Chapter 16 – Opportunity Knocks

Xiao Jie just got off the phone with one of the customers as Jacky starts yet another call on the other side of the shop. Wei Ru, Xiao Jie, and Mina have been busy all morning since opening – either taking calls or tending to customers. Jacky has been there all morning also, which is a sight they need to get used to. Mina understands that he doesn’t want to hang around at the coffee shop and be questioned by Mrs. Lai again like last night. As Xiao Jie’s walking to the door to flip the sign so they could take a break for lunch, she overhears Jacky talking to someone. She ponders what it is all about as she’s continuing on her way to the door. Not paying attention, she ends up bumping into someone.
“Whoa! You don’t have to greet me in that way,” A guy’s voice startled Xiao Jie into alertness again.
“Chris!” Xiao Jie exclaimed, realizing who it is. “What are you doing here?”
“Isn’t it lunchtime?” Chris asked, smiling at her.
“Of course.”
“That’s why I’m here. Want to come to the shop for a break?”
For some reason, Xiao Jie turns to Jacky.
“Flip the sign for me,” Xiao Jie finally said to Chris after a moment of hesitation.
She walks to where Jacky’s sitting.
“Where do you want to go for lunch today?” She asked, glancing at his notebook curiously.
“Any place you want,” Jacky said, looking up from his notebook.
“How about some Japanese food?”
“Sure,” Jacky replied, looking down at his notebook again.
“All right, everyone!” Xiao Jie yelled out as she turns to the others again, clapping her hands together for attention. “We’re going to that new Japanese restaurant two blocks from here.”
“Are you sure it’s going to be good?” Wei Ru asked, wrinkling her face.
“Where’s your sense of adventure?” Xiao Jie asked in a teasing tone, walking towards Wei Ru.
“Remember that one restaurant we went to last time? We ended up hungry for like an hour and then…”
“Okay, okay,” Xiao Jie jumped in, cutting Wei Ru off and holding her hand up to prevent Wei Ru from saying anything further. “I get the point. But how bad could this one be?”
“Where do you want to go then?” Chris asked, walking back to the counter where the girls are since he’s done flipping the sign.
“Uh…” Wei Ru uttered out.
Mina just got off the phone so she walks over to them also.
“Anywhere but the coffee shop,” Mina said automatically before she could stop herself. “Sorry, I meant…”
“Don’t worry,” Wei Ru reassured Mina since she could see Mina’s apologetic expression. “I know what you mean.” She turns to look at Jacky as she’s saying that.
“What’s the big secret here?” Chris asked, looking from the girls to Jacky.
“Nothing,” Xiao Jie replied quickly. “Stop being nosy. You’re beginning to sound like Darren.”
“You can’t blame me,” Chris said, gesturing his right hand around the general area. “I’ve been gone for a while and now that I’m back, everyone seems to be sharing some kind of secret.”
“If it makes you feel better, Bryan and Darren don’t know about this stuff at all.”
“Okay then. Should we go eat, everyone?”
“Anytime,” Xiao Jie said, smiling.
Coincidentally, Jacky shuts his notebook and stands up from the corner table at that time and joins them at the counter.
“So?” Xiao Jie said, gesturing her right hand. “Ready?”
Jacky nods.
They get up without saying anything else and walk to the door. Mina joins Jacky at the curve as they’re waiting for Xiao Jie to lock the door.
“How about that Japanese restaurant then?” Jacky asked as he shields his eyes with his hands from the sun.
“But Wei Ru jie said…” Mina started out.
“I’ll pay if it’s not up to everyone’s standard,” Jacky interrupted, turning to the others.
“That means we have to pay for ourselves if it tastes decent?” Mina asked in a half whining voice.
“I have to pay for you either way,” Jacky said, putting on a teasing smile.
“All right! That’s my Jacky ge!” She said excitedly, hooking her hands through Jacky’s right arm.
The others laugh at her actions. Wei Ru and Xiao Jie wonder in their minds what Mina’s actual personality is. Since she could be caring and considerate at one moment and turn into a kid in the next.
The group walk to the restaurant since it’s another nice day and they feel like stretching their legs a bit after extended hours of sitting around with customers.
“What will it be for you all today?” The waiter asked them all as they settled down at a table – finally.
“Give us some time,” Jacky said, tapping on the menu in his hand.
The waiter nods and leaves them.
“I told you we’ll end up waiting…” Wei Ru whispered to Xiao Jie as they’re browsing through the menu, receiving a quick shove from Xiao Jie thus cutting her off.
“What are you two whispering about?” Chris asked, eyeing them suspiciously.
“Nothing,” Xiao Jie said.
