Memory Lost (美人为馅): Chapter 2 8


Chapter 2: Underhanded Tricks

6 o’clock in the morning.  Bai Jin Xi opens her eyes.

A greyish white ceiling is in view, and she can hear the fan blowing in the corner.  A couple of simple but warm hued furniture bathe in the sunlight.  A common houseleek sits on the window sill; quietly growing with jade green leaves.

Bai Jin Xi presses her hand to her forehead to make herself more awake, and then sits up on the bed.

She is strongly addicted to smoking, but worries that her teeth and fingers will turn yellow.  She contemplates for a bit as usual before she takes out a cigarette from the box on the table.  She begins smoking while sitting in bed.

It’s another new day.

Bai Jin Xi lives by herself in an old city area; it’s filled with shops serving hot breakfast meals downstairs on the streets.  She buys a bowl of noodles and starts eating while standing on the side of the street.  When her elderly neighbors pass by, they greet her with smiles; one of them even slips her two pork buns.

Her phone rings.  The sound of Zhou Xiao Zhuan’s angry voice comes on, “Leader!  Where are you?  You’d better not have forgotten about today’s mission!”

Bai Jin Xi reacts quickly and says calmly, “Of course I haven’t forgotten.  Where are you at now?”

“I’ve already arrived at the entrance of Guanhu primary school.”

Bai Jin Xi reaches out her hand to stop a cab, “I’ll be there right away.”

Even after she gets into the cab she doesn’t remember what today’s mission is.

Ever since she got into an accident four years ago after graduating from the police academy, her memory has been problematic.  She often forgets things; even missions that have been set up by the district station.

Thankfully, she only seems to forget about small things, while for important cases, she seems to have some instinct to remember all the small details of them.  With Zhou Xiao Zhuan’s help to remind her, she hasn’t caused any delays to her tasks so far.

She arrives at the primary school.  She spots Zhou Xiao Zhuan who is in full police uniform and has obviously gelled his hair.  Bai Jin Xi finally remembers what she is here for.

_____

School’s small auditorium.

The “sprouts of our country” are clearly very interested in the two officers who are here to educate them on safety.  They surround them and ask them questions non-stop.  The teachers on the other hand, are standing on the side smiling.  The atmosphere is filled with energy and liveliness.

A little boy asks Zhou Xiao Zhuan, “Uncle (sir, respect for elderly) Policeman, have you killed a bad person with a gun before?”

This question is slightly about violence, so the children are waiting anxiously.

Zhou Xiao Zhuan strokes his head first and then corrects the boy, “Call me Ge Ge (big brother).”

“Ge Ge……”

Zhou Xiao Zhuan raises his head, looks around him, and then answers confidently, “Of course.  I’ve caught many bad people.”

The children clap and Zhou Xiao Zhuan happily receives the many worshipping gazes from them.  Bai Jin Xi smirks at him, teasing: you sure know how to avoid the main question.  You’ve never even fired a shot in real situations.

Zhou Xiao Zhuan stares back at her calmly, meaning: don’t laugh at others when you’re in the same boat.  Isn’t your gun covered with dust too?

There haven’t been any big cases in Jiangcheng in recent years.  Although the two of them have solved a few sexual assaults and homicide cases, the criminals aren’t smart and tend to leave behind a lot of evidence.  Where would they have the chance to use their guns?  They just need to track them down and arrest them.  Zhou Xiao Zhuan can even foresee that he’ll be like the other retired policemen at the station; perhaps even till the day he dies, he would never have fired his gun once.

A few little girls ask Bai Jin Xi, “Jie Jie (big sister), will we become as pretty as you when we become policemen?”

Everyone turns to look at Bai Jin Xi.

She smiles after feeling a bit surprised by the question.  She squats to look at the girls at eye level and answers solemnly, “Yes.  All the children here are especially pretty today.  Everyone will definitely be prettier than me when wearing a police uniform.”

The two of them leave the school in the afternoon.  Zhou Xiao Zhuan says while driving, “Leader, I was so scared that you would say the truth back there——all the children today are not pretty.”

Bai Jin Xi keeps her silence for a moment and then smiles, “How could I say that?  A child’s heart is the most innocent and pure in this world.  How could I bear to make them upset?”

