Author: 长洱 / Chang’er
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
This was a matter of thinking about the case. Previously, they had been looking for traces of whether Xu Ran was at the crime scene. Through testing for bloodstains, fingerprints, or even footprints, it was all to prove this point. If they couldn’t find evidence, they couldn’t prove that Xu Ran was there, and since she wasn’t a criminal, the typical presumption was that she was innocent.
But this case was different. From the beginning, the emergence of online public opinion has presumed Xu Ran’s guilt. The people believed she was a criminal, which forced them to find an alibi for Xu Ran; otherwise, she would be considered guilty.
While it was hard to say, Li Jingtian had designed it almost seamlessly. With Xu Ran dead, naturally, she could no longer argue her case.
The only loophole in this was, coincidentally, Li Jingtian.
Xing Conglian slowly raised his phone and dialed the number for the trace inspection officer.
“Captain Xing, please. I really haven’t finished yet. You’re killing me here!”
Before Xing Conglian could speak, the police officer was the first to cry. His voice was a little hoarse, obvious that he had stayed up all night like them.
“There’s no need to check these things,” Xing Conglian said.
“Ah? What, can we call it a day?” The police officer asked in amazement.
“No, check for fingerprints.”
“Clothes,” Xing Conglian said slowly. “Check Xu Ran’s bloody clothes.”
“Uh, Captain Xin, the fabric absorbs water so well that it’s almost impossible to find any fingerprints on it. And whose fingerprints are you looking for on Xu Ran’s clothes?”
“Xu Ran’s bloody coat has two decorative straps on the shoulders. Check to see if Li Jingtian’s fingerprints are there,” Xing Conglian stated clearly.
After a moment of silence on the other end of the phone, there was an excited shout. “I—I—I get it! Great!”
After the police officer on the other end of the line finished yelling, there was the sound of tables and chairs colliding, doors opening and closing, and echoes of running in the empty corridor. For any police officer handling a case, there was nothing more exciting than finding a clue.
Xing Conglian silently hung up and turned off the computer. His expression was calm and cold.
In the room, there was dead silence again.
Lin Chen sat next to him, only to feel mixed feelings in his heart. At this moment, he didn’t know what to say.
However, Xing Conglian was the first to speak. “Go and wake up Wang Chao.”
Lin Chen looked at him hesitantly.
Xing Conglian said, “Time is running out. We have to hurry. We’ll go to CA Entertainment to find Li Gaoqiang later and check to see whether Li Jingtian was at Royal One on the day of the incident. We’ll also meet with Mu Zhuo, who should give us an advance breakthrough in Song Shengsheng’s case.”
“An old case from nine years ago?”
“Doesn’t Consultant Lin have confidence?”
It was rare for Lin Chen to feel relieved. “How can that be?”
After he finished replying, he stood up and looked at the teenager, who was asleep on the opposite side, and said to Xing Conglian, “Carry him to the sofa and let him sleep for a while.”
Xing Conglian was taken aback for a moment, and then showed a disgusted expression, but he still walked over and picked up Wang Chao and slowly put him on the sofa.
The moment Xing Conglian withdrew his hand, Wang Chao suddenly woke up. He opened his eyes wide and looked at Xing Conglian with frightened eyes. “What the fuck, Captain?”
At that time, Xing Conglian was still holding Wang Chao in a princess carry. He quickly pulled his hand away and angrily said, “Shut up and go to sleep.”
Wang Chao groaned and fell asleep again.
Lin Chen found a coat and covered Wang Chao before walking to the teenager’s computer. Before he sat down, he heard slight snoring coming from Wang Chao.
Looking at the teenager’s soft face and long eyelashes covered by black hair, Lin Chen said to Xing Conglian, “The story from last time isn’t over yet.”
Xing Conglian quickly understood what he was referring to. It was rare that they could pick up on things that the other said in just a few words during extremely tense moments without the need for further padding. “When I arrived, half the people had been killed, and the ground was littered with corpses and blood. In a place like Africa, the temperature is relatively high, so the corpses rot quickly. Wang Chao was protected by a group of workers. At that point, a child of his age already knew the truth that people who die will no longer come back, so the first thing he asked after he saw me was: Can I no longer talk to my mother and father?”
Lin Chen looked at Xing Conglian again. In an instant, he was struck by great sadness, but he didn’t regret asking about this; neither then nor now.
“How did you answer?” he asked.
“This question was too difficult to answer. If it were you, Consultant Lin, what would you say?” Xing Conglian asked rhetorically.
Lin Chen thought for a while, then replied, “I would say: Yes, but look, you can still talk.”
