Chapter 2 - Passing Judgement at First Sight
QC: Kai & Kittsune
First Published on Ainushi
"OFF, how did your day go?"
"So-so. How about you?"
"We got a new boss in the company and he doesn't see eye-to-eye with me no matter what."
"Ah Fei, don't be so childish. Never ever make your situation with your boss worse."
"I know but I just can't help it. I get into a bad mood whenever I see his face."
"Heh heh, Does he really look that detestable?"
"Not really. I just despise a bastard like him who lives in a completely different world from me, looking eminent and unapproachable. OFF, why do people have such differences in family backgrounds, social class and qualifications? Why can't everyone start off from the same starting line?"
"Probably…because fate itself is never fair to begin with."
"The thing is I don't believe in fate. I only believe in myself. Every time I open my eyes in the morning, I will tell myself, you can do it! I want to become the top finance and economics analyst. I want to stand at the apex of this city, overlooking this entire land. I want those who used to step on me to look up to me hopefully, with eyes full of envy and jealousy. Exactly like how I have no choice now but to look up to them! OFF…Do you find it ridiculous?"
"No. Ah Fei, your dream has always made me feel touched."
"But…sometimes, I tend to doubt myself incessantly. Do I really have that capability?"
"Ah Fei, you're still young. What you need to do now, is to endure it and work hard. I believe you can achieve it. It's just a matter of time."
"OFF, thank you."
Every night, I would always have a chat with OFF. Every single time we talk, I felt like I knew OFF better. I felt delighted whenever I chatted with OFF because it always made me feel better. Chatting with OFF, I could express all kinds of emotions freely to my heart's content, without any care to what others might think.
I forgot how I got familiar with OFF. We were both MACD Futures forum's VIP members. While I was going around posting topics on suppositional futures firm offers, OFF would occasionally appear like a mysterious chivalrous hero and reply to a couple of my posts. OFF never posted much but whatever was written by him turned out to be gems.
I knew OFF had to be a very seasoned professional trader with skills far more amazing than mine. Thus, I grew a thick skin, incessantly sending short messages to 'harass' OFF. I slowly fished for OFF's MSN account. From then on, we would chat until very late at night, which turned out to be my most anticipated moment in each day. No matter how exhausted I was, I would only sleep soundly after speaking with OFF.
I didn't need to care about anything when I chatted with OFF, even if it touched on topics that were deeply concealed in the depths of my soul, that I had never shared with anyone else before.
I didn't know OFF's gender. It could be a man or possibly a woman. I had no idea where OFF came from and what kind of life OFF was living now. But deep inside my heart, I constantly tried to imagine OFF's appearances over a thousand times.
OFF was so gentle, calm, indifferent and intelligent. She had to be a beautiful woman, one with a one in a million temperament.
Similar to air, OFF was quietly concealed deep in some corners of my heart. Only when night came, those nights where I felt lonely with nowhere go, would I slowly let it out and faced reality, faced my pain, as well as confronting the black hole in my soul which I was afraid to meet head-on alone.
There were even some times that I was subconsciously anticipating this pain, as it was only during this time when the soul was at its purest, without any form of disguise.
A sharp shrill sounded from the alarm clock.
With disheveled hair akin to a chicken nest while still drowsy-eyed, Ling Fei stuck out a hand from his blanket, wanting to shut off the alarm but carelessly swept it under the bed.
The alarm clock tumbled around a couple of times, the sharp shrill became weak and dispirited, but continued to torment Ling Fei's eardrums…
Turning around, he felt for the eye drops beside his pillow. He pried open his eyelids and dripped two drops, the cool liquid instantly assisting in getting rid of the painful feeling in his eyes, which also in turn, drove away his drowsiness.
After fully stretching his body, he clambered up, exhaustion written all over his face.
Ever since he joined Fengtai, Ling Fei would start work doing day trading at eight in the morning every day before working on the Hong Kong Hang Seng index from half past ten onwards. Simultaneously, he would observe the domestic markets until five o'clock in the afternoon. Then, he would head back home to rest or simply settle his dinner at the office. After he analyzed the market trends for the day, he would wait until nine o'clock at night before beginning to trade in the American markets until either one to two am, or simply just pull an all-nighter.
As this continued on, he would only get five to six hours of sleep every day. It was extremely exhausting, yet it felt fulfilling.
With a lengthy yawn, Ling Fei rubbed his eyes and opened the door to his room. His vision clouded by drowsiness, he felt around as he moved forward.
There was movement coming from the kitchen; the aroma of instant noodles wafted over. The distinct smell caused a frown to emerge on his face. "Chi Kai, you're cooking instant noodles again! Will you die if you stop eating it? I seriously don't get you! It's always instant noodles or instant noodles, the flavor is always beef. You don't even change it. Can't you make something else to eat?"
The man standing in the kitchen turned around, glancing at him expressionlessly, his countenance, cold and distant.
He was Ling Fei's 'housemate'. Chi Kai was a close friend of his for six years who currently worked at a lounge bar called 'Meteor Islet' as a server.
The two decided to rent a simple small apartment together, living comfortably. Due to their working and resting times usually being different, the chances of them bumping into each other were very low.
"I only know how to cook instant noodles."
The words came out from his thin lips insipidly. Chi Kai placed the cooked instant noodles on the table, and poured some chilli powder into it. He stirred it around a couple of times before digging into his meal in all seriousness.
"I seriously can't stand you." Ling Fei glared at him for a while and gave up his thought on lecturing him to eat some healthy meals. He then took a container of yogurt from the fridge.
"Wash your face and brush your teeth before you eat." Chi Kai was staring at him.
"I don't want to. It's the same if I brush after I eat." Ling Fei scooped up a spoonful of yogurt and stuffed it into his mouth. After he swallowed it, he let out a loud yawn.
"What time did you sleep last night?" Chi Kai asked him.
"Should be 2:00 am." Ling Fei yawned again.
"Studying your futures?"
"No, chatting with someone."
"An online friend. Should be a pretty woman. Hehe…" A foolish grin emerged on Ling Fei's face.
"Are you online dating?"
"We're just chatting!" shouted Ling Fei.
"Hmph." Chi Kai quietly snorted.
"Hey, what do you mean by that?!" Ling Fei was getting upset.
Chi Kai shot him a cold glance. "Find a woman when you're free. Just casually pick them up from the street or go pick up girls in the bar. It's still more constructive to pick up a living woman who can move, laugh and have breasts."
"It's not that I can't find a girl. I'm just busy. Besides, so what if it's online dating? Falling in love with someone I have never met before is still possible you know." Ling Fei glared at him.
"Hah! I've even liked a dog that I have never seen before. I don't want to burst your bubble but there's a high chance that your 'great beauty' is actually a very old, bald-headed man who is a sexually perverted exhibitionist." Without raising his brows, Chi Kai blew on his noodles and slurped it.
"You…" Ling Fei really was struck with the urge to send this unreasonable man before him flying with a punch. "You bastard. Do you really not even have the slightest fantasy of a good life?"
"Fantasy? Should I fantasize that one million dollars dropped onto my head from the sky or should I fantasize about dwarves descending before me while they pull Snow White's carriage?" Chi Kai gulped down the last mouthful of soup and stood up. "I don't have time to daydream. That's enough. I'm going to work. Lock the door when you head out."
Chi Kai paused for a while when he opened the door. "Ah Fei, you can't earn every penny in the world but your body is your own. Don't fool around until too late every night."
"A pot calling the kettle black. You're one to talk." smiled Ling Fei. That's how Chi Kai was. It was evident that he was worried about him, yet he didn't want to say it out loud and insisted on beating around the bush.
Seeing that it was almost time, Ling Fei tidied up as fast as he could before shutting the door. The smokeless battleground situated at the Fengtai building was still waiting for him to charge into battle.
Thus, he quickened his pace, making a beeline towards the place where the morning sun rose, walking briskly.
