Chapter 13: Julien Twelve
TL: cici, Editor: MochiMochi, QC: Me3
Synopsis: “Have you ever heard of the Golden Triangle Area, then?”
First Published on Ainushi.
“Around ten past nine He Zhongyi got on a No.34 bus at the East Nanping Drive Stop. About 20 minutes later, the No. 34 bus arrived at the Wenchang Intersection Stop. He Zhongyi got off and the surveillance camera near Wenchang Crossing captured his figure from the back. A few minutes later, he walked out of the area covered by surveillance and became untraceable.”
Luo Wenzhou grew up in Yancheng, so names of the places were enough for him to figure out the approximate location.
“Wenchang Road” was located in the area southeast of the Central Business District of Huashi District. Meaning, after the deceased left Chengguang Mansion, not only did he not go home but he also went further in the opposite direction.
“I’m at the Wenchang Intersection right now,” said Tao Ran with a mobile phone in his hand, traffic noises all around him. “So at least between nine o’clock and half past nine, He Zhongyi was not at the Western District. The noises heard by the people around at the time were unrelated to the murder. Ma Xiaowei was wronged. Why did Wang Hongliang capture him in such a hurry? Those who don’t know the details will think it was the police who killed and wanted to find someone to take the rap.”
“Captain Luo.” At this moment, a criminal policeman ran over and tackled Luo Wenzhou with a pile of material. “Colleagues from legal medical sent over the report. It is estimated that the time of death of the deceased, He Zhongyi, was between nine o’clock and ten o’clock in the evening of the 20th.”
“From nine o’clock to ten o’clock,” Luo Wenzhou took over the material and browsed through them, not answering Tao Ran’s question. “According to this conclusion, it is highly probable that He Zhongyi was killed shortly after he got off the bus.”
Tao Ran apparently found a quiet place so there was much less noise on the phone: “At about nine o’clock, dinner at Chengguang Mansion was just over. Zhang Donglai came out of the room and was recorded by the surveillance camera in the courtyard for the first time. He stayed in the courtyard for a while and then returned to the room. At around a quarter to ten, he was seen again by the surveillance camera in the courtyard. He talked to a girl for some time and then they went to the grove together.”
Luo Wenzhou sighed: “I think Young Master Zhang has a really tight schedule and should be too busy to kill someone.”
“If Zhang Donglai doesn’t have a twin brother, he is indeed cleared of suspicion. Do we have to let him go?”
Luo Wenzhou did not express an opinion on this matter and asked: “What else have you found?”
“Communication records,” said Tao Ran, “Let me tell you, this is strange. The deceased made a phone call when he was waiting for someone outside Chengguang Mansion, didn’t he? I got his number from his roommate and checked his communication records. In the evening of the 20th, He Zhongyi communicated several times with an unregistered number by phone.”
“Hmm?” Luo Wenzhou raised his eyebrows. “How is this strange? We have deduced that the deceased and the murderer should know each other, haven’t we?”
Tao Ran said: “The strange part is not the phone calls – around ten to ten that evening, He Zhongyi received a text message from another unregistered and untraceable number, which reads ‘Checkout location was changed to the Golden Triangle Area, May 20th’. What do you think this means? Checkout? Checkout for what? With whom? And what is this ‘Golden Triangle’ Area? I sort of feel that this name is a bit…”
Luo Wenzhou suddenly interrupted him: “Before that, Wenchang Road is the core area of the old city and is heavily populated. Nine o’clock to ten o’clock is not too late. Take a few brothers there, ask around to check if anyone there saw him.”
Tao Ran was puzzled. Before he could say anything, Luo Wenzhou had already hung up in a hurry. He could not help but frown at his mobile phone. Before this case, Tao Ran thought that Wang Hongliang was simply just a bug in the system; all he wanted to do was shift his responsibility to others and enjoy all the privileges without doing a stroke of work. Therefore, in order to prevent him from doing anything that goes over the line, breaks the rule or obstructs the investigation, it was better to find an excuse and kick him down.
It was not until this moment that Tao Ran was finally aware, vaguely, of the fact that there was more to this case than just politics.
The Criminal Investigation Team of the Bureau worked very efficiently. In less than an hour, the criminal police were all in position. They were divided into four groups and began to ask around with a detailed close-up photo of the deceased, He Zhongyi.
Generally speaking, this kind of work was one of the criminal police’s daily activities. It had to be done, but it was extremely time-consuming and boring. It was about as painful as handing out leaflets along the road. They had to explain the same thing to countless people many times over, but whether they could find any clues or not still depended on luck.
Because the human eyes are not surveillance cameras, it is impossible for them to keep a record of every passer-by.
And the city was too large. Everyone moved round and round in the torrent of daily commutes – most of the neighbors were just bowing acquaintances to each other. There was nothing but a large blanket of lowered heads in public transports. With just a palm-sized screen, one could watch the farce happening at the other side of the ocean, dive into the tales of the north and south poles, and participate in the discussion of all the major events happening in the 9.6 million square kilometers area (1). People were busy every single minute. Of course they had no time to remember a trifling, inappropriately dressed worker.
Because he was too ordinary and too boring, he was not good enough for others to look at, nor good enough to be kept in anyone’s memory even for a short time.
Living or dead.
This time, the police’s luck had run out. Tao Ran and other policemen carried the sun with their heads, but even until they had managed to push it on track to go down, they found nothing.
“Vice captain, the people we asked all said they had not seen him.”
“Vice Captain Tao, we visited the road in the west, and watched through the surveillance videos of the shops along the street. Guess what—nothing.”
“An old man said he might have seen this man. I asked him where the man was going, then he pointed me to a construction site.”
At this point, the clues to find where He Zhongyi went to after he got off the bus, and where he was killed was once again untraceable.
This less-than-20-year-old young man had just stayed in the huge Yancheng for less than one year. He walked around the center of the city for more than half a lap in the silent film recorded by the surveillance cameras, disappeared and died in an unknown corner.
However, even after death, the body still refused to rest. Strangely, he surprisingly went back to the Huashi Western District from a great distance – returned to where he came from, without affecting the city buildings around the bustling urban area.
Tao Ran had run out of resorts. He had to disband the criminal police who had been roasted by the sun to the point of greasiness and briefed Luo Wenzhou on the progress of his failed work.
“I guess there would be no more progress on this side,” said Tao Ran. “I still have to go back and make a victim analysis… Are you outside?”
Luo Wenzhou seemed to be in someone’s car since the road conditions reported via the vehicle-mounted radio could be heard on the phone, and the host was using the “exhaustive method” to describe the “Nowhere-in-the-city-is-not-congested” evening peak.
Luo Wenzhou responded ambiguously, then paused and turned off the vehicle-mounted radio: “Or you can think of ways to get some clues from Zhang Donglai.”
“Zhang Donglai?” Tao Ran had already been speaking continuously for one day, his throat smoking and his brain dull, so he inquired with a blank look in his eyes, “He is basically cleared of suspicion, isn’t he?”
“Zhang Ting said that He Zhongyi once stopped her and asked her for a mysterious person, who had a family name ‘Feng’. If He Zhongyi had not been mistaken at the time, the mysterious figure might have certain relationships with Zhang Ting. Besides, I don’t know if you have noticed that He Zhongyi left the area near Chengguang Mansion at just about the same time Zhang Donglai came out from the clubhouse and went to the courtyard for the first time. Obviously, at that time, Zhang Donglai was not intending to leave Chengguang Mansion, so apart from catching his breath outside, what was he there for?”
Tao Ran was initially puzzled, but then figured his meaning at once: “The dinner ended and some people wanted to leave first, so he came out to lead the way – you mean, it was highly probable that the person He Zhongyi wanted to meet was in the group of people who left at that time?”
“Earned ten points but no bonus – the suspicious phone. Why did we investigate Zhang Donglai yesterday in the first place? It was because of the cell phone. With the characteristics of Zhang Donglai, he may not even know how to write the word ‘apologize’. If the cell phone had no connection to him, however, was it the person who gave He Zhongyi the cell phone who had done that in the name of Zhang Donglai, or was it the deceased who had lied to his friend about this matter? Why did he tell such a lie?”
Luo Wenzhou said all of this without a break, then took a breath and told him, “Let’s go about it this way. Now you get off work first and come earlier tomorrow. Let’s re-interrogate Zhang Donglai before the 48 hours time limit. I will ask Lang Qiao to lead a team and investigate He Zhongyi…”
Before he hung up, Tao Ran suddenly said: “Are you at the Huashi Western District now?”
Luo Wenzhou, who was sitting in an illegitimate taxi, said with a faint smile on his face: “In the world, only my wife can monitor my location. Tao Tao, are you sure you want to ask?”
“Are you investigating Wang Hongliang?” Tao Ran ignored his nonsense and whispered, “I don’t want to get promoted or make a fortune. I don’t care how Director Zhang planned to deal with Wang Hongliang. And I don’t want to know who will be the next director. If anyone has committed crime, however, catching him is our duty regardless of his status.”
“Your current duty is to catch the murderer who killed He Zhongyi,” Luo Wenzhou laughed, “OK, wild kid has so many questions, let me tell you – at the moment I only suspect that something is related to Wang Hongliang. It is rather perfunctory to put a ‘criminal’ hat on him (2) only based on a report even though he is a ‘Mediterranean sea’ (3). I will fight the initial battle first. Then once there is evidence that really points to him, you’d better wait to work overtime. I will not exclude you.”
Luo Wenzhou hung up the phone and turned around to look at the illegitimate taxi driver, who was sitting properly with his clothes straightened.
The illegitimate taxi driver refused to tell Luo Wenzhou his full name and simply claimed himself to be “Little Zhen”. His whole body was so rigid that it seemed like he did not trust any animal with two legs in the world. Once his eyes collided with Luo Wenzhou’s in the rearview mirror, he quickly averted his eyes and pretended that he did not care about the topic of the phone call.
