Chapter 7: Arc 1 – Rurul Love 7 – If This is Not a Sickness, Then What is it?
When Li Gen appeared, Huang Dan had not slept yet. He was in the courtyard enjoying the cool air. He had already discovered the regular pattern; enter the house to sleep after 10 pm and it would be much cooler.
Before ten o’clock, even if he wanted to sleep, he wouldn’t be able to. His back would be so hot like it was Mars.
Being born and raised in the village, one would get accustomed to the rough bamboo mat. The cattail leaf fan made squeaky sounds as it shook. Huang Dan wasn’t feeling good. He was cold resistant but he could not handle heat well.
If he had come during the winter, Huang Dan would’ve been much more relaxed.
Mainly because there would not be much farming to do. It was a season where farmers were relatively idle.
Huang Dan sat in a bamboo chair and watched the sky studded with twinkling stars. He was not only enjoying the coolness tonight but also waiting for someone.
There was a knock at the door outside the courtyard and he asked, “Who is it?”
A voice answered, “Me.”
Huang Dan’s eyebrows raised, the person was here.
He got up to pull open the door bolt and stretched his head out. The smell of Qixi brand drifted to his nose. The man stood at the door and puffed out the smoke. “Ge, it’s so late. Do you have any business coming here?”
“I will sleep with… Fuck, how come there is chicken’s excrement in front of your house?”
Li Gen kept rubbing his shoes on the threshold non-stop. The chicken’s excrement stuck tightly on the sole, refusing to let go. It would eventually be rubbed into dregs in the end.
Huang Dan said, “I was feeding chickens at the door.”
Li Gen, “…”
Huang Dan asked, “Ge, what were you saying just now?”
Li Gen said, “I’ll sleep with you at night.”
Huang Dan said, “Oh.”
He rubbed his nose and asked, “Ge, have you taken a bath yet?”
Li Gen crossed the threshold and squinted, “Why? Can’t I sleep at your bed without taking a bath?”
Huang Dan said, “I didn’t bathe either.”
Li Gen, “…”
All of a sudden, he bent over his back and put his nose in Huang Dan’s hair. “I wondered why your hair smelled so bad, your body too. It’s rancid. Quickly go take a bath and go to sleep after that.”
Huang Dan’s mouth curled.
Who exactly was sleeping with whom? I didn’t even mind your body that was full of smoke smell yet you mind about me.
Huang Dan went to the pond to collect water before the sky got dark. The water from the pond was poured into the tank. The impurities would sink slowly to the bottom of the tank and the water would be very limpid, containing a bit of sweetness in it. It was only available in this era at the rural villages.
The moonlight was bright and white. There were tinkling sounds ringing in the shed on the west side of the courtyard from time to time. Some two or three chickens and ducks had a load on their mind and could not sleep, so they were making a ruckus.
Huang Dan came out with a bucket and squatted on the ground, watering himself with the ladle.
Li Gen sat on a bamboo chair with his legs crossed and leaned forward with his elbows rested on his knees. The smoke between his fingers suddenly disappeared.
It was a strange situation to look at, no matter the angle.
Huang Dan poured half a bucket of water over his head and the water slid along his hair tips. The water smashed onto his shoulder haphazardly before dripping across his chest and back. It trickled down and drenched the loess on his feet muddy.
In Li Gen’s vision, the young man’s back was facing himself, his back was thin and had no meat on any part of his body for anyone to see. He smoked a cigarette and his eyes unconsciously fell onto the two pieces of white.
That part of the skin was not exposed to the sun, so the skin was not damaged by it. Compared with other places, they looked very white. There was no need to use it during work, so there was no cocoon.
The young man half stood up, as he stooped to pick up the bucket and the water ladle. The angle suddenly changed. The smoke around Li Gen’s mouth shook and the soot fell on his chest. He instantly jumped up but the movement was too hard, causing the bamboo chair to fall backward.
Li Gen tripped over the bamboo chair and almost fell to the ground. He could not keep his figure steady as he ran to open the back door of the yard and left.
Huang Dan, “…”
He threw away the water ladle, “Mr. System, is Li Gen hard?”
System, “This system’s vision is not good.”
“…” Huang Dan asked, “Is Li Gen gay?”
System, “Sorry, Mr. Huang, this system has no authority to answer you.”
Huang Dan shook his head and sighed. Other than giving him his tasks to do, this system had no other use. He could only rely on himself.
He put on his jacket and trousers. Whether Li Gen was gay or not had little influence on his search for finding out who had killed Li Da Gui.
When Huang Dan went to bed in the dark, Li Gen came back. He kicked off his shoes and went to bed. He lay down with his arms and legs spread out like he was in his own house. All the series of movements were very natural.
Huang Dan found the cattail leaf fan and lay beside the man.
The bed was not big. When two adults lay together, their arms and legs were certain to make contact with each other.
