Two Lives by A Yi

Two Lives

Two Lives by A Yi
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 4.2 MB

Seven stories, seven whispers into the ears of life: A Yi’s unexpected twists of crime burst from the everyday, with glimpses of romance distorted by the weaknesses of human motive. A Yi employs his forensic skills to offer a series of portraits of modern life, both uniquely Chinese, and universal in their themes.

His years as a police officer serve him well as he teases the truth from simple observation, now brought into the English language in a masterful translation by Alex Woodend. The stories include Two Lives, Attic, Spring, Bach, Predator. The first in the new Flame Tree Press series, Stories from China.

This desolate situation after a period of turbulence made Zhou Lingtong feel safe. His fear was gradually leaving him. But fear, like the tears shed that day, once gone, left one defenseless against reality. He was again overtaken by the plain, ugly truth: he’d failed the exam eight years straight and become a wanted rapist. With all hope gone, he had to kowtow and say thank you to passersby. And that was it: they walked on two legs, upright, while he was on all fours, a reptile. Two worlds.

After living as a beggar for only a few days, he noticed a problem. The concrete ground he slept on was damp and cold during the night, leaving him with severe back pain the next day. The healthy young man was helplessly sliding toward sickness and disability. The idle life of a beggar wore Zhou Lingtong out. Life was gloomy like he was slowly dying from blood loss. He thought he’d rather die right then; he’d already attempted suicide once anyway. Nevertheless, dying was not a pressing matter. Before then he’d eat soupy buns, Liuhe dry beef, and Baiyun pig feet. Having done so, he’d head to Mount Zijin to watch the sunrise. Only when he saw it would he bid farewell to this world. The Nanjing Daily he sat on read: For as far as I could see, mountains stretch away to meet the sky, green waves undulate toward the eyes. Amid endless mountains and countless woods, where can the tiny dust of the floating world rest?

The mountain, being three or four hundred meters high, was not difficult for Zhou Lingtong to climb. At one point, he followed a group of tourists and listened with a great interest as the guide introduced the area through a megaphone: What we are going to see is Sun Quan’s grave; Sun Quan, or Zhongmou, was even admired by his enemies. At another point, he ran to an ancient tree and awkwardly put his arms around it. The tree had a huge top. He couldn’t figure it out how a snake could shake it and make it rustle. Lost in thought, carefree, he suddenly caught sight of two men beating a lanky woman over the stone steps, which reminded him of the legendary Wu Song who pounded a ferocious tiger to death. Unsatisfied with the beating, they began to pull her curly hair.

When the woman turned to face him, Zhou Lingtong saw her nostrils and the corner of her month were bleeding. Her eyes flooded with despair, the kind of despair fish on a chopping block might show when at the very last moment their eyes meet the butcher’s knife. Feeling a stab of pain at something they shared, Zhou Lingtong suddenly decided what he should live for. He thought he was going to die anyway, but it was worth it to trade his life for someone else’s, so he grabbed a rock and ran toward them. Though those Nanjing men were terribly abusive toward the woman, seeing someone charging at them with a rock, roaring, they left her alone immediately, and ran straight into the primordial forest.

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