Where there are people, there is the jianghu; even in prison, there are factions.
A bit of background and money could often get one into a single cell, though the environment wasn't much better, at least one wouldn't be bullied.
However, this case was rather special, a major case, with Smith personally overseeing it, and Yue Dingtang watching it closely. The police didn't dare to try anything, and threw the suspect directly into the most chaotic cell.
After graduation, they all went their separate ways, and Yue Dingtang and Ling Shu had not seen each other in many years.
But he still remembered, the teenager whose hand was pricked by thorns and had to press a handkerchief against it to wipe it.
Even though the Ling family was not doing well now, some habits ingrained in a person are hard to change. This environment was the biggest torture for Ling Shu, and combined with Shen Renjie's expression of wanting to say something but holding back, he could almost imagine what kind of treatment Ling Shu, who had been spoiled and pampered, would get in the hands of these people.
Even though he was a police officer himself, Shanghai was still divided into the public concessionary and the municipal government, separated by more than just a street.
That was a treaty of inequality signed by one country and another decades ago.
A country within a country, outside the law.
Not to mention that Ling Shu's brother-in-law was only a clerk in the municipal government, even if it was the mayor of Shanghai, he wouldn't be able to do anything.
The stench came from all directions, entering the nose and seeping into the five viscera and six bowels, as if it wanted to corrode and melt every person that came in, burying them here completely.
Shen Renjie had gotten used to it and didn't feel much, he didn't dare to comment on Yue Dingtang taking out a handkerchief to cover his nose, because his heart was tightly gripped by tension.
Accompanying the pace of their advance, the noise from the depths of the prison grew nearer and nearer.
Faintly, there were loud voices, as if a group of people were engaged in an argument.
Yue Dingtang gave Shen Renjie a glance.
"What is going on?"
Shen Renjie nervously chuckled, “Nothing, I guess the prisoners are too cold, so they are making some noise. Maybe you should come back tomorrow to inspect? It's cold and dark today, and it's almost the new year, which is not a good sign..."
Yue Dingtang did not say anything else, but his footsteps quickened slightly.
Shen Renjie hurried to catch up, wanting to yell at the people to settle down, but not daring to.
In the dark corners, different kinds of social phenomena were coiled up.
The people who had been sent in for petty theft or pickpocketing may not have been fond of stealing or being sly; they may have just been poor and destitute, and could not make ends meet.
Then there were those who stayed in the shadows, quietly and particularly still. Whenever Yue Dingtang's gaze swept past them, they would shoot back a piercing glare. These were certainly murderers who had killed and seen blood.
An ordinary good-hearted person who spent a night here would likely be greatly shocked.
As for Ling Shu...
Just like these people whose faces couldn't be seen, he was cowering in the depths of the prison, forcibly suppressing his inner fear, enduring hunger and thirst.
He was still wearing a woolen overcoat when he arrived, but once he got in here, no matter what kind of wool or cashmere he had on, it wouldn't protect him from the inevitable beating he was about to receive in order to learn this fact.
Those people were making a lot of noise, and it was almost certain that they were teaching a lesson to the new guy who didn't know any better.
"Big or small, make a decision."
The lazy voice wasn't loud, but it had a sense of standing out in the noisy chaos.
"Big Big Big!"
In the musty air, there was also a strange smell mixed in, which made people feel weird and indescribable.
From the small door on the iron door of the prison in the innermost room, Yue Dingtang finally saw Ling Shu.
The other person was sitting against the wall.
One hand was holding a pottery jar with dice in it, and the other hand was holding a chicken leg.
A piece of cloth was spread out in front of him, and the black and gray wooden sticks were twisted and written on both sides respectively with "big" and "small".
At the four corners of the cloth were four plates, which were scattered with dishes and cold dishes. Although they were picked and eaten almost by people, there were also a pile of bones on the side, but Yue Dingtang saw the mark on the edge of the plate with sharp eyes. It was "Old Jiangxi" family's signature dish, the five-flavored duck.
The boss of this restaurant was very dedicated. Every year during the Chinese New Year, he did not close his shop and did not take a break. For more than ten years, every year was like this, and the price of dishes was also affordable. Many people liked to go to his restaurant when they were having a banquet during the Chinese New Year.
There were four or five people surrounding Ling Shu. As there was no kerosene lamp, the patrolling officers did not dare to be too bold and only gave them two candles.
Yue Dingtang found that the cashmere greatcoat was still properly worn by Ling Shu. The coat was open, the scarf was padded on the body, and the person was kneeling and had a playful smile faintly on his face.
Although the surrounding environment was dirty and filthy, it seemed to have no effect on him. There was no bullying or desperation, but rather a cheerful atmosphere.
Yue Dingtang slowly turned his head and looked at Shen Renjie who was next to him. Shen Renjie was full of cold sweat.
"Yue, Mr. Yue, let me explain." Yue Dingtang had no expression on his face.
Shen Renjie: ......
He couldn't get out an explanation for half a day, stumbling and stammering.
"This, this is all because of the negligence of the people below. The food and gambling tools must have been secretly brought in by the suspect! I will immediately separate them!"
Yue Dingtang said nothing and turned around to leave. He felt that the little kindness that suddenly came to him in the middle of the night must have been because he was full. When he went out later, he should take that kindness to feed the dog.
"Hey, Mr. Yue! Mr. Yue! Don't be angry, wait for me!"
Ling Shu stretched his back, opened his eyes and felt sore all over.
This bed definitely wasn't as comfortable as the one at home. During his sleep, he vaguely heard the sound of nibbling, like a mouse gnawing on his hair.
The brand new cashmere coat was definitely dirty now, luckily it was originally grey-black, so it wasn't too obvious. Otherwise, he would definitely be scolded when he got back.
Just when he entered this prison cell last night, this coat was immediately noticed by the others. He almost became someone else's bedding. If it wasn't for his quick reaction, agile movements, and ability to knock the snake onto the ground and overpower the others, his money wouldn't have been spared and he wouldn't have been able to make the best of a bad situation last night and fill his stomach.
Ling Shu touched his stomach.
The midnight snack he ate last night was still there, he wasn't very hungry, but he definitely wouldn't be able to stomach the prison food. According to the time, his family should have been notified by now and would be here to bail him out soon. Maybe he could still make it home in time for dinner.
Just as he thought of this, he heard footsteps coming from outside.
A few seconds later, the prison door was opened, and several police officers appeared in front of him.
Ling Shu glanced around, there was no Shen Renjie.
Neither was there the police officer who was secretly in cahoots with him last night.
Instead, there were several unfamiliar faces.
Suddenly, he felt something was off.
Before he had time to think about it, the leader of the group raised his hand.
"Take him away!"
Ling Shu was pulled up by the arms on either side.
He was quickly brought to the interrogation room, still the same one from yesterday.
But the interrogator had changed.
Neither Smith nor Yue Dingtang was present.
"Speak up, tell the truth - why did you kill Du Yunning?"
The other person had a cold expression and spoke sternly.
Ling Shu raised his eyebrows: "I have not killed anyone."
The table was slammed, echoing loudly throughout the small room.
"Still want to quibble? Before the deceased died, you two were in private contact. After Du Yunning passed away, you can't provide any evidence of absence, even the shoe print on her bedroom windowsill was left by you. In terms of suspicion and motive, only you!"
Ling Shu: "I cannot take the charge of murder. I hope you can find evidence to prove my innocence soon."
The other person coldly smiled: "Evidence? There's no evidence that can prove your innocence, but there is new evidence that can prove you are the murderer."
He opened the book in his hand, took out a few letters and threw them in front of Ling Shu.
Ling Shu picked up and opened the package.
There were three letters, all of them written by Du Yunning.
Ling Shu recognized her handwriting, even the finishing stroke of the character “宁”, which was written with a flourish and an air of grace that was characteristic of Du Yunning.
Ever since they were in school, Du Yunning had been fond of writing her name with various fonts, and this particular one was chosen out of many by Ling Shu.
The content of the letters was not much - one of them was a love poem written by Du Yunning, expressing her longing for something she yearns but can’t have.
