It’s common for life to be filled with ups and downs—mostly downs.
One would never only navigate downstream or settle things down using one’s own strength. It happens a lot when one fails to get something or finish some task. Life is naturally full of regrets and pity. But life is meaningful when both good and bad exist.
Nobody could be sure that the choice they make at present is right or wrong, but they have to make that choice at some point. Life is about making choices, one after another, and until the end, you get a final score.
Qin Sheng locked himself in the study. Every time he had to make a choice, he would just stay alone and think it over quietly until he made it. That was also what was happening today.
A bottle of Chinese white wine, a pack of cigarettes, and a song that he would never tire of listening to…
Qin Sheng just absorbed himself in smoking, drinking, listening, and gradually deep thinking. Time went by from 10 to 12, and then to two o’clock. The pros and cons were having a fierce fight in his brain.
If he refused, then the result might be declaring war with Yan Chaozong, or escaping from this battleground with Lin Su, but he was not sure whether Chang Baji and other people would follow him to leave. If so, he would lose all the efforts he had made in Hangzhou, and the Lin family would also look down upon him after that.
If he surrendered, the only price he would pay would be his dignity, which, however, was what he cherished the most, both now and before. And then, he would be sneered at by Yan Chaozong and many other people, and would make some people disappointed. But he could remain in Hangzhou, rather than start another wandering life. If he was lucky enough, he would develop his own business and achieve success here several years later.
For most people, this was quite an easy choice. But for Qin Sheng, it was really difficult. He was afraid that this surrender would just be a starting point, and he would become even more cowardly after that. He was afraid that he would lose his ego.
However, there was only one choice in actuality.
In other words, he didn’t make the choice, but the choice made him.
The wine and cigarettes were finished, leaving the song repeating. Qin Sheng fell asleep, leaning in the chair. In his dream, he was still a young child. His grandfather sat under a big locust tree’s shadow to enjoy the coolness and he had leisure time to play in the yard, caring and worrying about nothing.
It seemed that every time Qin Sheng ran into some difficulty or obstacle, he would dream about his grandfather.
Children are eager to grow up, dreaming that they could become somebody at that time. But when they really become adults, they want to go back to their childhood. They will finally realize that the world they had been dreaming of was not a wonderland, but a sad place filled with worries and cares.
At dawn, Qin Sheng opened his eyes and found his phone. He finally sent a message to Yan Chaozong, saying: “You decide the place and time.”
For the whole day, Qin Sheng turned off the phone, and locked himself in the study. He didn’t contact anyone, and ate nothing. He just let smoking and drinking totally corrupt him. He used to be sure that he would never become a coward, who lowered his head and gave in to his enemy. But now, he had no choice but to kneel down and apologize to Yan Chaozong. How could he go there?
In the Amanfayun Hotel, Yan Chaozong woke up in the early morning, and then saw the message from Qin Sheng. He burst out laughing, feeling wildly joyful. The beautiful young lady who lay beside him was woken up by his sound. She came to Hangzhou from Shanghai last night because Yan Chaozong felt lonely and empty here.
“Hahaha! I thought you were a tough person. I thought that Lin Su had chosen a powerful man. But now, you surrender! You’re just so-so, Qin Sheng!” Yan Chaozong shouted out with exhilaration.
The young lady asked confusedly, “Honey, what’s wrong?”
“It’s all right, just keep sleeping,” Yan Chaozong said to comfort her as he patted her back. Then, he put on his clothes and got up.
After that, Yan Chaozong skipped washing his face and couldn’t wait to call Qu Huanxi to inform him of this news. Qu Huanxi drank all night alone and got totally drunk. He didn’t wake up until Yan Chaozong gave him a call.
Qu Huanxi was suffering from a headache caused by a hangover, so he just picked up the phone without noticing who called and asked, “Hello?”
“This is Yan Chaozong,” Yan Chaozong said straightly.
