One morning six months ago, it was an uneventful day, but I called Sango, and the meaning was different.

San just picked up the phone, the word “hello” still stuck in his throat, I could not wait to say: “San, I saw Ah Mao.”

Brother San froze for a moment on the phone before saying, “This son of a bitch, was released?”

I said, “I think so, I just don’t know how he came to Beijing. He probably hasn’t accepted the reality yet, and his speech is a bit stumbling.”

Ah Mao was imprisoned for killing someone, and the person he killed was no one else but my cousin, San’s own brother. The two brothers, one called Old Five, one called Old Three. Old five is the oldest, the third is the second, if not familiar with them, listen to the explanation are some rap.

When I saw Ah Mao, it was on the bus. During that time, the epidemic had eased, there were no cases in Beijing, and I lived in a village outside Beijing’s fifth ring road, so occasionally people on the bus did not strictly follow the requirement to wear a mask.

That day I happened not to wear a mask, I casually looked into the car, and in the middle of the bus, I saw a man with a hairy bald head, dark skin, like no teeth, sunken cheeks, and a beard, like a foreign boxer. I looked for a moment more, my heart thumped, as if holding a cell phone down the steps, a careless stepping on the air.

I did not dare to look at him again, inwardly did not believe it was him, and confirmed again, he really has a harelip, can not run, it is him.

I didn’t want him to recognize me and hurriedly turned my head sideways and pretended to look at my phone. At that time, I didn’t think of informing Sango. I just wanted to escape, so I regretted not wearing a mask.

For many people, a mask means fairness. Covering one’s face is the same as covering up cunning and malice, hiding hypocrisy and blocking honesty and virtue. The inability to distinguish is what makes you feel safe.

I didn’t want Ah Mao to recognize me. When I stole a glance at Ah Mao, he caught me, and he also looked at me with a vacant look that assured me that he did not recognize me. There was some hesitation in his eyes, and I guess he thought it was strange that this person looked familiar.

The feeling of being stared at is very unpleasant, like a nest of biting ants being on the back of your feet, making you itchy and worried about being stung.

I couldn’t help but look up at him again. He was still staring at me, like a hound staring at its prey, his vacant gaze suddenly becoming alert and his eyes becoming more and more focused, his eyes narrowed to slits.

He recognized me, and in a whirl, he walked backwards from the middle of the bus, walked up to me and said, “Who are you then?”

After more than a decade, he had forgotten my name.

I nodded at him, but didn’t say my name.

He said, “You are also in Beijing?”

I still nodded my head.

I was not enthusiastic about Ah Mao, I was still immersed in the hatred of the past. When I was in elementary school, he happened to be in junior high school, and every time he came back, he brought me 10 cents of sorbet, which he was afraid would melt in the summer, so he wrapped it in his cotton jacket.

Swimming was also taught to me by my brother. Once, I swam in the river, cramped up, choked several mouthfuls of water, in a crisis, old brother swam over and grabbed me by the hair and threw me onto the rocky beach.

I am not only cousins, but also have a deeper relationship with him, he is my savior.

So no matter which way I look at it, I shouldn’t be nice to Ah Mao, instead I should hate him. Like my third brother, cursing him every day, saying that when he comes out to take revenge. Although this is only a self-congratulation, and will not do anything to allow themselves to escape psychological condemnation, at least it is an attitude.

Seeing that I was very cold, Amo had the sense not to speak. The bus slowly slowed down and stopped at the platform. Ah Mao smiled at me embarrassingly, and seeing that I still had no indication, said to me, “That, I’m getting off, you slow down!”

I do not believe that there is such a coincidence, he definitely did not arrive at the station, but afraid that the two people frozen there. Looking at his despondent back, I seemed to see through myself, I did not hate him as much as I thought.

In the end, Ah Mao is not bad for me, I used to take care of me, I often took his car home when I was studying.

Ah Mao is a famous gangster in a remote mountainous area of Chongqing. His fame was not earned, more like given by his father, and his fame was due to playing table tennis.

At that time, we were very poor, and the only entertainment was playing ping pong. The ping pong table was made of concrete, and over the years, the foot pier of the table was crippled, exposing the steel. Many of my clothes were hung up on it.

The table was so rudimentary, but the students still grabbed it. There were too many people and not enough tables. Just after the bell, Ah Mao rushed out to grab the ping pong table. He took the table and sat on it with his butt. He waited for everyone to come, but a few junior students came and pushed him off. Amo was angry and fought with them. Amo was small and not good at fighting, so he couldn’t beat them and suffered a loss.

