Chapter 80: The Mysterious A-Di
Right before lunchtime, Jiang Zhengkai left the narcotics division’s office. The division’s officer-in-charge Zou Chunjian saw Jiang Zhengkai out. The two chatted for a while in the hallway before each returned to his respective office.
After Jiang Zhengkai sat down at his desk, he took out his memo pad and went over in his head everything he had learned. The information provided by Zou Chunjian coupled with the various documents collected during the two-year manhunt for the Bald Wolf and the subsequent crackdown on the Sui Dequan crime family made it seem like the prostitute-run drug trafficking ring in the alley involved only Sui Dequan and not the Bald Wolf. This information corresponded with what Uncle Gao had already told Jiang Zhengkai the night before.
So was the fact that A-Jiao knew all of the prostitutes involved in the drug ring a mere coincidence or was there another reason? Jiang Zhengkai’s train of thought returned to A-Jiao again, especially when it came to A-Di. How did A-Jiao know A-Di? As these thoughts coursed through his head, he looked up at the wall clock. It was exactly twelve noon. Was A-Jiao eating lunch right now? Jiang Zhengkai had already taken out his cell phone and placed it on the desk but then proceeded to tap his fingers on the desk all the way until 12:30 before finally deciding to call A-Jiao.
“Hello? What is it?” A-Jiao said over the phone.
“How’s your afternoon looking?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as he rubbed his temples. He didn’t know what to say to A-Jiao as he couldn’t very well tell her that he suspected her of being involved in the murders. Of course, deep down inside, Jiang Zhengkai still believed A-Jiao wasn’t involved, but one couldn’t blame him for having some doubts in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
“I don’t have any classes in the afternoon,” A-Jiao happily replied, “What? You want to take me out?” She was always happy to receive Jiang Zhengkai’s phone calls. She would never have thought that Jiang Zhengkai was starting to suspect that she was involved in the serial murders.
“Oh, is that so?” Jiang Zhengkai heard the happiness in A-Jiao’s voice, which had somewhat infected his mood as well, “Where do you want to go? I’ll go with you!”
“Really?” Hearing Jiang Zhengkai agree to her request naturally made her very happy. “Alright then! Come find me in the preschool. I’ll be in my art studio.”
“Ok!” Jiang Zhengkai very crisply answered before hanging up the phone. He sat at his desk and went over his thoughts again before finally getting up to leave his office.
Jiang Zhengkai grabbed some food on the way to the preschool. One supposed that that was going to be his lunch. As a cop, he wasn’t a stranger to rough conditions, so it wasn’t a big deal to him. He parked his police cruiser near the preschool and quickly ate his lunch inside the car. He didn’t call A-Jiao to tell her to come out; rather, he went straight to the art studio to find her. He knew the art studio was A-Jiao’s favorite place in the preschool, her own slice of heaven.
“That was quick, Honey!” A-Jiao turned around and smiled at Jiang Zhengkai when she felt someone standing next to her, “Where do you want to take me?”
“You tell me!” said Jiang Zhengkai as he turned around and looked at the door. Seeing no one, he placed his arm around A-Jiao’s neck, “What are you drawing, Honey?”
“You’re so clingy!” Although that’s what A-Jiao’s mouth said, her body did quite the opposite as her head pressed up against Jiang Zhengkai’s body. “Oh, I’m just drawing whatever comes to my mind.” Indeed, her paintings today were quite random. They looked like visualizations of her vivid imagination.
“So where are we going?” Jiang Zhengkai asked A-Jiao quietly after he heard her explanation.
“Anywhere is fine with me,” A-Jiao warmly responded as she continued to lean against Jiang Zhengkai, “I’ll be happy to go anywhere as long as it’s with you.”
“Alright then, I’ll take you for a drive.” He then stood up and joyfully said to A-Jiao, “Today’s not the weekend, so there shouldn’t be too many people at the beach. How about let’s go to the beach?”
“Sounds good!” A-Jiao nodded in response. Even though this city sat on the sea, it wasn’t like A-Jiao had time to go to the beach everyday.
A-Jiao and Jiang Zhengkai walked hand-in-hand to where he parked his police car. He then let A-Jiao sit in the front passenger seat before starting the car and driving towards the direction of the beach.
“Honey, why do you have so much free time today? I can’t believe you’d take me to the beach on a weekday,” said A-Jiao as she sat in the car, pursed her lips, and looked at Jiang Zhengkai with slightly blushing cheeks, “You’re going to ask me more questions, aren’t you?”
“Hehe, what are you talking about?” Jiang Zhengkai smiled awkwardly in response to A-Jiao’s accusation, “I’m here to celebrate… I’m here because I don’t have much going on today!”
“Yeah, right! I’d believed more if you told me you were here to celebrate progress on your case,” said A-Jiao as she tilted her head in one direction, “Spit it out! What are you going to ask me?”
