The 4th Room: at the 2nd line of a certain D Province, previously rented by a member of a certain art school, 1st floor, 75 square meters, two rooms, and one living room.
They went east until they arrived in D Province, Linhai (a county-level city in Taizhou of Zhejiang).
Although the city where they are currently located was considered to be inland, but the air still seemed to bring in the humidity from the ocean.
In the legend, the people here are bold and unconstrained, and the woman said to be extremely powerful. But once they really stayed here, they discovered that it had no obvious difference from any other places.
When they came to see the house, they saw a room full of plants and a goldfish left by the last tenant.
“They went abroad, and those are some of the things they couldn’t bring with them.” The honest middle-aged landlord explained, “Those two were certainly a beautiful couple that held painting classes over there during the weekend.” He pointed to one of the rooms. “I placed a door on the wall near the front of the room. If you two decide to also set up classes or have some sort of small business, it’ll be very convenient. What’s more, when you have a small business at home, people tend to turn a blind eye to it, and no taxes are required.”
Xiao Li walked into that slightly empty room. The light in there was extraordinarily bright, and at the side of the room was a counter with several lonely pencils cluttered about in a messy array. On the other side of the wall was an image of a little child—with a crown on his head—and the back view of a fox, sketched with oil paint.
“They also left that behind,” the landlord said, walking in from behind them. “If you don’t like it, cover it with paint.”
Turning around, Xiao Li’s eyes skimmed over his shoulder and met with Qi Xiu Yuan’s. In just seconds, a soft smile appeared on Qi Xiu Yuan’s lip before Xiao Li then said some words to the landlord. “We don’t mind. Did you just say how the rent was calculated?”
Qi Xiu Yuan found a job in a nearby cram school. The staff there meticulously studied his fake certificate but upon seeing no problems, a weekly salary was negotiated. Then, they printed his credentials on a publicly distributed brochure that described him as a highly experienced teacher from a certain key middle school.
Although the cram school was different from ordinary school, the working hours were exactly the same as that of the latter. That in turn, made Qi Xiu Yuan extremely busy every night and weekend.
When he was looking for a job, Xiao Li cleaned and tidied that room, and filled the counter with stationery before opening a small business.
In order to conveniently go online, Qi Xiu Yuan bought a new laptop and thoughtfully accompanied it with a tablet for Xiao Li. Aside from that, they have purchased a lot of new things, including wall decorations and small ornaments for the small fish tank.
Once, Xiao Li laughed and said, “The more we buy, the more we have. We won’t be able to carry it all the next time we leave.”
“It doesn’t matter if we can’t carry it all.” Qi Xiu Yuan looked at the oil painting on the wall and smiled. “Just like the two people that lived here before…we can leave it for the next tenant.”
As their life in D Province slowly calmed down, Qi Xiu Yuan felt an unprecedented sense of satisfaction.
In the morning, he likes going out for walks with Xiao Li. After just ten minutes, they would arrive at a small park where the elders who were doing their morning exercises greeted them with extreme friendliness.
He likes to teach Xiao Li how to use a computer, but he likes it even more that as he taught him, they would somehow bicker deliberately before swindling him toward the bedroom for some extra fun. He likes to see Xiao Li interact with art students who came into their little shop to purchase supplies. He likes Xiao Li’s earnest expression as he settled their bills; oh, that’s right, he also likes the bathroom in their new house because it was large enough to accommodate the two of them when they bathed together.
If one must find out what he is not satisfied with, it is that he and Xiao Li has yet to reach the final stage.
But, he was and is utterly patient with that as many gay couples also ‘insert’a few times in half a year. More importantly, ‘that’, does not affect their happy life together. In other words, he was not eager to go to bed with Xiao Li but instead, he was simply more eager to untangle the knots in his heart.
Many times—when they were intimate and affectionate with each other—and Qi Xiu Yuan was excited and unable to control himself, Xiao Li always showed an expression of guilt and self-loathing. He does not want those emotions to intervene between them.
He quietly felt distressed about that for a short while and looked for ways in book and online to remedy it. Even then, there were no proper answers, and no one could tell him any real solution. But, he slowly realized that in order to respectfully dissolve those knots, Xiao Li needed to have confidence in himself, have more friends, have a positive social life, and understand the regular life of a normal person.
For those that had to stay hidden, and not even dare to look for jobs that can potentially provoke a quarrel, those things listed, could not be easily accomplished (even though it could be easily said).
In the end, a bright idea suddenly struck him…he thought of a brilliant plan.
There was a place where they could make friends. Those friends would not care about their true identities or thoroughly look into their past and—at the same time—they would be considerate of their situation, give them good advice (maybe), and show them all kinds of good relations between same-sex couples.
That was the gay bar.
Qi Xiu Yuan found a local gay bar online. Although the city was considered to be a second-tier city, because of the open-minded atmosphere, there were four to five well-known locations.
After secretly noting down the addresses, Qi Xiu Yuan got ready to explore each location, one by one. He was not prepared to go with Xiao Li yet, mainly due to the fact that there were mixtures of people (characters) there. Therefore, if Xiao Li were to go and notice that the people there were questionable, and the environment was poor, Qi Xiu Yuan feared he will refuse to go out with him the next time.
On the first day, he went to a nightclub near the station. When he entered, he immediately discovered that it was a low-level place where people were only there for sexual pleasure. In the dim light, there were exposed women and men, flirtatious yet pretty-looking transvestites, secretive exchange of drugs, waiters with ill-intent and many more. All of that made him rather uncomfortable, and he quickly left after less than five minutes.
The second day, the place had very stylish decors but there were many MB (Money boy) lingering around. Qi Xiu Yuan had only sat in front of the bar for less than half an hour, and already, five individuals had immediately come to him to ask if he wanted to do it…someone had even placed their hand directly on him, touching him here and there; with just a step forward, that person’s body would have pressed against his. Qi Xiu Yuan instantly avoided him and fled out of there at the speed of light.
The third day, the placed had a much formal atmosphere. The lighting was comfortable, the environment was elegant, the waiters were quite qualified, and the guests that came in were very polite and kind.
Qi Xiu Yuan breathed a sigh of relief. After having ordered some drinks, he chatted with the bartender for a couple of minutes and asked some questions about the bar. Then he refused the bartender’s kind intention of introducing a good man to him.
“I have a boyfriend,” he said with a smile.
“Then how much you are alone? Is it only to drink?” The bartender looked at him meaningfully.
“Why do you doubt me like that, huh?” Qi Xiu Yuan answered, exposing a bright smile. “Then I’ll bring him tomorrow, and you will know.”