He went home and talked to his father. That afternoon, during nap time, someone ran into the school shouting, led by Ah Mao’s father. He was shy with a big belly and his white undershirt was covered with yellow stains. Ah Mao was right behind his dad.

Ah Mao’s dad was having a theory with our lame head of the faculty, and we were all milling around. Ah Mao was in the middle of the crowd and he was afraid to look at anything. The limping head of the faculty couldn’t stop a groundskeeper. At this time, we saw Ah Mao’s father mention Ah Mao, who was so weak and helpless, like a little chicken, and Ah Mao’s father handed Ah Mao a knife and said to Ah Mao, “Who bullied you, hurry up and stab him to death.”

Ah Mao did not dare to accept the knife, his father stared at him, the sun shone on the knife, the short knife dazzling dazzling. It seems that it does not recognize itself, to compete with the sun’s glory. For a while, Ah Mao stood there and still did not raise his hand to receive the knife, suddenly, Ah Mao’s father kicked Ah Mao, Ah Mao was defenseless and was kicked far away. Ah Mao’s father cursed fiercely: “You useless son of a bitch!”

People like Ah Mao’s father lacked culture, and society’s swords and guns were the best upbringing to make them believe that the truth was within the range of the cannon and that caliber was always the standard of justice. These words were spoken by Bismarck.

Nothing accidental happened that time, but Mao’s fame spread far and wide, and from then on, no one dared to mess with Mao, who was known to have a powerful father who dared to tell his son to kill. Everyone was afraid to play with Ah Mao, and so was I.

Also from that time on, Ah Mao was not very interested in school. He used to get good grades and was one of the top students in our school, especially in math, where he basically didn’t get deducted for a hundred and fifty point problem. He slipped so much that he was relegated from the top class to the regular class, with our poor students. I always disliked studying and thought it was the most useless thing. He came to our class, and I gloated that the good learners were the same as we thought.

A Mao dropped out of junior high school and learned to drive with a driver who hauled coal. At that time, in our place, driving is a great thing, and are looking for the master to learn, follow the master to drive, and no one check whether there is a driver’s license.

When I was in high school in the county, Ah Mao had already left the division and was driving a used car that he bought. I often took his car home, rocking back and forth on the bumpy road.

At that time, I was incredibly envious of Ah Mao. He drove bare-chested, sitting in the driver’s seat, fiddling with the steering wheel dramatically and grabbing the car gear lever to push and pull with panache. And, every time he got out of the car, there was Red Bull to drink, and the women liked to gather around the driver in order to get on good terms with Ah Mao so they could get in and out of town easily.

When we came home, a group of kids ran after our car, hoping to climb up. Whenever they got close, Ah Mao stepped on the gas and waited until they were close to catching up, then slowed down to give them some hope. These actions add some fun to the boring journey.

Ah Mao likes to talk in the car, he holds a cigarette and tells me about his family.

Ah Mao does not have a mother, his mother left home.

But the community has a different story, such as my father told me, Ah Mao’s mother is not run away, was abducted by his father sold, sold the money, all by Ah Mao’s father took to gambling, lost all. He also said that Ah Mao is probably not his father’s own.

A Mao grew up living with his grandfather, A Mao’s father is always outside, in the county nightclub as security, almost never home. He came home either to hide from his enemies or to recuperate from his injuries, and Ah Mao’s dad was covered with cuts.

It’s a miracle that Ah Mao didn’t become like his dad.

Despite the bad reputation of Ah Mao’s dad, he never killed anyone, and Ah Mao did, which I did not expect. The fact that he killed the fifth brother was even more unexpected to me.

It is true that Ah Mao killed the fifth brother, but emotionally speaking, this incident is not his fault, but the fifth brother is not justified.

Because the fifth brother and Ah Mao’s woman hooked up together, but also took pictures. These photos are in the cell phone of Ah Mao’s woman, which was seen by Ah Mao. Because of this, Ah Mao and his woman divorced, his woman remarried, but not married to the fifth brother. Lao Wu has a wife.

This incident is famous in our village, become a case of not messing with peach blossoms, so that young people should be warned.

The first thing that happened was that Ah Mao and Lao Wu would not even meet. That night, the old brother drove back to the village, Ah Mao in the Meixi River after fishing have gone, but Ah Mao in order to take away a few black catfish, and drive back, and the old brother met on a narrow road. It was dark and the road was narrow, and the two cars did not give way to each other, both with their headlights on and their ear-splitting horns. Both of them got out of the car and prepared to fight. A Mao looked at the old five, the whole body of blood rushed to the head, according to the old five brother face is a punch. The old fifth brother drank some wine, ate the pain also came to the fire. The two men wrestled together. Older brother took out his dagger and stabbed Ah Mao in the waist eye. A Mao also does not know where to get the courage, grabbed the knife also stabbed the old brother, stabbed in the aorta, blood sprayed like a spring.

