Fangzheng smiled. "This Penniless Monk will help you get the money back."
"Get the money?" Lame Ma was momentarily stunned before realizing what Fangzheng meant. He smiled ruefully and said, "Abbot Fangzheng, it probably wont be easy to get it back. Unless I take them to court over it, but to sue my relatives for twenty thousand yuan, I would probably become the talk of the town"
Fangzheng gave Lame Ma a look to ease his mind and smiled. "Dont worry. This Penniless Monk will definitely get the money back on your behalf."
Lame Ma was puzzled as well. He had made several calls the past few days, and he had heard all sorts of excuses from her in person as well. Now, she didnt even pick up his calls despite calling her more than ten times At this point, he basically understood that there was little chance of him getting the money back. The reason why he sought Fangzheng was solely to vent his frustrations. However, he never expected Fangzheng to come down personally to get the money back for him.
Although he felt grateful, Lame Ma wasnt optimistic about Fangzheng getting the money back. After all, this wasnt like engravings or scripture chanting. Faced with such an unscrupulous person, even the courts might be helpless, much less a monk. Right?
Even though he wasnt convinced, Lame Ma didnt dare say a word while following Fangzheng.
Ma Jiangpings house was rather far from One Finger Monastery, about three villages away. They had to take the bus that made its rounds, which was in fact sponsored by a neighboring village. It was considered an express public service bus and since it didnt enter the city, a lot of the tolls could be reduced. The bus was slightly old, but everyone liked it for its convenience.
It didnt take long for Fangzheng to arrive at Ma Jiangpings village, Jianghai Village, after he boarded the bus.
Compared to One Finger Village, Jianghai Village was far from Mt. Tongtian. It was surrounded by flat plains, and the entire village farmed corn. Among the neighboring villages, it produced one of the greatest amounts of grain! In the past two years, the price of corn had rapidly increased, so the villagers in the village had quite a bit of savings. Their conditions were being uplifted by the day, leaving them the envy of countless.
The moment Fangzheng entered the village, he saw every house with tiled roofs and huge, extremely bright windows. The windows were covered in double-paned glass which shielded the northeastern winds while letting in sunlight to create a greenhouse effect. This way, the interior temperatures were drastically increased. This was Jianghai Village, a village which was far richer than the other villages, which typically didnt use glass. Instead, most villages used plastic canvases as replacement for glass. That way, the lighting and aesthetics were inferior, but the effects of keeping things warm were not bad.
Furthermore, almost every family in Jianghai Village had tractors, motorcycles, and other machinery. It was a testament to Jianghai Villages wealth.
Recalling One Finger Village from a year ago, Fangzheng shook his head slightly. He thought, "Its no wonder Ma Jiangping didnt want to interact with Lame Ma. The difference in wealth is huge, and she was afraid that Lame Ma would try to benefit from her. Unfortunately, they just dont understand him. How could such a stubborn old man want to gain something at the expense of others? If he wanted to do so, he would have long done so already."
Although it was winter, as northeasterners, the villagers still enjoyed coming out for walks. When they saw Fangzheng, all of them greeted him.
Fangzheng returned each and every greeting and under everyones guidance, he found Ma Jiangpings house.
Ma Jiangpings house had three big tiled-roof buildings. There was even a tiny van parked in front. Clearly, Ma Jiangpings family situation wasnt as terrible as she had described to Lame Ma. Upon seeing this scene, his face flushed red. It was unknown if it was embarrassment for being silly or anger for being cheated that he felt. But upon receiving this revelation, he rushed in
Fangzheng held back Lame Ma and said with a smile, "Since we came here, dont wear such an expression. It hurts peoples feelings. Smile instead."
"Smile?" Lame Ma was taken aback before he gave a bitter smile. "Abbot Fangzheng, do you think I can still smile?"
Fangzheng said with a smile, "Then, do you wish to get back your money?"
"Yes. As long as I get it back, Ill immediately sever ties with them! F**k, I have no need for such relatives!" Lame Ma spoke with an increasingly raised voice as Fangzheng hurriedly gestured for him to lower his voice.
Fangzheng smiled. "Alright, alright. What should be severed should be severed, but the money still needs to be returned. Call Ma Jiangping first. Lets see if they have changed their mind."
Lame Ma suspiciously looked at Fangzheng and scoffed. He took out his cell phone, walked to a corner, and made the call. Before long, Lame Ma returned, fuming. His eyes were glaring wide as he pointed to Ma Jiangping, whose back was facing the window while she sat on a stove bed, and secretly said angrily, "She dares tell me that shes not home! Then who is that at home? F**k! This is infuriating. I cant take it any longer. I have to go in and talk to her!"
With that said, Lame Ma nearly charged in, but Fangzheng hurriedly pulled him back.
"Abbot Fangzheng, what are you doing?" Lame Ma reeled in anxiety.
Fangzheng smiled. "Do you still want your money?"
Lame Ma subconsciously nodded and said, "Yes."
Fangzheng nodded and said, "If you wish for it to return to you, smile for This Penniless Monk."
Lame Ma was completely confused as to what Fangzheng was up to. Helpless, he forced a smile, but it was a smile that looked uglier than crying
"Your smile is too ugly. Smile more happily and in a nicer manner." As Fangzheng spoke, he used his hand to adjust Lame Mas expression. After a while, Lame Ma was wearing a wretched smile. Seeing how there was no room for improvement, Fangzheng said helplessly, "How are you to get back your money if youre like this?"
Lame Ma said miserably, "Abbot Fangzheng, they are the ones owing me money. Im here to collect their debts. Have you seen an evil landlord go up to a poor man with a smile? Pui! Im no evil landlord"
Fangzheng chuckled. "Times have changed. Poor men these days are more impressive than the evil landlord. Have you not heard the saying that the one who owes money is the lord?"
"This" Lame Ma stared at Fangzheng and thought, "Is this monk trying to entertain himself with me?" His stubbornness reared his head as he gritted his teeth and stomped his feet. "Forget it. Ill write it off!" With that said, he turned and planned to leave.
Fangzheng hurriedly pulled him back. "Patron, This Penniless Monk brought you here to hound for your debt out of good will. How can you just leave?"
"I cant stand demanding for payment in such an aggrieved manner," Lame Ma said fumingly.
Fangzheng chuckled. "Who talked about begging? This Penniless Monk only wants you to smile and cheer This Penniless Monk up. When in the house, you just stay quiet and leave the rest to This Penniless Monk."
Lame Ma was taken aback. Make Fangzheng happy? This He subconsciously looked at his reflected old face on the window, thinking, "Fangzheng cant have the hots for me, right?"
Noticing that Lame Mas thoughts were going awry, he hurriedly said, "This Penniless Monk will be looked at angrily and even cursed at when he enters. Cant This Penniless Monk get some relief from a smile of yours?"
Lame Ma thought for a moment and felt that Fangzheng was right. Hence, he took a deep breath and worked hard to grin. He revealed his rows of yellow teeth before asking, "Is this okay?"