My eyes fell on that business card and I exclaimed, “I’ve got an idea!”
I called Lao Yao, who was now a consultant to the police just like me. He couldn’t be bothered to carry his equipment around all the time, so he still worked in his dorm room as he did before.
I briefly summarized the case to him. He listened to me intently without interrupting. When I finished, his first question was, “How handsome is Dr. Cheng?”
“Not as handsome as you are,” I answered.
Lao Yao chuckled for a good few minutes then cooed, “You’re teasing me, Little Song! So, how can I help you?”
I gave him Dr. Cheng’s email address from the business card and asked him to hack into it.
“What’s my reward?” Lao Yao asked.
“But you’re a consultant now,” I argued. “Why do I still need to pay you?”
“You can’t expect me to do you a favor without getting anything in return!” he said. “Besides, I almost died in the last case and I wasn’t given a single dime!”
Although Li Wenjia’s case had been solved, no rewards were given to anyone due to the sacrifice of so many police officers. There was only a solemn memorial service and no bonus was given. I should’ve expected this kind of demand considering how much Lao Yao loved money.
Xiaotao took the phone from my hand and asked Lao Yao, “Hello, Lao Yao! Did you like the French facial oil that I gave you?”
“Oh, Xiaotao-jiejie!” cried Lao Yao gleefully. “I loved it! My skin is so much softer and smoother now! But I already used it up a few days ago…”
“That facial oil was a limited edition,” said Xiaotao. “It’s no longer sold anywhere else. How would you like a hand cream from New Zealand instead? It’s a confiscated smuggled product that’s absolutely authentic and costs about 500 euros on the market.”
“Oh, thank you Xiaotao-jiejie!” cried Lao Yao. “You’ve been so kind and generous to me! I love you so much!”
Xiaotao handed me back my phone and proudly said, “That’s what you get for being so greedy!”
I admired her skills for handling Lao Yao endlessly. The New Zealand hand cream she promised Lao Yao must be a cheap knockoff again. Xiaotao truly was Lao Yao’s archnemesis.
Xiaotao drove us back home. She dropped Bingxin off at her college first. As she got out of the car, she turned around and reminded Xiaotao to call her if there was any progress in the investigation. Once she was gone, Xiaotao snorted, “You cheeky bastard!”
“Don’t misunderstand me,” I told her. “We’re just friends!”
“That’s not what I’m worried about,” she said. “Don’t forget that she’s Sun Tiger’s only daughter. You should be careful not to expose her to any danger. How will you explain yourself to Sun Tiger if anything happens to her?”
“This will be the last case I bring her along,” I promised sincerely.
Xiaotao clutched the steering wheel and grumbled, “Hmph! I haven’t seen you in just a few days and you’re already causing trouble! I should probably buy a leash and collar and tie you up!”
So it really was jealousy after all.
“You’re not a sadist, are you?” I teased her. “I’m not interested in that S&M stuff, you know!”
The next day, Lao Yao sent me an email. I forwarded it to Xiaotao as soon as I read through it.
“Lao Yao has done a great job again!” She texted me a few minutes later. “Can you ask him if he can figure out who sent the email?”
The email in question was sent anonymously to Cheng Yahui. It contained only a few words, which basically informed Cheng Yahui that the sender was pregnant and that he was the father.
This could point towards Cheng Yahui’s motive for killing those women. He was probably afraid that the scandal would tarnish his reputation and cost him his job again, so he killed all the women that he had been in an intimate relationship with. But if that was the case, Cheng Yahui turned out to be a much more dangerous man than I imagined!
I asked Lao Yao if he could figure out who the sender was. He said that would be quite impossible, since the email was newly registered and the information of the person’s identity from the records were obviously lies.
I relayed this information to Xiaotao but she didn’t reply. She was probably busy again. With nothing left to do, I decided to play League of Legends to kill time. But before I could start, I received a text from Bingxin that read, “Your friend is so annoying, Song Yang-gege! He’s been pestering me since last night!”
That explained why Dali had been lying in bed since last night staring into his phone with a big smile on his face.
“Dali!” I yelled. “What the hell are you doing?”
“I’m chatting with Bingxin, of course! I think she’s interested in me, dude!”
“You idiot!” I cursed. “She just texted me complaining about how you’ve been annoying her since last night!”
Dali rolled down his bed and grabbed my phone to read Bingxin’s message. It left him distraught.
“Ah…” he sighed. “So I’ve been misreading the signals all along…”
“What did you text her anyway?” I asked.
Dali vehemently refused to let me look at his phone. I thought I’d just have to ask Bingxin about it later.
“Dude, you’ve gotta help me!” pleaded Dali. “This will benefit you too, you know?”
“How can it possibly benefit me?”
“Didn’t you see the look on Xiaotao-jiejie’s face when you were with Bingxin?” he replied. “As your friend, I’m ready to sacrifice myself and woo Bingxin to save your relationship with Xiaotao-jiejie!”
I laughed. “Sure. What a noble friend you are!”
“You know I am! Now hurry up and tell me what Bingxin’s interests are! What’s her hobby? When is her birthday?”
I thought about it and replied, “She doesn’t have any particular hobby, but she likes to hear the stories about my ancestor Song Ci and the way he solved murder cases.”
Dali slumped back onto his bed and crawled to his laptop. I asked him what he was doing now.
“I’m downloading episodes of that TV show called Amazing Detective Di Renjie!” he replied. Minutes later, I heard the theme song of the show which Dali had set as his ringtone.
Seeing that he was busy with his ‘research,’ I played League of Legends with Lao Yao instead. We spent the whole day playing the game till the sun went down, then called for take-out delivery for dinner when I got hungry. Looking back, my fourth year in college really was carefree.
Early the next morning, Xiaotao called me and said in an urgent tone, “Come over as soon as you can, Song Yang! The fourth victim has turned up!”
I sprung up from bed as soon as I heard that and woke Dali up immediately. We then set off to the police station with my trusty bag of tools.
True to her words, Xiaotao not only called me but she called Bingxin too. I bumped into her at the entrance of the police station. She was holding a tiny box in her hands. I asked her what it was.
“It’s my secret weapon!” she answered with a grin.
Bingxin hid behind me all the way as we walked into the police station for fear of bumping into her father.
“Why don’t you hide behind me, Bingxin-meimei?” offered Dali. “My shoulders are wider than Song Yang’s!”
Bingxin grimaced and spat, “No thanks! Also, you’re not allowed to call me Bingxin-meimei! Only Song Yang-gege is allowed to call me that!”
Dali looked hurt by this comment and shrank away quietly.
Xiaotao was waiting for us at the entrance of the morgue.
“Excellent!” she exclaimed when she saw us. “You’re all here the minute autopsy was mentioned! If all the youths in our country are half as motivated as you are, then our country’s future looks bright!”
We entered the morgue and headed towards a metal table where the fourth victim lay. Like the first three cases, the victim was a beautiful young woman. She was 27 years old and she worked as a bank employee. There were still traces of light makeup on her face. She looked peaceful as if she was just sleeping.
She died the night before at a nightclub that she had the habit of going to after work. She fell asleep at the bar counter after drinking too much last night. When the bar was closing at two in the morning, the bartender tried to wake her up, but when he looked closer, he realized that she was no longer breathing.
1. A Chinese television series.