Bo Jinyan and Jian Yao stands in front of a small house, surrounded by trees. It seems their suspect - Zhang Cheng likes to live in a remote and isolated place, away from people.
Bo Jinyan is the first person to arrive, ahead of the police officer who called him. They can hear the police sirens coming from a distance. They should not be too far behind.
Jian Yao asks: “Should we wait for them?”
“No.” says Bo Jinyan. He puts on a pair of latex gloves. He seems to look excited: “When a lot of people enters the house at the same time, the place loses its originality.”
Jian Yao is not surprised. This man is honest and smart. But when it comes to investigating criminal cases, he can’t cover the excitement that arises from the passion he has for his job.
“Ok. Let’s go in.” She smiles. Of course she will go in with him.
Fortunate for them, the yellow wooden door is not locked. It is easily pushed open. There’s an unbearable stench that rushes to their nostrils once the door is opened. Jian Yao almost vomited again.
Bo Jinyan places his finger over his nose to block out the smell. He walks in without slowing down.
Jian Yao hesitates, then she pinches her nose and follows him inside.
It’s dark in there. The windows are blocked. It is a small place. One bed. One desk/table. That’s it. There are things lying all over the place. It’s too dark to see what they are.
She is stepping into a psychopath’s house in darkness. Every step, she is stepping on top of something… the bumps underneath her soles… Jian Yao secretly hopes they are not body parts.
Subconsciously, she gently holds on to Bo Jinyan jacket from the back.
Stay close to him.
The Bo Jinyan that was busy examining the room in the dark pauses. He turns round to look at her .
She quickly grabs on the corner of his suit jacket. She is not letting go of him.
“Oh.” he seems to sigh softly in the darkness.
“What’s up?” asks Jian Yao.
She can vaguely tell by the light shining through the front door, that he is trying to look at the hand that is grabbing onto his jacket.
“So cute.” He says in pleased voice.
Jian Yao blushes in the dark.
Even though she can’t see his facial expressions, she knows he is staring at her. And at the same time, a hand reaches the light switch on the wall. He just found it.
Ah…. handling two roles at once.
They are standing in a pigsty.
Light blue bed linen has sweat stains all over it. The duvet is curled up into a bundle on the floor. The table has lots of dirty dishes and bowls with food scraps inside them. On the floor, there are polystyrene takeaway containers, rubbish bags, clothes, shoes… flies everything. There is also a strong stench of urine in the air.
“What a tasteless lunatic.” Bo Jinyan mutters to himself. Then he starts searching through the rubbish.
As a woman, Jian Yao automatically take up the tasks that are less filthy - she opens the drawers of the desk and examines what’s inside them.
In one of the drawers, she finds a stack of envelope. They are made from the same type of yellow paper. She passes them to Bo Jinyan. The envelopes are empty. In the front of the envelope, there is a date written with ink pen: “2013 January , 2013 February…. “until” 2013 June. The handwriting is the same for all the envelopes. Obviously, it’s written by the same person.
Bo Jinyan looks more closely at the stack of envelope. He notices the corner of red note sticking out from one of them. He pulls it out. It’s a hundred dollar note.
“This is for living expenses.” Bo Jinyan says: “Someone is looking after him.”
Bo Jinyan mentioned earlier. Because of his mental state, he won’t be able to hold a job for long. To survive, money must come from somewhere. Perhaps it’s family members? Passing him some money with an envelope every month.
After a while, Jian Yao finds two pieces of paper that’s torn. It’s not too badly damaged, so she can still read the words on it:
“Time for dinner.”
“Take a shower/bath after the sun has gone down.”
Again, it has the same writing as the envelopes.
Bo Jinyan stands up from examining the pile of rubbish on the floor. He passes a few pieces of paper to her. Like the ones in her hands, there are phrase or short sentences on them. Don’t leave the village. Use the toilet, not the floor. etc etc. There are some adhesive tapes on the corners of these paper. They used to be on the wall.
“Male. Educated. Financial status - average. Young adult.” Bo Jinyan looks at the words and comments.
Soon, the officers join them inside the house.
“Professor Bo, have you discovered anything?”
Jian Yao looks at Bo Jinyan. He signals her to show the envelopes and white sheets of paper to the officers: “Someone was looking after him. He was very attentive. But then, the person has not been coming for awhile, or else this place cannot be so messy.” He pauses and continues: “He’s abandoned.”
Everyone is quiet.
Is that the reason for his mental breakdown?
The officers scatter to look for other evidence. Jian Yao stands beside Bo Jinyan. She asks: “How do we find out the identify of that person?” Her instinct tells her that the place Zheng Chang is going is somehow linked to this man. Perhaps, he is going find him….
But there seems to be no other clues of the man’s identity in the house.
Bo Jinyan sweeps her a look, he says proudly: “Of course there is a way.”
He always has a way.
Jian Yao waits hopefully for another speech. He is going to use his expert knowledge and superior elimination skills to….
