By about 9 am, Dali’s stomach was rumbling with hunger. "All we’ve had since yesterday was a bowl of congee. Aren't you hungry?” he asked. “Dude, where’s the chocolate Bingxin-meimei gave you yesterday? Take it out, I’m starving!"
"I left it in the dormitory,” I said. “How could I eat it all at once?"
I didn’t mean to imply anything, but Bingxin seemed to have caught on to some nonexistent allusion and blushed shyly.
"How much longer do we have to wait?" Dali cried dejectedly.
"You’ll have to be patient. I’m guessing the abbot will only return when he’s handled the matter."
Capturing our suspects alive was trickier than killing them. In fact, all I had to do was whistle for Song Xingchen to jump off the roof and kill Scarface. But therein lay the rub; how would we explain all the dead bodies to the police when they arrived at the scene? If the matter wasn’t well handled, we might all end up in jail.
Right now, impatience was written all over Scarface’s face. He glanced over towards our room several times as if he were hesitant about something. It was only half an hour later when he suddenly stood up and stomped out of the yard.
"I'm going out for a bit but I’ll be right back!" I said.
Before leaving, I left the knife with Dali so he could protect themselves.
I slipped out of the room and kept my movements furtive as I sneaked over to the side hall. The rhythmic sound of hacking came from the inner courtyard, and there stood Two-Face in the middle of felling a small tree. Startled by my presence, he looked up, wary.
"I need to speak to you!" I said, making sure to keep my voice low.
Two-Face looked me up and down as if sizing me up, his tone unfriendly and gruff, "What’s there to talk about? Go back to your room now. If my disciple brother discovers you missing, he’ll kill you!"
I kept a fixed gaze on him, my eyes communicating that I had seen through it all. "I already know your identities. In the spirit of fair exchange, I’ll tell you mine. I’m a policeman."
Two-Face arched an eyebrow as he shot an accusatory glance in my direction. "You’re lying!"
Since I handed my consultant identification to Zhu Xiaohao, I had nothing left to prove my identity so I solemnly repeated, "I’m a policeman. My badge number is 024415. You can check and see if I’m telling the truth or not."
Of course, the badge number was fabricated but my words seemed to convince Two-Face, the doubt and wariness in his eyes fading slightly. "What do you know?" he asked.
"You’re all fugitives from the 116 case from over ten years ago!” I announced. “And you’re hiding here to find the historical relics that disappeared at the time."
Two-Face looked at me, appalled and stunned speechless. Some time later, he managed to collect himself and asked, "Who told you all that?"
"Do you think finding that information would pose a challenge for an officer of the law?" I scoffed.
"So, are you undercover?” Two-Face gulped, his expression marked with nervousness. “Are you going to arrest them all?"
I noticed the peculiarity of his wording, using “them” instead of “us” which suggested he might not be part of their gang. I felt as if my dangling heart had found solid ground.
"Yes,” I admitted. “But you must keep it under wraps."
"Why are you telling me this?” asked Two-Face. “Aren’t you afraid I might divulge your secret?"
"I can tell you’re different and you might be on my side," I chuckled.
Completely shaken, Two-Face prevaricated, seeming to vacillate between two conflicting thoughts. I intended to strike while the iron was hot and cut to the chase, "Tell me how you ended up here!"
Two-Face suddenly dropped his axe and insisted, "Officer, I was kidnapped by them! I swear I didn't take part in any of the murders!"
Never had I expected that Two-Face’s real identity was a security guard of the museum instead of a monk. The level of security in the museum could be compared to that of a bank so back then, when Boss Jia and his group of outlaws planned to steal the historical relics, they bought off the security guards beforehand. Blinded by greed, Two-Face agreed to shut off the museum's emergency defense system on the day of the robbery.
According to the agreement between them, the thieves would leave immediately after stealing the items and the two would have zero contact with each other in the future.
But in reality, the situation developed in another direction. After the group of thieves charged into the museum, they attacked the security guards who had alerted the police. When a group of policemen arrived, these violent criminals armed with five or six submachine guns killed off more than a dozen policemen and security guards and took Two-Face as their hostage.
