Quality Check: Isalee
First Published on Chaleuria
Justin’s body moved on reflex. He dodged, assuming that Gao Zhun would attack him out of desperation. But he was wrong: Gao Zhun merely turned the blades on his own tie and began cutting away at the silk with weak, shivering hands. Unfortunately, the edges had dulled with age. If not for the weight of the blades, it would have been impossible even to nick the surface of his tie.
Justin gaped at him, watching in disbelief as Gao Zhun continued his pathetic struggle with the useless antique in his grasp. “Sir…” Releasing his hold on the tie, Justin leaned forward to try to take the shears out of Gao Zhun’s hands. Yet, the older man hung on to them with every bit of strength left in him, refusing to let go. Unable to tell whether he was stung by guilt or gutted by heartache, Justin hollered in distress, “Sir! Stop cutting!”
Gao Zhun’s head shot up in panic. A pair of sculptor’s hands loomed before him, lean and strong, with distinct joints and defined sinews. They seized his shears in a flash, dismantled the blades with ease, and thrust the metal pieces tip-down into the floor with a thud. “Sir…” Justin pressed his lips together in misery and seemed to sniffle a little. “I’m just in love with you…” He really was just a child. Wiping his eyes on the sleeve of his suit jacket, he knelt on the floor with his arms around Gao Zhun’s waist. Burying his face against the older man’s belly, he sobbed, “I’m sorry, Sir… so sorry!”
Gao Zhun parted his lips and drew a ragged breath. His hair, spread loose on the floor, was dirty now. He wanted to get up, but Justin clung to him like a crestfallen dog or cat, making it impossible for him to move at all. “You get up first.”
Justin did not dare to release Gao Zhun; the young man did not even have the courage to look him in the eye. “I’ll get up if you say you’ll forgive me…”
Gao Zhun hated bargaining. “Will you get up or not?” he asked, his tone cold and sharp. Knowing the older man’s temper, Justin got to his feet without another word. Despite his height, he looked meek and subdued as he hung his head and awaited his verdict with unease. Gao Zhun only had two words for him: “Get out.”
Justin did not want to leave just yet. “Are you…” he asked, discomfited, “in that kind of relationship with him?”
Gao Zhun’s expression darkened at once. Bristling with the hostility of a thorny bloom or a hook-beaked bird, he lashed out with his brilliant, sensitive plumage aflutter. “Get out!”
Justin started heading for the door at last. Gao Zhun kept a close watch on the younger man, and was only truly relieved when he heard the clear snap of the lock turning in the door. Instead of leaving, however, Justin lingered in the doorway as if he was unwilling to go. “Sir…” he entreated in a small, humble voice, “can you please consider me, just a little…?”
Gao Zhun did not want to spare him even a single look. Forcing down his fear and disgust, he turned his back on the young man. A very long while later, the door clicked shut at last behind Gao Zhun. As soon as he opened his eyes, he saw the wreckage on the floor. Lying amidst the scattered markers and shears was a pink, unopened condom. He closed his eyes again, but there was no stopping the returning wave of terror within him.
Fear, long rooted in his flesh and bones, crept up Gao Zhun’s ankles and spread all over his body. He rushed to lock the door. Then, doubling back to his table, he snatched up his phone and dialed a long string of numbers from memory. Cradling the receiver in his hands, he waited while anxiety burned in his gut. When Gao Zhun heard that the phone on the other end was switched off, he called another number, a landline. His call was answered after several rings.
“Hello?” It was his voice, the voice that Gao Zhun wanted to hear the most. Tears streamed down his face, and his voice died in his throat. He could not speak a single word for a long time, but the man on the other end recognized him with ease on a single hunch: “Mr. Gao?” Though Gao Zhun did not respond, the man lowered his voice in the next breath, sounding muffled as if he had covered the receiver with a hand. “I’m sorry, Mr. Liu. I need to return an urgent call. It should take about five minutes. I’ll make up the time for you when I return.” The call ended, and Gao Zhun’s phone started ringing a short interval later. He picked up the call at once.
