Chapter 26: Wei Xin's Date
Wei Xin arrived at the police sub-bureau only after lunch. She saw Jiang Zhengkai in his office, so she walked over and knocked on the door. “Inspector Jiang, can I come in?”
Jiang Zhengkai opened his eyes after hearing someone knock on the door. When he saw it was Wei Xin, he warmly welcomed her in. “Hey! What’s up, Wei? Come on in! You probably worked all night. Why are you here so early?”
“Inspector Jiang, I wasn’t sleeping in this morning, you know!” said Wei Xin as she covered a yawn. “I went to the hospital this morning. When I tried to find A-Shun last night, residents in the alley said that his child was sick, so I went to the hospital to try and find him first thing in the morning.”
“Really? I had no idea you had such a kind heart,” Jiang Zhengkai teased her. “So, any progress?”
“Progress? Of course! But I’ll only tell you if you agree to take me out to dinner,” Wei Xin coyly replied. My shift hasn’t officially started anyway, so what if I play around with you for a bit? You’re not technically my boss since I’m off the clock right now.
“Deal! Give me what you got, so I know how expensive of a dinner to buy you,” said Jiang Zhengkai as he leaned back into his chair. He had somewhat of a ‘resting funny face’, so Wei Xin and her colleagues all liked to joke around with him during off-work hours.
“According to A-Shun, A-Jiao is a native of this city. She was originally introduced to the alley by A-Xiu,” said Wei Xin.
“A-Jiao is from here?” Jiang Zhengkai sat up in his chair as soon as the words left Wei Xin’s mouth.
“Yup! From what A-Shun said, A-Xiu brought A-Jiao to the alley around two years ago. She seemed to have mentioned at the time that she was a native, although she never brought that topic up again afterwards. As for her real name, A-Shun doesn’t know either. He said A-Jiao was pretty reticent when it came to answering those types of questions,” Wei Xin seriously explained.
Jiang Zhengkai plopped back in his chair. “Well, it looks like I owe you a nice dinner tonight. What are you in the mood for? Just don’t say Taiwanese ramen!”
“I know of a nice Fujianese noodle shop nearby.” Wei Xin toyed with Jiang Zhengkai by purposely suggesting the closest thing to a Taiwanese noodle shop.
“Okay, let me rephrase: no more noodles! How about… hot pot?” Jiang Zhengkai paused mid-sentence as the thought of hot pot made him think of A-Jiao again.
Figuring out A-Jiao’s true identity was the key to cracking this case, but where to find her became the $64,000 question. As of right now, A-Jiao’s “part-time” status created somewhat of an awkward situation. Since she had never been caught in a vice sweep, she had no criminal record, which meant the police didn’t have her mugshot, fingerprints, or any other personally identifiable information. If the Chinese could be a bit more progressive, like say the Dutch, and hand out government-issued licenses to prostitutes, then dealing with A-Jiao’s situation would be a piece of cake.
Seeing no alternative, Jiang Zhengkai once again made a call to External Affairs. “Li Weidong, I need your help with something. Could you go to the Housing Bureau and find the records to Ju’an Estates’ Building #5, Unit 302?”
“You got it, Inspector Jiang,” Li Weidong politely agreed over the phone. “Shouldn’t be a problem. Oh, right, that business with the post office you told me about yesterday. I’ve already talked to them. The minute something comes up, I’ll contact you.”
“Thank you, buddy. I really appreciate it,” Jiang Zhengkai said as he hung up the phone. Division of labor was a wonderful thing. On the one hand, Jiang Zhengkai and his team didn’t have to run around everywhere doing the tedious business of collecting paper evidence. On the other hand, having specialized personnel who had existing relationships with the various governmental entities in the city gather paper evidence was less likely to alert suspects of the fact that the authorities were on to them.
Since he had agreed to go on a date with Wei Xin, Jiang Zhengkai knew full well he couldn’t back out. The two of them ended up going to the same Hot Pot City that he and A-Jiao had gone to before. As luck would have it, Wei Xin chose to sit down at the same table that A-Jiao had last time. Soon after they sat down, a waiter came over to take their order.
Jiang Zhengkai flipped through the menu and then plainly asked Wei Xin, “What do you feel like eating?” His memory wasn’t great, but it was good enough to remember most of what was on the menu from the last time he’d been here.
“Oh, let’s get the split spicy-mild pot! I can’t really handle spicy food. How about you?” Wei Xin asked him after looking through the menu.
“I can eat a little bit of spicy food. Let’s go ahead and get the split pot then,” Jiang Zhengkai replied.
“Okay, and let’s get a plate of beef, a plate of lamb, and a mixed seafood platter…” said Wei Xin as she ordered a whole pile of food for the hot pot. “Did you want anything else, Inspector Jiang?”
“No, I’m good. As long as you’re happy.” Jiang Zhengkai smiled at Wei Xin. He wasn’t so old that he didn’t know how to make a girl happy, so he knew just what to say to them and when to say it. Nevertheless, he couldn’t help but think that A-Jiao would have liked everything Wei Xin had just ordered.
“Inspector Jiang, do my clothes look pretty tonight?” Wei Xin longingly asked Jiang Zhengkai after the waiter had left.
“Yeah, not bad!” Jiang Zhengkai replied as he shifted his attention from the window back to Wei Xin. To be honest, he didn’t think Wei Xin was as fashionable as A-Jiao, but then again that was completely understandable. A policewoman who wore a uniform to work everyday could hardly be blamed for being less fashion-conscious than a woman whose line of work consisted primarily of attracting men.
“Really?” Wei Xin was overjoyed at Jiang Zhengkai’s modest complement. She went on to tell him stories of her days as a student. He pretended to listen attentively, but his mind had started wandering a long time ago. If only A-Jiao had talked more about her past, then perhaps he would’ve made much more progress on the case.
Once the waiter brought out all of the dishes, Jiang Zhengkai proceeded to do most of the work cooking the food in the hot pot. In that regard, he took care of Wei Xin the way he took care of A-Jiao. The way Jiang Zhengkai saw it, this was something a man should do for a woman. It didn’t feel right to him for a woman to care of a man when the two went out to eat. It was downright ungentlemanly, and unless a man was fabulously wealthy, being ungentlemanly was a surefire way of staying single forever. Plus, Wei Xin was also a beautiful woman, not at all a “flatboard” as A-Jiao liked to call her, although her bust-waist-hip ratio… Bang! As this thought entered his mind, Jiang Zhengkai suddenly slapped himself upside the head. Damn that A-Jiao for corrupting my mind!
“You got a headache, Inspector Jiang?” a startled Wei Xin asked. She reached out her hand to rub his head.
“No, it was just a mosquito.” Jiang Zhengkai cleverly leaned his body back into his chair in order to keep out of reach of Wei Xin’s hand. He turned his head towards the window and said, “What a beautiful night!”
“Ah, yeah!” Wei Xin replied as she pulled back her hand. Even though she was a little disappointed, Jiang Zhengkai’s smooth moves made the situation less awkward than it could’ve been.
“Hard to believe such a beautiful night could kill,” he said, as he turned his head back towards the table and gulped down the entire glass of water in front of him.
“Don’t worry, Inspector Jiang, we will definitely crack that case,” Wei Xin very seriously said.
“Hehe, alright, enough talk about work. Let’s eat! Looks like the shrimp is already done.” Jiang Zhengkai blew what Wei Xin had said. In his eyes, Wei Xin was a very nice girl, but she was too stiff, not at all like the carefree A-Jiao. As a colleague, Wei Xin’s great, but if we’re talking as a life partner, then A-Jiao… Wait, why am I thinking like this? Jiang Zhengkai shook his head to clear his mind of these thoughts. Was it possible that he has really fallen in love with a prostitute?
After dinner, Jiang Zhengkai fell back into his routine. He dropped Wei Xin off at the police barracks, then drove to Ju’an Estates to smoke a cigarette before going home for the night.
“Honey, I’m home,” Jiang Zhengkai said as he entered the apartment. He headed straight to the bathroom without turning on the lights. He knew exactly where everything was in this apartment, so there was no need to turn on the lights. Besides, he was afraid of what he might find in his apartment should he actually turn on the lights. In any case, he was already used to moving around in the dark when he came home at night.
After brushing his teeth, he came out of the bathroom and sat on the living room couch. He faced the wall and murmured, “Honey, I’m in love with another woman, a woman I’m not supposed to fall in love with. Tell me, what should I do?” He zoned out for a while sitting on the couch, before finally standing up. “Forget about it! I’m going to sleep now. Good night, Honey!” He walked into one of the two bedrooms in the apartment and went to bed.
That same night, Wei Xin was suffering from a bout of insomnia as well, but unlike Jiang Zhengkai, hers was caused by a sense of excitement. She’d said so many things to him, and this was also the first time she’d worn such revealing clothes while on a date with him. It looked like Jiang Zhengkai had rather liked the way she’d been dressed. She thought to herself, The next time I stand watch in the alley, I’ll make sure to pay attention to what all the women there are wearing. As she lost herself in her fantasies, Wei Xin unknowingly fell asleep clutching her teddy bear.
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