Trapped in west 5th ring road again.
Lao Wang spat out a smoke ring and cursed in heart. 6 pm, Beijing is trapped in a traffic jam just like this city always does. Lao Wang glanced at the young guy sitting in the passenger seat, he’s in a neat suit, according to his overwhelmed looking, Lao Wang can figure out he must spend a torturing day with clients who located in an unfamiliar place to him. And that’s the reason why he picked Lao Wang’s car, which technically is an unlicensed taxi, over the public transportation.
Another deep breath of the smoke, Lao Wang thought it is the timing, then he asked, “Dude, 20 bucks more.” The young passenger almost fallen asleep was clear immediately “we had a deal, you said it is a long distance but you can make it 100.” Unlike the legal taxi, drivers of unlicensed taxis like Lao Wang usually charge before they transport the passengers. Usually there’s 5or10 yuan more than the legal ones but in places hard to get a regular taxi like the origin station of subway, the management is always a mass and that’s how Lao Wang and his mates make a living-- work in loose managements and rest when polices intervene once a while.
It is not the first time Lao Wang raises the price on the way. He is clear that the passengers cannot leave his car and just get in another car when they are trapped in the traffic, it is not realistic. Obviously, his passengers will yield to his treacherous propose since most of them heard news about the horrible crime caused by drivers of unlicensed taxi like Lao Wang. Lao Wang is staring at the young guy and that made the innocent man feel like being pierced by the turbid eyesight. “You can see that we are choking here and my time is being wasted. Also, you are enjoying my air condition which supplied by the gasoline I bought.”
7:15 pm, Lao Wang received a call and he pick up when he’s on his way home.
“My treat, get more buddies. I made a fortune. Met two nerds today. I took one for cruise on the 4th ring road with 200 and charged the other one with 50 bucks more than those white cars.”
Lao Wang is not an aged man, on the contrary, he is still in his early 30s, single. He thought it seems to be a respectable person who is called “Lao”, so he introduced himself with the name Lao Wang. Yet he does look more mature than people in his age since he has been working since he was 16. And he names his experience as “entering society earlier than others”. Different from most other drivers of the unlicensed taxis, he was born and raised in Beijing. “Not a floating population”, he always describes himself like this with a little pride in his tone. But that doesn’t help him to gain a higher social status.
Spent most of his class in middle school in dreams, Lao Wang didn’t enter any senior high. According to that, he defined himself as learning allergic, people who is not suitable to learning. After a whole summer filled with quarrel between parents and him, he didn’t accept the job that his father begged for him of being an apprentice in his uncle’s factory. Asking relatives and friends, he gathered a couple of thousand yuan. And in the day his old classmates put on the brand-new uniforms of high schools, he stepped on the train heading for Shenzhen.
There in Shenzhen, he spent three years by selling fittings for several little stores. Like most young people who had no special skills, the money he earned can only afford him to squeeze himself in a renting apartment which offered him a room no bigger than a toilet in a mall. And one day in the third year, after an argument about did he took 5 yuan as tips or not with the shop owner, he lost his 6th or 7th job in Shenzhen. On that night, he jumped in a train to Beijing, spending all his deposit.
He spent two months in parent’s flat, thinking about what to make a living. Then he spent another two months getting a driving license. After that, he spent two more months to apply for being a taxi driver. Unfortunately, he cannot afford the papers and the payment of the regular taxi. In the end of the last month, his father put out his cigarette on the ground and borrowed 20 grands to bought him a car.
That’s the day he became Lao Wang. He was 20.
And now, Lao Wang in his 30s is working.
“Look at the damn haze! What did people in the government do actually?” Punching in the horn, Lao Wang complained angrily. The passenger sitting next to him seems calm. It is as usual as a dog barking to a stranger when a taxi (no matter licensed or not) driver in Beijing complain about anything.
As a common person in his field, Lao Wang is always act like he is angry about everything. House price, oil price, insurance and any other things. He picks on politics, economics and culture like an all-known generalist.
The ringing of his cell phone interrupted his speech, it is his mom. The passenger was glad that he ended his complaint but suddenly realize it is wrong to answer the phone while driving.
