Call Me Big Sister
It was already dark when Xia Lei left the hospital.
He arrived home and just as he stepped into the living room, his sister, Xia Xue, walked out of her room.
Xia Xue was 18 this year and looked similar to Xia Lei. She was 170cm tall and had long legs and a good height. She was a big girl loved by all.
“What have you been busy with the past two days, big brother? I tried to call you in the afternoon but your phone was off and I couldn’t find the construction site either. I was so worried!” Xia Xue was scolding her brother but every word she said bore her concern for Xia Lei.
Xia Lei smiled and said, “It’s late and you’re still awake. Were you waiting up for me?”
“That goes without saying. How can I sleep peacefully when you haven’t come back?” Xia Xue’s lips lifted in a small pout. Xia Lei was the only family she had left in the whole world and he was the only one she could rely on – how could she not be concerned about him?
“It’s nothing… I, um, had extra shifts at work,” said Xia Lei, “Sit down, big brother has something to tell you.”
“What is it?” Xia Xue sat next to Xia Lei and looked curiously at her brother.
Xia Lei took out his wallet and put a card in Xia Xue’s hand. “There is 30,000 in this card. Use this to pay for your school fees.”
“30,000 yuan?” Xia Xue was shocked. “Big brother, where did you get this much money? Did you do something bad? Huh?”
Xia Lei pretended to be offended. “What are you saying, girl? Is your brother the type to do such things? What happened was that I coincidentally saved someone today. That person was honorable and rewarded me 50,000. I think this is all because our mother is looking out for us. No need to imagine silly things; Don’t worry and take it.”
“Who did you save, big brother?” Xia Xue was clever. Xia Lei’s explanation made sense but she did not believe it easily.
Xia Lei expected his sister to be doubtful so he had been prepared. He took out the name card Long Bing had given him and passed it to Xia Xue. “Here’s her name card. Oh, she’s from Jing-Du, so if you run into any trouble there you can call her.”
Xia Xue believed him then. She heaved a sigh, then smiled, “Heh heh… It’s a woman, big brother? Is she pretty?”
The image of Long Bing’s icy face flashed in his mind and he absently said, “Pretty, very pretty.”
“Oooh, such praise! She even gave you her number. Isn’t this a signal?” Xia Xue smiled teasingly, “You’re no spring chicken either, big brother. Take the initiative! Invite her for tea, to the movies, or something. Turn her into a sister-in-law for me quickly.”
“Turn her, my foot. No making fun of your big brother.” Xia Lei continued to pretend to be offended, “Also, you stay in school for the next few days. Don’t come back.”
“Why?” Xia Xue was not too willing.
Xia Lei said, “What’s that…”
Xia Xue giggled and said, “I get it. You want to bring my future sister-in-law home, so you don’t want me to be a third wheel, right? Okay, I got it. I’ll stay in the hostel with my classmates tomorrow.”
Xia Lei had not been sure how he would persuade her to stay away from home but she had persuaded herself, saving him the trouble. Chen Chuan-Hu would not let him off and he could not let Chen Chuan-Hu go unpunished either. Making Xia Xue stay on school grounds for a few days was a safety measure.
“You haven’t eaten yet, have you, big brother? I’ll cook some noodles for you.” Xia Xue started to show concern again for her brother, this time for his stomach.
At her words, Xia Lei’s stomach suddenly growled. He had not even had a drop of water to drink since returning from Macau and he was long overdue for a meal.
“I see. I’ll go cook some noodles for you now.” Xia Xue got up and walked to the kitchen.
Xia Lei lay on the sofa and finally relaxed. His gaze rested on a picture of their whole family on the TV cabinet. His mother, father, sister and himself were in the picture, cheek to cheek and smiling blissfully…
“Where did you go, Dad? Do you know how we’ve been living these past few years?”, cried Xia Lei in his heart.
Xia Lei went back to his room after eating his noodles. He was so exhausted from using his X-ray vision consecutively that he fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. He slept till afternoon the next day and he slept so deeply that he did not even know when Xia Xue left.
A bowl of rice porridge and a plate of fried vegetables sat on the dining table. Next to them was a glass bottle with a note under it.
A white capsule sat in the glass bottle and the sight of it made Xia Lei think of his father, Xia Chang-He.
Xia Lei could still clearly remember that five years ago, the same year his father disappeared, his body was very weak. His father obtained this bottle of medicine from who-knew-where. There were only 20 white capsules in the bottle and his father only let him eat one every month. The effects of the medicine were great – his body’s condition improved a lot after eating the first capsule. His father disappeared around the time he ate the 19th capsule, and the last capsule went missing.
Now, the glass bottle had appeared in front of Xia Lei again. The 20th capsule sat quietly in the glass bottle.
Xia Lei pulled the note from under the glass bottle. It was from Xia Xue and it read, “Big brother, I found this bottle of medicine when I cleaned Mum and Dad’s room this morning. It still has the last capsule you didn’t eat, but you’re all strong and healthy now so you probably won’t need to eat this kind of medicine anymore. It’s something Dad left for you though, so you can keep it as a sort of memento, maybe.”
