Quality Check: Tezuka
“Say, don’t we resemble Jack and Rose from the Titanic? Too bad we can’t get on the ferry together.”
“I won’t go to the gambling house ever again.”
“I believe in you.”
Those words of love had lost its chance of being ever said again.
The weirdest thing in life would probably be the fact that you would never know when there would be a second chance if you missed the one before your eyes.
What if? What if.
Mr. Ji pointed at the drawings displayed on the screen. His voice was slightly agitated: “This was what my father had taken a liking to, but…”
Not just one, but several people realized the strange insinuation in those words.
What was he trying to say? Everyone had the same suspicions in their hearts.
Mr. Ji continued, “Yesterday evening, we received a … late drawing submission.”
The screen changed, and all those drawings disappeared without a trace, replaced by the empty screen. Along with the click of the mouse, the last drawing appeared.
The room went silent.
The SI team was already in complete confusion as they slowly turned their questioning gazes towards their leaders. It was then, that they realized how dejected their design director looked. As for Lin Zhou… the smile on his face was frozen. The face that was always graceful and calm was now replaced with a twisted expression.
YL’s team did not have many attendees, but only two of them knew the truth. The rest were also puzzled about what was going on. What was worse, was that they dared not shift their gazes onto Yan Jin. They could only imagine what happened during the last evening on their own.
However, they did not lose their self-composure like SI. After all –
That drawing that filled up the entire screen had YL’s low-profile – a silver watermark. At this ver moment, that mark looked as if it were glowing.
Then, the elderly man spoke again:
“I would like to meet that designer.”
His gaze was directed straight at Yan Jin. The latter then stood up calmly as he replied respectfully: “I’m very sorry, Mr. Louis. This designer is very mysterious; they are not willing to reveal any information about themselves and they did not want to appear in person.”
The elderly man did not press on. Instead, he sighed regretfully: “Then it seems that I have wasted a trip.”
Yan Jin paused for a moment, and then replied, “To be able to receive your recognition, I would like to thank you on the behalf of YL Corporation.”
That was nothing but a speech by the winner. As soon as Yan Jin finished his sentence, YL’s team immediately clapped their hands loudly. In contrast to SI’s team on the other side, their clapping was obviously half-hearted. They did not look good as they watched the cooked duck flying away¹. The deal that was already in their hands ended up being snatched away by a nameless drawing – who could have accepted that well?
That being said, one such person just sprang up from their seat.
“Mr. Ji, Chairman Yan.” Lin Zhou barely maintained his usual image, even though anyone with a discerning eye could see that he was forcing himself to smile: “May I ask why this drawing ultimately won? Also, why was there no name on this drawing?”
The moment Lin Zhou pointed that out, he realized how forceful his attitude was, unlike the usual image that he was trying to uphold. Lin Zhou immediately added, “After all, this was a fair competition. As the opponent, we would like to know where we were lacking.”
When they heard the word ‘fair competition’, SI’s team sported awkward expressions. YL’s team however, did not have much of a reaction except for Yan Jin, as the edge of his lips slightly curled up.
It was not that Yan Jin had never used any underhanded methods before. It was just that the majority of the things that happened did not require him to use those methods. But, there was a ‘what if’ in every situation. An example would be like this time around, this special deal, that special elderly man…
The wooden crutch hit the floor with a loud and dull sound.
Mr. Ji jolted as he immediately bent over and positioned his ears at the elderly man’s side.
“Let’s go.” That was the only thing the elderly man said.
When they both went past Lin Zhou without any signs of stopping, the obvious neglect was like a harsh slap on Lin Zhou’s face, making his face red with embarrassment.
Indeed, for a private deal like this order, the most important assessment was the client’s opinion. No matter the circumstances, the clients would usually give some explanation. The common reasons were ‘personal preference’, or etc. – that would be more accepting for the losing party.
But, never did Lin Zhou expect that this elderly man would react out of the norm.
When the elderly man passed by Yan Jin’s side, he raised his hand to gesture Mr. Ji to stop.
