Chapter 5: Chen Lan Loses Contact
Translated by Shiya of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Within five minutes, Chen Lan rushed out of the room with his coat in hand, and he looked like he was going to leave. Meng Chuan called out to him, “What’s wrong? Are you in a hurry again? “
“Xiao Pian’er said that he left a file in the home computer. I have to go back to send it to him quickly. If I’m late, something might go wrong.” And then he was about to slip away.
“Wait, can you do it alone? You just got discharged… ” Meng Chuan asked.
“I’ll drive you there,” Qi Ye came and waved the car key in his hand.
Chen Lan thought for a moment and hesitated, “It’s not an easy road to drive through. There’s no street lights there.”
Qi Ye leaned over and smiled, “I have experience as a driver for more than ten years, and I’ll serve you wholeheartedly.”
It was not good manners to refuse someone again for the same reason. It was nothing to help each other among friends. Besides, he would be able to send the files to Xiao Pian’er faster that way, so Chen Lan nodded.
Qi Ye owned a Japanese sports car, which seemed to be expensive. Chen Lan doesn’t have much knowledge when it comes to cars, but he still thought it was fashionable in design and beautiful in appearance.
“Where did you buy this car from? It’s so attractive,” Chen Lan commented truthfully.
Qi Ye took out a can of coke from the car and handed it to him, “This one is not expensive. It’s just around the price of two three-room flats in B city.”
Chen Lan sprayed out the coke, “Isn’t that expensive?”
“There are also cheaper low-end products. What, you like it?”
Chen Lan shook his head, “I’m thirty-six already. Driving this car is too flashy. I just think it’s suitable for my Xiao Pian’er.”
Qi Ye smiled, laughing out as he said, “Too flashy? It’s a disturbing phrase coming from your mouth. “
Chen Lan looked left and right after getting into the car and said, “it’s still convenient to have a car. Next year, Xiao Pian’er will graduate and I will buy one.”
Qi Ye can’t help wondering, “Your income is not low, how is it that you haven’t bought yourself a car yet? Not to mention a car, even your house is still rented.”
Qi Ye paused before saying, “Never mind, you will eventually buy it.”
To prevent the conversation from ending, he asked, “Do you have a driver’s license? You can get one first. It will be more convenient then.”
Chen Lan shook his head, “I don’t, but Xiao Pian’er does.”
Qi Ye’s eyes rolled, “You always talk about him, it seems that you really care about him.”
No shit! Chen Lan smiled vaguely and didn’t answer.
Qi Ye was persistent, “What on earth is so good about him?”
“You want to know?” Chen Lan bit at the coke straw, staring seriously at the other.
Qi Ye raised his eyebrows in curiosity.
Chen Lan approached and said mysteriously, “He lasts long in bed.”
The car that was driving well for a while suddenly bumped. Chen Lan fell backwards due to inertia. He quickly held onto his seat and steadied himself with a little dissatisfaction in his voice, “Hmn, you should drive steadily. Aren’t you an experienced driver who has been driving for more than ten years?”
Qi Ye was choked speechless, why did he have such poor luck.
The two of them drove into the park all the way from the bar. Chen Lan wanted him to stop at the intersection so that he could walk back by himself for the rest of the way. Qi Ye said with a smile that he would send him all the way there, so Chen Lan allowed the other to bring him to the downstairs of the house.
“Which floor?” Qi Ye asked.
“On the third floor,” Chen Lan was about to get out of the car when he found that the door was still locked. He pushed Qi Ye with his elbow and urged, “The car lock.”
“Sometimes I think it’s strange,” Qi Ye said suddenly. “After so many years, you still don’t seem to be wary of people.”
Chen Lan had a huge question mark on his head.
Qi Ye turned around and smiled mysteriously at him.
As though thunder struck him, Chen Lan suddenly responded, reaching out his hands to smash the window, but he didn’t seem to have enough strength. His eyes fell onto the coke can, he was screaming “this is bad” in his heart, but he didn’t have time to think more before he entirely lost consciousness in the dark.
It was the wee hours in the morning, and the computer room was still full of heat. Li PanEn hung up the phone in the corridor, feeling a little uneasy.
“Xiao En, is the experiment finished?” The professor, obviously was not used to staying up late, he came in with a cup of strong tea.
