《Fatal Weakness》CHAPTER TEN: The Truth
It's just after two in the morning and even after snaking through the heavy traffic on Huanshi East, I don't feel the least bit calmer. I reckon the whores strutting back and forth in front of the hotel entrances must be on their fourth or fifth round of business tonight; either that or they must be butt-ugly up close. Though, I think, whores that just don't do it for you tend to make up for it with special tricks you don't often see; they're usually the only ones willing to get into the really perverted stuff. If this were even just a few days ago, I'd have hustled up to them already to joke around, ask what their personal fortes are, or what they'd do for an extra ten yuan. But today I'm totally not in the mood. I stagger across the street from the International Building and stop beside a phone booth.
I reach into my pockets looking for a one yuan coin; once I have, I feel a rush. The rush of revenge. A phone call now at two in the morning is going to jerk her right out of a deep sleep. She'll pick up the phone but what she'll hear coming out of it will sound like an hollow echo from the spirit world. As she listens in terror, still not fully awake, a low moan will well out from the receiver, like a voice from the depths of hell: "this is Rong'er..."
Sneering inside, I slide the coin, slippery in my shaking hands, into the slot and dial my own home number. One ring, two rings, my hands are shaking madly now.
"Hey! Wenfeng!" I hear burst out after the second ring, Ah Hua's lively voice: "Wenfeng, why aren't you home yet? I'm worried sick! Do you need me to come get you?"
I'll be damned! This woman, not only is she not sleeping, but she's been waiting up for me; before I even get to do my hell voice, she's already figured out it's me, and I suddenly feel humiliated. Nobody else knows this number, but even if they did, who else would be calling at this hour? I grip the receiver, but then don't know what to say.
"Wenfeng, are you okay? Say something! You're freaking me out. I miss you!" Ah Hua's voice sounds so gentle, I almost want to just give up.
"Wenfeng, have you been drinking? If you're drunk, just stay at the hotel and I'll come pick you up, okay?"
"I'm not drunk. I've never been more sober than I am today! I——"
"Wenfeng, why are you muttering? Are you in trouble?" Ah Hua's concerned voices flows out from the phone.
"I, I—" I suddenly get an idea, change my tone and say: "I know why I'm impotent! Really!"
The phone goes silent for a few seconds, then Ah Hua's tender voice caresses my ear: "Wenfeng, what's gotten into you? I've never cared about you being impotent. You know I just want to be with you. This has really gotten to you, hasn't it?"
"It has. And I care." I pause, then: "can you stay with me tonight? I want to tell you what I think the reason is."
"I'm willing to do anything for you. Just get yourself home!" Ah Hua nearly shouts with exasperation.
"Okay. Let me just ask: what are you wearing right now?"
"I'm under the covers waiting for you. I'm not wearing anything."
"Good!" I think for a few seconds, "but I want you to go take a shower."
"I just had one!"
"I don't care, take another one. I want you clean inside and out!" I order her firmly. "And when you're done I don't want you putting on any makeup, I want you smelling completely like yourself. Got it? And I don't want you wearing anything—no, wait. Go look in my underwear drawer, right next to my shorts there's a silk g-string. I want you to put it on and nothing else. When you finish washing up, I want you to wrap yourself in the blanket and be lying on the bed waiting for me when I walking the door. Are we clear?"
"I got it." Ah Hua sounds excited, but she could be trembling. "You hurry home now, I'm already getting wet!"
"I don't want you wet. If you're getting wet, go wash yourself. When I get back I want you nice and dry!"
I slam the receiver down and turn, only to see one whore standing right behind me, staring at me with greedy eyes, smiling but looking like she's about to start drooling: "you're one really sick dude!"
* * * * * * * * * * * *
I get out my key and carefully slide it into the lock, turning it gently, and quietly push the door open, "you don't say a word, you hear? I don't want to hear a peep out of you!" I shout, then hear a slight rustle coming from the bed. I reach along the wall and quickly flick the lights off.
"Turn on the bed lamp!" I order. While she fumbles around, I say with an even more serious tone: "starting right now, you're going to do exactly as I say, starting with keeping your mouth shut! Now turn the bed lamp down low."
The room instantly goes dark. I take a few deep breaths and close my eyes, "I want you to spread the blanket open just like you were peeling open a zongzi, and then—"
I stop, and take another deep breath, "then get down on the floor and crawl towards me!"
I hear Ah Hua slide off the bed, and I can feel the vibration as she crawls along the floor. I force myself to calm down, doing my best to control the surge I feel in me down below, focusing on sorting through the different smells and feelings in the air. Blood flows down from my brain into my privates; it's helping keep my head clear and focused.
"Keep your hands and knees on the floor, and raise your ass up. Crawl slowly now, over this way!" As I say this I struggle to keep from picturing the t-string she's wearing, the two full breasts of hers swaying across the floor, a slutty sort of drool beginning to leak from the corners of her mouth, just like a dog in heat. I focus my concentration onto my nose.
Now she's crawled over to me, and I know that I was right; my body goes cold from head to toe. By the time she stops at my feet I'm so excited I almost lose control."
"You cheap trash. Don't you know what to do now?"
I keep my eyes shut, and wait as her soft and hot, moist fingers start tugging at my fly and then pull my pants down. My thing down there is giving off a smell that nearly makes me lose it, but luckily she's already got the whole thing deep down in her mouth.
"Lead me over to the bed!" I can hear a bit of a quiver in my voice. She struggles to keep her mouth on my member as she slowly shifts herself over and up onto the bed. I've still got my eyes shut. When we're both on the bed, my thing's already swollen too much for her to hold in anymore. I hoist her up with my trembling hands, and throw her roughly down onto the bed.
"Get down low, and push that slutty ass of yours up towards me!" I close my eyes again, and grope around with my hands. Her smooth butt is up in the air and I feel around; it's covered in a film of sweat. When my fingers follow the g-string down into the crack of her butt, I find it's already dripping down there. I move my hand down even further to where the g-string disappears inside of her. I give it a rough yank, and push it off to one side of her butt, then violently shove myself inside of her.
She struggles to hold back her excitement, but still lets out a few ecstatic groans. She's already so wet she's started to drip, but I still keep myself squeezed tight inside of her, and I know beyond a doubt now just exactly who it is that I'm making love to.
"I didn't think you'd still be as tight as you used to be. I guess that American professor made up with love everything he lacked in strength—huh, Guo Qingqing?! And why didn't you come to class reunion tonight?"
Guo Qingqing's whole body shudders dramatically and she tries to buck me off of her, almost snapping my thing clean off. I grab her tightly by the buttcheeks and stop her from wriggling. Then I start roughly pounding in and out of her.
Guo Qingqing quickly stops resisting. My eyes are still closed, and I can tell my suspicions were right. The person I'm having sex with is none other than my old lover and classmate Guo Qingqing. A few minutes later, I slow down, and the only sound in the air is the music that is two bodies rubbing against each other, accompanied by the sound of Guo Qingqing's low whimpers of both excitement and protest.
I pull out and immediately it's like I've pulled her spine out too. She just lays paralyzed on the bed.
"So you know everything?" she asks, half-sob, half-groan.
"I still don't know anything!" I open my eyes, but don't look at her yet. I'm still reeling from the sudden realization. "I only know the reason I was going impotent. Every time I went to make love to my goddess Ah Hua, the second I closed my eyes I could feel another entity in the room. Because it actually was you! Because it actually was Guo Qingqing! Subconsciously I knew that I was betraying her—you! And making love with someone else watching, of course I wasn't able to get hard. Right up until last night at the reunion, something Deng Kehai said to me: 'whenever you can't see something clearly, just close your eyes and sense it.' Then suddenly it all came to me. Just now when I came home, from the minute I walked in the door I kept my eyes shut, and right off the bat I could that there was actually one other person in the room, and that person was Guo Qingqing! When I close my eyes, I can't tell Ah Hua's there at all!"
"But I always knew it was you I was making love to, I always knew! I love you! I always have!" Guo Qingqing sobs.
"You love me? Is this Ah Hua speaking or Guo Qingqing?" I stifle my fury. I know that I've lost Ah Hua forever now, but also that I'll never have Guo Qingqing back again. I've even lost Rong'er, who brought me happiness during my darkest days. And all because of this person I see standing now before me, this woman whose name I don't even know anymore!"
