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散文佳作108篇 第8期:枪口 The Muzzles





The Muzzles


Xu Quangxing


Yang had just been sent back to his former post, Chief of the Provincial Building MaterialBureau. Later one afternoon he was walking with Secretary Li, hunting beside the lake wherewormwood grew abundantly among scattered reeds. There were seemingly endless greenmountain ranges stretching into thin mist, and wild geese silhouetted against the glow of thesetting sun. An autumn stream ruffled by the west wind, and the lines of wild geese setagainst the background of distant mountains embracing the sinking sun, harmoniously mergedto enhance the joy of the hunters.


"Quack!” came the cry o# a startled water bird. Bureau Chief Yang took the brand-new huntinggun from Secretary L and caressed it with affection. It was a double-barreled shotgun with ashining blue body and a pair of chilling black muzzles. He had never held such a fine weapon,not even in those days of guerrilla warfare thirty years before.


"Quack! Quack!" Out fluttered into the air several grey-feathered ducks with white necks andyellow webbed feet. The commune hunters stole to the lakeside, their hounds at their heels.Several muzzles at once aimed at the fleeing birds in the air.


"Bang!" Old Yang fired. A wisp of white smoke dispersed to reveal a duck falling from the skylike a stringless kite.


"You've scored a hit! Chief Yang, you did deserve to be called the crackshot in the guerrillawarfare days!" Secretary Li jumped and shouted with joy like a child and rushed to pick up theshot bird.


Old Yang chuckled, patted the gun and said, “Excellent shotgun! Excellent indeed!"


As they were walking to the waiting black car, Old Yang remarked, “That fellow Wangrecommended a fairly good spot to us for hunting.”


Seizing the opportunity, Secretary Li cut in probingly, “He used to be your subordinate,didn't he? This time Ws asked you to grant him 50 tons of building material . . .


"Don't you ever try to talk me into consenting on his behalf. I won't agree, not or any account!A tiny opening will let in a gust of wind. We Party cadres should not engage in any under-the-counter business." Yang stopped to glance over the misty lake where the water joined thesky. "What a nice view! It's a pity that my daughter Ting hasn't come with us, " he concluded.


"There is something nicer in store for her today," Secretary Li smiled with an air of mystery andwent on. "Director Wang has managed to get your daughter transferred to the Provincial DramaTroupe with the help of Old Ma of the Cutural Bureau. "


"Really?" Old Yang knitted his brows. Secretary Li pretended not to notice it and got into thecar, and with his hand still on the door, murmured as if to himself, "As for this car, it wasallocated to you through the effort of Director Wang too. When your wife fell ill, she wasrushed to hospital in the same car. "


"Damn it? I have long been aimed at as a target!" Old Yang thought as he subconsciouslytightened his gasp on the shotgun. Secretary Li took a swift glance at the gun, and seemingto have been reminded of something, said, "Director Wang knew that you were fond of hunting,so he had this shotgun sent especially to your home. . ."


The engine started. Old Yang was taken aback and couldn't help drawing his breath sharply. Thechilling black muzzles glared coldly at him lust like a pair of black eves.

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