Chapter 4 – Julien Three
TL: cici, Editor: Lady Blue, QC: ISALEE
Synopsis: The three military inspectors looked up together.
First Published on Ainushi.
“I saw that news too. I heard it happened close to us, didn’t it?”
“Drive past Nanping Drive and continue in that direction for a while and you will be there. Sometimes, if I am going to my parents’ but don’t feel like going all the way up the bridge, I make a detour by passing through there. I always felt it was chaotic before, didn’t expect… Ah!”
The two white-collars in the pantry were too dedicated in their conversation to notice that someone behind them was listening to their live webcast. When they finally noticed the eavesdropper, one of the woman’s hands trembled from shock, and the hot water in her cup nearly spilled in the ground.
“Be careful.” Fei Du stretched out one of his hands, supported the cup in her hand, took it over, and put it aside. “Don’t get water this hot next time. Your hands are so delicate, what if you get scalded?”
Fei Du generally did not speak loudly, and whatever he said was generally no more than normal things that people would usually say. Nevertheless, once these normal sentences came out from his mouth, they immediately seemed to get infected with some secretive form of intimacy, which frequently seduced people to flatter themselves to think that he liked them. But the good thing was, he would generally leave immediately after speaking, which left enough time for people to snap out of the bubble he had created.
“President Fei, you shocked me!” The white collars in tea room were frightened in the beginning, but when they found out it was him, they relaxed.Compared to the former tough-minded President Fei, this Young Buck Fei, who had the right of succession of all his life was basically a likeable mascot.
He didn’t bring his failings of playboy to the company and acted good enough to be a seemingly “prudent” person. He seldom wielded his decision-making power and generally did not comply with his job duty.
He teased girls occasionally, but only in a measured way. He followed the principle of “Rabbits do not eat the grass around their burrows”, and never crossed the line.
Fei Du wiped up the spilled hot water with a tissue, returned the cup, and asked thoughtlessly, “What news were you talking about just now?”
“We were talking about the Western District on the opposite side. Yesterday a robbery and murder case occurred there. Apparently the criminal has not been arrested yet. Perhaps it would be prudent for us, the personnel department, to send out a group mail to everybody later? To remind people to be careful when commuting.”
“Nice,” Fei Du said seriously. “If it is too dangerous we should have a vacation, and only come back to work after the bad guy has been caught. How can work be as important as your safety?”
Although the two girls knew his words were all talk, they were still elated and went back to work happily.
A while later, Fei Du received the group email from the personnel department as expected.
He added more than half a cup of hazelnut chocolate syrup into his cup of coffee, planning to sweeten every molecule. He had nothing better to do, so he watched the attached video in the email while stirring his coffee.
“Late night yesterday, behind this residential area in the Huashi Western District of our city, a vicious murder case happened. Up until now, the police have not made any official statements about the case. As reported, the dead man, He, lived in a rented house somewhere near the scene.”
The video came from a online press that was famous for “pleasing the public by announcing something they like”, the prudish aide had just managed to talk for about two or three minutes when a burst of loud noises suddenly came from somewhere off-camera.
Immediately, as if they were afraid of lacking chaos, the shaky camera moved and a food stand appeared in the video.
A middle-aged woman wearing an apron, probably the shopkeeper of the food stand, pushed a boy with her elbows and straightened her spine: “Bloke, are you not able to calculate or was your conscience eaten by a dog? Stealing this small amount of money? What can you do with them? Bring them home to buy a coffin for your mother?”
There were several idle middle-aged and senior people sitting beside them and eating huntun (1) in a food stand which occupied the road illegally. This group of people couldn’t stop talking even when they were eating and drinking. They volunteered to explain the situation to the camera.
“Do you know how this bloke tried to buy shaobing (2)? They told him to put his money there and take the change himself. Obviously they trusted his conscientiousness. He paid 10 yuan and took 15 yuan from the change box. I saw it just now.”
“Eat five yuan and make five yuan, good boy, he’s now very close to becoming rich.”
“He deserves this—if he starts stealing things at such a young age, who knows if he will trade drugs or commit murders in the future? Once it becomes dark, we all don’t dare to stay outside. In my opinion, it is the fault of these scums from other cities.”
“We reported these matters many times, but we were brushed off. Now see? Someone was brutally murdered. They should’ve listened to us.”
The effect of middle-aged and senior cheerleaders’ intentions to make trouble was not trivial. The contradiction was sharpened quickly.
The fiery food stand shopkeeper’s arrogance grew to 2.2 meters. She started to beat the boy. The thief boy covered his head with both his hands and curved himself into a ball. His neck and ears were bloody red. He didn’t make a sound, and only kept backing away.
Several people on the sidelines couldn’t stand this and they came over to try to separate the shopkeeper and the boy, but they unexpectedly ended up joining the fight.
The conflict, in the blink of an eye, eventually escalated into becoming the official indiscriminate fight in between the Western District natives and renters from other cities.
The scene could be described as chicken feather flying in all directions; things kept on colliding into the camera lens, which slanted several times. Fei Du was done stirring coffee and felt that this conflict involving trifles as “three mouses or four eye (3)” was extremely boring and had no ornamental value, so he was about to close the video.
Suddenly, someone in the video shouted: “The police are coming!”
In the commotion, several people in uniforms made their ways in with difficulty and tried to separate the clustered people hurriedly, their movement seemed to indicate they wished to have seven or eight hands and legs. But they soon drowned in the ocean of people. The glasses of one of the young policeman even got hit and dropped to the ground.
Fei Du saw a familiar figure among them, and his hand which was about to close the window stopped.
That afternoon, in the Huashi District Sub Bureau, Wang Hongliang extracited himself with the excuse of “having a meeting”, and escaped like he had polished his shoe soles with oil.
Luo Wenzhou put his hands behind him, bent down, and got close to Tao Ran to look at him: “Last time we assisted our brothers in the narcotics squad to chase those drug dealers, we got into a fight for about 20 minutes, but still none of us got ‘heavily injured’ like this. I knew that. As soon as you leave me, you will get yourself in trouble. Don’t forget to take a shot of rabies vaccine after going home tonight.”
There was a deep, hair-raising wound on Officer Tao’s jaw which was the result of dueling in the martial art of Jiu Yin Bai Gu Zhua (4) with some unknown hero.
It was chaotic in Sub Bureau, the people who took part in the group fighting were consumed by their bloodlust. They didn’t want to stop even when they were all in public safety bureau. Several police officers had to repeat monotonous sentences such as “Squat down” or “don’t make trouble” in the verbal battle consisting of many mouths and tongues, which made their vocabulary seem limited. Those police reinforcements which were temporarily transferred there from several local police stations were standing aside blankly, unsure of what they were supposed to do.
Upon entering, Luo Wenzhou raised his hand and hit the door heavily, stupefying the two armies pitted against each other. Everyone was startled by this huge noise, and immediately turned their heads to look at him.
Luo Wenzhou leaned against the door frame: “Who attacked the police?”
“Do you think the law does not punish offenders as long as there are a lot of you?” nodded Luo Wenzhou. “Fine, I’ll have to detain all of you then. Don’t forget to ask your family to bail you out. Those who don’t have family here can ask your managers to come. I heard that some of you have taken part in illegally occupying street sides and running shops without a license? Just wait, in time, you will receive severe and heavy punishment. Punish them as we should, I will tell colleagues in police stations in the vicinity to pay special attention on people who have previous convictions like you.”
Before he could finish, a man in his 50’s shouted: “You said people who have previous convictions? What gives you the right to accuse us for attacking the police? Do you have any evidence? Detention without evidence? Let me tell you, I have a heart disease!”
Luo Wenzhou didn’t raise his voice or eyelids: “Do you know what Site Enforcement Recorder is? You illiterate.”
Lang Qiao walked towards them at the right time. She handed over a printed document to Luo Wenzhou. He took it casually and scanned it, then gave the riot leading middle age man a meaningful look: “What a coincidence.”
After he said that, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed: “Weh, President Han, I am Wenzhou… No no no, just busy without plans- Is there a campus security guard called Yu Lei at your school?”
The middle-aged troubler was puzzled at first, then his face swiftly turned pale. Now he really looked like someone who had heart disease.
Luo Wenzhou raised his cell phone and smiled at him: “Please check. The ‘Yu’ is the one that consists of two horizontal strokes and one hook stroke (5), and the ‘Lei’ is the three stones one (6). Male. 53 years old. It is not a big deal. This uncle is senior but vigorous, he fought with people and got caught by our colleagues in the police station here. After he got caught, he claimed to have a heart disease. What if that disease acts up here? If that news gets out, won’t it bring us trouble? We are not able to take that responsibility now. Aunt Han, I beg you, send someone here as soon as possible, and bail this porcelain-clashing (7) high risk man out.”
“I… I, I, I was protecting the safety of our neighbors!” Before Luo Wenzhou had hung up the call, that middle-aged man whose name was Yu Lei, had lost his nerve quite obviously. “What I did was self-defense.”
Luo Wenzhou laughed: “You even know what ‘self-defense’ is?”
Yu Lei stretched out a hand to point to several young men that were clearly on the opposite side since they sat separately as River Jing was clearly different from River Wei (8): “What I did was purely self-defense. The murderer last night is among them! I heard everything!”
Luo Wenzhou: “…”
Nobody expected that a public security farce would somehow evolve to seperate interrogation.
All criminal police that were interviewing and investigating outside came back temporarily, for the urgent task of extracting the testimony of the witnesses.
“According to Yu Lei, that old hooligan, after he turned off the light and got into his bed last night, he heard the noises of people quarreling when he was half asleep. He heard two men, both with foreign accents talking. Because of the accent, he could not understand what they were talking about, but he felt that they were people he had met before.” Lang Qiao stroked her hair and put them behind her head. “We verified that the home of this Yu Lei was very close to where the dead was found—less than 50 meters in linear distance. He lives in a bungalow. If he kept the windows on the back of his home open, he should be able to hear sounds from the scene.”
Luo Wenzhou: “What was the time?”
“Not sure, but he said he went back to sleep at around nine, and he does not have insomnia. So, half asleep… should not be later than nine thirty, which agrees with the inferred death time. Besides, there were several others who lived close to him who said they heard the noises faintly. However, there are often some people who get drunk and fight in this area. They encounter so many strange noises, and are used to them already. So they didn’t take it as something serious, and would not mind other people’s businesses to go out to check.”
“Leader Luo.” With a band-aid stuck to his jaw, Tao Ran stretched his head out into the room. “There is a person here, come and take a look.”
In the Interrogation Room, Xiao Haiyang was sitting opposite to a skinny boy. His pair of glasses was glued with scotch tape.
“This child is called Ma Xiaowei. He declared himself to be 18, but I think he’s underage. The group event that happened around noon today was because he stole five yuan.” said Tao Rao. “He is the rental house roommate of the dead He Zhongyi, and it’s highly probable, that he is the last person who met the dead.”
Luo Wenzhou nodded, pushed open the door, and entered.
Ma Xiaowei swiftly glared at him. Perhaps Captain Luo had an overly strong personality aura; the boy’s face showed a bit of trepidation.
Xiao Haiyang: “Nothing. Continue.”
Ma Xiaowei twisted both his hands, spoke with his voice as low as a mosquitoes’ “weng weng” noise: “He… He Zhongyi came from H Province, same as another roommate of ours. But they are not from the same village. It is said that H Province is quite large, and Zhongyi older bro came from somewhere more remote. He came here last year and he was a very nice person. He was very extroverted. He was quite diligent when we lived together, often did the cleaning… and did not have a feud with anybody.”
Xiao Haiyang asked a question again: “Do you know if he had any other relatives or friends locally?”
Ma Xiaowei’s jaw dropped down a bit, then he appeared to recall something and shook his head swiftly: “No. Don’t know. Haven’t met any.”
Luo Wenzhou interjected: “From 8 o’clock to 11 o’clock last night, where were you?”
Ma Xiaowei’s throat moved. He still did not dare to look at Luo Wenzhou. He said in a low voice: “…at, at home.”
“What were you doing at home?”
“Nothing… Nothing special, just… watched TV.”
Luo Wenzhou: “By yourself?”
It seemed that Ma Xiaowei finally realized his meaning. His facial expression suddenly changed.
“Don’t worry boy.” Luo Wenzhou pulled a chair out, sat down in front of Ma Xiaowei, and smiled with a pleasant demeanor. “This is the Felony Division, which is only in charge of criminal cases. Unaccomplished stealing of five yuan will not result in criminal penalty. Don’t be nervous.”
Ma Xiaowei was nearly not able to remain sitting.
Luo Wenzhou’s words then turned: “But apparently for those who steal again and again, despite repeated admonition, even if the money involved does not reach a ‘huge number’, it will still lead to criminal penalty. Are you not doing this for the first time?”
Ma Xiaowei suddenly froze, his pale face blank.
Luo Wenzhou knocked the desk lightly: “You were watching TV by yourself? How about those who live with you?”
