Chapter 55 – Ink Brush of Virtue (10)
First Published on Wattpad, Reposted on Ainushi
The prey is caught. Zhu’s zone automatically unlocks, and the shattered glass sticks back on to the windows. Nurses come and go checking on the patients, and a few people have arrived at night for emergencies. Some patients are awakened, going outside to see if there are any abnormalities, and one by one they return to their rooms.
Street vendors have called it a day and all left. Occasionally, a few taxis pass by quickly, not intending to pick up passengers.
Shen rushes up the building, and bumps into Chu coming downstairs. Chu is the conceitful type, he is fine with people he knows, but to strangers, he almost never says anything. But now when he sees Shen, he extends a hand and praises, “That was a beautiful catch.”
Shen quickly nods in acknowledgement, but the look on his face is even worse than the patient who came in with acute appendicitis. He takes out a small medicine bottle, and says briefly, “It’s inside, take care of it.”
Then he tosses the bottle to Chu, and grabs Zhao by the hand, “You come with me, we need to talk.”
Zhao is pulled away without resisting.
Shen pushes him into the toilet, locks the door, and glares at him in the dim lights; he lowers his voice, “Just now, was that Shadow Blitz.”
“You did it?”
Shen says no more, and his hand comes slapping across.
But though this slap comes with tremendous force, he still cannot bring himself to hit Zhao, and his hand stops right next to Zhao’s ear.
Zhao is stunned, and asks, bewildered, “Shen Wei?”
“Don’t call me!” Shen’s face goes pale with fury, and his hand trembles in mid-air. After a long while, he grits his teeth, “‘Men and gods, none shall survive’, Guardian is certainly formidable and fearless. Are you… are you not afraid the Heavens will punish you!?”
Zhao rarely sees Shen get angry, not to mention this angry. It hurts him seeing Shen so infuriated, and he grabs hold of his cold hand, “Yes, yes, it’s my fault, if you want to hit me then hit me. Don’t be mad. Don’t be mad.”
Shen flicks his hands away, “I’m not kidding! Do you know gathering the Shadow Troops is absolutely forbidden dark magic? Do you understand what’s dark magic? Can the three worlds tolerate this? You have no regard for the laws of nature do you, how big of a mess do you need to make before you learn!? You… you…”
His voice stops abruptly. After a long time, he asks with a quivering voice, “What will I do if that happens?”
Zhao wraps his arms around him, and softly kisses his hair, “It’s my fault, baby, I’m sorry.”
He thinks his attitude is really good, but this phrase gets on the wrong side of Shen, who pushes him away, locking him against the door with one hand, and the other grappling his collar, “Don’t use the tricks you’ve used on countless others to fool me.”
Zhao smiles helplessly, “Then what do you want me to do?”
The fury on Shen’s face gradually wears away when Zhao smiles. After a moment, it softens a little more… there’s always this one jerk, even if he punctured a hole in the sky, Shen wouldn’t scold him too severely.
After quite some time, Shen sighs, lets go, and says blandly, “Can’t you change your temperament a little?”
Zhao is all apologetic, and hastily nods… although he doesn’t think he has a problem at all, as long as Shen says there is one, he will apologise no matter what.
Shen looks down, and holds his injured hand; he asks softly, “Does it hurt?”
“I… just now I was a little short-tempered…”
“But you hurt my back.” Zhao says, without an expression, “And you shouted at me. You’re always polite to other people, but you shouted at me.”
The look on his face scares Shen, who doesn’t realise he’s just flirting. Shen hesitates, and helplessly holds up Zhao’s face with both hands, “I…”
Zhao keeps looking at him with a blank expression.
Panicking, he has yet to finish, and Zhao points towards his own lips, “Take care of me well and I’ll forgive you.”
Shen is stupefied for a second before realising what he said. His face goes blank before saying, “Such indecency!”
Then his ears turn red, and he heads out.
And yet as he walks to the door, he looks back and finds Zhao still leaning against the wall in the same pose, looking at him with a half-smile.
