Chapter 3 – Conflict
Editor: Isalee & Pinkrainmi
First Published on Ainushi
“OFF, why are you only online now? I’ve waited for you for so long.”
“I’m sorry, Ah Fei. I was held up by some work. I needed to keep some heavy buyers company. I only managed to get some free time now.”
“You must be very busy with your work.”
“It’s alright. It’s just some boring numbers.”
“My instincts tell me that you must be a successful person.”
“Are you really that confident in me?”
“Oh right, my roommate told me that you could be a very old and balding man, who’s also a sexually perverted exhibitionist.”
“Your roommate is really fascinating.”
“So…are you one or not?”
“Ah Fei, how you see me deep down is precisely what kind of person I am.”
“In my heart, you’re an extremely beautiful woman with a temperament that’s one in a thousand.”
“OFF, why are you quiet? Did I say something wrong? I’m sorry. I was just joking. I know you’re not fond of me asking you about your age, appearance, and so on. I won’t do it again next time.”
As usual tonight, I only went to bed peacefully after chatting with OFF.
I was becoming even more interested in OFF, but I understood that OFF preferred to exist inside the void that was the Internet. Should I ever request to contact him in real life, there was a high chance that OFF would evaporate before my very eyes in an instant, never to be seen again.
I didn’t want to lose OFF so I was not in a position to request anything, but there would always be a place in my heart retained for OFF.
OFF remained in the gentlest place in my heart with no distance between us.
It was a windless early morning; the sky was clear and boundless.
Akin to ants, a large influx of people rushed forth from the train station before dispersing in all directions.
Ling Fei couldn’t be bothered with his appearance. Gripping his briefcase, he rushed into the entrance of Fengtai’s skyscraper. In a moment, the door to the fully loaded elevator would close. “WAIT!” He shouted while he ran, carelessly missing a figure turning around the corner from the right, thus colliding into that person head on.
A light cry sounded as the person fell to the floor due to the collision. The documents in the briefcase were instantly strewn across the floor like fluttering snowflakes.
“I’m so sorry! I was in too much of a rush!” Ling Fei hurriedly apologized as he went to pick up the documents in a frenzy, before passing it to the other person. “I’m…”
The moment his gaze connected with the other person’s, Ling Fei looked as though he had been poisoned by a gu as his entire body froze in place, unable to move.
It was a young woman dressed in a beige dress suit. Her beautiful hair was like wisps of clouds and under her long eyelashes lay a pair of bright eyes resembling the limpid autumn waters, so crystal-clear you could see the base. She appeared to have a sweet temperament.
“Are you alright?” The woman couldn’t help but ask in concern when she saw Ling Fei standing there dumbstruck.
“Uh…I’m great. Did I hurt you? Do you want to drop by the hospital?”
Ling Fei asked her in haste, as though he had just woke up from a dream. His anxious expression made the woman laugh, her small cupid’s bow lips gently curving as a sweet and lovely fragrance assaulted his nostrils.
Ling Fei foolishly opened his mouth wide…
A small hand waved before him.
“Ah, excuse me.” Ling Fei flushed red as he scratched his head.
It wasn’t as though he had never seen a beautiful woman before. His first love was the prettiest girl in his high school. Yet, he had no idea why this woman before him would cause his face to redden and his heart to race.
“I’m okay. Do you happen to know where the Fund Management department is?”
“It’s on the 19th floor. Make a right turn once you get off the elevator.”
“Thank you.” The woman faintly smiled. “I’m a new member of Fengtai’s Fund Management department. My name is Ouyang An’er. Please take care of me.”
“I’m Ling Fei, a broker from the Futures Trade department on the floor below you.”
“It’s my pleasure to meet you. I have to hurry so I’ll be going first. See you!” Ouyang An’er gave another small smile and took the documents he passed over before walking towards the elevator.
They would definitely cross paths again. They were in the same company and as they say, the pavilion closest to the water enjoys the moonlight first. One of these days, he would ask her if she had a boyfriend.
Ling Fei’s mouth was slightly agape as his entranced gaze trailed after her retreating figure. He actually managed to bump into a beautiful woman first thing in the morning so his luck today must be exceptional!
Indeed, his luck today was rather great.
