The next morning Shizi puts on his blue and white striped tie and brushes the cat hair from his gray uniform jacket. He lightly kicks away a fat white cat rubbing his legs. “Fluffy! How many times have I told you not to sleep in my clothes!”
After he combs his hair he walks out into the small neat kitchen. Grabbiing a scallion pancake that his mother just put on the plate he takes a big bite. Shizi’s eyes water and he cries, “Hot! Hot! My tongue!”
Fan Rou turns around from the stove and gently scolds , “Baby, I just took them off the skillet. Sit, it isn’t good to eat standing up.”
He picks up a glass of soy milk from the kitchen table. “I can’t Mom, I will be late for school.”
Shizi’s father comes down the hallway dressed in a stylish navy blue suit. “Listen to your mother. Sit and eat properly. I can drop you off at school, I have a meeting in the City Center.”
Shizi’s mother adjusts his father’s tie, “ Zhang Honey, you look so handsome this morning.” She runs her finger down the suit coat’s lapels. ”This suit fits you perfectly.” Fan Rou is very good at bargain shopping and found this Armani suit at a consignment shop. Although it is from last year’s collection most people wouldn’t know.
Fan Zhang is in a good mood. Out of the blue he got a call this morning from Han Construction that they are recruiting salesman for the Building Materials division. He applied to them several months ago when his present job was becoming unreasonable about quotas.
He doesn’t want to tell his wife until he gets the job but it is hard not to be excited.
The woman from the Human Resources Department said they were very satisfied with his resume and his impressive sales record. She continued by saying the company is optimistic about his potential which surprised him. She scheduled an interview for this morning, potentially if the interview went well he could begin work next week.
He affectionately touches her cheek then kisses her forehead. “My RouRou is not only very beautiful but has an amazing knack for finding good deals.”
She blushes, “There are alot of shops around work. On my lunch break I like to browse. If you are going that direction could you drop Little Yi at your sister’s house?”
Little Yi comes running out of the bathroom in only his Spiderman underwear holding a pair of tan pants, “Mom, I don’t want to wear these today! I want to wear the jeans with suspenders.”
Fan Rou laughs and hugs him into her arms. She ruffles his fluffy hair, “How can you be so picky at such a young age.”
“I’m going to be an actor Mom. I need to always look my best. The tan pants make my butt look big.”
She can’t help but laugh at her precocious son. “Where do you get these ideas?”
“Auntie says I am the cutest little boy she has ever seen. I am cuter than the brat on “Destined To Love You” . I should be on television.”
Fan Rou looks at her husband and raises a delicate thin eyebrow,“You and your sister are like night and day. She lets him watches those dramas all day and fills Yi’s head with nonsense.”
The little boy puffs out his cheeks like a small hedgehog. “Mom. It isn’t nonsense. I am very cute. You always tell me I am too.” He holds up three chubby fingers. “The Aunties down the street always pinch my cheeks and say I am the cutest. The lady that sat next to us on the bus..”
“Enough.”She shakes her head then pinches his soft cheek. “ We get it our Little Yi is the very cutest. Well let’s get you changed, your father will give you a ride today.”
Fan Zhang picks up a steaming cup of coffee and leans on the kitchen counter deep in thought. He heard from his friend that the pay at Han Construction is the best in the industry. They offer benefits and provide a harmonious working environment. They limit the amount of territory a salesman covers and are a family oriented company.
He blows on the coffee.Could I really get a job there? I only have a High School Education,. I applied as a fluke one night when I got home really pissed off at the inhumane treatment from my new Boss. I had to travel to several different cities and he only approved the reimbursement for 70% of my lodging costs saying I was overly extravagant and one meal a day… I should have packed food. What a fucking joke! I stayed in the cheapest motels available one was overridden with cockroaches another rat trap the toilet didn’t work.
Fan Rou walks back into the kitchen and chuckles at her husband and son who both seem lost in their thoughts. Most people think Ji looks like me but when he has a serious expression he looks exactly like my handsome Zhang.
Fan Rou takes the cup of coffee from Fan Zhang’s hand and sets it on the counter. She impulsively wraps her arms around him and presses her head on his chest. She loves the slight woodsy fragrance on his body from the soap he uses. She inhales deeply and her voice is soft. “Husband, I am so happy you are home. I missed you.” She gazes up at him her eyes filled with deep love. “ Will you be home for awhile.”
He smiles at her tender and loving expression as he lowers his head and kisses her tempting lips. “Maybe. I will find out today.”
He brushes some loose hairs behind her ear, “RouRou, get Little Yi.”
then tells Shizi. “Time to go. “
Shizi gulps down the glass of milk and says, “Dad, if it is inconvenient I can take the bus.” If Dad drops me off at school how am I going to ditch? I planned on using a voice modulator simulating a woman’s voice and say I am sick today. Bam..no questions. I never take sick days. The school attendance office doesn’t know mom’s voice.
“Not a problem. “ Walks toward the hallway leading to the two bedrooms, “Rou, is Yi dressed?”
The little boy comes strutting down the hallway like a small peacock. “Mom, don’t I look handsome?”
“Very.” She bends down and kisses his cheek then puts on his coat and hat. When she wraps the red and white scarf around his neck she has a serious expression. “Today don’t just watch television with your Auntie. You will be starting kindergarten soon and you need to practice your handwriting. I put an exercise book in your backpack.”
“Mom, we don’t just watch dramas. Auntie is teaching me how to be an actor.”
Fan Zhang pulls him by the collar. “Do as your mother said.”
“But Dad! I need to memorize my lines!” He starts to say she is taking him to an audition but remembers Auntie SuSu said to zip his lip..it is a secret.
Fan Zhang tells his wife. “I will remind Sis when I drop him off.”
She hands him the colorful backpack, “Drive safe. I heard the trucks when I got up clearing the snow but the roads still could be dangerous.”
Fan Rou helps him with his overcoat,”I have to work a couple hours later tonight the management ran a leasing special so it will be busy in the office. I put dinner in the refrigerator and you just have to heat the food.”
He tenderly kisses her lips, my wife you are so beautiful… how did I get so lucky. I really don’t deserve you. But maybe if I get this job you can quit your manager job and concentrate on your painting. “I only have this appointment this morning. I can pick you up. Call me when you are almost finished.”
“I don’t mind taking the bus.”
He playfully slaps her bottom, “Don’t be disobedient. I said call me.”
She smiles brightly, “Well then I will trouble you.”
Fan Ji has a complicated expression seeing his taciturn father being unusually affectionate with his mother., Dad is acting strange. I wonder what is going on with him? Shit! I can’t worry about that..time is slipping away. I need to find the woman.
When they pull up to his Aunt’s house his father says, “I’m going inside for a minute I will be right out. He looks at his watch, “You won’t be late.’
Shizi unbuckles Little Yi from the car seat, “See you after school little man.”
Fan Zhang opens the car door and picks up Little Yi. He carries him to the front door of his sister’s house.
When she answers he frowns at her sloppy appearance, his little sister’s short black curly hair is matted like a bird’s nest and she has mascara smudged under her big brown eyes. She is wearing green dragon pajamas and chewing an apple, “Zhangy Zhang! It’s been so long! Come in!”
Once inside he hands his sister a tissue from the table, “Wipe your eyes. Shouldn’t you take your makeup off when you go to sleep? Nevermind… I can’t stay long but…” Yi is pulling on the pajama’s dragon tail. The corner of Fan Zhang’s mouth is twitching, “Yi, go play in the other room. I need to talk to your Aunt.”
She has the balled up tissue in her hand and throws it towards a waste basket. She misses and doesn’t walk to pick it up. “Brother, Zhangy..why do you look so serious? Are you constipated..no…” She has a mischiveous grin on her cute face, “That is your natural expression. How did you capture that sweet beautiful wife of yours anyway? I could use it when writing my next script.”
He ignores her sarcasm as he looks around the cluttered room. Books are stacked randomly on the floor and the tables are covered with African statues and masks.“SuSu, I have serious doubts about your sanity right now.”
She laughs, “ ZhangZhang, you are such a clean freak! Jinni is coming tomorrow to clean. I am working on a new project.” She picks up an African mask and puts it up to her small round face. “ I am using these for inspiration. I am writing a psychological mystery and the protagonist is a French Art Collector who specializes in African Art.”
He affectionately ruffles her hair then grimaces ,When was the last time you washed your hair? ” “SuSu, now I know you lost it. You are a screenwriter for..haha..idol dramas.”
SuSu swats his arm, “So! Unlike you my stuffy boring brother, I am an adventurous person. I am trying something new. I met this man at an Art Gallery and I am modeling the male lead after him. I’m meeting him tomorrow to discuss.”
“In other words you fell in love at first sight with a handsome foreign Art Collector. I’m assuming he is good looking… You are using the pretense of picking his brain to get close to him because… what Little SuSu, the aspiring mystery writer, haha.. really wants is to fu..”
She turns crimson red and covers his mouth when she sees Little Yi. “Honey, I got you some yogurt drinks you like. Go get one out of the refrigerator.”
He shakes his head. “Anyway, RouRou wants Little Yi to practice his handwriting. The exercise book is in his backpack.”
“Okay. I can do that.”
“Don’t fill his head with nonsense.”
She giggles and her pretty brown eyes sparkle, “I never tell my favorite little nephew nonsense!”
Little Yi comes running out of the kitchen in one hand is a small pink bottle of yogurt in the other is an African mask. He holds the colorful mask to his face, “Auntie you can’t always be the Chief. Today, I will be the Kobungi Chief…you can be the Medicine Doctor.”