The empty house was quiet again but a faint fragrance could be smelt.
Yan Ting picked up a wooden head-shaking doll from among the several small ornaments that Li Zhao brought back. The doll had a big head and a small body. It was both cute and festive. Tap its head and it would shake. It was cute.
“Sir, you haven’t taken your medicine.” The housekeeper saw that Yan Ting was interested in the small gift Li Zhao had brought back and had forgotten about the medicine in the study. “Do you want me to bring it to you?”
“No.” Yan Ting poked the doll with his finger, placed it on the cabinet and turned to head to his room upstairs.
“Sir!” Seeing that Yan Ting wasn’t taking the medicine, the housekeeper chased after him with worry. “You…”
Yan Ting stopped and turned to look at him blankly. All of the housekeeper’s words and courage disappeared under this gaze and he didn’t dare take another step forward.
It wasn’t until Yan Ting went away and there was the sound of the door closing that the housekeeper took a breath. He turned to look at the wooden doll on the cabinet that wasn’t in line with the other expensive ornaments. Then he carefully collected the other things that Li Zhao brought back.
Halfway through the night, Yan Ting was awakened by a woman’s screams and rants. He got up from bed and opened the door to go out.
The woman in the red dress slowly walked in front of him to the top of the spiral staircase. Then she jumped and fell heavily to the ground like a butterfly without wings. She lay like this on the shining floor, red liquid constantly flowing out of his body, redder and brighter than the colour of her dress.
Heading down the stairs, Yan Ting stepped on the floor of the hallway and there was a sticky touch at the bottom of his feet. He bowed his head and saw the blood staining his shoes. Why could a person shed so much blood?
The woman lying on the ground was staring at her with big and beautiful eyes. Her lips were shaking and she looked very sad, but Yan Ting couldn’t hear what she was saying. He stepped on the pool of blood, walked up to the woman and knelt down in front of her on one knee. Then he leaned his ear towards her pale mouth.
“Baby, Mom will take you away.”
“Let’s get out of here together.”
The cold hand suddenly had strength. She grabbed his wrist, blood staining his arm. “Follow me.”
The blood dyed half of Yan Ting’s body red. He looked at the crazy, desperate woman and declared with no emotions, “No.”
“Why, why?” The woman screamed. “Are you going to apologize to me too?!”
Yan Ting looked at her silently. The woman’s screams seemed to pierce his eardrums, trying to extract his dull soul from this stinky shell.
“Someone will come to me tomorrow.” The woman’s screams were so loud that they covered up Yan Ting’s voice. “I promised him.”
The screams came to an end. The woman and the blood in the house disappeared. Only Yan Ting was left in the spacious hall.
“Sir.” Two bodyguards rushed in at this time and turned on the lights in the room. “Are you okay?”
Under the light, Yan Ting was pale in his thin pyjamas, looking like a perfect and unsentimental sculpture.
“I’m fine.” Yan Ting lowered his eyelids, his eyes dark.
“Sir, your medicine.” The housekeeper came out while holding the medicine.
Yan Ting looked at the medicine bottle and didn’t reach for it.
“Mr Li will come to you tomorrow morning.”
His fingertips moved and Yan Ting put the medicine in his mouth. The warm water with the pills rolled down his esophagus. He looked out the dark window and raised his arm to see the world. It was dawn.
Li Zhao had experienced several days of high-load filming and was very tired. By the time he woke up, it was after 9 a.m. He jumped out of bed, washed quickly and put on a hat, scarf and jacket before rushing to Yan Ting’s house next door. Li Zhao entered the house and saw Yan Ting sitting neatly on the sofa with an untouched breakfast on the table.
“I’m sorry Ting Ting. I overslept today.” Li Zhao scratched his head with embarrassment and looked at the table. “You haven’t eaten yet?”
“Sit down and eat together.” Yan Ting stood up and went to sit down at the table. Li Zhao hurriedly and shamelessly followed him. “It smells good.”
After breakfast, Li Zhao put on his hat and scarf and told Yan Ting, “My agent said that I have a bit of fame recently and can’t be recognized when I go outside.”
Fortunately, it was cold now. It wasn’t too strange to hide himself. Yan Ting saw Li Zhao, who only had a pair of eyes exposed. He took the scarf and learned from Li Zhao’s appearance, wrapping it around his neck.
During the New Year holiday period, any fun place was packed with tourists. Li Zhao took Yan Ting to a not so loud courtyard where applause and cheers were heard.
“There were a few young guys who learned performance skills and performed on the overpass for money. I made friends with them when I was a stand-in.” Li Zhao reached out and knocked on the small window with the ‘ticket seller’ sign. The young man lying on the table and sleeping looked up.
“Brother, are there any seats available?” LI Zhao pulled down his mask and said, “Arrange a good position for my brother.”
“Zhao Zhao?” The young man selling the tickets saw Li Zhao’s face and hurriedly ran out. He looked around and said, “You are now a popular person. How can you come here?”