The moment he stepped into office, he bumped into the person he least wanted to see.
"Ling Fei, good morning! You're hardworking today too." Zhang Xinhua came up to greet him with a sneer.
"Morning." Ling Fei nonchalantly glanced at him.
"You've got the knack for it. I don't know how you talked it out with the manager but in any case, you got what you wished for. Now you can work alone. But I do hope that you won't come running back crying and make everyone watch you make a fool out of yourself." Zhang Xinhua remarked sarcastically.
"Don't worry. I don't have the talent for losing a margin worth 200 thousand dollars in just half a day." Ling Fei coldly replied.
"You!" Zhang Xinhua was instantly flushed with anger and was at a loss for words. "Just you wait and see!" After he threw out those words, he stormed off angrily.
Under the silent gazes of his other colleagues, Ling Fei dragged his chair and sat before his office desk as he switched on the monitor screen of his computer.
He was certain everyone deemed him an eyesore due to his brash and aggressive behavior. If he wanted to make himself likeable, he would have eased up on his tone more, and acted more gently. There wasn't a need for him to be at odds with Zhang Xinhua. He should have maintained a friendly relationship with his other colleagues, flattering his superiors when he had time and everyone would be satisfied and able to work together in harmony… He knew all of these very clearly but he couldn't bring himself to do it nor had any intention of doing so.
His personality had always been like this. One was one and two was two. If he liked it, then he liked it and if he hated it, then he hated it. Although he was well-aware that such a personality could perhaps become the biggest obstacle in his professional career, he didn't want to change it one bit.
Ever since he could understand things when young, Ling Fei had never seen his father.
Every time he probed about the whereabouts of his father, his mother would always tell him, "Your dad has gone away on a business trip." It was only when he got into a fight with a kid in junior high and the kid's parents came complaining to his doorstep saying, "No wonder he's the son of a murderer. He's so vicious when he fights.", did he come to realize that he had been living a fabricated lie.
From that time onwards, he decided to be a honest and clear-cut man. Needing to love, he would love. Needing to hate, he would hate. He would do whatever he was supposed to do. He had already wasted so much time building a paradise that never existed beyond the tears and the white lies of his beloved family. And such benevolence would only hurt him deeply.
Chi Kai often said it would be easier for him to break due to his strong and subjective personality. Yet, he only desired to abide by his true self and live realistically.
Couldn't he do that too?
All of a sudden, the telephone on the table rang and broke his train of thought. He picked up the call and introduced himself, "Fengtai Futures, Ling Fei. Excuse me, who's this?"
"Mr. Ling Fei? Hello."
"Chairman Li! Hello."
This was one of his clients, Li Changjiang, the chairman of the Changjiang Plastic Group, who opened an account here for the sake of dealing in the Hong Kong Hang Seng index. He had made an investment of five hundred thousand Hong Kong dollars and was one of the mid-tier investors.
"How may I help you?"
"Yeah. It's about the Hong Kong Hang Seng index. I took a glimpse today and the HSI keeps rising. But I remembered you're helping me in short-selling. There isn't going to be any problems, is it?"
"Chairman Li, put your mind at ease. I know my limit." Ling Fei knew he didn't trust him enough so he wasn't in a hurry to explain since the result would speak for itself.
"Mm…I still believe in the golden brand of Fengtai."
From the telephone receiver, his voice carried some hesitation. "In any case, I'll leave everything in your hands. Mr. Ling, please help me look after it with care."
"No problem. I plan to liquidate the position in a few days and then transfer the profit gained to your bank account."
"I'll leave it in your hands."
Ling Fei hung up the phone. As a rookie, it was common for the clients to have no confidence in them. The first step was always the hardest, so long as you provided good results and slowly built up their confidence in you, it would be easier to deal with them. He didn't have many clients under him so he treated each and every single one of them with extreme care, afraid to neglect them in the slightest.
