Sample stories from A New Anthology of Chinese Short-Short Stories: Satire, Love and Marriage

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Excerpts of “Plucking Feathers from a Goose”

Written in Chinese by Liu Jushang
Translated by Harry J. Huang

The old calligrapher is exhausted when he returns to the hotel room. He closes the door, instantly collapsing onto the sofa. Ever since the first day of his invitation visit to Y City, he has been warmly received and well entertained as a distinguished guest, but at the same time he has had numerous “calligraphy treasure” seekers to please. He has written for so many of them that he has become tired and dizzy, and his wrist, weak and painful.

       Knock, knock, knock . . .

       The old calligrapher opens his door to see a rosy cloud floating into his room: it is Miss Zheng, a hotel employee, who is holding a roll of calligraphy paper in her hands. He knits his brows at what he sees, but soon relaxes. Indeed, during the past few days, this gentle, considerate girl has been taking the utmost care of him as best she could, for which he feels quite grateful to her. “Yes, I should give her some kind of souvenir.”

       He spreads open the calligraphy paper, thinks for a moment, then lifts his writing brush and writes four giant, vigorous Chinese characters: 雁过拔毛 (yan guo ba mao), or plucking feathers from a goose that passes by.

       “Well, how do we understand this?” asks the girl respectfully.

       The old calligrapher lights a cigarette and then tells her a story.

       It was a warm spring day when the flowers were blooming. A large flock of wild geese from a faraway place that were flying by in a V pattern landed where they were warmly received by the local birds headed by the peacock.

       Before their departure, the peacock said to the lead goose, “We appreciate that you have taken all the trouble to fly across the oceans to bring us news about spring. But could you please leave me a feather, which I can keep as a souvenir?”

       The goose gladly plucked one of its feathers and gave it to her.

       Then the magpie flew over and said in a pampered voice, “Could you give me one of your feathers, too?”

       The magpie was a lovable bird with a sweet tongue that pleased everyone effortlessly, so the goose also plucked a feather for her.

       Then came the same request from the crow, whom the goose hesitated to satisfy, but then it thought, “This guy is good at telling tales. I’d better not offend him.” Thus, the goose endured the pain and plucked a feather for him as well.

       In this way, the goose kept plucking its feathers one after another, until the little sparrow also got one.              Only then did everyone feel happy, drowning the goose with lavish praise.

       Taking a deep suck on his cigarette, the old calligrapher looks at the girl who seems stupefied. Then he heaves a short sigh and adds . . .​

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©Copyright 2019 by Bestview Scholars Publishing. All rights reserved.

Excerpts of “Hypnosis at the Dinner Party”

Written in Chinese by Ji Hongping
Translated by Harry J. Huang

The master hypnotist, whom my friend Ai Xi brings along, shows up at our dinner party like an uninvited guest. He has prominent cheekbones and a mouth and nose whose edges are noticeably clear. His eyes seem able to see through your body and soul.

       “I’d like to introduce a master hypnotist to you,” my friend says. Our guest smiles at us casually. Unintentionally, I point the corner of my mouth toward him.

       “I am sorry I didn’t let you know before I came,” he says. “Sorry for the inconvenience.”

       “Never mind,” I say. “Since you are with us, won’t you please perform a hypnosis show for us, Master Hypnotist?” I put special emphasis on the word “Master.”

       “All right then. I’ll just play a little trick before the food arrives,” he says as he walks up toward me. He extends his hands slowly with upward palms, then closes them up gradually and finally clutches my head. I have no choice but to cooperate, looking into his eyes helplessly. I become stunned when I see moving mountains and oceans in his pupils, but before I can cry out in surprise I have already come to a beach.

       It is all familiar scenery with coconut trees swaying in the wind. There is no one around and I walk forward until I pass an islet. Then, I suddenly see a bright place with many people playing there. A beautiful woman in a bathing suit waves at me. She has a visible mole between her breasts. I remember her at once: she is my friend Xiao Fan’s wife. He is also here at the dinner today. She and I have secretly slept together several times. Though it was she who took the initiative, I always feel guilty of what I have done. In my subconsciousness, I always host dinner parties and every time I invite him over. He seems to have some sort of intuitive reaction. Whenever he is invited he would come, as if to watch me performing my show.

She comes up to me and locks her arm into mine. Her near-naked large breasts keep touching my sensitive skin every now and then. The sun is exceptionally dazzling and only when we get to the beach chairs and lie down do we find the ten friends or so also lying in a row of sunbathing chairs: Zhao, Qian, Sun, Li. . . . As if sitting around a dining table, they appear to enjoy watching us. Fortunately, Xiao Fan is not among them.

       “Mommy,” a tender voice calls. Then a waddling toddler jumps at her, clutching her thigh. I see her picking him up with ease and kissing him. Ignoring everyone around, the toddler reaches for her top and rips open her bra. Her bright nipples jumps out and he begins sucking hungrily.

       All the friends smile sweetly.

       I want to slip away from them, but unexpectedly she removes the little boy from her breast and presents him to me, “Come on, baby. Call him Daddy!”

       “What! This little guy is my son?” I blurt out, surprisingly sending all the friends into a roar of laughter.

       “Stop laughing,” said a loud voice. “Disasters are coming. Follow me. Flee the Immortal Island!” I look in the direction of the voice and see my friend Ai Xi, who is dashing towards me in a somber mood.

       “Disasters are coming!” Ai Xi shouts repeatedly, but Qian, Sun, Li and the other friends all roar with laughter whenever they hear his warning. Abruptly, their laughter is destroyed by a force from outside the earth, changing into a pitch that is beyond their control. It grows unbearably screechy, instantly triggering a tsunami. In the twinkling of an eye, the little boy is swept into the sea. Before I can react his mother starts howling as she jumps into the ocean. I spring to my feet trying to pull her back, but the waves knock me out in no time. 

       When I wake up I find myself lying . . .

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©Copyright 2019 by Bestview Scholars Publishing. All rights reserved.

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