“Popular, what popular?” Li Zhao put his mask back on. “This is a festival and I brought my good friend here to watch your performance.”
“Walk, I’ll take you in.” The young man smiled and nodded towards Yan Ting in greeting. He took them to the side door, raised the curtain and pointed to the wooden table in the middle. “Sit down first. I’ll pour you some tea.”
“Thank you.” Li Zhao thanked the person and took Yan Ting to the middle table. Yan Ting noted that it was a small open-air courtyard with a canopy on top of it. There were a dozen spectators in the audience. Once the person on stage completed swallowing some iron balls, the spectators threw some money into the basket.
“They learned traditional performance skills but these days, young people don’t like watching those types of shows. People who learn them might be less and less in the future.” Li Zhao whispered to Yan Ting. “Once the show is over, I’ll take you to an old restaurant nearby.”
After a while, the ticket selling person came in with a teapot and fruit plate. He saw Yan Ting’s extraordinary momentum and thought this was a big man in the entertainment circle. He was afraid he would bring trouble to Li Zhao by talking more. Thus, he found an excuse to leave after a few simple greetings.
The several young men on the stage were in their twenties and thirties. The contents of the show were old school performances such as swallowing a sword, etc. One complete performance was a few minutes.
At the end of the performance, someone took a basket around to receive tips. Most of the audience got up, occasionally giving tips but they were mainly 10 or 20 yuan.
The young man with the tips basket pass it to Li Zhao and Yan Ting’s side and Yan Ting placed money in it.
The young man stopped in fright and looked at Yan Ting and Li Zhao. “Zhao Zhao, we don’t have to abide by such rules of jianghu.” (community of martial artists in wuxia stories)
Li Zhao hadn’t expected Yan Ting to take so much money out. He reached for Yan Ting’s shoulder and laughed. “According to the rules of jianghu, the money that is taken out can’t be recovered. You receive it.”
“Brother, thank you.” The men sent away the audience, cleaned the courtyard and surrounded Li Zhao.
“Okay, you kid. “The leader was called Da Long and he elbowed Li Zhao in the chest. “You played in that Internet drama and us brothers used our mobile phones every day to help increase your clock rate. Now you’ve made it. Congratulations.”
Everyone in the performance group ran to be stand-ins but they were different from Li Zhao. At least they had a craft to survive. Li Zhao had no parents and no escape route. They were very happy when they saw that Li Zhao was finally on fire but subconsciously felt there wouldn’t be a chance to see Li Zhao and say goodbye.
Most popular artists would change their mobile phone numbers and delete people’s contact information to avoid trouble. They hadn’t expected there to be a chance to be brothers with Li Zhao. Not only did Li Zhao come, he also brought a friend.
“Thank you.” LI Zhao rubbed the place that was hit and smiled bitterly. “Brother Da Long, you are so strong. Please act lighter.”
“Haha.” Da Long laughed awkwardly and turned to Yan Ting. “You are Zhao Zhao’s friend. I heard that you gave us a lot of money just now. Thank you. If you come to see our performance next time, you don’t need to give us money. Brothers don’t need to pay attention to this.”
“It’s a good performance.” Yan Ting wasn’t a social person and didn’t like to speak much.
“It is better to say praise.” Da Long saw that Yan Ting wasn’t talkative and turned to talk to Li Zhao. “Do you know how many girls are shouting to be your wife on the Internet right now? How can you go out this time without being afraid of being recognized?”
“Last year, I said that if there was time on New Year’s then I would come and see your show. At the time, you said that you wouldn’t charge me for tickets no matter how many people I bring.” Li Zhao raised his eyebrows and pretended to be angry. “Why? I brought a good friend here and you can’t stand it?”
“Hey, this boy!” Da Long was going to slap him. Then he thought about his strong hands and took it back with a laugh. “This old man’s words naturally counts. Whether it is this year or next year, you won’t be charged ticket money as long as you come.”
“Everyone heard this. Once I come later, no one can take my money.” Li Zhao held Yan Ting’s shoulder. “In addition, you can’t accept the money of my brother.”
Da Long wondered, “Hey, you are a big star now. Why do you have to be so stingy?”
“Because I am poor.”
The group laughed.
Da Long and the others talked and laughed with Li Zhao until noon before separating with Li Zhao. Looking at Li Zhao and Yan Ting’s backs, the little guy who swallowed iron balls came up to Da Long and whispered, “Da Long, do you think that the coat Zhao Zhao is wearing with his friend is like a couple’s outfit?”
“No, it can’t be.” Da Long scratched his forehead. “Can they just have good feelings?”
“Think purely and don’t see everyone as gay.”
In the old restaurant, Li Zhao ordered the boss’ signature dish. “His lamb chops are particularly delicious so you must eat two more.”
The restaurant was full of guests and the entire store was filled with flames.
The world might be full of noise, it was noisy and irritable, but…
He looked at Li Zhao’s smiling face and tried to fit himself into the noise.
The author has something to say:
Baby Ting Ting: The world might be noisy but you are good.