Chapter 114: Bai Yang, That Young Man
Shan Dian’s uncle was a site manager at a nearby construction site.1 When Shan Dian heard that Wen Chuo wanted a job, at first he was very surprised and curious, but then with unwavering loyalty, he helped point him to a starting direction,
“Oh perfect, they were missing a worker there.
I’ll talk to my uncle and you can help move some bricks.
140 a day.
How about that?”
Wen Chuo had sold his last gaming account for about 2000 or so, and taking away the amount for rent, he’d still have about 1000.
So this money could forcefully be helpful for a bit.
He couldn’t help but ask however,
“Except for construction, is there nothing else to do?”
Shan Dian patted his shoulder,
“Wen Chuo, as brothers, we have always been impressed by you.
Out of all of us, you are the only one who went to high school and even graduated too.
It is going to be a stretch to ask you to go to a construction site, but Lin Xian, in this kind of poor, broken town, there’s nothing else to do.
You wouldn’t want to head out of town to find work, would you?”
Wen Chuo naturally didn’t want to leave.
He was already living so terribly here, and with no friends or family outside the city, he’d starve to death on an unknown street.
Construction workers were split into two categories: those who could work on the technical stuff and earn a lot more money, and those who are just merely apprentices, selling only their strength.
When Shan Dian needs money, he’ll come help out for a few days.
But his parents were still alive, so the pressure on him was not as much as Wen Chuo’s.
“Then you should be careful.
Last time a rascal kid didn’t pay attention as he walked and his feet were poked through by a nail.”
It was just during the very hot part of the summer, and without doing anything, Wen Chuo’s back was already drenched in sweat.
His skin was pale, and in the midst of all the ashen faces of the construction crew, he was as evident as a swan in the midst of a crowd of chickens.
Shan Dian laughed,
“Hah, would you believe it if your face would no doubt be as black as coal after a few days here.”
Wen Chuo secured his safety hat and lowered his head as some other thought came to his mind.
Focusing on shovelling the sand and uncaring of anything else, he then used the wheelbarrow to wheel it to the wall the crew was working on.
Underneath the sun, he walked all over the construction site to create cement with Shan Dian, and before long his clothes were soaked through.
Although construction work paid a lot, it was selling hard labour.
With gloves on his hands, Wen Chuo gritted his teeth to move cement bricks for the entire morning.
When it was time for their break, his face had already turned pale green.
He found a place to sit in the shadows away from the sun and took a look at himself.
From the wrist up, he was muddled with dirt and cement, and his palms were so numb, they had no feeling.
Wen Chuo buried his face in his knees with sweat dripping down and stinging his eyes, never thinking that such a day would have come for him as all the other workers ate their steamed buns2 or for those that could afford it, ate their instant noodles.
At this moment, all sorts of flavors and smells were mixed together, scattered along with the swirling dust in the sky.
Shan Dian had eaten with his uncle, and he brought back an ice cold beer for Wen Chuo.
Wen Chuo didn’t take it, so he just chugged it down himself,
“Say you, if you had worked hard to get into a university, why would you need to be working so hard right now.”
Wen Chuo was so tired he didn’t want to utter a single word.
From his bones to his joints, his entire body was hurting.
He took off his gloves and found a big bloody blister right in the middle of his hand.
This pair of hands of his had a very distinct bone structure.
They were pale white and lean, perfect for pressing on piano keys in the late spring, or holding calligraphy brushes seeped in ink, and being immersed and cultured.
But unfortunately, they were now only being used to move bricks, to do hard labour.
After finishing their lunch, the workers quickly started to make up for the lost time and finish up their wall.
They loudly yelled out,
“Bring up the cement quickly.
There’s not enough.
Wen Chuo puffed out a breath of air from his chest before crawling back up from the ground.
He grabbed a cement bag, about 50 kg, and walked over, feeling that this money was really not easy to earn.
But since he had that bit of rarely seen perseverance in him, he forced himself to continue.
For the next five days, he would head out early and return late.
When he returned, he would be so tired that he’d fall asleep right as he hit the bed.
So naturally he would not see anyone, and even Bai Yang only passed by him a few times.
Construction workers don’t always have work, and this one in particular was short term.
So after half a month, it was almost time to wrap up.
Those who were in charge of constructing the actual wall earned the most money.
A day’s earnings for them was about 400 to 600 or even more.
Wen Chuo would hang around those experts everyday and follow along, getting close to them to be taught by them.
Once he was more familiar and he could help out, his pay increased to 200.3
In the afternoon, Wen Chuo sat down in the shadows to rest.
Others were eating lunch but he was so tired he didn’t feel the desire to eat.
