After walking down the path for about three hours, we realized they deliberately detoured and finally left through a main road, where countless vehicles came and went, making it impossible to track them.
Xiaotao bit her lip, "Damn it!"
"Let’s go back to the car,” I sighed. “We can drive and keep looking. There’s no way we can continue on foot."
A considerable amount of time passed before we managed to hail a cab. The driver said that he could take us to the airport but not elsewhere.
Suddenly, Xiaotao shouted, "Get out of the car now!"
The driver stared her blankly.
"Where did you get the watch on your wrist?" Xiaotao asked, flashing her badge.
It was only then that I noticed the Omega diamond-encrusted watch on his wrist. It turned out Mr. Huang had the exact same watch which I failed to observe yesterday.
Frightened, the driver cried, "Officer, my watch is a counterfeit. It’s not the real thing. I bought it for a few hundred yuan."
"I said get out!”
Xiaotao pulled the driver from his seat and grabbed his watch. Clenching her teeth, Xiaotao confirmed, "It's my dad's watch. This is a limited edition watch issued by Omega to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the British Queen's accession to the throne. There are only a hundred of these in the world."
Her gaze fell upon the driver as she demanded, "Where did you get this? If you dare lie, I'll cuff you right away!"
Trembling like a leaf, the driver confessed to being acquainted with the miscreants around the area. This morning, when he was having breakfast in the outskirts of the city, a deadbeat known as Two Scar mysteriously leaned in and said he had something good to offer, which was this watch.
Although Two Scar insisted on a steep price of a thousand yuan, the driver happened to be celebrating his father-in-law's 60th birthday so he purchased the watch. He only wore it temporarily to show off but Xiaotao unexpectedly pulled him over.
"Just think of the money as a lesson,” sneered Xiaotao. “Where’s Two Scar?"
He reported an address and begged Xiaotao to return the money after catching Two Scar, vowing never to buy stolen goods again. With Xiaotao's current mood, I was worried she would pull out her gun and shoot him on the spot so I urged the driver to leave his contact information and sent him off.
Tears swirling in her eyes, Xiaotao clenched her fist around the watch. "I’m so afraid the next thing we find is my father’s corpse lying on the ground!"
Having experienced the same despair the day my grandfather died, I understood there was nothing more heartbreaking than seeing the dead body of a loved one. I gently rubbed her shoulders, hoping to comfort her.
We stopped a truck and hitched a ride to the outskirts of the city, where people made a living by the highway, either running repair workshops, gas stations or restaurants. Despite asking around where we could find Two Scar, it seemed everyone was deliberately feigning ignorance. It was obvious they knew Two Scar, perhaps as frequent customers of the man. However, each and every person we spoke to claimed they didn’t know anything.
By this point, Xiaotao looked exhausted, both physically and mentally. "Are you thirsty?” I asked. “Let’s get a bottle of water!"
I was walking to the stall to purchase some water when I happened to overhear this conversation–
"The old man wouldn’t give it to me at first. But when I showed him my knife, he was so scared he wet himself and removed all his valuable belongings."
"Damn Two, you’re actually robbing the rich and helping the poor!"
There was a small table under the huge locust tree in front of the stall where several young men sat, chatting and sipping on soda. One of the young men happily babbling had dry, yellow hair like hay and two scars on his left cheek. I beckoned for Xiaotao to come over.
Upon noticing Xiaotao and me, two of the men at the table realized something was wrong and left immediately while the other winked at the speaker.
"What's your name?" I asked.
"You’re mistaken, I’m not Two Scar. He’s a friend of mine!"
"Is that so? Then where can I find him?"
"Unfortunately, he was killed in a hit and run."
Though furious, I was also amused by his answer. The man was so desperate to remain hidden that he would rather jinx himself with such misfortune. Two Scar was probably used to being hunted by the owners of the stolen goods he sold!
Right then, Xiaotao flashed her badge, prompting his companion to slip away on the grounds of stomach discomfort. Sipping at his soda, Two Scar reiterated, "I’m telling you, you’ve got the wrong guy..."
As soon as the words left his lips, he threw his soda at Xiaotao’s face and fled, never expecting that her first reaction would be to kick the stool which ended up slamming into his leg. The man fell to the ground, screaming.
Without hesitation, Xiaotao handcuffed him and shouted, "Don’t you know that assaulting an officer is a crime?"
At the sight of Xiaotao's bleeding temples, I was filled with distraught. I grabbed a wet towel and cleaned the wound. Fortunately, it wasn’t a large wound and wouldn’t leave a scar.
Grabbing the man by his collar, Xiaotao questioned, "Have you seen an old man in a suit and tie..." As she was speaking, she abruptly slapped him across the face, having noticed the tie hidden under his collar.
"Help! Police brutality!" screamed Two Scar.
"Believe me when I say I will kill you if you don’t speak!" threatened Xiaotao, her teeth rattling with rage. "Where’s the old man?"
"I'll tell you where he is. Just don’t arrest me!" shivered Two Scar.
"You have no right to talk terms with me. And I don't have the patience for your bullshit!" Xiaotao stared at him, rage smoldering in her narrowed eyes.
"Then I won't say a word!" Two Scar shook his head.
Boiling with rage, Xiaotao was close to beating the man once more. In fact, with our authority as members of the special team, police brutality wasn’t a problem. However, ordinary citizens obviously weren’t aware of that, and our actions might look bad on us. Blocking Xiaotao’s hands, I turned to the young man, "Look into my eyes!"
"Hmph, so you know hypnosis..... Ahhh!!!”
As soon as I stared at him with the Eyes of Yama, his neck shrank in fear, the yellow hair on his head standing on end. "Would you like to enjoy this for a while?" I sneered.
He shook his head.
"Then tell the truth!" I demanded.
He confessed bumping into an old man covered in mud last night. At the time, he was taking a stroll when he noticed what seemed like a wealthy man running away from something. Exhausted, the man sat on the ground and asked him for water, food and a phone, so he made a deal with the old man.
"What was the deal?" asked Xiaotao.
"He exchanged his suit for a bottle of water, his watch for some takeout and all his money for a phone call. He couldn’t get through to whoever he was calling but that’s got nothing to do with me!" Two Scar seemed proud of his deeds.
Pulling out her cell phone, Xiaotao confirmed that she received a call from a strange number at around 1:00 AM. She tried calling and sure enough, Two Scar’s cell phone rang.
Judging from Two Scar’s words, I could imagine how miserable Mr. Huang was last night. Fortunately, he was safe which was great news for us.
Xiaotao asked eagerly, "Where’s the old man now?"
"He’s resting in a nearby garage. I'll take you there."Previous Chapter Next Chapter