Chapter 9: Arc 1: Rural Love 9 – Sorry
Huang Dan’s mouth was captured, and faint tobacco smell rushed into his throat. He was stunned and kept his eyes open just like that.
Li Gen’s breathing became increasingly erratic and his palm shifted down from the back of the young man’s head to his nape, pressing at it. He caressed a few times before turning to the front, holding the young man’s face in both of his hands as he stroked.
The pain at the back of Huang Dan’s head had yet to abate, and now his face was in pain. He sobbed spasmodically as he said, “Ge… Don’t touch me anymore… It hurts…”
The voice next to his ear was weak and crying for mercy. Li Gen raised his eyelids vehemently and was met with the tearful eyes of the young man. He hurriedly withdrew from the mouth of the young man, stood up and ran out.
Huang Dan rubbed his mouth and wiped off the tears that were trickling down. He sat on the ground with a deathly white face as he took breaths one at a time. He dared not touch the big bump at the back of his head.
The smoke in his mouth could not disperse. “Mr. System, my first kiss is gone.”
Last time, he had just knocked his teeth and bled a mouthful of blood. This time, they really kissed. Li Gen had even stretched out his tongue, so it was essentially different.
The system said, “Mr. Huang, this is not your body.”
Huang Dan had a different opinion with regards to this answer. “The soul is still mine. When Li Gen kissed me, I was not a third party. I was someone involved.”
The system disappeared for a few moments. “Mr. Huang, this system has helped to check for you, that was also Li Gen’s first kiss.”
Huang Dan was surprised and exclaimed, “No, he had married two wives.”
The system said, “Nothing had happened between them.”
Huang Dan asked, “Why?”
The system answered, “Dead.”
Huang Dan, “…”
He was under the impression that before they had passed away, they would’ve adhered to the lover’s approach; date for a period of time before being involved in any intimate behavior. So, there wasn’t anything? What was the matter? It could not be that they were frightened to death because they unintentionally found out that Li Gen had a big dick?
Huang Dan asked about the cause of death, and the system threw out the official reply. It seemed that he had to investigate from other places. He wondered if he could dig up some material from Zhang Ying Xiong.
Not long after, the doctor came out of the room and asked, “Where’s Li Gen?”
Huang Dan did not turn his head. “I don’t know.”
The doctor said, “The total cost of the medicine is seven dollars and eighty-five cents.”
There were only two cents in Huang Dan’s pocket, so he could not do anything about it.
It was no less than half an hour before Li Gen came back from the pond. The front of his unlined outer garment had a patch of wetness. His hair was also wet.
Huang Dan was still sitting on the ground with a pale and perspiring face.
Li Gen stammered, “I’m sorry.”
Having heard that, Huang Dan raised his head only to see that the man’s face was flushed with embarrassment. He said, “The medicine costs seven dollars and eighty-five cents.”
Li Gen pulled out a handful of paper money from his trouser pocket and counted one by one. Because his heart was distracted, he couldn’t remember what he had counted when he was done counting them. He simply took out a ten-dollar bill and gave it to the doctor.
He stuffed the change back into his pocket and looked at the door. The young man had already disappeared.
Li Gen pinched the bridge of his nose. It was good that he went away because it was very embarrassing to face him now. At that time, he must’ve been crazed and hence he had done that sort of thing while his mind was in a blank.
On the way back to the village, Wu Cui Ling did not take the handcart, instead she walked.
Li Gen did not persuade her either. He pulled the cart and walked beside her. “Dong Tian told me.”
Wu Cui Ling was stunned and her eyes drooped down. The color on her face also dispersed completely. “Big Brother, don’t tell mother.”
Li Gen said, “Okay, I won’t tell.”
Wu Cui Ling tucked a strand of hair that was on her cheeks to behind her ear and said in a soft voice, “Take it that this incident never happened. I’ll tell anyone who asked that I tripped and hurt my head. I won’t let anyone gossip idly about home.”
He Wei’s parents knew that she would not tell the truth, because no one would believe it; however, this, in fact, might give people an opportunity to splash dirty water.
Furrowing his brows, Li Gen ultimately decided not to meddle much and simply said, “Da Gui is no longer around. You are free, you can live however you want to, mother will understand.”
Wu Cui Ling shook her head. “Mother can’t live without people.”
Li Gen said, “If you are acting like this because of mother’s health, you don’t have to. You’re young and you have a long way to go. You should plan for yourself early. Mother won’t blame you. I believe Dai Gui will not too.”
Wu Cui Ling hurriedly said, “Big Brother, I don’t mean that.”
She bit her lip. “I mean, Da Gui is gone. I should take good care of mother and let her enjoy her old age.”