After the Hong Kong Hang Seng index opened at 12,500 points, it soared to 13,000 points before losing steam and dropping back to about 12,100 points. It then fluctuated around that value for a while before continuously plummeting, falling below the 8,900 mark at noon. As the nonstop downward trend continued, the individual investors were caught in the midst of panic as they began to close their positions one after another…
Ling Fei didn’t even have the time to drink a sip of water as he stared at the market situation without batting an eye. The time was just about right; if he held onto the position for too long, the market would only end up rebounding. Hence, he decided to close out the position at 7,010 points. About half an hour after the position was closed, the index hit the limit down.
Heaving out a long sigh of relief, Ling Fei rolled his sore neck around and noticed that his lower back was slightly stiff. The palms of his hands were also covered in sweat but the smiling expression on his face was undeniable as it began to slowly take shape…
Fifty-five trades. Every trade had a floating profit of 2,000. After deducting the fees, he earned a whopping net profit of 100,000 Hong Kong dollars over the course of two and a half days. Although easily earning a couple hundred thousand dollars in a day couldn’t be considered a glorious achievement at Fengtai, it was already something worth being proud of for a new person like him.
“Attaboy! Pretty good work.”
His desk neighbor Qiao Yuanhai thumped him with his fist and chucked him a bar of chocolate. “You didn’t manage to eat anything the whole day, right? Here, something to fill your stomach.”
“Thanks. I’ll buy you dinner later tonight.” Ling Fei smiled as he tore it open, taking a huge bite out of it. The rich and mellow sweetness made him feel as though he was saved.
Futures investments really weren’t made for human beings. If he wasn’t exhausted to death, then he would be starved to death instead.
“Sure. No problem. I want to eat the most expensive western cuisine. Don’t you dare say you’re not willing to…”
“Screw you! Only knowing how to loot a burning house.”
“Brat, is this the right attitude to treat an old senior?” Qian Yuanhai feigned anger as he put him in a chokehold.
“Alright! Alright! Just order whatever you want to eat.” Ling Fei begged for mercy.
After drinking a couple mouthfuls of water and taking a moment to relax, Ling Fei promptly making a phone call to Li Changjiang.
“Oh, it’s Mr. Ling…”
The gleeful voice sounding from the other end of the call showed that he had already seen the trading situation.
Ling Fei gave a faint smile. “Chairman Li, I have already sent you a copy of today’s transaction records. After deducting the sundries, the profit is approximately 100,000 Hong Kong dollars.”
“You did very well.” Li Changjiang chuckled and said, “I was slightly worried at the beginning but now, it seems my anxiety was completely unnecessary. You’re a really excellent broker. ”
“Thank you Chairman Li for placing your trust in me.”
“If there are any good investments for today, you must let me know.”
“Chairman Li, I actually do have a pretty good opportunity here.”
“What is it?”
“Natural rubber.” Ling Fei paused for a moment before continuing, “Although the current natural rubber market has been stagnant, it is still in hot demand from the perspective of the global market. I think it’s very promising. If you trust me, I plan to invest the principal along with today’s profits into natural rubber. I guarantee to give you at least a 30% return. What do you think?”
Although Ling Fei had suffered setbacks investing in natural rubber, he still thought highly of it. He was only bitter that he didn’t have extra funds on hand. Since Li Changjiang was a promising client, he had always wanted to suggest him to invest in this earlier on.
“No problem. You’re my broker. Just decide on your own. I believe in you.”
“Thank you, Chairman Li.”
Hanging up the call, Ling Fei pressed his temples, feeling a myriad of emotions deep within.
“I believe in you.” Just a short phrase of four words alone weighed more than a thousand catty.
Ever since he entered Fengtai, he had done a lot of trades of all magnitudes. He had earned and lost. Considering all of these together, it was almost balanced out.
Although he had lofty aspirations, he would still occasionally find himself burdened by his own limitations.
The trading knowledge he had learned in night school was far from sufficient. Even though he had been making great efforts to learn more on his own time, the moment he came across more advanced technical analysis, he couldn’t do anything other than look at it and heave a sigh at the profound data, let alone apply it to the market.
