Officer Ma stood there speechless for a long time before he ventured, "Is-isn’t this… a little too soon?"
"It’s not like we have a choice. We've already jumped the gun," said Bingxin shyly.
Knowing that Bingxin was deliberately teasing Officer Ma, I didn’t expose her but quietly appreciated her acting skills.
"You mustn’t let your father find out. He suffers from high blood pressure and might get so angry that he’ll faint.”
"Haha, I tricked you!" Bingxin doubled over with laughter as she covered her stomach.
"You've been playing your little tricks since you were little," sighed Officer Ma.
"That’s because it’s fun to trick you, Uncle Ma. You take everything so seriously!"
"But I still like to remind you two to always be careful with these things. Otherwise, you might really end up in that situation..." Officer Ma continued lecturing us on sex education for more than ten minutes. Covered in cold sweat, I could only repeatedly nod. What a serious man he was!
I invited Officer Ma to stay with me, but he insisted on doing otherwise. Fortunately, Bingxin had her methods. She told him we had to run home to grab something but quietly filled a basin with hot water and soaked his feet for him. Then, she tucked him into bed with the excuse of warming him up. Defenseless against her methods, the old man fell asleep.
I told my aunt the old man was a professor from my university who was here for work and entrusted her with his care. I also told her not to expect us for lunch.
As soon as we left, Bingxin grabbed my arm and asked, "Song Yang-gege, where should we start?"
"Follow me," I replied.
Upon arriving at the county’s logistics hub, I flashed my badge and asked if there had been any trucks transporting soil waste recently. Yesterday, I noticed some cement particles, laterite and quicklime in the soles of the dead man's shoes. The composition was rather varied, leading me to think it was soil waste from a construction site.
Since few trucks operated during the Lunar New Year, it was easy to narrow them down. The person in charge told us that a few trucks had transported some soil waste two days before and passed through a small village on the south side of the county.
The village was only three or four miles away from where the body had been found. I thought this was a reasonable lead.
When I went out to try and hail a cab, there were none because of the holiday. Seeing that it was almost noon, I said to Sun Bingxin, "I'll order a cab from Didi. Let’s go have lunch first.”
We found a restaurant that served grilled fish. In the middle of lunch, Bingxin suddenly outside and exclaimed, "Look!"
Officer Lu and his subordinates were asking questions from door to door. Much to my surprise, they had actually started their own investigation. While the effort was commendable, their methods were rather silly.
"Will they discover something first?" Bingxin nervously asked.
"No way. They must’ve taken a photo of the deceased and went around trying to confirm his identity. They can do that for a whole year and still come up with nothing.”
"What if they get lucky?"
"The dead man isn’t a local or even Chinese. They won’t find anything," I chuckled.
Bingxin sounded shocked. "How do you know he’s not Chinese?"
"The dead man is about twenty years old. The BCG vaccine has been widely administered in China since 1981. Almost every person born after 1981 has a crater-shaped vaccine scar on their arm. There are also a small number of people with a special constitution who aren’t left with a scar. However, for anyone with the scar, its shape and location doesn’t deviate from that. Yet this person's vaccine scar is located on his thigh so he’s unlikely to be Chinese. I’m leaning towards South Korean," I explained.
"Wow, how do you even know that? Song Yang-gege, you’re amazing! You’re very good! Why don’t you suspect that he might be Japanese?"
"My judgment was based on the vaccine scar. If he were Japanese, the scar would be shaped like a plum blossom on his arm," I surmised.
"Is it possible that he’s from some other country?" asked Bingxin.
"That possibility is very low because the Japanese and Koreans often sit on their knees or with their legs folded. After a long time, the bones of their knees and instep become deformed, which I’ve observed in the victim."
Head tilted to the side, Bingxin mused, "Is it possible that he was a Chinese who studied in Japan or Korea as a child and returned home after?"
"Think about it. This man climbed out of the coffin and escaped in a panic. Why didn't he knock on somebody’s door for help? Is it possible that he didn't speak the language so he chose to steal the car and run for his life?"
Bingxin applauded in admiration. "Song Yang-gege, your analysis makes so much sense! A single conversation with you is worth more than four years of my education."
I smiled modestly. "I just happened to be lucky."
"I never thought he would be Korean. I assumed all Korean boys were long-legged oppas. This man looks so ordinary!" she quipped.
"Do girls like long-legged Korean oppas?" I asked.
"Yes! Boys like Song Joongki, Lee Jongsuk and Lee Minho..." She listed a bunch of Korean actors, her eyes filled with infatuation. Some of these names were completely unfamiliar to me.
Suddenly realizing that this could be a breakthrough in the case, I picked up my cell phone and called Lao Yao. When the call connected, his disgusting voice drifted from the other end, "Xiao Song-song, do you miss me?"
Goosebumps instantly flooded my skin. “Lao Yao, I have a job that requires advanced technical skills. Do you want it?"
"How much will you pay?" He was straightforward as usual.
"Do you have to be so direct?"
Lao Yao broke into ugly laughter. "You don’t like me like this? Then I'll be more gentle next time!"
Big round beads of cold sweat wet my hair. I knew the conversation was headed in a vulgar direction so I went straight to the point. "I’ve sent you the money through WeChat. Hack into the South Korean embassy for me. I want the list and photos of South Korean men who have gone missing in China in the past month."
Lao Yao was all charged up at once. "Fucking hell! What a challenge! Should I also insert our national flag on their webpage to symbolize our resistance against the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense? That’ll raise my prestige within the country.”
I repeatedly refused. "No, don’t leave any clues. You can insert all you want after we’ve solved the case..." I realized how suggestive this sounded because I immediately heard Lao Yao’s wicked laughter. "Insert the national flag!"
I had sent Lao Yao 2,000 yuan. Upon confirmation, he replied, "No problem, I'll call you tonight! Xoxo!"
I was so nauseated I wanted to throw my phone away. As soon as I hung up, Bingxin curiously asked, "Was that your boyfriend?"
"Fuck, you might as well kill me! This guy is a super hacker with zero integrity. His name is Lao Yao." I couldn’t help but curse.
Bingxin laughed, "He seems very interesting. I must meet him when I get the chance."
"No way!" I interjected.
There was no doubt in my mind that Lao Yao would show her my photos. It would completely overturn the glorious image Bingxin had of me so it was better for the two not to meet.
When the car I had requested for arrived, I looked out of the window and saw that Officer Lu and his team had already questioned the entire street. I turned to Bingxin and said, "Let's continue with our investigation."
Upon arriving at the village, Bingxin asked an old farmer, "Uncle, I’d like to ask you some questions. Are there any families in the village who were great families in the past?"
"Why do you ask?" The old farmer frowned.
"We study history and we’re conducting research to find out more about the history of local families," she explained.
The old farmer pointed to the hill in front of him. "The biggest family in our village used to be the Qin family. Half of the village belongs to them. They even built the Qin family ancestral hall on top of the hill."
"Does the Qin family have an ancestral tomb?" I asked.
The old farmer ignored me, only answering after Bingxin repeated the question. Clearly, there was a huge difference in his behavior towards the two of us.
"Yes. It’s to the south–that hill over there–but it’s now deserted. There’s a stone statue on top of the hill. They say that General Qin Qiong of the Tang Dynasty was their ancestor!"
As far as I knew, Qin Qiong's hometown wasn’t here. If the Qin family were related to Qin Qiong, they were probably collateral descendants.
Bingxin thanked the old farmer and turned to me with a smile. "I didn't expect to find them so easily."
"Don't rejoice just yet. They might not admit to it!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter