Two hours later, Peng Sijue rushed to the scene with his own people. The bones in the wall were taken out piece by piece and placed on a tarpaulin. Chen Shi silently counted them. The tibia, arm, ribs, skull. These completed a full human skeleton.
In order to prevent unnecessary trouble, the shop door was temporarily closed. Everyone was crowded in a room of 60 square meters. Above their heads was an incandescent lamp that was yellowed by smoke and oil. The scorched black bones looked particularly gloomy.
Thinking that the atmosphere there was too dull, Chen Shi said something to liven the atmosphere. He asked, "Dongxue, do you know how many bones humans have?"
"Don’t they say there’s 206 in books?"
"That's the standard answer. In fact, Asians only have 204."
Peng Sijue said, "Asia as a range isn’t accurate. To be precise, Chinese and Japanese only have 204, because our fifth phalanx only has 2 sections, and other races have 3 sections. Some children’s bones aren’t merged. It's 218...” He glanced at Chen Shi, "Show off!"
"How many pieces have you found now?" Chen Shi asked.
A forensics technician answered, "186 pieces. It seems that some small bones are missing."
Peng Sijue held the tibia with gloved hands and observed, "Adult male. Height is around 165."
Chen Shi unfolded the missing persons notice in his hand. "Zhang Hao's father, Zhang Fade, is also about this height."
"Unfortunately, these bones have all been scorched. I don't know if it’ll affect the further identification tests."
As they finished up and were about to leave the shop, Zhang Hao's son came to stop Lin Dongxue and asked, "Auntie, do you need to take my father away?"
Lin Dongxue hesitated for a while and touched his head. "We’re only investigating. When the investigation is over, you will see your father."
The child shook his head. "No, you should still take him away. He has a bad temper. He beats me and my mother every day. I hate him. It’s better for him to never come back."
"Little Chi, don't talk nonsense!" Zhang Hao's wife came over to stop the child.
Lin Dongxue noticed previously that Zhang Hao’s wife’s appearance wasn’t very good. There seemed to be old injuries in the area covered by her hair on her forehead. She asked, “Is what the child is saying true? Has he committed domestic violence?”
"Don't listen to children talking nonsense. How can a couple not argue?"
"You know what we found in the store. This matter is no longer a trivial matter. I hope you don't hide anything from me..." She glanced at the child. "If we take you to the bureau for investigation, it wouldn’t be good for you or your child!"
The wife hesitated and glanced at the other police officers. "I don't want to talk about this type of matter outside. Let's go upstairs!"
Lin Dongxue told the others to leave first. She went upstairs with the wife. The second floor was a small attic. Although the area was as large as the store below and there was an extra balcony, the ceiling was very low. The bed there was directly on the ground and all kinds of boxes around were packed full. For a full family to live here, it would indeed be a little crowded.
Lin Dongxue thought that it seemed smaller than the place she was renting right now.
The wife said guiltily, "It's a mess in the house, sorry. Do you want some water?"
The wife asked the child to play on the side. There weren’t any chairs, but the floor was wiped clean. The two of them sat cross-legged on the floor. The wife said, "He has a bad temper, but it’s not entirely his fault. In the first few years when we got married, he wanted to start a career outside, but he didn’t have any savings after working hard for a few years. He was working for other bosses. So, he could only come back to inherit his father’s restaurant. You may not know that although this shop only sells breakfast, it has a lot of work every day. They have to buy and prepare materials during the day. They get up at four in the morning to prepare to open the shop. There is no rest all year round. The pressure is a bit heavy and he would drink some alcohol when he was down. Sometimes, when he feels emotional, he would start-"
Lin Dongxue stretched out to brush the wife's hair away. "Is this what he did?"
The wife nodded. "He’s under great pressure. On the other hand, I feel that he has a tendency to be violent. I heard that he lived under a very violent environment from an early age. His grandad would hit his dad, hang him on a tree and use a rattan cane to beat him. His dad would also hit him quite hard. The neighbors all know this. You may not be able to understand that feeling. Generally, if a man has a conflict with his wife, it may just be some arguing and it will be fine after some venting, but he’s different. He will accumulate anger in his heart and burst out suddenly. For example, I miscalculated the accounts a while ago, causing him to check the accounts for a whole night. Little Chi and I fell asleep. He called me to the balcony. Every time he calls me to the balcony, I get scared, but I don’t dare resist. He kicked me down and started beating me. If I cried or screamed, he would put more strength into it, so I always just clenched my jaw and stopped moving. It would be fine once he vented it all out.”
Lin Dongxue understood. "He has a personality flaw and he will only express his dissatisfaction with his fists and feet?"
The wife nodded silently. Her eyes turned red. "However, even though he has a bad temper, he certainly won't kill people. I can guarantee this."
"Why have you been defending him this whole time? If something like this happened a single time with ordinary couples, they’d probably divorce. Have you been enduring silently this whole time?"
The wife lowered her head and fell silent. Lin Dongxue could tell that she had "adapted" to this kind of life. Habits really were a terrible thing.
"After all, I already have a child. I want to stay until Little Chi grows up. Maybe the situation will get better. He’s already in the fifth grade this year, and he’s about to start junior high. It’s a crucial year. If there’s a change in family circumstances, it wouldn’t be good for the child." The wife's words were full of helplessness.
"Do you know what the situation is with those bones?"
The wife shook her head. "He takes care of everything in the shop. I just help with the accounts and do the housework."
"Your father-in-law has been missing for two years. Did the father and son quarrel before the disappearance?"
"I have no impression of it. The relationship between the father and the son has always been very rigid. It’s almost impossible to communicate without quarreling. Quarrelling is already the norm in this family. The father-in-law has a worse temper than him. When I lived together with him, I was worried every day, especially during the time after I had given birth. My father-in-law always told me to do this and that, and he’d scream at me if I said anything wrong. I really wanted to die at that time, and then I realized that I had postpartum depression."
Recalling these sad memories, the wife wiped tears away with a handkerchief.
"What did the father-in-law say and do before the disappearance?"
The wife recalled, "It seemed like my father-in-law was often away from home for some time. He’d always reek of alcohol on his return. He had already handed over the shop to my husband at that time. He didn't worry about it and wandered around every day... One day, he suddenly didn't come back. Two days later, my husband said that he would post missing persons notices. Officer, you wouldn’t really arrest him, would you? If he’s gone, this family is over. Little Chi and I really won’t know how to survive on. I beg of you to please look past it."
Lin Dongxue comforted her. "Things are still under investigation. Don't think about it in the most negative way. I’ll inform you as soon as there’s news."
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