I stood up excitedly. "That’s impossible! Grandpa has fought evil all his life. How could he do such a thing? He must’ve been coerced!"
Sun Tiger motioned for me to sit down before turning to Xiaotao. "If Song Yang was threatened, could you sense it?"
"I’d be able to sense if something was off," Xiaotao glanced at me.
"Yes!" Sun Tiger continued, "Your grandfather and I were close. We were not only partners, but also close friends, friends who had experienced the most dangerous situations. If he was threatened, I would be able to sense it. There was nothing unusual about him before and after the case. But that night, he suddenly burned the evidence and ordered the release of the suspect! Since this incident, your grandfather rarely participated in solving crimes, only occasionally pointing in the general direction as a consultant. It was as if we parted ways from then on. One year, I visited him for a drink. You were there, but you may not remember it since you were only five years old. Your grandfather was drunk and confessed he had done something that went against his conscience. And this thing kept him awake all those years. I believe I understood what he meant."
Trembling, I clenched my fists. Grandpa had actually sheltered a criminal!
Though I refused to believe it, Sun Tiger seemed certain. And after all these years, he had no reason to lie to me.
After a long silence, I said, "Uncle Sun, I’d like to reopen the investigation!"
Sun Tiger picked up the cigarette on the table and found it burned to the butt. Lighting up another one, he replied, "The special team has the authority and I have no right to ask questions. However, this happened a long time ago, so the bodies and exhibits are all gone. The suspects may have even passed away. This could turn out to be a huge waste of time and effort."
I bit my lip, "The Blade Master sent me the file to try to convince me that Grandpa wasn’t as righteous as I thought, and thus deserved to die! How am I supposed to just accept this? I suspect there’s more to this than what meets the eye. I really want to know if it’s possible for a man to change so drastically overnight."
"I won't stop you from investigating, but look before you leap,” advised Sun Tiger. “Don't be blinded by your relationship."
I rose to my feet. "I'll go alone. The other members of the special team will stay in Nanjiang County to deal with any unforeseen situations."
"Song Yang, what nonsense are you talking about?” Xiaotao interjected. “You’re the soul of the special team. We’ll go together!"
Sun Tiger sighed, well aware that he couldn't stop me. "Go then. I wish you luck.” He waved his hand. “I hope you’ll reclaim Zhaolin's innocence, because even I don't believe him."
After saying our goodbyes to Sun Tiger, we stopped by the store to fetch my tools. I was afraid of bumping into Song Heting, so I sent Dali a text message, asking him to grab my tools and meet me near the store.
A while later, Dali came along, looking left and right in the dark. When I stopped him, he exclaimed, "Song Yang, you’re finally back! Your aunt is killing me. I’ve been under her supervision for the past two days, eating and sleeping on time, and getting lectured when I play video games. I even have to go shopping with her during the day. Why do I suddenly have another mother?"
I was tempted to laugh. Song Heting was truly a control freak, which was unfortunate for the free-spirited, undisciplined Dali.
“Dali, I’m sorry but I’ll be away for a while,” I said.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"Why are you going so far away? You’re not thinking of eloping with Xiaotao-jiejie, are you?"
"If we were going to elope, Liangchuan would be the last destination on our list,” chuckled Xiaotao. “We’d have to go to the Maldives or Hawaii."
"Ah, how I envy you guys!"
"I'm going to investigate a case. It's been hard on you. I'll make sure to compensate you when I get back!" I promised.
Dali looked like he was about to cry. "When will your aunt leave? When will my bitter days come to an end?"
"Isn't it good to work and rest on time?” I comforted. “My aunt is a martial arts expert. If you have some time, you can ask her for pointers on fighting. Just think about it. Won’t you look good in front of Luo Youyou the next time you bump into some gangsters?"
Palming his forehead, Dali shouted, "Now that you mention it, your aunt kicked up a can and took down a thief from a distance of ten meters the other day. I was so shocked at the time. Your lovely cousin is strangely adept at martial arts as well. She taught Youyou a set of self-defense moves, so now Youyou practices them on me every night. Look at the bruises on my arm!"
"Good luck with that!” I patted him on the shoulder. “By the way, since I’ve been out investigating for the past month, I haven’t really looked after the store. You can keep my salary as part of compensation for accompanying my aunt."
"Alright, come back as soon as you can and save me from my suffering!"
Dali and I exchanged a hug that appeared as if this was our last goodbye. Then, Xiaotao and I took the bullet train back to Jiangling City at eleven in the evening.
Back at the hotel, Bingxin was watching TV. Upon noticing us, she made a face, "Do you have to sneak around? Just let me know and I'll give you the room."
"What are you thinking?” Xiaotao rebuked. “We just took a trip back to Nanjiang County."
"I'm going to get Song Xingchen and Wang Yuanchao. I have something to announce,” I said.
When the five of us were gathered in the room, I pulled out the file, explaining that I was going to Liangchuan to review an old case that might never be solved for personal reasons. I gave them the option of leaving with me or returning to Nanjiang County.
Bingxin raised her hand, "I’m going wherever Song Yang-gege goes!"
Wang Yuanchao nodded, "I’m fine with it!"
Obviously, Song Xingchen wouldn’t allow me so far out of his sight. Thus, he would join us as well.
The next day, we left for Liangchuan by plane. It was my first time visiting a county so far north. When I looked around, all I saw was the cloudless blue sky. The dry air caused static electricity every time I touched something. Fortunately, it wasn’t too cold.
Stepping into the county was like taking a trip back to the 1990s. Liangchuan was rich with the local customs of northwest China.
At Bingxin's suggestion, we had dinner at a Lanzhou noodle restaurant and tasted authentic Lanzhou noodles. After dinner, Xiaotao proposed, "Let’s drop by the local bureau to greet them first! Since we’re handling a case across provinces, we must show proper etiquette."
When we arrived, we found the director who seemed stunned when we mentioned our purpose. He wasn’t aware of the special team and wondered why we came all the way to participate in an old unsolved case.
"Is it an order from the Ministry of Public Security?" the director scratched his head.
"Do you know Song Zhaolin and Sun Tiger? They handled this case in the past. Sun Tiger is our director and Song Zhaolin is my grandfather."
The director shook his head, "I’ve only been in office for about ten years, and I’ve never heard of those two people. However, if you’re willing to take on this cold case, the bureau will certainly lend you our full assistance. This serial murder has been quite famous on the Internet recently. It’s listed as the top ten unsolved cases after the founding of the People's Republic of China. Citizens often come to inquire about it. Recently, a director and screenwriter from Golden Films visited and said that they were going to adapt it into a movie. Oh, yes, the two are still staying in the motel. Would you like to meet them?"
"No. If it’s alright, I'd like to see the files first."Previous Chapter Next Chapter