Tea Leaves and Silver Rings

Family Crisis II, Panic, and Countermeasure

Match Twenty-Five: Family Crisis II, Panic, and Countermeasure:

-Ju-

On a Sunday, I called the clan in for a meeting.

“We have a crisis,” I said at the head of the table. “Hen-to, tell them what you told me last night.” Hen-to stood up with a pale face.

“Junjie’s out on bail,” he said in a trembling voice. Silence in the room erupted into a sea of eyes growing big.

“What?!” Hark shouted. Szu drew her knees to her chest.

“I’m afraid so,” Hen-to said.

“Did Rat-Face bail him out?” Fei asked.

“Yes,” my other advisor said.

“Why?”

“Why do you think?”

“Let’s focus on the situation at hand here,” I spoke up. Hen-to took his seat. I clicked on my pen and put it to the pad.

“We don’t know what Junjie or Jianjun are planning to do next,” I said. “He could go after us or one of his other victims.”

“And his father,” Yao said.

“Right,” I said. I rubbed my forehead. His parents let him run amok that long? It makes me sick. I puffed up my cheeks before adjusting my focus.

“The best things to do at the moment are to keep up your guard and keep tabs on Junjie and Jianjun,” I said.

“I have my cop buddies to track Junjie,” Hen-to said. “They would have good reason to.”

“Good,” I said. “But what about my uncle?”

“We’ve got him,” Fei said. “I always wanted just once to nail that bastard at his own game.” My eyes turned to Szu as he and Hen-to went into another rant about growing up with my uncle and how he used my mother. She sat at the table, pale and trembling. She didn’t even look up the whole time. Last time, I was so caught up in my issues that I didn’t ask about how she felt or if she was doing okay.

“How are you doing there, Szu?” I asked. The rest of the clan looked at her. When she lifted her head, her eyes looked like a deer about to be hit by a truck.

“I feel sick,” she said in a soft voice. Lili pulled his daughter into his arms.

“You don’t have to stay through this meeting if you don’t want to,” I told her. Szu shook her head.

“No?” I asked.

“I can take this,” she said in a hoarse whisper.

“You don’t have to-”

“Please! Don’t treat me like I am weak! I am not weak!” Her father tightened his grip around her as she spoke.

Hearing her say that gave me a wash of relief. At least, I knew that she was getting better from this nightmare. I loosened my fist on the table.

“If you want to talk to us, we will be willing to listen to you,” was all I said.

“Thank you,” Szu said in a small voice.

“We’ll make this as easy for you to handle,” Yao added.

“We still have to see to it that that little shit goes to prison,” Hen-to said. “I don’t care about my language either. That’s just what he is.”

“Yes, we are aware of that, dear,” Bik said.

“But do we even know where Junjie is right now?” I asked. The silence in the room gave me a sinking feeling.

“Right…” I said. Oh, this is not good. Not knowing where Jianjun is was one thing, but Junjie was a whole mess. I leaned back in my chair and puffed up my cheeks. Life, stop throwing curveballs at me.

“Okay,” I said.

“Need a moment?” Cai asked. I shook my head.

“No, I’m good,” I said. “What were we talking about again?”

“That little shit and Rat Face,” Hen-to said.

“Can you reframe from calling them that?” I asked. Hen-to frowned and snorted.

“Fine, my lady,” he said.

“Could you not call me that?” I asked. “My name is Ju. I don’t like when you call me “my lady”; it’s too weird.”

“My apologizes,” Hen-to said.

“Do we have any ideas for countermeasures once we catch Junjie?” I asked. “We have to turn him back over to the police in case he doesn’t something.”

“We can’t wait for that to happen,” Qian said. “By the time it gets to that point, it’ll be too late.”

“Yes,” I said. “I fear the same thing you do. We must track him down, keep an eye on him, and warn all of his potential victims.” I looked at all of the faces of my clan.

“I know this will be time-consuming,” I said. “But as we stand, this is all we can do for the time being. Any objections?” Nobody said a word. I closed up my pen.

“Good,” I said. “We shall go onto the next item on the agenda.” My eyes stayed on my clan as I changed to a new set of notes. I had hoped never to see or hear about that bastard again until the trial. I felt bad for Szu, all of Junjie’s victims, and his adoptive father. I decided to give him at a call personally. I looked up when I felt someone grab my hand under the table. I glanced to my left and saw Yao eyeing me. It was then I realized once again that I am not alone in this. He’s going to have to keep reminding me of this until Junjie is behind bars for a long time.


By morning, all of the older countries would receive an e-mail with a spam-like address. “Can You Count Backwards from One Thousand?” was the subject title. When the message was opened, it took them to a web page with a giant world clock. Only as Antonito noticed when he got his message, this clock seemed to be counting down to something. The older countries dreaded the significance behind this page. The younger countries didn’t get it when they saw this clock. Feliks chuckled when he saw the hands moving backwards. He bookmarked the page and closed his browser. Feliks began playing with his “future wife” that he kept in his desk drawer.

Everyone else couldn’t understand why the Polish man was staying so calm through all of this growing panic.

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