The Corpse Hopped at Midnight: Part One

This is my first attempt at writing crime fiction. The title is sort of my homage to my favourite television series, "Murder, She Wrote", as well as a reference to the Chinese version of the vampire, geong si. Third place winner in The Vampire Diaries competition (2016)

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4. Chapter Three

Lam and I asked a few more questions before returning to the Police Station in Kowloon.  The Crime & Security Department was like a beehive of activity with the senior officers were working on their own cases or just filling out police reports.

Seated on the edge of my desk, I stared at the crime scene photos that had been put up on a whiteboard, I felt a shiver run up my spine.  What was it about this murder made me more uneasy than usual?

It was vicious, but it was nothing like the Hello Kitty murder back in nineteen ninety-nine.  A 23-year-old club hostess, Fan Man-Yee, was kidnapped and tortured by three men because she owed them twenty-thousand Hong Kong dollars.  She had been cut up and parts of her were stuffed into a Hello Kitty mermaid doll.  I was just a detective constable back then, but I remember the media made a huge sensation of it and the news was full of it for weeks even after the case had closed.

 I’d always thought that detective work was rather like trying to piece together a jigsaw puzzle while blindfolded.  Why?  Because you’re often looking for clues when most of the time you don’t know precisely what you’re looking for.  And often you’re trying to piece together that don’t quite fit where you think they go.  Then you find that one piece that makes everything fall into place and you can finally see the picture you’ve been trying to put together.

Lam was sat at the desk opposite mine.  He was browsing through the preliminary notes that forensics had sent over on his computer.  I had already read over them myself.  The only thing of real interest was that the bathroom had shown signs of having been used around the same time that the victim had died.  So presuming that the victim was already dead when it was used, it had to have been the perpetrator as she had to have been covered in blood, given the amount of arterial spray.

‘What do you think?’ I asked Lam as he sat back in his chair.

‘Well, it was definitely murder, sir, no doubt about that, but at this point the motive isn’t entirely clear.  I mean, it could be a crime of passion, but something about it doesn’t fit.’

I nodded.  It was good to know that he was of the same opinion

Taam-zoeng. ’

I looked up.  One of the detective constables, Saan, I think it was, had walked up to my desk.

‘Yes?’ I asked.

‘The brother and sister of the victim from this morning are here to talk to you,’ he informed us.

I looked towards the entryway to see a young man and woman standing close to each other as they furtively glanced around them.  Even if I hadn’t known that they were brother and sister, one could see that they were related.  They both had the same high cheekbones and deep brown eyes as the victim.  The sister was about five foot three, with pitch black hair, while the brother stood at five foot ten, and had dark brown strands running though his short hair.

Realising that Saan was still standing there, I thanked and dismissed him.

Lam and I introduced ourselves to the siblings and led them to separate rooms to interview them.  Lam took the sister, while I had the brother.

I took Wan sin-saang to one of the smaller conference rooms that the station used mainly for meetings and the odd seminar.  An oval-shaped table stood in the middle of the room with eight chairs surrounding it.  The wall had a touch screen whiteboard on the wall for presentations.

‘I can’t believe he’s dead,’ Wan sin-saang  murmured as he sat down.

‘I’m very sorry for your loss, Wan sin-saang,’ I said, pulling out the chair next to him and positioning it so I was directly facing him.

‘I didn’t really approve of the things he did,’ he said.  ‘But he was my brother, you know?’

The things he did?

‘Nothing illegal, detective inspector,’ he was quick to reassure me.  ‘I just didn’t like the way he was with women.’

‘How do you mean?’

‘Well, he would go out with several girlfriends at the same time, especially if one of them wouldn’t sleep with him.’

Well, that gives us a possible motive.  But what about…?  ‘When we spoke to your mother, she mentioned that he was seeing someone.’

‘Yes, Lau, Sou-Zing.  Her English name is Susana, spelled with one “n”; Susana Willows.’

I quickly jotted down the name, glad that we now had a more accurate name than what Wan tai-tai had given us.  ‘What did you think of her?’

‘She was very nice; quiet and thoughtful, a bit shy and very pretty.  I have to admit, if I weren’t married I might have pursued her myself.’

‘How was she with your brother?’

He thought back.  ‘She was very affectionate but I got the feeling that she was holding part of herself back from him.’  He paused.  ‘It was like she was afraid to completely open herself to him; or anyone for that matter.  I did wonder if she’d had a bad relationship or something bad happened to her in the past.’

‘Do you think that she could have killed your brother?’

