Song Xingchen and I visited the assistants, and through face-to-face questioning, I ruled out each of them one by one. However, I was still hoping to check the surveillance videos in the ballistics center to determine if there were any chinks in the armor.
Their hands were tied regarding this matter so I could only look to Bingxin for help.
"Song Yang-gege, I’m in the university laboratory right now. The soil sample has been analyzed. I found coal and lime," reported Bingxin.
"Coal and lime?" I mused. This didn’t narrow the range at all. There were many heavy industrial factories around Nanjiang City.
It was getting late so Song Xingchen and I said goodbye to each other and agreed to meet early next morning.
The next day, I was awoken by a call from an unfamiliar number. Since part of the number was hidden, I couldn't see the caller ID. The voice of the Dog Trainer came from the other end of the line, "Little Detective, come out for breakfast. I’m waiting for you at Yonghe Soymilk near your home!"
I got dressed at once and woke Dali up, reminding him of the busy day ahead.
Downstairs of our apartment, Song Xingchen leaned against a telephone pole with his favorite bubble tea in his hand. He pulled out a metal expandable baton and handed it to me. Waving it in the air, I found it rather nifty so I kept it in my pocket.
"Let's go!" I said, turning to him. Thus, we both headed to Yonghe Soymilk.
There were few customers around this time. The Dog Trainer stood at the counter, ordering soymilk, fried dough sticks and steamed buns. He kindly reminded the cashier that their shirt buttons were undone, to which the cashier whispered thanks.
If I passed this plain-looking man in the streets, I never would have imagined he was a vicious criminal.
The Dog Trainer brought us breakfast, "Come on, let's go out for a walk!"
With him leading the way, Song Xingchen and I followed him to the park. Wiping the bench with a paper towel, he sat down and opened the takeout boxes. "I don't know what you like so I bought a bit of everything."
"There’s no need for courtesies. Let’s get down to business!" I sneered.
He bit into the steamed bun and smiled, “Mmm, these pickled veggie and pork steamed buns are delicious! Would you like to try one?"
We stood there, watching him finish breakfast by himself. Then, he cleaned his mouth with a paper towel and began, "Yesterday, you made me lose an important customer on top of a lot of money."
“I finished the task you gave me," I retorted.
"Little detective, you’re not very sincere. Stop with your little tricks. Here’s a bit of punishment for you!"
The Dog Trainer reached out, waving his hand at me. Song Xingchen suddenly pushed me away and keeled over, as if he had been heavily punched. A large patch of blood spread from his abdomen as he fell to his knees, hand covering his wound.
"Xingchen!!!” I shouted, rushing over to check his injury. It turned out that a bullet hit him and the sniper had used a silencer. I looked up and saw a reflection on one of the buildings in the distance which seemed like the perfect location for a sniper.
Song Xingchen crouched on the ground, using his Tang Sword to prop himself up. Cold sweat dotted his forehead though he feigned composure, "I-I'm fine."
Gritting my teeth, I glared at the Dog Trainer.
"There’s punishment if you don’t behave. This shot is just a warning. Your task today is relatively simple. I need you to escort a client out of Nanjiang safely. Don't you dare touch a hair on his head. Do you understand?"
The Dog Trainer stood up with the cup of soymilk in his hand. "Send your friend to the hospital first. My people will be waiting for you here at eight o'clock."
As I watched him leave, I could hear my own teeth rattling from the suppressed rage. I grabbed my cell phone and dialed 120. Fortunately, the bullet hit Song Xingchen’s abdomen and wasn’t anywhere near his spine. The sniper’s marksmanship was excellent. The purpose of the shot wasn’t to kill him but to isolate me.
A while later, the ambulance arrived and the paramedic carried Song Xingchen into the vehicle. In the ambulance, he grabbed my hand and said, "Young Master, let me go with you later."
"No,” I shook my head. “Take good care of yourself. The Dog Trainer won't kill me. He wants to use me. I owe you for this. I promise to pay my debts!"
"You don't owe me anything!” refuted Song Xingchen. “It’s my duty!"
The paramedic urged, "Please don't talk to the patient. Don’t you want him to live?" Then, he placed an oxygen mask on Song Xingchen's face.
At the hospital, I followed to the emergency room where a doctor asked to see me. "Young man, is that a gunshot wound? We have to contact the Public Security Bureau."
I flashed my ID, “There’s no need. I’m with the police force. He’s an undercover police officer who was accidentally injured."
"Alright then, please sign the consent form for the operation."
"Is his life in danger?" I asked.
"It’s not that serious. The bullet didn’t hurt any of the main organs. It’s just the excessive blood loss," explained the doctor.
After signing the consent form, I paid for the operation and hospitalization fee. I called Baldy with the cell phone I purchased yesterday after leaving the hospital. Upon hearing my voice, Baldy sounded very excited. "Song-ge, what are your orders?"
"Is Dali with you?" I asked.
"Yes! We’re having breakfast."
I briefly explained what I needed him to do, "This is illegal so I won’t force you to help me. Even if you refuse, I won’t blame you."
"Hey, Song-ge, what the hell are you saying?!” dismissed Baldy. “You gave me my life. Who cares about breaking the law? I won't even blink even if you asked me to kill someone!"
Baldy’s sincerity was truly heart-warming. "Brother, I will definitely return the favor!" I declared.
I took a cab back to the park and noticed a car parked outside so I immediately kept my other cell phone which was still on call with Dali in a hidden pocket I sewed in my sleeve.
Right then, a familiar face alighted from the car. It turned out to be Wang Yuanchao. "Get in. The master said the client must be sent out of Nanjiang before ten!"
"Wang Yuanchao’s" voice sounded different from usual. When I carefully observed the man, I noticed his stiff expression, an obvious indication of a face disguising technique.
There was also an officer in the car, obviously an imposter. A fat middle-aged man sat in the back seat with a gloomy expression. The Dog Trainer was so bold he dared to send a criminal out of the city by impersonating the police.
But the two imposters weren’t enough. He wanted me–a real police consultant–to serve as insurance.
Before getting into the car, “Wang Yuanchao” searched me and found the expandable baton and my usual cell phone. "What’s this?" he asked, waving the baton.
"If you don't trust me with it, you can take it away. Just give me my cell phone. How else will I pass the time on the journey?"
"No way!" he answered coldly. Then, turning off my cell phone, he placed it in his pocket with the expandable baton.
As soon as I was seated, the middle-aged man nodded at me, "I've heard a lot about you. I have a friend who was arrested by you."
"And what glorious deeds do you boast of?" I retorted.
“I'm not so stupid to tell you all about myself,” chuckled the man. “I just want to say how lucky I am not to fall into your hands. It's a great honor to have you personally escort me out of town!"
Judging from his words, this man was a murderer.Previous Chapter Next Chapter