"You're just a running dog for the CIA. You sold out your classmates, not to mention selling your own soul. Can you tell me why you had to kill her, why you had to kill Rong'er?" The anger in my voice is slowly building; if she weren't still crying I'd grab her by the hair right about now, and force her to look me in the eyes.
Guo Qingqing suddenly stops weeping and lifts her head, pleading with fear in her voice: "I didn't kill Rong'er!"
"Oh now you're trying to weasel your way out of it? And I thought I was the confused one. I should have known, you and Rong'er are the only two people on earth who know I like my women to wear g-strings. After she was killed, someone put one her. Right before they laid her out to in a pose that they knew would only hurt me. You're not just the only one alive who knows how much I like g-strings, you're also the one person who wants to make me suffer the most. Aren't you!"
"No, no I'm not!" She shakes her like she's on fire, and tears start welling up around her eyes again, "I've always just wanted you to be happy. It's just that when we were together, I always seemed to make you suffer. That's why I decided to completely rebuild myself, and got the plastic surgery done. I thought this way I could forget the person I was back in college, forget that Guo Qingqing ever existed, forget the more than ten years that I spent with you, the only person I've loved enough to die for. So I turned myself into Ah Hua, into a person with no education, no background, just someone who wanted to serve you for as long as they lived. Even if I ended up just a sex toy of yours. But then—"
"Don't change the subject! You think what you're saying is reason enough to become a murderer?!"
"I really didn't kill Rong'er! She killed herself. I looked her up, and we chatted for hours. We got hungry so I went down to get us some food, and when I came back she'd already committed suicide."
"Bullshit!" With all the strength I can muster, I push her away, to show how strongly I refuse to hear her explanation. But I've already remembered what the coroners said in their medical report, concluding the cause of Rong'er's death to be suicide, and the pose she was found in to have been arranged after her death. But I still can't bear to believe it. Rong'er was as strong as steel, how could she go and kill herself? We had our plan, to keep putting away money, and after Rong'er cleaned herself up, we were going to get married, start a new life.
"She would never have killed herself!" Today, for the first time, even after all these years, I'm struck with a new thought: deep in my heart, I know now, that the one person who needed my love the most was Rong'er.
"If she did kill herself, it must have been because of something you said to her. Tell me! What did you two talk about?"
"When I got to Guangzhou, I tracked you down first, but I wasn't ready to meet with you so soon. So I followed you, planning to slowly move back into your life. Then I noticed you had Rong'er, so I changed my plan and made contact with her first."
"How did you get close to her?" I ask.
"This Rong'er of yours is a prostitute," Guo Qingqing pauses to wipe the tears off her face, switching to a sarcastic tone as she continues: "so there were a dozen different ways I could have gotten to know her. Of course the simplest way was to rent her, but out of respect for you I decided against it. One day when I was watching your building, the two of you stayed inside until late in the evening. I waited, and the minute you left I went in and knocked on Rong'er's door. I'd only just hoped to get a better idea of what kind of relationship the two of you had. I didn't go just to start something, you have to believe me on that. I've changed, just like my appearance has; I'm an entirely different person now. Back when we were together, I know that just seeing you even glance at someone of the opposite sex was enough to set me on a week-long cold war warpath. Just thinking about it now, I still regret it. So when I knocked on Rong'er's door, really, all I wanted was to sit down and have a good, long chat with her. I even thought that her and I could become something like close sisters; in any case, she was still just a prostitute, not really something worth envying. But when Rong'er opened the door, I could've burst into flame with how jealous I felt upon seeing her. I guess she thought you'd come back, because she rushed to open the door, stark naked."
"She opened the door, and I froze. It was like looking at my old self in a mirror. Her body, her skin, face, they all looked exactly like mine once had—even all the way down to the shape of her breasts and the color of her nipples! You'd think I'd just seen a ghost the way I just stood there with my mouth open, thinking I was looking at my pre-op self. Then quickly I thought to myself, is it possible you're with Rong'er because you can't forget me? Then why did I bother getting all that plastic surgery? In a daze, I looked toward the floor, my eyes passing over her naked body and down and—my god! She was actually wearing a g-string, no different from the ones you used to make me wear every day back when we were together! Tell me, can you imagine how I felt?"
