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Xu Zhao thought that if Cui Qingfeng didn’t answer the phone, it would at least be Mother or Father Cui. He really didn’t expect the busy Cui Dingchen to answer, so he immediately answered, “Youngest uncle, it’s me. Can I ask if Qingfeng is there? Can you please hand the phone to him?”
“No, he’s at the shop,” Cui Dingchen replied concisely.
That was true. Cui Dingchen should be at the shop at a time like this. Xu Zhao thought to himself that he should have called a bit later. However, since he already called, then he’d explain the situation. And so, Xu Zhao asked Cui Dingchen to pass a message and have Cui Qingfeng head to South Bay Village to notify his parents that he and Xu Fan weren’t able to catch the last bus home, so they’d stay in the city for the night.
After explaining, Xu Zhao said, “Youngest uncle, I’ll have to trouble you to tell Qingfeng for me.”
Cui Dingchen didn’t beat around the bush and said, “Where are you? I’ll go pick you two up.”
Xu Zhao was taken aback and quickly refused.
“It’s on the way,” Cui Dingchen said from the other side.
“Is it really on the way?” Xu Zhao asked.
Xu Zhao didn’t speak, and he actually felt very grateful to Cui Dingchen in his heart. Because “it was on the way” and because of Cui Qingfeng, Cui Dingchen had driven him around a few times already. He then heard Cui Dingchen’s next words. “I needed to head to the city and pick up a tape recorder. I’ll pick you two up on the way.”
Xu Zhao was still very grateful, and didn’t refuse Cui Dingchen and said, “Then I’ll be troubling you, Youngest uncle. I’ll treat you to a meal later.”
“Mn, then it’s decided.”
Without waiting for Xu Zhao to say thank you, the dial tone came from the phone. Cui Dingchen had hung up. Xu Zhao hung up the phone as well. He felt the soft little thing pulling on his leg, so he lowered his gaze and saw that it was Xu Fan.
“Daddy, I want to speak on the phone too,” Xu Fan said.
“…I already hung up,” Xu Zhao said.
“What does hung up mean?” Xu Fan asked with a blank expression.
Xu Zhao realized that although he brought Xu Fan everywhere, he didn’t let Xu Fan learn and experience new things. Therefore, he spent another ten cents and called Cui Qingfeng’s home phone again. He placed the phone beside Xu Fan’s face, but no one answered. Xu Zhao very regrettably pulled Xu Fan to leave the small shop. He stopped the bicycle by the side of the road, and the father and son sat on the curb to wait for Cui Dingchen.
“Daddy!” Xu Fan suddenly called out.
“What is it?” Xu Zhao looked at Xu Fan’s small meaty face and asked.
“I can’t talk on the phone.”
“Why can’t you talk on the phone?”
“The phone k-kept beep… beep… beep… I-I couldn’t understand it,” Xu Fan said seriously.
This question was really beyond his scope of knowledge. Xu Zhao couldn’t answer Xu Fan’s doubt at all. Thankfully, Xu Fan’s attention was quickly pulled away by buns. His eyes stared straight at the steaming buns coming from the bun shop from across the street. His small mouth slightly opened, and he involuntarily took in a deep breath. He turned his head to Xu Zhao and said, “Daddy, the buns smell so good.”
Can you smell the buns from this far away? How amazing!
“Daddy,” Xu Fan called out again.
“Hmm?” Xu Zhao replied.
“The buns smell so good,” Xu Fan repeated.
“And?” Xu Zhao asked back, unable to restrain his smile.
“I want to eat.”
“…” It really was about eating!
He should have just said directly that he wanted to eat instead of speaking in such a roundabout way. There were times when Xu Zhao really couldn’t understand the way kids did things, and he sometimes felt very ignorant. However, after understanding them, he realized that a child’s world was really spotless, leaving others feeling very comfortable. Xu Zhao had no way of refusing Xu Fan, so he pulled out ten cents from his pockets and handed it to Xu Fan and said, “Can you go buy it by yourself?”
“But I don’t know how to buy it,” Xu Fan said.
“You do. Our family buys and sells stuff. Think about how others sell things. Take this and go to the bun shop and say ‘Uncle, I want to buy two buns—’”
“Daddy, not buns. I want to eat meat buns,” Xu Fan rebuked.
the corners of Xu Zhao’s mouths lifted a bit, and he said, “Okay. Then tell the boss, ‘Uncle, I want to buy two meat buns.’ You’ll give the money to uncle and that uncle will give you the buns. Go on. Daddy will watch you buy them from here.”
“Okay,” Xu Fan replied.
“Go on. Take your time.”
Xu Fan took the ten cents and happily ran to the buns shop. He was a bit excited and a bit scared about buying something for the first time. He watched an adult say they wanted to buy buns, so he followed along and also said that he wanted to buy buns. However, his voice was too low and he was too short, so the boss of the buns shop didn’t see him at all. He (XF) turned around to look at Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao used his hands to give him a cheering gesture.
And so, Xu Fan shouted a few times, but no one paid attention to him. He anxiously ran around the buns shop and ran right in front of the boss of the buns shop. He used a small hand to grab onto the boss’ pants and used force to pull twice. He used his other hand to hold the ten cents as he waves his small hand up high. “Uncle, I have money. I want to buy two meat buns for my Daddy and for myshof1Xu Fan mispronounced myself. to eat,” he said in a milky voice.
The boss of the buns shop lowered his head and saw a small and chubby child. He was very adorable. “Oh, little baby. You want to buy buns?” he happily said.
“Not buns, meat buns,” Xu Fan corrected.
“Oh, meat buns,” the boss of the buns shop said. “How many do you want?”
“Xu Fan fluently replied, “Two. One for my Daddy and one for myshof.”