She was renowned for her talent in school, and although it was not without its share of admirers, her style was unique, embodying the beauty and free-spiritedness of the Xinyue School.
The other two letters were similar, with Du Yunning expressing her distress.
As soon as Ling Shu saw certain phrases in the letters, he raised his eyebrows.
“Firstly, I’ve never written to her and secondly, I’ve never suggested to her to endure for a while before she can be released from her misery. All these are fabrications.”
“But we compared the handwriting and signature, and they are confirmed to be from Du Yunning. How do you explain that?”
The interrogator stared at him intensely, like a vulture that has its prey firmly in its grasp, not allowing the slightest chance of escape.
Ling Shu: “Your Honor, if I’m wrongly accused, how would I know the origin of these letters? Shouldn’t this be something that you should be looking into? I haven’t seen Du Yunning since she got married. Two months ago, she suddenly sent someone to look for me, saying she had something to tell me and asked me to meet her at a cafe.”
Interrogator: “What did she say?”
Ling Shu: “She said Yuan Bing smoked heavily and scolded her, and she was in a lot of pain, not knowing what to do. I suggested that she divorce him.”
Interrogator: “And then?”
Ling Shu: "Then she kept pouring her heart out about how she was incompatible with Yuan Bing. Out of consideration for our relationship as old classmates, I wanted to help her out and I had met her a few times. But then, I saw that she had no intention of divorcing Yuan Bing, so I stopped going to see her until two days ago in the afternoon when she sent someone to find me urgently, asking me to come out and meet her. So I went."
"She told me that the valuables she had secretly kept had been found by Yuan Bing, and she wanted to send them to me to avoid them being taken away by him. She also said that the Yuans' financial situation was not as good as it seemed on the surface; the assets left by Yuan Bingdao had already been squandered by Yuan Bing, leaving only an empty frame behind."
"She also said that she regretted not having the courage to refuse the Yuans' marriage proposal back then, and said she wanted to start anew with me—just like the elopement we had talked about before, of course, which I refused."
Interrogator: "What about the valuables?"
Ling Shu: "I don't know, of course I didn't agree, I just suggested she deposit them in the bank or entrust them to someone else."
Interrogator: "Why didn't you help her? Wasn't there still some fondness left in your relationship with her?"
Ling Shu raised an eyebrow: "Back in school, I did talk to her as a friend, and her family also liked us. But then, due to the changes in my family, our fortunes declined, and the Dus immediately found a young master from the Yuans as a suitable match for her. She didn't resist at all from start to finish. From then on, our old relationship was left with just a little bit of camaraderie. So, if she hadn't come looking for me, I would have had nothing to do with her at all."
Interrogator: "In that case, it's also possible that you saw the valuables and had ulterior motives, so you pretended to agree with her, and then you two had a dispute and you killed her before fleeing in a hurry."
Ling Shu sneered: "Those are all your speculations. I never even saw the valuables she mentioned. Where would I get the idea of getting rich? Besides, if I had killed someone and fled, I wouldn't have left such obvious footprints behind."
Interrogator nodded: "That just shows that you killed her on the spur of the moment and then fled without thinking through your actions."
Ling Shu: "Then how do you explain the death of the noodle shop owner? The murderer deliberately eliminated my alibi in order to frame me, isn't that proof that I am not the murderer?"
Interrogator: "The fire at the noodle shop was purely accidental and cannot prove anything."
Ling Shu was silent for a moment, then suddenly said, "I want to see my family and lawyer. I need to apply for bail."
The policeman stepped back with a determined look.
"Family? Yes, you might have missed something when you came in. Your brother-in-law, Zhou San, was taken away from home last night on suspicion of bribery and corruption. Your sister is in a mess now and is probably not paying attention to you."
Ling Shu's eyebrows twitched.
"What about Yue Dingtang? Let him come out, I have something to talk to him about."
"You probably don't have that chance."
The other party shook his head and stood up, calling the policeman outside the door.
"He won't admit it, take him to another place."
The author has something to say:
Ling Shu: Survival of the fittest, is it easy for me?
Yue Dingtang: Hehe.