"You felt like killing someone, obviously."
"How many times do I need to tell you? I didn't kill anyone! You——"
"Back to the story!" I snap, not letting her explain.
"She let me in after I told her you and I were classmates, though I didn't tell her about our past. What I hadn't counted on is her having already heard lots about about me. With the cat out of the bag, she said straight out how much she loved your, and how everything she was doing was only to prepare for your and her future together. She said that in this life, you were the only thing she lived for, that she would even die for you. And then she went on and on, about how she felt about you, about how you felt about her, not paying the least bit notice to how dark my face was getting.
"When I couldn't take hearing any more, I cut her off. I said, 'do you want to hear our story now?' 'Our?,' she said, 'what 'our'? You mean you and your lover? Is he here? Bring him in!' 'I'm talking about me and Wenfeng,' I said, and she looked at me, confused, speechless, then nodded her head. And so I told her all about us."
"Our story is like an old romance movie, full of joy and anger, sorrow and happiness, spread across several countries on two continents," I say, getting a little sentimental. "Just what exactly did you tell her?"
"I told her the most beautiful chapter of our story, the only part that up until this very day has stuck in my memory. Without leaving out a single detail, I told her about the day you took me into the small patch of forest on campus and how you fumbled around with me, taking my virginity, and how afterwards you knelt down on the grass and swore to me that as long as the sun still sat in the sky, that you'd love me with all your heart. And I told her all the fantasies you and I had about our beautiful future together in America."
"That's it?" I pry.
Guo Qingqing mutters something I don't hear, but then seeing the serious look in my eyes, lowers her head and finished telling me what happened that night. Guo Qingqing says that after she finished telling Rong'er our story, she quickly changed the subject, telling Rong'er that she'd never stopped loving me. 'Look,' she said, 'the only reason Wenfeng's chosen to be with you is because you look like much like I used to. And unless I'm mistaken, I'll bet he even makes you wear little crotch-shaped string panties, just like he used to make me wear. And when you make love, does he make you get into positions like this?' she asked, stretching one leg up on the bed. She tells me that at hearing this, Rong'er cut her off with an abrupt: "we've never had sex." Words, Guo Qingqing says, which only made her more excited; lashing out at Rong'er, she said: 'the only reason he's never had sex with you is because he's afraid to hurt me. Don't you get it? The only thing he sees in you is a reflection of me. He says he plans to marry you, that the future will yours together? He's lying to you! Wenfeng, he's too traditional and inflexible a guy for someone like you; before whenever I'd so much as even look at another man, he'd refuse to speak to me for at least an entire week. Do you really think someone like this would get married to a whore like you?'
"Seeing Rong'er's face darken," she said, "I felt a rush of happiness. I was getting revenge, that's what occurred to me as I stood there. But, Wenfeng, you know that sometimes I take things too far. When I want to make someone happy, I can raise him up to the seventh heaven. But when I want someone to suffer, they're going straight to the eighth level of hell. So I didn't stop, and eventually I even told her that you knew that I had come back, that it was you who sent me there, that she had served her purpose but was no longer needed. I was back and ten times sexier than before——"
"You're too cruel!" I clench my teeth, really hard, and say: "I was the only one Rong'er had looking after her, she was very lonely in this life. She might not have been as educated as you are, but she had no less love and self-respect than you do. Girls like her who only get by by selling their bodies are miserable enough as it is. The joy she brought during those last few days was something I hadn't had for years, and my promise to her for use to get married had gradually become something she held onto, something she lived for. The way you talked to her, were you trying to kill her? And I'll tell you now, everything you said, it was all lies! I'm telling you that I was preparing to marry her, and I'm serious!" With that I can't keep the tears in anymore, and let them start to trickle down.
"Keep talking!" I say, feeling only hatred now.
