Chapter 67 Macbeth Eight
TL: QuantumC, Editor: SilverandGold, QC: IsaLee
“A van truck?” Tao Ran asked via one of Luo Wenzhou’s earpieces, “Lao Luo (1), mind you, the Bai Shai river banks are right by one of the arteries of Yancheng: many large trucks take this route to go in and out of the city. Are we supposed to check every truck that goes in or comes out, or both? The abductors could have easily sneaked Zhou out already…Do you think that they are still in Yancheng’s jurisdiction?”
Meanwhile, Lang Qiao reported via his other ear: “Boss, should I take the head of their company back for questioning? Or should I check their email history on the site?”
Meanwhile, behind him, Hu Zhenyu yelled at Zhou Huaixin, utterly discomfited: “You…you…look what you’ve done…Oh Lord… That was very stupid of you! Very stupid!”
Meanwhile, next to him, Yang Bo protested on the top of his lungs, his face and neck boiling red: “I will sue you for tarnishing my name!”
Luo Wenzhou: “…”
The Chicken Soup for the Soul type articles often asked questions like: “Why would humans grow two ears but only one mouth,” and now he finally could answer it: even four ears wouldn’t be enough!
Fei Du’s eyes swept across Hu Zhenyu and fell on Zhou Huaixin.
Zhou Huaixin’s neck was extended and stiff. His addict-like face was covered by thick, smudged eyeliner, and something else: something that was hard to put into words, but somehow made him look a little bit more human.
“I don’t care what others might say…I don’t give a shit…If the stock plummets, let it — I don’t really understand these things and I don’t care to know. But Brother Hu, all I know is that I only have one blood and that is my brother.” Zhou Huaixin’s voice was lower and duller after he posted that reply. He looked directly into Hu Zhenyu’s eyes but Hu avoided him.
Zhou Huaixin smiled bitterly, which either mocked the others or himself: “Let me speak frankly: If the old man did it, then sooner or later someone is going to find out. After all, paper cannot wrap up fire. Did you people really think that your good name is going to be passed on for a thousand years?”
Hu Zhenyu probably never expected to see ivory coming out of his mouth (2). He was awed speechless.
“Can you find my brother within 10 minutes?” Zhou Huaixin’s eyes swept across the police officers around him, “Then keep working on it! What are you staring at? I AM my father’s legitimate son, and I am his heir. Now I have decided to sacrifice the reputation of the dead for the life of the living. Do I not have the authority to do that?”
He did seem to have a point there.
“To get my brother back,” Zhou Huaixin proclaimed, with a red eye, “I would do anything, even if it means denouncing my old man to be a turtle. A great man knows when to yield. I don’t mind being the turtle egg (3). If dad’s spirit is still around, he’d know to go after the real enemies, not me!”
Hu Zhenyu’s forehead was covered with sweat.
At that time, a loud cough was heard by the entrance. Then, a cold voice spoke: “You ARE your father’s heir, but the corporation does not belong to you alone. There are many stockholders and partners on this boat, and even your late father did not rule over everyone. Who are you to singlehandedly make that decision? Arrogant fool!”
Luo Wenzhou turned around and saw the crowd by the entrance as they parted for a bony old man. He was less than 1.7 meters tall, and his slightly hunched back made him look even smaller. A pair of deep laugh lines dropped from the side of his nose all the way down to his chin as it separated the chin into three parts. The corners of his mouth sagged so heavily as if he had never smiled in his life.
Seeing who he was, Hu Zhenyu unknowingly stood straighter: “Zheng Lao.”
Yang Bo took a deep breath and quickly walked to his side. Like a little eunuch, he curled up his brawny body and snuggled beside the old man: “Director Zheng, you’re finally here.”
Zhou Huaixin smirked. He glowered at the old man and did not say a word.
Luo Wenzhou now figured out that this old man was Zhou Junmao’s hand, his lifelong business partner, Zheng Kaifeng.
Zheng Kaifeng obviously treated the Zhou house like his own. Ignoring the room full of police, he sauntered in and immediately identified the one in charge. He walked directly to Luo Wenzhou and reached out with one hand, saying sincerely: “What a family misfortune. My apologies for all the trouble it has brought to the officers.”
Right from the beginning, this old ginger subtly launched his attack. Originally, the police were investigating an abduction case where everyone from the Zhous, including Zheng Kaifeng, were potential suspects. However, with less than 15 words, Zheng had turned it around and made it sound like the Zhous were fighting off some evil forces and had hired the police to be their thugs.
