Secret plans. Again with the kid.
“Hey Jing, how old is your grandma?” JZ casually asked after placing his order.
“She’s 97, Mr. JZ,” he answered, hiding his curiosity.
“That’s impressive. Is it possible for her to get here, as in to the cafeteria and pool?”
“With some help, she can, Mr. JZ.”
“Would she be available this Saturday around 10am?”
“I suppose so, Mr. JZ.”
“Good. I’m having a party for everyone here. Hong will send a mass text on the details.”
“I’ll inform her, Mr. JZ,” Jing said, and left for the kitchen.
“That’s really smooth,” said One Word. “You know you just asked out his grandma, and disguised it as a party, right?” and laughed.
JZ laughed and replied, “I guess I really do lose all my common sense.”
“How much was her score and how much was her high score?” asked One Word, taking note of Elle staring blankly in front of her instead of staring at his phone in her hands.
“When I returned, it was around 430,000 and her high score was just shy of 3,000,000 when I started to carry her in my arms. I should’ve been more patient and waited until she lost on her own.”
“Almost 3,000,000?! Fifty thousand is an accomplishment. How is she so good?”
“She said that she has three brothers, so she can play any game with power.”
“Are you afraid of meeting them one day?”
“I know she’s really strong when she’s this size. Imagine how big and strong her brothers are.”
They both laughed.
“Hey guys, can we join you?” asked Xiao Li, coming with Deng, Hong, Hero, and CeeCee.
“We’re talking about business,” JZ flatly replied, not looking at them.
“How is she?” asked CeeCee.
“She’s fine,” JZ flatly replied, still not looking at them.
“Alright then. We’ll just sit all the way over there,” said Xiao Li, and the girls left.
JZ waited until the girls sat at a table then asked One Word, “Do you want to come with us to Nine Hands’ concert tonight?”
“Thanks, but this affair is between you, her, and the public,” he replied. “She’s really going with you?”
“She didn’t respond so I’m making the decision for her. If she won’t make a statement, I will.”
Jing brought drinks.
“I still can’t believe you think she has a feminine voice,” said One Word and laughing.
“I’ve heard her use it.”
“Have you heard her use it to sing?”
“If I remember correctly, she sang Bird Cage without a feminine voice. I overheard you say that you were going to let them hear her sing that song.”
“I did,” JZ replied like he needed to be led directly.
“Then how is she supposed to…how should I ask this…sing femininely when you have no evidence of her singing femininely?” One Word asked, trying to be delicate about the situation.
“I have a gut feeling.”
“What did Nine Hands think of her singing?”
“They said it was an amateur singing. They said people who sing in the shower sing better than her. I didn’t argue with them; everyone else can tell her voice is unrefined. Because her voice sounds like she has had no singing lessons at all and she doesn’t sing at all, that’s what is so unique about her voice, her sound. Listeners will immediately know her singing is honest. It’s more real when there’s a flaw.”
“The flaw shouldn’t be that big.”
“I’m confident it will work.”
“I guess you lose common sense but don’t lose higher thinking when you’re thinking about her. There’s some hope for you,” joked One Word. They both laughed. “Do you really believe what you said about her singing voice?”
“What are you implying?”
“I’m saying you’re biased. You like her so none of your senses work as good as they would if you didn’t like her.”
JZ half smiled.
“Do you predict a singing career for her?” asked One Word.
“Can you imagine how she must be feeling?” asked CeeCee.
“Scared and thinking about her next move,” replied Hero. “At least her arms are healing; her face is darker than her arms.”
“I didn’t get a chance to offer her a stay at my place if she wanted to. If we get another chance to talk to her, one of you need to ask for me,” said Xiao Li.
“She speaks and understands enough Mandarin to know if you’re asking her to stay at your place,” said CeeCee.
“I think she’ll be really good at charades,” said Hero. “If she doesn’t want to go out drinking for girls’ night, we can stay in, play games, and drink.”
After lunch, the girls returned to their jobs. Hero and CeeCee returned to the music room and saw that Xiong was talking to the other musicians while he was eating porridge in a Styrofoam bowl. He looked back and saw them, so he casually walked over to them and said, “You know what’s strange? I got this for Miss Elle, but when I got to the 36th floor, the elevator and hallway was blocked with the funny furniture that was in Miss Elle’s apartment. I found the stairs and walked in that way. I saw two big guys moving the stuff in to the apartment, not out. I asked one of them, ‘Do you know what happened here?’ and he answered, ‘no,’ then I asked him, ‘Did you see where the person who lives here went?’ and he answered, ‘I haven’t seen anyone besides you and my partner on this floor.’ If he didn’t know what happened there, do you lovely ladies know what happened there?”
Hero and CeeCee looked at each other then said, “Nope,” then CeeCee added, “Why don’t you ask JZ?”
“JZ doesn’t like me.” He sighed. “I really wanted to bring this to her, but since he doesn’t like me, and he probably already got her porridge and soup to make her feel better, I can’t really do much more than that.”
“It’s the thought that counts,” said Hero. “We know you care about her.”
“You know what else is strange while I was in there? I was in the elevator on my way down and heard these two guys talk to each other saying, ‘I can’t believe he fired us.’ ‘We’ve been working for him for a year and fires us over a picture?!’Do you know what the picture is about?”
Hero and CeeCee looked at each other again.
“The musicians won’t tell me anything, except that it’s not for kids. I’m 15! In ancient times, I am already a man with a kid or two of my own.”
Hero and CeeCee looked at the musicians with relief and said to Xiong, “They are right, it’s not for kids.”
“Is it a picture of a guy or girl?”
“It’s a guy,” said the drummer.
“Oh,” said Xiong, “then I don’t want to see it.” Then he thought of something else, “Would JZ really fire someone for a pornographic picture?”
Hero’s and CeeCee’s eyes grew wide and CeeCee said, “Yes. We don’t ever want you to talk about that ever again. Never talk about that anywhere, you hear me?”
“Ok, ok. I won’t ever talk about it,” Xiong said, backing away at CeeCee’s sudden aggressiveness.