Editor(s): grape seed
The car was parked in Wan City’s suburbs, outside of a construction site. Everything was deathly still and dark enough that if you stuck your hand out in front of you, you wouldn’t be able to see your fingers.
Du Jing was going to let Zhou Luoyang continue sleeping in the car, but when he closed the door, the sound woke him up.
Zhou Luoyang yawned and looked at Du Jing drowsily with a tinge of irritability in his eyes. Du Jing raised a finger to his lips in a “quiet” gesture and gave up on his plan to go alone. He led Zhou Luoyang around the construction site.
“How did you know it was here?” Zhou Luoyang had too many questions he wanted to ask.
“The news,” Du Jing replied.
“Is this one of your company’s projects?” Zhou Luoyang asked.
“Wanna buy? You can have a twenty percent discount.”
“Only twenty percent for an unfinished and abandoned building? Just rob me, why don’t you.”
Du Jing was a little surprised. “You knew?”
There were no lights on in the rows upon rows of shipping containers-turned-workers’ dorms. Trolleys were haphazardly situated off to the side.
Du Jing thought that taking the construction site lift would make too much noise noise and alert someone to their presence. Instead, they made their way up the concrete stairs inside the scaffolding. All was quiet except for the whistling wind. It began to drizzle.
“Yu Jianqing owns sixteen percent of Luxury Estates’s shares,” Du Jing said quietly. “I suspect he has something to do with two murder cases…This way.”
Zhou Luoyang didn’t probe into why Du Jing had looked into Yu Jianqiang. At the moment, he already had enough information to piece together a lot of things: maybe Du Jing was a mole in Yu Jianqiang’s company there to gather important information.
“Which two cases?” he asked.
Du Jing said, “The first, his spouse’s suicide. Nineteen years ago, he married the daughter of the boss of a scrap collection center and made it big via his father-in-law’s assets.”
“I’ve heard,” Zhou Luoyang replied. “That ‘big brother’ of his.”
“Because of her depression, his original wife overdosed on sleeping pills and killed herself nine years after they got married,” Du Jing said. “Their joint assets were left to him.”
Du Jing reached out and took Zhou Luoyang’s hand in his own ungloved left hand. He carefully walked up the railless stairs, looking up to try and make out a trace of Yu Jianqiang by means of the dim moonlight.
“After he obtained his father-in-law’s assets, he slowly began to make a fortune. During a rough spot in light of a new government policy, he went into real estate with two partners. There was a lot of dubious stuff going on in his company’s accounts. And later, there was a problem with the funding, and they urgently needed to float the company, so they began raising capital. But their financial objective didn’t line up with what one of the partners, Wang Ke, wanted. Wang Ke knew many secrets concerning the accounts, so Yu Jianqiang conceded and discreetly postponed going public.
“But six months later, at the beginning of last year, Wang Ke began keeping a lover and rented a flat in Dongshan district. His lover’s boyfriend came knocking on their door, the two of them came to blows, and Wang Ke was throttled to death right then and there.”
Zhou Luoyang asked, “You think Yu Jianqiang arranged everything?”
Du Jing didn’t give him a straight answer. “After Wang Ke died, Yu Jianqiang recommenced the plans to raise capital and go public.”
“Which floor are we on now?”
“There’s still a long way to go,” Du Jing responded, looking toward the top of the building. “Let’s take a quick break if you’re tired. We still have plenty of time.”
“What about the perpetrator?” Zhou Luoyang asked, leaning on an angular cement pillar.
“Escaped,” Du Jing said. “Last anyone’s heard, he went to Papua New Guinea. They can’t catch him. The dead body was hidden in the flat’s refrigerator and was only discovered over a month later.”
Zhou Luoyang said, “That doesn’t make sense. A company board member is such an important position, so how come it took them over a month to find it?”
Du Jing tore open a bit of the green gauze on the scaffolding and peered outside. “In his later days, Wang Ke rarely managed any of the company’s affairs. Most of the time he just had others do the work for him while he went off to travel the world. He often communicated privately and only with Yu Jianqiang; his lover would use his phone to send messages to his company and family. In theory, it might make sense that Yu Jianqiang didn’t notice, but in reality, opinions differ.”
