Otherworldly Merchant - Chapter 74

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As Li Mazi listened, he became stunned. However, he quickly returned to his senses. He smiled and said, Youre too nervous. How can there be a ghost that likes to drink and eat?
I retorted, In that case, how can you explain the disappearance of the prayer beads?
Li Mazi thought for a while but couldnt find any explanation that made sense.
I said, If that old monk isnt a ghost, hes a Buddha. All his sentences were full of philosophical wisdom, and it seemed like he could see through my heart. Also, I think I know where the prayer beads are...
Where? asked Li Mazi.
At the place of that bald old man, I replied.
Li Mazi said with a smile, Thats a joke, right? Or do you really think that the beads grew legs and ran away on their own?
I asked him, Do you still remember what the old monk told me? He told me he wanted justice. Justice for those that dont have a place to return to and for those that have been exploited. Think carefully about what those words might mean.
Li Mazi looked at me in surprise. Did you harm someone?
I glared at him. It wasnt me! Its that bald old man that has done a lot of bad things, and the prayer beads were probably used to punish him and prevent him from doing any more evil. Now that Ive brought the beads back, he must have gotten even worse. We are basically helping a tyrant do evil. Thats the reason the old monk came here in person and demanded justice.
We have done some bad things as well like evading taxes. Dont you also feel restless after having done something against the law?
Li Mazi looked at me, visibly scared. Little Brother Zhang, please stop scaring me! Anyway, lets just forget about this matter. If that old man doesnt give us a call, we shouldnt meddle any further. Its definitely not worth it to anger a Buddha for a stupid, corrupt official!
I nodded. If the old man gives us a call and asks for help, we should decline.
However, one couldnt simply wash their hands of some matters.
The very next day, in the early morning.
The middle-aged man came again and secretly looked for me. I just wanted to know if there was anything new about the prayer beads.
I simply told him the truth. Those prayer beads disappeared.
The middle-aged man sighed. No wonder, no wonder...
Last night, the bald old man had heard the chanting of Buddhist scriptures again. This time, the chanting was louder than before, as if someone was shouting it from beside him. He covered his ears, but it didnt help. It continued all night and almost made him go crazy.
That was why he had come looking for me.
I shook my head. We are also powerless. Those prayer beads are too powerful, they are beyond what I can deal with. Its better if you look for someone else more qualified for this job.
The middle-aged man was unhappy with my answer, and his tone turned unfriendly. Friend, you should pay attention to what you say. Still, I wont force you and Ill give some time to reconsider. Think about it carefully, alright?

