Memory Lost (美人为馅): Chapter 15 22


Chapter 15: His Tenacity

A woman’s instinct can sometimes be a strange thing.

For example today, whether or not she eats breakfast or whom she eats it with is really a small and unimportant matter.  But recalling the back view of Han Chen walking away by himself, Bai Jin Xi feels uneasy for some reason.

Thinking about it again, she’s probably just too soft-hearted.

Sitting in the car heading back to the station, Zhou Xiao Zhuan glances at Bai Jin Xi.

After a while, he glances at her again.

Bai Jin Xi ties up a bag of Xiaolongbao (steamed soup buns), puts it inside an insulated bag, and asks without lifting her head, “Why are you looking at me?”

Xiao Zhuan feels a bit hurt, “Leader, do you have feelings for Han Chen?  You didn’t even go eat breakfast with Forensic Investigator Xu.”

Bai Jin Xi decides to ignore him.

“But if you really do fall in love, I’ll definitely support you,” Xiao Zhuan says with determination, “We have no choice but to dump Forensic Investigator Xu.”

“Rest assured,” Bai Jin Xi puts both of her hands behind her head, “No matter whom I fall in love with, it won’t be Han Chen.”

“Why?”

Bai Jin Xi looks to the front, “His mood is too heavy.”
_____

They arrive to the station soon after.

Bai Jin Xi pushes open the office door and sees Han Chen sitting by the window with a sandwich in his hand while staring at the whiteboard.  There are many things written on it.

Hearing the noise, he glances at her, takes a bite from his sandwich, and continues looking at the whiteboard.

Bai Jin Xi recognizes that sandwich; it’s from the Starbucks just up the front of the street.

What’s good about it?

She walks over, and puts the warm steamed buns onto the table, “Here, eat this.  Why did you leave in such a hurry?  I didn’t know that Xu Si Bai would ask me to go eat with him,” she pauses and then says, “Sorry about that.”

Han Chen is still staring at the whiteboard.  He slowly leans towards the chair.

“It’s okay.  Valuing sex over friendship and breaking promises is human nature.  No need to apologize.”

Bai Jin Xi doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry, “He’s not my lover.”  She looks at the side of his face and thinks in her heart: if anything, you’re the one who values sex!

Han Chen reaches out and ruffles through the plastic bag, and places down his sandwich.

“What’s the filling?” he grabs one of them.

Bai Jin Xi is a bit delighted.  She sits across from him, “Chinese cabbage and pork.  Bought it from a street stall.  They’re especially yummy.”  She originally wanted to tell him that street stalls are what make the most delicious foods.  But he glances at her and puts the bun back inside.

“No thanks,” he picks up the sandwich and continues eating.

Bai Jin Xi can sense his attitude——so he thinks that street stalls are unclean.

This fellow!  An old neighbourhood street stall might just be as clean as a high class hotel!  District Chief likes them very much.

He is truly a young master; so picky even when he’s a criminal investigator.  She has never seen an investigator eat Starbucks breakfast!

She immediately takes the steamed buns back, and decides to give them to District Chief later.

At this moment, Zhou Xiao Zhuan comes in.

“Leader, Super Detective Han, are you guys going over the case?  Can I listen?”

“Yeah,” Bai Jin Xi answers.

Zhou Xiao Zhuan slides a chair over, and sits on the side.  Han Chen stuffs the last bit of his sandwich into his mouth.  He scrunches up the wrapping, and throws it into the garbage can, “Let’s start.”

_____

Bai Jin Xi presents her conclusions first.

“What is certain is that the first two incidents were done by the same person, but the third one was done by a different person,” she says, “In the first two incidents, the offender was calm, composed, and had very high control over the scene.  Furthermore, he is an angry type rapist.  He broke a lot of things at the scene to release his emotions.  But when we look at the third incident, according to the victim’s report, the offender was in a bit of a panic, and he did not break things in the apartment——he did not have that kind of emotion to release, and even had to flee in the end.  If it was the first offender, he would definitely not have escaped.”

Han Chen keeps quiet.  Xiao Zhuan adds, “Yes!  Moreover, Chen Li Jiang appeared on the travelling paths of the two victims.  This is a fact that cannot be changed.”

Bai Jin Xi nods, “Yes.  The main offender must be Chen Li Jiang.  There’s no doubt about this.  What we’re missing is the evidence that points to him.  Additionally, once the results come back regarding the footprint, we may be able to lay charges on the second offender.”

Xiao Zhuan asks, “So they are accomplices?”

Bai Jin Xi answers, “That’s right.  From the fact that the second offender imitated Chen Li Jiang’s style, he must be someone close to him.  And he was committing the crime during the perfect timing to help Chen Li Jiang create an alibi.”

