The person on the phone was caught off guard by a flood of information, presumably overwhelming their eardrums. They bombarded Xiao Haiyang with a string of questions, causing his cheap domestic phone to buzz and chime. However, Xiao Haiyang calmly ended the call, silently pushed open the restroom door, glanced into the now empty corridor, and walked away quickly. After a moment, the empty restroom door creaked open, revealing a cabinet containing mops and brooms. Fei Du casually flicked off the stains from his sleeve and walked out. Just as he placed his hand on the doorknob, Fei Du heard Luo Wenzhou’s voice outside the door, “Were you in the bathroom for so long because you had an upset stomach?” Fei Du hesitated for a moment, and then quickly realized that the question wasn’t directed at him. Xiao Haiyang’s nervous voice came from a distance, “Y-Yes, a little.” Separated by a door, Luo Wenzhou’s footsteps passed by Fei Du, getting farther away before stopping. “I’ve looked into your file,” Luo Wenzhou said, “Your family background seems very ordinary at first glance, with no apparent anomalies. But then I went home and thought about it carefully. I found something. You have a half-brother from a different mother, who is now a high school graduate and preparing for the college entrance exam. When your parents divorced, you were probably still in preschool. The records show that your mother had a legitimate job, a source of income, and no criminal records. Your father was remarrying, so logically, I think your custody should have been with your mother until she passed away. Then it transferred back to your father. So, I asked a friend in the registration office to check, and it turns out to be true.” Xiao Haiyang replied, “So what?” “You lived with your mother for four years. She was busy with work and couldn’t take care of you alone, so she often left you with a neighbor—a senior colleague from our Criminal Investigation Division,” Luo Wenzhou paused, “His name is Gu Zhao.”

Fei Du gently released the doorknob and stood silently behind the thin door panel, listening to the words “Gu Zhao.” The hallway fell into complete silence, making one wonder if the person outside had already left. After a while, the silent performance was interrupted by someone speaking. Xiao Haiyang repeated in a cold, deliberate voice, “So, what’s your point?” Even through the door, the sound of his teeth grinding could be heard. Before Luo Wenzhou could respond, Xiao Haiyang aggressively fired a barrage of questions at him, “Does the background investigation at the Criminal Investigation Division of the Municipal Bureau not only involve the individual and immediate family members, but also extend to neighbors? Team Leader Luo, even during the Qing Dynasty, did they go to such lengths as implicating nine generations of a family?” Luo Wenzhou remained calm despite Xiao Haiyang’s outburst. His tone was steady, and it seemed that his expression didn’t change. “Xiao Haiyang,” he said, drawing out his words, “Did I offend you? Let’s stick to the matter at hand and speak plainly, shall we?” Fei Du couldn’t help but smile slightly, a faint curve appearing at the corner of his mouth. Then Luo Wenzhou continued, “I don’t care what kind of personality you have, and I don’t expect everyone to act like a happy family every day. You can get along well with others, or you can be somewhat eccentric. It’s better if you can integrate with the team, but if you prefer to keep your distance, that’s fine too. I haven’t said anything about it, even with Chief Fei’s idiosyncrasies being more significant than most. But…” Fei Du interrupted, leaning against the wall, “Luo, I have to interrupt your persuasion for a moment. Officer Xiao, who did you reveal the information about the ‘culprit being Lu Guosheng’ to?” Luo Wenzhou didn’t hear the phone call Xiao Haiyang made in the restroom. After hearing Fei Du’s words, his face changed, “Xiao Haiyang!” From the moment Luo Wenzhou mentioned the name “Gu Zhao,” Xiao Haiyang had been stretched like a string, gradually tightening with each word Luo Wenzhou uttered. Finally, when Fei Du exposed his eavesdropping, the string snapped. Xiao Haiyang raised his head abruptly, and the wavering look in his eyes turned cold and unyielding. “Are you out of your mind?” Luo Wenzhou stepped forward and grabbed his collar. “Criminals all over the world are racking their brains to learn about the progress of the police investigation, to know their enemy. Are you a spy sent by them? Do you know that spreading information indiscriminately before the case is clear can lead to rumors among the public, even panic? What if new developments arise in the subsequent investigation? Will you correct your statement then? Even weather forecasts don’t dare to change their minds so easily. Where do you think the credibility of the Bureau will go?” Xiao Haiyang struggled, but his efforts were feeble. He couldn’t break free from Luo Wenzhou’s grip. Instead, he unleashed a torrent of words disrespectfully, “What credibility do you police officers even have?” “‘We police officers’? Did your salary fall from the sky?” Luo Wenzhou forcefully took his phone from him, pressing it against Xiao Haiyang’s face. “Do you want to unlock it yourself, or do you want to wear handcuffs and have a technician unlock it for you?” Xiao Haiyang, like a pitiful mouse, almost lifted off the ground by Luo Wenzhou, displayed an even greater contrast between his large head and thin neck. His stiff uniform shirt choked his neck, making it difficult for him to breathe, but he continued to speak insolently, “I…cough…I can do it. If you’re willing to find someone, find them. As long as you come… in time…” Before he could finish speaking, Fei Du reached out and patted Luo Wenzhou’s veiny hand back, reciting a series of numbers, “The password is this… Tsk, Luo, why is your way of solving problems always so barbaric?” Xiao Haiyang’s expression suddenly changed, and he reached out to grab his phone back. Luo Wenzhou raised his hand and threw Xiao Haiyang’s phone to Fei Du without hesitation, forcefully suppressing his resistance. Fei Du deftly unlocked Xiao Haiyang’s phone as if playing with his own, immediately flipping to the call records.

