Author: 长洱 / Chang’er
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
The phone was suddenly disconnected. Lin Chen couldn’t help rubbing his brows.
Xing Conglian kept driving, and didn’t say much to comfort him.
Because the car was relatively quiet, Wang Chao, who was sitting next to him, should have heard what Song Shengsheng’s former agent said just now. He had a look of indignation on his face as he said, “Damn, A’Chen Gege, I finally know what good intentions are like a donkey’s liver and lungs* is. How can Song Shengsheng’s agent do this? Although there’s nothing wrong with what he said, I think he’s really worse than Liu Ying. It makes me want to punch him.”
*It’s a saying basically meaning your good intentions are useless (because a donkey’s liver and lungs are unpalatable and often discarded and not eaten).
Lin Chen soothed his emotions and patted the teenager’s head. “What is Xiang Ye’s address?’
“Uh… He’s in Fengchun, so I think Song Shengsheng went back to Fengchun.”
“What do you mean?” Xing Conglian asked.
“Xiang Ye is from Fengchun, as is his company. The car also had a Fengchun license plate.”
“They said they would go to the Fengchun police station to give their testimony,” Lin Chen said to Xing Conglian.
“In other words, they told us not to intervene anymore?” Xing Conglian accurately grasped the key point.
Lin Chen nodded.
“Just because he asked, do we have to agree?”
This sounded familiar. Lin Chen couldn’t help rubbing his brows again.
Xing Conglian said disapprovingly, “At least you have to confirm that Song Shengsheng is indeed safe and that his personal freedom isn’t restricted.”
“Then are we going to Fengchun again now?” Wang Chao couldn’t help wailing.
“Not for the time being.” Xing Conglian drove the car onto the ramp in the direction of Hongjing. “We still have some things to go back and deal with.” He thought for a while and then said, “You and your A’Chen Gege can monitor movements online first.”
Wang Chao opened his software and naturally began to summarize the current public opinion index. He asked while doing it, “But why do I have to organize the online forums now…”
“Mr. Xiao Wang,” Xing Conglian said lightly.
“A brain is a good thing to have. I hope you have it.”
“What’s wrong with me?”
Lin Chen had to explain it to the young man. “In any case, we still have to be careful before things are clear. Online public opinion can help us infer the direction of events, and sometimes, it’s difficult for you to know if the things you occasionally pay attention to one day will suddenly save the world.” Lin Chen patted the teenager on the shoulder. “At least don’t be as careless as I am.”
Wang Chao opened his mouth, as if he wanted to say something, but he probably felt whatever he was about to say wasn’t useful, so he lowered his head and began to focus on his work.
In the end, a public opinion data analysis chart similar to that at the time of Li Jingtian’s incident appeared in front of Lin Chen.
Wang Chao said, “A’Chen, the detonation must be at least the level of a nuclear bomb!”
Although Lin Chen knew well what kind of influence Song Shengsheng’s case would have after the live TV broadcast, he was still shocked by the bursting nebula of public opinion in front of him.
The comments and retweets of related incidents on the internet had grown to astounding levels. Lin Chen patiently read through it and found that all the comments online were roughly divided into several categories.
A group of people were accusing the police of being biased. They focused on the Fengchun police officers who handled the case in the past and strongly demanded that they be strictly investigated for their conduct.
Another group was demanding severe punishment for Li Jingtian. Under the merciless offensive of online public opinion, Li Jingtian, a former superstar, had now become a street rat that everyone was cursing at and beating. All of Li Jingtian’s once arrogant fans no longer dare to defend their former idol.
The last category probably included fans who didn’t participate in the melee on either side and only cared about Song Shengsheng silently.
Those fans who once were dormant have sprung up like mushrooms after a spring rain. Many of them had written posts reflecting nostalgia and paying homage. They hoped that the person they once liked would be well, no matter what, and also hoped that Song Shengsheng would appear on stage again one day.
