Chapter 25 - Digging for Information
Lao Li let out a long sigh. “Mhm, just as I said, a silver bracelet. In fact, the bracelet she had was very similar to the one you wear!”
Shen Yu felt like her head was about to explode. She had an inkling of what might be going on but she didn’t want to believe it. Impatient to confirm her thoughts, she bombarded Lao Li with questions. What was the name of Old Mr. Yun’s daughter? Where was she now?
However, the answers she received from him disappointed her. Lao Li told her that Old Mr. Yun’s daughter’s name was Yun Jin. The problem? Yun Jin had been dead for over twenty years after an unexpected car accident.
Frustrated, Shen Yu no longer knew what to think. The bits and pieces that she had amassed seemed to be going nowhere. The silver bracelet she wore was something that her mother had worn for a long time. Shen Yu only got it after she reached her teenage years. If Lao Li wasn’t lying, then Old Mr. Yun’s daughter had been dead for decades. There was no way the silver bracelet could be from her. Coincidences were not uncommon in a world this big, so she didn’t pursue that line of thought any further.
The problem was that none of this explained why Tang Can went through the trouble of finding her and recruiting her into his division. He also dragged her up the mountains to meet Old Mr. Yun. What was he trying to do? The other detail that was bothering her was the old man she met when they first arrived in Changsha. He was in a hospital room yet there were guards all over the place, watching him. What was his link to her? No one wanted to tell her anything. Would she ever be able to figure out everything on her own?
Despite the setback, Shen Yu persevered on. Using all of her wiles that she honed as reporter, she continued to ask Lao Li more questions, skillfully attacking her target from different directions. In the end, however, she obtained nothing of use.
She was incredibly disappointed. Just as she was about to decide to stop her angle of attack and save some of her breath, Wheaty whuffed softly. It reminded her she had one more thing to clarify. Turning towards Lao Li, she asked, “Oh right! The first day we were at the mines, there was a black colored dog that my commanding officer kicked. I didn’t see that dog today. Is it too heavily injured from that day?”
Lao Li moaned and groaned. “No, that dog was buried alive!” he sighed sorrowfully. “In the old geezer’s mind, people are not as useful as dogs, and mongrels are not as useful as Tibetan mastiffs! The most important person in the mining camp is obviously Old Mr. Yun, but a close second is that damn Tibetan mastiff of his! It guards all of the gold and Old Mr. Yun loves it to death. Everyday, the damn dog eats the best that we have! That mastiff lives a life that is a thousand times better than mine. Whenever it gets sick, Old Mr. Yun becomes so worried that you would have thought he was stressing over his dad dying or something!”
When Shen Yu heard Lao Li insult Old Mr. Yun, she almost wanted to start laughing. However, she had more important things to do than snicker at a corny joke.
“I heard that Tibetan mastiffs are very expensive,” she said, continuing the conversation. “In fact, people pay anywhere from a couple hundred thousand to a million for one mastiff. You know how much Old Mr. Yun loves money, of course he would get worried whenever his dog gets sick! The mastiff has a much different fate compared to those other mongrels. Just like that black dog, right? The one that got buried alive?”
Lao Li sighed again. “That black dog was lucky to be able to die with an intact corpse. If it was any of the other mongrels, it would have been chopped up for dog meat. Old Mr. Yun loves to eat dog meat. He’ll kill one of the dogs every couple of months so he can have a taste. The only reason why he didn’t butcher the black dog was because it had some sentimental value for him. Otherwise it would have long disappeared into his belly.”
Shen Yu suddenly felt chills all over and her whole body involuntarily trembled twice. Old Mr. Yun always had a smile on his face, but now it seemed more sinister. For some reason, she now feared the old man.
“So what you’re saying is that he used to like the black dog a lot?” Shen Yu said in an effort to hide her previous reaction.
Lao Li replied, “No way! The dog was not originally raised by him. In fact, the black dog had bitten Old Mr. Yun before in an effort to protect its previous master. Later on, his master died after falling off a cliff. The black dog actually stood in the spot that his master died and refused to eat, drink or move from its spot. It almost died. Old Mr. Yun admired its loyalty to its dead master, so he started to tame it. He’s an old hand at training dogs. After he succeeded, he kept the black dog by his side.”
