Da Fei said that he had found a house on the Internet. More than 90 square meters, two rooms and one living room, close to the golden beach of Golden Beach. He wants Fang Cun to arrive at Huangdao in the next few days. It is in the off-season of tourism and there are no tourists, so they can rent this daily rental at a relatively low price.
How long can you stay? Square inch said.
For half a year, Da Fei said, but don’t worry. By then, they will become famous and can rent to Shanhaiwan.
In the cafe, Fang Cun put down his phone and told Jin Haowen that he was leaving.
Jin Haowen asked, are you going to Tibet?
He said no. It is more important than going to Tibet.
The house was mortgaged one to three, and it cost a total of 4,400 yuan. Da Fei only took out the deposit. After retiring from the army, he bought a car in Shouguang and spent the rest of his savings on his new girlfriend. Fang Cun has been unemployed for more than half a year, but he still has tens of thousands of dollars left. He didn’t say much and paid three months’ rent. The furnishings in the house are simple, a set of canvas sofa, glass coffee table, and two wooden beds, and no other living utensils. They bought quilts, pillows, and kitchen utensils, basically the cheapest items in the mall. However, they rarely make a fire to cook. They have two meals, lunch is steamed dumplings, and dinner is Mala Tang for fifteen yuan. They stay in the house, stay at home, and write novels all day. They often show each other their newly written short stories and analyze them word for word, fearful that the other party is one step ahead.
Huangdao has a humid climate with continuous heavy fog. Fang Cun has allergic rhinitis and is constantly sneezing. At a nearby pharmacy, he bought some medicine and took it for a few days, but it didn’t work. He wondered if there was an allergen in the room, so he and Da Fei cleaned it up thoroughly. When cleaning his bedroom, he saw layers of white powder under the corner of the wall. Only then did he know that after living in it for less than a month, the wall skin began to fall off. That night, he moved to Da Fei’s sunny bedroom. When the weather is fine, he goes out for a walk. Along the Yunwu Mountain Road, I walked aimlessly towards the city center. The empty and wide road stretched to the end of the hills. From time to time, a bus would pass by, but there were few passengers in the car. Only the red light and the green light alternate quietly and silently. There is an open-air balcony outside the living room, and when the sky is about to darken, you can hear the sound of the tide. As time goes by, like a symphony, it becomes more and more exciting. Fang Cun stood on the balcony, looking up at the misty sea to the south.
Every two weeks, Da Fei goes back to his hometown. His father bought vegetables. Two months later, he often pulls boxes of eggplant and cabbage. He complained that takeout was too expensive and started to learn to cook. He was saving money for a date with his girlfriend. Fang Cun suggested that Dafei get a credit card. Da Fei hurriedly shook his head and said, “Don’t dare to do that stuff.” Fang Cun thought that he might have been in the army for a long time and was not familiar with his current life. Da Fei’s hair is not long, and he straightened the bangs just after reaching the eyes. Fang Cun thought of the high school days, when softening and straightening hair became popular. Da Fei only watches old-fashioned Hong Kong films, such as Stephen Chow’s nonsensical comedies and Jackie Chan’s kung fu films. He often pops out the lines in Hong Kong films, imitating the tone of Stephen Chow’s speech. In fact, it’s not funny at all, it just makes Fang Cun feel embarrassed. He introduced Da Fei to the hot Korean crime films in recent years. Da Fei said, not interested.
Da Fei’s girlfriend is in Zhucheng. Almost every night, Da Fei lies in the bedroom and has a video chat with his girlfriend, Xiao A. Fang Cun has only seen photos, and many things about Xiao A were learned from Da Fei. Xiao A has a grumpy personality. When writing, Da Fei ignored the message she sent. Xiao A was furious, asking Da Fei what he had just done, and scolding him for forgetting her. She quarrels with Da Fei. Two or three hours passed, and in Da Fei’s begging for mercy, the other party was willing to give up. Sometimes, he had to go to Zhucheng the next day, buy gifts, invite his girlfriend to dinner, and apologize in person.
