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Apartments for Rent – Chapter 02

Chapter 2 – Principles of Peeping

Peeping is something very interesting.

I think, most of the illegal stuffs are probably very interesting. Activities prohibited by law all seem to share this trait. It’s just that these activities often come at the cost of someone else.

However, peeping is a very peculiar form of crime, it doesn’t cause anyone any harm.

Well, as long as the victim doesn’t realize it.

 

Invasion of privacy has often been mentioned when it comes to peeping, but having your privacy stolen from you will only cause harm when you find out about it. Unlike money, when it is stolen, you lose them.

Privacy on the other hand has a fixed value.

Therefore it is a peeping-tom’s duty to protect the one being peeped on, and making sure that the one being peeped on never finds out about the fact that he or she once performed in front of another without reservation. This way, privacy becomes a way of sharing, never to be tainted by another.

In other words, those who sell DVD’s with secretly recorded footages of couples making love in the hotel or girls changing their underwear in the locker room are truly despicable beings. They have shamelessly merchandized other people’s privacies, inducing rage, shame and mental breakdowns from their victims.

These kind of shady businessmen are the real criminals.

 

If you believe my logic to be flawed, well, I’m not in a moral position to refute. After all, I wouldn’t want to share my privacy or my true self for that matter, with someone else.

If there are only two types of people, the type that peeps, and the type that gets peeped on, I rather be the former.

It is also the reason why I haven’t gotten married yet even though I’m already thirty five.

Marriage is the complete destruction of one’s private self. A person will never again be whole, but broken.[1]

I believe that the lack of the dark corner where one can safely discharge their energy is the main cause for most of the domestic violence or infidelities, Old man Zhang is an example of that.

On the day of the interview, old man Zhang told me open-heartedly that he has had a fetish ever since he was young; he loves to drink expired milk. But his marriage broke that fetish of his, he felt so ashamed that he never dared mentioning it to his wife. After holding it in for so long, the imposing Old man Zhang finally lost it one day, breaking his wife’s nose as a result.[2]

What has old man Zhang’s wife ever done to him? She probably wouldn’t even mind old man Zhang drinking expired milk.

After their separation, old man Zhang couldn’t accept the fact that he needed to be alone, he decided to secretly keep a supply of expired milk under his bed, expecting to discharge his negative energies that way. But one day his new wife found the dozen bottles of expired milk under the bed and threw them away. Old man Zhang lost it again, breaking his new wife’s jaw this time.

So now old man Zhang lives alone, he finally gets it.

 

“Mr. Landlord, I hope you don’t mind me drinking expired milk, haha.” Old man Zhang laughingly spoke during dinner.

“Not at all, if my milk expires, I will make sure to keep them for you.” I answered with a smile.

 

If a person needs to be alone and needs to have his/her privacy, then I have to respect that from my tenants. I will definitely not keep a record of the secrets I saw or sell them as DVD’s.

It is my duty to help them keep their secrets, because their secrets do not belong to me.

Only then, can I turn on my TV and peep on my tenants with a clear conscience.

 

“Yo.”

Sitting in the drawing room on the first floor, I sent my regards to Mr. Wang who was about to take his daughter to the child-care. He politely gave me a nod, and then went out of the door carrying his daughter’s bag pack.

Mr. Wang is a quasi-terrorist on the verge of moral collapse, a secret that only I know about. Perhaps not long from now, his daughter will know of it as well.

For the past half month I have been coaxing Mr. Wang’s daughter to bed together with Mr. Wang in front of my TV[3] while bearing witness to the strange happenings after that. Underneath the blanket, Mr. Wang would often caress his daughter’s elegant long hair with one hand, while pulling down his pants with the other, then touch himself.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw it, so I tried to get a better look by zooming in. The only thing I saw was the tormented and hesitant look on Mr. Wang’s face, his eyes grew wider and wider as he stared at his daughter’s delicate features. I wasn’t sure if he was struggling against the ethics of the situation or he was about to climax.

