Is this guy making fun of me?
What kind of question is this? How to make a ghost smoke? Smoke your sister!
I shook my head, “I don’t know. I’m just an antique salesman. You’ve got the wrong guy.”
“Sir, why are you being dishonest? I know everything about you, so it’s pointless to hide things. Just tell me the truth, okay? I’m not asking for free; I have money.”
Then, the heavy smoker took out a large stack of cash. All of them were five or ten-renminbi notes. I estimated that it was around one or two hundred renminbi in total.
I was amused. “I already said that I don’t know. Can you stop bothering me? Otherwise, I'll have to get someone to kick you out.”
“I’ll leave if you answer my question.” The heavy smoker shamelessly sat down next to me.
I was speechless and could only reluctantly tell him, “For a ghost to smoke, they’d have to die for that very same reason. For example, the Chinese smokers who died during the Opium War died because of smoking. After dying and becoming ghosts, their addiction did not end, and they continued to look for opium they could smoke. Are you satisfied now? If you are, leave.”
The man laughed and threw the pocket change on the table before leaving hurriedly.
I called after the beggar-like fellow, “Take your money with you!”
However, the man was already far and couldn’t hear me.
Seeing the banknotes on the table, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I was somewhat amused by that man.
And yet, I never would have expected that my casual response would bring me so much trouble later.
It happened one month after that night. By then, I had completely forgotten about the heavy smoker.
Around one month later, during business hours, a shadow appeared outside my antique shop, hiding in the corner. It seemed that they didn’t want to enter.
Puzzled, I asked them, “Who is it? Are you looking for me?”
The other party spoke, and I quickly realized that it was the heavy smoker. “I’m here to thank you.”
“Thank me?” I was clueless, staring at him. “Why do you need to thank me?”
“No reason. I’m just here to thank you. Tomorrow, I’ll send my son to bring you some money.”
Then, he left. I wasn’t sure if I was seeing things, but I thought I saw the man walking strangely. In fact, it looked like he was floating, and he didn’t even raise his feet while passing over the doorstep.
I was bewildered. What’s happening? Did he just pass through the doorstep?
I didn’t waste any more time and hurried to check.
The dim light coming from the light poles faintly illuminated the antique street. The cold wind was blowing, but the shadow of the heavy smoker was nowhere to be seen.
Strange, how was he so quick?
I felt that there was something wrong about that man. When I got a hold of myself, I felt goosebumps on my skin. I rubbed my arms to calm down and hurried back to my antique shop.
For the entire night, I felt very uncomfortable. I knew that the cause of my discomfort was the heavy smoker. Once again, I had to read the sacred text of Daoism to calm down.
By three or four in the morning, I knew that there would be no business today. As I still felt restless, I decided to close the shop and go to bed.
I didn’t know how long I had slept, but I was awakened by someone knocking on my door, which infuriated me. People who knew me my daily schedule would never disturb me early in the morning unless it was something important. Who was it at this hour?
At first, I decided not to give a damn. However, the person at the door didn’t relent, continuously pounding on my door. Helpless, I got up from my bed and went to open the door.
Standing outside was a young man. It was a boy with a mohawk dyed in green that wore ragged clothes with several holes. I didn’t know if his dressing style was some sort of latest fashion.
Judging from his appearance, he seemed to have stayed up all night. The dark circles under his eyes were prominent, and he had specks of dirt on his face. It made me wonder when he last washed his face.
“Who are you?” I growled.
“You’re the boss here?” The young man eyed me from head to toe as he spoke.
“I am,” I grunted.
“Here’s your money.” He lazily took out a bunch of small banknotes from his pocket, shoving them into my hand. Then, he turned around and left.
I was enraged and grabbed him. “Who are you? Why are you doing this? Go give this money to some beggar!”
“I’m warning you. Don’t grab my clothes.” The young man sounded irate. “My father asked me to come and give you this money. If you don’t want it, you can throw it in the trash. Don’t bother me, I’m going to the internet cafe to play League of Legends.”
Then, he yanked his shirt out of my hand, leaving angrily.
I suddenly remembered the heavy smoker. Yesterday, he told me that he would send his son to give me money. If I wasn’t mistaken, that young man should be the heavy smoker’s son...
I was puzzled. Why did the smoker give me money? He didn’t owe me anything.
Not knowing what to do, I decided to put the money under a stack of books.
I didn’t want to owe people anything. If I took someone’s money, karma would be formed, and the consequences would be unpredictable. To avoid any problem, it was better not to accept this money. If I could return it, it would be for the best.
