Chapter 258: Bullsh*t Logic
As the class reunion approached, a sense of apprehension grew on Xiao Luo, and the truth was he wasn’t really looking forward to it. From his perspective, those who genuinely wished to gather and reconnect with each other were few, and the majority were just keen to let others know about their accomplishments. For some others, it was just a convenient way to explore the likelihood of networking and looking for new opportunities that could be exploited later on. That, in his mind, was what a reunion represented.
A survey was once conducted online regarding reunions. The data showed that people taking the initiative to propose and organize reunions were usually those who had attained a measure of success among their peers or in their community.
Xiao Luo decided not to give it further thought. Since he had nothing else to do, he would attend the reunion anyway.
There was incessant chatter in university chatgroup, with messages sounding in the phone every few minutes. Many were looking forward to the reunion. With their former class monitor, Guo Qinghe, as the group administrator, a discussion thread was posted to lock in a time and place, and the number of people that could attend.
Of the 34 students that were in his class, half were now working in Guang Province itself. After reaching out to everyone, Guo Qinghe finally confirmed that ten from the alma mater would be attending. They would meet up at eight in the evening in four days at Jiangcheng City’s Maple Leaf Hotel. Xiao Luo then confirmed his attendance and Zhang Dashan’s, making it a total of 12 people.
Xiao Luo turned around to let Zhang Dashan know about the plan. He had just walked in and hadn’t checked his phone. Zhang Dashan gave him a quick glance and asked with slight concern, “Zhang Mengqi will also be attending, you alright with that?”
“Why would I be not alright?”
Xiao Luo threw the question back to him. Zhao Mengqi meant something to him, but that way back in the past. Now, he only had one form of relationship with her, and that they were former university mates.
“Good, I’m just worried that you’ll feel awkward during the reunion,” Zhang Dashan patted his shoulders and chuckled.
“You think too much.”
Xiao Luo shook his head and smiled in mock scorn.
There were no twists or suspense in the run-up to the trial of Xu Guansong. Given the indisputable evidence presented, Xu Guansong was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. He was, at the same time, ordered to issue a public apology to Luo’s Workshop. When Zhang Dashan went to visit him in prison, Xu Guansong was in tears and appeared terribly dispirited, he looked like he had aged another ten years.
“The evils we bring upon ourselves are the hardest to bear. Before I came, I thought I’d feel gratified and happy to see you in this state. Now, I only feel pity for you,” Zhang Dashan sympathized with the man, and felt compelled to say those words. He continued, “Believe it or not, Lao Xiao, and I never wanted to report for this. After all, you’re a senior in the company and have contributed a lot to its growth. Even if you had made one big mistake, we would never have driven you to the edge. You know, as humans, we often make mistakes, but it’ll be okay as long as we can correct them. But if you do it again and again, even the Heavens could not save you.”
Zhang Dashan spoke through the tempered glass window separating the two, looking on with compassion at Xu Guansong, who was weeping uncontrollably and overcome with deep emotions.
Xu Guansong lowered his head despondently, he regretted ever posting the lengthy article. He said in remorse, “I’m sorry to Mr. Xiao, I’m sorry to the company, I really didn’t expect that it’ll incite such a big public outcry…”
“There’s no use crying over spilled milk.”
Zhang Dashan sighed, “Alright, I should be going. Stay in there and elevate yourself, strive to get released as soon as possible. One more thing, don’t worry about your wife and kids. The company will send them some money every month during your time in jail. They will be able to carry on their normal lives.”
Tears burst out from his tired eyes. Despite what he had done to the company, these people were still willing to support his wife and children. He couldn’t help wondering what meritorious deeds he had done in his past life, to have met such honorable folk.
Thud! Xu Guansong dropped to his knees, knocking his head on the floor, performing a kowtow in deep deference to Zhang Dashan. He cried as he said, “Thank you, Mr. Zhang, thank you!”
He was choking in tears, and his voice trembled.
“Don’t thank me, you shite. These are Old Xiao’s orders. You should be thanking him instead!” Zhang Dashan, not one to accept merit for the deed of others, turned around and promptly left.
