Chapter 12: Chapter 12: A Stirring in the Heart
Translator: Dragon Boat Translation Editor: Dragon Boat Translation
It was 2:30 in the afternoon when Ren Suo arrived at the office on Xianlin Street in Quanliu District of Lianjiang City. This was going to be his future workplace.
Even though Ren Suo had graduated from one of the nation’s key universities, he chose to work in an office on the streets.
He had passed the nationwide civil service examination but did not perform as well in the interview. Fortunately, he still managed to enter the civil service sector with the help of his uncle who had some connections with the governors of Lianjiang City.
The street office was Xuan Nation’s most foundational-level, staffed and functional unit that was affiliated to the government. To put it frankly, the street office was actually just like a township government. Career progression was not all impossible. If one becomes a leader in the political party’s office, such as a secretary, it was possible for the individual to rise higher through the ranks. However, more often than not, it was not easy to attain such a position, for when someone who holds key positions leaves, the higher-ups would slyly send in a substitute straight away to boost their portfolio.
Ren Suo did not work in the street office with the intention of becoming Xuan Nation’s “future leader”. All he wanted was a stable, easy-going job that allowed him to earn his keep for the rest of his life, and the street office was the exact place to be. Being in the public service administration industry was in line with his parents’ hopes and expectations, and so he spent two years in his time as a third- and fourth-year university student to prepare for the civil service examination.
The street offices could either be very busy or very peaceful. For the offices which had many tasks to complete, the workers would have to work extra hard. On the other hand, offices with fewer tasks to manage gave workers the opportunity to take tea breaks all day long. Based on Ren Suo’s observations, the Xianlin Road’s street office, where he was going to work at, belonged to the latter category. The families living along the street managed by the Xianlin Road Street Office, were all decently well-off and affluent, owning property management companies or having their own community committee. It was one of the newest urban districts that was built during the development of Lianjiang City.
On the other end of the spectrum, offices in older districts and those in villages within a city had much more to do. Owing to the lack of property management companies in the area, the old water pipes and power cables which had been installed tens of years ago, as well as the fact that most people living there worked hard all their lives, many old folks would go to the street office to chat with the workers there. There would be people asking for help at the office every day whenever the water pipes of their homes burst or when the fuse of electrical equipment was blown. The residents even sought help when they had to photocopy or print documents.
The office workers would then tell them that the residents’ committee was, in fact, located slightly closer to them than the office did and that they could have gone there instead…
Ren Suo had envisioned himself living the rest of his life peacefully working a job in Xianlin Road’s street office, enjoying his time surfing the internet and drinking his tea. Who would have known that before he was officially in service, he’d be called down for a health screening?
“Is Xiao Suo here?” asked Ye Jiamin, the director of the office. The moment Ren Suo entered the office, Ye Jiamin, who had been talking to other people, noticed him immediately. She waved to him and said, “Come over here, let me introduce you to everyone. Xiao Xuan and Xiao Long, this is Ren Suo. Just like both of you, he is also one of this year’s newly recruited employees.”
Director Ye said to Ren Suo, “This is Li Qingxuan, and this is Mo Zhaolong. They are also university students who graduated this year. I hope to see all of you get along well with one another, I’m sure you teenagers will have topics in common to talk about.”
Ren Suo, Qingxuan and Zhaolong exchanged greetings. Director Ye continued, “We’ve just been waiting for you, the others have gone ahead to the health center on Yuexiu Street for the health screening. Now that you’ve arrived, we should set off too.”
Yuexiu Street was located not too far from the office on Xianlin Street, and the three of them decided to head there by foot while they chatted merrily. Director Ye was indeed a befitting street office director. At forty years of age, she was kind and pleasant and made sure to look after and include everyone in her conversation. “You teenagers like to play games and watch television dramas every day, but you must still remember to exercise regularly. However, I’m not worried because once all of you join the office, there would be no lack of exercise.”
