Couple of Mirrors – Chapter 31: Yan Wei Exposed
‘Extra! Extra!’ shouts a newsboy, as a crowd gathers around him. ‘Dagong Bao’s star reporter, Xie Yifan, is coming to Shanghai!’
‘Who is Xie Yifan? Why is everyone so excited about him?’ asks someone in the crowd.
‘You haven’t heard of Xie Yifan?’ asks somebody else incredulously. ‘He’s the mouthpiece of Dagong Bao!’
‘He debated world leaders and politicians at the Tokyo Conference! He speaks four languages!’ adds another person.
‘He and Minister Zhou from Tokyo are sworn brothers!’ someone else chips in.
‘He isn’ t just talented, he’s handsome as well!’ yet another onlooker adds. ‘I hear Xu Youyi’s first novel was based on her relationship with him!’
Zhou Heng’s car screeches to a halt next to the newsboy. ‘I’ll take one,’ he tells the newsboy.
‘Yes, sir!’ the newsboy replies.
Zhou Heng peruses the offending newspaper article. Then he rips up the newspaper and flings the pieces out of the car.
As he drives off, he reflects: Xie Yifan, your timing is perfect…
At the studio, Xu Youyi is serving a customer in Yan Wei’s absence. ‘You still can’t find my photograph?’ asks the customer, as Xu Youyi rifles fruitlessly through a drawer.
‘I’m sorry,’ says Xu Youyi. ‘Please wait here and I’ll check in the darkroom.’
Xu Youyi heads down to the darkroom. She opens the door, and is surprised to see…
…a half-finished wooden crib, lit rather dramatically by a shaft of light.
Xu Youyi strokes the crib lovingly.
She flashes back to Yan Wei telling her, ‘Er… I was afraid… I would move around too much in my sleep… I might squash the baby…’
That’s why she hasn’t been sleeping at night, Xu Youyi realises. She’s been secretly making this!
She flashes back to Yan Wei putting earplugs in her ears. When she plugged my ears up with cotton, it wasn’t really because she was worried that my snoring would keep the baby awake, it was probably because she thought the sounds of wood-working would wake me up… It seems as though I was worrying about nothing.
Xu Youyi holds up the little string of bells that Yan Wei has hung on the crib. ‘You really are such a dummy,’ she says out loud. ‘Were you doing this in secret so that you could give me a surprise. Should I go along with you, and pretend to be surprised?’
In her imagination, Xu Youyi pictures herself walking into the darkroom with Yan Wei, Yan Wei’s hand covering her eyes. ‘What are you doing?’ she imagines herself asking.
Yan Wei lets her hand drop, and Xu Youyi gazes with delighted ‘surprise’…
…at the finished crib, while Yan Wei watches her smugly. ‘Wow!’ Xu Youyi pictures herself saying. ‘Did you make this?’
In her imagination, Xu Youyi plies Yan Wei with even more compliments, while Yan Wei basks in the attention. ‘This is so amazing! You could be a professional carpenter!’
Xu Youyi imagines herself throwing her arms around Yan Wei in gratitude. ‘Thank you, Weiwei!’
Yan Wei wags an imaginary tail, pleased.
Back in the real world, Xu Youyi claps her hands gleefully to her cheeks. That’s exactly how I’m going to play it once she gets home!
She clasps her belly tenderly. ‘Baby, this is your welcome gift from your Mama Weiwei. Do you like it?’
Just then, the customer calls from upstairs. ‘Have you found it yet?’
Xu Youyi comes back to herself with a start. ‘I forgot what I was doing!’ She locates the customer’s photograph and calls out, ‘Found it!’
As she heads back upstairs, Xu Youyi trips over a piece of wood lying on the floor. She clutches at an innocuous-looking framed picture in order to keep her balance…
…and the picture slides aside with a whoosh to reveal a selection of firearms.
Xu Youyi stares at them. What’s this?
The customer calls again. ‘Can you hurry up? Is this what passes for efficiency around here?’
Xu Youyi heads upstairs hastily. ‘Your photograph,’ she says listlessly, as she hands it over to the customer.
The customer snatches it from her impatiently. ‘Honestly!’
Once the customer has left, Xu Youyi goes back downstairs to stare at the cache of weapons.
What kind of person is she, really? Xu Youyi wonders. She has another flashback. The night Zhang Wan died, when I was at the police station giving my statement, I heard Jiang Bin say…
Xu Youyi recalls Jiang Bin looking intently at the bullet. ‘Zhang Wan was killed by a 7.92x57mm Spitzer bullet,’ Jiang Bin says, in her memory. ‘These are typically used in German-made Gewehr 98 bolt action Mauser rifles.’
In Xu Youyi’s memory, Jiang Bin continues, ‘This is a type of weapon used on real battlefields. Looks like we have a tough customer on our hands.’
Back in the present, Xu Youyi touches the rifle. A Gewehr 98 rifle…
Could Yan Wei have murdered Zhang Wan? she wonders in shock.
She flashes back to key points in her relationship with Yan Wei. The way she looked, the first time I spent the night here… The expression on her face when I offered that reward for the arrest of Zhang Wan’s murderer… Her fighting skills… Could she really be the real culprit behind all of these murders I keep getting mixed up in?
But… why? she wonders. And why is she so good to me? Is it all a lie, the way it was with Zhou Heng and Zhang Wan?
Jiang Bin and Chen Yong walk into the studio at that very moment. ‘Is anyone here?’ asks Chen Yong.
Please view the original manhua here.