“Fǎn tā de tōngxùn jìlù,” Luò Wénzhōu lěng lěng de shuō, “kàn tā liánxì le shéi, ràng Láng Qiáo tāmen shùn zhe hàomǎ chá, rúguǒ shì méitǐ, jiào rén zhíjiē qù bǎ tāmen lǐngdǎo zhǎo lái tán…” Tā huà méi shuō wán, jiù jiàn Fèi Dù méi tīng fēngmìng, zhíjiē bǎ fāngcái nà tōng diànhuà dǎ le huíqu: “Wéi, nǐ hǎo, Wáng zhǔbiān ma… Wǒ bùshì Hǎiyáng, tā xiànzài bù tài fāngbiàn shuōhuà, qǐngjiào yīxià nín shì nǎjiā gōngsī… Oh, ‘Yāndū chuánméi’ a, zhēn qiǎo… Bù, méi bié de wèntí le, xièxiè.” Fèi Dù shuō wán guà duàn, mō chū zìjǐ de diànhuà gěi Miáo zhùlǐ fā le yǔyīn xìnxī: “Miáomiao, gēn Yāndū chuánméi dǎ shēng zhāohu, ràng tāmen bié luàn shuōhuà, wǒ shuō de jiùshì zhōngxuéshēng bèi shā de nàge shì, jǐnkuài chǔlǐ.” Luò Wénzhōu: “…” Xiāo Hǎiyáng: “…” Miáo zhùlǐ fǎnyìng xùnjié, lìjí huífù “shōudào”, Fèi Dù bīnbīn yǒulǐ de bǎ Xiāo Hǎiyáng de shǒujī huán le huíqù: “Gāng shōu le yī bùfen xīn méitǐ de gǔquán, hái méi láidejídéli jiǔ shíjiān, xīnxīng chǎnyè, guǎnlǐ dōu bǐjiào hùnluàn, jiànxiào le.” Xiāo Hǎiyáng yītiāndàotiān huó zài zìjǐ de shìjiè lǐ, píngcháng hé Fèi Dù bìng méiyǒu shénme jiāoliú, zhǐ yǐwéi tā shì ge yóushǒu hàoxián de fù’èr dài, mēng le hǎo yīhuì cái huíguòwèi lái, dùnshí duì zhège quánqián jiāngpíng de shìjiè chūlífèng le, jǐnzhǐ méi yǒu rén kěyǐ yìlùn shì bùshì!" Yīgè xíng zhēnduì de tóngshì zhèng hǎo bùzhī yǒu shéme shì pǎo shàng lóu lái, dōutóu tīngjiàn zhème yīshēng hǒu, dùnshí bù míng suǒyǐ láide dì, guòlái yě bùshì, bùguòlái yě bùshì. Luò Wénzhōu yuǎnyuǎn de chōng tā bǎi bǎi shǒu, miàn chén sìshuǐ dì zhuǎnxiàng Xiāo Hǎiyáng: “Huàn ge dìfang shuōhuà, nǐ bié zài dàtíng guǎngzhòng zhī xià hǔanghuǎng.” Xiāo Hǎiyáng běn yǐwéi zìjǐ huì bèi dài dào shěnwén shì, tā fāngcái dǎ chū nàgè diànhuà, qíshí chúncái yīshí chōngdòng —— háishì Luò Wénzhōu sàn huìqián tíxǐng de nà yī jù “guǎn hǎo zìjǐ de zuǐ” gěi le tā línggǎn. Féng Bīn bèi shā shìfā de nèitiān qīngchén, Xiāo Hǎiyáng túrán zài shàngbān lù shàng jiēdào Táorán diànhuà, tā wúfǎ miáoshù zìjǐ tīngdào fēnshī wāyǎn de shītǐ miáoshù shí de xīnqíng —— shì nàgè rén, tā xīnxīnniànniàn le shíjǐ nián, xiāoshēng nìngshí bùxiàng qù gǔiǎn quánchéng, xiāoshēng yībù yībù de bǐngmò liǎo shíjǐ nián