Chapter 68: A-Sha’s Statement
Inside one of the Ju’an Police Station’s interrogation rooms sat Jiang Zhengkai and Lu Xiaoqiang. Across from them sat a provocatively-dressed and seductive-looking woman. That woman was A-Sha.
“You’re the one they call A-Sha?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as he held up her official police dossier. Since the dossier provided detailed background information on A-Sha, Jiang Zhengkai dispensed with asking the other routine procedural questions.
“Yes,” A-Sha nodded. Her eyes wandered all about the room. Clearly, Jiang Zhengkai’s questions made her somewhat nervous.
“You said during last month’s murder, you saw A-Xue walking into this room?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as he placed a diagram of the alley on the table and pointed at the room containing window three.
“I… I was just… just making a casual remark!” replied A-Sha as she became emotionally agitated by Jiang Zhengkai’s question, “I didn’t exactly see her go in, but that night, A-Xue and I worked in the section of the alley right below that building. There are only two rooms in that building for us to use. I used one, so A-Xue must’ve used the other one. Where else could she go if she had a john?” Her statement was both a reply and a question.
“Is that so?” Jiang Zhengkai asked rhetorically. He then put down the diagram, stared right into A-Sha’s eyes, and asked, “So you’re saying you didn’t actually see her walk in?”
“Officer… I…” A-Jiao facial expression clearly showed signs of unease, and she started to stammer, “I… I can’t say… can’t say for sure… that I didn’t see her!” At this point, she took a nervous gulp of saliva before she continued, “We… we took some johns in together! She… she was in front of me… and went there…” She became increasingly more nervous as she spoke, and her body started to shake visibly. “Officer, Xue’er was like a sister to me! I didn’t kill her! I swear I didn’t kill her! Please don’t… please don’t frame me for her murder!” Her body now shook violently. It looked like she thought Jiang Zhengkai brought her in because he thought she had killed A-Xue.
“Oh?” Jiang Zhengkai’s shifted his gaze away from A-Sha’s face. He knew the woman across from him was a nervous wreck. As for whether she killed A-Xue, that was not a question that Jiang Zhengkai thought needed answering today. Besides, his instincts told him that this woman wasn’t a killer. As a prostitute, A-Sha wasn’t exactly a law-abiding citizen, but she didn’t have a killer’s instinct either. She was timid and afraid. It would be very difficult for someone like her to kill another person.
“Everything I told you is the truth!” A-Sha’s face had already become ghostly pale, “I… I… I didn’t kill A-Xue… she… she…”
“Alright, I believe you!” said Jiang Zhengkai in a much more relaxed tone. His gaze shifted back onto A-Sha’s face, “But only if you honestly tell me whether or not you saw A-Xue entering that room.”
“Ok!” A-Sha crisply answered, although her body was still trembling, “Officer, I… I’d like to use the restroom first…”
“Fine, go!” Jiang Zhengkai raised his head, looked at the two female officers flanking A-Sha, and instructed, “Take good care of her!” His instructions to the female officers served two purposes. First, he wanted them to keep an eye on A-Sha in case she tried something sneaky, like escaping out of the restroom. Second, he wanted them to prevent her from doing something stupid, like trying to commit suicide in the restroom. Jiang Zhengkai thought the latter was more likely as he could tell she was scared out of her mind.
Soon thereafter, A-Sha returned from the bathroom while escorted by the two female officers. Under the watchful eyes of the two female officers, neither of the possibilities had a chance of becoming reality. A-Sha returned to her chair, her body still shaking slightly, but her mood had stabilized somewhat. The visit to the restroom was, for A-Sha, a way for her to calm her nerves. She raised her head, locked gazes with Jiang Zhengkai for a moment before bowing her head once again. She vigorously rubbed her knees with her hands before finally mustering the courage to speak, “Officer! That night, I did see A-Xue walk into that room, and I saw her come out. After she came out, A-Xue said to me that the sister who died that night wasn’t actually dead. She said the girl went crazy and was laughing maniacally.”
“Oh?” Upon hearing A-Sha’s description, Jiang Zhengkai suddenly felt a sense of fear in his heart. Could it be that these murders all had witnesses who chose to remain silent, who didn’t want to testify? Realizing the possibility that A-Sha might actually be an eyewitness, Jiang Zhengkai changed his attitude and became much friendlier, “A-Sha, don’t worry. I know you didn’t kill A-Xue. So you said A-Xue saw that the girl inside the room didn’t die? Why did she tell you this? Also, did she tell you about anything else she saw in the room?
