A Cruel Romance - Volume 1 - Chapter 11

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Investigation

 

No matter how hard he tried, Lan Bai-Shan could not understand why Commander Ho had shot him .

Commander Ho gave a single explanation . “Stay and tend to your wound . ”

The explanation was evidently not very convincing . Lan was a hot-blooded man, and refused to have his kneecap shattered for no reason . Sitting on the bed, he looked at the Commander with furious resentment, shouting: “This leg is ruined!”

Commander Ho stood in the middle of the room, his back perfectly straight, his hair extremely tidy . “It matters not . ”

Lan threw a hateful punch at the wall . “It’s my leg that’s crippled, of course it doesn’t matter to you! How have I ever wronged you to deserve this sort of cruelty?”

Commander Ho threw back his head, and sang in a lively tone: “I only did it because—” he extended a hand towards Lan elegantly, as if inviting him to a dance . “—I love you!”

Noting that the Commander was acting like he had lost his mind, Lan became highly alarmed . “Ji-Ch’ing, what’s happening to you? Do you know what you’ve done?”

Commander Ho brought his lips together in a smile, which later turned into a laugh . His laughter was constrained, his body trembling . “Bai-Shan, don’t worry about me, or about yourself . I’m here, so have no fear . ”

In face of his erratic behavior, Lan remained silent, deciding that the brat had gone round the bent—but why had he?

While Lan was busy being puzzled, Commander Ho suddenly dropped his smile, and stalked out without another word .

- : -

Right after Commander Ho took his leave, the medic showed up for Lan’s injection .

Lan was a bit suspicious . “What are you giving me?”

“Dolantin,” the medic said without hesitance .

“I don’t think I need a shot just now, I’m not in pain yet . ”

But the medic insisted . “Chief Lan, why would you wait until the pain hits? That would be torturing yourself! If give you a shot now, you can just lie back and take a nap afterwards . Isn’t that much better?”

Lan didn’t know much about medicine . The medic seemed to know what he was doing, so he gave in . He rolled up the sleeve of his army coat and unbuttoned his cuff . “Don’t give it to me too often though, even Dolantin can form an addiction . ”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be careful . You’ll only need it for a few days, just so you don’t have to endure the pain . ”

Lan sneered . “Pain? Do I look like I still give a damn about the pain?

Wary of the shift of tone, the medic didn’t dare to comment, and left hurriedly after he’d given the shot . Lan lay in the bed, his eyes closed in a half sleep, and in his trance, he felt his body grow light . The pain in his leg and the resentment in his heart evaporated altogether, leaving him in such bliss that he thought he’d ascended to the land of the immortal .

- : -

Within three days, the local assemblage had all learnt of the shooting incident . Surprise aside, they soon came up with various speculations . Knowing the unique nature of the relationship between Commander Ho and Lan, the speculations were soon laden with a range of condiments, and eventually the gossip turned quite bizarre .

From the staff division came a very reluctant Officer Ma and a few fellow officers and secretaries, who wished to visit Chief Lan but didn’t have to nerve to walk through Ho’s gates . Luckily, Commander Ho didn’t actually bite, and merely stood in the central hall with his hands tucked inside his sleeves, a cigarette between his lips . “I thank you for your kindness on Bai-Shan’s behalf . Now that the staff division no longer has Bai-Shan, it’s good that Officer Ma can take on more responsibility . ”

Sensing the Commander’s irritation, Ma could only mumble in agreement . He and his colleagues retreated from the Ho Residence, debating amongst themselves on the entire way back .

Two days later, Jin Hwan-Ran showed up with others, and still couldn’t get to see Lan . Commander Ho sat in his palace chair, his manners mild but indifferent, and managed to drive them away with sheer nonchalance .

Li Shih-Yao was the last to come . After arriving, he threw himself in a chair next to the Commander, and asked brashly: “Commander, I heard you nearly killed Chief Lan the other day? There I was thinking the two of you are best mates, what’s with the sudden hostility? You can’t just talk things over, and had to resort to violence?”

Commander Ho kept his eyes downcast, since he couldn’t be bothered to look at Li . “I shot Lan . He hasn’t complained yet, but you seem more concerned . ”

Li smirked, and said boldly: “Of course, this is all between you lovebirds, so we wouldn’t know anything about it!”

Commander Ho glanced at him, and slightly raised his voice . “What did you say?”

Li waved his hand and laughed . “Nothing!”

Commander Ho snorted . “Major-General Li is very humorous . Bold, too . ”

“Bold? Even if I was, I wouldn’t dare to be in front of you! Commander, it’s not like anyone owes you money, why don’t you ever smile a bit for me?

Commander Ho stared at the floor silently . A moment later, he looked up to Li . “You want me, to smile a bit, for you . ”

Li nodded with a grin . “Precisely! I mean Commander, you give all your smiles to Lan, and leave us with nothing . That’s just unfair!”

Commander Ho wanted to give Li a big fat slap in the face, but then he thought about the forty thousand men under Li’s command, and merely wiped his sweaty palms on his trousers . He forced down his anger and spoke: “Major-General Li has come here for a laugh?”

Li waved his hand hurriedly . “No, no no! You misunderstand, Commander . I’ve nothing but the deepest respect for you, I just thought if you were a bit more benevolent, I’d love you even more!”

Having reached the end of his forbearance, Commander Ho rose to his feet . “I’m tired . You should head back and rest . ”

Noting that the Commander was about to leave, Li stood up as well . He reached out and grasped Commander Ho’s wrist . “Commander, I still need to talk to you—“

Commander Ho turned around to glare at Li . “What are you doing? Let go!”

Li maintained his smile . “Commander, what’s the hurry? I might have to go back to Wantong in few days, it’ll be hard to see you then . ”

Commander Ho finally dispatched the slap he’d been holding back solidly onto Li’s face .

- : -

Stunned, Li cupped his face with one hand while other released Commander Ho’s wrist . Commander Ho glowered at him with gleaming eyes .

“Fuck off,” he growled through clenched teeth .

Li’s brows furrowed for a bit, as though he was about to lose his temper but had controlled himself . Swallowing, he dropped his hand . “Commander, isn’t this temper of yours a bit too violent?”

“Now!”

Li shrugged indifferently . “Alright, I’ll fuck off then . Calm down, Commander, it’s not good for your health! Good-bye!” He laughed disdainfully, then turned and swaggered out .

Commander Ho was light-headed with anger . What kind of scum was Li, daring to come and mock him! He should fucking kill him!

Sitting back down on the palace chair, he held his head in his hands while Li’s words reverberated in his mind . Moments later, his cerebrum was starting to ache, so he shut his eyes and threw back his head, whispering to himself: “I don't want to live anymore . ”

Someone gasped loudly near him . “Commander! You don’t want to live?” –it was Li Bai’s voice .

Commander Ho was lost in thought . Considering the question, he nodded slightly . “I don’t want to live . ”

Li Bai sucked in a deep breath, and promptly raced outside, all the while screaming at the top of his lungs: “SOMEBODY HELP! THE COMMANDER WANTS TO KILL HIMSELF!”

- : -

Li Bai had nearly exasperated Commander Ho to death .

He drove out the adjutant and orderlies who came to his rescue, keeping only Li Bai behind . He aimed a finger at Li’s nose . “You’re not even worth one thousandth of Chao Hsiao-Hu! If slaughtering you will bring him back, I’ll feed you a bullet right now!”

Li Bai felt aggrieved . “I thought you were serious,” he explained in a low mumble .

Commander Ho was suddenly very tired . He waved his hand weakly . “Get out . Don’t come in unless I call for you . ”

Eager for such a dismissal, Li gave a salute and answered “Yes sir!” before running out on light feet .

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