When I asked him to explain the situation, he described seeing a man who looked between his forties and fifties, bald, and about 180 cm or so. At the time, there were only street lamps illuminating the park so his vision was impaired. It appeared as if the man pushed a woman in a red dress on the ground and had sex with her, though he couldn’t hear anything due to the distance.
Because he had been too timid to call the police, he convinced himself it was a couple’s quarrel. After about an hour, he looked out of the window once more but the two had disappeared.
Song Xingchen glanced at me waiting for my command. I knew that if I gave the order, he would slay the witness. However, that meant traveling down a path of no return.
After a moment of silence, I said, "Do you remember anything else?"
The man thought for a moment, "I think he drove there because I saw a black SUV parked next to him!"
"Thank you for your cooperation. Don't call the police and keep this to yourself. We are secretly investigating this murder, got it?"
"Alright,” he nodded fervently. “Please don't mention me. I’m a nobody–a civil servant on a business trip so I don't want any trouble."
When Song Xingchen and I exited the hotel, the driver's first sentence was, "Have you disposed of him?"
"Yes!" I snapped.
"We’ll meet my master for further instructions!" said the driver as he started the engine.
"No, there’s something else I must do,” I refused.
"Absolutely not!” protested the driver. “The master says you’re not allowed to do anything without his permission."
"When we tortured that guy, he said that he was with another person last night. So there are two witnesses. I must get rid of the other one, otherwise the client is still in danger!"
"I must ask the master for further instructions," stated the driver upon contemplation.
When the driver grabbed his cell phone, I quickly placed my hand in my pocket and dialed according to his movements, secretly recording the Dog Trainer's number.
After a brief conversation, the driver hung up. "The master says yes."
"You’ve got to be a little smarter to please your master, got it?” I sneered.
The driver replied, "I’m loyal to my master and I don't need any returns!"
Upon getting into the car, I glanced at the number I recorded. Since my eyes had the ability to see afterimages, I was able to memorize the number ten seconds after sweeping my eyes across the driver’s cell phone. I opened Google Maps and looked at nearby wineries, then instructed the driver to head to one of them first.
The murderer poured an entire bottle of wine on the victim, indicating there was wine at the scene. On top of that, the victim’s mouth wasn’t gagged at the time which meant wherever he was held had good sound insulation. Thus, the wine cellar of a winery was in line with the original crime scene.
For the murderer to employ the organization’s protection for such a long time, he must have considerable economic means and was most likely the owner of the winery.
We visited several bars throughout the morning but couldn't find anyone matching the characteristics. Right then, I received a call from Bingxin, "Song Yang-gege, what are you doing?"
Through the rearview mirror, the driver cast a menacing look in my direction. "Nothing much,” I quickly replied. “I’m just wandering the streets."
"I have the day off as well, Let’s hang out together. Wait for me in front of the city bureau, alright?"
"Oh, you must come!” interrupted Bignxin. “If you don't, you’ll regret it!"
I caught the implication in her words so I said, "Alright, I'll see you at noon."
As soon as I hung up, the driver coldly warned, "No tricks, you got that?!"
"Are you a dog or a fox? Why the hell are you so suspicious?” I chided. “Can’t I hang out with my childhood friend?”
The car stopped in front of a high-class winery called Opulence. When I walked into the store, I was warmly greeted by the waiter. I repeated the opening I used in the other bars, "I bought a bottle of wine from your store two days ago but it doesn’t taste right. I’d like to meet the manager."
The waiter paused before replying, "Alright, let me check with the manager. Please take a seat."
A while later, the waiter led a balding man of about fifty years old into the room. As soon as I caught a glimpse of his face, I had a strong intuition that this was the murderer.
For confirmation, I examined him with Cave Vision. From head to toe, his clothes were newly changed. There was dirt under his nails, mud on his shoes and the man looked rather haggard, a symptom caused by long-term overindulgence. There was also a small feature that wasn’t exactly logical in terms of deduction. His nose was crooked, a shared feature among gay tops, an interesting snippet of information I had come across in a book about ethnology. Since Lao Yao didn't have a crooked nose, I assumed he was a bottom.
The manager sat down and looked straight into my eyes, making me a little uncomfortable. "Sir, what can I do for you?" he smiled.
I lowered my voice, "The Dog Trainer sent me."
The manager muttered an affirmative and deliberately raised his voice, “Alright, I'll show you around the wine cellar."
"You lied to me,” accused the driver. “You said you were looking for the other witnesses!"
"I have my own style of doing things! Stop interrupting, you dog!" I snapped.
The four of us went to the wine cellar filled with huge oak barrels and crates of wine. Authentic wine was extremely expensive. No wonder this man was wealthy enough to afford the Dog Trainer's services.
The manager grinned, "Why didn't the Dog Trainer show up this time? Did he send you because of my special hobby... " His grubby paws reached out to touch me but was thwarted by Song Xingchen who grasped his hand and bent his arm in the opposite direction.
The manager screamed in pain and the driver quickly dissuaded, "Don't hurt the client!"
"We will clean up your mess but we don't provide other services. You'd better show some respect," I warned.
"I got it! I got it!" cried the manager.
I glanced meaningfully at Song Xingchen, motioning for him to let go. The tear-eyed manager held his arm.
"How should I address you?"
"I’m only a small winery owner to the outside world but they know me as the Transvestite Killer in the Jianghu!" he beamed with pride.
I feigned surprise, "You were the one who killed the boy in red?"
"No, no!” he shook his head. “That wasn’t my work but my modus operandi was inspired by that case. By the way, did you dispose of the body and witness from last night?"
"I’ve handled it," I lied.
"That’s great! Cooperating with you guys has always been a pleasure! I will bank in the money to the Dog Trainer's account." The manager took a bottle of wine from the shelf and offered, "Let me buy you a drink. Here’s to a happy cooperation!"
I waved my hand, "Forget about the wine first. I’m afraid we might have missed something. Is this the original crime scene?"
"Yes," admitted the manager.
The dust on the ground did show signs of struggling. "Who was the deceased?" I asked.
"A handsome guy who came to purchase some wine,” replied the manager. “I’ve been eyeing him for several days and finally managed to trick him to come down here." His lips curled in a triumphant smile as if he was showing the recent acquisition of an antique.
"Good taste," I lauded.
"I’ll be honest with you, I can’t usually get an erection. Only killing stimulates me enough to achieve hardness. So whenever I see a handsome man, my impulses run wild. The addiction is a hundred times stronger than my desire for good wine!" explained the manager.
"As long as you don’t try anything with me!" I chuckled.
"No, I would never! I respect you as much as the Dog Trainer,” assured the manager. “By the way, I haven't got your name."
I ignored his question and added, "How many people have you killed?"
After a moment’s contemplation, he said, "I’ve not kept count but it’s probably around forty!"
"What about the souvenirs left behind after the murders? I’m rather interested in them.”
The manager's expression shifted abruptly. Meanwhile, the driver rebuked, "What the hell do you think you’re doing? We don't ask about the client’s private matters."
The manager quickly recovered his smile, "That’s alright. It’s understandable since it’s your first time. Just make sure not to repeat it!"
"By the way, how is the sound insulation here? Could the waiter above have heard anything?"
"You can be assured that this cellar was specially rebuilt by me. There are five or six layers of soundproofing materials. Even if there’s an explosion in here, you wouldn’t be able hear it outside."
Putting away my jovial smile, I said, "Thank you for that information. Song Xingchen, get him!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter