Li Xueying winked to Fangzheng mischievously, she mouthed, “Remember to thank me.”
She started waving the men outside, “Alright, gentlemen. A monastery is place of tranquility. If we are talking about anything else, it’s best we take it outside.”
The group of people was led outside by Li Xueying.
Fangzheng heaved a sigh of relief once everyone left. He felt as though he had survived a tribulation!
Although he was not the culprit, who would believe him if he claimed that it was Monkey’s fault? It was impossible for him to gather everyone to communicate with Monkey, proving that he was intelligent and the thief. When the time came, it would have been impossible for him to escape the blame. In worse scenarios, it was normal for him to be repremanded and be put inf prison for a few days. If the news spread, his reputation would be ruined.
Once the matter was resolved, Fangzheng felt a load rise off his chest and he slumped to the ground. He looked to the side at Monkey, Squirrel, and Lone Wolf who were giving each other surreptitious winks.
Fangzheng threw a punch at each of them, causing them to hug their heads in pain with tears welling in their eyes. “All three of you will not have dinner tonight! All of you are to reflect on your actions! And… This Penniless Monk will have to reflect as well. We will starve together! If another mistake is made in the future, we will starve an entire day!”
As he mentioned starving, Fangzheng really felt the hunger. He did not even get to have breakfast in the morning and realised that it was nearly noon, he would truly starve an entire day if he did not eat. He closed the monastery’s doors before he started preparing lunch.
That night, Li Xueying brought a luggage bag to the monastery and took away all the undergarments. Fangzheng pressed his palms together, “Thank you, Patron.”
Li Xueying turned around and graced him with a brilliant smile, “Venerable Fangzheng, you are being too polite. Isn’t this what friends are for?”
Fangzheng was taken aback. Friends? He had nearly forgotten the word. Back when he was schooling, he did have so-called friends but after he left for the monastery, they disappeared from his life. As for the villagers at the foot of the mountain, they were family, not friends. On the mountain the only ones that he could consider as friends were probably monkey, wolf and the tiny squirrel.
When Li Xueying described him as a friend Fangzheng felt his heart flutter.
When Li Xueying noticed Fangzheng’s silence, she imagined that Fangzheng was unwilling to accept her as a friend. Her smile turned bitter, “Sorry, I was speaking thoughtlessly.”
Fangzheng looked at the disappointment in Li Xueying’s eyes and came around. He smiled, “We are indeed friends.”
Li Xueying’s back quivered slightly. This time, she did not turn back but continued walking with a spring in her step. “If I have the chance I’ll make sure to drop by.”
Fangzheng smiled gently, “Amitabha.”
Once Li Xueying left and took the undergarment issue with her Fangzheng heaved a sigh of relief.
The next day, the veteran that they had been waiting for finally arrived. The entire film crew bustled with energy and work. Fangzheng’s days in the monastery grew busy with work to be done. Upon news that filming was happening here, villagers from villages in the area rushed over to join in the bustle. However, the film crew barred them from watching. They could only give the excuse that they were here to offer incense. They were still happy that they could watch from afar.
Nearly all these villagers offered ordinary incense. They would stuff two bucks into the Merit Box, offer the incense quickly before heading out to join in the commotion.
Later on, with more and more people coming, the village had no choice but to seal the mountain.
Only then did Fangzheng’s monastery return to the state of having a human, a wolf, a monkey and a squirrel.
Fangzheng enjoyed his peace. He read Buddhist scriptures everyday and when he had nothing to do, he would head to the film site to watch the development. The film crew was familiar with the young clean-looking monk. After all, his acting had impressed everyone. Everyone began addressing Fangzheng as Best Actor Junior. They naturally welcomed him warmly whenever he decided to come.
Fangzheng also saw the trouble actors had to go through for the first time. Be they extras, supporting actors or the main lead like Li Xueying, all of them had to do the same scene over and over again until it made the cut. Irregular meals were par for the course. Flying around with wire work and rolling around in the mud was only normal.
Everyday, these people would be exhausted both mentally and physically, leaving them unwilling to do anything else.
Noticing that a week was almost over, Fangzheng had to recite the scriptures to the Crystal Rice once again. That day, he tidied up everything, closed the doors to the monastery and came to the side of the paddy field. One could see green sprouts appearing amid the paddy fields after one week. Fangzheng lifted up his leg trousers and entered the paddy field to pull out any weeds. He carefully tended to the Crystal Rice paddy field.
With everything done, he went to the side of the field and began reciting the scriptures.
“Venerable Fangzheng is reciting the scriptures again!” Lin Dongshi, who was so exhausted that he could not get up after these two days of hard work, shouted when he saw Fangzheng sit down and recite the scriptures.
Everyone resting turned to take a look. All the ones who had heard Fangzheng’s scripture recitals had their hearts stirred. They were still mesmerized by that exoneration of their minds and complete relaxation of their bodies.
“What are all of you looking at? Continue filming. Our last scene is today. Once it’s done, we can all rest. We will leave tomorrow,” shouted Yu Guanze.
Everyone was stunned. They never expected that the filming on the mountain would end this soon. Immediately, they fell into a daze. Looking at the distant monk and the clouds in the sky, everyone felt a mixed bag of feelings. They were even secretly unwilling to leave. It felt just like the mandatory military training they had in their school days. During the training, they would lament at the toughness and attempt to escape the training but once it ended, they would feel reluctant to part with it. It even moved some of them to tears.
What left the crowd depressed was that despite working hard to speed up the filming process, the monk was gone by the time they were done!
They did not know that Fangzheng’s scripture recital did not have a fixed time. It all depended on his own insights. If he entered a deep state of enlightenment, his recital would naturally drag out. Without knowing it, time would pass. If he was not in that state, his ass would hurt just from sitting for an hour. How could he continue reciting when he was in such a state?
With the final shout of ‘cut,’ everyone cheered. Then, they packed their things in preparation to leave the mountain albeit reluctantly.
Something surprised Fangzheng though.
“Venerable Fangzheng, we are leaving. We will come visit you when we have the time.” An actor that Fangzheng did not know came to bade him farewell.
Fangzheng came to the door and pressed his palms together, “Amitabha.”
Following that, one actor after another came to bid farewell to Fangzheng. He would greet them each with a Buddhist proclamation.
Seeing these familiar people who he did not know the names of bid him farewell, Fangzheng felt a little unwilling to see them leave. These people came from all over the country. It would probably be extremely difficult for him to meet them again.
Lin Dongsheng, Luo Li, Yu Guanze, and Old Tao came to bid Fangzheng farewell as well.
As he watched the film crew leave, Fangzheng shot a glance at the spot where the filming crew did their filming. With the people gone, nothing was left behind. The mountain returned to its former emptiness. Fangzheng’s heart also turned empty. There was no one left as he took another few glances at the filming scenes.
Fangzheng sighed and felt a little disheartened. Was his only friend gone, just like that?
At that moment, Lone Wolf yelped. Squirrel was riding on his head and Monkey was running behind. Monkey was flailing something in his hand and upon taking a careful look, Fangzheng’s face turned livid. It was a bra! These guys had actually stashed some!
“The three of you are incorrigible! This Penniless Monk will be punishing you all today!” roared Fangzheng as he grabbed a broom and chased after them.