Proofreaders: Luzo & Red
The Rental Shop Owner epilogue
Epilogue (10 Years with Shen Bin)
I’m Shen Bin.
I’ve known Ah-ge for ten years now.
I’m twenty-eight and Ah-ge is already thirty-four, hahaha.
We’re in Shanghai now, living a good life and making a shit ton of money. We never thought ten years ago that we’d get to where we are today. Shanghai’s been developing so quick, thank god I got out early. If I stayed in there for ten years, I’d be a moldy piece of junk who doesn’t know what the hell is going on.
I didn’t know for a long time that Ah-ge wrote this thing and that it’s about us. It was the girl from the store, Ah-Fen, who told me about it!
She’s in Shanghai, too. She’s married now and her kid’s growing up too, but she’s still reading BL or whatever—the you-know-what kind. She even made a bunch of lady-friends who always come to the store acting all suspicious.
But I guess they come to look at me.
The super hot stud, duh!
We’ve been through a lot these years and Ah-ge’s still going on blind dates. Sigh.
But there’s been less and less because everyone knows he’s picky. Muma told me to talk him into lowering his expectations and told me to lower mine, too.
It’s a hard situation.
Okay, I’ll start from the top. I only have a junior high education so please bear with me here.
The year 2000, Ah-ge and I came to Shanghai together. At that time, the area around Century Park was just like the wilderness. The houses were nice but not very hospitable. We decided we couldn’t live there so we rented out the blank house and rented a place by Dongchang Road, near Yaohan. They were all old state-owned buildings, a lot like the villages back home. We were on the sixth floor. The bottom floors all had security grilles on the windows and made it look pretty much like a jail.
We rented a two room, semi-furnished, for two hundred a month. Adding on the rent from the house by Century Park, we earned about seventy bucks a month.
I learned a bit about computers when I was in the slammer, but really it wasn’t anything major. Computers change really fast. One year it was still 586 but then the next year it was Celeron and Pentium. I figured it was a good business. A computer that cost eight hundred bucks only lasts you a year or two before a newer generation comes out—it’s almost like fashion, right?
The computer section in Yaohan had just opened at the time and I first worked at a branch of a brand name store. After I got myself familiar with the place, I found a few people and started to assemble parts and sell pirated cell phones along with it. It made good dough.
Ah-ge’s luck turned for the better after meeting me, hahaha, he just doesn’t wanna admit it.
His major isn’t very hot on the market but there was the Shanghai Skilled Worker Program or whatever at the time and university grads were valuable. He was pretty good with English so he found a biotech company headquartered in Hubei with a location in Shanghai through a classmate. But at the old age he was (lol) —which was true, there’s no use giving me those looks—he only made, like, two hundred fifty dollars a month as a beginner associate. I mean, I was much better off just selling pirated phones.
But Ah-ge wasn’t interested in that. He wanted a job just to get a registry in Shanghai. I on the other hand got a blue-stamp because of the house. He worked hard for half a year before going back to his comfort zone and opening a video store here.
Shanghai is such a big place and rush hour is horrific. There’s not many people who got the time to rent videos. They usually just buy it. It’s different from how it is back home. The same goes for books and manga, too. I didn’t even know where those kids get so much cash. They’re such spenders. It wasn’t until later that I found out that the farmers in Pudong are just stinking rich. Ask anyone you see on the street and they’ll have a few houses from having their land bought out.
Ah-ge found a small store front downstairs to sell videos. The business wasn’t that great at first but somehow it boomed. He’s definitely talented in these things, haha.
It was after we lived there for a year or two when I went to collect rent that I saw a huge parade of cars heading to the new development just next door. Turns out it was a group of real estate shoppers from Wenzhou, buying out hundred-thousand-dollar houses like it was nothing.
I told Ah-ge after going home. He kept turning and tossing that night and didn’t behave in bed either. Later, he decided to sell the shops and the house back home and buy houses in Shanghai.
Haha, pretty good intuition, huh.
Ever since then, Ah-ge has been completely immersed in buying and selling property. He’d ride his stupid old bike around and about the neighbourhoods. Starting from Century Park, to Huamu, Sanlin, Yangpu and Minhang, he practically looked through every alleyway.
We made some calculations last night. We can retire ahead of time!
All in all, Ah-ge, the educated one in the family, makes a bit more than me. But he is Ah-ge after all!
Ah-Fen married a small business owner in ’02 and came to Shanghai, too, to help out at the store. Her husband and I work together with computers and the partnership is going well.
Ah-Fen is still kinda weird and wacky. Her daughter’s already three and she’s still watching inappropriate videos, all from Japan, too. Thankfully, I’m a good person and I keep her secret for her.
