Chapter 4: You can do it, Ash!
Three months ago, the first time Zheng Tan saw Chubs, he was still small and skinny. Currently he is growing into his namesake, so Zheng Tan had mad respect for the old aunty who’d given Chubs his name, she’s really amazing.
As if sensing the sudden movements on the side of the balcony, Chubs, who was squatting on top of the instant noodles, leaned sideways to look out the window, and because the extent of his movement was rather big, the instant noodles squashed under his butt made a crispy ‘’crack” sound.
Hearing this sound, Chubs instantly froze in mid-lean and then with its ears drooping he slowly moved back into position, not looking back towards the balcony. A mournful cry came from the background.
Zheng Tan smirked, feeling a teensy bit guilty. Alright, looks like the amount of supper Chubs’ is going to get tonight will be decreased again.
The son of the old aunty who feeds Chubs, works at the provincial military district. Every month, there will be a week or two where the son would bring the old aunty over for a period of time, and Chubs would follow along. There’s also times where her son will come and stay over for a few days, and each time this happens, it becomes would become a torturous time for Chubs.
Zheng Tan recalled the military training back in the first year of university. After making a mistake, the instructor would give the punishment of standing at attention. As standing at attention was not possible for the seemingly “spineless” cats right now, Chubs would often be sent to squat on instant noodles. After squatting, the amount of food deducted would be based on the severity of the cracks in the noodles.
On the other side, Papa Jiao had already parked the vehicle. Zheng Tan leaped down from the balcony railings, then followed Papa Jiao back to their home apartment.
When they entered through the doors, they saw that Mama Jiao had also returned, but the look inside her eyes as she watched Zheng Tan was a bit out of the ordinary. The staring caused Zheng Tan’s fur to stand on end. He hurriedly ran into Gu You Zi’s room. After entering the room, Zheng Tan laid behind the door with his ears perked up.
“What’s the matter?” asked Papa Jiao.
“Oh, it’s just that Yellowy’s passed away!” sighed Mama Jiao.
Zheng Tan doubled back. Yellowy, that blockhead, was still alive and hopping around a few days ago and exerting his endless energy, how could it…
Zheng Tan listened to the conversation between Papa Jiao and Mama Jiao again, before he realized that what they had said was “spayed” and not “passed away”. Does this mean, Yellowy’s become an eunuch now?!
“I heard from Sister Ling, doing this can remove some of Yellowy’s bad habits. It just so happens Yellowy is eight months old, and can go under the knife… Today Sister Ling also asked me if we also needed to send our Ash to Xiao Guo’s, to have that done, but I gave my refusal.” Mama Jiao said.
Zheng Tan was sweating cold bullets behind the door, but after hearing the final part, his anxious heart relaxed quite a bit.
“Our family cat doesn’t need it.” Papa Jiao approved, “Each family’s cat is different, her’s is suitable, ours might not be. In the future when Sister Ling is advising you, you can just give them a straight refusal and it’ll be fine.”
“En, I was also thinking this way.” Receiving support, Mama Jiao’s face once again lit up with a smile.
Zheng Tan who was squatted behind the door heaved a long sigh of relief. If he were to really be sent off to undergo the operation, he would rather run away, far far away, than have a knife touch his family jewels.
Zheng Tan gave a silent salute to that blockhead Yellowy. He’d heard that, in the past Yellowy’d liked to crazily urinate everywhere. At home, even when he’d been placed in the cat litter tray, he’d still managed to spray its pee outside without missing a single drop, so Yellowy’s family used two layers of cat litter trays. The external layer was the one that was crucial to its task. As for the surface of the households, Yellowy was even more fervent. Over on this side, the odour of that guy’s pee can be smelled in many places of the eastern residence. For this reason alone, Zheng Tan had given that guy a thrashing for who knows how many rounds now, but that guy clearly belonged to the type that won’t learn anything, even after repeated lessons.
Since Yellowy’s life was no longer at risk, Zheng Tan also didn’t worry over it any more. Cats have a cat’s fate. Ever since realizing he had transformed into this appearance, Zheng Tan had always told himself to get used to it as much as he could.
On the second day, the nerd across them came knocking at the Jiao family’s door with black circles beneath his eyes.
It was Saturday. Jiao Yuan and the rest were all at home and currently busy with eating breakfast.
