At exactly 8 o’clock in the morning, the Yancheng City Public Security Bureau was bustling with activity. The staff from various departments had started to arrive. Xiaosun, the logistics personnel from the administrative office, yawned as he carried a new bucket of water and headed towards the office of the former bureau chief. Upon pushing the door open, he discovered that Director Zhang had already brewed the first cup of tea and was making a phone call with a serious expression.

Director Zhang, who was already in his fifties, was thin and had a fiery temper. Wherever he went, he always brought his own tea. He used a non-smartphone that needed to be charged only once a month and never wore casual attire to work. He had a deep wrinkle between his eyebrows, like a third eye of the Erlang God, accumulated over time from his habit of finding fault with everyone.

The old landline phone in the office had a slight sound distortion. Xiaosun knelt on the ground, tearing open the packaging of the bottled water, and overheard someone on the other end of the phone saying, “Leader, I know this issue is currently within my jurisdiction, and it is indeed due to my negligence, but…”

Observing the two stubborn furrows on Director Zhang’s brow, Xiaosun wondered, What has happened now?

Yancheng was currently hosting a very important international conference, with leaders and journalists from various countries present. Many businesses and schools were on holiday, and private vehicles were subject to odd-even license plate restrictions throughout the city. All security departments were on high alert.

Xiaosun saw Director Zhang’s anger flash across his face as he listened to the Flower Market District Bureau’s person in charge for five minutes. He realized that they not only showed no signs of remorse, but also engaged in a back-and-forth exchange of excuses. Suddenly, without warning, Director Zhang exploded with anger, shouting, “I don’t give a damn! Isn’t the Flower Market District your jurisdiction? Isn’t it your territory? Why the hell are you telling me now that it’s chaotic?!”

Both Xiaosun and the division chief on the other end of the phone were stunned into silence by Director Zhang’s sudden outburst.

Director Zhang took a sip of tea to calm himself down, accidentally swallowing a tea leaf. He cleared his throat and pressed “Throttle” on the dusty keyboard, displaying a screen full of news screenshots in the internal network system.

In the early hours of this morning, a hideously disfigured male corpse was found in an alley in the Flower Market District. Initially, it was regarded as a local curiosity and circulated as a sensational piece of news online. However, the internet was full of such stories, so it didn’t cause much of a stir initially. But the leaders of the Flower Market District Bureau were afraid of incidents occurring during this sensitive period, so they made a stupid decision—to quietly suppress the matter. They deleted the posts and later claimed that the body belonged to an unidentified homeless person.

Unexpectedly, a few small-time hooligans who were among the first to discover the body took clear photos of the crime scene. They spread the images in a sensational manner, which, combined with the district bureau’s secretive attitude, led the city’s residents to speculate wildly. Even the city government called specifically to inquire about the incident.

Director Zhang put on his reading glasses and clicked on a post with the highest number of views before it was deleted. The post was titled “Suspected Robbery and Strangulation Gang in the City,” and the wording was clearly very attention-grabbing. As soon as he opened it, an uncensored photo of the corpse appeared on the screen with a powerful impact.

Director Zhang: “…”

He felt that he had shouted too early, but being of advanced age, there was no way for his voice to reach a higher pitch. He had no choice but to return to his normal volume and say, “I feel like you’re wasted in our system. You should work in an advertising company. The publicity effect is astounding.”

“It’s all those little rascals who are afraid of peace and quiet, taking photos with a dead person. Isn’t that unethical? Leader, please rest assured that I have detained those individuals, and we are currently deleting the photos and posts. We will definitely bring the situation under control!”

Director Zhang leaned back in his chair, continuously rubbing his brow. “The most important thing now is to solve the case as quickly as possible. Find the killer, catch the culprit, delete the posts… Are you the system administrator? This matter needs to be handled as soon as possible, and you need to control the mouths of your subordinates. I’ll send a few people from the Municipal Bureau over to provide technical guidance. Wang Hongliang, if you can’t give me a reasonable explanation within a week, submit your resignation!”

Director Zhang sprayed the division chief in the face, hung up the phone, and Xiaosun quickly placed the empty bucket aside, holding up his small notebook, anticipating that the old bureau chief might have something to say.

Sure enough, Director Zhang gestured to him. “Go and call the personnel from the Criminal Investigation Detachment.”

Xiaosun looked up. “Director Zhang, should I call everyone over?”

Director Zhang pondered for a moment, his gaze falling on the LCD screen in front of him. The facial features of the corpse in the photo were already grotesquely swollen and distorted, but it was still recognizable as the face of a young person. The mouth was open, as if in shock and bewilderment, staring into the camera.

