The Complete Guide to the Use and Care of a Personal Assistant
First Published on Chaleuria
It wasn’t that Ling Miao hadn’t seen stacks and stacks of red Grandpa Mao¹ before, but when Su Yuyang handed the stack of thin cash bills over, his heart still shook.
“Six thousand. Your pay for your work ‘til now,” Su Yuyang said as he handed over the money. (T/N: US$874)
Six thousand was a much higher amount than the salary Ling Miao had agreed on with Su Yuyang. Something occurred to Ling Miao, who watched Su Yuyang and said nothing. Su Yuyang saw Ling Miao’s stunned expression and couldn’t help a smile: “What are you waiting for? If you don’t put that away, I’m taking it back.”
“Thank you,” Ling Miao said, voice unsteady.
Su Yuyang smiled again. “This is what you should get. What are you thanking me for?”
“Uh…” As Ling Miao held the money, guilt inexplicably rose in his heart—he was about to leave Su Yuyang, but Su Yuyang just so happened to choose this time to show gentleness. In that instant, Ling Miao suspected Su Yuyang had seen through his plans and was doing this in order to keep him.
Su Yuyang didn’t know what Ling Miao was thinking. He raised his head to look at Ling Miao and asked thoughtfully: “Are you going home?”
“Mm?” Ling Miao didn’t understand.
“It’s the Dragon Boat Festival.² We have a three-day holiday from the 31st to the 2nd. If you don’t go home, I won’t give you those days off,” Su Yuyang said with a serious face. He looked like a landowner who exploited his workers, or a boss who wouldn’t give an inch. Ling Miao had put the money in his pocket and was about to get his debit card from his luggage when he heard Su Yuyang’s words. He turned and said angrily, “Hey, you already took my weekends. Now you want to take my vacation too? Su Yuyang, how cruel can you get?”
“You aren’t going home so you’ll be staying here either way. Of course you’ll keep working for me?” Su Yuyang had made up his mind and now he refused to let go like it was a matter of life or death.
Ling Miao picked up the tissue box from the ottoman and used it to hit the ottoman, hard. He pointed at Su Yuyang’s nose and complained: “That’s not the same! Either way, Su Yuyang, if you don’t let me go on vacation, then I’ll just not show up to work. If you don’t like that, fire me!”
If you fire me, that’ll be just what I want.
“Ah ah ah, don’t mind me.” Su Yuyang’s stubborn attitude softened for some reason and he kept nodding as he said: “The 1st to the 3rd. Arrange it however you want. But I’m hungry. Go make food.”
“Wait.” Ling Miao walked to the door as he spoke. Su Yuyang saw Ling Miao slipping on his shoes and guessed that Ling Miao was about to do something. He suddenly instructed: “Xiao Miao, on your way back, buy some yogurt at the supermarket.”
“Damn, you really take every chance to tell me to do things,” Ling Miao complained, but Su Yuyang knew he would definitely buy the yogurt.
Ling Miao called Ji Linxi the moment he left Su Yuyang’s house.
“Linxi, when is the interview?” Ling Miao asked impatiently.
Linxi glanced at the calendar and said: “The 30th. We have the 31st off for Dragon Boat, so the company wants to pick someone before the holiday.” Ji Linxi glanced around carefully as he spoke. Only when he confirmed that no one was watching him did he lower his voice and say: “I’ve seen the other resumes. Your chances are very good.”
“Hey, the first time I interviewed you said the same thing and look what happened?” Ling Miao was purely teasing.
Ji Linxi understood Ling Miao’s meaning. He laughed: “Once bitten twice shy? Relax, this time the assistant manager is conducting the interview. He has a wife and daughter, his relationship with his wife is good and their family life is stable. He’s very meticulous and won’t let someone incompetent through on a pretty face.”
Ji Linxi’s words were a reassurance but Ling Miao couldn’t help feeling guilty every time he thought about Su Yuyang. Ling Miao was silent for a while and Linxi asked anxiously: “Are you all right?”
“Su Yuyang paid me for last month.” Ling Miao put his hand in his pocket, fingers brushing the money Su Yuyang had given him. The paper bills were cool but Ling Miao felt that he could feel Su Yuyang’s warmth.
Ji Linxi understood Ling Miao’s personality. Ling Miao remembered the people who treated him well, and though he didn’t always think of repaying them, he kept a good impression of them. If people treated him badly, he’d also remember that, though in this case it was solely to find an opportunity to pay it back. Even a simple prank would give Ling Miao the thrill of revenge—when Ling Miao turned off the hot water while Su Yuyang was taking a bath, it was probably because of this.
From Ling Miao’s perspective Su Yuyang had treated him well and also treated him badly, and he remembered all of it. When Ling Miao had to make a decision the good and the bad would be at war and during those times he needed an external force to clear his thoughts for him. Ji Linxi was very suitable to be this ‘external force.’
Before, Ji Linxi would lay out an analysis of the pros and cons for Ling Miao and make the decision for him. This time, however, he didn’t do as Ling Miao hoped. Ji Linxi tapped a finger on the table, his tone frustrated but his smile huge.
“I don’t know how you should decide,” Ji Linxi sighed.
For the first time Ji Linxi did not give his own opinion or say that his opinion wasn’t what Ling Miao wanted.
Ling Miao chatted with Ji Linxi for a while more before hanging up.
Walking into the stairwell a piercing golden ray blinded Ling Miao so he couldn’t open his eyes.
For all of May, Ling Miao had felt something was off. It had rained all May, the sun only occasionally showing its face. To Ling Miao’s recollection, no past May had had weather like this.
