When they got to the door of the pawn shop, Song Lang asked, "Where’s your partner Dachang? Why are you investigating the case alone?"
"He... he got off work."
"Hmph, I knew it! Don't follow his example. The police don’t work nine to five. People who do this job as if they are office workers can't become good police officers."
Lin Qiupu nodded silently and asked Song Lang, "Captain, what are you here to investigate?"
"The owner of this shop knew the deceased. I came to understand the situation. Do you know why they tried to pester you just now? It’s because this pawn shop has been found to be selling stolen goods for someone else. The police are currently investigating this. The owner is probably in a flustered state, so he thought of some dishonest ways."
Entering the store, the boss greeted them enthusiastically, and tried to gain their favor, "I was wondering why the magpies were calling today. It turned out that we are going to be honored by Captain Song’s visit. Ah, is this your beloved pupil?" Then he beckoned for his daughter to come out and present them with a box of cigars.
Song Lang didn't even look at it, and said, "Boss Zhai, did you know your friend He Taiyang was murdered?"
"I know. The news spread quickly in this line of work. I heard about it this morning. Did he die miserably?"
"Do you know what enemies He Taiyang had?"
"There are a few enemies. Why don't you come into the shop so we can sit while we talk? It’s tiring standing there."
"No need. I’ll just stand here!" Song Lang lit a cigarette for himself.
"Oh, you’re such an important criminal police captain, but you’re still smoking Zhongnanhai? It’ll lower your status. Come and smoke this!"
"Boss Zhai, let me tell you clearly that it's useless for you to act polite with me. What I'm investigating is a criminal case, and it's a different matter from the case where you sold stolen goods for someone else."
"I... I didn't help people sell stolen goods. It was just that group of little thieves slandering me. By the way, Captain Song, you have a good relationship with all the leaders in the bureau. Can you help me plead with Captain Zhang?" Boss Zhai displayed a greasy smile on his wrinkled face.
"We’ll talk when I finish handling my affairs. Tell me who He Taiyang's enemies are."
"Aiya, aiya, I have suddenly lost my memory. Who’s He Taiyang? Is the person male or female? Where have I heard this name before?" Boss Zhai put on a fake act. This was undisguised bargaining, and Lin Qiupu was very angry upon seeing this.
Song Lang sneered, and said, "Then I’ll tell Captain Zhang to stop investigating and return all the things they took from you, okay?"
Boss Zhai smiled, "I don't want the items..." He noticed the mockery in Song Lang's tone, and frowned. "Captain Song, are you kidding with me?"
"You know it’s impossible as well? Bear the responsibility for what you’ve done and don't come up with these crooked ideas all day long. Have you seen people who fall into swamps? You’ll only sink deeper and deeper if you struggle blindly like this. The only thing that can save you is confessing before the investigation ends in order to get a reduced sentence."
These words made Boss Zhai lower his head in shame. Song Lang said, "If you don't tell me, I will ask elsewhere. He Taiyang has other friends."
As he said this, he turned around to leave. Boss Zhai hurriedly took his arm and said, "Captain Song, I will cooperate with the investigation. I’ll cooperate with the investigation!"
Boss Zhai said that he and He Taiyang had been friends for decades. When they were young, they came to Long'an together. He Taiyang had many ideas and was willing to endure hardships. His only drawback was his lust. The eldest couldn’t control the second-eldest. He slept around all the time, but he was still afraid of his wife. He was caughting cheating on his wife a couple of times. His wife punished him by making him kneel on the washboard at home. He swore seriously that he would never touch another woman again. Of course, a dog can't stop eating shit. They were just words he spouted.
In the 1990s, He Taiyang had just made his fortune. He slept with a woman he shouldn't have slept with and people from the underworld went after him. He went into hiding for a few years and didn't dare to come back until the triad boss was arrested for another matter. However, during the years he was on the run, he still produced an illegitimate daughter. That’s He Jingjing who is now helping out in the store.
