Chapter 10: Julien Nine

TL: cici, Editor: Lady Blue, QC:me3

Synopsis: Suppose you were a woman, who would you want to marry– Fei Du or me?

 

First Published on Ainushi. 

 

Luo Wenzhou picked up the package and held it upside down. There was nothing else in it. Right at this time, his cell phone vibrated notifying a photo was sent to him. It was a photo of a remote, narrow stone path, solemnly surrounded by water and plants. Standing in the middle of the photo was a single trash bin with a message below it. The message had neither recipient nor sender and consisted of only three words: by the way.

Luo Wenzhou stared at the photo for a while as if he was thinking, yet the Mr. Cat next to him was unhappy.

Mr. Cat’s formal name was “Luo Yiguo”. It was a seven-year-old middle-aged cat with round face, big eyes, and glistening hair–the only problem with him was his bad temper.

Luo Yiguo first patted Luo Wenzhou’s legs with one of its paws, went to the corner of the wall with its buttocks twisted, crouched down with its heart filled with complaints, and showed his empty cat bowl to the feces shoveler (1).

Unexpectedly, that silly big guy just glanced at it, and was not touched at all!

The tragically ignored Luo Yiguo became extremely furious. Therefore, it rushed over aggressively, stood with its hind feet, held Luo Wenzhou’s leg, and bit his trouser legs, whining and shouting.

Luo Wenzhou bent down, pinched the cat’s nape, and lifted him up from the ground: “Are you bored of life?”

Claws hanging, Luo Yiguo grumbled two “ao”, and proudly stuck its tongue out towards him.

Luo Wenzhou rolled his eyes. As soon as he let go, the cat broke out of his hand lightly, rolled in the air elegantly, and landed on the ground with all four feet. It soon got enough cat food, which included an extra can, as it wished.

Luo Yiguo satisfied, and found that the famous line “spare the rod and spoil the child” was really not deceiving cats–feces shoveler had to be bitten to become well-behaved.

Luo Wenzhou squatted on the ground, stroking the cat carelessly for a while before he suddenly remembering something. He looked down at the standing up big bushy tail of Luo Yiguo–this ancestor (2) was bought by Tao Ran for Fei Du several years ago when he strolled around in the morning market. Fei Du seemed quite like it at the beginning, but somehow get annoyed only a few days after he brought it home, and refused to raise it any longer.

Tao Ran’s home was outside the city. He could not afford to buy an apartment when he just started working, so he rented different rooms and couldn’t predict when he would have to move, which was really inconvenient for keeping pets. Therefore, the cat had to be raised in Luo Wenzhou’s home.

Luo Wenzhou hated cats, dogs, and children under the age of 16 to the point that he would be crazy around them. He delivered an ultimatum to Tao Ran as if he was vowing something: if the next home was not found within a month, he would stew the four-legged troublemaker.

Eventually, seven years passed in a flash, however, the next home was still not found. Luo Wenzhou had changed from a cursing meat-eater to a hard-working feces shoveler. On the other hand, Luo Yiguo had changed from the grain reserve to the master of the home.

So, we can see that the world is indeed unpredictable.

Luo Wenzhou thought for a while with the cat in his arms. He suddenly stood up, pulled out a half loaf of leftover bread from the refrigerator, turned away and went out.

The traffic was already light on the street. Captain Luo, who was always vexed at not being able to check in and check out for work right at the required time everyday, went back to the Bureau. As soon as he entered the office, he found that other than the person on duty, there was someone in the office, watching the monitoring record, again and again, rubbing his eyes.

Luo Wenzhou stopped walking and sighed: “I knew you hadn’t left.”

Tao Ran stretched himself: “There is nothing to do after going back anyway–why did you come as well?”

“I saw that you were working overtime in the midnight alone, so I’m here to give you warmth (3),” Luo Wenzhou strolled to him and stood at his desk. “Working model, what did you find out?”

“All surveillance cameras of Cheng Guang Mansion are outdoors. Our technicians have just investigated the record from 8 o’clock to 12 at the night of 20th. Outdoor cameras clearly filmed Zhang Donglai four times. We tracked him according to his body and facial features and found that in the whole night there were about 40 minutes in which he was neither in the area monitored by the surveillance cameras nor in the clubhouse, but this ‘40 minutes’ is the total number. Each individual period is relatively short. There were only two times he actively avoided the surveillance cameras. One was around ten, he left for about 10 to 20 minutes with a girl. Before that, he deliberately looked up to locate the cameras. The other time was about 12 o’clock. After midnight the cameras in the courtyard of the mansion were turned off, so we don’t know when he came back.”

Luo Wenzhou rubbed his chin: “10 to 20 minutes?”

Tao Ran nodded very seriously: “Yes. But if that girl is found, she could be a witness.”

Luo Wenzhou shook his head: “Tut, so fast.”

Tao Ran: “…”

Before he could respond, Luo Wenzhou turned his voice and asked like a gentleman: “Was He Zhongyi filmed?”

