The Long Chase for the President’s Spouse – Chapter 33: Finish this Bowl of Poisonous Chicken Soup
Quality Check: Tezuka
First Published on Chaleuria
Chapter 33: Finish this Bowl of Poisonous Chicken Soup
Zhang Heng tread in the night and arrived in front of the oden food cart at night. He pulled the curtain aside and sat in the small food cart. Upon seeing a customer arrive, the uncle selling oden stubbed out what little was left of his cigarette. He stood up and used a ladle to scoop and stir the hot soup in the pot.
“Young man, what do you want?” The uncle asked.
Zhang Heng used his hands to point at a few items and order a glass of wine.
While waiting, Zhang Heng looked at the image of a person on the lock screen on his phone. That person looked at the lens with an indifferent face and an expression that asked what any of this had to do with him. He sighed unconsciously.
That was why people said that one sided love was the most scary and painful.
The uncle served the cooked oden and placed it in front of Zhang Heng. He sat down and poured a glass of rice wine for himself too: “Young man, what happened? A handsome man like yourself could also get dumped by a woman?”
Street vendors grew up in an environment among common folks. It was inevitable that they would be uncouth when they spoke. However, these small street vendors often had an abundance of emotional experience. They might have been faithful to their own wives, but after doing business for a long time, they would occasionally hear their customers’ emotional experiences when those customers were drunk and unable to restrain themselves from spilling the beans.
Over the course of time, the uncle could become a specialized consultant for a late night emotional radio talk show.
Zhang Heng took a piece of beancurd, blew on it a couple of times, and ate it.
“It can’t be counted as falling out of love. We have yet to get together…”
The uncle was even more surprised. Even such a handsome man could still get rejected by a woman. It was really cruel! How inhumane!
The uncle folded his arms over his chest. He nodded his head as if he had a vague idea: “Is it because you did not show any affection… leading to the other’s disappointment?” The uncle placed his head nearer to Zhang Heng’s ear and used his hands to block, fearing that they would be eavesdropped.
Zhang Heng put down the chopsticks, drank a mouthful of wine, and asked: “What do you mean by affection?”
“For example, when you’re walking together, hold her hand from time to time. When she falls asleep while watching a movie, place her head on your shoulder. When she feels sick, instruct her to drink more hot water…”
The uncle was at a loss for words and said: “Old fashioned your head! My customers told me those are the effective ways to pick up girls!”
After Zhang Hang took another bite of oden, he said: “Uncle, are all your customers bald middle aged uncles? Just like yourself.”
“…” The uncle was reminded by Zhang Heng. Indeed, that really seemed to be the case…
Faced with the uncle’s speechlessness, Zhang Heng did not continue to speak. He continued to silently eat the oden.
Tokyo nights, especially late summer and early autumn nights, were slightly chilly. Zhang Heng was only wearing a thin bathrobe. Although there was the heat from the oden and the warmth of the wine, Zhang Heng still felt a slight chill through his back.
“Uncle, do you think that I should take more initiative? He is someone that is a bit aloof. He’s not someone who takes the initiative. However, I don’t want to be too aggressive. I am afraid I would scare him. A couple of times, I even thought of that…” Zhang Heng sighed again.
The uncle lit another cigarette. Cigarettes had always been good friends with street vendors who pushed their carts around the neon-lighted streets during those long and lonely nights,
“Well, women still want to present an image of being reserved. They hope that in front of the other party, they would appear to be a pure girl. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.”
“…” From the beginning, when the uncle mistakenly thought that the person he liked was a girl, he actually no longer had the right to speak.
But the uncle still continued to sell his oden chicken soup.
“Before this, if you were not taking the initiative, I guess that you were doing things that only a fallback guy would do in those television show right?”
Fuck… Uncle, you even know the meaning of fallback guy. China’s internet culture sure is profound and widespread.
The uncle continued to logically express his own views: “You must have helped other people and solved a lot of their problems to move them right? To let other people think that you are a warm person right? Let me tell you, women nowadays like the overbearing type!”
“…” I am a president, occasionally overbearing too. Could it be that I am following the storyline of a supporting male actor? At the same time, Zhang Heng recalled the matters after the reunion with Gu Zhun seven years later.
Solving the employment problem, clarifying innocence, helping his sister out of a predicament… That route was pretty similar to a supporting male actor storyline. Usually the main actor and actress would go to different places and play unrestrainedly before pledging their love and sealing it with a kiss at the end.
Moreover, other than confessing twice (the first was at the kabedon at the hotsprings, the second was just now in that unexpected silence), they had not even held hands or kissed…
Gu Zhun’s earlier sentence was “If you don’t like me and don’t want me, then you won’t treat me well?”
Zhang Heng could feel Gu Zhun’s insecurity from it.
Gu Zhun did not trust me? Did he think that my confession was just a joke?
Zhang Heng lowered his head. There were few meatballs still left in the bowl. Zhang Heng was not in the mood to continue eating.
Gu Zhun looked at the clock and found out that it was quite late, yet Zhang Heng had not returned. He was very worried and thought that something had happened to Zhang Heng.
Gu Zhun did not care about the cold nights of late summer nor early autumn. He casually put on the light blue shirt he wore during the day and rushed out.
Hopefully nothing bad happened to Zhang Heng… Otherwise he would be condemned for an eternity.
“Guest, where are you going?” The affable lady boss stood at the front desk concernedly asked Gu Zhun, who was rushing down the stairs.