Li PanEn hesitated for a while and said, “No, Professor, I left the loop code at home, but my family’s phone is switched off, I can’t reach them.”
“Oh… Then they must be sleeping,” the professor said. “You can take a rest and write it tomorrow. Even if you don’t have that code, you can still take part in the competition.”
Li PanEn nodded, but his feeling of uneasiness grew stronger. Chen Lan was very interested in his affairs. Since he promised to send the code via email to him on the phone, he would never delay it till the next day. Was it because his stomach was uncomfortable again? Or was he really just too tired and had fallen asleep?
They were more than a thousand kilometers apart, there was no use in him worrying. He could only pray that it was a prank played by Chen Lan.
However, God seemed to be deliberately against him. By noon the next day, he still did not receive his email and Chen Lan’s phone was still turned off. Li PanEn couldn’t sit down and wait any longer. He called Meng Chuan, only to discover the person at the other end was confused.
“He came to the bar last night, and then after he answering your call, he immediately left. He said he would go back to send you an email. Why, he hasn’t still he sent it to you?”
Li PanEn didn’t care why Chen Lan went to the bar and said, “He left alone?”
“No, with Qi Ye.”
Li PanEn thought, “Can you get through to his phone and ask him where Chen Lan is?” His tone was very serious, and Meng Chuan also sensed something was wrong, he immediately hung up and called Qi Ye.
Half a minute later, Li PanEn’s cell phone rang.
Out came five words of bad news, “The number does not exist.”
“Brother Meng, please, help me,” Li PanEn breathed, his voice trembling. “Can you go to my house and help me find out if Chen Lan is at home, OK? I’ll be right back.”
“All right, give me the address.”
Li PanEn’s hand was shaking badly when he sent a text message. Chen Lan was a previous offender. He was really afraid of something happening to Chen Lan. He was afraid that he would disappear like six years ago.
He thought of the past and about how Chen Lan was like an enigma, he quickly stopped his brain, as his imaginations quickly turned into something akin from a horror movie. He dared not think again. No, he wouldn’t. At the same time on the day before, they were still holding each other and saying good morning. Chen Lan also said with a smile that he was going to buy new clothes for the new season during the weekend. He……
He didn’t want to stay here any longer. He went to the hotel to pack up his things and left for the airport quickly.
After getting off the plane, he received several messages as soon as he turned on his mobile phone. Li PanEn had never been so nervous in his life. He was looking forward to receiving good news about Chen Lan. However, it ended up being very terrible.
“No one at home.”
“The neighbor said he didn’t come back last night.”
“Not at the hospital.”
It was early spring, but the sun was very strong. Li PanEn felt dizzy at the airport and could almost not continue standing up.
“Brother Meng,” he replied, in a tone that was not as calm as usual, “Is there still no news?”
“Don’t worry, it’s a little strange. Chen Lan is not a man without plans. Maybe there was something urgent in his family that he wasn’t able to tell you.”
“His family? Have you seen his family? Where is his hometown? “
Meng Chuan paused, “I haven’t seen his family, but he has a pure accent. He should be a native of B City.” Six years ago, Chen Lan had come to the Queens bar to apply for a job. He had good skills and low salary requirements. In addition, Chen Lan had good looks and great communication skills. Meng Chuan immediately made a decision to hire him.
The only problem was that when Meng Chuan asked for his ID card to register him as a formal member, Chen Lan only showed a puzzled look, saying that he had been expelled from his home and he didn’t have an ID card on him. Though Meng Chuan had some doubts in his heart, seeing Chen Lan’s honesty and the lack of staff in his bar, he gave up.
After Chen Lan came to the Queens, he had always been very diligent and Meng Chuan hardly found fault in his work. Meng Chuan was surprised at that time. Under the condition of Chen Lan, it was more than enough for him to work at a senior bar in the ErHuan Street1 to be a bartender. Why did he choose such a small place instead?
Now, it seemed that all of these had some special connection with Chen Lan’s recent disappearance, but he couldn’t grasp what the clues meant, so he could only comfort Xiao Pian’er powerlessly.
When the professor called, he was furious and strongly expressed his dissatisfaction at Li PanEn’s unauthorized departure, Li PanEn was unable to argue with him. For Li PanEn to be able to reach this stage, even getting special treatment from the professors, all of it were inseparable from Chen Lan’s efforts. The reason why he went to research school was not only for himself, but also for Chen Lan’s sake. If Chen Lan was gone, he didn’t even know what meaning these things would hold anymore.
