Wan Li chatted with Xiao Xia until very late before leaving.
Although she had chatted happily, she ended up almost oversleeping. Someone next door had passed away and the family had invited a Daoist to perform rites. If it weren’t for the blowing and banging, she would definitely have been late.
This was her first day of work at her new job. How could she give others the impression of poor time management?!
She hurriedly ran downstairs and almost knocked the fifth floor’s over. She lowered her head in apology but was grabbed.
“The seventh floor’s Granny Zhang passed away!” The auntie said.
Xiao Xia knew this auntie was famously chatty and couldn’t help but get anxious. She was afraid of getting bogged down in conversation and casually made a few inquiries to show her concern. She hoped to wrap things up quickly and leave.
In the end, the auntie spent five minutes telling her the story before twisting her lips. “What’s the use of making such a ruckus with the funeral arrangements? Isn’t it just a show for the living? It’s to make themselves seem like filial children! Wasn’t Granny Zhang left in a retirement home when she was still alive? They never even visited her!”
There was a private retirement home close to Xiao Xia’s apartment. Because it was behind the market, Xiao Xia would occasionally pass by. From what she saw and heard, the place wasn’t too good.
Occasionally, some kind aunties and uncles would bring food and drink to the retirement home. After getting back, they would say the service there was rather poor and there weren’t enough caretakers. Some of the weaker elderly would lie in stagnant beds year round.
Xiao Xia saw Granny Zhang in her wheelchair several times. She would stare through the metal gates as though waiting for someone to visit her. Xiao Xia had assumed the elder’s children would visit since it was just a ten minute walk! From what she heard today, it seemed they weren’t even willing to spare those ten minutes!
The auntie chattered some more in reprimand but Xiao Xia wasn’t able to listen anymore. She only felt as if her heart was being pickled in hot spices as it shriveled up!
The grace of raising them for decades wasn’t even worth a ten minute walk!
She thus arrived at her new job with such negative emotions. She discovered it was actually the top floor of a fancy apartment. The environment was rather nice. It was completely different from the old broken down place she had pictured. It seems this non-profit was very generous.
Only, this building was newly constructed so there were very few tenants.
Guan Zheng expressed sincere welcome at her arrival, and introduced her to his other three workers. Two of them were graduates who had just passed the law exam, a man and a woman. There was also an elderly gentleman.
The two graduates might go find something with better prospects after interning here for a year. The elderly person might retire at any moment. Xiao Xia never thought someone lacking like her, an outcast who no one took seriously at the Vast Sky law firm, would become this place’s backbone. This made her determined to do a good job!
“This room faces the sun. Better to let the beauty use it as her office!” Guan Zheng took Xiao Xia to a rather nice room and actually made a joke.
Xiao Xia had carefully examined her new manager in the ten minutes since they met. Although she was muddle-headed, she had always been a good judge of people. She felt this Guan Zheng was rather serious and stern. He was slightly stubborn with an abundance of energy. From the feel of the place, it was clear that he was also a thoroughly good person and there was no need to be on guard against him.
Furthermore, she never expected to have her own office.
“This…isn’t necessary, right? I’m fine with sharing an office with someone else.”
“It’s fine. There are a total of four office rooms here. I have one, Uncle Chai has one, and you have one. The two young interns can share one. It’s perfect.” Guan Zheng smiled and said. Xiao Xia felt the lines on his face became a lot gentler when he smiled, making him seem cute and not as rigid. “Furthermore, you came from the Vast Sky law firm. That’s one of the top law firms, so we can’t mistreat you here at our humble temple. Professor Pan has fussed over this many times.”
“I feel ashamed when you put it that way.” Xiao Xia said very sincerely. “You’re the one worthy of admiration. So educated with such grand ideals.”
“These aren’t some grand ideals. They are very ordinary ideals.” Guan Zheng seemed happy to discuss this with Xiao Xia. “In terms of providing assistance, our nation’s laws are severely lacking in strength and scope. There are still many gaps. As students of the law, we should put some effort into the system.”
Xiao Xia nodded in praise. She felt her admiration for Guan Zheng’s dedication grow again. The two chatted a little while longer about the firm before Guan Zheng left. Xiao Xia stayed in her office, reading over the firm’s files and documents.
Xiao Xia spent the entire morning reading before she understood. This non-profit legal organization was called “Hand of Fate” law firm. Its main purpose was to provide free services to those unable to seek legal assistance. In a large city like this, people were more restrained about breaking the law. They weren’t as unbridled as those in rural areas. Therefore, the issue they currently faced was how to protect the legal rights of woman and children in households.
This made her recall her neighbor Granny Zhang’s bitter experience. The unhappiness she had forgotten earlier welled up once again.
She had always felt private retirement homes needed to be strictly monitored and audited. Such places should not be motivated by profit. Otherwise, how were the elderly supposed to enjoy retirement? This wasn’t to say those who opened up retirement homes were bad people. The truth was that seeking profit inevitably led to related problems.
Retirement homes should be places of rest and relaxation for the elderly, not living cemeteries where they waited to die!
“Xiao Xia!” Guan Zheng knocked on the door. “Can I address you this way?”