Zhou Luoyang asked, “So you think he first killed his wife, then one of his partners?”
Du Jing said, “His two partners both used to be his father-in-law’s juniors. It really is something he might do.”
“Why did you take on this case?” Zhou Luoyang asked. “Because of his depressed wife from over ten years ago?”
Du Jing didn’t answer, but in the darkness, Zhou Luoyang could tell he was hesitating.
“If you’re done resting, let’s keep going,” Du Jing finally said.
The unfinished building hadn’t had a roof put on it yet. The rain pelted down. Just as Zhou Luoyang climbed up the twenty-sixth floor stairs, Du Jing’s stopped him with a strong hand, and the two of them hid under the stairs that connected the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh floor.
Yu Jianqiang was already here.
Zhou Luoyang peeked at the roof through the gaps in the wooden boards. Du Jing gently waved his hand.
“Don’t do anything,” Du Jing whispered. He’d knelt on one knee and wrapped an arm around Zhou Luoyang’s shoulders. He pulled out a voice recorder and turned it on.
Zhou Luoyang sat cross-legged on the ground.
“Not gonna say anything?” Du Jing leaned close to Zhou Luoyang’s ear, his breath brushing against it.
Zhou Luoyang pointed at the recording device. Aren’t you recording?
“I can delete it later,” Du Jing said.
Zhou Luoyang waved a hand. He still had a lot of questions he wanted to ask, but he kept quiet. He knew Du Jing didn’t want to keep him in the dark, either. Truthfully, Zhou Luoyang was just glad to be able to reunite with him again. After three years, he had mellowed out a lot. With how sensitive Du Jing was, Zhou Luoyang was afraid he would scare him off if he kept asking.
“I’m about to fall asleep,” Du Jing said. “Say something. Wake me up a little.”
Zhou Luoyang only said one thing: “Will you leave again this time?”
This question was certainly very effective in waking him up. Zhou Luoyang could feel the grip on his shoulder tighten.
“You don’t want me to leave?” Du Jing asked.
“I’m always hoping you won’t,” Zhou Luoyang replied.
But before Du Jing could respond, they heard footsteps. The blackmailers had finally arrived.
Du Jing pressed down on Zhou Luoyang’s arm, then quickly ducked behind another pillar. Two men came, but didn’t notice them and slowly continued up the stairs above Zhou Luoyang, arriving at the twenty-seventh floor—the top floor.
Someone called Zhou Luoyang just then. He glanced at his phone—it was Leyao. He hung up, knowing this was a critical time.
Du Jing put away the voice recorder and made his way up to the roofless top floor, making sure to stay in the shadows.
“This is the last time.” Yu Jianqiang’s hood was up, hiding his face. His duffel bag sat next to his feet. He took a deep breath, and as the rain fell around him, he asked, “Where is it?”
The guy in charge drew out an envelope, which Yu Jianqiang took. He opened it, fished out a flash drive, and examined it.
“The money’s in the bag,” Yu Jianqiang said. But just as he was about to turn around and head downstairs, the other man blocked the entrance to the stairwell.
The first guy said, “Don’t be in such a hurry to leave. Why don’t we chat a bit, President Yu?”
Yu Jianqiang said, “Go back and tell your boss that if they want more, we might as well just all go down together.”
“Look at yourself,” the man said, smiling. “You don’t look the slightest bit like the president of a listed company. We’re just acting under orders. Want a smoke?”
As the man spoke, he took out a cigarette and passed it to Yu Jianqiang. Yu Jianqiang hadn’t smoked in a long time now, but he took it anyway.
The man didn’t smoke, however. He tossed the empty cigarette box and match on the ground.
Yu Jianqiang took a few drags. Suddenly, he said, “I really didn’t kill Wang Ke.”
“You’re the one who introduced him to that car show girl,” the man said. “You knew early on that he was already dead.”
“I really didn’t know,” Yu Jianqiang staunchly denied.
The man asked casually, “Then why didn’t you report him missing?”