When it came to observing market quotations, he could still use his current know-how to deal with it. But Ling Fei knew that in the long run, he won’t be able to get too far if things stayed this way.
Right now, he was already diligently studying specialized teaching materials meant for master’s degrees in economics and statistics, and having great difficulty. Although theory was dry and dull, it was the underlying foundation needed for his practice. The only problem was that his progress was extremely slow; after all, he hadn’t even gone to university. Being able to pass the exam to get into Fengtai Futures was already a miracle in itself. It was unavoidable that he would find it strenuous.
All the people around him had work experience and academic qualifications which were a hundred times more amazing than his. In comparison, Ling Fei understood that he had to put in a hundred times more effort than everybody else in order to catch a glimmer of hope.
Time silently passed. As he shot a glance at his watch, it was 6:40 p.m.; the office had long been deserted.
“Old Qiao that bastard…”
Ling Fei was speechless. They had agreed to have dinner together. Who would have thought that from just one phone call from his wife, Old Qiao would hurry back home in haste and abandon him.
That bastard! Ling Fei had already said that he would treat him, yet he still escaped at breakneck speed. After getting married, there really was no freedom to speak of.
Ling Fei locked up his files and switched off his computer. After tidying up his desk a bit, he proceeded to walk to the door. As he faced the elevator, he was about to press the “1” button before he reconsidered, and then pressed “19”.
The 19th floor was the realm of the Fund Management department. All their clients were either big investors or large corporations. Their management was strict so not just anybody was allowed to enter as they pleased.
Having the capability to work here, it seemed like that woman called Ouyang An’er had an impressive background. If it wasn’t that she was very knowledgeable and had outstanding academic credentials, then it was that she had a wealth of experience, although you really couldn’t tell from her outward appearance.
The office was brightly lit inside and there were a couple of busy figures scattered about. Ling Fei had sharp eyes so with just one glance, he was able to spot the slender silhouette on the right.
He gently knocked on the glass window two times. The woman turned around and upon seeing that it was him, she lightly smiled. Not long after, she swiped her ID card to come out.
“Ling Fei? What are you doing here?” Ouyang An’er smiled and greeted him as though she was meeting an old friend.
Ling Fei greatly enjoyed her lively and adorable smile that was not artificial in the least. And when she was faced with strangers, she was all the more natural and at ease, as well as amiable and easy to approach.
“Miss Ouyang, are you busy? Did I bother you?”
“Just call me An’er. All my friends call me that.” Ouyang An’er gave a small close-mouthed smile. “I’ve been going over data all day. I want to quickly familiarize myself with the job. Were you looking for me for something?”
“Actually, it’s nothing much…” Ling Fei scratched his head. “Uh…I earned some money from my trade this afternoon and was looking for someone to celebrate with me. You haven’t had dinner yet, right? I’ll treat you! Are you willing to do me the honor?”
“I see…” Ouyang An’er hesitated. “I haven’t finished looking through the materials yet. If we want to catch a bite outside, I’m afraid I don’t have the time.”
It looked like he got rejected. Getting shot down on his first try made Ling Fei understandably dejected. Crestfallen, he had wanted to run away, but upon hearing what Ouyang An’er said next, it was as though he was injected with a shot of cardiac stimulant, instantly invigorating him.
“If you’re willing to go to the nearby McDonald’s and buy two burgers, I can accompany you then.. I only have fifteen minutes to spare.”
“Of course I’m willing!” Ling Fei was wild with joy. “Wait here. I’ll be right back!” As soon as he finished speaking, he shot off like an arrow.
After ten minutes, Ling Fei and Ouyang An’er sat on chairs opposite each other in the lounge as they ate their steaming hot hamburgers and fries.
“Here’s a Cola for you.”
Ling Fei good-naturedly poured a cup of Cola and personally passed it to her. He also poured out some tomato sauce, opened the lid of the vegetable salad, as well as put down the paper napkins; he made sure everything was in order.
He considered himself a good lover. Whenever he was with a girl, he would be considerate and attentive, behaving like a complete gentleman. He had gone through countless romances but none of them had bore any fruit. After he became enchanted by futures contracts, he devoted the majority of his time to it, so he didn’t have the free time to chat and date.
