After getting the basic toiletries issued by the prison such as his towel and basin, he was taken to a cell. With five bunk beds, each cell housed ten inmates in one small room.
From the moment he entered, everyone stopped what they were doing to stare at him. Meng Fu felt very uneasy. He didn’t even know which bed he should be sleeping on.
“You new here?” A forty-some-year-old man came to him with a frivolous look in his eyes. “You almost look like a girl. Do you know the newcomer’s rules?”
Meng Fu stood in place and did not say anything. It was a whole new world for him—he didn’t know how to fit in at all.
“Go over there and wash the toilet.” The man pushed him into the toilet and a foul odor came wafting to his face.
“Why am I washing it?”
“Newcomer’s rules apply to everyone buddy, you’re in charge for a month. What, you got a problem with that?” The man raised his chin at him which wasn’t shaved properly—it was messy and it gave him a fierce look.
“Alright,” he responded. “But can I put my things on my bed first?”
The man was used to being a tough guy. It was the first time he had ever seen a guy like Meng Fu with such a bookish air about him after all his years in prison. When he saw how obedient Meng Fu was, he felt the subconscious urge to tone down his aggressiveness.
After walking out, he pointed to the upper bunk next to the door and said, “That one’s yours.”
“Big Bro.” His subordinate called out to the man in a quiet voice, and the man nodded, indicating him to speak. So, he said, “Hey kid, a sex offender used to sleep on that bed but he died two days ago.” Noticing the slight tremor in Meng Fu’s fingers, he said to him grinning with a tone filled with mystery, “Guy got hacked to death during a fight. There were so many people around but they all backed away in a snap. God knows who had the knife, but he was stabbed right in the heart.” The subordinate pointed his finger at the right side of his chest.
But someone slapped the back of his head. Turning around, the man bowed subserviently, “Boss.”
“Do you have shit in your brain? You think the heart grows on the right?”
Meng Fu looked up and saw what this boss looked like. He appeared to be in his early thirties with deep features and a scar running through his forehead that gave this “boss” an imposing aura.
“That’s your bed now, brat. Be careful at night.”
After he said that, he returned to his own bed and began reading some sort of book while his lackeys huddled over to massage his legs.
Meng Fu went inside the toilet, but it didn’t take longer than two minutes before he retched. Holding water from the sink in his cupped hands, he kept rinsing his mouth, after which he just covered it as a great sadness welled up in his heart.
“Hey new guy, you didn’t gag to death in there, did you?” A knock came from the door, following that the sound of laughter. “Get it done quick, Boss needs to use the toilet.”
“Alright, I’ll be done soon.” Trying hard to hold back the rising nausea inside, he quickly finished the washing and came out.
“Hey Big Bro, the kid’s pretty good-looking, huh?” A man had been staring at Meng Fu since he came out of the toilet. He watched him climb into his own bed and take a book out.
“Yeah, he’s interesting. But…” Big Bro rubbed his chin. “Boss hates that stuff, you know?”
“Big Bro, you could do it during shower time. The kid looks easy to deal with anyway.”
“Hm, you’re right.”
“Hey, new kid. What’s your name? What’re you in for?” Big Bro raised his voice and called out to Meng Fu.
Meng Fu put his book down and said bluntly, “Meng Fu. Traffic offense.”
It would be a long time before Meng Fu learned that the Big Bro was a firearms dealer called Zhou Weiguo, and that the thirty-something-year-old boss was the real deal. He was the young master of a mob, Di Jun.
On a brand new notebook, only two words were written down. “First day.”
Di Jun came out from the toilet. From his cold eyes, he could see that more than half of the ten guys in this prison cell were looking at Meng Fu. While pretending to chat with each other, they would constantly glance at Meng Fu from the corner of their eye as if they would want nothing more than to strip him down and check him out down there.
Zhou Weiguo was clearly quite interested in Meng Fu. He’d asked questions from his age, what he’d done, how long he was sentenced, and whether he had a girl.
And Meng Fu answered them one by one. He was a quiet person and wasn’t willing to say much, but he was too afraid to not answer. He knew the situation he was in, and he had no other choice than to compromise.
His pen constantly scritched over the paper, casually scribbling away. He didn’t think at all. Just like a robot, he answered Big Bro’s questions mechanically.