Luo Wenzhou said: “This is a case under investigation. After the case is closed, it might be permissible to disclose the details of the investigation depending on the circumstances. However, it has not been closed yet. Therefore, we need to trouble you to keep the secret.”
Little Zhen’s eyes flickered: “What are you talking about, I don’t understand.”
Luo Wenzhou quietly stared at the young illegitimate taxi driver through his sunglasses: “Last time, you told me that your elder sister was murdered by Wang Hongliang and his drug trafficking gang. However, I went back to check the records and found out that your elder sister was arrested for prostitution, and later, died of excessive drug consumption. Chen Zhen, this case involves a public security officer in charge of a district along with many of his subordinates. We cannot file a report and start the investigation with only your statement.”
When he laid bare the full name of Chen Zhen, the young man stepped on the brake and stopped the car on the side of the road.
Luo Wenzhou did not turn a hair: “Illegal parking, I will not plead for you in the submission of fine.”
Chen Zhen was pale with humiliation and anger intertwining on his face. He glared at Luo Wenzhou fiercely: “My sister is not that kind of person.”
Luo Wenzhou remained unmoved, reached out and knocked at the window, stressing every syllable: “E — vi — dence.”
“My sister wasn’t able to tell me anything in time,” said Chen Zhen, “During those days she was not able to fall asleep night after night. Everyday she seemed to be afraid of something. If I asked her, she would lose her temper at me, and told me not to put my finger in her pie. I… I overheard her call with someone…”
Luo Wenzhou: “Who?”
Chen Zhen lowered his head, wiped his eyes and shook his head quickly.
Luo Wenzhou pulled out a piece of tissue from beside him and handed it to Chen Zhen: “Have you ever heard of the Golden Triangle Area, then?”
Chen Zhen was puzzled.
At the Fei building, the secretary knocked on the door of Fei Du’s office: “President Fei, Rong Shun’s Lawyer Zhao came.”
Fei Du nodded: “He has an appointment, welcome him.”
The secretary had never worked overtime ever since she started to work for her current boss, Fei Du, nor had she seen him meet a work-related guest at this hour. Therefore she could not help but feel a sense of novelty.
She smiled and led the guest to Fei Du’s office. After that, she served the tea and sized him up stealthily. She found that this Lawyer Zhao was well-dressed, tall and handsome; there was, however, a special air of youthfulness in his eyes and eyebrows, both of which combined and produced a special pure temperament.
The secretary always knew that this Fei guy was always fine with both man and woman. Particularly, he liked the type that was gentle, quiet, pure and relatively not one to take the initiative. Therefore, she was suddenly “enlightened”. Before she could figure out everything, her eyes met with Fei Du’s eyes and faint smile. With her tongue sticking out, she quickly picked up the professional conduct of “Imperial Palace Steward” and left with her eyes looking at her nose and her nose looking at her mouth (4).
Rong Shun was the legal advisor they employed for a few special projects. Fei Du supported his chin and listened to Lawyer Zhao describing several documents in detail as if he was really absorbing. And then he cut in with the gloves off: “How is Ting Ting?”
Lawyer Zhao was puzzled. Apparently he did not expect that this trust fund baby, who was lacking in both learning and practical ability, would not even bother to pretend to understand things for a while. He quickly reacted, however, remaining calm and laying down the materials he had prepared for a long time: “I heard from a classmate majoring in penal law that the evidence of the police is not enough to carry out the arrest. President Zhang should be released tomorrow. It’s nothing serious. Ting Ting was falsely alarmed. Thank you for your concern.”
“Ting Ting is not my only concern,” Fei Du smiled ambiguously like he had said a thousand word without speaking. “It seems that at crucial times, it is really useful to know a few young talents like Lawyer Zhao – would you indulge me by staying here for dinner together?”
Lawyer Zhao frowned and was about to reject. However, Fei Du had already stood up without allowing him to speak and gave him a “please” gesture.
Fei Company was Rong Shun’s biggest client. The two parties started the cooperation even before Fei Du became the president, so it had always been a big source of Rong Shun’s revenue. Zhao Haochang had to give face to Fei Du, so he had no choice but to stand up.
“I don’t know if you avoid certain food, so I let them prepare something random,” Fei Du walked in front of him and asked seemingly without intention, “By the way, Haochang, where is your hometown, are you a native?”
This should be a normal, very-easy-to-answer question. However, Zhao Haochang was suddenly stuck. Not until Fei Du felt something was wrong and looked back at him inquiringly, did Zhao Haochang finally avoid Fei Du’s gaze and block him off with an “mm”, neither affirming nor denying it.
(1) 9.6 million square kilometers: The area of China.
(2) Put a ‘criminal’ hat on him: Means to put a ‘criminal’ label on someone.
(3) Mediterranean Sea: Since Mediterranean Sea is almost completely enclosed by land, this phrase is used as a metaphor for people who’s bold at the top of the head but has hair around that area.
(4) Her eyes looking at her nose and her nose looking at her mouth: Buddhists believe when we concentrate on our nose, we could somehow see things through it. So this sentence basically means only focus on herself.