“Dead?” Xiao Xia was extremely surprised at this unexpected news.
Guan Zheng nodded. “Remember when I said since he would never repent so we needed ample evidence to sue him, and make him regret not coming to an agreement? Well, I stopped by his neighborhood this morning, planning to check if his neighbors had anything to add. Instead, I saw a large group of police officers investigating the scene.”
“How did he die? Murder?”
“Don’t know.” Guan Zheng shrugged indifferently. Xiao Xia could tell he felt some schadenfreude at the death of the shameless Wang Hua. “I traveled around the nation after graduating so I’m not too familiar with the situation here. As this case’s prosecuting lawyer, you should go to the police station after the autopsy results come out to understand the situation.”
Xiao Xia nodded in agreement, though she wondered if she could still get information using her capacity as the prosecutor if the accused was now dead. She might as well use some of her connections instead. If there wasn’t anything secret, she believed she could get the information. Having worked at the Vast Sky law firm for so long, she was more or less familiar with the police.
However, she felt there were a few issues with Guan Zheng’s attitude after only knowing him for a day. It was true that upholding the law was the right thing to do. However, the purpose of the law wasn’t to punish, but rather to maintain order and stability. Families were the building blocks of society.
This was mentioned in Professor Pan’s first lesson on the law. Even someone who almost failed the year like her remembered this. Would a talented student like Guan Zheng have forgotten?
If her weakness was being sheltered and having a naïve view of the world, Guan Zheng’s was that he was too forthright and stubborn, too resentful of lawbreakers. Xiao Xia now felt that being thoroughly idealistic wasn’t completely a good thing. At the least, this world couldn’t be viewed as black and white so easily. There were many things that couldn’t be so neatly sorted.
Wang Hua’s matter was such an example. Although his parents were preparing to sue him, they must also be very miserable. They just wanted to be cared for and to have their basic necessities taken care of. They definitely didn’t want to have such a falling out, and wanted even less to see their son dead. Those unrelated might feel some satisfaction at this death, but it only made matters worse for the pitiful old couple.
“What about the Wang family’s parents?” She seemed to be asking both Guan Zheng and herself.
“Don’t worry about this case anymore. I’ll handle it.” Guan Zheng thought she was asking about the legal matters of the case. “The law entitles them to some basic financial assistance. I will do my best to obtain benefits for them.”
Xiao Xia didn’t speak. She hadn’t been asking about this. She wanted to know if those poor people could still endure mentally!
“Furthermore…” Guan Zheng smiled a little smugly. “Our investors have set up a fund. Part of the money can be withdrawn to help communities in need.”
“Oh? There’s such a good thing?”
“That’s right. If only all the rich were willing to do good. There are a total of eight families supporting us, but the fund is being managed by the Everplenty Group. Head over in a few days and handle this. Get to know the person managing the funds at the same time. You’ll be responsible for this whenever I’m away.”
Xiao Xia agreed, but the name flashed through her mind.
The Everplenty Group?
Wasn’t that the company that hired her in City A? The investment group that was the most powerful amongst the Vast Sky law firm’s clientele?!
This coincidence flashed through her mind, but she didn’t give too much thought to it. Her head was filled with Wang Hua’s matter. Only now did she realize helping others wasn’t that easy. It came with quite some stress.
When Wang Hua’s preliminary autopsy came out, Xiao Xia intuitively felt something was odd about the reasonable explanation.
The results stated that Wang Hua actually died from drug overdose!
The drugs had caused his heart and kidneys to fail. It was the only reason for his death. Additionally, there was a deep scratch mark on his face that dug out one of his eyes. This made his entire face look rather sinister. However, the forensic investigator found traces of his skin under his own nails. The eyeball was also found in his own throat. Apart from this, there were no fatal wounds anywhere else on his body.
Due to the grass being a restricted area, the scene had been very well preserved. There was only a single set of footprints that belonged to the deceased. Although the flowers and grass in the surroundings had been ruined, the thorns and torn leaves in the deceased’s hands made it clear who had been responsible.
His job’s hours was extremely unpredictable and he often returned home late in the night. Therefore, his wife hadn’t waited up for him. She only realized he hadn’t come home the next morning. His corpse had been found by a couple of elderly people doing morning exercises.
The sky had already turned bright at that time. Wang Hua was sitting in a shrunken rose bush, his back against a small tree. Since there was nothing obscuring him and one of the elderly had rather good eyesight, they immediately saw his corpse.
Based on the accounts of Wang Hua’s friends and the taxi driver, he had shown no signs of having taken drugs at the dinner party. He had only been drunk.
Putting together the evidence, the police concluded that the deceased’s friends had called him a cab after he got drunk at the dinner party. The driver had left him by the gates of his neighborhood. There was a security camera there so the time was accurately confirmed to be ten in the evening. Wang Hua had died sometime between then and midnight.
He clearly hadn’t been willing to take the long winding path and decided to cut through the garden. During this time he must have taken drugs, and it had clearly been excessive. He must have suffered severe hallucinations as a result when passing by this thicket. He dug out his own eye and wanted to swallow it, but failed to do so in his overstimulated state. In the end, he died painfully of drug overdose.
Since it wasn’t a murder, the case was directly closed. The police’s attention was directed towards drug traffickers. They wanted to investigate and see where he had obtained drugs with such a high degree of purity. Where was the source!?
Xiao Xia felt this reasonable conclusion was a little strange. They didn’t find any drug packaging but spring was windy in the north and it could have been blown away. He must have taken drugs because he was under a lot of stress. No one knew about his habit because he kept it well hidden. These suspicious points could all be explained. However, Xiao Xia’s doubts came from her intuition.
From her impression of him, Wang Hua was a sharp and shameless person. He definitely wouldn’t take drugs. There was definitely something odd about his death!
Despite her doubts, she had nothing that could refute the scientific evidence. Furthermore, the death of someone like Wang Hua was no big loss. The world was a little better off without him. She merely felt bad for the old couple. They were the ones who had lost everything. Old Madam Wang even thought that their lawsuit was what had forced their son down this path.
Xiao Xia didn’t know how to console them and had to ask Wan Li to do some volunteer work. She used his expertise to alleviate their pain, but also felt she herself was in dire need of some therapy.
When she was at the Vast Sky law firm, she didn’t systematically receive such cases. Here at the non-profit, the five members were divided into two groups. Uncle Chai and the two interns were responsible for cases involving women and children. Guan Zheng and Xiao Xia handled cases involving the elderly. Occasionally, Guan Zheng would also handle organizational matters of this chain of legal offices.
After working for a month, she realized that while those uninvolved may feel cases where parents fall out with their children were rare, those working them would feel there were a lot. Perhaps it was because they were all concentrated.
She had another similar case on her hands. An old granny surnamed Yang was suing her adopted son Zhang Mou. When Zhang Mou was five, his parents passed away. As his parents’ friends, the childless Yang couple raised him. However, after Zhang Mou started working, he rarely returned home. In the end, he stopped showing up completely.
When Grandpa Yang was still alive, Granny Yang still had a source of livelihood. But after he passed away, she could only rely on their meager savings to struggle along. A bout of illness earlier in the year made it now difficult for her to even eat her fill. Only then did she try to have Zhang Mou help her out. However, Zhang Mou refused to admit their adopted relationship because it was never officially recorded at the Ministry of Civil Affairs back then.
This was an informal adoption case and it was very simple. Therefore, with the court’s permission, Xiao Xia had been going around collecting testimonies from informed sources.
On this day, she and Guan Zheng came to Zhang Mou’s residence, wanting to make one final attempt at mediation. However, the moment they stepped out of the elevator they heard a woman’s scream from Zhang Mou’s apartment.
The two hurried over and saw his door wide open. His wife had fainted by the door, the keys still inserted. She obviously witnessed the scene the moment she opened the door.
The living room’s long sofa faced the front door. The area around it was a mess. Zhang Mou sat crooked on the sofa, his face ashen, having already died for a while. There were scratch marks everywhere and his clothes were ripped in quite a few places. One eyeball had been dug out, dangling on his cheek.
“I’ll call the police!” Guan Zheng ran to one side to make the call.
Xiao Xia didn’t faint, but she was terribly frightened by this unexpected sight. She looked around in alarm!
Suddenly, she saw something stir under Zhang Mou’s clothes.
Her hairs stood on end. She was about to scream when she saw the leaf of a plant poking out from his tattered clothes, as though it had slipped out.
She let out a breath, thinking that he must have gotten it on his clothes when he scattered the house plants. She had been too anxious.
“Alright, the police will arrive soon.” Guan Zheng hung up the phone. “Let’s wait outside. Don’t contaminate the scene.”
Xiao Xia nodded, wishing to leave right away. Although it was just a plant, it gave her a bad feeling. Was she imagining things?
She turned back for a glance as she thought this and happened to see that strange plant moving again, squirming like a worm.
Her heart leapt once again, but when she looked more closely it had stopped moving.
She must be seeing things!
“What is it?”
“Nothing. But what about her?” Xiao Xia pointed at Zhang Mou’s wife, and then glanced at that plant again. The plant remained motionless, but she felt renewed terror this time.
She felt that Zhang Mou’s dangling eyeball was looking at her. No matter where she stood, it remained fixed on her!
“Forget it! I don’t want to stay here!” Xiao Xia ran off without waiting for Guan Zheng’s decision.
She was terrified! This matter was too weird.
Guan Zheng followed her out.
After everyone had gone, that strange plant started moving again. It crawled slowly towards the corner like a worm before vanishing into thin air!
At the same time, the eyeball hanging by Zhang Mou’s cheek started rocking back and forth like a swing.