Knock knock knock…
The sound of knocking came suddenly to their ears, followed by a male Russian voice. “Sir, it’s time to go.”
The two people on the bed stiffened, as if they had been instantly frozen by the Siberian wind.
Knock knock knock…
“Sir, did you hear me?” came the Russian man’s voice.
Long Bing and Xia Lei came back to their senses and hurriedly got off the bed.
Knock knock knock…
“Stop knocking,” said Xia Lei in Russian. He was annoyed. “We hear you.”
“Yes, Sir. I’ll wait out here,” said the Russian soldier outside the door.
Long Bing had her clothes on already. She looked at the watch on her wrist and frowned. “Wasn’t it supposed to be 0400 hrs? It’s not even 0100 hrs yet. Is this how Russian people keep time?”
She was in a bad mood. A rare chance had come for her to experience what it was like to be a woman, and she had bravely made her decision, but a damned Russian guy with no time-keeping sense had come to ruin it at this crucial time. This feeling was like if one had been walking in the desert for days and suddenly spotted an oasis, then run over only to find out that it was a mirage.
Xia Lei laughed awkwardly, finding it difficult to give her an appropriate response. He could not help recalling the situation earlier – that beautiful white landscape had excited him and unsettled him at the same time. Xia Lei had not thought of Shentu Tianyin once earlier, but he thought of her now, and was stabbed with guilt.
Xia Lei put his clothes on quickly too and went to open the door.
The Russian soldier in the doorway was different from the one who had brought them dinner. This Russian guy put a smile on his face, unaware of what he had interrupted.
“Wasn’t it agreed that it would be 0400 hrs?” said Xia Lei. “It’s only 0100 hrs now. Why has it been brought forward?”
“It’s because the fishing vessel arrived early. Our commanding officer says we can’t let it stay here for hours, so he’s ordered me to urge you to get on board. It’s nothing big. There’s no difference if it comes earlier or later. You don’t have to worry about any special circumstances.”
Long Bing appeared in the doorway too and said coldly in Chinese, “I hate you Russians. You have no concept of time.”
The Russian soldier paused and said suspiciously, “What did you say, Miss?”
“I said you’re a stupid pig,” said Long Bing in annoyance.
The Russian soldier shrugged and said with a smile, “Sorry, I don’t understand Chinese.”
“It’s nothing,” said Xia Lei. “She said you’re a good guy and you’ll have a bright future.”
“Aha. Thank you.” The Russian soldier smiled cheerily.
“Carry that guy up on the fishing vessel for me. I’ll give you USD 200,” said Xia Lei.
“No problem.” The Russian soldier agreed readily. USD 200 was enough money for him for some time, and he was only going to do a bit of work. Of course he’d be happy to do it.
A few minutes later, the Russian soldier led Long Bing and Xia Lei to the fishing vessel while carrying Gu Kewu over his shoulder. The room was next to the pier, and not far away at all. Xia Lei spotted the fishing vessel from far away. There was a Japanese flag on the mast, flapping in the sea winds. Xia Lei always thought the bright red circle with its white background was weird.
Long Bing grumbled as she walked. “You gave him two hundred? You should give him two slaps. Why does this irritating guy gets a big tip? This world isn’t fair.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
If this was the battlefield, Long Bing, and her temper, would have shot the Russian man. Not in the head or the heart, but in his limbs, to cripple him.
Xia Lei was unsettled by Long Bing’s behaviour, and part of it was because of the guilt he felt towards Shentu Tianyin, and part due to what he felt he owed Long Bing. This feeling was unbearable.
Men were like this. Once impulse was acted upon, and after it was satisfied, trouble came. The result was obvious and known to all, but that did not stop the millions of men from doing it in the first place.
The captain of the fishing vessel was a Japanese-Russian man of about 40. He was stout, with blue eyes but a Japanese face, small-eyed and short nose. He was not a sample of the beautiful mixed-race population. The man had a Japanese name – Takeshita Nobu.
