The guitar appraiser had just left when the cleaner arrived. Chen Shi washed a cup and poured a cup of tea for her as he asked her to sit down. "Have you heard about how the house owner was murdered?”
"I heard that from the police in the morning when they came to find me for questioning."
"Sorry, I have to ask again. How many days do you come over every week and what do you normally do?"
“Every day. I help clean and buy things once in a while.”
"Do you have a key on you?"
"I have one but not for that room." The worker pointed to the study. "The room seemed to have some valuable things. The owner refused to let me go in. I just come over and clean every day, then leave. I usually stay for three hours. Most of the time, he’s either not here or sleeping.”
"Have you given the key to other people?"
The house cleaner got roused up and swore, "How could I do that kind of thing? I have professional ethics."
"Don't be agitated. The police have to consider all possibilities."
The cleaner said "I understand," but she still didn’t look too happy. Chen Shi continued to ask, "Have you been here recently?"
“Recently? Half a month ago, the owner said that I didn’t need to come over these days and even gave me half a month’s salary.”
"I didn't ask. He wouldn’t say even if I asked. Maybe he needed to travel. The lives of rich people are really busy.”
"Was there anything else that was abnormal?"
The worker thought for a moment before saying, "Yes. The last time I came over, the owner asked me to buy a bunch of frozen food."
Chen Shi got up and took out a few bags from the freezer and asked, "These?"
"Yes, I still have the receipt here. I’ll give it to you to look at."
Chen Shi took the small receipt and put it in his bag without looking at it. He asked, "Who does the owner surround himself with? Have you noticed?"
"I didn't pay attention. I usually come in the morning. Every time I come, he’s sleeping and we don’t really talk much.”
"A dog lives in this house, right?"
"A golden retriever. What was his name again? The Wind Devil Xiaotalang? I can't remember it. I just call it Wang Wang. I can tell that Wang Wang likes me. Maybe because it was too bored alone at home, but every time I came over, it would get very excited. It’s in my job description to take care of the dog. I would take it for a walk around the neighborhood every day… Hey, why don’t I see Wang Wang?”
"It was taken away by us." Chen Shi lied.
The worker gave a bunch of details of how to take care of the dog. Chen Shi thanked her. Before she left, Chen Shi said, "Ah yes, the frozen foods in the freezer would be wasted. Why don’t you take them?”
“Is it ok?” The worker was overjoyed.
Peng Sijue glared at Chen Shi but Chen Shi turned a blind eye to the hostility. They found a big bag to fully pack the frozen food and let the worker take it away.
After she left, Peng Sijue said, "You'd best not make personal decisions of these public matters!"
Chen Shi couldn’t see what was wrong with what he did, so he said in disapproval, "Then why don’t you put all these dumplings and food into an evidence bag and put them in the evidence room for three months? Wait for them to rot and go moldy before you give it back to the victim’s family, okay?”
Peng Sijue was too angry to speak.
"Let’s go outside and look for the dog." Chen Shi proposed, and then asked Tao Yueyue to stay there and open the door for the forensics department when they arrived.
Peng Sijue was surprised and reproved him. "You’re asking a little girl to stay at a murder scene? Isn’t that too irresponsible?"
Chen Shi asked Tao Yueyue, "Are you afraid of being alone here?"
Chen Shi smiled and said to Peng Sijue, "Yueyue isn’t protesting. Why are you protesting so much?”
Peng Sijue was silent for quite a while.
As it was a golden retriever and because the cleaner walked the dog every day, many people in the community knew of it. Chen Shi inquired about it with the residents of the community. Some residents said that they did not pay attention to it. However, several dog owners said that they hadn’t seen the dog in half a month.
There was also a social circle amongst the dog owners. What the dog was called, its gender, and who owned the dog were all things that dog owners would be more clear about.
The community was relatively large and there were more than a dozen houses. They walked around but came out empty handed. Chen Shi saw a homeless scavenger and walked up with his “documents”. “Hello, I would like to ask you a few questions. Have you seen a golden retriever around the area?”
The scavenger desperately waved his hands and said that he did not know and readied to leave. Chen Shi saw that his actions were a little suspicious. He said, "Don’t worry, we’re not here to bring trouble. If you provide clues, we can give you rewards.”
"What kind of reward?" The scavenger looked hopeful.
Chen Shi took out a hundred yuan and the scavenger reached out to grab it. Chen Shi retracted his hand and said, "You have to tell me where the dog is first!"
The scavenger said hesitantly, "If I told you it was eaten, would you arrest me?”
"Who ate it? Did you eat it?"
"Old Lady Liu who picks up recycling and lives in the overpass outside the community. I said that the strange thing she was cooking that night smelled really good and she told me that she found a dead dog in the trash.”
"You guys are so brave. Aren’t you afraid you’d get poisoned by someone?”
"Ah!?" The scavenger put his hand over his mouth and looked scared. It seemed like he ate a bit of it too.
Chen Shi comforted him and said, "Rest assured. This dog was beaten to death. Can you take us to see the old lady?”
"Give me the money first."
Chen Shi said, "When we came over, we passed the overpass. There was nobody living underneath it. That place would not allow homeless people to live there either. You’re lying!"
The scavengers smiled shyly. "I was afraid that you were looking for me to cause trouble. I know that the dog is worth a lot of money. I really can't afford to compensate for it."
"Can you be honest? We’ve already said that we are police trying to investigate a case and we’re not trying to bring you trouble.”
The scavenger confessed. "The dead dog was taken by me and I was the one who cooked it. It looked very big but there wasn’t much meat on it. The meat was gone in two meals… But dog meat is really fragrant! I didn’t even really need to marinate or spice it and it was still very fragrant!”
Chen Shi forced a smile. "I don't care about this. What day was it?"
"February 2nd? No, it was in the early morning of February 3rd... The trash cans in this community will all be put out at 9:00PM every night to await pick-up early the next morning. Sometimes, I’d go over and go through them to see what I can find. That night, I saw someone throwing a big snakeskin bag in the trash. When they left, I opened it up to find a dead dog inside. It was still hot, so I brought it back with me and washed it before stewing it.”
Peng Sijue immediately exclaimed, "Did you get a good look of that person's appearance?"
"It was late at night, so I couldn’t see clearly at all.”
"Was it a man or a woman? Surely, you know that much, right?!”
"Man? It may be a woman... It was too dark at the time and my attention was on the bag."
Chen Shi asked, "What about the snakeskin bag?"
The scavenger said, "It’s with me. You want it?”
Chen Shi took out another hundred yuan. "This is the reward for providing clues. And this one is to buy this snakeskin bag, okay?"
"Okay, I’ll take you there."
The two went with the scavenger to his residence near the neighborhood, then went to the basement of a rotten, unfinished building. As it was dark, Peng Sijue couldn't help but feel nervous. He thoroughly looked around to confirm that there wasn’t anything unusual before he dared to go down.
Chen Shi joked, "The living environment here isn’t bad. It’s warm in winter and cool in summer, and it’s more beautiful than my home."
The scavenger laughed and said, "Don’t mock me!"
The scavenger looked for a long time and found the snakeskin bag. Peng Sijue said suspiciously, "You have so many bags here. Are you sure that you won't make a mistake?"
Chen Shi picked up a bag and saw an English logo. He smiled, "It must not be wrong. This bag can't be bought outside."Previous Chapter Next Chapter