Since it was the weekend, there was a crowd of people in the park. "It’s busier in the mornings," remarked Xiaotao.
"Let’s buy a kite and have some fun," I said.
"Are you serious?!" blurted Xiaotao in surprise.
"I’ve never flown a kite. Let’s get one!" I urged.
We went to a kite stall and I picked out a butterfly kite while Xiaotao picked a centipede one that made a buzzing sound. Dali, on the other hand, couldn’t decide. I happened to notice a peculiar kite in the back of the stall. It was an ugly kite printed with a still of Xiao Yanzi from the TV series, My Fair Princess. That’s not to say that Zhao Wei was unappealing but rather the kite was. The kite was awash with a reddish hue that dyed Xiao Yanzi’s face with two large red blotches, making her look like a village girl. The kite was extremely huge and covered with dust. At a glance, it was obvious the seller was stuck with it.
I pointed at the kite and said, "Dali, get that one."
Without even thinking, Dali refused. "There’s no way I’m getting that. It’s hideous! How embarrassing would it be to fly that kite!"
"It’s either that or nothing!" I insisted.
"I never thought you’d be such a controlling man. I do pity your future girlfriend," muttered Dali almost imperceptibly.
Xiaotao covered her mouth so her laughter wouldn’t spill out.
"Cut the bullshit and hurry up dude!" I said.
Left with little choice, Dali reluctantly bought the kite. Along the way, people pointed at him in laughter, mocking his special aesthetic sense. Xiaotao smiled quizzically, “Why are you punishing him?"
"We’re doing a reconstruction of the crime,” I explained. “Dali, can you fly a kite?"
Dali patted his chest proudly. "Of course! I'll teach you guys how.”
Dali proceeded to do as he said but ironically, it was he who had trouble with his kite. Because his kite was too big, it shook from side to side, swaying with the wind. On the contrary, our little kites fared much better.
After some time, Dali's kite finally rose into the sky, standing out among a bunch of colorful kites.
"Song Yang, I think I understand your intentions now..." said Xiaotao as she stared at Dali’s conspicuous kite.
"What do you mean?" Dali turned to us, his expression vacuous.
"Isn’t this kite special? A lot of people were watching throughout the entire process of getting it to fly.” I prompted, “Now, think about the human skin kite that’s even bigger than this. How did the murderer get it to fly? Someone would’ve called the police before the murderer could even get that far so the kite was most likely dropped from a height."
I looked around and instructed, "Dali, reel the kite in. Let's do an experiment!"
After Xiaotao and I gave our kites to two children, we headed to a nearby building and climbed up to the roof. Then, I got Dali to throw the kite down.
The kite slowly fluttered down with the wind and fell into a tree. “From which direction did the kite drift?" I asked.
Xiaotao shook her head. "I'm not quite sure but I’ll check!"
"You might as well ask the bureau of meteorology what the wind was like this morning," I suggested.
Two quick phone calls later, Xiaotao informed me that the human skin kite had flown into the park square from the southeast direction coinciding with the direction of the wind this morning.
Armed with that information, I declared, "Let's conduct a few more experiments to zoom in on where the murderer was."
We tested across several buildings, throwing the kite many times until it finally turned into a torn mess. Eventually, I managed to isolate what I thought was the most suitable position. It was a balcony on the sixth floor of one of the buildings where the kite could float down to the park square without any deviations.
I noticed a mouthful of yellow-green phlegm in the corner–a sign of excess heat caused by yin deficiency. There were also wisps of blood visible, indicating the presence of respiratory diseases.
Dali grimaced as he watched me swab some samples and secure them in an evidence bag. "Oh my God,” he exclaimed. “That’s fucking gross!"
"What's the big deal?” I retorted. “Chinese Detective Li Changyu once solved a case in which the murderer urinated at the scene of the crime. He managed to identify the murderer by testing the urine."
"That's not as disgusting as this!" he cringed.
Having obtained samples, I glanced at my watch. "We might break the record with how quickly we’re going to solve the case this time."
Xiaotao widened her eyes in shock. "You’re confident about that?"
"According to our previous hypothesis, the murderer is likely an old person, and the elderly are stubborn and set in their ways,” I observed. “Besides, their usual motive is vengeance for an old grudge. Combined with the fact that the murderer’s MO requires a lot of effort and has left behind plenty of evidence, I’m certain the case will be solved by tomorrow at the latest."
"If we solve the case by tomorrow,” started Xiaotao. “I’ll treat both of you to a seafood dinner."
"We’ll starve tonight,” I said to Dali. “And feast tomorrow!"
Dali made a gluttonous gesture of wiping his saliva. "Then I’ll start starving myself at noon."
Right then, I received a call from Bingxin. "Song Yang-gege, where have you guys been?” she asked. “I found something!"
"Wait for us. We’re heading back to the station now." I said.
Downstairs, just as we were leaving the community, I asked the security guard at the gate if anyone elderly had driven in this morning. The security guard shook his head and reported that he hadn’t seen anyone like that.
Fixing my gaze at the camera above my head, I asked, "Do you have the surveillance video?"
The security guard looked away in embarrassment. "The facilities in our community are outdated. The residents don’t stay for long so we often have trouble collecting maintenance fees. These cameras have long broken down but we’ve never repaired them. They’re merely for show."
"Why do you think the murderer drove here?" asked Xiaotao.
"It’s impossible for the murderer to have folded the kite, yet such a huge kite would’ve been conspicuous if it were carried into the community on foot. Hence, the murderer must have a car! Unless... "
"Unless what?" questioned Xiaotao.
My eyes lit up. "That’s right! Get someone to find out where the old man lived!"
"Can’t you finish what you were about to say?!" grumbled Xiaotao. “That’s only going to make me more anxious!”
When we returned to the station, Bingxin asked us where we had been. Hearing that we went kiting, she pursed her lips in discontent. "How could you go without asking me? You’re too much!" she complained.
"We only went to investigate the case,” I explained. “What about the lab results?"
Bingxin reported that saliva enzymes not containing the victim’s DNA had been detected on the human skin kite. It must have been left by someone else, most likely when the murderer sneezed.
I nodded and handed her samples of the phlegm I had found and the old man's DNA. "Could you test the phlegm against the saliva left on the kite and see if they match?” I instructed. “Also, please compare the human skin kite and the old man’s DNA."
"Why compare the two sets of DNA?” asked Xiaotao. “What secrets are you hiding, Song Yang?"
"I’m not intentionally keeping you guessing,” I replied. “At the moment, I can’t be certain so let’s wait until the lab results come out."
Vague conjectures had formed in my mind but it wasn’t yet appropriate to share them since they weren’t necessarily correct. So I had to confirm them first.
"As a Traditional Coroner, you seem perfectly at home using modern technology!" laughed Xiaotao.
"The method isn’t important,” I clarified. “I’ll use whatever means helpful to solve the crime. I believe if Song Ci were alive today, he wouldn’t have left such convenient technologies unused."Previous Chapter Next Chapter