EVERYTHING SHOULD BE UNDER THE SUN...
NO New Nuclear Weapons... NO New Nuclear Targets... NO New Pretexts For Nuclear War... NO Nuclear Testing...
NO Star Wars... NO Weapons In Space...
NO All Types Of Weapons, War & War Culture...
We have only one WORLD yet! If we destroy it, where else will we go?

Old Wei & Young Wei
Part 8

Robert J. BAUMANN


Xu had punched me. It was a shameful thing. His brother Deng had to hold my arms behind my back. Now old Lung thought I'd creep away, but he was wrong.

The use of such force only deepened my determination. It was no longer a matter of the fact that Fang Li or her mother were watching all this.  Now it was a matter of honor and I would not leave until I was given a refund or a fresh melon.

When Deng released me I made it a point to slowly brush myself off.  What I was really doing was stalling for time. I needed to catch some air back into my lungs.

"You," I finally gasped, "are the shameful fraud. Every one of these melons is a monkey melon. Did you notice the smell of my melon when I was forced to drop it?"

I turned to Fang Li's mother. "Watch," I said to her, and without a moments more hesitation I grabbed the melon out of her hand a threw it on the ground. Deng, angered by all this, grabbed me around the waist and began to squeeze me. My air was in short supply, but I had enough energy to swing my foot back deep into his groin. He howled with pain and dropped me, but it did not matter. Brother Xu was closing in fast. He shoved Deng to the side and Deng, who was doubled over in pain dropped to the ground.

Xu picked me up by one hand right around my neck. He lifted me up and off the ground. He was shouting a lot of extremely bad words. I figured this was the end of a short, sad life. I closed my eyes waiting for the end.  It did not come. Xu dropped me completely. When I opened my eyes I saw Mother Fang standing over Xu, the cane she hit him with was still in her hand. Fang Li rushed over to me. She cradled my head in her arms. Oh the pain. Oh, what heaven. I felt wonderful and terrible at the same time. She looked right into my eyes. Her hand gently brushed my cheek.  Mother Fang walked over and had Li brace me until I was sitting up.

"The boy is right. Smell this melon you were about to sell me. Do you deny it?"

Lung looked over the top of his glasses and his eyes narrowed. "It must be some mistake. I know boys like this are always trying to trick honest people. Who knows what he rubbed on the melon before he dropped it?"

"If he rubbed this melon it was only on the outside. You take your melons and leave this market. If I see you again I will report you to every honest merchant with a stand here. They will not let you stay. Leave our town. Pack quickly and you may avoid spending the night in jail."

Mother Fang prodded me with her cane. "Get up, boy. You can do it on your own. Li, you can let him stand up on his own." Mother Fang looked at me. She ran her hands over my neck.

"Good thing you have a strong, thick neck. It must be from all the exercise of carrying around that bone head you try to think with." She smiled at her own humor. It was her chance for a bit of a reprimand, but it was not forthcoming.

"You are just like your Grandfather, Wei. He would not let anyone take advantage of him when he was your age. He liked to fight, too, as I recall. Have him tell you about the time he took me to the Park. If he remembers it, that is. It was a long time ago."

I was shaken. Grandfather dated the old crow? Hah. My lucky crow had flown away and had been replaced by an old crow instead. I guess that is a bit unkind as, after all, she did rescue me. I wondered then if it was because I had been right or if it was because she knew Grandfather.

Lung's two sons were shaking themselves off and I was worried that they would soon attack again. However all the commotion had drawn a crowd, and this was something that Lung feared most. I walked right up to the old man and stuck out my hand.

"Ten yen, please." I looked the old crook right in the eye. He was really mad. He looked at me, Mother Fang and then the crowd. A smile seemed to cross his face. He looked out and spoke to the crowd.

"We must close early today due to a family emergency. Sorry for any inconvenience."

It was spoken as if nothing had happened. He was trying to save face,  so I shouted a bit louder demanding my money.

Lung threw the coin at me and cursed me. "May that one be your mother-in-law someday" he said. I returned the intended insult in kind. "And may your sons never find a mother-in-law to care about them!"

"What happened here?" I knew that voice. It was Grandfather. "I turn my back for one moment and the boy disappears. Wei, what did you do?" I handed Grandfather the coin. He took it and put it in his pocket.

"Come, boy. We have shopping to do and you have wasted enough time."

I turned around to Mother Fang, who was walking back to her daughter. "Thank you," I said to her back. She looked over her shoulder and said, "No, Wei, I thank you. You bought only one melon. We were about to buy several. Thank you." Mother Fang smiled at me. From the distance beyond I could see Fang Li's smile. Her head nodded to me and I nodded back.

What Mother Fang said reminded me that Grandfather had not bought one melon, but two. Where was the other melon? I ran to catch up with Grandfather. I had questions to ask him, but of course I would not be able to. If I did ask, he'd never answer them. I wondered what had happened in the Park. I wondered why they did not greet each other. Questions on top of questions. My Grandfather was a bigger puzzle than I had thought.

To Be Continued...

© Bob Baumann

E-mail: rbaumann@nyc.rr.com

   
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