Qu Huanxi became a little bit sober then and he asked, “Oh? Master Yan, what can I do for you?”
“He said ‘yes.’ You can start your preparation now. The time is set for noon, the day after tomorrow. We’ll talk about the place later.” Yan Chaozong directly told him his plan with no nonsense.
Qu Huanxi hesitated a little. He always liked this kind of occasion, especially humiliating others. But today, he got no excited feelings because the woman he loved most was going to marry. He found that nothing was intriguing to him now. Qu Huanxi was absent-minded and answered in a low voice, “Got it. I’ll make it.”
Then he hung up the phone and fell asleep again. He was just not in the mood, which happened to everyone sometimes.
This was man—always chasing after what he didn’t deserve to own and never cherishing what he did own. But if Qu Huanxi got that woman, he, considering his characters, would feel tired very soon after. The root of his sadness was from the fact that he exactly failed to get that woman.
No man can accept the sense of failure.
Qin Sheng turned off his phone. Nothing happened until Cao Da was going to talk about something with Qin Sheng at noon. Cao Da was willing to help Qin Sheng, but failed to get in touch with him. Cao Da then called Chang Baji, but he didn’t know where Qin Sheng was either. In fact, nobody could find him.
The only thing Chang Baji could do was to get in touch with Lin Su. Nobody had contacted Qin Sheng today, and Lin Su was the final possibility for them. But Lin Su didn’t go back to the Golden Coast yesterday, she left The One to go to the company this morning. She was thinking about resigning because her Second Uncle said that he wanted her to take charge of the Lins’ business in Hangzhou. It was ridiculous that the Lin family excluded Lin Su, a very capable daughter, so that she had to work for others. And people would look down upon the Lins.
Lin Su told Chang Baji that she didn’t go home these two days. Chang Baji was worried that Qin Sheng might be in danger. Lin Su also realized that something might have happened and she asked Chang Baji about it. Chang Baji told her that Qin Sheng’s phone was off and nobody was able to contact him.
Lin Su told Chang Baji that her last time contacting Qin Sheng was last night, after he went home. Chang Baji thought it over and then called Gu Qingyang, who had been driving for Qin Sheng these two days and might know where he was. Gu Qingyang was surprised when he received the call. He was waiting for Qin Sheng at the gate of Golden Coast this morning, but he had not met him yet. He sent a message to Qin Sheng but got no reply. He thought Qin Sheng might be occupied with some business. Gu Qingyang didn’t call Qin Sheng either for fear of disturbing him, and just waited there.
Receiving the call from his Senior Uncle, Gu Qingyang said directly, “Senior Uncle, I sent Brother Qin home then I went home last night. I arrived where he lives at seven o’clock this morning, but haven’t met with him yet. If he’s not home, I have no idea where he is either.”
Above all, the only possibility left was his home in the Golden Coast. As Gu Qingyang said, if Qin Sheng was not home, then nobody could tell where he was. Hangzhou was such a big city, with millions of people living in. It was far too easy for someone to disappear into thin air and nobody could find him or her.
So Lin Su and Chang Baji both drove to the Golden Coast respectively.
Lin Su and Chang Baji almost reached the Golden Coast at the same time. Lin Su was, obviously, deeply worried about Qin Sheng. She met Chang Baji and asked anxiously, “What happened to him these days?”
Chang Baji, of course, could not tell her the truth of that incident. So he tried to hide it and said, “I was not in the city recently. I have no idea either.”
So Lin Su turned to Gu Qingyang and asked, “Qingyang, do you have any idea?”
“I don’t know. Last night, when I sent Brother Qin home, I didn’t find anything different.” Gu Qingyang shook his head. He thought there was something wrong with Qin Sheng because of the beautiful woman, his first love, that he met yesterday. Of course, Gu Qingyang should never tell Lin Su about this, or it might cause a “family conflict”.
Lin Su frowned helplessly. Now, the only thing she could do was take Chang Baji and Gu Qingyang home and check whether or not Qin Sheng was home.