‘No, not at all.  Sou-Zing most definitely isn’t the kind of person who would do something as dreadful as that.’

I could see that he really believed that but in my experience people that seem perfectly nice have a habit of surprising you, especially the quiet ones.

‘Thank you for coming in to speak to me,’ I said to him as we both stood up.  ‘I will be in touch if I have any further questions.’  I gave him my card with instructions to contact me if he thought of anything else.

We stepped out of the room just as Lam was opening the door for Chien tai-tai to step out.  She quickly trotted over to where he brother stood waiting for her and left together.

Lam strode up to me with his notebook in hand.

‘Chien tai-tai had a rocky relationship with her brother.  Mainly because she didn’t like that he liked to go out with more than one girl.  Though she did say that he seemed a bit more serious about one girl, but Chien tai-tai thought that the girl was too good for him,’ he rattled off as he flipped through the pages.

‘Nearly the same as Wan sin-saang,’ I commented as we started walking back to our desks.

‘I also asked about the girlfriend, but he insists that she could never do something like this to him, even if she did find out he was two-timing her.’

‘I got the same from the sister, sir,’ Lam replied.

I sighed and looked at my watch.  It was about twelve o’clock...about time for a visit to the morgue, and afterwards we she should find something to eat.

 

The morgue, like the rest of the hospital, smelled strongly of disinfectant and was all stark white and shiny metal.  I always found it was very unsettling.

Dr Hu was writing up his findings in folder when Lam and I walked into the morgue.  Every so often, he would glance at a notebook that had his handwritten notes.

‘What can you tell us?’ I asked.

The good doctor looked up from the paper he was writing on.  ‘Good afternoon to you, too, Inspector,’ he said, dryly before saving what he’d typed so far and stood up from his desk.  ‘The cause of death was definitely blood loss, caused by numerous lacerations.’

Just as we had surmised, then.

‘Given the placement of the slashes, the person would have to have been straddling him.  Unless he was sleeping with two persons at the same, though I think that is very unlikely.  But this I can tell you with all certainty.  Whoever did this to Mr Wan had a lot of rage and hatred.’

‘Do you know what exactly made the slash marks?’ Lam asked.

‘Yes,’ I found what I thought was a bone fragment embedded in the victim’s neck which I attributed to perhaps a bone knife or something similar but upon closer examination, it turned out to be a piece of a fingernail.’

‘A fingernail?’

‘So…what?  You’re saying that the victim was slashed to death by someone with very sharp fingernails?’

‘That’s exactly what I’m saying,’ the good doctor replied, dryly.  ‘Only this fingernail was fair stronger and denser than the average person’s fingernail.  If I had to guess, I would say it was about as sharp as a Japanese cooking knife, which cuts through meat like, well, a hot knife through butter.’

I did not like the sound of that.  Could it be that…?  No, this case isn’t going to be like that one.  I was pulled out of my thoughts when Dr Hu continued speaking.

‘You know when you questioned the lack of defensive wounds, Inspector?’

I nodded.

‘Well it was because he wouldn’t have been able to fight back,’ the good doctor said.  ‘The toxicologist found traces of a paralytic in his blood.  He would have been awake, but unable to move.’

What a horrible way to die.  ‘Do we at least know how it was administered?’

‘Given the amount that was in his blood stream, it had to have been injected directly.  I couldn’t any injection holes in the skin, as least not on the areas that were intact anyway, so my thought was that the killer either injected the victim and then slashed him to cover up the injection hole, or else it was on her fingernails; so she had to have nicked the victim and then started slashing him.’

Lam blew air through his nostrils.

I glanced at him.  I can only describe his expression I as disbelieving.  And I had to admit, that even I was finding this all to be rather incredible.  But what concerned me the most was the paralytic.  At the moment we didn’t know exactly what it is. But more importantly, where would the killer have got it from?

‘Oh, and the killer was definitely female,’ Dr Hu added.  ‘I ran a DNA test just to be certain, and he was definitely having sex with a woman shortly before his death.’

 ‘What kind of a woman would do something like this?’ Lam muttered in disbelief.

That was the questions that kept repeating itself.

 

 

Cultural Notes

The Hello Kitty murder was a real life  murder.  The hostess mentioned in this chapter had been kidnapped and taken to an apartment in Tsim Sha Tsui, where she was beaten and tortured daily over the course of a month until she died.  She was then dismembered and her skull was stuffed into a giant Hello Kitty mermaid doll, hence the name of the case, which was heavily sensationalised by the media.

Taam-zoeng means "detective" or "inspector".

Sin-saang is the suffix or title for Mr

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