“It’s very likely that he is Chen Li Jiang’s dormmate then,” Xiao Zhuan takes out three photos, and frowns, “Who could it be?”

Bai Jin Xi and Han Chen both gaze at the photos.

“Zeng Fang Ping.”

“Zeng Fang Ping.”

They both speak at the same time.

They both take a look at each other.

Zhou Xiao Zhuan is a bit surprised by them both speaking at the same time, but asks, “Why is that?”

Bai Jin Xi glances at Han Chen, and answers, “Not only he is the closest with Chen Li Jiang, according to Man Man’s description, the offender matches Zeng Fang Ping the most.  Furthermore, Xiao Zhuan, remember I told you before that there are four types of rapists?  The second type: self-compensating rapist.  They are shy and an introvert in real life, and lack the sense of success.  Raping can make him feel highly successful and compensated.  Look at Zeng Fang Ping.  Doesn’t he fit this type of rapist profile perfectly?!”

Her speech is full of exclamation; her beautiful eyes squint naturally.

Zhou Xiao Zhuan interrupts, “Leader, didn’t I tell you, don’t talk like that.  You look just like a fox……”

“Shut up!” Bai Jin Xi stops him.  Her face actually flushes; she looks over to Han Chen subconsciously.  She catches him shift his gaze away from her face.

Pshhh, a fox or not, she doesn’t look like one either way.

Xiao Zhuan laughs, “Hehheh,” and recalls another problem, “Super Detective Han, how did you conclude that it was Zeng Fang Ping then?  Oh, are you also good at criminal psychology too?  That’s incredible.”

Bai Jin Xi lights up a candle in her heart for him: Xiao Zhuan, good job.  You just have to touch the sore spot.  No one is as great as you!

Han Chen reaches for a cigarette, tilts his head, lights it up, waves the match stick up and down, and then flicks it into the garbage can.  He takes a breath, and lifts his head to look at Zhou Xiao Zhuan, “What is criminal psychology?  I’ve never heard of it.”

Zhou Xiao Zhuan is stunned.

Bai Jin Xi stares at Han Chen’s side profile, and only has one thought:

He is really……such a bastard.

Han Chen picks out the photo of the footprint from the table and tosses it in front of them, “It’s 26 centimeters long, and the stride is 76.  The ground was made of soft yellow-brown soil, and the print depth was 0.3.  According to these numbers, the suspect is approximately 178 centimeters tall and weighs 70-72 kg.  Among the three, only Zeng Fang Ping matches the criteria.”

Bai Jin Xi and Xiao Zhuan “oh” in agreement.

They look at each other.

This is a tracking technique.  No one at Guanhu Station understands it, but they have seen other colleagues from the city station use it before.  It’s just that at the time, after the investigator collected the samples and returned to the computer lab at the station to analyse them, it took several hours to conclude the results.  Han Chen took only a few looks of the prints at the scene, and is able to come up with these findings just from his head?

Xiao Zhuan stares at Han Chen with eyes full of admiration.  Bai Jin Xi on the other hand, never thought that they would come to the same conclusion with him using traditional investigation methods and her using criminal psychology.

Han Chen is looking at her right now with solemn eyes.

Since they have come to the same conclusion, what’s left is to review and reorganize the details of the cases, and find out if there are any missed clues or evidence.

Bai Jin Xi and Xiao Zhuan look toward the whiteboard in the room.

Basic info of the cases is written in very pretty printing on it——

“1. Ma Xiao Fei incident, 2. Ji Ya Xin incident, 3. Zhao Man Man incident

Time: Saturday August 2, Wednesday August 6, Wednesday August 13

Place: 10 Daoli Lane, 5 South Lane, 17 Mianyang Lane

Main points: ……”

Han Chen holds his cigarette in one hand, resting on the armrest, while using his other hand to flip through the files on his lap.

Xiao Zhuan is the first to find something, “I’ve found it!  All three incidents happened on a nice weather day, no rain or strong winds.”

Han Chen and Bai Jin Xi don’t respond.  This goes without saying.  Of course the offender needs to pick days with good weather; otherwise, it would be too easy to leave traces behind.

Bai Jin Xi thinks for a minute and says, “The first incident happened on Saturday, the second on Wednesday, and the third was also on Wednesday.”  She raises her head to look at the whiteboard, “Is there a connection between these?”

Han Chen lifts his arm and takes a smoke, “Mm.”

Bai Jin Xi flips through her files, and shakes her head, “Oh, they rotate with three shifts, and those two days happen to be off days.”  It looks like there isn’t anything special about it.

