Couple of Mirrors – Chapter 18: Yan Wei Visits the Transport Department by Night
‘What do you want me to do?’ Xu Youyi asks.
‘There’s nothing for you to worry about, Miss Xu,’ Han Jinwei tells her. ‘All we want you to do is give a press conference in accordance with our requirements.’
‘A press conference?’ Xu Youyi wonders.
Han Jinwei hands her a manuscript. ‘This is your new book, Rain After a Long Drought. Have a look through it and familiarise yourself with the contents.’
Xu Youyi takes the manuscript. ‘My new book? But I’ve never written anything called Rain After a Long Drought…’
‘I know,’ says Han Jinwei. ‘We purchased this manuscript for you. This book won’t cause any controversy; you can rest easy on that score. We’ve also amended key sections of the book.’
‘Why are you doing this?’ asks Xu Youyi.
‘You’ve been involved in too many scandals lately,’ Han Jinwei tells her. ‘The public needs to hear something positive about you if you’re to repair your reputation. To divert the attention of the public, we’ll also be leaking some other celebrities’ secrets to the press at the same time.’
Xu Youyi is unimpressed. ‘My innocence will be proven,’ she says. ‘I’m not a murderer. There’s no need for all this.’
‘No one cares,’ says Han Jinwei. ‘And besides, this is what the director wants.’
Xu Youyi looks at him wordlessly. Then she begins flipping through the manuscript. ‘This…’ she begins, looking appalled, and then flings the manuscript to the floor. ‘Everything written in here is untrue! When did I ever study at Kyoto University?’
She continues, ‘My mother was just someone who enjoyed singing, since when was she a country singer? My grandfather was the veterinarian in our village, not a professor of surgery at a German hospital!’
She huffs in anger. ‘And as for me and Zhou Heng,’ she adds. ‘It’s been a long time since we were as loving as this book claims.’
Han Jinwei bends to pick up the manuscript. ‘You did graduate from Kyoto University. We have a letter personally signed by the Dean of the College of Literature as evidence. The foreword to your new book was written by your deskmate, Mr Justo. The head of your village is willing to vouch for your mother, and your grandfather’s professorship is evidenced by a certificate issued by the relevant institution.’
‘As long as you learn all of this by heart,’ he tells her. ‘Then it will all be true.’ He leans closer to her, and adds, ‘Especially where you and the young master are concerned.’
‘You’ve all gone mad,’ says Xu Youyi. ‘This is preposterous.’
Han Jinwei opens the door. ‘I hope you can familiarise yourself with the book quickly, and rehearse the speech you’re supposed to give. The sooner you do that, the sooner you’ll be able to get some fresh air. If you need anything over these few days, just pull the rope next to the door.’
‘Stop!’ says Xu Youyi, getting up from the bed, but Han Jinwei only shuts the door behind him with a ‘BANG’. Xu Youyi tries the door handle, but to no avail. She hears a ‘click’ as the door is locked from outside. ‘Let me out!’ she cries, banging repeatedly on the door.
Shortly after that, she hears a ‘BOOM!’ from outside.
The door of this secret room is unusually heavy, she thinks, and it’s insulated with leather as well, likely for soundproofing purposes. Judging by the noise just now, there must be another door beyond this one, so no one could possibly hear me from outside…
Since I can’t succeed with a single stroke, she reflects, an unnecessary struggle will only bring me more trouble. Better for me to keep a cool head and come up with a strategy that will resolve this once and for all…
Yan Wei, meanwhile, is walking through the streets, searching for any sign of the car that took Xu Youyi away. She stops at a street that’s blocked by barrels and a cart. There’s nowhere for a car to go, she thinks. So this isn’t the right street either. I’ll try this one.
She walks down a different street…
This is the last street it could possibly be, she says to herself. If I can’t see that car here, that can only mean it was either driving around in circles, or that it has left Shanghai.
At this point, she spots the elusive car heading towards her.
It’s finally here! she thinks, and rushes towards it.
The car screeches to a halt, and Han Jinwei emerges. ‘Are you all right, miss?’ he asks.
Yan Wei peers into the back seat of the car, to see Director Zhou of the Transport Department.
Han Jinwei catches hold of her by her wrist. ‘If you’re trying to stage an “accident”, miss, it would be most unwise of you to choose a car belonging to Director Zhou of the Transport Department as your target.’
Director Zhou of the Transport Department? Isn’t that Xu Youyi’s father-in-law? Yan Wei wonders. She watches as Han Jinwei gets back into the car and slams the door. Xu Youyi isn’t in the car, so there’s nothing I can do publicly.
As the car speeds off, Yan Wei rushes towards the place it came from. The Transport Department is just ahead. Now that Xu Youyi has made up her mind about divorcing Zhou Heng, the Zhou family might want to save face by forcing Xu Youyi to comply with their wishes…
She stops in front of the Transport Department. So it’s very likely that Xu Youyi might still be at the Transport Department…
She looks around at the crowded street. It’s the end of the work day, so there are too many people around. I’ll keep an eye on things for the time being. Once night falls, I’ll be able to get to the bottom of this!
It’s night-time, and rain falls over the city. Yan Wei looks up at the Transport Department again. Everyone’s left, but there’s a still a light in that room. Something fishy must be going on.
And so Yan Wei shimmies up a drainpipe…
…and ends up on a ledge right outside the lit window. Inside, a man is speaking to his wife on the phone. ‘Wife, how could I possibly be fooling around with other women?’ he asks. ‘I really am on a secret mission… I’ve already said, it’s a secret mission, I can’t tell you anything about it… all right, all right… Don’t cry, I’ll be home in a few days, and then I’ll explain everything to you, is that all right…’
He hangs up, grumbling, ‘Women are so troublesome, whether they’re the one right here, or the one at home.’ He switches off the lamp, and stretches out on a sofa, still grumbling. ‘Not only do I have to sleep in the office, but I’m being berated for fooling around…’
Did he just say ‘the one right here’? Could that be Xu Youyi? Yan Wei wonders. But why can’t I hear any sounds? What have they done to her?
She pictures Xu Youyi bruised and battered, tied up with a gag in her mouth.
Yan Wei removes a length of black fabric from her pocket, and ties it around the lower half of her face. If that’s what you’ve done, I’ll kill all of you!
Please view the original manhua here.
- When speaking to Yan Wei, Han Jinwei uses the phrase ‘碰瓷’, literally ‘bumping into porcelain’ or ‘touching porcelain’. This is slang used to denote a practice of scammers placing ostensibly expensive items where they are likely to be knocked over by passers-by, allowing the scammer to demand compensation for the damaged items. This has been expanded to include scammers feigning injury in traffic accidents in order to extort money from drivers.