Proofreaders: ayszhang, Gwen, Red
Love Late Vol. 2
The drinks at the bar were pretty good, and the people who came were passable.
So long as I didn’t lock my sight on pretty, young men, it would be easy to find a couple of acceptable-looking ones to get it on.
I mean, I was handsome, fresh, talented, and didn’t lack in money. I’m so manly and charming—only a blind person would pass me up.
Tonight I had pretty good luck. In front of the bar, I had hit on and was hit on by a total of five, six people. But since I had no intention of spending the night with anybody, in the end, I only sat there alone with some new phone numbers. I figured I’d chat with the bartender.
“That hunk just now was hot. Why didn’t you go with him?” The bartender was young, not very tall, and has a small face. His short hair was quite stylish, making him appear very cute.
“Sure, he’s not bad, but there’s not enough chemistry for the bed.” I shook my head. “Kid, I’m not a loose man.”
The kid was apparently very experienced. He scoffed, “You sure are pure as snow. You have someone you like?”
My young friend’s eyes immediately went wide. “So that someone must be even hotter than that man just now, right?”
“Of course, the person I like,” I took a puff from my cigarette and my eyes narrowed in reminiscence, “is very handsome, young and talented with a clean record, rich, no bad habits, fun and interesting, good in the bedroom, good in the kitchen, considerate, hard-working, and lovestruck.”
The kid listened with his mouth watering and his eyes fixed. “Damn, you’re still hitting the bar when you got this awesome man?”
I gave a big laugh. “Unfortunately the object of his love isn’t me.”
He was taken aback. “Uh…shit, that’s hard stuff.”
I ordered another drink.
When I drank to the point of being tipsy and couldn’t think straight, I thought of Ke Luo. With clear, dark, gentle eyes, he had said, “Sorry, I can’t forget him.”
Yeah, I understand…I can’t forget you either.
Before I knew it, the weekends were coming up again. I didn’t need to go to the supermarket at last. Instead, I basked under the sun with old man, Shu Nian, on the spacious balcony, listening to soft music.
Lying on the lounge chair I recalled the golden beaches during those hot, hot summer days. The fine sand, the water, and the buff men in swimwear. Sadly, all I could see was a matching pair of pajamas that were turn-offs, one shota, and countless plants.
To amp up the mood, I changed the music, put on my sunglasses, and wore only beach shorts that make Xie Yan curse. I displayed my delicious body and asked Shu Nian to apply sunscreen lotion on me.
In the end, Shu Nian said that he saw something that he suspected was white hair on my head while he was rubbing. I was practically struck by lightning.
So the whole afternoon was spent on attentively examining my hair. I sifted through my hair while chatting with Shu Nian. In the end, I had gotten sleepy from basking under the sun and still received no real result from the sifting, yet the guy beside me had dozed off instead.
I helplessly sat up. Only half my body had sunscreen lotion. In addition, it wasn’t even evenly applied. I could very well turn into a Dalmatian. I watched the sleeping man beside me. He looked like someone who scored on the lower half of the IQ curve even when he’s sleeping.
Idiot. I carried him into the living room and put a blanket over him.
I couldn’t put my finger on my feelings for him.
Sometimes I’d be very scornful and I’d think it would be nicer if he didn’t exist, yet sometimes I’d feel at ease letting him brush my hair bit by bit.
That day, having my self-esteem suffer from the “theory of possible white hair,” I made up my mind to seize the moment and enjoy the remaining best years of my life.
For no reason, I had wasted two weeks. I had made it a goal to live my life in wine and love, so I must race against time frivolously while my hair hasn’t turned white yet.
This time, just as I had sat down at the bar, before I could finish a glass, my luck arrived.
“Can I buy you a drink?”
I glanced at what my luck has brought me.
“Call me Lu, Lu Yu.”
I glanced at him again.
Pretty tall. Facial features, passable. It’s a pity that his looks, vibe, how he holds himself, and even his name isn’t my type. Sigh.
“Sorry,” I gave him a polite nod, turned around, and walked off.
I had only taken a step when I collided into two large gorillas with bulging chest muscles. “You, brat, need to know how to appreciate!”
No way! Triads bring their bodyguards to gay bars too?
Alright then, I should have a chat out of courtesy. Maybe sparks will fly.
In the end, there weren’t any sparks. Contrariwise, it almost burst into flames because we didn’t share any interests, hobbies, outlook on life, or favorite foods. Not one actually hit the same mark. We almost fought. If it weren’t for the two brawny bodyguards, I might have just punched him.
I realized I was wasting precious time and spread out my hands, ready to go elsewhere. Lu Yu, reluctant to let go, asked, “What’s your number?”
I randomly said one.
He actually dialed the number right front of me. He placed the phone by his ear, listened, and even said, “No dial tone. You lied to me.”
I gaped at him.
I’d seen people who were tactless, but never had I seen someone be that tactless.
“You need to know how to appreciate!” two robust men roared in unison.
Fine, fine, it’s me who doesn’t appreciate. I’m just not a triad boss, and my muscles aren’t as big. Admitting my defeat, I gave my number to break free, and then proceeded to set out on my trek to find romance.