de nàgè rén. Xiāo Hǎiyáng jiǎnzhí wúfǎ kòngzhì zìjǐ, zài zhěnggè xíng zhēnduì wéi zhēnggè xióng háizi dǎ zhuǎn de shíhou, tā hèn bùnéng chōng chūqù sōu biàn quánchéng, zhuā huí Lú Guóshèng, wā chū nà yī tún jīngjiǔ de chényuān —— “Shuō ba, shuí yuānwāng nǐ le?” Zhèshí, Luò Wénzhōu zhuǎn guòshēn lái wèn tā, “shuí de yuānwù bèi mǒpiń le?” Xiāo Hǎiyáng zhècái huíguò shénlái, fāxiàn Luò Wénzhōu bǎ tā dài dào le yīgè yǐnbì de lóujīn, qiángjiǎo hé miàn bì de jiānkòng wāi zhe wāi zi kǎ zài nàlǐ, fǎngwàng zhèng zài miànbì sīguò, zào zhuàng hěn jǐ. “Bù yòng guǎn tā,” Luò Wénzhōu jiàn tā wàng xiàng jiān kòng, tóu yě bùtiān de shuō, “zhè jiānkòng shì liǎng nián qián jú lǐ tuīxíng jìnyān de shíhòu wǒmen yīqǐ nòng huànbài de, zhìjīn méi rén xiū, yǒu shé me huà nǐ kěyǐ suíbiàn shuō, bù huì liúxià jìlù.” “Lú Guóshèng bèi tōngjī yī nián hòu, qíshí chūxiàn guò, zài yīcì dǎ jiù dòu sīzhōu zhìsǐ àn zhōng, fǎyī yìwài jiǎnchá dàole yī méi Lú Guóshèng de zhǐwén, jiù zài yānchéng.” Xiāo Hǎiyáng chénmò le hǎo yīhuì, yī kāikǒu jiù lái le zhème shípòtiān jīng de yījù huà. “Bù kěnéng,” Luò Wénzhōu zhòu qǐ méi, “zhècì ànfā xiànchǎng de jiān kòng lǐ pāi dàole Lú Guóshèng, wǒmen yǐjīng bǎ hé tā yǒuguān de quánbù zīliào dōu diàochūlái le, zhème míngxiǎn de xiànsù bù kěnéng lòudiao!” Xiāo Hǎiyáng lěng xiào le qǐlai: “Nà shì yīnwèi zhè shì yī zhuān chǒngshì!” Luò Wénzhōu xiǎng qǐ nèiwǎng shàng guānyú Gù Zhāo de chǔfèn juédìng, lèng le yī xià. “Zhè tiáo xiànsù hěn kuài bào dào le dāngchū jīngshǒu zhè ànzi de xíng shǒu zhè àn, 327 àn yǒu liǎng gè zhǔyào fùzé rén, yīgè hǎoxiàng shì xìng Yáng, dāngnián zhèng hǎo qù xiūjiǎ le, lìng yīgè jiùshì… jiùshì tā, Gù Zhāo.” Luò Wénzhōu kànzhe tā liǎn shang nán yǐ yǎn de yǐntòng, yǔqì miǎomiǎo huǐhéxiàlái: “Gù Zhāo dàodǐ shì nǐ shénme rén?” Zhè jù huà hǎoxiàng yī zhī xìxì de cì, língdiǎo de zuǒguǒ pénɡ chū pí quán xīnɡ, zhǐ zhǎo jì gōngtōnɡ de wénjiàn huíxiǎo, chúfēi de jìyì huàn huàn yì liúdònɡ qǐlái, qiānyán wànyǔ dào liǎn, tuōkǒu ér chū, què réng shì ɡān bābā de: “Wǒ fùmǔ zǎoyuán gǎnqíng bùhé, zhēngchǎo bùxiū, wǒ jìshì yǐlái, fùqīn jiù bù zěnme huí jiā, zài wàimiàn yě yǒurén… Dì yīgè ɡěi wǒ fùqīn ɡǎnjué de, jiùshì ɡù shūshu.”

