Night 3 – Old Friend
Gang Cheng slouched as he stepped into the kitchen, dutifully grabbing the tupperware from the bottom cabinet. He snorted, carefully ladling the XiaoMian into several small portions. Once the containers were full enough he closed them, glancing from the corner of his eye at his mother. Her face was smiling but her eyes weren’t as warm as the usual. He gave a defeated grin in return, placing the tupperware on her counter.
“Mother… This food..” He motioned towards the containers, feeling as though he was being eyed at suspiciously by his mother.
“Take it all.” She folded her arms carefully, the sleeves swallowing up her fragile limbs.
“But, mother,” Gang Cheng sighed, slouching forward again in defeat. “There is no kitchen directly attached to the room I am in. You know the Feng’s don’t appreciate random food inside of the kitchens in the courtyard. I don’t even know if they allow food now, after all, there was that pest problem when I was a boy.” He scratched his head, messing up his hair.
“A little bit of food like this isn’t going to harm anything, just ask the Feng girl to store it inside of the staff kitchen and–”
“Mother, I’m an adult. I’m no longer a child who goes to school next to the Inn anymore.” He shook his head, lowering his eyes. “I can’t just place whatever I so wish inside of their kitchens like I had when I was young.” He straightened himself out, lifting 3 of the 4 containers to place inside of his mother’s refrigerator.
“You just accept these and I’ll take this back and give it to the Feng’s.” He raised an eyebrow as his mother frowned, her brows furrowing.
“Cheng’er… alright. You can give that to the Feng girl then.” Lu Mei shuffled to the dirty dishes, carefully tying up her sleeves. As soon as she’d turned on the faucet in her kitchen Gang Cheng lightly pushed her hands away, smiling at her.
“Let me do the dishes, mother. Go sit on your chair, I’ll handle this.” He comforted, slowly rolling his sleeves up to his elbows, unclasping his watch to place it on the free space on the counter. Filling one half of the double basin sink he filled it with warm sudsy water.
“Mother,” Gang Cheng cleared his throat as he scrubbed the plate in his hands. “Why do you keep talking about ‘the Feng girl’?” He frowned, placing the scrubbed bowl to the side as he lifted up one of the pans.
“Do you not remember her? Hmph.” His mother sounded displeased and he groaned.
“I don’t remember much, no. After all, I-”
“You can’t try and tell me that you don’t remember Feng Mian, she–, oh you’re worse than your father! Once you have something on your mind you forget everyone and anyone else!” Her exasperated voice snapped from the living room.
“I suppose I’ll find out later then, won’t I?” He grumbled, still cleaning the dishes.
“I suppose you will.” His mother snorted.
“Understood,” He finished the dishes, giving them a thorough rinse before placing them in the drying rack. Drying his hands carefully in the dish towel he moved to stand in front of his mother. “I will figure it out when asking around. I have to leave now, I need to go buy a cake for Hui Yin and I don’t want it to be late.” He looked at his wrist, blinking stupidly as he released a sigh.
“Forgot your watch, hmm?” His mother quirked an eyebrow, smirking as she watched her son turn around to grab his watch. “Always so forgetful.”
After he had secured his watch onto his wrist, Gang Cheng stepped in front of his mother, giving her a kiss on the forehead.
“I will see you tomorrow, mother.” He chuckled, taking her hand in his to hold it before facing the entrance hall. “I’ll be back.” He turned and left her house, his footsteps steady but giving off a little bit of a lonely feel.
He lowered his car window as he drove towards the local bakery, the creeping feeling of how his town remained the same no matter how much time passed. He squinted his eyes, parking the vehicle in the front parking space. He carefully made a fist as he made his way into the store.
“Excuse me, is Meng Lin in?” Gang Cheng called, seeing a middle-aged man standing behind the counter.
“Ah, sorry, mother is currently in the hospital- wait, is that you Cheng Cheng?” The middle-aged man laughed as he moved behind the display counter to greet Gang Cheng. “It’s me, Po.” The man snickered, the man clasped a hand on Gang Cheng’s shoulder in a friendly manner.
“Po…. oh! Po! You’re Po’er? I didn’t recognize you behind the counter.” Gang Cheng laughed as Meng Po grinned deviously. “After all, the last I’d seen you you’d just started high school. You had glasses back then, plus shaggy hair and messy clothes. Now, look at you.” He warmly smiled, greeting the other much more comfortably now.
