Ch. 2. The Old Swindler
The old man was propped up, and the crowd gradually dispersed. I pushed my “1258” bicycle and slowly walked the old man to the sidewalk. Three minutes later I said, “This is the way to the police station, gramps. You’re not really my grandfather. I was forced by that situation a short while ago and I was really too lazy to argue.”
“Ha, boy, I never thought that you were this smart!” The old man scratched his ass and continued, “Actually, I came to this Qing Tian City to find you, since you have the fate of the Red Arrow”.
“Hmph… you eat your own shit!” I immediately talked back to him. I know the teachers taught me that I had to respect the elders and care for the young, but this old fogey pretended to be my grandfather, and now he scolded me to eat my shit, how could I tolerate this? 1
“No, no, no, not eat shit, its Red Arrow fate.” The old man corrected. “This kind of fate mark is very rare. It’s very difficult to find a person who has this kind of bad luck mark even for hundreds of years, so you are very suitable to become my apprentice.”
I was somewhat impatient as I replied, “If you don’t want to go to the police station, then I will go home. But I advise you to attend a seven day tour at a mental hospital.”
The old man calmly poked his finger into his nostrils, “I know that you won’t believe what I just said. But let me ask you. Since you were born, have you always been followed by misfortune? Bad luck has also always happened to only you, right?
My face couldn’t hide the surprise I felt when I heard his words.
The old man continued talking, “Since you were born, no matter how dangerous the things that happened to you, you didn’t die right? This is the fate of the Red Arrow mark. Bad luck will always follow you until you die. Only by practicing Daoism will you be able to slow down this situation. If you believe me, come to Qingtian City Park’s entrance tomorrow at 3.00 PM, and I’ll wait for you there. If you don’t come, then it can be said that you are not destined to be my apprentice, afterwards, I will not look for you again”.
After he finished his words, the old man turned back around and walked away. However, after several steps, he suddenly disappeared.
That scene absolutely scared me shitless. “Ghost!, He must be a ghost! Living people can’t disappear just like that!”
I hurriedly rushed to my bicycle, brutally mounting it and swiftly kicked the pedals as I rode back home in fear.
The next day in the class, my mind was still occupied by last night’s scene. The old man looked like he was an old swindler, he even scolded me to eat “red shit”. But what he was saying to me was thoroughly true. Back in the past, I had tried to commit suicide by drinking pesticide, and had gotten baptized by high-voltage electricity. But those dangerous accidents couldn’t even take my life. Then that old fellow told me to learn Daoism teaching. In the end, should I go to the appointment made by him?
In the afternoon, something unexpected happened.
I had arrived at the City park’s entrance at 2,57. A mysterious man came and approached me, “Zhang Xiaolong?”
“There was an old man looking for you, but you must convey the secret code before I take you to him”
“Huh? What secret code?” I was truly confused. The old swindler didn’t mention any secret code whatsoever yesterday.
“Listen, it’s this… if you don’t know how to love the sea… what would be the next sentence?” said the mysterious man.
“Hey, I don’t know what’s with this secret code. If you won’t tell me where he is, I’ll leave!”.
“Oy… little brother, don’t worry! I was only joking with you. Anyways, he is in the haunted house over there, you can go see him.”
The mysterious man left after he finished speaking..
I had visited this City Park a few times, but never visited the haunted house. The reason was very simple, I was timid. However, the old swindler was in the haunted house and since I didn’t know where it was, I asked all around the park until I found out the way to the haunted house.
There was a man sitting on the bench near the entrance to the haunted house, with plaster on his arms as a bandage kept his arm attached to his shoulder. I looked at him and found out that the man was not some stranger. He was that old swindler. I went over and said, “Old swindler, how did you come to look like this?”
“What is with this old swindler? Rude!”, he blurted, and continued, “Yesterday when I left you, I walked for a few steps and fell into the sewer. I shouted and called out to you for a long time, but you didn’t come to save me.”
“Didn’t you say that you would teach me Daoism? How could a Daoist fall into the sewer?”
“Why isn’t it impossible? This old man is marked with Red Arrow fate too. In fact, this kind of accident is normal. Let alone that it’s light this time!” The old swindler explained while his hand scratched his ass.
So this old fogey was the same as me. He also had the Red Arrow fate. No wonder his luck was as bad as mine.
The Old Swindler continued, “Practicing Daoism may indeed reduce the severity of the situation. The reason I fell into the sewer last night was because I’m dying and my power is declining. Without the protection from my power, the bad luck driven by the Red Arrow fate couldn’t be avoided. Even so, I won’t die so easily, though. People born with this Red Arrow fate can only die due to old age, and are almost impossible to die because of illnesses or accidents.”
“Old swindler, was what you said really true? But why do I feel like you just ran away from the hospital? Tell me your name. I’d like to call the hospital to verify it.”
“Boy… I don’t have any more time to dilly dally with you since I only have less than 2 hours before leaving for the Netherworld. During this short time, I need you to listen and comprehend everything I tell you as much as possible. It’s about your life mission. Would you mind listening to my story for just one hour?” The old swindler’s manners suddenly changed.
“Okay.” I nodded and sat down beside him, “I like to listen to stories, especially these types of fantasy stories.”.
“Who told you to sit down beside me? Why didn’t you kneel down and kowtow to call me Master?”
I said, “Hey, old swindler. I haven’t said that I promised to be your disciple.”
The old swindler replied, “You know, I have neither sons, nor daughters. If you worship me as your teacher, then you will be my rightful heir and inherit all my legacies, even my whole life savings are yours.”
“Legacy? Inheritance?” I was slightly interested and asked, “How much money do you have?”
The old swindler replied, “There are 50,000 yuan in cash and 1.5 million in paper bonds.”
