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Even Cui Dingchen couldn’t help but raise his eyebrow at Xu Fan.
All Xu Fan thought and saw was the big car. He didn’t have time to look or consider Cui Dingchen and others. His gleaming eyes continued to stare at the black car.
Xu Zhao looked at Cui Dingchen apologetically and said, “Youngest uncle, my apologies. The child doesn’t understand anything and called you randomly. Please don’t take it to heart.”
Cui Dingchen nodded and said, “It’s fine.”
“Youngest uncle, the road has been cleared. You should head off first,” Xu Zhao said very politely.
“Okay, bye,” Cui Dingchen said without a trace of emotion on his face.
“Bye, youngest uncle. Drive safe.”
Cui Dingchen started the car and slowly drove away.
Xu Fan, who was curiously looking at the black car, immediately pointed his small finger as soon as he saw the black car leave. “Daddy, the big car ran away again. I haven’t even gotten to ride it yet but it ran away.”
Xu Zhao didn’t answer Xu Fan and said instead, “Xu Fan, the next time you see that person, you can’t call him big brother.”
“Why not?” Xu Fan asked.
“Because he isn’t a big brother.”
“Then what is he?”
“What is he?”
Cui Dingchen was so young, so he couldn’t actually call him grandpa. Wouldn’t that be a bit too much?
However, you couldn’t get your generations mixed up just because you were young. It would be bad if Father Cui or Cui Qingfeng heard this. It was understandable if it was only once or twice, but if he kept calling the wrong title, then he would be really insensible. However, how should he be called? Xu Zhao hadn’t thought it through yet when a group of people walked up from behind. Xu Zhao had no choice but to quickly take Xu Fan back to the small shop on the intersection. He then told Cui Qingfeng about the matter of selling cigarettes.
Cui Qingfeng was used to Xu Zhao selling this and that and didn’t care. Instead, he told Xu Zhao that Father Cui was going to have surgery.
“Uncle is going to have surgery?” Xu Zhao asked.
Cui Qingfeng nodded.
“When?” Xu Zhao asked again.
“Probably in three days,” Cui Qingfeng said with a grave expression. “He will be observed in Linshi Hospital for a few days and undergo the surgery if everything is fine.”
Upon hearing this, Xu Zhao asked, “Then, is this surgery very risky?”
Cui Qingfeng nodded. “There definitely are risks. Although the doctor said they were minuscule, they can’t be completely eliminated. That’s why the whole family is pretty worried.”
Xu Zhao patted Cui Qingfeng’s shoulder. “Then you should take care of your dad more over the next few days. Don’t worry too much, and don’t worry about the shop or selling popsicles.”
Cui Qingfeng relaxed his heart, a bit worried about Xu Zhao and asked, “Can you do it alone? Should I help you find a helper?”
“No need. It’s only this much, I can handle it alone,” Xu Zhao said.
Cui Qingfeng felt that it was a bit improper. “Can a single person make, deliver, and sell popsicles all by himself? Forget it, I’ll find someone to help you.”
Xu Zhao quickly refuted and said, “There’s really no need. The busy farming season is about to end so I don’t need to go to sell in the countryside.”
After arguing for a bit, Cui Qingfeng finally relented and said, “Fine, but you shouldn’t sell too many things. You might not be able to sell it all and you’ll exhaust yourself.”
“I got it, I got it,” Xu Zhao said.
Cui Qingfeng thought about it and said, “Then I’ll start going with my youngest uncle tomorrow. I’ll come help you if I have time. I’ll leave the keys to the courtyard and popsicle room to you.”
“Sure, go ahead. Don’t worry about this side.”
The next morning, Xu Zhao brought Xu Fan over. Cui Dingchen was currently carrying Father Cui to the car as Mother Cui and Cui Qingfeng watched from the side. Afterwards, the whole family sat inside the car and drove to Linshi Hospital.
Xu Zhao started to become busy. He would bring Xu Fan with him everyday as he made, delivered, and sold popsicles. He also started selling noodles and cigarettes, going back and forth from South Bay Village and the county town every single day. Under these conditions, a normal person definitely would have gotten very tan.
However, Xu Zhao and Xu Fan wore the straw hat that Mother Xu weaved as well as sleeves to protect themselves, and they unexpectedly didn’t tan too much. The father and son were still very pale and very good looking, making those who looked at them can’t help but be in a good mood. Relying on these natural characteristics, they were able to attract a lot of returning customers. And adding on the fact that the father and son were intelligent and friendly, the small shop did pretty well.
Especially Xu Fan’s small mouth which was very sweet. It was all learned from visiting with Mother Xu as well as walking the streets with Xu Zhao. Moreover, he picked things up very quickly. Although he sometimes learned inappropriate things, since he was handsome and young, he was still very well liked.
Xu Zhao took advantage of the popsicles’ popularity and gradually built a reputation for his own small shop on the intersection. Many people in the county town knew that there was a shop on the intersection that sold popsicles that also sold newspapers, noodles, and cigarettes.
For this reason, Xu Zhao especially picked a name for the shop on the intersection. He used a brush and wrote three characters on a large piece of paper—Fan’s Little Shop. He also wrote them on three sheets of cardboard and hung them on all the walls, letting any guests who came to clearly see it.
Xu Fan clapped his hands and excitedly said, “Wow! Daddy, you wrote it so well!”
“Does it look good?” Xu Zhao asked.
“It looks so good,” Xu Fan said.
Xu Zhao patted Xu Fan’s chubby cheeks and said, “What a good son.”
Afterwards, he continued to sell things. Since Cui Qingfeng wasn’t here, Xu Zhao was more earnest about keeping accounts. The money that was earned wasn’t selfishly divided into two parts. Instead, once Cui Qingfeng returned, both parties would equally get a share.
However, not just Cui Qingfeng, not a single member of the Cui family had returned. After one day, two days, three days, four days… all the way until half a month and they still hadn’t returned. Xu Zhao only had eight cents left in his hands, and he still didn’t dare touch the “public funds.” However, it’s been many days since Xu Fan last had meat.
After finishing the rooster that was supposed to last over the winter, they hadn’t eaten meat in a few days.
Xu Zhao was very distressed.
Just as he was anxiously waiting for Cui Qingfeng, Cui Qingfeng’s family finally came back on the 23rd day.
When Cui Dingchen’s car passed by Fan’s Little Shop, Cui Qingfeng called out with a face full of smiles, “Xu Zhao! Sanwa!”
Xu Zhao saw how happy Cui Qingfeng was and understood that Father Cui definitely got better. He also happily replied.
On the other hand, Xu Fan didn’t pay attention to Cui Qingfeng. His entire focus was on the black compact car. He was truly obsessed with cars. No, to be precise, he was obsessed with all vehicles. Be it ox carts or bicycles, as long as it was a vehicle, and he wasn’t able to run anymore, he would want to sit on it.
“Daddy! The big car came back!” Xu Fan happily pointed at Cui Dingchen’s car and said.
“Mn, it’s back. We’ll go look at it later,” Xu Zhao said.
“Let’s go now.”
After Xu Zhao locked the doors to Fan’s Little Shop, Xu Zhao brought along the account book as well as two bags of brown sugar as a gift to pay a visit to Father Cui. He pulled Xu Fan’s small hand and headed towards the Cui residence. Before even entering the Cui residence’s courtyard, they saw Cui Dingchen’s black car parked outside the Cui residence.
“Daddy! Daddy! It’s a big car!”
Xu Fan excitedly ran in front of the car, quickly running as he circled the car, his hands rubbing over it. He then laid his whole small body on top of the front of the car, peeking through the inside of the car from the windshield. His small finger pointed inside as he said, “Daddy, look! There’s a stool inside!”
“It’s called a chair,” Xu Zhao said.
“A stool is also a chair,” Xu Fan said.
“Fine, you’re right.”
After a while, Xu Fan was reluctant to part from the car and said again, “Daddy, I want to sit inside. I want to sit. I also want to sit inside the big car.”
“Then you should find Cui Qingfeng’s youngest uncle and ask if he’ll let you sit inside it,” Xu Zhao said.
“Where is he?” Xu Fan asked.
Xu Zhao pointed to the Cui residence’s courtyard and said, “He’s inside. However, don’t disturb him right now.”
“Why not?” Xu Fan was puzzled and asked.
“Because your Grandpa Cui is sick. Everyone is busy taking care of him and doesn’t have time. Ask him when he’s free, okay?”
“When will he be free?”
“It’s when he isn’t with Grandpa Cui. Once he comes out of the main hall, he’ll be free.”