“I recognized you because you look a lot like how you did when you got married!” Meng Po showed off his pearly white teeth, confident in remembering the older man. “Are you here for vacation? Everyone thought it was a joke when Feng Mian had said you rented the Lotus Silk courtyard.” Meng Po shook his head in faux disbelief before snapping his fingers.
“How is your mother? Is she alright?”
“Oh! She’s alright, just one of her check-ups, you know? Ah, what do you need? You obviously wouldn’t come in here just to talk to my mom.” He walked back behind the counter, beaming happily at Gang Cheng. “What’cha need?”
“I… would like a cake. One for a fifteen-year-old girl. Her favorite colors are ‘sky magenta’ and ‘egg shell white’.” He looked at the small cakes in front of him, rubbing his chin thoughtfully as he pondered what characters she said she liked most during their once a month private outing.
“Wait, wait. What color is ‘sky magenta’?” Meng Po looked at him with confusion. “I can understand eggshell white but, what’s sky magenta?”
“Ah… uhm…” Gang Cheng struggled to explain it. “It’s like a light pink mixed with magenta? Think of sky blue but a magenta color… something like that.” He rubbed the back of his head and Meng Po looked at him awkwardly.
“I… I see. Who is it for? Your wife-”
“No, we divorced. The cake is for… my daughter.” Gang Cheng sighed and pressed his hand to his forehead, rubbing his temple. “It’s her birthday tomorrow.”
“Oh? Congratulations to her! How old is she? Is she here-”
“She’s passed.” He grunted quietly, lowering his eyes. “Otherwise, she’d be 15,” He pointed to a cake. “I’d like that style but in the sky magenta and eggshell white color. Also with the characters Leon and Marie from ‘Endless Hope’.” He grew quiet, contemplating things. “That’s about it. How much?” He asked, reaching into his pocket.
“Ah… as it requires a lot more work about 470 yuan.”
“Here.” Gang Cheng pulled out a 1000 yuan bill, ruffling his hair. “Your mother looked after me a lot when I was growing up, so you can keep the change.” He took the receipt that Meng Po had given him and gave a wry smile.
“I’ll give you the change later…” Meng Po whispered, feeling as though he’d hurt Gang Cheng’s feelings.
“It’s fine.” Gang Cheng waved it off as he placed his hand on Meng Po’s shoulder now. “See you around Po’er.”
“Bye big bro Cheng.”
Gang Cheng groaned as he walked into one of the bars in the town. His phone had rung on the way back to the inn and the caller was one of his old friends.
“Song Men, It’s so early to begin drinking. It’s only 1 in the afternoon.” He sat at one of the stools as he looked to his right.
A man with shifty eyes sat slightly hunched, his white button-up shirt unbuttoned, revealing another white shirt underneath. He had black slacks and black loafers on his feet. His expression was questionable, looking like a sleazy mafia member. He had a scar over one eye with his black hair messily swept back. He was smaller in height but a bit bulkier than Gang Cheng.
“What? I can’t have a drink when it’s so hot out? I heard you bought a cake for Hui Yin. I’m sorry about all that.” Song Men slapped Gang Chang’s back in an attempt to comfort him. “Need me to get you any flowers? The flower’s I’ve grown this season are beautiful, I even have some good orchids.”
“So you did take up the family business?”
“Of course, I might look like a gangster but I’ll never let the family business die. I grew up with flowers and I’ll die with flowers.” Song Men looked proud as he pulled out his business card. “Song Florists at your service.”
“What did you call me here for?” Gang Cheng accepted the card as he raised a hand. “One Beer.”
“Did your wife call you here?” Song Men took a gulp of beer.
“Not that wife, your real wife. You know, the one from when we were kids?”
“I didn’t have a wife then, I only had Mo Chou as a wife.”
“I mean Feng Mian. Feng Mian, how can you forget about her, brother Cheng?” Song Men gave a heavy sigh. “You got called over by her, right? After the accident, didn’t she call you?”
“No, we don’t talk. We haven’t talked since I left.” Gang Cheng snorted, chugging down the beer.
“You-” Song Men gaped, looking at Gang Cheng in shock. “You didn’t talk to her? At all?”
“No, I had a wife. How can I talk to a girl-” Gang Cheng lifted his head, and stared at Song Men.
“Feng Mian?” He muttered, blinking. “What about Feng Mian?”
Previous Chapter | Content Page | Next Chapter
Hello everyone! There will maybe be an extra chapter before next week! In celebration of Christmas I was going to put out two but I got a bit busy, teehee! So you guys will get an out of schedule chapter between this week and next week. I’m still keeping up with Under the Dawn Redwood but as I said before Roll that Review won’t return until the 11th of January!