Chen Yuchuan’s father died when he was 13 years old. His father was working at a construction site when he was accidentally killed by a falling object. Every day after, his mother would go to the construction site with a sign asking for compensation. As a result, her arm was broken, and with no money for the hospital, her left hand became disabled.
On the first day of the new year, Chen Yuchuan held the sign his mother had been holding. He found a local media company and stood at the door of the newspaper every day until they finally took a photo of him and wrote an article.
His parents’ story made the news, and after it gained momentum, his father’s compensation was quickly dispensed to them.
However, good things don’t come in pairs. Bad luck trailed them again and again. In the third year, his mother was diagnosed with uremia and all of his father’s compensation money was spent on her treatment.
As a result, at the age of 16, Chen Yuchuan dropped out of school in order to work various kinds of odd jobs. He was a little hooligan all day long, and he had no shame in it. All he wanted was to make money to pay for his mother’s dialysis.
When he was 18 years old, he worked as an apprentice at a car garage during the day and as a security guard in a bar at night.
Later, as he watched the going-ons in the bar, he discovered that the waiters actually made a lot of money, and even some people could earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a night.
Chen Yuchuan was so moved that he became a waiter selling wine.
The day he met Lu Yang, it was Lu Yang’s 22nd birthday, and his friends were celebrating his birthday at the bar.
Chen Yuchuan was the waiter in their box, responsible for taking their orders and serving them wine.
There were more than a dozen people in the box, and they played from 7pm to 11pm. Among them, Lu Yang was undoubtedly the most conspicuous person.
It wasn’t just because he was the protagonist of the night. Even if he wasn’t the protagonist, he would still be the most conspicuous person there. Well-dressed in a suit, with neat, short hair, deep eyebrows, and a sharp profile, he was very unforgettable.
His appearance was too outstanding, with a temperament that Chen Yuchuan himself couldn’t put a finger on.
Chen Yuchuan only knew his name because he had heard others address him as Brother Yang or Lu Yang.
But in Chen Yuchuan’s eyes, no matter how outstanding Lu Yang was, he was no different from last night’s, the night before last, and tomorrow’s customers.
The only difference was that Chen Yuchuan would often encounter customers who would try to harass him, but for the first time in that box that night, he was able to work smoothly from start to finish.
No one yelled at him, no one drank too much, and there was no wretched man with a fat belly trying to take advantage of him.
No matter what kind of wine Chen Yuchuan tried to promote, Lu Yang would always say yes.
Later, Chen Yuchuan chose more expensive wines, and still Lu Yang didn’t resist. Whatever he tried to promote, Lu Yang would order.
It got to the point where Chen Yuchuan began to feel a little sorry. He felt that he shouldn’t take advantage of others. In the end, he no longer tried to promote any more wines.
He did the math that night. He should have gotten 2000 yuan, which was the most he had ever earned in a single night. This would be enough to cover dialysis a few times, and so he felt pretty good as he got off work.
He was paid at the end of the work day. When he went to see the boss to settle the amount, the boss deducted 500 yuan and only gave him 1500 on the grounds that an ashtray was broken in the box.
Of course, Chen Yuchuan naturally couldn’t accept this. He chased the boss from his office all the way to his car, until the boss told him to either scram or lose his job.
By that point, he was already holding a brick he’d picked up from the roadside. He wanted to smash the boss’s car window, but after thinking about the 1500 in his pocket, he finally endured. This bar was the only place that would allow him to make quick money.
After the boss drove off, he threw the brick away and tucked his hands in his pockets, fingers wrapping around the 1500. He scolded his boss up to the 18th generation for nearly half an hour. It wasn’t until his mouth was so dry that he couldn’t scold anymore did he think about going home. In order to shorten the walk home, he took a shortcut through a small alleyway.
The moment Chen Yuchuan stepped into the small alley, he heard the sounds of fighting and cursing. He stood at the entrance of the alleyway for a moment. He could see that the fight was one against four, and that one person wasn’t lagging either.
Chen Yuchuan wasn’t a good young man who was nosy and helpful. Usually, he would just pat his butt and walk away. At most, he would find a public phone booth and call the police.