“Come take a trip with me after lunch. I have a case on hand. An old man called Wang Chang Fa and his elderly spouse went to court wanting to sue their son Wang Hua. Since we left our contact at the court, they referred them to us.”
“What was the matter?” Xiao Xia frowned. Were there so many unfilial children these days? She had never noticed this before.
“The case is extremely simple. Wan Hua is unwilling to fulfill his obligation of looking after them. Not only did he not offer any financial support, he doesn’t even show his face. There is plenty of evidence to have him be punished by the law. However, the court feels it’s best to mediate first and wants us to give it a try. It’s best to avoid wasting resources for a lawsuit.”
“That’s also good. It isn’t important who wins and who loses in such cases. If they could come to agreement and return to being loving relatives, it would be for the best.” Xiao Xia nodded. However, she noticed Guan Zheng seemed a little unhappy.
Due to Wang Hua’s uncompliant attitude, they were unable to set up a meeting with him. Therefore, the two could only follow the evidence and ambush him at his job after lunch. They discovered he was actually the procurement manager of the company, and absolutely had the means to raise his parents.
He seemed to be very familiar with getting visited by lawyers. His answers were extremely well-rehearsed. He probably thought himself calm and logical, but to Xiao Xiao he seemed unreasonable and even extremely shameless!
He laid out a bunch of objective facts, indicating how difficult his life was and how his elderly parents still had the ability to work and support themselves. He was clearly trying to escape his obligations. Furthermore, he glanced lecherously at Xiao Xia while speaking, making her wish she could dig out his eyeballs and heart.
“He’s beyond hope. It’s best to lock him up and reform him for several years!” Xiao Xia said angrily after leaving Wang Hua’s office.
“That’s why I didn’t refute your words earlier. I wanted to use reality to educate you.” Guan Zheng said.
“You said that in such cases we shouldn’t determine a winner and a loser. That it is best to mediate and repair relationships.” Guan Zheng repeated her words. “However, I feel the law should punish those who break it. Only then can justice be reflected. We cannot act on impulse. Sparing the rod will only spoil the child. Only with serious punishment can there be deterrence. The law should be used forcefully to keep society stable.”
Xiao Xia glanced at Guan Zheng. She felt that despite being an upright and good person filled with passion, his thinking was a little too black and white. He seemed a little prejudiced.
Along the way, she wasn’t able to come up with the words to refute his statements. After getting home, she saw Granny Zhang’s children chanting scriptures with the Daoist, putting on a false show of wailing sorrowfully.
She disdained these two extremely. These things who were worse than beasts shouldn’t be let off!
The first day of work left her extremely unhappy. However, she was too tired and promptly entered dreamland at ten in the evening.
While she was sleeping soundly, Wang Hua was stumbling back home.
There had been a business party that night and he had drank too much. He wasn’t able to drive so he took a taxi home. However, taxis weren’t permitted in his neighborhood so he had to walk a stretch.
This was a very rich neighborhood. It was very large and housing was very expensive. In the middle of it was a huge park. To get home, he had to cut through this beautiful little garden.
There was a small, winding cobblestone path through the garden, but that would take longer. Seeing no one around, Wang Hua unethically trampled over the flowers and grass. When he was halfway through, he suddenly heard a cat cry.
Why was there a cat?
He stopped and looked around.
He was very fond of cats. His cat at home ate the highest quality cat food, slept in the highest quality cat bed and used the highest quality shampoo. The people mocking him often said he treated the cat a hundred times better than he treated his own parents!
They could say whatever they liked. Regardless, he liked cats!
“Here kitty kitty. Where are you? Come out.” He bent over and searched the bushes.
“Meow…” The unseen cat let out another cry.
Wang Hua followed the sound and saw one of the bushes shaking a little. He figured the cat was there and immediately burrowed over.
As expect, the cat was sitting there upright, as though waiting for him. However, upon careful inspection he felt this cat was a little different.
It was entirely black with a pair of large, green eyes. Its face seemed to smile yet not at the same time. This sort of expression gave off a very weird feeling. It made it seem like a human dressed in cat skin!
“Weird cat!” He didn’t really like this cat anymore and he got the chills for some reason. He stood up and turned to leave, but realized that he had been surrounded by many vines at some point. They almost seemed to, no, they were indeed tying him to a tree.
Cough, cough. The cat suddenly coughed before slowly walking over. That feline face smiled smugly.
Wang Hua immediately sobered up. He wanted to scream but realized he wasn’t able to make a sound. He struggled desperately but also couldn’t move anymore. He watched as the cat drew closer and closer!
It approached and climbed onto him. Its claws pressed painfully against him. This little cat shouldn’t weigh so much. It only stopped moving when they were face to face, their eyes meeting.
What did it want? Why did he feel as if he were about to die!? Wang Hua’s blood ran cold!
That cat didn’t move however, and merely glared at Wang Hua. He saw himself covered in leaves like a plant in the reflection of the cat’s eyes. As he was about to die from terror, the cat suddenly stretched out its claws and viciously scratched his face.
There was a feeling of loss and one of his eyeballs tumbled down, swallowed by the cat. Then, an unknown plant’s leaves burrowed out from his eye socket.
His head seemed about to burst but it also made his senses extremely clear.
Something was growing inside his head….