“What happened?” Fang Chi asked in a voice taut with urgency.
Gao Zhun struggled to sound calm. “Pick me up after work, please?”
Fang Chi did not probe much besides asking, “Are you alright?” Since Gao Zhun replied in the affirmative, he returned just as briefly, “Wait for me.” Yet, right before Gao Zhun was about to hang up, Fang Chi added, “Keep yourself safe. If you’re scared, then…” After a brief pause, he concluded with a soft whisper, “… think of me.”
Fang Chi arrived half an hour ahead of time. Gao Zhun was a lot more comfortable getting into the Volvo this time, but he kept up his pretenses. Feigning fear, he got Fang Chi to fasten his seat belt for him. In the brief moment taken to pull down the strap and latch it in place, Gao Zhun brushed his dry lips across Fang Chi’s cheek. Fang Chi, on the other hand, studied him up close. Sweeping his gaze over those reddened eyes, nose, lips, and ears, he could tell that they were all flushed for different reasons – some from shyness, and some from crying. “Justin?” he asked.
A sense of unease swept over Gao Zhun’s features. “I’ve settled it. Everything’s fine.”
“I need details.” Fang Chi hit the left-turn signal and turned the steering wheel. The car glided along the driveway and turned into a lane on the street.
Gao Zhun gripped the hem of his jacket with both hands. “He… was just like how he’s always been. I’ve already told him off.” Knowing that the other man was not telling the truth, Fang Chi maintained a displeased silence. Gao Zhun added in a hurry, “But I also arranged for him to go on a trip. He’ll be gone by tomorrow.”
Upon hearing the information, Fang Chi’s expression softened. “Where’s he going?”
“Zurich, to work on market expansion.”
“When will he be back?”
“Probably in a week. Maybe two.” Gao Zhun peeped at Fang Chi’s expression. Sensing that the other man was still unsatisfied, he continued, “There’s no fixed duration really. It can be extended if needed.”
Fang Chi drove very fast, and the car tore along the road at a reckless speed that was uncharacteristic of him. While overtaking other vehicles, there were several times when he even came close to grazing the cars to the right. Gao Zhun stared at the windshield with nervous eyes. “Are you… angry with me?” he asked tentatively.
These seemed to be the exact words that Fang Chi had been waiting to hear, as if he had been waiting all along for Gao Zhun to soothe his temper and make it better. Fang Chi’s mood lifted a little. The car slowed down. “We’ll cancel the session for today. I’ll take you somewhere to wind down.”
Fang Chi’s choice of location was still a dance club. Unlike “Blackpool,” it was a huge studio that specialized in street dance. As he led the way into the club, the pair was overwhelmed by the deafening noise of feverish whistling and crazed music blasting from the speakers. Dancers wearing headbands twisted and flipped through the air before mirrors while the viewing area seemed packed to the maximum with visitors. “Why is it so crowded today?” Fang Chi asked a passing staffer.
“Open House!” They both had to raise their voices in order to be heard. “It’s Thanksgiving1 the day after tomorrow, and there’s a special show tonight!”
Tightly, Fang Chi held on to Gao Zhun’s hand as they navigated through the crowd. Gao Zhun returned the grip. Despite the huge number of people around him, he was not afraid in the least. Upon finding a good spot, Fang Chi pulled Gao Zhun against his chest. Encircling the other man with his arms, Fang Chi asked, “Is this alright for you?” Gao Zhun responded with only a nod, but the heat within him was hitting a boiling point. No matter how gorgeous and sexy the youths and dancers were, none of them could attract him more than the warm chest against his back. All of his being was bound to Fang Chi’s every breath and every move; they were all he could care about. Nothing else mattered.
