Decency: A Novel of Men Who Fell from Grace

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Recalling every nasty comment he had made about Qi Chengzhi to Song Yu, Wang Yifeng felt flustered and changed the topic hastily. He originally thought that the reason for not telling her family about it was because she had a boyfriend with a bad background, someone her parents would not approve. In reality, it was the complete opposite, and her boyfriend was actually someone with a high social standing. If he had not attended Jian Yi's wedding, he would have known the Qi family's eldest son in name only.

He would not have recognized Qi Chengzhi even if they met.


When Wang Yifeng told Song Yu that he wanted to meet her boyfriend, it was a serious proposition. He wanted Song Yu to do a comparison between both men, and it was his intention to show off that he was better than the boyfriend. At that point though, Wang Yifeng was reduced to swallowing his own saliva under Qi Chengzhi's cold stare. There was absolutely no way he was a match for him. Song Yu failed to cough up a suitable response to Wang Yifeng, but Qi Chengzhi spoke calmly, "We're going to buy some stuff, but we'll be back soon. If you're not busy, you can come visit us at home.

Song Yu sneaked a glimpse at him. He said those words with such self-confidence as if the Song family was his own family, and he was so natural about it.

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Wang Yifeng was taken aback. In the beginning, Song Yu was so reluctant about introducing her boyfriend to her family, yet there he was, being on such good terms with her family that he treated it as his own. Qi Chengzhi's obscure eyes shot him a cynical glance as another sentence was added, "We're staying here for the night so we're quite free.

Wang Yifeng froze completely.

He had been to Song Yu's house before and he knew that there were only two bedrooms…. Song Yu looked up at him and spotted the satisfied curl on his lips.

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After their evening walk, everyone in the area would know that he was Song Yu's boyfriend by the next morning. The two of them went to the supermarket and bought a pair of pajamas. They also bought a few sets of underwear for him and later decided to buy some clothes from a nearby branded clothes store. They reckoned that this would be the first of many times that he would come over and stay the night, so having a few spare clothes there would save the hassle of needing to bring over a luggage bag.

For Qi Chengzhi, nothing was better than turning her room at her parents' place into their own little nest, where he could just come in and stay without bringing anything with him. Consequently, Qi Chengzhi went on an enthusiastic spending spree. Song Yu was the one who had to restrain him from buying anything further.

We need to go home soon or else your parents will be worried," he replied. The bags, though many, did not pose any problem for him, but Song Yu looked at him and felt as though the bags covered up his charm. Yu Qianying and Song Donglin looked on as they came back with bags of all shapes and sizes. Their mouths were agape and they seemed to be in so much disbelief that they did not know how to respond. Was Qi Chengzhi preparing to call their place home? Song Yu tidied up her clothes in her wardrobe cabinet and freed up half the space for Qi Chengzhi's newly bought clothes.

Satisfied, he looked at how his underwear and clothes were placed neatly in Song Yu's cabinet. He remarked, "If Jian Yi visits, you can bring him for a tour. Qi Chengzhi turned and walked out into the living room. He faced Song Donglin and Yu Qianying—who were both slightly uneasy because of his presence—and said to them, "Dad, Mom, goodnight. Even if Song Yu's now…" Yu Qianying paused momentarily and felt uncomfortable after remembering the locking sound of Song Yu's room door. They're not married yet. Maybe you can try telling him?

She got up and grumbled as she walked into her room.

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In the morning, Qi Chengzhi was still asleep when Song Yu got up. He was lying on his stomach and the upper portion of his slender body was showing since the blanket only covered him up to his waist. After Song Yu tidied everything up, she looked at his sleeping pose and smiled. She promptly went to the bathroom, but not before giving him a peck on the lips. Yu Qianying was already busy preparing breakfast in the kitchen, so Song Yu went to a roadside snack stall in the neighborhood and bought some Youtiaos as well as some meat pies. Qi Chengzhi was not a fan of sweet things, so she did not buy fried glutinous rice cakes.

