Chapter 4: Chi Mingyao

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April 15, 2023Merchie

The next morning, Li Yangxiao left with a suitcase in hand–before the new year, he had accepted an offer for an online short film, and shooting was about to start.
It had been a long time since Li Yangxiao had acted in a decent movie.
When he was out of a job, he relied on acting in short films and cover modeling to make money–for an actor, this was just too low of an income.

Just as Li Yangxiao stepped out of the apartment, he happened to glimpse a BMW parked at the side of the road.
Xu Yan pushed the car door open and walked toward him.

Li Yangxiao pretended not to have noticed him, and made a beeline for the side of the road to call a taxi.

“Hey, Yangxiao, are you going back to Beijing?” Xu Yan followed him, still acting as though they were a pair of old friends, “This early?”

Li Yangxiao said nothing.
He took out his phone to call a taxi.

Xu Yan reached out and covered the screen with his hand: “You’re going to the airport? Let me take you.”

Li Yangxiao said rudely: “The train station.”

“Oh… same thing, same thing,” Xu Yan grabbed Li Yangxiao’s arm and dragged him toward the BMW, “I drove here, so I’ll give you a ride.”

Li Yangxiao was dragged for a few steps, before he yanked his arm away, shaking Xu Yan’s hand off.
He took a step back, and looked straight at Xu Yan as he said: “We don’t know each other, do we?”

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“Ai, Yangxiao, yesterday, I was the one who spoke out of turn.
I drank too much, please don’t take it personally.”
It was rare for Xu Yan to look embarrassed, “See, I got up early this morning just to apologize to you.” After he finished speaking, he bowed deeply to Li Yangxiao, “Li Yangxiao, I’m sorry.” Then, he continued to maintain this bowing posture, and did not straighten up.

Li Yangxiao was in a hurry to catch the train and was not in the mood to listen to him ramble, so he waved his hand and said: “Forget it, I accept your apology.
But Xu Yan, I really have to go, I don’t have time to joke around with you.”

“I know, I know,” Xu Yan finally straightened up and walked over, taking Li Yangxiao’s suitcase, “I said I’d give you a ride, no joking around.”

Li Yangxiao could not dissuade Xu Yan and was dragged into the car.
In the car, Xu Yan’s expression was quite sincere: “It’s okay, Yangxiao.
Being an actor is all about luck.
Once you get lucky, I’m sure you’ll make it big.
Don’t worry.
You’ve bumped into me, which means that luck is already on your side.”

Li Yangxiao turned his head to the window, and replied carelessly: “Is that so? Then I hope you don’t mind blessing me.”

“I don’t work in Beijing, but I have some friends there.
Let me find some people and have them introduce you to their contacts in the industry.” Xu Yan kept looking over at Li Yangxiao as he drove, “Once your movie hits cinemas, all of the cinemas in W City will only show your film.
The screening rate will be 100%, which will guarantee high box office sales and make the movie stand out.”

Li Yangxiao could not help but giggle.
Xu Yan was still the same idiot from high school, and he still had that thuggish temperament, which he knew all too well.

Xu Yan saw that Li Yangxiao’s face had finally relaxed.
Only then did he feel comfortable enough to ask boldly, “Hey, Yangxiao, you say that your circumstances are no worse than those of popular actors, and you have a professional background, so why haven’t you been able to act in any theatrically released films?”

At the mention of this, Li Yangxiao felt a bit upset.
He sighed: “It’s a long story.”

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“Just tell it to me.
We still have half an hour before we reach the station.”

Xu Yan was a bit of an idiot, but when talking with him, one found it very easy to open their guarded heart, so Li Yangxiao opened his mouth: “Before I graduated, a TV drama asked me to play a sidekick, it was one of those super meaningful, ‘sappy, trashy shows’.
Back then, I was too proud.
I wanted to have a decent debut work, so I turned down the offer without even thinking about it.
After that, I went to audition for a movie I really wanted to act in.
I was selected, but after two months of training, I was shoved out by a demoted actor.
Even later on, I probably screwed myself out of all my luck, so it all ended up like this…”

“Ai, I knew it, you couldn’t have fallen that low! It’s okay, you had too much luck before, so God wanted to humble you.
Now you’re out of luck, but then you happened to run into me! The guy who had dinner with us last night,” Xu Yan turned the steering wheel and made a turn, “Chi Mingyao, his big brother is the one who oversees Mingtai Group’s dealings in the entertainment industry.
I’ll tell him about this and ask him to keep an eye out for opportunities for you.”

Li Yangxiao laughed, and said sincerely: “Thank you, Xu Yan.”

Li Yangxiao boarded the bullet train and found a seat.
He gazed at the scenery as it flew past him, sighing as countless emotions surged through his mind.

Earlier, during his conversation with Xu Yan, he had actually left out one detail.
Besides the two opportunities he had mentioned, a year earlier, he had also gotten another chance to appear on the big screen.

During that stretch of time, he had been extremely anxious.
He had become acquainted with a big shot from the capital through a friend.
That man had taken a liking to Li Yangxiao, and had generously proposed to “take care” of him.
In a moment of impulsivity, Li Yangxiao agreed.

However, just as he had been sitting beside the bed, fidgeting in unease, Song Chang happened to call and ask how he was doing.
As he listened to the sounds of the man taking a shower, he immediately felt disgusted with himself; when he answered, he was on the verge of tears.
Song Chang must have noticed that Li Yangxiao was not in the best mood, so he said to him: “Yangxiao, don’t worry, take it slow.
Being an actor is a process of waiting and experiencing, and all your waiting and experience will bring you great wealth.
No experience is wasted.” He also joked: “When you become a big celebrity in the future, and you’re asked to play a depressed young actor, it’ll be a piece of cake, no?”

