Chapter 63 Macbeth Four
TL: QuantumC, Editor: IsaLee
“Why did you call it a rumor?”
“Because I don’t really think it’s true.” Fei Du straightened his legs and stretched — he was sitting on the spacious passenger seat — but the stretch sold him out. His ‘good student’ facade cracked and a tiny bit of the Fei Du-ish insouciant snuck out. “If the person existed, the Zhous would have legitimized him long ago. After all…”
Luo Wenzhou’s gut told him that the rest of the sentence could not be anything nice. He was prepared to cut him off when it came to that. But Fei Du stopped on his own, as if he suddenly thought of something. Lang Qiao asked curiously: “After all what?”
“After all…Mr. Zhou Sr. had a solid reputation. Even if he made a mistake in his early years, it was probably just that one time. The decades of philanthropy work has got to make up for that. Not to mention, his wife passed away many years ago so no one is really in a position to criticize. After all, no man is perfect. Many would agree that sincere repentance is more priceless than a speckless saint.” Fei Du answered her in all seriousness, “I believe that for someone like Mr. Zhou Sr., there is really no reason to hide it.”
Lang Qiao totally bought it. In fact, she was convinced that Fei Du was nothing like those stereotypical lawless “domineering bosses” in the erotic women’s reads. Rather, he was a moral benchmark for the millennials.
Luo Wenzhou gave him a warning glare because he understood his true subtext — these sons of b*tches generally didn’t give a sh*t about fathering bastards, especially those who climbed to Zhou Junmao’s level. Even if his wife were still living, she wouldn’t be able to raise objections given her total dependence on him. Not to mention, the wife had already ’abdicated’ long ago.
“But ‘empty caves won’t have winds howling’ — the rumor might not be completely baseless.” Fei Du took a sharp turn in the conversation and added: “Zhou Huaixin’s point about cars being audacious weapons is a good one. How about starting with the truck driver?”
Xiao Haiyang’s call came in right at that moment.
Xiao Haiyang was sent by Luo Wenzhou to gather information about the truck driver Dong Qian from his colleagues.
Xiao Haiyang probably didn’t have a driver’s license yet because Little Glasses obviously didn’t understand what ‘breaking’ meant. Luo Wenzhou felt the cellphone speaker was attacked by his fast and furious words like a tornado: “Captain Luo, I have already talked with Dong Qiao’s colleagues and everything lines up with Lao Qiu’s hypothesis. There wasn’t much new information so I went ahead and searched his bank accounts, properties, health records, and family background. Should I report them now?”
“…Glasses, relax…the man is already dead. There is no need to rush. Come on, take a deep breath with me, and continue slowly.” Luo Wenzhou felt his ears ringing by being bombarded with words, “You got so much information already? You even checked Dong Qian’s health records?”
Xiao Haiyang said: “Dong Qian lived in the city. He was married once but his wife passed. There were no elders in the family. He remained single and raised a daughter on his own. His daughter’s name is Dong Xiaoqing, a twenty-four year old. She has already graduated from college and is currently working as an accountant at a shopping center. The father and daughter’s financial status is healthy and normal. All of the income and expenses fit their current jobs and living standards. Dong Qian does not have any toxic habits. He lived a simple and frugal life. His salary as a truck driver wasn’t bad either. He had six-digit savings and a fully-paid apartment under his name. The most recent health check-up was done last year. It showed that his blood pressure and glucose levels were a bit high, but other than that, everything else was normal. Oh, and Captain Luo, I also found his daughter’s colleagues and they said that she didn’t have any large spendings recently. She also doesn’t have a boyfriend, isn’t chronically sick, and her mood is stable.”
Luo Wenzhou’s phone was on speaker. All three in the car were shocked to a standstill by Xiao Haiyang’s impressive mastery of tongue-twisters as he apparently didn’t need to pause to breathe.
Lang Qiao murmured: “My my, this is so…”
Xiao Haiyang asked cluelessly: “But isn’t it natural to start by ruling out the possibility of ‘paid murder’? Was I on the wrong track?”
Luo Wenzhou pointed an index finger at Lang Qiao, suggesting that she should talk less and learn more. Then he asked Xiao Haiyang: “So according to you, he didn’t have elderly parents or younger children to take care of and was not heavily burdened, was doing quite well actually, financially… Does he often take demanding and time-sensitive jobs like this one, or only occasionally?”
Xiao Haiyang stutted: “Ah…”
“Haiyang, for truck drivers, it is actually quite common to see this kind of fatigue driving. Experienced drivers like him know not to put the foot on the gas when dozing off.” Luo Wenzhou explained patiently, “Dong Qian drove trucks for so many years and never had an accident. His physical and mental health also had not worsened lately. Then why today? If you want to rule out the ‘paid murder’ possibility, it is not enough to try to exhaust every finance-related factor you can think of, because you might always miss something. If possible, start from the existing evidence and try to find the logical reason behind it.”
