We had lunch at a small noodle shop. Neither of us could stomach anything much after the visit to the morgue, so we both decided to have something light and easily digestible.
The shop wasn’t the most modern but like similar places in the city, it was kept fairly clean and the food more than made up for the décor.
I ordered myself a bowl of congee with beef, while Lam asked for fish-ball noodles, along with a bottle of beer for each of us.
‘How’s your girlfriend?’ I asked, while we waited.
‘Oh, she’s all right,’ he shrugged. ‘We’ve started talking about getting married.’
I swear my eyebrows flew up to my hairline. ‘Marriage? Are you sure you’re ready for something like that?’
‘We’re just discussing it right now,’ Lam replied as he took a sip of his beer. ‘But I don’t think either of us are quite ready to take that step just yet.’
‘Have you spoken with your parents about it?’
Lam stiffened. ‘There’s no way I’m telling them, especially my mother. If she knew we were talking about it, she would start planning the wedding with or without our say so.’
From what Lam had told me about his mother, I could well imagine her doing something like that. I suppose I was lucky in that my parents were fairly laid back on the subject of marriage.
‘Well, just make sure you really discuss it before you make that decision,’ was all I could say on the subject.
Just then the waitress arrived with our food.
My congee, had not only beef, but was also sprinkled with chopped spring onion, ginger, and pieces of deep-fried dough-stick.
I tasted a spoonful. It was good, but…I added a dash of soy sauce. I tasted it again. I nodded to myself. Much better.
‘Don’t you find this case very strange, sir?’ Lam asked, suddenly.
‘Strange didn’t even begin to cover it,’ I said, once again lifting my spoon to my mouth.
Pieces kept popping up that were making no sense whatsoever; the piece of fingernail…the traces of a paralytic in the victim’s bloodstream. It was almost supernatural. I really hope that that wasn’t the case. No pun intended.
‘I suppose it’s early days yet,’ he thought aloud. ‘Who knows, we might get lucky.’
I only grunted.
The early afternoon was spent interviewing other witnesses, this time people who had regular contact with the victim. Most of these people we visited in their homes, but one or two came into the station instead.
We also heard back from the detective constable who was in charge of the officers who canvassed the building and surrounding area. Sadly, none of the victim’s neighbours saw or heard anything out of the ordinary. One of them, who lived just down the hall from the victim’s apartment, saw the victim go into his apartment with a young woman with long black hair but never actually saw her face.
Next were the victim’s friends and colleagues at work.
Lam and I both went to the publishing company, where the victim had worked. The head of the department kindly allowed us to use an empty conference room to interview Wan, Yeung’s workmates in order to not disrupt the others.
By all accounts, Wan, Yeung was well-liked and his female colleagues found him charming and friendly, though most would never have considered having him as a boyfriend as his philandering ways were well-known.
The victim’s best friend, Tsui, Tui-Sun who fortunately worked in the same department, gave us our first real lead.
‘Yeung told all about it the next day,’ Mr Tsui said. ‘He was out with this other girl, since she wasn’t giving him any. She, the girlfriend, I mean, saw them and took some photos of Yeung and the other girl and then calls his mobile saying that they needed to talk while she was standing right behind him. He told her a few home truths, and she slapped him and broke up with him there and then. In public! And the side of his face had a hand mark for days afterwards. Can you believe that girl?’
What I couldn’t believe was that she let him off so lightly. If I ever cheated on my wife and she caught me, she would certainly do a lot worse than what Lau, Sou-Zing did to the victim. However, this incident would definitely give her motive. I glanced at Lam. While he didn’t openly show his disgust, I could see it in the way his eye darkened. Turning my attention back to Mr Tsui, I asked, ‘What can you tell me about the other woman he was seeing?’
Mr Tsui thought for a moment. ‘Not much, really. Yeung’s not been as talkative as he usually is about the girls he dates. But he did say that she was very beautiful and that she was quite high maintenance and had expensive tastes.’
‘Did you ever meet her? Or did Yeung ever show you a photograph of her?’ Lam asked him.
He shook his head, ‘I haven’t met or seen her.’
I sighed with disappointment; though Mr Tsui had been very helpful, he didn’t actually give me much information. I quickly wrote down the few details he did give me before looking back up at him. ‘Thank you for coming in to speak to us. If you think of anything else please don’t hesitate to contact us,’
Mr Tsui nodded as we all stood up.
Thankfully that was the last interview, so it was time for Lam and I to return to the police station.
I glanced at the clock on the dashboard. It was four in the afternoon already; the interviews had taken longer than I’d thought. My son will be halfway home by now. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go home just yet.
