CH 11

it’s cold.”

“Okay, so you’re still in the same car as Old Zhou, right?” Fang Xi looked at Xiao Ke and said, “Call us if you need anything.”

Xiao Ke nodded.

After getting into the car, Zhou Zui drove.
He turned up the temperature before looking at Xiao Ke and saying, “You’re underdressed.”

Xiao Ke said, “Yes, a little.
I didn’t expect it to be so cold today.”

Zhou Zui did not say anything more, and he just turned up the temperature by two degrees.

Xiao Ke liked this kind of alone time with Zhou Zui, especially in the relatively small space of the car.
The distance between him and Zhou Zui was close enough that he could clearly see the side of Zhou Zui’s face with one turn of his head.
Although Zhou Zui did not talk much, what was on Xiao Ke’s mind was already on the table so it didn’t matter what was said as the atmosphere was a little less ambiguous.

The two bottles of water were taken from the back seat and were handed to Zhou Zui, who took a sip.

Xiao Ke also took a sip of water before clearing his throat and asking Zhou Zui, “When did you start doing tattoos?”

“A long time ago.” Zhou Zui also seriously thought about it before shaking his head.
“I can’t remember.
It’s been twenty years.”

“So early?” Xiao Ke was really a bit surprised.
“The country did not have tattoos then, right?”

“There were.” Zhou Zui was expressionless as he spoke.
He calmly continued sharing, “But not a lot.
Remember Young and Dangerous? There were tattoos back then.
Actually, even before then.
It just started becoming more popular starting from that time.” 

“Who doesn’t remember Young and Dangerous?” Xiao Ke laughed.
He tossed the bottle in his hand into the air and caught it.
“But wasn’t that a film from Hong Kong? There were also tattoos in the mainland?”

Zhou Zui nodded.

Xiao Ke thought that he had found a good topic as he had rarely heard Zhou Zui talk so much.
He enjoyed listening to Zhou Zui talk about tattoos as much as he enjoyed listening to tea masters talk about tea and painters talk about paintings.
The very fact about a person speaking little by little about something that he has familiarity with to others was a fascinating thing in itself.

“You were in your teens at that time, right? How did you get in touch with it?” Xiao Ke asked while looking at him.

When a car overtook him, Zhou Zui looked in the rearview mirror and said, “I was just in high school at the time, and a man from Hong Kong rented my house and lived in the backyard.
When he came, he only carried a handbag, which contained all those things.”

Xiao Ke asked him, “A tattoo artist?”

Zhou Zui nodded and said, “Mn, quite a powerful man, came over here after getting into trouble in Hong Kong.
Occasionally people asked him for tattoos, those who mixed with triads.
I would sometimes sit next to him and watch, and over time, he would teach me.
At that time, I was very foolish.
After I studied for a few days, I dared to tattoo someone else’s body, but no one minded if it was crooked and ugly anyway.”

Zhou Zui drove and talked while pausing two or three seconds between each sentence as if he were reminiscing by picking stories from his memory for people to hear.
His voice was already quite low so he spoke slowly which sounded more elegant, as if he had added a filter with a sense of old age.

“The man from Hong Kong was not short of money, so he let me practice with his colors and machines and poke pictures on people.
Let me do it according to his drawings.
If I made it ugly, it was okay, he would fix it.
That way I could practice quickly, and later I was able to draw directly from my own sketches, and my hand was stable.”

Xiao Ke laughed, “And then you became a master?”

“No.” Zhou Zui shook his head and laughed before he said, “It’s not that easy.”

“At that time, the drawings were more or less the same, green dragon, black snake, dripping blood wolf’s head, most of them were like this,” Zhou Zui continued indifferently.
“It looks very ugly now, but at that time, it was the most trendy.
I can’t say that there was a problem with the aesthetics at that time, it was decided by the time and cultural background, as well as the identity of the triad/society.
He said a few drawings were too graphic.”

 Xiao Ke immediately laughed and confessed, “In fact, before I met you guys, my impression of tattoos was also basically stuck to these.”

“That’s normal, you don’t usually have access to it,” Zhou Zui laughed.
“That era was good.
It was the pioneering era of tattoos.”

“Do you have tattoos on your body?” Xiao Ke suddenly asked.

Zhou Zui paused before he responded with a “no,” and he had a faint smile in his eyes.
“I do not need to practice with myself since a lot of people let me practice on them.
Most of the tattoo artists were neither good nor bad so they had a black piece of the figure tattooed on the body since the tattoo didn’t matter.
Now, that would be considered destroying skin.
Later on, tattoo artists didn’t have such a good environment.
Tattoos were no longer specific to hooligans, so people’s expectations got higher as well.
They started getting more and more serious about tattoos, and there wasn’t as much skin left to destroy.
If you see some of them with tattoos, know that they didn’t get it because they liked them.
After entering the field, there are fewer works to show those close to you like your friends, and even yourself, all have become victims of destroying skin before a tattoo artist becomes a master.”

Xiao Ke was diligently listening.
When he spoke, Zhou Zui gave off the feeling of someone who had journeyed a thousand seas.
He turned to look at the other to stare at his eyes while Zhou Zui’s gaze was mainly focused on the front, and he only occasionally glanced in the rearview mirror. 

Xiao Ke asked, “Xiao Bei said you went to college, what did you study?”

Zhou Zui said, “Chinese painting.”

Zhou Zui saw what he was thinking and said, “The man from Hong Kong taught me to paint the entire time, right before college.
You can’t do tattoos if you don’t know how to paint, and tattoos are also paintings, just another form of them.”

Zhou Zui spoke a lot, and Xiao Ke was fascinated by him.
Zhou Zui said he had gone to many places after graduation which were Japan, India, Taiwan, and he also spent a lot of time in the US.
Xiao Ke did not say much afterwards and just kept listening to him.

He didn’t want to interrupt him since he enjoyed listening to him.
The first half of his life was like listening to the experiences of a warrior in the jungle.

Later on, Zhou Zui smiled and asked him, “What else does Professor Xiao want to hear?”

Xiao Ke’s emotions had already been carried over by Zhou Zui, and his heart felt very full and lifted.
He looked at Zhou Zui.
He did not know where the impulse came from, but he wanted to know him better and be closer to him.

Xiao Ke also smiled while his fingers gently rubbed the bottom of the water bottle, and he asked, “I’d like to hear…Have you ever had a boyfriend, Warrior Zhou?”


The author has something to say: This chapter has a little more dialogue.
Talk about Zhou Zui, talk about tattoos.



Translator Notes:

Old cucumber [老(old)黄瓜(cucumber)] comes from the saying 老黄瓜刷绿漆 Old cucumber with green paint.
It’s a derogatory phrase meaning someone is Pretending to be young. When the big cucumber is old, it loses its green color, wrinkles, turns hard and turns yellow, and is dull, because of the joke of “painting the old cucumber with green paint – pretending to be young.”



In chapter 13, the author changes the name of his guy from Lin Dong to Lin Xuan, so I changed it to keep it the same throughout the novel.  

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