Chapter 277: Luo Village
The moment he saw the Chevrolet Cruze, Xiao Luo instantly knew it sold for a price tag of about 130,000. He was able to call up any relevant information on any make of cars because he had spent 100 points to redeem the car information package. He could obtain any information that he required about the price, specifications, dynamic performance, and the security technology of any car sold on the market.
The condition of Xiao Qiudong’s car was excellent, with the heavy scent of car fresheners permeating the cabin air. He also detected a whiff of milk in the car and then realized that the baby was still being fed on breast-milk.
As they drove through the city, Xiao Qiudong began to make conversation to while away the hours. “Xiao Luo, are you still working as a product engineer for Huahai Corporation in Jiangcheng?” he asked.
Xiao Luo shook his head and replied, “I’m no longer working there, I’ve resigned.”
“Then, I assume you have been job-hopping?”
Xiao Qiudong was smiling as he looked at Xiao Luo through the rearview mirror, and continued asking, “I hear that you can get double the salary if you move on to other companies after working for two to three years with Huahai Corporation. So, I guess your monthly salary is probably more than 10,000 dollars now?”
Xiao Luo didn’t feel it was necessary to respond to the question, so he just smiled and changed the subject. Glancing at the child in his wife’s arms, he asked, “Is the child your a boy or a girl?”
Xiao Qiudong had a big smile on his face and was beaming with pride. “The one with a willy, of course, hahaha. His name is Xiao Zile, and he was born and registered in Taiwan. When he’s older, he will go to school there and be with his grandparents,” he said.
“Congrats, your wife has given you a boy! Have you hosted the feast yet, I mean, it’s the custom for a boy, right?” Xiao Luo asked.
“Yes, we’ll host it as soon as we get back. Since you happen to be around, make sure you don’t forget to give my son a red packet,” Xiao Qiudong replied. It was a common thing to say as red represented luck and prosperity, and would certainly help with the cost of hosting the feast.
“Rest assured, for such an auspicious occasion, I’ll definitely give Zile a red packet!”
“Hahaha, then the sum must also be auspicious. Otherwise, I’m not going to let you off, that easily,” Xiao Qiudong said, seemingly in jest but in a tone that said he meant it.
Xiao Luo cocked his brow and chose to remain silent.
Xiao Qiudong fiddled around, then suddenly took out his iPhone from his pocket. He handed it to Xiao Luo and said, “I can’t use my phone while driving, so can you save your number into my contacts? Look at you, why didn’t you tell me when you changed your contact number, don’t you see me as a brother anymore.”
Xiao Luo was a bit surprised because, as far as he could remember, Xiao Qiudong changed his contact number without telling. So it felt a little sneaky for him to have put it that way.
But he didn’t bring it up, and instead, he just unlocked Xiao Qiudong’s iPhone and added his name and number to its contacts. He then used the iPhone to call himself and saved Xiao Qiudong’s contact number on his own phone.
He handed the device back to Xiao Qiudong.
Xiao Qiudong took back his phone and said, “Xiao Luo, what brand is your phone?”
“It’s not really a big brand, just locally manufactured,” Xiao Luo said.
“The locally manufactured phones are all trash, they start lagging after you use them for some time, and the batteries have a short lifespan. From what I know, after using it for about half a year, you have to recharge it at least twice a day.”
Xiao Qiudong was very brand conscious and had a prejudice against locally manufactured products in general. “Try to switch to an iPhone when you have the money, the user interface is superb, and so is the processing speed. Although it’s slightly pricey, it’s worth the investment,” he advised.
Xiao Luo laughed and said, “Never mind, I’ll just support our local goods.”
Xiao Qiudong was good with words and continued to convince Xiao Luo. “It’s good to be patriotic, but you should still go for high-quality products when it comes to personal items like a handphone. After all, it is also a status symbol and will give you a better image. Locally manufactured phones represent plebs, and now that your monthly salary exceeds ten thousand, you really should carry a more decent phone,” he said.
Xiao Luo only smiled in response, saying nothing.
It took them about two hours by car to get from Zhoukou City to the district town. And it would take a little longer to get from the district town to Luo Village, as it was a smaller road and was rather tricky to negotiate. In fact, before arriving into Luo Village, the way would be nothing more than an unpaved dirt trail. Fortunately for them, it was drizzling, so the car didn’t stir up too much dust as it drove by.
