Wine Shop Incident, part 7

It was already dark outside by the time everything was finally handled. Lin Pingzhi relaxed a little, but still felt uneasiness as he went back to the Escort House.  When he entered the front hall, he saw his father sitting in a wooden armchair, his eyes shut, lost in thought. 

      “Dad!” Lin Pingzhi called. 

     “Went hunting? Caught any boars?” Lin Zhennan opened his eyes and asked with a smile. 

     “No,” Lin Pingzhi replied. 

     Lin Zhennan lifted the pipe in his hands and suddenly struck down toward Lin Pingzhi’s shoulder.  “Take that,” he exclaimed. 

Lin Pingzhi knew that his father always liked to impulsively check up on his progress in fighting skills. Typically, he would have countered this “Plunging Cosmic Star” – the twenty-sixth move in the “Evil-Resisting Sword Art,” with the “Buddha Blossom” – the forty-sixth move. But his mind was so burdened by the incident at the wine shop that he thought his father had already learned about the incident and was bestowing punishment with his pipe. He dared not move, crying out plaintively, “Father!”

 Lin Zhennan’s pipe halted just about three inches from his son’s shoulder. 

     “What’s with you today? You think you’d still have the shoulder when you are actually fighting someone, if you were this clumsy?” Lin Zhennan asked.  Although the words were harsh, a smile played about his mouth. 

     “Understood!” Lin Pingzhi responded. He dropped his left shoulder and rapidly spun his body around, stepping behind his father. Snatching up a feather duster from the tea table, he thrust it at Lin Zhennan’s back. This was the move called the “Buddha Blossom.” 

      “That’s the right move!” Lin Zhennan nodded in approval. He passed his pipe across his back and parried the thrust, then countered with a move known as the “Flute-Play on the River.” 

Lin Pingzhi was much more focused now. He blocked the attack with “Purple Mist East Bound.”

Both father and son continued fighting until, after roughly fifty moves, Lin Zhennan swiftly poked his son on the chest just below the right nipple with the handle of his pipe. Not able to fend off the attack in time, Lin Pingzhi felt a sudden soreness in his right arm, and dropped the feather duster immediately. 

Lin Zhennan Gave a Lesson to Lin Pingzhi
Lin Zhennan Gave a Lesson to Lin Pingzhi

     “Good! Very good! You have shown progress every single day of this month! You lasted four more moves than yesterday!” Lin Zhennan smiled gleefully and sat back down. “Pingzhi, guess what! Our Escort House has received wonderful news today,” he announced while filling his pipe with fresh tobacco leaves. 

     Lin Pingzhi took out a firestone and lit the pipe for his father. “Did you just sign off on a big business deal today?” he inquired. 

Lin Zhennan shook his head. 

     “As long as our Escort House offers good services, business will come to us! Our only concern is our own ability – are we capable of fulfilling big contracts – when they do come to us?” He inhaled deeply, and then blew out a cloud of smoke. 

     “Escort Zhang sent us a message from Hunan. Master Yu of the Pine-Wind Temple, the Head Master of the Qingcheng Sword School, in Western Sichuan, has accepted our gifts.” 

Hearing the words “Western Sichuan” and “Master Yu,” Lin Pingzhi’s heart almost jumped from his throat. 

     “Accepted our gifts?” he repeated in a mutter.

     “I haven’t really told you much about the business of the Escort House,” Lin Zhennan went on. “You wouldn’t have understood anyway. But you are growing up fast, and the heavy burden of running the Escort House will slowly shift onto your shoulders. It’s time for you to start playing a larger part in the business of the Escort House. Son, we’ve been in the escort business for three generations. We have been able to expand to today’s scale and become the largest and most renowned Escort House south of the Yangtze River. How did we accomplish this? First, because of the great fame of your great grandfather; second, because of the fighting techniques our ancestors have handed down, generation after generation. Anyone mentioning the name of ‘Fortune Prestige Escort House’ will give a thumb’s up and say, ‘What fortune! What prestige!’ In the escorting business, reputation counts for twenty percent, real fighting skills count for twenty percent, but the final sixty percent depends on your relationship with both the unorthodox and orthodox members of the Martial World.” 

Blowing out another cloud of smoke, he continued. (To be continued)

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