Proofreaders: krabbykabbi, Luzo, Pau, & Red
The Rental Shop Owner ch 11, 12 & 13
He turned up at my door early next morning. Not only did he come back, he came back injured. He was wearing a jacket in the middle of summer and had his shoulder and arm wrapped up in bandages.
“Bodyguards, yannoe, gotta get hurt every now and then.” He made it sound like nothing.
I stared into his eyes, those shiny, black eyes.
I really wanted to ask—what kind of bodyguard is he because don’t security guards usually just stalk around in their uniform so how did he get hurt so easily and why did they have to get him who was out of town to go and how did he come back so fast and is this even a legitimate company—but I did not want him to think that I didn’t trust him.
My major was kind of related to biology but we did not need to dissect white lab rats or look at red lumps in formaldehyde. I saw some red seeping out from the white dressing and although I did not know if it was blood or disinfectant, my heart started clenching. It felt just like the time in junior high when my old lady was diagnosed with uterine cancer.
“I’m fine, really.”
He held my hand with his uninjured left one and told me that they needed someone at Wuxi so they asked him to lead the team to protect an entrepreneur from the Northeast doing business in Wuxi. Maybe the man had enemies because they ran into trouble on their way to Shanghai.
“Those people were way too trashy. I mean they had watermelon knives. Goddamn, they seemed so legit too. I finished them all with my baton before my guys even acted.” And he got cut on the arm, not too deep though.
“Heh, the boss was a good guy though. Paid for all the medical expenses and gave me a week off with pay, too!”
“I’m fine, ge, I’m fine.”
I must have looked really bad.
Could you not work for that security company? Couldn’t you find a normal job like Lin Dongfu?
But I couldn’t say that. How could I? He wasn’t the same as Lin Dongfu and them. He had gone behind bars for killing someone. He could never be the same.
And it was my fault.
But, but you promised me that you wouldn’t go down the wrong path! This is not a good path, is it?
Or was I just too damn naïve even after my twenty-something years on earth?
I fixed my expression. “You rest in the shop. I got to go home for lunch but I’ll be back right after with yummy food for you.” I did not know he would be back so I promised my ma to eat lunch with some relatives who came from the country.
Immediately, he pouted. I pinched his cheeks. “Be a good boy!” I said as if I was talking to a kid, a kid who had gotten cut and beat a whole bunch of people up.
Fortunately, Ah-Fen was watching the new shop while I stayed at the old shop by myself. I closed the shop when I headed home, leaving him inside to sleep. However, we were very close with the other shop owners nearby so it was only a matter of time before my mom caught wind of him.
Perhaps I was not meant for big things because I could not get my nerves to settle down during the meal. My responses to the questions of the aunts and cousins from the country were utterly garbled nonsense and soon I gave them the excuse that something came up at the shop so I could leave. On my way out, I passed by the kitchen, tore off the two fat drumsticks from the chicken that had been stewing for a whole day, grabbed a few marinated pork feet and stir-fry veggies, poured some chicken soup and scooped out some rice. I remembered my ma saying that eating soy sauce while healing would leave a dark scar but none of these looked like it had soy sauce so it should be fine. Eating eggs caused infections but did eating chicken also? I wasn’t too sure but he could not go wrong with eating the part that was injured.
The brat still could not move his right arm. He could only have either the drumstick or the soup in his left hand but he also wanted to eat the pork feet and have some rice. He was so frustrated he was clawing at his hair.
I sniggered. “Is it good?”
“Mmm, delish.” He couldn’t speak clearly with a mouthful of drumstick.
I did not know what he liked but my mom was a good cook. I doubted prison food could even come close.
I held the chicken soup up for him and then fed him the rice and stripped the meat off of the pork feet. Oh boy, was he delighted. He outright dropped everything in his hand while beaming brighter than the sun. He ate until his mouth was all oily and shiny and he burped from being stuffed, but he still said he wanted to eat.
You just want me to feed you, right? You spoiled brat.
I cleaned up the table and he fell asleep on the cot. There were dark circles under his eyes. He had not slept last night and had come straight to my place after getting treated at the hospital. Must have been hard on him.
Wow. I mean I had thought not long ago that everything was over between us, that anything he did would have nothing to do with me.
How did we come to where we were today?
I felt guilty and sympathy towards him. I liked him. Did I do it with him because of that?
