Chapter 349: The Fruit Knife

"This alone won’t convince me!" Xiaotao objected.

"I didn’t expect to convince you either,” I said. “I was just looking for clues to overturn my preconceptions."

"Let me ask you a question that might seem offensive,” expressed Xiaotao. “Do you come to a conclusion before entering the room and then try every means to prove it, or do you come to a conclusion after seeing the body?"

I admitted without the slightest hesitation, "It’s true I came here with preconceived notions! I presumed Mr. Ding was innocent and then endeavored to prove it, but my observations are absolutely objective."

"But now that you’ve formed that preconception, how can you ensure your objectivity and impartiality?"

I stood there, bereft of speech. Perhaps my mental acuity had yet to return to normal after my recent discharge from the hospital. To be honest, I felt a little dizzy from contemplating the case. It was much later that I realized that this was the negative effect of the Eyes of Yama.

"There’s no way of convincing you now,” I sighed, shaking my head. “My reasons are very simple. I don’t think Mr. Ding killed anyone, and he doesn't look like a murderer to me."

"Alright then. Let’s go to the crime scene so you see the error of your ways!" replied Xiaotao.

"I'm coming along as well," Bingxin chimed in.

"Finish your report!" ordered Xiaotao.

Xiaotao and I were merely debating the case. We would never stoop to attacking each other. Once we left the building, she was already on another subject entirely, asking how the business was going. She liked the sanitary napkin I brought her last time and even promoted it among her colleagues, winning us new customers.

"Next time I visit, I'll bring you some more and sell them to you at wholesale price."

"No, you have to make money as well,” she declined. “I’ll buy it at market price!"

We went to the parking lot where Xiaotao parked her car. When we drove out, Bingxin was standing at the entrance with a small bag slung over her shoulder. She had changed into a casual outfit suitable for fieldwork. 

Xiaotao frowned, "Why didn’t I look at the lunar calendar before going out today? Now look at who I’ve bumped into!"

Then she leaned out of the window and yelled, "Go back and finish up the report, or I'll tell your father!"

"No, I'm coming with you!” Bingxin pouted, “I’m so bored in the station and you won’t let me go anywhere! I won’t let go of this rare opportunity."

"It’s an order!" Xiaotao declared.

"You’re not my direct superior, so why should I obey your orders?” Bingxin disputed. “My forensics teacher has given me the green light and cautioned me not to go too far!"

Xiaotao reluctantly unlocked the car door, "I don’t know what to do with you! You’re so stubborn. Get in!"

“Xiaotao-jiejie, you’re the best!" giggled Bingxin.

"I really can't handle this young lady,” complained Xiaotao. “I think what Sun Tiger needs is a nanny for this willful young lady."

I laughed at Xiaotao’s helplessness, having experienced the same with Bingxin’s usual spoiled behavior. She could drive me to my wit’s end but also amuse me with her little tantrums.

The three of us soon arrived at the crime scene. Because it was a residential area and the investigation had been concluded, there was no need for monitoring. Xiaotao was about to open the door with the key when I yelled for her to wait.

I bent down to examine the keyhole, checking for signs of forced entry but found nothing.

Upon entering the room, Bingxin exclaimed in shock. The floor and walls were covered in blood and the room was left in a chaotic mess. The outline of the dead body remained on the floor with crime scene markers everywhere the evidence had fallen. Of course, the objects had already been removed.

"Look, as you can see, there aren’t any more clues," Xiaotao pointed.

"Any remaining clues will not be visible to the naked eye,” I explained. “Mr. Ding said he washed the receipts down the sink. Let's find out if he’s lying!"

We put on shoe covers and went into the kitchen. The water pipes under the sink, like most homes, were U-shaped. Wearing my rubber gloves, I unscrewed the nuts at the bottom of the pipe and out splashed sewage, dirtying my clothes.

I found bits of eggs, vegetable leaves, rice grains and some greasy remains which looked disgusting. Most importantly, the pieces of paper that we were looking for were there.

I asked Bingxin for a pair of tweezers and carefully picked up each piece, but these were only part of a bigger sheet and didn’t reveal much information. I placed one of the fragments under the light. "This is thermal paper used for printing bills. It should be a receipt!"

"But you can’t prove that it was washed down the sink at the time,” argued Xiaotao.

"That’s simple to prove,” I grinned. “Bingxin-meimei, can you test for the amount of time a piece of paper has been soaking in water?"

Bingxin nodded, "Although there isn’t an exact test for this, we can soak the same type of paper in water and note the time and changes to the paper."

"That’s great!” I laughed. “We finally have some evidence!"

Xiaotao immediately poured a bucket of cold water over me, "But this isn’t direct evidence. Whether or not the receipts were destroyed after the crime doesn’t directly prove Mr. Ding’s innocence!"

"Then let's keep looking!" I suggested.

When we returned to the living room, I scanned my surroundings, eyes widening in surprise. "Wait a minute, there’s a huge flaw in the living room! Do you see it?" I asked.

Bingxin looked around. "Do you mean the victim’s position?"

"Song Yang, stop making us wonder,” Xiaotao said bluntly. “I don't see anything out of the ordinary."

I pointed to the fruit on the ground, "These were previously on the coffee table, right? Take a closer look at the fruits."

There were bananas, oranges and lychees. It suddenly struck Bingxin, "None of these needs peeling."

"Exactly!” I concurred. “The fruit knife shouldn't have been on the coffee table!"

"That’s too far-fetched,” Xiaotao shook her head. “It’s normal for people to leave a fruit knife on the coffee table. My dad even has a Japanese sword hanging in his bedroom!"

“Does your father often dream of killing people?" I joked.

Xiaotao laughed, "Don't change the subject! Let’s get back to the case!"

I pointed to the bookshelf and the CD rack. "The CDs are all arranged in alphabetical order, and the books are arranged according to their categories. This shows that the wife cares very much about order and might even have a slight Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. People like this usually put away items immediately after they’ve used them. Let's go to the kitchen and have a look!"

There was indeed a knife missing from the knife block. "Someone took the knife from here!" I remarked.

Xiaotao was still unconvinced. I picked up a knife, holding it close to my nose as I sniffed. "This is a meat knife... This one’s for bones... And this is for cooked foods..." When I picked up the smallest knife, I caught a whiff of apple peel on it. A quick check of the trash can confirmed my conjecture. There were apple cores and peels in the garbage that hadn’t been removed. "This is the real fruit knife," I stated, holding up the small knife.

Upon hearing this, Xiaotao widened her eyes in disbelief.

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