The company’s main goal is to provide a solution to the problem.

I never thought I would run into Mao. I guess San also thought the same as I did. When I got home, San called me again: “Well, did you scold him?”

I said without thinking: “Scolded, he did not dare to speak at all!”

I lied to San, for San’s sake, but also for my own. San was relieved and said before hanging up, “Fuck this.”

San said it several times in a row.

I also said into the phone, “Fuck the fuck!”

But I was not as angry as San. It was San’s own brother who died, and he couldn’t stop cursing Mao.

About a week after this happened, I saw Ah Mao again.

This time I was prepared, so I wasn’t too formal. We didn’t mention Old Five, but talked about ourselves. Ah Mao said he was now working part-time in Beijing, on a construction site, where they don’t ask where they come from, but only look at ID cards.

Ah Mao said he hadn’t been home for a long time and wanted to go home to his grandfather’s grave and add some yellow earth to it. He couldn’t trust his father.

He said his father has never been a money hate to spend ten money master, smoking, drinking and prostitution, there is no one not involved. When there is no money to borrow everywhere, fabricated such as “Dad is dying, in the hospital immediately to operate” and other false words to gain sympathy, and finally cheat can not be cheated.

Speaking of anger, Ah Mao said that such a person is the addict of life, more terrible than drug addiction, he consumes not only money, but also conscience.

He said his father never once visited him in prison.

Ah Mao also told me to call him when I return to Chongqing next time, and he would return with me. I asked him, “Why don’t you go back yourself?”

Only when I said the words did I realize how ridiculous I was being. He hadn’t been back for a long time, and after so many years, the strangeness of his hometown and the fear of people were too much for him to handle alone. He was lacking protection, and I seemed to be able to give him some confidence that not all eyes were on him, that I could draw away some of the fire and chatter.

I promised him. I said I was going to move some time later, and that I was living in the village before because I had an overdraft of tens of thousands of dollars on my credit card, so I had to save on rent. Now that I have more money in my hands and my girlfriend has come to Beijing, I have to move near Wangjing so that I can be close to work and live with my girlfriend.

Ah Mao said he could help me move. I didn’t have anything and wanted to refuse Ah Mao, but he said it was a deal. When I saw how insistent he was, I couldn’t say anything else. We left each other contact information, then sat a few more stops, Ah Mao pointed out to me: “I’m almost there, look, that’s our site.”

Not far away, there are houses being repaired, and there are movable houses for people to live. The car pulled over and Ah Mao got out of the car. This time, the place is obviously different from the last time, and it is true that he got off the car casually last time.

The day of the move, Ah Mao came early, he squatted on the edge of the moonflower in the yard, and did not say a word, let alone call me. When I woke up, he had been squatting for a long time. I asked him, “Why didn’t you call me?”

He said, “Nothing, I just came too.”

I didn’t break him down.

Ah Mao is really a regular worker, looks very thin, but very strong, work especially sharp, three or two times to carry things on the car. There was also a solid wood table from the second-hand market, and I thought two people would carry it, but Ah Mao carried it away by himself.

The new home is in a village at the edge of Wangjing, and it is also a staircase house, so you need to climb the stairs. Ah Mao carried a bag of luggage on his shoulders, with something under his armpits, and a sack of my books in his hands, and accidentally shook off one. He turned around and picked it up and blew and wiped it, and I told him it was okay. I told him that there was no need to be so anxious.

He said, “It’s okay, it’s not heavy at all.”

He was sweating a lot and simply took his shirt off. I was up there setting up the luggage, and my girlfriend was downstairs watching the luggage. When I went down to help, I heard my girlfriend and Ah Mao talking.

My girlfriend asked him, “Ah Mao, what’s with the scar on your waist?”

Hearing this, I did not dare to go out and stood in place. I heard Ah Mao whisper, “I had appendicitis before and went to the hospital for minimally invasive surgery and got a hole, so it left a scar.”

Things soon finished moving, my girlfriend just arrived, and the house did not fire, we are ready to go out to eat.

Ah Mao refused and said, “There are still things to do on the construction site, no need.”

“Then how kind, you run up and down, do not eat a bite to go.” I said.

I went up to drag Ah Mao, Ah Mao made a strong wrist flip, broke free and wanted to go. My girlfriend saw that Ah Mao was anxious and said to me, “Maybe he is really something, we can not delay others!”

