Chapter 109: A Conversation Between Two Men
A-Tao returned to A-Jiao’s side. He threw away his commandeered compact submachine gun and pulled out a pistol he had tucked into his waistband. “Don’t worry, Jiao, the men who kidnapped you are all dead,” said A-Tao as he glanced warmly at her. “But our brothers haven’t been able to fight their way out of the warehouse yet.”
“What’s going to happen to you then, brother?” A-Jiao eagerly asked as she removed her gas mask and stared at him intently.
“Me?” A smile appeared on A-Tao’s face. “I’d have been dead two years ago if it weren’t for you,” he said as he pulled A-Jiao up. “Baby sister, I have one last request to ask of you.”
“What is it?” A-Jiao nodded her head with ears in her eyes.
“Dear sister, please help you elder brother out one last time,” said A-Tao as he pointed his gun at A-Jiao’s head. “Help me get our brothers out of here safely!”
Before A-Jiao even had a chance to respond, A-Tao began yelling in the direction of the guard shack, “Jiang! I know you’re in there! I’ve got your woman! This is the Bald Wolf! You know what I’m capable of! If you don’t want your woman to die, then get your ass out here right now!”
“The Bald Wolf?” A deathly silence descended upon the warehouse at the mere mention of that name. Police officers and gangsters alike all stared in the direction of that loud voice. To them, the Bald Wolf was a near-mythical figure.
“Let’s go!” ordered Jiang Zhengkai as he stood up from behind the grain stack across from the guard shack entrance. Meanwhile, a large contingent of officers poured into the warehouse from the front entrance.
“Over here, Jiang!” A-Tao glanced at the officers swarming into the warehouse. He moved the gun away from A-Jiao’s head and shot once into the air before pointing it at her head once more.
A-Jiao, still restrained, betrayed a deeply vexed expression. She felt an emptiness inside. It was as if she had an inkling of what A-Tao was up to, but also didn’t quite know what exactly he was going to do. She didn’t know if A-Tao was saying what he truly felt, or…
“Xue Guangliang!” Jiang Zhengkai shouted as he led a large group of police officers to surround A-Tao and A-Jiao. He took one more step forward and yelled, “If you consider yourself a real man, then let me switch places with her!”
“Haha, switch places?” A-Tao asked. He backed into a grain pile, still using A-Jiao to shield himself. “What makes you think your life is worth more than hers?”
“Xue Guangliang! Don’t you know how to do anything other than take advantage of defenseless women?” Jiang Zhengkai took another step forward. “If you’ve still got a pair of balls, then come at me! I was the one who killed your boss, Xue Wanchun! Come on!”
“Hehe, you?” A-Tao laughed from behind A-Jiao. “Way I see it, you died five years ago! You were only able to live by trading the lives of your wife and daughter! Were you hoping this woman would sacrifice her life for you as well?”
“If you so much as harm a hair on her, I swear I will kill you where you stand!” As he spoke, Jiang Zhengkai, too, raised his pistol. Unfortunately, he could only point it at A-Jiao herself; from his angle, he couldn’t see A-Tao at all.
“Haha, does it feel good to be pointing your gun at your woman?” A-Tao taunted him. “Jiang, do you want to know what your last woman begged me for before she died?”
“Shut your mouth, you bastard!” Jiang Zhengkai yelled as the hand that held the gun started shaking. Su Jing’s and his daughter’s death had forever haunted him.
“Well, I’ll tell you anyway,” said A-Tao as he pulled A-Jiao closer towards him.
A-Jiao was now in a hopeless situation. She didn’t want to see anything bad happen to the two men she loved the most in this world, but she knew deep down in her heart that she would be losing at least one of them today. Nor did she know what the person behind her, the person she had been calling “big brother” for the past couple years, was really going to do.
A-Tao glanced left and right out of the corner of his eyes. There didn’t seem to be anywhere nearby where some sniper might take up position to pick him off without being noticed. Somewhat assured, he continued, “Five years ago, I planned to use your wife and daughter as bait. However, your beloved wife begged me to trade her life for yours. Since I couldn’t convince her otherwise, I granted her wish.”
“You animal! And why did you kill my daughter, too?” Jiang Zhengkai’s entire body started to tremble, while the gun in his hand shook even more violently than before. “What did my daughter ever do to you?”
“Ah ah, Officer Jiang, careful how you hold that gun,” said A-Tao as he poked A-Jiao’s head with his pistol. “Or are you going to make another woman die because of you? Haha!”
“You son of a bitch!” Even though A-Tao’s words made him angrier than ever, Jiang Zhengkai nevertheless lowered his weapon. He’s right. In this kind of situation, a slight mistake could end up hurting A-Jiao. I can’t hurt A-Jiao! I CAN’T HURT A-JIAO!
“That’s better!” Upon seeing Jiang Zhengkai lowering his weapon, A-Tao continued. “Your daughter was a good kid. She said she didn’t want to be without her mother. She looked so sad as she cried. I’m a soft-hearted man, and how could I possibly bear to see that little girl cry? Am I right, Officer Jiang?” At this point, A-Tao laughed maniacally once more. “So, I granted her wish as well. I sent her along to her mother, so they can be together for all of eternity. Haha!”
Jiang Zhengkai’s entire body now shook uncontrollably. His hatred towards A-Tao had reached its peak. The target of his hatred was standing right in front of him, yet he couldn’t put a bullet in the man’s head, because the woman he loved now was standing between the two of them.
Tears of sadness also started streaming down A-Jiao’s face. Her head started to move, and her body started to quiver. Finally, she yelled out at Jiang Zhengkai, “Honey, pull the trigger! Pull the trigger and kill me! Kill me!”
“How about it, Officer Jiang?” asked A-Tao as he forcefully tugged A-Jiao back towards him. “This foolish woman is willing to die for you, too. Shall I oblige her as well? Haha!”
“Xue Guangliang!” By now, Jiang Zhengkai could make no other sound than a guttural roar. The convulsions of his body were now clearly out of his control. Seeing the situation, Lu Xiaoqiang hesitated for a moment before throwing down his gun and walking up to Jiang Zhengkai to help him hold still.
BANG! A shot rang out, glancing off of Lu Xiaoqiang’s kevlar helmet. During the excitement, Lu Xiaoqiang instinctively dove for cover, taking Jiang Zhengkai down to the ground with him.
“Haha, sorry about that!” A-Tao laughed at the commotion in front of him. “My aim was a little off!” He then spat on the ground and said, “Hey boy, how are you going to hold someone up when you can’t even stand up yourself?” By then, A-Tao’s gun was pointed back at A-Jiao’s temple once more.
“Xue Guangliang! Come at me if you’re a real man!” Jiang Zhengkai suddenly raised his head. He looked with fiery eyes straight through A-Jiao. “Take my life if you please, but don’t you dare harm anyone else! What kind of man pushes around a kid?”
“Kid?” A-Tao laughed coldly. “If he’s really a kid, then why is he wearing that clown suit?” He then roared loudly, “Why didn’t any of you take pity on Xue Zhiyuan when he died? He was a kid, too!”
Hearing A-Tao’s question, Jiang Zhengkai felt a slight pang of regret. True, if it weren’t for the fact that A-Tao had taken matters into his own hands and killed Sui Dequan, the latter would probably still be alive and well as a free man. The police couldn’t arrest someone without sufficient evidence. Even if they had arrested him, as long as Sui Dequan didn’t confess to the crime and found one of his minions to take the rap for him, there was nothing the police or prosecutors could do.
“Stop, Brother Liang!” A uniformed policewoman appeared next to Jiang Zhengkai. She wiped away tears and said to A-Tao, “Just surrender yourself, Brother Liang! Don’t you feel at all ashamed at what you and my father did back in the day?”