Chapter 51 Humbert Humbert Eighteen

TL: QuantumC, Editor: IsaLee

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It only took Fei Du one glance to realize that the assistant was biting her tongue on something. He added, considerately: “You can put any file that needs my signature on my desk. If there are urgent ones, I will go back to the office this evening to sign them.”

“There are a couple emails from your partnering companies. You might want to reply to them yourself.” The assistant quickly added, “What’s a good time to pick you up this evening?”

“No time is good for ‘picking up’.” Fei Du had already opened the car door. Hearing her question, he smiled, “I will just grab a cab afterwards. Wouldn’t want to spoil your evening — what if you miss a date with your boyfriend and don’t like me anymore?”

The assistant replied candidly: “Don’t mention that boyfriend of mine who’s got neither the money nor the looks. I don’t even know why we are still together… One word from you and I’ll dump him at once!”

“Honey, have some mercy for the men under your feet. Besides, you look so lovely today. How could I keep you to myself and the computer? That would be a heinous crime.” Fei Du had already gotten out of the car. He turned back, bent down, and added, one hand on the door, “This car can be a little tricky to drive sometimes. Drive safely, and text me when you arrive.”

Following his words, the assistant unconsciously peeked at the rearview mirror to check on her makeup. Noticing that the lip color came off a little bit, she quickly took out her lipstick to fix it. Then, her eyes landed on the leaving man’s back. 

From the back, Fei Du looked quite graceful and at ease. His plaster-wrapped arm hung in front of his chest, but from behind it looked like he was just holding a champagne glass. As if he were attending a dinner banquet, he waltzed into the Bureau. 

The assistant’s surname was Miao. Unlike ordinary secretaries for the daily chores, Miao actually graduated from a top-tier university and had a very impressive resume. But because of some history with a petty colleague, her career suffered for a long time. It was Fei Du who discovered her and promoted her into his inner circle. 

Little Mr. Fei was known for his impeccable courtesy around the ladies. He was so popular and at ease with just about any female that it earned him the reputation of “the friend of women”. Despite his seemingly friendliness with everyone, however, only a handful of those who were truly close to him knew his whereabouts.

When it came to running his business empire, Fei Du had always been quite humble and conservative. He very rarely questioned the decisions of his managerial team because he knew very well to ‘leave things to the professionals’. Perhaps the affluence since childhood had fostered a certain sense of care-free generosity in him: his relationship with the minor parties on the board could only be described as harmonic, because he rarely fretted about small conflicts of interest. Collaborators or competitors, his easygoingness made them happy. In a word, Assistant Miao would describe him as a very ‘low-maintenance’ successor… if she hadn’t witnessed how he seized control of the corporation back in the days. 

However, Assistant Miao never fully understood why he did what he did back then. To her, this ‘Fei Jr.’ wasn’t the ambitious type-A leader who wished to expand his business worldwide or anything. On the contrary, he seemed quite happy with what he had.

The iron-fist ruling at the beginning of his reign seemed almost like a show, aimed to announce his succession and warn those who didn’t take him seriously. As soon as he figured out the ins and outs of the corporation, he never set foot on the details again. Especially in the past couple of months, he became less and less present in the business operation. More often than not, he was hard to find. 

It sounded like a typical rich young boy who lacked endurance and hadn’t figured out what he really wanted.

However, Assistant Miao couldn’t help but feel that there was more to Fei Du than what met the eye. Somehow, he just didn’t seem like the labile and frivolous type. Baffled, she stared at her boss as he disappeared into the unusually crowded front yard of the Bureau, before finally driving away, laden with worries.

The Yancheng Public Safety Bureau was indeed much more crowded than usual. The front street was packed with parked cars, legal or otherwise. A junior parking enforcement officer held a stack of tickets but was very confused about what was going on with the sudden traffic, and wasn’t sure whether he should issue any tickets or not.

A couple of officers were dispatched to the front gate to take care of visitor registration. The amount of visitors they got that day was almost towering that of a local police station.

Pushed in by a current of people, Fei Du entered the front gate without being stopped.

He realized that the visitors were from a wide variety of age groups and social classes, but all were somber.

Some carried pictures with them. Others looked like couples — they seemed to be more dependent on each other than regular couples — leaning on each other as if it was too hard to walk this life alone, or to even keep standing.

Once in a while, loud sobs would break the silence and everyone’s tired and battered face would be startled. However, other than Fei Du — the curious outsider — none of the others cared to look for the origin of the sobbing as if they knew it all too well.

Fei Du frowned. He could feel something was different tonight.

He had been to the Bureau so many times that he easily made his way into the main building. Just as he was debating whether to call someone, he ran into Luo Wenzhou in front of the corner restroom.

A lack of sleep made Luo Wenzhou’s double eyelid folds even deeper. A whole night of smoking made him stink of cigarettes. He had just gone to splash some cold water on his face. Water dripped down from his neck and soaked the front of his T-shirt, withholding nothing behind. Tracelessly, Fei Du’s eyes patrolled from Luo’s chest to his waistline. If his eyes were a camera, he must have snapped a dozen close-up shots already.

When he finally finished, Fei Du pushed up his sunglasses and started with the least personal opening line: “So, you dug out some related cases?”

Surprise, surprise. Mr. Fei demonstrating his uber-sensitivity in criminality. Luo Wenzhou nodded exhaustedly.

