It was a week’s worth of information on what Luo Wencheng had been doing, whether he had encountered any difficulties, and what his mental state was.
With one email a week, Lu Chong didn’t seem to make himself look like a voyeur. He asked people to follow Luo Wencheng just to ensure his safety, so that he was not troubled by unknown dangers, poverty and unfamiliar life.
But he would read the emails very carefully every week.
Luo Wencheng was living a very fulfilling life, a very busy and hard life. The person who had never worried about food, clothing or shelter was now working hard for money every day.
Bartending, painting, cooking, all of it was hard work. Was his shoulder well enough to bear it?
And his illness, was it getting better? Or was it more serious?
Lu Chong rubbed his forehead. But in the end, as several times before, after much deliberation, he didn’t interfere. However, he asked Zhou Qian to arrange for two of his men to go ahead and check the situation with Zhang Qihui.
It was good to find a relative, but if the relative was not a good one, or would bring trouble, it was advisable to be prepared.
Luo Wencheng stayed in M City for twenty days or so to save up enough money and to complete and send off his artwork for the competition, before finally setting off to leave.
When he checked out, the hotel manager was quite sad to see him go. He had spent more than 10,000 yuan on accommodation at the hotel and had a good temper, going out early and returning late. Who wouldn’t like such a stable and trouble-saving customer? So when Luo Wencheng was leaving, the hotel manager also gave him a small gift.
Luo Wencheng didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. It was a very exquisite bedside glass lamp. There were two sentences written on the box: “There is always someone waiting for you to come home. There is always a light that is lit up for you.”
Luo Wencheng patted the lamp and left it on the bus.
The bus went directly to the rail station. Five hours later, at 2pm, he got off the train. This was another strange little city.
The agency didn’t give Luo Wencheng a specific address, but gave him a copy of the certificate of Zhang Qihui’s long-term car rental, proving that Zhang Qihui had been a taxi driver there for a long time, carrying goods and transporting people.
Luo Wencheng thought about going to this taxi company to find out the news first.
“Yongxing Town, there is still a place for one person left to Yongxing Town!”
“Is there any to Xitou Town? Going right away!”
On the small square in front of the exit, minivans and hatchbacks were parked in a mess. The owners raised their voices, enthusiastically soliciting customers. Luo Wencheng checked that he needed to change a few buses to get to Xitou Town, his destination. He was a little tired and didn’t want to squeeze in the bus, and he didn’t see any more regular-looking taxis within his sight.
He hesitated, choosing between staying here for one night or going to Xitou Town today. Seeing that there was still time, he walked towards one of the hatchback cars: “Xitou Town?”
“Hey, Xitou Town, get in the car and we’ll go!” The owner said hurriedly.
Luo Wencheng felt that the man looked familiar at first glance, but he couldn’t tell why he looked familiar. After thinking about it, he nodded to indicate that he was getting in the car. The taxi owner quickly put his drawing board in the back of the car, handling it carefully, and then came over to open the door for Luo Wencheng.
Luo Wencheng sat in the back seat. The car was very neat and tidy, and there was a small neck pillow in the back seat, which was very comfortable. When Luo Wencheng saw that the driver really started immediately, he couldn’t help but ask, “Not waiting for two more people?”
“Hey, it’s a little late today. I’m rushing back to pick up the kids. You can take a nap for a while. It’ll take nearly two hours,” the driver said with a smile.
Luo Wencheng didn’t expect that the car would really pick him up alone. He was inexperienced and worried that he would be taken somewhere, so he didn’t dare to sleep. He casually asked, “Do you pick up the children by yourself?”
“I don’t usually pick them up, I let them go home by themselves. But it’s their birthday today. I promised them to take them to pick the cake.” The driver opened the chatterbox. “In fact, I used to pick up passengers in town but today, there was a guest who had a lot of luggage and was in a hurry. The fare was high, and I just drove to the city. I thought I’d wait another two minutes and go back empty if I really didn’t have any customers, but I didn’t expect to wait for you.”
Luo Wencheng smiled faintly: “That’s quite fateful.”
“That thing just now is a drawing board, right? Are you an artist?”
“I’m not an artist, I’m just painting.”
“That’s impressive, a creative artist, no wonder you have an unusual temperament. Where are you going in Xitou Town?”
“To find someone,” Luo Wencheng said vaguely, “You can just let me out in the liveliest place.”
After saying this, he leaned back and swiped his mobile phone, bored. He was drifting off to sleep when the driver’s phone suddenly rang, and he picked it up.
Luo Wencheng raised his eyes abruptly.
The voice coming from the mobile phone was actually not obvious, but Luo Wencheng’s ears were very good, and he could hear those two words clearly.
Luo Wencheng looked at the driver’s profile, and when he looked at it, he remembered where the familiarity came from.
He took out the copy of the car rental from his bag, with a one-inch photo in the upper right corner.
Although it was a very blurred and distorted picture, it was really similar to the driver in the front seat.
In particular, the copy showed that the rented car was also a hatchback.
Luo Wencheng waited for the driver to finish his phone call and asked quietly, “Master, how old are you this year?”
“48 years old.”
“48 years old? Those children shouldn’t be too young either.”
The driver said without suspecting anything: “The eldest is almost twenty, and the two younger ones are not ten yet.”
Luo Wencheng observed him, thinking that his age was right and his facial features were right. His skin was not very dark, but he drove the car all year round, so it wouldn’t be much darker. His Mandarin was very standard and there was no accent, but the accent could be completely corrected. His height was only a little shorter than Luo Wencheng’s, so he was indeed 1.75 metres.
