Volume 1: Case 502 – The Intoxicated Frozen Corpse
It wasn’t easy for Head Gou to do an autopsy on a bottle of mush.
Yan Xie had previously said that the apartment was poorly furnished, but frankly, if this was considered poor, then the Public Security Bureau was a large scale hay shed that rose steeply from the ground.
Walls had been taken down to make way for a massive living-room, and the glass doors that met the floor were connected to a spacious horticultural balcony. The interior of the rooms were decorated in a contemporary, minimalistic, achromatic style— a black, white and gray scheme designed utterly for men. Natural marble floors, when paired with the brand-new, luxurious branded-set types of furniture, would cause anyone to think they had entered a showroom set up by a real estate company. They all looked too expensively gorgeous and rigid; without a breath of life in them.
The silent confrontation transpiring in the living room froze what was left of the air into a likeness of spikes of ice.
“What do you want ‘Captain Jiang’ to say?” Jiang Ting eventually broke the silence. “Let me know, and I’ll tell you.”
Yan Xie let out a sneer. He leant back into his seat, and sized him up and down brazenly. “Don’t get me wrong, I no longer give a rats-ass about that little disagreement back then. It doesn’t matter if you’re the high-and-almighty Captain Jiang or just concealing yourself as Lu Chengjiang. It won’t impact me that much to go far as to add insult to injury just for the sake of satisfying some kind of sick mentality.”
“You were bedridden in the hospital for three years, and for the entirety of that time, you were safe from trouble. The moment you were discharged, however, a new drug circulated and surfaced in Jianning City. It’s not like the tactic used in disguising the new drug as a smart drug, in an attempt to lure in all those rich kids, was never employed in Gongzhou before. But still, you defended Hu Weisheng. Why?”
“He bought me with money, are you satisfied with that answer?” Jiang Ting replied nonchalantly.
“ —cut the bullshit,” refuted Yan Xie with a wave of his hand. “If that sonnafagun’ Hu Weisheng is loaded, then why does he need to dabble in ‘retail’? To be able to force you, Captain Jiang, to sign off an attempted-rape case, I’m sure there must have been a bigger incentive hiding behind Hu Weisheng’s back.”
To which Jiang Ting replied at an unhurried pace, “So you’re implying that I’m the one who orchestrated all of this?”
Yan Xie couldn’t find the right words to reply to him in that instant.
Hence, Jiang Ting added, “See? I told you he bribed me, yet you refused to believe it. Again, when I said I’m the mastermind, you didn’t believe me then either. Honestly, the truth is basically how you see it—you should have more faith in yourself.”
It seemed to be a congenital—trait of Jiang Ting’s to be disinclined to move his own facial muscles, as he always looked completely relaxed and aloof, keeping people at arm’s length no matter the circumstances. In a natural and non-forceful manner, he deflected all of Yan Xie’s accusations.
As his eyes locked on to him, Yan Xie realized the other man was utterly impenetrable. He suddenly thought of the day he went back to investigate the crime scene again, the day he saw Jiang Ting frozen in the middle of the crossroad upon witnessing the car accident. Now that he thought about it some more, Jiang Ting was the only one with a flaw in his behavior, and was the sole person who could have taken advantage of the situation.
“…” Yan Xie lightly tapped on the edge of the cup with his fingers, seemingly lost in his own thoughts as he pondered something. All of a sudden, he spoke out, “The official conclusion made was that the failure of Gongzhou’s anti-drug operation was due to a misjudgement made by you. Even the internal network had confirmed your death in the blast. Now, you’re alive. If I were to be blunt, that’s basically saying you’re a fugitive on the run from the law. It’s just a matter of whether I want to report you or not. Now that you’re being so uncooperative with me, aren’t you afraid that in a fit of rage, I’ll practically inform Gongzhou about your existence so they can arrest you?”
That frivolous tone of his sounded as though he was merely joking, but when one paid extra caution and listened carefully, the way his last few words trailed off—they were laced with a chilly ferocity. Jiang Ting, however, acted as though he didn’t hear it and calmly replied, “If I’m arrested, death will soon befall on me.”
“If I’m dead, Case 502, like all the cases before this, will soon turn into either a theft, extortion, or a fake-drug trafficking case. And you, there will be no chance for you to overturn the case in any way, because this time around, Hu Weisheng will not have the luxury to peacefully waste his life away in prison for three years. He’ll be a goner in the detention-center long before he can even step into the courtroom.”
“You threatening me?” asked Yan Xie.
To which Jiang Ting asked in response, “Have you ever peeled onions before?”
For a while, their eyes were locked onto each other without a word. Leaning backwards into the seat with crossed arms, Yan Xie responded cockily, “No. I’m a man. The kitchen life is not made for me.”
Jiang Ting insinuated, “Onions cause people to shed tears out of distress, but it’s only when you peel the scales layer-by-layer, will you reach the core. So rather than using your depthless truth to interrogate me, why don’t you put that effort into solving the present case first?”
The expression which surfaced on Yan Xie’s face was as dark as the depths of the waters; his eyes flickering faintly.
As seen from the window, the sky slowly darkened. City lights systematically turned on, and from the 18th storey balcony, a flood of traffic with their beams on could even be seen on the fly-over in the distance; which was encircling the entire city with a loud rumble.
Above the heads of all people, the lights of the neon signboards of the city reflected from the many windows of apartments and bounced into the dark living room; highlighting Yan Xie’s handsome and masculine side profile.
Only the sound of their breathing could be heard in the quiet room. Yan Xie eventually spoke up in an unhurried pace. “Do you have an idea as to the identity of the person coming after you today?”
“There’s a lot of people out there who want my life, but I couldn’t figure out who would send such a plebeian killer like him to do the deed.” replied Jiang Ting.
“Then what about the person driving the SUV? the one who murdered the killer midway.”
Jiang Ting fell silent for a long while before replying, “It’s hard to say.”
With a ‘Click!’, Yan Xie switched on the lights, the warm yellow glow spread out homogeneously as the light filled up the massive space. Jiang Ting, hugging his arms, was leaning on a wide, black pure leather sofa, making him appear exceptionally tall and meager in stark contrast. His face, neck and the exposed pair of hands were so cold that it sent a chill right through anyone’s heart.
“If that’s the case, I’ll need to inconvenience the attractive and fragile Captain Jiang by asking him to accompany this humbled—one to work around the clock, day in and day out before the case is solved.” Yan Xie pointed towards the guest room and smiled. “There’s too many people around in Yang Mei’s KTV and the environment isn’t that great either, unsuited to be used for recuperation. We also might need to work overtime at the bureau past midnight so let’s save both of us the trouble and spend the night here at my place.”
The guest room in Yan Xie’s home came with its own private bathroom. The room smelled new as no one had ever stayed there before, but the necessities such as pillows, beddings and toiletries were complete. A television was even suspended on the wall right in front of the bed, but Jiang Ting was in no mood to watch any TV shows at this moment. After hustling about with Yan Xie all day long, he instantly collapsed onto the bed out of exhaustion once he took a quick shower.
The window was opened, with Yan Xie currently sitting at the edge of the bed in the master bedroom next door; he lit up a cigarette.
Jiang Ting’s words, even after he had evaded the crucial points, still revealed quite a great deal of information—at the very least, it was related to the drug manufacturing case concealed behind Hui Weisheng’s network of interests, and how dangerous of a position he was in in this whirlpool. So, it didn’t seem like he was lying.
But what about the hints he’s been dropping? How much of it was true?
There was no denying that he suspected Jiang Ting. He did not even bother to hide it, but the man’s guard against him was heartfelt and covert, giving the impression he had been behind bars before, and even if he had broken out of prison, he was still highly strung about everyone around him.
The flow of running water that came from next door soon stopped, followed by a sound of the guest’s bathroom-door opening. In this extremely quiet night, any slight movement made was as clear and crisp as day, to the extent that Yan Xie could imagine the sight of Jiang Ting stepping on the carpet barefooted as he switched off the lights, before rustling about with the bed covers in order to lie down.
Extinguishing his cigarette butt, Yan Xie went to brush his teeth. He wanted to sleep but couldn’t as his entire mind was filled up with all sorts of thoughts. After tossing around in bed for a while, he simply got up and picked up the “Red Book” which Jiang Ting had left on the coffee table in the living room. He switched on the bedside lamp with the intention of showing off to Jiang Ting once he was done with the book later.
All it took were three minutes for the opened book to fall to his side, and alas, the Vice-captain of the city bureau criminal investigation detachment was fast asleep, as dead as a log.
All of a sudden, a cell phone rang out and woke Yan Xie with such a start that it was as if 20,000 volts of lightning had struck him down from the sky. He hurriedly picked up the call. “Hello, Hello?—who is it??”
“The hell are you doing Old Yan?” came Qin Chuan’s teasing voice from the other end of the line. “Your butt’s fried by the sun by now and yet you’re still fucking around in a beautiful woman’s bed?”
Giving his eyes a rub, Yan Xie glanced at the clock. It was only 5:50 a.m. so he instantly retorted angrily. “Wow, you know that too? Both Maria Ozawa and Yui Hatano were banging on my door earlier.”
“Oh? Both teachers had worked so hard in exchanging East Asia’s culture, and yet you didn’t even receive them well?”
Yan Xie lowered his head momentarily and cussed, “Well, if you hadn’t made this stupid ass phone call, I could’ve done that by now!”
Qin Chuan burst into laughter and said, “Sure thing! Once the case’s solved, as your bro I will present you a living Yui Hatano. I’m a man of my word, so hurry up and empty yourself before coming over. The forensics and the trace specialists were up all night and they finally found a breakthrough lead. Gou Li’s now dead and snoring in the conference room.”
“…What lead?” asked Yan Xie dubiously.
With a loud ‘Bang!’, the door to the guest room was flung open and in came Yan Xie striding through. He slapped on the light switch to turn it on and called out, “Quick! Wake up! The City Bureau just called—”
It was right at that moment, Jiang Ting, who was still sleeping soundly, instantly woke up with a jolt. His eyes were staring down Yan Xie, who had barged in earlier.
“…What’s up with you?” Yan Xie was caught off guard for a moment. “Are you sick? You don’t look so good.”
Under the light, Jiang Ting was all wrapped up in a blanket with his clothes on, his face was paler than the pillows. Cold sweat dripped from his jet-black hair, his eyes were glistening as though they had been doused with water. His lips were slightly parted as he gasped for air.
Both of them stared at each other in silence for a short while before Jiang Ting finally sighed hoarsely in response. He forced himself to relax, saying, “…Vice-captain Yan. Aren’t you afraid that this house will be haunted if you scared a sick man like me to death?”
Jiang Ting appeared severely unwell and it was as though it was just a conditioned reflex or he was trying to cover up a nightmare. But Yan Xie did not go out of his way to expose his lie. He wasn’t sure why, but the situation now made him feel a little uncomfortable, so he hurriedly looked away and cleared his throat. “Cut the crap. Are you a girl? Why are you wearing clothes when you sleep? Scared that I’ll barge in to molest you or something?”
Jiang Ting’s gaze slowly shifted below from Yan Xie’s face, before coming to a stop at a certain body part. He then coldly said, “This is getting a little too much, even for you.”
Yan Xie looked down and covered the evidence up in a flurry. “Hey! Watch where you’re looking!”
Jiang Ting ignored him.
“Get up. Quickly now and stop dilly-dallying. The city bureau called earlier to verify that the DNA of the dead man found at the highway matches with an ex-convict codenamed Fan Four. They basically confirmed that he’s a professional hitman who would sell his life for money. They also found an important lead on his body.”
Without even raising his brow, Jiang Ting said, “Oh?”
“Drug. Remains.” Yan Xie uttered out, word for word. “Half of a crushed pill was found in his pant’s pocket. The chemical composition of the drug is the same as the one found in the victim Feng Yuguang’s body. A new type of drug that has never surfaced in Jianning City before.”
Half an hour later, at the City Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Unit, Jiang Ting trailed after Yan Xie into a deserted elevator with a mask on.
With a ‘Ding!’ the elevator door slowly slid shut. Hanging his head low to avoid the surveillance camera, Jiang Ting whispered softly, “Why do you insist I tag along every day?”
Yan Xie turned around to flash him a smile, his eyes were brimming with feigned tenderness. “To protect you. What else?”
The period between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. was probably the only time there weren’t a lot of people in the office yet. Most of his colleagues, who had risked their life to work overtime, had gone for breakfast and the ones who were taking the morning shift hadn’t arrived yet, so they didn’t run into anyone along the way from the elevator. Yan Xie wanted to look for Gou Li at the conference room, so he had prepared a safe room for Jiang Ting before then—he told him to wait at his own Vice-captain’s office.
“I’m gonna lock the door now. You can head out for a quick toilet break but no one will be able to come in. Remember, don’t run around. I’ll come back later to find you with the latest news about the case.”
Jiang Ting leaned on the sofa lazily, looking rather dispirited and weary.
Just when Yan Xie was about to shut the door, he suddenly poked his head into the room again. “If somehow you run into someone and get found out, just tell them you’re a witness that I brought back for questioning and tell them to look for me. Got it?”
Jiang Ting raised his arm into a particular wave, a gesture where he was waving at him with the back of his hand.
All of a sudden, Yan Xie was reminded of the time when he was at the award ceremony, five years ago. Jiang Ting had used the same gesture to dismiss him. However, now that both the times and circumstances had changed, being able to live this small, minor scene again, seemed to have a slight stimulating effect on his heart. Thus, the corner of Yan Xie’s lips uncontrollably curled up into a grin.
But he didn’t say a word. With an odd grin on his face, he bowed courteously before shutting the door.
“Fan Four: Real name, Fan Zhengyuan. From Jianning City, Nancheng’s Jianxin Village. He was imprisoned because of extortion and blackmail and was jobless after he was released. Since then, he worked as a bouncer for an underground casino. This person used to be admitted into the drug rehabilitation center several times. He had probably been forced out of his addiction when he was locked up behind bars, but judging from the blood test now, he must have picked up the habit again once he got out.”
Qin Chuan was showing the image one by one on the screen, while indicating to the others to refer to the case files before them. “When the forensics were doing the autopsy on the body, they discovered a red capsule crushed into a powder in the pocket of the deceased’s pants. We could basically conclude that the formula of the drug is the same as the one consumed by the victim, Feng Yuguang.”
It was only the early morning and the conference room was already beginning to turn smoggy. Deputy Director Wei rubbed his old, aged eyes which were swollen red due to a lack of sleep. Tired, he said, “So what’s the corollary here?”
Qin Chuan took a look at Yan Xie, who was holding onto a cigarette between his fingers. The man was focusing his utmost attention on the autopsy report; showing no signs of speaking up.
“Currently, our main conclusion is that,” Qin Chuan pushed his golden-rimmed glasses and explained in a slow pace. “Fan Four took drugs. So, to fund his addiction, he’s most likely involved in drug trafficking and knows the key sources of the new drug-type channels well. After the 502 case, the killer knew that the police were already aware of the new drug, so he took advantage of Fan Four’s trust and used the excuse of helping him escape, to murder him in cold blood.”
Pausing for a moment, Qin Chuan continued. “Based on this deduction, we should focus our investigation on Fan Four’s drug dealing downlines as well as digging deeper into his relationship with Hu Weisheng.”
Deputy Wei pondered about it for a while and did not answer immediately. Instead, he changed the topic. “Yan Xie, what do you think?”
Under the fiery gazes of many, Yan Xie pinched his own chin and said at once, “…Fan Four is taking hard drugs. No. 3 and No. 4, right?”