Two-Face desperately begged for them to let him go, but Boss Jia and the others completely ignored him. Thus, he ended up on the wrong side during the chaos, and they soon became the most wanted criminals in the entire province. The armed police and the People's Liberation Army set up checkpoints throughout the province so they had no other choice but to go into hiding. During this period, the gang lost three of their members. They went their separate ways in Wuqu City; Boss Jia left to sell the stolen goods while the others took shelter in the suburbs.
Two-Face was forced to follow these criminals, working as their full-time servant, cooking and cleaning for them.
Boss Jia was a highly respected old gangster boss. Once, Two-Face casually joked that perhaps Boss Jia had absconded with the money, provoking their chief into a violent rampage. The chief, now known as the abbot, flew into a rage and shoved his head onto a hot stove, melting off half of his face and an ear. The incident struck a deep fear in his heart that rendered Two-Face silent about the matter.
Six months later, they came across a bit of bad news. Apparently, Boss Jia had been captured by the armed police.
Boss Jia had a rather disobedient and unruly mistress who was also involved with some other unsavory people. During an attempt to smuggle drugs, the mistress was arrested by the police and confessed everything she knew, including Boss Jia’s temporary hideout in order to redeem herself. The Armed Police forces arrived just in time to catch Boss Jia. The entire incident could only be blamed on Boss Jia’s rotten luck!
However, Boss Jia was a true man after all. Everyone wanted to locate the whereabouts of the historical relics in the name of contributing to the country. But even as the police, judiciary and prison authorities rained endless persecution and torments upon him, Boss Jia remained tight-lipped and was later sentenced to death.
According to insider information, the prison guards had deliberately placed Boss Jia in a cell with certain inmates known for their bad behavior, and turned a blind eye to their daily abuse in an attempt to force him to confess.
Although Two-Face wasn’t part of their gang, he had to admit that Boss Jia was indeed a true man of courage and principle. He didn't say a word about how many crimes he suffered. Despite the seven years of abuse in prison, Boss Jia never once uttered a single word having made up his mind to leave the relics to his gang of brothers.
Seven years later, when Boss Jia was finally executed, Two-Face and the other fugitives disguised themselves and sneaked into the funeral parlor. Faced with Boss Jia's old and disabled body, the gang of violent thieves burst into tears as they dug out a wax tablet from his stomach that contained a piece of paper.
The front of the note read, “Mount Funiu Qingliang Temple,” their current hideout. On the back was a string of letters and numbers, a code to the exact location of the buried treasure.
Thus, they traveled to this decrepit temple and disguised themselves as monks while they searched for the treasure. But the code itself was impossible to decipher even after three years so the next best thing they could do was dig three feet deep all over the temple.
During this period of time, there were a few unwelcome visitors to the temple. And who were these bunch of fake monks? It wasn’t an exaggeration to call them felons and those who chanced upon the temple were all brutally murdered by them. The women were allowed to live longer than the men but suffered a fate worse than death. Two-Face had seen one of the female victims who was sexually abused till her vagina started to rot from the untreated wounds. Eventually, Scarface and Glass Eye hung her from a tree and dropped the body to the ground. In the end, not one part of her body was intact, bone and flesh smashed into chunks.
At first, they dug graves to bury their victims, but later, they found an easier way to deal with their corpses. They started hiding them inside the Buddha statues. In order to prevent the exposure of any odors, these statues were covered with several coats of paint. Thus, the corpses of the victims slowly rotted away, hidden from the world.
In the past three years, they murdered four groups of people and the bodies were either hidden within the statues or around the temple. If Bingxin hadn't faked a phone call yesterday, perhaps we would’ve been dead by now. Last night, the abbot instructed them not to make a move until two days later.
With that said, Two-Face sighed and wiped away the tears on his face. "I’ve been terrified every single day here, afraid that they’ll kill me on a whim,” he sobbed. “All this is retribution. The difference between going to heaven and being condemned to hell lies in one thought. Perhaps I’m the best example of that saying. Officer, can I be given a lighter punishment in view of the situation?"
"I'm afraid not." I shook my head.
Two-Face was fraught with disappointment but I quickly added, "Because I’m letting you go!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter