Chapter 116: A Burden on Sui Zhongyi’s Mind
The next morning, as soon as Jiang Zhengkai stepped into his office, he received a call from the hospital. They had both good news and bad news. The good news was that Sui Zhongyi had woken up and requested to see Jiang Zhengkai again. The bad news was that A-Tie had died during the night. He’d also asked to see Jiang Zhengkai again, but alas, now he’d never get the chance to.
“You’re here really early today, Inspector Jiang!” said Lu Xiaoqiang after he knocked on Jiang Zhengkai’s office door. “I spoke to A-Ping all night, and for the better part of the morning as well. That girl told me quite a lot about A-Di.”
“Oh, really?” acknowledged Jiang Zhengkai as he rubbed his temples and looked at Lu Xiaoqiang. “Here, come on in and take a seat. Start from the top and tell me what she told you.”
“Alright,” replied Lu Xiaoqiang as he sat down across from him. “Inspector Jiang, according to A-Ping’s recollection, A-Di actually came by our city about two and a half years ago. Apparently, she was really strapped for cash. She told everyone she was here for a vacation, but really she came to dodge her debt collectors. After she returned to the provincial capital, at first nothing really changed. But within a month, she had upgraded her entire wardrobe, and even paid off all her debts.”
“Really? Did A-Ping tell you how A-Di got her hands on so much money?” Jiang Zhengkai asked. Of course, he already had an inkling of where A-Di’s money had come from. Based on what A-Tie had already told him and what he was hearing now, Jiang Zhengkai was 80% sure that A-Di had gotten, or rather, stolen the money from A-Xiu.
“No. I asked A-Ping, but she didn’t say,” Lu Xiaoqiang shook her head. “However, she did remember one important detail. She said that when A-Di first returned to the provincial capital, it seemed like she was dodging someone. She had changed both her cell phone number and her residential address.”
“Excellent work. The information you’ve brought back is very important to the case,” Jiang Zhengkai said. “Alright, let’s head on over to the hospital. They called me first thing this morning to tell me that Sui Zhongyi was awake and wanted to see me. And also that… that A-Tie had died during the night.”
Lu Xiaoqiang didn’t know how to react to what Jiang Zhengkai had just told him. All he could do was silently follow Jiang Zhengkai out of his office. He couldn’t help but feel a sense of sorrow at A-Tie’s death. Even though A-Tie had been a pimp, he’d nevertheless provided many useful leads to the police. Besides, Lu Xiaoqiang was still a rookie, so he didn’t yet have the sense of detached coldness that came with years of experience as a police officer.
“Liu Na, did the bank provide any feedback?” Jiang Zhengkai asked as he walked out of his office.
“Not yet, Inspector!” Liu Na shook her head. “I notified External Affairs yesterday afternoon. I’ll check with them again right now.”
Jiang Zhengkai glanced over at Liu Kun and Du Yuting’s desks. Both officers were out somewhere. “Alright, let’s go!” Jiang Zhengkai said to Lu Xiaoqiang, having finally decided to leave the sub-bureau.
When Jiang Zhengkai and Lu Xiaoqiang arrived at the hospital, Sui Zhongyi was lying on his hospital bed receiving IV drops. He seemed to be in good spirits today. Sui Zhongyi looked like the kind of man who always takes proper care of himself, the kind that eats well and exercises often. It would explain why his recovery was so much speedier than that of most men his age.
“You’re here, Officer Jiang,” Sui Zhongyi politely greeted him when he saw the two police officers entering his hospital room. An unwitting bystander might have thought that these two were colleagues, not opposing parties in a criminal investigation.
“I’m here now, so what do you want?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as he sat down next to Sui Zhongyi and stared directly into his eyes.
“Oh, nothing really. I just missed our conversations together,” said Sui Zhongyi with a smile. “About Zhao Renchu and the others… I’ve been thinking about them the whole night. I always thought it was A-Tao who killed them, but now I’m wondering if it was A-Xiu instead.” He paused and looked at Jiang Zhengkai with pursed lips, before shifting his gaze towards one of the walls.
“Oh, really? Care to explain your reasoning?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as he casually fixed his trouser legs before calmly looking at Sui Zhongyi once more. Jiang Zhengkai knew that even though Sui Zhongyi’s face was pointed towards the wall, he would still try to peer at him out of the corner of his eyes.
