Chapter 266: Life-costing
Guo Qinghe received a minimum fee of fifty thousand for each lecture he delivered. Even if he were to give only one lecture a month, his annual income would amount to at least six hundred thousand. Guo Qinghe’s income was certainly envied by many, but the fact was that he had long been admired for his talents and capabilities. He held the position of class chairperson since his undergraduate days, and he was also actively involved in WeChat business and stock investments. In his fourth year at college, he managed to buy himself a foreign car, which he paid for with his own money.
So, it was quite natural for everyone to look up to Guo Qinghe, and in their hearts, nobody felt peeved about what he had deservingly achieved. In fact, most people would expect Guo Qinghe to do better than them in life, and if he wasn’t, that would indeed be very unusual.
“Beauty Tang, how come you don’t look excited? You haven’t said a word at all since we’ve sat down, is there something that’s bothering you?” Zhang Dashan directed his attention to Tang Wantian, and that quickly changed the topic of conversation.
“That’s right, Wantian, you’re the party secretary of our class and the right-hand person,” someone said. And another followed up with a question, “What are you working now as?”
Tang Wantian sighed, “Well, I’m an author and a journalist, but my main work is in writing news articles. It’s a shitty life, and I need to submit one news article before the weekly deadline.”
“News articles? You’re not referring to the pop-up news from mobile web browsers and chatting apps, right?” A girl asked.
Tang Wantian took a sip of her fruit juice and nodded, “Yup, it’s that kind of news.”
“Starting with only two pictures and edit the way through to a full story, so you’re the editor that everyone’s talking about, eh?” Hu Shuiping was quite surprised.
Tang Wantian rolled her eyes but charmingly, “Shui, are you asking for a slap on your wrist? What do you mean by starting with two pictures and then editing them all the way to a full story? I’m not that low in taste, everything I’ve written is based on facts and evidence, and there’s certainly no fabrication.”
“Then what have you been writing on recently?” Zhang Dashan asked jokingly.
Tang Wangtian thought for a moment and answered honestly, “It’s a piece about San Qian Luo Shui, the boss of Luo’s Workshop.”
When he heard that, Zhang Dashan almost spat the beer in his mouth out. Could this really be another coincidence?
He threw a quick, meaningful glance at Xiao Luo.
An expression of surprise did register on Xiao Luo’s face a little as well, but it was hardly obvious as he was kept busy feeding the loli while having a bite himself.
Zhao Mengqi knew, but she was well aware that Xiao Luo disliked being the center of attention, so she decided to stay mum on the subject.
“Talking about that San Qian Luo Shui, it is still a hot topic even now.”
“I agree, the way he talked was fascinating, how he faced up to Jia Zhengyi, and he even managed to beat millions of Jia Zhengyi’s fan to silence just by his witty remarks.”
“Even more impressive was the press conference that Jia Zhengyi was forced to make. He had to publicly apologize to Luo’s Workshop and even seek forgiveness from the masses. He was allegedly made to pay a compensation of thirty million. It was so satisfying to follow it, the whole plot had even more suspense than a soap opera.”
When the topic of conversation shifted to San Qian Luo Shui, everyone had gotten excited and wouldn’t let up discussing the “verbal war” that had taken place only recently. It actually fired up the atmosphere of the entire room immediately.
“Wantian, do you have a picture of San Qian Luo Shui? He’s really my idol, and I’ve been following him on Weibo. If you write a piece of news about him, I’ll marry you right now!” Hu Shuiping said nonsensically.
Everyone immediately jeered at him.
Someone chirped, “Don’t continue to bullshit, Shui. The difference in height between you and Wantian may not work in your favor. When you stand next to Wantian, you really do resemble ‘Tu Xingsun’  in the classic novel, ‘Fengshen Bang’ .” And that got everyone in the room laughing.
Tang Wantian immediately patted Hu Shuiping on the head as if she was comforting a child and smiled, “There, there, be a good boy, and sister would buy you some candies later.”
“Big sister, I’d also like some candies.”
The little loli, Bei Bei, could not resist it and shouted out to Tang Wanlian when she heard the word ‘candies’.
Everyone burst into peals of joyful laughter as they looked at her cute and demure expression.
But poor Hu Shuiping wore a long face. Not only was he the butt of the joke, but to be spurned by a pat on his head dealt a blow to his ego. He was terribly upset, but he could not express it.
After they were done with eating and drinking, they all headed for the Karaoke room in the box.
The karaoke equipment was installed with an auto-scoring system, and it would show the scores every time a patron finished singing a number. The passing mark was 60, while really good crooners could sometimes get the full score of a hundred.
Qin Guiyue started the session with ‘Yi Sheng You Ni’ by Shui Mu Nian Hua. As the song echoed around the room, Zhao Mengqi lost her composure and broke into tears. This song had reminded her of everything about her past relationships with Xiao Luo. Each piece of memory flashed back so vividly, and it touched her very soul.
