Chapter 1082: Infighting [2 in 1]
“Afraid? What should I be afraid of?” The middle-aged man’s expression became unnatural. He had no idea where Chen Ge’s confidence to accuse him came from.
“I am trying to help everyone find and investigate the killer, but you have been trying time and time again to change the subject. Could it be that you know something but have decided not to share it with the rest of us?” Chen Ge narrowed his eyes. “At the time, the murderer escaped from the sixth-floor window. He would not have gone far. He should have been hiding on the fifth, sixth, or seventh floors. Those are the three floors that were most probably his hiding place. If we’d started our search on those three levels, there was a very high chance we would have been able to block and apprehend the killer, but you insisted on us coming to find the landlord first.”
Chen Ge used a manipulative way of phrasing it. At the time, the middle-aged man only suggested they find the landlord, but Chen Ge made it sound like the middle-aged man had given that as an order. It was the middle-aged man who had allowed the killer to escape.
“The landlord lives on the ninth floor, and this place is very far from the crime scene. I suspect you were purposely trying to lead us away so that you could buy some time for the killer to escape.”
“That is ludicrous! Everyone, do not listen to him. He is lying! I’ve done no such thing!”
“You led us all to the ninth floor, and somehow, you appeared to know that the landlord has been harmed, and thus, no one would come to open the door for us. To get the front door open, we have wasted yet another half an hour here. The time wasted was more than enough for the killer to remove the blood evidence from his body.” Chen Ge’s words stuck into the middle-aged man’s body like sharp knives. “It is not my wish to suspect you, but there are just too many coincidences that do not line up. I for one do not believe in so many coincidences. It feels more like you are purposely trying to buy time for the real killer to escape.”
The way the neighbors looked at the middle-aged man slowly turned unfriendly and hostile.
“Listen to me! I really had no idea that the landlord has been harmed! If I knew that, I would not have said the things that I did! Trust me, I am completely innocent!” The middle-aged man tried his best to argue his case. Chen Ge stood to the side and watched. He did not care for the middle-aged man’s defense. He merely wanted to find an excuse, an excuse that could allow him access into the middle-aged man’s house. None of the tenants were ‘clean’. As long as Chen Ge was given a chance to enter their room, even if there was no evidence, Chen Ge would try his best to ‘find’ the evidence.
“I have known Brother Man for many years already. I know his personality very well. I believe that he would not have done something like that. I believe he is really innocent.” Auntie Ding suddenly jumped out to the middle-aged man’s rescue. Just as the latter was about to sigh in relief, Auntie Ding suddenly added the following to push him further into the abyss. “But like the young man said, everything feels to coincidental. To prove Brother Man’s innocence, how about we start the search at Brother Man’s place? I believe firmly that he is innocent, and I am sure that a search of his place will clear his name right up. That way, we can move on to the capture of the real killer after dealing with this misunderstanding.”
Auntie Ding sounded like she was defending the middle-aged man. In fact, she had stated explicitly that she believed in the middle-aged man’s innocence, but in reality, she was damning the middle-aged man. As an old tenant of the building, she should know the middle-aged man’s secret quite well. She knew that there were things inside brother Man’s home that could not be exposed to the public.
After hearing what Auntie Ding had to say, the middle-aged man’s expression turned ugly. He did not expect that the final knife that determined his fate at this crucial moment would come from his own neighbor, Auntie Ding.
With dark and consuming eyes, the middle-aged man stared at Auntie Ding, his hands clenching into fists. Chen Ge did not step in and say anything; his gaze merely wandered between the middle-aged man and Auntie Ding. Auntie Ding was the first to discover that the spare keys inside the closet had been stolen. Her reaction was extremely unnatural. For Chen Ge, Auntie Ding was likely related to the landlord’s death. She was probably one of the killers that took the landlord’s life. This would explain why she had chosen to speak up at this moment. She wanted to push the blame for the landlord’s death onto the middle-aged man.
Of course, this would only work if the middle-aged man had something to hide. And honestly, he deserved it for his big mouth. If he did not bring up anything about the landlord, no one would have come up to the ninth floor and found out about the landlord’s disappearance and possible death. Now, those people who had harmed the landlord naturally would not let him go. Since he had volunteered as a scapegoat, the best possible way was to push the blame onto him.
Chen Ge understood that psychology very well, and that was what he had been doing when he accosted the middle-aged man. He was not looking for an argument for no reason; he was trying to push the middle-aged man into the position of the suspect who might have killed the landlord. He understood that once he had done that, there would be someone would jump out to support him. They would pin the middle-aged man down and deliver his death sentence. The tenants who were cleared of their suspicion started to gang up against those who had not had their suspicion cleared, and now even the tenants who were not suspected started to have cracks in their camaraderie. If this continued, without doing anything, Chen Ge would be able to get closer to his goal.