The boss of the buns shop kindly said, “Sure. Uncle will get it for you.”
“Thank you, Uncle.”
“Oh my. No need for thanks.”
The boss of the buns shop was greatly amused by Xu Fan and laughed. He specially grabbed two large buns and wrapped them in wax paper, and had Xu Fan hold them in his shirt.
He cautiously arrived back at Xu Fan’s side. Xu Zhao showered Xu Fan with compliments.
Xu Fan’s happy little face reddened, looking especially pretty. His small meaty hand squeezed the bun as he sat in front of Xu Zhao and happily started eating.
While eating, a black compact car suddenly stopped beside Xu Zhao and Xu Fan. It brought along a cloud of dust that choked Xu Zhao and Xu Fan.
“Are you alright?” Cui Dingchen asked as he stepped out of the car.
“We’re fine,” Xu Zhao quickly said. After speaking, he coughed a few more times before asking, “Youngest uncle, how did you get here so quickly?”
“Was it quick?” Cui Dingchen asked.
“It was pretty quick.” It felt like only a few minutes had passed since he hung up the phone.
“Then it was probably pretty fast.”
“…” He was really a smooth talker, and completely didn’t let others talk back.
Xu Zhao pulled Xu Fan to stand, and just as he was about to invite Cui Dingchen for a meal, he looked down and saw that he and his son had eaten first. He was a bit embarrassed, and directly used Xu Fan as the scapegoat and said, “Xu Fan was hungry so we bought a bun to pad our stomachs. Youngest uncle, do you want some?”
“No, let’s go eat something else.”
“Eat what?” Xu Zhao asked.
Cui Dingchen raised his brow at Xu Zhao and said, “Didn’t you say you were going to treat me to a meal? Doesn’t that mean I get to pick?”
“Let’s go. Tie the bike to the trunk.”
Without waiting for Xu Zhao to make a move, Cui Dingchen grabbed a brand new bundle of rope from inside the car. It looked like it had been specially prepared. After tying the bicycle to the trunk, he drove Xu Zhao and Xu Fan to a restaurant named “Red Sun” that was inside the city. The restaurant was huge, and although it looked like there weren’t a lot of decorations, it was already quite stylish for the eighties.
However, to Xu Zhao who had come from the 21st century, it was still very simple and crude. However, it was very much in line with the tastes of this century, and Xu Zhao liked it very much.
When the three people entered the restaurant, it was already dark, so the light bulbs in the restaurant were already lit. Xu Fan was immediately attracted to them. Xu Fan sat in Xu Zhao’s embrace. He lifted his small face and pointed to the light on the ceiling and said, “Daddy, look! How did they put the kerosene lamp up there?”
Xu Zhao was a bit helpless and explained, “Sanwa, that isn’t a kerosene lamp.”
“What is it then?” Xu Fan raised his small head, his face full of confusion.
“It’s a light bulb,” Xu Zhao patiently explained.
“What’s a light bulb?” It seemed like Xu Fan had a thousand questions.
Xu Zhao thought for a moment, then replied, “A light bulb is a light that turns on using electricity.”
“A kerosene lamp is a light that turns on using kerosene,” Xu Fan continued.
Hearing this, Cui Dingchen couldn’t help but look at Xu Fan, secretly thinking that this child was very smart. He knew logic and understood examples. He was very amazing.
Cui Dingchen’s gaze didn’t stray on Xu Fan, and he led Xu Zhao and Xu Fan to a table. He ordered a roast lamb chop, white porridge, and a boiled egg before sitting down at the table to wait.
Cui Dingchen asked the waiter for a pot of water, and after pouring a cup for Xu Zhao and Xu Fan, he asked Xu Fan, “I heard you signed a contract for mooncakes at the steel and cigarette factory?”
Xu Zhao nodded and said, “Mn, I just signed it today.”
“It’s 9,000 mooncakes, right?” Cui Dingchen had heard from Cui Qingfeng.
“Yes,” Xu Zhao nodded and said.
“Only 9,000?” Cui Dingchen asked.
“Not just that. There’s still other shops,” Xu Zhao said.
“Shops? What shops?”
“The shops in the city. There are 17 shops for now.”
17 shops in the city—and just for now—
Cui Dingchen couldn’t help but lift his gaze to Xu Zhao. He entered society a long time ago and encountered many people and situations. He thought that he was a good judge of character, but he was a bit unable to see through Xu Zhao. He clearly looked like a refined and polite man, and he was very low-key. However, his actions were very bold and outstanding. His every action shocked others.
A young man, who only did small businesses in the county town, not only managed to obtain contracts with the steel and cigarette factories, these two national enterprises, but also obtained business from 17 other shops. Just how capable was he? Moreover, he also seemed to be a year younger than Cui Qingfeng.
Cui Dingchen pondered while drinking water.
At this moment, the boss carried the lamb chop over. Since it was cooked in the back, it was piping hot when brought over. The tender meat juice flowed and the crackling of the oil could be heard. It brought along a mouth-watering fragrance as well.
Xu Zhao instantly became hungry.
Xu Fan had already swallowed his spit a few times.
“Boss, are the white porridge and the egg ready?” Cui Dingchen asked.
“They’re ready. I’ll bring them out now.”
“Thank you. Please bring out a small spoon too.”
When the boss brought the porridge and egg over, Cui Dingchen lifted his hand to accept it, then placed it in front of Xu Fan. Xu Fan looked at the white porridge and egg, his watery eyes looked at Cui Dingchen, unclear of the meaning.
“Eat,” Cui Dingchen said, not planning on giving Xu Fan any meat.
Xu Fan immediately understood, and his small mouth involuntarily flattened.