Volume 50: Don't Touch My Rice Paddy
In the dead of night, two men stood smoking in the endless golden rice paddies. Male A said, "This year's rice is so good!"
Male B said, "Yes, we can sell it for a lot of money."
"After collecting the rice this time, I plan to resign and return to my hometown to get married."
"What?! You’re resigning? Have you talked to the boss about it yet?"
"No, do you think he will agree? I’ve been collecting rice for the past two years. I’m tired and saved a lot of money, but I’ve never had the opportunity to spend it. I’m not young anymore. It’s time to enjoy life."
"If you leave, I won't be able to handle the business from these villages by myself."
"Just take it easy."
Suddenly, there were rustling movements in the rice paddy. The two men looked at each other and picked up their guns in unison. They pushed their way through the field and walked over. They saw a white creature gnawing the new ears of rice.
Male B got angry, "Bastard, do you know what you’re eating?"
The little creature ran away. Male A deftly pounced on it. While the little creature was struggling, it scratched him. Male A saw that it was wearing a silver collar and said, "It has a master."
"We can't let it go back!"
"Hmph, if you eat someone else's food, you have to pay the debt."
He raised his knife and chopped the little creature’s head off.
"How do you want to cook this thing? It's omnivorous. It’ll taste really stinky."
"Have you ever eaten dog meat? Dogs are also omnivorous. Their meat is fragrant. This stuff is probably similar to dog meat."
"Will there be parasites in it?"
"Cook it longer and put more garlic in. Come, let’s go and borrow a pot from Old Jia."
The two found an old cadre from the village and built a simple stove with bricks at the entrance of the village. They boiled the creature, skinned it, and gave the skin to the old cadre. They asked him to bring it back and make a scarf for his daughter.
A fragrant scent of meat rose with the water vapor. The three people around the pot started helping themselves to it, ladling out some meat broth for taste-testing.
"Hey, it's not bad. I thought this meat would be sour!"
"Look at the fur. It must have been kept very carefully. If it eats well, the meat will naturally be good."
A group of people came up to the paddy. They were shouting, "Angela! Angela!"
Soon, these people discovered the three people squatting on the ground and came over to inquire. A well-dressed woman amongst them suddenly discovered a bloody pelt hanging on the wall. She saw what was stewing in the pot and her shriek reached the heavens, "Are you guys psychos?! I want to report it to the police!"
On May 17th, female singer Feng Xiaoqing's agent went to the city bureau to report the crime, claiming that it was a murder. Lin Qiupu personally handled it. After hearing about the whole "case", he hardly knew how he should react.
It turned out that Feng Xiaoqing’s ferret, Angela, had run out last night and gnawed on some stalks of rice. Then it was slaughtered and eaten by three farmers. For this matter, they had come all the way to the city bureau in order to report it.
"The murderers were extremely cruel. They skinned Angela and cooked it in an iron pot on the ground. It’s outrageous!" The agent described in a vivid manner.
"No, it doesn't matter how gory you make it sound. We’re the criminal police team and we don’t handle cases like this."
The agent flew into a rage. "Angela is of great significance to Xiaoqing. It’s just like her daughter. If your daughter was killed and eaten, wouldn't you care about it?"
"The problem is that it's not human."
"To Xiaoqing, it’s more important than a human being!"
Lin Qiupu felt very helpless. "Didn’t you call 110? This matter should have been handled by the local police station."
"The local police did turn up, said some nonsense and left. Xiaoqing alone pays more taxes to the country than a medium-sized enterprise each year. Could it be said that when such cruel things happen, you, as an institution supported by taxpayers is intending to sit idly by?"
"She isn’t more special than others just because she pays more tax..."
"You mean to say that no matter who this happened to, you wouldn’t care?"
"I emphasize again: the killing of a ferret is not a homicide. You should settle it privately. If you need to sue, then sue. If financial compensation is necessary, then money needs to be paid."
The agent stood up and poked Lin Qiupu's nose angrily with a finger, "We will sue, but we won’t be suing them. We will be suing you for dereliction of duty! Wait for me!"
After the agent left, Lin Dongxue opened the door and came in with a report in her hand. She curiously asked, "Brother, what happened with the man who just slammed the door on his way out?"
"He’s crazy. Don't worry about him... A ferret gnawed someone's rice and was killed and eaten. They came just to report it to the police. Do all rich people think they’re special?"
"Probably normal rice."
"Do you remember those few seeds we found in Xu Fa's house? Old Chen took them home and planted them. Those seeds sprouted two days ago. They’re also rice sprouts. He even told me to pay attention to cases involving rice."
Lin Qiupu thought for a while. "There’s no need to waste police manpower on this kind of trivial matter. The local police will deal with it..." Noting the slight dissatisfaction in Lin Dongxue's eyes, Lin Qiupu added, "Okay, okay, I will call to confirm later and will definitely inform you if there are any developments.. "
Tao Yueyue's junior high school exam was about to take place. During this time, Chen Shi had been spending time with her. It just happened to be Sunday, so he accompanied Tao Yueyue out for a good meal. He planned to take her to visit some key high schools within the city in the afternoon so that she could experience a high school’s atmosphere.
A phone call interrupted their lunch. Chen Shi listened to the words from the other side, and his expression kept changing. After hanging up, he said, "Yueyue..."
"There’s another case? Then you should go. I’ll go to the Internet cafe to have fun for a while under the pretence of going to a classmate’s house in the afternoon." Tao Yueyue said understandingly.
"Remember to go home before dark!"
"You won't be back before dark?"
"It’s quite far away…"
"Understood. Okay, I won't show a disappointed expression, although I’m really a bit disappointed!"
"I will make it up to you another day." Chen Shi patted Tao Yueyue on the head.
Lin Dongxue had told him on the phone that it was the case of the rice-gnawing ferret that she had mentioned two days ago. She didn’t expect that there would be new developments that day. The two local police officers who had gone down to the countryside to mediate had strangely gone missing, and the police station couldn’t find them. They could only ask the city bureau for help. They had no choice but to go and take a look now.
The incident had occurred in a place called Wangchenggang. It happened to be May. When Chen Shi, Lin Dongxue and several other police officers arrived by car, they saw golden rice paddies on both sides of the road. The heavy ears of rice were rippling in the wind, like a patch of golden ocean.
Lin Dongxue said, "I thought rice is harvested in autumn."
"Most crops are indeed harvested in autumn, but early rice is harvested in May."
"Is this case appealing to you?"
"I can't tell. When I heard you talk about it that day, I thought it was a total farce. Although it involved rice, it seemed that rice wasn’t the protagonist. I was also hesitant about coming down for a look, but it’s perfectly justified now."
"Haha, what kind of case would have rice as the protagonist?!"
"Use your imagination. Do you think there’s a mystery in the few rice seeds that Xu Fa carefully hid?"
"Hmm..." Lin Dongxue looked at the rice paddy outside the window. "I can't think of any mystery!"
"I can't think of any connection between a poison manufacturing expert and rice either. I also went to Old Peng for a test, but he said it wasn’t his specialty."
When they arrived at the entrance of the village, they saw a bunch of people causing a commotion. There were obviously two groups of people. One group was well-dressed and carrying various video equipment, whereas the other group looked earthy. The latter were clearly locals.
"...What's the matter with you? You harvested it without saying anything. The footage we shot before is all wasted. It’s clearly written in the contract that no changes are allowed during our lease. You smelly farmers are so short-sighted. You only know how to focus on small profits!" The agent who had come to report the case last time said indignantly.
A man dressed as a farmer apologized. "These fields belong to different families, and our village committee can’t control them. I’m really sorry. Why don’t you add special effects? I don’t understand those things. You guys are experts. You have the final say."
"The background is gone. How would we add special effects? Do special effects not cost money? I can tell you this: ten seconds of special effects is more expensive than the harvest of this field. Did we not pay you? Huh?!" The agent became even more angry.
"Hey, stop yelling. What's the matter?" Old Zhang stepped forward to stop the quarrel between the two parties.
Behind the agent stood the singer, Feng Xiaoqing. She was wearing a mermaid dress with heavy make-up on her face. She kept fanning herself with a folding fan. This was the first time Chen Shi had seen her other than on TV. She was beautiful, but her expression was too repulsive.
The other assistants, photographers, makeup artists, etc. were also all arrogant.
"Yo, Bar Comrades!" said the agent.
"Who are 'Bar Comrades'? Is this considered respectful or insulting?" Old Zhang asked.
"Look over there!" The agent pointed into the distance. A large part of the paddy fields had been harvested, exposing the bare land. "We contracted with this village to shoot a music video, rushing to shoot these golden waves of wheat in May..."
"Same thing!" The agent retorted. "As a result, we have only shot one-third of the footage when these stinky farmers harvested the paddy without saying a word last night. The panorama was originally very beautiful, but now it's bald in one section. It’s as bald as Ge You! Motherfucker! We have to re-shoot everything. Re-shoot!!!"
The assistant said, "Our Xiaoqing’s schedule is fully-packed. I don't know how many commercials were declined in order to shoot this music video. Due to this incident, we don't know how long things will be delayed now. We will be losing millions each day!"
Feng Xiaoqing waved her fan and spat on the ground with an expression of disdain.
The village committee cadre who bore the brunt on behalf of the others rubbed his hands together, looking embarrassed.
Chen Shi shot a helpless look at Lin Dongxue. Well-known performing artists are really troublesome creatures.
Old Zhang asked, "Things are already like this. Surely, you aren’t going to sue because of this? How are you guys planning to settle this privately?"
The agent looked at the field in the distance with his hands on his hips, "Stick the wheat you have reaped back."
"That's impossible." The village committee cadre waved his hands repeatedly. "The rice dries within a few hours of being harvested. It is impossible to insert it back. Even if it’s inserted back stalk by stalk, it will be too short. If you shoot that, wouldn’t it look bad too?"
The agent stomped his feet desperately with anger, as if stepping on an invisible bug, "Then why did you harvest it?! Although the fields belong to different households, you didn’t tell us beforehand. Now, it’s caused us heavy economic losses. You have to take full responsibility. Take full responsibility!"
"Officer Zhang, don't stoop to their level." Chen Shi said.
Old Zhang said, "We’re from the Criminal Police Team. We’re here to deal with other things... You from the village committee, can you come with us? We need to ask you something."
The village committee cadre followed the police as if he had received amnesty. The agent behind them was furious. "Stop right there. Are all of you police useless? What’s the damn point of paying taxes? Stop right there."
Lin Dongxue commented in a low voice, "Although they’re indeed the party whose interests have been damaged, their attitude is too loathsome."
"This kind of person can probably only see his own loss." Chen Shi said.
The village committee cadre led the police through the paddy fields and they walked far away. The voices of those people could no longer be heard. Finally, their ears had peace. Chen Shi touched the rice by the road and asked, "These two days were harvesting time?"
"Yes, the harvest happens this week. Any later than this and the rice will be old." said the village committee cadre.
"Which family does that field belong to?" Chen Shi pointed to the bald patch.
"Old Jia Number Four."
"How should we address you?"
"I’m also surnamed Jia. Most people in this village are surnamed Jia. These few people did sign a contract with us in advance to rent the entire village in order to shoot a music video. All the families with paddies in this area have received money. This Old Jia Number Four really has no sense. He harvested his rice without saying a word."
"We aren’t here for this. Two local police officers have gone missing here. Have you seen them?"
"I've seen them. One is Little Xu, the other is Little Jia. Little Jia is actually the nephew of Old Jia Number Four. They came because the ferret of this group had been eaten, and they came to mediate."
"Who ate it?"
Old Jia admitted with shame. "I did...but the ferret wasn’t killed by me. It was killed by two rice harvest collectors. They came to inspect the rice that night and discovered the ferret gnawing the rice. They killed it in passing and borrowed a pot from me. We had just peeled the garlic when this group of people came. They made a huge fuss... It’s just a ferret. I said we’d compensate them with money, but they weren’t happy and insisted on calling the police. Ever since this group of people came, the village hasn’t had a day of peace, haii!"
"The rice harvest collectors came to inspect the rice before it was harvested?"
"Those two masters come every year. They probably didn't know that someone would come to film this year and that the harvest would be delayed for a few days."
"When was the last time you saw the two missing policemen?"
"On the 17th. I talked to them when they came, and then I went out. When I came back in the afternoon, the police car parked at the entrance of the village was already gone. I thought they had left. However, that night, other police officers came over and said they hadn’t gone back all day. I was wondering how two big living humans have disappeared just like that. Their car was parked right there..." Old Jia pointed in one direction.
Everyone looked over, and Chen Shi continued to ask, "Were there any outsiders in the village at the time? Except for these videographers."
"Those two masters who collect the harvested rice don’t count, right?"
"They do. Of course they do! Do you have their contact information?"
"I'll look for it." As he said this, Old Jia walked into the red brick building of the village committee.
Looking at his back, Chen Shi murmured, "There’s something fishy about this."
1. Referring to the bars on police uniforms that indicate their rank.
2. Famous mainland Chinese actor.
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