Those days had been pretty eventless, with the only ripple of water being the smoker and his son.
Li Mazi and Ru Xue would often see each other, with Li Mazi getting annoyed to death each time. Ru Xue constantly followed him with a serious face, resembling his shadow.
Sometimes, when he couldn’t stand her anymore, he would come to my shop to complain, drinking until he blacked out. And, from the way Ru Xue followed Li Mazi around, I could tell that she somewhat liked him…
One day, Li Mazi was at my house, and Ru Xue was also with us, asking me about the otherworldly items we had encountered. Li Mazi and I recalled our memories while drinking. When we remembered Chu Chu and the old shaman, Li Mazi became greatly emotional. He lifted the wine bottle, gulping it down at once while crying.
Ru Xue comforted him, “The deceased can’t come back to life. Moreover, Chu Chu wouldn’t want to see you torturing yourself like this.”
While Li Mazi was dealing with his emotions, a figure suddenly staggered into my shop. They seemed pale and tired, had bloodshot eyes, and a listless appearance. A thick smell of smoke exuded from their body, which made Ru Xue cough a few times.
It was the son of the heavy smoker, but he looked much thinner than before. He was like a dried stick now. What caught my attention was that the last time he visited, he didn’t have that thick smell of smoke. I didn’t know what happened to him, but now he was radiating that disgusting stench from all over his body.
However, unless one had smoked for ten or twenty years, they should not have such a smell on their body. How could he get this thick smell after just one month?
“Why have you come here again?” I asked impatiently.
“Sir, I want to ask you something.” The man shivered as he looked at me. Before continuing, his eyes unconsciously stopped on Li Mazi and Xu Rue. “Is there a more private place inside where we could talk?”
I considered the possibility that something might have happened to the young man, so I nodded and took him to the back room.
As soon as he got into the room, he immediately said, “Sir, I have a question. Can ghosts smoke?”
I was bewildered. It sounded so familiar, and I thought that I had heard this question before. I racked my brain; shortly after, I remembered that the heavy smoker had asked me the same thing.
This pair of father and son was really alike.
I then asked, “They can. What happened?”
As soon as I said that, he squatted, clutching his head. “Oh gosh, it’s over. Sir, you know what? I bumped into some ghost!”
“A ghost?” Ru Xue pushed the bedroom door open. It turned out she was eavesdropping outside. “Did you encounter a ghost? Tell me, tell me!”
The young man was worried, looking at Ru Xue. “Who is this?”
I immediately waved my hand. “It’s okay. Just tell me.”
The young man was cautious, and he didn’t want to talk. Ru Xue got angry and made an excuse. “I’m his assistant. I’m here to help him!”
Ru Xue and Li Mazi were really similar. Previously, whenever Li Mazi was in a similar situation, he would also say that he was my assistant.
“Okay then.” The man finally decided to talk. “Every night, my father will come home and smoke. He smokes a lot. I got this smoky smell from him. Even if I shower three times a day, I can’t get rid of it.”
I burst out into laughter. “Well, your father is a heavy smoker, isn’t he? In that case, you should take him to some rehab center.”
“This is no joking matter. My father is dead. How could a rehab center manage a ghost?” The young man had a wry smile.
“What?” I was speechless. “You said your father is dead? When did this happen?”
“More than one month ago,” he said.
Impossible! My first reaction to the man’s statement was that it wasn’t possible. I saw the heavy smoker a few days ago. He came to thank me and promised that he would send his son to give me money. How could he have died more than one month ago?
I asked him again, but the young man confirmed that his father had been gone for more than one month.
I was stunned. If the young man wasn’t lying, the heavy smoker I saw a few days ago was a ghost.
What bad luck!
Anyway, him dying wasn’t the problem. The problem was that he had come to thank me and give me money. I was certain that there was a story behind this, but I wasn’t prepared to tackle it. It was better if I didn’t know about it.
So, I told the young man, “As your father has passed away, you should burn some paper money for him! In addition, you should burn his opium pipe altogether to prevent him from returning to smoke.”
The young man got on his knees in front of me. “Mister Zhang, you must save me! You can’t just stand by and let me die! You’re the reason my father returns every night to smoke! You can’t just send me away like this...”
I was enraged. How did this become my responsibility now? Is he trying to put the blame on me?
I immediately snapped, “It has nothing to do with me. If you make a mess here, I’m going to call the police.”
However, the guy refused to leave no matter what.
Like father like son. Previously, his dead father had also refused to leave my place unless I helped him, and now it was his son’s turn!Previous Chapter Next Chapter