Who knew that the triad boss would start calling every few days: asking me out to play cards, eat hotpot, watch a strip show, watch live shootings, etc. Everything you can think of. After he heard that I had stayed in the United States for some time, as soon as he called me, he would start to bark out in broken English, saying he wanted to practice speaking English.
I won’t be giving free education. No pay, no work. This is a matter of principle. It’s the same even if I was intimidated by his beefy bodyguards. And so there was an extra rather good income.
Thus the days passed. While I went through the motions with Bass, I continued to agonizingly wait for the encounter with a hottie. But with such a downright fierce, big man with me all the time, no one dared to hit on me again.
For a period of time, there were no visitors at my door, and I had no idea what was going on in the market.
Plus the fact was I couldn’t drive away this god of plague who was hindering my luck with love. He couldn’t seem to understand the meaning of the word, “rejection,” nor could he feel the blow of me slamming the phone and cursing him. What’s more, as soon as I felt like flipping the table in rage and exposing my violent tendencies, black, bottomless gun muzzles whooshed out, aimed for my head, sigh.
Luckily the boss himself was more lenient. So long as I didn’t show any intent to attack, his bodyguards wouldn’t fire their guns. And at least I can curse him out.
This kind of “passionate” dating had been dragging on for almost a month when he actually showed up at my door. I had no idea how that Bass tracked me to where I was living.
If I could hide, I’d hide, pretending no one’s home.
However, first of all, Shu Nian liked having people over. Second of all, I was also afraid that those two bodyguards would draw out their guns again and just “bang, bang,” two holes into the door. If so, repairs would need to be done afterwards. So without a choice, I could only let him in.
Luckily, when boss Bass dropped by for a visit, he actually did his best to put out the face of a good citizen. He actually brought a gift on his second visit after he had discovered Xiao Jia’s existence. With a frightening smile, he went to coax the child. Fortunately, Xiao Jia’s nerves are tougher than mine.
It should also be noted that, only after I moved into Shu Nian’s home, had I discovered that Ke Luo would regularly call once a week to chat with Shu Nian about bits and pieces of domestic life, like how the weather’s been lately. Every minute detail was reported.
I listened nearby to the chattering that oozed with an old-people feel to the point of annoyance. Xie Yan, to my surprise, was quite bighearted. He didn’t mind it.
But as for me, I was very unyielding. Despite having a definite feel that Ke Luo would call on Fridays between seven and eight at night, I would never go pick up the phone. Even if Shu Nian asked me, “Is there anything you want to say to Xiao Luo?” I would firmly, without a doubt, shake my head.
The only thing was that the length of their talk time had just a bit, slight effect on my mood that evening.
It’s difficult to describe that sort of feeling, so I called Lin Jing to delve into it.
Lin Jing said, “You feel like your heart’s being cut out?”
Bullshit, it’s not that extreme. It’s only a slight dull pain.
Once when we were honored by Bass’s presence, as Shu Nian and Ke Luo were talking on the phone, there was a loud, noisy voice in their background.
Facing the TV with an utterly wretched face and munching on popcorn, I listened through one ear to the big man talk about some recent, big business as he flung about, while I listened through the other to Shu Nian talk on the phone.
“Yeah, he’s my brother’s friend…uh-huh, right, and it’s going pretty well…yeah, it was very quick. He’s always been able to make friends fast. He’s likable….yeah, he’s become his English teacher too…uh-huh…he has a lot of friends…”
I munched on the popcorn as I thought, Shu Nian, this guy, really doesn’t get it. He should at least tell Ke Luo that I now have an admirer who’s after me and reluctant to let go, so that the brat knows I’m not a man no one wants and that passing me up is his greatest loss.
I was thinking about it when, just as I turned my head, I saw Lu Yu widen his smile at me, exposing half of his teeth.
Sigh, forget it. If I want to provoke Ke Luo, I should find one that seems like the type I’d go for.
It wasn’t until after the big man took his leave that Xie Yan said to Shu Nian, “Don’t be fooled. That man is clearly involved in triads. Lee, don’t tell me you’re being hunted down for debt? We won’t help you pay back if it’s over ten million.”
Shu Nian actually seemed to have a good impression of Lu Yu and said, “How’s it possible? I think he’s a good man. Regardless of what he does, as long as you get along well, you can be friends.”
Xie Yan embraced his beloved wife, Shu Nian, and looked at me, this brother-in-law, as he reveled in my misfortune, “Friends? It’s more like hostage to me. Be careful of being kidnapped. We won’t help pay the ransom.”
After a few days, I couldn’t keep putting off big boss Bass’s invite anymore. Along with the silent intimidation from the two huge men behind him, I agreed to meet him in the evening at a bar.
Unexpectedly, just as I walked in, I heard someone shout, “Don’t move!” And then I was tackled. In one swift movement, I was covered by a black blindfold.
Shit, no way! What did I do?! Don’t tell me Xie Yan’s jinx hit the mark! Am I going to be silenced?
