Chapter 104: Undercover at a Resort
Now that Li Hongbin had been sent to a psychiatric hospital for treatment, Sui Zhongyi became the sole remaining suspect in A-Jiao’s abduction. After several days of hard work, Liu Kun and Du Yuting found that two of Sui Zhongyi’s henchmen, A-Wang and A-Peng, had frequently appeared near one of the city’s major resorts. However, they would always mysteriously disappear from the resort almost as quickly as they had appeared.
Because Liu Kun and Du Yuting hadn’t brought sufficient backup, the two of them didn’t actually make a move against A-Wang and A-Peng. Instead, they passed along this information to Jiang Zhengkai, who went undercover at the resort to spy on the two gangsters himself. After tailing them for some time, he concluded that if A-Wang and A-Peng had hid something or someone at the resort, they wouldn’t have hid whatever or whomever it was inside areas of the resort that were open to the public. Rather, they would have likely used some place outside the resort or in one of its storage areas.
Jiang Zhengkai and Lu Xiaoqiang opened the door to the office of the resort’s general manager and walked in. A short and chubby middle-aged man was sitting inside. “Are you Mr. Song, the general manager of this resorts?” Lu Xiaoqiang asked the man, using a polite tone as though he hadn’t just barged right in.
“Yes, that’s me,” the middle-aged man replied. “Who are you guys? What do you want with me?”
“Sorry to startle you, but we’re from the police bureau. We wanted to ask you some questions regarding a case we’re working on,” said Lu Xiaoqiang as he pulled out his badge. He gestured at Jiang Zhengkai. “That’s Inspector Jiang, captain of our sub-bureau’s investigative division.”
“Oh, hello Inspector Jiang! Nice to meet you!” Once he realized his uninvited guests were cops, Mr. Song immediately smiled and welcomed them in. Of course, he would have done the same even if the two of them were a pair of gangsters. For someone in Mr. Song’s position, it was critical to stay on the good side of both the police department and the criminal underworld. If he wasn’t careful with his juggling act, he’d have to deal with either a fine from the authorities or a strike organized by the triads.
“Thank you, Mr. Song,” said Jiang Zhengkai as he reached out to shake his hand. “We are here today simply to understand how business at the resort has been recently.”
“Oh, yeah, sure,” Mr. Song hurriedly replied. “We run a completely law-abiding operation, especially when it comes to paying our fees and taxes. We always pay in full and on time. Inspector Jiang, if there are some fees or taxes that we’ve overlooked, please don’t hesitate to tell me. We’re all friends here, so no need to hold back, haha.” Mr. Song finished with a hearty laugh. From what he’d seen, the only reason the police came knocking was to ask for money. The good cops came to collect fees and taxes, while the bad cops came to collect their bribes. Either way, it was always money, money, money.
“Actually, we didn’t come today to talk about your finances.” Jiang Zhengkai smiled at Mr. Song. “We’re here for something else.”
“You’re not here for money?” Mr. Song’s smile immediately froze on his chubby face. Based on his many years in the hospitality industry, it was a bad sign when the police came knocking and wanted to talk about something other than money. As the saying goes, a problem that can be solved by money isn’t a real problem; it’s only a problem that can’t be solved by money that poses a real problem.
Ah, but perhaps Inspector Jiang just wanted more than the standard bribe? He was an Inspector, after all. At that thought, Mr. Song’s smile returned to his face. “Haha! No problem, it’s no problem at all! Since our resort is under your jurisdiction, we will of course make sure to take care of you. If you’re looking for something other than money, that’s perfectly fine with me, but I guess you do have to go the extra step of exchanging the physical goods for cash yourself.”
“I think there’s been a misunderstanding, Mr. Song.” Jiang Zhengkai grinned sheepishly this time. “We came here today to discuss this resort’s employees: mainly to see if any of them have a criminal record.”
“I see…” A cop that was really doing his job? That wiped that insufferable smile off of Mr. Song’s face again. “We’ll do everything we can to assist!” he replied as he hurriedly nodded at Jiang Zhengkai. The officer must be after his direct subordinates, especially those with connections to the city’s various triad gangs.
“Good! Since that’s the case, I kindly request you show us your resort’s employee register.” Since Mr. Song wasn’t going to cause trouble, Jiang Zhengkai saw no further need to mince words. Based on his experience, he was positive A-Wang and A-Peng had some connection to this resort. They were either employees here, or they had some kind of a personal relationship with Mr. Song or someone else in the resort’s management. Otherwise, their frequent comings and goings here would not go unnoticed.
