The Untold Story - Chapter 1

Published at 6th of December 2018 04:31:29 PM
Chapter 1

That day, Yang Zhao was in her studio toiling over a piece of pottery when the call came .

The caller was Yang Zhao’s younger brother Yang Jintian . He calmly delivered the news— he’s in the police station again .

Yes, again .

Yang Jintian had been taken to the police station so many times that Yang Zhao didn’t bat an eyelash when she heard this announcement . “Which branch?” she asked .

“Lingkong Local Police Station,” said Yang Jintian . Yang Zhao put down the ceramic bowl in her hand and narrowed her eyes at her phone: “Lingkong? What’d you run off to Chengnan for?”

Yang Jintian’s tone was brusque: “To attend a friend’s get-together . ”

“And then? You started brawling in the restaurant?”

“No!” Yang Jintian’s voice grew noticeably irritable: ”A friend had one too many, then quarrelled with a cab driver while hailing a cab . Came to blows after that . ”

Yang Zhao said: “You slugged the driver? Is it serious?”

Yang Jintian exploded: “We were the ones that were slugged! Come quickly!”

He slammed the phone . The call disconnected .

Yang Zhao put down her cell phone and went to the bathroom to wash her hands . She put on her coat, checked the amount of money she still had in her bag, tidied up the place a little and left the house .

By this time it was already past eight in the evening, and the sky was already dark . A cold wind nipped at Yang Zhao the moment she stepped out of her studio . She pulled her clothes tighter around her body .

It was September, but it was already getting cold in the North .

Yang Zhao went to the garage to get her car . As soon as she sank into the car seat, she began to light a cigarette . The wind rushed in as the car door slammed shut, and the flame from her cigarette lighter flickered . Yang Zhao shielded the flame with a hand .

A drag of cigarette . Yang Zhao exhaled slowly . The smell of tobacco permeated the car’s interior .

Yang Zhao was fond of smoking . She was partial to the Yunnan brand, and Yuxi Dacheng was her favorite . Her home, car and studio were littered with cigarettes .

She only started the car when she was half-done with her cigarette .

Yang Zhao drove quickly and uneventfully along the Second Ring Road . She cranked the window down a notch to allow the smoke to escape .

The streets were brightly lit .

Yang Zhao finished off a cigarette very quickly and stubbed out the cigarette butt . Only then did she start thinking about her younger brother Yang Jintian .

Actually, he was a pitiful kid .

An accident three years ago caused him to lose both of his parents . Yang Zhao’s parents took him in after that . Yang Zhao returned to this city that year .

She was away for a long time, so long that she could not feel sorrow in spite of the tragedy that befell her uncle’s family . She was saddened, but it was no trauma . As for this younger brother, Yang Zhao was nine years older than him . They were not close to each other .

The Yangs were respectful but distant towards each other . Yang Zhao did not have much of an impression of the young Yang Jintian . It was not until the funeral of her uncle’s family that an indelible imprint of the boy was left on her heart .

During the funeral, that fifteen year old boy cried as if his entire world collapsed . The Yangs were a reserved lot . Yang Zhao never knew that a guy could sink into despair like that .

And it was from that day onwards that Yang Zhao decided to stay .

She did not live with her parents . Instead, she rented apartments on two consecutive floors of a condominium: The one on the lower floor to live in, one on the higher floor for work .

Yang Zhao did her best to take care of her younger brother, but as it stood she wasn’t achieving much success .

Yang Jintian had taken a year off school because of the incident and was now in his third year of high school, a critical period . Even so, he put in no effort into his studies . The school he’s enrolled into was the best high school in the city, and he’d gotten in on his own merit . But shortly after his midterms, the accident occurred . He stopped putting in serious effort into his studies after that .

Neither Yang Zhao’s parents nor Yang Zhao nagged at him to study, for the Yangs had a family axiom— No one can help you but yourself .

But this did not mean that they did not care about him . In fact, Yang Jintian was pretty much the person she cared most about in her life .

She’d give him a very generous monthly allowance and buy him many books in the hopes that he’d get past his grief . She’d also appear beside him in his moments of need .

Case in point: this very moment .

Lingkong Police Station was not easy to find . Even with the help of her car’s navigation system, Yang Zhao went around in circles several times before finally coming to a stop at a shabby looking building beside an intersection .

This area was very dark, illuminated by a single streetlamp . Parked before the station were two beat up old patrol motorbikes and a cab .

Yang Zhao got off the car and walked towards the station . As she passed by the cab, she glanced at the car plate number .

J4763 .

It was an ubiquitous model . Yang Zhao walked on without sparing it a second glance .

When she entered the police station, she did not see any guards at the entrance . This police station’s scope of jurisdiction was small to begin with and there was typically very little human traffic here, and as such Yang Zhao managed to walk to the end of the building before encountering someone- a portly middle-aged man who was balding badly .

When he saw Yang Zhao, he frowned and went up to her .

“Who’re you looking for?”