Suddenly, all the lights went out without warning. A moment of dead silence followed, but it was soon replaced by roaring chants and thunderous applause. Strobing lights flashed across the room. When the main lights came on again, a group of twenty-odd dancers appeared in the middle of the dancefloor. All of them wore backwards baseball caps. All of them were men. A countdown began blasting from the speakers. In a single coordinated move, the dancers ripped off their shirts in unison, displaying the full glory of their sculpted muscles. Waistbands of fancy underwear peeked out from the tops of their low-hanging jeans. Armed with body mists, staffers rushed onto the floor to spritz their bulging bodies with fine sheens of water. The women in the crowd went wild.
In the midst of frenzied screams, the countdown ended, “…Three! Two! One!” Altogether, the dancers relaxed, fell forward onto the floor, and propped their bodies up with their forearms as if they were preparing to plank. Then, “Håll om mig” by Nanne Grönvall2 boomed from the speakers. Although Gao Zhun did not have much interest in gimmicky shows, he was dumbfounded as soon as the dancers started to move: twenty-odd narrow waists flexed to a set rhythm, asses dipping with every roll of the hips; some even jerked in time with quickened thrusts. The performers’ actions were nothing but unabashed imitations of sexual acts. Next to Gao Zhun was a pair of girls in their early twenties, looking very sweet in their makeup, cardigans, and white dresses. Stoked by the performance before them, they covered their faces in excitement and squealed, “Oh my god! Dog-thrusting!”3
Dog-thrusting. This was the first time Gao Zhun had heard of such an expression. All of a sudden, he was no longer able to look in the direction of the dancefloor. Almost at the same time, Fang Chi tightened his embrace and pushed his own lower body forward, making the hardness at his crotch evident. “Shall we go home?” he muttered into Gao Zhun’s ear.
Consent was a matter of course; feeling the heat of Fang Chi’s breath on his skin, Gao Zhun gave in without a word. As they cruised through the traffic in Fang Chi’s Volvo, Gao Zhun wondered at surrealness of the situation. He never thought that he would ever share a ride with a fully aroused man while waiting, desperately, for that man to push him down in bed and play with his ass.
Back at the apartment, they turned on the lights. Standing at the entrance, Gao Zhun removed his shoes. Keeping close to him, Fang Chi started undressing himself. Then, without knowing how it happened, their lips sought out one another. They came together in a real kiss, hot and searing as if they were on fire. Tongue curled against tongue. Teeth ground against teeth. Over and over again, Gao Zhun moaned into the kiss. Every nasal mewl sounded so fond, so needy, that Fang Chi rushed to grab Gao Zhun by the belt.
“Go… to the bed…” Shuddering from the force of Fang Chi’s pull, Gao Zhun groped around on the wall for the light switch. After finding the button at last, it took him several tries before he flicked it off with success. “I want….”
In the pitch-black darkness, Fang Chi yanked down Gao Zhun’s underwear. “What do you want?”
“That thing from just now…” Gao Zhun’s voice sounded soft and indistinct, like it had been swallowed by the night. “Dog-thrusting…”
Fang Chi did not answer this time. Gao Zhun, limp and intoxicated, suddenly felt himself lifted by the waist and carried deeper into the night.
- Thanksgiving in China: Although it is not as widely celebrated in China as Christmas, Thanksgiving is a relatively well-known foreign holiday in China. It is generally considered as a day for expressing thanks to the people close to one, such as friends, family, colleagues, teachers, superiors at work, etc.
- “Håll om mig” by Nanne Grönvall: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmuBxhYBO8s
- Dog-thrusting: The literal translation for the original text 公狗腰 would be ‘male dog waist.’ It is a colloquial and somewhat crude term for describing the ideal X-shaped male body, since canine bodies are similarly shaped (broad chest, narrow waist, taut hips).
- Although the expression ‘male dog waist’ is primarily used to describe a body shape, it is also used to describe the sexual prowess associated with such well-toned, powerful bodies. The comparison to a ‘male dog’ is meant, in part, to evoke images of dogs in heat.
- Since there is no direct equivalent in English for this term, I have chosen to translate the expression by combining the image with some contextual explanation.