Chapter 26 Julien Twenty-five
TL: cici, Editor: Isalee
Synopsis: “Can you… allow me to pretend to meet my mom for one last time?”
First Published on Ainushi.
When there were forty-five seconds left in the countdown, the entire “sky screen” suddenly blinked. Then, in front of everyone’s bemused eyes, a photo of a teenager suddenly appeared.
He was around eighteen or nineteen years old, had a very ordinary face, and slightly dark skin. He looked a bit awkward while facing the camera, but he wore a wide smile that revealed his white teeth.
Without warning, the eyes of the woman on top of the building met this splendid old photo. She was immediately stunned while straddling the railing with one foot on either side. The “wings” on her back rustled in the night wind.
The woman saw it, and so did all the people who were waiting for the preview of the closing ceremony in Central Square. Luo Wenzhou had just finished checking a building and was running out. He saw that the world outside had changed. He stumbled and almost started rolling down the stairs at the entrance.
A policeman standing next to him gasped: “Captain Luo, the closing ceremony has brought the rights to the broadcast, haven’t they? Can we switch the content? This… this’ll just cost one more car!”
“Stop talking nonsense!” Luo Wenzhou kept walking and picked up the walkie-talkie. “Group One, report. Did you find the car? Pay attention to all the intersections, and arrest car owner immediately if they show up. Send the car model and license plate number to Fei Du. Ask him to display them on the screen and encourage people to report to the police.”
At the same time, in the control room of the Economy and Trade Center Building, a group of staff members were busy working.
“Is the video recorder connected?”
“How about the video processors?”
“Lights, lights, lights… oh, be careful with that line!”
Fighting the impulse to sweep around in the babble, Fei Du planted himself next to the wall in a corner.
One leather shoe with a stain on it kept tapping on the ground. It seemed that there was always a four-four rhythmic slow song playing in his world, ready to isolate all the sounds around him.
Suddenly, the light in front of him was turned on and Fei Du looked up.
“Mr. Fei, the equipment is ready!”
The woman on top of the building stared greedily at the photo of the teenager without knowing the time.
Strangely enough, he only had an ordinary appearance which would probably not attract any attention on the street. In her opinion, however, he was cute beyond description.
The stupid-looking square chin was cute, the widely-separated eyes were cute, the thin eyebrows were cute, and even the two front teeth that were a little far away from each other were cute. She could keep her eyes on him for more than ten thousand years.
However, she couldn’t look at him anymore.
Together with this thought, slowly but resolutely, her memory rose like the tide, and the light in her eyes gradually disappeared like a small reef that refused to come to its senses.
She lifted her face, wiped her eyes, and recalled the truth – Zhongyi was gone.
Gritting her teeth, she began the other leg out, hoping to reunite with him in the other world.
At this moment, the picture on the “sky screen” suddenly disappeared, and a short video started playing.
The background of the roughly-made video included a pale wall. Lights came in from various angles, making it a bit dazzling. A young man in a black shirt stood in the center of the screen. It seemed that the device had been set up in a hurry, and the size did not match. He was stretched and distorted.
That was the young man she did not manage to say goodbye to before she had set off.
The person on the “sky screen” gently lifted the microphone and said: “Auntie, I haven’t received any news about you yet. For me, this is good news. I want to talk to you like this. If you can hear me, please give me two minutes and listen to me.”
Wang Xiujuan was nonplussed and scared; she stared at the screen with no idea about what to do. She automatically nodded and then realized that they could not see each other at all.
Luo Wenzhou was crossing the square at this moment. He was listening to the progress reports from each group with the earbud in his left ear, and he listening to the voice in the surrounding environment with his right ear. With his mind multithreading, he ordered: “Ask a few people to maintain the order of Central Square. If we are understaffed, ask the security brothers to do us a favor. Don’t let the onlookers talk nonsense and disturb her-”
At this time, Fei Du spoke on the big screen: “Auntie, if my mother were still alive, she would be about the same age as you.”
At these words, Luo Wenzhou snapped his head up to look at him, but that did not stop him from walking. He quickly passed through the open space in the square and hurried to the next building: “Group 3, there are monitoring cameras at the top of the tall buildings facing the street. You can use them directly, don’t waste time. Tao Ran, you pay attention to the evacuation route. Group 4, come with me to the Twin Tower in the Eastern District. Several floors there are under construction, so focus on investigating there.”
Fei Du’s slightly low rumble followed his hurried footsteps: “…I went home more often than Zhongyi did. After all, he had to work hard and save money for your treatment, while I was just a student. Every weekend, she would put fresh flowers in the vase in advance, prepare my favorite food, clean my room, and take my quilt out to air it. She didn’t like the idea of living with a housemaid, so she had to do all these things by herself. Do you air a quilt for Zhongyi as well?”
Wang Xiujuan let out an unbearable long sob which was soon drowned out by the wind.
The sobbing wind soared down from the top of the high-rise building, shaving Luo Wenzhou’s sweaty temple like a passed groan.
