Author: 长洱 / Chang’er
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Lin Chen thought he had clearly shown his aversion to the police. The strange thing was that this mixed-blood policeman not only didn’t get angry about it, but after he said he wanted to take the bus home by himself, Xing Conglian quickly locked the car door and then said, in a trepidation tone, “It’s so late. My mother will surely scold me if I let Mr. Lin go home by himself.”
Without any explanation, Xing Conglian drove the car in the opposite direction of the City’s Experimental Primary School*.
*School tasked with exploring and testing a certain educational theory or conducting education reform experiments. One such famous one is Shandong Experimental High School.
As he stared at the passing neon lights outside the window, Lin Chen couldn’t help but feel as if he was being kidnapped by the police.
When the car stopped again, they had reached one of the famous food stalls in the city.
“I feel guilty for taking the liberty to ask you to assist in the investigation at the police station today. To make up for it, please allow me to treat you to a meal.” Mr. Police Officer turned his head and spoke to him very sincerely.
Lin Chen opened his mouth but found himself speechless. Anyone facing such sincere words couldn’t find an appropriate reason to refute in such a short period of time.
On the contrary, Fu Hao patted the back of the chair and shouted, “You delayed my shixiong for today and to make up for it, you brought him to a food stall to make amends? Lao* Xing, do you have any face?”
*Old (老) When used in front of a name conveys feelings of a close relationship. Generally, between people in similar age groups.
“What’s wrong with a food stall? Crayfish are now only 6 yuan a pound,” Xing Conglian said with an aggrieved expression. “The case hasn’t been solved, and this month’s bonus is gone. Money’s been tight, so I have to save.”
Last time he was invited for tea. Now, it was for dinner. Thankfully, at least it wasn’t a prison meal.
Although the typhoon was approaching, the night market in Hongjing was still lively. Smoke tinged the neon lights, blurring them into a misty color.
Although the price of crayfish had soared recently, the captain of the police criminal division still proudly ordered 8 lbs.* of crayfish.
*6 catty which is equivalent to 3.6 kg which is roughly about 8 lbs.
For a while, the white plastic table was filled with bright red spicy crayfish while their surroundings were filled with the lively sounds of cups clinking and dimly lit lanterns. The stall owner sprinkled a lot of chilis into the pan as choking white smoke floated everywhere.
Fu Hao looked around and started to cough, choking on the smoke. “At any rate, you’re a person of status. Can’t you have better taste?”
Lin Chen raised his eyes only to see Xing Conglian struggling with a crayfish. The man looked serious as he focused on it.
Hearing Fu Hao’s questioning, Xing Conglian picked up a beer bottle, gently touched it, and said solemnly, “Spicy crayfish is the quintessence of our culture. To speak badly of it means you’re speaking badly of our national culture.”
Lin Chen raised his brows when he heard those words. He stretched out his hand to peel a peanut, then picked up a disposable plastic cup and took a sip of beer.
From Xing Conglian’s perspective, Lin Chen didn’t seem all that difficult.
His movements of peeling the shells were serious and meticulous, and his posture while drinking beer wasn’t pretentious. The streetlights were dim, making his ears clear and bright, and his lips became somewhat ruddy because of the spicy crayfish.
“What do you think is going on?” Xing Conglian raised his cup and gently clinked it against Lin Chen’s.
“I don’t know.” Lin Chen took a sip of the beer and answered dryly.
“If it was just the matter of the hospital, even if some psychopath wanted to play around with a corpse, it wouldn’t be such a big deal to create a case like this. However, adding up the corpse from the vegetable market and the young man who had fallen to his death, things are not so simple, right?”
Lin Chen felt a bit uncomfortable being stared at so intently. After all, Xing Conglian’s eyes were already good-looking, and his eyelashes had a racial advantage. Because he had raised his head, he could distinguish the profile of the man’s stubbled-covered face.
He had to admit, Xing Conglian was indeed very handsome.
Lin Chen looked away. Seeing that he didn’t respond, Xing Conglian persisted. “Then can you tell me, what kind of person would like to play with corpses?”
“A psychopath,” Lin Chen replied naturally.
“Well, of course. Can you still be normal if you do this kind of thing?” Xing Conglian slapped the table.
“The so-called abnormal psychology* refers to people’s behavior deviating from socially recognized norms. You must trace the mechanism behind their behavior.” Probably due to the alcohol making him tipsy, Lin Chen started to explain the term to Xing Conglian. “There are about three causes for such behavior. First, is a ritual that represents a certain appeal to the person. Second is hallucinations, which is due to faulty neuron activity in their brain.” Lin Chen paused, as if he was considering a third possibility. “Third, and the most elusive, is a link to the criminal act itself.”
*Branch of psychology that studies unusual patterns of behavior, emotion, and thought, which could possibly be understood as a mental disorder.
“What does the link to the criminal act itself mean?”
Lin Chen looked into the distance, seeing the cook pour some side dishes into the frying pan, creating an aroma that wafted out. “Is that stir-fried potatoes or green peppers? What dish is that?”
His words were vague, but Xing Conglian seemed to have been enlightened.
Mr. Police Officer picked up his coat and said, “Gotta go. We have to go to the hospital to take a look.”
Fu Hao reacted faster. Before Xing Conglian managed to run two steps, he rushed up and hooked Xing Conglian’s neck and shouted, “You want to escape without paying again?!”
“Professor Fu, Professor Fu, I really have no money!”
