Zheng Jiaxing smiled when he saw Wang Qingzhi arrive. Li Na looked a little unhappy, for Wang Qingzhi was well known as a ruffian in the village. Although he did not do any heinous crimes, he had no good deeds to his name. Of course since they were all from the same village, they bumped into each other frequently. As such, their relationship wasn’t that bad. Li Na simply didn’t like him. However, she couldn’t figure why the fellow would come to their house. They didn’t have much ties usually.
“Brother Wang, what’s up?” Zheng Jiaxing asked despite already knowing.
“It’s true that one never visits unless they need something. I came because I have something to request of you.”
Li Na immediately turned wary. “Brother Wang, we have just been married for two years. We don’t have much savings.”
“What’s that? Do I look like the kind of person who would come over to borrow money? My cousin has prepared my money and wants me to collect it. However it’s a bit far, and my wife is a little worried if I go alone. I came to Jiaxing, hoping that he can accompany me. We will return once I have the money,” said Wang Qingzhi a little displeased.
Li Na heaved a sigh of relief when she heard that he was not borrowing money from them. Anything was negotiable if it wasn’t about money. “Your cousin’s place? Where is it?”
“Yuling. The round trip on motorcycle will take about six hours. There’s not much I can do. My cousin and his entire family will be going to Dajin tomorrow. They will be on the first train in the morning, and if I don’t go now, how am I to get the money?”
“Do a bank transfer.”
“If that could be done, would I have go to such lengths?”
Li Na wished to continue, but Zheng Jiaxing interjected. “We are all fellow villagers. It’s not a big deal anyway. I’ll just accompany him. We should take care of each other after all. Well, sleep early with the child. There’s no need to wait for me.”
With that said, Zheng Jiaxing got up and prepared to walk out.
With Wang Qingzhi around, Li Na did not want to go to the extent of retorting her husband, so she acquiesced.
Zheng Jiaxing and Wang Qingzhi went out and after rounding a corner, Zheng Jiaxing heaved a sigh of relief.
Wang Qingzhi said with a disdainful look, “Jiaxing, no offense, but for a man to live like you Heh, how aggrieving!”
Zheng Jiaxing smiled placatively. “I’m not henpecked, I just love my wife.”
“Cut it out. All henpecked husbands say that. Look at me, I have the final say in the house. No one dares defy me. It’s the same with Laosi and the others. You have to run the family with an iron fist. How can you always be repressed by your wife? What’s wrong with men gambling a few rounds? It’s not like there’s any robbery or stealing,” Wang Qingzhi said as they proceeded. All Zheng Jiaxing did was smile dryly and echo him, but only he knew what was was really on his mind.
When they arrived it was still the same house with the puffing smoke. A large group of people was gathered inside, smoking and playing cards. The din came in waves and with the spectators, the mood in the house was quite a buzz. The moment Zheng Jiaxing entered, he was infected by the mood as he turned a little excited.
Wang Laosi still stood on his tall bench. When he saw Zheng Jiaxing and Wang Qingzhi come, he grinned with his fleshy face. The bulb was just above his head, preventing the light from falling onto his face. He appeared dark and sinister, but his laughter was extremely jovial. He said with a hearty laugh, “Aiyah, isn’t this our King of Gambling?”
His loud voice attracted the gazes of several people. When they saw Zheng Jiaxing, all of them clamored.
“The Son of Luck is here!”
“Jiaxing, I heard you made a killing yesterday! Nice. You are going to be one of the kings of the gambling table!”
“King of Gambling Zheng Jiaxing. Haha!”
“Jiaxing, don’t you come to our table. Our shitty hands can’t beat you.”
The crowd flattered Zheng Jiaxing causing him to believe that he really had talent in gambling and that he had heaven-defying luck in his excitement. As someone who had always been quite a pushover, he seemed to find his manhood here. He immediately straightened his back, and his voice turned a lot brighter. He exclaimed, “It’s only good luck. I don’t know how to gamble at all. Hey, let’s continue today. My treat tomorrow. We can have drinks at the town together!”
“Awesome!” Everyone cheered as the praises heaped on him increased. Zheng Jiaxing also beamed even more happily. He seemed to have unknowingly fallen into a false sea of acclamations from which he found it impossible to extricate himself.
Zheng Jiaxing did not notice that the dark face under the bulb had opened its gigantic mouth as though it was about to swallow him whole
Zheng Jiaxing took his seat, and the so-called croupier began handing out the cards. At a table of four, three were players and one was the dealer. This was a local way of playing which they called Filling the Hole. Basically, one was to throw money onto the table, somewhat like the ostentatious gambling in movies. However the environment and people in both cases stood in stark contrast.
But to these gamblers, the environment was already very good. As long as the cops weren’t there, they were satisfied with having a gambling den!
Zheng Jiaxing won more than a thousand his first game. He continued winning for the second game, only to lose the third and fourth round.
As he won and lost, Zheng Jiaxing won a little overall.
The moon quickly crawled high into the sky before sinking. It was already late at night.
Zheng Jiaxing was in a great mood when his cell phone suddenly ran. When he lifted his cell phone, he realized it was Li Na.
Zheng Jiaxing instantly turned frantic as he quickly said, “I’ll be stopping for a while. I need to take this. Brother Wang, help me out.”
Wang Qingzhi was gambling at the moment when he heard Zheng Jiaxing call out to him. He was somewhat unhappy, but after some thought, he squeezed a smile. “Alright, I’ll leave with you.”
Zheng Jiaxing hurried out the door and heard the crowd behind him call out. “King of Gamblers Zheng, with your ability to earn thousands a day, you will be earning a hundred thousand a month! With such income and ability, do you really want a woman to watch over you? Heh heh.”
“That’s right. The capable one in the family should have the final say.”
“This doesn’t make sense. Why should a woman care if a man is gambling? Besides, he wins everyday. If I had his skill and ability, I would immediately divorce her and find some young sweet thing! Haha!”
“F**k off. Don’t bring him astray. But if I had the money, I would definitely be in charge”
Although Zheng Jiaxing had gone out, he still heard the voices inside clearly. He stood at the door and saw the name on his cell phone blinking repeatedly. His turbid eyes finally focused onto the word ‘Dear,’ then he took a deep breath, and picked up the call.
“Dear, what’s up?” Zheng Jiaxing picked up the phone and despite being in high spirits just moments ago, he immediately transformed into the frail and bashful boy from just after his marriage. His eyes also turned clearer.