Serial Saturday #6: Return
I took a week off, just because- but Part Six marks the end of the Theme Thursday era of this serial, before it transitioned to Serial Saturdays on Reddit. I've super sized all the first six entries to match the 750 word limit on Serial Saturday, so please, enjoy Part Six of Murder In Kinmen: Return
The problem with living in Kinmen, Pei-Shan reflected, was that it's past was always closer than you'd think. it had been a week since the meeting with the Chief. The manilla folder he had "accidentally" left on his desk had only confirmed what Pei-Shan had suspected: this homicide was getting closer to something the military wanted to avoid. But it was the cryptic note at the very bottom of the folder that still puzzled her"
Go running. Dawn. Shuang Kou. Lieyu.
If there was was one thing Pei-Shan hated more than getting up before 9:00 AM, it was running. She loathed running, so, naturally, she made herself go running every afternoon before heading into work. But dawn? On Lieyu? Tht meant driving and taking a ferry across to the smaller island. The body had been found over on Kinmen. Lieyu was even closer to the mainland. From here, Xiamen was so close you could pratically touch it.
Pei-Shan ran north and turned up her music. She had been running down these narrow, twisted roads for a week now, always ending up on the beach, waiting for something to happen. If Kinmen was where the people lived, Lieyu was where the history lived. There was more lush vegetation here. The buildings looked more worn and almost abandoned.
The history of Kinmen was harder to avoid here. Too many people here remembered military rule. The military remember ed as well and quietly resented the fact that they had been shunted aside for civilians. She reached the head of the narrow path that led down to Shuang Kou. Springing from step to step, she made her way down to the sand.
She couldn't help but run a little faster here. The wind was like a tonic to her weary legs and she raced along the beach, watching as the gentle waves lapped against the tank trap that were an ubiquitous feature of most beaches in Taiwan.
About halfway along the beach, she saw the old man, bent and wizened, dressed in a mechanic's jumpsuit, the first person she had seen on her run in nearly a week. It couldn't be a coincidence. She slowed to a halt and pulled out her earbuds as he walked over to her.
"Detective Inspector Pei-Shan."
"Do I know you?"
"No, but I know you," the old man said. "And I know that you're getting too close to things that people over there-" he pointed across the water to Xiamen- "and over here would prefer to remain buried and hidden."
"What do you mean?"
"How old were you in 1987?"
"I was in diapers in 1987," Pei-Shan replied.
"You know what happened here?"
"Of course." Everyone knew. Few people brought it up in everyday conversation though, for obvious reasons. A lot of Taiwanese history was like that.
"What you don't know is that six months before that another boat tried to cross," the old man said. "Find that boat and you'll have answers."
"What kind of answers?" Pei-Shan demanded.
"You know her father has been arrested?"
"I didn't know that," Pei-Shan admitted.
"He got careless," the old man cackled. "He forgot the lessons of Lushan and now he's going to eway of Peng Dehuai."
Pei-Shan blinked in surprise. Whispers from across the water were not uncommon, of course. If there was one thing the Communists were good at, even now, when they weren't that communist anymore, it was controlling the information. Figuring out what, if anything was going on behind the scenes was a next to impossible job, but it looked like this old man had sources of some kind.
"Who are you?" Pei-Shan asked.
"A ghost some people would like to see dead and buried forever," the old man cackled again. "I know too many things though. Like that girl you found."
"What about her?" Pei-Shan said.
"They sent her to university in America, like all the aristocrats from over there do," he wabed a hand in the direction of Xiamen. "But once there, it unleashed her obsession to find out what really happened to her mother. And she found out all right."
"Do you enjoy speaking in riddles?" Pei-Shan said, unable to keep the growing irritation out of her voice now.
The old man half-turned as be began walking away. "Both sides of the water want to make it look like she was corrupt. Drug running, gun running, something. But that's not why she was killed."
"Why was she killed?"
"She was only trying to return home."