Birth of Thunder Horse Manufacturing
After dinner, Xia Lei made a cup of Pu'er tea for Long Bing.
Long Bing sat on the sofa and sipped her tea quietly. The lamplight cast on her body - her fair skin, black dress and lightly outlined long legs... Everything about her was perfect. If she wasn't so cold and unapproachable she would have been very charming.
Xia Lei looked at her and saw the outline of a gun holster on the outside of her thigh. He was at a bit of a loss for words. She'd even brought a gun when coming to have a meal. Was there a time when she didn't have a gun?
"Xia Xue is not bad. She's an obedient girl. I quite like her." Long Bing put down her teacup.
Xia Lei smiled, "Yes, she is. Thank you for caring for her in Jing-Du."
Long Bing's brows wrinkled slightly, "Must you be so formal?"
"Okay, I won't say thanks then," said Xia Lei awkwardly.
"I'm going off," Long Bing said as she stood.
Xia Lei stood too, "Not going to sit and chat more?"
"No, I have a flight to catch." Long Bing walked towards the door.
Xia Lei hurried to be faster than Long Bing and open the door for her, "Have a safe journey. Give me a call when you're free."
Long Bing stopped in the doorway and looked straight at Xia Lei, "Remember what I said. Your bad blood with Huang Yi-Hu is finished. Do not aggravate the Gu clan anymore."
Xia Lei nodded and said, "I know my limits. Don't worry, I won't aggravate the Gu clan."
"Nn. That's good." After a pause, Long Bing added, "And, what you're doing now is good. Don't do anything that will betray your country. If you do, I will be the first to come after you."
Xia Lei smiled wryly, "Why are you saying this to me all of a sudden? Am I such a bad person in your eyes?"
"I'm just saying. Go back. There's no need to send me off." Long Bing patted Xia Lei on the shoulder, went out the door and downstairs.
Xia Lei stayed in the doorway for quite a while before he shut the door and went back inside. He found the whole encounter strange. 'She was weird tonight. First, she asked questions about my father then reminded me not to do anything to betray my country. Does she suspect my father or me?'
His father, Xia Chang-Hai appeared in his mind's eye. He walked to the television cabinet and picked up the little glass bottle behind the family picture. The white pill sat quietly in the bottom of the bottle, a plain, simple pill; it looked like a forgotten amoxicillin capsule.
He opened the bottle and took the pill out and smelt it. It smelt the same as it had five years ago - no medicinal smell but something more like motor oil. It was very strange.
He remembered when his father first gave him this sort of pill, he'd asked why it had such a strange smell but his father did not tell him anything except to eat the pill.
'Father, what do you do? Are you still on this Earth? If you're still alive then why don't you come home?' Xia Lei's head was full of questions. Memories of his father also surfaced in his mind and his eyes moistened.
Ring ring ring, ring ring ring...
The ringing of his mobile phone brought him out of his thoughts and he put the pill back in the glass bottle, then placed it back behind the family picture. He then fished out his mobile phone and answered the call.
It was Jiang Ru-Yi. "Lei, did that woman leave already?"
"She left not long ago," said Xia Lei.
"Good. What right does she have to bother you? What is she to you? Really." Jiang Ru-Yi complained for a bit and said after venting, "Do you want to come and take a look? He had an ugly death. Huang Yi-Hu's eyes are bulging out and his tongue's sticking out so much..."
Xia Lei was disgusted and quickly cut Jiang Ru-Yi off, "Enough. Did you call me to gross me out?"
"I'm being happy for you and Ma Xiao-An. You'll be happy to see Huang Yi-Hu like this," said Jiang Ru-Yi.
Xia Lei should be happy that Huang Yi-Hu was dead but, strangely, he did not feel any satisfaction from the avenging of Ma Xiao-An's death. The person was dead and the death avenged. The dead won't have any feelings and the ones alive were happy for only a short time. What was the meaning in that?
"Did he really hang himself?" Xia Lei recalled what he had witnessed earlier in the day in the interrogation room, where the middle-aged man surnamed Shi had sneered as he left and called Huang Yi-Hu a fool.
"He did hang himself. He used his shoelaces."
"What about Li Yu-Lan?" said Xia Lei.
"Li Yu-Lan is fine. We haven't told her yet," said Jiang Ru-Yi, "Are you coming or not? If you aren't then I'm hanging up. I have no time to chat with you."
Xia Lei hesitated, "Forget it, I'm not coming. This is your police matter and I don't want to meddle."
"Okay, good night. Have a nice nightmare." Jiang Ru-Yi hung up.
Xia Lei smiled wryly and shook his head, putting his mobile phone away. He was still mulling over Huang Yi-Hu hanging himself.
Who would be most at ease with Huang Yi-Hu dead? The named officials and the Gu clan, of course, since dead men tell no tales. If he analysed it according to who would benefit the most, then those officials and the Gu clan were most suspect. And between these two groups, the Gu clan had the power to make Huang Yi-Hu shut his mouth forever in the detention centre!
'The Gu clan is the most suspicious. With her skills, Long Bing would be able to guess, won't she? But if even she is not going to get involved, then why should I?' Xia Lei pondered and reached a conclusion and his heart was calm. 'Huang Yi-Hu is dead and Ma Xiao-An has been avenged. My grudge against him is gone and I don't need to worry about this anymore. I'll get a good sleep and go to the construction site tomorrow. I should be worrying about Thunder Horse Manufacturing instead. Yep. To bed!'
As he walked past the living room, Xia Lei looked at the family picture on the television cabinet again before he went to his room to sleep.
With Huang Yi-Hu dead, nobody came to the construction site to make more trouble and the construction progressed quickly.
Xia Lei went to the construction site every day to check on it, then went to his roadside machine shop. Thunder Horse Manufacturing was not yet built but Thunder Horse Workshop still had orders to fill so Chen A-Jiao, Zhou Xiao-Hong and the others still stayed at Thunder Horse Workshop to work. Once the construction of Thunder Horse Manufacturing was complete, Xia Lei would close the machine shop and move Zhou Xiao-Hong and the others to the company.
Besides the construction site and machine shop, Xia Lei did not lapse in learning Wing Chun. He would drive Liang Si-Yao home every day after work at the construction site was done for the day and learn Wing Chun from Liang Zheng-Chun, then practice with Liang Si-Yao. If he finished early he would drive home but he stayed over at the Liang household if he practiced longer and it was late. His Master's home was like his own and whether it was convenient or not did not matter to him.
When he was at the Liang household, Xia Lei's culinary skills won the favour of Liang Zheng-Chun and Liang Si-Yao. Father and daughter both praised his culinary skills highly and would be unused to the night when Xia Lei did not make dinner. He was not only a diligent, hardworking disciple but a good cook - which Master or senior disciple would not like that?
A month later.
Plot number thirteen was a vacant piece of land a month ago and full of weeds. A month later, a machining plant had been erected. The machining plant was not large but there were also workshops, warehouses, an office building, canteen and dormitories - a complete set not missing anything that should be necessary.
The office building was a four-storey steel structure. The third and fourth floors were the offices of Thunder Horse Manufacturing and the first and second floors were to be used for the supermarket. Xia Lei had been forced to ask Mayor Hu for a low-interest, six million yuan loan because of his plan to build a supermarket. Part of the borrowed money went to pay for the added building materials needed from Forest Man and part went to purchasing equipment and materials.
The roadside Thunder Horse Workshop ceased operations and existence the day before construction of Thunder Horse Manufacturing was completed and Zhou Xiao-Hong and the others went to the new venue. The Thunder Horse Workshop employees were all experienced and seniors in the company. Xia Lei had not forgotten them at all and gave each of them appropriate positions like supervisor and department head. Zhou Xiao-Hong had the highest position among the old employees. Xia Lei had given her the position of Workshop Director. A smile bloomed like a flower on the mountain woman's face.
The old employees led the technical school fresh graduates. They were young and needed the guidance of the older employees.
The university graduates were sent to the office buildings with different tasks. They were to design products for Thunder Horse Manufacturing and support Xia Lei in the management of the company. They would also pull in new orders for Thunder Horse Manufacturing and run the capital operations of the company and so on. They were young and lacked experience but Xia Lei believed in them and was willing to work hard with them to build the future of Thunder Horse Manufacturing.
The shears of Mayor Hu and Xia Lei's scissors closed and a silk flower dropped onto the tray held by Liang Si-Yao amid warm applause from the main doors of Thunder Horse Manufacturing,
"Congratulations, Mr Xia." Mayor Hu shook hands with Xia Lei, a warm smile on his face, "Work hard. The future belongs to young people like you."
Xia Lei smiled, "Thank you, Mayor Hu, for participating in our company's ribbon-cutting ceremony."
Hu Hou laughed, "Why thank me? It is my honour to be invited. Your company is small and has no reputation yet but I believe that you will make it bigger and better. Who knows, your Thunder Horse Manufacturing may become the second East Wind Heavy Industries!"
"I will work hard to not disappoint you, Mayor Hu," said Xia Lei politely. Courteous words such as these were indispensible in a conversation with leaders.
A luncheon was held in the Thunder Horse Manufacturing canteen and the food was plain canteen food with no alcohol or delicacies but it was still a lively scene.
Mayor Hu left with his secretary after the luncheon and Xia Lei went to the supermarket area below the offices with Qin Xiang. The supermarket area was empty of shelves and there were no cashiers either.
"When do we open for business?" Qin Xiang looked around the empty supermarket and looked a little anxious, "You want me to manage your supermarket for you but there isn't even a pack of sanitary towels on the shelves. What am I going to manage? Farts?"
Xia Lei laughed, "What do you need sanitary towels for?"
"I..." said Qin Xiang awkwardly, "I was just giving an example. I need sanitary towels for... What do you care what I'd need it for?"
"Okay, I won't joke with you," Xia Lei said seriously, "I do want our supermarket to open for business right away. This will ease some of the financial burden on me. However, the renovation cost for the supermarket is at least a few hundred thousand and goods would cost over a million. I've done the calculations and it will be impossible to open the supermarket for business unless we have three or four million. I have no more cash on hand and the money I do have left is for the salaries of the employees at the end of the month. I dare not touch that money."
"Borrow from Hu Hou again," said Qin Xiang, "He can lend you six million so why not ten million?"
Xia Lei smiled wryly, "He lent me the money to start the company partially because of China Industrial Group. He'll just roll his eyes at me if I ask him for money to start a supermarket. Opening a supermarket on this piece of land is already cheating so I can't ask for help after taking advantage of a loophole."
Xia Lei thought for a bit and said, "Contact people you know and see if any supplier would be willing to receive payment after delivery. If there are, you can represent me and sign the agreement right away. I'll go through my contacts too and look for suppliers like this."
Qin Xiang let out a sigh, "Okay, I'll try."
"Um, please dress more formally," said Xia Lei.
"Prude." Qin Xiang put a hand on his hip and glared at Xia Lei.
Xia Lei felt his extra bit of advice would go ignored.