Shen’s hand is on the door handle. But he hesitates for long. Then, he rushes back in big steps, embraces Zhao’s waist and kisses him.
He has him wrapped around his fingers, what will he do in the future?
Zhao’s lips are swelling a little. When Zhu sees them, she furiously looks away, and thinks: this queer man whore, is he really that horny?
The gang head back to No.4 Bright Avenue. Chu sets up another ‘net’ around the interrogation room, and sticks yellow paper talismans everywhere like prayer flags. And then he locks the door, opens the bottle, and lets the grudge out.
Zhao moves a chair for Shen to sit on, and leans against the wall with arms crossed. He lights a cigarette, and says sluggishly, without looking up, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in court. Think before you say anything.”
The legless grudge is locked on a chair by three fettering talismans. Raising his head eerily, he asks with a coarse voice, “Used in court? What court?”
“The Court of Hell, fair and impartial, to judge all the crimes of your life. No more babbling, just answer our questions!” Lin was chased after by him like a giant gecko, and he is not content… he is the most schizophrenic when it comes to this, outside he is a cunning monk who puts on an honest and upright
pretence, but once he is in the interrogation room he transforms into roaring Lin, as if he has to shout to exert dominance.
The grudge laughs scornfully.
Chu glances towards Guo, who instantly sits upright, clears his throat, and peeks at the “cheats” scribbled all over his palm, and recites, “Na… name, age, time of death, cause of death.”
The grudge looks at Guo, who shivers.
Chu puts a hand on Guo’s shoulder, and at the same time, Lin slams his hands on to the table, and says with hostility, “The hell you lookin’ at, speak!”
“Wang Xiangyang, 62, died last year, December 29 of the lunar calendar, car accident.”
Guo carefully looks at Chu, who nods, signalling him to continue. And so Guo looks at his cheat palm again, and Chu can’t help but peek as well; written on his palm is: “2. Oh, XXX (insert their name), if your cause of death was XXX (insert their cause of death), then why did you hurt innocent people?”
Then he hears Guo stuttering, “Oh, Wang Xiangyang, if your cause of death was December 29… no, your cause of death was car accident, then why did you hurt innocent people?”
Chu really doesn’t want to laugh in this sombre occasion, so he turns around to Zhao, “Chief Zhao, give me a cigarette.”
Using this to hide his overly creepy expression.
“Innocent?” Wang’s face wears a greatly distorted smile; like a lunatic, he leans forward, “Who’s innocent? Tell me, kiddo, who’s innocent? They’re innocent? You’re innocent?”
Oh no, why is he replying with a question? He didn’t prepare a response to that.
Guo is instantly puzzled, and doesn’t know what to do.
Chu looks down, and Lin looks away; his two backup both tacitly abandon him.
But Shen suddenly asks, “Can you tell me how you died in a car accident?”
Wang turns towards him with a bland face, in silence.
Shen asks again, “Was it related to the people you cursed? Was it related to the oranges you were selling?”
“I used to sell oranges for a living.” Wang answers him after a long time, “I lived in a village on the outskirts of Dragon City. Every day, I would push a small cart full of fruits into the city, and sell them on the streets; my entire family lived off of this source of income. My wife had uremia, she couldn’t work. My son, he was almost thirty, couldn’t get a wife, and since we were poor farmers, I couldn’t afford a house for him in the city.”
“If you have to ask, then I’ll tell you… I really really liked the few days before and after the New Year. It’s usually when most street vendors have went back home, and when the supermarkets are the most crowded. Some people would buy from me out of convenience; and I would make the most money around that time.” Wang calms down in Shen’s gaze, but he wears a scornful smile nonetheless, “December 29, what a great day.”
Guo finally finds something useful on his palm, and seizes the chance to ask, “Do you despise society because of family problems?”