But that day, his heart was still on fire from having 500 yuan deducted. What’s more, he recognized the one person fighting against four; it was Lu Yang, who was the guest of honor in the box he’d served that night.
And the 1500 in his pocket now was all due to this Lu Yang in the alley.
Chen Yuchuan took out the 1500 and secured the money in the innermost pocket of his jacket. This pocket had buttons so he needn’t have to worry about the money falling out.
After securing the money, he clenched his fist and rushed in. What was originally one against four turned into two against four.
Chen Yuchuan had been in frequent fights since he was a child, but he only knew how to use the brute force in his body. On the other hand, Lu Yang, who was next to him, fought with power and skill. He knew at a glance that Lu Yang was a practiced fighter.
However, he didn’t expect that one of their opponents would have a knife. When the four were about to be overpowered, the bald-headed one pulled out a dagger from his pocket.
In the darkened alley, the blade flashed a cold light, and Baldie shouted that he was going to cut off Lu Yang’s leg.
When Lu Yang saw the knife in Baldie’s hand, he told Chen Yuchuan to leave first.
At the time, Chen Yuchuan was actually quite frightened. He wasn’t a hero who would put himself on the line for a stranger, and he regretted not finding a phone booth and calling the police instead. But since he had already joined in on the fight, there was no reason to retreat halfway.
Baldie held the dagger, and when Lu Yang was too engaged to watch his side, the man dashed forward and tried to stab him in the side. Chen Yuchuan kicked Baldie’s wrist, sending the dagger flying out into the trash can.
With a low roar, Lu Yang directly slammed Baldie’s head to the ground. Seeing that he was almost on the verge of killing Baldie, Chen Yuchuan feared for his life and pulled him away.
The other three dragged Baldie and ran away.
Chen Yuchuan slumped down with his back leaning against the crumbling alley wall. After a long time, he patted Lu Yang, who was sitting beside him with red eyes.
Chen Yuchuan asked, “I say, big brother, who did you provoke? Someone even wanted to stab you and cut your leg off.”
Lu Yang didn’t answer, because he wasn’t certain who those people were. He rolled his wrist and said, “Thank you for helping me.”
“You definitely have to thank me, or you would have been stabbed in the stomach today.”
Lu Yang repeated, “Thank you.”
After thanking him, he asked, “What do you want?”
Chen Yuchuan tilted his head to look at him. Lu Yang had recovered a lot and no longer looked so angry.
When they were in the box, he could tell with a single glance that Lu Yang was quite rich, and not the ordinary kind of rich either.
He wasn’t a saint, and if someone cheated him, he would take revenge. This time, although he only helped this person because he wanted to relieve his anger, no matter what his original intention was, the end result was that he’d still helped him.
With Lu Yang rushing to thank him, he couldn’t pretend and say, “You’re welcome, you’re welcome. I’m a living Lei Feng(1).”
Chen Yuchuan wasn’t the kind of person to just say you’re welcome and leave it at that. What he lacked most now was money, but he refused to open his mouth and ask people for money. He still reserved a little self-esteem for himself.
He leaned against the wall with his arms folded, and when he kicked the wall subconsciously with his heel, a large piece of the wall crumbled down once more.
He thought about it and said, “If you ever come to the bar next time, just write down my number when you order wine.”
Lu Yang nodded happily. “No. 26, Chen Yuchuan, right?”
At first, Chen Yuchuan wanted to ask him how he knew his name, but he suddenly remembered that his waiter’s shirt had a badge with his number and his name on it.
He hummed, indicating that Lu Yang was correct.
“How old are you this year?” Lu Yang asked.
Chen Yuchuan replied, “18.”
“18,” Lu Yang repeated. Then he added, “I’m four years older than you. I’m 22, and today is actually my birthday.”
Internally, Chen Yuchuan was thinking, your 22nd birthday is none of my business, but outwardly, he casually said, “Happy Birthday, then.”
Then he heard Lu Yang introduce himself. “My name is Lu Yang. The lu from road, the yang from sunshine.”
Chen Yuchuan made an “oh” to indicate that he understood. Since Lu Yang already knew his name, he didn’t think he needed to introduce himself.
In his heart, he felt that it was very stupid for two men to stay in an alley at night and introduce themselves after the tailend of a fight.
They stood silently against the wall of the alley for a long time.
Chen Yuchuan’s anger was almost extinguished. He stood up and was about to leave when he suddenly remembered something. He said, “By the way, do you have a car?”
Lu Yang thought that he wanted him to give him a ride home, and so he nodded and said, “I do have a car. Where are you going? I’ll take you?”
“I’m not going anymore, and I don’t need you to take me,” Chen Yuchuan said. Then he asked, “Do you know Yuansheng Garage?”
After asking this, he felt a little regretful. The garage was tucked in a little corner and very few people knew about it.
Sure enough, Lu Yang shook his head. “I don’t know where it is. What about it?”
“Forget it. I’ll just tell you where it is directly.” Chen Yuchuan waved his hand. “It’s on Qingyang Road. Go east all the way to the end of the road and there will be a small garage in the right corner. If you need a carwash, or car maintenance or something, go there and sign up under my name.”
Lu Yang thought he would say something like “signing up under my name will get you a discount.”
Unexpectedly, Chen Yuchuan said, “If you sign up under my name, I’ll get a commission.”
Lu Yang let out a surprised laugh, not expecting that Chen Yuchuan would be so direct.
Chen Yuchuan didn’t know what Lu Yang was laughing about, but he didn’t care. So he asked again, “Do you remember the address?”
Lu Yang nodded. “I remember. Qingyang Road, go east all the way to the end, on the right-hand corner is Yuangsheng Garage?”
Chen Yuchuan snapped his fingers. “Yes. You have a pretty good memory.”
“Okay. I have remembered it.”
“Don’t forget to register my name when you go,” Chen Yuchuan directed again.
“I won’t forget.” Lu Yang paused for a few seconds and said his name, “Chen Yuchuan…”
Lu Yang’s voice was slightly lower now, and he sounded serious when he said Chen Yuchuan’s name.
Chen Yuchuan didn’t think much of it at the time, and he said, “Yes, my name is Chen Yuchuan.”
A cold night wind blew across the alleyway and into his face, making him feel a little cold.
He pulled his hoodie over his head, tucked his hands into his pockets, shrank his neck down for warmth, said goodbye to Lu Yang, and left.
Later, although Chen Yuchuan wasn’t being casual when he had mentioned the garage, he didn’t really expect that Lu Yang would actually come.
Even more, he didn’t expect that Lu Yang would directly drive over the next morning.
When Lu Yang got out of his car and found Chen Yuchuan, he was lying under the belly of a car, a wrench in his hand. His face and overalls were covered with black oil spots, and only his eyes were bright and clear.
When Chen Yuchuan looked at people seriously, it would make them feel as if he had no one else in his eyes but them.
This was what Lu Yang saw inside the box in the bar, in the alley, and now.
Lu Yang saw him only three times, and he fell for him just like that.
From under the bottom of the car, Chen Yuchuan could see that Lu Yang was still wearing a suit. The only difference was that the suit last night was gray, while this suit was black with a very white dress shirt.
Looking up at Lu Yang from his position below, he felt that Lu Yang was very tall and had very long legs.
Of course, he already knew that Lu Yang was tall with long legs. Last night, he was the tallest one in the entire box, and he was more than half a head taller than Chen Yuchuan himself.
Chen Yuchuan felt a little uncomfortable being stared at by Lu Yang. To be precise, he felt that when Lu Yang looked at him, his eyes seemed to be on fire. After being looked at by him for a long time, it was easy to feel burning hot.
Chen Yuchuan turned his gaze away and focused on repairing the car.
Lu Yang squatted down in front of the car, lowered his head, and followed Chen Yuchuan’s movements from underneath the car with his eyes. He asked, “What’s wrong with this car?”
“There’s something wrong with the oil seal, causing the oil to leak. It won’t take too long to fix. I’ll be done soon.”
As Chen Yuchuan continued to work on the car, Lu Yang continued to squat beside him and would ask from time to time if he needed help.