So was this how things were going to be from now on? He goes out and gets into danger—he might be a “bodyguard” but who really knew what would happen? —while I get worried at home. The more I thought about it the more it seemed like he was the big gangster and I was his wife, like Andy Lau and Suki Kwan, in those Hong Kong movies. Ahhh, what was I thinking about? I hid my head in my arms.
I just closed the shop, turned the TV on and stared at it for a whole afternoon. By the time he woke up, I had already brought dinner back.
With the previous experience, he merely looked at the food in front of him like a poor puppy, not even bothering to move his left hand.
Sighing, I fed him. I bet he wished he could be injured forever.
Oh, did I have to wipe him down and change his diaper too? Lai Yiu-fei enshrined Ho Po-wing but Lai Yiu-fei was the one on top and today, I-I had to… OMG!
As expected, after plenty of sleep and food, the brat tried to satisfy his remaining needs, nagging me to come to bed with a crooked smirk on his face.
I was still a bit scared even though I had already prepared lubricant ahead of time.
“C’mon!” He could not even wait another moment. “We agreed on this. You gotta keep your word!”
I hissed back, “Stop fussing. I have to take off my clothes, don’t I?” I flung off my tee and pants and, after a moment’s hesitation, my underwear, too, before standing in front of him.
“Your waist’s so skinny. And your skin’s so white.” Just look at him, drooling. That little pervert. My little pervert.
“Are we doing this or not?” I glared at him.
The fucking bastard took advantage of me with his injured arm as the excuse, making me lie down, then making me go on all-fours after I lied down and then making me stick my butt up after I got on all-fours. On the account that he was so selfless last time, I did it accordingly no matter how awkward or embarrassed I felt. But after I stuck my butt up, he slapped me, saying I didn’t stick it high enough…
Ahhhh! Objection! Foul! This position…this position… I mean the lights weren’t even out yet. My cheeks were burning.
“Are you done?” My voice even became hoarse.
“Hehe,” he snickered. “It’s ‘kay, ge, I’mma make you feel a-mazing.”
Being a young buck like him, he was still able to give me hell while wounded. Too bad for little old me.
At first, it would not go in so he asked me to reach back and spread it myself.
“Oh, c’mon, ge. You gotta work with me here. Not my fault you’re so damn tight.”
Hearing him begging me like that, I… I actually gave in and did it.
Ahhhh! Putting lubricant did nothing at all. It hurt like a bitch. All damn rapists need to be fucking hung, I say.
However, he was a little better than me.
“Only a lil’?”
Okay, okay. I admit he was a lot better. After a while, it actually got better and I was kind of feeling it. I even came from his double-sided attack.
We were both sticky with sweat and he was hugging me and kissing my neck. I was so exhausted I could not keep my eyes open. I heard him saying in my ears, “You’re so good to me, ge. I’mma let you fuck me, ge. I don’t even care if you screw me to death.”
No one wants you to die. How could I bear to see that? You just like to talk nonsense, kiddo.
He was very energetic—probably got plenty of sleep in the afternoon—and started talking to me with me in his arms.
“Ya know, ge, Ding Hongmei’s the only other person other than you who was ever good to me. I used to hate her guts at one point. She didn’t know how to do shit and picked the shittiest men. Now that I think ‘bout it, she still had some good left in her, pawning her necklace to get me that VCD player. If not for that player I wouldn’t’ve known ya. After I got locked up, she came to see me with some fruits and she even said she went to ask you for forgiveness. The way she looked though, she prolly got thrown out by your peeps.”
The more he said the more downcast he got but I figured it was better for him to let it out.
“I was actually so glad she found out she got cancer. I wondered why she even gave birth to me. I mean, I came into this world to get looked down on. Even my teachers rolled their eyes at me. No one played wit’ me. Not even my relatives gave a fuck. Ya know, my grades were actually pretty damn good when I first started junior high.” He suddenly paused. “But she was just a fucking whore. Couldn’t live without a man, could she? I… I…” He clung onto my shoulder for his life. “Why the fuck should I go to school? She wanted me to so I didn’t. Fuck school. I was just trash anyways. They’d just look down on me anyways.”
He held my shoulder so hard that it hurt and his voice cracked more and more. I hugged his head. “Binbin, Binbin…” Just let it out.
Tears fell on my arm and dripped down my chest. It just kept dripping and dripping. He was shaking but I did not hear anything.
“Look at you. I let you fuck me and you end up crying. That’s it. No more for you!” I attempted to joke as he began to calm down.