Perhaps, it’s exactly as Chi Kai said; he should get a girlfriend. Although Chi Kai was quite brutal with his words, he would always hit the nail on the head.
“Thanks.” Ouyang An’er smiled as she lifted her cup. “Here’s to celebrating your successful trade today and may profits pour in from all sides from now on.”
“Thank you.” Ling Fei was deeply touched. Blessings from a beauty were undoubtedly magical and would ensure that his natural rubber would steadily rise.
A simple and elegant fragrance wafted from Ouyang An’er’s body. No wonder she was the woman he fell in love with at first sight; not only did she have refined taste, even her table manners were very adorable. To top it off, although her conditions were excellent, she wasn’t finicky in the slightest, eating even a hamburger with relish. However, what Ling Fei minded was that his hard-to-come-by first date wasn’t in a romantic restaurant but was instead in the company’s cold lounge.
“Ling Fei, you must be under a lot of pressure from your work, right?” asked Ouyang An’er.
“It’s alright. Stress is inevitable in any line of work.”
“Then what kind of commodity are you trading in now?”
“Natural rubber?” Ouyang An’er slightly knitted her graceful brows. “The price of natural rubber is very unstable. You have to be careful.”
“I know.” Ling Fei nodded his head, moved. “An’er, do you live nearby? Is it far from the company? It’s very dangerous for you to get off work this late. How about I wait for you to finish work and I’ll send you home after?”
“That’s not necessary. Someone will pick me up.”
Ling Fei’s heart instantly sank. “Your boyfriend?”
“No.” An’er shot him a glance and smiled. “It’s my brother.”
Ling Fei felt as though a heavy burden was lifted. It looked like she didn’t have a boyfriend yet. Otherwise, what kind of man would feel reassured letting such a beautiful girlfriend work into the dead of the night and not come to pick her up?
“Does your brother treat you very well?”
“Yes! He babies me a lot. He’s handsome, capable, and has a nice temperament. He’s the best brother in the world!” Ouyang An’er’s eyes were brimming with worship.
“I also want a younger sister. It’s too lonely being by myself,” laughed Ling Fei.
“You’re an only child?”
“Can’t really tell…” Tilting her head, Ouyang An’er stared at him. The way she did it was too adorable.
“Is that a compliment or an insult?”
“What do you think?” Ouyang An’er blinked and used the paper napkins to wipe her hands. “Thank you for the hamburger. I have to go back to work.”
“Thank you for celebrating with me.” Ling Fei stood up in a hurry, a bit unwilling to let her go.
“With your capabilities, there will definitely be many more celebrations like this in the future. Bye bye…” Ouyang An’er waved before heading off into her office like a light and graceful butterfly.
Ling Fei foolishly stood rooted to the spot, his entire body feeling light as a feather, as though he were standing high up in the clouds.
In the early hours of the next morning, Ling Fei was brimming with energy as he charged straight into the natural rubber market.
Natural rubber had always been the commodity that investors both loved and hated. The price fluctuations were too severe, making it difficult to predict. Thus, using the words “tricky and capricious” to describe natural rubber wasn’t exaggerating at all.
Taking a look at the technical analysis, the real-time intraday charts often showed an “inverted V” or a “sideways S” trend. This was not very common among other commodities, but for natural rubber, it was a common occurrence.
From the end of last year onwards, natural rubber soared from the trough of more than 6,000 points to the current peak of more than 11,000. It could even be said to be a bullish soar. Recently, the trend hadn’t been dropping like before. Although the trade volume for natural rubber in the recent weeks was not that high, the number of positions held was still increasing, surpassing 150,000.
Meanwhile, Japanese rubber in the domestic market was affected by government policies and its price kept steadily rising and it was unstoppable. This caused a ripple effect by adding more fuel to the fire.
Ling Fei determined that this coming November was the main contract period for the futures delivery of the natural rubber. When the time came, there would definitely be another price hike. Now would be a good time to enter the market.
Thus, he invested all of his funds and opened a large number of long positions near the 11,240 points mark. By then, he was operating at full position. And not only did he invest the funds he originally had, whenever there were floating profits in other commodities he owned, he would use the profits to purchase more long positions.