Chen Yuchuan stopped his movements and glanced at him, “Do you know how to fix cars?”
“Then how can you help?”
“You look a little thirsty. Maybe I can get you a glass of water or something?”
Chen Yuchuan was indeed really thirsty. He licked his dry lips and wasn’t polite. He pointed with the wrench at the shelf next to him. “My water’s over there, the blue thermal insulation cup. You can help get it for me.”
Lu Yang said ok and stood up to get Chen Yuchuan his water.
Seeing that he was coming back, Chen Yuchuan got out from underneath the car. When Lu Yang reached out to help him, he directly placed his dirty hand on Lu Yang’s palm.
Lu Yang’s hand was very hot, creating a thin layer of fine sweat. Chen Yuchuan gripped Lu Yang’s hand and Lu Yang pulled him up.
Letting go of Lu Yang’s hand, Chen Yuchuan took the thermo and said, “Thanks.”
After he’d drank some water, he noticed that he’d left dark smudges on Lu Yang’s palm. He held up the thermo and pointed it to the faucet. “There’s water over there. You can wash your hands.”
“It’s okay,” Lu Yang said.
It was his choice and so Chen Yichuan said no more. He patted the dirt off his back, stomped his feet, and asked, “I didn’t think you would come. Did you come to get a carwash or is it for repair?”
“A carwash and car maintenance.” Lu Yang pointed to the black car parked by the entrance.
Chen Yuchuan went over to look at the car, opened the hood to check, and said, “Your car is well maintained.”
“It is usually maintained on time.”
“Okay, you go to the counter over there and place an order first,” Chen Yuchuan said.
As he was billed, Lu Yang reported Chen Yuchuan’s name and asked, “How much commission can he get?”
“5 yuan for a car wash and 50 yuan for maintenance.”
“So little?” Lu Yang asked.
“It’s quite a lot. It’s already half and half,” said the owner’s wife.
Lu Yang didn’t say anything more. He took out his wallet, paid, and accepted the receipt.
Chen Yuchuan thought that Lu Yang would leave, but he didn’t expect him to stay in the store, standing and occasionally handing him tools.
“Boss Lu isn’t busy today?” he asked.
“I’m not busy,” Lu Yang said. “You can call me Lu Yang directly, you don’t need to call me Boss Lu.”
“Okay then, Lu Yang.”
Chen Yuchuan looked at the clothes he was wearing, and told him several times that he should go and sit down.
Lu Yang just hummed in acknowledgement, but he didn’t leave. It wasn’t until he received a call did he finally say that he was leaving.
At one point in the morning, Lu Yang had handed Chen Yuchuan a wrench, and later, had also handed him the engine oil. No matter how clean he had initially been, it could not withstand these. When he left, his white shirt had two buttons undone and his leather shoes were splattered with black spots.
When Yu Lang turned to leave, Chen Yuchuan saw the spots of oil on his shoes and couldn’t help but tease, “Coming back tomorrow?”
Lu Yang got into his car and leaned his arm on the edge of the open window. “Yes. If I don’t come, I’m afraid you might not be able to find the wrench.”
Chen Yuchuan let out an “ahh” and said, “Indeed, if not for you, I wouldn’t have been able to find the wrench.”
He thought that Lu Yang was only joking, and so he was surprised when he saw Lu Yang again that night.
After getting off work, Lu Yang went directly to the bar where Chen Yuchuan was working and ordered many expensive wines. He rented a box by himself and requested that Chen Yuchuan be his server.
Chen Yuchuan kept serving him wine, and yet Lu Yang would not drink and would instead just leave them on the table.
Finally, when Lu Yang ordered another bottle of expensive wine, Chen Yuchuan became a little anxious. “You don’t need to order so much and waste your money. These same brands are cheaper at the supermarkets.”
When Chen Yuchuan said this, he’d forgotten that last night, he’d told someone to record his server number.
Lu Yang said, “It’s okay, since you helped me yesterday.”
Lu Yang said it very lightly, but Chen Yuchuan didn’t relax. He held the serving plate with both hands, took a deep breath, and said, “You already went to get a car wash today and now you’ve ordered so much wine. We’re even now.”