“I’m fine.” He sniffed. “She’s dead already; nothin’ left of her. She never got it good. She’d pass by the mall and stare at the perfume but never got the money to buy it. They used to say she was pretty but you know how it all turned out…”
“You were always on my mind when I was locked up.”
He burst out laughing for some reason.
“You obviously didn’t wanna rent me anythin’ but you’d still give it to me every time. And you were holdin’ that stupid drawer that day and you even fought with me.” His recollection really rubbed me the wrong way but I probably had been really silly.
“And you stalked me to the court. You looked more worried than I was when he announced the sentence. And that one time in prison, stupid ol’ you said you didn’t bring anything for me and told me to study hard. The C.O. told me I had to listen to you.”
He would not stop cackling.
“Then why do you like me if I’m so stupid?” I asked gravely.
“’Cause you’re a good person, duh.” He reached down to my crotch and grabbed it. “Even better down here.”
Oh, come on.
“Hear me out, Binbin, why don’t you quit this security job and come back? I’m worried.”
He did not make a sound as he concentrated on his handiwork. When he finally did, he said, “I don’t wanna be looked down on but I ain’t gonna do nothing bad.”
But it’s not like not doing bad things would keep you safe. But before I could say it, he began round two. I really had to hand it to him. Through all the crying and laughing, he never forgot to fuck his ge.
Oh yeah lol. I’ve said, I haven’t written sad stories, I don’t write any now and I won’t write any in the future.
I welcome everyone to look for discrepancies. Wrote this in a rush so there probably is a lot of errors. Feel free to give me any opinions or hopes for what kind of ending you want after reading this. I will take it into consideration and alter accordingly. It won’t be much more until the ending.
Binbin had a seven-day break but we couldn’t be together.
I had to watch the shop in the day and this kind of business had no day-off to speak of. Normally, I would think that it was cool being able to do business and watch stuff at the same time but now I felt trapped. I couldn’t always stay at the shop at night and Ah-Fen would come to take over my shift which meant that I had to eat dinner with my parents back home.
He, on the other hand, could only hole up in the back room and rummage through my stash of manga there because I didn’t want people seeing him in the shop. If he really could not handle it, he would frolic about at his buddies’ places. However, whenever I went back home at night, he would make a puffy face and ignore me starting from dinnertime, making my legs feel as heavy as lead, as if I would be a big asshole if I left.
Yeesh, dating was seriously hard. I used to worry that I would bring shame upon my parents if word got out but now I was more stressed about not being able to cling to him every second of the day and be lovey-dovey.
Why was it so hard being gay???
After seven days of suffering, I decided to buy a house and get my own den.
People really change when they are dating. I had been prepared to stick this life out as a single hermit and when I got old I would be an old hermit. I would live in my parent’s small, two-storey house and after I see them off and become immobile myself, I would sell the house and move to a nursing home. Buying a house was something I had never even considered. Even the money I saved each month was confiscated by my ma for wedding funds.
My ma said during New Year’s that I had six, seven thousand in the bank. It would be enough for the down payment, right?
Once I made up my mind, I settled on a two-roomer at a new development near my shop: fourth floor, downtown area, two hundred and twelve per square meter, seventy-eight point seven squares, seventeen thousand in total including all the extra fees and stuff. The salesperson was especially enthusiastic, probably had never seen another person as straightforward as me, and calculated the mortgage for me down to the cent: sixty-five hundred down payment and two hundred monthly.
I could afford it.
When I went back to ask my mom for the money, oh boy was she delighted. Her son was growing up and knew that he had to prepare a home for a family. No girl was going to marry a man with no house! I told her, it wasn’t like that, but she wouldn’t hear a word of it as she clamoured about something like inspecting the house for me, checking the fengshui and haggling for a better deal. She even said that she would pay the remaining ten thousand. In the words of my ma, what do you mean, mortgage? Us Qians aren’t so poor that we need to owe money.
Luckily, my dad stopped her with a roar: Our son’s hitting thirty. He can spend his own hard-earned money. You’ve got no business sticking your nose in, woman!
With the keys in hand, I went into my very own den. I installed lighting and activated the hydro. I bought a big, two-person bed and brought over some of my things from home. I moved in on the same day.
There was a thousand or so left in my savings. Without further hesitation, I bought a Lenovo and a cell phone.
I called him and was so excited that I couldn’t speak.
“What’s up? Ge, speak up!”
“W-we have a home now.” It just rushed out of my mouth.
