By Prilli’s third circuit, Wang Xiaoming indicated that he was dizzy and couldn’t eat another bite.
So Baal waved a hand and Prilli slammed against the wall, plastered against it like a realistic mural.
Just as he was about to persuade Wang Xiaoming to dig in again, the doorbell rang and a voice came from the outside, “Manager here, may I ask if there’s someone in there?”
Wang Xiaoming’s hand shook.
There were no words more apt than “guilty conscience” to describe what he was feeling at the moment.
Baal felt no such thing. He was filled with anger at being interrupted.
Wang Xiaoming watched as Baal stood up with a dark expression and hurriedly grabbed Baal’s hand. “We’re the ones who ate without paying first.”
Baal’s expression indicated he didn’t care.
“Uh.” Based on his extensive experience with Baal, Wang Xiaoming realized that dissuading him would not work. The only thing he could do was… “Don’t beat up those that are weaker than you.”
Baal raised his eyebrow and walked to the door. Just as he was about to pull the door open, he heard Wang Xiaoming cry out in a hurry, “Wait!”
The person outside heard the shout and became nervous as well. But the door wouldn’t open with the key, so the person could only furiously press the doorbell while slamming on the door. “Please, who is inside? What happened? Open the door. Please open the door.”
Wang Xiaoming rushed to chase the tiger and the bat into the bathroom. Only after that did he make the “OK” sign to Baal.
Baal lazily opened the door.
The manager struck the door with too much force and almost tumbled into Baal’s arms, but Baal stepped aside at lightning speed and avoided him.
After struggling to steady himself, he saw two strange men—one Chinese and one foreign—looking at him from the middle of the room.
He coughed and then said with a serious expression, “This room is supposed to be unoccupied. May I ask how you two gentlemen got in?”
Wang Xiaoming blushed and hung his head so low it was practically the same level as his chest.
At his expression, the manager figured the situation out. He said in a low voice, “If you cooperate, perhaps we can solve this privately. Otherwise, causing a scene at the police station means things could get ugly.”
Baal turned around to ask Wang Xiaoming, “What’s a police station?”
“Police Station,” the manager tried to explain in awkward English.
Baal looked at Wang Xiaoming with disinterest. “What is he saying?”
Wang Xiaoming repeated, in Chinese, “Police station.”
Baal and the manager gave each other a look.
“You’re not a foreigner?” the manager asked in confusion. It wasn’t rare to have foreigners who spoke Chinese fluently, but a foreigner who did not understand English was… Could the guy be French, German, or maybe from another non-English speaking country? But no matter how little English they spoke in the guy’s homeland, he should know “Police Station,” right?
Baal raised an eyebrow. “I’m not human.”
“…” This was the first time the manager had met someone who cursed himself confidently and did so without missing a beat. “Since you admit the error of your ways, first tell me how you two got in.”
“You really want to know?” Baal’s lips morphed into an unfriendly smile.
But the manager clearly didn’t know Baal well enough, so he merely nodded honestly. “The hotel must plug this kind of hole.”
“By all means, try to plug it.” Baal raised his arm and snapped his finger.
So the manager vanished instantly.
Wang Xiaoming seemed to have predicted the outcome, but he didn’t stop Baal because at the moment, he couldn’t think of a better way to solve the situation either.
“Let’s hope he won’t talk about this after he leaves,” Wang Xiaoming sighed noiselessly.
“Leave?” Baal responded, “He didn’t leave.”
Wang Xiaoming was very confused. “Didn’t leave?”
He had just finished speaking when he heard an ear-piercing scream coming from the bathroom and the sound of something heavy hitting the floor.
Wang Xiaoming flew toward the door and opened it to see the manager collapsed next to the toilet, with one hand even inside the toilet bowl.
The tiger wagged its tail innocently and rubbed its head gently against Wang Xiaoming’s hand in an attempt to placate Wang Xiaoming.
Prilli was sprawled on the counter. Though he had a tiny face, so small that his expression wasn’t visible, Wang Xiaoming thought that he was looking at the manager with a trace of pity in his eyes.
“What happened?” The sound of hurried footsteps came from beyond the door.
Wang Xiaoming realized things were getting out of hand and yanked frantically on Baal’s sleeve.
Baal pointed at his mouth.
Wang Xiaoming pressed a quick peck to it.
Baal off-handedly tossed the bat and the tiger into his space and then flew out the window with Wang Xiaoming in his arms.
When the other people rushed in, all they saw was the manager lying unconscious beside the toilet.
For a long while after he woke up, all he could do was repeat “tiger” and “mouse” like a broken record. So Jolin Tsai’s “Wild Games” became popular in the hotel for an entire year afterward. A lot of the employees could close their eyes and drift off to sleep with the line “tiger, mouse, can’t tell them apart like a fool” ringing in their ears.