Everyone’s gazes instantly shifted to a corner, waking up Gou Li, who had been snoring with his head propped against his hand. He woke up startled, “Huh? Huh?? Wh-what? Yesyesyes! The drug rehabilitation center records, and the results of the autopsy report, are basically a match. Diacetylmorphine or Heroin, which is taken by snorting and injecting intravenously. There’s nothing wrong there.”
To which Yan Xie replied, “Then, that’s not right.”
Deputy Director Wei knitted his brows. “Meaning?”
Leaning back into the chair, Yan Xie closed the autopsy report. “A serious intravenous heroin addict is unlikely to go back to take drugs with amphetamine compositions. Similar to someone who is used to having a sumptuous feast, the very same person would never have any lesser than that in the future. So it goes against the nature of how human being works.”
Raising the tip of his jet-black, perfectly-straight brows, he surveyed his colleagues within the conference room. “Since the drug remains found in the deceased’s pocket were neither packaged or sealed, is it really true that this little drug was placed there by the deceased himself?”
Time elapsed, unbeknownst to anyone, inside the empty Vice-captain office. The hands of the clock, suspended on the wall, had already made three full turns.
Lying on the sofa, with a faint throbbing pain rumbling in his stomach, Jiang Ting opened his eyes.
Judging by the commotion coming from outside, the City Bureau’s cops were starting to flood the office in succession, yet there was no sign of Yan Xie coming back. He had no idea why a case report meeting would take so long. In Jiang Ting’s eyes, there wasn’t even a need for them to waste their time doing a meeting on a simple and clear-cut case like this.
Feeling uncomfortable, Jiang Ting pressed his stomach, rubbing it forcefully while trying to get up. Before he could even straighten his posture, his vision blacked out all of a sudden as the entire world spun before him. Very quickly, the sudden emergence of his low blood sugar caused him to fall to the floor into a semi-crouching position. It took him a great while to barely recover his senses from the sudden dizziness that washed over him.
“…” Jiang Ting uttered a curse under his breath.
He supported himself against the sofa to clamber up to his feet and went digging around the office. But alas, Yan Xie wasn’t a person with a hoarder mentality, so apart from a couple of documents and various bits and bobs littered on the office desk, you could say it was rather barren. The only thing that could be considered food was half a pack of biscuits, and god knows how long they had been left there for; having long since gone stale.
Jiang Ting pulled out a half-eaten cracker that had clear, distinct teeth marks on them, his expression finally revealing an unmasked look of disgust.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!—
“Re-…Reporting to Vice-captain Yan!” A woman’s voice yelled out in trepidation. “The technicians sent news! Vice-Captain Y-yan…OMG!”
Jiang Ting already knew who that woman was. He went forth to open the door.
As expected, the one who knocked on the door was the female police trainee, who was even more timid than a rabbit. The moment she saw a strange man opening the door, she instantly covered her mouth by reflex, but she soon recognized Jiang Ting soon after.
“…” The girl’s eyes, that were already round to begin with, became wide-enough that her eyeballs nearly fell out of her eye sockets. “Youyouyouyou…. Vi-vice-Cap-captain Y-Ya-Yan h-he…”
There he stood in the early morning, in a deserted office, wearing clothes which he hadn’t changed for a night.
If her own thoughts could materialize into reality, those unspeakable acts which filled up her mind to the brim yesterday would have already turn into a short, action-packed film.
Narrowing his eyes, Jiang Ting looked down at her momentarily before asking, “What’s your name?”
“Han Xiaomei.” Jiang Ting fished out a 50 RMB from his wallet and placed it in her hand gently, without room for explanation. “Two buns and a cup of soy bean milk. Send it up here once you have bought them.”
“…” Stunned for a few seconds, upon seeing that Jiang Ting was about to shut the door, Han Xiaomei quickly reacted and cried out, “Huh? Wait a moment, what about Vice-Captain Yan—”
Jiang Ting interrupted her nonchalantly, “Vice-captain Yan is the one who ordered you to buy them.”
“…Oh!” Almost biting down on her tongue by accident, Han Xiaomei shuffled off, her limbs uncoordinated.