A slightly wrinkled but well-preserved Chinese woman with a whitened face, her hair very straightly parted and tied into a tight knot, greeted the guests and with a barely noticeable nod sent the two teenagers to wordlessly fill the guests’ cups with weak green tea. The newcomers joined all those gathered at the table and sat down on the carmine cushions breathing in the smell of opium. Everyone was observing the four players smoothly rearranging and removing the tiles with mysterious signs hand‑painted on them. The game of mahjong was intense.

At the same time, the guests on the upper floor were having a very different and more disrobed type of pleasure, the entrance to which was guarded by an equally whitened, though more wrinkled Chinese lady sitting between the kitchen and the corridor with her bowl of noodle soup and slurping silently, ignoring the excited voices coming from over the mahjong table. The players, on the other hand, were ignoring the excited voices coming from the upper floor.

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