Chapter 117: Re-Questioning A-Shun
Jiang Zhengkai and Lu Xiaoqiang arrived at the Ju’an Road police station, but they weren’t able to find Zhang Nan, since he had taken all of the officers under his command to the alley to search for A-Hui and A-Ying. In fact, Zhang Nan had actually begun the search last night, but everything had turned up empty so far.
Seeing Zhang Nan wasn’t at the station, Jiang Zhengkai called his cell phone instead. “Zhang, where are you?”
“I’m in the alley,” Zhang Nan replied. “I still haven’t been able to find A-Hui and A-Ying. Did you need me for something, Jiang?”
“Hehe, that was what I wanted to ask you about,” Jiang Zhengkai chuckled. “No worries. You keep looking. Could you give your colleagues at the station a heads up that I want to question A-Shun and A-Sha again?”
“No problem! Give me three minutes,” said Zhang Nan before he hung up.
Indeed, after three minutes had passed, Guo Wei arrived in the station’s conference room. He saw Jiang Zhengkai and Luo Xiaoqiang waiting there and said, “Inspector Jiang, Officer Luo, please follow me. Sergeant Zhang is out in the field today, so I will be accompanying the two of you as you question A-Shun and A-Sha.”
“Alright. Thank you,” Jiang Zhengkai politely replied. He and Luo Xiaoqiang then followed Guo Wei to the interrogation room. Waiting for them was A-Shun, whom the officers at the station had already escorted there.
“Long time no see, A-Shun. How are you these days?” Jiang Zhengkai asked.
“Thank you for asking, Inspector Jiang,” A-Shun respectfully replied. “I am doing very well here. Thank you for saving my wife and son.” Clearly, one of the officers here had already told A-Shun about how Jiang Zhengkai had assigned police protection for his family.
“As long as you don’t blame me for not letting you outside of these walls,” said Jiang Zhengkai with a wave of his hand. “Anyway, don’t mention it. Alright, I’m here to give you some news.” Jiang Zhengkai let out a sigh. “Your good friend A-Tie is dead.”
“A-Tie’s dead?” A-Shun was dumbstruck by what he has just heard. He stared at Jiang Zhengkai with eyes wide open and asked, “Who did it? Was it that bastard Sui Zhongyi?”
“You could say that,” nodded Jiang Zhengkai. “A-Tie was hospitalized as a result of being badly beaten by Sui Zhongyi’s thugs. One of his wounds became infected after his operation, and he died as a result.”
“Oh, I see.” A-Shun fell silent for a while. Eventually, he raised his head again and looked back at Jiang Zhengkai. “Inspector Jiang, just ask me what you want to know. If it’s something I know, I won’t hesitate to tell you.”
“Good!” Jiang Zhengkai smiled at A-Shun. “Let me ask you: how much do you know about A-Xiu’s drug trafficking operation?”
“That happened about four years ago.” A-Shun didn’t try to conceal anything this time and answered the question to the best of his ability. “At the time, A-Xiu got together with some of the other women in the alley. They would get drugs from Sui Dequan and sell them to their johns. I didn’t know about it at first, but when I found out, A-Xiu agreed to cut me in as well, so I stopped asking about her business. It wasn’t until about… two and a half years ago, I think, when a john overdosed and died right in our alley. The station brought A-Xiu in for questioning, and it took almost half a month before she was let out again. She left a few days later, I assume to go back to her hometown.”
“Let me ask you another question. Who was close to A-Xiu back then?” asked Jiang Zhengkai. What A-Shun had just told him matched the information that was already in his possession, which meant A-Shun wasn’t lying.
“That, I can’t recall clearly,” A-Shun replied apologetically. “It was probably A-Hua and A-Hui, maybe A-Xue, too. Oh, and A-Lian and A-Jiao.”
“What about A-Bi and A-Ying?” asked Jiang Zhengkai.
“A-Bi and A-Ying?” A-Shun thought for a second and then said, “Those two came to the alley later than the others. A-Bi did seem to get along pretty well with A-Hui though. And I think it was A-Xue who recruited A-Ying, so I guess they were pretty close as well,” A-Shun said with a bit of uncertainty. Again, it didn’t seem like he was lying.
“What about A-Jiao?” Jiang Zhengkai thought for a moment before asking. It was a question that he didn’t want to ask.
“Her? A-Xiu was the one who brought her in!” A-Shun recalled from before continuing. “Although that girl was different from the other women. She was quite diligent when she first started, but after a while, she started slacking. I remember A-Xiu saying A-Jiao came to the alley only because her ex-boyfriend dumped her and a family member committed suicide, so she had nowhere else to go.”
“I remember hearing from A-Tie that that girl had some powerful backers; is that right?” Jiang Zhengkai intentionally phrased the question in that manner. He knew that being locked up here, there was no way A-Shun could know that A-Tao was dead. Perhaps A-Shun would be able to offer up something else useful?
