Chapter 12: Julien Eleven
TL: cici, Editor: MochiMochi, QC: Lady Blue
Synopsis: “I do not accept your conclusion, Police Officer Luo.”
First Published on Ainushi.
Luo Wenzhou stared into her eyes: “Family name is Feng. Was the full name ‘Feng Nian’ or ‘Feng Nian Ge’ (1)?”
“I don’t know… it sounded like that. He had a light accent so I don’t know which character it was, nor do I know if the last character was a title or a character in a name,” said the perplexed Zhang Ting, “It was already very late, he suddenly jumped in my way with a very flattering smile and said some inexplicable words. I thought he was somewhat like a psychopath. I didn’t have anyone with me, so I was a bit scared and kept saying ‘I don’t know’. I wanted to walk past him…”
Luo Wenzhou asked: “When was this?”
“A while ago,” said Zhang Ting. “For a short while, a psychopathic exhibitionist kept walking around our company. Many people said they had seen him before, so our boss didn’t dare to let us work overtime. That day, however, I had some work to finish, so I stayed at the company after office hour for a while. There were very few people downstairs, so I was a bit scared at first… otherwise I wouldn’t have asked my brother to pick me up.”
Thinking about the delivery man he met at the cafe, Fei Du suddenly felt puzzled and could not stop himself from chipping in: “Then the man badgered you?”
Zhang Ting nodded: “Then I saw my brother, so I wanted to walk past the man and cross the street, but somehow he followed me. At the time, I was somewhat alarmed so I nervously ran ahead for a few steps and said in a loud voice, ‘Who are you? I don’t know you.’. They heard that and probably thought he was a rogue, so they beat him up.”
Luo Wenzhou: “Did He Zhongyi, this man on the photo, strike back?”
“No,” Zhang Ting’s eyes drooped as though thinking about that scene was something against her conscience, “He just held his head and dodged, only then did I realize that he looked quite young. Thinking that maybe I was too sensitive, I hastened to stop my brother.”
Fei Du raised his eyes gently: “They? Who else was there other than your brother?”
Zhang Ting said: “It was my boyfriend who was driving that day since my brother had a few drinks.”
Fei Du responded with an “Oh”. Then an expression carrying just the right amount of disappointment appeared on his face as though he was sincere about it: ”Why does every good girl have a boyfriend? Who already reached out so promptly?”
He said such an irrelevant and improper line at such a time. Luo Wenzhou frowned but did not tell him to shut up.
Zhang Ting was stirred up by his ambiguous line and blushed a bit: “It is Zhao Haochang of Rong Shun. You know him as well, don’t you?”
“Lawyer Zhao of Rong Shun Law Firm?” Fei Du passed over her and shot Luo Wenzhou a seemingly unintentional glance. “No wonder this time the lawyer came so promptly.”
Luo Wenzhou asked another question: “After that, did you see this He Zhongyi again?”
Zhang Ting shook her head, and looked at Luo Wenzhou with indecisiveness: “Captain Luo, it is impossible for my brother to kill.”
Luo Wenzhou relaxed his facial expression, and said to Zhang Ting: “If your brother is really not related to this case, we won’t wrong him. Even if we were unreasonable enough to want to casually pick someone to wrong, it wouldn’t be a relative of our old director. Don’t worry, since it is impossible for your brother to kill, it is impossible for him to get into trouble here.”
Zhang Ting heard those lines, but they were not that helpful–Zhang Donglai was really not a fuel-efficient lamp. She said “impossible”, but deep in her mind, she was actually not very confident.
“First go in with them to take some notes,” said Luo Wenzhou. “I will tell Lang Qiao to do it. Just tell her the truth, it’s okay.”
He barely finished his lines when Fei Du lifted his feet and walked in front of Zhang Ting. Waving at her as if coaxing a kid, he whispered: “Don’t be afraid, I will stay with you.”
He took care of someone else’s sister, and offered service at all time as though he was the “brother-in-law”. Luo Wenzhou hated seeing this conduct, always accosting girls whenever one was free, of the rotten bourgeois life. He wanted to sneer but was afraid of inciting Zhang Ting again, so he had to give up.
Fei Du accompanied Zhang Ting into the City Council. During the course of taking notes, he sat outside with a paper cup and waited.
A moment later, Luo Wenzhou strolled over and sat next to him: “You guys are always hiring lawyers and making us become very passive.”
“It wasn’t me who proposed a lawyer,” Fei Du said. Just when Luo Wenzhou was surprised at the fact that he actually defended himself like a normal human, he quickly added another line that was not so human-like, “If Zhang Donglai really killed someone, I wouldn’t need useless lawyers; I would give you another murderer.”
When talking to Tao Ran, Fei Du was always healthy, law-abiding, and positive. When talking to Luo Wenzhou, on the contrary, he was always bastardly, gloomy, and lawless. Anyway, it seemed that neither side was the real him. They could never tell if he was lying or telling the truth.
“Money is everything,” Luo Wenzhou’s expression was cold, yet his voice sounded lazy. His tone joking and serious at the same time, he continued, “Comrade, your argument is very dangerous.”
“It is not everything just because you don’t have enough of it,” Fei Du switched the conversation with his expression unchanged, “Where’s Tao Ran?”
“We are indebted to President Fei for showing us the direction,” said Luo Wenzhou. “Only the method of showing remains to be discussed. Since we can’t use that as evidence in court, I had no choice but to send him out to find some usable evidence. Otherwise, later on, when the lawyer you brought here asks us to let Zhang Donglai go, should we let him go or not?”
He did not speak of any details in these comments as though they were talking using some secret signals. Even if there was somebody listening in from behind the walls, he probably would have been confused. Fei Du, however, knew that he was talking about the butt–although the cigarette butt was picked up in time, it was of unknown origin after all. Even though Luo Wenzhou was willing to believe him, the collegial panel would not. Therefore, the police had to follow this clue to find other traces.
“Even if I hadn’t touched it, still it would have been too late for you to take it back. In that case, you couldn’t even verify if that person was the deceased.” Fei Du shrugged. “Somebody once told me that ‘everything that happens in the world will leave a trace’, but whether you can get it or not depends on the luck of both sides. How’s your luck this time?”
Luo Wenzhou was suddenly confounded. The suggestive, jesting and subtly defiant expressions were immediately gone from his face. For a moment, his mouth was even somewhat tight.
He subconsciously touched the cigarettes in his pocket, but he recalled something and put them back.
Silence suddenly ensued. Neither of them was looking at the other. They were only sitting side by side with one meter in between like they were strangers who didn’t know each other at all.
“Doors and windows were all properly locked. All rooms had no signs of forcible entry. At the time, the state-of-the-art security system was not triggered at all.” Luo Wenzhou suddenly spoke. His voice was low, but the speed of talking was fast. It seemed like these words had been recited many times so that they could be uttered without a single mistake like a jingle.
“She put on makeup, changed clothes, and even played music. The scene looked like a space for some kind of ceremony. A note was left on the desk. Forensic identification showed that the handwriting belonged to the deceased. It was clear that the person who wrote down that letter had depression, which was consistent with the fact that she took antidepressant medication on a daily basis. The deceased herself was an adult, who had no major injuries or diseases that could have resulted in the loss of body autonomy. No drug that could cause coma was found in the body. There were no bruises from resistance at all–these are all the evidence we had gathered at that time. You were the informant. You came into contact with the scene earlier than us. Unless you want to tell me that you hid some evidence at the time, otherwise there is no doubt that it was a suicide case.”
Fei Du did not speak. His sitting form looked very relaxed–his two legs overlapping with each other and his upper body leaning slightly forward. One of his hands was casually resting on his knees, while the other was carrying a paper cup that was no longer steaming. One of his slender fingers was tapping at the cup with a certain rhythm, as though the air was filled with some musical piece that others could not hear.
“I said to you back then, ‘everything that happens in the world will leave a trace, as long as it is real. If there is no trace to support your idea, no matter how much you believe in it, it is only a surmise’. Fei Du, you probably have some kind of intuition, but we can’t work relying on intuition alone. My instincts tell me every day that I can win five million yuan.”. Luo Wenzhou’s gaze stopped at Fei Du’s fingers, and then he spoke in an almost brutally objective tone, “And do you know? There is a theory abroad that if one wants to commit suicide, she may suddenly confess to her family in some way–you also heard her confession at that time.”
Fei Du’s fingers suddenly froze in mid-air.
Luo Wenzhou stretched his arm, pulled out the paper cup from Fei Du’s hand and put it aside: “If you want to talk about that case, I still insist on my own judgment–but none of our judgments matter anymore. It’s been seven years after the death and the final conclusion had already been made. All related evidence has been destroyed with time. This may seem unpleasant, but she should be a primary school student by now if she has reincarnated. You should always remember her–keep your feelings alive, but there is no meaning in obsessing over it.”
Fei Du maintained his original sitting pose. He was motionless, as if he had turned into a statue.
At this moment, Zhang Ting and the lawyer came out side by side. Finally, Fei Du’s eyes gently moved. A sign of life emerged right where they were.
“I do not accept your conclusion, Police Officer Luo.” Fei Du said.
Luo Wenzhou heard this comment but didn’t feel surprised. He just shrugged.
Fei Du put his shirt in order, and then stood up to greet Zhang Ting and the lawyer. Meanwhile, he lowered his head to look at Luo Wenzhou. There was no trace of a smile on his face. In fact, his eyes even looked gloomy: “However, your advice is not unreasonable.”
Luo Wenzhou was taken aback, but after finishing these words, Fei Du once again masked himself with his usual graceful bearing. Accompanying Zhang Ting, he left without exchanging any further words or expressions with Luo Wenzhou.
Right when Fei Du opened the car door for Zhang Ting, he saw a bus bearing police license stop in front of the entrance of the Bureau. The driver got off the bus first, pointed at the Bureau and said something. Then, a thin and small middle-aged woman, her mouth open with a mixed expression of fear and confusion, staggered out of the car.
She pressed her fingers tightly against the door, and the cotton print trousers, which drooped down along her two thin legs, were slightly quivering.
After closing the car door, the driver supported and pushed the woman towards the Yan Cheng Bureau.
Clutching the man beside her like she was grasping a life-saving straw, the woman walked a few steps staggeringly before suddenly crouching down and sobbing like she could not breathe. After a short interval, she burst into a surge of tears hysterically. Seeing this, all passersby stopped walking without exception. Some even took out their phone.
Fei Du frowned as he heard the lawyer kept telling Zhang Ting: “Their so-called ‘major suspicions’ have no supporting evidence at all. Don’t worry, Miss Zhang; I will stay here and watch them. Once time is up (2), they must let him go!”
“He Zhongyi’s mother is suffering from uremia and has been on dialysis for years. He was the only source of income for the family,” Lang Qiao quickly said to Luo Wenzhou. The woman’s cry was echoing and boring into the Bureau. Lang Qiao frowned as though this was against her conscience, “Can she survive crying like this? She is sick already. She be careful and not worsen her own condition.”
Luo Wenzhou did not have the chance to answer her.
Another policeman of the Bureau came running over from the side: “Boss, Huashi District Sub Bureau reported. On the grounds that the murderer was suspected to have dumped the body and make the crime scene unclear to us, as well as the Sub Bureau having limited authority, they want to transfer the ‘520’ case to us.”
“Boss, there’s a call from Yancheng media online. They want to know if the news that we have caught the suspect is true.”
“Captain Luo, the lawyer brought by Zhang Ting has been questioning our arrest procedures all this time. We don’t have sufficient evidence to take Zhang Donglai into custody! Do we have to let him go or not?”
Luo Wenzhou stretched out his hand and pushed down the noises.
He picked up the phone in the vague cries of He Zhongyi’s mother: “Speak, Tao Ran.”
“Wenzhou, I got the monitoring record of bus No. 34.”
(1) Feng Nian or Feng Nian Ge: The last character ‘Ge’ could be either a character in a name or a way He Zhongyi refers to a man who is elder and senior than him.
(2) Once time is up: By law, the police are only allowed to keep suspects in the Bureau for 24 hours without convincing evidence.
I am starting a marathon of translating the remaining chapters of Silent Reading on wattpad. I would love to have a collaborator if you are interested, Cici! Plz let me know!
How can I contact you?