48 Hours a Day - Chapter 826
As Zhang Heng wrapped up questioning the group of teenagers, the sky had begun to turn dark.
Zhang Heng did not rush to report to the patrol team for duty. Instead, he found a small restaurant and had dinner there since he still had some time left. He ordered pickled anchovy, grilled meat, and a small piece of goat cheese with a bowl of coarse oatmeal. In total, he spent less than six sestertii on his food.
As he ate, he learned about how much someone would spend on average at a place like this. The price of the food here was half of the cost of the food in the city. The portions here were smaller, however, and they tasted terrible. Zhang Heng felt that the grilled meat tasted weird, feeling neither like chicken nor rabbit.
Considering most people living in this area suffered from poverty, food flavor was never a priority. The main reason that prevented people from dining in restaurants was safety, especially after dark. It was only a matter of them before someone got mugged. Some might even lose their lives.
When Zhang Heng was eating, he saw two diners fighting over a waitress. The winner went to the second floor with the beautiful woman, while the loser left the restaurant while clutching the back of his head. Things like this happened at all kinds of places. Zhang Heng no longer had any interest in watching it.
After dinner, he went to the patrol station. Instead of looking like a patrol station, it looked more like a building about to collapse. The previous owner was killed by a tenant on the top floor when he attempted to collect rent. His body was hidden under the bed, and it took half a month before someone eventually discovered it. The assailant was ultimately arrested, and he was sent to the arena to be fed to the lions. Later, the authorities would find a way to deal with this building.
Since the dead landlord lived alone and had no wife or children, the building was eventually taken over by the patrol team and became its station. Not only did the members of the patrol team live here, but their families had also moved into this insulae without paying rent.
When Zhang Heng first arrived at the insulae, he thought he went to the wrong place because no signs indicated that this was the patrol team’s station. And there were no facilities like the training grounds. The cramped area had turned into a place where the families dried laundry. And there were also two large jars of pickles and a half-repaired table.
“Stand there, don’t move. I’ll shoot your eyes if you get closer!”
The person that threatened Zhang Heng was a little boy. And Zhang Heng based his judgment on his clothes. He had short hair and wore a shirt that was too big for him. There were also bruises on his face. He must’ve gotten it from a recent fight.
He held a slingshot in hand, aiming at Zhang Heng vigilantly, with an old dog behind him as well. Zhang Heng raised his hand, indicating that he did not carry any weapons, and asked politely, “Is this the patrol station?”
“Yes, what happened to you? Did someone beat you, or did someone rob your money? Or both? Did you come here to report the crime?” The little boy continued to ask, and he did not let down his guard. “You don’t look like you belong here. Why are you here?”
Before Zhang Heng spoke, a voice came from behind the little boy, “He is a new patrol team member. Put away your slingshot, Viya. A girl shouldn’t play with this stuff all day long.”
“But if I don’t carry the slingshot with me, who will defend the patrol station when you leave?” Viya asked in an affronted tone.
“This is the patrol station. No bad guys will dare to come to his place.”
“That’s not true. We lost two clothes last week. We lost half a bag of wheat the week before that, and…”
“There is no way to solve the thefts,” the man who appeared afterward said helplessly, “Half of the robbers and thieves in Rome live here.”
Although Pannonax did not tell Zhang Heng about the situation here, he had almost learned everything that he needed to know about the patrol members in the afternoon. He knew that the man that looked like a typical Roman soldier in front of him was Aris. A man with a burly figure and bronzed skin, he once fought the Marcomanni with Aurelius and did his best to fight off the enemies. Unfortunately, not too long after the war started, he was shot in the calf. Although the injuries were not life-threatening, he could no longer stay in the army to accumulate military merit points. So he returned to Rome and joined the patrol team to maintain the city’s security.
It was said that he was good at fighting. However, due to his leg injury, he found it challenging to fight now.
Zhang Heng took the initiative and stretched out his hand. “Zhang Heng.”
“Aris.” Aris also shook hands with Zhang Heng.
This time it was Viya’s turn to interrupt. She exclaimed, “Zhang Heng? Aren’t you the Oriental man who won the championship at the arena?! Wait, are you a new member of the patrol team?” She turned her head to look at Aris, “Dad, why didn’t you tell me that the legendary gladiator in Rome will be joining us?”
“Because this has nothing to do with children. Do I need to report every official business of mine to you? Don’t be like your mother, asking questions all the time,” Aris snorted impatiently.
“But this is big! Haven’t you been complaining that nobody in the patrol team fights well? And it makes it difficult for you to enforce the law every time.” Viya was full of excitement. “Now you have a legendary gladiator of Rome! No one can defeat us anymore.”
“It is not as simple as you think. One person cannot solve the problem here,” Aris said. “Your mother is making dinner. Why don’t you help her? Other than that, go and ask those going on patrol tonight to gather downstairs. We are about to set off.”
“The excuses you make to drive me away sucks.”
Although she was complaining, she still took the old dog upstairs. She deliberately looked at Zhang Heng twice before she left, like looking at a monkey in a zoo.
“Sorry, my daughter is ill-mannered. Well, I guess manners do not apply to this place,” Aris said.
“It’s okay. Since I won the championship, I have become accustomed to such treatment,” Zhang Heng replied. “Fortunately, I won’t lose a piece of flesh just because I get stared at.”
“That’s good. To be honest, I didn’t expect that a reputable man like you would be willing to join the patrol in this area.”
“I’m just a gladiator who regained his freedom. I’m not a reputable man.” Zhang Heng shook his head.
“But I heard that the emperor values you, right? I heard the people above say that you want to come here to accumulate some political capital. If that is true, I regret to tell you that you may have chosen the wrong place.”
“Why do you say that?”
“You heard what I said to my daughter just now. Although this hell hole is in Rome, it is completely different from other places. This place is full of thieves, robbers, villains, and all kinds of criminals that you can imagine. This place can’t be changed by one person, even if you are the champion of the Amphitheatrum Flavium.”