According to hearsay, He Jingjing went to Long'an to reunite with her father later on. He Taiyang liked her because He Taiyang had no other children, but Mrs. He didn't like her at all. One can guess just using one’s toes that when He Jingjing arrived, their family never had a peaceful day.
"I heard that he did something very unprofessional some time ago. A guest pawned an antique, and when the guest came to redeem it, he actually swapped it out with a fake item. The guest came from a powerful background and told him that he wouldn’t be able to do business in Long'an again. The last time I had a drink with him, he was very depressed. He even asked me where he could find a professional killer. I told him he was crazy, that he should quickly apologize to the other person and make amends. He said I didn't understand."
"What does that guest do?" Song Lang asked.
Boss Zhai lowered his voice. "He’s from the dark path!"
"There were no underworld gangs in Long'an twenty years ago. Which path was he on? The sidewalk?"
"This is just a way to say that this boss is really powerful, I... I can't disclose too much."
"What was the antique?"
"It was a calligraphy painting by Zhang Detian, from the Qing Dynasty."
Song Lang nodded and asked, "When did this happen?"
"A month ago."
"Then does he have any other enemies?"
Boss Zhai listed a few more. When Song Lang and Lin Qiupu left, Boss Zhai told his daughter to press the box of Cuban cigars into Song Lang’s hands. Song Lang simply said coldly, "Don't touch me." Boss Zhai's smile froze on his face.
Walking out of the store, Song Lang said, "You have to remember that the police represent justice, not kindness. Justice and kindness don't conflict most of the time, but when dealing with people like this, you don’t need to be kind to them, or they’ll take a mile when you give them an inch."
"I’ll remember." Lin Qiupu thought that the captain had taught him a very vivid lesson again.
"You’ve been looking at your watch just then. Do you have an appointment?"
"No... no, the last bus was at 10:30. I'm afraid I won’t make it."
"Why didn’t you say so earlier? I'll send you home!"
"No... no need. Captain, please go ahead and go about your business. I'll just take a taxi."
"Stop talking nonsense and get into the car!"
Lin Qiupu didn't dare to defy him, and got into the car obediently. Song Lang didn't say a word along the way. Lin Qiupu noticed that his hand was tapping at the steering wheel the whole time. That was probably the captain's habitual movement when thinking about things.
"What did you find out today?" Song Lang asked.
Lin Qiupu recounted the clues he had investigated, and finally said, "The clues aren’t comprehensive enough. I will visit a few more pawn shops tomorrow."
"Very good, but don't be too rigid when investigating cases. Most of these pawn shop owners know He Taiyang. While inquiring about this bowl, remember to find out about He Taiyang’s situation. It’s best to listen to different people talk about the same thing several times to get a general understanding of what the facts are."
"I’ll remember!" Lin Qiupu took out the small bowl in the evidence bag. "This is from a pawn shop. You can take it back for identification!"
Half an hour later, Song Lang’s car drove to the apartment which Lin Qiupu was renting. It was in a dilapidated residential building. The whole building was dark, except for a window on the top floor with the light on. Lin Qiupu said cheerfully, "My sister is back and waiting for me!"
"How much is the rent here?"
"Not expensive. It’s only 500 yuan a month."
An apartment that could be rented for five hundred yuan in Long'an must be in very poor condition. Furthermore, it was on the top floor. It must be cold in winter and warm in summer. Song Lang took out his wallet and pulled out a wad of banknotes, wanting to give him a little financial aid.
After thinking about it, he stuffed the money back in. Such a poor boy must have strong self-esteem, and he would feel humiliated if he was given money directly. It was better to wait for the case to end and give him an extra bonus instead.
Song Lang said gently, "Hurry home!"
"Thank you, Captain."
1. This is an euphemism describing men who can’t keep their penises in check.
2. In China, this is an auspicious omen.
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