Chapter 44 – The Great Escape or Avoiding an Arranged Marriage in 1996
“Wah! Why are you using a flame to burn me?”
“Why did you shave your beard? Don’t you know that the charm of your character is lost once you lose your beard?”
“Aye, you’re not well-read and your fighting skills are bad. If you’re not the bandit, are you trying to be the main character?”
“I’ve considered it…”
“Don’t waste your breath! You can’t change your image! Just do well in your prosperous role as a bandit!”
This classic dialogue between Stephen Chow and Karen Mok was playing in the cinema as the Journey to the West film was shown all across China. In retrospect, it might be difficult to imagine this scene playing in the cinema in 1995 when it first came out, but one word could be used to describe it: frosty.
These unfathomable jokes were received with a chilly response and made one wonder if that was how movies were supposed to be filmed. How could they change the story of the Journey to the West to something like this? Thus, viewers in the cinema were split in their reactions: some were amazed, some were jeering and some were stunned speechless. Or some had weird tastes like Shasha – she was laughing raucously while energetically slapping Jiaming’s shoulder.
“Is that actually the Monkey King? He is… how could he be the Monkey King… Hahaha, hit him, hit him…”
“Hey, Shasha, stop laughing already. A lot of people are looking at you…” Lingjing said as she smiled at her antics. When Shasha got excited, she tended to hit people and, naturally, the target of this ended up being the long-suffering Jiaming. As to this parody of the Journey to the West, Jiaming naturally understood all the jokes in it. He also occasionally jeered at the jokes while secretly thinking that Shasha must have a screw loose. After that incident with the Cao father and son, she had become more and more addled.
The truth was, Shasha also felt that she had been acting somewhat strange lately. It had all started after that situation in the woods behind the lumber processing plant where she had licked the side of Jiaming’s mouth. The scene where she had kissed him kept replaying in her mind, and every day she wanted to spend more time with Jiaming. When she was by his side, she felt safe and comfortable, and sometimes she would even blush which was extremely rare for her.
According to the romance novels that she read, it seemed that she had fallen for Jiaming.
But how could that be possible, Jiaming was her best friend, and the boy that Lingjing, her other best friend, had feelings for. Since Lingjing liked him, then it was reasonable to say that she should not have feelings for him too. However, if she could not, then how was she supposed to act around him?
Since the three of them were childhood friends, they had long passed the point of keeping secrets from each other. Also, due to several mishaps in the past, Jiaming had seen the two girls’ bodies and they had also basically seen Jiaming’s secret before. Yet since she could not have feelings for this boy, then what kind of distance did she have to maintain from him? Did she have to drift away from him as a friend? This type of misgiving had been plaguing Shasha recently and caused her to act somewhat different than usual.
If she got too close, then she would think about Lingjing and she would flush and her heart would beat quickly. If she acted too distant, then she would feel that it would force the two of them out of her friend circle and she could not stand that feeling. She was stuck in a hopeless situation and thus, would sometimes act quite violent, but at other times, would act like a virtuous lady. Troubled by her thoughts, these attitude swings persisted for the rest of 1996.
From an observer's point of view, Shasha was actually ahead compared to Lingjing’s progress regarding their first awakening of love. Even though Lingjing had feelings for Jiaming, she had not sorted it out yet and it was simply still in the “childhood love” stages. She did not mind sharing Jiaming’s attention with Shasha and could even cheer about how well her two best friends were getting along. However, no one could say how these feelings of love would develop in the future.
The three soon entered the year of 1996. School was on winter break and there were a lot of opportunities for the three of them to hang out together. At this time, Jiaming and Lingjing were almost 15 years old, while Shasha was about to turn 16 years old and enter the prime of her youth after September. Along with the happy but confusing and inexperienced feelings of love, the two gradually maturing young girls and the already mature young boy remained in their little haven. As to when this peace would break, no one knew or thought about how it could happen.
Jiaming thought that the two of them had already matured because their interactions were no longer as childish as before. The two of them were lilies in his mind, and his interaction with them did not turn strange. He could use the two of them as a excuse and he could also become an excuse for the two of them; this three person combination was absolutely perfect. Since he had never experienced a normal childhood, he currently felt comfortable and relaxed – this was what happiness was.
A few days after the year ended, Jianghai City was covered in pure white snow. The three of them wore down-feather coats and gloves as they strolled down the city streets. They played at the arcade, did some ice-skating and went to the park to play bumper cars and air-guns. The two girls’ cheeks were flushed with excitement and they were all in high spirits. On the fourth day of the new year, they discovered an abandoned cage with a litter of kittens. It seemed that they had been abandoned by their owner shortly after they were born. Of the five kittens, four had already died from the cold, and Lingjing was only able to rescue an exceptionally ugly white kitten that barely stirred in her grasp as they hurried to carry it home.
When they returned home, Shasha suggested that it should be called Ugly, while Lingjing said it looked like a newly-born lamb, so it should be called Baabaa; Jiaming thought thought the ugly kitten would not survive long, so he suggested Years as a shortened form of celebrating the kitten’s remaining time on this earth. Shasha won in the end – the little kitten was named Ugly and joined their three-person circle as the newest member.
During this period of tranquility and comfort, Jiaming occasionally accessed a secret intelligence website to check up on the situation in America. He knew that Marilyn’s Salieri family and the Gambino family had a large number of conflicts in the shadows, but there was not yet a clear outcome as these two families had fought each other for quite a while already. Meanwhile, little Heidi had won a singing competition during christmas last year, but because the internet was not yet developed, he could only read a report and there were no videos or audio recordings of it.
