After seeing off the little kid, Lu Mingming, onto the bus home, Lu Ye turned and headed back to his duty unit.
It would be a little while before the afternoon shift begun, and the duty office was quiet.
Only one old police officer on duty was dozing off at his desk, wrapped in his coat.
Lu Ye glanced at him for a moment, then stepped into the room with light steps.
Before he could even sit back at his desk, he heard a series of coughs from the other side.
The old officer then lowered his coat to give him a brief glance and asked in a soft voice, “Where have you been?”
“Well, boss, you’re not sleeping,” Lu Ye chuckled.
He stretched comfortably, walked over casually, took out a cigarette box from his pocket, and offered a cigarette to the old officer.
He smiled and said, “It’s the perfect time for a lunch break.
I just picked up my niece from school—her school is nearby, and she’ll be back home in less than half an hour.”
Weekend shifts were supposed to be twenty-four hours, but there was a forty-minute break for lunch and dinner.
There was no problem leaving the duty station during that time.
The old officer looked up at Lu Ye, made an indistinct sound, and then took the cigarette from him.
He reached into a section in his desk and pulled out something, tossing it to Lu Ye.
“If you want to go out, then go.
Why act like a thief?” He said gruffly, “Didn’t have time to eat, huh? Here have a bite.”
Lu Ye reflexively reached out and caught it, looking down to see that he had been given a crumpled meat floss bun.
He burst into laughter and didn’t hold back.
He tore open the packaging bag, complimenting, “boss, you’re still as caring as ever.”
Lu Ye had just been transferred back to his hometown the previous day.
Technically, he shouldn’t have been assigned to the duty shift so urgently today, but last night the municipal bureau conducted a surprise drug raid, and most of the police officers in the district and sub-bureau were pulled away for interrogations and detainments.
The station was short-staffed for duty, so they had to bring him in temporarily.
However, the new city area was different from the city center.
The population wasn’t as dense, and the industrial and residential patterns were quite simple.
Compared to the city center, there were fewer incidents, and the duty shift wasn’t too exhausting.
The entire afternoon passed, and Lu Ye only accompanied Officer Li Zhiwen on three police calls.
Two were fights, and one was a case of a lost child—although the latter turned out to be a false alarm.
After searching around the area, they realized that the child hadn’t gone missing at all; she had just gone to the other side of the shopping mall to watch the cotton candy train show.
Lu Ye stopped the parents from scolding their crying child, and he also took the opportunity to educate the mischievous kid.
Then he finished his shift with ease, and on the way back, he commented to Li Zhiwen that if all duty shifts were of this low intensity, he could wake up from dreams with a smile.
“Don’t jinx it,” Li Zhiwen said.
“Be careful what you wish for.”
Lu Ye was a materialist who didn’t believe in the ethereal and mystical.
He smiled slightly at the words and didn’t take them to heart.
However, the old officer’s life experience was indeed more abundant than that of young people.
Lu Ye had a leisurely afternoon, but as soon as night fell, it seemed like trouble was knocking at the door.
“The call has been transferred.
Prostitution at No.
18 WUWEI Road,” Li Zhiwen entered the room from the doorway, knocking on Lu Ye’s desk.
He said, “The caller suspects that men and women have been coming and going from there all night, suggesting organized activity.
let’s go check it out.”
Lu Ye: “…”
Dealing with a prostitution case along with interrogations could take several hours.
If they encountered any “resistance,” it could take even longer.
Lu Ye could already sense the sleepless night ahead of him, and he sighed lightly, accepting his fate.
He put on his duty uniform and stood up.
“Boss , you’re absolutely right,” Lu Ye said.
“I won’t jinx it next time.”
Wuwei Road 18 was a twin apartment building in the east district of the new city.
It was an old building in a remote location with vague property rights.
When it was first built, it was sold as apartments despite being designated as residential.
It had tricked quite a few speculators and ordinary families.
Over a decade had passed, and people still protested annually, demanding solutions.
The developers had taken the money and vanished, leaving the apartments poorly maintained without property management or caretakers.
Despite the lack of amenities, the building had a shiny exterior that attracted people who wanted to live decently without much capital.
Since the rent was low in this residential area due to its remote location, the population turnover rate was very high.
All sorts of people lived there, making it a location where the police had made arrests for prostitution and gambling, and even caught a group of young drug users.
Lu Ye had just been transferred back from another city, so he wasn’t too familiar with the situation in this jurisdiction.
Li Zhiwen intentionally swapped shifts to work with him, not only to guide him but also to help him quickly understand the local circumstances.
Before Lu Ye’s previous transfer, he had heard about the twin apartment complex, and with a few words from Li Zhiwen, he had a general understanding.
As he checked his body camera, he casually asked, “Which building and unit did the caller mention?”
“Building A,” Li Zhiwen said.
Just before the knocking sound on the door, Qi Yanbai had been sitting in the living room for three hours.
When he was alone, he didn’t need to maintain that gentle and kind demeanor.
So, he stared at the half-height easel in front of him with a blank expression, not hiding the complex and disdainful look in his eyes.
There was an unfinished oil painting on the easel, and from it, the outline of a church square was already visible.
The exquisite architecture was presented at an upward angle, brilliantly illuminated by a slanting light that cast a saintly radiance on the building’s top, creating a luminous and soft drizzle.
At first glance, it seemed to be a positive landscape painting.
However, the artist’s style was somewhat gloomy, with an excessive use of heavy colors that gave the painting a somewhat gloomy appearance when viewed in the darkness of the night.
But this darkness was not overwhelming.
Looking at the color usage and composition, it was clear that the artist had a solid foundation and artistic sensibility.
It was easy to imagine that if the painting continued this way, it would turn out to be a pretty decent work.
Yet Qi Yanbai held the brush, unable to continue.
Most of the paint on his palette had dried up, but the brush pot was still clean.
He sat in the dim light of the lamp, facing the painting, his mind blank, leaving only a sense of restless frustration.
He couldn’t paint, Qi Yanbai thought, I’m just not capable.
This realization brought him distress.
Qi Yanbai tried to force himself to continue, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t put the brush to painting canvas.
The anxiety and impatience of being unable to create began to engulf him, and he clenched his teeth, feeling the suppressive pain from deep within.
I need to find a solution, Qi Yanbai thought.
He knew full well that he had a certain innate nature repressed within him.
He couldn’t stay trapped like this, or he would eventually be consumed by that agonizing feeling, becoming crazed and eternally unsatisfied.
—He needed an outlet for release.
Qi Yanbai had been sitting in the living room from day to night.
The only light came from the lamps lining the room, casting a dim and oppressive illumination that pushed everything into the darkness of the night.
It seemed that Qi Yanbai had finally realized that continuing this standoff would lead to no result.
He took a deep breath, placed the clean brush into the brush pot, and then looked around, pondering for a moment.
Finally, he reached out and grabbed something from the brush stand.
When the knocking sound came, Qi Yanbai was startled—by now, it was late into the night, and there shouldn’t have been anyone knocking at his door.
He didn’t want to pay it any attention, but the knocking persisted and was urgent.
So, he frowned subconsciously, pulled a blank sheet of paper from nearby, and covered the painting with it before turning toward the entrance.
The rental house was an old building, and the peephole at the door had been broken for a while.
The landlord hadn’t bothered to fix it, and Qi Yanbai, considering himself an adult man, didn’t fear much.
Thus, he casually opened the door.
Immediately after, both individuals on either side of the door froze for a moment.
Outside stood a tall, handsome man.
At first glance, he was about half a head taller than Qi Yanbai, dressed in a police duty uniform with a high collar, exuding an air of coldness that bore a hint of sternness.
The man was undeniably good-looking and sharp with piercing eyes.
Even someone as worldly as an “artist” like Qi Yanbai was momentarily taken aback.
Unfortunately, those eyes were icy, robbing that face of two points of appeal, giving it an unapproachable aura.
He furrowed his brows slightly, his gaze incredibly sharp.
Qi Yanbai met his gaze for just a moment, yet he felt as though he was about to be seen through.
As a result, his heart raced uncontrollably, and he instinctively lowered his head, hiding his right hand behind his back.
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