Chapter 115: Who Is the Killer?
Jiang Zhengkai didn’t answer A-Jiao’s question; after all, he wasn’t exactly keen on letting her know the truth behind A-Xiu’s death. Furthermore, from what A-Tie had said, it seemed that A-Xiu hadn’t died in her own home. Rather, she’d likely died somewhere else in the alley. He’d have to wait for A-Tie to wake up again before he could know the exact place.
“By the way, Honey, I wanted to ask you if you were close to A-Lian,” Jiang Zhengkai asked, smoothly changing the subject. He saw A-Jiao had calmed down some, so he relaxed a bit too and leaned back into the car seat.
“Kind of,” A-Jiao nodded. “A-Lian was a pretty strange one, actually. Oh, right, I remember now! She’d changed, ever since Sister Xiu disappeared.” A-Jiao paused for a moment and focused her attention on Jiang Zhengkai before continuing. “When I first met A-Lian, she was quite lively and warm. However, after she came back from her out-of-town stint, she became much more aloof, to the point where she didn’t really interact with any of the sisters in the alley anymore.”
“Really?” Jiang Zhengkai nodded as he listened. It looked as if A-Lian’s mental health problems hadn’t occurred overnight. Her mental condition must have been deteriorating well before she’d gone insane after her run-in with the alley serial killer. Ai! It looks as if this woman felt… guilty after having killed A-Xiu? But Jiang Zhengkai felt somewhat surprised by the thought. If A-Lian had felt guilty about helping kill A-Xiu, then was it possible that she had teamed up with someone else to avenge A-Xiu in order to ease the guilt burdening her heart? Perhaps her insanity was just a coincidence? Maybe her accomplice was still out there, ready to keep killing the remaining women…
“Honey, what’s A-Lian’s relationship with A-Li?” Jiang Zhengkai asked as the thought popped up in his mind. “And what’s her relationship with Zhu Yuping and them?”
“I don’t think they had any sort of relationship,” replied A-Jiao. She thought furiously for a while before finally shaking her head some more. “I don’t think A-Lian had any sort of close relationship with either A-Li or that bastard Zhu Yuping.”
“Hehe, it looks like you really don’t like that Zhu Yuping guy,” Jiang Zhengkai chuckled.
“Of course! I told you before how that bastard and his wife took advantage of Xiaomei.” When A-Jiao spoke, her chest puffed in noticeable anger. “Oh, I forgot to tell you! A-Li was a real bitch too! She used to bully Xiaomei all the time. However, she wasn’t quite as lucky as Zhu Yuping. I knocked out her two front teeth myself,” said A-Jiao as she waved her fist in the air. She turned to look at Jiang Zhengkai and said with a laugh, “You’d better be careful, Honey! You might lose your teeth, too, if you don’t obey my every command!”
“Haha! I had no idea you were so violent,” said Jiang Zhengkai as he sized A-Jiao up. To him, the woman next to him seemed so delicate and well-mannered, completely incapable of doing what she’d just described.
“Heh, you don’t believe me, do you?” asked a miffed A-Jiao. “If you don’t believe me, then you can go inspect A-Li’s corpse yourself!” She’d already gotten wind of A-Li’s untimely demise. In fact, when Jiang Zhengkai later went to inspect A-Li’s body, he was quite surprised to find that her two front teeth were indeed fake.
“Then who do you think had the most reason to kill A-Li and Zhu Yuping?” Jiang Zhengkai casually asked.
“Me!” A-Jiao declared.
Jiang Zhengkai was stunned by her response. But then, she was right! Based on her relationship to A-Mei, A-Jiao was indeed the person with the greatest motive to kill A-Li and Zhu Yuping. And if he followed that line of reasoning, then A-Xiu’s killers had most likely died at the hands of…
At that thought, Jiang Zhengkai tightly furrowed his brow once more. His heart told him not to consider the possibility that A-Jiao was the serial killer, but his rational mind, not to mention A-Jiao’s own words and the evidence he had gathered, forced him to confront the idea: that perhaps A-Jiao was indeed the serial killer he’d been looking for all this time!
“What are you thinking about, Honey?” Even though A-Jiao couldn’t read his mind, she could still tell from his expressions that he was deeply conflicted.
“Me? Oh, nothing.” Hearing her voice forced Jiang Zhengkai out of his deep thoughts. “I was thinking… I was thinking about the case. Say, Honey… do you think there is someone in the alley, or in this city, who would take it upon themselves to avenge A-Xiu and A-Mei’s deaths? Someone like… Lu Xiaoqiang, perhaps?”
“Xiaoqiang? A-Mei’s older brother?” A-Jiao thought for a minute then shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. He’s only been here for how long? Besides, plenty of people died before he even showed up. It’d make more sense if you said I was the one who killed all those people.”
“Hehe, you? I don’t believe it,” Jiang Zhengkai laughed weakly. He then continued on, “What about one of A-Xiu’s friends or relatives, then?”
“Sister Xiu’s friends or relatives?” A-Jiao shook her head again. “I don’t know. I don’t think Sister Xiu had many friends here, and most women in that line of work rarely told their families the truth about what they were doing.” At this point, A-Jiao raised her head and looked seriously at him. “A lot of those girls might come from the same village or neighboring villages, but none of them will talk about what they did here once they return home.” She lowered her head and seemed to look at her toes before she softly whispered, “They want to maintain what little self-respect they have left.”
“Honey, the alley has already witnessed nine murders like A-Mei’s,” Jiang Zhengkai seemed to mutter to himself as he laid back in his chair. “Anyway, I’ve found that all of the murder victims have some kind of a connection with A-Xiu. You know, I really hope that serial killer could just stop.” He turned his head to look at her. “Honey, did I tell you? One of the female victims actually survived!”
“Oh yeah?” asked A-Jiao as she looked over at him, completely unperturbed. “Then she should be able to provide you some clues, right?” She didn’t understand why Jiang Zhengkai had suddenly told her this information, so she decided to humor him by feigning interest in the subject.
“But… she went insane,” Jiang Zhengkai smiled at A-Jiao. “She is occasionally lucid, however. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out a way to stimulate her for her to regain her sanity.” He was obviously lying. At no point after the attack had A-Lian ever been lucid. Fortunately for those around her, her mental illness wasn’t of the violent type. In other words, she was demented, utterly and completely demented.
“What if we decided to scare her?” A-Jiao immediately sprang into action with one of her crazy ideas as soon as she heard Jiang Zhengkai’s description of A-Lian. “What if I were to disguise myself as Sister Xiu, or… or disguise myself as a ghost! Yeah, maybe that would work! I know A-Lian is a very superstitious person, so maybe scaring her might just snap her out of her current state.”
“Oh?” Hearing A-Jiao’s ideas made Jiang Zhengkai come up with some of his own. Even though A-Lian’s mental state had been unstable for the last couple of years, in the end it was that night’s attack that pushed her over the edge. Perhaps if he could replicate the crime scene or disguise someone as A-Xiu, he really could provoke a reaction from A-Lian. With that in mind, he looked at A-Jiao once more and said, “Honey, could you describe in detail for me the kind of clothes and makeup A-Xiu typically wore back in the day?”
“Sure!” A-Jiao nodded. “I’ll write it down for you when I get home. I’ll draw you a portrait as well. Oh, and I’ll write down everything I know about Sister Xiu and A-Lian too.”
“Excellent! That’s really great!” Jiang Zhengkai looked at her with a grateful expression as he started his car engine. “So, what do you want to eat, Honey? All this talk has really made me hungry. Want to go someplace fancy? Just tell me where, and we’ll go there.”
“Hmph! I’m not really in the mood,” A-Jiao shook her head as she glanced at him. “What do you want to eat, Honey? I’ll go with you. It’s just that I’m not really hungry right now.”
“Then let’s go back to that barbecue joint!” said Jiang Zhengkai as he put the car in drive. A-Jiao didn’t have the slightest objection to his choice of dining establishment. Her mind was now completely filled by thoughts of A-Xiu, so she had zero room to think about food. In any case, she felt happy as long as she was with Jiang Zhengkai. Happiness sometimes really was that simple.