Author: 长洱 / Chang’er
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
The call was short-lived and ended with Mu Zhuo smashing the phone.
No matter who Mu Zhuo called, it was obvious the person on the other line was vigilant and didn’t give Mu Zhuo a chance to say much.
Naturally, they knew that the person on the other end of the phone could only be Li Jingtian.
Verifying this was also simple. Wang Chao quickly checked the call history and nodded at them.
Xing Conglian put down his headphones and said to him, “Consultant Lin, the current situation is a bit ridiculous. We have confirmed the criminal facts of Li Jingtian and Mu Zhuo, but there’s no evidence to convict them. Tell me, what do you think we should do?”
Lin Chen turned his head and looked at the banner on a booth from a distance. The two cartoons embracing each other seemed to be laughing mockingly at him. He turned his head and asked Xing Conglian, “How many years can I be sentenced for a false accusation?”
“Those who cause serious consequences shall be sentenced to a fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years but no more than ten years,” Xing Conglian replied.
“It seems a bit too light.”
“Indeed.” Xing Conglian paused, then asked, “Does Consultant Lin have any ideas?”
“Just as Captain Xing said, let’s crucify Li Jingtian.”
After he finished speaking, Lu Xu ran over angrily from the other end of the lawn and shouted before he reached them, “Mr. Police Officer, you must teach that little bitch Mu Zhuo a good lesson. It’s best to lock him up for eight to ten years, so that those guys in prison can make his grass bloom!”
Lin Chen rarely agreed with this kind of thing, but, although he frowned at Lu Xu’s request, in a rare moment, he nodded.
If they wanted to convict Li Jingtian and Mu Zhuo, they couldn’t rely on passion or hatred. Lin Chen began to analyze the information revealed in Mu Zhuo’s call. Although the conversation between Mu Zhuo and Li Jingtian was disgusting, this was almost the most important clue they had obtained in the investigation so far.
First, there was no doubt that Song Shengsheng was wrongly imprisoned.
Second, there was no doubt Li Jingtian did rape and treat Xu Ran inhumanely when he was soliciting for a prostitute.
Most importantly, their luck was good. In the phone call, Mu Zhuo revealed that there may actually be critical evidence.
But they didn’t know what key evidence could make Mu Zhuo so terrified.
Lin Chen looked at the time on Wang Chao’s laptop. Before he knew it, he and Xing Conglian had been frequently paying attention to the time. This was a normal reaction that people would make under the pressure of a time limit, just as Mu Zhuo chose to call and question Li Jingtian under pressure.
The pressure he exerted on Mu Zhuo was about Song Shengsheng, so what Mu Zhuo was worried about could only be evidence from that case. But if Song Shengsheng’s case was an injustice due to a false accusation, why was Mu Zhuo worried about the evidence being revealed? The unjust case was nothing more than perjury, so what exactly was it?
As Lin Chen thought about it, he found that there were more people around him. He looked at Lu Xu, who was naturally sitting next to them, and then at Xing Conglian.
Xing Conglian understood and said to Lu Xu, “Doesn’t Manager Lu have to go back to work?”
Lu Xu coughed dryly, and his face flushed. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. This is my presumptuousness. Since the police are handling the case, I, as an outsider, shouldn’t be here, right?”
Lu Xu slapped himself lightly, and his eyes began to wander again, and his face became bitter. “Captain Xing, I want to go back, but you see, I have already offended the company’s cash cow in order to solve the case. What’s there to go back to?”
“Then resign. With Mr. Lu’s ability, you will certainly be able to find another job,” Xing Conglian said.
“Ha, it’s not as simple as that. You don’t know how powerful Royal One and CA are. If I go back like this, I might just be sunk directly,” Lu Xu continued to plead.
“What does Mr. Lu want?” Xing Conglian asked with a smile. “Have me collect your body or take care of your family?”
“Captain Xing, don’t joke.”
Suddenly, Xing Conglian said in a serious tone, “Lu Xu, I don’t have time to play games with you. Since you know very well that you only have two paths, stop talking nonsense and tell me whether you want to go back to die or continue to cooperate with the police.”
“Of course it’s to cooperate with the police!” Lu Xu almost kowtowed to Xing Conglian.
“Then explain clearly the inside story of CA Entertainment and Royal One and strive to be a tainted witness*.”
*In which a criminal admits guilt and testify as a witness for the state against their associate(s) or accomplice(s), often in exchange for leniency in sentencing or immunity from prosecution.
“This… I’m just a little minion, but I’ll tell you everything I know!”
“Lu Xu, this is meaningless. Is it really because you’re a pimp that you can sit in a high position at CA Entertainment?” Xing Conglian asked sharply.
Lu Xu’s face suddenly paled. In fact, Xing Conglian never gave him a chance to choose from the very start.
“I took a look at your file. Before you organized a prostitution ring, you were in jail for robbery. You stole a backpack and broke the other party’s camera. If I’m not mistaken, the target of your robbery should be a certain reporter. He gathered some evidence that wasn’t conducive to an artist of CA. As Lu Xu, you have been responsible for dealing with some shady things for CA, right?” Xing Conglian said casually, “So, Mr. Lu, have you ever committed murder?”