“Master, what is your name?”
“My surname is Zhang.”
Luo Wencheng was eighty percent sure by now.
He was in a complicated mood; could there be such a coincidence?
For the rest of the journey, Luo Wencheng kept secretly observing the driver, who was likely his biological father.
The interior of the car and the driver’s clothes were very neat. It could be seen that Zhang Qihui was someone who paid attention to hygiene; but his clothes were washed white, indicating that he was either thrifty or not well-off.
The service was attentive and pleasant, the attitude was kind, and his way of talking was quite humble. This did not mean that he had such a personality, but rather that he valued customers and his job.
Luo Wencheng didn’t see any family photos or anything like that in the car, but according to the driver’s words, there were at least three children.
Luo Wencheng lowered his eyes slightly. He didn’t have any feelings in his heart. It was good if this man was doing well. Originally, he was just looking for peace of mind on this trip.
When he drove to Xitou Town and saw that it was past 4:30, the driver was obviously a little anxious and looked at the time frequently.
Luo Wencheng thought it was almost time for primary school to be over.
“How about I take you to the shopping mall? It’s the busiest place at this time of day, and there’s plenty of food.”
Luo Wencheng said, “No, don’t you have to pick up the kids? Just drop me off by the school by the way.”
“That’s fine.” The driver was happy that he wouldn’t have to take a detour and would go straight to the school just in time for the end of the lessons.
Five minutes later, Luo Wencheng got off the car at the No. 1 Primary School in Xitou Town, put a drawing board on his back and found a noodle shop diagonally opposite the school gate to sit down.
From here he could just see the hatchback car, which looked a little dusty, mingling with the group of cars and other vehicles waiting to pick up the children.
The students poured out in waves, and the entrance of the school was noisy and crowded, but Luo Wencheng still clearly saw a boy and a girl of the same age running out of the school territory hand in hand, waving from afar to the driver standing next to the hatchback car. The driver went over and touched the heads of the two, and then the three of them got in the car together.
“Your beef noodles.” The lady boss came up with a large bowl full of beef noodles, and the amount of beef was very sufficient. She looked at Luo Wencheng with some curiosity. The young man looked very delicate. Just sitting there and doing nothing, he gave people a very cultured impression. Looking at him, she couldn’t resist asking: “I’ve never seen you before, are you from out of town?”
“Yes.” Luo Wencheng took chopsticks of noodles, and suddenly thought of something: “Lady boss, can I ask you something? Have you heard of the primary school across the street recruiting teachers?”
“Are you a teacher? What do you teach?”
“Art. Music is fine too.”
The lady boss thought for a while, “I haven’t heard of it, and this semester is almost over. Even if there is a shortage of teachers, they won’t recruit at this time, right?”
Luo Wencheng was taken aback for a moment, and said with a smile: “That’s true.”
Luo Wencheng found a small hotel near the school and stayed there to think of ways to get closer to his target the next day. He didn’t expect to go out early in the morning and see a brand new recruitment notice at the door of the hotel.
The No. 1 Primary School in Xitou Town was offering a summer art class and was looking for an art teacher?
Luo Wencheng vaguely felt something was wrong, but he still went to the school.
The assessment that the principal, the teaching director, and the head of the art department participated in together was very formal for a small-town primary school. After the assessment was over, he was asked to go back and wait for the notice. After another day, he was called and informed that he was hired. He was also told to come to class in the afternoon and teach the last art class of the third grade, because the original art teacher was not feeling well and asked for leave.
Luo Wencheng hung up the phone and thought for a while. If it was what he thought…
With this guess in mind, he walked into the third-year class in the afternoon and took a look. The two children of the driver were indeed sitting upright in the classroom. When he took the student register and checked it, the girl’s name was Zhang Yutong and the boy’s name was Zhang Yuyang. They were dragon and phoenix twins (boy and girl twins).
He put down the register, lowered his head and smiled, and then said to the children: “Teacher Liu has asked for leave. I am your substitute teacher. My surname is Luo. Today is the final exam of your art class. The exam topic is…”
While Luo Wencheng was supervising the exam and dealing with some minor problems of the students, he was observing two children surnamed Zhang. Without such a show he wouldn’t be actually sure of their identity, but with such a show he could be absolutely sure.
He looked at the two children, then picked up his mobile phone and took a picture of his own face, vaguely seeing very few traces of similarity.
He and Zhang Qihui were not very similar either. Was it because he looked more like his mother? However, many children were not very similar to their parents; it was quite rare when you could say blood relationship from the appearance.
Moreover, after his rebirth, because of the nightly pain, his body was detoxified and refreshed. At the same time, his appearance also had undergone some hard-to-detect changes, which couldn’t be seen with the naked eye. But if you took out a photo of him when he first got out of prison compared with the present, it would actually be different. The overall feeling was a lot more refined.
The lesson was soon over, and when Luo Wencheng returned to the office with a stack of drawing paper, the head of the art department asked, “Have you seen any good candidates for the interest class?”
Luo Wencheng noticed a trace of nervousness in the man’s eyes and some stiffness in his movements. He took out two sheets of drawing paper, smiled and said, “Zhang Yutong and Zhang Yuyang are very good at painting.”
“Ah, they are.” The head of the art department looked a little surprised, “They are indeed very well-behaved and smart, but their family conditions are not very good. I heard that they will help their family during the holidays, and their parents may not let them participate.”
“What can such small children do? Can you tell me a bit about their family?”