Yang Zhao replied: “I’m looking for my younger brother . He called me and said he was here . ”

The man “ah”-ed twice, “The kid that got into a brawl, huh . Follow me . ”

As Yang Zhao followed him up towards the second floor, he chatted as he walked: “Youths these days are impulsive . They’d even get into a fight with a cabby . As a guardian, you ought to keep a closer eye on him . ”

Yang Zhao did not say a single word . The corridor was exceptionally quiet . That man looked back at Yang Zhao . Yang Zhao was expressionless . Feeling like he’d been ignored and lost face, he opened his mouth again to speak . Just at that moment, Yang Zhao happened to look up and meet his gaze . For a split second, he felt as if he’d been caught sneaking glances at her .

He turned back to the front and continued leading the way without speaking . His expression was not too good . This woman made him uncomfortable .

When he brought her to the second floor, some of the rooms were lit . The man led her to a room in the corner, pushed open the door, and said: “Old Wang, she’s here to pick up her ward . ”

Yang Zhao entered the room and surveyed the surroundings . This room appeared to be a small office . There was an office desk piled with a messy assortment of odds and ends . On one side of the desk stood two uniformed police officers . On the other were two long benches . Three boys and one girl sat on the benches . One of them was Yang Jintian .

Of the four youths, only Yang Jintian looked sober . The others were slumped over haphazardly in a drunken heap . Even though the room’s windows were open, the place reeked of alcohol .

The policeman named “Old Wang” walked over . “And whose guardian are you?”

Yang Zhao did not reply . She went ahead and lifted Yang Jintian’s chin . No bruises on his face .

Yang Jintian swatted away Yang Zhao’s hand with a scowl . Yang Zhao asked him: “Didn’t you say you were slugged? Were you hurt?”

Old Wang came over and attempted to smooth things over, ”Slugged? His arms were just yanked a couple of times . It’s nothing . ”

Yang Zhao rolled up Yang Jintian’s sleeves . Yang Jintian’s wrist bore a ring of red bruises . They looked slightly swollen . Yang Jintian broke out of her grip and snapped irritably: “I’m fine!”

Yang Zhao turned back to look at Old Wang .

“Where’s the assailant?”

Another police officer shot a look of disapproval at Yang Zhao . Yang Zhao hadn’t actually done anything, but something about her lack of action gave off the impression that she was looking down at them .

That police officer dumped a stack of materials on the desk . The sound was not loud, but it was enough to draw everyone’s attention .
He looked younger than the two cops before him, no more than thirty . His eyes fell on Yang Zhao as he pointed his fingers at Yang Jintian .

“They got drunk, acted out, and caused trouble for an eighty year old woman! What is your relation to them, to be so protective of them?!”

“Hey, Xiao-Song[1], knock it off . ” Old Wang swatted Xiao-Song’s finger down .

“It’s a trivial matter . Nothing a little education can’t fix . ”

Yang Zhao stood in the middle of the room, watching the cop called Xiao-Song .

“Where’s the assailant?”

Old Wang’s hand also stopped moving . He turned towards Yang Zhao . Xiao-Song cursed under his breath . Old Wang held him in place, then turned to Yang Zhao and said: “See, this is what happened: After a night of drinking, these kids called for a cab to go home . When the cab arrived, an old lady wanted to get on too . The cabby pitied the old lady and wanted to give her priority, but the kids —the alcohol probably muddled their brains— refused to give way . ” Old Wang clapped his hands once, “That’s all there is to it . Just a little dispute . ”

Yang Zhao looked at Old Wang: “Who hailed the cab first?”

“Say what?” said Old Wang .

“Who came first,” said Yang Zhao . “Who flagged down the cab first?”

“Well,” Old Wang said smilingly, ”giving way to an old lady is the right thing to do, no? It would be unreasonable to fight with an eighty year old elder over a cab . ”

“Ah,” Yang Zhao nodded . “That is to say, my younger brother flagged down the cab first . Comrade policeman, the basis of ‘first come, first served’ applies . They were first, therefore they have right of way . ”

Old Wang looked a little put out after hearing her words .

“How could you say that? Are you so dead set on making a mountain out of a molehill? Fighting with an eighty year old woman over a cab is just something scum would do!”

Yang Jintian who was sitting at a corner with his head lowered jumped up immediately .

“Who the fuck are you calling scum?! Who’s the scum, huh?!”

Xiao-Song had been waiting for him to act out . He slammed the table aggressively and glared at Yang Jintian, fingers pointed at him .

“Sit down—! You hear me?! You wanna be detained or what—?!”

“Fuck!” Emboldened by the alcohol, Yang Jintian shook his sleeves and charged forward . Yang Zhao held him back, “Sit down . ” Yang Jintian struggled to free himself . “Let go of me! You think I’m fucking scared of them?! Let go of me! Let go—!”


Yang Zhao struck him across the face . Everyone fell silent .

Yang Jintian turned sideways, his face frozen stiff . A red mark bloomed across his face .

Yang Zhao’s voice was soft, “Sit . Leave the rest to me . ”

Yang Jintian’s eyes reddened . He buried his head in his hands and sat . Yang Zhao did not know if he was crying .

Yang Zhao turned, not toward the two cops, but toward another corner of the room . That area was dimly lit . Unless one looked closely, it was difficult to make out the figure standing in that corner . Yang Zhao looked at that person and said, “The driver who committed assault was you, wasn’t it?”

[1] “Xiao-“: lit . little/young . Commonly used as a prefix to address someone younger or less experienced than the speaker informally . Also used as a term of endearment

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