“I clearly saw a black credit card in your wallet. Don’t you think I don’t know the difference between a gold and a black card is you bastard.”
“It’s just a card painted black as a prop,” Xing Conglian stated innocently.
Xing Conglian was forcefully dragged back to the table by Professor Fu, but when they returned, Lin Chen was no longer there.
Fu Hao was about to find someone when Xing Conglian stopped him. “Lao Fu, tell me honestly. Who the hell is that?”
“My shixiong!” Professor Fu replied as if it was a matter of fact.
In short, basically asking him this question was tantamount to not asking.
Of course, Xing Conglian would also like to ask in-depth questions such as: “Why are you an associate professor while your shixiong is an elementary school’s dorm manager” or “Why does your shixiong, who’s clearly almighty, refuses to provide us with clues to solve the case” and so on.
But he still held back. After all, asking these types of questions would just make him look like a gossiper!
Under the coercion of Professor Fu, he finally paid for the crayfish.
The weather at night was much worse than during the day. The trees’ shadows swayed, indicating that a typhoon was coming. The climate had changed extremely fast as moisture filled the air, followed by the drizzle of rain.
Lin Chen had returned to the school. He had just greeted the doorman who opened the sliding door, when his cell phone rang. There was an unfamiliar number on the screen. Lin Chen glanced at the caller ID and hesitated to pick up.
When he connected the call, there was a few seconds of silence on both lines.
“Hello, Mr. Chen.” Lin Chen leaned against the back wall of the doorman’s room as he held the phone in one hand.
“Lin Chen, you’re still so restless.” The voice on the other end was cold and prolonged, making it sound quite harsh.
“If the person who reports to you is thorough enough, they will mention that I was taken to the police station in handcuffs to ‘assist in an investigation’, which shows that I didn’t volunteer. I hope you will understand.”
“I heard that you’re working in a dorm now?”
The person on the other end of the line ignored Lin Chen’s explanation and instead changed the subject; his tone became increasingly condescending.
“Yes, under your pressure, this is the most decent job I can barely find.” Lin Chen bowed his head slightly and put his other hand into his pocket.
“Ha, I didn’t expect Lin Chen from Yongchuan University to be in such a state like this. Is your life difficult now?”
“Yes, I’m living in terrible conditions and am extremely poor. I have lost my dreams and goals in life and live as a humble ant every day, just like you wish.”
Lin Chen knew what the man wanted to hear. With every word spoken, the breathing on the other end of the line became heavier.
But while he said those things, his expression was quite calm. The thin light from the doorman’s room fell gently on him, seemingly making his clothes transparent.
“You can’t hurt people anymore!”
“Yes, all thanks to you.”
“Ah, speaking of which, you’d better stay away from your stupid police friends and good shidi. If you get them killed, how many years will you need to repent? How can someone like you have friends?”
Before he finished speaking, the other line cut off.
As if proving a point, when he walked into the dorms, a heavy rainstorm followed.
It rained heavily. The splattering of raindrops fell on the trees and leaves, creating howling sounds like they came from a beast.
Lin Chen turned around and went upstairs, preparing to arrange the students according to the management plan. There weren’t many boarding students at the Experimental Primary School. Most of the children were picked up early by their worried parents, so only about a dozen children were left behind.
He and the other boarding managers knocked on the doors of each dorm, counted the number of students, helped the children organize their school bags and change clothes, and then took them to the large dorm that had already been prepared.
This wasn’t the first time the children in Hongjing had experienced a typhoon, so no one seemed overly worried.
Children of all shapes and sizes gathered in the large two dorms. Perhaps due to the snacks and drinks prepared and placed at the corner of the dorms, it made the sound and angry howls of the wind outside less terrifying.
It was nearly dawn when all the children were sleeping again. Lin Chen greeted the dorm manager on duty and returned to his room.
The wind was picking up, but the rain seemed to have stopped for the time being.
Outside, the banana trees were blown about by the strong wind; their huge leaves shaking violently as they cast messy shadows on the walls.
Lin Chen turned on the light, which illuminated the small space. Apart from a desk and bed, there was no other furniture.
The window in front of his desk was opened, causing the papers on his desk to be soaked by the rain, pooling into an ocean.
However, in that ocean, there seemed to be a small pink boat floating.
It seemed to be a letter that was folded into the shape of a heart. Lin Chen took a few quick steps forward and picked up the letter from the pool of water.
The envelope was drenched by the rain. Lin Chen looked at it and saw his name on the envelope. A bad feeling started to stir inside. He fumbled with the edges of the envelope, trying to open it, and then felt inside. His fingers touched some kind of hard mass.
The thing was hard yet also soft…
Lin Chen quickly opened the letter and saw a mass of sand stuck to it. The sand was pure white, but after being soaked by the rain, it had clumped together into an ugly mass.
Lin Chen frowned. He found a plastic bag in the room and gently dusted off the white sand in the letter, revealing vague handwriting underneath.
It was a poem. The edges of the handwriting were already blurred. The black characters melted away, as if a mist was wrapped around the entire piece of paper.
[My dear, I can finally face death calmly / I’m no longer hesitant, timid, and afraid / Death’s arms are gentle, his eyes are charming / His dark pupils bloom with moist flowers, and I can finally smell their fragrance / I see his fingertips extend like countless roots, headlong into the world. Can I touch it?]
Lin Chen suddenly felt a chill running down his spine as he stared at the blurry text.