I think that there is a man living in my house who is struggling to keep his humanity from falling into a dark pit, and that man is about to do something unforgivable.

Based on the principles of peeping, I cannot call the cops, I must respect his secret. Then again, I was very interested in the process of Mr. Wang’s devolution back to the beast. After all, it was a part of the reality you can’t see on TV.

I will wait eagerly in front of the TV and bear witness to what is to come.

 

After I finished my rather simple breakfast on the dining table, I went back to my room on the top floor. I decided to turn on the TV and watch Miss. Chen’s battered face as she brushed her teeth.

While bleary-eyed Miss. Chen tried to comb through her hair, her tall and muscular boyfriend hugged her from behind, playfully poking her rounded ass with his firm toy. Miss. Chen laughed back in derision, pointing at the clock. But that man ignored her protest as he took her to the bed and forced himself on her.  Only till Miss. Chen grudgingly wiped her lower body clean, did that man let go. With a huge smile on his face, he then started to put on the suit he took out from the closet. Finally the two decided to walk out together, but not before they gave each other a long winded kiss.

I really wish I could listen to Miss. Chen’s moans, unfortunately my peep-hole cameras did not come with voice recording, perhaps I should upgrade them one day.

The secret of Miss. Chen is not her graceful body, nor her ability to put up all kind of sexual poses. Her secret, which I discovered within a week, is that she has two boyfriends, one is tall and muscular, and the other is a lean scholar.

However, Miss. Chen doesn’t seem to take her secret seriously. Even though she brings her boyfriends in and out separately, she doesn’t try to hide them from us. Probably because she knows that we are all grown-ups, and won’t gossip in front of her boyfriends.

 

Next I switched the channel to the room of that university student without prospects.

He didn’t sleep the whole night; with his headphone on, he sat in front of his pc shooting stuff till dawn, so naturally, he was asleep at this time. Even though he only had classes on Wednesday and Thursday, given his reversed living schedule, he still skipped classes regularly without a care in the world.

Peeping on him in the morning is completely pointless, not that he is more interesting in the night. He is either shooting at some random stranger with some fictional guns or jerking off. Not to mention he made a complete mess of the room I rented to him, entire floor of empty noodle cups and cum filled toilet papers. Only when there is no room left to avoid the trash on the ground, does he clean up everything in one go.

 

So I quickly changed the channel to that of the gay couple.

At this hour one had already left, the other was lifting some dumbbells on the bed.

The gay couple was surprisingly normal, even the way they had sex, only the positions were sometimes different. I saw nothing that really shocked my beliefs or any of those urine and shit combined sex techniques.  Besides, they would often just hug or kiss then go to sleep without doing anything, just like any other boy girl couples out there. Looks like I was right to not harbour any prejudice, peeping can sometimes accidentally teach you things.

 The older one of the gay couple is called Guo Li; he works in the nearby Eastern Sea University as a physics teacher. The younger one has a wuxia-esque name, LinHu QiuBai.[4] He is the manager of the convenience store chain across the street. When I asked about his name, he told me that his father was a Jin Yong fan.

This couple doesn’t always spend the night together, they have their separate homes. This is more like their cheap motel, the love nest. LinHu is here more often, Guo Li a bit less.

 

Finally I switched the channel to the soft beauty downstairs, she was still asleep. I took a look at the watch, she probably will be for another one and a half or two hours, half past ten is her usual hour.

The soft beauty is called Zhang Ying Ru; she is a professional writer and probably not a very successful one, why else would she live here.

Ying Ru often sits on her bed writing on her laptop for several hours at a time. She then only leaves her bed when she needs to go to the bathroom, make coffee, or pick up snacks. Except for dinner, when she actually goes out to get something decent. Sometimes she would come back carrying some magazines or some other new books in her hands, adding to the pile of magazines and books already sitting on top of the little table beside her bed.