Wait. He is pushing away rubbish on the desk?
A red colour telephone appears.
“Like I said before, I like taking short cuts.” First, he turns on the speaker function. Then he presses the re-dial button.
This is much faster way to find out.
Other officers gather. Everyone waits. But it goes straight to voicemail: “Your phone cannot be used at this stage. Please pay your account….”
It’s an older phone. There is no caller display button. So they don’t know what the re-dial number is. One of the officers suggest: “I will call the station. We will find the records linked to this phone.” Everyone agrees it’s a good plan.
Except Bo Jinyan: “It will take too long.”
He lifts up the receiver. Takes a quick look at it and passes it to Jian Yao.
There is a small sticker on it, with the number of this telephone on it.
Jian Yao takes out her mobile to load $100 credit on the number. She never thought that one day she would top up the phone for a psychopath.
Finally, they successfully call the person on re-dial. A man picks up the phone. He is speaking very softly, and he sounds tired: “Cheng, did you not remember what I told you? I will call you later? They are asleep.”
Bo Jinyan ponders for a while, then he starts speaking: “Hello. Are you Zheng Chang’s brother?”
The person pauses: “Yes. Who are you? Why are you using his phone?” He sounds concerned. “Did something happen to Ah Chang?”
Bo Jinyan answers: “It’s a long story. Keep your windows and doors locked. Do not get out of the house. Your brother is on his way to kill you.”
The man is shocked: “What?”
The officers next to him is stunned too. Bo Jinyan turns to one of them and says: “Get his address. Send it to me immediately.” Then he says to Jian Yao: “Let’s go.”
Jian Yao follows. She takes a quick look before leaving the house. An officer is explaining the situation to Zheng Chang’s brother. Others are getting ready to move to their next destination too.
Early morning. The roads in the countryside don’t have many cars on them. Soon they are back in B city.
Jian Yao took a short nap on the way back.
When she wakes up, Bo Jinyan is still driving. His face looks less tense. His fingers are tapping on the steering wheel. Looks like his mood has improved. Well, they are very close to catching the killer.
“Did anyone call?” She asks.
“No.” He answers faintly.
- That’s good. That means there’s no other causalities so far.
“He has arrived at the neighbourhood for quite some time now.” Bo Jinyan says It’s enough time for him to run around the B city three times.”
Jian Yao think of the mental unstable killer, hovering near his brothers’s house…
“They found his medical records.” She says. “If the brother cares about him, why doesn’t he send him to an institution?”
Not long after they left the house, the police found the file in the rubbish bin. The last visit was early this year.
Bo Jinyan: “I am not sure. But according to official numbers, at least half of the serious mental patients are not receiving any treatment.”
Jian Yao is shocked: “Why?”
Bo Jinyan says mockingly: “Because there’s not enough bed space*.”
- Is this meant to be a joke? But it is not funny at all.
(* Note from author Ding Mo - It is a known fact that there are not enough facilities (including doctors, nurses and spaces in the hospital) in China. A lot of the serious mental patients are not granted admission to hospital because of this.)
Then they come across another problem. One that frustrates Bo Jinyan greatly. Traffic jam.
They have been on the road for over two hours. They are so close to their destination. Often they can see police officers walking past them. But they are stuck. Only 1km of distance left, yet, it has taken them over ten minutes just to crawl forward a few metres.
Jian Yao just talked to the team leader: “They will send someone to clear a way for the police cars to go through.”
Bo Jinyan replies: “Oh great. The rest of the cars will be stuck here for ages.”
Jian Yao knows he is just complaining to let out some steam. As the car moves slower, she has more time to observe what’s happening on the streets.
About fifty metres ahead of them, beside a flower bed, there is a man sitting down at the corner. He is wearing a black top and a pair of black pants. His hair is messy. Most of the pedestrians are deliberately avoiding getting close to him. He is wearing a pair of grey sport shorts. There are some dark marks on it. Jian Yao looks more carefully. His hands have red stains on them too.
When did he arrive? He wasn’t there a moment ago.
Jian Yao calls out to Bo Jinyan: “Jinyan…. that man.”
“I see him.” Bo Jinyan says coldly.
He quickly turns his steering wheels to drive off the road onto a patch of grass on the side.
“Good boy.” Bo Jinyan mutters. He fixes his eye on the man.
Jian Yao starts to get nervous.
At this time, the person that they suspect is Zheng Chang stands up. He walks towards a little lane to the side of the flower bed.
We can’t lose him now. Jian Yao takes out her phone and calls the Team leader.
“Don’t leave the car.”
Jian Yao turns around. Bo Jinyan has opened the door and disappears in the crowd. After a few seconds, she finds him. He is walking into the same lane Zheng Chang went.
Jian Yao suddenly feels worried.
They agreed that they would stay together whenever they are investigating. But he ran off by himself…. to go after a mentally unstable killer that has a weapon with him.