“That poor boy,” Xiao Wei sighed. “Master Yang is sure stifling him.”
Zun watched the cars roll away and shook his head. That look on SarEr’s face got him each time. He hated seeing it, especially when he knew that SarEr had been trying to make him feel better at the court today.
“He’s happiest here,” Zun said to his mother.
“There’s nothing we can do, Zun,” Xiao Wei soothed. “He is the master’s son, who knows what the reasons are.”
“He’ll run away if it keeps up,” Zun predicted.
“Let that fight come later, for now, don’t worry about it,” Xiao Wei advised.
Zun shrugged at that not too sure about being positive. SarEr’s expression had spelled rebellion. He was quite sure that fight would be coming sooner than they all imagined. Taking back his seat, he let out a sigh and the memory of the first time he’d met SarEr filled his mind.
It had been their first year of high school. SarEr was dropped off in the family’s familiar black Mercedes cars, the bodyguard opening the door to allow the lean boy out. Zun remembered how much he’d disliked SarEr then. His attitude hadn’t helped the situation either. SarEr tended to get violent and bad tempered when he was nervous and before Zun had known that, they’d fought each day.
Zun spent most of that first year accusing SarEr of being a spoiled rich boy. They fought bitterly and their mutual hatred for each other became a part of school gossip. There was no one who could make the peace between them. SarEr refused to allow his father to deal with Zun out of pride. The teachers opted to keep their interaction to a bare minimum if ever. And then, the day that had started their friendship came.
SarEr had been talking with a group of classmates during recess in the courtyard of the school. Zun, hating how relaxed and entitled SarEr looked, had started walking toward the punk, only to stop when he noticed a man approaching SarEr with a strange expression. The man had been in an impeccable gray suit, but something about him had felt so wrong. A second later, Zun realized that the man held a gun in his hand. Before Zun could react or say anything, the man had trained the gun on SarEr.
The boys with SarEr scrambled away, fear in their eyes the minute they realized what was going on. SarEr, however, remained where he was as he stared the man in the eyes. Zun would never forget what SarEr told that man.
“Will it make you feel better to pull the trigger?” SarEr had said it with such a cold, calm voice, that Zun had been struck by the attitude. What kind of person did you have to be to be so calm before death? Worry prompted Zun to move beside SarEr.
“Aren’t you going to run, Zun?” SarEr asked.
“No,” Zun said his eyes on the man who was now wavering in his intentions. “Sir, if you kill him, you’re going to have to kill me too, since I’ll be the witness.”
The comment made SarEr smile, just as bodyguards swarmed the courtyard. They removed the man with the gun in record time.
“You’ve got guts, Lee,” SarEr said then. “You’re either stupid or you have a death wish.”
“What do you think?” Zun asked studying the punk.
“You’re stupid,” SarEr said.
Their friendship began there and since then, five years later, they were the best of friends. SarEr was twenty and Zun feared the punk was going to get in a car one of these days and drive to the airport. Which was going to leave him here, Zun sighed and shifted his attention to his mother.
She was finished with the rollers and was now rinsing the sink she’d sued while her customer was under the dryer. She was humming as she did so and Zun wondered why the woman never seemed short of good moods. She deserved so much more.
His yearning to get her a better life roared to life and Zun stood up, moving to where she was about to start running water to rinse the soap off.
“I’ll do that, mum. You sit and rest.” Zun grabbed the brush she was using and moved her gently out of the way. Xiao Wei smiled at him and moved to the seat he’d vacated.