“You know, the new development when you take a left turn from my old shop. Sixty-seven, suite 402. I bought a big bed too. The bed sheet is blue, super soft. We don’t have to be hobo lovers anymore. I bought a computer too. You studied that before right…”
I said so much but I did not hear anything from the other end. I had made him cry again.
Only after we hung up did I realise that I didn’t tell him I was calling from my cell.
The rascal was super busy the following months. No breaks. Cell phone was always off, too.
Looking at the new home made me feel downcast. I did not have a good time if he was not there. I couldn’t cook that well either, so I ended up going back to my parents’ place.
Was I being too naive?
The sound of him gasping for air was still echoing in my ears.
What was he doing? Fighting and killing people? He gave me a few calls but he never talked about his job. He just kept saying, it’s good, everything is good, don’t worry about him and he’ll be back when he gets time. How could I not worry? My heart practically flew to Shanghai. However, I was actually quite busy with three shops to run. I did not even have time to stock up on merchandise and had to pre-order it and get it delivered.
Time usually passed super duper fast for me but during those months, a day felt like a year.
Bored out of my mind, I started using the computer.
And I became a netizen by the end of 2000.
Not long after I went online, I read Beijing Story. I had already read all of the BL novels and seen all the gay films in the shop but those were all from outside of Mainland China. The only legitimate Chinese-made gay film had to be West Palace, East Palace—super dark.
I did not get a wink of sleep that night.
I missed him like crazy.
You and I would never be like that! Never!
I even went on a website for gay people.
Even though I was one, I had never been in the circle. It was as if there were only the two of us in the entire world. All of a sudden, the circle was right there. Gay meet-ups were all over the place in Wuxi and Suzhou, let alone Shanghai.
He was 183 centimetres tall, good-looking, young, strong and in Shanghai.
I realised I was starting to feel self-conscious.
And I missed him even more.
He did not come back for the National Day break either. As November was approaching, I could no longer wait. Without telling him, I closed the shop and raced for Shanghai. I only called him when I got off the train.
Doo-doo-doo—he only picked up the call after what seemed like half a century. He sounded more surprised than happy when I told him I came to Shanghai, but he came right away to pick me up.
He had become a lot thinner and had bluish stubble on his chin. But, luckily, his eyes were still black and shiny and seemed to be able to pierce two holes through my face when they looked at me.
I could not help but kick him. How can you not come back to see your ge, you heartless devil.
He just chuckled at me and gave me a bear hug.
I had not seen him for three months. He became sturdier and there was something different about him…more ferocious.
I didn’t like it. I was even a bit afraid.
He told me that he was really busy being an around-the-clock bodyguard. He had zero personal time and had to cut off all connections to the outside world most of time.
“And you’re going to keep doing this?” While I stay in my boudoir back home by myself?
He pursed his lips. “Well, no, but I’ve got no choice now. I gotta do it.” Seeing my silence, he put on a softer tone and made an apologetic face. “But ge, this is my job. I thought you wanted me to study hard and aim for the top? C’mon, don’t be mad, please?”
I was so angry that I couldn’t say anything. Say, I think this job of yours isn’t proper, it’s bad news. I don’t want you hustling around in Shanghai. I don’t want to lose sight of you. I’d rather you come back and help me with my small business. I bought a house too… But I couldn’t say anything.
Who was I to tell him what to do? I was just a nobody. I turned tails and left. I was going home.
“Ge.” He grabbed my hand. I shook it off.
“Ge!” He hugged me around the waist from behind, not paying heed to the crowded train station.
“What’re you doing?! Let go!” I yelled.
I was about to become a dissatisfied, nagging husband. Do you know how free and happy I used to be? Now I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t eat. I would look in the mirror and I’d see him, Shen Bin. I was going fucking insane from lovesickness.
Oh, but he was fine. He was fine! Like nothing was bothering him while I…
“Ge, don’t be like this.” I was about to break in half at the waist. People were beginning to notice us. “I-I… I miss you so much. I just miss you so much. I-I can’t help it. I miss you so much I’m lovesick. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I see you when I look in the mirror. Really.” His voice gradually became quieter, sounding quite pitiful. “I was too scared to call a lot ‘cause I was scared I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from going back to see you. Ge, please don’t do this. It-it isn’t on purpose…”
The moment the hot air from his words brushed my ear I lost any will to fight and instead, my heart felt warm and fuzzy. My cheeks started burning too. Not even God could help me now.
People are stupid and self-degrading, especially those who are in love.
He hailed a taxi and took me to his dorm.
It was not far. He called it a dorm but actually it was one of the rooms in a two-room apartment. It was not fully furnished but it had a boiler and an air conditioner.
He bit me once we went into the room.
“You meanie, tryna leave when you just got to Shanghai. Meanie.”
I had built up some resistance and my little friend was hard. I bit him, too. I’ll bite the hell out of you.
Then it went from biting to kissing.
Wait, the rascal was missing a tooth. But now wasn’t the time to ask. His hand slid into my pants…
Then we tumbled onto the bed, got stark naked and fucked like rabbits. We even forgot to eat. We forgot it all.
We were sprawled out on the bed, exhausted. He put his head on my shoulder and soon I lost feeling in that arm. But I bore with it because he was behaving so well.
He got new injuries and even lost a tooth.
“If you keep this up for another six months or so, you’re going to be like me.”
“Hmm?” He asked as he gnawed on the tender spot under my arm.
“I got twenty-eight teeth. You will, too.”
“You out of all people!” He snapped to attention and sat up, taking out a false tooth and holding it in front of my nose.
“You knocked this out. Where’s my compensation?” He even crinkled his nose at me like a difficult child.
Never knew my punch was that awesome! Hahaha!
I laughed so hard that my stomach hurt and I almost died from the wrath of his fists.
“Don’t you need to guard someone around-the-clock today?”
“I shall accompany thee at the cost of mine life.”
Whoa, the punk knew to use proverbs.
I actually felt a bit downcast after having sex. Living in two different places was no good.
He lied on top of me. “Ge, I’ll take care of myself and I’ll go back when I have time.”
“Who’s the client you’re protecting?” I slapped his butt.
Did all the bodyguards of rich people suffer this much?
“Some of them are gang bosses.” His voice dropped much lower and he watched me for my reaction.
How could I react? This was actually my best guess. “You’re just their bodyguard?”
“Uh-huh.” He nodded furiously. “Just the bodyguard. I don’t do anythin’ bad. Really. Believe me.” He looked like a sorry puppy.
Of course I believe you. Who else will?
But I… I was worried. I was honestly going to have nightmares where he gets stabbed through the chest and I would wake up shouting and fussing in the night. I was scared. But I couldn’t say it. I was his ge.
I did not stay in Shanghai for long. He had the boss hunting him down just because he closed his phone for twelve hours or so, and he ended up dropping me off at the train station the next day.
I thought his eyes were watery when the train left the station, as if he was never going to see me again.
Screw it, I thought, I’ll pawn the shops, sell the house and move to Shanghai.
Love really made you crazy.
He suddenly called me before I could pawn my shops.
“Ge, I have something to do. Don’t look for me. I’m gonna turn my phone off.” His voice was pressed very low. “I’ll contact you. Take care.” His call came out of nowhere and he hung up before I could speak.
I didn’t know what to do. The line wouldn’t go through when I tried to call back. Half a month went by in a flash. I waited for his call everyday but none came.
I went to Shanghai again and it turned out that VM Security had shut down. Someone else was living in his dormitory. It was as if Shen Bin never came to Shanghai. And his phone went from “The number you have dialed is currently unavailable” to “The number you have dialed is out of service.”
Lin Dongfu and the gang didn’t know what was going on either.
It was then that I recalled his last look at the train station. Was it really the last time he was going to see me?
My heart started pounding—boom-boom-boom.
Chinese Proverbs 101
The story goes that Zuo and Yang became close friends and they decided to see King Zhuang of Chu (? - 591 BCE). The winter was harsh and the two did not have enough to survive. Zuo gave all of his clothing and food to Yang so that his friend may reach their destination, and went into the woods to commit suicide. This is where the proverb that Shen Bin used came from. It literally means "giving (my) life (to) accompany (a) gentleman," and used to express the behaviour of risking one's all to accompany or follow someone.
*** Also, another note: every "New Year's" that is mentioned in this story refers to the Lunar New Year's, which was on January 26th in the year 2001. This date varies year by year but does not fall on the Solar New Year, January 1st.
ayszhang: Sorry for the late release. As some of you may know, I've been a bit lazy lately (that, and school orz) >_< and before I knew it, Sunday was coming and I hadn't even sent the chapters to the proofreaders yet! So I pushed the release date back. orz
The Rental Shop Owner - English Translation by ayszhang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.