He only played with his cellphone and just then, Shan Dian patted his elbow,
“Puh, say whatever you want to say, what are you hitting me for.”
There were two big bruises already on his shoulder and it hasn’t gone away for a few days now.
Shan Dian’s ear had a stick of cigarette tucked behind it and he pointed behind Wen Chuo,
“Bai Yang, that idiot, is by the door.”
Wen Chuo reflexively covered his face and his eyes followed to the place Shan Dian was pointing at before quickly retracting his gaze,
“Perhaps he came by to pick up some bottles.
He’ll leave in a bit.”
Shan Dian raised his eyebrow,
“Bullshit, I’ve seen him stand by the entrance for two hours now from upstairs.
He’s probably waiting for you again.
Did you find a dad or did you find a mom huh.”
Wen Chuo paused and then waved without even turning his head,
“Don’t say that I’m here.
Just drive him away.”
Hearing Shan Dian’s voice getting further and further away, Wen Chuo used his phone as a mirror.
Seeing his face full of dust, with sweat dripping down into dried dirt trails, he wanted to wipe his face.
But when he found that his sleeve was even dirtier, he could only leave it be.
A large shadow suddenly dropped on his head, and Wen Chuo thought it was Shan Dian who returned.
He impatiently looked up before finding that it was Bai Yang and almost shocked himself into jumping,
“Fuck, how did you get in here?!”
Wen Chuo rose up noisily from the ground and turned to look at the front entrance.
Shan Dian seemed a bit helpless and stinkily pointed at the back door, signalling that Bai Yang came from there.
Bai Yang had not taken the plastic bag with him today, which most likely meant that he did not come here to pick up bottles.
Seeing Wen Chuo wearing an old outfit and sitting on the ground, covered in dirt and mud and looking as pitiful as he could ever be, his eyes settled heavily.
He grabbed onto Wen Chuo’s hand and said,
Wen Chuo swatted his hand away,
“I’m still working.
Go back by yourself.
Don’t wander around the construction site.”
Bai Yang went to pull him again and pursed his lips, dragging him out.
Everyone was starting to look over.
These past few days Wen Chuo had been so tired and fatigued and now that this was happening, a fire just exploded in his mind, and he pushed Bai Yang away.
No one could have expected that Bai Yang wasn’t standing quite stably and with a “puh-tong” he fell right onto the ground.
Wen Chuo didn’t expect this, and his face immediately changed.
He wanted to pull him back up, but he didn’t know what he should say.
Standing there in one spot with frozen limbs, his hand finally reached out but, after a moment’s hesitation, it was pulled back.
With his head lowered, Bai Yang didn’t move, only sitting on the ground.
His expression was unclear and as Wen Chuo looked down from his position, staring at Bai Yang’s skinny, paper thin back, he also didn’t move.
One minute passed.
Two minutes passed.
Three minutes passed.
Bai Yang still didn’t move.
That was when Wen Chuo finally realized that something was wrong and he quickly reached out to pull Bai Yang back up.
Angry and worried, he said,
“I’ve already told you that you can’t just wander all willy nilly in the construction site.
There are so many stray rocks on the floor and tripping can scrape off half your skin……”
A teardrop suddenly fell onto Wen Chuo’s hand.
It brought a searing hot heat and he subconsciously looked down at it.
When his brain finally caught up to understand what that was, his voice dropped off to a stop.
The words on the tip of his tongue were suddenly plugged up inside his mouth and swallowed back down into his stomach.
Wen Chuo felt like he had done something wrong,
Bai Yang didn’t say anything and he stood up by himself.
There were scrapes all over his wrists, and two bloody welts were prominent on his skin.
As eye-catching as his injuries were, Bai Yang only lowered his head and slowly brushed the grime off the palm of his hand before pulling Wen Chuo again, dragging him towards the exit.
This time, Wen Chuo didn’t struggle out of the hold.
He took off his safety hat, and with clumsy hands, he dropped it onto a nearby pile of bricks, feeling a bit uneasy as he was dragged out.
“Bai Yang? Bai Yang? Hey, say something, Bai Yang.
Are you angry?”
Seeing the wounds on his hand, he didn’t dare tug at him, and instead, forcefully grabbed Bai Yang’s shoulder to turn him towards him.
In response, Bai Yang only stared back at him with a very calm and cold expression.
With the two of them standing together like this, compared to Bai Yang whose clothes were still so clean as per usual, it only highlighted how dirty Wen Chuo was.
The color of his wine red hair had already begun to fade, half yellow, half red, making him even more gangster than a thug.
Wen Chuo asked again,
“Hey, are you mad?”
Bai Yang still didn’t reply.
