Hu Hou woke up before Jiang Ru-Yi brought her men over. He was scared silly by what he saw in the room - a bleeding corpse with a knife in its chest and guns on the floor. He was terrified. Hu Hou trembled all over and he wanted to get up and run away but he fell back down after trying to stand. He was awake but the drug’s effects still seemed to be affecting him.
“Are you all right, Mayor Hu?” came Xia Lei’s voice.
“Ah!” screamed Hu Hou. He looked back in panic to see Xia Lei standing behind him.
“Are you all right, Mayor Hu?” asked Xia Lei again.
“Y, you… Stay away!” A trickle of fluid appeared between Hu Hou’s legs but he could not be bothered about it at that time. He crawled in the opposite direction. The first conclusion he had come to upon seeing a dead body and Xia Lei was that Xia Lei was the killer!
Xia Lei spoke in a deep voice, “Mayor Hu, calm down! I’m not the murderer! I saved you!”
“You saved me?” Hu Hou paused. He seemed to remember something and his face filled with confusion.
Xia Lei played the audio file he had recorded earlier and voices came from his phone.
Hu Hou listened to the conversation between Dong Wu and Qin Qi in the private room and he quickly realised the truth. “This…”
Xia Lei put the mobile phone on the bed, then brought the camera and played the video which Qin Qi had recorded.
Hu Hou understood everything with the audio and video recordings. He watched the woman in the video do things to him and the close-ups Qin Qi had shot of him in stunned silence. He was shocked and angry. He drew strength from somewhere and crawled to his feet with a roar, charging at the camera to turn it off and pluck its memory card out, as if afraid that Xia Lei would snatch it from him.
“Don’t worry, Mayor Hu. They have not leaked this video. You have the only copy in your hands,” said Xia Lei.
Hu Hou let out a breath. It was a video that they had taken after drugging him but his career would still be affected if the footage got out. He felt a little more reassured at Xia Lei’s words.
“Put your clothes on, Mayor Hu. The police will be here soon,” said Xia Lei.
Hu Hou came back to his senses then and hurriedly put on the clothing which the woman had removed. While he got dressed, Xia Lei gave him a summary of what had happened.
“Damn it! And I was trying to be a mediator to help the two of you resolve your differences. That punk’s heart is tar-black - he actually tried to frame me!” Hu Hou was beside himself with anger.
“You owe me your life, Mayor Hu,” said Xia Lei.
Hu Hou paused, then said, “Yes, you’re right. We would’ve been made scapegoats for this if not for your quick thinking.”
“I don’t want any sort of repayment except for you to give the Trade and Commerce Bureau a call to cancel the business suspension of Thunder Horse Manufacturing.” Xia Lei looked at Hu Hou.
“This…” Hu Hou avoided Xia Lei’s gaze.
Xia Lei smiled. “It’s reached this point and you’re still afraid of the Gu clan?”
“Let me consider it. My thoughts are a mess now and I cannot think,” said Hu Hou.
The smile disappeared from Xia Lei’s face. “Is this how you repay me for saving your life, Mayor Hu? It’s fine. You probably don’t want to offend the Gu clan on the account of a small fry like myself. You won’t dare retaliate even when they harm you; I have no hope for you. The murder weapon in Dong Wu’s heart has your fingerprints on it, and your fluids are in that woman…”
“Stop talking about it!” Hu Hou cut Xia Lei off. “I’ll call. I’ll make the call, okay? Y, you help me get rid of the fluids in that woman’s body.”
Xia Lei was nonplussed.
“H, hurry! The police are coming!” Hu Hou held his phone, looking very anxious and urging Xia Lei to do something.
Xia Lei braced himself and walked over to the woman. He would have to sacrifice his fingers for the sake of the hundreds of employees of Thunder Horse Manufacturing.
One minute later, the room was filled with Hu Hou’s angry voice. “Cancel it! Don’t you understand what I’m saying? Cancel Thunder Horse Manufacturing’s business suspension! Bastard… I’ll give you ten minutes to get it done or you’re going to report for work at the neighbourhood committee!”
Xia Lei didn’t have to guess who was on the line - it was the director, Qiao Ping. While Hu Hou yelled at Qiao Ping, Xia Lei braced himself and reached his right index finger and middle finger into a mysterious place…
What he was doing was Kato Taka’s* specialty.
Police cars arrived over ten minutes later, and a big group of police officers came charging into the villa with Jiang Ru-Yi at the helm. She held a gun in her hand and looked heroic. The officers behind her held their guns in their hands too and looked ready to take down a big enemy. However, the only things Jiang Ru-Yi and her people had to do were to take pictures and statements, then clear the body away and clean the floor.
Xia Lei, Hu Hou, Qin Qi and the woman were all brought to the police station.
Qin Qi and the woman were woken up and put in different interrogation rooms for questioning. Xia Lei and Hu Hou stood on the other side of the interrogation room, behind glass, to watch Jiang Ru-Yi question Qin Qi.
Qin Qi was being stubborn in the interrogation room. He remained silent throughout Jiang Ru-Yi’s questioning, no matter which questions were asked. Jiang Ru-Yi was aggressive in her approach but Qin Qi did not budge.
Hu Hou shook his head and sighed. He lowered his voice, “Xia Lei, about today…”
“Rest assured, Mayor Hu. I’ll say what should be said and not a word about what I shouldn’t,” said Xia Lei.