“When Sui Dequan died, there was still a deal between A-Xiu and Zhao Renchu that hadn’t yet lapsed.” Just as Jiang Zhengkai had predicted, Sui Zhongyi was closely observing Jiang Zhengkai’s every expression out of the corner of his eyes. He slowly recounted what had gone on between A-Xiu and Zhao Renchu. “You guys were really cracking down on drug trafficking during that stretch, so it was hard to move product, especially high-quality pure heroin. So Sui Dequan made all of his customers pay a deposit before he would move the product. With the kind of reputation he had in the criminal underworld, his customers were willing to pay up. Besides, no one else could move product during those tense times, so you either paid the deposit and got your product, or you got your supply cut off. As luck would have it, Sui Dequan took delivery of a large shipment of pure heroin just the day before he died.”
“So what you’re saying is, A-Xiu paid the deposit, but never got the heroin?” Jiang Zhengkai immediately offered when Sui Dequan gave a slight pause.
“Correct!” Sui Zhongyi smiled slightly as he nodded at Jiang Zhengkai. “It should’ve been a done deal. If the Bald Wolf, or should I say A-Tao, hadn’t killed Sui Dequan that day, or if you, Officer Jiang, hadn’t been so relentless in your investigation, then A-Xiu would’ve gotten her shipment within three days, tops.”
“Yeah, you actually make quite a bit of sense,” Jiang Zhengkai casually smiled. Even though Jiang Zhengkai didn’t let on, his heart was secretly cheering. What Sui Zhongyi had just told him would finally clear any doubt as to the motive behind A-Xiu’s murder. A-Xiu was just a prostitute, which meant there was no way she would have enough money to broker a drug deal with Sui Dequan. Various other prostitutes in the alley must have pooled their money together in order to pay the deposit, but after Sui Dequan’s death and with Zhao Renchu and the rest of the henchmen skipping town due to Jiang Zhengkai’s crackdown, A-Xiu naturally had no way to get her hands on the drugs. Seeing their “investment” go down the drain, the other women must have ganged up on A-Xiu to force her to pay up. When she couldn’t, the women got so worked up that they wound up killing A-Xiu.
“I only wanted to get some closure for my men.” Seeing that Jiang Zhengkai had caught his drift, Sui Zhongyi lay back down on the bed and breathed a sigh of relief. “If Zhao Renchu and them really were killed by A-Xiu, then I guess it’s on them. As the saying goes, men die for riches, birds die for food.”
“It’s too bad. If only A-Xiu could hear you from six feet under, then she could rest in peace as well,” sighed Jian Zhengkai. He looked at Sui Zhongyi before adding, “A-Xiu died over two and a half years ago!”
“A-Xiu’s dead?” The news shocked Sui Zhongyi so much that he tried in vain to prop himself up with his hands.
“Yes, she’s dead!” Jiang Zhengkai repeated. “Two and a half years ago.”
“Then who could it be?” Sui Zhongyi muttered to himself before lying back onto the hospital bed once more. Jiang Zhengkai saw the expression on Sui Zhongyi’s face and thought it was quite amusing. This Sui Zhongyi was a notorious drug trafficker. Countless men must have died by his hand. Yet he somehow took the death of his three henchmen very heavily.
“According to my investigation, I believe whoever killed your men probably did it to avenge A-Xiu,” Jiang Zhengkai replied in a seemingly casual fashion. He then placed his attention on Sui Zhongyi’s face once more and said, “Give it some thought. Who else might have a grudge against you or Sui Dequan? Anyone you can think of that might want to avenge A-Xiu?”
“Hmm…” Sui Zhongyi absentmindedly replied. His mind was already somewhere else. Jiang Zhengkai could see that Sui Zhongyi was already deep in thought. Jiang Zhengkai was again amused by this scene. Sui Zhongyi’s days in this world were numbered, yet he could somehow spare the time to dwell on the deaths of his subordinates. Perhaps their deaths involved something that had yet to be uncovered?
Seeing Sui Zhongyi didn’t continue the conversation, Jiang Zhengkai stood up and asked, “Alright, do you have anything else? I’m kind of busy, so if you don’t mind, call me if you remember anything else.”
“Ah!” Upon hearing Jiang Zhengkai speak, Sui Zhongyi snapped out of his trance. “See you later, Officer Jiang.”
“Inspector Jiang, so the whole reason why Sui Zhongyi called us over was to tell us that it might have been A-Xiu who killed Zhao Renchu and them?” Lu Xiaoqiang asked skeptically as he and Jiang Zhengkai climbed into the police cruiser.
“Hard to say,” Jiang Zhengkai shook his head before smiling in reply. “That Sui Zhongyi is a wily old fox. Who knows what’s going on inside that head of his.”
“So where should we go next then?” asked Lu Xiaoqiang as he started the car engine.
“Let’s go see Sergeant Zhang, and then go check out the alley again,” said Jiang Zhengkai as he stared out the passenger window.