Looking at the chaotic scuffle on the internet, Lin Chen only felt that there didn’t seem to be a problem—at least he couldn’t find any clues from it.
In a residential district.
In order to track Song Shengsheng’s recent situation, Mu Wenhua had left the TV on at home for two consecutive days.
After her husband went to work, she sat with her little daughter on the crawling mat in the living room but didn’t have much mind to play with her daughter. She knew that this situation was wrong, but she couldn’t stop watching the TV news.
When those reporters went to the bakery and when they called Mr. Xiang Ye, she was also sitting in front of the TV. Her mood gradually changed from excitement to irritability and then depression. Yes, Mr. Xiang Ye was right. Those reporters were simply following the trend of gossip and were completely different from her.
She stood up from the crawling mat, grabbed her laptop, and opened the Song Shengsheng personal website she used to go to every day—”Be With You”.
There was a time when, after Song Shengsheng was imprisoned, she never dared to come here to read any news about Song Shengsheng’s situation, but yesterday, she actually found her long-sealed account that lurked on this website. In the member’s online section, she saw the friends who used to chase stars with her. Seeing their bright avatars lit up one by one made her gradually happy.
She really didn’t know how many years it had been since she had seen so many people appear on the forum. The mouse scroll was reeling, with replies dripping down like flowing water. Among those who were new or old, there were many people begging for the old files of concerts, and there were many veterans who had been guarding the forum. The veterans worked tirelessly to upload all kinds of interviews that they thought would never see the light of day again.
When she saw all this, Mu Wenhua’s restlessness suddenly calmed down. Mu Wenhua thought that the biggest difference between the fans and spectators was that they really loved Song Shengsheng.
Suddenly, a post caught her attention because it had been moderated with red text.
The theme of the post was—[They can’t compensate, we will accompany].
At Mu Wenhua’s age, posts with similar titles like these seemed numb to her, but she still clicked on it.
After looking at the main post, she roughly understood what the poster meant, and she was even a little moved.
Due to yesterday’s shocking reversal, the internet was now full of complaints against media reporters and the police and investigators at that time. Many people were saying how could they afford to compensate for the glamorous life that Shengsheng used to have?
The post she was reading now was mainly written with similar remarks.
The poster wrote quite a bit.
[In fact, like everyone else, I’m also very concerned about where Shengsheng is now and how he’s doing, but I think that as fans, the difference between us and ordinary people who care about the “Song Shengsheng incident” should be that we must restrain our inner curiosity. Although we really want to see him and know how he’s doing, we can’t affect his current life. We have to give him space and a chance to recover. Maybe he’s recovering well now and is preparing to surprise us, or maybe he’s traumatized and doesn’t want to see us again, but in any case, we agree to protect him for the rest of his life. Those things that they can’t afford, we will accompany him and return them to him.]
The poster added: [In the same way, we can’t accuse and insult others like Li Jingtian’s fans. Yes, it was the police who put Shengsheng in jail, but it was also them who revealed the truth. Ah, we can only trust that the police will give him justice. In the past, Shengsheng would rather bear it himself than hurt us, so we have to be a good person for him…]
For some reason, reading this made Mu Wenhua tearful.
[To love someone is to become a better person for them.]
The poster ended it with that.
[Although it may be too selfish to say this, I still hope that one day, Shengsheng can overcome the pain and return to the stage. I hope he can become that proud 18-year-old boy again. I hope this day will come soon.]
Just as Mu Wenhua was reminiscing, Lin Chen also saw this post, but the location he saw it was not on Song Shengsheng’s personal website, but on Weibo.
Just when he and Wang Chao were observing public opinions on the internet, a new nebula was rapidly forming. Wang Chao quickly opened this initial Weibo. Just when they thought something big was going to happen, they saw this long article of sincere text.
Amidst countless accusations, insults, and quarrels, this long article seemed to pass like a clear stream. It was so calm and serene, that, although people were arguing back and forth violently, when there were truly neutral and calm remarks, people were still willing to listen.