Lam and I had only just entered the station, when the desk sergeant called out, ‘Cheung taam-zoeng.’ the sergeant at the desk called out. ‘Chien duk-caat wants to see you.’
Lam and I shared a glance. Mostly likely he wanted me to give him a verbal report on the case so far. While it wasn’t a major case the superintendent still liked to be kept appraised on all the active cases, especially on ones the potentially nasty ones.
I was only glad that he wasn’t one of those higher ups that were more concerned about looking good to the public than anything else, and only got the positions they did because of who they knew rather than actually working their way up to it. People like that only care more about catching the killer as quickly as possible in order to gain public favour and gain a promotion, rather than actually catching the perpetrator.
Leaving Lam by the front desk, I strode up to the superintendent’s office and knocked on the door. Almost immediately he called for me to enter. He was just signing off on some paperwork, which he slipped into a folder, giving me his full attention. ‘I heard about the murder case we caught this morning. What have you found out so far?’
‘Not much, sir,’ I replied. ‘The victim was slashed to death in his home. I just spoke to the pathologist. There were traces of a paralytic in his blood, so Dr Hu has sent a sample of it to the toxicologist. There was also a piece of fingernail embedded in the wounds, so we’re trying to get DNA off of that, and see if it will match the hair we found. It most likely will, but we just want to be completely certain.’
He nodded understandingly, and gestured for me to continue.
‘We’re also waiting on forensics, and we’re still going door to door making enquiries. Hopefully someone will have seen or heard something, even that late at night. The next door neighbour that called us in didn’t really notice much, but it doesn’t really surprise me since he’s a gamer. He was playing an online game with his headphones on for most of the night. I was just thinking about asking our computer technicians just to be certain he actually was.’
Superintendent Chien nodded to himself. ‘It sounds like you have things well in hand; but do please keep me informed.
‘Hai, dùk-cāat,’ I’d replied.
He dismissed me then I went down to the techs and put in a request to the techs to have them access the neighbour’s computer remotely to see if he really was online when he said he was.
Next it was back to my desk. Unfortunately, not much could be done before more information on the case becomes available so at about ten to six, I decided it was time to go home.
The drive home was slow-going as usual as most people were going home. After such a day, I was looking forward to a hot meal. It was on days like this that I was dying for a smoke, but I’d given that up when I found out my wife was pregnant with our son.
After parking the car, I walked into the lobby, over to the elevator only to find an “Out of Order” sign taped to the elevator doors.
Aiyah! Why do these things when you’re tired? Chun-To should be home by now; why didn’t she call to warn me? I wondered as I wearily strode to the stairs and trudged up to the twelfth floor. I had to stop a couple of times to rest my legs and catch my breath. It felt like a whole hour before I reached my apartment.
‘I’m home,’ I called out as I closed the door behind me.
‘How was work today?’ Chun-To asked from the kitchen.
‘Very strange,’ I commented, slumping down in the settee in the living room.
‘It’s the latest case.’
‘But you can’t tell me any specifics,’ she said in a knowing tone as she carefully handed me a cup of Oolong tea. Having been with me through most of my career, she knew police procedure nearly as well as I did, including that we couldn’t discuss ongoing cases.
‘Gong do móh co,’ I nodded, taking the mug from her. ‘All I can say is that it was very definitely murder.’
‘Oh my,’ she sighed in dismay. ‘Well, be careful, dear.’
I chuckled and shook my head. ‘Even though she’s been married to me for nearly twenty years, she still worries for me.’
‘It’s because we’ve been married so long that I worry,’ she corrected me with a sly smile. ‘I would very much like to stay married until I’m at least eighty.’
I laughed at that. That was something I hoped for, too. ‘By the way, why didn’t you call and tell me about the lift?’
‘The lift?’ I heard her repeat. ‘Oh, I forgot. The manager was putting the sign up just as I arrived home from shopping; so I had to use the stairs. I had almost forgotten how tiring it is to go up ten flights of stairs with two or three bags of shopping.’
I could remember carrying things for my mother whenever she took me shopping during my childhood. I can still feel echoes of tired and sore arms. I was glad I didn’t have anything else with me to carry up those stairs.
I looked up at my Cheng-Lei stood in the doorway to the bedrooms.
‘How was school today?’
‘Great fun! In English Lau loh-si got us to read this English fairy tale, in its’ original translated English. I didn’t realise that English had different words for the same thing...’
I listened with half an ear as my son chattered away about the thing’s he’d learned in class today. I was glad that he was starting to enjoy English. He had some problems with pronouncing certain words which frustrated him. It was nice that there was a teacher that was able to get him to focus enough in English class to enjoy it.
Duk-caat - Superintendent