Serial Saturday #18: An Interview In Penghu

The two cars were speeding north toward their destination and Wei-Ting couldn't stop looking out the window. He had never been to Penghu before and was struck by the contrast with Kinmen. Where Kinmen was lush, green and almost choked with vegetation, Penghu was flat, green and full of wide, open spaces.

As they passed some wind turbines, the land dropped away as they headed out over a bridge and Wei-Ting turned back to the conversation he had only been half-listening to ever since they left the airport.\

"They ran aground on the Kentei rocks just north of Niaoyu Island," the Penghu County Inspector who had met them at the airport was a rotund, middle aged man by the name of Hu Yaodong. '"Now, we've got a precinct out there, but it's too damn small for a mess this size, so we've been shipping them into the Baisha Precinct all morning."

"What were they carrying?" Mei-Shan asked.

"The usual," Hu shrugged. "Ton of ephedrine and opium. Biggest bust we've had this year."

"Are drugs that big of a problem here?" Wei-Ting asked. "I thought this place was more of a tourist trap."

"Oh, we get plenty of tourists too," Hu replied.

They were out onto another bridge, low slung green hills ahead of them and a promontory jutting off in the distance to the far right. Just as quickly, they were racing through Baisha Township before heading west again. Finally, their cars began to slow and they pulled into the long circle drive of the Baisha Precinct.

As he got out of the car, Wei-Ting gave a low whistle of appreciation. The Baisha Precinct was four stories larger and far more imposing than their station back in Kinmen County. "Impressive," he said.

"Wait until you see the inside," Hu said with a grun. "Come on."

Hu led them through the front doors and toward the back of the building, where, behind a secure door marked "Interrogation" he led them to a secure room where they had a view of the interview room from behind a two-way mirror. A Penghu County Detective was interviewing an exhausted looking man whose eyes kept shifting back and forth nervously, as if he could sense how much trouble he was in.

"Is that the Captain of the boat?" Pei-Shan asked.

"Yeah," Hu replied. 

"How long have they been in there?"

"About an hour now, maybe two. We like to let them stew periodically."

"Has he given you much?"

"Doesn't look like it," Hu replied. He grimaced. "I really thought this guy was going to have cracked by now."

Pei-Shan pursed her lips. "Let's shake things up a bit." She strode out of the room and Mei-Shan grinned. "This should be fun." They watched as the door to the interrogation room crashed open and Pei-Shan flew into the room, slamming down her hands onto the table.

"What about the girl?"

The prisoner looked terrified. "W-w-what girl?"

"Don't play dumb with me," Pei-Shan growled thrusting a finger into his face. "We know all about the girl. Are you going be straight with us or not?"

There was a long moment of charged silence and then, to the astonishment of the Detective from Penghu County and everyone but Mei-Shan who just shook her head, an amused smile on her face, the prisoner began to cry.

"It wasn't me, it wasn't me, I swear!"

"If it wasn't you, then who was it?" Pei-Shan said, standing over him. "No more lying."

"All I wanted to do was get out of there," he sobbed. "It was supposed to be a simple run to Baisha, just like always. We'd get the cargo, sail to Penghu, get paid and then go fishing. Fishing is simple. Fishing isn't dangerous. The onbly fish that get stabbed are dead ones."

"Most of the time, anyways," Wei-Ting said. Mei-Shan chuckled.

"Who stabbed the girl?" Pei-Shan asked, implacable.

"It happened so fast," the prisoner said. "I think she knew she was in trouble because she started edging away as they argued and then... then she ran. But he was... he was faster and he grabbed her and she turned and... he stabbed her."

"Who argued?" Pei-Shan said.

"I... I ran away." The prisoner began to sob again. "I left her there. God, help me, I left her there."

"Never mind that," Pei-Shan said, slamming her hands down on the table again. "Who argued? Who killed her?"

"It was the Detective. The Detective stabbed her."

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