Xiao Haiyang said immediately: “Yes Captain, I am on it!”
“Wait, I’m just saying…this case hasn’t been classified as a ‘murder’ yet, you can wai…” Before Luo Wenzhou finished, the eager Xiao Haiyang had already hung up on him.
Luo Wenzhou: “…”
Now he understood why Xiao Haiyang never fit in at the Huashi Sub-bureau. Besides his awkwardness in conversations, the fact that he always jumped onto tasks with utter enthusiasm as if he was ready to take over posed a great threat to Wang Hongliang and his squad. No wonder they never treated him as one of their own.
The informant couldn’t even talk straight; the other relevant persons were still on their way to Yancheng; the forensic team’s report wasn’t ready yet either. So, other than comrade Xiao Haiyang who dashed out — filled with chicken blood — to uncover the truth, the rest of them didn’t really have much to do. Luo Wenzhou dropped Lang Qiao off along the way, then continued to drive Fei Du back to the Bureau to get their own cars to go home.
At that time, news about Zhou Junmao’s death had already swamped the internet. Fei Du flipped through the headlines and commented: “Well, folks from the Zhou family never disappoint. Would it be too unkind of me if I short on Zhou’s stock now, before the US market opens?”
The U-turn lane was moving a bit slowly. Luo Wenzhou turned and looked at him in confusion: “You mean, that Zhou Huaixin?”
“The front page headline says, ‘Chairman of the board, CEO Zhou Junmao killed in car crash, mysterious accident implies hidden story, the second son informed criminal police.’” Fei Du read the headline word by word, mockingly, “See, he ‘feared order and applauded chaos’. For a man like Zhou Junmao, even if he died of natural causes, the press and public wouldn’t stop the conspiracy theories about feuding inside the wealthy family. Not to mention that he actually died from an ‘accident’. Zhou Huaixin was one of his heirs and the only one that was in the country. If he wasn’t loud and clear in his victim role to get the police involved, what role would the others put him in? After all, everyone thinks that Malcom and Donalbain killed their merciful father (1).”
The taillights in front of them weaved a red dragon with no beginning and no end. Luo Wenzhou pretended that he didn’t get Fei Du’s insinuation of himself and asked lightheartedly: “What’s the relationship like between Zhou Huaixin and this father?”
“The unfilial son, the outsider, ill-fitting with the rest of the family and with a textbook perfect heir as an older brother.” Fei Du shrugged, “What do you think? Of course there was lots of tension.”
“What about you?” Luo Wenzhou asked quietly, “As far as I know, you were an only son, and didn’t do anything outrageous when you were young. Why was there so much tension in your father-son relationship too?”
Fei Du was taken by surprise. But he quickly turned to Luo Wenzhou and shrewdly circumvented: “Huh? Captain Luo seems to be very interested in me. But from what I understand about the unspoken norms of social interaction in this country, people only probe Hukou (2) when they are considering the other as their potential partner.”
As he spoke, he turned towards Luo Wenzhou and moved closer: “Are you sure you want to know? Then I’ll take it as an invitation.”
The car in front of them happened to have moved a little and left them some space. So Luo Wenzhou stomped on the gas, then floored the brakes. Poor Fei Du was thrusted back into the passenger seat.
“If you don’t want to answer frankly, just keep your mouth shut.” Luo Wenzhou replied impassively, “Cut the crap.”
Fei Du smiled, but didn’t say more.
The two remained silent for a while longer. The traffic light turned red, then green, then red again. After a couple rounds, the slow moving U-turn lane still barely moved. Impatient drivers were honking their horns. Some lowered their windows to peek ahead and all sorts of music leaked out from different cars.
Fei Du’s smile gradually faded. Perhaps it was the thick and heavy night, or perhaps the strange loneliness when stuck in a crowd got to him. He suddenly said: “Sometimes I wonder how impossible it is to escape from the influence of one’s blood and childhood environment.”
Luo Wenzhou glanced at him.
“Beliefs, habits, personality, character, moral standard, literacy, and manners… These malleable things are like the branches and leaves of a plant. You could trim them in any direction.” Fei Du leaned back in the seat and stared into the night sky of Yancheng, eyes half-closed. “But something deeper down can never change. Those are shaped by the first encounters you have with your surroundings before you’ve formed any understandings of the world yet. Because these things will sedate and hide in your subconscious. Every abstract concept you form with your native language will bring out traces of it. Sometimes you won’t realize it, but it will loom over you for your entire life.”
