Chapter 101: Leads in the Abduction Case

Killer Nights

Chapter 101: Leads in the Abduction Case

The next morning, Jiang Zhengkai came early to his office.  His face looked much haggard than just the day before. He sat blankly in his chair as he recounted the scene of A-Jiao’s abduction last night.  Actually, he had been doing this recollecting or pondering or whatever you’d like to call it for the entire night.

Lu Xiaoqiang was in the investigative division’s open work space when Jiang Zhengkai walked in.  He saw Jiang Zhengkai’s weary face and hesitated for a moment before saying, “Inspector Jiang, a Silver Alert has been issued already.  Do you want to notify bureau HQ and have them expand the search area? Later… Commissioner Yao will be here later.”

“Oh, really?” Jiang Zhengkai casually asked, “What for?”

“Probably… probably because of what happened to Miss Ren…” Lu Xiaoqiang quietly replied.  He was somewhat relieved that Jiang Zhengkai spoke to him, meaning Jiang Zhengkai’s mind hadn’t completely been overwhelmed by this latest tragedy.

“Oh, already?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as he looked up expressionlessly at Lu Xiaoqiang, “How did the Old Man find out so quickly?”

“What?  Was I not supposed to find out?” a loud voice boomed from behind Lu Xiaoqiang and carried into Jiang Zhengkai’s office.  No one knew just when Yao Tianyu had appeared behind Lu Xiaoqiang, which meant his sudden appearance more than managed to scare the wits out of Jiang Zhengkai and Lu Xiaoqiang.  As for those two, one of them hurriedly leapt out of his chair to stand at attention, while the other rapidly stood to one side to make way for Yao Tianyu.

“Jiang Zhengkai!  What the hell kind of a cop are you?  How were you not even able to protect your woman?  What exactly did you learn from all your years on the force?”  Yao Tianyu delivered rapid-fire criticisms as soon as he walked into Jiang Zhengkai’s office, “What an unlucky girl to have found a man like you!  Were you standing idly by as they took your girl? Where was your weapon? Why didn’t you draw your weapon? What good is a weapon if you’re not going to use it?”

“I…” Jiang Zhengkai managed to say only this one word.  He couldn’t find anything else to say to Yao Tianyu. His mind had gone completely blank.  Yao Tianyu soon resumed his ass-chewing, but Jiang Zhengkai could no longer hear him. His mind was fixated on what Yao Tianyu said about using his weapon.  That’s right, I was armed!  Why didn’t I open fire? But, could I open fire?  Was that in accordance with police regulations? Maybe?  Maybe not? But why didn’t I think to use my weapon?

“Don’t just stand there!”  Seeing how Jiang Zhengkai didn’t display the slightest reaction of his ass-chewing, Yao Tianyu walked over to Jiang Zhengkai and forcefully jabbed him in the chest, “You listen to me good!  You find out just what the hell happened to Miss Ren! I want results! Do you hear me? I want results!” Afterwards, Yao Tianyu left Jiang Zhengkai’s office without so much as a goodbye.

Once he was outside Jiang Zhengkai’s office, Yao Tianyu turned around and used his hand to beckon over Lu Xiaoqiang.  The latter obediently followed Yao Tianyu out of Jiang Zhengkai’s office. “You look after him and make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid,” Yao Tianyu said quietly and kindly to Lu Xiaoqiang, “I’m sure his mind will spring back to life after that ass-chewing I just gave him!”  He then gently patted Lu Xiaoqiang on the shoulder a few times before walking out of the investigative division’s spaces. Yao Tianyu also looked exceptionally serious as he marched out of the sub-bureau.

Lu Xiaoqiang watched as Yao Tianyu left the building before returning to Jiang Zhengkai’s office and saying, “Inspector Jiang, Commissioner Yao… has left.”

“Ok.  Leave me please.  I want to be alone for a while.”  Jiang Zhengkai’s face remained expressionless, but his tone sounded more poised than before.  It looked like Yao Tianyu was right after all! After Yao Tianyu’s ass-chewing, Jiang Zhengkai’s thought process started functioning normally once again.  Jiang Zhengkai now understood that blaming himself didn’t do anyone any good, least of all A-Jiao. His top priority right now was to figure out why someone would want to abduct A-Jiao.

So, why did A-Jiao get abducted?  Jiang Zhengkai sat there and thought to himself.  From what little documents he had available, the first person he suspected was Li Hongbin.  Jiang Zhengkai was there the night Li Hongbin harassed A-Jiao, so it was entirely possible that Li Hongbin had people abduct A-Jiao to seek revenge for being disrespected by A-Jiao and for getting beaten by A-Meng.  At that thought, Jiang Zhengkai summoned Lu Xiaoqiang to his office.