“Yesterday after coming back from work, He Zhongyi changed his clothes and left. Zhao elder bro… the man who came from the same province as Zhongyi returned to his hometown for a funeral. Some other workmates went out to play cards. Only, only me… but it was not, not me…”
“Didn’t say it was you.” Luo Wenzhou cut his incoherent justification. “Some local residents reported that they heard somebody quarreling in the vicinity of the crime scene. Based on the distance between where you live and the scene, you should have been able to hear that. Did you hear anything?”
Ma Xiaowei heavily bit his own lips.
“If you heard something just say you heard something, if you did not hear anything just say did not hear anything. Do you need such a long time to think about this question?”
“Pro, probably did hear some noise, the volume of the TV was…”
Luo Wenzhou: “Approximately what time?”
Ma Xiaowei blurted out: “A quarter past nine.”
As soon as his words were out, both Xiao Haiyang who was looking down to take notes, and Tao Ran, who was standing at the entrance listening, looked at him.
Luo Wenzhou squinted his eyes: “You just said ‘probably heard some noise’, didn’t you? Now, how do you remember the time so clearly?”
Ma Xiaowei: “…”
“Little Ma, you need to tell the truth,” said Tao Ran in a low voice. “How did you know it was exactly quarter past nine? You heard something or were you somewhere close to the crime scene at that time? What do you know?”
Luo Wenzhou didn’t give Ma Xiaowei time to respond and followed up immediately: “If you don’t get your words clear today, you will be suspected of committing the crime.”
“I believe that it was not you.” Tao Ran and him played the good cop and bad cop respectively, “If it was not you, you don’t need to be scared. Say whatever you know. This is a major case concerning a death. You know what is more important, don’t you?”
Ma Xiaowei instinctively looked at him for help.
Luo Wenzhou pounded the desk: “Who are you looking at? We’re asking you to explain!”
“Not me… I heard, heard.” Ma Xiaowei was about to cry. “A quarter past nine, somebody had a quarrel downstairs. And the voice was familiar, so I wanted to go downstairs and have a look…”
“What did you see?”
“Nothing.” Ma Xiaowei widened his eyes. “I didn’t see anybody, not even a ghost, as if all I heard was just illusion, and the street, street lamp was broken. I… I…”
Luo Wenzhou scoffed once: “Kid, are you telling us a ghost story?”
Ma Xiaowei’s eyes turned red. He looked at Luo Wenzhou with eyes full of fear. One by one, blood streaks wrapped his eyeballs.
They kept questioning him over and over. The interrogation lasted until it was time for them to get off work at dusk. Ma Xiaowei was nearly questioned till he was ready to collapse. The boy, however, didn’t confide anything useful after that. He kept repeating that badly plotted night ghost story.
“I think he doesn’t like the murderer,” Lang Qiao said after coming out from the Sub Bureau. “The mental quality of this kid is not that good. He said whatever he knew when he was frightened. If there was really something, he could not stand being questioned by us like this… But that ghost story is strange.”
Luo Wenzhou responsed with an “em”.
Tao Ran: “How?”
“Not necessary,” said Luo Wenzhou. “He probably told us part of the truth. He could have concealed something else. Let’s continue tomorrow. Where are you two going? Return to the Bureau first or…”
He was cut off by a whistle before he finished talking.
The three military inspectors looked up together and saw a two-meter high huge SUV parked at the street side. A man leaned against the car: “Officer Tao, you’ve had a long day. May I drive you home?”
(1) Huntun: a kind of food similar to dumplings
(2) Shaobing: Chinese style baked cake
(3) Three mouses or four eye: Means something trivial.
(4) Jiu Yin Bai Gu Zhua: A kind of martial art in Jin Yong’s novel, the main way of attacking is scratching with long and sharp fingernail.
(5) The ‘Yu’ is the one that consists of two horizontal strokes and one hook stroke: 于
(6) The ‘Lei’ is the one that consists of three ‘Shi’: ‘Lei’ is 磊 which consists of three ‘石’ which means stone in Chinese.
(7) porcelain-clashing: A kind of fraud. Someone brings a piece of porcelain and hit someone else, then throw that piece onto the ground, make it break and claim that it was the other guy who hit him first to ask for a compensation. Here Luo Wenzhou use this metaphor to indicate that that middle-aged man was pretend to be sick to get benefit.
(8) River Jing and River Wei: Two rivers crosses at Xi’an. River Jing is very clear while River Wei is muddy. So they are used as metaphor to indicate things that could be clearly distinguished or divided.