He searched all the places he could find. Parks, home, bars, hospitals, the shops he frequented. He went back and forth three to four times just on the way home from the bar.
Searching aimlessly yielded no results, so he began to check Qi Ye’s phone number. The more he looked, the worse everything seemed, the identity of Qi Ye was fake. His phone card was a temporary card, and the payment made when he bought the card was through cash, and even the license plate number of the car seen in the surveillance was fake.
Everything had been premeditated since the time he had first approached Chen Lan. Li PanEn couldn’t figure out why he took Chen Lan away when Chen Lan should have nothing to do with him. What did he want from Chen Lan?
Chen Lan had been missing for nearly a day now. During this period, Li PanEn thought of many ways, such as locating his mobile phone, getting street surveillance videos, but he did not receive any useful information. He sat by the window anxiously, his heart was too heavy to move. He was worried about Chen Lan’s body, where he was, how well he ate, how well he slept, and whether he was in any danger. His mind was in chaos and he stayed up all night as a result.
The next morning, he went downstairs and met the neighbor who was taking out the garbage. The man stopped him, “Are you Chen Lan’s nephew?”
Chen Lan has always claimed to be his uncle. Li PanEn was stunned and nodded immediately.
“Is the car that stopped downstairs that day his? I saw a cool sports car parked downstairs, your uncle was in the car, then it drove away, and your uncle didn’t come upstairs. “
Li PanEn yanked him close, “Is it a red one?”
“Yes, yes…” The man nodded.
Chen Lan has been here, but why hadn’t he come upstairs? If no one led Qi Ye here, he wouldn’t know the address. The only person who could bring him here was Chen Lan. So, Chen Lan was still fine on his way back, but what happened afterwards?
“Did you see how he looked?”
The neighbor recalled and shook his head, “It was too dark to see, but your uncle seemed to be asleep when the car left. “
Li PanEn was shocked and wanted to ask for more details, but he might have been too eager that his neighbor was frightened, he hurriedly left him and went upstairs.
Asleep? Li PanEn felt as if a knife was poking at his heart, with how much Chen Lan cared about him, how could he fall asleep in someone’s car after receiving his call asking him to send a file over? Chen Lan boasted that he was good at martial arts, so he never took along any self-defense items when he went out. He was not wary of his acquaintances. If Qi Ye wanted to hurt him, Chen Lan would be an easy target. At the thought of the possible danger Chen Lan may face, Li PanEn felt like he could kill someone.
None of them who knew him expected that once Chen Lan disappeared, it would seem like he had evaporated, there was no news from him whatsoever. Li PanEn seemed to have gone back to the summer vacation after the college entrance examination. He searched for traces of Chen Lan all over, but everything was in vain.
It wasn’t until a month later that Meng Chuan called him, “There’s news about Chen Lan.”
His tone was very strange. Li PanEn suddenly stood up, he almost couldn’t speak, “What did you say?”
“Come over to the bar, I have something to show you.”
It was daytime now. There were only a few acquaintances sitting in the bar. Li PanEn walked in, and Meng Chuan handed him a newspaper with a heavy face.
Li PanEn frowned to see the page he pointed to, and his face changed.
“A murderer? That has been fleeing for ten years?” Li PanEn was so angry that he blurted out, “Impossible!”
Not only did he think so, but all the people who knew Chen Lan agreed with him. However, the facts were in front of them and they could only believe them. Although the name of the person on the newspaper was different, and the person’s hair had been shaved short and he was dressed in prison clothes, it was obviously Chen Lan.
“Where is this? I’m going to see him.”
Meng Chuan hurriedly grabbed Li PanEn. “Don’t be so hasty, listen to me. This morning, someone put this newspaper at the front door of the bar. It was obviously intended for us. You don’t know what the other party’s purpose is, calm down and think about it first. If you are Chen Lan, would you want us to cause trouble?”
“I’m not going to make any trouble,” Li PanEn sobbed at him. “I just want to see him.”
Meng Chuan was also a witness, and knew it was useless to oppose at this time. With Li PanEn’s character, it would be worse if he didn’t help him. He could only sigh. Meng Chuan has been running a bar for so many years, and had helped to find many people. In this aspect, he still has some connections to help him out. After inquiring, he learned that Chen Lan was still in the detention center, and immediately arranged for someone to send Li PanEn to meet him.