“Xiaoqiang, take two officers and change into plainclothes.  I want the three of you to investigate someone,” said Jiang Zhengkai.  He then wrote down on a piece of paper a summary of the information he had on Li Hongbin.  “Remember, this operation must be conducted in absolute secrecy. Other than the two officers working with you, do not tell anyone else on the force.  Also, be mindful of your surroundings when you’re out there and don’t do anything rash. If you find anything suspicious, call me or Commissioner Yao ASAP.”

“Li Hongbin…” Lu Xiaoqiang read aloud as he received Jiang Zhengkai’s handwritten notes.  He quickly perused the notes before returning them to Jiang Zhengkai. “Ok, Inspector Jiang, I’ve got it all memorized.  Don’t worry, I won’t let you down!” He then immediately turned around and left Jiang Zhengkai’s office.

It wasn’t that Jiang Zhengkai didn’t have any detectives more experienced than Lu Xiaoqiang in the investigative division.  The main reason why he ultimately decided to give this assignment to Lu Xiaoqiang was because he only recently graduated from police academy, which meant he wasn’t yet integrated into any of the office cliques in the division.  Of course, Lu Xiaoqiang was also resourceful, dependable, and had plenty of street smarts. All the more reasons why Jiang Zhengkai wanted him to lead the undercover investigation into Li Hongbin.

After Lu Xiaoqiang left, Jiang Zhengkai sat back down in his desk chair.  Right now, he began pondering a complex yet unavoidable possibility. This was something that Jiang Zhengkai didn’t want to think about, but he had no choice but to consider it now that things had come to a head.  He had no choice but to consider A-Jiao as a suspect in the serial murder and drug ring cases.

What exactly was A-Jiao’s connection to these two cases?  Jiang Zhengkai took out his case notebook and busily drew circles and lines on it.  A-Jiao was very close to the prime suspect in both the serial murders and the drug ring, A-Xiu.  However, there was no mention of A-Jiao in any of the information he managed to gather on the two cases.  Was there a key piece of information that was hidden? Perhaps A-Jiao was the secret courier between A-Xiu and Sui Dequan?  At this point, Jiang Zhengkai thought about the recent break-ins at A-Tie and A-Shun’s homes. According to A-Tie’s oral statement, he was attacked by Sui Zhongyi’s underlings.  Meanwhile, the two men captured at A-Shun’s home also admitted to working for Sui Zhongyi. Could it be possible then, that it was Sui Zhongyi who ordered A-Jiao’s kidnapping?

Jiang Zhengkai paused his thought process and dialed Zou Chunjian’s number.  “Chunjian, this is Jiang Zhengkai,” Jiang Zhengkai said cordially over the phone, “I need your assistance with a case I’m working on.”

“Just tell me what I can do for you, Jiang.  No need to be so polite with an old pal,” Zou Chunjian’s voice came over the telephone.

“It’s like this.  I have a kidnapping case that may be connected to Sui Zhongyi, one of Sui Dequan’s former lieutenants.  I was wondering if your division had any specific documents regarding Sui Zhongyi,” Jiang Zhengkai asked straightforwardly over the phone.

“Yes, we do.  I’ll send someone to drop it off at your office right away,” Zou Chunjian crisply replied over the phone.

“Oh, one more thing!  Does Sui Zhongyi own a motor vehicle in this city?” Jiang Zhengkai continued asking over the phone, “What kind of vehicle does he normally ride in?”

“That’s hard to say,” Zou Chunjian ambiguously answered over the phone, “His crew is quite crafty!  They do have their own vehicles, but whenever they are transporting drugs, they always use borrowed vehicles.  We’ve searched their vehicles repeatedly in recent days but always came up empty.”

“Ah, I see.  Well, thank you for your help!” said Jiang Zhengkai before he hung up.  Right then, Liu Na walked into the office, “Inspector Jiang, Sergeant Zhang called just now when you were on the phone.  He said they found the vehicle used in last night’s abduction!”

“Really?  Where?” Jiang Zhengkai excitedly asked as he leapt to his feet.

“On the side of a road not too far from the central hospital,” Liu Na replied, “The traffic police found it, actually.  The van was illegally parked, so the traffic cops wrote a ticket and was about to place it on the front windshield when they saw that it was unlocked.  The van happened to be parked on a street under Sergeant Zhang’s jurisdiction, so they decided to give him a call.”

“Oh…”  Having heard what Liu Na just said, Jiang Zhengkai sat back down in his chair.  A wave of disappointment flowed over him. He knew what Liu Na was going to say next, that the van was stolen, and they weren’t able to lift any fingerprints off of the van’s interior.

“Sergeant Zhang has already questioned the minivan’s owner.  According to his investigation, the vehicle was probably stolen.  Also, our colleagues from material evidence weren’t able to pull any fingerprints off of the steering wheel or car doors,” Liu Na continued.

“Very good!  Have Sergeant Zhang question the vehicle owner some more.  We need to find out when and where the car was stolen.” After he finished speaking, Jiang Zhengkai waved his hand at Liu Na, signaling that she was dismissed.

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