In April, along with the blooming flowers of spring, a letter mysteriously appeared on Jiaming’s desk. It was a letter regarding an engagement ceremony for Amau Masanori and Tsukichi Kaoru. Jiaming only glanced briefly at it while thinking, ‘What does it have to do with me?’ and then burned it.
He spent his days with the two girls and occasionally saw the mature-looking, beautiful, and large breasted teacher, Zhang Yahan. He would flirt with her sometimes, as he thought that he had no hope with the lily couple. Since they were all familiar with each other, maybe he could possibly marry Yahan instead? But, right after he thought that, he felt he must have been brain damaged to even consider that.
One evening in June, Jiaming, Lingjing and Shasha had just returned to the Ye’s Martial Arts Hall when Zhang Yahan suddenly showed up. However, the visit this time was different than usual, the beautiful teacher was more dress-up than usual. She was not wearing her ugly pair of glasses, her usual wavy hair was completely straightened out and draping over her shoulders like a waterfall. She was also followed by six burly bodyguards and they seemed even more capable than father Ye when it came to fighting.
“Ah, older sister here will be turning 22 in a couple of days and there will be an engagement announcement. These invitations here are for the three of you, please remember to be on time, hohoho… also these two invitations are for Master and his wife. May I ask where they are?”
At this time, father and mother Ye were currently preparing dinner. Zhang Yahan’s smile was charming but seemed exaggerated at the same time. The two girls were excited for her, but did not notice her forced smile. Jiaming eyed the six bodyguards and figured that Yahan was not very willing to do this, but because of her family, her wishes were likely being ignored. Since a potential candidate who he could marry had been snatched away, he faintly curled his lips in disappointment.
He congratulated her appropriately however, and Yahan, seeing that the bodyguards were standing behind her, seemed to be making a strange expression at him. He thought she looked funny while trying, but he pretended not to understand her and only shrugged helplessly in response.
After a moment, Jiaming went to the bathroom to relieve himself, but before he could finish, the sound of several people could be heard right outside the bathroom door. He had just thought to himself, Miss Yahan, are you so desperate that you’re willing to do anything?, when his door was already forced open and then quickly closed with a bang.
Flustered, Jiaming was trying to pull up his zipper when Yahan ignored what was going on with his lower body and rushed towards him; she clapped a hand over his mouth while frantically shushing him.
“Please, I’m in the middle of peeing. If Miss suddenly barges in like this, you could seriously affected the rest of my life. It concerns the most important parts of a man’s body… their kidneys and their prostate…” Jiaming protested quietly after a short pause while being muffled by Yahan.
“If you can’t find any women due to this, I will help you look. There are millions of girls in university…” Yahan completely ignored him and then turned on the tap water to simulate the sound of someone urinating. Then she looked at Jiaming, “We are friends, right? We are the best of friends, right?!”
“M’lady, are you being slow? Please consider your identity clearly! Trying to escape from an arranged marriage… Didn’t you already realize that you would be getting married to someone you didn’t like?”
“You knew I was trying to escape from this marriage, but you still pretended to not understand my message when I looked at you earlier! Do you think I won’t dare to kill you in the bathroom?!” Yahan made a threatening gesture at him, “It’s not time for jokes! I don’t want to sacrifice my happiness for the sake of the family! You’re not allowed to ignore this, you’re the only one that can help me.”
“That’s not true, sis Yahan. Is there something wrong with your brain? I’m still just a child, don’t you have a better option?”
“If I did, would I still come to find you?”
“That’s true, you have really failed in life, huh…” Jiaming facepalmed as the two of them stood in the bathroom, staring into each other’s eyes.
“I don’t care, you’re still the only one that can help me.” Yahan stood up and lifted up her skirt, showing off an expanse of sexy thighs and even her underwear could be seen. Then, she pulled a long piece of paper out of the flesh-colored stockings of her right thigh.
“The engagement is coming in the next few days. I needs you to prepare these few things for me. I know it might be difficult, but… I’m begging you, even if you have to sell yourself, I have to one-up these guys!”
“Pfft,” Jiaming took a look at the list, “You don’t need to be that excitable, it’s just an engagement. I thought you wanted to kill someone then escape to Thailand…”
“Yeah, right!” Yahan said sarcastically, “You don’t know their customs. An engagement is an engagement, but that same night, I have to sleep with that guy. That old-fashioned fogey at the Liu family said there’s no such thing as engagements in China and previously said that there should be a wedding immediately. I fought desperately for this to be an engagement, but ended up with having to sleep with the guy on the night of the engagement… It’s just not the same, I would rather give up my first time to a piece of chalk…”
“Oh, so it’s Yahan’s first time? Since you don’t want it, how about giving it to me. Hmmm, this smells nice…” Jiaming sniffed the piece of paper, but Yahan fiercely stabbed downwards with two fingers, “Ah-ah~ Is that the attitude you should have when begging someone? Don’t blame me if I scream loudly!”
“Fine, you pervert, don’t make a fuss.” Seeing Yahan’s blushing face, Jiaming knew she felt embarrassed from his previous action. Before he could gather his thoughts, Yahan had pulled him over and pressed his head against her bosom, “Since it’s like this, remember to gather all the items on the list. The fate of my happiness is in your hands!”
After hurriedly speaking, she rushed out of the bathroom, her cheeks rosy red. Jiaming shook his head at her actions as he read the note again, then shredded it and flushed it down the toilet.
 Stephen Chow and Karen Mok - in this scene, Karen (a female demon) is chastising Stephen (the monkey king) for shaving his beard. The joke is that they’re breaking the fourth wall, when he’s actually the main character even though she sees him as a bandit character only. ↩
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