One night, Da Fei received a phone call and drove away without any explanation. The next day, around eight in the morning, Fang Cun sent a WeChat message asking him what happened. He immediately replied Fang Cun, it was a photo. A bruise on her smooth, slender calf. Then came the second one, a picture of an arm with fine scratches. He got on the phone and asked if Da Fei had a fight with someone. There was a long sigh from the other end of the phone, and Da Fei said, it wasn’t him, it was his girlfriend, Xiao A. She mutilated herself.
A few days later, Da Fei returned to Huangdao with Xiao A. She is about 1.75 meters, with long hair draped over her shoulders and wearing a white down jacket. Fang Cun felt that she was prettier than in the photo, so he greeted her and asked her to take a seat. The living room was full of heating, and soon, Xiao A took off his down jacket and rolled up his sleeves to drink water. Fang Cun’s eyes could not help but fall on her arm, but he didn’t see any scars. Has the wound healed, he thought? Xiao A said, “You guys talk first, I’ll go to the bedroom to clean up.”
Da Fei looked embarrassed, as if he had something to say. After waiting for a minute, Da Fei remained silent. Fang Cun said, are you going to take Xiao A over? I wouldn’t mind.
Da Fei said, I’m sorry for you.
Due to living in different places for many years, Xiao A wants to break up with Da Fei and end this love. Da Fei disagreed, and Xiao A chose to self-mutilate. He had to think of an expedient measure to move back to his hometown and live with Xiao A. He handed over the draft of his handwritten novel to Fang Cun, saying that he was going to quit, live his life honestly and stop writing. Fang Cun didn’t know what to say, and he didn’t say a word when he sent Da Fei and his girlfriend Xiao A to the door. Before getting into the car, he heard Da Fei say that he was always insomnia when he lived in Huangdao. Did you hear the sheep downstairs?
When the weather is fine, Fang Cun still goes out for a walk. No more wandering around Cloudy Mountain Road, though. Every night, he goes to Tianmu Mountain Road, where there are some open-air restaurants, where some Beichuan boat workers gather. They wore blue oil-stained overalls and cursed loudly about their troubles at work. Fang Cun seems to be involved too, and wants to drink a few bottles of beer to get drunk. When he got home, there was no one to accompany him. He is not interested in TV dramas and movies, nor is he keen on games like other young people, and he doesn’t know how to pass the excess time. He was sitting on the sofa, looking up at the turbid night outside the window for a long time, feeling that he was growing old and becoming an old man. He writes every day, more diligently than ever, but often opens documents with no thoughts in his mind. He no longer fantasized about writing an immortal masterpiece.
At that time, Fangcun spent four wonderful years in a private film and television university on Huangdao Island. In college, he made a friend named Li Ben. They go to class together, shoot short films, and travel together during winter and summer vacations. After going to Beijing, he became a planner for a film and television company, while Li Ben was highly appreciated by the department head and stayed in the Chinese Department, where he became a teacher of intensive reading of film and television works. He and Li Ben cut off contact because of his troubles in Beijing. After returning to Huangdao, Fang Cun was so busy writing that he forgot to contact Li Ben. One day, he couldn’t help but send a WeChat message to Li Ben. The other party asked, how are you doing in Beijing? He said that he was already in Huangdao. A few minutes later, Li Ben appeared in the Fangcun rental house. He lives next door to Fang Cun.
Every Friday afternoon, they would take a car and either go to a skewer shop and drink a few glasses of draft beer, or gather in a rented house where the other party would order a grilled fish, and the two would have a big meal. Li Ben loves literature, and when he learned that Fang Cun turned to novel writing, the topic could not help but turn to literature. He likes Borges and Faulkner, and he asks Fang Cun if he recognizes the group of well-known authors who have appeared in China in recent years, and inquires about gossip in the literary circle. Square inch is ashamed. He was at the bottom of the literary circle, and he did not know the authors Li Ben mentioned, and he knew very little about the literary circle. Li Ben said that he admired Fang Cun’s courage and dared to quit his job to write. He dared not. He’s a teacher and often gets assignments to write screenplays. He wanted to quit his job just like Fang Cun and concentrate on scriptwriting. However, he could not make up his mind. Fang Cun asked why. Writing the script, he said, was an unstable job. He also has a girlfriend to support, she is a graduate student at a university in Macau.