Li Qingxuan acted surprised and asked, “Really? Is the street office really that busy? I thought that we would just be chit-chatting with the old folks every day.”
“We indeed do so on some occasions.” Director Ye chuckled and continued, “We get very busy when we have to survey the streets and all the alleys. For example, half a month ago, the city’s governors gave orders to check on the situation of the permanent residents here. Even though we delegated the task to the various residents’ committees, I still had to check through all of the information and verify the latest information on the tenants and business owners.”
“And 5 days ago, the higher-ups requested for all available manpower to visit all neighboring households, looking for a fugitive…no, a 17-year-old high school student who had run away from home. Who knows which leader’s son it must have been…” the director continued.
“Many similar incidents like this happened recently. There was just no time for me to relax.”
In less than 20 minutes, the group arrived at the health center on Yuexiu Street. There was already a long queue inside, and upon looking in, Ren Suo felt like there were more than a thousand people. He could not help but exclaim, “Wow! There are so many people out on a working day for a health screening?”
“Yes, we are the second last batch of people here for the screening,” said an apologetic Director Ye. She explained, “The schedule for the health screening exercise this time is very tight as the entire district has to complete the health screening within the day. We actually arranged for our employees to come in four batches, but I was so busy that I only just remembered to inform all of you.”
“Don’t worry, it’s alright,” the three newbies replied in unison.
There was a worktable by the door where people could take a copy of the examination form, and behind the worktable was a listless young man who was clad in a black vest. When Ren Suo took a copy of the form, the young man remained engrossed in his mobile game with his eyes glued to the screen of the mobile phone.
For some unknown reason, there was a stir in Ren Suo’s heart, and it started palpitating vigorously. He stared blankly at the young man for a long while, until Mo Zhaolong, who was standing behind him, hit him on the back. Ren Suo was jolted out of his daze and quickly proceeded to queue up for the body check.
How could I feel something towards such a man, who was nowhere near beautiful nor charming?
“Bro,” Mo Zhaolong came up to him and smiled, “I see…”
“No, no, no,” Ren Suo shook his head vigorously and denied vehemently, “I am straight like a metal ruler.”
“That’s what every guy says before they meet the right one; they all think they’re straight.” Mo Zhaolong coaxed, “From young, we’ve all missed out on many things we like but could not have, do you really wish to miss out on someone whom you fancy now?”
“Go away, man.”
Many men often grow closer after asking and discussing such philosophical questions. Ren Suo queued up together with Mo Zhaolong for their health screening examination. They passed most of the screenings quickly, including the general physical examination station as well as the eye test. There was a blood drawing cart in the health center, and there was also a massive amount of people queuing up for it. Ren Suo and Zhaolong were the last ones to queue up for that station.
The chatty Mo Zhaolong was articulate and a good talker. During their wait, he started talking to Ren Suo about his life during university, dissing his roommate and teachers while Ren Suo nodded his head in agreement as he recalled his own experience in university. They even talked about an unpopular Xuan Nation comic “Seabreeze: A Collection of Stories” which they both fancied. Ren Suo now felt that he had made a rather good friend.
It was common to find friends with common interests but to find one who shared a common attraction for an uncommon interest was very rare. Ren Suo had never found a friend whom he could talk about this comic with, and hence, he was bursting with excitement at the fact that he had found someone who enjoyed the same comic as he did.
When it was almost their turn to have their blood drawn, Ren Suo was still rattling on and on about the comic. However, Mo Zhaolong’s face suddenly turned as pale as a sheet. He clutched his stomach and said, “Argh, my stomach hurts…”
“Oh? You’d better hurry to the toilet,” Ren Suo said.
“But I’d have to queue all the way from the back of the queue again if I leave.” Mo Zhaolong was sour as he said, “The last batch of people has arrived, I’ll have to queue for another hour…”
Mo Zhaolong looked at Ren Suo and asked, “Buddy, can you have your blood drawn in my place?”
“Huh? How does that work?” Ren Suo asked as he blinked his eyes in confusion. He had heard about helping others in physical checkups before, but not during health examinations.