When the manager woke up, he kept explaining that he had seen a Chinese man and foreign man in the suite and there had been a tiger and something that appeared to be a mouse in the bathroom—though some web searches later confirmed that he had seen a bat. But since there were no other witnesses, a lot of people treated his experience like a very realistic dream and laughed it off. But no matter what, it was undeniable that the missing kitchen equipment had been found in the suite. Nobody could explain that, so in the end they chalked it up to someone playing a prank.
But the event ended up being publicized and that suite was henceforth called the Spirit Suite and that particular hotel became the local Spirit Hotel. A lot of curious reporters came, one after another, to investigate, but in the end they gave up on the story because the person involved couldn’t be sure whether he had been hazy with sleep or had actually seen it all.
When Wang Xiaoming and Baal had left, they hadn’t thought their behavior would have such an impact on that hotel. Truth to be told, their biggest worry back then had been where they would stay.
A fallen angel, a vampire, a mutant tiger, and a vampiric bat wandered around the alleyways.
It was already 1 in the morning.
The streetlights on either side of the alleyway were mostly turned off with one or two still emitting light, but those were like lights from fireflies. When compared to the patches of darkness, they seemed like little beans.
Wang Xiaoming halted his footsteps. “Maybe, we should go to my aunt’s?”
Baal frowned. “Aunt?”
“My father’s older sister. She doesn’t live far from here.” Wang Xiaoming pointed up ahead.
Baal didn’t object. “Hopefully she’s not as annoying.”
Wang Xiaoming wondered silently whether he was talking about his parents.
He thought about how his lover and his family were on opposite sides, each hating the other, and his mood plummeted.
“What are you thinking of?” Baal could sense the sadness in the air.
Wang Xiaoming said quietly, “When my brother’s wedding is over, I’ll go back to the Silver House.”
Baal stayed silent. It didn’t matter to him where they went as long as it was him beside Wang Xiaoming.
“Then I’ll tell my parents that I’m going to find a job overseas.” Wang Xiaoming had clearly come up with a thorough plan, so he was extremely organized when he talked about it.“I’ll send money back every month. They’ll be able to retire very soon and then they can travel the world with the money. I might come back and see them often in the first few years until they gradually get used to me not being home…” He paused and then gave a self-deprecating smile as he said, “Maybe they’re already used to it now.”
Baal clutched Wang Xiaoming’s hand and stuck it inside his own pocket.
Wang Xiaoming felt his heart warm up and continued, “When I’m about thirty or forty, I won’t be able to come back as often… or even if I do come back, I’ll need to put on some makeup. I should find those makeup artists for TV shows or movies, then my parents shouldn’t be able to tell. Hmm, by then my brother and sister-in-law should already have kids and my parents will shift the focus of their lives to the grandson or granddaughter. Then, I won’t need to come home again…” He slowly stopped walking and sighed into the night air, “Then, my parents and brother will have a lucky and happy life.”
“Then let’s do that,” Baal replied.
Wang Xiaoming stopped and turned around to look at Baal. “You also agree with it?”
“Whatever,” he shrugged, “as long as you’re happy.”
Wang Xiaoming’s mouth slowly cracked into a smile and then he said as he continued walking forward, “My aunt is a very good person. Though it might be a bit late to bother her now, she’s very hospitable and definitely won’t say anything…”
“Bang, bang, bang, what’s there to knock on!”
After a series of shouts like broken cymbals, the door finally opened.
A middle aged woman, narrow on the top and bottom but surprisingly chubby around the middle, opened the door in a fit of rage and looked impatiently at them.
“Aunt, it’s me. I’m Xiaoming.” Wang Xiaoming said the greeting with a trace of awkwardness.
“… Oh, it’s you.” Her face was as cold as something that had just been taken out of the freezer. “It’s late, what do you need?”
Wang Xiaoming had originally wanted to ask about staying for the night, but he couldn’t bring himself to say anything when faced with that chilly expression.
Baal suddenly stepped forward and said coldy, “Nothing, just here to remind you of something.”
She only seemed to see him at that moment and couldn’t help but feel pressured by his looks and the air he gave off. “What is it?”
“It’s time for you to go to the toilet. So you don’t pee in your bed,” Baal finished saying and coolly pulled Wang Xiaoming along.
Wang Xiaoming’s aunt stood dazedly on the spot for a long time before she processed what the sentence meant. She felt even more bewildered and couldn’t help but follow them out, wanting an answer. Yet, she saw Baal’s and Wang Xiaoming’s figures disappear from the alleyway. But that wasn’t the main point; the main point was that they seemed to be followed by a… tiger?
She gave herself a backhanded slap.
Which meant this wasn’t a dream.
She thought the desire to pee must have stimulated her pain.
“I’ll go to the toilet and then go to sleep,” she murmured to herself as she quickly withdrew into the room and shut the door.