Now that he’d said this, he thought Lu Yang would not return again. But he still came every day, seven nights in a row. During the day, he would drive a different car to the garage, and all of the car had to be washed and maintained. At night, he would patronize the bar and order all kinds of expensive wine.
“Boss Lu, don’t waste money like this. Don’t order any more wines. The wine here sucks. As I’ve said before, we’re even now, and so you really don’t need to do this.”
When Lu Yang came and ordered wine on the seventh day, Chen Yuchuan refused to budge. “I won’t give it to you today, even if you ordered it.”
Lu Yang just smiled and said, “Okay, then I won’t be here tomorrow.”
One the eight day, Lu Yang really didn’t come. Chen Yuchuan washed a few cars during the day and repaired two more cars with his master.
Seeing him so absent-minded and continuously glancing at the door, the master finally asked, “Who are you looking for? Waiting for Boss Lu?”
“Who’s waiting for him?” Chen Yuchuan denied. Then he added, “What makes you think I’m waiting for him?”
The master smiled at him and didn’t say anything.
That night, Lu Yang didn’t come to the bar either, and neither did he come the night after that.
On the eleventh day, when Lu Yang finally showed up at the garage, Chen Yuchuan was resting his arm on the shelf, seemingly fascinated by the wrench in his hand. When he heard “Chen Yuchuan,” the wrench fell from his hand and nearly smashed him in the foot.
Lu Yang reacted quickly and caught the wrench as it fell.
Putting the wrench on the shelf next to him, Lu Yang said, “Are you busy today? I brought a car that needs to be washed. I already put your name down.”
Chen Yuchuan just stood there, looking at Lu Yang with lowered eyebrows. “I’ve already told you that we’re even now. Your car is still good. You don’t need to come and get it washed by me. And our maintenance isn’t as good as a 4S shop.”
Lu Yang stood next to Chen Yuchuan and said, “That’s fine. I’m not really here to get a carwash or to get maintenance done on my car.”
“Then what are you doing here?”
Lu Yang didn’t speak and just looked at him.
Chen Yuchuan wasn’t a fool. Lu Yang’s words were obvious enough to make him realize that Lu Yang liked him.
He raised his eyebrows and said, “So what, you came not to wash your car but to try to woo me?”
Lu Yang didn’t deny it. Instead, he leaned against the shelf with Chen Yuchuan and asked, “Have you ever been in love before?”
Feeling a little confused, Chen Yuchuan lit up a cigarette and put it in his mouth.
Lu Yang looked at the skillful way in which Chen Yuchuan had lit up his cigarette. Just as Chen Yuchuan was about to start smoking, he directly took the cigarette from his mouth and stubbed it out on the wall.
“Hey, why did you take my cigarette?” Chen Yuchuan cried.
“Do you want to try?” Lu Yang asked.
“Try, what nonsense. Try…” With his cigarette gone, so was Chen Yuchuan’s calm.
“Fall in love with me, date me, do you want to try it?” Lu Yang took away the cigarette case and the lighter from Chen Yuchuan’s hands. “At 18, you’re already smoking. How old are you?”
As he listened to him, Chen Yuchuan no longer tried to take back his cigarettes. He crossed his arms and said, “Then why don’t you tell me? I’m only 18, but you want to date me?”
Lu Yang laughed. “At 18, you’re an adult. You can date.”
Chen Yuchuan raised an arm and rested his palm on the shelf support. He turned his head and looked out into the distance.
At the end of his line of sight was the sunset on the horizon, with a few red clouds gathering quietly. He said, “I won’t try.”
Chen Yuchuan turned his head, and his eyes seemed to also be stained with a little bit of red by those red clouds. “What does it mean to try? If you just want to hook up with me, then that won’t do. Don’t fool me because I am young. If you want to date, then I don’t want to just try, I want to date seriously.”
(1) Lie Feng – Lei Feng was supposedly a soldier from the People’s Liberation Army. Various government propaganda campaigns portrayed him as a model citizen who was selfless, earnest, and devoted to Mao Zedong. It was unknown whether Lei Feng was an actual person or whether he was created for the use of propaganda.