He asked Fang Cun, what have you been writing recently?
Fangcun said, a novel.
He told Li Ben about the efforts he had made for this novel—giving up his job and writing it for nearly half a year, and he probably wouldn’t be able to publish it, but he would definitely keep on writing. Li Ben fell into deep thought. Their school has a teacher surnamed Liu, who is quite related to a publishing house. He said that he had a good relationship with the teacher, and Fang Cun could send him the novel. He sent it to Teacher Liu for a look.
It was twelve o’clock in the middle of the night, Fang Cun opened the computer file. Faced with long sentences and fragmented plots, he found himself screwed up. He wanted to revise, but couldn’t do it. He had no face to hand over this novel to Li Ben. He was lying on the wooden bed, unable to sleep, facing this rare opportunity, he didn’t want to miss it easily. A wailing sound came from outside the window. At first, he thought it was the screams of people, but after listening carefully, he realized that it was the screams of sheep. “Bah” “Bah” the voice was long and vague, as if lamenting the bad novel written by Fang Cun. He hurriedly walked to the glass coffee table, squatted down, took out the novel written by Da Fei and began to read it.
When he stood up from the floor, he felt a sharp pain in his waist. He moved his muscles and bones and looked at the clock hanging on the wall. It was noon. He was surprised and helpless. When did Da Fei finish this novel? Instead, he made no progress. Although the text of this novel is slightly immature, it is undoubtedly a masterpiece.
He called Dafei, and the busy tone of “dududu” came from his mobile phone. He made more than a dozen calls in succession, but he couldn’t get through. He hung up the phone and wanted to contact Da Fei’s girlfriend, Xiao A, but found that there was no contact information for the other party. At this moment, sleepiness struck, and it quickly devoured him. When he opened his eyes again, he forced the answer button. He thought it was Da Fei, but the other party said, “It’s me, I’m Li Ben.” Li Ben had already contacted Mr. Liu, and the other party asked Fang Cun to send the novel immediately. Fang Cun was sleepless and said, give me a month. He was going to polish the novel.
Adjusting the words and sentences, cutting out the redundant content, and quickly revising Da Fei’s novel. The novel has a new look and is better than before. He couldn’t get in touch with Da Fei, so he wanted to go to Shouguang to have a good discussion with him, and write their names when the novel was signed. If the other party does not agree, Fangcun is willing to withdraw. He just wanted to get this masterpiece out as soon as possible. Just as he was about to leave, he received a call from Li Ben. Li Ben said, be sure to hand in the novel today.
He patted his head, lamented how quickly time passed, and was immersed in the joy of revising the novel all day long, and he even forgot the due date. He tried his best to calm himself, opened the computer file, and stared at the names of him and Da Fei under the title of the novel. When submitting the novel, he deleted Da Fei’s name.
He regretted it. When the novel was just sent to Li Ben’s mailbox, he wondered how he had done such a dirty deed.
A barbecue restaurant opened near Tianmu Mountain Road, and Fang Cun called to invite him. Li Ben said that a teacher in the department had returned to his hometown to give birth, and he was in charge of all the teacher’s courses. He has classes every day, and he can’t get away from it. Fang Cun was eager to see him. He wants to take back that novel, he doesn’t want to publish it. However, he couldn’t say it outright. A week later, he called Li Ben again. He knew that the other party liked to eat hot pot, so he booked a place in a hot pot restaurant. As soon as the call was connected, Li Ben said that he was in Beijing. He was sent to a university in Beijing to study film technology. It could be a month, it could be two months.