“Do people owe you 1.5 million?”
“Nope.” The old swindler shook his head, “I owe someone 1,500,000 yuan. The cash will be useful to you and you could help me later, though.”
I stood up immediately, turned around and left without hesitation. Originally, I thought that my luck had turned for the better. I could get myself a legacy and an inheritance. But it seemed that I would immediately inherit this old fogey’s debt of 1,450,000 yuan if I were to accept his offer.
However, as I tried to walk, I found myself unable to move! My feet seemed to be strangled by something. But when I looked down at my feet, there was nothing at all.
The old swindler said, ”Boy, let me tell you, you cannot run away today. You must become my disciple! Who told you to have the Red Arrow fate mark? However, you be at ease. I won’t make you suffer, and although you must repay my debt, I will give you something to compensate your efforts. Just kowtow to me as your master and I’ll tell you the way immediately.”
“No!” I shook my head like crazy and rattled, “If my father knew that I skipped the classes and suddenly carried a debt of more than a million yuan, it would be very strange if he didn’t beat me to death!”
“Xiaolong, you don’t need to worry too much, your teacher can teach you the Daoist art.” The Old Swindler casually said, “Do you know why you cannot move now? It’s very simple, because a female spirit caught you and held you back.”
“I’m an atheist, I advocate science, and I don’t believe in superstitions. This world doesn’t have the so-called Gods, spirits, or ghosts. And you, Old Swindler. You had better release me quickly or I will shout for help!” I threatened him.
The Old Swindler took out a bottle made of glass from his black backpack. The bottle was filled with some transparent liquid. He twisted the cap, poured some of the liquid onto his finger and rubbed it around my eyes. I struggled and shouted for help, but nothing came out. I had been muted. I was very anxious. This old swindler was certainly a trafficker, and he wanted to abduct me as one of his trafficking goods.
After spreading the liquid around my eyes, the old swindler sat back down on the bench and said, “Hey Xiaolong, take a look over there.” He pointed in a direction.
I looked at the direction he pointed and saw that a bike was heading toward the old swindler and was almost about to hit him. I immediately shouted, “Old swindler, hurry avoid that!”.
The next scene… I swore I could never forget what happened for the rest of my life. That youth and his bicycle just passed right through the Old Swindler’s body! I was petrified. My mouth was agape with incredulity and my previously dislocated chin fell again.
That young man was shocked and frightened by my sudden shout. He grunted in a low voice, “Holy shit, this crazy idiot!”, and then left. But the old swindler turned around and faced me. His face turned blue as his eyes subsided. He nodded and lightly smiled as if expressing his gratitude.
I was so frightened. I took back my eyes, bowed my head and didn’t dare to look at the old swindler again. But the heavens really took a liking to me as I saw a sinister and hideous woman’s face near my face. Her whole face was completely festered with maggots that were crawling all over her. She was wearing a white dress which looked nice but, it was her who then tightly held my legs.
My eyes immediately dulled. My unstable chin trembled and my lungs stifled, and with a tearful weep, I cried, “IT’S A GHOST!”
I was originally timid. After seeing such an exciting, stimulating, and breathtaking scene, I quickly fainted.
I found myself lying on my bed when I woke up again. I looked at my watch with the help of the dim moonlight. It was already past 12 am.
I shortly realized that there was a little girl standing beside my bed. She was about ten years old and wore a white gown. She had very loose and long hair that hung over her shoulders, a sharp chin, along with bright and vivid eyes. She was truly a kind of classical beauty. I rubbed my eyes and sleepily spoke to myself, “I must be dreaming now. But young lady, you look somewhat familiar.”
“Would this look be more familiar to you?” she said gently. Her face immediately transformed to a completely festered face with many maggots crawling on it.
I was immediately paralyzed, expressing a face that looked like I was constipated, and roared loudly, “IT’S THAT GHOST…!!!”. Although my mouth was wide open, there was no sound coming out. It turned out that my chin had fallen again and denied me my voice. My legs were shivering and trembling, forcing me to wet my pants. This father was originally timid. Added with the presence of this female ghost and that face of hers up-close and personal, my poor sanity plummeted. Having not directly fainted could be said as a wonderful achievement.
Her sleeve wiped her face, and it restored her previously normal appearance. She asked gently, “Do you believe that there are ghosts in this world now?”
I instantly nodded with teary eyes and a pleading face, begging her to let me go.
She replied in a gentle cordial voice, “Relax, I will not harm you. I won’t scare you if you listen to me. Now I will restore your voice, but you cannot shout, or I will scare you every day. Do you understand?”
The crisis situation was dire and far beyond my abilities, so I hurriedly nodded and assented to her command. I connected my chin first before swallowing my saliva and asking, “Lady, what do you really want? If you want something valuable, I really have nothing. I’m very poor. Or do you want me to introduce you to some handsome man?”
She instantly turned into that dreadful horror appearance again and quickly said, “I do not need a handsome man.”
I covered my eyes with my hands quickly and said in a weeping voice, “You don’t want a handsome guy! You don’t want a handsome guy! Please hurry and change back into your previous face again. This is all of my savings, 250 yuan, I’ll give all of my savings to you… As long as you don’t kill and take my face away, I’ll do everything you say!” I begged and secretly looked at her through the gap between my fingers. Her face had turned back to her normal appearance again. I let out a sigh of relief and laid my hands down.
The female ghost said gently, “You are now the successor disciple of the 54th generation Niu Tian Daoist master, as well as the 54th generation head”
“Wait a minute.”, I interrupted, “I only heard about Celestial Master Zhang Daoling who found The Way of Celestial Masters, I’ve never heard about this Bull Celestial Master.”