Her answer startles Zhou Xiao Zhuan a bit.

At times, he feels that his leader is quite complicated.  She’s usually cool, full of herself, has a bunch of bad habits, and is self-centered and likes to praise herself.  But at certain times, she’ll say gentle words that really penetrate deep into your heart.

She’s gentle yet full of depth, causing you to sigh.

Bai Jin Xi sits quietly for a bit, but she’s craving for a smoke again.

She suddenly remembers the smell of Suyan cigarettes (a brand of cigarettes) from yesterday.

That smell was strong and refreshing, mixed in with the fragrance of coffee, leaving a deep impression.

She blinks and turns to look at Zhou Xiao Zhuan, “Go to Su Se Nightclub.”

Zhou Xiao Zhuan pauses and then frowns, “You really want to go?”  That’s someone that the chief doesn’t want them to bother.

“Go!”

He says nothing more.

Why is Bai Jin Xi insisting on finding out who that person is?  It’s out of her nature.  This is her turf after all.  Since she’s unable to differentiate whether he’s a friend or foe, even though she won’t pick a fight with him, she feels that she has to find out everything about him.

______

Under the dark sky, the glamorous night club from just the day before is now completely lifeless; unlit and quiet.  Bai Jin Xi still has the keys she snatched from yesterday, so the two of them got inside easily.

The lobby is a complete mess, and the rooms on the second floor are empty; not a person to be seen.  Bai Jin Xi tells Zhou Xiao Zhuan to wait by the stairs and be on a lookout, while she ventures off herself.

She slowly opens the door to the room.  Everything is the same as yesterday; the prominent screen, the elegant orchid, the old fashion details; just like a dream.

The sky is completely dark now, making the room hard to see.  She quietly walks in and closes the door.

There isn’t anyone in the room; she can be certain of this from being a criminal investigator.  Therefore, she relaxes a bit, turns on her flashlight, and begins to search the place.

A men’s jacket is lying on top of the pear wood chaise lounge.  Bai Jin Xi picks it up carefully and searches each pocket.  She doesn’t find anything, so she puts the jacket back.  There is still half a box full of cigarettes on the coffee table.  Bai Jin Xi takes it and gives it a sniff; it goes without saying, they smell good; top of the line.  But they’re too expensive for a police officer, so she never buys them.

She puts the cigarette box back reluctantly.  She then looks at the ashtray full of cigarette butts.  Her eyes sparkle.  She picks one of them up with her gloved hand, and puts it into a plastic bag.  She’ll definitely be able to find out who he is now that she’s got his DNA……

Bai Jin Xi freezes.

It’s because she suddenly senses someone preparing to attack her from behind.

Perhaps it’s because the atmosphere in the room changed slightly, or because she heard the slightest audible sound, or maybe simply due to instinct, a very strong thought comes to her mind——

Someone is behind her.

Someone is standing silently in a corner.  He might have already been there the moment she entered the room; quietly watching her every move.

Bai Jin Xi feels goosebumps all over.  She has without a doubt met a highly skilled person; his ability to dodge and bypass investigation is even better than her……In a split second, she suddenly feels someone coming close, accompanied with quick footsteps, and then……

A fist of wind!

He notices her pausing, so he decides to make a move!

She won’t make it in time to turn around, so Bai Jin Xi throws away the stuff in her hand, and reaches for his arm in an attempt to throw him over her shoulder.

“Heh!…..” she hears the man chuckle in the dark.  Bai Jin Xi knows that this is bad!  In the next second, she feels a pair of strong arms reaching out and twisting her wrists.

Bai Jin Xi loses her balance in an instant and falls onto the chaise lounge.  She lifts her leg and kicks the man’s knee without thought.  The man probably didn’t think she would be able to make such a move after losing her balance, so he mumbles a sound of pain.  His body tilts to one side.

Bai Jin Xi jumps for joy in her heart.

And then……

She feels a man’s warm body falling exactly to where she is!

The night is quiet, and the room is pitch-black.  The cicadas can be heard calling crisply outside of the window.

Bai Jin Xi is lying on her back on the chaise lounge.  Although they’ve both fallen, she hasn’t gain any advantage——both of her hands are locked together by the man, and he is also on top of her body, so she can’t even budge.

Bai Jin Xi begins to breathe faster.