“This girl… I don’t know which lucky man will have the fortune to marry her in the future, but I must guard her well as a big brother.” Xia Lei smiled. He put the note and the glass bottle behind the family picture on the TV cabinet, then went back to the dining table to have his breakfast and lunch.
Xia Lei went out after eating.
When he went downstairs, he saw Jiang Ru-Yi sitting on her balcony, staring into space. His heart thumped as he walked to her.
Jiang Ru-Yi did not see Xia Lei at all. She sat with her sweet cheek resting in her hand, gazing at the cup on the table. Perhaps she was daydreaming of some scrumptious food, or some scrumptious man.
“Stick yer hands up!” A voice suddenly snarled.
Jiang Ru-Yi was startled. When she raised her head and saw that the person standing beyond the railing was Xia Lei, she glared and said, “You wanna die? How dare you scare me like that!” She reached to smack Xia Lei but he dodged.
“Ru-Yi, can I ask for a favour?”, asked Xia Lei.
“What favour?”, asked Jiang Ru-Yi.
“Well, you work in the Police Department so do you know a guy named Li Qing-Hua?”
“He’s our Chief. How can I not know him?” Jiang Ru-Yi stared hard at Xia Lei, and probed, “What are you asking about our Chief for?”
Xia Lei said, “I have to contact him for something. Hey, can you tell me where he lives and his phone number?”
Jiang Ru-Yi cut him short. “Why are you asking these questions?”
Xia Lei smiled as he said, “You think I’m going to do something bad? Even if I am going to, I won’t be so stupid as to look for the police, right? It’s my friend who has a problem so he wants some help from connections. You know how it is in this world – it works through connections.”
“I see.” Jiang Ru-Yi took her phone out of her pocket and opened her contacts window, then knelt on her balcony to hand her phone to Xia Lei.
Xia Lei looked at Li Qing-Hua’s picture, his phone number and home address. He remembered the details and returned the phone to Jiang Ru-Yi, then said, “Thank you.”
Jiang Ru-Yi put her phone away, then pursed her lips and smiled, “Thanking me is so tacky. Just call me big sister.”
Her smile was mesmerising. Xia Lei was about to go off but he paused to stare at her a little longer and his eye just happened to look at her waist and buttocks. The short uniform skirt and T-shirt Jiang Ru-Yi wore turned into gauze that soon disappeared. The most secret and sacred places of Jiang Ru-Yi’s body lay bare to Xia Lei’s eye. Her breasts, her buttocks, her long, long beautiful legs, white and soft… Xia Lei’s heart pounded faster and his breath quickened.
“I… really shouldn’t.” Xia Lei shook his head to hear it then lightly slapped himself, hitting his bad thoughts out of his head.
“What are you doing?” Jiang Ru-Yi looked at Xia Lei curiously.
“Um… Nothing…” Xia Lei was so embarrassed he could die but an idea hit him and he quickly said, “It was a mosquito. I was hitting a mosquito.”
At that moment, a real mosquito actually landed on Jiang Ru-Yi’s petite waist, as though to prove him right. Xia Lei did not want Jiang Ru-Yi to get bitten so he swung his hand and smacked her waist.
SMACK! The flesh of her waist rippled and the impact made her other soft parts jiggle too. Jiang Ru-Yi was in shock and her face was flushed red. She stared at Xia Lei, and her delicate mouth opened but no words came out.
Xia Lei held out the offending hand to Jiang Ru-Yi and opened his fist, revealing a flattened mosquito.
Jiang Ru-Yi glared at Xia Lei resentfully.
Xia Lei clumsily explained himself, “A mosquito. Mosquito! It’s okay, it’s dead.”
At that moment, another mosquito flew in front of Jiang Ru-Yi’s eyes. Slowly and lazily it flew, then settled on her bum. Jiang Ru-Yi looked at the mosquito on her bum, then looked at Xia Lei. She did not speak but the look in her eyes spoke volumes. — You like hitting mosquitoes, don’t you? If you dare hit this one, I’ll crush you!
Xia Lei raised his hand, but did not hit. He waved his hand and chased the mosquito away.
He could hit the mosquito on her waist but did not dare to hit the one on her bum. That area was too sensitive. Besides, if he, as a man, hit a woman’s bum, what would that make of their relationship?
“Okay, I’m off. See you.” Xia Lei did not dare to linger and got ready to scram.
“Chief Li likes to drink tea at Ju Shan Garden Teahouse. His favourite is Tung-ting oolong tea from Taiwan. Tell your friend that if he wants favours from the Chief he should buy some good oolong tea and bring it with him. Today happens to be a weekend, so tell your friend to look for him there and he’ll definitely find him.”
“Hm, got it.” Xia Lei waved and walked off.
“You haven’t called me ‘big sister’, you rascal!” Jiang Ru-Yi voice came from behind.
“Big sister!” Xia Lei smiled wryly and he quickened his steps.
“Remember, oolong tea!” Jiang Ru-Yi’s voice again.
Xia Lei thought to himself, “Oolong tea? Bastards like Li Qing-Hua should get treated to piss!”