Li Gen glanced from the corner of his eyes at the young woman. Her dark hair was gathered behind her ears, revealing her fair ears. Her cheek was white too and her appearance was average, with a temperament that was quiet and gentle. He said, “Cui Ling, if you have someone in mind, just tell me, I’ll deal with mother’s side.”
Wu Cui Ling wanted to stop him by saying, “Big Brother, I…”
Someone in the field beside him was turning on the water, rushing to plow and transplant the seedlings. They shouted hello from a short distance, asking where Li Gen and Wu Cui Ling had come back from. They even asked how Wu Cui Ling had injured her head.
Li Gen gave a few short responses and asked Wu Cui Ling, “What were you saying just now?”
“Thanks to Dong Tian this time.”
Wu Cui Ling walked with her eyes downcast. “Big Brother, can you say hello to him and tell him not to talk about it?”
In Li Gen’s mind, there appeared a young man with tearful eyes. He wanted to refuse and let Wu Cui Ling speak with him herself, but the words twirled around the tip of his tongue and were swallowed down again. “Okay.”
There were only that many people in the village. Anything a little bigger would be circulated and give rise to a discussion.
Wu Cui Ling’s forehead was wounded, and there was still a lot of blood on her clothes. Even the children who were playing with mud knew about it.
In the house, Wang Yue Mei was cutting the branches of the honeysuckle. She picked the beautiful ones and threw them in the jar. “You can even fall down while walking. The more you live, the more you go backward.”
Wu Cui Ling said that she didn’t notice.
Wang Yue Mei fussily plucked the branches and threw away all the ones with distorted shapes. “Has the old hen been sent to He Wei’s house?”
“Yes,” answered Wu Cui Ling.
Wang Yue Mei inquired about He Wei’s health. “Is it true that he was so ill that he could not get out of bed?”
Wu Cui Ling said that she was not sure.
Wang Yue Mei looked at Wu Cui Ling’s jacket. It had been changed and not the one she had gone out with. “Come here.”
Wu Cui Ling did what she was asked.
Wang Yue Mei then said, “Squat down a little, mother will pull out a white hair for you.”
Wu Cui Ling bent down.
Wang Yue Mei’s gaze was vicious. At once, she caught some marks on Wu Cui Ling’s neck. She was an experienced person, how could she not know how she had gotten those?
Wu Cui Ling asked, “Mother, is it all right?”
Wang Yue Mei plucked out a hanful of black hair on her head. “Go feed the chickens and then fill up the tank with water.”
Wu Cui Ling’s scalp hurt. She wondered why her mother-in-law’s expression suddenly changed.
She had just placed her front foot out when Li Gen came in. “Mom, Cui Ling has a head injury. You should let her lie down. Let me feed the chickens and fill the water.”
“That big rice bed is enough to keep you busy.” Wang Yue Mei’s voice was directed towards the door. “Isn’t it just a crack in the skin? How could it be so delicate? When your mother was pregnant with you, I still went to work in the field with a big stomach. The sickle cut a big hole in my hand but I did not stop and continue on.”
Outside, Wu Cui Ling puckered her lips and went to busy herself.
In the afternoon, Huang Dan had been squatting in the corner for a while. He really had no other choice and went to Li Gen for help to fill the hole.
Li Gen was holding the wooden shovel while standing in the rice bed as he tossed the rice. A gust of wind blew by, and the husk and chaff of wheat were blown away. The remaining golden wheat grains fell off one after another and piled up layer by layer.
Huang Dan caught sight of the beads of sweat on the man’s wheat-colored arms. With each rising and falling of the shovel, the hard muscles would relax and tense. He could once again smell the scent of roasted meat.
Li Gen lifted his unlined upper garment and wiped his sweat away. He moved sideways to heap the wheat grains and caught a glimpse of the figure of a young man. The wooden spade in his hand was instantly grasped tightly and his movements became rigid.
Huang Dan went over and, “Ge, my hole, you fill it up for me.”
Li Gen’s face was burning red like a fire. “It can’t be filled.”
Why was he blushing? Huang Dan’s expression was strange and he frowned. “You didn’t say that in the morning.”
Li Gen felt a fit of inexplicable anger. He turned his head and roared, “Chirping like a woman! Lao Zi said that if it can’t be filled up, it can’t be filled up. You can find someone else to fill it up for you!”
Huang Dan was not angry. “Oh, that’s fine. Let me find someone else.”
Listening to the footsteps of the young man, Li Gen threw the wooden spade onto the wheat pile and said, “Wait, Lao Zi will fill the hole for you!”
A moment later, Li Gen carried a bucket of mud to Huang Dan’s courtyard wall. He mixed the water and mud together, put in the wheat bran and continued to stir before he took out the iron shovel to fill the wall.
“Didn’t you work in a construction site before? You don’t even know how to do such a small thing?”
