Chapter 8 Courtyard 3

After the passion of that day, the following days were more peaceful.

Wang Meng needed a little time to work on this possibly fruitless task, but it was only around noon the next day that I began to reflect on whether I was being too unreasonable or not.

If you did nothing and pursued nothing, your life would actually be very peaceful. But when this tranquil life reached a certain level and you wanted to continue building on it, you’d find that you’d have to start destroying some of the things that were originally there.

As the old saying goes: building a life from scratch is truly a happy experience because you’re getting better every step of the way, but you’ll start to face many choices when you to try to improve from a score of a hundred.

Fortunately, I was the kind of person who wouldn’t take it seriously after thinking it over.

At noon, I took Fatty’s place and cooked. Maybe my epiphany gave my dishes a hint of spirituality, for many customers said that the dishes that day had a trace of divine flavor to them.

That night was sports day. Poker-Face didn’t need to exercise, but Fatty and I actually needed to do some healthy activities. Sometimes, we went to the basketball court in the next village over to play pick-up games. That place was where the cattle would usually bask in the sun, so it was full of cow dung. I used to think that the rural areas all used automated equipment now, but there were many terraces on the hillside here so a lot of water buffalo were still needed. Besides, many scenic spots here also needed bison for pictures.

When it was sports day, the cattle would be taken away and everyone would clean up the cow dung before playing. The progressive youths in the village would play basketball with us while the regressive ones would play billiards. Sometimes we would be progressive while other times we would be regressive.

Poker-Face didn’t play. Instead, he’d just watch us from the sidelines every time.

Fatty and I very tacitly agreed not to force him to play, because if he really did, the other side would suffer a total loss. Black Glasses had told me that he had played with Poker-Face before, and ordinary people who were on the same court with them could easily suffer serious injuries and die.

During the game, Fatty enraged the crowd with fifteen fouls. We stopped after two games, but Fatty knew that he was at fault so he apologized and sent the other party to the doctor’s office. They ended up using two bottles of iodine.

As we were walking back, I knew that our basketball career was probably over, but the exercise wasn’t enough. Feeling uncomfortable with the excess energy, we found a fish pond and skipped stones for an hour.

Fatty found a lot of flat stones and handed some to Poker-Face, who took them but didn’t join in. This silent master just stood there and watched us vent our frustrations the whole time. When we were tired and panting, he finally picked a stone out and skipped it across the pond in the longest sequence of skips I had ever seen in my life.

I couldn’t even count how many times it skipped. It jumped across the water’s surface like a living thing before disappearing all the way into the distance. Since the sky was already darkening, I couldn’t see when the stone finally came to a stop.

Fatty and I had originally been competing to see who could get the most skips, but we quickly became bored when we saw this. Fatty clapped his hands and said, “We can see who can pee the longest.”

“How about whose pee is foamier,” I said.

Not only did Fatty pee in the river for four full minutes, but his pee was really foamy as well. I watched from the side and sighed. I couldn’t compare at all. I turned around and left, Poker-Face following behind with Fatty bringing up the rear. The street lights came on, but the ones on country roads were set far apart so the shadows were elongated as we walked. The three of us had three particularly long shadows as we continued walking forward without saying a word.

I didn’t know how long we walked like this before Fatty asked, “Are we boring?”

“Yeah,” I said to him. At this time, I made up my mind to complete the courtyard so that we could skip stones.

Skipping stones wasn’t all about strength, so if I practiced hard enough, I could probably put up a good fight.

We decided to sleep in the village house that night. Poker-Face returned the stones in his hand to Fatty. As it turned out, he had brought them back with him.

The three of us lay down on the lounge chairs in the courtyard and soaked our feet while looking at the stars in the sky.

The environment was getting better and better, so even the Milky Way could be seen now. There were even some streaks of light from the occasional passing comet. After watching for a while, Fatty said, “Mr. Naïve, hurry up and build your courtyard. We’ll soon be corrupted by this decadent life. We need to do some labor.”

“Ok,” I said.

This courtyard was destined to be.

<Chapter 7><Table of Contents><Chapter 9>


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