“If you’re not going to decide soon, I’m going to die of starvation,” Mina whined from between Xiao Jie and Jacky.
“So impatient, Missy,” Jacky teased.
“Jacky ge, stop being mean,” Mina whined even more.
“I’m just kidding, little one,” Jacky said, ruffling Mina’s hair.
“I still don’t believe you guys aren’t siblings,” Chris commented.
“It’s funny that we aren’t,” Jacky said, looking up from his menu. “But what makes it more believable is siblings rarely get along that well, you know.”
Chris shrugs his shoulders and goes back to look at the menu. Jacky goes back to flipping back and forth between the pages also. He notices that Mina’s wrinkling her face again so he chooses some items at random and signals for the waiter that they’re ready to order. Mina launches into ordering quite a few dishes, causing Chris to stare in amazement at her appetite. But he silently ponders if she will be able to finish it herself. After the waiter leaves, Chris speaks up.
“You’re seriously going to finish all of that?” Chris asked, gesturing casually.
“Not sure,” Mina answered, shrugging her shoulders. “It all looks so good though.
“Pictures can be deceiving,” Chris pointed out.
Mina shrugs her shoulders and sits back in her place, closing her eyes to rest.
“Don’t mind her,” Jacky reassured Chris upon seeing his awkward look. “She’s strange sometimes.”
“I’m curious,” Chris said.
Xiao Jie has been talking to Wei Ru all the while but now she turns to Jacky.
“What are you going to do about your song now?” Xiao Jie asked.
“Possibly get it out or I can keep it for my own memory,” Jacky replied.
“It would be a shame to push it aside like that,” Xiao Jie said.
“It probably isn’t as good as my other songs,” Jacky admitted.
“Are you saying that ‘cause it involves me so it’s not as good?” Mina mumbled, still having her eyes closed.
“No,” Jacky said. “But it strays from the rest of my style.”
“It could be a breakthrough then,” Mina said, rubbing her eyes.
As Jacky’s about to say something, he hears a familiar voice from somewhere behind him. He turns around to see someone at a nearby table talking to two other persons. He smiles upon recognizing who the person is.
“I’ll be back,” He said, before getting up and leaving the booth.
As the guy sees Jacky approaching, he looks confused at first but then smiles.
“Hey,” The guy said. “How is it going with you? Want to sit down?”
“It’s fine,” Jacky said. “Any luck lately?”
“Not really,” The guy said. “But it’s all right. I’m just going to keep trying.”
“Oh?” Jacky said. “Give me your card.”
The guy ends up taking out a piece of loose paper and jots down his number for Jacky instead of handing him a business card.
“I’ll get back to you later,” Jacky said, smiling. “I’m going to go back to them.”
The guy could see Wei Ru, Xiao Jie, and the others sitting at the booth Jacky’s pointing so he nods.
“What was that all about?” Mina asked as Jacky sits down again.
“A friend,” Jacky said. “I haven’t had a chance after we got back to go talk to him. Since I bump into him today, I thought I’ll take care of it too.”
“Take care of what?” Mina asked, wrinkling her face.
“It’s a secret,” Jacky said, smiling.
“You’re mean,” Mina said, turning her attention back to Chris.
It seems that they’re getting on better than Jacky had predicted, considering their conflict from earlier. But then he smiles. He realizes that Mina’s not someone who holds grudges even if she’s a bit stubborn at times.
In fact, during the whole time at the restaurant, they talk and laugh like any other times – all events of the past weeks all forgotten for some reason. Wei Ru and Xiao Jie also join in with Jacky, Mina, and Chris to plan a gathering in the future weeks.
That night Jacky calls James on the phone and talks for about half an hour or so before hanging up. Mina ponders over matters but doesn’t dare to investigate further since she only hears part of the conversation as she walks by Jacky’s room. The answer arrives the following week without Mina having to ask Jacky about it or ponders about it any further.
“Why didn’t you tell us?” Mina asked Jacky that afternoon when they’re sitting under some tree enjoying a nice afternoon in the cool breeze and soft sunlight.
“I thought it’s Johnny’s business so no one should interfere,” Jacky answered, looking out at the sea ahead.
“Oh,” Mina said, only half listening since she’s picking on her food again.
“So he’s going get a break with your help?” Xiao Jie asked, turning to Jacky.
“Possibly,” Jacky said. “It’s all up to him. James could only help him by introducing him to some people.”
“Oh? How come you can’t introduce him but only James can?” Xiao Jie asked, puzzled.
“‘Cause I’m not exactly that popular among the industry,” Jacky said, still looking out towards the sea ahead.
“What kind of thinking is that? You have to be positive,” Xiao Jie chided.