“This is not the time for infighting. The most important thing that we need to do now is find the killer who murdered Qu Gui!” Seeing the altercation between the tenants, Chen Ge could not have been more overjoyed in his heart, but the words that came out from his lips hoped that they would put aside their differences and work together. “We should all calm down! Let’s return to the initial hypothesis. Xiao Sun told us that the electrician on the eighth floor got into an argument with Qu Gui and threatened his life. The electrician has motive, so we should start our investigation with him.”
Chen Ge did not let Auntie Ding gather the crowd against the middle-aged man. He wanted to retain the middle-aged to create more cracks in the future. After leaving Room 901, Chen Ge walked at the front with a smile on his face. Behind him trailed the tenants from the building; this was truly an astounding sight.
“Is anyone home?” With Xiao Sun’s direction, the crowd reached the house of the electrician. The knocking echoed down the corridor, shattering the silence of the eighth floor. Everyone had their eyes on the door before them. The tenants were curious about the electrician’s secret as well. They were eager to expose his secret; this kind of rush was something that was hard to describe. After several knocks, footsteps finally came from inside the room, and the front door was pulled open slightly.
“How can I help you?” A man with long beard appeared at the door. He appeared to be quite reticent. His eyes were bloodshot like he had not had a good night’s sleep in a long time.
“There’s been a murder. We just came to warn you about it. We wish for you to be careful.”
“Noted,” the electrician said and was about to close the door, but Chen Ge reached out to grab the door and stop him.
“What are you doing?”
“This is not what I wish to do but a consensus that has been reached by everyone in the building.” Chen Ge pointed to the tenants behind him. “This is for everyone’s personal safety. I hope you will understand and cooperate.”
“We now suspect that you are somehow involved in the murder. If you are innocent, then please step out of the way. We will not mess up your house. We just wish to confirm some things.” Xiao Sun was not a cunning person. He shared their purpose for being there directly.
“I am suspected to be involved in the murder?” The electrician lifted his head. His bloodshot eyes swept to the left and right of Chen Ge as if using his eyes to communicate with someone. Chen Ge knew that Auntie Ding was standing on his left side behind him. Things were getting more and more interesting. When the electrician knew that he was in trouble, he turned to Auntie Ding immediately. This proved that they were both in on something. Combined with the earlier speculation that Auntie Ding was related to the landlord’s death, did this not prove that the electrician was also related to the landlord’s death?
When Chen Ge discovered the complicated wiring in Room 901, Chen Ge had already suspected that the killer was the electrician. This was because the electrician was probably the first person to discover the landlord’s secret. Chen Ge was facing away from Auntie Ding, so he had no idea what kind of hint Auntie Ding had provided to the electrician, but he saw that after the brief eye contact, the electrician’s expression turned uglier.
“I’ve been inside my room alone throughout the night. I have not left my house at all. You’ve got the wrong person.” The electrician refused to step aside and got into a stalemate with the people at the corridor. Chen Ge felt like they had wasted too much time there. If the electrician refused to budge, then the rest of the plan would halt there. The tenants there were all incredibly cunning. Other than Xiao Sun, no one was willing to stick their neck out. Chen Ge had no choice but to do this on his own.
“The killer has threatened everyone’s safety. Your refusal to let us go in proves that you surely have something to hide.” Chen Ge’s attitude turned firmer. “We are not asking for your opinion; we are merely here to inform you of that.”
“Inform me? We are all tenants here. Who gave any of you the right to enter my private home? Preposterous!”
“We have already patiently explained the situation to you, but you still refused to let us through. Looks like you are really related to Qu Gui’s death. You have something to hide!” Chen Ge’s patience was wearing thin. His hand that gripped the door pulled with strength. “Let us in. There must be some clues inside his room!”
With Chen Ge leading the way, the other tenants that did not have much interaction with the electrician normally started to help. Against the strength of so many people, the electrician was unable to keep his door shut.
“What the hell! Stop this nonsense!”
The front door was yanked open. Chen Ge was the first to charge in. His nostrils flared. Chen Ge sniffed a burnt smell in the air. “What is being burnt?”
The room was very messy, and trash littered every corner. There was barely a space for people to stand. The neighbors squeezed into the room and trampled over the stuff on the ground. The electrician appeared to have given up. He turned to face the door and kept his head lowered. He kept his expression from the sight of everyone else.
“Qu Gui was stabbed to death, so the killer would have been covered in a copious amount of blood. There is another thing that we need to pay attention to. The killer planned everything out before they committed the crime, so that means that they probably have been planning this for a long time. Therefore, there might be something related to the murder inside his notebooks.”
The tenants that followed behind Chen Ge started to ransack the room. Throughout the whole process, the electrician stood at the door with his head lowered, and not a peep came out of the man. “His whole body is incredibly tense. He is afraid.”
The tenants searched for a long time, but they could find any evidence that tied the electrician to the murder. Auntie Ding walked toward Chen Ge. “Perhaps we have misjudged him. As messy as this place is, there is no sign of blood. He does not have the habit of reading or taking notes. There are no reading or writing materials anywhere in this place.”
