Chapter 41: Superb Knife Skills`
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Hearing what Michelle said, Zhang Lisheng chuckled without any reason, “Don’t worry, Michelle. I’ve never planned to live my life depending on someone else’s influence. To be honest, the only person I’m most afraid of in the world is now dead. He’s lying on a cliff in Western Sichuan Miao Land, China, there’s nobody who can offend me whenever they want now…”
All of a sudden, Michelle revealed a helpless expression as she watched Zhang Lisheng looking confident, “Are you a fan of ‘The Godfather’?”
“The movie ‘The Godfather’ played by Al Pacino. Stop pretending, all of my boyfriends would talk like you did just now. ‘If you owe me a favor, you might need to pay it back with dignity’, ‘I spent my life trying not to be careless’ and so on.”
“No, I wasn’t imitating anyone…”
“Alright then, just pretend that I didn’t come here tonight,” Michelle pouted and walked out of Zhang Lisheng’s room. She turned her head and spoke before she shut the door, “But I must remind you that ‘A friend who’s plotting against you aren’t worthy of being called your friend’.”
Clearly, what Michelle said before she left was from ‘The Godfather’ too. Zhang Lisheng was merely smiling faintly to her advice.
He muttered to himself, “That phrase shouldn’t be applied on George only,” He turned off the lights once again and climbed onto his bed. He began cultivating quietly. He could no longer use wizard worm, all he could do was to cultivate by chanting witchcraft incantations. Though slow, Zhang Lisheng remained determined, hoping his constant effort would turn into something.
On the next day, the bell rang in New York Lowbige Junior High at three in the afternoon. ‘Ring…’, the young junior high students walked out of the classrooms in crowds while talking to each other with a smile on their faces. Zhang Lisheng waited at the entrance of the school building hall while carrying his bag. His black friend soon came to him.
“Yo, my depressed buddy. How was your day?”
“It was good as always, George. Are we going to Dan Souza Butcher Shop now?”
“Sure we can if you’d like to,” George blended into the crowd with Zhang Lisheng as they talked, “Are you sure you want to work there? You don’t look like you need money… Forget it, you’re a mysterious fella. Pretend I didn’t say anything.”
“Actually, working’s just an excuse. I just want some freedom to myself,” Zhang Lisheng smiled and said half-jokingly.
“So you’re going to pretend to work for two days just to show your parents if they were to check on you. You’re so sly,” George showed an expression as he had just realized something as he spoke while laughing.
Zhang Lisheng nodded and said nothing. Both of them arrived under the tree where they parked their bicycles. They rode on it and cycled to Dan Souza Butcher Shop. It took over ten minutes to get to the butcher shop from school as they had to travel across the entire street. It would take longer to get there if they were to drive due to the heavy traffic. Such a distance is the epitome of the word ‘nearby’.
Dan Souza Butcher Shop had just taken over a candy store close by recently and expanded to ten counters. It seemed like a shop with a decent scale with various raw meats and cooked meats. Their advantage compared to supermarkets was their fresh and delicious meat.
The butcher shop owner Rocky was a short, muscular white man with a beard. He seemed unsatisfied seeing skinny Zhang Lisheng coming to an interview as a part-timer. He complained, “George, the work in this shop isn’t easy, it’s annoying enough to have you, a little man who is always goofing around here…”
“Boss, why don’t you try me and see if I could do what you assigned me before judging?”
Rocky almost choked hearing what Zhang Lisheng said. He then took a good look at this skinny young Chinese man before him and ordered right away without saying anything unnecessary, “Cut 500 gram of fresh meat into little cubes, you have one minute.”
Zhang Lisheng had cut countless meat since he was a kid to feed the venomous worm. He walked to the counter without saying a word. After washing his hands at the sink behind him, he touched the kitchen knives on the knife rack one after the other, he was checking. Eventually, he picked up a kitchen knife in the form of a straight-edged shank.
He then cut a piece of the pork loin directly with the shank, he seemed casual when he did it. Without even weighing the piece, he began swinging the shank and cut the meat into pieces of half an inch. His movement was swift, the entire process took less than half a minute. It made one dizzy to watch.
After cutting them into cubes, he packed all of the pieces and tossed them onto the electronic scale. Surprisingly, they weighed 500 grams exactly. Nothing more, nothing less.
“You… were you a Japanese teppanyaki chef before?” Rocky asked while stammering a little because of shock.
“No, I’m Chinese. I used to cook often.”
“Young man, you’ve got great knife skills. Unfortunately, we have a meat processing machine since the beginning. We could do what you just did by pressing a button…”
“To the customers, watching meat getting cut manually is different from cutting meat with a machine. Moreover, I’m just a high school student, my pay as a part-timer isn’t high.”
“What’s your name?”