She always hogs the computer when she watches the store and goes on this pink-themed forum, scrolling through it endlessly every waking minute of the day (and night!). Sometimes she’d even grin with her pearly whites all showing—creepy! I think she made a few internet friends, saying that she’s getting business for the store. Then, a few girls showed up at the store. There was a master’s student too. She looked pretty cute but I don’t think Ah-ge fell for her. If he dare…hmmph! I’ll make sure he says goodbye to his little friend!
Ah, screw it. If I did that I’d suffer too. I’ll torture him. No, that’s too much. Oh well, he’ll never change anyways!
We’re the kind that’s been through hell and back!
Anyways, back to the story of those little girls, they hid it pretty well but I could tell right away. They came into the store and kept staring at me and Ah-ge.
The hell you looking at?
Ah-ge’s really slow with these things and didn’t give a damn and kept doing his research on real estate. I had to take care of my computer business too, so I had to go. Surprisingly, two of them followed me!
Am I that hot?
When I got to the computer section, the girls asked me for fake Samsung phones while staring at my neck without even blinking. I thought I must’ve had something on my neck.
They kept looking until I felt a bit creeped out. But you see, I’ve started a new life for so long and my temper got a lot better. I went to the restroom to look in the mirror and it turned out I had a red mark on my collarbone. It’s all Ah-ge, kissing me like crazy the previous night.
I was a bit weirded out.
What’s going on in the girls’ heads nowadays? Thank god I didn’t have to marry one.
After, the girls came to hang out a lot and we got to know each other. A few of them are pretty close with Ah-ge, always discussing some writing. I felt a bit down and wondered what Ah-ge was writing behind my back.
But honestly, I’ve thought through it. I might say I’m gonna do this and that if he had a change of hearts, but I’m just a damned nobody while he’s the only son of the Qian family. Muma and Jiye (godfather) both really want to have a grandchild.
If a girl is what it takes, I’d be okay with that, really…
I brought this up the other day and Ah-ge’s face just went sour.
He turned into a monster at night and I couldn’t even get up the next morning. Do not try this at home, kids.
My Ah-ge is very fierce to start with. He might look skinny and he might be shorter than me, but he dared go up against Brother. Of course, it was for me…
I’ll always remember.
I’ll be with someone who’d do that for me for as long as I’m alive.
So I gotta live on and listen to him, not go down the wrong path, not fight and not curse—be the model gay man of the new century.
Even if he gets married. I won’t complain.
His son will be my son.
But I won’t tell him this. I’ll just keep it inside.
He always says that love is dedication. If he got married while liking me, that’d be unfair for the girl.
I’m happy when I hear that. There’s actually tons of people out there who has a mistress or maybe two or three or four mistresses. Ah-ge is one of the last men on earth. A real man.
I was right about him.
My intuition is much better than Ding Hongmei, I mean, my ma.
We’re bringing Muma and Jiye to Shanghai for New Year’s this year. Lin Dongfu and the gang are coming too.
It’s actually been ten years.
So much has happened in ten years, but it seems fast to me, a lot faster than the eighteen years before that. I just feel joy and happiness everyday. I haven’t forgotten about the past—being bullied and killing people—but it has really just passed by.
And it’ll just keep passing by.
Lin Dongfu, the little shit, he stopped selling motorcycles and started selling Japanese cars back home and made a ton of money. He who used to do the worst in school actually got married with a teacher from the provincial high. An English teacher! And the other guys, one of them opened a poultry shop and another is driving for a long-distance coach service. All are doing pretty good.
I really like watching a few of the rated films that Ah-ge has. I can’t pronounce the names but they’re awesome. It’s like reliving the days of my youth.
In the last ten years, Ah-ge’s idol jumped down from the twenty-fourth floor and Ah-ge started a gay blog as is the popular trend. But I’m not gay, I just like Ah-ge.
After so many years, I wrote a short epilogue for the New Year’s.
Because Shen Bin is the narrator, I became a bit wordy and couldn’t describe things that well.
The two are very happy.
Author’s note (2015)
I never knew that there was someone who was translating danmei novels for people outside the country. I wonder how my words sound translated into English, but nonetheless, I feel very honoured. This story was not published like my other works but this is also the story that is based on my home, on the people around me, and on the true Jiangnan of China. I hope those who read this short story written by this small author can get to know more about this place. I believe that love, in fact, has no boundaries in this world of ours. May you all find happiness.
ayszhang: Aaaaaand, that brings The Rental Shop Owner to a close! :D Thank you all for the support. Special thanks to Anon-san, again, for the beautiful cover <3 Bye~ until the next story~
The Rental Shop Owner - English Translation by ayszhang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.