Lin Dongxue was afraid that the stepmother would get too emotional. She said, “I want to visit Jiang Ming's room.”
“Okay! I'll take you there.”
Upon entering Jiang Ming's room, Lin Dongxue felt like it was a completely different story. On the wall was an artistic photo of Jiang Ming in his childhood, which looked like a tiger’s head and a tiger’s brain. On the table was a luxurious computer and many comic books were thrown around the place. There was leftover snack packaging still in the trash.
The stepmother said awkwardly, “The house is still messy and hasn't been cleaned up yet. The two children are missing, so I have no mood to clean up.”
“Did Jiang Ming say anything on the day of the disappearance?”
“He didn’t say much. He stayed up late the night before to study. He was late in getting up the next morning and rushed to school after getting up.”
“Where do they go to school?”
“Both of them are in Experimental Middle School, one in junior high and one in high school.”
“Has Jiang Ming told you anything recently?”
“Oh yes, he said that he wanted to have a cat. I didn't agree with it. The junior high school studies are so intense. How would he have time to raise a cat? My Ming Ming may be in a period of rebellion. We don’t communicate much. He stays in his room all day. In order to understand the children, I did a lot of homework. I often went to their school to talk to the teachers about what they’re like. My Ming Ming liked to play King of Glory. I was afraid that he was using his brain too much, so I bought him some health care. This box is worth a thousand yuan…”
As soon as the son was mentioned, the stepmother began to ramble on about her son again. Lin Dongxue stopped her immediately and asked, “How is the relationship between the sister and the brother?”
“What can they be like? They keep to themselves. They rarely talk except for at the dinner table… They used to play together as children, but when they grew up, it’s inevitable that they have their own personal space.”
“Jiang Hui's diary mentioned some things and I want to check them with you.”
“Okay, just ask.”
“On one occasion, Jiang Ming took Jiang Hui's USB flash drive to go to an internet cafe to copy something from a game and deleted a homework document made by Jiang Hui. Jiang Hui was very angry and went home to fight with him, but you scolded Jiang Hui.”
“Was that the case?”
“Oh, I remember once they had a quarrel and mentioned USB or something. I was calling someone at the time and when I heard that the living room was too noisy, I said a few words to Jiang Hui and asked why as an elder sister she didn’t know how to share with her brother a little.”
“The diary said that you didn't just say a few words, but you said to her, ‘If you still don’t act your place, I’ll get you to fuck off sooner or later!’”
“No, no!” The stepmother desperately denied. “You can ask about what type of person I am. I wouldn't say that type of stuff.”
Lin Dongxue thought. If Chen Shi was here, it would be really nice. He could tell at a glance whether she was lying or not. However, Lin Dongxue let this matter go and continued. “However, Jiang Ming was quite sensible. He took the initiative to apologize to Jiang Hui, comforted her, telling her not to cry. “
“My Ming Ming is very sensible. This child is very understanding, one time...”
“There is one more thing which is also written in the diary. One time, Jiang Hui got sick with a cold and fever. She couldn't get up from bed. You picked her up early in the morning and told her to stand in the bathroom. You disinfected the house while she stood in the bathroom for half an hour wearing her pajamas.”
Lin Dongxue's paraphrasing was very objective and optimistic compared to the paragraph written in the diary, which was even more shocking.
“This child is talking nonsense! I was in a hurry to go out in the morning and there were grandparents at home. In the event that they were infected, it wouldn’t be good. Besides, if everyone caught the cold, it wouldn’t be good either. I was only thinking of everyone. So, I called her up and disinfected the room. The words I spoke to her were as light as cotton. I was nothing like how she described and didn’t yell at her fiercely!”
Lin Dongxue thought to herself. I didn't mention your tone at that time. Perhaps the stepmother has already read the diary.
The stepmother also said, “Officer, don't listen to her exaggerations. I haven’t abused her or anything. We have always shared the water in the bowl equally between them. Whether it’s Jiang Hui or Ming Ming, I will never favor anyone over the other. If my Ming Ming had caught a cold, I would disinfect the house as well.”
“She also said that you slapped her in front of Jiang Ming.”
“That didn’t happen!”
“Do you remember the cause of the situation?”
“Let me think... One time, I stewed a chicken which she didn't like to eat. She threw the bowl down and I slammed the table and asked who she was taking her anger out on. I honestly never hit her!”
Lin Dongxue had set up a trap. She only mentioned the slap, but the stepmother retold the story from start to finish.
It showed that she had indeed slapped Jiang Hui.
Lin Dongxue said, “Jiang Hui didn't say that...”
“Don’t just listen to her side of the story!”
“She said that she was allergic to peanuts. The whole family knew this, but you put peanuts in the dish, so she couldn’t eat it and then you slapped her as a result.”
“What do you mean she’s allergic to peanuts? Ming Ming and Jiang Hui are from the same father. Why isn't he allergic to peanuts then? She's just picking bones from an egg! I’ve poured my heart out for the two children and I've never favored anyone. She started hanging around a bad crowd who instilled bad ideas into her. She just comes home and gets upset! Did you know that she’s hit me?”
“A few months ago. I only said a few words to her, but she pushed me. I almost fell. At my age, if my bones get broken, it’s no joke. Good for her. She hit someone, then went back to her room and wept as if she was wronged by the world.”
Lin Dongxue hated this woman. She had a basic understanding of Jiang Hui's situation at home.
She began to understand Lin Qiupu's reasoning for assigning this case to her. From an emotional point of view, she would be able to understand Jiang Hui's situation and feelings since she was orphaned at an early age as well. Even if things really looked like what everyone thought, she may be able to collect evidence and testimony in favor of Jiang Hui.
Lin Dongxue said, “I want to look into the bedrooms of the two children.”
“Okay, no problem.”
Lin Dongxue put on her gloves and started to check Jiang Ming's drawers. Except for comic books and game discs in the drawer, there was nothing worth noting. She only found a “Terrorist” magazine under Jiang Ming's pillow.
She turned on the computer, but there was a login password. So, she called the office and asked for a police officer who worked with computers.
Then, Lin Dongxue went to Jiang Hui's room again to search. She found a bank card in Jiang Hui's drawer, which she collected as evidence.
She took off the books on the shelf. Judging by the degree of wear on the edges of the books, Jiang Hui should have finished reading them. She noticed that some of the sentences in the book were marked with ballpoint pens. These parts included some specific methods of killing and getting rid of a corpse.
Did this little girl really kill her brother...?
Lin Dongxue carefully checked what else was left behind. After looking at the poster and the CD boxes all over again, she turned over the trash can. There was a bag inside. When she picked it up, she found that there was a plastic wrapper underneath it. It was used to hold a syringe.