Huang Dan squatted on the edge and learned, “The construction site used cement to build houses.”
“That is not a reason.” Li Gen stayed silent for a moment before he asked, “Has the bump on your head disappeared?”
Huang Dan said no.
Li Gen looked at the back of Huang Dan’s head and said, “Don’t lay on it when you sleep at night.”
Huang Dan looked at Li Gen.
Li Gen was also looking at him, and after a few seconds of being stunned, he said in disdain, “Go away, don’t squat next to me and block the wind, it’s so hot!”
Huang Dan’s mouth drew back and he went back to the house.
Not smelling the scent of the young man, Li Gen’s breathing became smooth, his hands and feet were swift and he filled the hole quickly. “Dong Tian, I’m going back.”
Huang Dan’s voice echoed out from the house, “Okay.”
Li Gen took out his cigarette and held it in his mouth. He glanced at the dirt on his hand, sighed and shook his head. “What is this?”
He snapped angrily and looked at the young man like this. He did not seem to care about what had happened in the morning at all. It was just him being too nervous like a fool. He even dropped his bowl during lunch.
Huang Dan cared, but he just did not say it out loud so as not to embarrass both of them.
In the evening, there was an old man wandering around, begging for food from door to door. He carried a cloth bag and merged his two dry hands together in a begging gesture. He said that good people had good rewards, and the Bodhisattva would bless you.
When many people in the village saw him, they quickly closed the door and pretended that they were not at home.
Huang Dan was tackling a handful of leek at the door, as he nipped away from the yellow ones. When he saw the beggar, he went to the rice jar in the kitchen and dug a potful of rice.
Chen Jin Hua, who was in the courtyard, shouted, “What do you think you are doing Dong Tian, half the ceramic pot will do!”
Huang Dan silently poured half of it back into the rice jar and gave the rest to the beggar.
As several grains of rice fell to the ground, the beggar squatted down and picked the grain one by one, placing them into the cloth bag. He repeatedly said thank you to Huang Dan.
Huang Dan watched the beggar go to the next house and turn away in disappointment when he saw that the door was closed.
His line of sight followed the beggar all the way until the other party had arrived at Li Gen’s house. When he left, his expression was satisfying. After two steps, he opened the cloth bag and looked at it. He must have gotten a lot of food.
Li Gen had given a pot of rice to the beggar. When he turned his head, he saw Huang Dan standing at the door.
The goose, duck, and chicken that were going home, were standing in between them. Their eyes met and then separated again.
Huang Dan sighed, he was still hoping to ask Li Gen to come to his nest to sleep and fan him. Then, he would be able to sleep as well as he had slept last night. With what happened in the afternoon, Li Gen would definitely not easily climb into his bed.
Chen Jin Hua put some leeks in the basket and carried it to Li Gen’s house. She came back and said, “Everyone is going to the city next month.”
Huang Dan made an ‘oh’ sound.
In the memory of the original owner, the strong men in the village would go to the city from time to time. Everyone would take all kinds of things to sell: poultry, eel, snake, pheasant, food, etc. How much they sold would be how much they earned. That money would then be used to buy what they needed, such as two sets of new clothes for the children, a silk scarf for the daughter-in-law.
Chen Jin Hua said, “When mother went to Li Gen’s house, she saw Biao Zi, Da Hu and Da Long too. They said that city people now like to eat snake meat. A snake can sell for a decent price. They discussed about catching snakes in the early green hills.”
Huang Dan had no interest in snake catching. He might as well draw a picture of countryside villages, mountains, forests, and ponds when he had the time.
Chen Jin Hua took a dishcloth to wipe the pot. “Dong Tian, go with them.”
Huang Dan’s eyelids jumped and he leaned against the kitchen table. “Mom, you can’t toss the rice and wheat alone if I’m gone.”
“You’ll go the day after tomorrow. Most of the work will get done in the next two days.” Chen Jin Hua said, “Just go for three or four days and come back. Mom has told Li Gen to bring you along with him.”
Huang Dan, “…” Three, four days? How do you live in the mountains?
The day before going to the early green hills, Huang Dan found Li Gen in the west side of the village. The other party had avoided him for two days. “Ge, what time will we set off tomorrow morning?”
Without looking at Huang Dan, Li Gen said that he would leave at two or three o’clock. “If you wake up late, nobody will wait for you.”
Two or three o’clock? Huang Dan’s eyebrows frowned, the rooster was not even awake at this time. How could he get up? “Ge, you sleep with me. When you get up, call me.”
Li Gen immediately refused, “No.”
Huang Dan thought for a moment and said, “Then I’ll ask Ying Xiong to sleep with me.”
When he was done speaking, he departed in large strides. At the corner, Li Gen turned around wearing a terrible expression on his handsome face. “Leave the door open for me at night!”