“No. They picked about 20 to 30 scenes suspected to have photographed He Zhongyi this afternoon, but they didn’t catch his face and some were shot further away. I just watched them repeatedly, but I think none of them looks like He Zhongyi. In your opinion, if the murderer killed He Zhongyi in Cheng Guang Mansion, will he be so careless to be filmed?”

“He Zhongyi was not filmed by any of the cameras at several entrances, so it’s also possible that he himself avoided the cameras.” Luo Wenzhou stood up and turned around in circles several times behind Tao Ran. “However, if there was really nothing, Fei Du will not have sent them to us.”

Tao Ran: “More than four hours and so many shots. How can he watch all of them himself? Maybe he gave them to us only for reference?”

Luo Wenzhou shook his head. After a while, he suddenly remembered something: “What did you say just now? Their surveillance cameras in the courtyard were turned off after twelve?”

“Well, yes. Only those located near the parking lot or on several trails outside the clubhouse are on all the time.”

“Surveillance cameras were turned off probably because they’re afraid of shooting the ugly performance of a gang of drunk guys. The few that were left on, on the other hand, were there to ensure safety.” Luo Wenzhou reached out and supported himself on the back of Tao Ran’s chair. “The cameras inside the courtyard should all be installed at where the guests can see. They are easy to avoid if they wish, but for the area outside the club, in order to prevent unidentified people from coming in, sometimes the cameras are installed in the darkness… Find the records of those cameras that were on overnight.”

Before he finished talking, Tao Ran had already found them.

Luo Wenzhou turned on the phone and glanced at the photo he just received: “Is there a camera installed near a small stone road beside a water system?”

Tao Ran was a little puzzled: “There is indeed one.”

The monitoring records showed the scene at 8 o’clock. The whole scene was in still darkness, but as they fast-forwarded, the dark shadow in the middle of the screen jumped out, and the camera was exposed–it was a bird at first.

The four corners of the monitoring record are black with only a small piece of the scene in the middle. From time to time, it was blocked by the passing-by birds. It probably is a camera hidden in a tree house. When they fast-forwarded to around eight fifty, one shaky figure appeared in the vicinity of the trash bin under the camera. Tao Ran immediately paused the video.

The man should be coming to the trash bin in order to smoke, so he didn’t notice the camera on the tree.

“Wait a minute, this person… indeed looks a bit like!” Tao Ran carefully looked at the screen for a moment, then sighed, “If the cigarette butts are still there, comparing the DNA should be able to help us determine. But that heavy rain in the afternoon… So now we–why are you laughing?”

Luo Wenzhou pulled out an evidence bag containing cigarette butts from his pocket: “Go compare.”

Tao Ran was shocked: “How did you…where did you…”

“Shhh–quiet.” Luo Wenzhou put a finger on his mouth, said in a low voice that was nearly impossible to be heard. “A very annoying young man sent it to me.”

It seemed like Tao Ran was shocked deeper: “You two made a truce?”

Luo Wenzhou pressed on the back of Tao Ran’s head and turned it back in its original position: “Is there any other clue in the vicinity?”

“Oh, wait a minute,” saying this, Tao Ran pulled out a marked map. “This road has only two directions. One side is Cheng Guang Mansion, while the other side is a public area. Clearly, after leaving this man didn’t go towards the direction of Cheng Guang Mansion, but towards the other side… after leaving this road there is the main road and a bus station.”

“I like public areas,” Luo Wenzhou smiled. “We can investigate them at any time without being hypocritical with the rich.”

They immediately came out from the Bureau and went straight to the traffic police station near the bus station.

It was late night and dark. Dew was about to form. Luo Wenzhou turned off the air-conditioning in the car and drove with the window open.

Luo Wenzhou: “Don’t talk about any clues found tonight with anyone else, including colleagues in the team.”

Tao Ran was puzzled: “Why?”

“Nothing. I think in a few days, the Sub Bureau will hand in the report for transferring the case.” Luo Wenzhou said. “From then on, you focus on this He Zhongyi case, and don’t need to care about any other things… before the real culprit is found, let Zhang Donglai be ‘suspected’ for a few more days. It’s good to let him remember.”

Tao Ran heard a bit of unusual seriousness from his words and could not help but turn his head and look at him.

Luo Wenzhou raised the corners of his eyes: “We’re both unmarried men; if you keep looking at me like that, I will turn into a beast.”

“Am I free to tease?” Tao Ran was unaffected and waved his hand. “Oh, yes. It’s been a long time since I last saw you go out with someone. How was the one who played billiards with us last time?”

Luo Wenzhou said: “Oh, that person went to study abroad. He’s learning chinese in Italy.”

Tao Ran almost choked to death on his own saliva: “Why so unreliable?”

Luo Wenzhou shrugged, his face expressionless. Putting one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the half-open window, he said: “Where can we find many reliable ones? Besides, my dad has not retired yet. Although he didn’t say anything, there is a bad influence. Let me wait for a year or two until he retires to consider looking for one seriously; and once you get used to being alone, it’s quite good. That old thing is indeed addicted to work…I really cannot understand it. I wish to retire for a long time already.”

Tao Ran sighed: “Be content. Your family quite open-minded already.”

Listening to him , Luo Wenzhou caught the deeper meaning in his words, so he asked immediately: “Your family is urging you to get married?”

Tao Ran: “Not really, but kind of.”

Luo Wenzhou glanced at him: “My problem is the minority preference. What’s yours?”

Tao Ran thought for a while, and answered briefly and forcefully: “Poor.”

Luo Wenzhou failed to hold back his laughter.

“What there so laugh about? My poor salary is just enough to pay the house loan. Poor is an objective fact,” Tao Ran did not care much about it and pulled his hair, which now looked like a bird nest. “But I can put all sorts of things together for the down payment now, so at least I qualify for a blind date. I think this life is already good enough and I don’t necessarily have to marry the goddess.”

Luo Wenzhou used the headlights to see the traffic signs and found that they were not far from the destination. He looked at the road ahead calmly: “You have a goddess?”

“A high school friend in the class next to mine, who looks like Angie Chiu (4),” said Tao Ran, “It’s been many years since last time we contacted each other. She probably got married already. Even if she hasn’t, I won’t stand a chance–almost there. Wait a minute, I will call the buddy on duty first.”

Five minutes later, Luo Wenzhou parked the car. When Tao Ran was about to get off, Luo Wenzhou suddenly turned to him and said: “I have a very serious question for you.”

Tao Ran ask doubtfully: “What?”

“Suppose–I mean suppose, you were a woman,” said Luo Wenzhou. “Who would you want to marry, Fei Du or me?”

Tao Ran: “…”

Luo Wenzhou: “Suppose.”

Tao Ran thought for a long time and concluded: “If I was a woman, I should be too busy to deal with you two now. I must be worrying about how to coming out of the closet to my mum all day long.”

Luo Wenzhou: “There is no closet. All women are dead.”

Tao Ran: “Then other…”

“All the other men are dead, too.” Saying this, Luo Wenzhou himself couldn’t help but laugh first. “Only the two of us.”

More than six billion people disappeared like smokes and ashes in Luo Wenzhou’s few words. A corner of Tao Ran’s mouth twitched and he said in a have-nothing-to-live-for tone in the end: “Then you.”

Although Luo Wenzhou tried his best to withhold it, he still could not help but let out a smile like a thief who just stole chickens: “You choose me? Are you sure?”

Tao Ran pinched his fingers to count and said: “You are the only choice. It seems that there is still two months left for Fei Du to reach the marriageable age…what are you doing?”

Luo Wenzhou laughed, as if he had achieved a major victory, while leaning against the back of the seat.

Tao Ran did not understand what he was so proud of. He recalled the conversation for a moment, and got goosebumps all over. Shaking his head, he got out of the car.

…he did not see Luo Wenzhou being so cheap to the point that he had this conversation recorded.

As long as it was not a private property, like Cheng Guang Mansion, it is very simple for the Bureau to get the surveillance records.

The monitoring record of the bus stop failed to capture the time when the person suspected to be He Zhongyi came to the area around Cheng Guang Mansion but gave them a great surprise–at around nine o’clock, the camera filmed that that man came out from the path and went straight to the bus stop. After waiting for a few minutes, he boarded bus No.34.

During his stay at the bus stop, he looked up to read the stop board. This was good enough for Luo Wenzhou and Tao Ran to recognize that he was indeed He Zhongyi.

At the same time, a psychotherapy clinic reached its closing time, the last visitor stood up, said goodbye to the counselor, and gave her a box of beautifully packaged chocolates: “Thank you for your hard work, Ms. Bai. I think you might like this taste so I bought it for you to try.”

The psychologist had become accustomed to this. This guest, who was called Fei Du, was good at making people like him. He spoke sugar-like words as if they were free, was never late for no reason, never lost control, and often brought some exquisite–but not too expensive–little gifts. Therefore, even the cleaners of the clinic knew him. Before she could express her thanks, the cellphone of the guest vibrated twice.

The psychologist swallowed her words, smiled, and gave him a sign to let him look at his phone as he wished.

Fei Du made a apologetic gesture, and found two new messages on the phone.

The first one was very short: “Thanks.”

The second came with an audio attachment and the message was: “Courtesy demands reciprocity.”

Fei Du put the receiver closer to his ear.

“Suppose you were a woman, who would you want to marry, Fei Du or me? All the other men are dead, too. Only the two of us.”

“Then you.”

“You choose me? Are you sure?”

“It seems that there is still two months left for Fei Du to reach the marriageable age…”

Fei Du: “…”

 

 

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(1) Feces shoveler: A humorous way to call those who raise pets since they have to do the cleanup job.

(2) This ancestor: The cat needs to be treated and taken care of very carefully like an ancestor of someone.

(3) Give warmth: A kind of activity that Party A sends some gifts to or simply visits Party B so that the Party B feels happy. Generally speaking the Party A is more superior in social status than Party B.

(4) Angie Chiu: A Hong Kong actress.

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