Summer was already hot, and a person’s body temperature was raised higher in this weather. When a person was right next to someone, it was even hotter and the person would start to get sweaty and sticky.
The air around them sparked and a fire kindled in Li Gen’s heart. His whole body was burning and his exhaled breath was hot. He pulled away from the cattail fan from Huang Dan’s hand and waved his arm vigorously to fan himself.
Huang Dan on the side was very comfortable. “Ge, you can sleep with me tomorrow night as well.” He had a human fan and it was much stronger than him fanning himself. The key was that the person had a huge strength, so the wind was also naturally bigger.
Li Gen twisted his head violently and the dim light covered his astonished face. “What?”
Huang Dan said, “Cooling.”
Understanding the meaning of the young man’s words, Li Gen’s face was blue and he threw the fan back at him. “…Fan yourself!”
Huang Dan shifted over and stuffed the fan back into the man’s hand. “Help me fan.”
Li Gen spoke in a soft voice as he berated but it almost sounded like a roar, “Keep away from your Ge!”
Not arguing with him, Huang Dan moved towards the edge of the bed and did not forget to say, “Then you take the fan.”
When Li Gen heard the young man murmur to himself saying that he was hot, his forehead’s tendons twitched. No one was as hot as he was and he was dying because of it.
This was fucking strange.
Had he eaten too much leek? Li Gen fanned and recited the three-character scriptures.
Before long, Huang Dan’s breaths evened and he fell asleep.
There was breathing next to his ear, and the breaths were making his neck itchy. Li Gen could not bear it anymore and sat up. He scratched at it hard, damn it.
He resigned himself to this fate and just lay back.
A moment later, Li Gen’s stiff body trembled a few times and his spine relaxed. He grabbed his vest and wiped it on the mat, quickly destroying the evidence.
He caught his heavy breath. Li Gen smelled a strong fishy smell and it was not because of the leek, but because he was old. Even if he only ate vegetables, it was of no use. He had to eat meat, even the three-character scriptures could not save him.
But he could not have such a big reaction towards a man, right? And it was twice. The second time’s reaction was even bigger than the first time just like he was a young boy.
If this was not a sickness, then what was it?
Li Gen touched the cigarette and the matchbox. He stepped out to smoke and just lay on the floor of the hall.
Every household in the village was noiseless unlike the day, and the sound of insects in the grass rose and fell one after another. The night that belonged to them had just begun.
The heat wave faded slowly and coolness oozed out.
Wu Cui Ling sorted out her poems under the kerosene lamp. She went out to the cottage with light footstep in fear of disturbing Wang Yue Mei in the house.
“Sister Cui Ling.”
Wu Cui Ling was shocked by the sudden sound. She turned her head and saw Li Gen’s classmate, Zhou Zhao Di. She looked like a female ghost with her white dress.
Zhou Zhao Di had a smile on her face. “You haven’t slept either.”
Wu Cui Ling responded with a no.
She went to the latrine and came back to see Zhou Zhao Di standing in the hall as if she was waiting for herself.
Zhou Zhao Di whispered, “There are many mosquitoes in the room. I can’t sleep. Sister Cui Ling, why don’t we talk for a while?”
Wu Cui Ling said yes.
Zhou Zhao Di and Wu Cui Ling entered the house. She was somewhat surprised yet she also seemed to have expected it. Li Gen’s brother’s house was not as big as Li Gen’s, his furniture was also lesser, making the biases obvious.
Wu Cui Ling put all the poems on the wooden table inside a drawer and asked Zhou Zhao Di if she wanted to drink water.
Zhou Zhao Di shook her head. She looked around the house curiously. The walls were bare. It was unlike Li Gen’s house where there were many awards. There was a big chair by the window. She didn’t know what to do.
“Right, Sister Cui Ling, I saw the picture on Li Gen’s wardrobe. When he was a child, his face was round and his eyes were lovely.
Wu Cui Ling said, “En.”
“Li Gen and his younger brother look very much alike. I think people would believe if they were told that they are twins.” Zhou Zhao Di rubbed the mosquito bump on the back of her hand. “Two brothers carved from one mold.”
Wu Cui Ling said, “They didn’t look alike after they’ve grew up.”
Zhou Zhao Di agreed, “That’s true.”
Both brothers were born handsome, but Li Da Gui was like good cards played badly. He seemed to be deliberately singing the contrary tone and in front of all people, he would vent his heart’s discontent to everyone and did what he liked. He did not follow his brother’s footsteps.
Unfortunately, he died too easy and too early.
Who would have thought that a young and strong, arrogant and even someone who dared to scold the heaven would drown in the pond?
The atmosphere was somewhat dull.
Zhou Zhao Di did not go on but changed the topic. “Sister Cui Ling, I heard you are good at writing poems. Can you show me?”
Wu Cui Ling said, “I just write for fun.”
Zhou Zhao Di insisted that she wanted to have a look. Wu Cui Ling’s eyebrows slightly furrowed but she still took out a collection of poems from the drawer.
