We’ll Still Be Brothers In Our Next Life
Xia Lei invited Zhou Wei and Jiang Xin to a celebratory meal with Ma Xiao-An, Zhou Xiao-Hong and the others. Zhou Xiao-Hong, Chen A-Jiao and the others were not very refined and they smelt of earth but Xia Lei did not care what Zhou Wei and Jiang Xin thought of them. He would not look down on them because he had achieved something now. Zhou Wei and Jiang Xin had no intention of taking Ma Xiao-An and the others lightly either - everyone chatted and laughed and they had a lively meal.
After sending Zhou Wei and Jiang Xin off, Xia Lei and Ma Xiao-An went to Hai-Zhu City Trade and Business Bureau to register the company.
“Lei, have you thought of the company name?” asked Ma Xiao-An in the car.
“Is there a need to think? Thunder Horse Manufacturing,” said Xia Lei.
“That’s… Remove the ‘horse’. The company is yours. It’s awkward to have my name in there,” said Ma Xiao-An.
Xia Lei smiled, “The company is mine but you are my Brother. I’d said that we will go through thick and thin together. You have to help manage the company too after it’s established. After the business gets on track you can stop doing the rough work and just focus on management. The few people we have in the workshop are definitely not going to be enough; we need to get some employees who are more cultured and skilled. To sum it up, I’ll give you more when we earn more and less when I earn less.”
“Lei, I…” Ma Xiao-An was so touched he could not speak.
Xia Lei patted his shoulder, “Xiao-An, we’ve played together since we were children. We are Brothers for this lifetime, and not after. I am not the sort who would cast aside his Brother after striking it rich.”
“What ‘this lifetime’? I’ll be your Brother in the next life too. You’re doing well in this lifetime so I’ll follow you. It’ll be my turn in our next lifetime so I’ll definitely do better. You follow me in our next lifetime,” said Ma Xiao-An.
Xia Lei chuckled, “Sure, I’ll follow you in my next life.”
They laughed and chatted all the way to the Trade and Business Bureau. Xia Lei parked the car in the carpark and walked into the building with Ma Xiao-An.
It was not difficult to register a company after the administrative procedures had been simplified. Xia Lei filled some forms and submitted proof of assets and the first step was done. They just had to wait for the Trade and Business Bureau to approve of it and Thunder Horse Manufacturing would be established.
After exiting the building, Xia Lei drove towards Thunder Horse Workshop.
“Lei, it’s time for you to find yourself a woman.” On the way back, Ma Xiao-An seemed to think of this issue out of the blue and spoke his mind, “You’re the boss of a company now. You need a woman by your side to wait on you and match your status. See those company bosses? They have multiple women - wife at home, lovers outside, secretaries and a whole load of women.”
“You know me. I’m not an easy guy,” said Xia Lei.
“Then look earnestly for one, marry her and get her to do laundry, cook and raise your children. At night, you guys will… Heh Heh. Jiang Ru-Yi is not bad. She has some feelings for you, I can tell. You’re such a dumbass that you don’t see it,” laughed Ma Xiao-An.
“Don’t be stupid. She and I are just friends. Besides, with her temper, I’ll be stepped on and oppressed if I marry her. I don’t like that,” said Xia Lei.
Ma Xiao-An paused, then laughed again, “That’s true. She’s already got you by the tail. I can see it from how she swapped your cars. If the two of you get married, she’ll move from having you by the tail to having you by the balls. Haha! You have a tough life. Just resign yourself to it.”
Xia Lei smiled wryly and shook his head, unwilling to continue the conversation. At this time, Shentu Tian-Yin’s face suddenly appeared in his head again, peerlessly cool and elegant, noble yet threatening. Xia Lei gave a mental sigh, ‘I must be ill.’
A dirt-covered slag truck suddenly shot from the back. Xia Lei was frightened and quickly changed lanes.
The slag truck scraped by the Polo from the side, making the Polo rattle with the draft from its tyres.
“Damn! You rushing to get reincarnated?” Ma Xiao-An shouted with his head out the window.
The driver of the slag truck did not seem to hear Ma Xiao-An’s cursing and zoomed off in the blink of an eye.
Xia Lei was a little shaken, “Why is there a slag truck on the roads in the middle of the day?”
“Maybe some guy from the construction site took it out looking for some fun. Or maybe he got approval to transport slag to get more hours at work, “ said Ma Xiao-An.
Xia Lei didn’t ask further and continued driving. The Polo arrived at Thunder Horse Workshop’s street in a few minutes.
Xia Lei slowed and let the car roll for a bit before he stopped it by the road. He saw Chi Jing-Qiu standing in the entrance of his workshop before he got out of the car. ‘Is Chi Jing-Qiu here this time to make an order? If she is, I’ll take the order if I have to since business is business. I will need more clients after Thunder Horse Workshop gets upgraded to a company, even if the clients will be the type Chi Jing-Qiu brings in.’
After the upgrade to a company, Thunder Horse Manufacturing would need more employees and that meant higher manpower costs. He also needed money for insurance, bonuses, labour insurance and so on. He could not just count on the collaboration between himself and China Industrial Group and only he could do those high precision parts; it would be impossible for others. He could not support an entire company on his strength alone, could he? It was impossible, so the most important clients were from ordinary business and ordinary business is what would help support the livelihoods of more employees.