“Looks like he is really not the killer.” Xiao Sun walked out from the bedroom with a frown. He was still an innocent child. He had not gone through the harsh reality of the society yet. After knowing that he was wrong, he ran to the electrician’s side. “I am so sorry. We only hoped to capture the killer as soon as possible. I will treat you a dinner in the future and consider that an apology for this transgression.”
“Now, can you please leave me alone?” the electrician growled. It was clear that he was very angry.
“Of course,” Auntie Ding said on everyone’s behalf. The rest also slowly shuffled to the front door.
“Wait a minute.” Chen Ge stood inside the room and suddenly said, “Do you guys smell something burning?”
“The place is so messy. It is probably something that has gone moldy.” Auntie Ding was obviously trying to defend the electrician. “Let’s not waste time here anymore. We should go and check the other suspects.”
“A moldy food wouldn’t give off a burnt smell.” Chen Ge followed the trail of stench and came to the bedroom on the right. “Do you live alone?”
The electrician lifted his head to look at Chen Ge. His voice was hoarse. “Yes, I do live alone.”
“You live alone, but both of the bedrooms have king sized beds. You sure live in the lap of luxury.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“I am just curious.” Chen Ge looked at the beds that had recently been changed. The covers looked washed and clean. It was a bright contrast to the mess that was the rest of the house. “Which bedroom do you normally sleep in?”
“This is my house. I can sleep in whichever room that I want. Why should I answer that? Does that have to do with the murder that you are talking about?” The electrician glared with his bloodshot eyes. He had been suppressing anger. The man probably had anger management issues, and he had been trying to reign it in before the public.
“My guess is that you normally sleep in the bedroom on the left because of the array of everyday objects that are placed there. In contrast, the bedroom on the right is much simpler in nature. In fact, it does not look occupied. It feels more like this is your workshop.” Chen Ge kicked away some of the wiring on the ground. A few of them, he noticed, were connected to the space under the bed. “But why would a workshop need such a big bed?”
Chen Ge grabbed the newly changed covers and pulled them off without warning and tossed them to the ground. The electrician’s face blanched immediately, and he took a subconscious step back. Underneath the cover was a thick mattress. There were many burnt spots on the mattress, and that was where the smell came from.
After taking a glance at the mattress, Auntie Ding quickly moved her gaze away. “We should go to the other rooms. There is nothing to see hear. Everything looks normal to me.”
“The bed is of good quality, and it is incredibly soundproof and can resist shaking,” Chen Ge said as he yanked off the mattress. He pulled the whole mattress away. A stingy burnt smell rushed out and assaulted the nose of everyone present. Underneath the mattress was a wooden bed frame. Chen Ge did not hesitate and pushed the bed frame to the side. The scene that was exposed was revolting. Underneath the bedframe was the body of a boy. Many electrical clamps were connected to his body. His skin was seriously charred, but the real fatal wound could be found around his neck. He had been strangled to his death; the signs of strangling were quite obvious.
“Jia Qi!” Auntie Ding dropped to the ground once the boy was exposed. She crawled to the bedside and wanted to hug the boy’s dead body. Auntie Ding wailed like a traumatized mother, but Chen Ge saw very clearly that the woman could not even fake a single crocodile tear.
“Capture that electrician!” Xiao Sun shouted loudly. When Chen Ge pulled back the mattress, the electrician had already sneaked out from the room.
“He killed Jia Qi! How could he torture such a sweet boy! I will kill him! I will kill him!” Auntie Ding seemed to have gone berserk from the trauma. She grabbed the fruit knife on the nearby coffee table and charged out. She was quite largely built and was as large as a man. She ran quite fast as well.
“Quick! The murderer has been found! We should follow and captured him!” Xiao Sun ran out with passion. The other neighbors also mobilized. Only Chen Ge and Wen Qing stayed in the bedroom.
“Aren’t we going to follow them?” Wen Qing asked softly.
“The electrician is not going to survive. Auntie Ding will do everything within her power to kill him.”
“You’re right. Auntie Ding has been defending the man. To find out that her trust has been betrayed, she must be in great pain.”
“The reason she needs to kill the electrician is not out of pain but fear. This boy should be Auntie Ding’s ‘present’ to the electrician. They are both responsible for the landlord’s death. The electrician knows Auntie Ding’s many secrets. Auntie Ding is afraid that once the electrician is captured, he will sell her out as well so she will definitely kill him before he is given a chance to speak.” Chen Ge looked at the young boy that was propped up like a grotesque exhibit, and the smile slowly disappeared from his face. He hissed through gritted teeth. “This bunch of animals.”
Wen Qing churned Chen Ge’s words in her mind. She had been following Chen Ge and experienced the same thing, but she had no idea how Chen Ge managed to come up with the hypotheses for so many things.