Summer clothes are thin, and she’s wearing short sleeves.  She can feel the man’s muscular arms brushing passed hers clearly.  His long, slender, and strong cold fingers are grabbing onto her hands tightly.  His waist is against hers, and his legs are pressed towards hers.  She can feel his weight and strength, as well as his body temperature.  She can also smell the flavor of cigarettes and the distinct scent of a man.

And his face is only a foot away.  It is a handsome yet blurry face.  She can only make out his general shape and features.  His eyes are dark and sharp with a hint of enmity, staring down at her.  The man’s warm breath blows onto her face without holding back.

Bai Jin Xi’s face flushes as she shouts, “Let me go!”

The man doesn’t listen.  He shakes his right hand and is immediately holding a small knife.

Bai Jin Xi shivers in her heart.  In the next second, the small knife is held against her neck.  His gaze is sharp as the knife; they’re dark, aggressive, and cold, as if they’ve been glazed over with a sheet of ice.

“Why are you investigating me?” he asks slowly.

Bai Jin Xi can feel a cut on her neck.  She swallows and answers clearly, “Just curious.  It’s also my job.  This area is under my supervision.  You’re being so mysterious, so how can I be relieved without checking your background for sure?”

After a brief moment of silence, the man’s mouth curves slightly upwards.

“That doesn’t convince me,” he says impassively.

_____

Five minutes later.

This is absolutely Bai Jin Xi’s most shameful moment out of her entire life as a police officer.

She is actually tied to a chair with a nylon rope.

And he’s sitting on the sofa that is a meter away; his actions are calm and steady.

Bai Jin Xi holds her anger inside and quickly assesses the situation in her head: this high class room obviously has great soundproofing; they’ve been fighting for so long inside, and yet Zhou Xiao Zhuan can’t hear a thing outside.  Zhou Xiao Zhuan, that fool.  Why doesn’t he know to come look when she’s been gone for so long?……

She raises her head to take a look at the man before her again.

She can finally see him clearly under the dim lighting.  He’s wearing a simple shirt with long pants.  His shirt is of a dark color just like before.  He’s rather tall, his facial features are still blurry, but his neck is long and straight.

She can tell that he’s a vicious man just from his looks; definitely not the gentle kind.

He tilts his head and lights up a cigarette.  He breathes it in twice and then holds it between his fingers, resting his arm on the side of the sofa; he’s relaxed yet relentless at the same time.

“Are you willing to tell me the truth now?” he asks.

“What I said is the truth.”

He stares at her for a while without a word.

“Stay that way then,” he gets up slowly, and walks to the washroom.

Bai Jin Xi watches him close the door, and then takes a deep breath.

The man returns from the washroom soon after.

He is stunned the moment he comes back into the room.  He reaches out his hand and switches the lights on.

The room is fully lit in an instant.

An empty chair stands in the middle with the nylon rope lying on the ground.  She has already escaped, leaving the door open.

The man lets out a laugh.

_____

Zhou Xiao Zhuan follows Bai Jin Xi out of the nightclub.  He can see her face red and full of tears.  He is in complete shock.

How can Bai Jin Xi tell others what happen when it’s such a big embarrassment?  Therefore, she doesn’t say anything.  She walks speedily while tears continue to flow.  It’s not until they got back to the vehicle when she swings her limp right arm to Zhou Xiao Zhuan.  She can’t endure the pain any longer and cries to him, “Help me fix my dislocated shoulder……it’s hurting like hell!”

Zhou Xiao Zhuan is shocked, “How did it happen?”  So she’s crying out of pain!

He holds her arm, “Bear with me.”

On a sound of a “snap,” Bai Jin Xi screams in pain.

Zhou Xiao Zhuan helps her into the passenger seat with his heart aching, “What happened exactly?”

Bai Jin Xi, “……I bump into something accidentally.  That man did not leave anything behind, so it looks like we won’t be able to look him up.”

“Oh,” Zhou Xiao Zhuan feels it’s hard to believe, but then again, it’s impossible for leader to let others take advantage of her.  It does seem more possible that she had accidentally dislocated her shoulder herself.

Bai Jin Xi holds her arm while looking out the window, but feels more and more annoyed: it hurt more when her shoulder was dislocated versus putting it back in place!


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