Xiao Qiudong’s wife, Li Honglian, didn’t say anything throughout the journey. To be exact, she didn’t say anything to Xiao Luo, though she was happily chatting with Xiao Qiudong the whole way.
Sitting at the back of the car, Xiao Luo noticed her disparaging gaze earlier, especially when he responded to Xiao Qiudong’s questions. When asked if he owned a car or a house, or if he even had a girlfriend, he candidly declared he didn’t, to any of them.
But, it didn’t matter to Xiao Luo. Li Honglian was nothing more than a stranger to him, and it seemed that Xiao Qiudong was also fast becoming one. He recalled the happy times when they were young and played together often, but now he just couldn’t reconnect with those feelings again. The fault may have been his own, or it may very well have been Xiao Qiudong’s, but regardless, the truth was that their relationship had grown distant. They were now merely giving the appearance that they shared a close relationship.
At around 9pm at night, they finally arrived at their hometown — Luo Village.
Xiao Qiudong’s son suddenly started crying and wouldn’t stop. Li Honglian tried to pacify him without much success, and both parents appeared to be getting stressed up.
“Xiao Luo, are you going back home directly or to your dad’s farm first?” Xiao Qiudong asked.
Xiao Luo thought for a moment and said, “To my dad’s farm first, please.”
His parents had worked in another city, and after they returned from their previous jobs seven years ago, they contracted a piece of abandoned land and set up a farm. They were in the business of breeding livestock and poultry, with crops planted as supplementary sources of income. His parents had been managing the farm for seven years, and it was located in a rural area, some 10 minutes by motorcycle from the nearest homestead.
“Xiao Luo, the farm is out of the way, though.”
A troubled expression showed on Xiao Qiudong’s face. “You see, my son is crying so hard, he must be feeling sick, so I need to rush back and get someone to look at him. It’s alright if you wanted to go back to your grandparents’ home, but you want to go to the farm first instead,” he said, then added, “furthermore, the condition of the road to your dad’s farm is awful, and my car is not an SUV, the chassis can’t handle the bumpy road, and the body will be badly scratched.”
“It’s okay then. I’ll get off here and call my dad to pick me up,” Xiao Luo said. He was already aware of what Xiao Qiudong meant, so he cut to the chase.
Xiao Qiudong explained and was quick to apologize. “Xiao Luo, it’s not that I don’t want to drive you over, it’s just that my son…”
“Don’t worry, I totally understand. I hope your son will be alright.”
Xiao Luo offered some words of comfort, then opened the car door and alighted the car. It was still drizzling.
“Okay then, thanks. Oh, and don’t forget your stuff in the trunk,” Xiao Qiudong said, as he reached for the lever to open the trunk again.
Xiao Luo didn’t reply. He walked to the back of the car and retrieved his things from the trunk, and he then left a packet behind.
He closed the trunk and walked up to the driver’s seat and knocked on the window. The car window opened slightly, and Xiao Luo said, “Winter Melon, I left you a packet, consider it a token of appreciation for sending me back.”
Xiao Qiudong had rolled his window down by a tiny crack, worried that the drizzling rain might ruin his car’s interior. A surprised look flashed across his face, then he smiled and said, “Thanks brother, I’ll see you around.”
He then quickly rolled up the window and drove off, the red tail lights gradually disappearing from Xiao Luo’s sight.
After the car had left, the entire area was nothing but darkness. But Xiao Luo could adapt to low light conditions well, his senses enhanced by Yi Jinjing and the Constitution of the King of mercenaries. As his eyes got accustomed to the dark, he could see the landscape around him. He saw as clearly as one would when wearing sunglasses during the day.
It continued to drizzle, and the ground had turned muddy. A thick fog was forming and rolled across the valley.
It was great to be back home. The familiar sight of hills, the country smell, and most importantly, the sprawling farmland…
Xiao Luo breathed in the fresh air deeply.
He was in the middle of nowhere, and the place was dark and wet. His thoughts suddenly wandered back to Xiao Qiudong. He didn’t fault the man for dropping him off there, as he was under no obligation to help. Xiao Qiudong had driven him back all the way from the city to Luo Village without even charging him a thing. Besides, in Xiao Luo’s eyes, while Xiao Qiudong had once been a friend back in their schooling days, they were basically strangers now, so what more could he ask of a stranger?