Beginnings and Endings


Mr. Sun laid the newspaper on the café’s table upon finishing reading his own obituary.

He crossed his right leg over his left and sipped the last of his tea.

It was a warm day, the quiet occasionally disrupted by a solitary car driving by or fireworks in the park. Noise or not, it was a good place for solitude.

More tea, Mr. Sun? asked the café’s owner who had approached unheard.

Yes, Yin. More tea would be lovely.

Yin poured the tea. Beautiful day, isn’t it?

Yes, said Mr. Sun and gestured for Yin to join him at his table.

Yin politely accepted and took a seat, smoothing flat his black apron with his right hand. From the park came a fresh fusillade of fireworks.

Why all the fireworks today? asked Mr. Sun.

They’re for weddings or funerals. Beginnings and endings are the same here.

I think any married man would agree, said Mr. Sun.

Both men laughed.

Is it a wedding or a funeral today?

Wedding, I believe, Yin answered and then glanced through the café’s front window at the emptiness inside.   Had hoped for more business today. Still early…I guess.

Cheer up, Mr. Sun said and offered Yin a cigarette. The latter accepted graciously and lit Mr. Sun’s cigarette before setting his own alight. They sat quietly in the warm sun. Smoking.

More booming from the park.

Well, fireworks or no fireworks I like it here, Mr. Sun said and ground his cigarette into the sidewalk with the heel of his shoe. Your tea is good and your pints of Tiger are best.

Yin smiled a disappointed smile. What you drink in Tiger might be the only thing keeping me afloat. Then he added with more mirth, But it’s good fun.

Mr. Sun grinned. Hopefully I didn’t talk too much politics the other night.

Not at all. I enjoy talking to you.

And I enjoy talking to you. Another cigarette?

That is very kind of you, Mr. Sun, but not right now. I must look over some orders. Always some responsibility calling.

Come now, said Mr. Sun. Enjoy a bit of this lovely weather with me. We can have a cigarette and a Tiger and a chat before it’s too late.

Thank you again, Mr. Sun, you are a very kind man. Yin stood and smoothed flat his black apron with his right hand. But sadly I must finish some work.

Shame you have to waste the day, but so it is.

The two men smiled at each other and Yin walked into the café.

Fireworks burst with bellicose ferocity.

Mr. Sun picked the newspaper off the table and skimmed the obituary. His obituary.


…a decapitated priest with ties to the left-wing guerilla movement…

…the fifth Sister of the Holy Order…sexual assault…

…each nun’s left eye had been shot out with, what authorities determined to be, a…

…Qian, a mercenary born in T–…a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. He had no surviving…


Qian shrugged indifferently at the obituary. He folded the newspaper and took a last sip of his tea.

Qian substituted the automatic tucked into the back of his trousers’ waistband with the newspaper and walked into the cafe. There he found Yin behind the counter, a calculator and papers before him.

A Tiger… Yin began, until he saw the automatic. The automatic in Qian’s right hand.

Is this about the property? Yin asked.

I don’t know.

Is this about that man’s niece? Yin asked.

I don’t know.

So…so what’s it about?

I only get paid. I don’t ask questions.

But…but why me?

I’m sorry, Qian said. You seem like a nice person.

Yin’s fear-shriveled body cowered under Qian’s emotionless gaze.

Wh-what are you waiting for? he asked. What?

Fireworks, said Qian.

And when they sounded, Qian raised his gun and put a bullet through Yin’s left eye.


An automatic replaced a newspaper in a trousers’ waistband. A wedding celebration continued in a park. An owner lay in a pool of blood behind a counter and a dead man stepped out of a café and into the day’s warmth.

~ fin ~

Peter Anderson lives in Ningbo, China where he teaches economics.  Originally from the Midwest in the United States, he enjoys writing fiction in his free time.