Volume 1: Case 502 – The Intoxicated Frozen Corpse
“When you guys did a blood test on Mr. Lu right after he was sent here, did his test came out positive for drugs?”
At nine in the morning, by the curb of Linyin Road below the private nursing home, a silver Mercedes Benz suddenly came to a screeching halt.
“It’s only thirty minutes.” Yang Mei turned around to ask. “How about I stay with you until then?”
“You don’t have to since it’s just a check-up appointment. I’m not crippled.” Jiang Ting unfastened his seat belt and got out of the car. “Go do your own thing.”
Yang Mei anxiously rolled down the car window. “Then once you’re done, wait for me to come pick you up!”
Without looking back, Jiang Ting waved his hand from afar and stepped through the entrance to the nursing home.
Yang Mei had intentionally put on peach blossom makeup just for today. Pulling a long face, she let out a frustrated sigh filled with disappointment. However, she could only drive her car off along the road and into the distance.
—She didn’t notice that, from her car’s rear-view mirror, a black Grand Cherokee was silently parking at the spot she had occupied.
Sitting in the driver’s seat, Yan Xie put out the cigarette butt, his eyes following her as she disappeared into the flow of traffic. Immediately, he shifted his gaze towards the nursing home across the road.
“Here—your porridge and side dishes!”
There weren’t many people in the breakfast cafe located below the inpatient department. Sitting in a corner, Jiang Ting glanced at his watch as he split a pair of disposable wooden chopsticks.
In years past, there were times when he would work day and night without rest, so it was normal for him to occasionally starve at times and be full the other. Eventually, that messed up his digestive system. When people reached a certain age, whoever risked their health before in their earlier years would have to deal with double the consequences. After he suffered low blood sugar on several occasions, he was finally afraid to just casually deal with his daily meals. He began forcing himself to develop the habit of filling his stomach in the morning.
His phone on the tabletop vibrated briefly. It was a message sent from Yang Mei—’Have you eaten breakfast?’
Jiang Ting typed out a ‘Yeah’ in reply.
After tapping the Send button, he suddenly caught sight of something from the corner of his eyes, and looked up.
At the other end, situated not far from the breakfast cafe, an onlooking gaze didn’t manage to look away in time; their eyes locked onto each other for a split second.
It was a man in his forties, donning a baseball cap and a white short-sleeved t-shirt. He had a tall and sturdy figure, with muscles rippling across his shoulders. The brim of his cap was pulled so low that it made it hard to see his face from this distance. Their eyes only met for a brief moment. Soon after, the man dropped his head as though nothing happened, and continued to eat his meal. He flipped a page of the newspaper and behaved as though it was just a misconception earlier on.
Jiang Ting’s eyes flickered slightly. He turned his gaze towards the rest of the dining area whilst keeping the expression on his face the same.
A few minutes later, he put aside the half-devoured porridge and barely-touched side dishes, then got up to pay and left.
“Your body’s muscle tone must have been in good condition before you lost consciousness. Even though you were bedridden for three years, your condition didn’t deteriorate that much. Your blood pressure is rather normal too. After you were discharged, did you still suffer from dizziness, backaches and limb pains?”
Inside the examination room, Jiang Ting was leaning back on the white couch, with his fingers casually interlaced over his stomach. “I occasionally get cramps after taking a long walk.”
The doctor gave a nod. “That’s normal. We should continue with our original rehabilitation plan . This can’t be rushed.”
There weren’t much patients to begin with in this expensive private nursing home, and there were even less people around during the lunch break. The check-up was completed quickly. The doctor prescribed a couple of meds and reminded him to take them on time, before arranging the schedule for the next check-up appointment. Suddenly, he heard Jiang Ting casually ask, “Did anyone come and see me after I was discharged?”
“Oh, there was one,” said the doctor, only managing to recall after being jogged by Jiang Ting’s inquiry. “You had a relative on a business trip passed by here wanting to see you. By coincidence, you were just discharged the day earlier. He even asked for your girlfriend’s contact details.”
Jiang Ting paused for a few seconds, before quickly asking in surprise, “Relative? What’s his name?”
