Chapter 67: Doubts about the Black Spots
By the time A-Jiao and Jiang Zhengkai left the scene of the sixth murder, it was already approaching midnight. In the dead of night, the entire city became deathly quiet, as if it had fallen into a deep slumber. Because A-Shun had previously informed his prostitutes that the police would be working a case in the alley tonight, none of the girls bothered to show up to work. As a result, as the two of them walked back, A-Jiao didn’t have to worry about a crazy woman coming out of nowhere to say hi to her.
As A-Jiao and Jiang Zhengkai approached the entrance to the alley, Lu Xiaoqiang politely asked, “Inspector Jiang, did you want me to drive you and the madam home?” Even though he knew about A-Jiao’s prior profession, he hadn’t the slightest contempt for her. After all, his college tuition had been paid by his deceased sister Xiaomei selling her own body.
“No need,” replied Jiang Zhengkai as he pulled A-Jiao closer into his embrace, “We’ll just walk back. Why don’t you drive our other colleagues back home? We’d like to take some time to enjoy the night scenery.” Ever since Jiang Zhengkai had moved in with A-Jiao, he rarely drove when he had the opportunity to walk together with A-Jiao. He liked strolling freely through the city’s streets with A-Jiao in his arms.
“Let’s go, Xiaoqiang!” said Mu Mingyuan as he pulled Lu Xiaoqiang away. “Can’t you see? Now that your boss is being serviced by a personal assistant, he no longer needs your help as his professional assistant.” He shoved Lu Xiaoqiang straight into the driver’s seat. “Jiang, old boy, don’t overexert yourself tonight! Or did you want us to request a day off for you tomorrow?” he said as he jumped inside the police cruiser. Jiang Zhengkai couldn’t help but shake his head and chuckle as the police cruiser quickly sped away.
“Shall we head back?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as his focus shifted from the police cruiser back to A-Jiao. “You should put on more clothes next time we go out at night. It’s quite chilly, you know.” As he spoke, Jiang Zhengkai removed his own coat and placed it on A-Jiao’s shoulders.
“Honey, do they know I was…” asked A-Jiao as she snuggled closer into Jiang Zhengkai’s embrace. Her body leaned at an incline against his as she let him almost push her forward as he walked. Clearly, she wanted to ask him if they knew she had been a prostitute.
“No way!” Jiang Zhengkai looked down and used his hand to gently brush A-Jiao’s hair. “Even if they did know, we’re not afraid!” In Jiang Zhengkai’s mind, he was already planning to resign, only he didn’t want to tell A-Jiao about this plan. He knew A-Jiao wouldn’t agree, and it was very possible that if she were to ever find out, she would leave him once again and hide in a place where he could never find her.
“Really?” A-Jiao quietly asked him. Although she was worried about Jiang Zhengkai’s colleagues finding out about her former profession, she cared more what he personally thought. Since Jiang Zhengkai answered with such firmness, her heart felt a little bit better. Therefore, she would not dwell on this question any longer.
They walked silently for a while before she softly asked, “Honey, when you have free time, could you take me to see Sister A-Xiu’s remains?”
“Yes,” Jiang Zhengkai crisply answered. “We can go on a day when you don’t have night classes,” he added. “She’s right inside the sub-bureau’s morgue.”
“Okay. Thank you, Honey!” When A-Jiao saw how easily Jiang Zhengkai granted her request, she looked at him, full of gratitude.
Jiang Zhengkai smoothly placed his fingers on her nose and gently squeezed it. “Silly girl! You are mine, and I am yours, so what need is there to thank me?”
While the two of them were slowly walking hand-in-hand on the sidewalk, a little more than thirty meters behind them was a sturdy and agile figure who had been secretly stalking them the entire time. It was none other than A-Meng. He continued to loyally obey his orders. He didn’t know why A-Tao didn’t recall him back to the internet cafe, or why A-Tao didn’t give the order for him to get rid of the man walking beside A-Jiao. In his eyes, his mission to protect her had become somewhat redundant. Jiang Zhengkai practically took up all of her free time. Besides, A-Jiao liked being glued to this man. By following them around all day, A-Meng had to put up with repeated displays of affection, which was something that he would rather not see. However, orders were meant to be followed, whether you liked them or not. Therefore, he persisted in his duties day after boring day.