The only response he gave was to pull Wen Chuo’s dirty hand once more and drag him towards their home.
Some pedestrians nearby who recognize them as neighbors casually gave a few glances.
There wasn’t much meaning to their eyes, but Wen Chuo still felt that he looked too dirty, too messy, and it was ruining his normal state of status.
So without the need of Bai Yang pulling him, he flew away very quickly by himself.
When they were home, Bai Yang didn’t let go of Wen Chuo.
Pulling out his keys to open the door with a jingle, he went inside his apartment, and Wen Chuo, a leech by all meanings of the word, could only follow along.
The living room was still in its organized array, with all the messy items cleaned up in proper order and organized in specific spots.
There were collections of wasted paper, plastic bottles and metal cans.
But in the corner, a computer lay on a table, sitting there for who knows how long.
With the sunlight shining through the curtained window, the blackness of the screen seemed to be layered with a faint glow.
Wen Chuo paused in shock.
He wiped his hand on his pants and went over to take a look, before confirming that it really was a computer.
Bai Yang silently cleaned up the shoes that were kicked off haphazardly by the door before lightly closing the door.
He picked up the bag stuffed full with bottles before, and as per his normal routine, crouched on the ground and began to flatten them one by one before putting them in a large plastic checkered bag.
Wen Chuo stood in his spot, silently watching.
He didn’t cry when he injured his hand as he was carrying those bricks.
He didn’t cry when he got yelled at for making cement too slowly.
But now, his eyes were tingling with an acidity.
He faced away from Bai Yang, slowly crouching down, and buried his face into his knees, not moving for a very long time.
The sound of bottles being squished flat was the only sound in the room.
Only when the last bottle was flattened did Bai Yang finally stand back up.
He tied up the large plastic checkered bag full of these flattened bottles well before walking into the kitchen to clean his hands.
The wound on his elbow was slightly swollen, and it looked quite frightening.
Bai Yang gave it a glance but didn’t really put it to mind.
He casually let water flow all over it, rinsing it with his expression like normal, dumb but calm.
He didn’t know that Wen Chuo had cried himself into a dumb dog by himself.
Bai Yang walked into the living room and finally found Wen Chuo crouched by the floor, hugging his knees and not moving.
He came closer with confused footsteps and crouched before him, patting his shoulders.
Wen Chuo immediately sniffed his nose and then messily wiped his eyes.
When he lifted his head, his eyes were still red.
Seeing Bai Yang in front of him, with his pair of eyes that were so black and damp, now reflecting with a slight glint of light, he suddenly brought Bai Yang into an embrace.
Wen Chuo had a bit of a hiccup from crying, and he buried his face into the skinny shoulder of Bai Yang.
The hard work he did and the feeling of being stifled and being wronged all rushed into his head, and he couldn’t hold it back.
Hatred and helplessness arose like a tsunami in his heart.
It was rare for Bai Yang to give a reaction, but a reaction he did give as he reached out to pat Wen Chup on the back.
“Don’t move bricks.
Wen Chuo closed his eyes and whatever decision he made then, he let go of Bai Yang.
Holding Bai Yang’s face in his hands, he said with all seriousness,
“……The tiredness is only temporary.
I won’t be moving bricks for the rest of my life.
Bai Yang, I will absolutely be earning money in the future, and I will be bringing you to live a good life.”
Bai Yang hugged his knees and looked at him.
As if he was the same as he had been many years ago, on that fall day, as a tiny, tiny, small ball, sitting in front of the restaurant and lifting his eyes to look at Wen Chuo who had just returned from school.
It was the youth of their past.
Wen Chuo lowered his head to kiss him on the lips.
His embrace slowly tightened, testingly swirling between the other’s tongue, sticking, forceful, and dominant.
Bai Yang was forced to lift up his head and accept all of this.
His breathing froze, and after a long while, his fingers began to climb up Wen Chuo’s back and slowly tightened up.
*1 Like in volume 3, usually the “head” is basically someone who can rally up a few others that can work on a construction site (not necessarily only big ones, small renovations too), kind of like someone who gets called to work (not necessarily by contract) and he gets to call his “team” who he’ll pay (either from the construction site project person or from his pocket as compensation), but here just to simplify things, I’ll call him the site manager.
*2 steamed buns: to clarify these are called mantous and they are basically steamed buns with no filling.
There are different variations that have been created with its long history, and some areas have different “traditional” mantous, but mostly like this:
*3 just to give some of you an estimate, as of today by google, 100 rmb is about 15 usd – do note that the prices of expenses do differ by country (or even by city/town).
Edit: Fixed the amount that was incorrect (from 104 to 140)
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