Lu Xu was already sweating profusely. Even before Xing Conglian pressed him outside the window, he was still glib after recovering. Now, he couldn’t say a word.
The current scene was like a hunter who had cast his net and, after catching his prey, dragged the net a long distance before finally pointing a gun at the head of the prey. This would catch people off guard, not allowing them to give birth to any idea of resistance.
“You… What do you want?” Finally, Lu Xu asked.
Xing Conglian lit a cigarette and handed it over. “Give me some clues. Mr. Lu, help us nail Li Jingtian. If he doesn’t go to prison, believe me, you will have a very hard time.”
“I… I said I can commit perjury, but you don’t want it…”
“Look, Lu Xu. The biggest difference between people like us and people like Li Jingtian, Mu Zhuo, and even you is that we still have something to fear. You don’t believe there’s a god three feet above your head, but I do, so I don’t dare do unseemly things.”
Lu Xu had lowered his head so low that Lin Chen no longer could see his expression. However, Lin Chen thought that people like Lu Xu probably wouldn’t wake up because of Xing Conglian’s words. He was at most thinking about whether it would be worthwhile to cooperate with Xing Conglian.
But as the unhurried hunter said, Lu Xu actually had no chance to choose.
“You want evidence of Li Jingtian’s rape of Xu Ran, but I really don’t have any. All I can say is that Royal One and CA Entertainment are scarier than you can imagine.” Lu Xu still kept his head lowered. In a rare instance, his voice was actually calm and stern. “But I just heard Officer Lin mention Song Shengsheng. In fact, you’re too late. If you found me nine years ago, maybe you can really recover something. But now, it’s really too late.”
“Tell me, what the hell is going on.”
Lu Xu picked up the cigarette handed to him by Xing Conglian, took a deep puff, and slowly revealed a corner of this monstrous conspiracy.
As Xing Conglian said, nine years ago, Lu Xu was a small-time “fixer” of CA Entertainment. The most he usually did was either discipline disobedient trainees, or attack reporters who target artists under CA Entertainment by putting a dead mouse at their front door*.
*Term used basically means threatening them.
Regarding the real inside story in Song Shengsheng’s case, grunts like him wouldn’t know any details at all. However, at the time, news of Song Shengsheng’s rape case was overwhelming. As a fixer, he felt something odd about the company’s policies. The situation would be different if CA was trying to protect Li Jingtian, but at the time, CA directly gave up the opportunity to control public opinion for Song Shengsheng. They didn’t even get a lawyer for Song Shengsheng and instead promoted Mu Zhuo’s image as a strong and unyielding idol singer.
Looking at the company’s attitude, it seemed they were throwing Song Shengsheng away, like useless garbage. From the incident to the actual sentence, Song Shengsheng never once had the opportunity to defend himself in front of the media.
After disclosing his thoughts on the matter, Lu Xu extinguished the cigarette butt on the lawn. Lin Chen knew that the highlight was coming.
“Then what?” Xing Conglian asked.
“About a week after the crime, the company sent us to go to the crime scene again,” Lu Xu said.
“Sent you guys to do what?”
“I don’t know…” Lu Xu took a deep breath. “At that time, I was mainly responsible for being the lookout. It wasn’t me who did the job.”
“So, were you trying to erase evidence or trying to find something?” Lin Chen asked.
Lu Xu shook his head again. “I really don’t know.”
“Who was the person who did the job?” Xing Conglian asked decisively.
“Lao Quezi, my brother. He’s dead.”
Hearing that the key witness was dead, Xing Conglian didn’t show any frustration. He asked, “Did your brother say anything or take anything when he came out of the crime scene?”
Lu Xu looked at the sky and narrowed his eyes, as if he was trying to recall something.
“My brother brought a big bag at the time. When he came out, the bag was stuffed. It really seemed to contain a lot of things, but he didn’t show it to me.”
“Can you tell what’s in it?”
Lu Xu continued to shake his head. His expression didn’t seem fake.
“All right.” Xing Conglian stood up from the ground. “Then let’s go, Mr. Lu?”
“Xing… Captain Xing…” Lu Xu was at a loss. “Where are we going?”
“Of course, to the crime scene nine years ago.”
After listening to Lu Xu’s recount, when they got back in the car, Lin Chen recalled how he felt when he learned that Song Shengsheng was accused of sexually assaulting Mu Zhuo.
His emotions didn’t seem to fluctuate. For onlookers like him, major news happened every day, and sexual assault was just one of them. Compared to other things, Song Shengsheng’s case wasn’t even that important.
But even though the case wasn’t important, news about Song Shengsheng was everywhere at that time. Even those around him who didn’t like to gossip would talk about the progress of Song Shengsheng’s case in their spare time.
Some people with a strong sense of justice would angrily scold Song Shengsheng, calling him a beast and wishing to tear him apart, whereas idlers with a weak sense of justice would talk about the recent explosion, wondering what positions Song Shengsheng held Mu Zhuo in during the assault.