That was the most that Fei Du would say. He stopped there, as if he had already exhausted all of his strength. There was a heavy rusty gate in his heart that could only be pushed open just a crack.
Luo Wenzhou waited for him patiently, but Fei Du did not continue.
Fei Du asked: “Captain Luo, could you lend me a hand?”
Thanks to this foreshadowing, all of Luo Wenzhou’s neurons seemed to have crowded toward his idle right hand. Then Fei Du covered it with his own hand, very lightly. His fingers were slender and cold, but his palm was warm. He did not press down at all, leaving him ample opportunity to retreat if he wanted to.
An unexplainable feeling extended from Luo Wenzhou’s hand up along his arm. The temperature in the car suddenly jolted up two degrees. The muscles on his forearm were tense, but for some reason he didn’t pull out his hand. Fei Du’s head was lowered. Somehow, the way that Fei Du carefully held Luo Wenzhou’s hand reminded him of Luo Yiguo who came to share his pillow and snuggle when scared by nightmares.
Suddenly the rear car honked. Luo Wenzhou jumped a little, then realized that the light had changed and there was already a big space in front of him, inviting others to cut the line.
Fei Du’s vulnerability evaporated in the air immediately. His peach-blossom eyes curved. He quickly bent down and kissed on the back of Luo Wenzhou’s hand. His fingertip brushed over the sensitive skin in his palm. When Luo Wenzhou pulled back his hand, Fei Du blinked innocently: “Oops, sorry about that Captain. You‘re too charming and I was lost for a moment.”
Luo Wenzhou: “…”
The kid was really a seasoned flirter armed with eighteen weapons and seventy-two routines.
Luo Wenzhou chukled at the absurdity. He sped across the crossing and said: “Fei Du, was I too soft on you?”
Fei Du studied his expressions and concluded that he might have gone overboard. So he strategically shut his mouth and held on tighter to the handle, while Luo Wenzhou grumpily ‘flew’ the car back to the Bureau.
“Us ‘normal’ people, respectable or not, wouldn’t prey on a friend.” When he parked, Luo Wenzhou suggested Fei Du to get the f*ck out of his car and said, “If you want to get poked, go to your skeleton painter buddies.”
Then he slammed the door shut and left.
Fei Du remained in the cheap nauseating air freshener scent of the Bureau’s official car for a little longer, savoring the ‘uncool’ that Luo Wenzhou left behind, and concluded that the taste was surprisingly good. He wanted more.
Xiao Haiyang held his glasses in place as he ran towards the hospital. Before he stood still, he took out the police badge and showed it to the battered and traumatised girl: “Are you Dong Xiaoqing? Nice to meet you. I am…”
Dong Xiaoqing’s cold and lifeless eyes interrupted him.
“Police?” Her eyes were bloodshot and her voice was muffled, “I know. Didn’t you just go to my work place? What, you didn’t find anything useful so now you’re coming to interrogate me?”
Xiao Haiyang was a bit dull and slow in conversations. Panicked, he cleared his throat and scrambled to find the right words. But he still started on the wrong foot: “I only intend to gather more information…”
Dong Xiaoqing glowered at him unbendingly.
Xiao Haiyang searched and searched for the appropriate things to say but still ended up with a clumsy and blunt start: “Does Dong Qian usually take these kinds of demanding tasks? According to what I learned, your family…”
“My family did not borrow from the usury; none of us were fatally ill; And my father was NOT a stinky gambler! Sure, we weren’t rich, but our life was good. He did not need to kill for money!” Dong Xiaoqing grabbed the cell phone and smashed it toward Xiao Haiyang. On the screen, the flashy gossip had fermented and spread all across the internet, engulfing the lonely girl with its bloody mouth.
“My father crashed the car. He was responsible for it. No matter how high the civil compensation is for the victims, I will pay for it. I will search for the money and I will look for lenders. I’d work like a cow in this lifetime to pay for it. But you cannot slander my father’s reputation like this! He is already dead and he can’t talk for himself. Do you really have to dip your bun in human blood?”
Xiao Haiyang quietly picked up Dong Xiaoqing’s phone. He did not know where to start: “Ah…”
“My mother died in a car accident. Father did not dare to touch the car for a full year because of her death. He finally managed to hold the steering wheel again, and then…” Dong Xiaoqing’s tears flooded her hostility-filled eyes: “How could you…say that he crashed into others for money? How could you…how could you be so heartless and evil?”
(1) From Shakespeare’s Macbeth
(2) Hukou is the official document about origin and family structure. It records all family members’ information in one place. Probe Hukou is another way of saying that one is asking a lot about the other’s family situation.