This post on Weibo was retweeted more than a thousand times in a short period of time. It had spontaneously brought topics such as #Accompanyyouforyourcomeback and #WaitingforShengsheng to spawn.
Song Shengsheng’s long-standing but leaderless fans seemed to have found a backbone. This simple, long post was like a clear spring rushing through the sludge, allowing a clearly visible thought to appear in front of the fans.
Many people abandoned their fights one after another and began to forward this long article.
Wang Chao closed his laptop.
Lin Chen looked away. There were still long reeds that seemed unchanging outside the window.
He thought that, in any case, no matter how cruel the story was, there would always be calm afterwards. Everything would be fine, and he shouldn’t worry about it anymore.
As if to show him that things weren’t always as bad as he thought, when they returned to the police station, they encountered an unprecedented welcome.
Lin Chen thought they didn’t seem to notify too many people of the news of their return to Hongjing, but when he opened the door to the station, he saw a large group of people waiting for them inside. Even the old director, who rarely came downstairs, deigned to walk down from the second floor.
There was no sound in the office. Looking at their serious faces, Lin Chen wondered if they were going to be fired in front of everyone.
He glanced at the director tentatively. The old director walked out behind everyone with a stern face while holding a teacup in his hand. The police officers in front separated into two sides. When Director Wu walked in front of them, the first thing he did was kick Xing Conglian.
“Your boss is old that you almost caused him to have a heart attack and sent him to the hospital!” the old director roared.
Xing Conglian staggered with a face full of grievance. “Boss Wu… the situation was compelling…”
“Compelling…” The old director shook his hand vigorously as if he wanted to smack Xing Conglian, but the direction of his hand abruptly shifted from the back of Xing Conglian’s head to his shoulder, and he patted Xing Conglian vigorously. The teacup he was holding in his other hand didn’t spill a single drop.
He said, “Xing Conglian, you really did a great job this time!”
Xing Conglian was stunned. As if he didn’t expect the rebuke to turn into praise halfway through, he was unprepared.
“Are you okay, old man?” Xing Conglian asked tentatively.
But before his voice fell, a very light round of applause rang out. Then, everyone in the entire office began to applaud. The applause wasn’t loud or eager, but every face that applauded was solemn.
Lin Chen stood beside Xing Conglian and was patted on the shoulders or back by those hands that stretched out from all sides. Many of them just patted him, but they didn’t say much in the way of congratulations or appreciation because there were no congratulations on this matter. Only people with the status of the old director could say to them, “Well done.”
Lin Chen felt he should have some emotion, but at that moment, he suddenly no longer regretted the choices he made.
This was enough. Indeed, it was enough.
As if the wind had passed without a trace, something similar that could be called a welcome party only lasted for a very short time. After the old director left, Xing Conglian coaxed everyone else away. He directly asked his subordinates about the status of the owner of the bakery where Song Shengsheng worked part-time.
Comrade Zhang Xiaolong’s face flushed. After all, as a police officer who had investigated the Li Jingtian case, she should have enjoyed the moment just now.
Lin Chen patted the police officer on the shoulder and said, “Good work”.
The police officer’s face turned redder. “Consultant Lin, Boss Chen is waiting in the lounge.” She led the way as she spoke. “Oh, by the way, Boss Chen said he didn’t recognize the person on the warrant. That person wasn’t the person who took Song Shengsheng away.”
The police officer stopped in front of the door, suddenly turned around, and asked in a low voice, “Who is that person in the photo?”
Xing Conglian glanced at her and didn’t answer.
The bakery owner in the office had been waiting for a long time.
Seeing them, the owner of the bakery immediately got up. “Oh, Mr. Police Officer. You won’t believe it, but I’ve received countless calls for interviews ever since my shop was filmed by that TV station!”
Lin Chen didn’t respond but sat down directly opposite of the boss.
The boss glanced at him and was suddenly surprised. “Mr. Police Officer, have we met before?”