Chi Jing-Qiu saw Xia Lei get out of the car and she waved at him, smiling, “Lei, I’ve been waiting for you for so long.”
Xia Lei smiled too and greeted her, “Long time no see, Jing-Qiu.”
At that moment, Ma Xiao-An suddenly exclaimed, “WATCH OUT!”
Xia was about look back but Ma Xiao-An had already dived forward and pushed him away.
In that instant, a slag truck came from the inclined opposite lane and crashed into Ma Xiao-An. His body was thrown high up in the air and blood spurted from his lips, falling through the air in a bloody rain.
BAM! Ma Xiao-An’s body landed on the roof of the Polo. The slag truck did not stop. It smashed into the Polo, flipping it over onto the pedestrian walkway and into the flowerbeds before stopping.
Ma Xiao-An lay on the pedestrian walkway, his body full of broken pieces from the Polo and broken glass. Blood came from his nose and mouth, flowing continuously.
“Xiao-An!” Xia Lei scrambled to his feet like a madman and rushed to Ma Xiao-An’s side.
“We… are… Bro…th...” Before he could finish his sentence, Ma Xiao-An spoke no more. A breath came out of his mouth but there was no breath going in.
“NO!” Xia Lei roared. Tears came uncontrollably from his eyes.
The employees of Thunder Horse Workshop came running out and surrounded Ma Xiao-An. Zhou Xiao-Hong and Chen A-Jiao started to cry too.
Xia Lei suddenly stood up from Ma Xiao-An’s side and ran to the slag truck, which had come to a stop in the flower bed.
The slag car driver had just managed to open the deformed driver’s door. He jumped down from the car. The driver was young - in his early twenties and muscled, with many tattoos all over his body. He had sustained injuries from the collision as well but they were just surface wounds which didn’t affect him much.
The driver only glanced at Ma Xiao-An’s body on the ground after getting out of the slag truck and his face had no trace of guilt whatsoever. He did look surprised, however, when he saw Xia Lei rushing at him.
Xia Lei grabbed him by the collar and roared angrily, “You fucker! You must pay for Xiao-An!”
“Don’t do anything hasty. I won’t give you money if you hit me,” said the slag truck driver.
There was no controlling the flames of anger in Xia Lei. The slag car driver’s words were like a fuse which lit him aflame. Xia Lei punched the slag truck driver in the face and half his face changed shape under the force of his blow. Two teeth flew from his mouth.
“Money?! You want to talk about money?!” Xia Lei kicked the slag truck driver in his lower abdomen.
The driver cried out in pain as Xia Lei’s kick lifted him off the ground.
Xia Lei charged forward again and kicked viciously between the driver’s legs.
“Argh---” The driver was in so much pain he had cold sweat all over and his face was ashen. He had been arrogant earlier but his eye were now full of terror.
Xia Lei made to beat him up more but Wang You-Fu and Cui Yong rushed forward and restrained him.
“You can’t hit him anymore, Boss Lei. You’ll kill him.” Cui Yong said anxiously, “If you kill him you’ll have to go to jail. It’s not worth it to go to jail because of this sort of person.”
Zhou Xiao-Hong also limped over and blocked him off from the slag truck driver, crying as she said, “Stop hitting him, Big Brother Lei… Big Brother Xiao-An wouldn’t want you to do this either… Stop, please stop…”
Xia Lei calmed down a little. He suddenly remembered something and said, “This guy wanted to hit me earlier. He did this on purpose! Call the police! It’s premeditated murder!”
The slag truck driver spoke, “Don’t talk nonsense. I didn’t even realise what was going on when I crashed. I must have lost control of the slag truck. I don’t even know you all - who am I trying to kill? Don’t talk nonsense without evidence. I’ll sue you for defamation!”
Xia Lei’s eyes turned ice-cold instantly, “Did He Lao-Qi send you?”
“Who is He Lao-Qi?” The slag truck driver’s eyes flickered away, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I’m going to kill you!” Xia Lei lost control again and made to rush at him.
Zhou Xiao-Hong suddenly ran forward and held onto Xia Lei stubbornly. Xia Lei pushed her away and she hugged his leg, crying, “Big Brother Lei, please… calm down…”
The slag truck driver suddenly got to his feet and fled.
Wang You-Fu tackled him and he fell to the ground.
Chen A-Jiao and the other workshop employees came over and haphazardly held the slag truck driver down.
Chi Jing-Qiu walked over, looking nervous, “Lei… I… I called the ambulance and the police. Calm down. It’s not worth it to lose yourself over this sort of people.”
Xia Lei collapsed into a sitting position as if paralysed, tears flowing in an unstoppable stream.
The memory of Ma Xiao-An pushing him out of the way played over and over again in Xia Lei’s head. He was still standing by the road then and there were several cars coming and going behind him. There was no way he’d notice the approaching slag truck. If it had not been for Ma Xiao-An pushing him out of the way, he would have been the one hit. Ma Xiao-An saved him but he was now lying on the ground, unable to even breathe. Ma Xiao-An had just been joking around with him, talking about being Brothers even in their next life and now he had gone to another world, never to see him again.
Scenes from their shared childhood played in his head; Ma Xiao-An and himself swimming in the river, putting frogs in female classmates’ school-bags, poking at a bird’s nest…
Ma Xiao-An was gone.
“AH-----” Xia Lei screamed up into the sky.
The Heavens did not respond.
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