Madam Hu's poor acting skills gave her away at once. I didn’t need to use my Cave Vision to know she was lying.
Xiaotao took out her gun and slammed it against the table. "We’re actually here to arrest you."
Madam Hu's face crumpled at those words. Lips trembling, she faltered, "D-do you have an arrest warrant?"
"Yes, would you like to see it?" asked Xiaotao without so much as batting an eyelid.
In truth, we came in a hurry so Xiaotao didn’t get a chance to submit an affidavit to the court. Perhaps due to the old lady’s guilt, such a bluff managed to fool her. She lowered her head, her wrinkled hands shaking uncontrollably. "To be honest,” she started. “I expected you to come, but I didn't think you’d come so soon!"
"That’s because you left too many clues," I explained.
Old Madam Hu sighed, "I don't regret what I did. He asked for it!"
She detailed how everything came to be. Back then, she and Old Man Yang were high school classmates. With the implementation of the “Down To The Countryside” policy, the two of them relocated to Yundian Province. At the time, she was drawn to the handsome and talented young man. Having secretly fallen in love with Mr. Yang, she hinted her feelings for him, both explicitly and implicitly.
In her younger days, she too was a beautiful girl. Madam Hu made frequent overtures to Mr. Yang who paid special attention to her at first. But as the saying goes, to snag a man, let him do the chasing. Right when the couple seemed to be headed towards a union, a "third party" appeared!
And this "third party" was a local girl–young and beautiful, with a pair of clear eyes that seemed unaffected by the ugliness of the world. Many educated youths fell for her, claiming she was a fairy from the mountains. However, Madam Hu believed her innocence was really ignorance and lack of education, and that her beautiful skin hid an empty soul.
Every time the young Mr. Yang looked at the girl, there was something else in his eyes. Finally, Madam Hu’s greatest fear became a reality. She saw with her own eyes Mr. Yang's confession to the girl...
She spoke to the girl in private and advised her to stay away from Mr. Yang. They had different life paths and the educated young man would return to the city sooner or later, leaving the young mountain girl behind as a distant memory.
However, the most irrational thing in this world is love. Although they returned to the city with thousands of miles separating the two, the girl seemed to occupy Mr. Yang’s every waking thought. He even visited her whenever the opportunity arose. Such a distinct contrast in their identities and the backwardness of the times made it impossible for them to marry. But for her, he was willing to stay single for the rest of his life.
Madam Hu secretly shed tears of heartache over his resolve. No matter how she tried, she had no way of moving him so she decided to wait.
Thus she waited and waited as this miserable love triangle tormented the three of them for forty years. Old Madam Hu thought she would carry this regret into her grave but unexpectedly, the woman died from illness five years ago. The chance to enter the old man’s life was here and she finally married him as she had always dreamed of.
Despite being well aware she was only a substitute to fill the loneliness in his old age, she had no regrets or complaints. After all, she had loved the man deeply all her life, and every day with him was a blessing she cherished.
But who could have predicted the arrival of a girl from Yundian Province who would shatter their peaceful, idyllic life? Bearing almost the exact same appearance as the "third party" of that year, this girl was the woman’s daughter!
Ever since the girl walked into their lives, the old man devoted all his time to her, becoming indifferent to much else. Enraged, Madam Hu watched on in hatred as she wondered if the love she had exchanged her entire life for would so easily be destroyed.
This time, she was certain she had no way of winning back her man so she decided to retaliate instead and vent a lifetime’s worth of resentment.
Hence, a mad plan for vengeance was born!
When Madam Hu moved to the countryside, she had learned tanning techniques from the local leather maker. After she was laid off from the printing factory, she also worked as a leather maker for a period of time in order to make a living. Because she was exposed to chemical fumes all year round, she developed chronic asthma.
She rented an apartment on the top floor of the building and purchased the necessary tools. The preparation process alone took three months.
About a week ago, Madam Hu tricked the girl into moving to the apartment upstairs with the excuse that she had already rented the place for her. The poor girl was still in the dark because in her eyes, Madam Hu was a kind and friendly old lady.
When Madam Hu took her to see the apartment, she surprised her with an ether rag over her mouth, rendering her unconscious. The girl was left bound and hungry for an entire week before Madam Hu slit her throat to bleed her dry. Then, she stripped off all her skin and turned it into a huge kite.
Her intention was to show Old Man Yang the woman he loved as a mere vapid, substanceless piece of skin. After he finally accepted the loss, she would then comfort him and re-enter his life.
With everything ready, she chose to carry out her plan this morning since the dense fog made it easier to conceal her moves.
Even then, she never could have foreseen that the human skin kite would frighten the old man to death. She was so devastated by his death that she almost felt relief instead of fear at our visit.
"Let this 40-year-long one-sided love draw to an end!" Old Madam Hu gently stroked the photo of her and Mr. Yang taken during their move to the countryside, her lips curling into a nasty grin. "Anyway, I’m the last one standing. That makes me the final victor!"
The juxtaposition of love and hatred hidden behind this sadistic murder left us speechless in astonishment.
I pulled out the DNA test report. "Madam Hu, you might have gotten one thing wrong,” I said. “Your husband wasn’t in love with anyone else. The girl you murdered was his biological daughter."
Madam Hu stared at us in wide-eyed shock. "That’s impossible!" she sputtered.
"This DNA test proves that they were indeed father and daughter,” I replied. “The girl was in her twenties. Twenty years ago when Mr. Yang visited his first love in Yundian Province, they must have conceived this child. After her mother died, she came to Nanjiang City alone, partly for work but also to look for her father. Daughter and father were finally reunited, only to be misunderstood by you. Is there anything crueler than to see a kite made out of his own daughter's skin drifting down from the sky? He died on the spot of a heart rupture because it was too great a blow!"
Madam Hu was frozen in shock for a full ten seconds before she buried her face in her hands and wailed, "Why didn't he tell me? Why didn't he tell me?!"
A heavy stone seemed to weigh on our hearts at the sound of her mournful cries. But as Shakespeare had written, hoist with his own petard, perhaps behind every pitiful man is a legitimate cause for having sunk to such lows. Two lives were lost and her own future was still uncertain. Her misery was her own doing.
Xiaotao threw her handcuffs on the table and fumed, "Put them on yourself!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter