I got up early the next morning and brought the necessary equipment to the front of the Golden Dragon Mall. The Dog Trainer was waiting there for me with his hands in the pockets of his trench coat.
At the sight of me, he grinned widely. "Go ahead,” I said. “What game would you like to play today?"
"Don't be so antsy. Worrying is only going to make you age. Have you had breakfast?" he asked.
I didn't have the heart to chat and joke around after he hurt four of my friends. The Dog Trainer walked to a stall nearby, ordered a bowl of oden, and handed it to me. "Eat!"
Instead of reaching for it, I frowned, "I don't like to beat around the bush."
The Dog Trainer ordered, "You better obey!"
"Are you going to threaten me with my friend's safety for such a stupid little thing?" I scoffed.
I grabbed the bowl, ready to toss it into the trash can when the Dog Trainer's eyes turned dark, "Do you know the price of disobeying me? The more disobedient the dog is, the more it stimulates my desire for dominance. I don't want to show you my other side."
I gritted my teeth and pulled out the bamboo stick. Eating it felt like chewing on wax. Coerced to do as he asked made me feel humiliated. At the same time, I realized that this man had an abnormal desire for control.
After finishing my food, the Dog Trainer looked his usual jovial self. He was now back to the kind uncle who wouldn’t hurt an animal, much less a person. Smiling with satisfaction, he said, "That’s more like it."
I threw away the rest of the soup and analyzed, "You were born in a middle-class family and have been self-abased since childhood. Your father was very strict and your mother either died young or divorced your father!"
The Dog Trainer paused, looking puzzled.
"Your boyhood didn’t go so smoothly,” I continued. “You were a nerd who was bullied by everyone else. You used to disguise yourself with a mask and catered to others. You like everything to be in order, but reality never goes as planned which makes you resentful of everything around you. Your marriage turned out to be a disaster. You may have children, but they are very rebellious so this meaningless game of control has become a sort of compensation that makes you feel like the king of everything!"
The Dog Trainer asked coldly, "Are you making a psychological evaluation of me?"
"Just reciprocating the favor. You like to control people and I like to analyze them!"
"Song Yang, I hope that confident expression will always remain on your face,” he smiled. “One day in the future, you’re going to miss this wild and unfettered side of yours."
I understood the implication of his words. It seemed today's task was by no means simple. "Get to the point!" I snapped.
The Dog Trainer handed me a photo of a skinny man. "Today's task is very simple. Kill a witness for me. I’ve locked him up and the gun has been prepared."
"I thought you don’t kill them," I arched an eyebrow.
"Not everyone has the potential to become a dog. For some of the more incompetent ones, it’s much better to kill them, don’t you think?"
"I think it’s best for everyone if the people in your organization are all dead!" I mocked.
Roaring with laughter, he took out a photo with a gun and a bullet on top. "If you finish the task, this is a reward for you."
This was the gun and bullet Xiaotao fired at the time. It must have her fingerprints on it which was an important piece of evidence to overthrow her conviction.
"And what if I fail?" I asked.
"One of your friends will die! Have I made myself clear enough? There’s an address behind the photo. Remember, don’t leave any evidence behind."
After that, he turned to the boss stall owner and said, "Excuse me, I’ll have another one!"
I stared at the person in the photo. Cheating my way out of today's task would be difficult. But if I killed someone, the Dog Trainer would certainly use that for blackmail, making it impossible for me to escape his control in the future.
The Dog Trainer urged, "Don't call anyone. Don't try anything!"
With clenched fists, I decided to take a look at the situation first. On my way there, I texted Wang Yuanchao, Sun Tiger and Bingxin, "You may be in danger. Stay hidden!"
I soon arrived at the location written on the back of the photo–an unfinished building. On the sixth floor, I found a man hidden behind one of the building material boards. He was sitting on a chair with his hands tied behind his back. There was a bag beside him that contained a semi-automatic pistol.
As soon as the man saw me, he screamed. I removed the rag from his mouth and asked, "Who are you?"
"I’m just a businessman,” he cried. “I don't know why I was kidnapped."
"Have you ever heard of the name Dog Trainer?" I asked.
"No!" he replied.
"Are you involved in any cases?" I asked again.
Seeing his refusal to answer, I showed him my identification and said, "Don't be afraid. I'm with the police!"
The man crumpled in relief, "Officer, thank goodness you’re here. In fact, I went out two nights ago and parked my car on the side of the road to relieve myself. Then I saw two cars passing by with a naked man sandwiched between them and running barefoot. I was surprised at the time so I secretly followed them. And then... then... I saw four young men dragging a woman from the car into a concrete pipe. The woman kept screaming. And when they were done with her, the young men came out and started punching and kicking the naked man."
It turned out he was a witness to the four young masters’ case!
"Why didn't you call the police at that time?" I chided.
"I was afraid,” he sobbed. The four young men looked like rich people. I was afraid of being retaliated by them. But then a policeman came to me and asked if I had seen anything. I told him everything, and then... the man covered my face with a rag and knocked me out. "
"What does the policeman look like?" I asked.
According to the man's description, it was the Dog Trainer impersonating an officer. "Did you see the faces of the four young men clearly?"
"Yes!" he nodded desperately.
"Would you recognize them if you saw them again?" I asked.
This man’s existence was crucial for the progress of the four young masters’ case. It suddenly dawned upon me that this was a test given to me by the Dog Trainer. He wanted me to choose between Xiaotao's innocence and bringing down the four young masters. If I didn't kill this man, Wang Yuanchao, Bingxin or Sun Tiger would die. Was the price worth it?
I shook my head vehemently. None of that mattered. What mattered most were my principles and I couldn’t kill anyone!
Seeing that I remained motionless for some time, the man pleaded, "Officer, please cut me loose. I have been sitting here all night and my arms are numb."
"Don't worry. Let me make a phone call first!"
Just as I was about to call Sun Tiger and task for backup, a thunderous gunshot resounded in the empty floor, bouncing off the walls. When I turned around, I found a hole in the witness's forehead. His head dropped to the side and he no longer moved. Out of the hole, flowed crimson blood that dripped along his nose bridge and down to his chin.
The Dog Trainer stood on the other side, his gloved hand holding a gun. "I told you no more tricks! You failed your test!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter