After smoking to vent out his emotions, Yan Liqiang walked toward the distant Old City District. As he made his way towards that area, he thought about his future plans.
He did not wish to stay in this city any further.
He had already resigned from the company yesterday. This was only partially due to Lu Jiaying’s actions as the idea had already been haunting him from the start. Now that the conditions were met, he had no qualms about leaving the company and trying to make a living for himself.
The department manager in his company had been working to degrade and discredit Yan Liqiang of his work. This man who would go as far as to even strike off Yan Liqiang’s name from the creator’s list when Yan Liqiang made a brilliant powerpoint slide to be uploaded into the company’s Office Automation system. He had done it out of fear for the fact that the boss might know that Yan Liqiang was the one who made the powerpoint slides in the first place.
However, even though the man was constantly oppressing him, Yan Liqiang was still able to do surprisingly well within the company based on his outstanding abilities alone.
It was this year in particular where Yan Liqiang’s services had risen to the top of the company for four consecutive quarters.
Despite all of this, Yan Liqiang still chose to leave in the end. It was because one of the old executives he knew admired his skills and character very much and wanted to invest in a large-scale mobile-electronics shopping mall within another city, intending to let Yan Liqiang manage it. Additionally, he had also given Yan Liqiang a large share of the land, allowing him to become both a shareholder and partner of the company from a mere employee in a single step.
At first, Yan Liqiang was hesitant to leave due to his bright future within the company. However, in a flash, his income and benefits had began to multiply rapidly. However, in order to rope in Yan Liqiang and express his sincerity, the old executive had even changed the name of his investment into Yan Liqiang’s name.
He had already gone to this extent, so what else could Yan Liqiang say?
His life would start anew. Yan Liqiang was confident that he would definitely excel. The act that he had put on today might one day come into fruition. Even if he wasn’t able to be a rich second generation , there was still a chance that he would someday be the father of one. For the sake of that miniscule chance, Yan Liqiang would desperately put up a fight for it.
‘If you don’t struggle, then how different are you from a salted fish?’ This was Yan Liqiang’s second motto in his lifetime.
During this time period, Yan Liqiang was no longer in pain. The most heart aching and painful moment for him was when he had first discovered that Lu Jiaying had cheated on him. The shock from the impact that he had suffered almost made him collapsed on the spot. Extreme measures had even surfaced in his mind at that moment, but after getting over it, he realized that there really wasn’t any need for him to harm people for the sake of one treacherous and self-conscious woman. It really wasn’t worth it. Bygones should just be bygones.
If it weren’t for the fact that Lu Jiaying had gone to the extremes, and that the two were really not meant for each other, Yan Liqiang would likely not have gone as far as he did. The facade he put on today was a lesson for that vain woman.
When he thought back to his facade, Yan Liqiang couldn’t help but laugh whenever he thought of how remorseful and ashamed she must be feeling right now. It was akin to the satisfaction one felt after a prank had succeeded. This joy managed to gradually washed away the depression in his heart.
Yan Liqiang felt that of all the pretenses that he had put on throughout all these years, only the one today could be considered to be the apex of his acting career.
He fished out his switched-off mobile phone, removed the sim card from his phone and threw it directly into a smelly gutter by the roadside. Yan Liqiang inserted a new sim card into the slot before switching on his phone. Following this, he called a number.
"Hey, Liqiang! How is your work coming along?" An enthusiastic middle-aged man’s voice, brimming with energy, answered the call.
"Manager Zhao! It’s already been dealt with. I should arrive at Guangzhou Airport at four o’clock tomorrow afternoon!"
"You don’t have to address me as Manager Zhao anymore, Brother Huan will do!" The tone of the middle-aged man coming from the phone now sounded extremely serious and forthright. "I will send a car to pick you up from the airport tomorrow afternoon, and I’ll also find us a place to hold the welcoming dinner at night. I’m planning on introducing a couple of friends to you. These friends of mine are very capable in Guangzhou! After they had heard what I had said about you, they said that it was very rare to find someone as loyal as you in this generation, so they really want to be acquainted with you..."
"Okay! Thank you, Brother Huan!"
"Why are you thanking me? Don’t you be so courteous with me from now on! If it weren’t for your zealous help, I would’ve lost over one hundred million yuan for those goods by those bloody cheating koreans! It’s not really a big issue losing that amount of money since it’s only a couple of houses. But my reputation was at stake! Liqiang, you were the one who had saved my dignity! I absolutely admire your personality! You’re capable and loyal, so you don’t have much to worry once you reach Guangzhou. I’ve already found you a place to stay and settled on your car. You don’t have to worry about anything at all! Just concentrate on doing your job and I’ll completely hand over the shopping mall work to you. I’ve only arranged for a financial manager and as for the rest, you make the call. The shopping mall is only a small business and is considered as my investment. However, once you settle in, make some achievements, and gain a little experience, it’ll be easier for me to transfer you into the corporation to help me out. The other shareholders of the company will not object to it!"
After ending the call, Yan Liqiang heaved out hefty sigh. The depression that he had felt deep down vanished like smoke in thin air. He felt that his life was no different from a see-saw. Although he had failed in relationship affairs, his career had quietly advanced to a higher and all new stage thanks to the good karma he had accumulated throughout the years!
Even if he hadn’t put on a facade today, if Lu Jiaying had found out Yan Liqiang’s current situation, she still would’ve definitely regret her choices. Yet, Yan Liqiang still continued to pretend, not for the sake of anyone else, but for that one word—satisfaction!
He wasn’t the kind of man who couldn’t survive without a woman, so Yan Liqiang could accept Lu Jiaying’s departure. However, he could never bring himself to forgive her for her betrayal. Towards traitors, there was naturally no need to be sincere to them.
"Selling radios, insoles, needleworks..."
After ending the call with his Brother Huan, Yan Liqiang had subconsciously walked to a street on the Old City District where the voice of a peddler under the street light next to Yan Liqiang had caught his attention.
It was an old couple, still working in their street stall at this time of the day. They were sharply dressed and next to them was a small and shabby looking tricycle. The old man was at the stall trying to attract customers while the wife was sitting on the tricycle, using a couple of pieces of rags to cut insoles. Their stall was set up right under the street light. The light from the street light happened to illuminate the items in their booth clearly in the night.
When he saw the two old couple sitting on the ground selling things, Yan Liqiang couldn’t help but feel a little pain.
Perhaps there were a lot of youngsters who were born in the big city and would never see vendor’s booth like this in their lifetime. They would never have imagined that these items could actually be used to set up a stall in the street.
The old man had placed a couple of worn-out items on top of the green plastic cloth for display. There was an old-fashioned radio with the paint peeling off, a few w-filament bulbs, an old pair of dusty gloves, a box of old screws, a couple of pairs of insoles, two no longer new nail clippers, a box of needles, some threads, rubber bands and buttons, a few pieces of old mobile phone batteries of unknown models, two powerboards, as well as a pile of old books and a couple of other miscellaneous stuffs...
To most, even if these items were thrown into the rubbish pile, nobody would pick them up, let alone use them to earn money. This was simply a joke.
However, Yan Liqiang knew that this old couple wasn’t doing this to fool around. The majority of the elderly who were in the latter stages of life either lived their lives laid off or living in the old district without any living resources. They really were just setting up a stall in the street in hopes that these items could earn them some money.
This wasn’t Yan Liqiang’s first time encountering these kind of elderlies. During the day, the city inspectors were strict so the elderlies were afraid to come out, so it was only during the night that they could emerge to set up their booth. There were many instances where Yan Liqiang had seen that the old man and wife selling things like half a bottle of soy sauce, half of a noodle, a few beer bottles, half of a medicine bottle for colds, a set of old chess pieces or anything of the sort... To these elderlies, this was the only way that they could think of that allowed them to make money whilst retaining their pride.
Yan Liqiang wasn’t that much of a prideful man, so he had no qualms about buying things from the old couple. Everytime he saw the old couple setting up their stall, he would buy their things even if he would never use them.
Yan Liqiang arrived before the old man’s booth and knelt down to look over the items in the booth.
The old man watched Yan Liqiang with a hopeful yet uneasy gaze. "Young man, take a look at what you need. These things are cheaper than those sold in shops. They can still be used..."
Yan Liqiang also didn’t know exactly what it is he should buy. However, it was at these moments where Yan Liqiang’s acting skills were exhibited.
As Yan Liqiang scanned the old books on display, he caught sight of an interesting old book among them named the ‘Performing Muscle Tendon Changing and Marrow Cleansing Internal Cultivation Manual’. This was an old book which appeared to be published twenty years ago by the Zhongzhou Ancient Books publishing company. The price of the first print was only twenty-six yuan.
When he laid eyes on this book, he was taken aback due to the fact that he had never expected that a rare manual like the Muscle Tendon Changing Manual had truly existed. In the past, he had thought that such a thing was only invented for novels and movies and would never have dreamt that a thing like this actually existed in real life. Under the lights by the road, he flipped through the book unhurriedly. He realized that apart from a couple pages’ worth of prefaces and a few text, the rest were all drawings depicting different forms of training techniques.
As Yan Liqiang stared at this book hidden amongst the pile of old books, he didn’t really find anything else that attracted his attention. He sighed in amazement at the broad and profound culture of China, so much so that he could easily find a secret cultivation manual in a pile of old books.
Ah, whatever. This will just be treated as a bit of fun. He could wait until when he was more free once he was old, and exercise according to this manual at the park everyday in the morning, treating it as broadcast exercises. He could still act in front of everyone else. While the others were doing open-air fitness dancing, he was practising the Muscle Tendon Changing Manual. If word got out, the standard would be completely different!
Grasping onto this thought, Yan Liqiang yelled out in a pompous tone, "Ah, I’ve finally found it! I can’t believe that I can still find this kind of things out here..." A gleeful expression emerged on Yan Liqiang’s face. He waved the old book at the old man selling it. "Uncle, how much are you selling this book for?"
"This...this book costs ten yuan." Since it was such an old book, the old man felt a bit of embarrassment from his sales pitch since he felt that the price for the book was too high.
"Ten yuan? It’s that cheap?" Yan Liqiang was shocked. He quickly patted all over his body before retrieving five red notes from his pocket, and handed them over. "Uncle, I’ll take this book. Here’s five hundred yuan..."
"Ah! That much..." The old man jumped in fright and quickly waved his hands to dissuade Yan Liqiang. He didn’t take the cash. "I don’t need this much! I really don’t..."
He had already spent a lot of money from the previous performance alone. Hence, he didn’t mind spending five hundred yuan more this time. However, it felt satisfying to spend this kind of money whilst explaining in a bullshit manner. Yet to some people, this amount of cash wasn’t even enough for health care. But to these elderlies, this small amount would probably cover their living expenses for a whole month.
"Uncle, you have no idea. This book of yours is extraordinary. It’s extremely valuable..."
"Oh, this... I’ve seen it online before. They’re also selling it. A brand new set only costs roughly fifty to sixty yuan. I’ve only salvaged this book from the recycling centre, it shouldn’t cost that much..." The uncle seller also wasn’t a money-grubber.
"Uncle, you have no clue! This book is like wine and stamps. You have to look at the year as well as the edition. This book was published earlier and is extremely scarce, so it has a special collectible value. The book will probably worth more in a few years time..."
"Really?" The uncle was still half in doubt after being persuaded by Yan Liqiang
"I won’t take advantage of uncle! Five hundred yuan it is!" said Yan Liqiang solemnly. In truth, he too had almost fell for his own lies. Once he finished speaking, he immediately stuffed the five red notes into the old man’s hand. Without waiting for the old man to respond, he grabbed the book and ran off.
The old man from within the street stall watched Yan Liqiang leave with a grateful, yet perplexed expression. After a while, he took another glance at the five red notes that remained clutched within his hands. Letting out a sigh, he turned his gaze towards his wife and said, "It looks like there’re still quite a lot of good people in the world. We have certainly met a nice one today..."
There were few people walking on the streets and the streetlights were quite bright. More than ten minutes later, after leaving the old man’s booth, Yan Liqiang walked as he flipped through the pages of the book in his hands. At this moment, he heard somebody excitedly shouted loudly from afar.
"Ah! It’s a meteor! And it’s heading in this direction..."
As he walked on the sidewalk, Yan Liqiang came to a sudden halt as he turned his attention towards the sky in a dumbstruck manner. He had only just raised his head and sensed that the surrounding streets had suddenly became radiant. Everything was engulfed in a plume of white light. Before Yan Liqiang could react, a loud ‘BOOM!’ resounded out from a nearby area, and he instantly lost consciousness...
Yan Liqing had vanished. All that remained at the sidewalk where he was initially was a gigantic hole with a diameter of countless metres. After a few minutes had passed, the city’s fire truck and police cars had all arrived under the screams that filled the scene. A warning line was immediately put on site, and even the reporters from the TV station had came...
A week had passed, and in the archive room of the city’s public security bureau, another person was added to the missing people list: Yan Liqiang. Male. Han Ethnic Group. He was born in a certain month and date and was reported missing on a certain month and date from the city....
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