Chen Shi glanced at Wang Xingdong from the rearview mirror. "I understand the decisions made for survival."
"Huh, how would you understand?" Wang Xingdong sneered disdainfully.
"Of course I understand. It’s because I’m in the same situation as you are. I want to live so I have to help you, but I will have to pay the price for it as well. People make choices their whole lives and then pay for their choices. If you only look at one snippet of someone’s life, you’d think that the person has a miserable life. However, this is only the price of their choices. They can’t hide away from it…” Chen Shi's eyes showed sadness. He was hesitating whether to talk about it. "I’ll also tell you a secret. I used to have another identity. Unfortunately, because I did something wrong, I’ve been paying off the debt this whole time. I don’t want to die not because I am afraid of death, but because I still have something that I need to do."
"What did you do wrong?" Wang Xingdong was interested.
"Can you keep it secret?"
"I can. In the face of death, someone’s still willing to have a heart to heart with me. I’ll keep it secret for you."
"I killed two policemen."
The atmosphere in the car suddenly fell silent and Wang Xingdong said, "You... You’re Song Lang! Song Lang, who’s been a wanted man and missing for four years!"
"Sure enough, fame is not a good thing." Chen Shi smiled bitterly.
"Hah, it's fate. The two policemen who drew a very short straw are actually sitting together in the same car." Wang Xingdong put down his gun. "Was it true?"
"It seems true to everyone."
"So you were framed?"
"That doesn't matter anymore... These two words are bullets that can kill me. As long as you say them, I won’t be able to stand back up again. Now, do you believe me when I say that I’m trying to help you?"
"Brother, let's eat skewers!"
Chen Shi parked his car at a skewer stall that was still open. The police got out of the car as well. Wang Xingdong whispered, "Sorry" and pointed the gun at Chen Shi's head. The diners who saw this scene were in shock.
Lin Qiupu called out, "It’s an emergency situation. Everyone should leave. I’ll settle the bills.”
The diners stood up and walked away in fear. The stall owner trembled and was prepared to leave as well. Wang Xingdong said, "Stay there. Bring over five lamb kidney skewers, twenty lamb skewers, some random vegetables, and two bottles of beer."
The stall owner questioned Lin Qiupu with his eyes, and Lin Qiupu replied, "Do as he asked."
The stall owner could only start grilling the food and looked as if they were about to cry. Wang Xingdong and Chen Shi sat on a table opposite each other. Wang Xingdong's hand was placed underneath. Chen Shi said, "Don't get too close. His gun is pointing at me from below."
The police stood far away, on guard.
The stall owner brought over edamame beans and the beer. Wang Xingdong signaled Chen Shi to open it. The two of them each had a bottle of cold beer. Wang Xingdong said, "You were very famous in the past. When that incident happened, it shocked the entire police industry. What did you experience after that?”
Chen Shi replied, "I changed my face and lived incognito. I was always looking for the person who framed me... I lived a very painful life over the years. When I closed my eyes, I’d see my dead companions. I once thought about suicide. Let me tell you something. It was hatred that allowed me to survive."
Wang Xingdong shook his head and smiled. "You’re lucky. I don’t even have an object of hatred. I don't know who I should hate."
Chen Shi looked at the police and lowered his voice. "I will tell the police to stop following us and help you escape out of the city. You’ll have to take care of the rest."
"Do you think I can be saved?"
"Whether there’s salvation cannot be based off of the past, but by looking at the present. Besides, this is just a transaction. I just want to live and you want to live as well. The choices made to live are justified."
Wang Xingdong glanced back. "If you let me go, you'll be out of luck."
"It doesn't matter. I'm not a policeman anyway. Is it wrong for an ordinary citizen to let go of the person who’s taking them hostage in order to survive?”
"Okay, I’ll believe you!"
Wang Xingdong raised his beer bottle and clinked with Chen Shi’s. Soon, the skewers were brought over. The two ate and chatted like old friends. The policemen standing by the road were very nervous. At their distance, they couldn’t hear what the two were talking about.