On the monitor screen, the curved line of the Hong Kong Hang Seng index rose vigorously straight up. It had increased sharply, all the way from 8600 to 12785 points. The Hang Seng index had been in a constant state of turmoil. The risk was too high. It was evident that the leading player was utilizing the moods of the masses to go long.
According to his own analysis skills, Ling Fei felt that the increase from 8600 to 9500 from the first phase was a reasonable rebound. But upon entering the third phase from the second phase onwards where it rose from 9500 to 11000, there was a sudden increase in the number of open positions and many leading players were in control, forcing the masses to have no choice but to believe that they could only earn money through buying long. Thus, triggering the continuous increase in the Hang Seng index.
The fourth phase wasn't a phase that the current Ling Fei had gone through before. From yesterday onwards, the Hang Seng index kept madly increasing. In a short span of one trading day, it rose up to 1500 points. Yet, that wasn't the end of the current market situation. It was no wonder that Chairman Li couldn't hold himself back from calling him, but Ling Fei believed in his own judgement.
If he was not mistaken, if there were no strong opponents in short-selling, the opened long positions would progressively be replaced by short positions in the midst of the extreme increase of the index. Once the change had succeeded, the market undoubtedly would turn into a bear market.
Thus, he placed about fifty more orders with each order valued at fifty thousand Hong Kong dollars. Inclusive of the fifteen orders he placed earlier, everything totaled up to sixty five orders, costing a total of 3.9 billion Hong Kong dollars. The margin had a value of three hundred and twelve thousand Hong Kong dollars which was calculated based on an 8% rate.
"Ling Fei, you pawned off your entire fortune?! That's so bold of you!"
Someone gave a loud whistle upon catching sight of his trade volumes.
This was Qiao Yuanhai, a colleague who was recruited into Fengtai with him at the same time. He was older than Ling Fei by five years with average looks. His body was short and stout, yet his zeal in pursuing profits was as stubborn as a bull. The brandy nose on his round face flushed a bright red due to his excitement. His personality was good and he was one of the very few colleagues who got along with Ling Fei.
"It won't do if I don't place any orders. A good opportunity is hard to come by." Ling Fei smiled.
"Are you sure that's okay? The Hang Seng index seems to be unstoppable and you want to take the opposite approach?"
"I'll bet on my luck." Ling Fei shrugged his shoulders.
"Kid, you got guts! Everytime I see you trade, I get so frightened that I break into a sweat. Ling Fei, can't you choose some futures contracts that have a stable increase and decrease to speculate? Futures already has a high enough risk, and you still want to choose a much higher risk. Aren't you scared of getting bloated until you burst?" Qiao Yuanhai admonished him out of goodwill.
"Only high risks will return high profits. Otherwise, spending the same amount of money to only earn so little in return is honestly not worth it."
"Being young is great since you're brimming with energy no matter what you do." Qian Yuanhai couldn't resist the urge to lament.
Right then, a group of people appeared before the entrance of the trade department with Ouyang Ran leading them. Each and every single one of the men behind him were impeccably attired, all around forty to fifty years of age, their expressions giving off the impression that they were experienced and knowledgeable. Even their manners were firm and steady. Just one glance was enough to tell that they were all successful businessmen.
"Do you see them now? They're all clients pulled in by Ouyang Ran in a short span of a few days." Qiao Yuanhai stooped down to whisper in his ears. "The one dressed in dark blue suit is the Chief Executive Officer of Nokia Asia. The one on his furthest right talking to Ouyang Ran is the old chairman of Procter & Gamble. They all come from impressive backgrounds. Every single one of them are all obsessed with financial derivatives and are always investing at least billions of dollars. "
Ling Fei couldn't help but raise his brows. "Seems like Ouyang Ran is really charismatic."
"Don't forget, he went through challenging experiences in New York's mercantile exchange for a good number of years. Rumor has it that he knew how to read stock market situations when he was just a teen. When he was in university, he worked as a trader for Wall Street, his salary and commissions earning him more than millions of dollars annually. It is said that ever since he began speculating in stocks, his dad never gave him even a penny. He paid for all his studies and entertainment expenses with his own hard earned money." Qiao Yuanhai loved gossip so he had already dug out information about his superior's achievements.
