I found myself lost in the city for too long, and finally, I came across a tea shop. I didn’t know if I had anything I could trade for something to drink, but it was worth a shot.

When I entered, I found a trio of men engaged, I assume, in a silent conversation. All three turned to face me, and one fanned himself. A smile spread across his face, and his question slipped into my thoughts.

“Who are you?”

“A traveler,” I answered. “Looking for a drink and the way out of the city.”

“What coin do you offer?” he asked. “It does not seem like there is much.”

“There isn’t,” I confessed. From the pocket of my waistcoat, I retrieved my watch and the watchchain. I had a single fob made of coiled silver around a dog’s tooth. The tooth had a heart of gold, as had the dog whose tooth it had been. I stepped forward, took the fob off and placed it, the watch and the chain on a small table.

The man with the fan moved to them, nodded and said, “I have not seen a pocket watch like this in some time. The tooth, though, is of no matter.”

A different voice spoke in my mind. “Dogs are foul animals. It is bad enough that you are here. Take that filth out.”

I looked at the other men to see which of them had spoken. One, arranging containers of tea, paid no attention to me. The other, resting his arm on the edge of a counter, sneered at me.

Reaching out, I picked up the tooth and slid it into my pocket.

“I can give you a drink,” the man with the fan said, “and some coins for the watch. Both will serve you well.”

“Give him nothing,” the man at the counter offered.

“Chu, enough!”

Chu laughed. “I will not, not for this dog lover.”

I crossed the room and stood in front of Chu.

“What will you do?” Chu asked. “If you can strike me, I will double –”

I drove my knee into his groin and dropped him to the floor, where he curled into a ball and vomited.

I looked at the other men. The one organizing the tea still ignored me. The fan-wielding man smiled.

“I will get your tea, your coins, and,” he glanced down at his colleague, “double the amount from Chu’s purse.”

I nodded, and Chu crawled out of the room.

It never pays to be rude.

#China #horrorstories

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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