The doctor had also thought that relative of his must have been quite distant, to not have appeared for three years straight, so he smiled. “A man in his forties. He was quite buff—you can head over to the front desk and check with the nurse for his name later on. He mentioned that he was a distant cousin. Why? Do you have an inkling?”
“Was he around 180cm in height, and wearing a baseball cap?”
“Hey, that’s right! So he’s really your cousin?”
Jiang Ting was reminded of the gaze he met at the breakfast cafe earlier. His face turned slightly grave, but he didn’t acknowledge nor refuted it. “—Did the nurse give him Yang Mei’s number?”
The doctor replied, “How could we do that? Who knew who he really was? Our nurse asked him whether he wanted to leave his contact details behind, but he didn’t give one and just turned around and left.”
Jiang Ting got down from the examination table, and bent down to tie his shoelaces. Then buttoned his shirt one by one to the very top, before proceeding to absent-mindedly straightened his clothes.
The doctor signed the paper and turned back to him. He was greeted by the sight of Jiang Ting standing before the window—with his jet-black hair and snowy white cheeks, the sharp line of his back flowing down towards his narrow waist and his long, slender legs—he looked very much like a taut bowstring.
The doctor felt a little astonished deep down.
It went without saying that all of them thought Patient No. 538 was a poor country bumpkin who lived off a woman. They never expected that when they met again after he recovered, Jiang Ting’s manner of speech, behavior and posture, was obviously vastly different from the rumors that were going around in the hospital.
“If someone comes to find me again, “ Jiang Ting said. “Ignore them and don’t ask for their name.”
In the end, the doctor couldn’t suppress his strong curiosity. “Uh… is he really your cousin?”
“No.” Jiang Ting buttoned up his sleeves and flatly replied. “He’s a creditor.”
After completing his check-up, Jiang Ting bid goodbye to the doctor who still had a strange look on his face, before leaving the room with the result of his examination.
Most of the people who came to this nursing home were either trapped in a vegetative state on the brink of death, and clinging onto an instrument for dear life; or they were elderly patients who found it difficult to move due to old age, and were being wheeled about by their caretakers through the corridors whenever they had nothing to do. Jiang Ting patiently waited for several such wheelchairs of elderlies pass by, and watched on as the doors to the elevator slid shut. Choosing not to wait for a moment longer, he instead grabbed the handrail of the stairs in the central corridor and began descending to the lounge on the first floor.
The building was filled with people noisily bustling about, as the nurses shuttled back and forth in the lounge, whilst family members settled the arrangements to enter the hospital or get discharged. Jiang Ting made a turn around the corner of the stairs, and was just about to head down the last flight of steps, before he abruptly stopped in his tracks.
Across the lounge, there was a glass display case for awards located near the entrance.
A tall, burly man in a black baseball cap had his back towards him, and was staring intently at the glass of the display case.
—Within the reflection of the glass, it was possible to see Jiang Ting coming to a stop at the staircase in the distance before quickly taking half a step back.
The man twisted his head around. It was the same person he had seen at the breakfast cafe earlier on.
Their gazes met once again across the sea of people. Both seemed to come to the same conclusion in that instant. The next second, Jiang Ting jerked around to run upstairs as the man stepped forward to begin chasing after him!
Meanwhile, at an office in the top floor of the hospital.
The door was tightly shut; there were only two people in the large suite. Apart from the light sounds of pages turning in a medical record, only the sound of breathing was audible in the room.
“…” The Director imperceptibly craned his neck as he eyed the police ID placed on the coffee table in front of him. He glanced at the man sitting on the sofa across him who claimed to be the head of the City Bureau’s criminal investigation unit. ‘More like a young, handsome and wealthy man who had nothing to do and went about life without inhibitions,’ he muttered to himself deep down.
Wasn’t the gravy train a cop received these days considered a bit too much? Is there seriously no issue with someone dressing like this in the organization?
Was he being duped? This man might not be a criminal investigator at all. What if he was actually someone from a local television station shooting a reality TV show?
‘Ahem!’ Yan Xie cleared his throat.
The Director immediately withdrew his neck, slapping on a polite and sincere-looking smile.
Yan Xie pointed at the medical record and asked, “It was written here that the cause of the patient’s head injury was due to severe impact. Why are you so sure that it’s from a car accident and not an explosion?”