Operating at full position was an extremely dangerous move, regardless of whether it was done in the stock market or with futures contracts. Ling Fei was soon once again “summoned” by Ouyang Ran.
“Do you have any explanation regarding your trades in natural rubber?” Ouyang Ran sat on the leather chair, occupying the high ground as he clasped his hands together and looked at him indifferently.
“Are you aware that your course of action is similar to that of a frantic gambler?” Ouyang Ran leaned his body forward. The young man before him frequently made his temple veins want to pop out of anger.
“Futures have always been a gamble.”
“Natural rubber has the highest risk in commodities futures. Its price has gone through countless changes. If you had even a momentary lapse of concentration, you would slip up. If I were you, I would invest at most one third of the capital in, start out with a little first, and then gradually buy in to pull up the price. Yet instead, you had to go all out from the start…”
“Manager, every transaction I have made has been from walking on the tip of the blade. I believe yours have been too.” Ling Fei stared straight into his piercing eyes, not in the least bit afraid.
“Don’t place me in the same category as you!” Ouyang Ran’s tone became stern. “In my opinion, you’re simply operating barbarously and not showing any regards for the client at all. You’re only relying on your intuition. Have you done the technical analysis? Have you even collated the market trends?!”
“Regarding the issue of my trading principles, I recall that I have already debated with you on this topic since the first time. Are you intending to make me waste more time on this aspect again? If I don’t have a hundred percent certainty, why would I easily enter the market? I’ve always treated the client’s interest as priority. Their fate is my fate!” Unable to restrain himself, Ling Fei raised his voice.
Don’t you dare place me in the same category as you!
These two people’s trading principles were fundamentally different. Although Ouyang Ran was quick and nimble whenever he struck out, his nature was still to be cautious. His vast trading experience told him that he should not be rash and impatient. Before he struck out, he needed to do ample amount of research and analysis first to reduce the rate of the risk so that it could guarantee him with zero risk. On the other hand, Ling Fei was in the prime of his youth. He believed that risk was, at the same time, an opportunity. He felt his perception towards the market trends surpassed both theory and data. The moment he was granted the opportunity, he would try hard to catch up, in fear that he would lose this golden opportunity.
There was no right or wrong to either of their approaches. Both of them were just abiding by their own convictions.
There would always be one misconception in the masses’ opinion. Should they think too gravely on the correct or wrong method in trading, they would overlook their principles and and values. In actuality, the differences in trading came from the differences in their convictions. So long as their method in trading remained faithful and complied with their own principles, then there was no such thing as right or wrong about it.
Ouyang Ran naturally understood this. What he was telling Ling Fei now stemmed from the standpoint of a manager. He did his utmost to give a word of advice but Ling Fei was far too young and seemed to exceptionally repel him so, so he clearly wasn’t up for it.
“Ling Fei, the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index trade you did last time was amazing. It’s not that I have no trust in your capabilities. I just cannot agree with your brash and impatient methods.” Ouyang Ran once again realized that he was too strict just now so he gradually eased his tone.
“My methods up until now, have there been any other issues apart from being risky? From the time when you called for me, the price of natural rubber kept rising. On top of that, I have an inside story that the government policy on the benefits of it will be issued soon. When the time comes, the stock price of natural rubber will definitely hike up sharply. This is a great year for natural rubber. The opportunity comes once in a blue moon. If I miss this, I will definitely regret it! Manager!”
“From my past analysis, natural rubber is one of the commodities that is the most hardest to predict and has the largest movements. I will warn you once more. You better be extremely careful with your decision.” Ouyang Ran warned him with a grave expression. “Futures and stocks are vastly different. While futures yield you high returns, it also comes with a high risk. There will be more opportunities in the future. However, you must understand that treating fifty thousand yuan as one million yuan to use might theoretically work. But should it be calculated in terms of the 3% of the upper and lower limit, the fifty thousand yuan has to undertake the risk of more than 60%! Futures has already been developing in the nation for more than ten years. Up until now, I have never caught wind that there was someone becoming a billionaire through speculating futures. This might be possible in other countries, but in our country, the system is still not robust and there’s still much to understand. This demands us to be all the more attentive to the risk and avoid it.”
Having said that much, it still went back to square one. Ouyang Ran was still doubtful about his capability.