The room is silent for a while before Xiao Zhuan speaks again, “About that……there’s something else, but it might not be that useful.  Wednesdays and Saturdays are also the days of the week that Chen Li Jiang’s ex-wife Xu Ying leaves for work as a tour guide.  She is responsible for the tours within the province, so she has quite a routine weekly schedule.”

Bai Jin Xi and Han Chen both turn to look at him.

Bai Jin Xi: “Continue.”

Xiao Zhuan: “Uh……that’s it.  There isn’t much info on Xu Ying.  She’s not in Jiangcheng anymore.  After the divorce, she moved to Hong Yu County.”

Bai Jin Xi: “Hurry and go find her to discuss Chen Li Jiang.  If the choice on the days of the week has anything to do with his ex-wife, it means that Chen Li Jiang’s tenacity is very strong.  As an offender, the stronger his tenacity is, the more twisted his mind is; the more twisted he is, the more he wishes to use actions to satisfy his tenacity.  Which day he chooses to commit the crime, where he hides his tools, and where he leaves behind marks could all be related to his tenacity.  We might even be able to find the evidence to lay charges on him.  Xiao Zhuan, good job!”

Han Chen stares directly at her while she speaks.  And Xiao Zhuan nods vigorously, and then immediately rushes out of the office.

Only the two of them are left in the room; silence is all around again.

Bai Jin Xi looks at him, “Should we continue?”

He nods, presses the cigarette end into the ashtray, and takes out another one.

Bai Jin Xi holds out her hand with her palm facing up.

“You finished them?” he’s talking about the half a pack of cigarettes that she snatched last time.

“Mm……”

He tosses one into her palm.  After he finishes lighting up his cigarette, he also tosses the matchbox to her.  Bai Jin Xi lights up hers, and then fiddles with the matchbox in her hand, “Give me this matchbox.  You have so many anyway.”

“Mm.”

Bai Jin Xi stuffs the matchbox into her pants’ pocket.  The cool and hard box has quite a good texture.

They both smoke while they continue to go through the files.

It’s already 9 or 10am.  The sun is bright, making the room seem especially quiet.  Bai Jin Xi still can’t find any clues after reading for a while.  She has actually read through them numerous times whenever she has time in the past few days.  Therefore, it’s not easy to find something new.

Just as she’s trying to think hard while holding the almost done cigarette in her mouth, she hears Han Chen say, “I’m not reading anymore.”

Bai Jin Xi lifts her head to look at him.

“Read,” he throws the papers towards her, “Start.”

“Huh?”

Han Chen leans against his chair, rubs the middle area between his eyebrows with his fingers, and says with his eyes closed, “Our eyes are scanning through the lines too fast, so many details are missed before our brains even process them.  Read the lines out word by word, and slowly.  For one, it will give our brains the time it needs, secondly, it’ll stimulate our hearing, and thirdly, there are many details from the victims’ recording: their voices, scent, and imagery.  We can’t keep an objective view by relying on reading.  Reading it out loud will help trigger our brains to make associations, and discover new clues.”

Bai Jin Xi says excitedly, “That makes perfect sense.  Not a bad idea.  Where did you learn this?”

Han Chen smiles, “There was someone in the past……” he suddenly pauses.

There was someone in the past that didn’t like reading the files and always made him read it, saying a bunch of reasons and logic——these words appear in his mind naturally like this.

And now, after he has solved so many cases and has read so many files in the middle of the night, this super detective of Province K’s voice has no one listening to it.

Seeing that he has suddenly stopped talking, Bai Jin Xi doesn’t really mind.  She picks up the files, flips open the detail recording from the first victim, and starts reading out loud.

“Time: August 3, 10am in the morning.  Place: Guanhu Station’s interrogation room.  Interrogator: Bai Jin Xi, Qi Zi Ze; Subject: Ma Xiao Fei……”  Bai Jin Xi’s voice is deemed the best in the station; she’s always the one who’s asked to read out the newspapers.  She’s highly focused on reading right now, and recites rhythmically, “Ma Xiao Fei says: ‘It was 11:30pm, when I was walking home from work, I heard footsteps behind me, but I didn’t pay much attention to it.  When I arrived at the door……’”

While she reads, she suddenly feels something strange.  She raises her head, and sees Han Chen leaning on his chair with both arms resting on the armrests staring at her quietly.  He is born with beautiful eyes to begin with; dark in colour; now that they’re looking at her with concentration, she suddenly feels her heart pounding.

“What?” Bai Jin Xi asks, “What are you staring at?  Did I read something wrong?”

Han Chen doesn’t answer.  He reaches for a cigarette, lowers his head and lights it up.

Bai Jin Xi continues, “……’When I arrived at the door, I suddenly saw a dark shadow standing by the stairway.  It gave me a big shock.  Just when I……’”

“Shock,” he suddenly repeats.