Xing Conglian smiled lightly as he lit a cigarette. “Consultant Lin, don’t you think your answer is too esoteric for a ten-year-old child?” He took a puff and exhaled a ring of cyan smoke. “Although your parents are dead, you’re still alive, and you’re still fortunate to be able to speak. More importantly, because you’re alive and able to speak, you have the opportunity to be heard by others—by those who are still alive. They can hear your words that tell the stories of your parents…”
Lin Chen asked, “Then what did Captain Xing say at that time?”
“Oh, I said, yeah kid, so you’re going to hang with me in the future.”
“So he obediently left with you?” Lin Chen asked in disbelief.
“Of course not at first, but then I took him to the biggest local electronics store and bought him the latest computer. Then he was convinced.” Xing Conglian acted like he was rich.
“Really?” Lin Chen asked suspiciously. “Did you really answer him like that?”
“Yeah. I have to analyze the words I say very carefully because there are things that can’t be said.” Xing Conglian coughed shamelessly.
“Did he understand?”
“Of course not. He’s stupid…” Xing Conglian sighed. When he told the story, his tone was relaxed from start to finish, as if he were talking about something irrelevant.
Lin Chen didn’t ask about what came next. He thought that would be the next part of the chapter.
He clicked on the information compiled by Wang Chao and began to look at it.
Although the dead couldn’t speak, the living still had the opportunity to tell their unfinished story for them.
When Xing Conglian’s phone rang again, Wang Chao woke up.
The teenager abruptly jumped up from the sofa, as if he wanted to defend his family and country with a heroic sacrifice.
Xing Conglian motioned for Wang Chao to be silent and turned his phone on speaker.
It was a tense moment. The result of the appraisal determined the direction of their subsequent investigations, and even the direction of the entire unfinished story.
“Captain Xing! No! It’s really not!”
The police officer on the other end of the line had obviously finished everything as he was panting heavily.
“What’s not?” Wang Chao couldn’t help asking.
“The two leather decorative straps of Xu Ran’s bloody clothes didn’t have Li Jingtian’s fingerprints!”
The moment he learned the truth, the air suddenly froze.
They all became silent; even the police officer on the other end of the line stopped talking. Wang Chao knew that it wasn’t appropriate to speak now.
After a while, the frozen air turned gel-like and began to flow slowly.
Li Jingtian’s fingerprints weren’t found on the decorative strap on Xu Ran’s shoulders, which proved that she wasn’t the fan that was hugged by him. This further proved she wasn’t at the fan meeting and that she wasn’t the person who slit Li Jingtian’s throat. Further, it proved she was indeed mistaken for the true culprit, and she had died innocently and tragically under the pursuit of Li Jingtian’s fans.
Although they had expected these results, the moment they found evidence to prove it, it was too sad to speak.
It was Wang Chao who finally spoke first. “Then, Xu Ran’s suspicion has been cleared, and she wasn’t at the scene?” The teenager asked with some difficulty.
Lin Chen nodded to him.
“Then what are we going to do next?” Wang Chao asked.
Even the police officer on the other end of the line said, “Captain Xing, with the results out now, what are we going to do?”
In fact, the questions they wanted to ask were all the same. Although the words and expression were different, the underlying question was, with the fingerprints clearing Xu Ran’s suspicion, what should they do with the results?
If this was an ordinary case, the police could just issue a report, but the problem was that the case report for Li Jingtian’s throat slitting case wasn’t so easy to write. First, the police hadn’t determined the true culprit, so it wasn’t appropriate to release this report’s result. It could backfire and become proof of the police’s incompetence or become a problematic position.
Lin Chen looked at Xing Conglian, who was also looking at him.
“What does Consultant Lin think?”
“Release it,” Lin Chen said.
It was rare for Xing Conglian to raise the corners of his mouth. Though he was half-smiling, his eyes remained cold. He said to the police officer on the other end of the line, “I’ll notify the PR department to make an announcement. Thank you for your hard work.”
“But, Captain Xing… This!” The police officer on the other end wanted to say more, but Xing Conglian hung up.
“Captain, what the hell?!” Wang Chao still had a look of confusion. “If we release this result, what if Li Jingtian buys a plane ticket and returns back to his country?!”
“That’s why I need you to immediately monitor movements on his passport,” Lin Chen said calmly.
“Do you think it’s just a problem between us and Li Jingtian right now?” Lin Chen asked rhetorically.
Lin Chen shook his head. “The question now is, who has more credibility.”
“Is it that complicated?”