The next morning, Jiang Zhengkai sent A-Jiao to the preschool. He watched A-Jiao disappear inside before he felt comfortable enough to leave. At the same time, A-Meng left a nearby dark corner and proceeded towards the rented apartment next to the preschool. A-Tao had made him start secretly guarding A-Jiao ever since Qiao Yunting had been victimized and A-Tao had found out that A-Jiao herself had also been sexually assaulted.
By the time Jiang Zhengkai arrived at his office, Lu Xiaoqiang hadn’t reported to work yet. Although young people had more energy, they also needed more sleep. Even though both Jiang Zhengkai and Lu Xiaoqiang had stayed up late last night working on the case, Lu Xiaoqiang’s need for more sleep ensured that he did not wake up at his normal hour the way Jiang Zhengkai did.
Jiang Zhengkai sat down in his chair and turned on his computer. At that moment, his mind returned to the crime scene last night. He carefully re-examined what Mu Mingyuan had told him, hoping to find within them some kind of a breakthrough or new possibility. From what he could gather from Mu Mingyuan’s words last night, Jiang Zhengkai had the distinct impression that Mu Mingyuan didn’t fully believe the premise that the black spots were the result of refracted light. Nevertheless, Mu Mingyuan hadn’t been able to offer up an alternate theory, which is why he also went to survey the crime scene himself.
After turning the matter over in his mind, it became very easy for Jiang Zhengkai to reach the same conclusion that Mu Mingyuan had. Indeed, the explanation that the black spots were caused by refracted light left too many questions unanswered, with the biggest one being why the black spots eventually disappeared and didn’t remain with the window. But if the black spots in the room weren’t caused by refracted light, then what were they the result of? According to Wu Xiuping’s testimony, he firmly denied seeing anyone enter that room prior to the police. Perhaps there really were ghosts in this world? At this point, Jiang Zhengkai furrowed his brow. As a police officer, he didn’t believe in such imaginary things.
“Did you come here early, Inspector Jiang?” At around noon, a yawning Lu Xiaoqiang walked into Jiang Zhengkai’s office. “These are the documents Sergeant Zhang faxed over this morning. He said he was able to verify what happened that night in window five’s unit. That night, the meat merchant and his wife were both standing in front of the window looking at the commotion at the crime scene. Because they had a guest over that night, their account was corroborated by the sworn testimony of their guest.” As he spoke, Lu Xiaoqiang placed the fax on the desk in front of Jiang Zhengkai.
“I see,” replied Jiang Zhengkai. He picked up the report and started reading it. The merchant, his wife, and the guest had all been separately questioned by Zhang Nan. All of their stories matched up, which indicated that they were telling the truth. Although the main line of questioning concerned what had happened the night of the murder, the interrogation report included questions and answers of wholly unrelated topics. The reason why the interrogator did this was to purposely confuse the witness as to the true line of questioning so that the police could better tell whether a person was trying to cover up or avoid answering the main questions.
“And what about A-Shun’s unit?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as he finished reading the report and looked up at Lu Xiaoqiang. “Are there any leads from window three?”
“No solid leads yet,” Lu Xiaoqiang shook his head. “But according to answers provided by A-Shun during his questioning, the person using the unit with window three on the night of the seventh murder was most likely A-Xue.”
“A-Xue?” Jiang Zhengkai asked in genuine surprise as he looked at Lu Xiaoqiang. So A-Xue was the victim of the eighth murder, and she was in window three’s unit on the night of the seventh murder? What did this mean?
“Correct!” Lu Xiaoqiang nodded. “Sergeant Zhang said A-Shun asked all of the women who were working that night. They all said they never went inside that room, but a woman named A-Sha said she seemed to remember seeing A-Xue enter it. However, that woman wasn’t completely certain. Other than her, no one else remembered seeing anyone going into that room.”
“Tell Zhang Nan to immediately find this A-Sha woman! And then bring A-Shun back in for questioning as well!” Jiang Zhengkai then stood up and said, “Let’s go, Xiaoqiang! Let’s head over to the station right now. I want to personally hear what this A-Sha woman and A-Shun have to say about that night!”