After dinner, Jiang Zhengkai brought A-Jiao to a locked room. The room had obviously been re-decorated in the style of a love room¹ from the alley. There was a bed in the center of the room, with simple furnishings to the side. Usually, most people in this business would skimp on the decorations with used and old furniture. However, in that alleyway, under the watchful eyes of A-Shun, most rooms were arranged in a similar manner.
“Honey, I must say, the way you’ve decorated the place is quite reminiscent.” A-Jiao carefully looked at the furnishings in the room, then exclaimed cheekily, "Mister, do you need some services? I’ll give you half off!"
“I want it for free!” Jiang Zhengkai said with his hands around her waist while lightly pecking her cheeks. “There are also surveillance cameras in the room!”
“You’re terrible!” A-Jiao pounded Jiang Zhengkai’s chest at full force a few times. “You obviously knew that there were cameras yet you still bullied me?”
“Of course!” Jiang Zhengkai’s gaze swept across the four corners of the room before mysteriously placing his lips near her ears. “The cameras aren’t on yet!”
“Heh, you! You’re the worst.” A-Jiao began giggling again in his embrace. “So do you want some service?”
“You’re saying that I’m bad?! You’re not being serious at all!” Jiang Zhengkai pulled A-Jiao closer to him. “Oh yeah. I have to leave for a bit. Stay here. I’ll be back in ten minutes.”
“Okay!” A-Jiao shoved Jiang Zhengkai towards the door and sat on the huge bed. “Little Miss will be waiting for you here then.” Jiang Zhengkai smiled and left the room. In the room next door, he instructed the policemen, “Activate the surveillance devices and invite Luo Yusan in.”
Luo Yusan was the policewoman who was chosen to dress up and impersonate A-Xiu. The moment she heard Jiang Zhengkai's instructions, she stood up and walked towards the mirror. “Inspector Jiang, do you think I resemble her closely enough?”
“Go in. Let her see you!” Jiang Zhengkai said as he pointed at A-Jiao on the monitor screen. Luo Yusan nodded and left the room.
A-Jiao sat on the bed in the middle of the room. As she idly glanced through the room’s interior, her past life seemed to flash before her eyes. The fearful nostalgia caused her to tear up slightly, which she gently wiped away. Good thing that’s all in the past now. At that very moment, the lights suddenly went out.
Just as she froze in fear, the door opened. A shadowy figure was standing by the door and it slowly entered the room. A-Jiao stared at the outline of a person and felt a stroke of panic hit her heart. Subconsciously, she slowly stood up and began backing away towards the windows.
Bit by bit, the thing got closer. By the time A-Jiao’s back was plastered against the windows, she could tell it was a female figure. From the way it was dressed, it looked like A-Xiu. But, it did not give off the same aura as A-Xiu had. A-Jiao was not only intelligent, but also a brave and meticulous woman. When she could go no further, the woman halted her steps. Intuitively, A-Jiao had already figured out that Jiang Zhengkai was testing her. However, A-Jiao didn’t understand why Jiang Zhengkai would do this.
Meanwhile, Jiang Zhengkai was gravely watching the monitors in the next room. Unfortunately, A-Jiao wasn’t the slightest bit affected after seeing “A-Xiu.” Although A-Jiao had been terrified at first, that was merely a human reaction.
“Turn on the lights!” Jiang Zhengkai could tell Luo Yusan was unable to continue with the act. He left the room and returned back to A-Jiao’s room. “Why didn’t you react? Do they not look alike?”
“Like who?” A-Jiao pursed lips and glared at Jiang Zhengkai. Then, she glanced at the “A-Xiu” by the bedside. “Heh, I thought someone was trying to rob me!”
“But…” Jiang Zhengkai scratched his head helplessly, “I think she looks pretty similar to A-Xiu, right?”
“In terms of looks and figure, sure. But the demeanor she has doesn’t feel right. I could immediately tell she wasn’t Sister A-Xiu!” Once Luo Yusan was out of the room, A-Jiao dropped to a whisper, “Honey, are you going to use her to test A-Lian?”
“Yes, that's my plan,” Jiang Zhengkai responded as he nodded. “But, how did you figure out she wasn’t A-Xiu?” “Hm!” A-Jiao pursed her lips thoughtfully and lifted her head to directly face Jiang Zhengkai. “Honey, your colleague is about as tall as me. Why don’t you let me act as A-Xiu instead? What do you think?”
