Boiling with anger, Xiaotao clenched her teeth, "He has been friends with my dad for so many years. How can he do this? What an asshole!"
"Is my husband really guilty?" Mrs. Mu anxiously asked.
"What was your husband like when he came home? Did he bring anything back?" I questioned.
"He was exactly the same as he was when he left in the afternoon,” recalled Mrs. Mu. “He did bring home a bag. It’s on the table."
Upon checking the bag, I found an opaque bottle of wine that was loosely sealed and the cork appeared to have been opened and reattached. Borrowing a bottle opener from Mrs. Mu, I unplugged the cork and sniffed at the neck. Despite detecting the smell of alcohol, I noticed there was something else stuffed in the bottle.
"Let’s go to the bathroom!" I said.
After pouring out all the wine, something was stuck in the bottle. I slammed the bottle against the edge of the bathtub, shattering the glass. Horrified screams came from the girls, prompting me to look into the pile of glass fragments.
There lay a kidney the size of a fist. It was undoubtedly human.
"Why is there a kidney in this bottle?" Bingxin wondered out loud.
Upon further observation, I surmised, "This kidney is already necrotic, and it’s salted. I'm afraid this isn’t meant for transplant but for consumption."
"Eating a human kidney?" Bingxin covered her mouth, trying to fight the nausea.
“There’s no doubt about it.” Xiaotao solemnly added, “There are illegal activities going on in this club."
I walked towards the shoe rack in the hall and picked up each pair to examine them. One of the leather shoes were still warm from wear and had fresh mud on the soles, suggesting Mr. Mu had just removed them.
Xiaotao and Bingxin leaned in as I sniffed at the sole. “I smell asphalt, manure, chicken manure... and egg white. Could it be a chicken farm? Are there any chicken farms around Nanjiang City?"
Checking her cell phone, Xiaotao affirmed, "There are more than a dozen!"
"Could the asphalt suggest that it was just built?” I mused. “No, asphalt is used to depilate chickens. So this chicken farm probably slaughters the chickens as well. Then the farm should be of a certain scale," I analyzed.
"Asphalt is toxic and Nanjiang City banned the use of this depilation method more than ten years ago,” explained Xiaotao. “Let me check with the Food Safety Bureau!"
A brief call later, Xiaotao reported, "Got it! They mentioned the Xinglong United Chicken Farm in the northern suburbs. Our friends at the Food Safety Bureau said they violated food safety regulations several times by using asphalt to depilate their chickens. They were fined quite a hefty sum."
"Let’s go then!"
Xiaotao instructed Bingxin to stay behind and deal with the rest while we headed to the chicken farm.
"I’m just a forensic assistant. How can I tell them what to do?" protested Bingxin.
“Have you forgotten you’re a member of the special team? The ID you were given can be used to transfer a SWAT team without going through the usual procedures."
"Wow, it’s that powerful?"
We intended to take over this case in the name of the special team because I had an inkling that this stretched far beyond conventional crimes in both nature and scale. Additionally, it would be good practice for the special team.
Xiaotao and I drove to the northern suburbs where we soon arrived at the gates of the chicken farm which was connected by a stone bridge. This bridge was the only way in and out of the farm. If there had been a war, this chicken farm would be considered the perfect base by military strategists since it was easy to defend and difficult to attack!
I originally assumed the chicken farm was just a cover for the mysterious club. But upon entering, we were greeted by a busy scene, with all sorts of documents, announcements and duty sheets on the wall, and trucks carrying goods in and out. It seemed this was a real chicken farm. After all, if this was merely a cover, they wouldn’t have to go to such lengths.
When we found the person in charge, Xiaotao immediately pullet out photos of Mr. Huang and Mr. Mu which could be found on Baidu Encyclopedia. The person in charge claimed he had never seen them.
I asked to look around, to which the man agreed. Thus, the three of us explored the grounds and stopped at a big yard in the back of the farm.
I noticed it was newly-built so I asked the factory director why they built a yard in the back. The factory director explained they had plans to widen the back path and make it the main road. Thus, the main entrance of the chicken farm would be moved to the back for the convenience of loading and unloading. Since heavy trucks couldn’t go through the bridge in front, their products had to be shipped out in batches which was very troublesome.
I scanned the place and found chicken manure, chicken feathers and patches on the ground repaired with asphalt. There were also messy tire marks all over the ground. "There were vehicles here!"
The factory director looked confused, "That’s impossible. The cars are usually parked outside. Who would waste all that effort to drive their car to the backyard? They would have to go through the flow shop."
"Who was on duty last night?" I asked.
"Xiao Wang!" replied the factory director.
"We’d like to speak to him!" I ordered.
A while later, a pimple-faced security guard walked up to us. He appeared to be in his early twenties–a strapping young man.
"Did you let anyone in last night?" I questioned.
Glancing at the factory director, the security guard shook his head. "No, why would I let anyone in?"
His body language instantly revealed his guilt. Turning to the factory director, I said, "I’d like to speak to him alone."
As soon as the factory director walked off, I warned the security guard, "You better tell the truth. I won't say anything to your factory director. But if you lie, you won’t only lose your job. You’ll have to come down to the station for a cup of tea!"
The security guard turned pale with fear, "Th-they paid me to do this.”
"Who?" I demanded.
About six months ago, a mysterious man came to him, offering 100,000 yuan in exchange for something. Every weekend, two fleets of cars would drive into the farm in the evening–one stopped here while the other fleet picked up a bunch of people. In the early morning, these people would be sent back and they’d drive away in their cars.
Therefore, he took the initiative to stay on duty every weekend to earn the extra money.
"Officer, it shouldn’t be illegal to allow a bunch of people to park their cars here, right?"
Xiaotao snorted, "A bunch of sneaky people meeting here late at night... Didn't you think they were criminals?"
The security guard seemed to be lost for words at Xiaotao’s question. When she showed him the photos and asked him if he had ever seen them, the security guard shook his head, "I’m not allowed to watch when they meet up. But these people look rich. Every time they come in their luxury cars, I stare in envy. When would I be able to drive such an expensive car?"
"Is there a black Rolls Royce among them with the license plate N23467?”
"Yes, yes!” shouted the security guard. “I remember it clearly because it’s here every weekend. I also took photos!"
Upon searching his cell phone, the security guard showed us the photos he took. Glancing at them, Xiaotao whispered to me, "This is Mr. Mu’s car. He brought my dad here last night."
When asked if he had any more information to share, the security noted that the vehicles used to transfer these people were off-road vehicles with extremely high chassis.
The back entrance of the yard led to a dirt road which was bumpy–a difficult road for any vehicle with a low chassis. Xiaotao and I walked up the path, observing the ground. There were indeed traces of passing vehicles.
Eager to locate her father, Xiaotao suggested, "Let's follow these tracks. Maybe we can find my dad!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter