SILENT READING: Chapter 22 – Julien Twenty-one
TL: cici, Editor: Kai
Synopsis: Lang Qiao did not hear what the other person talked to him, but Tao Ran looked increasingly solemn with every passing moment, after which he hung up and asked her: “Has Fei Du left?”
First Published on Ainushi.
This was already the second time of Ma Xiaowei declaring himself to be suspected of murder in the Public Security Bureau. This earth-shattering teenager was wailing even harder than the victim’s family. He almost hit the ground with his head when two policemen dived forward to hold his body and pulled him away in the midst of Mother He’s whimpering.
Luo Wenzhou did not expect a simple introduction would have caused such a change. He felt a terrible headache. Foreboding a sleepless night, he sent a text message quickly to the property manager of the building he lived and asked him to feed Luo Yiguo, who was suffering from cold and hunger.
Lang Qiao was about to lead Fei Du to make a written record when Luo Wenzhou looked up and called after him.
“Hey,” Luo Wenzhou said with neither subject nor object, “Thanks.”
Finding it fancy to hear decent language from his filthy mouth, Fei Du’s footsteps paused, and with the general demeanor of a president’s inaugural speech, he nodded in all seriousness: “You are welcome.”
With one eyebrow raised higher than the other, Luo Wenzhou watched his model-like figure until he was out of sight. This view inexplicably reminded him of a poodle strutting around, making him long to catch up with Fei Du and tuck a stick in his hand. However, they had spent seven years in war, and finally saw the hope of burying the hatchet. Luo Wenzhou did not want to make any troubles, so he held back his various witty absurd ideas, turned and tapped Xiao Haiyang on the shoulder: “Follow me.”
Silently following him to an unoccupied inquiring room and straightening his own glasses nervously, Xiao Haiyang looked right into Luo Wenzhou’s eyes: “Now, I am not considered as a policeman assisting in handling the case, am I?”
Luo Wenzhou signaled at Xiao Haiyang: “Sit down, what do you consider you are, then?”
Xiao Haiyang did not try to be polite. At Luo Wenzhou’s sound, he sat down with a flat body: “Am I a suspect or a witness?”
Luo Wenzhou chuckled, automatically crossed his legs and leaned back. The gash on his back protested at once and shrieked at his pain nerves, almost making him wince. Suppressing this temptation, Luo Wenzhou maintained his usual self and sat down with half of his body paralyzed. He then began, in a manner of casual talk: “How many years have you worked?”
Xiao Haiyang: “Two years… one and a half years.”
“Oh, so your probation period just ended not long ago, isn’t it?” Luo Wenzhou nodded. He recalled for a minute, and continued, “When I was still small, my dad had meant to turn me into a national defense student, but I was still in the rebellious period, and did not follow his ideas. So I said, ‘I don’t bother to study missiles in Sahara’, and then I went back to school to fill in the application form without knowing what I was doing. At that time, I was deeply affected by Hong Kong police films. Thinking that all policemen were Tony Leung (1) and Louis Koo (2), I fell into the wrong path.”
Xiao Haiyang responded very seriously: “Sahara is not in China.”
Luo Wenzhou: “…”
This young man was really going at chatting.
Xiao Haiyang must have also realized that, his body tightened: “Please continue.”
Feeling that Xiao Haiyang possibly not even know what “relax” is, Luo Wenzhou gave up on his efforts. Deciding to come straight to the problem, he asked seriously: “Whether you are a contributing policeman, a witness or a suspect depends on the results of our future investigation – You are prepared, and ready to confess everything you know, aren’t you?”
Xiao Haiyang noded.
“Good.” said Luo Wenzhou, “I will start with the most recent events. Why did you escort Ma Xiaowei here tonight?”
“Because someone wanted to silence him,” Xiao Haiyang answered without thinking. As he was speaking, he pulled out a mobile phone from his pocket, which had already been packed very well within an evidence bag. He handed it to Luo Wenzhou. “I am on duty tonight, with one of my colleagues. This is his mobile phone, he was asleep when he received the message.”
Luo Wenzhou scanned the text message inside the transparent bag swiftly. It tallied with what Lang Qiao had told him, so he put it aside: “Why are you reading someone else’s text messages?”
Xiao Haiyang said: “I am watching him.”
This young man spoke very fast, did not laugh often, and when he talked to people, his body had always been tightened with occasional small movements like straightening glasses or clenching fists. He did not look like an adult who had “experienced things”, but a bit more like a middle school boy who developed inharmonious arms and legs.
Looking at him, Luo Wenzhou felt that if Fei Du shared half of his tact with Xiao Haiyang, both of them would be normal.
“Why are you watching him, then?”
Xiao Haiyan‘s lips tightened: “Can I start from the beginning?”
Luo Wenzhou nodded. Xiao Haiyang inhaled a deep breath, pondered slightly for a minute, and began to speak with details: “The atmosphere in the sub bureau is not the same as that in the bureau. If there are no important occasions or important events, we usually don’t see Director Wang. We rely on Captain Huang – oh, he’s the head of the Criminal Investigation Team of the Huashi Sub Bureau, his full name is Huang Jinglian – to deliver his commands.”
“Captain Huang and the vice captain doesn’t get on well with each other. But some of the colleagues in our department form his inner circle, some of them are his ‘key educating targets’. He often directly call his own men for some tasks. Sometimes, others don’t even know what they are busying themselves with. Under his influence, the vice captain is basically a mere figurehead. He can do nothing.”
“I used to think that Captain Huang was only choosing the backbone of the team according to his own preferences, and I didn‘t care much. After all, this kind of small group had never had anything to do with me since I was a kid. Until one day, a local police station in the district reported a case – they found the body of a girl. It happened to be during the night shift time. I was on duty that day and I was already ready to go. Unexpectedly, I was stopped by one colleague… It was the owner of the mobile phone. He said that he had some private stuff the next day and asked me for a switch. It is normal for us to switch in private, so I didn’t think much and agreed. So that colleague was out for action with Captain Huang.”
“Huang Jinglian was also there?” Luo Wenzhou paused, and asked for a detail, “What was the name of the dead girl?”
Xiao Haiyang: “Chen Yuan.”
Luo Wenzhou squinted at him: “Why do you remember it so clearly? Is there something special about Chen Yuan for you?”
“I remember most of the things I saw, and now I can still recall the license plate number of the police car which you drove to the crime scene in the ‘520’ case. If you need…”
“…” Luo Wenzhou found it both funny and annoying. The style of this small glasses and the Huashi District Sub Bureau were simply incongruous. He waved his hand hastily. “You don’t have to prove it, I believe, just continue.”
Xiao Haiyang paused, and then switched the topic: “But that deceased was indeed a bit special. We had a photo of the body at the time. When she died, she wore a hollow top and a very short skirt with heavy makeup on her face – But her top was wore back to front. For one certain kind of women clothes, the buttons are supposed to be at the back. If the piece of clothes has no collar, it is easy to mistake the front and back at the first glance. Only when you really wear it front to back, you will feel your neck and the underarm are not comfortable. My immediate reaction was that her clothes were likely to be forced on by someone else after death. If that was true, the case may involve homicide. When I switched with my colleague, I took care to tell them this…”
Luo Wenzhou’s fingers tapped on the table gently. He did not interject. He had read the material of Chen Yuan’s case and well remembered that the clothes on the female body was normal, and the back-button top was not worn back to front.
“It was already a few days later when I knew the investigation result of this case. Captain Huang and his gang determined the nature of this case as ‘prostitute died of excessive drug use’. I asked that colleague how they explained the front-to-back-worn piece of clothes on the deceased, he avoided answering directly for a while, only said that I didn’t see it clearly.” Xiao Haiyang paused for a long time here, “I didn’t keep a copy of the photo, and I just had a quick glance. It is not completely impossible for my eyes to deceive me — but in the afternoon of the same day, two thousand yuan was transferred to my salary account with a message ‘bonus’. Our salaries were not high. It was full of pressure to support our family and live. So when there were bonuses occasionally, there would definitely be a verbal celebration. The atmosphere in the whole team would be different. That time, however, no one talked about it at all. Until it was about time to go off, Captain Huang beckoned me. He talked about a few previous daily routines work, saying that I worked with chariness and responsibility, so he asked Director Wang to specially approve that bonus, in order to embolden the ‘advanced’ new colleague. I thought this reason was very far fetched. I did not touch that two thousand yuan, because I suspected it was ‘hush money’.”
Luo Wenzhou easily figured that that indeed was brazen hush money: “But you have no evidence. The report of Chen Yuan Case was handled very cleanly. There were no flaws in it.”
Xiao Haiyang’s cheeks stiffened. He nodded rather reluctantly.
Luo Wenzhou breathed: “And then? That day, at the crime scene, why did you suggest that the body was not found at the primary crime scene?”
“I suspected Captain Huang’s gang was involved in something, and that’s why after thinking things over, I didn’t draw attention to the bonus,” Xiao Haiyang raised his chin slightly in the direction of the mobile phone in the evidence bag besides Luo Wenzhou. “I installed a virus on this colleague’s mobile phone when I got a chance, secretly turned on his GPS and monitored his movements everyday.”