I had to let go and said that next time I would invite Ah Mao to dinner, it would be better to come home to eat.

When Ah Mao left, my girlfriend asked me who this person was. I told her that this is one of my hair children, since childhood to play. My girlfriend asked, “How come I’ve never heard you mention it?”

I said, “Then I lost contact with him.”

I didn’t expect that I didn’t invite Amo to dinner, but instead Amo invited me to dinner. He sent me a message saying that the construction site was closed and it was a weekend, so he invited me over for dinner. It was his woman who cooked the meal.

A Mao told me before, he found a girlfriend, Hebei, met on the construction site. His woman is not just his woman, she also has a family, but she is working outside alone, so she lives with Ah Mao, which is equivalent to having a family again.

He asked me to call my girlfriend also, but I thought to go to the site, the site soil heavy, afraid that she does not like the environment, so I did not call her and went to the site themselves.

They live in a not-so-good environment, movable board room, the vacant beds are full of helmets, falling on the ground dirt and dust, in the sun’s pillar of light, the dust dances, such as a dream life.

The room in addition to them, there is another couple, the bed are hanging curtains, so that there is a certain amount of privacy. I remembered that when I was in college, I also lived in such a house. My parents worked at the construction site, I went to see them on vacation, and lived in a movable room, someone did not want to go to the toilet, so they stood at the window to pee.

A Mao’s woman cooked in the house with an induction cooker, and the water from the pot was splashed out the window of the movable slab, and the sound of water hitting the ground could be heard in the house, as if you could see water droplets splashing around and completely splitting up, which was quite a thrill. All of a sudden, and my past life overlap.

While frying vegetables, Ah Mao’s woman said, “You really didn’t lie, you really know cultural people, I thought you were coaxing me before.”

His woman said in front of me, he was a little embarrassed to scratch his head. How can I call myself a cultural person? It’s not really decent, but I’m happy to be complimented. I didn’t think that this place, I would add some glory because I could write.

The women of Amo are very good at cooking, especially Sichuan cuisine, stir-fried yellow beef taste very authentic. When we ate the meat, we started to drink. Amo and I drank all over, dizzy, but not to the point of confusion.

Between eating and drinking, the floodgates of memory opened and we talked about our childhood. We went to school together, at that time, I do not know where to get the money, went to play half a kilogram of wine, in the dormitory, one person to share a cup, and then said to worship, the teacher came, we were all arrested, the next day to do radio gymnastics, we stood on the podium, by the teacher lecture.

The more we talked, the more we drank. Ah Mao’s eyes were red, and he said he missed his grandfather. Ah Mao took off his clothes, and his whole body was red from the wine he drank. I also saw the scar on his waist, so obvious that it was impossible not to notice it.

His woman had seen it before, but probably never looked at it seriously. She stared at the scar and asked, “What’s the matter with you, such a big hole?”

I saw his expression tense up for a moment. I guessed that this moment must have reminded him of Old Five, his lips quivering without rhythm, those past events mixed with alcohol, twisting wildly, teasing emotions to avoid. He looked at me pleadingly, he was afraid I would tell the truth.

I pretended to look away and then said, “He’s got this from a previous appendectomy, why, you didn’t tell your wife?”

Ah Mao gave me a grateful look and said to himself, “What’s there to say? Who doesn’t have a scar on their body.”

Ah Mao and I both breathed a sigh of relief. When darkness fell, I left A-Mao’s place. That night, the alcohol burned our hearts and took us back to the years of more than ten years ago.

After that day, I sent a message to Ah Mao, who did not reply to me again. Some days later, I happened to pass by his construction site, thinking I still owed him a meal, so I came to the site to look for him. I looked around several times, but I didn’t see anyone.

The workers told me that the two of them had moved away, saying that they had changed to a new site, where exactly they had gone, no one was sure. I called his cell phone was always unreachable. After that, I also went to find Ah Mao a few times, the first few times to the site, mentioning Ah Mao there are people who recognize this person, and then go back to no one knows him. People come and go, and they wear out the traces of the past, as we all do in our lives.

Later, I often thought of Ah Mao. I thought it was possible that he had followed the woman back to Hebei. I was worried about him again, he took someone else’s woman, I hope there will be no trouble.

After that, I went back to Chongqing, back to Fengjie, back to Peach Blossom Village, back to Meixi River, not only can I think of Laowu brother, will also think of Ah Mao. When I think of it, we are sitting in the truck, Ah Mao lit a cigarette, grinning and inhaling, his foot on the gas pedal, the children chasing after the car, the wheels rolling, grinding the dust, covering the children’s faces.

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