When she came back, Qi Chengzhi was already awake. He changed into the clothes that they had bought the night before and was sitting with Song Donglin on the dining table; they were both reading newspapers. Since the two of them had promised to visit Grandmother Qi on that day, Yu Qianying was a little reluctant for them to leave since she knew that they would be taking off after breakfast. The sofa's not even warm yet and you're already leaving.

We'll only be leaving tomorrow night," Qi Chengzhi said. As a result of Qi Chengzhi waking up rather late in the morning, it was already nearing noon by the time they reached the Qi residence. Aunt Liu opened the door for them, and when Song Yu walked in, she saw a row of shoes in the entrance hall and heard bursts of faintly audible laughter coming from the living room. You didn't let your temper get the better of you, did you? In fact, she was worried that the two of them would be at loggerheads even though they were newly-weds.

Decency A Novel Of Men Who Fell From Grace

It's just the two of us, so it was really sweet! I'm not a stubborn girl, so as long as there aren't any phony people around to provoke me, why would I stir up trouble for nothing! She wrapped herself around Jian Yi and stuck closely to him. Everyone smiled awkwardly because they knew who she referred to when she said 'phony people'. The instant she heard Qi Chengzhi's voice, Qi Chengyue's expression turned unsavory because he really did bring Song Yu over.

The tender sweet expression from Qi Chengyue's face vanished completely and she looked at Song Yu with full of hatred. Why did he have to bring Song Yu along all the time! Come and sit down! She carried Qi Youxuan—who was busy eating some chocolate—and moved aside slightly, making space for Qi Chengzhi and Song Yu to sit down. Qi Chengyue's expression changed dramatically.

It seemed like the whole family accepted Song Yu during her honeymoon. She blurted out without even thinking, "Grandma, what's the meaning of this? In some ways, though, the families of the dead were lucky. For so many others, the official telegram printed on light blue paper said missing, believed dead. Was it possible, their sad and ashamed eyes asked. Was it possible that in the midst of all they had heard, in the face of all the numbers and statistics, all the warnings from the officers and the mayor and their priest, that their son or her husband had been one of the ones to survive?

How could Father Perrin, how could anyone, tell these grieving faces that a direct hit from a shell could atomize a man? That we found hundreds of bones every single day, scattered across the front, mangled and unmatched? How could Father Perrin tell anyone that the fact that such pervasive destruction might lead to hope was the cruelest of ironies? He could only explain that there were no special lists, no secret camps, no utopian bands of fugitives. He could only say that they had done everything they possibly could already, that they should never for a moment feel they had failed.

The door slammed, and the car pulled away, leaving only my shadow in the sun. It was early morning, already hot. From the new road it was a half-hour climb up the ridge onto the Douaumont Plateau. The ground still looked like a filthy sea. The lifeguard chairs, the names etched into the wood, the whitewash fading and peeling. I wondered who this American woman was, what beaches she remembered, what streets. Father Perrin had told me almost nothing about her.

A widow, a mother, a sister? A writer looking for a story? A lunatic looking for attention? I seldom spoke directly to those who came in mourning, but there were others whose welcome fell to me: artists competing for commissions on memorials, metallurgists pondering shrapnel, ornithologists tracking starlings over treeless acres, and, once, a British diabolist wearing an amulet of interlaced snakes.

No matter how rational or irrational their reason, the look these visitors offered me when I introduced myself in careful, but accented, French was usually the same. The mouth tight, the eyes blinking, Why you? Not an unreasonable question. Certainly I was the least likely of many people—the parish priests, the sacristans, the other orphans. More likely, though, he realized that his project was expensive, and that Americans had the stable currency.

Look at the young man from Chicago, I could imagine him saying, collecting the bones of the French dead in the fields each day. Will you really not pick up a pen, will you really not sign a check? Fleury had been a village of nearly five hundred people, mostly farmers.

There was a church with a gold vestment that supposedly dated back to the time of Saint Denis.