“What’s going on? I’m working.” He talked through the speaker phone.
“I signed you in a blind date website and they need you to show your medical examination report.” His mother is in a haste.
“No way, no money, that’s it.”
“Hey, hey, hey, wait!” His mother even shouted out. “I have some money. Come home when you finish this one.”
He hung up the phone and the passenger is getting ready to accept his new round of speech about marriage.
Positive is a gorgeous word makes you feel optimistic, hopeful and promising.
Unless it shows on your medical examination report.
“What do you mean by perhaps exactly?” Lao Wang almost slap his report on the doctor’s face.
“Please calm down. It may be a benign tumor. We need to assay.” It is just a common occurrence in the doctor’s eyes.
“How can I calm down when I was told I perhaps got cancer?” Lao Wang feels like a flame is burning in his stomach and the sparks are going to fly out of his eyes.
“Please go home and get a good rest today. We need more assay.” The doctor is really good at pretending an answering machine.
Lao Wang took a deep breath. “But I didn’t feel anything wrong with me.”
“And that’s why I said it may be a benign tumor.” The doctor answered. “And if you still refuse to leave, I will call security.”
Lao Wang is sitting in the driving seat in his car staring at the little word printed on his report.
What makes him feel so sarcastic is that this is the very first time he is described by the adjective “positive”.
He started his car numbly. He only knows that he has to leave this parking lot in 7 minutes or the parking fee will be added to 10 yuan.
He didn’t stop when he saw a young girl waving her hand for a taxi. 6pm in the winter, it is as dark as midnight. He stopped when he saw the red light on the cross.
I’m not a good person, he thought, and a loser. I never came on the top of the class in any exam. I never made a true friend in my life. I never made my parents be proud of me. I never earn an account which can pay back the money borrowed from relatives.
The image of his mother shows up in his mind. She gave me my life, he thought for the very first time, devoted all her efforts to raise me until today. And that man, he can’t stop thinking, my old man, he gave up his pride to get me a job, a car. What can I offer them? Nothing but worries. I don’t have any children or my own family…
Lao Wang can’t hear anything. The light of his little red signal reflected on the front mirror. It is a veiled identity of unlicensed taxi. And in this moment, he hates his identity and his life.
The klaxon woke him up. He dragged the little signal down.
Lao Wang didn’t know how he came home. Actually, he didn’t realize he is still alive until he sensed the numb of his eyes. Staring at the screen of cell phone for a while, Lao Wang clicked the button send.
There are no other emotions here. He tries to convince himself. Just a last meeting and make sure she is happy.
She is the only girl that Lao Wang ever loved. When they met in Shenzhen, Lao Wang regarded Lily as his only mate. But things ended when they found Lily was conceiving a baby which they can’t afford, definitely. She left Lao Wang without a word when she found out he is a man lack of the sense of responsibility, just like the baby left her before a glance to the world.
Lao Wang found that if he can’t live longer, he doesn’t want to leave any regrets in his life. And Lily is on the top of his wish list.
Lao Wang is sitting in the fanciest restaurant which he can afford, half an hour earlier than the date. Yes, date. He warned himself, this is a payment for what he owed Lily.
Still shines, that woman. When she came in, he sensed her like a hunting dog and appraised in mind. When she sat down, he can’t help to smile and ask what she would like to have.
The whole night, he didn’t finish the salad he ordered. He just sat there being a perfect listener, listening to her when she talked about how she came Beijing alone to find him and didn’t heard any of his information, how she met a doctor who is two years younger than her and fall in love with him. But Lao Wang finally felt hurt when she implicitly indicated that she will be married to the doctor soon.
“Congratulations!” He said, with a rigid smile.
“Well…thank you. And we are planning on…”
“I have got the cancer.” Lao Wang tried to pull the topic back on him.
He made it.
Lily was shocked. Lao Wang could tell from her face.
Lily came home with her brain mess like a milkshake that she couldn’t tell what she feels like in her deep heart. And when she saw her fiancé she couldn’t help telling him the story with tears.
“Well, I don’t mind to help your ex.” Sitting in their couch, Lily’s fiancé, Dr.Wu promised the crying woman.
