Couple of Mirrors – Chapter 13: The Death of Chu Huizi
(cn: blood; death of minor character)
‘Do you know Hongmei?’ asks Jiang Bin.
If the police have come all the way here, thinks Yan Wei, that must mean they’ve found out something. If I say I don’t know her, that’s only going to make them more suspicious.
‘The milk delivery girl?’ Yan Wei asks.
‘Yes,’ says Jiang Bin. ‘Did you know each other well?’
‘She brought me milk every day,’ says Yan Wei. ‘Other than that, I didn’t really know her.’
‘She was killed in a car accident a few days ago, did you know this?’ asks Jiang Bin.
‘I heard,’ says Yan Wei.
‘Heard from who?’ asks Jiang Bin.
‘Xiao Pang, who also delivers milk,’ says Yan Wei.
For a moment, Jiang Bin says nothing, then his eyes fall again on the photograph of Yan Wei on the wall. ‘This photograph of yours is quite special,’ he says.
‘It’s a photograph of me in costume taken by a friend,’ Yan Wei explains, ‘for attracting customers.’
‘Is it?’ asks Jiang Bin, wandering over to the back of the shop. ‘You know, I’ve always been curious about darkrooms. Can I have look around?’
‘Sorry,’ says Yan Wei. ‘The darkroom isn’t normally open to visitors.’
‘Then let me put it differently,’ says Jiang Bin, lifting the curtain that conceals the entrance to the darkroom.
He continues, ‘I would like to search the darkroom.’
Yan Wei and Jiang Bin’s footsteps echo as they climb downstairs in the dark. At the bottom of the stairs, Jiang Bin sticks his foot out into Yan Wei’s path.
Yan Wei’s night vision allows her to see the faint gleam from his shoe. Are you trying to test me? she thinks.
She deliberately trips over his foot…
…and Jiang Bin catches hold of her, saying, ‘Careful!’
Yan Wei regains her balance. ‘Thank you,’ she says.
‘Don’t mention it,’ he responds.
Yan Wei leads the way into the darkroom, and Jiang Bin immediately notices something. A chest of drawers? he wonders.
‘What’s inside?’ he asks.
He reaches for the lid of the chest, but Yan Wei slams it shut immediately. ‘Just some undeveloped negatives,’ she says. ‘There’s nothing to see here.’
Undeterred, Jiang Bin lifts the lid once again. ‘If anything is damaged, I’ll compensate you for it,’ he tells her.
To his surprise, the chest does, indeed, contain nothing but a few rolls of film.
Jiang Bin slams the chest shut hastily. ‘Sorry, sorry!’
‘Is there anything else, Detective Jiang?’ asks Yan Wei.
‘Nothing for now,’ says Jiang Bin. ‘Thanks for your co-operation.’
‘Goodbye, then,’ says Yan Wei. ‘I won’t see you out.’
Once Jiang Bin’s back is turned, Yan Wei eyes the chest of drawers surreptitiously.
The chest of drawers is hiding several loose bricks — bricks from the hiding-place Yan Wei was constructing for her weapons earlier.
Upstairs, Chen Yong asks Jiang Bin, ‘Boss, did you find anything?’
‘Nothing,’ Jiang Bin responds.
‘Didn’t I say, she couldn’t possibly be the murderer,’ says Chen Yong. ‘How could such a frail young woman do something like that? In any case, not even Hongmei’s own mother cared whether she lived or died, much less a stranger.’
Jiang Bin looks over at the photograph of Yan Wei again. ‘Even though there’s no evidence,’ he says, ‘my intuition tells me that she’s not as straightforward as she seems.’
Jiang Bin flashes back to the night of Zhang Wan’s murder, when he and Yan Wei exchanged blows. ‘Anyway, the person I tussled with that night also had a slight figure. We can’t rule out the possibility that it was a woman.’
‘Bad news, boss!’ exclaims Chen Yong. ‘We’ve just heard that there’s been a death at Jinjiang Hotel! The famous author Chu Huizi has been murdered by Xu Youyi!’
Yan Wei emerges from the darkroom just in time to hear this.
Xu Youyi? she thinks, alarmed.
At Jinjiang Hotel, where the ball organised by Xu Youyi’s publisher is being held, the cream of Shanghai society mill about, gossiping among themselves. ‘I heard they didn’t get along, but I didn’t realise she could be so ruthless!’ exclaims one ball-goer. ‘Hmph, it looks like Xu Youyi really is a cold-blooded killer,’ says another attendee, ‘killing Zhang Wan wasn’t enough for her, now she’s murdered Chu Huizi as well.’ ‘How vicious…’ sighs a third attendee.
‘Make way, make way!’ shout Jiang Bin and Chen Yong, as they push their way through the crowd.
Jiang Bin studies the crime scene. Chu Huizi lies half-sprawled over a chair, blood staining her qipao and puddling on the floor around her. Xu Youyi lies close to her, unconscious, with a bloody knife in her hand.
Chu Huizi’s handbag is lying next to her body. A couple of items appear to have spilled out of it: a tiny witchcraft doll with pins stuck into it, and a red braided bracelet very similar to the one left behind by Yan Wei after her tussle with Jiang Bin.
Please view the original manhua here.
- The name of the hotel is rendered as ‘Jinhua’ in the text, but ‘Jinjiang’ in the images. I’ve chosen to go with the latter, as it occurs more often.