Hu Hou smiled wryly. “I’ve had the suspension lifted from your company on the Trade and Commerce Bureau end. I’ll probably be transferred somewhere else. I’d been worried about this before but my worry is gone now. I’ve thought it through and I don’t want to keep my official’s hat if it means giving up on my conscience. I’d like to be able to live comfortably with myself.”
His words came a little late but Xia Lei was still touched. “Don’t worry, Mayor Hu. You’ll be fine.”
“I hope.” Hu Hou had said broad-minded words but his expression was solemn and his heart heavy.
“Who knows? Maybe this can shake things up for Gu Ke-Wu,” said Xia Lei tentatively.
Hu Hou shook his head. “I know what you’re thinking but I’m going to warn you not to be too optimistic. It’ll be difficult to topple him even if you have enough evidence. Besides, you don’t have any proof.”
“What if Qin Qi names Gu Ke-Wu as the mastermind?”
“You try then.” Hu Hou then said to the police officer guarding the interrogation room door, “Let him in.”
The door-guard police officer was not one to get in the way of the city mayor. He even opened the door for Xia Lei.
“What did you come in here for?” Jiang Ru-Yi was surprised to see Xia Lei walk in.
“Mayor Hu let me come in to help you. I know the situation and I know this guy. Let me,” said Xia Lei.
Qin Qi looked at Xia Lei, his eyes glowering with hate.
“Can you question people?” asked Jiang Ru-Yi. She didn’t quite believe him.
Xia Lei walked to Qin Qi and suddenly kicked him in the shoulder. Qin Qi was thrown to the floor.
Jiang Ru-Yi’s jaw dropped.
“Look, is this method of questioning suitable?” said Xia Lei.
Jiang Ru-Yi snapped back to attention and smiled. She got up and let Xia Lei take her seat. “It’s good enough. I’ll let you do it.”
Xia Lei sat in Jiang Ru-Yi’s seat and said coldly, “Qin Qi, you don’t need me to outline your situation, do you? Kidnapping and murder. You face the death penalty and the Gu clan cannot protect you from that. You’ll get a lighter sentence if you oust the Gu clan - you won’t be put in front of the firing squad, at least.”
Qin Qi picked himself off the floor and slowly went back to his seat. He looked at Xia Lei with a hint of contempt on his lips. “What’s with this righteous act, Xia Lei? Just use whatever method you have on me. I’ll change my name to Xia if I so much as frown.”
“You really plan to die for the Gu clan?”
“What Gu clan? Is there a Li clan too? I don’t know them.”
Xia Lei was silent for a bit before he said, “That woman has already confessed. If you don’t confess, she’ll live and you’ll die.”
“Hahaha…” Qin Qi’s laugh was very strange.
Xia Lei frowned. “Why are you laughing?”
“I’m laughing at you, idiot!” Qin Qi sneered, “She’s mute. How’s she supposed to confess?”
Xia Lei paused. No wonder that woman had stayed quiet no matter how intensely the interrogating officer had questioned her.
Qin Qi spoke again, “Don’t try to scare me with the death penalty. I’ll say here and now that I have fallen but I’ll be out again within five years. I have my people in prison. Going in is like a holiday. What are you if not an idiot, using this to scare me?”
Xia Lei suddenly grabbed Qin Qi’s hair and smashed his head onto the desk.
“Is this all you’ve got? Hahaha!” Qin Qi laughed perversely, “Kill me if you have the balls! Come on!”
Xia Lei spoke coldly in Qin Qi’s ear, “The stupid one is you. Do you know how Huang Yi-Hu died? You’re thinking of enjoying your time in prison but let me tell you - if I were Gu Ding-Shan or Gu Ke-Wu, I would get someone to finish you off in prison. You know why? Because dead people’s mouths are the most silent.”
Xia Lei let go of Qin Qi’s hair. “I’ll give you two minutes to think about it.”
Qin Qi slowly righted himself. He looked uncertain. What Xia Lei had said had had an effect on him. Huang Yi-Hu was indeed an example - he had sold his soul to the Gu clan and done every dirty deed for them. What he’d done could pile up as high as a mountain but didn’t he die a dubious death in the end?
Jiang Ru-Yi was a fellow interrogator but her gaze was on Xia Lei all the time. Xia Lei’s brutishness, his domineerance and his wits were like an exquisite perfume to her; it was a mesmerising smell and she wanted to get closer to take a deep whiff, then spray it all over herself.
Two minutes passed quickly.
Just as Xia Lei was about to speak, the door to the interrogation room opened and the police officer guarding the door said, “Chief Jiang, a lawyer is here. He wants to speak with you.”
Qin Qi started to laugh. “Get out, Xia Lei. You won’t get anything from me. Wait till I get out and we’ll settle the score. Oh, right, you may not even last till then.”
A male voice came from beyond the interrogation room door. “What’s going on? A forced confession? That is illegal! Let me warn you that the evidence you get from a forced confession will be thrown out in court. Who’s in charge here? I want to talk to your boss!”
“What should I do?” Jiang Ru-Yi was uncertain.
“Act like I was never here. Do what you should.” Xia Lei gave up. He stood and walked to the door of the room. He was not a police officer and there would be trouble if the lawyer found him in the room questioning Qin Qi.
“Are you coming home tonight?” asked Jiang Ru-Yi all of a sudden.
Xia Lei paused. “Yeah.”
“Make something yummy. I’ll come eat at your place tonight,” said Jiang Ru-Yi.
Xia Lei was speechless.
*Kato Taka: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taka_KatoPrevious Chapter Next Chapter