Ling Fei couldn’t restrain himself from sneering. “Manager, you still don’t trust me one bit.”
“I didn’t mean it that way.”
“But your eyes told me everything earlier on. You never trusted me!” Ling Fei glared at Ouyang Ran. “I know I’m young and inexperienced. I am not good with personal relations either and would bring trouble to my colleagues. But you don’t have to worry. No matter what I do, I will never ruin the reputation of the trades department.”
The harshness of his tone startled Ouyang Ran who couldn’t help but furrow his brows. “Do you have something against me?”
Just one phrase was enough to jab his sore spot. Ling Fei couldn’t hold back his words, “Weren’t you the one with prejudice against me? During the first assembly, you talked about how co-workers should unite and cooperate with each other. Weren’t you talking about me?”
Ling Fei was far more sensitive than Ouyang Ran expected.
“About that, I wanted to properly talk it out with you but it definitely didn’t stem from prejudice. It’s because I received quite a number of complaints from your colleagues.”
“What did they complain about me?”
“You know it better yourself. Anyone who has worked together with you wouldn’t last long. You are highly efficient and clear-cut in your decisions. Those are your strong points. However, the moment someone is unable to conform to your pace or deviate from the decisions you make, you would either pressure them or immediately report it to your superior to replace your partner. Ling Fei, nobody will like a colleague like this. You’re making enemies out of everyone around you. Having no fear is a good thing but once you become too overbearing, you will only cause others to despise you.”
If it weren’t for that look of estrangement and nobility that couldn’t be masked in his eyes, from the tone of his voice alone, Ling Fei almost thought that he was warning him as a close friend.
Ling Fei laughed heartily. “Manager, this is how I am. It’s my nature.”
“I don’t like to be sloppy with my job. I would rather it to flow smoothly and I despise others who drag me down the most. Especially when it comes to those incompetent people. I don’t want to waste my time on those relations that feign civility and scheming against each other. Back then, I gave up the service industry precisely because I hated dealing with people. Thus, I chose to down the futures path which is related to numbers. However, I never expected that I still cannot completely rid myself from this circle.”
“If I can do it, then I’ll do it. If I cannot do it, then I’ll drop it. If we can get along, then that’s great. If we can’t, then we just go our separate ways. I don’t have time to waste thinking about other things. If my usual attitude offended those colleagues, I can apologize to appease their ‘fragile hearts’. But I will never change myself.”
Ling Fei’s words were not entirely without satire.
Ouyang Ran looked at him with a headache. It wasn’t that he wasn’t aware that the man before him was a rough diamond.
He was young with an acute spirit, he had the enthusiasm, quick reactions, and he was intelligent. He stuck to his own trading principles but his flaws, like his strong points, were also very evident. He was a man with a natural born arrogance, haughty and stubborn. He would stake everything on one throw and didn’t want to listen to advice… Every single one of these flaws was enough to give him a migraine.
Ling Fei was the oddest individual with the most character he had met so far until now. He completely didn’t conform to the fellow countrymen’s mediocrity.
“If you can’t stand me, then fire me. I know everyone hates this personality of mine. No matter. I never intended to be likable by others in the first place.”
Ling Fei stood up, his gaze shifting towards the window…
The stream of people were like ants, the city flourishing and brilliant. This was the world he had long desired to conquer.
“I only want to stand at the apex of this city. I’ll take any means, whether it’s by hook or crook, I will rise!”
The rays of sunlight hit his handsome face, reflecting a bizarre and dazzling aureole.
Standing at the apex of this city…
Ouyang Ran’s heart stirred as he stood up abruptly, his gaze akin to daggers as he stared unwaveringly at him, unable to restrain his right hand from trembling.
“Manager, are you alright?”
“I’m okay. Please go out first.”
Ouyang Ran tried to steady his breathing so that his voice didn’t sound any different than usual.
Ling Fei cast him a puzzling gaze, wanting to say something but hesitated. He then headed out in the end.
Once the door was lightly shut tight, Ouyang Ran gradually sank back into his seat. The expression on his face was just like a layer of ice being chiseled open by a sharp awl, abruptly breaking into countless fragments and small cracks.