Zhang Hao raised an eyebrow. "Do you police always like to try to figure out other people's families with the most malicious ideas?"
Chen Shi smiled and shook his head. "Your grandpa's bones were in the wall of your shop. What do you think I should think? Do I have to produce a supernatural story?"
"I don’t know how he disappeared, or how he died. My grandfather and I were very distanced. The impression I had of him was that he was a grumpy old man. I didn’t like him at all. If you want to investigate this case, just investigate it, but don’t hinder me from doing business. I’ll say again that I have a clear conscience.”
"Well okay. I’ll find you again if I have a new discovery. Don't leave Long'an in the near future!"
"You are always welcome to visit my shop."
The interrogation ended just like that. It was already getting dark. Chen Shi waited until Lin Dongxue came back. Lin Dongxue said, "I'm starving."
"Come eat at my house!"
On the way, Lin Dongxue said, "Having talked with Zhang Hao's wife for a long time, I found some useful clues. The couple knew each other outside of the city. The wife isn’t a local. When Zhang Hao went out to work in those few years, they were together over there. Later, Zhang Hao went home for a while. She heard that his work wasn’t going well and he was financially exhausted, so he had to go back and help run the business."
"Which year was it in?"
"She said it was the third year after their marriage. That is 2000."
"Oh, isn't this just around the time of the grandpa's disappearance?"
Lin Dongxue continued, "Later, Zhang Hao settled here and took his wife to live with him. When she heard that she had to live with her father-in-law in that kind of small loft, she was very reluctant at first and kept urging him to find a house. Zhang Hao didn’t intend to inherit the store at the time and still wanted to find a suitable job. He graduated from the Department of Sociology."
"A sector with a wide scope of employment routes, but it’s not easy to find a job."
"The wife said the same thing. During that time, Zhang Hao went out to find a job and helped to take care of the shop. He was very busy. The father-in-law and the wife were often together. The wife said that the father-in-law often said things that were out of line to her. Once, the father-in-law got drunk and even tried to touch her. After Zhang Hao knew about the matter, the father-in-law actually tried to turn it around, saying that his wife didn’t stay in check. The father and son had a big quarrel."
"Then? Did they still live together after that?"
"Seems like it."
Chen Shi secretly thought that there might be something hidden within.
Arriving at Chen Shi's house, they found Tao Yueyue had already arrived home long ago. Chen Shi was used to preparing the next day's meals at night so that Tao Yueyue could have dinner even if he came back late.
Tao Yueyue only started school in the past few days. Chen Shi entered the house and asked, "How is it at school?"
"You don't care about how I am at school, but you’re still asking!"
"I’m just asking casually!"
"Um... We have a new teacher."
At this time, Lin Dongxue entered the house and greeted her warmly. Tao Yueyue immediately stopped talking and went into her room.
Lin Dongxue said, "Have you and Yueyue not communicated as much recently?"
"That’s quite true. It's been too busy lately. Think about how many cases we’ve had recently... Would you like to take her out on a trip on the 11th?"
"Look, look, you now have the same attitude as a perfunctory parent. You always think that you can solve the problem by going out to play."
Chen Shi raised his voice, "Yueyue, do you want to go out for a trip on the 11th?"
Tao Yueyue answered from the room, "I won’t go. There’s so many people. I might as well play at home.”
Chen Shi smiled, "Look, she doesn’t want it. It's not that I'm not responsible."
Lin Dongxue sighed. "It’s as if I’ve seen what you’d look like as a dad in the future."
"I don't have that plan. I don't think I’ll be a qualified dad, so I won’t drag them down."
"Awareness isn’t bad!"
Three days later, the clues in the case came to light one after another. Chen Shi sorted out Zhang Hao’s “timetable” and visited the two old employees in his shop. They reflected that Zhang Hao returned during the New Years of 2000.
The grandpa's disappearance was reported after the Spring Festival in 2000, and then he was declared dead in 2002.
From 2000 till the father’s disappearance in 2017, the father, son, and daughter-in-law lived together. During this time, the father had always been sleeping below, leaving the upper loft for the couple.
After writing out this timeline, everything seemed to become clear. Chen Shi speculated, "The grandpa should have been killed on the New Years of 2000. The store was closed for seven days during the New Years. Zhang Hao probably knew or even witnessed this incident. He was able to use it as blackmail against his father. This may have been a time bomb between father and son."
Then came the unclaimed corpses retrieved from the various branches that piled up on a table. The laboratory work was very time-consuming. Finally, only one was found and it was particularly unexpected.
It was a skull with metallic paint on the surface with a few screws in.
It turned out that this was an "accessory" installed on a motorcycle by the midnight racing gang. Later, he was detained because of illegal traffic regulations. The traffic police accidentally discovered that the skull was real. That person said it was found in a wasteland in the suburbs. He thought it was really cool and it put it on his motorcycle.
The branch bureau went to the site to investigate and found no other bones, so the skull was kept in the evidence room, and it was only until now that it saw light again.
The skull’s DNA had a 99.99% match with Zhang Hao's DNA, which was undoubtedly a direct relative. It was discovered last year, after Zhang Hao's father disappeared.
There was no trauma left on the skull.
Lin Dongxue said, "It seems that Zhang Hao's father is dead, but we can’t apply for an arrest warrant with just this evidence."
"Yes, even if all the customers in the store are found and asked one by one, they wouldn't know that they’ve eaten human flesh. This method is really tricky!" Chen Shi sighed.
"I checked on the Internet. The news of beef paste appeared only in the past two years. In 2000, beef was 20 yuan a catty. His noodles were 10 yuan a bowl. There was no cost reduction to use beef paste?"
"You forgot that Zhang Hao's father worked in a canning factory previously. That canning factory mainly produced canned beef. He is very familiar with these additives, and I'm pretty sure he did it that way."
"But, this is still just your speculation."
Chen Shi shook his head. "Is there any human flesh in the shop? This sensational news is actually not important in this case. What matters is how the person died and who killed him!"
Lin Dongxue's cell phone rang. She put it in her ear. "Officer Luo, what happened..."
After hanging up, Lin Dongxue said, "The police station said that Zhang Farong and his son were causing trouble at the front of Zhangji Noodle Shop, saying that this shop sold human meat and drove the guests away."
"You informed the police station?"
"Yeah, I greeted them and told them to pay attention."
"Good job! Let’s go!"
1. October 11th is the national day for China.
2. Editor Conspiracing’s Note: The author wrote 2016 here, but it was changed to 2017 to be consistent with earlier chapters.
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