After Yi Xi's case was concluded, I found myself a new fan of Yi Xi. Whenever I saw him on TV or in a magazine, I couldn't help but pay attention to the news. Yet, I never told a soul of my involvement in the case.
Yi Xi later invested the money in a movie in my name. When the movie was released a few years later, my friends came running to ask, “Song Yang, why did they thank you in the credits?”
I laughed, “It’s just someone with the same name.”
This movie was written and directed by Yi Xi, a suspense thriller telling the story of twins exchanging identities. The film revealed the man’s true feelings, the harsh challenge of living as someone else the whole time, making sure never to reveal any discrepancies under the public’s scrutiny.
If I were him, no amount of money could tempt me to live like that.
The movie was well-received, earning me a large box office bonus in my account. Yi Xi also built a hundred Song Yang Hope primary schools in Jiangxi Province in my name, shocking the education industry.
But that’s a story for another time.
After returning from my internship, my schedule was basically free. Now that we no longer had to attend classes, Dali began to prepare for his business, running around every day and staying up all night.
"Your business isn’t even up and running but you’ve already learned the boss's ways, staying out all night doing God knows what, eh?" I joked.
"Dude, I’ll keep my plans to myself for the time being,” said Dali. “But I can tell you that I’ll have good news to share in two months."
Witnessing his earnestness and the effort he had invested in his business, I was sincerely happy for him.
Our classmates either went out looking for jobs outside or prepared to resit the examination if they failed, while few others sat for the civil servant admissions exam. By contrast, I was an idle man, reading books, watching movies and enjoying the leisure of the last few months of university.
I received a call from Xiaotao, asking me to come to the station. I noticed her wording was rather vague and evasive, taking care not to mention a word regarding a case. Judging from her tone, I knew there was trouble!
In the absence of Dali, I took a cab down to the public security bureau with my tools in hand. As soon as I entered, I was greeted by Xiaotao, Wang Yuanchao, Director-General Cheng and an old, white-haired officer. They looked as if they had been waiting for me, their expressions stone-faced and solemn.
When I asked what happened, Director-General Cheng said, "Didn't you bring your little assistant?"
"Dali is busy with something," I replied.
“That works out perfectly then!” Director-General Cheng nodded. “Song Yang, I demand that this case be kept absolutely confidential. Not a single person can hear about this, including your closest friends and even your parents!"
The cases I handled were at the top level of the Public Security Bureau. Naturally, I wouldn’t spill a word about them.
"Who died?" I asked.
"It's an officer,” said Director-General Cheng. “But that's not the point—it’s how he died!"
His sentence aroused my curiosity but I calmly suggested, "Let's look at the body first."
As we walked towards the morgue, Xiaotao introduced to me the old, white-haired officer next to her–Officer Ouyang who had just retired this year. The man’s excellent memory had earned him the nickname "two-legged library" and was one of the oldest police officers in the force.
Officer Ouyang turned to me, "Kiddo, although we haven't met before, I've definitely heard a lot about you. The stories of your crime-solving have spread throughout the police force..."
"I’m sure they’re all exaggerations,” I smiled modestly. “I’m still in the process of learning."
We entered the morgue where a headless corpse in a police uniform lay on the morgue slab, the head placed above the neck and covered with a piece of white cloth.
Xiaotao gave me a brief account of the incident, explaining that the deceased, surnamed Niu, was one of the team leaders of the Gulou Precinct. The body was found in a factory compound near his residence this morning. At that time, he was sitting in the driver's seat of his own car which had crashed into a utility pole and was severely damaged. His head had fallen onto the back seat but there wasn’t much blood at the scene, possibly due to the fact that the body was sitting in an upright position so the blood congealed within the thoracic cavity.
I examined the incision and found that it was extremely neat and precise, as if his head had been severed by a tremendously sharp weapon. Since I had never met Officer Niu, I couldn’t fight the excitement that boiled inside of me when Xiaotao described the details of the case.
I lifted the white cloth and looked at the head. There were indentations near the dead man’s hairline, possibly made from long-term wear of a police cap. Due to excessive blood loss, his skin had turned pale but showed no signs of rigor mortis. Generally speaking, the time of death for a decapitated corpse should be judged by the degree of decay of the body.
As I listened with the Echolocation Rod, I reached a conclusion, "The death time is about ten hours and the stomach is empty, indicating that the deceased had missed at least three meals before his death."
"Additionally, the deceased consumed a large amount of alcohol," I said, sniffing at the wound.
"Officer Niu and I have been partners for more than twenty years,” added Officer Ouyang. “He never drinks, even on important occasions."
I nodded and turned my attention to the deceased’s clothes, ready to remove them for further examination. I noticed a few badges on his uniform which Officer Ouyang explained were Second Class Medals awarded to Officer Niu for injuries sustained in the 1997 crackdown on crime, the Order of August 1st Medal awarded for his undercover work in the trafficking syndicates in 2006, the Iron Blood Eagle Medal awarded for the joint abolition of a transnational criminal organization with Interpol, the First Class Meritorious Service Medal awarded for his contribution in solving the 2015 massacre case, and an Excellent Police Badge.
My heart almost burst with emotion looking at the well-polished medals. Behind each of these medals was a heroic legend! Since my cooperation with Xiaotao, she had received only two medals, a Second Class Meritorious Service Medal and an Excellent Police Badge.
The dead man’s clothes were neat, almost spotless except for a horizontal line of dust across his abdomen. In his pockets were his car keys, a piece of chewing gum and a certificate. Upon carefully unbuttoning his shirt and cutting his undershirt, I found no injuries or pathological changes on the body. But there were two rather atypical wounds: a bruise on his right elbow and minor scratches on his right index finger.
I stared at the bruise thoughtfully and proceeded to pick up the police uniform, observing the corresponding parts with Cave Vision where I discovered almost imperceptible indentations and signs of damage.
A few minutes later, I straightened my back and removed my gloves. Already used to my habits, Xiaotao was well aware that taking off my gloves was equivalent to the end of the autopsy.
"Song Yang, is that it?” she asked in surprise. “Don't you need to use your Autopsy Umbrella and seaweed ashes?"
Although we kept our conversation light and casual during other autopsies, Director-General Cheng’s presence prevented me from being my usual easygoing self. I immediately explained, "There’s no need for that but I’ll have to take a look at the photos of the scene."
After a quick phone call, an officer soon delivered the photos which I perused one by one. The photos had been taken from all different angles, providing a clear and concise depiction of the actual scene. Even the glass fragments that had fallen to the ground were clearly captured in these photos.
Upon thorough inspection of these photos, it took me a while before I ventured, "This is a suicide case."
"Suicide?" Xiaotao and Director-General Cheng exclaimed at the same time.
Officer Ouyang fixed an incredulous gaze on me, "Kiddo, it’s no time to joke around! Director-General Cheng is with us!"
"I'm not joking. It’s a suicide," I reiterated.
Director-General Cheng furrowed his eyebrows. Despite his calm and refined demeanor, his microexpressions suggested he was angry and disappointed. Officer Niu might have been an elder whom he greatly respected.
"Song Yang, can you explain how you came to that conclusion?" he asked.
"Please remain calm,” I urged. “I know you might think I'm joking. In fact, no one would think of suicide when looking at the body. In the first place, I had my doubts as well but after the possibility of homicide has been ruled out, only one answer remains. Officer Ouyang, there’s something I’d like to ask you. Did you find a fishing line at the scene?"Previous Chapter Next Chapter