At this point, Mr. Qin suddenly stood up and pushed his hands towards me. "This was my idea alone. Since you’re already here, then you might as well handcuff me!"
"Song Yang-gege, this girl is so pitiful. Can’t we just forget it?" Bingxin pleaded.
Even if I wanted to handcuff him, I didn’t have any on me. "If what you say is true, Qin Lu's coffin would have been unearthed. Have you already buried it again?"
"Y-yes!" There was a shift in Mr. Qin’s expression.
I wondered why he suddenly grew nervous so I said, "Show it to us!"
"Alright, I'll take you there now," he nodded.
There were many tombs covered with overgrown weeds on the hill. Noticing the locust trees around us, I simply asked, "What wood is the coffin made of?"
"It was made from an old locust tree that grew on this hill."
Sure enough, this was the cause of Zheng Zaihao's death.
When we came to a newly-dug grave, Mr. Qin said, "This is my little girl's grave!"
Staring at the bare burial mound, I sighed, "He couldn’t have escaped if you used this burial method."
"We didn’t bury the coffin under so much soil at the time!" the man insisted.
"Is that so?" My eyes flickered suspiciously at him.
"Song Yang-gege, it really doesn’t look like an intentional homicide. Please show Mr. Qin some leniency!" Bingxin persuaded.
I rubbed my chin in contemplation. Although it all added up, my intuition seemed to be telling me otherwise.
If it had been a shallow burial as he claimed, he was deliberately allowing Zheng Zaihao to escape. The risk of doing so was so great that he might as well have buried him alive because Zheng Zaihao would certainly report to the police when he escaped. When the time came, the Qin family would have to face a series of charges, including kidnapping and false imprisonment. In addition, the victim was a foreigner, which almost guaranteed the Qin family would suffer heavy consequences.
"Open the coffin!" I said.
Mr. Qin immediately refused, "No, no! My little girl has just been buried and cannot be disturbed. I swear, she’s the only one in the coffin."
I insisted on opening the coffin but Mr. Qin was just as persistent in his refusal. He would rather be handcuffed than open the coffin.
"She’s the only one in the coffin," he repeated over and over again.
Whenever a person lied, they often emphasized whatever the opposite of the truth was. For example, a child who stole some money would often repeatedly say, “I really didn't take the money in the dresser.” Mr. Qin’s particular use of words planted a seed of doubt in my mind.
"Are there two people buried in the coffin?" I asked.
In a panic, Mr. Qin quickly assured me. "That’s nonsense. There’s really only one person inside!"
"If you won't tell me the truth, I’ll have to ask Zheng Zaihao. I'm afraid the information he reveals will be even more unfavorable to you." I chuckled.
To my surprise, Mr. Qin composed himself and said, "Ask him then. I don't care."
I decided to take a dominant position and fiercely pressed on, "Is there anyone else in the coffin? If you don't tell the truth, that’ll be another charge."
Under direct eye contact, Mr. Qin was finally discouraged. "Officer, this has nothing to do with me. That asshole must have been punished for doing something so despicable to my daughter."
Upon hearing this, Bingxin and I were shocked. We didn't think there was another case within the case!
Mr. Qin said that on the second day of the ghost wedding, they had gone up the hill to take a look only to find that the grave had been dug open and the coffin lid had fallen to one side. In the coffin lay Qin Lu and a man locked in an embrace. The man's clothes were disheveled and his trousers had fallen to his ankles. Worse still, his penis was still inside the dead body. But the strangest thing was, the corpse had both arms wrapped tightly around the man.
The crowd was rooted to the spot. Someone recognized the man as the old bachelor, Xiao Boli. Obviously, Xiao Boli had wanted to desecrate Qin Lu's body and somehow died.
If it were to be reported to the police, they would have trouble explaining the situation since Qin Lu was still wearing the bridal dress and phoenix hairpiece. But if they wanted to handle it themselves, what should they do with Xiao Boli’s body? Furthermore, Qin Lu's arm was as stiff as an iron rod and couldn’t be moved at all. They had no choice but to bury the coffin in this manner.
"When was this?" I asked.
"Yesterday morning," Mr. Qin replied.
My expression changed. "You might have really killed someone this time!"
Mr. Qin Dashu was stunned. "That’s impossible. Xiao Boli wasn’t breathing at the time. I think the Qin ancestors were disgusted with his actions and brought down retribution on his head."
"Open the coffin so I can conduct an autopsy!" I sighed.
When Mr. Qin left to fetch the tools, I turned to Bingxin and said, "It’s better if you don’t see this."
Bingxin pursed her lips. "What's the big deal? I’ve seen tons of male corpses at school. By the way, how did this necrophiliac die?"
"He most likely died the same way that Zheng Zaihao did. Poisoned by the locust tree, he fell unconscious and was buried alive as a dead man. However, there’s still one thing I’m not sure about, that is, did Mr. Qin commit intentional homicide? Did Xiao Boli accidentally save Zheng Zaihao when he came to rape the body? Or did Zheng Zaihao first escape before Xiao Boli raped the corpse?”
"So you want to examine the body to see if there’s any soil under his fingernails?" Bingxin suddenly realized.
"That’s right!" I replied.
"Song Yang-gege, which scenario do you hope it’ll be?" asked Bingxin.
A faint smile played across my lips. "Just look at you! That’s called having preconceptions! I don't hope for anything. I’ll wait to examine the body and deduce the truth from the facts."
"I still hope Mr. Qin won’t have to go to jail," she said.
Mr. Qin was a father who deeply loved his daughter. Perhaps Bingxin’s heart had given birth to sympathy because she saw a trace of Sun Tiger within Mr. Qin.
A while later, Mr. Qin came back with a spade. Just as he was about to shovel dirt, I interrupted, "I'll do it!"
"No, no. It’s better I do the rough work!" he insisted.
I shook my head. "I'm not being polite with you. I'm afraid you might destroy some details."
Mr. Qin muttered, "What could there be in the soil? Isn't it all the same?"
How mistaken he was! Dozens of clues could be gathered from the soil alone. I slowly shoveled, scooping up a bit of soil before I crouched and picked out a blade of grass to carefully examine. Then, I asked Bingxin if she noticed anything. I tested her whenever I got the chance in order to train her into a competent assistant.
"This blade of grass was cut by a shovel, and it happened not too long ago," observed Bingxin.
I nodded and looked around. A layer of turf was missing from the area around the grave. "Go over there and see if there are any traces of scrabbling on the ground!" I instructed.
We worked separately, and soon I caught sight of the coffin. It was indeed made out of locust wood. "Why use locust wood?" I asked Mr. Qin.
He explained, "We couldn’t order a coffin in time because it happened so suddenly and it was also New Year's. So I cut down an old locust tree and made a coffin from the wood. After all, I used to be a carpenter."
"Isn’t locust wood unsuitable for striking the coffin?" I asked.
"I checked with a fortune teller. Based on my little girl’s birth chart, the fortune teller said that she has an unstable life so using expensive wood is only detrimental to her.”
Bingxin came back and excitedly reported, "Song Yang-gege, there aren’t any traces of scrabbling. They all look like shovel marks."
"Did it rain yesterday?" I asked.
Bingxin recalled, "There was light rain in the early morning.”
I turned over a layer of soil and looked underneath.
Giving in to his curiosity, Mr. Qin asked, “It's getting late. What are you looking at? Why don’t you quickly open the coffin?”
I thought to myself, We’re trying to prove your innocence, okay?
The soil in the grave was evenly wet. It didn’t rain heavily yesterday so there was no way the wetness penetrated so deeply into the soil. This showed that the soil was covered later.
We were one step closer to proving Mr. Qin’s innocence. Truth be told, I was sincerely happy with this development.
Before opening the coffin, I examined it. The four corners of the coffin lid showed no signs of being nailed. Then, I pried open the coffin with the shovel, turning over the coffin lid with a crash. I was immediately greeted with the pungent smell of fresh locust trees.
There were two bodies lying in the coffin–one was the bride in her phoenix headpiece and wedding dress and the other was a disheveled man. The pale bride had wrapped her arms tightly around the man, lips curled into a Mona Lisa smile. The whole thing was very strange!Previous Chapter Next Chapter