“Li Jingtian is a singer who usually has a good reputation. He has many fans and is good at controlling public opinion. We have no tangible evidence to prove his crime right now, so his innocence remains high, while we, the police, have been in an embarrassing situation. Our investigation result is often scrutinized by the public, so how do we win this war of public opinion against Li Jingtian?”
“I don’t know!” Wang Chao thought for a while but was still confused. He turned around and asked, “Captain, you have a bad mind. What are you thinking?”
“We’re going to force him to buy a plane ticket to return home.” Xing Conglian gave him a look as if saying, ‘Why are you so stupid?’
Lin Chen explained, “It’s simple. When we issue the notice proving Xu Ran isn’t a criminal suspect, it’ll have a huge effect on public opinion, pushing Li Jingtian back into the limelight. If Li Jingtian buys a plane ticket to return home at this time, what will that look like?”
“Like…absconding due to guilt?” Wang Chao stared wide-eyed. “You’re so insidious. But will Li Jingtian really leave? If he buys a plane ticket to return home, won’t it be difficult for us to catch him?”
“Which is why this is a double-edged sword.” Lin Chen patted the teenager’s head. “But for us, the benefits of doing so still outweigh the disadvantages. In this kind of thing, we have to take a gamble.”
“Okay! A’Chen, how do we want to bet?”
Lin Chen looked at Xing Conglian and asked, “What does Captain Xing intend?”
“Let’s go to CA Entertainment and find the only possible witness to Xu Ran’s rape case, Mr. Li Gaoqiang.”
“So, is this to force Li Jingtian again?” Wang Chao snapped his fingers as if he finally understood something. “Are you afraid he won’t buy a ticket to return home?”
Xing Conglian picked up his phone and coat on the table but didn’t answer.
Lin Chen always felt that the reason why Xing Conglian dared to make such dangerous moves was because he was emboldened, as if whether Li Jingtian was hiding in the Xinni embassy, sitting on a flight back home, or even after Li Jingtian stepped into Xinni’s territory, he had the ability to bring him to justice. Although Lin Chen didn’t know where Xing Conglian’s confidence came from, it was always good to be confident.
It was 7:30 in the morning. They took a taxi from the internet café on the side of Red Street to CA Entertainment.
There were advantages to not having a car. For example, Xing Conglian didn’t need to drive fatigue after staying up all night. For example, they could listen to Mr. Driver, who had nothing better to do than gossip.
After getting in the car, Xing Conglian sat in the front passenger seat and only said one sentence to them before he fell asleep—a deep sleep that couldn’t be shaken.
Wang Chao glanced forward, excitedly twisted his butt, and said, “A’Chen, how about we get out of the car and dump the Captain?”
Lin Chen pretended not to hear. There were gradually more vehicles outside the window. The road was completely different from what it looked like in the middle of the night. Fengchun was much larger than Hongjing, and in terms of scale, it was only slightly worse than Yongchuan. The headquarters of many multinational companies in China were located here, such as CA Entertainment.
When passing by the city center, a huge poster that flashed outside the window attracted Lin Chen’s attention.
The poster showed a young man holding a microphone. He had dyed blonde hair and was lying on the grass, which seemed to extend infinitely, and was laughing. Lin Chen didn’t know if this was intentional or not by the photographer, but the most impressive thing in the entire picture was the small dimples on Mu Zhuo’s cheek.
The infinite magnification of the giant outdoor poster seemed to also infinitely magnify the vigor of the young man. He was so enthusiastic and energetic that it burned one’s eyes.
At the bottom of the huge poster was the line of the same slogan. As the vehicle moved, Lin Chen turned his head and read it softly. “Century Nianhua Stadium, May 6th, Mu Zhuo is waiting for you.”
“A’Chen, are you talking about that poster?” Wang Chao asked after turning his head around.
“Yes.” Lin Chen looked back, always feeling an inexplicable emotion. When he turned his head to look at the poster again, he couldn’t see anything.
“I found there’s something seriously wrong with CA Entertainment. They like to make everything so big. Even their concert posters are so exaggerated,” Wang Chao said angrily, probably because he remembered Li Jingtian’s huge poster in Ansheng International Mall.
“Hey, sir, are you going to Mu Zhuo’s concert?” Mr. Driver suddenly asked.
“Uh… no. I’m just curious about it,” Wang Chao replied.
“I’ve picked up a lot of music fans these days. Isn’t the Watermelon Music Festival going on? Many people come to our concerts every spring. I also picked up a group of little girls who came for Mu Zhuo’s concert. Is this Mu Zhuo famous?”
“Do you know him?” Lin Chen asked.