“I really feel pity for him and his family.” Lily keeps sobbing.
“So… I am the one to comfort you when you feel sad for your ex? In my house?” Dr.Wu raised his tone.
“No. I just feel sorry for his families’ loss. Why can’t you just trust me?”
“OK. Here’s the deal. You call him to come to me tomorrow. I will do some test for him while you taking your pre-marriage health checks.”
Lily threw herself into his arms.
The next day, Dr.Wu got a message from one of his colleagues: did your fiancé told you she had an abortion which is not did from a professional doctor? ‘Cause that may influence her ability to have children.
Dr.Wu didn’t overreact. He sat there in his chair, considering about Lao Wang’s test. Then he picked up the phone from Lily.
“I will tell you his condition and I think you can help much better than me.”
Lily is waiting in their living room with anxious. The room was painted in ice-cold gray just like his temper-less eyes. The carpet, white with curly fur, was suppposed to be warm. Yet this one in his room, is too white, just like he can’t stand a dust in the air. He is not a person who would rather show the emotion to let others know him. She stares at a little spot on the carpet and let her mind go wherever it flows. He is a good choice to be a husband. But the work as a doctor makes him indifference and he is cold with death. Just like this house. Big, well decorated by famous designer but makes you feel breathless. Lao Wang, however, my first man, is full of the sense of mankind—though disturbing sometimes. But he is warmer than the cold robot.
The sound of her fiancé changing shoes woke her up. She saw her fiancé walked toward her without any expression on his face.
“How is him?” Lily is asking.
“How about you?” Dr.Wu refuses to answer the question.
“I think I am pretty good. But how about Lao Wang?” The more indirectly he answered, the more anxious Lily is.
“Well…” Dr.Wu is taking off his glasses, “I need you to calm down and listen to me carefully. His condition is very…let’s say very tricky currently.”
“What do you mean by ’tricky’?” As a person who is eager to know the current condition of a patient, the way Dr.Wu talked is a torture to Lily.
“There’s a chance for him. He and his family would better get well prepared for his treatment. Actually, it can be very costly. Both mentally and materially prepared is what they do need now.”
“Like… chemo?” Lily tried to catch something from his eyes but the eyesight is too deep to reach.
“Chemo is not a life-saving straw. It is like injecting poison into the patient’s body to prolong his life instead of curing him. As a doctor, I seldom see chemo defeat cancer. There do are, but few.” He is good at speak in a placid tone without ups and downs. It is like someone input some programs in his mind to make him answer like a machine.
“Even chemo cannot save him?” Lily is astonished, indeed. She even can’t notice the tremble of her voice.
“I didn’t say no. No matter benign or malignancy, they need to prepare money. I don’t know his financial situation well but it is a huge cost to most families. You’d better tell him to borrow some from others.” He answered like a judge on court.
Lily stood up.
She summoned all her courage and dialed Lao Wang’s number.
A month later, Lao Wang’s parents are sitting in their living room. On the top of the closet in front of them, lies a photo in black and white.
Lao Wang was found dead on his bed last Tuesday morning, by his mother. She is the woman brought him to the world and the woman firstly found him left the world. She didn’t know how to react when she touched her son’s body only to find how cold he was.
She tried to get her husband but she couldn’t make a voice. She couldn’t stand straightly. She couldn’t feel any part of her body. She couldn’t believe his only son committed suicide with hypnotics.
There’s only a piece of paper left on Lao Wang’s quilt:
I am sorry.
The three words became the only thing he left.
The knocking on the front door broke the silence. Lao Wang’s father is patting on his wife’s knees while saying “I’ll go get the door. It maybe the friend of him come to condolence.”
“Your express!” The young man handed an envelope to the old man and left.
He grabbed his glasses.
The piece of paper drifted down like fallen leaves in the fall.
“Laboratory report: benign tumor.”
the unlicensed taxi driver is totally a so-called loser in his entire life. negative things and elements fulfilled his every day. and the word "negative" showed up in his life for the very first time on the health report: he may have cancer. the possibility changed his mind to life and he wants to fix something. however, the elite fiancé of his ex-girlfriend destroyed him... the black humor lies in the ordinary people