Brother Wei put the hem of his shirt down. “But you can join the case now. After all, I sold the item already, and I know you’re capable of retrieving it. You can sell it for a few hundred renminbi later. It’s a win-win situation.”
I cussed, “Win-win my butt! You cheated us!”
“Don’t speak such words. We’re in the same business. Are you confident that all the otherworldly items you’ve sold are safe? Don’t fool yourself and lie to others. This business is like selling drugs. We know they’re not good, but people still ask for them, and we deliver. We’re just working to make ends meet. Don’t think too much about it.”
Brother Wei’s code of ethics made me speechless.
He collected his stuff and put them in a big suitcase. He even put on a pair of sunglasses and prepared to leave with an excited face. Before leaving, he told me, “Boss Zhang, I owe you this time. When we have a chance, we should work together!”
After he left, I sat down helplessly and clutched my head.
“Are you okay?” asked Yin Xinyue.
“I’m doubting the ethics of my profession.”
She comforted me. “You shouldn’t think about it that way. I don’t think you need to feel guilty. After all, you can’t ensure everybody’s happiness. And, some people are willing to exchange their longevity and luck for something beautiful, even if it’s just for a moment. It’s their choice. It has nothing to do with you…”
Yin Xinyue’s words made me feel better. “Xinyue, you should keep your distance from that screenwriter. When he has a problem, I will help him for free.”
This was another burden on my mind.
When I got home, I started my preparations. I checked books and journals and drew some talismans. Yet, although it had been a few days already, I hadn’t heard anything from Meng Dongye. I even followed his Weibo page, and there were new updates every day. It was either about some insights he had or updates about his good mood and his writing, which was going smoothly.
The magic brush seemed to work well.
Half a month later.
I was occupied with other activities, so I had almost forgotten about this case. One day, while I was eating with Yin Xinyue, she told me that Meng Dongye had submitted his new script to the director, which the director highly appreciated. The overall assessment of the script was extremely high; it could even reach the standard of Hollywood movie scripts!
However, there were so many typos and sentence structure problems. It wasn’t easy to read. They needed to hire an editor to smoothen it. However, Meng Dongye graduated with a degree in Chinese language and literature. His writing shouldn’t have such low-level mistakes. The director guessed that he had made such mistakes because of his fast speed.
I asked Yin Xinyue, “How many words are there in a script?”
“For a forty-episode script like his, it would be more than 800,000 words.”
I had a high school classmate who worked as a webnovel author. His target per day was 10,000 words, and his commission for one thousand words was just a few cents. Every day, he worked until he exhausted himself to earn around two hundred renminbi.
It looked like he had a lot of free time as there was no boss to watch over him or urge him to work, but it was as hard as any other job.
Meng Dongye had written 800,000 words in half a month. What kind of concept was that? He must have written at least more than 50,000 words a day to achieve that. Moreover, writing wasn’t easy. He would need time to let his brain rest to think about the details and outlines. Let alone writing everything down, even if he had the draft and just needed to write from it, he would have to sit in front of his computer for more than ten hours a day.
Seeing how much he was working, I was worried about Meng Dongye’s body condition. I suggested that we visit him in the afternoon. Yin Xinyue agreed with me.
In the afternoon, Yin Xinyue and I drove to Meng Dongye’s home. He lived in an apartment building in a luxurious neighborhood. He was divorced, and his two kids lived with their mother. His job was to stay home and write scripts, and he sometimes went out to discuss the storyline with the directors.
We went to the building and hit the intercom. It took a long time before someone picked up the call.
We announced ourselves, and Meng Dongye replied, sounding exhausted, “I’m sorry but please leave. I’m writing. I don’t have time to welcome you.”
“Didn’t he finish his script? What could he be working on?” asked Yin Xinyue.
“I’m afraid he’s bewitched.” I frowned.
“Should we go in or not?”
“Of course, we have to see him!”
We waited in the lobby until an aunty returned home from the grocery store and opened the door. We quickly followed her into the building.
