Triads & Turbulence - Volume One: Once Upon a Time in Northeastern China by Ergou Kong

Triads & Turbulence - Volume One: Once Upon a Time in Northeastern China by Ergou Kong

Author:Ergou, Kong [Ergou, Kong]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2019-05-20T16:00:00+00:00

Chapter 19

The Knight-errant Liu Haizhu

Who was this Liu Haizhu who came to make trouble for Little Beijing? Since Liu Haizhu will play an important role in the story that follows, he deserves an introduction. Quite apart from his various achievements, his appearance alone inspires admiration:

At this time, Liu was around thirty-three years old. However, he was more than a little battle-scarred and looked closer to fifty. Around five-foot-ten and weighing no more than 120 pounds fully clothed, he was almost supernaturally skinny. Ergou remembers playing the electronic game Captain Commando when he first started middle school. When he chose the knife-wielding Mummy character, a classmate beside him cried out, “Shit! Isn’t that Liu Haizhu?”

He had a long, fleshless face, with a high, prominent nose, thin lips, and a pointy chin. Nobody knew what his eyebrows looked like, because all year round he wore the kind of bamboo hat that’s common in southern China. In all his twenty-six years, Ergou has never seen another living person in a bamboo hat like that. It was very tall, and completely shaded his eyes and eyebrows, giving him a sinister appearance: he could look into someone’s eyes, but the other person could never see his. Ergou saw a similar hat in the popular television series The Magic Blade , worn by the character Yan Nanfei. To this day, he has no idea where Liu Haizhu got his from, but it was the only one in the entire Northeast.

Another thing that made Liu stand out was his goatee. It may not have been meticulously groomed, but it was still very stylish. Chinese men were invariably clean-shaven back in the 1980s.

Liu always wore a pair of yellow rubber-soled shoes and blue canvas clam-diggers or pedal-pushers – a style of trouser that didn’t become fashionable until the 1990s. Wearing them in the 1980s made Liu Haizhu a real trend-setter. During the summer he usually went shirtless, exposing his prominent ribs. In the winter he wore a quilted army jacket with a cape draped over it. He rode a twenty-eight-inch bicycle stripped down to its barest essentials: it had no kickstand, fenders or chain guard, and no brake. Even the pedals consisted only of posts. When he rode it, he looked as if he were suspended between two bare wheels.

Walking along and encountering Liu whizzing by on a stripped-down bike – with his bamboo hat and pedal-pushers, bare and skeletal torso, and the viewable portion of his face sporting a wispy goatee – inevitably left a lasting impression. He was by no means the most feared or famous hooligan in the city, but he was certainly the most visually distinctive. Ergou recalls in middle school, when his art teacher asked students to draw the classic image of an old man in a straw hat fishing from his boat in the winter, almost all of the students modeled their figures on Liu Haizhu. He had thoroughly imprinted himself on the minds of the city’s residents.

Ergou still clearly remembers the first time he saw Liu.


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