“What, now?” As he heard what A-Jiao said, Jiang Zhengkai purposely pulled over and stopped on the side of the road, “Can we talk about it once we get to the beach?”
“No! The beach is such a romantic place! I don’t want to ruin the mood with your stupid questions,” stated A-Jiao as she shook her head with the force of tidal waves.
“Alright then.” Jiang Zhengkai fell silent for a moment and then asked A-Jiao, “I want to know about your relationship with A-Di.”
“A-Di?” Having heard Jiang Zhengkai’s question, A-Jiao gently placed her hand next to her mouth and then softly bit her lips. Clearly, A-Di wasn’t one of the sisters with whom she was particularly close, “I kind of remember that person, but… wait, Honey, did you bring her portrait?”
“Oh, yes, it’s right here!” Jiang Zhengkai immediately fetched a roll of portraits from the backseat of the police cruiser. The roll contained the seven portraits of A-Jiao’s deceased sisters from the alley.
“Oh, her! I remember now,” said A-Jiao as she took the portrait from Jiang Zhengkai’s hands and started looking at it, “She’s from the same hometown as A-Xiu. I didn’t know her too well, but when I first arrived at the alley, she was living with Sister Xiu. That’s why when I was thinking back to Sister Xiu, I went ahead and drew A-Di as well.”
“I see! Then do you know when she left this place?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as he took the portrait back into this hands and rolled it up with the others before placing them back on the back seat.
“Around…” A-Jiao’s expression became somewhat perplexed. She didn’t know how to tell Jiang Zhengkai because she didn’t actually have an opportunity to say goodbye to A-Xiu before she left. It was right when A-Tao, also known as Xue “the Bald Wolf” Guangliang, had been wounded and needed someone to take care of him, so she spent several days by his side. The business with A-Tao was the only thing she chose to keep secret from Jiang Zhengkai. “Probably before Sister Xiu left the alley, but I wasn’t feeling well then, so I skipped out on quite a few days of work. I’m afraid I can’t pinpoint exactly when she left,” A-Jiao finally responded in a vague manner.
“Alright,” Jiang Zhengkai nodded once A-Jiao finished speaking. “Did A-Di ever return to the alley after that? Did she ever… ever work in the alley before?”
“No, she never did,” A-Jiao answered very confidently, “But I dp know she worked in the sex trade before. She came here specifically to find A-Xiu. She normally works in the provincial capital.”
“Really?” A light bulb suddenly went off in Jiang Zhengkai’s head after he heard the last thing A-Jiao told him. He knew A-Jiao was purposely hiding something from him, but he trusted A-Jiao and didn’t want to force her into telling him her secret. He believed that one day, she would tell him what that secret was, although he wasn’t quite certain if that secret had any bearing on the murder case.
“Yes!” A-Jiao nodded firmly, “I just know I never saw her in the alley again.”
“Alright! Let’s get going then,” said Jiang Zhengkai right before he turned over the engine. However, he suddenly thought of Yin Zhumei, so he said, “One more thing! Do you know of a woman called Yin Zhumei? She wasn’t one of the alley girls; she was a nurse.”
“A nurse?” A-Jiao was now starting to get a little tired of all the questions. She looked incredulously at Jiang Zhengkai, “Umm… do you have any other information for me to go on?”
“Oh! Her husband was Zhu Yuping, the one who wrote letters home for A-Mei.” Jiang Zhengkai saw A-Jiao’s expression and knew she truly wasn’t trying to hide anything from him.
“Oh, her!” exclaimed A-Jiao as a look of scorn appeared on her face, “Yeah, she was a bitch.”
“Oh?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as he switched off the car engine again. He then continued to ask, “Why do you say that?”
“Do you know how Xiaomei ended up being a prostitute in the first place?” said A-Jiao as she bit her lips and looked at Jiang Zhengkai, “It was all because of those two! The husband was a bastard and the wife was a bitch!” Afterwards, A-Jiao shifted her gaze to the car window and looked outside for a while before turning back towards Jiang Zhengkai, “Xiaomei started out as a renter in one of the apartments in the alley. She worked as a receptionist at a nearby hotel. One day, when Xiaomei asked him for help to write a letter home, Zhu Yuping raped her. Later, when Yin Zhumei found out about it, she called over a group of men to gang-rape Xiaomei. They stripped her naked and threw her out into the alley. In the end, it was a group of us prostitutes that ended up saving Xiaomei.” At this point, A-Jiao sighed again, “Women really are strange sometimes. Afterwards, Xiaomei cut off all contact with Zhu Yuping for some time, but a little while later, she started going to him to write letters home again. This time, however, Yin Zhumei didn’t do anything bad to Xiaomei. That woman either didn’t care anymore or didn’t find out the second time around.”
“I see,” Jiang Zhengkai nodded his head after he finished hearing the story, “Alright, let’s go! Forget about all this stuff!” He then started the car and drove to where he and A-Jiao could take a long walk on the beach.