As the song ended, everyone tried to comfort Zhao Mengqi, who was beside herself in sorrow. Qin Guiyue glared at Xiao Luo with daggers in her eyes, convinced that it was Xiao Luo who had hurt her.
Guo Qinghe sensed that the situation was becoming awkward, so he quickly suggested a singing competition to liven up the situation. He promptly said, “I’m proposing a singing competition where everyone gives it a shot with their best songs. We’ll determine the winner by the system’s highest-scoring contestant, what do you guys think?”
“That is a great idea, but there have to be some incentives for the winner. It’d be boring if we didn’t have a prize to compete for.” Zhang Dashan said.
Guo Qinghe thought for a moment and responded as he adjusted his glasses, “How about this, each of us contributes two hundred to the prize pool, so that makes it two thousand four hundred bucks. The winner gets one thousand two hundred, the first runner-up gets eight hundred, and the second runner-up gets four hundred. How about that?”
“Chairperson, you can just be honest with me, if all you want is two hundred bucks, then you really don’t have to go by this singing competition trick.” Saying that Hu Shuiping slapped the two hundred bucks on the table, pouting and acting as if he was offended.
He was a barrel of laughs, and they all knew that Hu Shuiping was tone-deaf. His singing was so terrible that it would be more entertaining to listen to a monk reciting the scriptures. Some people could earn a living by singing, but in Hu Shuiping’s case, listeners could get so agitated it would likely cost him his life.
“Shui, don’t so upset about it. Who knows this scoring system may not recognize you are tone-deaf, then you would definitely be the champion.” Zhang Dashan gave a pat on his shoulder and said sarcastically.
“F*ck, you’re always screwing me up like this, is it so difficult to stop hurling insults at me? F*ck off!” Hu Shuiping shot back.
The prize money has been collected, and the bundle of notes was placed visibly on the table to stir up their competitive spirit. The singing competition was about to begin.
Everyone encouraged Hu Shuiping to sing first, and they anticipated more laughs.
Hu Shuiping seemed to be quite happy to entertain everyone, so he confidently chose to sing “Si Le Dou Yao Ai.” So horrible was his rendition of the popular song, that it made everyone cover their ears up.
Xiao Luo had his hands over the little loli’s ears, but he ended up suffering, as Hu Shuiping murdered every aspect of the song. It was difficult to put the finger on any particular flaw, but besides being off-key, he also got every line of the lyrics wrong. Still, he was so engrossed that he was singing it out loud with his eyes closed.
He sang his lungs out and even bowed at the end of the song. But when the final score flashed on the screen, everyone burst out laughing hysterically.
“What the f*ck, the execution was fierce as hell, but the result was like f*cks. 11 points, hahaha…” Zhang Dashan laughed uncontrollably, with his hands on his belly.
Hu Shuiping was pouting again and actually looked genuinely dejected. He had expected a much better score than that.
The entire room was in stitches, and even the karaoke staff couldn’t help themselves.
Qin Guiyue was up next, and she was known for her awesome singing voice. She chose an English song, ‘it’s Amazing’. She was indeed skillful and enunciated every word well, and she had a beautiful voice that made everyone fall in love with her singing. When she ended her song, the system flashed the score: 98 points!
“What the heck! No point to compete anymore, the champion’s Guiyue, without a doubt.”
“Didn’t you expect that, have you forgotten that Guiyue was the main vocalist in the band when she was in college?”
“How’d I forget that. I just thought that the results might be different this time, since the score is produced by a machine, instead of a human.”
Everyone was surprised as a tally of 98 points was an extraordinary score to them.
“My throat isn’t in the best condition today, on any other day, I would’ve hit a full score with this song.” Qin Guiyue said, not satisfied with what she got. As conceited as she seemed, she wasn’t simply blowing hot air. She indeed was a true songbird who frequently patronized clubs, and she was particularly confident with this song.
Everyone applauded with a look of amazement on their faces. Hu Shuiping even declared aloud, “Chairperson, give the first prize to Guiyue at once, I can’t handle any more of this psychological trauma.”
And everyone once again tore up with laughter as they saw the look on Hu Shuiping’s expressive face.
 “Tu Xingsun”: An extremely short character in the Investiture of Gods who is skilled at earth-style spells, who abducted, and married a beautiful and tall lady named Deng Chanyu.
 “Fengshen Bang”: In English, “The Investiture of the Gods,” a 16th-century Chinese novel and one of the major vernacular Chinese works in the gods-and-demons genre written during the Ming dynasty.
 “Si Le Dou Yao Ai”: A popular Chinese rock song by Xin Yue Tuan that features extremely high notes and growling in the chorus.