Luo Wenzhou shook his hand perfunctorily, then subtly attacked back: “You are too kind. There is no trouble at all, since my team was built to solve these vicious criminal cases. Our number one goal is to rescue the hostage safely. On top of that, we will try to lower the negative publicity on the Zhous and reduce its negative impact on society. When possible, we’d like to ask the family and relevant parties to cooperate to your best ability.”
The corner of Zheng Kaifeng’s eyes twitched. He straightened his face.
Luo Wenzhou couldn’t care less, especially in front of these ’important’ people. He casually took away his hand and turned to Zhou Huaixin: “Especially Mr. Zhou Jr. We understand the worries and frustration of the family. If it comes to that, we will agree to the abductors’ request to ensure the hostage’s safety. However, I hope that that is the very last step. Could we at least wait until the last minute of the countdown to give them the reply?”
Zhou Huaixin smirked sharply.
“Oh, and Mr. Hu.” Luo Wenzhou politely turned to Hu Zhenyu with a grin on his face: “You were blaming Mr. Zhou Jr. for being too imprudent. But it seems that you were pretty hasty yourself. See, you’ve even logged in to the back end of your company’s homepage already. Now, I say enough of the quibbling. Everyone ought to go take a statement separately. Here, take them, individually.”
Following his order, some officers came and separated the big shots in the Zhou empire and took them into separate rooms.
It was already autumn, and they were in an air-conditioned room, but Hu Zhenyu’s sweat seemed to never run dry.
Zheng Kaifeng looked at Luo Wenzhou frigidly and said: “Young man, you are very good at what you do.”
Luo Wenzhou gave him a wide grin: “Thank you, I think so too. But as a criminal investigation police officer, I shall say that I do not hope to serve you again in the future. Mister, after you.”
He quickly dealt with those pains in the butts. When he turned around, he found Fei Du’s eyes fixated on him, half smiling. Luo Wenzhuo felt his heart string plucked when he saw his eyes. He thought that Fei Du’s peach blossom eyes were truly one of a kind. They must have been blessed with some extraordinary gifts: had he been given a pair of binoculars, he’d be able to lift Chang’e’s skirt with those eyes (5).
“Cut the crap.” Luo Wenzhou said to Fei Du in exhaustion, “If you want to praise my handsomeness and express your affection, go to the end of the line.”
Fei Du replied: “I just want to tell you that the internet team has found something about the video uploader.”
Luo Wenzhou was prepared to fight a long-drawn out battle with the psychotic abductors. Hearing this, he was quite surprised: “Already?”
“Yes, so you’d better keep your expectations low, “ Fei Du paused, then — god knows what he was after — he added: “Shixiong.”
Luo Wenzhou: “…”
How could he manage to use such an ordinary tone to speak of such an ordinary address, but make it sound so R-rated? Luo Wenzhou couldn’t understand it even in a thousand years.
Right when the internet team was excited to have “snatched him”, the abductor brazenly uploaded a third video.
This time, the camera backed off a little and took a full-body shot of Zhou Huaijin. At the same time, it revealed the space that he was in: the whole room was covered with black plastic film. The width was less than 1.8 meters, and the height was also quite limited: only slightly taller than a grown man. It was indeed the back of a van truck!
Fei Du was surprised. He scratched his chin and pondered as he exchanged a look with Luo Wenzhou. The latter immediately understood. Luo Wenzhou frowned. In the previous two videos, clearly the abductor was very careful with the camera to avoid leaking any information about their surroundings. The camera stayed very close to Zhou Huaijin and only took close-up shots even when he was beaten up.
But right after they deduced that the abductors were in a truck, the abductors released this wide shot…
Did this magical abductor manage to tap into the Zhou’s house, or was someone in this house in contact with them in real time?
Luo Wenzhou whispered to the officer beside him: “Take control of everyone in this house. Everyone, including the cooks, maids, and gardeners. Go!”
In the video, Zhou Huaijin was even more battered than before. Water dripped from his face and hair. Even the most handsome and elegant man couldn’t possibly stay composed anymore. He seemed to have been beaten and had given in. This time, without much resistance, he stared into the camera and flatly read out the abductor’s note: “You have admitted it. Good. Now I will ask the second question. Like always, you have 10 minutes. Why is Zhou Junmao, the famous businessman and philanthropist, so enthusiastic about philanthropy? He has three charity funds under his name. Are they for publicity or for money laundering? Zhou Junmao — Zhou Dalong (7). Did he really think that changing the name would make him a noble? Did he really think no one would know what is truly underneath his skin?”
The malicious video suddenly ended. The countdown clock of 10 minutes appeared again.
The air in the Zhou family’s house was on the brink of snapping. Everyone, including the servants and the hourly workers, were quarantined and monitored seperately.
