It was unknown whether Chen Shi's consolation worked, or just because he had heard Yan Qilin's name, but Zhang Jinlei sat down in his chair and held his head in pain. It seemed like he had temporarily calmed down.
The two waited for him for more than a minute. Zhang Jinlei stood up and opened the drawer. He took out a medicine bottle and took a pill with the cold coffee on the table. Chen Shi noticed that he was taking Paroxetine, a kind of antidepressant.
Zhang Jinlei's eyes were red. "Sorry, I got too agitated. I hope you can understand. I have a mental illness."
Chen Shi said, "We understand. Excuse us for disturbing you today. You know that Yan Qilin's case may have been committed by a serial killer. He will kill a girl every year on Qixi."
Zhang Jinlei nodded calmly. "I’ve heard."
"Excuse us for asking, but where were you last night?"
"Which bar did you go to?"
"I used to go to the Queqiao Bar in previous years. The bar was relocated this year. I went to another newly opened bar called... Huoxing? Actually, I don't drink normally, but I have to make myself drunk on this day."
"Have you been drinking the whole time? Can anyone prove it?"
Zhang Jinlei raised his eyes, seemingly unhappy. "You can go to that bar to inquire."
"But someone said that you were in another place around 9:00 last night."
"Who said this?"
"We can't disclose this. Did you go to another place?"
"I've been in the bar from 8:00 till 12:00. I didn’t go anywhere. I don't know what your intentions are, asking me this all of a sudden!" Zhang Jinlei's tone clearly showed displeasure.
If they continued asking, this kid might blow up again, so Chen Shi changed the subject. "The information says that you have a good family background and your parents work in the bank?"
"My parents do work in a bank, and my family is relatively wealthy compared to others. But my childhood wasn’t happy. My parents have always been arguing, and anything can be a fuse to spark off a quarrel. Since I was very young, the two of them had been planning to divorce. But for the sake of their reputations, they had to maintain their empty marriage. I was my father’s tool for showing off to outsiders. When I was in kindergarten, I was forced to participate in various enrichment classes. I had to take first place in every exam. They even forced me to participate and win awards in some insignificant competitions. Elementary school chess competitions. Speech contests. Abacus mental arithmetic competitions. All kinds of awards were hung on the walls at home. They were the source of my father’s pride. I hated my family. They caused me great psychological trauma.”
"I know that in the eyes of outsiders, I’m a hardworking student with a superior family background who was born intelligent and talented. But my heart was full of scars. I am full of fear when it comes to socializing. I’m very insecure. You wouldn’t understand these things... Anyway, before I met her, there was nothing happy in my life. In fact, we had also met by chance. There was a problematic student in the class who was looking to cause trouble for her. When I saw them on the way home from school, I couldn’t help but fight for justice. Then the next day, she came to me and thanked me, saying she wanted to treat me to a meal. My family strictly forbade me from dating at too young an age. My father would regularly invite my teachers to meals in order to understand how I was doing. If he heard that I was too close to any girl, he’d castigate me harshly... But I still agreed to her."
"Yes, the more they didn’t let me do it, the more I had to do it! Actually, my family is very strict. At that time, I also had several girlfriends in school. They were all secret relationships, but I was just playing around because I looked down on these ignorant little girls. She was also considered to be one of the better-looking girls in the class. At first, I planned to toy with her, but then unconsciously, I developed real feelings. Maybe she had something special that attracted me. I started caring more and more about her and I’d go crazy when I saw her talking to other boys. Then I’d deliberately ignore her in order to have my revenge. But when I saw her being sad, I felt even more sad... Haii, the situation back then was a mess. I truly loved her very much, but it seemed like we were always arguing. In hindsight, it would have been nice if I treated her better.”
"The two of us were always on the brink of breaking up, but we always cared about each other. During the whole second half of senior year, we would leave school together, but we never held hands. After the entrance exam, I asked her what university choices she had filled out. She cried and told me that she hadn’t done well and either had to attend band 3 universities or repeat the year and then enter my university to join me. My grades at that time were already 50 points over the band 1 cut-off score, but I couldn’t wait a year. Universities didn’t mean much to me. Losing her would be the real pain. I filled out the same choices as her. I felt I was being very cool, filling out band 3 choices with a band 1 score. For my family, it was self-abandonment and resigning myself to degeneration. When they found out, they exploded with anger. My father had never laid hands on me, but he slapped me at the time and told me that he wanted to sever our ties. I said that if he wanted to sever our ties, it was fine with me before running away. After that my family went to my teachers, friends and relatives. All of them tried persuading me. Under such circumstances, I confessed that I didn’t want much. I just wanted them to give up. You may not be able to imagine what happened after that... "
Chen Shi had read his previous statement and vaguely knew what had happened, but still pretended to be interested.
"My dad finally compromised and asked me if it’d be okay as long as I was with that girl in university. I said yes. My dad then used his strong network of connections to get a special enrollment opportunity at a university for her. The condition was that I also had to enroll in the university. That way, both of us had made concessions. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have compromised. I’ve always wanted to get rid of the control of my family. Of course, she felt bad about this matter, thinking that it was shameful to accept it, but she finally accepted it. I dreamed of a good university life. When everything seemed to have worked out happily, that happened..."
Zhang Jinlei's eyes were damp with tears, and he sobbed while holding his head in his hands.
After he had finished crying, Chen Shi asked, "How is your relationship with Yue Chao?"
"Yue Chao? The little gangster who dropped out of high school? I hate him very much. He’s uneducated, lecherous and arrogant. What I hated more was that he was always harassing Yan Qilin, especially whenever our relationship was strained. He’d always come and stick his nose in. He backstabbed me with her and wanted to break us up. I warned him that if he were to approach Yan Qilin, I would beat him up. We’ve fought over this before. When the incident happened, the first person I thought of was him. Who would do this kind of thing except for that scum? But after your police investigation, you guys said that he was innocent and he had an alibi!"
"I want to say that no matter how worthy of hate he is, it doesn't mean that he’s a suspect."
Zhang Jinlei looked as though he repudiated Chen Shi’s words, and seemed unwilling to accept this fact.
1. There are three cut-off scores: one for band I (yi ben), one for band II (er ben), and one for band III (san ben) universities. Many universities (though not all), even the top 20, admit all three levels of students since the lowest band pays dramatically higher tuition fees. The gap in the cut-off score between band 1 and band 3 is huge (550 versus 380).
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