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Published at 14th of January 2016 12:27:02 PM

Chapter 17

Jian Yao knocks on the black colour front door .   She thinks about the code that she has just cracked .   Chills are going down her spine .


 

   She’s knocked on the door for a long time, but there’s no answer .

 

    “Tap . . Tap…” She persists .

 

    She takes out her phone to call him .  

 

Bo Jinyan answers in a tired voice: “Are you sleepwalking? It’s 1:00am in the morning . ”

 

   Jian Yao:  "Are you home? Open the door!”

 

    Jian Yao waits outside his apartment for another five minutes before Bo Jinyan opens the door .   He is wearing a bathrobe .   His hair is still damp and with occasional drop of water forming at the tips and dripping down onto his bathrobe .   The robe is ‘open’ around the neckline, revealing the top part of his chest .

 

    He glances at her and smiles: "You can change your mind, with the proviso that you have to make me breakfast tomorrow morning . "

 

    Jian Yao: "I'm not . . . . . . " He walks inside the house .

 

    Jian Yao has no choice but to follow behind him .  

 

    It’s the first time she stepped in the house ever since he has moved into the apartment . Everything looks more or less like what she remembers .   Except… there is now a porcelain bathtub in the middle of the living room .

 

    This bathtub is twice the size of the one in her apartment .   The tub is filled, with steam rising into the air, which means Bo Jinyan just took a bath . Next to the tub, there’s a little side table with a tall glass, filled with the flower tea Jian Yao recommended .  

 

    Bo Jinyan takes a seat on the sofa, one leg overlapping the other, underneath his big bathrobe .   He looks at her: " Well, what makes you come to my house at this time of the night in your pyjamas…” His eyes slides over her face: “… like a frightened bird?”

 

    Jian Yao sits across from him: "Li sent you an email on the numbers we found in Sun Yong’s house . ”

 

    Bo Jinyan takes out his silver notebook from beneath the coffee table .  

 

    After only a few seconds, he raises his hand to close the screen .   He stands up .   Jian Yao notices that his face has turned a little pale, with a sharp cold look in his eyes .

 

    She says softly: "If you replace the numbers with alphabets . . . . . . "

 

    Bo Jinyan turns and walks to a room .

 

    Jian Yao follows behind .

 

    -

 

    Bo Jinyan’s study .   One side of the wall is a large bookcase, filled with boxes and boxes of file .   It extends all the way to the ceiling .  

 


    Jian Yao watches Bo Jinyan reaches for one of the boxes on the top shelve .   He places the box on his study table and starts to take out a few folders .   These folders are big and thick .   On the side of each folder, there’s a label that reads: 27-211, California , Flower Cannibal .

 

    Bo Jinyan is scanning the documents in the file .   Jian Yao asks: “ Why would Sun Yong leave such a message?”

 

    “It’s not from him . ” Bo Jinyan says without looking, still scanning those documents: “He is a simple guy, he is incapable of coming up with such complex codes .   And based on his personality, if he was to leave signals behind, they should be totems, or abstract symbols like knights and emblems . "

 

    Jian Yao is slightly surprised: “ You mean Sun Yong is just a puppet? And there’s someone else behind the instigation of his crime?” She looks at the folders on his study desk: “One of your cases in the US?"

 

    Bo Jinyan shakes his head: “No . His mental condition can be hereditary, but it does not happen overnight . Sun Yong's abnormal behaviour was consistent with his troubled upbringing . Besides, his first murder happened while I was in America .   Staying in Tung City is a last minute decision after I decided to come back to China, therefore his crime was not done to provoke me . "

 

    Jian Yao nods and looks at his stern face .   He suddenly returned to China .   Must be something to do with that serious illness of his .  

 

    Bo Jinyan continues: “Introverts prefer to work alone, and his crime displayed a distinctive personal character .   There is no evidence to suggest that he has an accomplice . " He looks at Jian Yao, “It’s impossible that someone was controlling his actions all those times . "

 

    "Sun Yong was solely responsible for the killing machine case .   There is no doubt about it . " Bo Jinyan concludes: "but someone went to the crime scene and left me this message . "

 

    Bo Jinyan has taken out a few photos from the files .   Jian Yao takes a look at them .   It’s a caucasian in his 20s .   In the photo, he is wearing a white T Shirt .   He is an attractive man with blue eyes .