“Very good!” nodded Mr. Song. He wore a grave expression as he dialed the resort’s HR department. A short while later, the HR specialist Zhang Qian came into Mr. Song’s office with the resort’s employee register in her hand.
“Hello, officer. This is our company’s employee register.” Zhang Qian politely handed the book over to Jiang Zhengkai.
He took it with a polite nod. “Thank you. Does this include temporary hires as well?”
“Oh, yes,” Zhang Qian quickly replied. “Every single employee of this resort is in this register, regardless of whether they are permanent or temporary.” She glanced over at Mr. Song, who gave her a reassuring smile.
“Excellent!” Jiang Zhengkai said as he opened the register and began attentively perusing it. After a while, he finally looked up again and smiled at Zhang Qian. “Do you not have any IT personnel in your company?”
“We do!” Zhang Qian blurted out without thinking. “But most of the IT work is contracted out to independent contractors, so those personnel aren’t listed in the register.”
“Really? So you’re saying that all of your resort’s IT support is provided by outside contractors?” Jiang Zhengkai asked.
“That’s correct!” interjected Mr. Song when he saw that the cop wasn’t going to let this topic go. He was afraid Zhang Qian might let something else slip, so he had to steer the conversation his way. “There’s a lot of competition in the hospitality industry these days, so we have to find ways to lower our costs. We ran the numbers and found that it was cheaper to hire IT contractors than to do the IT work in-house. But don’t worry, I assure you all of our contractors are real professionals!”
“Oh, I see.” Jiang Zhengkai smiled sincerely. “Mr. Song, who’s in charge of overseeing the resort’s storage areas?”
“Ah, that would be…”
Mr. Song looked towards Zhang Qian. When she felt his gaze, she blurted out, “Well, um… We rent out most of our storage spaces since we don’t actually use them.”
“Yeah, that’s right!” Mr. Song quickly followed up. “Exactly like Zhang Qian said! We rent out about half of our storage spaces. We don’t really have a use for the other half at the moment. We usually just send someone to check on the equipment being stored there about once a quarter or so.”
Zhang Qian added, “Actually, we’ve pretty much rented out all of our storage spaces. As long as the tenant doesn’t interfere with our inspection of the stored equipment, there’s no restrictions on which storage spaces they can use.”
“Well then,” said Jiang Zhengkai, “who’s your current tenant for those storage spaces?”
“Hmm…” Zhang Qian looked at Mr. Song again, but seeing that he didn’t signal for her to stop, she continued. “I think it’s a tofu company.”
“Oh, hehe, so it’s a tofu-maker.” Jiang Zhengkai couldn’t help but grin.
“Yes, a tofu-maker!” Sensing that Jiang Zhengkai’s smile had some hidden meaning behind it, Mr. Song hurriedly explained, “We’re just the landlord here! What they do with the space is their business! Besides, it’s not illegal to make tofu, is it?”
“No, it isn’t,” Jiang Zhengkai nodded. “Can we take a look at this tofu-making operation?” He didn’t remember Liu Kun’s and Du Yuting’s report mentioning any sort of food-processing operation in the building’s basement levels. Besides, his own scouting missions hadn’t turned up any traces of any food production going on here either.
“Sure!” Zhang Qian nodded. “I’ll go grab the keys right now.”
“Wait!” Jiang Zhengkai said just as she was about to leave the room. “Don’t let anyone else besides Mr. Song know that we will be visiting the storage areas with you. If anyone asks why you need the keys, just tell them it’s for a routine equipment inspection.”
“Oh, okay, I got it,” Zhang Qian nodded before she left Mr. Song’s office.
“You really are dedicated to your work, Inspector Jiang!” Now that Zhang Qian had left, Mr. Song tried to make some small-talk with Jiang Zhengkai. “Most of the officers from the local station or the municipal bureau usually just come here, ask a few questions, and then leave. None of them have ever asked to inspect the books or spaces before.”
“Hehe! I guess everybody’s different,” Jiang Zhengkai casually responded. It was curious what sorts of places seemed to have an overinflated view of the police.
“We can go now!” announced Zhang Qian as she returned to Mr. Song’s office with a whole chain of keys.
“Alright, let’s get to it then!” said Jiang Zhengkai as he rose from his chair.
“Very well, let’s go. After you, Inspector.” When he saw that Jiang Zhengkai was on the move, Mr. Song got up from his chair as well. They all walked together towards the resort’s underground storage areas.