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Zhang Zian didn’t know where Little Celery lived; he only knew that she came from the north. So after he left the shop, he wandered in that direction.
When he had almost reached the corner of the street, he saw Little Celery running towards him, holding a bag of nuts in her hand.
Today, her two ponytails were pointing 10 o’clock and 3 o’clock on top of her head.
"Little Celery!" He waved at her.
"Oh! Brother Manager!" Little Celery responded with excitement, covering her little mouth.
"Be careful when you cross the street," he reminded her.
"Yes, I know!" Little Celery nodded. She waited until the traffic light turned green and the cars stopped. She carefully looked left and right, then ran across the street.
"Why didn’t you stay in the shop, Brother Manager?" Little Celery ran to him and asked. "Who is taking care of all the pets?"
Zhang Zian squatted down and answered, "Actually… I have some matters to deal with these days. I will have someone else help me."
Little Celery nodded as if she understood. "I know! My mom said that adults were very busy and they had a lot of stuff to deal with. Don’t worry, Brother Manager, Little Celery can help too. It will be no problem for me to sweep the floor."
Zhang Zian laughed. "That’s ok. I am coming to tell you not to come by the shop for the next few days."
"Oh! Why?" Little Celery raised her eyebrows and looked in the direction of the pet shop.
"Because the person who is helping at the shop now hates little kids. If you go there, you will get yelled at. So don’t worry, after I finish my stuff in a few days, you can come back again to play," explained Zhang Zian.
"Wuwu... Little Celery will not make trouble…" she said unwillingly, with a sad face.
"I know you are a good girl. This has nothing to do with making trouble or not. That person hates little children overall. So wait for a few days, Little Celery. I will ask that person to take extra good care of the hamster and squirrel," he comforted her.
"When are you coming back, Brother Manager?"
Zhang Zian thought for a while, then responded, "Is this the only road for you to go to school, Little Celery?"
"When I come back, I will wait for you here like today. But before that, please don’t go to the pet shop. It will be very scary if the person gets angry. I am afraid that he will put his anger onto the hamster and squirrel."
The sentence seemed to have worked on Little Celery. She suddenly opened her eyes widely and nodded, "Little Celery understands now! I will wait for you to come back here."
"Ok, you understand. Hurry up and go to school. It is pretty late now." He patted her little head.
"Yes, bye-bye, Brother Manager!" Little Celery started running towards the school while looking back and waving at Zhang Zian.
"Stop waving and watch the road ahead. Don’t fall!" yelled Zhang Zian.
Little Celery was pretty easy to deal with, which made Zhang Zian feel a little bit superior about his IQ.
He hesitated for a while and decided not to tell Sun Xiaomeng. She usually only stopped by in the morning, and sometimes not even that, so she would not notice. It would be even more trouble if she found that he told a lie.
He decided to delay the shop’s opening till the stores around him opened at around 9 o’clock.
Zhang Zian walked back and saw that the breakfast vendor across the street had started selling breakfast when he had almost arrived his shop.
He then crossed the street, found a chair and sat down. "Please give me a big bowl of dumplings."
"Sure! Right away."
The middle-aged couple worked very well together as a team even without communication: One was in charge of cooking while the other worked on cashiering and other things. Zhang Zian heard other customers call them "Gr
andpa Li" and "Grandma Li", not knowing whose last name was Li.
After a short while, Grandma Li put a big bowl of dumplings in front of Zhang Zian.
Grandma Li took the money, but didn’t leave.
"Young man," she said in a low voice, "Did you offend anyone?"
Zhang Zian raised his head in shock.
Grandma Li wore a mask and looked to be 40 to 50 years old. Her face was sunburned into a black and red color, and a few strands from her hairpin escaped into the wind.
"My husband and I saw it this morning. Please don’t blame us for not helping you, as we are outsiders and afraid to make any trouble," she apologized.
Zhang Zian waved. "No worries. I will not blame you. As a local, I don’t want to make trouble either."
He looked around and saw only him and another student-like young man at the booth, then said, "Let’s sit down and talk."
Grandma Li sat down in front of Zhang Zian and sighed, "Young man, you are the owner of that pet store?"
Zhang Zian nodded while drinking the soup with his spoon.
"These days, it is not easy to run a store. You have to have someone to back you up, otherwise if something happens, you will be in big trouble," Grandma Li couldn’t stop sighing, "It reminds me of a while back, my husband and I…"
She wanted to say something but stopped, looked around like she was afraid, then said in a lower voice, "Years ago, my husband and I ran a restaurant in another city. The business was pretty good until we offended someone. Then, the restaurant was destroyed and we were even threatened that we would be killed if they saw us again…"
"As ordinary people, we were so scared and unable to defend ourselves. And we didn’t know what else we could do to make a living. Then we decided to come here and open this breakfast booth…" Grandma Li continued while wiping her tears.
Hearing that, Zhang Zian couldn’t even swallow the dumpling in his mouth.
Who wanted to run a booth outside on the sidewalk if they could open a restaurant? Instead of stability, they were burned on sunny days, drained on rainy days, and even sometimes chased by the city police…
"Young man, my advice is to not deal with them at all. You look like a college graduate. It will be fine if you find a job instead of running a store. If you really want to run a store, wait for a few years until this trouble pa.s.ses. They are like crazy dogs, biting whoever they meet. There is nowhere for justice if you get hurt."
Zhang Zian finally swallowed the dumpling in his mouth and asked, "Grandma Li, you said that I had offended someone?"
Grandma responded, patting her thigh, "Yes, most definitely! If you didn’t offend anyone, how come they came to give you trouble? There are a lot of stores here. Why didn’t they go to other stores, but only went to yours? Did you ever think about that?"
Zhang Zian hadn’t thought about that before Grandma Li warned him. He was confused and shocked after this incident had just happened to him, only thinking of how to not let Little Celery and Sun Xiaomeng get involved in this to avoid any possible injuries and losses. He thought this incident was because of his bad fortune, but Grandma Li was right, he must have…
He suddenly thought about Chen Taitong, his glimpse full of perniciousness before he left.
That was it…
But still no answer.
What should he do even if he knew the reason?
Zhang Zian could not help but recall recent incidents, from the man in the windbreaker to Xiao Yan's warning. Simply, the prediction was accurate as fulfilled.
Sure enough, he was too naive.
"The business world is like a battlefield." This was really true!
Grandma Li had a feeling that Zhang Zian knew who was behind this incident from his expression change.
She said sympathetically, "Young man, do not fight with them. It will be useless unless you have strong backup. But you don’t look like that you have that..."
The student-like customer left after finishing the food.
She sighed without talking further. Then she stood up and left to clean up the table.