Meanwhile, the net police finally located the video uploader’s IP. At the same time, Lang Qiao, who searched the Heng Da Corporation’s building, received the message. She took one quick glance at it, then directly took out handcuffs and cuffed the manager who had been crapping with them: “They are in on it. Search on!”
10 minutes. It could be very short, and it could be very long. In the real world, a person was barely able to climb a couple floors, but on the internet, 10 minutes was enough for any news to travel across the globe countless times.
In no time, there was an explosion of rumors on the internet. Some people swore that Zhou Junmao’s old name was indeed Zhou Dalong. Some even found old pictures of him and dug out his early success stories. Allegedly, Zhou Junmao went abroad to seek shelter from a distant relative. The story covered his life from how he worked for this distant relative to save up for the first bucket of gold all the way to how he started his own business. It ended with the provoking question of why the other founders of the Zhou’s were rarely mentioned in all these years.
Then the topic quickly turned from Zhou Huaijin’s abduction to Zhou Junmao’s car accident. The old philanthropist’s long-built noble image completely collapsed after the video. Some speculated that he was in the money laundering business; some said he sold national secrets to foreign countries; some even accused him of international human trafficking…it was nothing short of a urban legend creativity contest.
As the key figure of the stories, the truck driver Dong Qian, who was directly responsible for Zhou Junmao’s death, also didn’t dodge the bullets. His eighteen generations of ancestors were all dug up and checked out. People studied him to the bones and looked for traces of conspiracy from every one of his hair follicles.
“Captain Luo, time’s almost up!”
“Take over their official website’s main page. Reply to the abductors in the name of the police.” Luo Wenzhou paused, then said, “Say that the economic crime investigation team is already on the case. Ask the public not to spread any rumors. Encourage them to report any evidence. Urge the abductors to surrender before it’s too late.”
“Boss, it’s too late. The Zhou’s official website just crashed because of the surge in traffic!”
Luo Wenzhou: “…”
There was only one minute left on the countdown.
Lang Qiao’s call came in: “Boss, we found the emails proving that Heng Da hired internet marketers to hype the news. We also found some of their payment receipts. We can now be sure that they were the ones who uploaded the abductors’ video…”
Luo Wenzhou replied: “Don’t tell me that they do not know the abductors.”
“They said that they didn’t know who the abductors were.” Lang Qiao spoke very fast, “This morning after Zhou Huaijin went missing, the public relations department at Heng Da received a mysterious email. There were some blurry pictures attached. They thought the pictures were fake. But since Zhou Junmao’s death had brought the Zhou’s under the limelight, Heng Da’s management wanted to muddy the water and seek an opportunity to profit from it…”
“Then the sender told them that the pictures were photoshopped, and they believed it and broadcasted it, thinking that even if they got caught, it was at most a business competition gone out of line, am I right?”
Lang Qiao stammered: “Ummm….Yeah, exactly.”
“Bullshit! Who would use so much anti-tracking technology just for a hoax? Take everyone in! Continue to track the email sender!” Luo wenzhou peeked at the countdown. Time flowed away relentlessly like running water. The official website was still paralyzed like a vegetable!
“Boss, look! This phone was found on Yang Bo’s driver.”
Luo Wenzhou took the phone and saw that the suspicious driver had just logged into a newly-registered account on Weibo. His latest status was: “The police found out that the ‘meat’ is in the truck.”
The countdown reached zero—
(1). Similar to the “Lao Yang” that you saw before, here Tao Ran is addressing Luo Wenzhou with “Lao” (Old) plus “Luo” (last name), typically used to address someone older than you but is close to you. When used between very close friends, sometimes the age doesn’t matter.
(2). There is a saying: the ivory never comes out of a dog’s mouth. It’s used to ridicule someone who is always foul-mouthed. Here, the author is implying that Zhou Huaixin actually spoke some sense, and it surprised Hu Zhenyu.
(3) Turtle egg is commonly used profanity in Chinese.
(4) Putting “Lao” (old) after the last name “Zheng” shows very high respect for an elderly. This is different from what you saw earlier, where the “Lao” was put before the last name, which, depending on the context, can sometimes be used playfully between friends of the same generation.
(5) Chang’e is the goddess of the moon.
(6) Shixiong: (I forgot whether I explained this one previously or not…) Shixiong literally means ‘upperclassman’ (male). It’s used frequently in wuxia novels to address someone (a male) who trains under the same master with you and started earlier than you. But in the modern day context, a lot of students use it to address their upperclassmen. Since Fei Du is enrolled in the graduate program at YCPA, where Luo Wenzhou is an alumni, he is technically his Shixiong.
(7) Dalong means “big dragon”. It is Zhou Junmao’s old name, a very down-to-earth and mundane name comparatively.