Chapter 11: Hand (2/5)

[Previously on 1/5]

He was leaning in to kiss when there was a knock on the door.  He looked at her and put his index finger to his lips.  She nodded.  He quietly walked to the door, looked through the peephole, and opened the door slightly.

“Hey, what’s up, One Word,” JZ said casually, only showing his head in the ajar door.

“Hey, is she awake yet? I brought her a box of tea,” he said as he held up the expensive box.

“Yeah, she’s in the kitchen,” he said and led One Word there.  “Hey Elle, you have a visitor!”

“Hey!” One Word said, then quietly said to JZ, “Why is she wearing that and why is she not wearing a certain something?”

“She said she would wear whatever she wanted and I’m not arguing with her,” he quietly replied.

“Morning!” she said with a smile.

“Morning? It’s 1 o’clock,” One Word said, looking past her face.

“Really?” she asked a little embarrassed.  “Good afternoon.”

“I brought you tea for your health,” he said as he handed her the box with both hands.

“Wow, thank you! Thank you!” she happily replied, and graciously accepted the gift with both hands.  “My health is fine and gifts are unnecessary.”

“Nonsense.  You don’t need to be so polite.”

“If you say that, then I have to be super polite,” she said in a slightly higher tone than her normal voice.  “Please, have a seat.”

“Thank you.  I did not get a chance to say how much I liked your song.  It certainly was unique with your choice of instruments and melody.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand everything you said.  I haven’t learned much Mandarin since I’ve been in China.  JZ’s phone can translate.  Can you type it on his phone?” she asked, trying not to be so rude.

“Of course.”

JZ handed One Word his phone with the translation program ready to use.  He typed what he said and handed it back to JZ, since Elle was reaching for some glasses in the cupboard.  “JZ, can you get three of those glasses for me?” she asked, pointing at the ones on the second shelf.  He got them for her and asked, “Why don’t you get the ones you can reach?”  “Because One Word is a special person.  I have to get him a special glass.”  She placed them on the dining table and went to the fridge to get the unopened soymilk jug.  She poured it into all three glasses then left the jug on the table.  Then she handed One Word a glass with both her hands and smiled, and did the same for JZ.  Finally she sat on the chair facing One Word since JZ was leaning against the counter.

She took the phone from the table and read and smiled.  “It wasn’t that great,” she said, pushing the compliment aside.

“It was.  It was great for a poet’s first song.”

She smiled, “It wasn’t that great,” she repeated, lacking words and additional humbleness.  “I’m not a poet.  I’m a teacher.”

“Really? But you got a poem published.”

Elle handed One Word the phone.  He typed and handed the phone back.

“I was lucky that it was published.  Everyone in China is a poet,” she typed and handed the phone.

“It was an interesting poem with just a handful of characters.  That’s probably one unique factor that led it to be published,” One Word typed.

“You are being too kind,” she typed.

“Since you’re a teacher, you must be teaching him some lessons,” he typed jokingly.

She laughed.  “I thought you were teaching him lessons.  Otherwise he wouldn’t be so well-behaved now.”

One Word laughed.  He typed something long and showed it JZ to get his opinion.  When they were done collaborating, One Word handed Elle the phone with this, “In all seriousness, he and I have been discussing that since you wrote an album-quality song or lyrics, you should get your own workroom, and in time, your own intern.  For every album-quality song or lyrics you write, you would get your monthly salary as a bonus, just like everyone else.  You will still be paid a monthly salary but in order for you to receive or continue earning your monthly salary, you must write two songs a month.”

She read it and was quite surprised.  She wrote her own response and handed it to them to read.  It said, “I have not been in a situation like this, so please excuse my rudeness or improper etiquette.  Thank you for your generosity.  However, I do not need a workroom because I can work out of the common area.  I will not need an intern, because whatever I foresee that I need, I can get it myself or ask for help.  As for the bonus, is it possible that I not work at the studio for one month for every album-quality song or lyrics that I write, instead of getting a monetary bonus?”

She heard JZ say, “Why so strange?” keeping his voice down.  One Word typed with JZ’s input, and handed her the phone that showed, “We understand that you feel comfortable in the common area, but we don’t think it’s appropriate that you take over the common area.  It’s called the common area for a reason.  We want to make sure that you are sure that you don’t need an intern.  We also want to know why you would rather not work in the studio.”

She read it and had her serious face on.  “For the workroom, it is as I have written in my first response.  I don’t need a workroom.  Another reason to not have a workroom is that if JZ came into my workroom and makes me uncomfortable with his staring and touching, nobody will see how aggressive he may get.  If nobody sees him, nobody can stop him.  For the intern, it is also as I have written in my initial response.  I don’t need an intern.  Two other reasons to not have an intern are because my intern can be a member of the paparazzi or someone that reveals my lyrics before I can submit them to the two of you.  This record label will be jeopardized.  Also, my privacy will be violated.  As for not coming to the studio, regular schooling will begin soon.  Since I am in this country because of my teaching grant, I want to return to teaching in the autumn, while still writing songs/lyrics in my spare time.  The workroom and intern issues are for protection, while not working in the studio is because I have an alternative obligation.”

