Author: 长洱 / Chang’er
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Despite being questioned, Fu Hao didn’t seem offended. He smiled, clasped his hands together, and looked at Lin Chen eagerly.
Lin Chen had to admit that this trick worked very well.
Xing Conglian saw the unsmiling young man bow his head, picked up the evidence bag on the table, and spoke to them solemnly. “These white quartz sand should’ve come from a sandbox. There is a type of psychotherapy called sandplay therapy* that uses this white sand and many objects to explore and diagnose a patient’s mental state.” The young man seemed to think of something and spoke carefully. “In the days before Taobao, a complete set of equipment for sandplay therapy would be more than 20,000 yuan and there were only a few manufacturers and distributors, but nowadays, it will be very difficult for you to trace the source of this white sand.”
*A nonverbal, therapeutic intervention that uses a sandbox, toys, and sometimes water to create scenes of miniature worlds that reflect a person’s inner thoughts, struggles, and concerns. It’s a form of play therapy designed to help a patient connect between the world they created in sand to their inner world. By making changes in their make-believe world, the patients are often empowered to make changes in their real world. It was developed by psychologist Dora Kalff in the late 1950’s.
His voice was light, but whether it was the calm eyebrows or the upright posture, he commanded absolute authority.
What could possibly be said? When facing an expert, all presumptuous speculations seemed too trivial.
It was rare for Xing Conglian to apologize, but his apology lasted only a few seconds before it was interrupted by Lin Chen’s words.
“If you let me go and promise not to appear in front of me again, I’ll tell you where this sand came from.”
“Okay.” Xing Conglian didn’t hesitate and answered quickly. After he spoke, he rested his chin on his hand and looked at Lin Chen with interest.
This time, it was Lin Chen who was surprised. He didn’t expect the police to agree to his request.
He looked into the interrogator’s dark green eyes solemnly, seemingly able to see the sincerity and integrity in them, not finding any signs of bluffing. “The sand in the little fatty’s hand was stolen from my room. As for the white sand by the corpses, I have no idea.”
He replied as such.
Xing Conglian nodded with an expression as if he expected this response.
Lin Chen no longer spoke. He glanced at his shidi* and stood up, expressing that he wanted to leave.
*(师弟) Used to address a younger male fellow schoolmate or apprentice. In this context, it’s similar to calling him “kouhai”.
At that moment, there was a slight vibration in the interrogation room. Lin Chen subconsciously turned around, only to see the two people sitting in the chairs glancing at each other before each picking up their phones.
Xing Conglian held down the microphone and suddenly stopped him.
“We’re heading to Central Park. Since it’s along the way, we’ll drop you off at your place. Please wait a while.”
He stated this in a matter-of-fact tone without leaving any room for refutation.
If Lin Chen knew that “along the way” meant stopping by the murder scene first, he would’ve never stepped into Xing Conglian’s jeep in the first place.
The incident happened at Central Park. The deceased was a young man in his thirties.
According to the report, the man was exercising in the park when he accidentally fell from the still rings. The cause of death seemed to be a fracture to his skull.
At this time, it was completely dark as streetlights sparsely lit up. The camphor trees in the park swayed gently in the wind. In the night, the yellow tape raised by the police looked quite conspicuous. There was a crowd of people gathered around the cordon that it was impossible to see what was beyond it.
When the car braked suddenly, it made Lin Chen lean forward slightly.
In a flash, the police officer in the car had already taken off his uniform, pulled the handbrake, and lowered the window. Before Lin Chen could react, the man had already gotten out of the car and locked the door, leaving him and Fu Hao inside.
“Mr. Lin, I have to trouble you to wait for a bit.”
Through the car window, Mr. Police Officer blew him a kiss and then ran away.
Lin Chen sat in the car as the night breeze passed through the window. Everything that happened today was strange, but his final analysis was that it was because of the people he met today that were strange.
At his side, his shidi trembled as he whispered, “Shixiong, don’t be angry. Captain Xing probably wants to send you home. He’s not a bad person, but because he’s a quarter Russian and a quarter Italian, he’s a bit more unrestrained…”
“When two bloodlines mix, they will create an abnormal person,” Lin Chen said as he stared at Xing Conglian’s back.
Of course, Xing Conglian couldn’t hear Lin Chen’s evaluation of him.
As a human with a complex bloodline, he was a model for flexibility and resilience. He scratched his hair, lit a cigarette, and mixed into the crowd, standing by an auntie who was wearing a square dancing* dress.
*An exercise routine performed to music in squares, plazas, or parks. It’s popular with middle-aged and retired women who have been referred to as “dancing grannies”.
“Auntie, what’s going on? Why are there so many policemen.” The captain of the criminal division was holding a cigarette while pretending to be an onlooker. He poked the auntie beside him for some news with a horrified yet inquisitive tone.
“They found a dead person!” The woman spoke in non-standard Mandarin as she leaned into Xing Conglian’s ears.
“Who? This is a big deal!”
“It is! I see that boy every day and even worked out with him yesterday.” The gossiping auntie spoke enthusiastically. “He shouldn’t have been so wild, hooking his feet into the rings and hanging upside down, like this.” As she spoke, the auntie bent down and excitedly demonstrated. “That’s how it was. Then the ring broke and he fell down dead!”
“How terrible!” Xing Conglian exclaimed.
“More than terrible! His face was so scary at the time, it looked like his eyes were about to pop out and his scream could be heard from miles away.”
“You mean he wasn’t dead when he fell?” Xing Conglian noticed.
“No. He was still moving when we tried to help him!”
“The auntie said the ring suddenly broke, and the victim didn’t die right away.”
Xing Conglian stood by the window on Lin Chen’s side with a cigarette in his hand. Although Fu Hao thought Xing Conglain was speaking to him, it felt like the words were directed towards Lin Chen.
Lin Chen leaned against the back of the chair, lightly closing his eyes as if he had fallen asleep.
One person seemed to be talking in the night wind, while the other was faking being asleep.
Fu Hao felt burned by this awkward atmosphere between the two, so he quickly stepped up and asked, “Was it an accident?”
Xing Conglian didn’t answer him but looked at Lin Chen as he spoke. “We can only make this conclusion after the forensic department has finished their investigation.”
Fu Hao felt his presence here was superfluous. Just when he wanted to continue, Lin Chen suddenly opened his eyes and stood up. Fu Hao followed his line of sight and saw that it was looking vaguely through the crowd, observing the crime scene that had just occurred.
It was extremely dark. The equipment was painted blue by the police lights that were flashing. The equipment was scattered about, looking to be standard equipment like pull-up bars and sit-up planks. It was a mixture of old and new, but there were no signs of rust or damage.
Only in the corner were the still rings. It had one ring dangling in mid-air while the other had fallen to the ground.
Under the hanging ring, which was covered with scattered bloodstains, was a pile of sand that degraded the turf.
Lin Chen looked at Xing Conglian, who was so close to him that he could feel the other man’s breath.
In the night, he saw Mr. Police Officer’s eyes darting about, searching for something. He seemed to have found a clue regarding the sand but held it back and didn’t mention it.
It was the same sand.
There had been several cases in this city that seemed to be related to this sand for several days. It could be a coincidence, but it was very likely these cases were connected.
However, Lin Chen’s thought was, ‘What does this have to do with him?’
“I was at the police station when the crime happened,” Lin Chen said, “so the murderer isn’t me.”
When he finished speaking, he saw a trace of disappointment in Xing Conglian’s eyes.
“I don’t understand what Mr. Lin is saying.” Xing Conglian took a puff from his cigarette, threw the cigarette butt to the ground and stomped on it as he spoke with a smile.
I’ve decided to keep forms of addresses in pinyin. You may be familiar with shixiong and shidi if you read a lot of xianxia, but apparently, it’s also used in a police setting. At least someone told me they’ve seen this used a lot in the police dramas they’ve watched.
It’s also purposeful because it establishes ranks, so Fu Hao isn’t just calling him “brother” in a friendly way, but addressing him with some respect.
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