Lin Chen thought the voices of those conversations, discussions, and anger were already detached from him. He thought he should have forgotten what happened at that time, but as they got closer to the truth behind Song Shengsheng’s case, those voices suddenly became clear.
Every sentence was crystal clear.
He even clearly remembered what he himself said: “This rape case is pretty standard, but the social effects caused by it are very interesting.”
Thinking about it now, he was actually no different from every onlooker. They all watched the show and thought they were outsiders. This matter was none of their business, so they could evaluate it arbitrarily without fear.
Being fearless was the scariest thing.
In Song Shengsheng’s case, the only ones who felt heartbroken were probably his fans, and Xu Ran was one of those countless heartbroken fans.
In the materials compiled by Wang Chao, Lin Chen also saw that Song Shengsheng’s fan forum was still in operation, and some people would even check it every day, looking forward to the day when their idol would be released after serving his sentence.
Of course, some of those people, like Xu Ran, hoped their idol would be able to seek justice one day. Though originally this was a hopeless prayer, one day, it became possible due to a series of accidental coincidences.
Lin Chen thought that not everything in the world made sense and that not every thought would have an echo, but it was still good to have faith.
Thinking of the bed full of photos that Xu Ran kept until the end and Song Shengsheng’s unrestrained and indulgent smile, Lin Chen suddenly realized he had read so much information about Song Shengsheng, but he didn’t know where this person was now, so he asked, “How is Song Shengsheng doing now?”
The teenager, who was sitting in the backseat chewing on fruit candy, answered his question. “Song Shengsheng’s sentence got commuted last year, and he was released from prison…”
“Then I don’t know where he is.” Wang Chao shook his head. He typed down a line of text and then turned the screen around. “It’s very strange. There are no records of Song Shengsheng since he left prison. There’s no rental history, taxes haven’t been paid, and there’s been no movement on his bank card. It may be because he feels ashamed of being discovered by others, so he’s choosing to lay low.”
On the screen was a photo of Song Shengsheng, taken when he was released from prison. Looking at that photo, a strange familiar feeling flashed in Lin Chen’s heart.
Compared to the rocker youth who was number one in the world a few years ago, Song Shengsheng, who spent eight years in prison, had no semblance of what he looked like back then. He was as skinny as wood, his face was yellow, and his muscles were thin. The light in his eyes had been extinguished, just like that of a dying old man whose flame would go out from a gust of wind.
Recalling what Wang Chao told him, Lin Chen suspected that this person may no longer be in this world.
But in any case, he hoped he could hold on for another six hours.
Lu Xu’s car stopped at the entrance of the high-end residential area and the scene of the sexual assault case: Song Shengsheng’s home.
According to Wang Chao, Song Shengsheng’s parents died, and his property remained in his name and had never changed ownership. In other words, although nine years had passed, the crime scene was likely to remain the same as it was after Lu Xu’s brother’s raid.
Unless, Song Shengsheng came back here after he was released from prison.
Xing Conglian took measures to pick the lock. Lin Chen opened the door with some small hope. Sure enough, not all hopes came true. Song Shengsheng had indeed never returned.
After the door of the room opened, there was a stale and decaying smell. The air was dirty and musty.
Song Shengsheng’s home was covered in dust. Every time he stepped, it seemed to splash dust and smoke, making it difficult to breathe.
As soon as Wang Chao entered the door, he couldn’t help but rush to the window and open it as wide as it could go. The sunlight outside suddenly penetrated the house, basking the entire living room in a layer of bright light.
Facing the oncoming light, Lin Chen walked to the window and looked around the living room.
The living environment best reflected a person’s personality.
Despite the furnishings in Song Shengsheng’s home being searched by the police—the utensils were crumbling, the furniture was in disarray, and there were fluorescent labels on the walls and ground, which were probably reminders to collect fingerprints and footprints—after these traces were wiped away, Song Shengsheng’s home wasn’t as messy as it seemed on the surface.
This didn’t look like a home that belonged to a rocker.
The floor was the color of wood, and there weren’t many dark decorations or ironwork in the living room. There wasn’t any graffiti on the walls, and the furnishings were soft and low-key. There was a guitar in the corner and thick stacks of DVDs next to the TV. Lin Chen walked over, ignoring the fact the DVDs were scattered all over the floor, and took a rough look at the DVDs, finding that most of them were cartoons or science fiction movies. Song Shengsheng was probably a person who didn’t have many requirements in life.
For example, he would choose to use the photo wall as a background decoration for the sofa rather than an exotic painting that fringe artists like or how his DVDs were stacked randomly. Lin Chen didn’t find any TV cabinet, or a storage case dedicated to storing them.
Looking at everything in front of him, Lin Chen could imagine how Song Shengsheng casually took off his coat after returning home, went to the refrigerator with bare feet to get a bottle of beer, and then sat in front of the TV and casually flipped through cartoons.
He didn’t care too much about the stigma of watching cartoons as an adult. He was willing to watch the things he liked dozens of times and never grow bored of them.
Lin Chen took out a DVD that looked quite old from the box and turned the disc over. There were many deep and shallow scratches on the back of it.
This seemed to be a film that Song Shengsheng loved.
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