 

    Suddenly Bo Jinyan speaks in a way that is very different from how he speaks normally:

 

    "Hi, Simon . I am scared .

 

     Hi, Simon .   Come get me .  

 

     Hi, Simon .   Will you be my dinner tonight?

 

 He is imitating someone else . She looks at the pictures again: “Did he leave these signals for you? Has he come to China?”

 

- Is this the reason he left America? To return to China? The Flower Cannibal from California?

 

   Bo Jinyan puts all the documents and the photos back into the box: “He is in Pelican Bay prison serving a life sentence .   It’s impossible for him to be here . . "

 

    Jian Yao knows there has to be a connection somewhere .   Or else, Bo Jinyan would not have rushed in here and start going through the files .

 

    “Then, who could it be?”  Jian Yao asks .

 

    “I don’t know . "

 

    They both stand there for a while .   Suddenly, he turns around and puts his hands on either side of her shoulders .   He turns her around and starts pushing her gently towards the door .  

 

    "Bo Jinyan . . . . . . " Jian Yao knows he does not want to discuss any further, but she is concerned for him .


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   He pushes her all the way to the front entrance .   He turns the knob of the front door and opens it .   One more gentle push and she will be outside of his apartment .    

 

    Jian Yao turns to looks at him .

 

    He stands with a reassuring smile on his face .   Then he looks straight into her eyes .   His deep voice sounds like soothing water: ‘ Jian Yao .   I am fine .   Don’t worry .   Goodbye . ”  He gives her one final nudge .  

 

  Then he closes the door .

 

    -

 

    Jian Yao can’t sleep .   She tosses and turns for the rest of the night .  

 

    She knows it’s pointless to knock on his door again .   He will not answer .  

 

    The sun is out .   Another morning .  

 

She gets ready for work .   Before she leaves the house, she gives Bo Jinyan a call .     "Sorry, the number you dialled is currently switched off … . " She is greeted by a mechanical female voice .

 

    Bo Jinyan never switches off his phone .   This is probably more serious than she thinks .

 

    She rushes downstairs .   She knocks on his door: “Bo Jinyan!  Bo Jinyan!”  The banging sound and her voice echoes in the deserted stairway .   No one answers .  

    

-—

 

    Monday mornings are usually a frantic time for Jian Yao .   There’s a mountain of work piled on her desk .   She has no choice but to put Bo Jinyan’s matter aside .  

 

    During lunch break, she gives Fu Ziyu a call .

 

    "He took the first flight back to the United States this morning . ” Fu Ziyu sounds concerned too .  

 

  Jian Yao:   “What’s the story with the Flower Cannibal?”

 

    Fu Ziyu pauses .   Then he explains: "Jian Yao, I don’t think Bo Jinyan is certain who is behind the message .   He has gone back to the US to talk to the FBI and possibly Ty, the Flower Cannibal .   It’s not something we can help with at this stage .   But I believe in Bo Jinyan .   He will be able to handle this .   Don’t worry .   He will be back soon . "

 

    -

 

   Fu Ziyu is right .   There is nothing she can do .  

 

    After lunch, she returns to her desk .   She looks around her office .   Men and women dressed in business attire .   Rows of computer, cubicles with desks and office chairs… busy, calm and ordinary .   She wonders where Bo Jinyan is now .   Who is he talking to .   Criminals? Psychopaths? FBI agents who faces violence and death on a daily basis?

 

  She and Bo Jinyan .   They live in two different worlds .


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    -

 

    A week has passed .   Every evening after work, she will pass by Bo Jinyan’s apartment .   She presses her ears over the front door .   It is always quiet .   There’s no one inside .  

 

   On Saturday night, while checking the inbox for new mail, she comes across Li’s old message on the numbers .  

 

She decides to send Bo Jinyan a message . The content is very brief:

 

    - How’s everything?

 

    A few minutes later, a new email appears in the Inbox . It’s Bo Jinyan .

 

    - Fine .   Take care of Chen Mo .   The key is underneath the doormat .

 

    Jian Yao smiles and immediately go downstairs .

 

    She picks up the key that’s hidden underneath the thick black mat .   Even though this is a safe neighbourhood, but it’s still a little risky to leave the key like that .   Jian Yao decides to keep it until he returns .

 

     The house has a slight musty smell, probably because it’s been empty for a week .   B City is notoriously bad for its quality of air .   There’s a thin layer of dust and ash on top of the furniture and window seals already .   Jian Yao gives the place a quick clean .   She finds Chen Mo underneath a pile of documents in the study .   Jian Yao squats down, pats its shell and says: “He’s overseas at the moment . Come home with me . ”

 

    -

 

    For the next two months, Jian Yao continues with her busy and uneventful life . Every morning, she has breakfast with Chen Mo, then it’s off to work .   She is usually exhausted by the time she gets home in the evening .   A quick dinner, read a little, and it’s bed time .   In the weekend, she catches up with her classmates from the university .   She will also spend a couple of hours cleaning Bo Jinyan’s apartment for him .  

 

    During this time, she has lost a couple of kilos, and Chen Mo has gained 2 grams .   She did some research on the net, For a turtle, it’s considered a growth spurt!    She can see how Bo Jinyan’s calculations are very accurate .   If she moves in with him, both him and Chen Mo will be very well looked after .  

 

    Sometimes, when she is cleaning his apartment, she will think of his handsome face .   She will remember the day when they were testing mattress together, and she could feel her heart beating faster .  

 

    In her high school years, she had a crush on one of the seniors, a good looking, quiet boy who is mature for his age .   She still remembers that feeling .   Anxious, sweet, almost nauseating . She  felt like she has butterflies in her stomach .   When he was around her, she is excited but very shy at the same time .  

 

    But Bo Jinyan is different . He is dazzling and bright .   She feels there’s a big distance between him and her, who is just an ordinary girl .   And he is supercilious and hard to get along with .   She is usually very patient and tolerable, but in front of him, these virtues can vanish into the thin air .   Also, he can be painfully naive sometimes .  

 

    Does she have a crush on him? Jian Yao is not so sure .

 

    But she is sure that she wants him to be a part of her life .   As a friend . At least .  

    

 

    The first of May is a public holiday - Labour day .

 

Fu Ziyu comes to B City to meet up with Jian Yao . He is bringing her out for a meal to thank her for cleaning Bo Jinyan’s house and looking after Chen Mo .      


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    "Rest assured, I will make Bo Jinyan pay for this meal . " He says .

 

    Jian Yao asks: "When is he coming back?”

 

    “Nobody knows .   He works alone .   So he doesn't have to be accountable to anyone but himself .     He seldom shares his plans and schedules with anybody . ”

 

    -

 

    Another fortnight has past .

 

 As usual, she goes down to clean Bo Jinyan’s apartment .   It’s close to lunchtime, so she arranges for the lunch order to be delivered to his house .

 

    She had a big breakfast, so there’s some leftover in the lunchbox .   She leaves it on the table and continues with the cleaning .  

 

  It’s a sunny afternoon . She put on her head phones and press play on her iPod, humming the melodies as she wipes the cabinet .  

 

   After a while, she thought she heard the sound of a door closing .

 

    She takes her head phones off .   She walks slowly into the lounge .   The front door is closed .   There’s no one else there .  

 

- Maybe it’s the neighbours . She thought to herself .  

 

After she tidies the study, she rinses the cloth in the bathroom .   She passes by the kitchen and notices something is different …on the table .

 

    The chair is still nicely tucked underneath the table, the cutlery neatly placed to side…

 

    Where’s the half eaten food? The two chicken wings, the red bean mousse .   They are gone?!

 

    Jian Yao’s heartbeat starts to accelerate .   She is sure they are on the table .   She looks to the right, where the trash bin is .   There’s an empty cup and a plate inside .   Someone finished her food .

 

    Jian Yao slowly turns around to look in the direction of his bedroom .   She can see a vague image of a body moving on the reflections of the shinny floor boards .  

 

    No thief will finish off a half-eaten meal when he first enters a house .  

 

    So, either he was picky about the food served on the flight, or he is extremely hungry .  

 

 

 

 

Jian Yao smiles to herself .

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