“You know what? His mother had him from an affair. The cheating took place in a bamboo forest, so the ‘taka’ of bamboo was used when he was named. Haha! Interesting, isn’t it?” The Russian soldier spoke in a low voice to Xia Lei as they walked up to the fishing vessel. “He specialises in smuggling and it’s rumoured that he has a Yakuza background. Our sergeant can control him but you guys have to be careful, still. People like these probably have no morals. Take this bit of information as a sort of repayment, Sir. You really are generous.”
“Thank you.” Xia Lei smiled in appreciation of the Russian soldier’s goodwill.
Be good to others and others will be good to you – this was quite true.
This Russian soldier did not give very valuable information but it did make Xia Lei more alert.
The soldier carried Gu Kewu on board the fishing vessel and spoke to Takeshita Nobu. “Take care of them. They’re not the goods you used to smuggle.”
Takeshita Nobu looked Xia Lei and Long Bing up and down, then at Gu Kewu lying on the planks. He spoke in Russian, “What’s with this guy?”
“You don’t have to bother about this one,” said the Russian soldier.
“This ain’t right. We’d agreed on two. There’s one more now, so they have to pay more.” Takeshita Nobu was not giving ground.
“How can you do this?” said the Russian soldier in discontent.
“This ain’t your business no more. Go away,” said Takeshita Nobu rudely.
The soldier made to say something more but Xia Lei cut him off. “It’s all right, Friend. Leave. I will talk with him.”
“Okay. Remember what I told you just now.” The Russian soldier gave Xia Lei a warning before he disembarked.
Takeshita Nobu spoke aggressively as soon as the Russian soldier left. “Who’s in charge here? You need to pay USD 10,000 more. No money, no boat to Japan.”
“USD 10,000? No problem.” Xia Lei took out a bundle of American dollars from his backpack and handed it casually to Takeshita Nobu. “This is USD 10,000. You can start the boat.”
Takeshita Nobu thumbed the bundle swiftly while looking at the backpack over Xia Lei’s shoulder out of the corner of his eye. He then gave a laugh. “Money talks. Get into the cabin. We’re leaving.”
A sailor led Xia Lei and Long Bing to a cabin.
Xia Lei put Gu Kewu on the cabin floor. There was garbage all over the floor; takeaway boxes, condoms, tissues and whatnot. It was a mass of mess. The cabin smelled bad enough to make one frown.
“Stay here obediently and don’t move about, or I’ll get nasty!” snarled the sailor in Japanese. He looked very fierce. With a gun hidden at his waist, it was easy to tell that he was not a fishing boat sailor.
“Don’t worry, we won’t,” said Xia Lei.
The sailor looked Long Bing up and down, stopping at her breasts. Lust shot through his gaze in that instant, and a perverted smile bent his lips.
Long Bing’s gaze was cold, but she did nothing else. This sailor made her uncomfortable but she was not going to make a move because of a rude look. Besides, they needed this fishing boat to get to Japan.
The sailor left the cabin, and sounds of a metal lock being locked came from the door.
Xia Lei’s left eye twitched and the cabin melted away from his sight, revealing the Japanese sailor.
“Chinese pigs! Bah!” cursed the sailor, but softly.
Xia Lei lip-read that curse, and he scowled. His eyes turned cold.
“Why did they lock the door?” asked Long Bing.
“I don’t know,” said Xia Lei. “This ship is a little strange. We’d better be on guard.”
“We are in contact with the relevant people on the Russian side, and the Russian side arranged for this boat for us. I’m not sure about the details. If I’d known, we would’ve used our own channels to enter Japan,” said Long Bing.
Just then, Gu Kewu stirred and was conscious. “Where’s this…”
Before he could finish his sentence, Long Bing stomped on his carotid artery and he fainted with a moan.
The fishing vessel’s motor started, and the hull of the boat humped the waves as it moved towards the Japanese mainland.Previous Chapter Next Chapter