Gu Zhun did not understand much Japanese. He could only barely understand that the lady boss was worried about him. As such, he could only gesture with his hands and explain using bits and pieces of Japanese words and dialogue that he learned from a book on daily Japanese.
“I, that is, want to look…my friend… He, go, where? You, know?”
The lady boss smiled, nodded her head, and said: “He wore a bathrobe and left. I reckoned he left to eat oden. The guests here like that particular oden shop.”
Gu Zhun briefly interrupted the lady boss on her endless recollection with a polite “arigato” and set out to look for Zhang Heng.
Gu Zhun walked onto the stone pavement and followed along the streets to look for Zhang Heng. The pale yellow light shone on Gu Zhun’s body and made it seem a little lonely and uneasy.
In his heart, Gu Zhun actually knew that Zhang Heng was a mature person that would not do stupid things. However, all this time Zhang Heng kept gravitating around Gu Zhun. It was as though the center of his life was not himself, but Gu Zhun.
What else could Gu Zhun say after meeting someone like that?
Zhang Heng, you are so good to me, yet I don’t dare to promise you anything…
When he ran, the motion caused the surrounding cold wind to rush and blow onto his body, but Gu Zhun still did not dare to slow down. He got more anxious and his heart was ablaze with anxiety.
Zhang Heng was still seated at the oden food cart, idly drinking. Initially they were talking about him and Gu Zhun, but now the oden uncle was smoking and grumbling about his own family affairs like a middle aged woman.
There was something about his daughter who attended college, found a boyfriend, and did not go home to visit him often. His son was still in junior high school. He only cared about soccer and refused to study. There was also something about his wife, who was a spendthrift and often went to China to buy cosmetics.
Zhang Heng only sat there quietly, drinking to drown his sorrows, and listened to the oden uncle talk and boast. At this time, there weren’t customers. The oden uncle could talk and boast with Zhang Heng until the early hours.
But Zhang Heng did not know that midnight was obviously about to approach, yet there was someone outside running around and looking for him.
“Just where on earth are you?” Gu Zhun ran to the vicinity of the mobile food cart. He looked around and still didn’t see Zhang Heng’s back. Finally, in the split second when he turned back, he saw a familiar looking back— It was Zhang Heng’s back, wearing a dark blue bathrobe.
“Zhang Heng.” Gu Zhun stood outside the oden food cart and behind the curtain. He did not push open the curtain and go in, so he and Zhang Heng were separated by a small curtain. The person inside could not look outside, and likewise the person outside could not look inside.
“Gu Zhun…?” Zhang Heng heard Gu Zhun’s voice and put down the glass, but he also didn’t lift the curtains to look at Gu Zhun. Rather, he was staring into blank space with empty eyes.
The oden uncle suddenly heard Zhang Heng utter a word and realized that perhaps this person was the sweetheart that Zhang Heng just talked about: “The girl that you like?”
Zhang Heng did not speak: “…” The uncle also tactfully kept his mouth shut, and quietly listened to what the person outside had to say.
“Zhang Heng, let’s go back.” Gu Zhun who did not usually have much facial expression, now sported a frown. He was biting his lips— as though he was trying to refrain from something— refrain from shedding tears.
“I rejected you because I was indeed afraid that you would do something to me. In all honesty, I am still not mentally prepared… I don’t know if we are compatible with each other.”
“You treated me so well, until I became unable to reject… But I don’t dare to vouch for our future. After all… the deeper you love me, eventually a day would come that you would hate me as deeply.”
“You told me that you like me. I know that you really like me. But— are we really compatible?”
When it came down to it, Gu Zhun was only filled with doubts on whether he would be able to stay with Zhang Heng in the long run. He did not want Zhang Heng nor himself to get hurt. In order to avoid hurting each other, he should have cut it off from the very beginning, and not had any dealings with the other except for being friends.
Gu Zhun lowered his head and did not continue to speak.
Zhang Heng pinched the glass rim, turned it with his thumb and index finger, and said: “Then, are you willing to give me, and to give yourself, a chance to try it?
Zhang Heng did not wait for Gu Zhun to clarify. He stood up and leaned down. He pushed aside the curtain and grasped Gu Zhun’s shoulder with one hand. The other hand propped up the curtain. Caught off guard, a light kiss was brushed on Gu Zhun’s lips.
After about two seconds, Zhang Heng released Gu Zhun. Gu Zhun’s lips felt hot, as though it was being burnt. Even his heart was pounding. He was already too fully occupied to bother if any passerby saw this scene.
Zhang Heng placed the money for the oden down and said: “Uncle, thank you for taking me in tonight. I accepted your chicken soup.”
“Oh! You’re welcome!” The uncle collected the money and gave a thumbs up to encourage Zhang Heng to continue moving forward. It was only thereafter that he realized, “What does chicken soup stand for?”
Zhang Heng and Gu Zhun slowly walked to the main street. Because the pressure in their minds had been unloaded, their bodies relaxed. The cold and rustling wind from the surroundings ate at them.
Zhang Heng’s resistance to the cold was quite strong because he often swam during winter. However, along the way, Gu Zhun had been sneezing repeatedly. Zhang Heng stretched out his arm, and hugged Gu Zhun into the crook of his arm.
“Are you willing to give us a try?”
“Yes…” Gu Zhun lowered his head and softly replied. There was an inkling of his shy expression from his crimson earlobes.
Zhang Heng’s heart inexplicably burst with joy.