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I nodded and Li DanFC led me back to the villa, keeping a grip on my shoulder.
He mumbled, "Don't try to do anything funny..."
"The wine?" I hemmed and hawed.
"Continue what you're doing, just with more common sense."
"I might need your help with finding the evidence," I said.
"Find an excuse to get him out of the villa so I can be in his room. There's no other way for me to sneak in.
"Not possible. I must stay if he leaves. The rule is for one of us to always be in the house. It was agreed upon a long time ago."
"Can't you just cover up for me after I send him away?"
"That's possible but I can't guarantee when he'll return."
I nodded. "One step at a time."
We went back to the house and I took a gulp out of that Vodka bottle.
Never had I had such a strong alcoholic drink. I coughed and endured the smell as I entered my room.
Before I could reach the bed, I collapsed onto the ground.
Time pa.s.sed and I woke up to the realization that I had already missed a chance after spotting three cartons of Vodka in the living room.
Yun Huan pointed at the bunch of alcohol, saying, "Enough to last you a month, at least? Come, let's talk about your elementary school days."
For the first few days, I felt Li DanFC constantly throwing gazes at me, while Yun Huan would bring up all sorts of strange questions.
He did not really interact with Yun Huan much unless necessary, hence the very occasional taps on Yun Huan's shoulder.
Truth be told, all questions had been answered by the third day. He asked me about everything, from when I first had a conscious memory until just about half a month ago.
He would regularly pen down information he deemed useful.
I tried probing him with some questions but he just ignored me.
In the morning of the seventh day, I saw him writing something in the living room.
I walked over to have a closer look and discovered that he had basically consolidated all the information he had gained and was creating a summary.
Because I knew he had a habit of keeping a journal, I began, "You seem to like writing stuff. Do you keep a diary?"
He turned his head after a short while and nodded. "When I was young."
"Why?" I inquired.
"I had no friends and my parents were pretty busy. They only accompany me on my birthday so that's once a year. One birthday, Father gave me his fountain pen as a gift. It's a part of the renowned writers' series, 1996 Alexandre Dumas, I remember. It's been about 50 years since it's left the factory... probably worth hundreds of thousands now. I didn't know then, of course, and started writing my diary with it. Father saw and thought that I had an interest in these things. He started gifting me all sorts of pens. 1996 Alexandre Dumas is still in my room in Beijing. Naturally, I gained a liking for pens and journal writing."
I put a hand over my pocket subconsciously as he spoke. Alexandre Dumas was resting in my pocket.
"But I speak too much. What about you? What have your parents given you? It's important, it might be useful," he said, looking at me.
I shook my head and barked out a bitter laugh. "What gift? I'm a poor kid. I haven't even had many cakes. A bowl of longevity noodles was considered a luxury. We don't really celebrate occasions."
Yun Huan was shocked by my answer. He put his pen down and said thoughtfully, "I should start using cheap pens and get used to them."
My heart stopped for a moment. "I'm going out for a bit, Brother Dan. Be back in half an hour. Please come out!"
Li DanFC walked out of his room and Yun Huan made his way out.
Li DanFC looked at the clock on the wall. "What are you waiting for? You have half an hour."
I dashed into Yun Huan's room only to find his door locked.
"What?" Li DanFC asked.
"It's locked," I said, frustrated.
Li DanFC fished out a small golden pick and started picking the lock, quickly managing to unlock it. "Be quick."
I ran inside and saw that the layout was almost exactly the same as in my room. The only difference was that his room had an additional study table.
I rushed over to his table, hoping to find his diary. I made sure to put everything back where they belonged to prevent getting caught.
The items on his table were mostly novels and textbooks. All in English. There were also quite a few notebooks, albeit mostly empty.
Ten minutes pa.s.sed but I found nothing.
Just as I was about to give up, a floral little booklet caught my eye. It was hiding right at the corner.
Only a small corner was visible. If not for the fact that I had seen it before in Beijing, I never would've given it more than a glance.
I picked it up and flipped through the densely packed pages.
There was nothing about his first victim, but the second was in very clear details. Cold beads of sweat dotted on my face and back as I read through his narrative.
Yun Huan recounted how his roommate had peeped into his diary and how he had 'punished' him. At the end of his journal, he scribbled: I absolutely will not tolerate anyone who peeps into my diary.
My hands were trembling and the floral booklet slipped out of them.
I was on the verge of a mental breakdown when a knock on the door startled me.
"Did you find it? You're running out of time," Li DanFC warned. "You won't be able to leave in time if he comes back. Quick, put them back in their places."
He retreated to the living room and I quickly put the book back to its original spot.
I locked the door from the inside before exiting and closing it behind me.
I walked over to the living room and plopped down onto the sofa.
"What did you find?" Li DanFC asked softly.
"Nothing. There are too many things lying around. I need more chances."
"Success comes difficult but failure comes in excess," he muttered.
"Wait, how about I go back in for a bit more?" I asked. I wanted to take a photograph of what I had seen.
"It's already been 25 minutes. He'll be back any time soon. I'll think of another plan so calm down."
I fell silent. Another idea came to mind.
Ten minutes later, Yun Huan returned with a handful of fountain pens.
Days pa.s.sed somewhat peacefully and Yun Huan went out quite a few times.
Each time I requested to go into Yun Huan's room, however, Li DanFC declined and chose not to unlock the door for me. I had no way of snapping photographs.
I wondered if Li DanFC had given up on me, but my plan was becoming increasingly ripe along with the number of times Yun Huan went out.
On the 27th day, Yun Huan received a call from his father.
They talked about settling my ticket in three days' time, but I knew that I wasn't really the person in question.
That night, I took half a mouthful of Vodka.
Li DanFC and Yun Huan had both gone back to their rooms.
A few minutes pa.s.sed and I started feeling dizzy.
Alcohol makes a person stronger, I supposed.
I swayed over to Yun Huan's door and knocked.
He opened the door slightly. "What is it?"
"I need to tell you something. Can I come in?"
"It's late, let's talk tomorrow," he suggested before closing the door.
Before he could, though, I wedged my foot in. "It's about your bodyguard entering your room when you were out."
After a brief pause, he opened his door wider. "Let's talk in your room."
When we were both in my room, I started, "I wasn't planning to tell you this since he did threaten to kill me... but he breaks into your room whenever you go out. He would search around for at least 10 minutes before coming out. Once, I saw him holding a floral booklet and snapping some photographs of it. I stopped him, only to be threatened with death..."
I heard the loopholes right as those words left my mouth, but it was already done and I had no choice. To conceal my awkwardness, I plopped onto the bed and pretended to be asleep.
With my eyes squinted, I saw him exit my room wordlessly.
I quickly got up and followed Yun Huan's movements with eyes.
He entered the kitchen to grab a knife and walked over to Li DanFC's room.
I couldn't hear their conversation but I gathered that they were talking about Yun Huan's newfound knowledge.
Seeing that Yun Huan's door was half-open, I sneaked in to grab his mobile phone and wallet.
Amidst, Li DanFC's screams, I picked up the floral booklet and threw it on the bed.
I walked out of the room while keeping my eyes on Li DanFc's.
Li DanFC's voice had faded and I could only hear Yun Huan's growls. I saw him swinging his knife around.
I exited the villa and engaged Siri on Yun Huan's phone. "Call 110."
The moment the rings started, I ended the call and restarted. "Call 911."
I threw the phone by the door after hearing the rings and ran to the field without my shoes on.
The police arrived within 10 minutes, their sirens muted.
I observed from afar, as Yun Huan, covered in blood, ran out of the villa after a few gunshots.
I imagined he was probably cleaning up Li DanFC's corpse but 10 minutes wasn't enough time for that.
Before Yun Huan could run too far out, the policemen shot him dead.
Because I had Yun Huateng's number, I contacted him as Yun Huan.
I told him that I killed Li DanFC and threw the blame onto Gou Dan, and was holding on to Gou Dan's pa.s.sport and ID.
I booked an economy cla.s.s seat back to China and was picked up by Yun Huateng at the airport.
He greeted me in English and I made it through somehow. I had long mastered the p.r.o.nunciations without their knowledge since I had previously stalled for time.
I could still see the doubt in his face but he had to substantial proof.
After dinner, when we were about to settle the bill, I stopped the waiter to show my intention to pay.
He put the bill on my side of the table and I fished out the Alexandre Dumas fountain pen and scribbled a Gou Dan above the line.
Yun Huateng gave me a stern look and said, "Be careful, you're not supposed to be using such a good pen."
I gave a low laugh. "You still remember this? It's the first pen you gave me on my birthday so I carry it around with me everywhere. It wasn't a slip-up."
He looked closely at the pen and smiled. "Keep it and be more alert in future. Don't use it anymore."
I slipped the pen back into my pocket and nodded.
All his suspicions cleared up there and then.
I proceeded to live in my own city for the next four years.
Yun Huateng did not even call me once, no different from how he had treated Yun Huan, to begin with. Every year, however, I would receive a fountain pen through an anonymous mail.
That basically meant hundreds of thousands of allowance for me each month.
Today, after four years, I received an urgent call from w.a.n.g Xiaomei.
Yun Huateng was critically ill and I have to take over his role as a director.
She proposed for me to do a DNA test. "Just in case," she said.
Yun Huateng was in a coma, and let us put it this way... I have successfully inherited his bribing skills.