Although the military purposed a strict lockdown on Forty Seventh street, the crowd of people who were curious gathered around the now black wall. They didn’t care about the cold rain that poured on top of them. They were only interested in one thing and that was the dark faced man leaning on the wall. Some of them were nervous, some were insecure, and some were excited, but their feelings didn’t matter because they were all trying to figure out what happened.
Ning Que held the black umbrella and stood in the rain. He wasn’t anywhere near Zhuo Er who was sitting in the rain and his facial expression was extremely calm. He looked at his friend closely and carefully trying carve the said complexion into his memory.
When they met seven years ago in Mountain Min, his face was already this dark. Why are you so dark? You are darker than the bottom of a pot, darker than Sang Sang, and darker than the night. But seven years later, the dark boy had grown into a dark man. The face was a bit foreign to Ning Que, but he wanted to looked at this face sincerely one last time. Remember it until his death.
The crowd was suspended after the military carried Zhuo Er out of the Forty Seventh street. Ning Que and Sang Sang returned to their shop under the black umbrella. Although he seemed calm, Sang Sang clearly observed that there was no emotion in Ning Que’s eyes. Just like a body without a soul.
The shop was closed. Ning Que sat in the chair and was silent for a long time. Then he said deeply, “Let’s eat noodles for dinner.”
“Sure,” Sang Sang answered quickly and entered the backyard.
After eating Sang Sang’s specialty, a bowl of noodle with three fried eggs, Ning Que’s emotion seemed to have return to normal. He even made fun of Sang Sang after he finished eating, but his laughter was nevertheless dry and bitter.
When it was dark at night and not a soul could be seen, Ning Que walked out of the shop. He made sure no one was following or looking at him in the dark. He slowly walked to the gray wall on the opposite side of the shop. He raised his hand and slowly rubbed to feel the wall, but the body heat of Zhuo Er already left the wet and cold wall. Ning Que didn’t know what that guy wanted to do when he came here just before he died or what he wanted to tell him. Ning Que didn’t know what Zhuo Er thought about when he waited so long in the freezing rain…..
His thin and long finger stopped when he saw a piece of brick. There was a faint blood stain on the corner of the brick and a tiny mark. Ning Que couldn’t see it with his naked eyes but he felt it with his fingers.
After returning to the shop, Ning Que gave Sang Sang a piece of paper soaked in oil and told her to save it carefully. Then he boiled water himself to heat his feet, which was something he rarely does. After all this, he went into the cold bed. Just like usual, Sang Sang was sleeping on the other side of the bed with her body crawled together like a mouse.
“Seven years ago I met Zhou Er and stayed with him for around fifteen days. After that he got taken away by his damn master, but you probably forgot all about that. All these years he didn’t learn much from his master. Because of that he was still just a spy in the military and couldn’t achieve much.”
“We did contact each other through mail, but we didn’t see each other for seven years. That’s why I don’t know what kind of person he turned out to be. If you say we have a deep relationship……. it would be false. Honestly speaking, the relationship between me and him was built on mutual benefit. Or more precisely, I used him to obtain information of Xia Hou.”
“But he just died like that, this is frustrating. Now the only person who knows about the massacre is me. Of course I’m not counting you in. Then wouldn’t this responsibility fall on me? But I already have a bunch of trouble on my back, where would I find the time to care about these matters?”
Sang Sang knew Ning Que only needed catharsis and self conviction, but not an answer. That’s why she didn’t speak a word, but it seemed like she actually fell asleep.
But Ning Que couldn’t speak, he opened his eyes and looked at the corner of the roof that had water stain. Suddenly he sat up and covered himself with a cotton shirt. He exited into the yard and took out the three old knives from the wood and started sharpening them.
After he finished this task, Ning Que was still not sleepy. He went into the shop and lit the candle. He poured water into the ink stone and started grinding the ink. He sank the brush into the dark ink and took out an old paper. The brush poured down the ink onto the paper just like the clouds poured down the rain. Ning Que wrote down a few lines of word.
“ To think about the past bring out the pain and cry that penetrates the heart and mind. but it must be endured. He has yet to succeed but has already drank the poison. He endured it all. No words can be written to express my thought, Ning can only bow.”
There was no expression on Ning Que’s face and his eyes were calm as the surface of an undisturbed lake. This contradicted with the sad and lonely words on the paper. Unknowingly, Sang Sang got off the bed and stood beside him. She looked at the words on the table in silent and raised her little head and looked at him in confusion.
“These words were written in the past, I’m just copying,“ Ning Que explained, “The family tomb of the writer of these sentences got destroyed. Although it was repaired immediately afterwards, but he still wasn’t able to return and looked at it. Therefore he write these few sentences in despair and anger.”
Sang Sang nodded her head, but from the confused expression on her face, clearly she still didn’t understand. Ning Que smiled and didn’t explain further. Although he wrote and practiced this famous sentence more than ten times, only today did he understand what kind of pain can penetrate one’s heart and soul. What kind of event was so sad to the extend of indescribable by words.
On the next day the rain stopped.
The sun that was washed by the spring rain appeared to be especially clear and beautiful. The sun shined on the silent forty seven street and colored all the building’s corners and the gray wall. The door of the Old Brush House was widely opened. Ning Que sat on the chair. He was reading one of the light readings he bought. Occasionally he would frown or smile due to its content. At the same time he would pick up the tea and take a drink.
The seemingly extremely leisure light reading contained an oily sheet inside. On the paper that couldn’t be wet out by rain forever, the words appeared very clear. No he wasn’t reading the book but this sheet of paper.
This oily paper was what Zhuo Er had put into the wall before he died. It recorded a few names, some information about their hobbies and daily tracks. Ning Que didn’t know if this sheet was related to Zhuo Er’s death or not, but he knew at least one point. If he wanted Zhuo Er’s death to be a bit more valuable or in another word, Zhuo Er could die more willingly and happily, then he should do something.
The first name on the oily paper was Zhang Yi Qi.
Zhang Yi Qi was a censorer in the empire’s department of censor. He was responsible for investigating and examining all the government officials and impeaching the corrupted ones. When this Zhang censorer was only at the bottom level of the department of censor, he was responsible for helping investigating Xuan Wei general Lin Guang Yan’s treason issue. Later on, after he advanced to a deputy governor, he was one of the officials who were examining the case slaughter in the village in Yan kingdom.
In thirteen years he advanced from upper ranked eighth to lower vice ranked sixth. From every point of view, this didn’t sound like a successful official path at all. However, Ning Que wasn’t concern about this. He only concerned about what role did this guy play in the two cases. General Xia Hou could defeat his enemies by using these incidents and get away from being punished in the slaughter case. This person obviously used a censor’s ability.
Then, you can die now.
(I am guessing that Ning Que is hinting that General Xia Hou worked with Zhang Yi Qi and escaped his crimes. Well for anyone that might have gotten confused…)