“I’m not being pessimistic,” Jacky clarified. “I’m just…”
“He just isn’t very well liked,” Mina jumped in.
Even Wei Ru is paying attention by this time. She turns to look at Mina, waiting for Mina to elaborate.
“After Xiao Yan jie…uh…” Mina stopped in mid-sentence, covering her mouth, realizing she said too much.
“Xiao Yan?” Xiao Jie asked, looking at Jacky and then back at Mina.
“Nothing,” Mina mumbled quickly and goes back to eating her ice cream.
Xiao Jie turns to look at Jacky again since Mina’s avoiding eye contacts.
“Uh…I’m going to take a walk,” Jacky said. “You girls can finish eating.”
Mina stands up and follows Jacky as the others look at one another, puzzled.
“Jacky ge!” Mina yelled out as she increases her pace to catch up with Jacky.
Jacky continues to walk but slows down his pace a bit.
“I’m sorry,” Mina blurted out as she’s trying to catch her breath.
“It’s not your fault,” Jacky said finally as he’s stopping at the edge of the water.
“I don’t know why I would blurt out such words and…”
“It’s all right.” Jacky places a reassuring hand on Mina’s shoulder. “I’m serious.”
Mina looks less worried upon seeing Jacky’s smile.
Still, another week passes by and they are aware of Jacky’s new song playing on the radio sing by none others but himself. Even Mina doesn’t know until they’re taking a break in the shop one day and decides to listen to the radio.
“I honestly don’t know how,” Mina said. “You all can ask him later.”
“We will,” Xiao Jie said.
“Here he comes now,” Mina informed them as Jacky passes through the door.
“You’re in deep trouble,” Xiao Jie said, walking towards Jacky.
“What happened?” Jacky asked, wrinkling his eyebrows.
“You didn’t tell us you recorded the song after all?”
“Like you said, it would be a waste to just file it away.”
“You listen to me?”
“I’m kidding. I’ve already been getting it through when you asked. But I didn’t want to celebrate too early.”
They walk back to the counter where Wei Ru and Mina are.
“So…what do you think?” Jacky asked.
“Honest opinion?” Xiao Jie asked back.
Jacky nods.
“I’m amazed,” Xiao Jie admitted.
Jacky smiles.
“Wait,” Mina jumped in.
“What?” Xiao Jie asked, turning to her.
“The song or his voice?” Mina asked, keeping a sharp eye on Xiao Jie.
“Both,” Xiao Jie answered, not blinking at all.
“Smart answer,” Mina teased.
“I am smart,” Xiao Jie said, putting on her proud smile.
“Lunch, anyone?” Jacky asked, interrupting the girls’ little conversation.
“All right,” Xiao Jie said, getting off the stool she’s sitting on.
“By the way,” Jacky said, turning to Mina.
“What?” Mina asked, tensing up as she sees Jacky’s serious expression.
“Your brother called,” Jacky replied.
Mina waits for him to continue.
“He said your parents are home and are asking for you,” Jacky said.
“I have to go back?!” Mina exclaimed, both anxious and frustrated at the same time.
“Not quite.”
“Then what?”
“Yu Rong’s coming to town since he and I did talked about a song awhile back so he said he will personally come and see that you’re home.”
“What’s the difference?”
“He’s here so it would make sense that you can stay a little longer.”
“But I have to work.”
“Summer’s ending soon. You have to go back to your classes.”
Jacky could see Mina’s face all wrinkled up, so he takes a step towards her. “Don’t worry. You can always come to visit when you’re free.”
“But…” She doesn’t finish but turns to look at Xiao Jie.
“It’s fine,” Xiao Jie said. “I have Wei Ru for the most part now.”
“How about you pick the place for lunch today?” Wei Ru asked, smiling.
Jacky’s a bit surprised that Wei Ru’s taking the lead to reassure Mina this time and not Xiao Jie. But then Jacky stops himself. He scolds himself silently to not mistaken between the two girls – Wei Ru and Xiao Yan. He has been trying to sort out his thoughts these past weeks but still no success in that area so he purposely shoves it to the back of his mind and focuses on his career again. Now that he suddenly remembers of it again, he feels a bit uneasy. As he’s lost in thoughts again, he feels someone tapping on his shoulder. He breaks out of his thoughts and turns to see Xiao Jie smiling at him.
“Yes?” Jacky asked.
“Let’s go,” Xiao Jie said, gesturing towards the door.
“All right,” Jacky said. “Where are we going?”
“Lunch,” Xiao Jie replied.
Jacky follows the girls out the door absent-mindedly, still pondering about matters.
© Monday, May 12th, 2008
Re-posted: Saturday, February 20th, 2010