After a month’s absence, Chen Lan had lost a lot of weight, the bags under his eyes were heavy, and he looked a little haggard. As soon as Li PanEn saw him, his eyes turned red before he could utter a word.
Chen Lan, by contrast, was much calmer and smiled at him, “Xiao Pian’er.”
“You… how are you doing here? ” Li PanEn wanted to hold his hand, but he could only place it against the glass wall that separated them.
“It’s pretty good. I have food to eat, drink and I get enough sleep.”
Li PanEn looked at his white face and knew that he had not told the truth. His heartache was all written on his face, “I had only been away for one day…”
Chen Lan lowered his eyes. “Xiao Pian’er, are you disappointed with uncle?”
“Don’t say that, I don’t believe it at all,” Li PanEn said
Chen Lan looks up at him, “But what if that’s the truth?”
Li PanEn’s throat seemed to be all clogged up Chen Lan said, “I might have to stay in here for a long time. If there are no weird accidents, it will probably be 13 years. You are an adult. You don’t need to worry about Uncle anymore. The house has been rented for two years. The rent has been prepaid. The money on the bank card is enough to support you till your graduation next year. All the cards are in your name and I’ve put them in the drawer under the TV cabinet. You know the password. You’ll find a job after graduation next year. I’ve already arranged things with the professor. You are not young either. If you meet a right girl, you should also try to get along with her… “
“Chen Lan,” Li PanEn interrupted with a frown, “I don’t want to hear that.”
Chen Lan’s eyes darkened, “There’s nothing more uncle can do for you anymore.”
“I can take care of myself. I’m worried about you. I don’t know what you’ve experienced in the past, but I don’t believe a word on the newspaper!”
“Why not?” asked Chen Lan.
“You’re not like that. I know you!”
Chen Lan looked at him with a pale smile and said wearily, “Sorry, Xiao Pian’er, uncle lied to you.”
Li PanEn’s eyes almost begged, “Chen Lan…”
“My name is not Chen Lan. My name is Chen ZiXi,” He smiled bitterly and said. “See, in truth, you don’t know much about me.”
This sentence seemed to have harshly hit Li PanEn. He was stunned on the spot and clenched his fist.
After the police came in to urge Chen Lan to leave since his time was up, he said only one sentence, “Lead a good life, and don’t come back again.”
Li PanEn sat on the stool for a long time. It was only when Meng Chuan’s people came in to pat him on the shoulder, did he stand up like a wounded lion. Meng Chuan’s people sent him home.
Li PanEn stood downstairs in a daze as the wind blew the leaves up. He looked up at his balcony. There were pots of lemon mints and roses raised by Chen Lan. The red petals were blooming and full of life. Peppermint required sufficient water to grow, but even as careless a man as Chen Lan was, he had never forgotten to water them. There were several pots of plants lush green in color. In summer, Chen Lan always liked picking some of the mint leaves out, sometimes making tea, sometimes cooking, and sometimes even putting them in his underwear to play tricks on him, while laughing. Everything still seemed so vivid in his memories.
As if he had made up his mind, Li PanEn didn’t go upstairs and turned to head over to the Queen’s bar.
“Show me the morning surveillance of the bar.”
Meng Chuan realized that Li PanEn’s whole countenance was not right, “What’s the matter?”
“I want to see who sent the newspaper,” He said in a cold voice.
“I’ve seen it. It was thrown out of a car. I can’t see the face of the person who threw it,” Meng Chuan wanted to persuade him. After seeing Li PanEn’s face, he had no other choice but to take him to the computer and show him.
The monitoring resolution was very high. Meng Chuan turned the video to the maximum magnification. The people in the video obviously knew the existence of the camera and deliberately avoided it. Li PanEn pulled the progress bar and looked back and forth several times, but he had no luck. He returned the screen to the original magnification, then someone behind him said “eh”.
Li PanEn looked back and saw Meng Chuan pointing to the screen in surprise, “I know this man.” As it rained a little the night before, there was a puddle of water on the ground, which just happened to reflect half of the driver’s face.
“Zeng JianMin, he’s a famous hooligan here, he was the one who fought with Chen Lan before.”
“Where is he?”
“It’s not hard to find him. We just need to go find Mr. Green.”