The three didn’t immediately take him away. Xu Xiaodong held the urge to urinate the entire time. When they cuffed Zheng Zhifei, he quickly looked for a toilet. Little Wang said there was one outside. He went outside to see that there was a simple toilet hut in that field. When Xu Xiaodong went in, he cursed. "Fuck, won’t I fall down this thing?"
In the yard area, Chen Shi pumped up some water using the manual water pump to wash his face and drank a stomach full. The mountain spring water was indeed sweet and clear. He filled up his drink bottle to the brim.
He went back into the house and walked around. The house was extremely barren and filled with the smell of cigarettes. Leftover cup noodles were scattered on the ground. Zheng Zhifei had been watching TV on top of the firepit stove earlier. Chen Shi turned off the TV and noticed that there was something on the stove. It was a girl's hairpin.
He found a newspaper and used it to pick up the hairpin. He discovered blood on it and wrapped it up before keeping it on himself.
After returning from the toilet, Xu Xiaodong said bitterly, "Brother Chen, it's getting late. We should stay here overnight and then hurry on early tomorrow morning.”
"Hurry up. It won't get dark until 8:00 in this season. When we get back to town, we’ll fill our bellies with a big meal.”
When he heard about a big meal, Xu Xiaodong drooled. Little Wang took out a Chinese pastry and ripped it up to share it between them. "Eat this pastry for now!" Chen Shi divided his piece and tried giving it to Zheng Zhifei who was leaning against the courtyard wall. He turned his head away and refused to eat.
On the way back, the sky was getting darker. As they had to bring the suspect along, their speed was obviously slower.
When they arrived at a flat surface near a cliff, Xu Xiaodong was too tired to walk. He sat down and panted. Zheng Zhifei suddenly jumped up and hurled himself towards the cliff. Xu Xiaodong was stunned, but his body couldn't move.
Chen Shi flung himself over and tried to hold him back. However, Zheng Zhifei's falling momentum was too strong, and the two of them fell down together.
"Brother Chen! Brother Chen!"
Xu Xiaodong rushed to the edge of the cliff. When he saw the two people had fallen down on a protrusion on the cliff, he breathed a sigh of relief. However, there was a gap of five meters between him and that area, so he couldn't get down.
Zheng Zhifei fell on the left and Chen Shi sat on the right, saying, "Xiaodong, I hurt my spine and can't move."
"Wait there. Officer Wang and I are going to find a rope to save you."
Xu Xiaodong walked away for five seconds before popping his head back over the cliff. "Brother Chen, I’ll give you my gun to defend yourself.”
"No, no, no. I can protect myself."
Xu Xiaodong gritted his teeth and hurried down the hill with Little Wang.
Chen Shi was sitting on the ground with his hand on his back. Zheng Zhifei crawled over and the two of them looked at each other quietly for a long time. Zheng Zhifei began to use his hands which were cuffed together to touch the stones. Chen Shi realized what he wanted and said, “Killing a police officer? Do you want to break the prison floors with how long you’re going to sit there for?"
"Ha, if I killed you and jumped off from here, I would have won an extra life. It’s not a loss!"
Chen Shi sneered. "How did that girl offend you? To kill her so cruelly and hang her head in front of her house… Do you know that her father's hair turned white?"
"You like her, right? But you couldn’t have her!"
Zheng Zhifei was stabbed where it hurt and he pursed his lips. "If it wasn't for that crew who went to this poor mountain ditch to shoot the show, all of this wouldn’t have happened!"
"Let's talk. You’ll feel better after talking about it."
Zheng Zhifei was silent for a moment and then said, "I grew up here. This mountain is my entire world. At the age of ten, a TV crew came to inquire about things at school, found me, and said that they wanted to make a show to send me to live in the city for a few days. Of course, I was very happy. My dad also said that it was a good thing to have a chance to get out of the mountains, so we agreed. A few days later, a little white-skinned girl was sent in to live in my house. She was curious about everything here, and I took her around to introduce her, to catch bugs, to pick wild fruits, to play in the river...”
"Three days later, I went to the city with her. I had watched it on TV before and thought that the city was just full of high-rise buildings. But when I got to the city, I realized that the place was like heaven. The elevator could rise up to the 20th floor in one go. The water faucets could give out hot water with one nudge. The refrigerator was stuffed full with food. The kitchen was so clean there weren’t any rodents… I was so shocked when I had my first meal there. People in the city ate rice as white as snow and the table was full of dishes I couldn’t name. This was just their everyday meals. After dinner, Li Mengran gave me a white drink. It was both sour and sweet. I never drank anything like it before. I saw the box had a label on it. This small bottle cost two yuan. My dad can only make ten yuan a day, but their refrigerator was full of this beverage.”
"I lay on a fragrant, warm bed and wept. Why was there such a big difference between people? Why do some people get to live in such a house from the moment they were born? Every tile on their floor was like gold! Have you watched that show before? Was I really stupid on it? Li Mengran even bullied me. In fact, all of that was a performance. She was really nice to me. She called me brother, making me... allowing me to be really flattered!”
"After the dream-like three days ended, the TV shoot ended. The crew bought me a ticket and threw me back to the village. They never got in touch again. I used the money given to me by Father Li to buy a bus ticket and went home. Since then, I discovered that my house was so small. The walls were so broken and the food I ate was so difficult to swallow. The children in the city were getting spoiled by their parents at the dining table, but all I could hear were my father’s complaints and cursing. I was ignorant and always said that I wanted to go to Father Li's house. My dad told me that they’re really busy and that I wouldn’t be welcome even if I went. The more I talked about it, the more my dad got impatient with me and stopped explaining the reasoning. Instead, he just scolded me for not knowing my place.”
"Since then, I didn't seem to be living. I thought that I should be a child in the city. I was abandoned in this abominable place. I always go to the mountains late at night to see if there would be a car to pick me up. Day after day, no miracle happened. I missed everything in the city. I missed Li Mengran. I didn't want to play with those barefooted, thin, and dark-skinned children. I just missed her, day and night..."
Chen Shi interrupted him. "At the age of twelve, you killed your father?"
Zheng Zhifei's eyes looked fierce as he responded. "Yes, because he found my notebooks, which were full of Li Mengran's name. He hit my face with that notebook, saying that I had forgotten my place and was seduced by a ghost. I felt like I was... It was like being stripped of all my clothes and being publicly humiliated. That’s why I mixed pesticide into his medicine and imitated his handwriting to forge a will. The police didn’t know that he was illiterate. All the documents he had filled out before were all done by me."
Zheng Zhifei laughed. "Ironically, I learned this technique from a TV series shot by people in your city. I didn't want to stay here for a day longer, so I dropped out of school to work in the city. I used all the money I had to buy a train ticket to Long'an without thinking. I wanted to see her. I couldn't bear it! I gave her my first time in my life. The day before I left the city, it was my first time trying to masturbate, and it was while I was thinking of her!"
1. He means the children from the countryside. As they have to help their families who are most likely farmers as well as play outside due to lack of entertainment, they usually have to be out in the sun more. That’s most likely why they mentioned Li Mengran, a well-off girl from the city, having fair skin.