They opened the door and found nobody in the sitting room or the bedroom. Chang Baji went to check the study and then found that the door was locked. He was greatly relieved then, realizing that Qin Sheng had to be inside.
“Is he in there?” Lin Su asked and frowned. She saw Chang Baji’s face.
Chang Baji told her, “The door’s locked. He must be inside.”
Lin Su made up her mind and then went to knock on the door. She asked, “Qin Sheng, are you in the study?”
But nobody answered. She knocked again and asked, “What’s wrong with you? You’re scaring me.”
Before Lin Su finished her words, Qin Sheng opened the door.
When the door opened, Lin Su and Chang Baji were both totally relieved. But Qin Sheng looked terrible, with disheveled hair, a dirty face, and empty eyes. The study was in a mess with a disgusting smell of wine and cigarettes.
“Why are you all here?” Qin Sheng was trying to pretend to be normal. No matter what had happened, he would never let Lin Su know about it and get worried.
Lin Su was almost angry and said, “Why are we all here? Ask yourself. You turned off your phone and nobody could find you. We were worrying that you might have gotten into some trouble.”
“I’m cool. I was thinking about something. As for the phone, I think it might need to be charged.” Qin Sheng showed a smile and seemed to be all right.
Lin Su was suspicious, but since there were other people there, she just said, “Well, don’t do it again. You really scared everybody.”
Qin Sheng saw the worry on Lin Su’s face and saw Chang Baji’s anxiety and concern. Now he was more sure that he had made the right choice.
“OK. I got it. I’m hungry now. I haven’t eaten anything since last night,” Qin Sheng said as an apology and touched Lin Su’s hair.
Lin Su felt satisfied now and said, “I’m going to do some cooking.”
After Lin Su left, Qin Sheng said, “Qinyang, take a rest in the sitting room. Lao Chang, I have something to talk to you about.”
Chang Baji and Qin Sheng entered the study and closed the door. It was messy inside with cigarette butts here and there and two empty bottles of Chinese white wine. It was obvious that Qin Sheng had spent a night struggling with something.
“That thing… I’ve already made my choice,” Qin Sheng said. He opened the window for ventilation. “I’m sorry to disappoint you.”
“So, is this the reason why you did all these things last night to corrupt yourself?” Chang Baji asked in a sarcastic voice. Now he understood why Qin Sheng’s phone was off—he was escaping from reality.
Qin Sheng said nothing. It was silent in the study.
Chang Baji continued to say, “Do you know what being mature is? Being mature means compromising. You have to compromise with someone or something sometimes. I know you have your own principles and personality. But those who want to live in this society have to adjust themselves to the environment. This is the golden rule of living, or the game rule of this world. It might be hard to learn how to stoop and stand erect at one time. At least, you should let the thing go after it happens. If you can’t make it even for this small thing, then how can you fight with the unexpected difficulties in the future? Only some people can lower their head and stoop to their enemies. But if one can do this, then what didn’t kill him will make him stronger.”
Chang Baji rarely gave a long lecture to others. But he had complex feelings toward Qin Sheng and he didn’t want to see Qin Sheng be beaten to death by cruel reality.
Chang Baji’s words delighted Qin Sheng little by little. Qin Sheng thought that Chang Baji was right. He was lucky enough to survive this time. But if he trapped himself in a cage of past failures, how could he confront the next one?
“Do you know lungfish? It is actually an amphibious animal. It can breathe in the water with its gills and on land with its lungs. If it lived in a place with nothing, it can eat and drink nothing, staying in the mud but still living for a few years. You’ve overcome a couple of storms. You should know this. Those things that didn’t kill you will make you stronger,” Chang Baji said, his voice becoming even firmer.
If Qin Sheng still could not let it go after hearing his words, then Chang Baji would be totally disappointed with Qin Sheng and he might leave. It was the worst result for someone to lose his confidence and ambition.