Chapter 78: Viewing a Corpse on a Rainy Day
It continued to rain as Jiang Zhengkai and A-Jiao left Uncle Cai’s noodle shop. A-Jiao handed her umbrella over to Jiang Zhengkai and then placed her head on his shoulder. Meanwhile, Jiang Zhengkai held her in his embrace before the two walked out hugging one another.
“Honey, can we not go home yet?” A-Jiao asked softly as she cuddled in Jiang Zhengkai’s embrace. “You said I could come with you to take a look at Sister Xiu.”
“Today?” Jiang Zhengkai stopped dead in his tracks as he heard A-Jiao’s request. “But it’s raining today,” he said as he looked at A-Jiao uncertainly. His point was clear: aren’t you scared to visit the police morgue on such a stormy evening?
“Can I please go?” begged A-Jiao. “I miss her. I just want to see her…”
“Okay, fine,” acquiesced Jiang Zhengkai when he saw the look on A-Jiao’s face. No man would be able to resist the woman he loved if she wore such an expression.
Just like that, amidst wind, rain, thunder, and lightning, Jiang Zhengkai and A-Jiao arrived at the police sub-bureau. They walked to the morgue and stood in front of the entrance. The morgue guards let them in without a second thought when they saw Jiang Zhengkai. He very easily found the label for A-Xiu’s remains and proceeded to pull her skeletal corpse out of the freezer.
A-Jiao stood to the side and silently looked on as Jiang Zhengkai went about retrieving the body. Tears streamed continuously down her cheek. Was this skeleton resting on this freezing slab really the same woman who had once saved her life? Was this the really the big sister who had loved and cared for her? As she dwelled on such things, A-Jiao’s tears flew down from her face like unchained pearls from a broken necklace.
“Alright, here she is,” said Jiang Zhengkai as he pulled back the sheet that was covering A-Xiu’s body. He then stood next to A-Jiao and gently held her. He knew that in this moment of pain, A-Jiao needed his help and support. She gently leaned her body into him as they slowly trod towards A-Xiu’s corpse, her legs feeling like they had turned to lead.
“Honey, can I touch her?” A-Jiao asked in a grief-stricken voice.
“Sure you can,” Jiang Zhengkai said as he carefully supported her. He would probably agree to any request A-Jiao had, short of wanting to remove A-Xiu’s body from the morgue.
Hearing his reply, A-Jiao let out a deep sigh. She then wiped away her tears and briefly stopped sobbing. She reached out her hand and touched the skin covering A-Xiu’s skeletal face. A-Xiu’s skin had already detached from her skull, so her face really wasn’t a face anymore, even if the skin still covered the bones.
A-Jiao’s hand rubbed A-Xiu’s facial regions for a while as she affectionately gazed at the skeleton on the morgue bed. What she did next, however, caused a slight bit of alarm in Jiang Zhengkai. A-Jiao’s hand followed the contours of A-Xiu’s skeletal body and moved downwards as she gradually pushed the sheet covering A-Xiu’s body onto the floor. With the removal of the sheet, A-Xiu’s naked body-skeleton was completely exposed. As A-Jiao’s hand moved further down A-Xiu’s body, her sobs gradually stopped.
Outside the morgue, torrential rains continued their downpour as thunder cracked loudly overhead and lightning streaked down from the sky. At that very moment, the scene in the morgue would send terror into even the bravest souls. As another streak of lightning lit up the sky, A-Jiao turned around and looked expressionlessly at Jiang Zhengkai. Her normally beautiful face appeared ghostly pale under the lightning’s glare. If it weren’t for the fact that he knew this was the woman he loved, Jiang Zhengkai would be inclined to believe he was face to face with some sort of she-demon.
“It’s not Sister Xiu!” came the sound from A-Jiao’s mouth as she moved her lips. It was a very quiet sound, but to Jiang Zhengkai’s ears, it might as well have had the force of one of the myriad thunderclaps that shook the night sky.
“It’s not A-Xiu?” asked Jiang Zhengkai, as the hand that was supporting A-Jiao suddenly grew stiff. Even though the interrogation session earlier in the day had made him doubt whether these skeletal remains really were A-Xiu, hearing A-Jiao actually say such words out loud here on this rainy night still made the hairs on the back of his neck crawl.
