IRNDGL - Chapter 122: Meeting Silver Again
While Mu’en and the other members of the Ash Chamber of Commerce were busy, Lin Jie went next door and found out that his neighbor, Colin, had already abandoned the audio-visual store — which was now Lin Jie’s.
It should be noted that Lin Jie wasn’t a shut-in that never went out. He did go out, albeit seldom, for his daily groceries and research materials couldn’t just appear out of thin air.
“... Did Colin ransack this place before leaving? But, he seemed to have sprayed the shop with perfume,” Lin Jie muttered to himself as he surveyed the mess inside the audio-visual store, stepping over junk littered all over to get a better look at the interior.
In a quiet street like this, business would probably be comparable to his own store and naturally, the shop wasn’t very big.
The entire audio-visual store was slightly smaller than his own bookstore, with shelves in the center and on all four sides, resulting in a narrow and cramped space.
Given Colin’s size, it would probably be difficult to walk between the shelves everyday.
“No wonder he likes to curl up on the sofa and watch TV,” muttered Lin Jie as he browsed through the assortment of discs, tapes, and magazines in the shop, forgetting that he was the same, always reading away at his spot behind the counter.
Colin’s audio-visual store sold stuff that was not much different from similar stores back on Earth. There were discs with music and movies, including erotic thrillers and even… hardcore pornography. There were also many different entertainment magazines with scantily-clad cover girls giving a hint to the contents within.
These stuff were all placed at the most prominent area whereas the more proper movies and music were hidden at the back, basically showing what sort of place this was.
Lin Jie rarely came into contact with such things, not because of disdain or avoidance. However, now, he was browsing everything on the shelves with interest.
In his eyes, these too were an aspect of culture and customs.
A complete civilization would definitely have both a high and lower stratum. The high of elegance and profundity, and the vulgar and shallow depths that transcended material desire.
Just like the sun and the moon, Yin and Yang, these two aspects are both complementary and inseparable.
In his research of folklore, he tended to look at things in a dialectical approach, rarely having comprehensive affirmation or denial. Therefore, his level of acceptance was rather narrow as well.
However, there were only so many things here and very quickly, Lin Jie saw the single sofa that Colin was always confined to as well as the television mounted on the wall.
Lin Jie listened to the news broadcasts from this TV every day.
He did a quick search and found the remote control on the sofa. It felt greasy to the touch and Lin Jie could visualize how it was ‘wrapped up’ in Colin’s grasp day after day.
Lin Jie tested the remote, and the TV still worked as per normal. Then, he headed upstairs to look around.
What was strange upstairs was the discovery of lots of refined salt, gold leaves, and pearls on the table, along with some dried grass and a powder of undetermined use.
Lin Jie grabbed a handful for a quick whiff. “Smells just like the fragrance downstairs. Could Colin’s hobby be making fragrances?
“Looks can be deceiving indeed. Haa... I really don’t know my neighbor well enough. Colin might seem rough, but he’s actually a rather refined person.”
But Lin Jie still had another opinion seeing these much refined salt.
In Western contexts back on Earth, salt was used to ward away evil.
Therefore, Colin might have been using this recipe as a means to drive away Lin Jie whom he had mistaken for an evil spirit.
Normally, Lin Jie wouldn’t have made such an association, but King Candela within the great sword of his had given him food for thought, thus leading Lin Jie to have such an idea.
“In any case, Colin has already left, and the misunderstanding has been cleared so it doesn’t really matter.”
Lin Jie put the stuff back and returned downstairs. The remaining space was all Colin’s personal living area and there wasn’t much else to see.
Getting Edmund and the others to tidy the place up would be the end of it.
Lin Jie’s intention was to turn this place into a ‘book bar’ that was part of the bookstore.
Lin Jie’s original shop was completely filled with bookshelves and there were no seats besides the ones at the counter. Customers could only browse the shelves and it wasn’t comfortable to read while standing. Moreover, these were mostly unfamiliar books and customers would usually only rely on Lin Jie’s recommendations.
Lin Jie was already used to the layout there, so modifying this area to place books he had already read as well as some entertainment-related books and magazines for reading and borrowing seemed like a good idea.
He could even sell milk tea here and let Mu’en manage it, turning it into a partial library of sorts.
With each having its own advantages, this could perhaps lead to more customers.
Lin Jie returned back and informed Edmund of his plans. Mu’en’s new identity was already made and the following task of those subordinates would be to renovate the bookstore’s second floor and the adjacent shop.
It was three days later when the renovations were completed and the party from the Ash Chamber of Commerce bade Lin Jie farewell.
Edmund and the others could only reject Lin Jie’s kindly sales pitch, for they had to return and report to Miss Cherry. Therefore, Lin Jie could only regretfully drop the idea.
He left Mu’en to watch the bookstore and went alone to the newly built book bar.
As his hands grazed over the new bookshelves, he asked probingly. “Blackie?”
Blackie’s entrances were always a little strange.
This time, he was a ‘folded’ shadow by the corner, enveloped by the setting sun of dusk. The shadow grew longer, forming a new shape on the wall.
Glancing at Blackie on the wall, Lin Jie gave a slight smile. “Can I ask for a favor?”
Recommending his own works to the people of Azir previously had benefited Blackie. Moreover, Lin Jie had recently recommended his own Emblems and Totems to Doris’ family clan and had sold her 30 books at one shot.
Asking Blackie for help to increase his book pool shouldn’t be too tough a request.
After all, Blackie had voluntarily come out to help him when Lin Jie had recommended a copy of Ceremonies & Customs to Wilde back then.
Sure enough, before Lin Jie was even done speaking, Blackie 'collapsed' from the wall, turning into a shadow that shrouded all the bookstores.
And as Lin Jie had wished, all sorts of entertainment and leisure books, novels, and magazines appeared. Basically, there was everything.
The method to control the bookshelves was the same as the ones in his old bookstore, as his heart wishes.
"Wonderful! Thank you!" Lin Jie said as he looked all around. When he turned back, Blackie was already gone.
"He really doesn't like to claim credit for his deeds," muttered Lin Jie.
Lin Jie would return back to his own bookstore first and get Mu'en to familiarize herself with the new wing some other time.
The second floor had already been converted to have two bedrooms, a kitchen, a hall, a study, and a small exercise area.
Mu'en took the smaller bedroom.
Since things had gone swimmingly and he had regained ownership of his own bedroom, Lin Jie decided to celebrate by going to bed early.
As he lay in bed, Lin Jie took out the Coin of Destiny which he brought everywhere with him and flipped it once. Because it had two similar-looking sides, Lin Jie had pasted a red dot on the side of the coin which had previously been the Coin of Fortune.
"Looks like I will have a nice dream tonight," sighed Lin Jie as he gazed at the red dot on the coin, turning the lights off and going to sleep.
But surprisingly, when he opened his eyes once more, a familiar whiteness greeted him.
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A woman with snow-white hair and silver eyes smiled warmly at him.