Chapter 3: Cleaning

After looking through the simple panel 3 times, Yuan Zhou finally had some understanding of it. He gazed into the dark night, then checked the time on his phone. It was 20:49.
Although it was late, Yuan Zhou was still unable to calm down. Therefore, he started to think about the mission.
“The mission stated that I have to own a restaurant of my own. Right now the store downstairs still belongs to me, no matter in law or in reality. So why is the status of the mission still incomplete?” Yuan Zhou drummed his fingers on the bedside cupboard as he thought about it.
“Is it because I haven’t displayed a signboard or is it because the restaurant isn’t open for business?”
Noticing that the system was not responding, Yuan Zhou directly asked it, “What requirements need to be satisfied to complete the mission of owning my own store?”
The system showed the words, “The host has to own a restaurant that can be opened for business.”
With this explanation, Yuan Zhou finally understood the requirements necessary to complete the task, thus he started to rummage through his wardrobe.
He took a set of clothes out, looked at it and stuffed it back again. This process repeated itself for a few minutes, until he found a set of clothes specifically for cleaning.
Yuan Zhou stared at the clothes in his hands for a moment, lost in thought.
The shirt was in dark blue color and was not easily dirtied. Made from 100% cotton, it was comfortable to wear and easy to wash. It looked like an ordinary T-shirt at first glance but the front showed the Mandarin characters of Yuan Zhou Noodle Restaurant.
His parents had worn the same T-shirts while working during the summer when they were still alive. The T-shirts were purchased from a stall when his family went out to have fun during the Lunar New Year holidays. The words were then printed separately. This was one of the three shirts.
As for the other two T-shirts belonging to his parents, Yuan Zhou had already burned and buried them alongside his parents during their funeral.
He got dressed quickly. After some thought, Yuan Zhou took a peaked cap and a towel from the bathroom, then he went downstairs after putting on a pair of slippers.
“Pa.” He turned the switch on the wall. Several lamps lighted up.
The 1st floor was as dirty and messy as before. Even traces of his tumble could still be seen. A clear human imprint was left on the yellow ceramic tiles.
The place was approximately 30 square meters, with the kitchen being separated from the main hall by a 1-meter wide door. Six long red tables were laid in the main hall with four chairs to match each table. Nevertheless, they were no longer where they used to be. Yuan Zhou had smashed all of them when he broke down after hearing the news about his parents’ death.
“ZhiYa”
Yuan Zhou reached out to push several tables and found that all of them were making squeaky noises. There was even one that fell apart with a loud “Peng”.
“It seems that none of the tables can be used anymore.” Shaking his head, Yuan Zhou looked carefully at the chairs.
He discovered that only one chair, the one he had used, was more or less intact. However, shaken by the falling table, the chair also became unstable. All of it needed to be replaced..
The wallpaper had also peeled off the walls. Everything in the kitchen was used previously by the former noodle restaurant chefs. A gas furnace with two burners had rusted and with only a slight touch, the iron hoop inside broke off. A stainless barrel that was previously used for cooking noodles was now unknown if it was still usable. Nevertheless, he wasn’t prepared to use any of them because he could neither cook noodles nor want to run a noodle restaurant.
Darkness fell and the stars outside sparkled.
Various noises passed through from the former Yuan Zhou Noodle Restaurant at 9 o’clock that night. Passersbys gave strange looks towards the store that had no signs. They were surprised by the noises coming from inside.
Three and a half hours later, Yuan Zhou was covered with dust from head to toe. Smudges decorated his face. Cobwebs hung from his hat. The original color of the towel in his hand would be hard to recognize and a layer of black ash covered the part of his feet which was unprotected by the slippers. With a pose, Yuan Zhou stood by the stairs, a self-contented smile on his face. Although dirty and tired, the cleaning fee was saved.
Looking at the clean and tidy main hall and kitchen from outside, Yuan Zhou felt this place really started to look like a restaurant, if it wasn’t for the pile of rubbish stacked outside the door.
He threw the formerly white but currently black towel into a rubbish bag with “Pa” sound.
“Gosh, my old 1992 waist.” Yuan Zhou stretched his back and walked up toward the upstairs. The first thing was to clean himself in the bathroom. He didn’t dare to enter his room with a filthy appearance like that.
Half an hour later.
Water was dripping off Yuan Zhou’s hair. He sat on a chair and started to record tomorrow’s working schedules on paper.
One hand was writing carefully while the other hand was slowly knocking the table.
Disregarding his semi-dry hair, Yuan Zhou finished arranging his schedule for the next day and then went to sleep. He didn’t even managed to cover the quilt before he fell asleep accompanied by sweet dreams.
April weather in Chengdu was not too hot or too cold, perfect for a good sleep.
The first action people usually take after waking up is to open their eyes. But that doesn’t apply to Yuan Zhou.
With his eyes closed, he groped for the bathroom. After his release, he lay back down on his bed again to continue his dreams, never opening his eyes during the process.
Yet after laying back down for less than a minute, he opened his eyes abruptly and sprung up from the bed.
“System!” he shouted.
No answer came from the system.
It wasn’t until he saw the unfinished mission status in his mind did he confirm that it wasn’t a dream.
This caused Yuan Zhou to be in a good mood. He started to wash up and begun preparations to complete the task from last night.
Standing by the door, he breathed a deep sigh and opened it with a heavy lift. The sound surprised the Boss Tong from the dry cleaning shop next to his restaurant. The dry cleaning shop of Boss Tong had the best business in the whole street. After all, everyone had some expensive clothes. When they couldn’t wash them, they would send them to the dry cleaning shop.
“Hi, Yuan Zhou, are you going out?”
Seeing Yuan Zhou opening the door of his store, Boss Tong was astonished. After all, the shop had been closed for three years, it was the first time Boss Tong seeing the door opened.
“Good morning, Aunt Tong.” Yuan Zhou’s thoughts was interrupted by Boss Tong as he was admiring the achievements of his hard work last night.
“Hey, are you tidying and cleaning the restaurant to open a business? If so, I’m gonna come to taste your cooking some time soon,” asked Boss Tong with a well-intentioned smile on her skinny face. She walked out of her shop and took a look at the clean floor and the pile of rubbish by the door.
“Ok, Aunt Tong. Then I will thank you in advance. By the way, does the man that collects rubbish comes by every day?” asked Yuan Zhou. He was thinking of the recyclable scrap irons that could be sold.
After all, it cost money to purchase things necessary for his new business. Except for the 50 thousand RMB that was unused, Yuan Zhou didn’t have any more money. However little those scrap irons were worth, it was still money. Moreover, he could be free from the hard labor of disposing the rubbish.
“Yes, yes. He comes by every day. You want to sell all that? The man will probably come in a while. Let me inform you once he arrives,” said Boss Tong earnestly.
“OK. Sorry for the bother, and thank you for your help. Let me first send for some people to get the wallpaper and kitchen repaired,” said Yuan Zhou with a grateful smile. He then closed the door and left.
……..
“Hey, Boss. What’s the price of this suit?”
Boss Tong was still sighing with emotions when a customer called out to her. She gave an answer and went back to her shop.
Yuan Zhou hadn’t wandered along this street for a long time. He walked while gazing about. Many stores were no longer what they used to be. Some stores were being renovated while the boss had also changed.
Only 4 stores were left unchanged, including his store, the dry cleaning shop, a hardware store and a shop selling animation and cartoon products.
“Yes. That hardware store…” Yuan Zhou walked into that hardware store after thinking of something.
“Boss Zhao, are you here?” asked Yuan Zhou in the store.
The hardware store was still unchanged. Things were still exactly where they had been, as if they had never moved.

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