“You, well done.” The elderly man’s eyesight had deteriorated over the years, which led to him to be unable to see things that were at a slight distance away. The world was a blur in his eyes, yet he could see things that most people could not see – like the human heart, the future, and the talented young man who was suppressing his ambitious heart.
The elderly man slowly reached his right hand out, removed something, and placed it in Yan Jin’s palm.
“The Yan family can’t hold you back anymore.”
“Thank you very much, Mr. Louis.”
Yan Jin revealed a rare, satisfied smile as he earned the thing that he wanted the most from this competition.
Mr. Ji then pushed the elderly man out of the doors and left with the two bodyguards that were guarding them.
Left behind were the people who were dumbstruck by the situation, as they looked at each other in dismay.
“It ended just like that?”
“Where is the judging panel? Didn’t they mention that there was a judging panel? Points weren’t even given.”
“Why did YL… didn’t they say…”
“That drawing was indeed a great one – it’s probably YL’s greatest creation ever?”
“It was not that bad, but… isn’t this all too weird?”
SI’s team began to assess the situation as the discussion proceeded to drift from soft whispers to speaking aloud. Now that the clients had left, they could finally muster their courage to say whatever they wanted.
“Chairman Yan, it was a smart move to take drastic measures to deal with this situation.” SI’s design director said sarcastically, as he was unable to accept that everything had ended just like that. Seeing how Yan Jin had fooled all of them, he would not let him step out of that meeting room without an explanation.
In other words, Yan Jin was too young and inexperienced. If the one making an appearance today was the previous chairperson of YL, then SI’s design director would probably swallow his grievances into his stomach.
Yan Jin had long expected such a situation to happen. Plus, he was well-prepared for it.
“There were some issues with YL’s drawings in the process, which was why the submission was delayed until yesterday. A majority of YL’s efforts were spent on this drawing, which was why there was no name initialed on it – because its designers were a team of people. I shall let my representative tell everyone about the detailed designing process.”
A young man with a soft and immature face got up: “Greetings to all. I am YL’s David.”
The young lad confidently went up to the front and proceeded with the speech that he had prepared. Even though it was just yesterday that he had received that drawing and some random design thoughts, that did not affect his elaboration.
David acted like the idiom, ‘the bear’s cubs does not fear wolves’². He had graduated not too long ago and had just joined YL for a few months. Compared to the design aspects, his forte was more geared towards being a host for all kinds of gatherings and dinner parties. If YL had made him design anything, that would be mission impossible for him. But, if his task was to describe a last-minute drawing like it was his to begin with, and to flaunt his knowledge in front of a group of seniors, no one would be a better choice than him.
It did not matter if he did not know what his chairman was planning to do – that did not stop him from showing off and intimidating everyone in the room.
“As everyone can see, our product was not only a ring. Please don’t be alarmed, it did look like a ring, but if everyone took a closer look, that was the only common thing it had with a ring. But in fact, ……”
When the introduction ended, Yan Jin started the lead as he clapped his hands. YL’s team quickly caught on. Instantly, the loud clapping thundered within the meeting room like waves of mockery and sarcasm.
The frustration in SI’s team was close to exploding. When it came to the professional introduction, they had a hundred thousand questions in mind, but the young lad at the front did not even mention anything substantial. He instead went around the content that he had already explained. The moment the main topic was mentioned, David would push everything onto that main designer that did not appear, leaving everyone with no choice but to accept things as they were.
Yan Jin then got up and said, “I have a meeting to attend to that would require me to make a move. If there are any questions that SI has for this designer, my secretary and design team will be here to attend to your enquiries.”
“Wait.” Lin Zhou who kept quiet for that whole introduction, stopped Yan Jin who was preparing to leave: “That… team’s representative of yours had also mentioned that the main designer was not here today. Up till this point, we still have no idea on how we should address him.”
“My apologies, that designer does not wish to interact with too many people due to personal reasons.”