"He's that amazing?"
It was rare for a rich second generation to not ask for a penny from their family.
"The most amazing part about him is that he only earns and never suffers any financial losses. No matter how the current market situation is, he still profits depending on how big the market price is. That man is a natural born talent in the financial field. After I met him, only then did I realize that there is a truly a difference between a talented genius and mediocrity." sighed Qiao Yuanhai.
"Only earns and never suffer losses? How is that possible?" Ling Fei couldn't help but scoff.
"It's true! Someone once especially researched his trades. The speed at which he trades at is astonishing. And his grasp on the current market situation is accurate to an unbelievable extent."
"How old is he exactly?"
Ling Fei raised his chin, gazing at Ouyang Ran from a distance…
The man had a side profile akin to a statue. Even if he didn't choose to work in futures trading and became a model instead, he would have a bright future ahead of him too. If Ouyang Ran could just wipe off that annoying high-and-mighty look from his face, then it would be even better.
There really were such people in this world who were gifted with an appearance by the Heavens and had the assets to boot. Regardless of what they did, they would always be dazzling and remarkable. Rather than saying they were talented geniuses, it was more appropriate to say that the god of destiny had always been specially caring for them.
"Should be thirty-one."
"He's older than me by five years." Ling Fei's heart stirred.
"You're still very young and have a lot of days in the future to work with him. Who knows, one day, you might also be successful like him." As though he knew what Ling Fei was thinking deep down, Qiao Yuanhai smiled as he patted his shoulders.
Ling Fei only returned an insipid smile.
Be successful like him?
No! What he wanted was far more than this!
A man has no choice but to bow his head under the eaves.
Ling Fei forced a smile on his face as he greeted him.
Ouyang Ran nodded in response.
There were only the both of them in the spacious elevator but Ling Fei felt exceptionally frustrated. Even his breathing was beginning to get ragged.
"Didn't you take a look at yourself in the mirror the entire day?"
Ling Fei turned his head in shock, realizing that Ouyang Ran was definitely talking to him and not someone else.
"Eh…No…Why? Is there a problem?" Ling Fei couldn't restrain himself from touching his face. He was at war everyday so when would he had the leisure to care about his appearance? Furthermore, he was a grown man, what's the point in looking at the mirror?
"Your hair is sticking up." Lifting his hand, Ouyang Ran gestured to the top right side of his head.
Ling Fei involuntarily made a grab at his hair. Perhaps it was because he was too muddled due to sleepiness that he had casually put on a set of clothes before heading out. On top of that, his hair was stiff so it would turn into a chicken nest if he didn't pay attention to it.
Ouyang Ran felt around inside his briefcase for a while before fishing out a small mirror and gave it to him. "Take a look."
Before he had the time to snicker that a grown man like him would carry a small mirror with him, Ling Fei caught sight of the two locks of hair clumped together that was sticking up in the air, looking ridiculously comical…
Old Qiao that bastard must have had seen it. Why didn't he point it out?
Ling Fei grumbled to himself. He tried to fix his hair but it wasn't being obedient. Thus, he simply spat two mouthful of saliva onto his palm and rubbed it over his hair. Haha! It finally softened and settled down.
The moment he raised his head, he saw Ouyang Ran staring at him as though he was a freak. Only then did Ling Fei instantly realize that his action just now was too crude for someone with an elegant bearing.
"Uh…Thank you, manager." He returned the small mirror, embarrassed. As he stared at the ashen face of the other man, he added, "I'll wash my hair and take a shower tonight."
"That better be the case."
From what he'd heard from Ouyang Ran's voice, his words seemed to be ground out one by one through gritted teeth. The elevator soon reached the ground floor. The moment the door slid open, he ran out impatiently, as though Ling Fei was a contagious virus.
Ling Fei glared daggers at Ouyang Ran's fleeing figure as he hacked Ouyang Ran with a blade seven to eight times in his heart.