“Yes, the little girls I picked up were quite noisy. They told me a lot about him while I was driving them,” the driver said as he gave a thumbs up. “They said he didn’t have it easy. He was raped by a man before, but still persisted and is now quite popular?”
“It seems so,” Lin Chen replied.
“This is worthy of respect. His struggles,” Mr. Driver said with some emotion.
Hearing what Mr. Driver was saying, the young man laughing indulgently on the grass appeared in Lin Chen’s mind again. When he was investigating the case of Song Shengsheng, he also more or less saw the news about Mu Zhuo at that time. Public opinion showed infinite sympathy for him, which was completely different from the treatment Xu Ran was getting now.
This was social prejudice. It was always easy for people to hold an unfair and unreasonable negative attitude towards a certain kind of person or a certain type of group. This was both unreasonable and deeply rooted.
Lin Chen once again remembered the strong singer the driver was talking about. Although it was appropriate to sympathize with the victim in any case, Lin Chen felt something inexplicable when it came to Mu Zhuo. Somehow, he felt that the face gradually coincided with Song Shengsheng’s face.
Due to the traffic jam on the road, it was 8:30 before they arrived. In fact, the timing was quite good, since it gave Xing Conglian more time to rest. At the same time, this was exactly the time when work hours started up.
Xing Conglian opened his bleary eyes and quickly woke up. After getting out of the car, he lit a cigarette, looked at the office building towering into a courtyard, and without saying a word, walked straight in.
Just as he walked through the revolving door, he took out his phone and dialed the number for the PR department of the municipal bureau.
During the time when they got into the taxi and got off, Xing Conglian hadn’t reached out to the PR department once. He seemed to be waiting to strike at the right time, which was the moment when he walked into CA Entertainment.
He said dryly, “Make a statement on the case report of the wounding case in Ansheng International Mall on May 6. The general content is that Xu Ran, the deceased rumored on the internet, was not at the scene of the crime, thus clearing up all rumors…”
The person on the other end of the line didn’t know what to say. What Xing Conglian requested was quite difficult, as they didn’t even have a clear suspect now. If they issued this clarification announcement, it would make the police seem incompetent.
However, Xing Conglian insisted. “It’s fine. Weibo, newspapers, major news outlets—issue it to all of them. Anyway, it’s me who they will scold. What are you afraid of?”
When they reached the front desk, Xing Conglian hung up, gripped the phone, and knocked on the table of the front desk. He then took his badge from his pocket with his other hand and flashed it. “I’m looking for Li Gaoqiang.”
The lady at the front desk was a little startled. She hurriedly put down her powder puff and asked out of habit, “Do you have an appointment?”
Xing Conglian put down his badge and said with a smile, “Sorry, I don’t.”
“Then… Then I will call and ask.”
Xing Conglian stared at the little girl’s face and faintly said, “Wang Chao?”
Comrade Xiao Wang Chao was extraordinarily clever and said directly, “The office of the Public Relations Department is on the 25th floor.”
Xing Conglian nodded and walked in.
The lobby security had already noticed them, but in broad daylight, no one dared to stop a policeman who came to handle a case, not to mention an entertainment company was much different than an entertainment club. After reporting to the front desk, they went to the elevator entrance unhindered.
At this moment, Xing Conglian gave a wink to Wang Chao.
Comrade Xiao Wang Chao quickly understood. He obediently pressed for the other elevators, and when they opened, he stopped the door gracefully. This was obviously to prevent Manager Li on the 25th floor from escaping in advance.
Xing Conglian then walked into another elevator with a swaggering appearance, as if he was afraid everyone in CA Entertainment wouldn’t know of their arrival. When they got to the 25th floor, there were already public relations staff waiting at the elevator entrance.
“Where’s your manager?” Xing Conglian glanced at the name tags on the female staff members that were around the elevator exit. It clearly had the words CA Entertainment Public Relations Department printed on it.
“Our manager hasn’t been at work today. I’m sorry, Mr. Police Officer.”
“It’s okay. We can go to his office and wait.”
How could a person like Xing Conglian be fooled by words like “Our manager isn’t at work”? After he finished speaking, he stepped forward and walked towards the office.
The female staff in the office all looked at each other, wondering what was going on. In the spirit of watching the excitement, many took out their phones and started taking pictures, creating an array of flashing lights in the room.
When Xing Conglian walked past the wall placard of staff members, under the manager’s column, they saw Mr. Li Gaoqiang, whom they hadn’t gotten to meet yesterday.
When Lin Chen looked at the photo embedded on the staff wall, he couldn’t help but sigh.
What a coincidence that Mr. Manager Li looked very familiar, and even more coincidentally, last night, this gentleman was named Lu Xu.
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