“I said I didn’t know!” Yu Jianqiang exclaimed indignantly. “What kind of relationship did I have with him? Would it have been worth it for me to do it?”
The man sauntered to the side, rubbed his head, and said pensively, “Apart from these records, he’s also spoken with other people about your affairs. Want to see?”
Yu Jianqiang promptly grew nervous again. Smiling, the man said, “Don’t be nervous, we won’t ask for money. We’ve always kept our word, and we’ve already gotten quite a lot out of you. This record’s free.”
As he spoke, he took out another plastic file folder and held it out to Yu Jianqiang.
Vigilant, Yu Jianqiang asked, “With who?”
“With your wife,” the man said, “ten years ago.”
Yu Jianqiang: “……”
The man seemed quite spirited. “Brother, this shameful hobby of yours is quite extensive in scope. You wouldn’t even let off a brother that you built your business with.”
Yu Jianqiang walked toward him, reaching his hand out. The man standing in front of the stairwell walked over to prevent him from snatching the folder, but the other man waved his hand, indicating that it was fine, and said, “We have to keep the record, just in case we might need it.”
Yu Jianqiang was this close to bursting with rage. Ever since these people had set their sights on him, they’d been constantly extorting him. Initially, he’d thought today would be the end of it all, but he didn’t expect there would be more! Wang Ke seemed to have turned into a ghost that refused to stop haunting him.
“I didn’t kill him.” Yu Jianqiang took a deep breath, then suddenly darted out his hand and snatched the file folder. But the man was quite courteous about it all. He pulled out his phone and shone a light for him. As soon as Yu Jianqiang took a look at the contents of the file, his expression twisted—this was a text message from ten years ago. They had dug up even this?
“Wang Ke didn’t slander you, did he?” the man asked earnestly. “I heard you got a little boyfriend today?”
Yu Jianqiang looked up, his eyes filled with fear. A beat later, the man said, “Alright, seems so.”
Hearing that, Yu Jianqiang suddenly sensed danger. Perhaps it was the murderous intent in the man’s eyes, or maybe it was the kind of intuition that arose in someone in a time of imminent peril.
He quickly took a step back, but he bumped into the other man standing behind him. That man seized him by the arms and forced him to stumble forward. He grabbed his shoulder and dragged him to the edge of the top floor!
“Bye-bye,” the man said, nice and clean.
Yu Jianqiang’s pupils suddenly blew wide. The upper half of his body hung over the edge of the building, facing the concrete ground beneath the twenty-seventh floor.
Zhou Luoyang had grown more attentive when he’d heard them mentioning him, but he hadn’t expected this unfortunate development to arrive so quickly!
Du Jing reacted faster than him. Suddenly, he darted out from behind the concrete room on the top floor. He lunged into the rain and swiped a leg out, forcing the two men to lose balance. They hadn’t thought there was anyone else hiding here!
Yu Jianqiang twisted free, and it nearly made him fall off the building, but he held firmly onto the ledge and pulled himself back up.
One of the men immediately exclaimed, “There’s someone else here!”
“Leave, quick!” the guy in charge yelled.
But Du Jing placed one hand on the ground and suddenly delivered him a flying kick, launching him into the air. Yu Jianqiang quickly grabbed the man and pushed him aside, before rushing up at the other man and kicking him down!
Zhou Luoyang started running towards the top floor. Du Jing shouted, “Go back!”
“Du Jing?!” Yu Jianqiang exclaimed, shocked.
Yu Jianqiang rushed up, swinging his bag, and the duffel, still full of six hundred thousand dollars in cash, flew forward. Just as Zhou Luoyang reached the top floor, he heard a scream, but it was too late to see what had happened: Yu Jianqiang had knocked into the man with his shoulder, pushing him off the edge of the building. The man let out a frightened, desperate scream as he fell.
At that moment, all the blood in Zhou Luoyang’s body seemed to freeze. Du Jing quickly grabbed him and dragged him to the side.
Yu Jianqiang staggered and steadied his cash-filled duffel. Soon after, they heard a thump from below.
Zhou Luoyang: “…………”
The four people on the top floor all fell silent at the same time. The lackey slowly backed away and stumbled down the stairs.
The three of them didn’t chase after him. What could they do if they did?
Yu Jianqiang’s voice shook. “He…died?”
Du Jing stood silently in the rain, as if he were a ghost or a demon. Zhou Luoyang hid behind Du Jing, his mind racing. Someone’s died?! What do we do now?
This was the first time he’d ever witnessed a murder. A chill swept through his entire body all of a sudden. Every pore, every inch of his skin felt the strike of fear that came before death. The rain was bone-chillingly cold. It trickled down Zhou Luoyang’s collar, making him shiver—though not from the cold.
“Just now…who pushed him?” Yu Jianqiang’s voice wavered uncontrollably.
“You.” Du Jing picked the plastic file folder up from the ground and shoved it at Yu Jianqiang. Then he patted his shoulder and reiterated, “You pushed him over.”
Yu Jianqiang said, “He was standing right by the edge. I…wasn’t careful and bumped into him.” As he spoke, he quickly reacted. “Who else is here? You, behind Du Jing, who are you? Come out and let me see. Du Jing, why are you here?”
“If I didn’t come, you would be dead,” Du Jing said impassively. “Didn’t you notice they were going to push you off?”
Yu Jianqiang finally snapped out of it. Breathing deeply, he asked, “When did you follow me here? How come I didn’t notice you? And you—who are you?”
“It’s me,” Zhou Luoyang said.
Du Jing glanced at Zhou Luoyang for a moment and said, “He predicted that something bad would happen to you tonight and told me to go back to the company and check up on you.”
Zhou Luoyang thought, Hey! Could you take this a little more seriously?
The instant Yu Jianqiang caught sight of Zhou Luoyang, his entire person seemed to sag weakly, and he collapsed to his knees. His hair was completely soaked through.
Du Jing said insipidly, “We only just got here. We didn’t see or hear anything. We’re leaving now.”
“Xiao Du,” Yu Jianqiang said, “w-wait.”
“The rain will fall along the stairs and wash away the footprints,” Du Jing said. “Don’t take the stairs anymore. Take the lift down.”
Yu Jianqiang took a deep breath, doing his best to calm himself. Du Jing glanced at the empty cigarette box and matchbox, and used his gloved right hand to press the button on the construction site lift. He took off his suit jacket and laid it on the floor, and he and Zhou Luoyang stepped onto it together.
Yu Jianqiang looked Du Jing up and down, but Du Jing remained expressionless. Zhou Luoyang looked at Yu Jianqiang, then at Du Jing.
The lift continued down.
“President Yu,” Du Jing said, “I’d like to take the day off tomorrow.”
“That’s fine,” Yu Jianqiang said. “You’d…better take it easy for a few days. Should I arrange for you to leave the country?”
“No,” Du Jing said mildly. “It’s not like I pushed him.”
“I’ll figure out how to take care of this soon,” Yu Jianqiang replied.
Yu Jianqiang’s mind was a chaotic jumble of thoughts. He was so preoccupied with the actions of those blackmailers that it didn’t occur to him that Du Jing was a little bit too calm and that this was not at all how an assistant should be reacting.
“Should we go over for a look?” Zhou Luoyang asked.
The lift reached the first floor. Mud and footprints of construction workers covered the ground. The dead body was just a little over twenty meters away.
“No,” Du Jing said. He was still holding Zhou Luoyang’s hand—as he had been this entire time. “There’s blood on the ground. If we go over there, we might leave footprints.”
Naturally, these words were spoken for Yu Jianqiang’s sake, but Du Jing was being more cautious than he needed to. At present, even if God gave Yu Jianqiang the courage, he still wouldn’t have the guts to impulsively go and examine the body.
Yu Jianqiang quickly put away the plastic file folder and asked, “Did you drive?”
“We’re parked outside of the construction site, very far away,” Du Jing said politely. “What about President Yu?”
“Take my car back?”
By now, Yu Jianqiang was so jumpy he was scared of his own shadow. Right now, it was as if Du Jing had become the boss and he was the employee.
