Don’t Be a Kept Man
with only his skinny chin exposed, making it hard to tell his expression.
He untied the money bag by his waist and without turning back his head, he tossed it to Zhong Bo,
“I’m heading out to the city to lay low and I won’t be back for a while.”
He then quickly left, heading towards the north streets, the shadows of his body quickly disappeared into the night.
Xiao Feng Wu had seen the prognosis of the Empress and he had a general idea of the issue.
He quietly counted to the day when the Empress was going to give birth, as if to figure out his death date.
They’ve said the doors to the officials were open to the south in the shape of an “八”, an 8, and if you don’t have money, only reason, don’t even bother stepping a foot in1.
The district magistrate was no exception.
The prison was normally very empty but when it was full, pick any one out of them and it was very likely that it was an innocent man.
Quite a few people have been caught these past few days, making it quite noisy every so often which caused Xiao Feng Wu to always take a look, unable to help himself.
But since that day, Qin Ming Yue had never set foot back in.
He didn’t know if he should be happy or if he should be disappointed.
Xiao Feng Wu picked up one of the numerous tiny rocks on the floor.
Drawing a symbol on the wall, he realized that they had already been in jail for four days.
After some contemplation he figured that the Empress should be giving birth either tonight or tomorrow and not one second later.
“Ey ey ey, time for a meal.
Time for a meal.”
The guards came in with a wooden barrel full of congee.
Each person got one bowl with two mantous and nothing more.
When it came to Xiao Feng Wu, he was given an extra bag full of chicken, shimmering with a layer of oil on top, the scent of meat travelling far.
Xiao Feng Ming grabbed onto the jail bars, salivating,
“Pass a chicken leg to your seventh Brother.”
Xiao Feng Wu thought, no fucking way I’ll even give you the chicken butt, but then the thought that humans that were alive naturally had to be dumb, just like Seventh Brother who did not care for a single sad thing in the world came to his mind.
The moment he himself had the thought that he could be dying tomorrow made him lose his appetite.
He tossed the bag of chicken over between the bars,
“I’m not hungry.
Eat it yourself.”
Jiang Ping An was not on duty today.
Xiao Feng Wu looked through the bars a few times, but he still couldn’t spot him and he could only rest his anxious heart for any news.
He was normally very calm but now he was evidently so apprehensive that even Xiao Feng Ming could see it.
He swallowed down the chicken in his mouth and hesitantly asked,
“Sixteen, do you……do you know something? Are we all going to die?”
Xiao Feng Wu walked back and forth inside his cell, his eyes too lazy to even lift up,
“You don’t die now, you’ll still die one day or another.
What’s the difference between now and then? After all, you will just spend all your days in a casino, so you can at least save yourself from handing money off to others on a silver platter.”
Xiao Feng Ming grabbed the bars, hitting his head and regretfully shutting his eyes, unwilling to keep conversing with him.
And they all held on until the night when they suddenly heard a racket outside coming from afar.
Xiao Liu-Ge couldn’t sleep and he stood up to try and see what was going on.
Yawning, he said,
“So late at night.
Who has been caught now? Can’t they stop for one day.”
Xiao Feng Ming couldn’t sleep either and he agreed lazily,
“Perhaps it was a serial rapist2, and he got caught just as he was sneaking into the girl’s room.”
The newcomer was likely some troublemaker, someone who wasn’t easily taken down, as there was quite a racket going on outside as if there was a fight.
Quite a few guards had rushed over before finally getting the person under control.
“Fuck your grandmother! Who do you think you are to grab onto me! Let me go! Let me go!”
Two guards were on either side of a young man, detaining him, and Xiao Feng Ming was just about to see who this crazy man was, who could be so rash and aggressive even after entering the jail.
Yet ignorance was bliss as the moment he looked, fear struck his heart.
Was that person not just Eight Brother, the one who joined a merchant’s caravan to Xi Yi?
Xiao Feng Ming kicked at the jail door, angrily yelling,
“Unlucky bastard! Did you not go to Xi Yi? Why are you caught back here?!”
Xiao Liu-Ge helplessly shook his head and shrugged,
“This sure is good, we’re all together now.”
Xiao Feng Chuan was originally struggling but the moment he saw his brothers, he subconsciously stopped fighting.
Seeing that Xiao Feng Wu was the only one in his jail cell, the guards quickly opened the door and pushed Xiao Feng Chuan in.
But then he thought that he wouldn’t be living here for more than a few days at most, and he relaxed.
He reached out to pull Xiao Feng Chuan up from the floor and asked perfunctorily,
“Didn’t you go to Xi Yi to do business? Why are you back?”
Xiao Feng Chuan was a simple minded man, having chosen to bulk up most of his body instead.
Hearing that he blankly responded,
“I did, but then I came back after I was done.”
Xiao Liu-Ge couldn’t keep his inner thoughts from coming out,
“What a dumbass!”
Although Xiao Feng Chuan was a bit rash, he had never fought with his elder brothers, caring a lot about seniority.
So he wasn’t mad at the other’s cursing and swung a fist that was bigger than a bowl up in the air,
“Scared of whose balls on his grandmother! One fist to the wall and there’ll be a hole.
We can escape, head up to the mountains and declare ourselves kings! With so many of us here, can we not win in a fight with some guards!”
The guards had not gone far and immediately at his words came back around to forcefully add another pair of handcuffs on Xiao Feng Chuan, tightly cuffing his legs and hands.
Xiao Feng Wu had no words and as he lay on the bed lazily, he said,
“Don’t think so mindlessly.
Go to sleep early or you’ll suffer even more under torture.”
Xiao Feng Chuan tugged a few times before finding that he could not move his iron cuffs.
He looked left and right, finding that there was only one bed and he dumbly asked,
“Where am I going to sleep?”
Without even lifting his eyes, Xiao Feng Wu said,
*1 This is an adage passed down that basically states to report a crime or whatever, the doors to enter the official’s court would be facing the south (and it’s referenced to have like this shape “八”, which is an “8” in Chinese characters – where the official’s court is basically the “office” of the reigning official and back then basically whoever was the mayor, or in this case the district magistrate, would also be in charge of the crimes and the “law”.
The second part of the adage is to reference that it was super corrupt in the eyes of the commoners as if you don’t have money to bribe the officials, then don’t think you get any fair trials or treatment and so don’t even bother to go in.
*2 serial rapist: technically “flower thief” which basically means someone who takes a girl’s virginity which of course in ancient history has always been very “special”.
There’s actually quite a few horror stories/oral tales passed down where some families, when the girl gets married into their family, on their first night, they check for blood, making sure the girl had her hymen broken as the sign of losing it.
So you may have seen novels or dramas where they check for blood on the sheets, etc and to do so, in some cases, the family actually watches the couple have sex and verify that the girl is really a “virgin” but of course as modern science tells us that’s not true but anyway I digress, I believe this term came about from a novel but it also apparently can mean serial rapist and there are “reverse” flower thieves for girls who take a man’s virginity or rape him.
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