In the middle of eating, Wang Xingdong suddenly grabbed his hair in pain. "Damn it, it’s here again!"
"What? Drug addiction?"
"Yes, as soon as the addiction comes up, everything I eat tastes like grass and it’s like there’s ants that are crawling up and down my body.”
"Hold on, brother. When you get outside the city, try to figure out some medicine for yourself!"
"Outside the city..." Wang Xingdong's gaze drifted far away and then fell on Chen Shi's face. "Thank you for speaking with me along the way. Look at the eyes of those police. They’re looking at me like I’m a bomb that can explode at any time. But you’re different. You treat me like a person!” Tears fell down from his eyes. “Officer Song, you should live well. I believe that you can one day wash away the injustice and restore your identity."
Chen Shi noticed something was wrong and asked, "What do you want to do? Don't be impulsive!"
Wang Xingdong smiled and shook his head bitterly. "Even if I escape from the city, I will be tortured by my drug addiction. I will steal and rob, becoming a criminal again. I’m a policeman. Even if I don’t wear a uniform, I’ve always been a policeman at heart. I want to leave with some face.”
After saying this, Wang Xingdong suddenly put the muzzle into his mouth and pulled the trigger. Blood sprayed out from the back of his head and his head fell to the table.
Chen Shi sat stunned in the spot and he didn’t even notice the police rushing over. Lin Dongxue hugged him and cried, "You scared us to death!"
"It's alright now..." Chen Shi patted her lightly, feeling a little sad and unable to focus.
"What did you say to him? Why did he suddenly commit suicide?"
"I..." Chen Shi didn't know how to answer.
No matter how Lin Qiupu and the others asked afterwards, Chen Shi didn’t say a thing about the words he exchanged with Wang Xingdong. Lin Qiupu stopped asking about it as well. They were able to retrieve the lost gun and everyone was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Lin Qiupu said to him, "Go back and have a good rest. Don't do such dangerous things next time. We were all terrified."
Chen Shi smiled bitterly. "There won’t be a next time."
That night, he suffered from insomnia and thought a lot. As a policeman, he had to face the bloody hearts of others. This kind of experience sometimes made people both physically and mentally exhausted. You couldn’t do anything but sigh deeply.
However, just like what he said to Wang Xingdong, this was the price he paid for his choices. If you choose this kind of identity, you have to experience such a life.
The next morning, he went to the neighborhood where Zhou Tiannan lived. Zhou Tiannan was eating fried dough and tofu brain as usual at the stall nearby. He sat down calmly across from him and greeted, "Good morning, Mr. Chen. Why have you come again?”
"Where's the last gun?" Chen Shi, who hadn’t slept for the whole night, looked haggard and a bit gloomy.
Zhou Tiannan's hand stopped. "What gun? I don't know what you’re talking about!"
"Don’t play dumb with me. I’m asking you where the last gun is!" Chen Shi slammed on the table angrily. "Would you like me to beat you up right now, bastard?!"
Zhou Tiannan smiled and raised his face, facing Chen Shi's raging eyes without fear. "As long as you can afford the consequences, you can do whatever you want!"
"Do you think you’re a God who manipulates everything?"
"I was one to begin with. I saw through the world and played around with it in the palm of my hand at my will..." After a moment of ferocity, Zhou Tiannan calmed down again. "Mr. Chen's complexion isn’t very good. Have you been busy? But life is like this. After this busy time, you’ll be busy again. You won’t ever be able to rest!”
Chen Shi leaned close to him. "One day, you and your people will have to pay the price!"
He stood up and left. Zhou Tiannan called behind him, "I’m guessing the gun you asked about should be in the hands of someone worth having it. They are a ghost full of hatred, hidden under the mask of joy. I wish you luck, Mr. Chen!"
1. Editor Conspiracing’s Note: The author wrote three here, but the earliest chapters said four.
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