“Wow.” Fei Du held his hands on his back, and glanced at the crowd through the hallway window, “Usually it’s the parents who come to these occasions. Judging from their age range…how many years did you guys dig back?”

“Twenty-two,” Luo Wenzhou answered. Realizing that his voice was very hoarse, he coughed hard to clear his throat, “The Lian Huashan – Guo Fei Case happened twenty years ago, but there had been similar cases two years before that. And they never stopped after Wu Guangchuan’s death.”

Fei Du handed him a mint.

“We could roughly conclude that it was a criminal group.” Luo Wenzhou sighed, “Each year there are missing children’s cases that end up cold. Most of these kids are never found again. All we could do was to collect their DNA samples and wait for someone to report a suspicious begging child, or hope for breakthroughs in some human trafficking cases. Usually, with the cold cases, one or two local officers would follow up, but when reported to the Bureau, they are only numbers on paper. As long as the numbers don’t look outlandish, no one would pay special attention to them.”

“But the Lian Huashan case was different. It was very high profile, and some senior officers involved in it were still serving at the Bureau. It only takes one person like your Shifu — who couldn’t let go of the case — to notice the problem. Unless…unless all of the cases following Wu Guangchuan’s death had one important piece missing.” How quickly Fei Du caught up with and deduced from the information was frightening, “It was the ‘torturing the parents’ part, right?”

Luo Wenzhou said nothing, only chewed the mint into pieces.

“Suppose there is this group who uses innocent little girls as  bait to abduct other girls. I don’t think they would want to attract attention.” Fei Du said, “Calling the victim’s parents just to torture them seems too…’personal’. It’s not consistent with the goal of the ‘group’. What the ‘group’ wanted were teenage girls, but what the caller wanted was to make the parents suffer. It sounds like…the ‘bait’ has gone out of control.”

Su Xiaolan twenty years ago, and Su Luozhan today.

Why can’t I have what everyone else has? Parents, family, everything else that I don’t have, I shall destroy.

The call that Guo Heng received was from a telephone booth next to a deserted landfill. The only road to the landfill had a toll. The police had questioned the toll workers many times and were certain that the caller did not go through it. So instead, after they detoured from the interstate, they would have had to stop the car on the side of the road and dragged Guo Fei — the victim — all the way up a large slope to make that call.

It sounded very irrational. All of it was just Guo Heng’s unsupported, if not forced hypothesis, so the police officers on this case back then did not adopt it.

In the call, the girl didn’t say a word; she only screamed. The sound of a jingling bell inside a metal pencil case lead Guo Fei’s parents to believe that it was Guo Fei screaming on the other end. However…what if the screaming girl wasn’t Guo Fei at all?

Perhaps Guo Fei had already been murdered at the time, and the murderer was driving his little culprit to look for a good place to hide the body. Somewhere during the process, the little girl suddenly snapped and jumped out of the car.

Luo Wenzhou closed his eyes to try to imagine what the little culprit felt…terror? Disgust? Shock? Or a mixture of jealousy and hate?

He found himself clueless.

Like the summer child who cannot imagine winter, those who grew up in peace cannot imagine what they’d do during war. What most people could think of would be the ‘man vs. wild’ type questions, like “what to pack for the road”, “how to stay together with family”, or “how to secure basic life needs”. 

As a normal human being, no matter how many times he had chased after and tried to understand the motives behind the crimes, Luo Wenzhou could still only picture the girl’s state of mind with the pale vocabulary that floated on paper.

Why had there not been any similar cases for twenty years?

What kind of a liaison existed between Su Xiaolan and Su Luozhan, the miserable mother from years ago and the crooked daughter today?

Fei Du asked: “Could you sneak me in to talk to her?”

The question snatched Luo Wenzhou’s thoughts back to the conversation. ‘What an absurd question,’ he thought.

He almost burst out a ‘No.’ However, when he raised his head to reply, he saw Fei Du leaning against the opposite side of the hallway, eyes quietly fixated on him. He had never paid much attention to Fei Du’s eyes, because two grown men usually never looked into each other’s eyes unless they either wanted to start a fight or a relationship. In his mind, the ways Fei Du looked at him were mostly mocking, cold, or harsh… If he did look closer, he was pretty sure that each and every one of the man’s dancing eyelashes would be yelling, “I do not see eye to eye with you.”

Those eyes had never been quite as soft and harmless. The way he asked the question also made Luo Wenzhou wonder whether there was a hint of pleading in those words. Luo’s whole body froze for a split second. He could no longer yell out, “Cut the crap.”

Haha. Men.

Luo Wenzhou ridiculed himself silently. However, he still replied with his gentler voice: “I’m afraid not. There are rules.”

“But last time I sat in on the interrogation…”

“That was under a special permit signed by our Chief.”

“Then let him sign another one. After all, I have directly negotiated with Su Luozhan once.” Fei Du put on his usual half-hearted smile again, “Besides, I have written a small piece on victim studies before, and it was cited by the most recent edition of a criminal psychology textbook. Oh, and I should mention that I was admitted to the Applied Psychology program at the Yancheng Police Academy this April. So, starting this fall, I will be more or less part of the team — Captain Luo, how about you make a call to the Chief who was flexible at handling these exceptions?”

Luo Wenzhou: “…”

When the HELL did all of these things happen?! 

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