And then, as if he had been shocked awake, he found that he had written “Xie Zhenzhen” on the paper.
He quickly tossed the notebook aside.
The book fell down the bed, and the entire cell turned silent.
Di Jun said to one of them, “Pick it up and show me.”
“No, give it back!” Meng Fu leaned forward. He raised his voice just as his anxiousness shot up. He should have buried Xie Zhenzhen in his heart.
“What’re you so nervous about?” Di Jun turned to the first page and read, “First day, A Uni, Xie Zhenzhen. Hey kid, Xie Zhenzhen’s your girlfriend huh?”
“She’s not,” he denied.
Di Jun shot a meaningful glance at Meng Fu, then a smile curved his lips. “Alright, she’s not then.” He looked at the clear writing on the paper and said, “Hey, write a few more words for me.”
Meng Fu hesitantly climbed down from his bunk. He had no idea why Di Jun wanted him to write, but he swore in his heart that he would never say anything about Xie Zhenzhen. That person had already been enshrouded in the bottom of his heart.
In truth, however, Meng Fu had been overthinking it. Even though Di Jun was the young master of a gang, he was actually an illiterate who could barely read. He himself started out as a lowly punk before the gang boss took a fancy to him and took him in as his godson, and that was how he became the young master. The boss had five daughters, no sons. Even a fortune-teller told him he was not fated to have any. Since he was getting on in years, he resigned to fate and fancied the valiant Di Jun even more, so he often advised him to study more. However, it was Di Jun’s nature that he didn’t like to read. He would get a headache every time he tried. Later, he was ridiculed by a woman he liked for being uneducated, and only then did he become interested in reading and became a full-fledged writing fanatic. Unfortunately, prison was filled with vulgar rabble. Their writing was as sore a sight as they were themselves.
“What should I write?” Meng Fu asked.
Meng Fu glanced at Di Jun, then he picked up his pen and wrote a few letters. His writing was as pretty as carved orchids, and in Di Jun’s words, he would say you could tell it was written by a cultured person at one glance.
Di Jun read out the clear words written on that paper. “Anything. Hey kid, I told you to write ‘anything’, but you really did write ‘anything’, huh? Gotta say you did write it real nice though.”
“Yeah, it looks nice!” A group of people echoed his sentiments. Zhou Weiguo was staring greedily at Meng Fu’s neck. His writing was pretty, but he himself was even prettier.
“Alright, you’re going to teach me how to write from tomorrow onwards.”
As soon as he said this, not only was Meng Fu stunned, but everyone in the cell was. The boss’s words implied that he was going to cover Meng Fu from now on, meaning that he was cutting anyone’s advances towards him, and that Meng Fu no longer needed to tremble in fear.
“Big Bro, this…” Someone whispered in Zhou Weiguo’s ear.
“Damn it, I didn’t think this brat would catch the boss’s maiden heart as soon as he arrived.” It was a rare chance for him to find a pretty-looking one, but he didn’t think his opportunity would fly off before he could even get to touch him once.
“Big Bro, I don’t think that’s the right word…”
“The hell did you say to me?!”
“Nothing, nothing…I didn’t say anything at all, Big Bro!”
Di Jun looked at the only cultured person in the cell and a feeling of joy quietly arose in his heart. It seemed like he’d be able to look a little more cultured the next time Yi Ying came to visit. Yi Ying was the woman that Di Jun liked.
“Your name’s Meng Fu, right?”
“Come closer. I got a couple questions for you.”
Meng Fu watched as Di Jun pulled a book out from under his pillow. He had noticed the man reading when he first came in, he just didn’t know what book it was.
But now, when he saw the cover of the book, Meng Fu once again froze.
This prison boss actually liked reading Naruto…
“My woman thought I’d get bored in prison so she brought this over when she was visiting.” A group of people continued to surround Di Jun and Meng Fu, watching with great interest. One head in particular poked over.
“What’re you looking at? Get your ass back to your own bunk!” Di Jun roared.
The audience quickly scattered. A few who tried looking back were all driven away by Di Jun’s glares.
“What word is this? Is it pronounced ‘shu’?”
“This word is pronounced as ‘you’.” Meng Fu looked at the comic and responded.
“And this one?”
“This one? And this one?”