Yan Jin made his words sound ambiguous. Some of them thought that the designer must be a reclusive, gifted designer from overseas, which was why they were not willing to reveal themselves. There were also some people who would think that this was just an act to raise publicity for YL. And all these unclear guesses were exactly what Yan Jin was hoping to see.
Revealing some ambiguous information at appropriate times was a smarter approach than keeping silence throughout.
“As for the name……” Yan Jin thought for a while, then curled his lips and revealed a nasty smile that belonged exclusively to him:
“You may address him as Mr. Mystery.”
That was it.
Xiao Yu had watched the entire broadcast. The nervousness before the results were revealed, the agitation after the victory, the elated feelings after seeing Lin Zhou in towering rage, the touching moment when Yan Jin kept his promise… the final finale, everything had come to an end.
What was left, was the overwhelming annoyance.
He could have done better. Xiao Yu was referring to his previous life.
If he was not deceived by Lin Zhou’s words, if he was not young and frivolous, unable to be flexible around the rules… he could have done a lot better.
This was the greatest failure in his career life.
For a momentary gratification, he went against his professional ethics and submitted an incomplete work.
He did not let anyone down, he had only let down his own conscience.
Plus, he had let down that piece of weeping rose bed.
After that many years – probably forty or fifty years – it should have been a very difficult task to do research on the things that happened back then. But Xiao Yu had successfully found the crucial factor of the story. Aside from the mysterious affinity, there was also the memories that were preserved by that man who lead Xiao Yu to reveal the truth that happened back then.
The mind of that elderly man was already failing. But twenty years ago, he was still an energetic millionaire. He had arrived at that land that broke his heart once again and provided large amounts of financial help to the local government, who was bound by poverty at that time. And in the middle of that small town, he planted a large bed of roses.
From the view in the airplane, it looked like the rubies that were embed on the royal crown.
That was something that Xiao Yu finally realized in his previous life. After the deal was stolen by YL, Xiao Yu did not specifically pay attention to the design that had won. But, YL’s mystery designer’s work ended up spreading among SI Corporation. Everyone was puzzled by the mystery designer’s work except for him, who only realized it when he was all alone in the middle of the night –
Why it was a garland instead.
Why it was not a ring, but an expensive garland that was made with gems and diamond; that on every platinum coated vine, an ‘I love you’ engraved on it.
Time was the best medicine, but it was also the cruelest way of forgetting. It can make people forget their most depressing memories, and even take away all the happiness that came with it.
Twenty years ago, the man planted that rose bed. Twenty years later, the elderly man had forgotten everything –
The young man that indulged in gambling no longer had the support to keep his body and soul together. Thankfully, the young lady remained by his side. That was until the young lady’s parents were bedridden, then the young man realized that all his money was not even enough to buy a ferry ticket for the young lady to get back home. That was when he finally woke up from his illusions.
The young lady could only pawn off the ring on her hand, and was finally able to set on the journey to her hometown. The young man picked the most beautiful rose from the rose bed that was beside the gambling house. He weaved the flower into a garland with thistles and thorns as he passed it to the young lady’s hands.
Both his hands were battered with wounds just like his torn heart.
The young lady was still that beautiful young lass who overshadowed the gold stars and the bright sun. Even as they faced tough times together, she remained positive with hopes for their future.
“Wait till I’m back, we shall live a good life together…”
“I don’t blame you. I love you.”
“I, I love you too. I’ll, I’ll wait for you to be back and we will…”
“Nothing. Have a safe trip.”
The regretful young man was too embarrassed to reveal his words of love, and ended up watching the young lady as she walked towards the ferry boat. He smiled as he waved his hands, quietly anticipating in his heart –
When the garland scattered, the young lady would probably be able to see those roses again. With every vine and every thorn that was removed, it was engraved with –
His lifetime of regret and love.
 煮熟的鸭子飞了 – literally like what it meant – the duck that was already cooked thoroughly had flown away. In other words, the victory that was in their favor had suddenly disappeared.
 初生牛犊不怕虎 – literally like what it meant – the bear cubs do not fear wolves. In other words, people who are inexperienced were often the ones who were fearless.