“Yeah! She had been working in the alley for about four months at that point. One day, a few young thugs in a neighboring area found me and told me that A-Jiao was their boss’s little sister. They said that I should take good care of her, and that I wouldn’t want to find out what would happen if I didn’t.”
“And you believed them?” asked Jiang Zhengkai with a serious look on his face.
“Of course I believed them!” A-Shun exclaimed. “One of them had a Beretta in his hand.” He formed his own hand into the shape of a pistol.
“Do you know where those people are now?” Jiang Zhengkai continued.
“No, unfortunately,” replied A-Shun as he shook his head. “The best thing about A-Jiao is that ever since she arrived in the alley, those little street thugs stopped giving us any trouble, so I’m thinking she’s got some pretty powerful protection behind her.”
“Then where do A-Hui and A-Ying live?” Jiang Zhengkai kept questioning.
“They live at…” After A-Shun provided their addresses, he added, “Sergeant Zhang asked me that same question yesterday.”
“And when did A-Xiu die?” Jiang Zhengkai finally asked.
“Wasn’t it a few months ago?” As he finished speaking, he saw Jiang Zhengkai staring back at him. Suddenly, his eyes grew wide in astonishment as new thoughts began coursing through his mind. “Wait, is she not dead? Or did she…”
“If a woman were to die in the alley, what would you do?” Since A-Shun really didn’t seem to know about the truth behind A-Xiu’s death, Jiang Zhengkai quickly changed the subject without answering his question.
“A-Tie and I usually take care of it,” A-Shun unhesitatingly replied. “Usually, we find a secluded place to bury or burn the body. Sometime we would place the body in a burlap sack, fill it up with rocks, and toss it into the ocean or river.”
“If someone else found a dead woman in the alley, could they dispose of her body themselves, or would they have to report it to you?” Jiang Zhengkai asked.
“They would report it to me first!” A-Shun replied. “A dead prostitute isn’t that big of a deal in our line of work, but if we didn’t do our jobs right, and a body landed in the police morgue, then we would be in serious trouble. That’s why I tell all the girls in the alley to report any deaths to me first.”
Jiang Zhengkai nodded as he listened to A-Shun. It looked like A-Shun was telling the truth, and that A-Xiu’s murderers had buried her without his knowledge. “During the period when A-Xiu left the alley, were there any other women who left the alley, either temporarily or permanently?” Jiang Zhengkai continued asking.
“That’s hard to say,” said A-Shun as an embarrassed look flashed across his face. “Prostitutes are always coming and going. Although, I do remember A-Lian left for a while, because she was a very different person when she came back. As for the others, as long as they pay on time, I tend to leave them alone.”
“Are there any other pimps in the alley beside you and A-Tie? Were any of them close to A-Xiu?” Jiang Zhengkai changed the subject again.
“There are a few others,” answered A-Shun. “But they all work for A-Tie and me as well. Only the two of us are in charge. A-Xiu was on pretty good terms with all of us, but I don’t think she was particularly close to any of us men.”
“Go ahead and write down their names, ages, addresses, and brief descriptions of their background, and then you can go.” As soon as Jiang Zhengkai finished speaking, he motioned for Lu Xiaoqiang to bring A-Shun some pen and paper. When A-Shun finished writing down the information asked of him, his police guards escorted him out of the interrogation room.
Afterwards, it was A-Sha’s turn to be interrogated. Jiang Zhengkai walked her through a similar set of questions. Because A-Sha still harbored a sense of gratitude towards Jiang Zhengkai, she was more than willing to answer his questions, especially when she found out that A-Tie had died at the hands of the city’s criminal underworld.
“A-Sha, did A-Xue ever complain about A-Xiu to you or tell you that A-Xiu owed her money?” Jiang Zhengkai casually asked after he had already bombarded A-Sha with an array of questions.
“Well…” A-Sha thought for a while before answering. “A-Xue didn’t usually bring up A-Xiu, especially after A-Xiu left the alley. Although there was one time A-Xue got drunk and said something along those lines.”
“What did she say exactly?” Jiang Zhengkai warmly asked.
“I think she said…” At this point, A-Sha raised her head and glanced at Jiang Zhengkai for a second. “Well, let’s just say she said some not-so-nice things about A-Xiu. She said A-Xiu owed her money and refused to pay up, and that she would pay one way or another, either with money or with salt water. Officer Jiang, you know you can’t take a drunk person’s words seriously, though, right?”
“So based on what you just said, A-Xue and A-Xiu had a financial dispute?” Jiang Zhengkai asked his next question as he shot A-Sha a smile. It was as if he had paid no heed whatsoever to what A-Sha had just told him.
“I only know that A-Xue and A-Xiu had some side deal going on. As for the specifics, I’m afraid I don’t know,” A-Sha earnestly replied.
“Then do you know if A-Xiu was particularly close to any of the men who worked in the alley or to any of her regular johns?” Jiang Zhengkai asked.
“I honestly don’t know. I felt like she got along pretty well with just about everyone,” A-Sha shook her head as she answered.