Chen Shi instructed Xu Xiaodong, "Go to that paddy to see if you can find the rice and keep it as evidence."
Xu Xiaodong agreed to go, and then Old Jia came back and showed them the address book. There were two rice collectors: One was named Chu Wei and the other was named Luo Chuanlong. Lin Dongxue took out her mobile phone and called Chu Wei. A voice with a heavy southern accent answered. When faced with the questions, he said, "Yes, yes. We come to Wangchenggang to collect rice every year. We offer a price that’s a little bit higher than the grain bureau. The farmers are all willing to cooperate with us."
"Two police officers went missing in Wangchenggang. Do you know about this?"
"Officer Xu and Officer Jia, right? I’m not very clear about this. These two came to see us that day because of some minor disputes. They left after lunch in the village. Their disappearance has nothing to do with us."
"Ask where this batch of rice went." Chen Shi reminded in a low voice.
"There’s a villager named Old Jia Number Four. You collected the rice from his field, didn't you?"
"We want to see that batch of rice."
"I'm afraid it's not very convenient. The rice has already been piled all together in the warehouse. If you really have to have a look, you can come to the warehouse to check it out."
Lin Dongxue glanced at Chen Shi and continued to say to the phone, "Could you find the time to take a trip down to Wangchenggang with Luo Chuanlong? We need to ask you guys some questions."
The other party clicked his tongue reluctantly. "It’s the harvest season. We have to collect grain everywhere. I'm afraid we won't have the time to spare."
"Then why don’t we come and look for you instead? Tell us your current location."
Chu Wei provided the address of a village and then immediately hung up.
Lin Dongxue said, "I'm very curious. How do these private purchasers make profits, and to whom do they sell the grain to?"
"Usually, they have mills that they are cooperating with. Aiya, do they have a license? Could it be that they got into a dispute with the police because they don’t have a license, and then..." Old Zhang speculated.
"Without a license, it’s a fine at most. Kidnapping or killing for this kind of thing is a bit too much, right?" Chen Shi said, "Let's go to the village to see if there are any clues."
The police entered the village and inquired from house to house. The farmers’ accounts were inconsistent, but one point remained the same. The two police officers who came to mediate that day had a simple meal at Old Jia Number Four’s house at noon. Someone saw them walking to the entrance of the village in the afternoon and driving away in the car.
According to these statements, the disappearance should have occurred outside the village.
However, the key figure, Old Jia Number Four had disappeared. According to neighbors, Old Jia Number Four had gone to Xi’an early that morning to meet an internet friend. Lin Dongxue and Chen Shi thought it was a bit too much of a coincidence, but several neighbors told them the same thing. They said he had met a woman who was divorced and had a child on the internet. They got along quite well and he had been a bachelor for many years, so he went to Xi'an for a blind date while he didn’t have to farm.
"So before he left, he hurriedly harvested his own fields?" Chen Shi asked.
"Probably!" the neighbors replied.
Old Jia, who was accompanying them, said indignantly, "Old Jia Number Four is really dishonest. He’s already collected the celebrity’s money and told not to harvest the rice, but he just had to do it. This is why this happened today, haii!"
"How much was it to rent the land for filming?" Chen Shi asked.
"Four thousand per household."
"Is it more than the price for the harvest?"
"That's for sure. It’s only around 800 yuan for a mu."
Chen Shi's gaze fell on a single small western-style building with bright tiles on the exterior wall. It stood out among the brick and tile houses. He asked, "This is Old Jia Number Four’s house?"
"It seems that he’s quite rich. Doesn't his household only have a piece of farmland that size?"
"How much can we earn by farming alone? He sells rice seeds in the town. They are the seeds of the Shennong No. 24 upland rice planted in his field."
"Do other families also grow it?"
"No, because this Shennong No. 24 is mediocre and the ears are very small. Although the purchase price is a few cents higher, it isn’t much more when total yield is compared."
Chen Shi thanked Old Jia and he went back to the village committee first. Lin Dongxue said, "We should check Old Jia Number Four’s income."
"Haha, you have the same ideas as I do. By the way, check the identities of the two rice harvest collectors as well."
By noon, they had basically visited all the households in the entire village. Old Jia invited everyone to go to the village committee for a simple meal. There were no restaurants and guesthouses there, so the police agreed. Chen Shi said, "Wait, there are still people who we haven’t asked yet."
"Brother Chen, we have visited every house, and didn’t leave any out."
"We haven’t asked the people who rented this land for filming though? They were the other party in the mediation, and they were in the village at the time." Chen Shi said.
"Do we have to go during lunchtime at noon?"
"They’d be too busy in the afternoon. We’re all in the same village anyway. We’ll finish asking soon enough. Dongxue, let's go over."
The group of people had rented a house at the entrance of the village. A minivan and a truck for transporting supplies were parked outside. A canopy had also been set up. When Chen Shi and Lin Dongxue rushed over, they had finished lunch and were eating watermelon under the canopy.
Walking under the canopy, the agent, assistant and others cast hostile gazes at them. Chen Shi said, "We aren’t here to steal your watermelon."
"We won’t invite you to eat watermelon either." The agent responded.
"I have a question. On the 17th, that is, the day before yesterday, two police officers came to mediate the ferret incident. When was the last time you saw them?"
"Don't mention this incident to me. I get angry whenever it’s mentioned. What kind of attitude did those two police officers have? They thought that since we’re from the city and the other party are farmers, we should give in to them. Whoever is poor is in the right? They killed our ferret. Let’s not talk about other things, based on Angela’s bloodline alone, they should pay thousands of yuan in compensation! Later, I found out that the two police officers are related to the villagers. No wonder they were biased. I was very angry, so I went to the city bureau to report the case. In the end, your captain had a ‘ignore it if it doesn’t affect me personally’ attitude.” The agent got increasingly angry as he recalled the situation.
Lin Dongxue couldn't help arguing a little. "The ferret killers weren’t farmers. They were people here to collect the harvested rice. Don't cast the blame on other people."
"Hmph, in my opinion, they’re all the same. Angela was so cute, but they actually ate it. Was this humane?"
At that moment, wailing came from the minivan and the assistant whispered, "Stop talking. Sister Xiaoqing is crying again."
The agent ran over and said through the window, "Don't be sad. I will definitely give Angela justice."
He came back and spread out his hands. "Someone must take responsibility for this at the end of the day. If you shield the farmers, then you must pay the compensation!"
"Did you make a mistake? We’re not here to mediate this matter. We are here to investigate the disappearance of the police officers."
"I don't care about this. If I can't give Angela justice, then I won't provide any clues..." The agent sneered slyly. "I won't tell you anything. In fact, those two police officers are still in the village right now!"
1. Traditional unit of measurement. 0.165 acre.
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