“Sister Cui Ling is really talented.”
When Zhou Zhao Di flipped through the book, she couldn’t help but exclaim, “Li Gen likes talented women.”
Wu Cui Ling said, “Really?”
Zhou Zhao Di gave a few “En.” and began talking about university. The story about how the school flower was chasing Li Gen was the most famous example of a girl chasing a man in the school. She narrated it in a lively manner and it was mixed with her own emotions. There was envy and jealousy as she talked about the school flower.
Wu Cui Ling took a drink and listened seriously.
The wind blew in through the window, the kerosene lamp flickered gently as the night grew dark.
Li Gen who was laying on the ground of the hall stood up and paced back and forth in the hall room. He grinded his teeth and went back to the east side of the house.
The young man was lying on his bed. He occupied the whole bed and slept like a dead pig.
Li Gen’s eyes fell on the young man’s exposed waist. His eyebrows wrinkled and he pushed the young man’s legs and arms. “Go inside.”
Huang Dan made a sound of discontentment.
Seeing that the young man was not moving, Li Gen just went ahead and pushed the person further in the bed and laid down.
The spot that the young man had laid down on was warm, and Li Gen was about to catch fire again. He cursed and stayed at the edge of the bed.
The next morning, the rooster in the courtyard didn’t wake Huang Dan and Li Gen up but Chen Jin Hua’s shout did. She had a loud voice and shouted in the direction of the window. The sky almost broke apart.
Li Gen opened his eyes and was stunned.
Huang Dan opened his eyes a moment later and was also stunned.
Now if Chen Jin Hua came into the room, or stood by the window and looked in, she would be scared to death.
Their arms and legs were tangled together, with their faces facing each other and it was so close to an ambiguous degree. It gave off a feeling that they were kissing each other or they had just kissed.
“Are you awake, Dong Tian?”
Chen Jin Hua shouted again. Huang Dan and Li Gen both came back to their senses. They both drew back some distance apart without waiting for the other.
Huang Dan, who was sleeping in the inner corner, hit the wall behind him, and Li Gen who was sleeping outside, fell to the ground directly.
Li Gen rubbed his buttock and stared at Huang Dan. “Dare to speak nonsense and I will chop you up.”
Huang Dan blinked. “What did you say?”
Li Gen’s face twitched, “…Take it that I didn’t say anything.”
Huang Dan yawned, “Ge, come back to sleep tonight.”
Li Gen thought to himself, sleep your head, I was burning up the whole night. I don’t want to die so early.
Huang Dan only came to know what had happened when he went out. When Chen Jin Hua was letting the chicken out this morning, she found that one was missing, and it was an old hen. Yesterday night, the weasel had come.
She yelled till her heart ached and counted the chickens over and over again before sue finally accepted the cruel reality that an old hen was missing, which meant that there would be lesser eggs. She asked Huang Dan to fill up the hole in the courtyard’s wall.
The entrance of the hole was originally reserved for the convenience of the chickens and ducks. Now it was good, it also became convenient for the weasels. No matter what, it had to be blocked.
Huang Dan glanced at the hole and then at the man. “Ge, can you get the bricks?”
Li Gen said, “No.”
Huang Dan asked him, “Then how can I fill up this hole?”
Li Gen said, “Fill it in with something else.”
Huang Dan asked again, “What?”
The tip of Li Gen’s tongue was against his teeth and he swallowed the words that were coming out. “Leave it be, I’ll fill it up later.”
Why did this feel a bit strange? He ruthlessly slapped his big mouth hard. Wasn’t it just a hole in the corner of the wall? His mind was already stuffed with nonsensical things early in the morning.
Watching the man slap himself, Huang Dan looked dull.
Without having breakfast, Zhou Zhao Di greeted Li Gen and the rest before she left for her relatives in Village Yin. She was afraid to see Li Gen’s mother. It was rumored that she was beautiful when she was young and still paid great attention to her appearance now. As she had yet to be washed and dressed up, she felt that her first impression would be bad.
In the afternoon, Wang Yue Mei urged Wu Cui Ling to go to He Wei’s house.
Wu Cui Ling took an old hen to He Wei’s house at the river farm. She was about to go back after leaving the hen but He Wei’s parents politely asked her to go to He Wei’s room. They were practically half pushing and half begging this request.
Your reputation wouldn’t be when you have an unclear relationship with a widow.
He Wei’s parents could not help it. They thought that if someone he liked came, perhaps their son would recover.
When Wu Cui Ling entered the room, the door was shut immediately. She smelled medicine that was mixed with other odors. It was terrible.
He Wei on the bed had lost a lot of weight. His eyes were deep, his face was a dead grey and he was talking about something towards an empty space. His appearance was very penetrating to the eyes.
Wu Cui Ling leaned back against the door, reached out and knocked on the door, “Uncle He, I really need to go back.”
As soon as she spoke, it gave He Wei a shock.