Xu Guansong, who was still kneeling on the ground, kowtowed repeatedly and kept saying in tears, over again, “Thank you, Mr. Xiao, thank you, Mr. Zhang.”
As for Jia Zhengyi, he sent someone to Jiangcheng City by flight that very night. His representative arrived at the Luo’s Workshop headquarters with an amicable smile on his face. He appeared very humble, almost like somebody’s grandson begging to see the boss of Luo’s Workshop.
Xiao Luo had no plans to meet the man. The entire operations at Luo’s Workshop had been handed over to Zhang Dashan, who did receive the visitor. Zhang Dashan immediately made his intentions clear, and he would not settle the matter privately. He planned to take Jia Zhengyi to court and would seek compensation for defamation and demand a public apology.
Many of Jiangcheng’s netizens had taken part in that “verbal warfare” that revolved around Xu Guansong’s long article that Jia Zhengyi had posted. With the verdict in their favor, Luo’s Workshop’s management was instantly absolved of any wrongdoing. The fact that Jia Zhengyi had distorted the truth to defend a criminal, under the pretense of justice, set off a considerable firestorm on social media again. Despite having disabled his comments section on his Weibo page, Jia Zhengyi’s number of followers was still declining alarmingly. Very soon, he was left with only about five million followers.
The Xiahai TV station had also taken the TV program, “Old Jia’s Talk Show,” off the air, and without his platform, this proved a fatal blow for Jia Zhengyi.
On the fourth afternoon, Jia Zhengyi held a press conference. Like Xu Guansong, he looked like he had aged for more than ten years over this short period. His face was now drawn and sullen, a distinct departure from the sharp-tongued and plucky personality in the talk show that everybody had come to admire. The change was not unlike making a comparison between the sky and the ground, they seemed to be two entirely different persons.
In the press conference, Jia Zhengyi was contrite, repeatedly apologizing to Luo’s Workshop and the massive following of “San Qian Luo Shui” fans. He declared remorsefully that he had disappointed everyone and would accept any form of punishment. He expressed his repentance with red eyes and an emotional, choked voice.
“F*ck, he looks so pitiful, I can’t bear to sue him.”
Behind that brutish and hard-nosed persona, Zhang Dashan was, in reality, rather soft-hearted. But when he needed to, he could be absolutely brutal.
Xiao Luo was sitting on the sofa, drinking his hot black-wolfberry tea while watching the TV. After hearing Zhang Dashan’s words, he turned his head and chuckled, “He should still pay the compensation!”
Zhang Dashan grabbed a bottle of beer and took a mouthful, “That is for certain. Who told him to provoke Luo’s Workshop when it did not concern him? If he doesn’t pay the price for that, he’ll really think that Luo’s Workshop is easy meat.”
Xiao Luo cocked his eyebrow and remained silent.
Of late, he seemed to be following more of Su Li’s performances. He realized that, as long as she was starring in any movies or songs, they would all suit his taste.
Zhang Dashan noticed it too and couldn’t help from giving him some friendly advice, “Brother, it’s not that I’m mean but, although you’re a company’s boss, you are still far from being a tycoon. For a woman like Goddess Su Li, just keep her in your mind. Don’t ever think more than that, it’s not realistic.”
“And what is it that you have in your mind again?” Xiao Luo rolled his eyes at him.
“F*ck, we’re all men. Would I not know what you are thinking up there? I never seen you pay any attention to goddess Su Li before. Now, you like the songs she sings, the movies she plays, do you dare say that you don’t have this fantasy about being with her, even a tiny bit?”
“No, not at all,” Xiao Luo said, shaking his head.
“Like I’ll ever believe that. As your good brother, I got to be candid and make it clear to you. Goddess Su Li herself is loaded as hell, she’s rich and famous. Unless you get yourself higher up, say in the ranks of Chu Yunxiong or Jack Ma, don’t expect her ever to lay eyes on you, okay.” Zhang Dashan put his point across succinctly.