” Zhang Lisheng, you can call me Lisheng.”
“Lisheng, you’re a very smart kid. Alright, I’ll pay you 12, no, 15 dollars per hour. That’s the best I can do. This is a butcher shop after all, not a teppanyaki restaurant. The salary that I’m paying you is already one-fold more than what I pay your friend, George. The request I have would be you showcasing your outstanding knife skill whenever you can,” Rocky said in all honestly realizing that he could not chase Zhang Lisheng away.
“Deal, Mr. Rocky,” Zhang Lisheng nodded and agreed. Just like that, he became Dan Souza Butcher Shop’s highest-paid part-timer. After putting on a clean uniform, he began his work life.
After a while, the customers who came to Dan Souza Butcher Shop to purchase fresh meat noticed this new skinny kid with his amazing meat-cutting skills. The other nine counters among the ten in the butcher shop slowly had lesser people queuing. Those housewives who were not in a rush to get home queued at Zhang Lisheng’s counter. Even some customers who were only purchasing cooked food began to queue at Zhang Lisheng’s counter to buy fresh meat.
Due to his hectic work, Zhang Lisheng was cutting meat without lifting his head. He even got George to help him with the heavier tasks. He worked for one to two hours doing just like that. Just when he thought something was odd, he heard a familiar voice in his ears all of a sudden, “Sir, I would like five pounds of beef ribs, thank you.”
“Mom, why are you here?” Zhang Lisheng was secretly relieved. He lifted his head and asked while pretending to be surprised.
George who was standing beside him greeted with a smile, “Nice to see you, Ms. Lili.”
“Hello George,” Lili smiled at George then while looking at Zhang Lisheng she said, “It’s your first day at work today, of course, I want to visit to see if you’re getting used to this.”
“Ms. Lili, Zhang Lisheng’s doing great. His hourly pay’s already one-fold more than mine despite the fact that he just started,” George interrupted and said in a complaining manner.
“Is that so, George? Why is that?”
“Of course it’s because of his sleek meat-cutting skills. Lisheng, aren’t you showing your skills to Ms. Lili?”
“I just got a lot of practice. Mom, I guess you’re making steak since you’re buying ribs. How about I make thick beef broth for everyone tonight?” Zhang Lisheng spoke while working the kitchen knife in his hand gracefully. He sliced the entire steak into strips.
“Baby, your…your knife skills are comparable to professionals,” Lili said while looking stunned.
Zhang Lisheng wrapped the beef and said with a smile, “I can make broth more professionally than I cut meat.” There were complaints coming behind Lili when he spoke, “Miss, could you get going already?”
“Hi, miss, this kid who is performing a ‘meat cutting show’ is my son. It’s his first day at work today, could you give us more mother-and-son time?” Lili spoke back without backing off.
“Okay, I’m sorry. I didn’t know that.”
Lili was embarrassed to take up any more of the customers time at the back after the complainer apologized helplessly. She said, “I’ll get going now, baby. Dinner will only start once you get home tonight,” She left with the beef ribs immediately after paying.
Seeing his mother leaving, there was a smile at the edge of his lips. He said softly, “There’s quite a distance to walk from the school to the butcher shop, I’m sure she won’t come again as often as she wishes to. If there’s anything, George you’ll have to cover for me.”
“No problem buddy, but did you really…did something illegal?” George said softly while looking troubled. The longer they spent time together, the more he thought this quiet, young and skinny Chinese man who looked obedient seemed to have a complicated character that was a complete opposite to how he looked.
“You were born in Queens, are you still afraid of breaking the law?” Zhang Lisheng cut a pork chop hard while saying vaguely.
Dan Souza Butcher Shop closed at 6:30 p.m. sharp. Added with the half an hour of cleaning time, it was only three hours work for a part-timer to work full shift from Monday to Friday. Zhang Lisheng stayed until the shop was closed on his first day of work.
“Lisheng, how do you feel about your first day of work?” Rocky pulled down the shutters while speaking to his new employee. He realized this new employee had brought him a good fortune after calculating the profit of over 200 dollars which was more than usual.
“Not too shabby, Mr. Rocky.”
“You did the most today, you can leave early without having to clean. I’m sure everyone agrees with that.”
“Thank you, Mr. Rocky. But I think it’s better that I work a full shift like I should,” Zhang Lisheng said while carrying his bag.
“What a hardworking young man. Then go to the cold storage and throw away the expired meat, that’s the easiest task. It’s irritating that I can’t seem to grasp the accurate purchase volume since the business expanded recently. There’s so much meat left, damn it. Help your friend, George. You guys can leave after you’re done with your task.”
“Yes, Mr. Rocky.” George pouted with his head low and brought Zhang Lisheng to the butcher shop’s utility room.