“Uncle Chen, I often go to your shop for breakfast,” Lin Chen said.
“Oh, yes. You guys do come here often.” The owner of the bakery was completely relaxed when he saw an acquaintance. “On my way here, I heard some news. So our A’Guan is really that big star, Song Shengsheng?”
“It should be,” Lin Chen replied.
“Oh, then do you think I should ask A’Guan for an autograph and hang it in our shop? No, no, I have to get a picture! A picture!” Uncle Chen said happily.
Seeing him so happy, Lin Chen was suddenly relieved. This kind and simple shop owner might be the reason why Song Shengsheng chose to work there.
“You said earlier in the interview that Song Shengsheng started working in your shop three months ago?”
“Yes, I remember it clearly. It happened to be my old lady’s birthday that day.”
“So, can you tell me what happened at that time?”
“There’s nothing really special. I posted a job ad, and the young man came over and said he wanted to work, but he had no experience. He asked me if I was okay with it. He looked like an honest kid, so I hired him.”
The employment in ordinary small shops was casual. Lin Chen thought for a while and asked, “Can I take the liberty of asking if you checked his ID at the time?”
“Oh… I remember. He said he came to Hongjing to work, and his wallet was stolen at the train station, so I didn’t look at his ID card. I mean, I still have some security awareness…”
Uncle Chen took a sip of tea.
Lin Chen and Xing Conglian looked at each other. “Are you sure he came by himself and didn’t look like he was forced?”
Uncle Chen didn’t seem to understand what they were saying. He was taken aback for a moment and answered rhetorically. “Force? Of course, A’Guan did it of his own volition. He doesn’t have a family or home and sleeps in the store as soon as it closes at night. He basically never goes out. Ah, it makes me quite envious.”
“But is there even… a place to sleep in your shop?” Lin Chen asked.
“Oh, there’s a small bed in the back kitchen. Since A’Guan lived there, he could also watch the shop.”
Lin Chen nodded and wanted to ask more, but a knock came from the small door of the office.
Xing Conglian walked to the door and opened it. Outside was Zhang Xiaocong’s excited face. “Captain Xing! Song Shengsheng came out!”
Lin Chen didn’t care to ask Uncle Chen further questions and rushed directly to the TV in the police lounge with Xing Conglian.
There were a lot of people in front of the TV, and several colleagues moved aside to give them some space. Lin Chen looked at the TV screen and found it was the entrance of the Fengchun police station.
There was a very large crowd of onlookers outside the black iron gate, and naturally, all the media reporters were there as well. Lin Chen was pretty sure he and Xing Conglian didn’t reveal to anyone that Xiang Ye would take Song Shengsheng to the Fengchun police station, but most likely these media outlets found out when they called Mr. Xiang Ye.
The cameraman moved the camera to the gate. A black Mercedes-Benz stopped at the entrance of the station. The driver got out and opened the door.
Lin Chen finally saw the polite gentleman that he spoke to over the phone.
He was wearing a fitted gray shirt, a navy-blue striped tie, and his cuffs were pinned with sterling silver cuffs. He got out of the car, walked to the back, and bent over to open the door.
On the screen, Xiang Ye reflected the posture of a social elite. The most important thing was that he didn’t look like Meijing.
But Lin Chen had no time to observe Xiang Ye. His gaze was completely focused on the person who walked out of the passenger door.
Clouds of flashing lights suddenly lit up. In the first few seconds, Lin Chen couldn’t see the figure of the person who got out of the car. Xiang Ye used his hand to block the reporters who surrounded him, almost covering the person’s body tightly.
After the officers of the Fengchun police station removed the reporters, the area around Xiang Ye was cleared up, allowing Lin Chen to see the figure of the man clearly.
Although he was wearing a mask, although his eyes were lowered, and although he no longer had the iconic earrings and nose ring, it was Song Shengsheng. It was indeed Song Shengsheng who seemed to be living freely.
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