Li Yangxiao had started to cry right then and there, his tears splashing downward.
But he did not want to let Song Chang hear him crying.
He said, “But what if I can’t wait? Song Chang, I haven’t gotten a role in almost a year, I’m going to starve to death…”

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“Why are you worrying about that? Do you still consider me a bro or not? Let me tell you that I, your bro, make 15,000 a month! Now multiply that by 161! And there’s a year-end bonus too, which can’t be less than dozens of thousands! I encourage you to mooch off my meals.
With your appetite, you couldn’t possibly eat me into poverty.
Think of this as my investment in a future star.
Just don’t forget about me once you’ve risen in the ranks.”

Li Yangxiao was crying a river.
After hanging up, he stared for a while at the faint figure visible through the clouded glass of the shower.
Suddenly his heart dropped; he grabbed his phone and fled.

When he returned home, he sent a text message to his “financial backer” and apologized sincerely and profusely.
His financial backer did not have much to say and simply replied with a “No problem” and that was the end of it.

Chi Mingyao stayed in W City for several more days and finally signed a business partnership agreement with the Xu family’s cinema chain.
To say that Xu Yan’s face was thick was an understatement.
Every day, he drove his crashed Cayenne around to pick up and drop off Chi Mingyao, refusing to send it for repairs.
Chi Mingyao had mentioned several times that he could take care of it, but Xu Yan always brushed him off with an “It’s no big deal.”

Because of this little favor, the benefits Xu Yan would reap from this agreement would be enough to buy another Cayenne.

But that wasn’t all: in the days after Chi Mingyao returned to Beijing, Xu Yan called, informing him that the Cayenne had already been repaired.

Chi Mingyao was dumbfounded; he called to tell him about this useless bullshit?! As expected, after mentioning the Cayenne, Xu Yan immediately brought up Li Yangxiao: “Young Master Chi, you saw my friend sitting with me the other day.
He’s not bad looking and has had formal training.
He’s just unlucky.
Could you help him out a bit, and make a few connections for him?”

Back when he was in W City, Xu Yan had raised this subject to Chi Mingyao more than once.
After hanging up, Chi Mingyao stared at his phone.
He was extremely unhappy: it was fine that Xu Yan was gaining extra benefits from this business agreement, but now he wanted him to help this nobody of an actor make industry connections too? It was just a crashed Cayenne, how many favors do you want from me?

The thing was, Xu Yan had been the one who had insisted on lending him his Cayenne.
Chi Mingyao seriously suspected that Xu Yan had asked someone to crash into him.
Moreover, at the dinner table that night, Chi Mingyao could tell that, although Xu Yan kept making snide remarks about Li Yangxiao, he obviously had not moved on; he wanted to try again and sleep with Li Yangxiao.

Chi Mingyao lit a cigarette.
As he exhaled a puff of smoke, he thought of something: Xu Yan wanted him to help Li Yangxiao build connections so that he could use this favor to get into bed with him, right? Then he would refuse to repay this favor properly, and make sure that Xu Yan would not be able to sleep with Li Yangxiao.

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Chi Mingyao pulled an ashtray over and tapped the ash out of his cigarette, before he picked up his phone, scrolled down to Li Yangxiao’s WeChat, and sent him a message: “Tomorrow, one of my friends is hosting a get-together, and a lot of big names in the entertainment industry will be there.
Do you want to come with me, and take the opportunity to get to know some people?”

Chi Mingyao gazed at the sent text, before he bit down on the end of his cigarette and laughed.

He was going to make Li Yangxiao find his own financial backer.
That way, everyone would be happy in the end: Li Yangxiao would have the resources he needed, he would have repaid his favor to Xu Yan, and Xu Yan would not be able to sleep with Li Yangxiao.

He could exact his revenge without being blamed for it, and make Xu Yan suffer a terrible loss.

Li Yangxiao had finished his afternoon workout.
Drenched in sweat, he took out his phone, looked at it, and was stunned: Chi Mingyao actually agreed to do this for Xu Yan?!

Truthfully, although this was not the first time that Xu Yan had bragged to him, saying that he could introduce him to industry contacts, Li Yangxiao had not taken him seriously.
Even though Xu Yan had become W City’s top tyrant, he was far from the most influential figure.
There were obviously more than a hundred Chi Mingyaos that stood between Xu Yan and the core resources of the entertainment industry.
And from what Li Yangxiao had seen that night, Chi Mingyao was actually quite annoyed by Xu Yan.

But this piece of information made Li Yangxiao see Xu Yan in a new light: so Xu Yan was actually a master of the Thick Black Theory2, while he, Li Yangxiao, was the complete idiot!


Thanks for reading~ a quick update, I will probably have to start uploading slower, on weekends only, since I have to study ;-; My apologies!

Refers to a company welfare system that pays 16 months worth of salary annually.
Though… if his salary is in yuan, he’s not exactly rich, is he? (15,000 yuan is approximately 2,200 USD) 厚黑学 (hòu hēi xué): Thick Black Theory.
It’s a book written by Li Zongwu, which was published in 1911, the year the Qing Dynasty was overthrown.
It’s compared to Sun Tzu’s Art of War, because there are some similar principles.
It basically teaches that there are two things you must do to achieve success: have a thick face and a black heart.
Having a thick face refers to ignoring non-constructive criticism, while having a black heart refers to stopping at nothing to achieve one’s goals.

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