They read the first few lines of her response and One Word hits JZ on the arm.  Then they nodded then JZ took the phone and typed something quick.  “But school starts in two weeks.”

“Correct,” she said calmly, with a slightly sad face.  “Do you have any questions?”

One Word and JZ looked at each other, not knowing what else to say or ask.  “What do you think?” quietly asked One Word.

“She has logical arguments that we can’t refute.  Plus, she doesn’t want more, she wants less,” JZ said, trying to keep his voice low.

“You said she was different from all the other girls.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t think she would be different from all employees, too.”

They were thinking and then JZ said, “A-ha!” and typed, “What if I hired someone to take your place so you don’t have to teach?” with a hopeful face.

She had a calm face and typed back, “1. I want to teach, so let me teach.  2. I signed a five-year contract and will start my fourth year teaching in two weeks.  3. Are you really going to let my students suffer because of your selfishness?” and decided to delete the last few words.

“How will you get your songs to the studio?” his face unchanging.

“By mail.”

“How will I pay you?”

“By depositing it into my bank account.  I’ll give you my account number and necessary info. next week.”

“Wait a moment,” he said with an idea.  He sped to his bedroom and returned with a wrapped medium-sized box.  He handed the box to her and joyfully said, “Open it!”

She placed it on the table and asked for JZ’s phone.  With a facial expression that showed how ridiculous his order was, she typed, “It’s rude to open gifts in front of the giver,” and handed the phone back.

“You don’t need to be so polite.  It’s only us,” he said with a smile.  “Americans open gifts in front of the giver so the giver can see the expression on the receiver’s face.”

She stared at him and crossed her arms.  One Word immediately shielded his eyes with his hand while JZ’s eyes aimed at her chest.  She uncrossed her arms and tried making the shirt bigger.  That did not work so she covered her chest with her arms.  Her face quickly became bright red.

“If you won’t open it, I will,” he said, a little forceful.  “It’s a phone!” he said joyfully.

“I don’t need a phone,” she said calmly.

“You can do so many things with this phone, sending us your songs instead of mailing them.  You have your own translator, and you can listen to my music.  You can take pictures-”

“I don’t need a phone.  If I have a phone translating for me, CeeCee won’t work for you anymore.  I don’t like your music.  I want to mail my songs.  I don’t take pictures.”

“You can call and text people.”

“If I need to talk to someone, I can find them.  What if someone texts me characters I don’t know?  Everyone who wants to talk to me knows where I am.  Most of my time is spent in three places: the studio, my apartment, and the subway car.  JZ, I don’t need a phone.”

“I am your boss, I order you to accept and use this phone,” he said in his serious voice.

Not understanding everything, she responded to what she did understand, “You’re not my boss during the weekend.”

“I’m your boss until you stop working for me.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

She stood on the chair she was sitting on, cupped her hands around his face, and gave his lips a taste of what he had earlier.  Then she whispered in his ear, “Are you my boss?”

He had a big smile and shook his head.

She returned to sitting on the chair.  She took his phone from his hand.  “If those are all your questions, I have some questions and requests,” she typed and handed it to One Word.

“What are they?” he answered and handed the phone back.

“Can I get paid the day before the last day that I will be working at the studio? I want to send money home, buy school supplies for my students, pay rent for the months I can afford to be gone for, and buy subway and train tickets.”

“Where do you teach that you need to buy both subway and train tickets?”

“I’d rather not say.  He will find me if I reveal my location.”

“Your request sounds reasonable.  We can do that.”

“Can you deposit one Yuan in addition to my monthly salary for each album-quality song or lyrics I write? When I send the songs, I only plan on writing the studio’s address.  If I include a return address, he’ll come and find me.  So my bank account would be the only way you two can communicate with me.”

“One Yuan per album-quality song or lyrics isn’t a problem.  We can do that.”

“Does he have a business card with the studio’s address on it? If so, can I have one?”

“You don’t know what the address to your workplace is?”

“The first time I was in my workplace was when I was kidnapped and unconscious.  After that, I just walked until I arrive at the building’s entrance.”

“I’ll tell him to give you a business card next week.”

“Thank you.  I greatly appreciate that you are willing to accept my strange requests.”

“You’re welcome.  They are strange requests, but I understand that you are planning ahead and want some privacy.  Well, I’ve over-stayed my visit.  I’m going to give you two some alone time.”

She read it and smiled.  “You can never over-stay any visit,” she typed.  “Come back any time,” she happily said as she escorted him to the door.

Today is bright                        Jintian hen ming

Come again before                 Zai lai yiqian

The bright tomorrow            Hen ming mingtian

I wait I listen.                         Wo deng wo ting.

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