a smile?
Big G: "Who is asking? What do they want?"
He bowed towards Big G, "Please get on board."
Big G: "I don't like carriages, I prefer walking."
The driver just smiled apologetically, "This carriage was arranged especially for boss Guo, by a good friend, and the fee has already been paid."
"Who paid?" Big G was staring blankly.
"A friend of boss Guo, if you don't even know who it was, then how could your humble servant be acquainted with them," he smiled.
Big G thought about it for a while, he suddenly nodded his head, "I remember now, it was my G.o.dson."
× × ×
Forest stopped crying as soon as he got in, but he just sat there staring at nothing.
Big G was also staring blankly.
"Do you actually have a G.o.dson?" Swally couldn't help but ask.
"What d.a.m.n G.o.dson, even if I wanted to be someone's G.o.dson, who would want someone as poor as me?" he smiled bitterly.
"Then who hired the carriage?" Swally frowned.
Big G: "I am eighty percent sure that it was the person from Lunar Mansion who paid our bill."
Swally: "Did you even see who it was?"
"I was so embarra.s.sed, I would have thanked G.o.d if n.o.body noticed me, I never had the nerve to look at anyone else," Big G sighed.
When someone wanted to pay the bill, but didn't have any money in their pockets, it was definitely enough to hold their head down in shame.
Swally: "And you?"
He was asking Dash, not Forest.
Forest obviously wasn't in the state of mind then to be looking at other people.
"I was busy watching boss G's facial expressions, I have never seen anything so cute before," Dash laughed.
Big G gave him a look, "My only regret is not seeing your face when you lost all that money, you would have looked pretty cute in that moment."
Swally started to look puzzled as well, he hadn't seen who had helped them pay the bill either.
Dash: "The driver was looking for boss G, it must be boss G's friend."
"Since when do I have such wealthy friends, out of all my friends, you are the wealthiest," Big G sighed.
Dash: "I'm wealthy?"
Big G: "At least you have a house, despite the fact that n.o.body would want to live there, not even ghosts, it is still your house."
"You can have the house if you like," Dash replied casually.
Big G: "Not interested."
Dash: "Why not?"
"I am living happy and carefree with no possessions holding me down, not like all of you, always worried about this or that," Big G smiled.
Swally: "Old Mr. King has a house to worry about, but what about me?"
Big G looked him up and down, "At the very least you have a set of new clothes, you have to worry about getting your new clothes dirty, whenever you sit down you have to make sure that there isn't mud anywhere, not even close to being as carefree as I am," he smiled.
Swally fixed his gaze on him, "There isn't anyone in this world that you truly care about? Nothing you are concerned about?"
Big G suddenly stopped talking, there seemed to be a trace of sorrow on his face.
Swally quickly realized that perhaps he wasn't as happy as he appeared to be on the outside, maybe he was also mourning certain issues. Maybe he had always just hid it well, unwilling to let others see his pain.
He only let people know about his moments of happiness, to share that joy with others. He had never been willing to burden people with his pain and depression.
Swally was watching him, suddenly there was twinkle of light in his eyes.
The more time he spent with Big G, the more he felt that he was indeed quite lovable.
After some time Dash suddenly let out a long sigh, "Almost there, almost home."
He sounded very happy, quite satisfied.
The mountainside was already visible from the window.
Big G couldn't resist taking a long sigh as well, "Luxurious living and exciting adventures, nothing is better than the doghouse you call home."
Dash glared at him, "It's my doghouse."
Big G just laughed, "It's our doghouse."
The setting sun.
The dry autumn gra.s.s looked like gold glittering in the fading sunlight, gold all over the ground; the stone pathway stretching forward diagonally looked like a string of white jade lying in piles of gold.
The wind was blowing and the birds were chirping, crickets were singing in the distance. The chorus of nature sounded brilliant, more splendid than music, more beautiful than the sweet whisperings of a lover.
The aroma of flowers and fragrant gra.s.s were permeating the air. Even the setting sun seemed to have been infected by the fragrant aroma, like the soft hair of a lover.
How sweet life seemed in that moment.
Big G let out a long sigh, "I am starting to realize the joy of poverty," he laughed loudly.
Big G: "How many wealthy people can really appreciate the beauty of such scenery? Can smell such fragrance? All they can smell is there stinky copper money."
Swally just smiled.
Big G suddenly noticed that Swally's smile was as splendid as the setting sun, "I am starting to realize that you aren't ugly at all, you're just a little too dirty," he couldn't help but laugh.
Surprisingly, Swally just looked down without saying anything in reply. He normally wouldn't just take an insult like that, what had caused him to change?
Was it the setting sun? The gentle breeze? Or Big G's cheerful smiles.
"Having money isn't bad," Dash suddenly said.
Big G: "What about being poor?"
Dash: "Poor isn't bad either?"
Big G: "Then what's bad?"
Dash: "Nothing is bad, what matters is you know how to appreciate life."
Big G digested his words carefully, his heart was suddenly full of warm affection. He appreciated everything that he had.
He was satisfied, because he was alive.
He could appreciate life because he was living—such a wonderful life.
× × ×
So, my friends, don't let money worry you, or the lack thereof.
As long as you appreciate life, you haven't lived in vain.
Even if you die one day, you will go happily.
Because you enjoyed life more than others.
× × ×
The carriage couldn't go up the mountain, so they had to walk.
They walked very slowly.
Because they knew that regardless of how slow they walked, they would always arrive.
They sky had gradually turned dark.
This never worried them.
Because they knew that dawn would be soon to come.
So their hearts were full of joy, even Forest was starting to brighten up.
At last their eyes rested on Dash's house, although it was old and dilapidated, under the haziness of the setting sun, it was as beautiful as a palace.
Everyone has a palace inside of their hearts.
The strange thing is, some people just don't know how to find it.
Dash's sharp facial features became gentler, he suddenly laughed, "Take a guess, after returning home, what is the first thing I am thinking about doing?"
"Sleep," Big G and Swally cried in unison.
× × ×
But life is often full of surprises.
Before they reached the house, they saw the light of a lantern s.h.i.+ning through the window.
At first, all they could see was the light through the window by the door.
And then, they noticed there was light coming from every window.
They were staring blankly.
Swally: "There is someone in the house."
Big G: "Maybe it's a friend paying you a visit?"
Dash: "Friends used to come and visit me, but after selling my last chair, I never saw any of them again."
He smiled faintly, "Maybe they were all as lazy as me, worried they wouldn't have anywhere to sit," he added.
This faint smile, symbolized just how deep his understanding of life was.
So he didn't hold anyone to high expectations.
When he gave, he didn't expect anything in return—perhaps this was one of the reasons that he was happier than most people.
Swally frowned, "Then, who lit all of the lights?"
Big G smiled, "What's the point in guessing? Won't we know if we just go inside and have a look?"
This would have been the right att.i.tude, except that he was wrong.
After going inside, they still had no idea.