Chapter 118: A-Ying’s Apprehension
By the time A-Sha left the interrogation room, it was already afternoon. Jiang Zhengkai glanced down at his cell phone. He saw that A-Jiao had sent him a text. He opened it, only to find that it was nothing more than a cursory message telling him that she was okay and everything was normal. Actually, though, it was Jiang Zhengkai who had asked A-Jiao to send that text when he dropped her off at the preschool in the morning. A-Jiao had another audited class this afternoon, and she had a lot of work to do to prepare for it. It was for that reason that Jiang Zhengkai dropped her off extra early in the morning, which also resulted in him arriving at his office extra early as well. They had also decided previously that due to her audited class, the two of them wouldn’t be meeting for lunch, but she did have to send him a text prior to the class starting to tell him that she was alright.
“Are you done here, Jiang?” Before Jiang Zhengkai could put the cell phone back into his pocket, Zhang Nan had already walked in. “So, how was it? And did you have lunch yet? I’m buying this time.”
“No, it’s alright,” Jiang Zhengkai waved his hand at Zhang Nan. “How were things with you this morning?”
“It was good!” Zhang Nan nodded. “But let’s go to my office first.” His mouth curled up into a grin. “Besides, I already got take-out for three people. The two of you might not plan on eating lunch, but my officer Guo Wei will definitely be eating.”
Hearing that, Jiang Zhengkai smiled as well. He couldn’t very well turn down food that had already been delivered. After all, he wasn’t a machine; he was a man, and men needed to eat. Hell, even machines needed energy to run, just not in the form of food.
“Well, this morning wasn’t a complete waste of time,” Zhang Nan couldn’t help but blurt out as Jiang Zhengkai sat down to eat his boxed lunch. “I did find A-Ying.”
“Really? Where? Did you bring her in?” Jiang Zhengkai hurriedly asked with his mouth still full of food.
“Of course!” said Zhang Nan as he poked Jiang Zhengkai’s chest. “But you eat first. I won’t distract you anymore while you eat.”
Jiang Zhengkai shook his head as he furiously shoveled food into his mouth.
“She changed residences, and it took me forever to find her,” Zhang Nan continued. “Oh right, she said A-Hui changed her residence as well. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to track her down in the morning. I’ll try again after hours.”
While listening to Zhang Nan go over all of this newfound information, Jiang Zhengkai inhaled the rest of his food. “Alright, I’m done! Let’s go talk to A-Ying.” He leapt out of his chair and hurriedly said, “Come on, let’s go!”
“Look at you, haha!” Zhang Nan watched Jiang Zhengkai and shook his head. Truth be told, however, Zhang Nan was quite impatient himself. Why else would he have been in such a hurry to tell Jiang Zhengkai about A-Ying’s apprehension? He’d already told his officers to escort A-Ying to the interrogation room; he followed Jiang Zhengkai as the latter sprinted towards that same interrogation room.
“You are A-Ying?” Jiang Zhengkai got straight to the point as he and Zhang Nan sat down across from the woman.
“Yes, I am,” A-Ying replied in an equally crisp fashion.
“Good! Did you know A-Xiu?” Jiang Zhengkai asked directly.
“Ye… yes.” Clearly, A-Ying wasn’t prepared for this question from Jiang Zhengkai as she was temporarily caught off guard. Still, she eventually admitted that she knew A-Xiu.
“Alright then, tell me about her,” ordered Jiang Zhengkai as he leaned back into his chair and gazed attentively at A-Ying.
“Her?” A-Ying’s face momentarily tightened before relaxing again. “Officer, I haven’t seen her for almost three years. She was a nice person, and helpful, too. She was also quite pretty. Other than that, I can’t say I remember much.”
“Really?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as his hand lightly tapped the tabletop. “I heard you had a pretty good relationship with her back in the day.”
“Yeah, we got along pretty well, but so did a lot of other people,” A-Ying straightforwardly replied.
“Oh, is that so? I also heard she came back to the alley a few months ago,” Jiang Zhengkai said casually. “She didn’t come and see you that time?”
“What? How is that poss– wait, really? I had no idea.” The words were halfway out of her mouth before she forced them back down her throat and switched tracks. “Perhaps… perhaps, she wasn’t able to find me. Or maybe she’s long forgotten about me.”
“Hmm, okay,” remarked Jiang Zhengkai as he leaned into the table. “What about A-Lian? You know her?”
“Yes.” Upon hearing Jiang Zhengkai mention A-Lian’s name, A-Ying’s face immediately turned ghostly pale. A-Xiu was dead, and the dead can’t talk, but A-Lian was still alive. Sure, she’d heard that A-Lian had gone insane, but was it possible that she’d said something that would implicate A-Ying during a period of lucidity? A-Ying’s mind was now racing with these dreadful thoughts.
“Oh, that’s good,” said Jiang Zhengkai as he picked up a glass of water from the table and took a sip. “I heard A-Lian say that A-Xiu’s dead. Oh, didn’t you know?”
“She.. she… she said A-Xiu’s… dead?” When she heard what Jiang Zhengkai just said, A-Ying’s face grew paler than it already was.
“That’s right! Did you really not know?” Jiang Zhengkai coldly asked, all the while staring at A-Ying.
“Well… I…” Cold sweat was starting to drip down her spine as she sat there. “I…”
“I know you all killed her by forcing her to drink salt water!” exclaimed Jiang Zhengkai as he continued to stare at A-Ying. “So, do you want to tell me the truth now?”
“Yes, I… I’ll tell you everything!” A-Ying’s entire body went limp and she slid directly out of her chair and onto the floor. “We… we killed A-Xiu! The six of us killed her together: me, A-Lian, A-Xue, A-Hua, and two others.”
“So you do remember after all!” Jiang Zhengkai chuckled at A-Ying as he sat in his chair. “I thought you forgot all about it long ago.”
“No… I didn’t forget,” A-Ying shook her head while still sitting on the floor.
“Alright then, since you still remember, why don’t you tell me what happened?” remarked Jiang Zhengkai as he leaned back into his chair once more. “Why did you kill A-Xiu?”
“Because of money.” As A-Ying spoke, she was being picked up by two officers who placed her back in the chair. “A-Xiu owed us a large sum of money, so… so we confronted her and told her we wanted our money back. She made all sorts of excuses as to why she didn’t have our money, so we decided to scare her by force-feeding her salt water.” At this point, A-Ying grabbed a handful of her hair and tugged at it forcefully. “But… but A-Xiu… she still didn’t want to give us our money back, so… so we force-fed her more salt water… until she died from dehydration.”
“Why did she borrow money from all of you?” asked Jiang Zhengkai, looking completely unconvinced at what A-Ying had just told him.
“She… she didn’t borrow the money…” A-Ying took a glance at Jiang Zhengkai. She saw that his expression was very casual, but she also saw that his eyes were boring holes straight through her head. She pondered about it for a while before finally deciding to tell the truth. “We pooled our money together to buy heroin, but A-Xiu was the one who came up with the idea.”
“How much money in total?” Jiang Zhengkai continued asking.
“About 300,000,” A-Ying recalled.
“And then what happened?” Jiang Zhengkai continued to ask as he looked at A-Ying. 300,000 yuan was not an insignificant sum for seven prostitutes.
“We gave the money to A-Xiu. She arranged for delivery from her supplier, but the day after she took the money, she was arrested and taken to the police station. She stayed there for about half a month. We were all worried sick that we would never see our money, so we went to confront her as soon as she came back. We told her to either get the drugs or give us our money back. She told us that her supplier had fled, and that she had no idea where the money went,” A-Ying recounted. “When she said that, we all flew into a rage. Finally, A-Xue said that maybe A-Xiu had purposely hid the money somewhere and didn’t want to return it to us. We grew even angrier once we heard that, so A-Bi came up with the idea of force-feeding her salt water. We didn’t think drinking salt water could kill you, just make you feel uncomfortable. We set up another meeting with A-Xiu, this time at the place we wanted. We overpowered her and then tied her to a long bench, before we started force-feeding her salt water. We wanted her to tell us where our money was, but… but we got carried away, and eventually ended up killing her…”
“So you don’t know who A-Xiu gave the money to?” Jiang Zhengkai kept up with the questioning. Based on what he already knew, it didn’t appear that A-Ying was lying.
“No, I don’t,” A-Ying shook her head, “A-Xiu was the sole point of contact with the supplier. Actually, we were all very scared when we realized that we had killed A-Xiu. Later, we found out that Sui Dequan had died and his minions had all fled town. We thought that maybe we were wrong about A-Xiu, but it was too late. She was dead and would never come back to life, so afterwards, all of us agreed to never bring this matter up ever again. If anyone asked, we would just say that A-Xiu went back home.”
“Do you know A-Di?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as he nodded his head.
“A-Di?” A-Ying thought for a while before shaking her head. She looked at Jiang Zhengkai with a terrified expression on her face and said, “I… I really can’t remember…”
“She was the woman who used to live with A-Xiu,” Jiang Zhengkai reminded her.
“Oh, her…” A-Ying spent some more time trying to remember her before finally saying, “I don’t really remember her all that well. I think A-Xiu mentioned her the night she died. As for the specifics, I honestly don’t remember.”
“Was she still living with A-Xiu when A-Xiu died?” Jiang Zhengkai continued asking.
“No,” A-Ying confidently replied. “Ever since A-Xiu was taken away by the cops, we would often go over to her place. We didn’t see anyone else there. Oh yeah, but we did see A-Jiao outside of A-Xiu’s home once.”
“A-Jiao,” Jiang Zhengkai repeated.
“Yes. We didn’t know her that well back then. It was me, A-Xue, and A-Hua that went over that time,” A-Ying continued. “When the three of us saw A-Jiao coming out of A-Xiu’s place, we asked her if she could give us the keys. Well, not only did she refuse to give us A-Xiu’s keys, but she also gave the three of us a beating.”
“Really?” Jiang Zhengkai couldn’t help but smile and shake his head as he heard A-Ying recount that story. He simply couldn’t imagine how A-Jiao was able to dish out a beatdown to three women all at once.