Bai Jin Xi looks at him confused, “What’s the matter?”  She looks down at the file, “It was ‘a big shock,’ okay?”

Han Chen inhales from his cigarette, and then looks at her through the smoke, “It’s ‘xia le’ (shock) not ‘xia ne.’ Who taught you Chinese literature and language in elementary school?”

Bai Jin Xi knows what’s wrong now.  She’s from the South, okay?  Not distinguishing L and N sounds are perfectly normal.  There once was a colleague from the North that made fun of her pronunciations too.

She says nonchalantly, “What’s the big deal?  It’s fine as long as you can understand it.”  But she is now subconsciously paying more attention to her pronunciations.  She continues reading, “‘Just when I was going to shout, he covered my mouth.  He used a lot of force.  The corridor was dark, so I couldn’t see anything.  He pressed me against the door while covering my mouth, making me a little dizzy.  He then snatched my keys, opened the door, and pushed me inside.  He used tape to seal my mouth.  His actions were very quick……’”

“‘heng quick.’  What is ‘heng quick?” he suddenly asks.

Bai Jin Xi rolls her eyes, and continues, “‘His actions were……very (hen) quick, and then he used those kinds of strings that were for closing bags to tie my arms and legs.  I simply couldn’t move at all, so I could only let him drag me to the bed, and then……’”

“Those, simply, move at all, so I could……” he repeats in a low voice slowly, pointing out all the words that she has pronounced incorrectly.

Bai Jin Xi’s whole body is stiff.  She holds the file in her hand tightly, and then raises her head glaring at him, “Am I reading or are you reading?!”

Crazy!  Stinky Beijing bastard!

Han Chen glances at her, and smiles slightly with the cigarette in his mouth.

Bai Jin Xi also feels a bit like laughing, “hmph!”  She picks up the file swearing that she will ignore all distractions, and continues reading with concentration, “……’He opened the window.  Nothing was visible outside, only the sound of a bell ringing……’”

“Bell ringing,” Han Chen interrupts her.

Bai Jin Xi can’t stand it anymore.  That’s right!  She can’t differentiate between ‘en’ and ‘eng’ sounds. (the word ‘sound’ is pronounced ‘sheng,’ but Jin Xi is pronouncing it as ‘shen.’’)

With her hands on her hips, she looks at him, “Han Chen, you……” she suddenly stops.

It’s because she notices Han Chen’s expression.

Her mind also starts thinking quickly.

Bell ringing?

……

Bell ringing!

Many clues, images, and sounds flash across her mind like fire sparks and lightning——in the first victim’s recording, when he entered her from behind, she raised her head helplessly, and saw the moon outside the window while hearing a faint sound of a bell ringing.  The second victim said, she saw him open the window, and the sound of a bell ringing could be heard.  He then dimmed the lights, turned on the TV in low volume.  On the night of the third incident, she, Bai Jin Xi, and Han Chen were walking outside of the archives library.  During their silence, they heard long sounds of the bell ringing.

Furthermore, the first time she met Han Chen, he was standing by the window with a cigarette in his mouth while saying, “The third point of suspicion, during the assault, why did he have to open the bedroom window?  Is he a stupid idiot?”

……

Could “he” have opened the windows to listen to the bell ringing?!

The two of them look at each other.  Bai Jin Xi says quickly, “In this area, only the bell from Baoan Temple up at Tuofeng Mountain in the suburbs can be heard.  And the bell there is only rang for new years and special days, unless someone pays to ring it at certain times for good luck.  Those three nights weren’t special holidays, so someone must have asked the temple to ring it.  The sound of the bell must have some special meaning to Chen Li Jiang, and it’s very likely that it has something to do with his ex-wife, Xu Ying.  I’ll go investigate right away!”

_____

Bai Jin Xi immediately brings a few investigators to rush to Baoan Temple.

It’s just as she and Han Chen had thought; the temple Abbott confirms that those three times the bell rang, was indeed requested by Chen Li Jiang.  Furthermore, Chen Li Jiang is a family member of one of the monks in the temple, so he visits the temple often to pray.  The police immediately search the room that Chen Li Jiang stays in at the temple.  The result is surprising yet rejoiceful: they find many rolls of tape, strings, a black mask, and a set of black clothing.  These items also contain hair strands and fingerprints of the victims.

Besides these, there’s also something that makes one want to vomit——a couple of used condoms; the liquid inside has already dried out, and they’ve been put in a tin can by Chen Li Jiang, hiding them in such a sanctuary place.

……

At night, the District Chief and the Branch Bureau Chief are in complete shock from listening to Bai Jin Xi’s report.  They immediately order the criminal investigations department to take action, “Arrest the man!”


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