Chongqing was a furnace and the temperature in May would usually reach 30-40°C (86-104°F), but this May the temperature had stayed at 22-23°C (71-73°F).
In the baking sun Ling Miao walked toward the opposite side of the road.
The bank was air-conditioned and Ling Miao shivered as he entered.
The combination of heat and cold was very in tune with Ling Miao’s current state of mind. On one hand, the various tricks Su Yuyang had played on him made his heart cold and he wanted very much to cut Su Yuyang’s hands off, but the moment Su Yuyang showed him a little gentleness he felt that Su Yuyang was actually an okay guy and alright to keep around.
After depositing the money, Ling Miao reluctantly walked out of the bank and the sunlight again left him unable to open his eyes.
“So troublesome,” Ling Miao grimaced as he walked toward the supermarket.
The supermarket was halfway down a road only accessible by foot. On Ling Miao’s usual route there, W&S was on one side. Ling Miao walked his usual route to the supermarket and was unexpectedly stopped by Feng Ji.
“What’s up?” Ling Miao asked, tone unfriendly.
Bullshit. You walk under the hot sun for five or six minutes and already you can wring water out of your clothes. Of course you want to get home quickly, but of all things to happen, somebody stands in your way. If you don’t give them a good beating, that’s friendly enough.
“You’re not in a good mood,” Feng Ji said from under his umbrella.
Ling Miao glanced at Feng Ji’s umbrella and thought: Why didn’t I think of taking an umbrella?
“Nope,” Ling Miao answered angrily then walked past Feng Ji.
Feng Ji originally wanted to stop Ling Miao to say something, but then he saw a ‘white horse’ cruising toward them and had to give up the thought.
Feng Ji didn’t want to stand here with the umbrella like a statue either, but a certain someone had instructed him to do so, so he had to do it. Pity he couldn’t out-talk that person.
The ‘white horse’ stopped in front of Feng Ji. The car windows rolled down, the woman inside with big sunglasses wearing a hint of a smile. Though Feng Ji could not see the woman’s eyes he was sure that the woman was staring at him and waiting for him to do something.
Feng Ji held the umbrella and didn’t move. The woman gave a ‘hmph,’ opened the door, and got out.
With the passenger seat open, the woman spoke a few words to the driver then closed the door. The car departed.
Feng Ji walked up and put the umbrella over the woman’s head, saying dismally: “Didn’t you say you’d get here on the 31st? Why push it forward?”
“To get used to the venue,” the woman said with a yawn, tone indolent with a hint of tiredness.
Feng Ji knew the woman had just gotten off a plane and didn’t ask further. He led the woman upstairs, thinking: Why did she come here? Shouldn’t she have gone directly to Su Yuyang’s house as usual?
The woman seemed to have guessed Feng Ji’s thoughts. She said with a smile: “If you call Su Yuyang and tell him I’m here, I’ll keep staying here and not leave.”
“I… Yan Li, Superstar Yan, my small shop isn’t big enough to hold your reputation!” Feng Ji wanted to cry.
Yan Li, who had started her career at 21, was a very popular idol singer. Wherever she went she would make waves with her music. If her fans knew she was here, Feng Ji could probably shut down shop and wouldn’t be able to live a peaceful life either. Until now Yan Li had not had a single line of gossip appear and Feng Ji certainly didn’t want to be Yan Li’s first rumored boyfriend.
“Oh, right. Who’s the guy you were speaking to just now?” Yan Li’s inner gossip was inexplicably ignited. Yan Li knew Feng Ji’s personality and the two had fought over a certain someone before. It was also that fight which had cemented the friendship between the three of them.
Feng Ji could read Yan Li’s hidden intent. He rolled his eyes at Yan Li and said mysteriously, “The assistant at Su Yuyang’s house.”
Yan Li looked at Feng Ji thoughtfully. Seeing the laugh in Feng Ji’s eyes she grew even more curious, but Feng Ji had fled!
“Fuck!” Yan Li cursed quietly, picking up a cardboard roll beside her and throwing it through the doorway.
Feng Ji looked at the cardboard roll which had rolled next to his feet, saying in shock: “Lucky I ran quickly.”
Ling Miao bought the yogurt and several days’ worth of instant noodles for Su Yuyang, then started off home. To avoid running into Feng Ji and getting waylaid, Ling Miao took a different way home.
Ling Miao put the yogurt in the fridge then carried the instant noodles over to Su Yuyang: “Su-ge, I won’t be around for the three days of Dragon Boat. I’ve prepared the food for you for those three days.”
“That’s good, go back and see your parents,” Su Yuyang said, downcast.
Ling Miao asked curiously: “Aren’t you going home?”
Su Yuyang stared at the ceiling, a flash of sorrow in his eyes: “My parents don’t let me go back.”
Something occurred to Ling Miao but in order not to touch Su Yuyang’s wounds, Ling Miao held it back. Su Yuyang saw sympathy in Ling Miao’s eyes and explained: “My parents didn’t chase me out because I was gay. When I came to Chongqing for university, they said: “If you come back alone, I’ll kick you out the door.” I came out to my parents when I was in high school. My parents are pretty open-minded, and they’ve accepted the fact that they won’t have a daughter-in-law. Though my mom really wants grandchildren.”
Ling Miao caught the faint sorrow in Su Yuyang’s expression, but he didn’t know if Su Yuyang’s sadness was out of not being able to bring a partner home or not being able to give his mother grandchildren.
 Dragon Boat festival: The 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar. Celebrated to remember an advisor who jumped into a river when the state he served was losing a war, and commemorates loyalty. People also race in dragon-shaped boats