Filled with regret that he had no money on him, Zhang Yang made the most of his situation and got his fill in looking around at the lonely springtime hearts and sensual women speaking provocatively to him. Here and there, Zhang Yang even got lucky and was able to cop a feel. Time passed quickly and barely an hour later, Zhang Yang arrived at his school’s gate. To the right stood the guard’s station.
“Uncle Wang, Uncle Wang, Uncle Wang,” he called out to the gate guard. Zhang Yang had planned on jumping over the wall, but in the end, he decided to walk shamelessly through the gate. Jumping over the wall at this time could get him mistaken for a trespasser and beaten up by security.
“What are you yelling about?” Uncle Wang’s voice rose from inside the guard’s post. “I’ve been waiting for you for almost an hour. Heard you went to work part time in the city during summer vacation.” A skinny, spindly old man in his boxers and wearing glasses walked outside.
“Hi, Uncle Wang! Yup, yup…I was waiting for my salary, so I’m a few days late. Uncle Wang, did you have a good break?” Zhang Yang aimed his sordid smile at the gate guard as Zhang Yang tried to win the old man’s favor. Even if Zhang Yang didn’t like to talk, he didn’t dare show any disrespect to this old gate guard. In order to ditch the school grounds so he could go to the net cafe or just walk around, this old man needed to allow it. It all rested on old man Wang.
“What “good” or “not good” break? I’m all alone,” the old man sighed. He opened the metal gate, its hinges screeching so loud that Zhang Yang’s heart wrenched. He’d been listening to this sound for years. He didn’t understand why the old man didn’t bother fixing the hinges. It was a simple matter to drip a few drops of oil over the metal joints. Even the nearby motorcycle repair shop had a crazy surplus of used motor oil the old man could use.
“Uncle Wang, it’s time you find yourself an old missus.” Zhang Yang lowered his head and started to walk inside. The old man’s wife passed away early, so he was extremely lonely and often liked to get students to stop and chat with him. Even late into the night. And of course Zhang Yang was often amongst these victims. Worst of all, he had to keep a smile on his face while listening to the old man drone on about “in my days” during the revolution kind of talk.
The old, usually downtrodden, man chuckled. “I have a goal now,” he said, brightening at the mention of a missus.
“Oh, you do?” Zhang Yang forced his steps to stop. He couldn’t afford to piss off this old man. If Zhang Yang ignored the old man and left while the man was itching to talk, he’d remember the grudge for his entire life.
“Yeah, yeah,” the old man smiled. “Professor Li, who taught language, died.”
“Professor Li is dead?” Zhang Yang knew Professor Li, but for the life of him, he couldn’t think of what professor Li’s death had anything to do with the old man finding a partner.
Hearing Zhang Yang’s confusion, old man Wang’s grin widened. “His wife is around my age.” Though he was smiling, his face scrunched with what looked like embarrassment.
Zhang Yang coughed twice, completely speechless.
Definitely embarrassed, the old man’s laugh trilled like a giggle. “Hurry up and get to bed. You must be tired after riding the train for so many hours. Oh, right, why are you getting here so late? A girl in the second year, who was on the same train as you, got here ages ago.”
“Oh…I didn’t have anything to do, so I decided to walk.” Zhang Yang, acting like he had been excused, turned on his heels and started to leave. He’d already guessed that the girl got back to school. If not, the old man wouldn’t have said he’d waited a long time for him. He was sure the girl must’ve told the old man that Zhang Yang was on his way.
The old man stopped Zhang Yang with an arm. Zhang Yang flinched. “Uncle Wang?” He stopped in his tracks.
“That girl was pretty nice. Why are you not going after her?” the old man asked.
For the second time in so many seconds, Zhang Yang coughed out his awkwardness. “I don’t even know her.” ZhangYang inwardly cursed this old man who was playing matchmaker.
“If you don’t know her, then why did she ask me to tell you she’s looking for you about something?” The old man gave Zhang Yang a hard stare, clearly suspicious.
“Oh…I forgot my mone—thing at her place,” Zhang Yang pretended to slap himself on the head. Oops oops, his bad, right?
“That so? Then hurry up and get to bed. Remember, next time don’t do that kind of thing. It’s shameful. Properly find yourself a girlfriend. Guys at your age have certain needs.” The old man’s words were heavy with meaning.
“Okay, okay. Thanks for worrying, Uncle Wang. Good night, Uncle Wang. I’ll go to bed now.” The old man’s arm loosened and Zhang Yang escaped immediately.
The gate guard sighed as he watched Zhang Yang leave. “What a good kid,” he mumbled to himself. “He walked for an hour just to save a little on travel expenses. It’s a shame that he’s a little gutless. It’s obvious the other girl likes you, but you’re too afraid to pursue her…yet you keep doing those types of things. Whatever, why did you post them online? Now things are out of hand. You got expelled from school and kept at school under supervision.” The old guard huffed a laugh. “But this kid is pretty smart. He knew how to use digital cameras to peek in the girl’s dorms…why didn’t I think of that when I was young?”
During the old man’s murmuring tirade, his expression had gone from pity to anger, until finally he let out a deep sigh and walked back into the guard room with his hands behind his back, already starting to think up ways of how to pursue Professor Li’s wife.
Once past the doors of the dorm, Zhang Yang had to talk for a while longer to an old man who wasn’t nearly as easy as Uncle Wang.
Finally free, Zhang Yang headed towards his room. The Boy’s Dormitory felt heavy in the dark of night. The hallway light bulbs appeared especially dim right before sunset as Zhang Yang tiptoed up to the fifth floor where his room was located. It was the highest floor where the wind blew and the sun shone. It had the feeling of a realm that allowed one to stand tall and see far, heart untroubled and spirit pleased. Zhang Yang had spent a few happy years here.
During these past few years, it was right here on the fifth floor where he secretly took thousands of photos. His targets were of course the beauties in the girl dormitory building. What else would be worth thousands of secret photos?
Coming up on his room, Zhang Yang felt fortunate that room 512 was incredibly humid, so his room’s door yawned wide open. In actuality, because of the hot weather, many doors stayed open at night to let the air flow freely.
Zhang Yang tiptoed into the room. His bed was exactly the same as he had left it. With only a mattress on the board, Zhang Yang swiped his hand along his bed and left a clean trail through the gathered dust. Too tired to care, Zhang Yang climbed into bed and laid down. If he started cleaning at this time and woke up his roommates, there was the high risk of being beaten until he turned into China’s last eunuch.
Dizzily, Zhang Yang remembered everything at once. That sharp, serrated blade covered in fresh red blood and that pale, luscious skin, the face with a flower-like delicacy, and that plump breast and its soft warmth. The memory of what happened on the train replayed in his mind like a movie. At the end of the reel, Uncle Wang’s orange face loomed over him, gradually, getting bigger…bigger…and bigger. It was so big— like a giant oil-fried jianbing. 
Finally, Zhang Yang fell asleep drooling. He was seriously just way too tired.
In what felt like a split second, loud clamoring woke Zhang Yang. Opening his swollen eyes to look, he saw his roommates as moving and blurred smudges. One was washing his face and rinsing his mouth and others were making their beds.
“What are you guys doing?” Zhang Yang sat up, dizziness overwhelming him.
“Wu…” the guy said around his toothbrush. “Our prince came back.” He left the bathroom with his toothbrush in his mouth.
: A round flat, fried, and savory pastry. It’s like a tortilla but much bigger. Commonly made with diced green onion