“No need,” Du Jing said. “Good night, President Yu.”
They walked two streets down and returned to the car. As soon as Zhou Luoyang slid into the passenger seat, he finally began to gasp desperately for breath.
“Frightened?” Du Jing started the car. He glanced at Zhou Luoyang. He took off his glove, put the car into gear, and pressed his hand to Zhou Luoyang’s forehead.
“Should we tell the cops?” Zhou Luoyang asked as his gasping gradually abated.
“No,” Du Jing said. “It’s not like I killed him.”
“But we probably have joint liability!” Zhou Luoyang exclaimed.
Du Jing was sending a text, his head lowered. “Someone will clean up the mess.”
Zhou Luoyang looked at the lit-up screen of Du Jing’s phone. He noticed that the person Du Jing was texting was named “Boss,” and that Du Jing had only texted one word: Asleep?
Du Jing has to be part of some organization, Zhou Luoyang thought.
“But there were only the three of us at the scene!” Zhou Luoyang said. “Is there any evidence? I won’t be much use as a witness either.”
Du Jing showed Zhou Luoyang the voice recorder and raised his eyebrows.
Zhou Luoyang: “……”
Du Jing switched off the voice recorder and said, “Yu Jianqiang personally confessed.”
Zhou Luoyang was still very suspicious. Suddenly, he turned and asked, “Have you ever killed anyone?”
“I haven’t,” Du Jing answered politely, and drove them out of the suburbs. “Take note. We didn’t kill anyone tonight.”
“Why are you so calm?” Zhou Luoyang asked incredulously, as if he were seeing an entirely different Du Jing. But if he thought about it more carefully, the Du Jing of the past seemed to have been like this as well.
Du Jing concentrated on driving. Zhou Luoyang said, “Fingerprints, footprints…You took care of the crime scene too thoroughly. You’re so calm, it—”
Zhou Luoyang initially wanted to say, “You’re so calm it scares me a little,” but after he thought about it, he didn’t voice it aloud.
“You’re here,” Du Jing said, “so I can’t not be calm.”
“Where did you learn all this?”
Du Jing answered easily, “A training class. I only learned for three months, and here I am putting it to use already. Sorry you had to see that.”
Zhou Luoyang: “……”
Just then, a call came in. Du Jing motioned for Zhou Luoyang not to talk, then picked up through the bluetooth speaker. On the other end was the voice of a calm middle-aged man.
“What?” the man said.
Du Jing said, “I got the contents of the safe. Yu Jianqiang killed someone at the construction site.”
“Explain what happened.”
As Du Jing drove, he recounted the entire experience in a very orderly way. Midway through his recounting, the man interrupted, “Are you the only one in the car?”
Du Jing’s expression didn’t waver. “Yes.”
Then, picking up from lying in wait for Yu Jianqiang, he finished detailing the rest of the events.
“Understood,” the man said on the other end.
“I’ll drop the stuff off at the usual place. I’ll have to trouble you to take care of the murder case. Also, I’m taking the day off tomorrow.”
“Why?” the man asked. “Go back and keep an eye on Yu Jianqiang.”
“To sleep,” Du Jing said. “I haven’t slept for three days now.”
The man on the other end didn’t say anything after that and hung up. Zhou Luoyang was in a very complicated mood. The car was entering the inner part of the city now. It was 5:20 in the early morning; the rain stopped. Du Jing rolled down the car window and, without stopping the car, he tossed the file envelope that Zhou Luoyang had taken from the safe out of the window. It landed perfectly in a trash can on the side of the road.
“Now what?” Zhou Luoyang asked.
“I’m sending you home,” Du Jing replied.
“Go inside with me. I’ll sleep with you for a while.”
Du Jing didn’t say anything in response. Zhou Luoyang then asked, “Where do you live?”
“Company housing,” Du Jing answered offhandedly.
“Are you living by yourself?”
“I have a roommate, a young man.”
Zhou Luoyang didn’t probe further. Du Jing pondered for a moment and added, “He’s kind of like the past you. Just a bit, a very tiny bit.”
“He always runs out of money by the end of the month.”
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Cat.