Luo Wenzhou: “…”
Xiao Haiyang hastened to explain: “I know this is illegal, but I barely passed a lot of subjects in my training and internship, it was unrealistic to follow and investigate them, I would be found in minutes. That’s why I could only do what I did..”
“Never mind, never thought you were such a genius,” Luo Wenzhou laughed, “What did you find out?”
“He often visited some places for entertainment after work. In addition, for all the dates that are multiples of five – I mean, dates like five, ten, fifteen, or twenty – As long as he was not on duty, he would be in the same set of places, including the open space where He Zhongyi’s body was found and several other remote places. I avoided them and secretly visited one or two of these places. I didn’t get anything, but there was once when I pretended to be a visitor and asked for the direction, an old woman living nearby warned me not to go there after dark, she said ‘sometimes there are addicts over there’.”
Luo Wenzhou: “You are telling me, on the night of May 20th, by means of GPS, you had confirmed that your colleague happened to be in the place where He Zhongyi was found.”
“He went off with Captain Huang’s gang after work. I suspected that the whole Captain Huang’s gang was also there. It showed that it was not until close to eleven o’clock had the mobile phone left,” said Xiao Haiyang. “Captain Luo, I think if some of us murdered He Zhongyi, they would handle it more professionally. It is unlikely that they will just leave the body there, and result in such an out-of-control situation the next day. Later, Ma Xiaowei confirmed some of my guesses – Captain Huang’s gang was involved in certain business at the location where the body was found. Conflicts might have occured during the course, and was heard by the surrounding residents. Ma Xiaowei was also there. None of them had seen how the body got there.”
Luo Wenzhou nodded, said abruptly without leaving comment at his words: “Where were you on the 20th night?”
“In the bureau, on duty, graveyard shift. There are duty records and surveillance records.” Xiao Haiyang remained calm, did not show any unpleasantness at Luo Wenzhou’s question, and answered coolly and objectively, “Are you suspecting me to be the one dumping the corpse there? I am not. The road conditions in the West District are complicated. To dump the corpse there without being seen, first, one must be very familiar with the surrounding environment, and second, one needs some kind of transportation. I just got my driver’s license, and didn’t have a car yet.”
It was hard to tell whether Luo Wenzhou had believed his words. He only asked impassively: “Have you heard of the ‘Golden Triangle Area’, then?”
“Ma Xiaowei told us, the so-called ‘Golden Triangle Area’ is nowhere but the moor where He Zhongyi’s body was found. It is one of the usual place where they do their trading. This alias is only known to those who often participate in the business. It is strictly forbidden to leak.” Bustling out of the interrogation room and throwing down the deposition to the table, Tao Ran said to Lang Qiao, “Luo Wenzhou that bastard! He went to investigate such a big matter in private without telling us one word about it! Does he think he’s Captain America?”
Lang Qiao said interestedly: “Then, was He Zhongyi really killed by Ma Xiaowei?”
“I reckon he’s not. According to Ma Xiaowei, after he got addicted to drugs, he became very poor and often was unable to make ends meet. People living with him all know that, and don’t usually bring money to their residence. So Ma Xiaowei sought to obtain He Zhongyi’s new mobile phone. That day, he stole it and planned to trade it. Unexpectedly, after coming back from work that day, He Zhongyi rummaged for that mobile phone for some reason. Finding that the phone was missing, He Zhongyi asked Ma Xiaowei about it. Ma Xiaowei was obsessed with drug and refused to admit it. At last they parted in discord – Qiao, give me a bottle of water, I didn’t have a break for the whole night.” Taking the bottle water and consuming half of it, Tao Ran got his breath back. “Ma Xiaowei traded the mobile phone of He Zhongyi for drugs that night. He planned to let He Zhongyi search his things when He Zhongyi’s back, thinking gloatingly about the comments He Zhongyi would give after search. But He Zhongyi never returned, and coincidentally died right at that area.”
“So Ma Xiaowei thought He Zhongyi somehow came back in time to see him selling that mobile phone, and was killed when trying to get his phone back?” With her eyes rolling, Lang Qiao quickly figured this out, “Then, because of the brawling of people, we got unexpected testimony. In order to cover it up, Wang Hongliang used the mobile phone to frame him? So who on earth killed He Zhongyi?”
Tao Ran did not manage to answer, his mobile phone rang suddenly. It was a call from the landline of the Forensic Section. He picked it up at once: “Hey, how’s it?”
Lang Qiao did not hear what the other person talked to him, but Tao Ran looked increasingly solemn with every passing moment, after which he hung up and asked her: “Has Fei Du left?”
(1) Tony Leung: A Hong Kong actor, who played policeman in various TV series and films.
(2) Louis Koo: A Hong Kong actor, who played policeman in various TV series and films.