I trembled with fear as I was shoved forward for a while. When I finally came to a stop, my blindfold was pulled off in the eerie silence. The hell is this red shit?! A massive bouquet of roses was presented before my eyes. I nearly fainted from the scent.
“Like it?” the triad boss asked cheerfully.
My veins popped up.
If a normal person was giving a “nice surprise,” shouldn’t he have the other person “close” his eyes?
He actually just blindfolded me!
And if he’s going to set off fireworks afterwards, was he just going to fire away his machine gun?
“If you like everything I do for you, then be mine!”
The triad boss didn’t sense the emotions churning behind my rigid face and still waited for my reaction with a card up his sleeve.
I coughed and swallowed, intending to handle him like I’d done with the hopelessly clingy people in the past—bluntly asking him to scram and go find a mirror to look at himself.
But when I worked myself up to start cursing him, I suddenly saw him overjoyed as if he was claiming an award with a look of expectation.
I looked at him and for that split second it was as if I saw myself.
Perhaps I was to Ke Luo just as this Bass was to me.
Like Ke Luo, I was unrelenting. People seem to be accustomed to being ruthless toward those who love them: indifferent toward those who tread through fire for them and treading through fire for those who are indifferent toward them.
In the past, I would only hurt the feelings of others. I never knew how it felt to be broken-hearted. My entire life I’d always had someone wait for me.
And now, I was eventually the one to wait for someone.
Having gone through it, when I thought about it, I felt that maybe I should treat those who love me better, even if it’s only a teeny bit.
I breathed in and patted his shoulder. “Thank you for the offer, but I’m sorry. I don’t suit you.”
After a stunned silence, the triad boss furiously roared, “What did you say?!”
“Nothing can be done about me not liking you. Isn’t it more insincere to keep you hanging?”
“You should know that I don’t have the slightest feeling for you. As lovers, there’ll be a day when one of us will be driven mad. Let’s be friends. If not, that’s okay too.”
After a moment, big boss Bass actually cried. A big muscular man was crying. This scene was a little unbearable for me.
But if it was Ke Luo treating me like that instead, I might have been that heart-broken. What stance did I have to mock him?
After a long while, he sobbed and said, “Then I won’t be friends with you.”
“Alright, in that case I’ll return you the money you gave.”
“We’ll have nothing do with each other from now on. I won’t practice English with you, so I should return you the money.”
Big boss Bass thought about it with reddened eyes. “Then we had better be friends.”
The man had so many faults, but he had one merit, and that was he treated me very sincerely. Because of this, I shouldn’t ridicule him without a care.
I consoled him, “Oh, there are plenty more fish in the sea! To be honest, I actually have a lot of shortcomings: I’m fickle in love, I have a bad mouth, and my intentions aren’t good. I spend money extravagantly; what’s more, I live a very promiscuous life, so maybe I have some kind of disease too. I’m not young either; I’m almost forty! You didn’t know, right? At home, I would even use masks. Shocking, right?”
I hugged him, then patted his back. “I should still return you the money, but you can come to me to practice English. I don’t charge friends.”
After that I lit a cigarette and lit one for him. I patiently sat with him until he stopped crying.
During so many years of my past, I was proud and arrogant. I had never been so nice and courteous toward a nobody, who I paid no attention to. It was probably because, at the time, I didn’t know that I played the supporting role as well.
From T City to S City, Ke Luo wasn’t completely cut off from my life. He and Shu Nian’s interwoven relationship aside, even if it’s only to discuss business affairs, Lu Feng had business relations with the Xie family, so it’s hard for the two of us to avoid bumping into each other.
And I was still staying in S City, not on an island in some corner of the earth, hunting and catching fishes. I happened to be able to prove to everyone that I didn’t leave T City to run off with my tail between my legs in defeat because I was rejected. Rather it was that I lost interest, and so, with a gracious poise, I had brushed the dirt off my shoulders and left.
“Hey, Lee, Ke Luo and the others are already here. Hurry and tidy up. Go with me to the contract signing.”
Lying on the office sofa, I grimaced at my brother-in-law. “I have a stomachache. I can’t go anymore. Ask someone else to go in my place.”
Because of Shu Nian, Xie Yan couldn’t force me to work. He had no choice but to crossly say, “Fucker, you also said that last month. Don’t tell me you have that monthly?”
Trying to avoid seeing Ke Luo was not cowardly at all. I just needed time to adjust: to restore and reinforce my defense shield.
I thought of how thick-skinned I had been, how good I was at finding pleasure, teaching young, pretty men. It had only been a couple years, and somehow I had turned into an old man who exudes the air of being down-and-out, wilted, and impoverished.
This was obviously the outcome of some kind of virus invasion going too far. I had to wait until I’d trained myself to the point of being able to exterminate the Ke virus completely, then look for him to compete.
Maybe in ten years it’ll come to a full circle and it would be my turn to give him the cold shoulder. I’d discard him like a pair of old shoes, and he’d run after me, crying and begging me to hold him. The so-called pendulum that swings back.
Anyway, until I’ve successfully trained myself, I won’t have anything to do with Ke Luo.