The person I meant was of course Hamster. We kept each other’s contacts since that day. I called him, and less than half an hour later, he arrived.
“What can I do for you, Song-ge?” he asked with a smile. “Even if I have to walk through fire, I’ll do whatever you ask.”
The reason why Hamster was so eager to help was because by helping me and doing the police a favor, it was equivalent to buying himself insurance. He himself had escaped incarceration many times due to his role as an informant.
“Have you heard of the Black Panther gang?” I asked.
“Yes,” Hamster nodded. “Their boss died recently, throwing the whole gang into chaos. They even went after the Blood Wolf gang last night because of it.”
“You’re very well informed, Hamster,” Xiaotao commented.
“Well,” Hamster smiled, “nothing under the sun can escape my ears. What would you like to know, Song-ge?”
“Help me investigate the death of the Black Panther gang’s boss,” I said. “What I’d like to know the most is where they’re hiding the dead body!”
Hamster hemmed and hawed when he heard that.
“You see… This is a bit… I mean the Black Panthers are notoriously secretive! I’m just an outsider. I can’t just infiltrate the gang alone without any help. Do you have someone to help me from the inside, Song-ge?”
I didn’t know how to answer that at first, then Xiaotao tapped my shoulder and asked me to come over to the side.
“I’m going to contact my officers and tell them to let Baldy go,” she said. “You can use this opportunity to build friendship with him. That way it’d be safer for Hamster to break into their gang.”
“You mean Hamster will be our mole?”
“You’re thinking of the cool spies on TV, aren’t you?” Xiaotao laughed. “Well, in reality, the moles are far from cool and glamorous. Hamster is a professional in this regard. He helped Wang Yuanchao when he was investigating a drug trafficking case. He mingled with gangs, smuggled weapons, and is very close with a few underworld gang leaders. His experience makes him a helpful ally.”
“He’d do all those dangerous things just for the meager informant bonus?” I asked.
“That’s not it,” Xiaotao shook her head. “People like him help both the police and the gangsters. He would help the police solve a case, and at the same time, he’d provide information about our movements to the underworld bosses who pay him. Every time we raid a place, one or two key figures would escape. Well, guess who helped them? I probably don’t need to tell you the answer.”
That revelation made me admire Hamster’s cunningness slightly more. Xiaotao exchanged a few words with some officers and I went to the cells and told the guarding officer, “Let Baldy and his men out.”
The men who were squatting on the floor got excited when he heard that. Baldy yelled to Trenchy who was in the next cell, “I’ll go back first, brother! Your wife will probably miss you in the next few days. Maybe I should I go to her and comfort her!”
Trenchy was about to launch a counterattack, but I shouted, “Silence! Where do you think you are?”
Baldy turned to me and politely thanked me.
“What is your name, big brother?” he asked.
“My surname is Song,” I answered. “And don’t call me big brother! I’m younger than you.”
“That makes no difference to me, you’re still someone I respect,” he insisted. “I’ll leave now, but one day I’ll invite you to dinner when you’re free.”
I walked out of the room with Baldy, and we bumped into Hamster.
“Song-ge!” he cried. “I haven’t seen you in a long time! Oh, and isn’t this man the famous Baldy from the Black Panthers gang?”
“Who are you?” asked Baldy, full of suspicion.
Hamster went on to boast of his resume and accomplishments. It sounded very similar to what he told me the first time we met—protected a big underworld boss from a knife attack, had dinner with billionaires and all that. Finally, he told Baldy of his lifelong dream to join the Black Panthers gang.
“Can I trust this kid, Song-ge?” Baldy asked me.
I pretended to give it serious consideration and answered, “He’s trustworthy alright, but he’s too lecherous sometimes.” I then turned to Hamster and asked him, “Have you been caught with a prostitute again?”
“No, Song-ge!” he denied. “I’ve been behaving well lately. I came here today with the sole intention of meeting you!”
“Looks like Song-ge trusts you,” said Baldy with a nod. “Good. I’ll recommend you to join the gang. Come with me!”
Hamster followed Baldy and his group of men out of the police station, and just like that, he was in the Black Panthers gang. This was an eye-opening experience for me. I’d been duped by the movies into believing that one would need to pass several harrowing tests before one could join the triad.
Once they were gone, Xiaotao came to me and commented, “You’re being called Song-ge left and right! That must feel great!”
“It feels weird,” I responded. “I would never have spoken to people like that under normal circumstances.”
“Yeah, you shouldn’t get too attached to them,” Xiaotao cautioned. “Don’t forget that they might take advantage of your position and your skills.”
I didn’t have anything else to do after that, so I went back to college. As soon as Dali saw me, he exclaimed, “Dude, where have you been? I just noticed that it was Xiaotao-jiejie’s birthday yesterday! Tell me the truth, did you spend the night with her?”
“What are you talking about?” I retorted. “There’s a new homicide, and this time the underworld gangs are involved!”
“Whoa, the triads?” Dali shouted. “You have to take me with you!”
“Okay,” I promised. “But right now we’ll have to wait for the mole to send us some information before we make a move.”
“There’s even a mole?” Dali gasped. “What an exciting case! I missed so much action last night! Why didn’t you call me?”
“It’s not as exciting as you think it is….” I answered vaguely.
A few days later, Hamster called me and asked to meet at a café. I went there and saw him completely changed. He was wearing an expensive suit and a chunky gold chain around his neck. He seemed to have fit in well in the Black Panthers gang.
Hamster told me that after snooping around, he’d roughly figured out how the boss had died. He said the boss died in a nightclub called Tianxiang Pavilion, in which many prostitutes were hidden. It operated as a regular business from the perspective of outsiders. No customers were offered the services of the prostitutes.
“Then why hide those women in there?” I asked.
“They’re there for the sole purpose of entertaining members of the Black Panthers gang.”
This was another eye-opener. I’d never realized that such an arrangement existed.
“It was hard work sniffing out these morsels of information, Song-ge!” Hamster complained. “It’s taken a toll on my weak kidneys.”
I thought of Xiaotao’s warning and replied, “Why don’t we switch places, then? Explain to me in detail what you’ve actually been doing these few days!”
“Ah… I was only joking, Song-ge!” he smiled. “I never pay any attention to those kinds of women!”
Hamster went on to explain that the boss died in the nightclub. His body was found in a locked room where no one could’ve gotten in or out after his death. But there wasn’t a single living person found in the room except him. He was found stabbed with a knife more than a dozen times. The surveillance video was checked, and no one went into or came out of the room before and after his death.
Another locked room murder, huh? I thought.
“What was he doing in that room?” I asked. “He must’ve been with a woman considering he was in that kind of place, right?”
“I’ve asked several members of the gang,” Hamster answered, “and they all said the same thing—there wasn’t a single living person in the room except the boss!”
I groaned. Not a single living person. Why did it sound strange? I felt that there could be something between the lines here, but couldn’t figure out what it was exactly.
“What about his body?” I asked.
“It’s being secretly kept in the city funeral home,” Hamster replied. “I’m not sure if it’s been cremated by now. Members of the gang guard it during the day. They’re hell-bent on keeping the death of their boss a secret.”
“They guard the body during the day?” I asked. “What about at night?”
“It’s a funeral home, Song-ge!” Hamster laughed. “Who in their right mind would stay there at night?”
Looks like I’ll pay the funeral home a visit tonight! I thought.Previous Chapter Next Chapter