Chapter 13: A Dispute Between Two People
“Have you found something, Inspector Jiang?” Zhang Nan asked Jiang Zhengkai, still sitting on the floor.
“Ah, no, nothing,” Jiang Zhengkai shook his head. He looked up and glanced at the ceiling. “Find a ladder! See if there’s anything strange up there,” he ordered, pointing at the part of the ceiling above the bed.
Several local police officers quickly brought in a ladder. While two officers supported the base, a third climbed up the ladder to the ceiling. “It’s hard, Inspector Jiang. Nothing out of the ordinary,” the officer on the ladder stated.
“What about the temperature?” Jiang Zhengkai asked, looking at the ceiling but still seated on the floor.
“It’s about normal, I think,” the officer on the ladder answered with a certain degree of uncertainty. Then he rubbed his hand against the wall. “Yeah, it’s normal, Inspector Jiang. The temperature on that spot is the same as the walls.”
“You, you, and you, come with me upstairs!” Jiang Zhengkai stood up and gestured for three or four officers to follow him up. He stopped at the door of the upper room, where he halted the others from entering. He squatted down and carefully observed the dust on the floor of the room. Other than his own footprints from a few minutes earlier, no other person had entered the room.
“Okay, you guys can go in now,” he said while leading the group inside. “Do a complete search of this room and see if there is anything out of the ordinary.” He returned to the side of the bed, heart racing in his chest. That scene from a moment ago was now firmly etched in his memory. Anybody, no matter how tough they were, would likely break down after having faced two such traumatic experiences of that magnitude in such a short period of time.
One, two, three! Jiang Zhengkai counted silently to himself before he pulled the sheet off the bed. “Phew…” He let out a long sigh of relief as he saw nothing on the bed. Then he got down on one knee and placed his arm underneath the bed. Nothing. The floor was room temperature, not freezing. Had that feeling before, with the floor bone-cold to the touch, also been just a figment of his imagination?
“Inspector Jiang, we didn’t find anything.” The police officers who accompanied Jiang Zhengkai to the room returned to his side one after another. Was it really because I was too stressed out? He smiled bitterly at the thought. I guess I’ve been working too hard lately.
“Alright, everyone go back to what you were doing before!” Jiang Zhengkai dismissed the officers with a wave of his hand. All of them filed out of the room together. Darkness once again shrouded the room; no one could say for certain what might happen here later on.
The police picked through the crime scene until midnight, when most of them returned to the station, save for two officers assigned to guard the crime scene as per police protocol. Even though they’d made a bit of progress on the case, the fact remained that useful evidence was still quite scarce. Meanwhile, there were now two more dead bodies taking up two more spaces at the sub-bureau’s morgue.
“Oh right, Wei, were you wanting to tell me something just now?” Jiang Zhengkai asked while pinching his brow. The two of them were sitting in the backseat of his police cruiser, on their way back to the sub-bureau. He had assigned another officer to drive tonight, as he felt his current emotional state made it somewhat unsafe for him to operate a motor vehicle.
“Yes, Inspector Jiang.” Wei Xin thought for a moment and then continued. “We have already identified the female victim. Her name was A-Xiu. She recently arrived from another one of the city’s red light districts. However, according to the pimp A-Shun, she used to work in this alley before, but then for unknown reasons relocated to another part of town. When we shut down all of the city’s other brothel areas, she had no choice but to come back here for work.”
“Do you have more specific information on her?” Jiang Zhengkai asked, still pinching his brow.
“No, sir,” Wei Xin replied. “But A-Shun did say that she was on pretty good terms with A-Jiao before she left. Perhaps A-Jiao can tell us something about her.”
“A-Jiao?” Jiang Zhengkai suddenly felt his stomach drop at the mention of her name. A-Jiao was still being hospitalized, which meant if the killer tracked her down… “Take me to the hospital!” Jiang Zhengkai clapped the driver on the shoulder and anxiously exclaimed, “Hurry!”
Inside her hospital room, A-Jiao was passing the time by watching TV. There wasn’t anyone around tending her to her at the moment, and walking even a hundred meters made her uncomfortable, so the best thing to do was to just stay in her room. Naturally, the TV in the room soon became her best friend.
“A-Jiao?” Jiang Zhengkai stormed into the hospital room in a hurry.
“What?” A-Jiao lay on her bed and tilted her head towards him. “What are you doing here so late? Is this payback for me cockblocking you earlier?”
“Hmph!” Jiang Zhengkai saw that she was alright and felt a wave of relief pass over him. “That’s right, I’m here for my payback!”
“Aiya! Big uncle police officer, you can’t be serious.” A-Jiao propped her arms up on the bed and strenuously pushed herself into a sitting position. “I’m afraid you came all the way out here for nothing,” she said while gently placing her hand on her chin. “I ain’t all there down there yet.” As she finished speaking, she looked at Jiang Zhengkai with resentment in her eyes. Then she pursed her lips lightly, batted her eyes, and said, “But I can give a blowjob.” She smiled provocatively, and those slight dimples of hers once again appeared on her face.
“You!” Jiang Zhengkai angrily pointed at her in response. “Is your mind ever not in the gutter?”
“Of course not! I’m a hooker.” A-Jiao looked at him with pursed lips. “So, why don’t you tell me what my mind should be on?”
“Don’t think I won’t beat you!” As soon as he spoke, Jiang Zhengkai stepped over to A-Jiao’s bed and rapped her heavily on the head. A-Jiao lost her balance, let out a slight shriek, and fell back onto the bed.
“Argh! You…” A-Jiao was agitated by him intentionally hitting her. “You! Apologize or else!”
“Ha! Why should I apologize?” Jiang Zhengkai pointed his finger at A-Jiao and said, “If you still won’t behave, I’ll haul you off to jail first thing tomorrow!”
“Help!” A-Jiao screamed. She pulled off her hairband, intentionally made a mess of her hair, and continued to yell. “Help! Police brutality!”
“You!” In a fit of anger, Jiang Zhengkai raised his hand, but did not actually strike her.
“Help! Help!” A-Jiao cried out while lying prone on the hospital bed. “This cop just beat me!”
“What are the two of you doing?” At the sound of A-Jiao’s screams, an on-duty nurse walked into the hospital room. “Officer Jiang! This is a hospital, not a police station!”
“I…” Jiang Zhengkai could find no way to extricate himself from this unfortunate situation. Damn, my hand is still raised, isn’t it? Well, this definitely doesn’t look good. Even though the woman on the bed is a known prostitute, anyone seeing this scene would conclude that I was in fact beating her.
“Alright, stop fighting, both of you!” The nurse looked at Jiang Zhengkai with visible disdain. If it weren’t for Jiang Zhengkai’s generally good reputation and for the fact that he normally treated A-Jiao very well, the nurse probably would have kicked him out of the room then and there. “It’s already half past midnight! Officer Jiang, if you two make a fuss again, I’ll immediately call the hospital director.” With that, the nurse left the room, still fuming.
“Thank you, sister nurse!” A-Jiao wailed, still sobbing while she lay back on the bed.
“Are you done now?” Jiang Zhengkai sat down beside A-Jiao once he saw the nurse was gone. “You know, you should really take up acting.”
“What are you talking about? I never pretend. What you see if what you get.” A-Jiao sat up on the bed, again with great difficulty. She used her hands to straighten out her hair while poking Jiang Zhengkai with her elbow. “Are you going to apologize or not? If you don’t, I’ll scream again!”
“You!” Here in the hospital, Jiang Zhengkai really didn’t know what to do with this shameless woman. He just gave her a cool stare. “Dream on!”
“Alright then. Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” said A-Jiao. She opened her mouth wide for another loud scream. “Hel–”
This time however, Jiang Zhengkai was prepared. Before A-Jiao could let out a single word, he immediately pinned her to the hospital bed and covered her mouth with his hand.
“Mmph… mmph…” A-Jiao said through muffled voice. Jiang Zhengkai’s hand covered both her nose and mouth. She writhed in agony on the hospital bed.
“Are you still going to scream?” Jiang Zhengkai flashed an evil smile as his body lay on top of hers.
“Mm-mm…” A-Jiao shook her head.
“Will you behave yourself from now on?” Jiang Zhengkai further asked. He was actually quite enjoying this, and didn’t want to let A-Jiao go just yet.
“Mm-hmm…” A-Jiao’s body continued to wiggle, but she nodded her head several times, despite the fact her face was still being covered by Jiang Zhengkai’s hand.
“Then…” Jiang Zhengkai was still smothering A-Jiao’s nose and mouth while he was thinking of a third question to ask her. When a person is lost in pleasure, he often loses the ability to act rationally. Therefore, although A-Jiao’s body started squirming again, not only did Jiang Zhengkai not remove his hand, it tightened even more around her face. After a moment of violent struggle, A-Jiao’s body went limp, and her head tilted to one side.