“The two of us were practically like sisters!” said A-Sha as her nose began to sniffle, “We ate together and lived together. We even came to this city together. I wouldn’t kill her, I swear!” She repeated one more time that she wasn’t A-Xue’s murderer. “She had no one else to confide in other than me.” At this point, she raised her head and looked at Jiang Zhengkai, “She didn’t know that girl, but she did say the scene inside the room was terrifying…” She repeated what A-Xue had told her one more time. It matched exactly with what Wu Xiuping saw.
“Did she say if there was someone or something else in the room?” Jiang Zhengkai continued with the questioning after hearing A-Sha’s account.
“A-Xue was just really scared.” A-Sha looked at Jiang Zhengkai before lowering her head again, “She said there was no one else in the room, but she also said she had this feeling that something was watching her.”
“There was no one, but there was something?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as he looked at A-Sha in surprise.
“Yes… that’s right!” replied A-Sha, “That’s what she said! I didn’t believe her at the time, but… but two days later, A-Xue… died…” At this juncture, A-Sha began crying uncontrollably.
Jiang Zhengkai listened to to A-Sha and knew this woman wasn’t lying, but he also had this nagging feeling that he was forgetting something. He thought there was something else he wanted to ask her but didn’t know where to begin. Finally, he asked the crying woman, “A-Sha, I think… how about this? Why don’t you stay here at the station for the next few days?”
“Stay at the station?” Upon hearing the question, A-Sha raised her trembling head, “Officer… but I… I didn’t kill Xue’er…”
“I know! I know!” Jiang Zhengkai waved his hand in response. He obviously didn’t want to hear A-Sha explain one more time how she didn’t kill A-Xue. He glanced at A-Sha, then said in a softer tone, “You aren’t being detained. If you stay here, it’ll be of your own free will, but as an incentive, we’ll pay for all your meals while you’re here. If at any point, you want to leave, you will be free to go. Look, I just don’t want the same thing that happened to A-Xue to happen to you.”
“Well, if you put it that way…” said A-Sha as she stopped crying and looked gratefully at Jiang Zhengkai, “Thank you, officer! I’ll do what you say.” She really was grateful towards Jiang Zhengkai right now. She was a lowly prostitute, so it wasn’t everyday that someone cared about whether she lived or died.
Jiang Zhengkai smiled but didn’t otherwise respond. He waved at the two female officers standing beside A-Sha. They knew the interview was over, so they led A-Sha out of the interrogation room. Afterwards, Jiang Zhengkai whispered a few sentences into Lu Xiaoqiang’s ear, who then nodded his head and headed out of the room as well. His assignment was actually just to notify Zhang Nan to find A-Sha some appropriate living quarters and to make sure she gets three square meals a day. Back in the day, Jiang Zhengkai wouldn’t have been so concerned about the well-being of a prostitute, but ever since he fell in love with A-Jiao, he had begun to feel pity towards the women who worked in the alley. Perhaps this was a love me, love my dog kind of situation?
When Lu Xiaoqiang returned to the interrogation room, A-Shun had just been escorted in by a male police officer. They were old acquaintances by now, so there was no need to go through any police formalities. As for A-Shun’s interrogation, it was much simpler. In fact, at times it felt like a casual conversation.
“How’s your kid, A-Shun? Is he getting better?” Jiang Zhengkai didn’t ask about the alley; instead he started by asking A-Shun about his child.
“He’s doing better, Inspector Jiang!” replied A-Shun, his voice clearly showing a certain degree of gratitude. He didn’t think a cop would care about the well-being of a pimp and his child.
“That’s good!” said Jiang Zhengkai as he motioned for Lu Xiaoqiang to give A-Shun a cigarette. When he saw A-Shun had lit the cigarette, he continued, “Let’s just have a casual chat today, even though our surroundings aren’t ideal. I hope you don’t mind.” Jiang Zhengkai wasn’t trying to be sarcastic just now. The station was indeed somewhat biased against A-Sha and A-Shun. They weren’t being treated like witnesses assisting a police investigation; instead, they were treated like suspects, which is why they had been led to an interrogation room as opposed to a conference room.
“I understand!” responded A-Shun. He didn’t actually mind the fact that he was in an interrogation room. After all, it was the only room he knew in the police station. He probably would’ve been more weirded out had this conversation been taking place somewhere other than an interrogation room. “Inspector Jiang, just go ahead and ask me what it is you want to know!” A-Shun politely told Jiang Zhengkai, “If I know something, I will make sure to tell you!”