“What’s the fuss about? Old rules! Wait if you are late!” In the middle of the three tables was a bench. On it stood a person who watched over all three tables. He was the person called Laosi. His eyes were bloodshot from all the smoke, and he even stuffed cotton balls into his nose. His half-naked body was covered in sweat, but he had no intention to get down. Laosi’s voice sounded hoarse when he spoke But his eyes were sharp. He could see every single action taken by the people beneath him.
Apart from them, there were people squatting outside the room, on the streets, and at the village entrance. Very clearly this was a spot for collective gambling.
Seconds turned to minutes and accompanied by uproarious laughter or fuming bellows, a young man gathered all the money on the table towards him. He laughed out loud. “That’s what I’m saying! I was supposed to be lucky today, with riches awaiting me! Haha!”
“Zheng Jiaxing, you really lucked out. To think you managed to get such cards. F**king impressive!” praised a middle-aged man with a thumbs-up.
Zheng Jiaxing laughed out loud. “Brother Wu, stop teasing me. This is just luck, nothing impressive about it. It’s no longer early. I’m done. I’ll continue tomorrow.”
With that said, Zheng Jiaxing put away the money on the table and prepared to leave.
No one stopped him, and they all allowed him to leave. Then someone took his place, and the croupier began to hand out cards again.
Zheng Jiaxing felt delighted as he touched the money in his bag, while he pondered, “This money sure came easily. I work so hard the whole year just for twenty to thirty thousand yuan, but I earn thousands just from going all-in once! And this was just one day. If this happens every day Will I even need to farm anymore? Haha! I have to add more dishes to my meal tomorrow. Good days are beginning to wave at me.”
Zheng Jiaxing was smiling so widely that his mouth could hardly close. As he took brisk and happy footsteps, he returned home, but when he came to his doorstep, Zheng Jiaxing felt a little guilty. He leaned over the wall and looked inside. He heaved a sigh of relief when he saw the lights switched off. Then he sneaked back in. After washing his face, he took off his footwear and went into bed.
The lights switched on.
A woman was sitting angrily in bed. Beside her was a child sleeping soundly.
“Dear, why aren’t you sleeping yet?” Zheng Jiaxing asked placatively.
“Sleep.” The woman lay back down on the bed after saying that.
Zheng Jiaxing heaved a sigh of relief and got onto the bed and slept. That night he clearly felt abnormal vibes as he wondered to himself, “Does she know about my gambling? Impossible. No one leaked the news, right?”
The next day, Zheng Jiaxing woke up to see his wife, Li Na, helping their child strap on his school bag before patting him on the head. “Be careful on your way to school.”
The little guy left happily. A school bus in the form of a minibus was already waiting at their doorstep. The driver was experienced and someone familiar to everyone, so no one worried about it.
With their child gone, Li Na turned her head over. Instantly, her face sank as she sat on the bed. She said in a deep voice, “What did you do last night?”
“Nothing?” Zheng Jiaxing felt a little guilty.
“Fine, so you aren’t speaking the truth? Then, where did this money come from?” Li Na yanked the bag which Zheng Jiaxing had brought back yesterday. It was filled with money.
Zheng Jiaxing’s heart tightened, but a thought immediately came to mind as he said, “That money is Old Sun’s. I’m holding it for him temporarily. I still have to return it to him today. Why?”
“Really?” Li Na looked suspiciously at Zheng Jiaxing.
He patted himself on the chest. “Of course! Ask Old Sun if you don’t believe me.”
“Alright. I’m telling you. Many people in our village are addicted to gambling. Make sure you do not touch gambling.”
Zheng Jiaxing said peckishly, “Don’t worry, dear. Don’t you know what kind of person I am? I guarantee you I won’t touch gambling.” Zheng Jiaxing turned even more guilt-ridden when he said that. Thankfully Li Na was not the famous detective Conan. She did not see through him, so the matter passed.
After having breakfast, Zheng Jiaxing carried a hoe to the land to work. The sun was scorching, making him extremely uncomfortable. Zheng Jiaxing looked into the sky and grumbled, “What gives? I can earn thousands in a day. Why should I be suffering like this?” A voice sounded in his mind. “That’s right. You can win thousands a day, why should you be farming? Rest well during the day and keep your mind fresh. All you need to do is have a good battle at night.”
With this in mind, Zheng Jiaxing became less committed.
At that moment, a man riding on a motorcycle passed by. When he saw Zheng Jiaxing, he smiled. “Jiaxing, impressive. You won quite a bit yesterday, right? Drinks on you today?”
“Hush. Softer. It’s troublesome if people hear you.” Although Zheng Jiaxing said so, his face wore a smug expression.
“Hehe, don’t worry. There’s just the two of us. How about it? Are you joining us tonight? I’m telling you, beginner’s luck is a thing when gambling! If you do not win more while you are still lucky, that would be waste! Isn’t there that saying: It’s a loss not to bank on beginner’s luck.”
Zheng Jiaxing was moved by the saying, but when he recalled Li Na’s exhortations, he felt a little stumped. Last night he had used the excuse of drinking at a friend’s place, so what excuse was he to use today? Perhaps he could stop gambling for a day?
When Wang Qingzhi saw Zheng Jiaxing hesitate, he chuckled. “I know what you are thinking. Why don’t we do this. Tonight, I’ll come looking for you. I’ll say that you are accompanying me to head to my brother’s place to borrow some money. Since my brother’s place is a distance away, the round trip would take hours. There will be sufficient time.”
Zheng Jiaxing’s hesitation instantly vanished when he obtained a suitable excuse as he nodded. “Sure! I’ll be waiting for you tonight. Thanks, Brother Wang. If I win money, I’ll give you a big treat.”
“You better! We are brothers after all, heh heh.” After Wang Qingzhi said that, he drove off on his motorcycle.
Zheng Jiaxing was also elated. Thinking of how he could win a few more thousand yuan at night, he was no longer in the mood to be doing the irrigation. He sat on the ground and leaned on a tree to sleep and have beautiful dreams.
He did not know that shortly after Wang Qingzhi left, Wang gave Laosi a call. “Laosi, it’s settled. That punk will be coming again tonight. Let him have a few more sips of the sweet tit.”
“Alright, I got it.” An exhausted voice came from the other end. Clearly smoking and staying up the entire night made Wang Laosi quite uncomfortable.
Zheng Jiaxing returned home in the evening. He ate dinner, but his mind was not at the dining table.
“Jiaxing, what’s wrong with you? Why do you look like you are chewing on candle?” asked Li Na.
Zheng Jiaxing’s mind was filled with thoughts on winning money, so he obviously had no interest in eating. He was turning anxious while waiting for Wang Qingzhi to come.
At that moment, there were footsteps outside. Following that, the door opened. Wang Qingzhi entered and said warmly, “Oh, Li Na, you are here too? Little Yu, look at you. You’ve grown taller.”