On February 13th, Chen Shi and Lin Dongxue went to Ma Xiang's residence to investigate. Naturally, it would be impossible for the home of a single middle-aged man to be organized or clean.
His refrigerator was full of frozen convenience food, the ashtray in front of the computer desk was full of cigarette butts, and there were many garbage bags piled up at the door. It seemed as though Ma Xiang rarely went out.
Although Ma Xiang was a recluse, his main hobby was collecting scholar’s objects. There were a dazzling array of handicrafts on the shelves. This was the cleanest place in the whole living room.
Lin Dongxue said, "This guy has hundreds of thousands in savings in his bank account, as well as various funds and bonds, but he’s never worked. It’s been 20 years since he graduated from high school and he hasn’t worked a day in his life... What kind of life is that?"
"Are you envious?" Chen Shi smiled. "Ma Xiang's work is probably something we can't find out. It must have been something extremely risky."
"Was this person really a professional killer?" Lin Dongxue looked around the house, feeling very strange that the owner of this ordinary house was actually a professional killer.
Chen Shi opened the cabinet to check. He ran his hand over the dust on the compartment and pondered. Lin Dongxue approached and asked him what was wrong. Chen Shi said, "I feel that the things in this cabinet seem to have been moved."
"Hey, there’s an album here." Lin Dongxue picked it up and looked through it. She found that some photos seemed to have been taken away, leaving only the photos of Ma Xiang and his ex-wife, his parents, and solo shots of him. "Old Chen, your feeling is right. Someone has indeed taken away some things."
"They’ve acted really fast, right? He just died and someone had already come to deal with the aftermath. Who would do this?" Chen Shi looked around. Had the murderer been here before? Wouldn't it be possible to see them in the housing community’s surveillance footage later?
"Could there be an organization behind Ma Xiang and the murderer? They were punished for 'bad work' back then, indicating that they had a more powerful figure behind them." Lin Dongxue speculated.
"Things have become complicated!" Chen Shi sighed.
Soon after, Chen Shi found a hospital invoice in the trash bin. It was recent and the text on it was unreadable.
The highlight was of course Ma Xiang’s computer. The computer desktop wallpaper was a solo photo of him on a trip to another part of the country. Ma Xiang wore sunglasses and carried a briefcase. He stood upright in front of the scenic spot and smiled idiotically. It was very unsophisticated. The act of using a selfie as a desktop wallpaper in itself was something an old uncle would do.
In addition to some chess and card games as well as traditional storytelling recordings on the computer, there was a chat software. However, when they clicked on it, they found that only the shortcut was left and someone had deleted the program.
When they opened a certain folder, Lin Dongxue screamed and quickly looked away. The folder was full of male penises. All kinds of penises. Chen Shi glanced at the watermarks in the lower right corners of the photos, and said, "They were all found online."
"Why did Ma Xiang collect such things..." Lin Dongxue’s face was red. "Speaking of which, these things of humans are really ugly. It's better to look at flowers."
"So during bodybuilding competitions, only this one part is covered up." Chen Shi smiled.
Chen Shi earnestly recalled that Ma Xiang's penis was not missing. Why did he have to squeeze out precious time from playing cards and chatting to "appreciate" these? Did he have a special fetish? Impossible!
Chen Shi brought the computer back and asked the police from the Information Department to help take a look. When they were leaving the housing community, the two took away recent surveillance videos of the entrance.
This case now had a formally established task force with two groups of personnel. One was to investigate the rape and murder on November 18th last year, and the other to investigate the death of Ma Xiang.
Over the past two days, the police went back and forth between Long'an and Shiqiao Town, and they were extremely busy.
After returning to the bureau, the two of them had a leisurely meal amidst their busy day. Lin Dongxue said, "The last two days  were still part of the winter vacation. In the end, you’ve been investigating the case every day and you haven’t been able to spend time with Yueyue."
"I can’t do anything about it. It just happens that the case didn’t occur in the city. That young lady will be fine by herself.”
"I can instantly tell it’s an excuse. I’ll accompany you to see her tonight."
"Okay, let’s try to get things done during the day... Actually, I suddenly thought there was a shortcut we could take. It’s actually very simple to find out what happened that night."
"Yes, Chang Juan is unwilling to tell the truth. I think it was Ma Xiang or another shareholder’s order. If the remaining shareholders collectively decide that she should tell the truth, I think she can't refuse!"
"Haha, that's a good idea, but we still don't know the true identities of these shareholders!"
"Call 22... No, get Ai Ying to inform them!" Ai Ying was chosen instead of Chu Shifang because Chen Shi felt that Chu Shifang couldn’t be fully trusted yet.
He always felt that Chu Shifang was hiding something from them, even though it was just a vague feeling.
After their meal, the two went to Shiqiao Town again. Chang Juan was still detained here. When they arrived, Ai Ying and three other men waved at them. Chen Shi asked, "These are..."
"Let me introduce you. This is Younger Brother 11 and this is Little 4. Sister 22 has things to do during the day and can only come over in the evening.
Brother 11 was a small, ruddy-faced fat man. He wore a puffy red down jacket that made him look like a ball. Little 4 looked like a student. He was tall, thin and wore glasses. He later stated that he had become a shareholder as a topic that he was preparing for his graduation thesis.
In addition, there was a middle-aged man with buck teeth. Ai Ying said, “This is Brother X. Isn’t the major shareholder, 39, dead? Brother X intends to buy the stocks and join us. When ‘X’ joins us, we’ll have complete numbers again."
"Welcome! Welcome!" 11 and Little 4 applauded together. Buck Teeth Brother nodded with a smile. "It’s a pleasure. I heard that it’s very interesting to be a life shareholder. I’d like to experience it too."
"Do you still plan to play this meaningless game?" Lin Dongxue frowned.
"A meaningless game?!" Brother 11 raised his voice, "Miss, it’s very impolite for you to say that about other people's hobbies. We invest a lot of time and energy every day in the general meeting of shareholders. What we vote for decides another person's life. How can you casually describe another person’s life as a meaningless game? I want you to apologize!"
"11, don't do this, she’s a policeman!" Ai Ying whispered.
11 was a bit dumbfounded. Lin Dongxue said, "Okay, I apologize... I just think that given what has happened to Chang Juan, it is a bit ridiculous to continue with the life shareholders system. That’s all I mean."
"Officer Lin, this is our interest as well as her way of life. Nothing will change because of this incident."
"But I think..." Chen Shi glanced at Brother X who was planning to join the group. "In the future, it’s best to have a shareholder review system. Who was Ma Xiang? Such a person actually once completely controlled Chang Juan. I really want to know something here. 11, have you been bribed by Ma Xiang?"
"No... no..." 11 was very flustered and kept waving his hands. "I just thought it was fun, so I just pushed the boat with the current."
"39 told Chang Juan to lure the murderer out and you voted in favor without saying a word!" Ai Ying said angrily. "I really wanted to kill you back then!"
"Yes, why did you always stand on 39’s side unconditionally? Who’s responsible in case something happens to Chang Juan?" Little 4 said loudly.
11 looked wronged, crossed his arms and defended himself, "I just thought it'd be fun!"
"Ahem!" Chen Shi interrupted the conversation between them, "Let’s talk about the important matter at hand. I need everyone to make a decision together to help us solve the case."
1. Author wrote ‘two years’ here and the sentence was slightly different, but I feel this makes a lot more sense.
Previous Chapter Next Chapter