“One day, I returned home with my mind filled with anticipation. When I pushed the door open, I found that there was only a bunch of dead branches and leaves in the vase at the door. All the curtains were closed, and the air in the house was lifeless. When I jittered to her room, I found no well-aired quilt, but her body.” With these words, Fei Du paused, “Not too long ago, you told me this: ‘Your mom must have been looking forward to seeing you at home every day,’ but the policeman who handled the case told me that she committed suicide the night before I returned – I usually went home at the same time every week, so she knew the time.”
“Mom, I wanted to ask you this question for a long time. What kind of mother would plan the time so well to leave her body to her child? Every day I pondered about how to make you like me, how to please you – how to save enough for treating your sickness, how to pay off the surgery fees I borrowed in the past… I have not paid it off yet, and I am now alone in the freezer, unable to go home. Are you going to leave me there? If you are so cruel, why do you behave like you care about us in the first place?”
Wang Xiujuan slowly squatted down with her legs straddling the fence.
Fei Du paused for a moment. Once again pressed the mic with his hand, and counted to five in his mind.
At the same time, the make, model, and license plate information of the mysterious rental car was displayed in the corner of the screen. Wang Xiujuan had a limited degree of education and was very insensitive to text. The onlookers, however, saw it. They picked up their mobile phones and forwarded the message to their friends.
“Captain Luo, the Twin Towers construction team said that they were overhauling the building’s power system during the weekend, and the power has been out for more than one hour.”
Luo Wenzhou’s back was soaked in sweat, making him understand the feeling of old Lian Po apologizing with twigs on his shoulder. (1) He felt so sorry for not being able to depart with his own back and let the spines escape with his organs.
He looked up at the soaring towers and gritted his teeth: “Go up.”
Fei Du kept silent for a while, then softened his tone and re-distinguished himself and He Zhongyi, whom he had deliberately mixed together with just now: “Auntie, the murderer hasn’t been caught yet, and you still have no knowledge of the truth. What are you going to tell Zhongyi if you go in such a confused stated? I want to ask you for a favor again. No matter where you are now, can you come to the square as soon as possible? We are all looking for you, let’s catch the murderer together. After that, you still have to go home with Zhongyi. I also want to stay with you for a while longer.”
“Can you… allow me to pretend to meet my mom for one last time?”
Wang Xiujuan finally burst into tears.
She nearly cried her soul out, and the warrior-like determination for smashing herself on the face in the middle of the city was also lost with the tears. Again, she turned back into the weak woman who did not know where to go, the woman she used to be when she had just arrived in Yancheng. As she glanced down, she suddenly had cold feet.
Wang Xiujuan pulled her eyes back up, but she still could not stand up. She tried to grab the fence and retract the foot she had stepped out with, but at this time…
The seemingly sturdy guardrail was actually attached to nothing. Caught unprepared, Wang Xiujuan grasped the broken guardrail and it swayed out lightly. She lost her step and fell backwards.
Wang Xiujuan’s eyes widened and she heard buzzing in her head.
In that fleeting moment, a figure flashed towards her and caught her foot that was stuck in the half-open guardrail. The woman struggled instinctively, and the fine ankle almost slipped out of his hand.
Luo Wenzhou’s arms were strained by the weight of the human body, and the newly-sewed gash on the back of his body was open again. He felt as though his body was being torn apart. He grasped the woman with all his might and shouted: “Don’t move!”
Fortunately, he did not come up by himself. His followers sprang towards them immediately. Three minutes later, several people pulled an already unconscious Wang Xiujuan up.
Luo Wenzhou always felt that he could go to heaven and fight with Sun Wukong (2) for three hundred rounds at any time. This time, however, he was almost unable to stand up. He took a few steps back and simply sat down on the ground, panting. After a while, someone said: “Captain Luo, she is alive!”
His tightened muscles finally relaxed.
After relaxing, Luo Wenzhou found that the blood and sweat on his back had mixed together, and it hurt so much that he had to take a deep breath: “Oh…f**k, it’s really broken this time…”
At this time, Lang Qiao’s voice erupted from the interphone: “Boss, a young couple just reported that they saw the suspect’s car in the landscape park. The built-in lights are on. We’re afraid that the murderer is still inside, so they didn’t dare to approach!”
Luo Wenzhou: “Park? Where?”
“About a kilometer from the Central Square. It’s quite deserted at night, and no one goes there except for young lovers.”
“Impossible. It can’t be so remote,” Luo Wenzhou closed his eyes in the unbearable pain. “Coordinate with the construction and maintenance team, let them turn on the building’s emergency power supply. Turn on all the cameras, and send people to observe all blind spots. This murderer sent a lawyer to spy on the investigation and directly bamboozled a woman from the bureau. I don’t believe that he will go into hiding before getting the result he wants.”
(1) Old Lian Po apologizing with twigs of the chaste tree at his back: Lian Po was a military general of the Zhao state during the Warring States period of Chinese history. Lian Po used to dislike Lin Xiangru, a minister of Zhao. Lin Xiangru, however, knowing that wasting time in a war with colleagues would do no good to the state, chose to avoid him at all costs. Lian Po ended up feeling sorry for his own behavior, and in order to ask for forgiveness, he carried brambles on his shoulder and visited Lin Xiangru. And then they became friends.
(2) Sun Wukong: aka the Monkey King. A legendary Chinese figure who possesses immense supernatural power. He is one of the main characters in the famous Chinese novel Journey to the West.