Another chilly winter morning. The rising sun casts a ray of soft golden light over the mountain side. The trees gives a gentle glow in the morning sun. Hardly anyone comes to this part of the town. It’s always so quiet and peaceful here. Except for the little episode yesterday.
Jian Yao walks quietly toward the villa.
She enters the house she is now fairly familiar with. Upstairs, the gates are open.
Cautiously, she steps into Bo Jinyan’s ‘territory’.
"Bo Jinyan? Bo Jinyan?"
Jian Yao walks up to the first room.
The door is open. She walks inside. Near the window, a stack of files sit on top of a table. There are a few books scattered there as well. It’s rather messy. A big blanket is left unfold on a sofa next to the table. A half-finished cup of tea sits on the small coffee table.
Opposite the sofa hangs a large whiteboard. It’s covered with photos, with lots of captions and words written around them.
Jian Yao walks over to the whiteboard.
There are a total of nine photographs. These are the pictures of the missing teenagers. All of them are rural children. Underneath three of the photos, Bo Jinyan wrote down the locations where the boys went missing. South of the market. Train station. Materials Quarter.
Li has briefed Jian Yao about this. They have enough evidence to determine the abduction locations for three of the boys that went missing. As for the rest of the teenagers, for all they know, they could have disappeared anywhere.
Then there’s the second row of words. More locations, places with similar qualities to those three above - Eastern market, bus station, farmers market ...... and so on. Jian Yao understands their significance - Traffic, video game movie theatres, Internet cafes etc. Places teenagers like to hang out. Possible hunting grounds for the kidnappers.
But these places are dispersed throughout the city. Looking for the criminals will be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Further down the whiteboard, there’s more words, a combination of English and Chinese. The handwriting is so messy that Jian Yao can’t work out what some of the words are. On the corner of the white board is a drawing of a little turtle. It’s only a stick figure, but it’s very cute.
So ‘great G.o.d’ likes to doodle when he’s a.n.a.lysing data. How adorable. Jian Yao smiles to herself.
There’s a phrase within the messy writing that is written in a bigger and clearer font than the rest.
Everybody knows this. So why is he emphasising the point?
Jian Yao doesn’t understand that. She takes out her phone and sends a text message to Li. “Kp: No witnesses.”
( I am not sure what KP means. It’s in the original text. In English. So I left it there.)
Last night, Jian Yao made a decision. She called Li.
Li immediately went to her home. The first thing he said was: "I still want to work with him and learn from him."
Jian Yao is not too surprised: “But… How?”
“Whenever he tells you something - conclusions or ideas he comes up with, theory, opinions, everything! Can you please write them down and let me know? This is not ‘infringement’. Whatever information you can access, I should be able to access too."
Jian Yao replied: "I do not know much about crime and psychology. But I will do my best to help you.”
So, whenever Jian Yao finds a key point, she texts Li.
(Ahh…. Kp means Key point. I see.)
Li replies almost immediately: "?????"
Jian Yao smiles. Well, she only agreed to be the messenger. The rest is up to him to figure out himself. Just then, Bo Jinyan walks in wearing a pair of white pyjamas.
This is so different from her expectations.
Yesterday, even though he was arrogant and conceited, showing how inconsiderate he can be to the feelings of others; he was wearing a suit, looking very prim and proper. Today, he is wearing a pair of PJs, walking around barefooted. He is still the same handsome man she saw yesterday. Only today, the expressions on this man’s face shows that he is not happy. Not happy at all.
He walks pa.s.s Jian Yao. He turns and looks in her direction. Jian Yao thinks he is going to speak to her. But he seems to stare straight pa.s.s her. He picks up the cup on the side table. Walks out of the room and heads downstairs.
- Well, if you have nothing to say to me. I will just keep quiet then.
She follows him down in silence.
In the kitchen. He bents over to take a carton of milk from the refrigerator and heats it up in the microwave. He takes out a few slices of bread, put them in the toaster, then throws a bottle of jam on the table. Then he sits down at the dining table.
• He’s going to talk about work now. Thought Jian Yao.
Suddenly, he put his arms on the table, then buries his head into the hole between his arms..
The microwave gives a "ding" sound. He looks up, stands up, takes the food and drink to the table and starts having his breakfast.
“Another late night?”Jian Yao asks.
“Umm…" His throat give a little groan.
After a while, he looks up at her again. He frowns: “You’ve changed your style of dressing.”
Jian Yao looks at her little black skirt. She has dressed more formally today because he was in a suit yesterday. She thought she should match his dressing style.
He keeps staring at her. Jian Yao begins to feel a little uneasy. Then she hears him say: “This style doesn’t suit you. You look prettier in your usual clothing.”
Jian Yao is surprised by his words. After he finishes his sentence, he continues to have his breakfast.
Flattering words are always welcomed by woman, especially when it’s from someone like him.
Jian Yao gives him a smile:”Thanks.”
After he finishes his breakfast, he looks brighter, and more ‘awake’.
Bo Jinyan: “My rookie a.s.sistant, come upstairs. Collate all the information on the case, and then wait for me in the car."
In the driveway, Jian Yao sees a parked police car. The driver looks like he has been waiting for a while.
Jian Yao sits in the back seat. She starts to read the information on the case while waiting. After a few minutes, Bo Jinyan appears.
He is in a suit again, with a black coat on top. A coffee brown scarf wrapped around his neck. He is wearing a mask on his face, the type that looks a bit like surgical mask, revealing only a pair of slender dark eyes.
He sits beside Jian Yao. He takes off his mask and scarf: “We are ready to go.” He gives instructions to the driver.
Jian Yao: "Why are you wearing a mask that covers your face?"
He looks at her as if it’s an inappropriate question: “Don’t you think it’s cold out there?"
Jian Yao: "...... No, not really.”
So that’s the reason. People from the north do not adapt well to the winter temperatures of the south. Bo Jinyan is not a local. He wears a mask to keep his face warm. This is a common practice in the northern towns, but people in the south will find it strange. No wonder people label him as "Frankenstein."
The car is leaving town. They are on the national highway.
Jian Yao asks: "Where are we going?"
Bo Jinyan adjusts his sitting position a little. The car is not very s.p.a.cious. Jian Yao moves closer to the door to give him more room. His body takes up more than half the back seat.
“We need to get his address.” says Bo Jinyan
"He? Who is he?” asks Jian Yao.
Bo Jinyan smiles: “The criminal, of course."
Jian Yao looks at him: "You mean... there is only one person responsible for the kidnapping? And it’s someone from the area?" Li told her the police suspects a human trafficking gang is involved, or someone from further afield, not so close to home. But Bo Jinyan is going down a totally different path.
Bo Jinyan looks at her: “You are not so dumb after all. There’s a similar pattern to all the disappearances. All of them have the same distinctive and unique ‘personality’ about them. It can only be done by one person."
While Jian Yao is processing what he just said, the phone rings.
Bo Jinyan glances at her: “Ah! Time to report to your little boyfriend?"
Jian Yao looks at him: "He is not my boyfriend."
Bo Jinyan says no more. He closes his eyes for a nap. "Do you mind if I update him?” Jian Yao asks.
“Do as you please. I don’t care.”
The police car stops in a nearby towns.h.i.+p.
Along the highway, there are line of houses on both side of the road. There are four or five low rise buildings, and a few old huts.
Bo Jinyan and Jian Yao walks to one of the huts - the home of the first missing boy - Fu Mingyis’ parents’ house. No one knows where Fu was abducted. They knock on the front door.
The house looks old and tired. The paint are stripped off, cracks run along the side of the walls. Inside, Fu’s parents looks as if life has been drained out of them. Yao can feel the pain they carry.
According to the police statement, on the day of his disappearance, Fu left home early in the morning. He was meant to arrive at Tong city around 8:00am. He just turned 15 years old. He’s a secondary student. He was supposed to go to Tong city to stay with his aunt for two weeks, to attend some tutorial cla.s.ses for the upcoming school exams. His aunt called his parents around midday after he failed to arrive. Bo Jinyan asked the parents a few more questions. But nothing provided any clue as to where he could have gone.
They go into Fu’s bedroom. His room is filled with lots of stuff - children toys, masks, kaleidoscope, game cards, and handheld gaming devices. All these items are now keepsakes for the old couple to remember their beloved son.
Jian Yao: “Anything useful?"
Instead of answering her question, Bo Jinyan says:”Out.”
Just before she walks out of the room, he says: ”Please use your brain. It’s not a piece of furniture. I want every piece of information you can find on Fu. There must be clues hiding in this house that will tell us where he went that morning."
By now, Jian Yao is used to the way he speaks. She doesn't get offended anymore.
They walk out to the backyard. There’s a poultry shed.
Inside the shed, there’s around 12 chickens. It’s probably one of the main source of income for the family. There is a cabinet beside the shed. A basket of eggs sits on top of the cabinet.
Jian Yao turns back into the house to find Fu’s mother.
After some time, Jian Yao returns to Fu’s room.
"I found something. But it’s probably useless." She said.
Bo Jinyan keeps his eyes on the ground: “Speak."
Jian Yao looks at his handsome face. She feels a little uneasy to share her little humble opinion with a world renowned expert.
She clears her throat and speaks out: “Fu does alright at school. He doesn’t seem to be the academic type, but he gets on well with his cla.s.smates. They like playing video games but his family is too poor to buy a console and games for him to play at home. So he likes to hang out at video game parlours and internet cafes.“
“The day Fu went missing, he took a basket of eggs to bring to his aunt…” Jian Yao continues.
"Stop!" Bo Jinyan interrupts her. Looking at her with his clear sharp eyes: “How do you know he brought eggs?"
Jian Yao replies: "I noticed there’s a basket of eggs in the backyard. I thought, since the parents wanted their child to board with the aunt for a period of time, they will surely give a little gift, such as fresh eggs. Ha ha.. not relevant to the case, right? Other than that, I can’t find anything else "
Jian Yao's voice suddenly stops, because Bo Jinyan steps forward, bents over to hug her.
Jian Yao stiffens and looks at Bo Jinyan. He releases her quickly and looks at her with a smile.
“Bring eggs to aunt! You're a genius!"
Jian Yao: "This is the basic manners ......"
Bo Jinyan smiles: "Fu Ziyu said you are a very well mannered person, so you can complement me in places I am lacking in. He is right..."
Jian Yao: "......"
Bo Jinyan opens the map app on his phone. He points to a location and says: “This is where he went missing.”
He is pointing to a farmer's market. "Why?"
Bo Jinyan seems a little more patient with her now. He explains: “Money. He’s carrying a basket of eggs. It’s so inconvenient. If he didn’t go straight to his aunt’s house. He must be gone to the market to sell the eggs for money. Then he can go to the video game parlour. This market is not far from his aunt’s house, and very close to a video game parlour.”
“He loves video games, but he doesn’t have enough money. So he secretly sold the eggs. He often brings eggs to his auntie’s house so he is betting that his aunt will not find out his mischief.”
Jian Yao listens and nods: “Where do we go from here?”
Bo Jinyan’s smile deepens.
They return to the car. Leaving Tong city, they are back on the national highway.
Bo Jinyan takes out a notebook and starts to write frantically. Jian Yao is busy texting Li with all the updates.
When Bo Jinyan has finished writing, he throws her the notebook: "Give them a call."
Jian Yao picks up the book. She reads what Bo Jinyan wrote.
"Male, aged 25-30, local, slim, ordinary looking;
Lives alone within 3km from the farmer's market. The place where he works is close to the market too.
Strong communication skills, articulate, frequent visitor of video game parlours, movie theatres and other places teenagers like to hang out. "
Jian Yao looks at him: "Why ...... Why does the offender live near the location of the first disappearance? And why is he between 25-30 years old??"
Bo Jinyan puts his hands behind his head: “I have already written all the reasons on the whiteboard. Did you not see them this morning?"
Then he opens the map apps on his phone again, pointing: "Tell them to immediately search the forest to the east of the farmers' markets. If they find anything, give us a call immediately."
Jian Yao heart is shocked: “Find? Find what?"
Bo Jinyan, glancing at her: “You’ve already guessed the answer. Why do you ask me?”
Bo Jinyan smiles: "My dear a.s.sistant, I told you before. I am not interested in human trafficking gangs, or other mediocre stuff like that. Serial killers are my specialty.”