“No, it’s not Sister Xiu!” repeated A-Jiao. She then leaned closely into Jiang Zhengkai. “Honey, I’m so scared!” As she spoke, she buried her face into his chest, which had grown cold from fear and terror. People were strange like that. Once A-Jiao had realized that the body lying there was a stranger to her, that it didn’t use to be someone close to her, the sight of it inexplicably struck fear in her heart.
“But…” muttered Jiang Zhengkai as he tightly held A-Jiao’s body and caressed her icy cold face. He had wanted to ask how she knew it wasn’t A-Xiu, but when he felt A-Jiao shuddering in fear, he forced the words back from the tip of his tongue.
After a long while, A-Jiao’s mood gradually improved. She opened her eyes and turned her back on the skeleton as she said to Jiang Zhengkai, “Sister Xiu had a child. She delivered the baby via c-section, so she has a small scar on her lower abdomen. This skeleton, however, doesn’t; her lower abdomen is smooth and scarless. Also, Sister Xiu’s left kneecap is different from most people’s. She sustained an injury to her left knee when she was little, so her left kneecap isn’t round like a normal person’s.”
After hearing A-Jiao’s explanation, Jiang Zhengkai firmly kissed her cheek in excitement. “Thank you, Honey! I love you to death!” Right now, Jiang Zhengkai had a sense of unsuppressable excitement. A-Xiu wasn’t dead! If A-Xiu wasn’t dead, then who was the primary suspect in these serial murders? Duh, it was A-Xiu of course! Even an idiot could guess as much!
“Ew, gross!” complained A-Jiao as she rubbed her cheek. She looked back at the skeleton on the morgue bed. “What do you mean you love me to death?”
“Sorry!” apologized Jiang Zhengkai as he covered her mouth. “My bad, Honey!”
“Fine. Let’s put her back and leave her in peace,” said A-Jiao as she stood next to the skeleton once more. She seemed to perform Buddhist burial rites for the corpse, before she placed the sheet cover back on the remains. Finally, she and Jiang Zhengkai pushed the body back into the morgue freezer.
After exiting the morgue, even though it was still raining, A-Jiao felt much better. A smile appeared once more on her face. Obviously, she didn’t care whether A-Xiu was the serial killer. She was just happy that the person lying in the morgue wasn’t A-Xiu.
“Honey, what did you do for that corpse just then?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as he wrapped his arm around her and unfurled the umbrella. He imitated the gestures A-Jiao had made with his free hand.
“Want to learn?” asked A-Jiao as a naughty smile appeared on her face. “But I’m going to have to charge!” She reached her hand out towards Jiang Zhengkai as she spoke.
“Haha! Is five yuan enough?” Seeing A-Jiao’s extended hand, he really did dig up five yuan from his pocket and placed it into A-Jiao’s hand.
“Hey, what are you doing?” A-Jiao asked in confusion, before she realized what Jiang Zhengkai was referencing. “Hmph! You’re such a perv! Is sex all you think about? God, you’re so perverted!”
“Hehe! No, I’m not!” Jiang Zhengkai laughed so hard he could hardly keep his back straight. “So… you want ten yuan?”
“I hate you! I hate you!” A-Jiao grabbed one of the yuan bill’s corners and viciously used it to slap Jiang Zhengkai’s face. Of course, everyone should know just how ineffective a paper bill is at inflicting pain, but then again, the purpose of the yuan bill wasn’t to act as a weapon but rather to act as an instrument of flirting.
“Alright! Alright! I’m sorry!” said Jiang Zhengkai as he begged for mercy. He had nowhere to run in the midst of this storm, so he had to endure A-Jiao’s affectionate attacks.
“That’s not enough! You have to carry me!” A-Jiao stopped moving her hands and placed them akimbo on her hips, as if to say she was very angry.
“No problem, Honey!” Jiang Zhengkai readily agreed before he squatted down. “But you have to tell me what you did to that body.”
“Haven’t you ever heard of the saying ‘curiosity killed the cat?’” said A-Jiao as she climbed onto Jiang Zhengkai’s back. “That was a Tibetan Buddhist burial rite meant to release the soul from purgatory. Stop laughing! I learned the ritual from a living buddha!” She made a sly smile as she viciously rapped his head with her knuckles. “Alright! Let’s go home!”