Chapter 835: Rice Planting Benefits

When the truth came out, Old Jia Number Four knew that it would be hard to retract, so he sat down dejectedly and asked, "Can I smoke a cigarette?"

"Go ahead." Chen Shi said.

Lin Dongxue went to open the window. Old Jia Number Four lit a cigarette and his fingers kept shaking the whole time. He said, "The signal in our village isn’t good and it cuts out intermittently. Little Jia wanted to borrow my phone that day because I had installed the internet at home and was given a landline..."

Chen Shi raised his eyebrows. Although confused, he didn’t interrupt his narration.

"I told them to start eating first. When I went to the kitchen (my kitchen faces the street), the rice collector surnamed Chu told me through the window that I needed to keep the two policemen here. He gave me a bag of powder... No, he put it into the pot himself!"

"We'll follow up on these details. You only need to tell the truth right now." Chen Shi said calmly.

Old Jia Number Four looked like he was about to cry. "How many years will I be sentenced for drugging the police?"

"If they had forced you, you’ll have a lighter sentence, but if you lie now, you will only worsen your crime."

Chen Shi's words laid out a clear path for Old Jia Number Four to follow, and he repeatedly nodded and said, "Yes, it was Chu Wei who forced me. I told him that this kind of thing is illegal, but he forced me to drug the meal… After eating, Little Xu and Little Jia passed out. It was noon then - the sun was hot, and there was nobody outside. The two rice collectors came in and dragged the police into the warehouse without a word, then they locked the door."

"You just watched this happen?"

"No. I sat in the house and smoked."

"How could you do such a thing? Officer Jia is your nephew!" Lin Dongxue couldn't help accusing him.

Old Jia Number Four scratched his face in embarrassment. Chen Shi asked, "What happened afterwards?"

"After they finished, Chu Wei gave me a red envelope..."

"How much was in it?"

"Four thousand. He said that he would give me another monetary reward afterwards as long as I don’t tell anyone. I was afraid, but I really didn’t dare to offend them. In the afternoon, they went into the warehouse for a while and came out wearing police clothes. They walked all the way to the entrance of the village and drove the car away."

"Where's the car?"

"I don’t know. It’s all wasteland nearby. Who knows where they left the car? They came back at night and asked me to harvest the rice directly, saying that they would help me. We spent the whole night harvesting all the rice in my fields. When we were piling it onto the wagon did I discover that the two policemen had been tied up like zongzi and thrown into the wagon. At the time, the effect of the drugs had already worn off. They opened their eyes and whimpered at me. Chu Wei patted me on the shoulder and gave me a look to signal for me to mind my own business. They put the rice over the policemen and drove them away."

"Where did they go?"

"I don’t know."

"Then why are they kidnapping the police?"

"How would I dare to ask?! You haven't met Chu Wei. He doesn't like to talk. He has a long scar on his face which drags up the corner of his mouth whenever he smiles, making him look particularly ruthless. That Little Long usually likes to tell dirty stories and seems likable but his arms are all tattooed. Chu Wei told me that Little Long has murdered people before." Old Jia Number Four had stopped covering up the truth, and simply spilled all that he knew in one breath.

"Shennong No. 24. You’re familiar with this, right?"

Hearing the name, Old Jia Number Four smiled, "Familiar. I’m too familiar with it."

"They were the ones who told you to grow this kind of rice?"

"In the beginning, it was Uncle Wang from the village. Uncle Wang was not a native of the village. He had been sentenced for stealing cables before. The village didn't like him very much and he normally only chatted a little with me. He came to my house to drink that winter and told me that one could make a lot of money from growing this type of rice. I asked how much it could be worth. A few hundred yuan more at most. I was only in my early twenties back then and I had very high ambitions. I really didn’t want to bend over and work the land for the rest of my life. I wanted to go to the city to forge a career for myself. Uncle Wang said, ‘You’d understand when you plant it!’"

Old Jia Number Four lit up another cigarette. After taking a drag on the cigarette, he exhaled deeply. "The next year, I decided to just give it a try and planted it. There’s not much to say about this; It’s just planting, seeding, weeding, irrigating... When it was harvest season in May, these two rice collectors came and looked at my rice. They said they’ll take it all. One catty was 1.6 yuan, which was a little bit higher than other types of rice. They told me to plant it again in autumn, but to be careful and protect the leaves. When harvesting, I had to hire people to reap it by hand instead of using a machine. I earned just a few more hundred yuan that year. I went to look for Uncle Wang and he told me mysteriously that good things were yet to come!"

"Afterwards, when New Year came, Uncle Wang asked me to go to the county town, and we went to the best restaurant in the local area. The table was full of people I didn’t know. We ate big crabs, smoked Zhonghua cigarettes, and drank Moutai. Although it was great, I wondered who was treating and whether it was a happy event or a funeral. Everyone just ate in silence and didn't say anything. After we finished eating, Uncle Wang took me to another place again... That kind of place. Two young and tender girls came, and their complexions were particularly fair. Uncle Wang asked me to choose. I chose the younger one. Uncle Wang said that the older one had more experience. I thought it was Uncle Wang’s treat, so I picked the older one, yielding the younger one to him. That was my first time and it was such bliss..."

"Ahem!"

"Okay, I won't go into details." Old Jia Number Four recalled this part with a satisfied smile. "The two of us spent two days in the county town, eating and visiting prostitutes. We were very happy. When we were done, the two collectors gave us two thick and big envelopes, telling us to grow rice well in the new year. ‘We’re a team and we’ll organize this team building event at the end of each year.’ The envelope contained 50,000 yuan, which was more than my harvest income that year. Despite the happiness in my heart, I was also a little puzzled. What kind of rice would be worth this much money? I asked Uncle Wang, but he told me not to ask anything and to just grow the rice well! It’s been seven or eight years. At the end of every year, the two masters would phone me and invite me to go to the county town to eat, drink and have fun for two days. Then they would give me a red envelope. The rice farmers from several other villages would be treated the same way."

"Why didn't you ask the other villagers to participate in such a good thing?" Chen Shi asked. "By the way, aren't you selling rice seeds part-time? To whom?"

"Selling my ass. I just said that to prevent others from seeing that I had made money. I have also asked these two masters before if I could invite more people to plant them so that everyone could make money together, but they said I couldn’t. Rice farmers had to pass a background check. Two conditions needed to be met. The first was that they had to be single, and the second was that they needed to be tight-lipped. They repeatedly said that we were a team and that we had to have team spirit instead of going it alone."

"Don't you think it’s weird? Ordinary rice isn’t worth this much money."

"Of course I found it strange, but I didn’t dare to ask. If I had asked, I might have ended up like Uncle Wang..."

"What happened to Uncle Wang?"

After a moment of silence, Old Jia Number Four replied with a shiver. "He died!"

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