“Don’t worry, they’re only going to draw a small volume of blood. Everything will be fine.” Mo Zhaolong said persuasively, “I have already gone for a health examination half a month ago and I’m as healthy as a horse. I doubt there’ll be any problems with me this time around, so it’ll be a waste of time if I queued for another hour instead…How about this? I’ll treat you to a barbeque with beer later!”
Ren Suo pondered for a moment and thought it sounded logical; he could even get a free meal. Hence, he grabbed Zhaolong’s examination form and proceeded to have his blood drawn.
He first completed his round of blood drawing, before he proceeded to the other queue with Mo Zhaolong’s form in hand. There were many people in the large room who were all queueing to have their blood drawn, and Ren Suo thought it would be easy for him to blend in with the squeezy crowd. However, the moment he sat down, a young man in a black vest walked over and said, “Didn’t you already have your blood drawn?”
“…Ah?” Ren Suo did not expect that the examination would be taken so seriously. He scratched his head and smiled before saying, “I’m just helping a friend…”
“Helping a friend? Who?” the man in the black vest asked, raising one of his brows.
Ren Suo did not think much of the situation and waved the examination form in the air as he said, “My colleague. He had a sudden stomach ache and went to the toilet. I’m helping him with the drawing of blood instead. In that case, I’ll call him over.”
The man in black vest said, “Bring us to him.”
It was only at this point that Ren Suo noticed the four other men who were all clad in black vests, standing behind the table used for drawing blood. All of them looked tough and young like soldiers. They did not seem to be doctors or normal staff members.
Is there something wrong? Ren Suo blinked his eyes and turned to look behind. As soon as he did, a familiar figure darted towards the door. He pointed at the figure and shouted, “Bro Zhaolong, are you done with your business in the toilet? Why are you leaving?!”
Ren Suo exposed him immediately, for he did not have any intention to take the blame for someone whom he had just met.
The four men in black vests looked over without delay. However, the area was so crowded that there was no way they could rush over.
“Don’t let him escape!”
The man at the front grabbed onto the top edge of the wall as he leaped upwards and to Ren Suo’s surprise, he started scaling and walking on the wall. The man pounced forward again and flew a short distance across the room above everyone’s heads, before landing right in front of the door!
“What—is he catching a criminal?”
“Which dumb criminal would come to a place full of civil service workers…”
One of the civil servants was blabbering nonsensically while Ren Suo squeezed his way through the crowd to find out what was going on.
Mo Zhaolong began to run and flee, but the health center was only so big. There was nowhere else he could run to except the door. One of the men in black vests shouted at the top of his voice, “Minghuo, stop him!”
The young man in the black vest who was sitting beside the door and in-charge of giving out the examination forms stood up lazily and pointed at Mo Zhaolong. He said, “Stop here.”
“Stop my ass—”
Mo Zhaolong threw a punch at the young man.
The other young man in a black vest curled his finger and pointed towards the door, and the two metal gates creaked as it was closed shut instantly. Without any preemptive movement, he plunged himself towards the front of Mo Zhaolong’s body—sending Zhaolong flying meters away!
It was a disturbing sight as Mo Zhaolong grimaced in pain on the floor, unable to get up, while the other men in black vests rushed forward to hold him down.
“You guys forced me!” Mo Zhaolong scolded harshly.
Suddenly, without any warning, the large men in black vests who were holding Zhaolong down passed out and fell to the ground. Even the people who were standing close to him lost consciousness instantly as everyone looked on in shock.
“Is that a virus?”
“What kind of virus is so deadly?”
“Hurry! Go back! It can be spread through the air!”
The surrounding onlookers hurriedly rushed back into the health center in a whoosh, leaving only Ren Suo behind. He hid behind pillar and stared blankly at Mo Zhaolong.
For some reason, Ren Suo’s heart began pumping faster when he was looking at Mo Zhaolong, giving him a feeling—
A stirring feeling in his heart.