Xu Fan nodded and said, “Okay. Once he’s free, I’ll sit inside his big, big, big car.”
It was only then that Xu Zhao pulled Xu Fan to Father Cui’s room to visit Father Cui.
Although Father Cui looked haggard, he was very spirited. Moreover, he was able to sit up in bed. Xu Zhao handed the two bags of brown sugar to Mother Cui, asking her about Father Cui’s situation.
The people of the Cui family originally planned on staying at the hospital for three days before having the surgery. In the end, Father Cui’s body indicated that he wasn’t qualified so he had to stay an extra two days. After the surgery, since he was getting up there in age, his recovery was a bit slower. Everyone was afraid Father Cui would have an unexpected accident, so all three people of the Cui family stayed by his side. After a period of time, Father Cui’s body got better. However, if Cui Dingchen didn’t drive the car, Cui Qingfeng and Mother Cui would have to take the train by themselves and taking the train would take about four to five hours. Therefore, they decided to wait until Father Cui could be discharged before coming back together.
“So he’ll nurture his body at home?” Xu Zhao asked.
“Yes. Once he recovers, he’ll be able to walk again.” Mother Cui said with a smile.
“That’s great,” Xu Zhao finally let out a smile and said.
Mother Cui sighed a breath of relief, her face full of smiles as she said, “I can finally rest assured.”
Xu Zhao nodded. In the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of Xu Fan on the side. Ever since entering the room, Xu Fan had been staring at Cui Dingchen. When Cui Dingchen left to get a stool, he also followed him out. When Cui Dingchen came back, he also came back. His eyes were focused on Cui Dingchen the whole time.
This was all for the sake of sitting inside the “big car.”
Xu Zhao didn’t stop Xu Fan from looking at Cui Dingchen. Seeing that Father Cui needed rest, Xu Zhao opened his mouth and said to Cui Qingfeng, “Qingfeng, come here. I need to discuss something with you.”
“Okay,” Cui Qingfeng responded.
Everyone came out and Xu Fan also followed them out.
Cui Qingfeng finally got a good look at Xu Fan who was shuffling back and forth by everyone’s legs. He was shocked and said, “Oh, my. Xu San, how did you get even fatter!”
Xu Zhao: “…”
“I didn’t. I didn’t get fatter. Daddy said I hadn’t eaten meat in days,” Xu Fan said seriously.
“But you did get fat,” Cui Qingfeng said.
“I didn’t get fat,” Xu Fan insisted.
“You really got fatter.” Cui Qingfeng chased Xu Fan around the courtyard and squatted by his side, pulling the fat on Xu Fan. He pinched Xu Fan’s small cheeks, small arms, short legs, everywhere was covered with fat. He remembered that the first time he saw Xu Fan, Xu Fan was very petite. “For real. Xu Sanwa, you plumped up a lot. Look at all this fat,” Cui Qingfeng said again.
However, Xu Fan persisted in saying that he hadn’t gotten fatter. Moreover, his entire focus was on checking to see if Cui Dingchen was free or not. If he was free, he (XF) wanted to sit in Cui Dingchen’s “big car.” Therefore, he struggled to free himself from Cui Qingfeng’s hands and ran over to Cui Dingchen. Seeing Cui Dingchen squatting by the well wiping Father Cui’s shoes, he rushed over and called out, “Second Grandpa Cui.”
Second Grandpa Cui?
Second Grandpa Cui!
The courtyard suddenly fell silent.
Cui Dingchen, who was always expressionless, couldn’t stop the slightly downward twitch of his lips as he looked at Xu Fan.
Cui Qingfeng also looked at Xu Fan.
Xu Zhao also looked at Xu Fan. He had told Xu Fan over 20 days ago to call him Second Grandpa Cui. It had been so long—so how had Xu Fan remembered?
Xu Fan was totally unaware that he was wrong. He thought that since Second Grandpa Cui was squatting, it wouldn’t be good for him to continue standing. Therefore, he took two steps in front of Cui Dingchen and also squatted. As soon as he squatted down, he heard the sound of his pants ripping.
Xu Zhao, Cui Dingchen, and Cui Qingfeng all simultaneously looked at Xu Fan’s little pants as the sound of it ripping. Xu Fan’s little pants had ripped. Following afterwards, a swooshing sound came without stopping.
The pants had ripped…
Xu Zhao: “…”
Cui Dingchen: “…”
Cui Qingfeng: “…”