Shen Yu’s interest was piqued by this line of questioning and continued to probe Lao Li. She wanted to find out the identity of Blackie’s original master because that was the person who left behind that incredible ore of dog’s head gold and the map in the canteen. Although the gold had mysteriously disappeared, she still had the map in her hands. If the map had any intrinsic value, she could use it as a bargaining tool to get the information needed. She needed to figure out all of these secrets!
Her eyes flickered as she rapidly thought up a convincing story to tell Lao Li. “Officer Tang told me before that the black dog’s original owner used to be in the army! Is that correct?”
This lie was a long shot, but she fabricated it up based on what little she had. Just because she found a military issued canteen didn’t mean that Blackie’s old master was an enlisted soldier. After all, the army often sold its surplus supplies to civilians, so anyone could easily get a canteen. However, even blind cats can occasionally kill rats on accidents. This time, she had struck gold.
Lao Li nodded his head. “Yup, that person used to be a soldier. Actually, that’s how the black dog’s old owner learned how to train dogs in the army style. That black colored dog had been very well trained and was fierce! It had even killed wolves before! But the black dog is old now. Had it been any younger, Old Mr. Yun would have never let that dog off leash in the daytime. That dog would attack strangers.”
Shen Yu’s eyebrows slowly came together in a frown. Right now she didn’t like anything that was associated with the army. Blackie’s old master used to be in the military. It was likely that man had some contact with Tang Can and his crew, or at least the division that they were in. She continued to subtly pump Lao Li for information. Without much effort, she learned that Lao Li knew that Blackie’s old master’s nickname was ‘Eagle’. Unfortunately, Lao Li didn’t know Eagle’s real name and where his nickname came from.
The clues that she was able to pry out of Lao Li’s mouth didn’t turn out to be too surprising or groundbreaking. Regardless, the more information the better! Shen Yu was actually quite pleased with the amount she managed to elicit from this round of investigation. She felt like she managed to recoup the cost of saving Lao Li, despite his appalling lack of morality.
Time passed quickly and before she knew it, dawn had arrived. After talking for half the night, Lao Li was exhausted. His head drooped down to his chest and he could barely keep his eyes open. Shen Yu thought of another topic she wanted to ask. She had remembered that Lao Li had previously said that Mazha was from Shandong province, just like him. However, Lao Li’s reply was too muddled for her to make any heads or toes of it. It sounded like he was talking in his sleep. Despite asking the same question twice, she was still unable to get a coherent answer from him. Lao Li started to snore. Shen Yu sighed and decided that it was worthless trying to continue. She might as well save her own breath.
In the quiet of the dawn, she sifted through her tangled thoughts. Ever since Tang Can showed up, her previously peaceful and orderly life had been turned topsy-turvy. Her parents were no longer people she knew. Both her mother and father had a mysterious pasts that she didn’t know existed until recently. Just thinking about it made her head hurt.
She thought back to that fateful day when she saw her dad hitting her mom.
“Those people are already at our doorstep, if you make a fuss now, wouldn’t they find out everything? If they figure out exactly what happened all of those years ago, who knows what they’ll do to us!”
She was deep in thought when Tang Can finally woke up. When he got out of his sleeping arrangement, he noticed that she was sitting next to Lao Li, as if they hadn’t slept the entire night. He asked her why she didn’t sleep the night before with a concerned look on his face.
Before she could reply, Lao Li woke up after hearing the sound of Tang Can’s voice. He started to cry and beg pitifully.
“Officer Tang, I’ve been bound up all night! Can you please loosen the rope? My arms feel like they’re about to fall off!”
Since he was awake and it was light out, Tang Can saw no reason to continue keep the thief tied up. He untied the rope from Lao Li’s body. Freed, Lao Li still looked miserable and in pain. After being forced into the same position for a whole night, the thief’s arm was numb and Lao Li was too scared to try to move it on his own. Tang Can helped the man slowly massage the arm to let blood flow back into it. Lao Li cried out in pain a couple of times but he could finally move his arm again. Gingerly, he continued to exercise his limb gently.
Shen Yu decided to loosen Wheaty’s bandages to check on them after a long night. She tried to get up from the ground, but after sitting for an entire night, her legs were numb! Before she realized it, she had taken a stumble and was about to hit the ground face first!
“Shen Yu!” exclaimed Tang Can. He quickly stretched out a hand to catch her in his arms before she fell.
Previous Chapter Next Chapter