Fang Cun felt that he was lying. Li Ben was deliberately avoiding him. I don’t know since when, Li Ben rarely got together with Fangcun, and always found various reasons to shirk. He was also very busy before, but on Friday, he will definitely receive a call from Li Ben. After thinking about it, Fang Cun thought, could it be that Li Ben discovered the secret? He thought of Mr. Liu, whom Li Ben knew, and then the editor whom Mr. Liu knew. The editor is probably also familiar with Da Fei. The editor sent the novel to Da Fei, who discovered that his work had been plagiarized. Everything can be explained. Why didn’t Da Fei answer his call, why did Li Ben avoid him intentionally, only he was kept in the dark.
He wanted to question Li Ben to make it all over, but every time he picked up the phone, he put it down again.
After Li Ben went to Beijing, Fang Cun often couldn’t sleep. Not because of pain and remorse—he selectively forgot his plagiarism without seeing Li Ben, but because after twelve o’clock in the middle of the night, a sheep’s cry from downstairs sounded on time. The unit he lives in is next to a square. In the afternoon, old ladies and old men gather here, playing cards, chatting, and some even drying fishing nets in the square. He wondered if these sheep were raised by the old people. impossible. Huangdao is surrounded by the sea on three sides, and the local people make a living by fishing; in summer, it becomes a tourist attraction. They rent out houses, lead tourists to enjoy the sea view, and sell draft beer and seafood. They are very busy. No one has the leisure to keep sheep. He got up from the bed, got dressed, and went downstairs. When he came to the square, he only smelled a foul stench, and he didn’t see the shadow of a sheep. However, the voice of the sheep can be heard from time to time in the community. Following the sound, he walked towards the unit buildings and circled the community several times, but he still didn’t see a sheep.
At noon the next day, he came to the square. Probably because of the meal time, there was no one in the square. Half an hour later, an old man and an old woman appeared staggeringly. They were not interested in this stranger, as if they hadn’t seen him, and as usual, they gathered together to chat about family affairs. Fang Cun didn’t want to make fun of himself, so he walked away in despair. Back at the rental house, he called the landlord and asked if there were any households in the community who raised sheep. The landlord doesn’t know. He is not a local, but rented a house in the village, which was slightly renovated and transformed into a daily rental. He and his wife live in Mountain Bay. After that, the other party told him a mobile phone number and asked him to call the village party secretary to ask.
Fang Cun did not see the village party secretary immediately. The party secretary of the village was temporarily busy and agreed to meet him in the evening. At nine o’clock in the evening, he came to the village secretary’s residence, and as soon as he stepped into the living room, he smelled a strong smell of incense. He looked into the living room, the sofa, table and chairs, TV, except for a pot of lush green plants placed near the balcony, they were the same as those in the living room of ordinary people. He didn’t see the altar, or the place where the incense was offered. The village party secretary was in his 40s, wearing a brown shirt, with a friendly face, and exuding a cold aura. They sat down on the sofa, the fog outside the window was rolling in from all directions, the towering building next door, the dim street lights and even the night itself were all swallowed up. The dimensions indicate the purpose. The village secretary said, did you really hear the crowing of sheep?
Fang Cun said, it is absolutely true.
The other party fell into a long period of contemplation, and then warned Fang Cun not to think wildly. No one has raised sheep in their village for a long time. Fang Cun didn’t believe it, he felt that the village party secretary was hiding something and that he could get the answer he wanted. He waited, waiting for the village party secretary to tell the truth. However, the village party secretary stood up and took the attitude of seeing off guests, as if telling Fang Cun that he had nothing to tell.
It was late at night when I walked out of the living room. Fang Cun stood in the community, deep in the fog, unable to see the direction or where he was. Like a nightmare, he disappeared. Could it be that he had hallucinations, perhaps the sound of sheep does not exist at all. No, it’s impossible, he was sure he heard it after twelve o’clock in the middle of the night. So where do these sheep cries come from? He felt a shudder, and just as he was about to take a step, a screech of sheep sounded again from far to near.
He froze in place, shouting for help. No one replied to him, or in other words, no one came out to redeem him.
“I’m sorry.” After returning home, he apologized to Da Fei and sent a text message.
“Are you Fang Cun?”
The other party said that Da Fei was dead.