The Director returned a ‘Please don’t mess with me’-smile before replying, “Listen to what you’re saying now. How can a car accident and an explosion be the same? We doctors would never make such a silly mistake.”
“Then what’s with the burn injuries?”
“Well…” The Director hesitated. He was silent for a moment, before continuing to explain, ”At the time, Mr. Lu was already close to the brink of losing consciousness when he was transferred here by his girlfriend. He was one step away from becoming a real vegetable. Although we agreed to treat Mr. Lu, his condition was absolutely terrible. Besides the severe head injury caused by the car accident, he had various other injuries as well. In contrast, the burn injuries on his limbs had already been meticulously treated before he was transferred to our hospital. They were already recovering well.”
Yan Xie asked, “Other injuries?”
The Director continued to add, “There were quite a number of them. He suffered from several conditions: infections, malnutrition, a displacement of the left elbow as it wasn’t reconnected properly after being dislocated, ulcerations of the skin on his right wrist, damage to his muscles and tendons; as well as several abrasions that covered a large area all over his body. These were all obtained before the accident. It took roughly half a year of nursing for his condition to gradually take a turn for the better.”
Yan Xie considered for half a second without a trace of emotion on his face. Then abruptly blurted out, “Did the damage done to his wrist tendons look like they came from cuts?”
“Yeah. You could say that. But for Mr. Lu, he…”
Hesitating to speak, the Director eventually replied, “It seemed like they were torn by human teeth.”
Yan Xie’s hand holding onto the medical record shook a little then.
The Director sighed, then with a smile said, “So we all guessed at the time that there was a chance this patient had just escaped from a Multi-Level-Marketing organization and was speeding on the road. Otherwise, how could he have gotten hurt that badly?”
“Then why didn’t you call the cops?”
‘Sigh!’—“Are you listening to yourself? We are a private nursing home. We market ourselves as a provider of a high degree of protection for our patient’s privacy, as well as respecting the wishes of the family members. We are going down the high-end market route,” said the Director as he rubbed his hands. Lowering the tone of his voice, he smiled apologetically and said, “It’s not that we didn’t take the initiative to cooperate with the police, but Miss Yang Mei didn’t wish to give in no matter what. She said she didn’t want to report it to the police and let people find out, so she transferred him here. The competition for nursing homes are fierce and our reputation is at stake too…”
Yan Xie interrupted him. “Yang Mei and Jiang… Lu Chengjiang, what kind of relationship do they have?”
The Director answered, “The kind of relationship between a man and woman. To be frank, we all thought it was true love. After all, Miss Yang is an amazing woman, both capable and reputable—We usually don’t allow our staffs to gossip about our customer’s private matters. But after Mr. Lu woke up, it did seem a little strange.”
“Oh?” Yan Xie asked, “Strange?”
The Director hesitated for a few seconds before laughing, “Well…, it seemed more like Miss Yang was the one trying to be more intimate with her boyfriend.”
Yan Xie didn’t give a verbal respond, and let out a barely audible snort through his nose.
Yang Mei was obviously not an honest ‘person with status’. She might not have committed any serious crimes before, but it was clear that she wandered around the gray area. There was no doubt that her cases in Gongzhou and Jianning were most certainly settled by Jiang Ting. And before Jiang Ting died in the blast due to his misjudgement, he was a strong contender for being next in line as the Commander of Gongzhou Public Security Department’s Anti-Drug Force, both in terms of qualifications and merits.
However, it would be a miracle for Yang Mei continue latching onto his thigh then.
The Director couldn’t figure out why Yan Xie had snorted, and cautiously looked him up and down. “Uh… Captain Yan, do you have anything else you need? We’ll definitely do our best to cooperate and be frank with everything we know…”
With a wave of his hand, Yan Xie instead returned the medical record to him before standing up.
The Director immediately got up, intending to see him off. He was just about to exchange pleasantries before Yan Xie suddenly said, “I have one last question.”
“Ah, please go ahead.”
What Yan Xie said next caught the Director entirely by surprise. With a slow unhurried pace, he asked, “When you guys did a blood test on Mr. Lu right after he was sent here, did his test come out positive for drugs?”