"I didn't know that a prostitute would be so stubborn. If I had, I wouldn't have said so much." Guo Qingqing's voice trembles now, with a hint of regret. "I said what I've told you, and her face went dark, I didn't know if she was going to talk back or start crying, which just made more impatient. I started mocking her for what she did, making up stories about how you actually looked down upon prostitutes, or how you would always send me e-mails or phone me up and make fun of her. That's when Rong'er started to cry. I got a sort of a kick watching the tears stream down, and I thought, if I keep pushing just a little harder, that I might actually destroy any feelings she had for you. So then I said to her: 'Wenfeng always complains about not being able to get rid of you,' then I joked: 'if only you'd just die accidentally or kill yourself or something!'
And now I really can't take it anymore. I reach back, then smack Guo Qingqing across the face. She barely blinks, just widens her eyes and keeps looking straight at me. I notice she's actually stopped crying.
"So then how did the pills she used to kill herself with get in there?"
"I told Rong'er that I'd already spent over a million dollars US on turning myself into Wenfeng's perfect little goddess, so if I didn't get him back this time, I'd be committing suicide myself! 'You see,' I laughed victoriously, pulling the bottle out and going to stand above her where she sat on the bed, 'I've already bought the poison. Not that I need it. Wenfeng will always be mine,' and with that I tossed the bottle into the garbage can sitting in the corner. We talked for a bit longer, mostly her though, telling me all about how your body had been recently, things you had stopped eating, things you'd taking a liking to. She said to me, from now on I want you to take good care of Wenfeng. We talked for a bit more, then Rong'er said she was feeling hungry, and asked me to go down to the shop next to your building and get her some food, so I did."
"Just like that, you went down?" I puzzle, "but hold on a minute. What was with the bottle? Was it cold medicine or birth control pills or what?"
"No, it was from a newly-released home euthanasia kit I brought back from the States. It wasn't cheap, you know."
"You actually brought a home euthanasia kit all the way back from the States? What for?" I'm really puzzled now.
"Didn't I just tell you?" Guo Qingqing answers coldly, "if I couldn't get you back, I was going to use it to kill myself!"
"You——" I can't get the words out, and my legs and arms suddenly feel ice-cold. It feels like my world has just turned upside down.
"You shouldn't think that the things I say are just lies, you know." The expression on Guo Qingqing's face suddenly turns to pure ice. "I went down to buy some food—I wasn't even gone ten minutes—and I had no idea Rong'er would actually pull the bottle out of the trash and swallow the whole thing down. By the time I got back to the room, she was already dead."
The immediate silence is smothering, the grief and indignation unbearable. After a few minutes, Guo Qingqing continues: "I almost died myself with regret right then and there. I never thought that I would ever become a murderer. But the more I thought about it, the more I began to hate you. Wasn't this whole mess started by you in the first place? So I quickly arranged the scene, then took all the letters and address and such things that I could find and ran out, just leaving a few things behind that would lead the police straight to you!"
"You're a beast! So you wanted me dead too?"
"No, I just want to make you suffer a little. With your background and friends, it's not like you were going to go to jail just for murdering a prostitute, right?"
"You're out of your mind!"
"Out of my mind? You're as clear about this as I am," says Guo Qingqing darkly. "Rong'er was my in, and with her gone I had to think of another way to get to you. I knew your parents were here in Guangzhou, so I schemed up a plan to bump into them in the park. They're such nice, old people; I really do like them."
"Nice enough to take advantage of! Stop making excuses for yourself!" I say, furious.
"You're the most filial of sons that I've ever seen. Don't you think so? Half of your life is spent taking care of them, right? So getting at you through your parents seemed like the best choice. The first time I saw you at your parents' place, I was both nervous and excited. Once I was sure you wouldn't be able to recognize me, I relaxed. But even then still I felt I'd lost somehow. I needed you not to recognize me, and yet still I was a little upset that you hadn't. After all the years that we were together, I still remembered every word you said while we hugged, what smells you liked, the kind of humor you found appealing...only when I found myself back with you again, you didn't just not notice any of these these things, but you took every chance you got to sneak a look at Ah Hua's breasts and butt crack.
