“Okay, thank you!"
After learning about the situation, Chen Shi thanked the uncle whom they were questioning.
The young man had been confirmed dead, and the body was temporarily taken to his own home. While Old Zhang and the others rushed over, Chen Shi and Lin Dongxue went separately to question the villagers there about the situation.
"This young man is called XX. He’s a native of this village and his occupation is farming. However, I found out about an interesting thing. Three years ago, he also planted Shennong No. 24 in his field. One day, a group of people came and pulled out all his rice seedlings. Since then, he’s switched to planting something else. Dongxue, what about your side?"
"Three years ago? What a coincidence! I was asking people if anyone in the village has gone missing or died. They said that a fool had disappeared previously. It’s the house opposite us. It also happened three years ago. The most striking characteristic of this fool was that he had a very serious smoking habit. All day long, he’d visit people’s homes with the pipe handed down from his father in his mouth. After his disappearance, officers from the nearby local police station came and searched for him, but later on, nobody asked about him again."
Looking at the corpse, Chen Shi muttered, "He dug that pit previously to show us a corpse? As a result, he’s now a corpse and the wound is very deep. The place where he was killed should be an alley nearby. The murderer's purpose is obviously to silence him."
Lin Dongxue glanced outside. The sky gradually darkened, but there were still many people standing outside watching the drama. As there were no street lights, the large number of gloomy figures made it seem a bit eerie. She whispered, "Is the murderer among the villagers? "
Chen Shi nodded silently.
Lin Dongxue asked again, "What did he say to you before he died...? 'Rice'?"
"I don't know if he was saying 'rice' or 'fuck'!" Chen Shi shook his head. "What is the secret behind this rice?!"
It became totally dark, and a line of police cars with blaring sirens drove into the village where the murder had occurred.
There was a shadowy figure squatting under the locust tree by the roadside. He had a cigarette in his mouth while he talked on the phone. He said, "There was a worrisome guy in Xu Village. Today, he almost exposed to the police what had happened three years ago. Fortunately, Little Long was quick with his knife."
"Ah Wei, we can't let the police investigate any further. There’s no secret that can withstand such scrutiny. Once exposed, our business in Long'an will be finished." The voice on the phone was elderly.
"Boss, we’ve been hiding, doing everything possible to avoid being spotted by the police!"
"It's useless just to hide. The more you hide, the more the police will investigate. You must learn how to divert their attention. Xu Wenqiang once said to Ding Li, 'The French Concession can only be governed easily when there’s chaos.' This is the same. Let there be chaos and kill a few more people so that the police have no time to investigate the rice."
After some silence, the shadowy figure pondered, "Who should we kill? The two policemen we have captured?"
"No, no, you can't kill the policemen. That will only escalate the situation."
"Kill the farmers?"
"The impact won’t be huge enough. Kill people who are of some importance. Oh yes, aren't there a group of people who went to film in Wangchenggang...?" The other party's hint was already very explicit.
"Don't hem and haw. What do you need, money? I'll transfer some over right away!"
"I saw your daughter today. She is... very beautiful!"
"Haha, after all, she has my blood running in her veins!"
"Back when you sent me to do that thing, I became a wanted person after it was exposed. I hid for a whole year and ate instant noodles every day. Now, whenever I see Master Kong, I’d want to vomit. Later, you asked me to collect rice and I collected it for three years. I said that I wanted to go back to my hometown to get married. You said that you couldn’t do it without me. I worked for another three years. Now, it’s already the ninth year. Boss, I plan to go home and get married this year. I really want to go home, get married, and live a warm, comfortable life with my wife and children."
"People who walk the path of the underworld still covet an easy and comfortable life? Ah Wei, you’re too naive. When you walk this path, you’re choosing to have blood on your blade and to put your life on the line. Even if you get to Xu Wenqiang’s position, you’d still end up being shot dead by someone."
"Then what’s the point of walking this path?!" He became agitated. "When I started as a small-time gangster, wasn’t it because I didn’t want to suffer, or because I wanted to smoke, drink, and sleep with women? You big brothers make walking this path sound like martyrdom, but isn’t it all for the word ‘enjoyment’? Take this business as an example. You’re already so rich, but you still want to make money. We risk being shot outside to help you collect rice. Boss, after the rice harvest was collected last year, didn’t you buy another villa for your mistress? In the end, what did we get..."
"Do you want to die?!?!" The old man's anger erupted over the phone.
"I’m... I'm sorry!"
"Go back to your hometown and get married? Does anyone want to marry you?"
"No... no. I’ve saved a lot of money from collecting rice over the past few years. Finding a young, beautiful, tender and virtuous woman shouldn’t be a problem."
"Oh, you really don't know women. Young and beautiful women are easy to find, but you can't get anyone tender and virtuous if they’re after you for your money. Be a little more self-aware at your age!"
"Boss, I mentioned this to you nine years ago."
"Yes, you mentioned it nine years ago, but you were penniless then and now you have money..."
"But I’m almost dead!"
"Don't be so negative. Just do it. If you and Little Long can't handle it, I will ask Mr. Zhou to assist you. Back then, three police officers were killed for this secret. If this thing really can't be held back, I wouldn’t mind if we fight to the death. No one can investigate my secret! Behind you is me, Mr. Zhou, and your sworn older and younger brothers. After you finish this successfully, I will find a good woman for you and let you retire."
"What if I get caught?"
"Why are you thinking so much?!" the other party roared, "If you’re caught, you’re caught. You’ll have to pay sooner or later when you walk this path. Hurry up and fucking do the things for me. Stop lamenting. I'm your boss, not your mother!"
‘Ka-chik’, the other party hung up.
He put down the phone dispiritedly and looked towards the village. The police were investigating the man who died during the day. It seemed that they would be forced to tarry here tonight.
He dialled another number, "Little Long, help me prepare something."
At this moment, someone came over with a flashlight and shouted, "Who’s there?!"
Seeing that the situation didn’t bode well, he hurried away.
The policeman came over, found the cigarette butt on the ground, picked it up and put it into the evidence bag.
By the roadside, Lin Dongxue asked, "What's wrong?"
"There was a guy squatting there furtively. I didn't know what he was doing. I yelled and he slipped away. This is a cigarette butt I picked up at the scene."
"Okay, leave it to me!"
At 11:00 in the evening, Peng Sijue came over from Wangchenggang to examine the corpse. The distances between the various villages were too far, causing the police to run back and forth under great pressure that day.
In the tractor warehouse in Wangchenggang, Peng Sijue did find traces of struggle. He found fingerprints, some DNA, and a button dropped from a police uniform. Coincidentally, the warehouse belonged to Old Jia Number Four.
After checking the ID card usage records, Old Jia Number Four turned out not to be in Xi'an at all. He was in a town several hundred kilometers away from Long'an. They had already contacted the local police to go and find him.
The whole case seemed to have unveiled the tip of the iceberg, but it seemed even more bewildering...
1. As mentioned previously, they’re characters from ‘The Bund’.
2. The instant noodle brand.
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