Damn, is this a threat?
Whatever... if you want to threaten me, go ahead. Its not like you can shoot me dead in broad daylight! Even if you have power, you cant abuse it like that.
However, I underestimated them.
That same day, the middle-aged man called me several times, but I didnt pick up. Then, the very next day, there was an accident.
Several police cars surrounded my antique shop, with the police seemingly planning to tear it down.
People from the Tax Bureau also came over to check my revenue. I was a merchant of otherworldly items, what tax was I supposed to pay?!
Still, those guys stayed at my place for the entire day.
Later, I received a call from Yin Xinyue. Ive received a letter from the lawyer. Its about the tax evasion of the company. What is happening? Wasnt this matter already taken care of?
I had a headache. Officialdom and bureaucracy were like a quagmire. Even if you were clean, it wasnt easy to get out.
Given the situation, I could only look for Li Mazi and discuss it with him.
It turned out that Li Mazi was even more anxious than me. The police had also paid him a visit, and they were apparently investigating him for cases of grave robbery. If he was found guilty, it would be over for him.
In the end, he patted my shoulder and said, If we cant defeat the other party, we might as well admit defeat, just for appearances sake.
Since I knew that there was no other way, I told Li Mazi, Go to the public relations department and make an appointment with that bald old man. I have a few things I wish to discuss with him.
Li Mazi said, Alright, lets do it that way then.
So he made a trip to the municipal government and informed me that the appointment was again at that five-star hotel that afternoon.
After the trip, Li Mazi discovered that the police cars and the members of the Tax Bureau had left my shop.
I heaved a sigh of relief. Then, I contacted Yin Xinyue. Tell your company to pay the remaining tax money! Something might happen to the bald old man soon and you might want your company to stay out of it.
Yin Xinyue agreed with my suggestion.
In the afternoon, I went to the hotel to meet with the bald old man face-to-face.
The old man was no longer that amiable and he looked rather displeased. He arrived one hour late and just sat on his chair drinking tea.
This time around, I didnt bring Li Mazi along. I didnt want him to interrupt me.
Im not sure where I got the courage to stand up to this big shot, but I said, Sir, Ill tell you now whats the deal with those prayer beads. The real name of those prayer beads is Justice, and they have the ability to protect and bless their master and their posterity. Of course, that is the basic power. If the owner has done many evil deeds, not only will the prayer beads not protect them, but they will even go as far as retaliating. For example...
I gulped. Then, I gritted my teeth and continued, For example, what is happening to you right now.
Nonsense! The bald old man pounded the table and glared at me. Are you saying that Ive committed many crimes?! Youngster, you should think carefully before spouting such nonsense. Arent you afraid that I might report you for slander?
He wasnt an official for nothing. When he flew into a rage, the pressure emanating from him made me gasp for breath.
I got intimidated, and my tone couldnt help but soften. Im sorry, but even if you leave the prayer beads to me, there is nothing I can do. However, if you carry them on your body and let me follow you around for 24 hours, I might be able to do something.
The bald old man looked at me. Are you sure?
There is a large chance it might work, I said. But if you dont believe me, there is nothing I can do.
The old man hesitated for a short while before saying, Alright! Tell me, how long will it take you to deal with the prayer beads?
I said, Around one month. Dont think of it as a long period of time. Even if I were doing my best, this much time would be needed. If you look for someone else, they might not be able to deal with the chanting of scriptures for a lifetime.
The old man gritted his teeth and said, Fine, Ill give you an opportunity. From today onwards, youll be my full-time secretary. Then he made a call and told his current secretary to take a month-long vacation.
Soon, the middle-aged man came into the private room and handed me the keys to a car.
I said, If you want me to solve this problem for you, youll have to listen to everything I say. Otherwise, it wont work.
The old man nodded, Good, Ill listen to you.
I heaved a sigh of relief, Now Ill bring you back home, alright?
Go wait for me in the car, the old man said. I still have a dinner party to attend.
Then, he turned around and left, heading for another private room.
I shrugged and went to wait in the car, which was especially for officials.
Just as I was about to fall asleep, the old man slowly left the hotel and told me to bring him back.
I asked, Where are the prayer beads now? The old man replied, I have yet to find out.
I said, No need to look for them. We can deal with them even without finding out where they are.
The old man looked at me in puzzlement but didnt speak further.
He lived in a residential area, and the decor inside was rather normal. There was no one else there. His family probably all lived in some big villa, and this place had been specifically prepared to deal with the current situation.
The old man arranged a room for me on the first floor, while he went to sleep on the second.
I lay on the bed and went to sleep. If the old man were to hear the chant of Buddhist scriptures again, he would simply wake me up. There was no need for me to stay up all night to observe him.
While sleeping, I dreamt of the old monk again. He had some roasted chicken in one hand and a palm-leaf fan in the other. He was standing in a dark place as he laughed loudly.
I asked him out of curiosity, Are you a ghost or a Buddha?
The old monk said with a smile, If you have a guilty conscience, Im a ghost. If you have a clean conscience, Im a Buddha. Tell me, do you have a guilty or clean conscience?
I shook my head. I dont know.
He smiled. Thats a good answer. The people of this world are all attached to material things, and they are neither good nor evil.
I said in frustration, Can you not speak in riddles? I dont understand what you are trying to say!
The old monk laughed again, then he slowly disappeared from sight. At the same time, I woke up from my dream and stared outside the window in a daze.
I had more or less understood what the old monk meant. Someone with a clear conscience would stay that way even while facing a real ghost, but someone with a guilty conscience would feel guilty even while facing ordinary people.
Corrupt officials were a good example. If they heard the sound of a police whistle, they would start sweating.
The bald old man was someone with a guilty conscience, and for him, the prayer beads were a ghost!

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