“You?” Jiang Zhengkai heard her offer and sat down on the bed. To him, this posed a conflicting conundrum. Naturally it would be a better act if A-Jiao was impersonating A-Xiu instead of the policewoman. On the other hand, if they followed through with this, wouldn’t this reveal A-Jiao’s past identity to the entire police force?
“What are you thinking about?” A-Jiao noticed that Jiang Zhengkai had a lot on his mind. She stood in front of him and waved her hands before his eyes. “What’s wrong? You don’t want to let me try?”
“I…” Jiang Zhengkai lifted his head to look at her, stumbling to speak, “This is too…”
“Don’t worry, honey! Rest assured!” From Jiang Zhengkai’s expression, A-Jiao could tell he was unwilling to let her play this role. However, deep down she knew very well that if A-Lian wasn’t completely insane, he would not have needed to come up with such a risky plan to test her.
“Are you certain that you’ll be alright?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as his eyes met hers. “A-Lian is thoroughly insane but what if she suddenly wakes up and recognizes ‘you’… then…”
“Don’t worry! Honey, I know you’re always doting on me.” A-Jiao grinned, “I thought it through, though. How can A-Lian recognize me if I’m not close to her?” “But, if you look like A-Xiu…” Jiang Zhengkai still looked at her with a gaze filled with concern.
“Rest assured, okay! I have an idea.” A-Jiao returned Jiang Zhengkai’s worry with a bright smile.
“Inspector Jiang, Dr. Liu’s back!” At that moment, Lu Xiaoqiang and Dr. Liu appeared at the doorway. “Sir, when should we start the test?”
“Not quite yet. Inform the technical colleagues to add a listening device. Then conduct a sound test after the listening device is switched on,” Jiang Zhengkai said, placing his gaze onto A-Jiao. “Let's go. Both of us need to get ready.”
By the time the clock struck ten, the policemen were done preparing. Under the supervision of Dr. Liu, A-Lian entered the room and was motioned to sit by the bedside. They switched off the room lights after everything was in place. A-Lian sat by herself, her face devoid of expression. Her mouth was still moving slightly, as though she was mumbling something.
“A-Lian… A-Lian…” A faintly discernible voice echoed by A-Lian’s ears. “It’s me…” Accompanying this voice was a woman who appeared by her side. She slowly raised her arms and reached for A-Lian’s face. “A-Lian…” A-Lian’s head was lifted up by her.
“Uh… hm!” When A-Lian made eye contact with the woman, her body twitched in fright. Right after, her body rapidly moved back of its own will. This woman’s eyes, voice, and her cheap fragrance, A-Xiu… Right! It’s A-Xiu! A-Lian’s originally lifeless gaze was replaced by a horrified look. Her facial expression changed as well. Horror and fright were etched into her features.
“A-Lian… It’s me…” A-Jiao turned her neck. She weakly lifted her hands and moved towards A-Lian. “I… miss… you!”
“Ah!” A-Lian let out a frightened scream, “Xiu! Xiu! Kill! Ah!” She fell onto the bed in her panic, but wouldn’t stop yelling, “Ah! Xiu…”
However, A-Jiao didn’t stop advancing despite A-Lian’s cries. A-Jiao lightly grabbed onto A-Lian’s legs with her ice-cold hands and began to move them around A-Lian’s body while continuously repeating, “A… Lian…”
“Aha! Don’t kill me!” Under the intense visual and physical stimulation, A-Lian started to bawl and cry out tragically. “Don’t! No! Xiu! Don’t kill me! Xiu! Aha! Don’t kill me!” By this point, A-Lian’s gaze was no longer on A-Jiao. She lay on the bed in the fetal position while rapidly trembling. But regardless of her body’s contortions, she continued to maniacally scream, “Don’t! No! Xiu! Don’t kill me! Xiu! Aha! Don’t kill me!”
In the other room, Jiang Zhengkai and Dr Liu carefully observed the scene in front of them. As Dr. Liu watched, she mimicked A-Lian’s earlier rhythm of opening and closing her mouth. After a while, she turned around to Jiang Zhengkai. “I think I’ve finally figured out what she has been mumbling lately…”
- The rooms where alleyway prostitutes brought their clients to and performed their services.