“Find Luo Wenzhou and have him bring his team personally,” Director Zhang said. “The case may not be very complicated. Tell him that once this month is over, I’ll take care of that old Wang Hongliang. He knows what to do.”

Xiaosun hesitated. “Director… Director Zhang, well, Luo… he hasn’t arrived yet.”

Luo Wenzhou was an old man who commuted to work every day, never arriving at his desk before 8:29 a.m. as long as he wasn’t on duty.

On this day, he happened to have a day when his car’s license plate was restricted. Luo Wenzhou didn’t want to squeeze onto public transportation, so he dug out a “28” bicycle from his basement that could enter museums, and he personally repaired and renovated it. He leisurely rode it to work.

He had a very handsome appearance, almost surpassing youthfulness, but his demeanor and temperament revealed his maturity as a grown man. He wore earphones, rolled up his shirt sleeves, and under the well-fitting casual shirt, his muscle lines were faintly visible. He had a pair of long legs that could touch the ground even when sitting on the bicycle’s crossbar. One handlebar held a dozen pancakes, while the other handlebar hung six or seven cups of soy milk. Luo Wenzhou relaxedly placed his hands on the heavily overloaded handlebars and entered the gate of the Municipal Bureau on time.

As soon as he entered, Luo Wenzhou saw the guard blocking a flower delivery girl.

“You can’t enter… Why can’t you enter? Miss, this is the Public Security Bureau, not the Fruit and Flower Mountain, okay? Deliveries should be left at the reception for security check-in.”

“How can fresh flowers be left at the reception? They’ll wilt, right?” The flower delivery girl turned her head and pointed her finger when she saw Luo Wenzhou. “They won’t let me in, but they let the food delivery person in?”

The guard: “…”

Luo Wenzhou raised his head and smiled, revealing a playful set of white teeth. “Because the food delivery person is handsome and elegant, a talented gentleman.”

The guard was worried about the image of the Municipal Bureau. “…Good morning, Captain Luo.”

“Morning, have you eaten? If not, help yourself.” Luo Wenzhou leaned on one foot, propping up the bicycle. “Beauty, who are the flowers for? I’ll take them in for you.”

The flower delivery girl was embarrassed by his actions and hurriedly searched for the small card. “Oh… they’re for the Criminal Investigation Detachment, for someone named… named Tao Ran.”

Exactly 8:30 a.m., Luo Wenzhou walked into the office on time and tossed the flowers onto Tao Ran’s desk. “This… "

Before he could finish his sentence, Director Zhang sent someone to arrest him in anger. Luo Wenzhou could only hold back what he wanted to say and pressed heavily on Tao Ran’s desk. “Wait for me to come back.”

The entire Criminal Investigation Detachment was stunned, all staring dumbfoundedly at the fresh and elegant bouquet in front of Tao Ran, as if a time bomb was hidden beneath the flower stems.

Detective Lang Qiao took out a magnifying glass and disposable gloves from a drawer, carefully leaning over from the next desk, and observed the bouquet. Then she picked up a perfume card made of leather.

Under the watchful gaze of everyone, the brave young woman opened the card with a serious expression. It was written in very formal regular script: “The wind is strong, and I am freezing, but my heart is warm. But I don’t understand why my heart is always so soft. I want to be close to you, so I won’t feel sad.” [Note]

“The signature is ‘Fei’,” Lang Qiao said. “Fei what?”

Tao Ran snatched it back. “Stop messing around, give it to me.”

“After all that, it turns out it was sent by your girlfriend. I thought Luo Laoda was going to make a public confession to you.”

A group of colleagues murmured, “You scared me,” in unison. Then, the single men quickly regained their fighting spirit, stepping forward to share the breakfast brought by Luo Wenzhou while dutifully raising the banner to denounce the “heretics.”

“Tao, when did you leave the group? Have you submitted your report? Did the organization approve it?”

“This Tao Tao, never upset, not thoughtful enough.”

“Tao Vice Captain, I only have 37.6 yuan left in my salary this month. I can’t afford dog food anymore. It’s your problem anyway.”

“Go, go, go,” Tao Ran put away the card and hid the flowers in an inconspicuous place. “Where did you get a girlfriend? Don’t make trouble.”

Upon hearing this, the crowd saw such a large piece of evidence exposed in public, yet this person still wanted to get away with it. They immediately erupted like a pot boiling over and planned to surround Deputy Captain Tao.

At this moment, Luo Wenzhou, who had just hurriedly left, pushed the door open again and tapped the doorframe with his hand. “There has been a murder in the Flower Market District. Two people come with me, quickly.”

Author’s note: Note: “The wind is strong, and I am freezing, but my heart is warm. But I don’t understand why my heart is always so soft. I want to be close to you, so I won’t feel sad.” - Shen Congwen, “Letter from Hunan”【 】