His mother worked as a nurse in the hospital, a large hospital where people from all over the world crowded to get appointments with specialists. It was always overcrowded, and Xiao Haiyang remembered that his mother always looked exhausted after night shifts. When his mother wasn’t at home, she would leave food prepared and lock the younger son inside the house.

One time, in a rush, she forgot to transfer the food into a small bowl. The five-year-old boy had to bring a small stool and use a huge ladle to serve himself. Perhaps due to a developmental issue, he accidentally tripped and fell, pot and all, sitting on the ground and crying loudly.

The walls and doors of their old house were thin. When neighbors returning from work heard the heartbreaking cries from inside, they knocked on the door, but there was no response. They thought something had happened and forced the door open.

In Xiao Haiyang’s eyes, Gu Zhao, who entered with the setting sun to check on him, was like a hero coming to his rescue.

“Uncle Gu took care of me for four years, from kindergarten to the third grade of elementary school. As a young student, I had limited topics to write about, and the teachers always asked us to write about ‘my parents’ or ‘my wish.’ So, I wrote about Uncle Gu as my father and my wish was to become a police officer.”

Officer Gu was young and talented, recently promoted as the deputy captain of the criminal investigation team. He was often busy and frequently on duty. Maybe due to being single for a long time, he enjoyed playing with children. When Xiao Haiyang’s mother wasn’t home, he would carry his little school bag and visit Uncle Gu’s house, listening to him tell stories about catching criminals.

After entering elementary school, his classmates became jealous of his consistent top grades. Somehow, they heard about his parents’ divorce and started gathering together, learning inappropriate words and insulting him, saying he had no parents and was a child of a “broken shoe.”

Xiao Haiyang was never good at arguing and resorted to fighting… Unfortunately, he wasn’t good at that either. Often, he would be the one who started the fight and ended up being beaten down by a group of unruly kids.

One day, on his way home from school, the bullies pinned his head to the ground, mocking him for having no one to care for him and his mother. Gu Zhao happened to ride his bicycle by, a tall figure in a dignified uniform. He got off the bike, lined up the children who had bullied Xiao Haiyang, and scolded them for ten minutes, warning them that if they bullied his son again, he would bring them all to the police station.

“I always fantasized that he would marry my mother, and I even tried to matchmake them, making both adults feel awkward. Later, he told me that there are different types of people in the world, and he is someone who will never get married or have children. I am his son, so I need to work harder in my studies, earn more money, and support an additional father.”

As Xiao Haiyang spoke, he noticed that Luo Wenzhou’s face appeared slightly blurred. He instinctively reached out and touched it, realizing that tears were flowing down his face without his knowledge. He felt ashamed and lowered his head, taking off his glasses and wiping his sleeves vigorously.

“During the 327 National Highway case, I was already in the second grade. Every day, I would take the keys to his house and water his plants, read the newspapers he subscribed to. During that period, he seemed tired and restless. The veteran police officers would always carry a notebook with them. One time, when Uncle Gu fell asleep, a corner of the notebook in his uniform pocket was exposed. Unable to resist my curiosity, I secretly took it out and flipped through it. I saw that a few months ago, on a certain day, he wrote in his notes, ‘A large-scale fight occurred at a nightclub in Huashi District, suspected jealousy among patrons after drinking. It resulted in one person’s death, and the forensic examiner discovered an unexpected fingerprint on one of the beer bottles, belonging to the fugitive Lu Guosheng.’”

Luo Wenzhou asked, “You remember such a distant event?”

“I have an eidetic memory,” Xiao Haiyang said expressionlessly, “and this event has been on my mind for many years. I review it every day.”

Fei Du, who had been silent on the side, suddenly interjected, “When Gu Zhao mentioned ’there,’ what was he referring to?”

Xiao Haiyang replied, “It’s a large upscale club called ‘Right Bank of the Seine,’ also known as ‘Louvre Palace.’”