"We may have once been classmates, but nobody who can call themselves my friend has ever undergone CIA training! You got close to my parents, all by means the most unlikely to make me suspicious. And you took advantage of my parents' dreams of living a few years longer with something you knew I would see for the swindle that it was, all just to throw me off. Because from where I stood, since I'd already figured out you had just come to scam some money, naturally I never would have suspected you had an even larger scheme." I sigh now, pained, because I can't help but applaud Guo Qingqing and the CIA for having pulled this off so well. I say: "I don't even know what I should be calling you know. Are you Ah Hua? Or Guo Qingqing? Does Ah Hua even exist?"
"I am Ah Hua! Of course I exist." She stands up from the bed, still fully naked.
"Then what about the stories you told me about Ah Hua—and her husband, what was that all about?"
"Those were just things I made up, things that Ah Hua needed to have had happen to her. But those stories about the two of them having sex, those were things I've always imagined you and I doing. You believe me, don't you? These last few years, with everyone I'd had sex with, I've never done it with my eyes open, no matter who it was making love to me. I always imagined it was you in my body, holding me down. Listen, did you feel sorry for what Ah Hua had been through? But aren't her sexual experiences the exact same things that you've always fantasized about? You always were a bit of a pervert, or didn't you know?"
"Stop it!" My head feels like it's just split in two. I hold it in my hands and try to think clearly about all this, but my mind is about as clear as paste right now, so I decide to just let it go."
"I don't care if you're Guo Qingqing or Ah Hua or whoever, but I think that whatever feelings there are between us, they need to stop now. You get some rest. Tomorrow you're going to have to tell all this to someone else. But starting right now, everything between us is off."
Guo Qingqing just gives me a confused look. Shaking her head, she asks quietly: "what are you saying? What do you mean?"
"What do I mean?" I say, impatient, "you can stop acting confused now. You said it yourself: Yang Wenfeng is not your average guy."
"Wenfeng, I really don't know what you're talking about!" She leans toward me, and I see the mixture of sweat and semen on her body has already gone dry. She's as cold as a snake, and I unconsciously take a step back away from her.
"Tomorrow I'm taking you straight to the MOSS. If you're going to act stupid and confused, you can go do it there."
"Take me to the MOSS? Why?" Guo Qingqing asks, naively, enough to suddenly make my heart jump. I stare into her eyes, and before she has time to react, clamp one had around her throat, digging two fingers in on each side of her windpipe. Guo Qingqing is clearly scared now. "What do you think you're doing?" she asks. I say: "Don't move. I've got something to ask you, and you are going to tell me the truth." With my other hand I reach up and pin it across her breasts, where I can feel her heart racing. I wait for two minutes, and then stare solidly at her as I ask: "Guo Qingqing, you work for the American CIA, is that correct?" I'm going to count to ten and then I want an answer—yes or no!"
"The look in her eyes quickly grows distant. I start counting, and as I reach ten, she answers: "no!"
So I ask again: "was it you that set up our classmate Li Jun? Is the answer yes? Or is it no?"
"No! No! It's no!" This time her answer comes firm and immediate.
With the one hand I curly my fingers tightly around her jugular, and move the other arm up, then wait another two minutes, just enough for me to work out how fast her pulse is, and then I let go. But suddenly I'm not as confident.
Guo Qingqing of course knows that what I just did was use the most direct, most effective of lie detectors. Back when we were together, I'd often use this on her like a form of torture. When we finished having sex, I'd suddenly pop it on her, and ask something like: 'when you have sex with me, do you think of other people? Do you wish I were a little more freaky in bed?'
"What you just said, Wenfeng, I really don't understand. Can you just tell me?"
I heave another sigh, and shake my head: "you're the one who needs to start talking, and now you're going to. Tell me the truth about what happened to you after the surgery."
"What happened? Lots of things happened. What is it you want to hear?"
"How you got a passport, for starters. How did you get American citizenship? Tell me exactly which departments of the American government you were in touch with and what that entailed!"
Guo Qingqing covers herself up with the blanket again, and begins the story starting right after her operation had been completed. All the files on her surgery were lost in the 9-11 [need to check against hyphen earlier ] terror attacks, but it wasn't until she went to apply for citizenship that she found herself in a situation. US Immigration refused to accept her application; and not only that, they wouldn't even recognize her old Chinese passport. Guo Qingqing's face hadn't only just been completely remodeled, but even her fingerprints had been destroyed as well. She never e