Ying Ru would stop writing after nine in the night and turn to her big pile of books. On average she finishes one every two days; she would even make notes on them with a coloured marker. I'm not sure whether she really loves reading, or if it's part of her work; either way, I respect her reading habits a lot. She is truly a plain and simple girl.

And thus, peeping on Ying Ru often turns out to be quite lacklustre as well. At best, I’ll be learning some new coffee making techniques.

 

Yawn… I turned off the TV.

Old man Zhang has already left while everyone else is still asleep, he has to train the track team from school. If I switch to his room now, the only thing awaits me is his tedious furnishings and entire floor of expired milk bottles.

He is truly and completely liberated.

I know old man Zhang likes to peep as well. He never told me about it, only the expired milk part.

It is understandable.

The evidence of his peeping fetish is found on the voyeur footage DVD’s inside his DVD player, and the high magnification telescope in his closet.

Every day, before old man Zhang takes a shower after coming home from work, he would always watch some of his voyeur footages recorded on the DVD. They are filled with all kind of footages, some real voyeur, some fake. When the night dawns, old man Zhang would open his window, set up his telescope and peep on nearby neighbours for anyone conducting open window sex with the patience expected from someone studying the moon.

Yes, even though Old man Zhang and I both share the same interest, we are still not the same.

The things I like to peep on is all forms of interesting self-performances, but the things old man Zhang likes to see is anything that has to do with sex. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’m better than him, just that his taste lacks variety.

 

As I turned off the TV, I lay down on the bed not sure what to do next.

Perhaps I should switch out the old tenants for new ones, once every six months, or even three months, only keeping the interesting ones.

Then I closed my eyes, thinking about the two movies related to peeping.

The first one is called “Sliver”. In this movie, the male lead spied on the female lead, and due to his knowledge about her daily life, he knew exactly what she liked and what her interests were. He then created a different version of himself, and designed many seemingly coincidental opportunities for him to meet her, causing the female lead to helplessly fall in love with him.

Perhaps I should follow his example, and see if there is the possibility to make some sweet love with Miss. Chen, or perhaps make the simple Ying Ru fall in love with me.

Another film is called “The Truman Show”, that one is a classic, I watched it many times.

I feel really sad for the male lead in the movie, but the sad part about his life is not that he involuntarily gave up the entirety of his interesting life, but the fact that he went on to expose the secret on his own till he finally arrived in front of the audience who knew everything about his entire life. The most interesting part about this movie is that the director of the show has arranged everything in Truman’s life, his house, car, wife and practically everything else, even the things he wants in life. It was brilliant.

I lay leisurely on my bed, considering the lives of those downstairs.

We were probably lucky to have met. Coming together and live under the same roof require some luck. Who knows, perhaps we will get to live together for many more days to come, except that deadbeat student of course.

Maybe, they are fated to be my second family.

I smiled, there are so few whom I can call family, or else I wouldn’t have inherited this house from my uncle. Every time I’m having that thought, I can’t help but contemplate how much my life is really worth.

I have never been to another country, never had any real job, never finished school, and it has been many years since I last had some sort of family dinner.

I have never accomplished any of my dreams.

 

I mean obviously I won’t be accomplishing any of my dreams.

How many people really do make it to become a director?

Not to mention my interest lies in watching the movies, directing is just something I tell myself. If anyone ever asks about it, I simply tell them that it was just my wishful thinking.

As I stared at the pitch-black TV-screen, a thought suddenly popped in my head.

 

Perhaps, I can consider the tenants my closest families.

Or perhaps,

Actors.

But I will no longer be a quiet audience; instead I will be a talented director.

 

 


[1] Original wording means “crooked”.

[2] Original wording means “Turning his wife’s nose into a steamed bun”.

[3] No mistake here, the MC is basically sitting in front of his TV, pretending to be a part of the experiance, doing things vicariously, yes it is creepy.

[4] His name is a combination of the names of two characters from Jin Yong’s “The smiling, proud wanderer”.

 

 

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