“Despise society?” Wang repeats, and shakes his head, “I don’t. I know all those who wronged me, and I just had to get to them. I would’ve left if I were done with all of them. If you want to grill me, then do it; if you want to throw me down to Eighteen Levels of Hell, then do it. But I had to make sure those people would go down with me, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
He says all that calmly, but to the others’ ears, it comes across as vile and vicious.
Then, Wang Zheng knocks on the door, and comes in with a tray full of fruits, along with her eternal follower Sang.
Wang Zheng hands the fruits to Zhao, and looks at Shen with a strange gaze. But she doesn’t say anything, and only reminds Chu, “The talismans outside, if you’re not using them then take them off, don’t give the janitor a hard time.”
When the two cleaner ghosts are gone, Shen continues, “Who are they?”
“Those three in the hospital, and many more… uh, but it really wasn’t the driver’s fault.” Wang Xiangyang says as though he were an outsider, “People can light firecrackers on December 29. That day, two teenagers were fooling around like buffoons, though they were dressed like humans, and most decently too… down jackets that must have cost a few thousand per piece. They went crazy and threw firecrackers everywhere, and their parents wouldn’t interfere. They threw some under my cart, and I scolded them; I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t help it, my brain was probably malfunctioning in the cold. Those kids got even crazier, and started throwing firecrackers at me, I chased after them, and one kid ran behind me and flipped my cart over. Oranges, apples, all my fruits rolled on to the streets.”
He stops here, and looks down at the neatly arranged fruit platter. He can’t help but lick his lips. He could never bring himself to eat his own fruits when he was alive, and now he cannot eat any even if he wanted to.
Bizarre lights sparkle in his eyes, “That cartful of fruits was our entire year’s worth of income. I was desperate. I ran out to pick up the fruits, but I couldn’t get all of them back. It was daytime, and there were many passers-by. I said, ‘Please help me, will you please help me’, but someone picked up one of my oranges, didn’t even look at me, and started eating it. He even said, ‘your stuff are all dirty now, nobody will buy them, whatcha doin’ that for?’ And then he picked up an apple and left.”
Wang Xiangyang pauses and his face surprisingly wears a serene and relieved smile, as though his words pleased him greatly, “Many were like him, so many… they saw the fruits, and they took them and left; some even came with bags. I said you can’t do that, you have to pay, you can’t just take my fruits like that. Once they heard that, they took my fruits and ran off. I went after them, and a taxi ran me over.”
“It was snowing a lot that day. The car couldn’t stop; the driver hit the brakes, but the car glided a few metres forward, grinding over me. My upper body rolled out with the wheels, and my legs were cut off and left where I fell. Before my last breath, an orange bumped into my face. You tell me, didn’t I die of injustice?”
Wang Xiangyang continues, “Shouldn’t I take revenge? Should you have arrested me? When I’m in Hell, how should the Kings of Hell judge this case?”
No wonder the Lines of Karma on the victims were all so light… the person who actually caused his death was the driver, and yet the driver wasn’t related to any of this.
Wang Xiangyang leans back on to the chair, an action that looks particularly terrifying when a legless man does it. He laughs with a deep voice, “When I was alive I didn’t know there were people like you whose jobs were to look after these kinds of things. If you want to uphold justice, then why arrest me and not them? Forget it, I’m done with this world.”
Guo sees the final reminder on his palm, which says “family, friends”, and so he says without thinking, “Haven’t you thought about your son and your grandchildren? What about your wife who is sick? Don’t you want to do good deeds for their sake?”
Wang Xiangyang says with a bland face, “My son didn’t get married, I don’t have grandchildren. Besides, my wife and son are both dead. Our bloodline ends here, who the fuck should I do good deeds for?”
Guo hears himself ask, shakily, “How did they…”
“I did it. I put out the fire on the stove we used as a heater. It was night time, and they were both still sleeping. They were poisoned by the gas leak.” And Wang Xiangyang adds, “No pain.”
Guo says, “How… how can you do that?”
Wang Xiangyang looks at him candidly, and smiles lightly, “I think being alive is more painful than being dead, what do you think?”