Meng Dongye lived on the fifth floor. Before my hand could reach his door, Meng Dongye screamed from the inside, “Get lost! Go away! Don’t disturb me!”
“He's getting more and more cocky!” I knocked on the door. However, Meng Dongye ignored me.
“He doesn’t want to open the door. We should come back later,” suggested Yin Xinyue.
“No! He’s not in good condition. If this lasts longer, things will turn worse. We need to see him today.” I contemplated then said, “If we can’t do it the soft way, we’ll get someone to pick his lock!”
“If we want to pick a lock, we’ll need to contact the police first.” Yin Xinyue looked worried.
“There’s no need. I’ll just call Li Mazi!”
I immediately called him. “Hey Li Mazi, come with your lock-picking tools. I’ve got a top priority mission for you!”
Li Mazi came shortly after.
“Li Mazi, I guess your lock-picking skills have improved. I’m giving you a chance to show your talent!”
“You want me to open this lock?” Li Mazi rolled his eyes.
“I’m not bragging, but I just need two toothpicks to unlock this ordinary anti-theft door.” Li Mazi laughed.
Then, he took out his tools and started to work on the lock. He didn’t forget to flatter himself. “Now, count down from twenty. If it takes more than twenty seconds, then my skills aren’t good enough.”
When I finished the countdown, he screamed “Open!” and used his hand to pull the door. However, the door didn’t move.
“Your trick failed? You really lost face this time!” I laughed.
“No, there is something wrong here!” Li Mazi stooped and studied the lock. “This door is locked from the inside. Someone’s in the apartment!”
“Yeah, that’s correct.”
“Why didn’t you tell me earlier? You just need to knock on the door! Did you have so much free time that you wanted to check my skills? Were you that bored?”
“You can try knocking on the door.”
Li Mazi hit the door several times. The last few knocks were louder than the first. Meng Dongye suddenly thundered, “Go! Go away! Don’t disturb me!”
“Who is that? He’s so angry! Did he swallow a lot of pepper?” asked Li Mazi.
I told him about the situation. “You must figure out a way to open this door today. Otherwise, Meng Dongye will possibly die in his apartment.”
As soon as Li Mazi knew that the man inside was a client, he became high-spirited. “Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
“I’m somewhat responsible for what happened to him, so I’m doing this for free.”
“For free?!” Li Mazi fumed.
“Well, I’m not forcing you. If you open the lock for me, I’ll pay you a few hundred renminbi. Is that okay?” I said.
“Am I just a jerk that only works for money in your eyes? Don’t talk nonsense. I’m going to open this door for you!” screamed Li Mazi.
Then, he took out a hand drill and asked us to watch over the scene for him.
Li Mazi used his hand drill to slowly bore the door. It was a boring process, so while drilling, he asked me, “Little Brother Zhang, how much is that magic brush worth?”
“You can’t hide your nature after just three sentences.” I had a wry smile.
“It was just a casual question.” Li Mazi pouted.
After drilling through the lock, Li Mazi inserted two tiny hooks, gently turning them and opening the door.
At least, Li Mazi had a specialty we could count on.
As soon as we entered the living room, I smelled a terrible stench. Empty wine bottles, leftovers in takeaway boxes, and cigarette ashes were scattered around the floor. Dirty clothes were on the sofa, and the curtains hung loose. I wondered how long this room had been concealed from the sunlight. The entire house was about to grow mold.
“Oh gosh! Do all famous authors live like this? Do they hate the sunlight?” Li Mazi pinched his nose.
“It depends, I guess,” I answered casually. Anyway, I didn’t know much about their lifestyle.
We heard Meng Dongye yell from his bedroom. “Go away! Get lost! All of you! You thugs!”
The three of us exchanged looks. What was going on? Why did he scold us? We hadn’t done anything!
Well, we did pick his lock.
Eventually, I decided to go to his bedroom to see. He was just a screenwriter that didn’t even have the strength to truss a chicken. What could he do to us?
As soon as we entered the room, we felt a gloomy atmosphere.
When I saw the interior, I was dumbstruck. There wasn’t just one person in the room! There were five of them!Previous Chapter Next Chapter