“Wow, Xiao Qu, you’re this early!” Mama Jiao was quite surprised.
This is early? Isn’t it already nine o’clock?
Gu You Zi took a glance at the magnificent sunlight outside, and exchanged a look with Jiao Yuan. The two people continued to silently dig into their bowl of egg noodles.
But to Xiao Qu who sleeps late and also wakes up late, it was indeed very early. Mama Jiao knew this, so she was surprised comrade Xiao Qu actually for once came over before twelve o’clock!
Xiao Qu stretched out a smile, surveying around the living room. “Brother Jiao isn’t here?” he asked.
“He’s conducting a class practical today, and left early in the morning. What matters do you have with him? If it’s urgent, I can give him a call.”
“This… haha, it’s not really an urgent matter.” Xiao Qu’s line of sight fell onto the black cat that was currently eating noodles on top of a low stool beside the dinner table. He said to Mama Jiao, “Sister Gu, that… is it possible… for me to borrow your family cat for a bit?”
The little kids Jiao Yuan and Gu You Zi that were currently digging into their breakfasts stopped their chopsticks at the same time and looked together at comrade Xiao Qu who was standing slightly embarrassed at the door. Last month, at a certain day, at a certain time and a certain place, a certain person with one hand propped against the wall whilst the other was on their hips had pretentiously said, “My place doesn’t have half a rat.” These two kids clearly remembered him saying this!
Seeing the looks on the two kids’ faces, comrade Xiao Qu was even more embarrassed. He gave a single cough and said to Mama Jiao, “I’ve mentioned this matter to Brother Jiao yesterday.”
Mama Jiao didn’t really think it was anything bad. It’s a good thing someone is borrowing their family cat. It means their cat has skills. This made Mama Jiao feel indescribably proud.
And so Mama Jiao gave a great wave with her hand. “That’s not a big deal, just bring him over there whenever you need to borrow him and it’ll be fine.
Zheng Tan, Jiao Yuan and Gu You Zi: “…” When Papa Jiao’s not around, Mama Jiao’s always such a dictator.
“Thank you so much Sister Gu! After I’ve finished dinner today, I’ll come bring Ash over to my place. Sigh, Sister Gu don’t you know, that rat in my home is quickly driving me bonkers.” Receiving consent, comrade Xiao Qu’s glumness was immediately swept away, and he contentedly returned to his place.
The smile on Mama Jiao’s face was like a blooming morning glory. “That’s the good thing about having cats!”
Jiao Yuan dropped his chin and jabbed his chopsticks at the little ceramic bowl in front. He suppressed his voice and pretended to say what Xiao Qu had said back then. “My place doesn’t have half a rat—”
Mama Jiao gave Jiao Yuan a light rap on his head. “Go, eat your noodles!”
Gu You Zi pursed her lips, looking very unhappy.
When night descended, at around eight o’clock, Xiao Qu came over to borrow the cat. Without needing an extra word from Mama Jiao, Zheng Tan headed towards the other side by himself. Sooner or later it had to be resolved, otherwise wouldn’t the practice with those few white mice have gone to waste?
Jiao Yuan was cheering by the door. “You can do it, Ash! Let them see what real power is!”
Mama Jiao looked back and responded, “Go back to your homework! Get one wrong answer and your pocket money’s halved!”
On this side, Zheng Tan followed Xiao Qu into his house.
After entering, on first glance, Zheng Tan immediately felt a familiar feeling – what a fúcking mess! Just like he himself from back then.
On second glance, he saw a living organism that was familiar to the eye.
The moment he entered the place, Zheng Tan saw three cockroaches. One crawled inside the bathroom, another came out from beneath the cabinet, felt someone outside and then crawled back in again, and the third, and also the one closest to Zheng Tan at that, paused after sighting Zheng Tan, twitched its long, thin antennas, then crawled into a pile of magazines at full speed.
As one of the most ancient insects on earth that have appeared way before dinosaurs and had live in the same epochs as dinosaurs and trilobites, possessor of a perverted life force able to survive nine days without a head, the name “Little Tough”, really corresponds with cockroaches. According to rumors, their life force has always been evolving, and who knows what they may yet become in the future.
TL Note: Cockroach in slang Chinese is written “Little Tough”, which originated from the classic Chinese comedy movie Flirting Scholar starring Stephen Chow.