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New Years Evil – Part 4 (End)

From nearby, I watched as Lin-Xi and the other detectives flanked the head table, shooing any visitors away and addressing the remaining executives, their spouses, and the President’s wife. She informed them that they would need to be searched, and gave them the excuse that it was standard procedure. Each would be taken to a nearby room and searched by one of the officers, and once she finished she selected the MC and had him taken away.

I hadn’t told her who I suspected because I didn’t think she’d believe me anyways until I had proof, but I was pretty sure that proof would appear shortly if a search were conducted.

I watched as each member of the table was taken away by an officer of the same sex, and saw each of them return. When it was time for the President’s wife to go, I paid careful attention to see if she reacted at all, but the thin woman merely stood with a sad dignity and followed Lin-Xi to the area to be searched.

Now was the crucial time, and I’d find out if I was right.

It seemed like I had to wait forever, but after a few minutes she and Lin-Xi returned. Lin-Xi looked no happier than before, but now there was a slight pep in the step of Mrs. Lin, like she had found a new freedom.

She returned to the table with the others and sat down, reaching for her sunglasses and putting them on to cover her puffy eyes. The other executives at the table began to fawn over her, and the police apologized again for the bother. My girlfriend threw me a decidedly unhappy glance as she made her own apologies to this soon to be very rich widow.

My gambit had failed.

Still I watched her, this woman I was sure had framed her rival for the crime she had committed. It was she who Harold told me had added the music to tonight’s game to cover the sounds of her crime, and it was she who wore dark sunglasses under the guise of having a headache that would let her see in the dark the moment they were removed. She was also the only one to gain from the President’s death tonight, whether for money or revenge, I couldn’t say.

Now she was about to get away with it.

I could only imagine how that felt.

Then, as I watched, her sad, proud expression suddenly turned to one of worry and panic, and she leaned in to talk to the MC next to her, pointing with a trembling finger at the stage. The MC and another A-O Soft executive jumped to their feet and quickly moved to where two police officers had begun to inspect the prizes. At first, they were polite, but a moment later they were shouting at the detectives.

The shouting came to sudden stop when one of the detectives reached down behind the flat-screen TV set and came up with a powder-blue shawl wrapped neatly into a small flat square. When he unfolded it, he revealed two white gloves, the red stains on them bright enough to see even from where I was standing.

Mrs. Lin collapsed for the second time that night.

This time, there was no one to catch her.


Mrs. Lin later revealed during questioning that she’d known of her husband’s affair for some time, but had been content to let it go in the name of their children. However, shortly before the party she’d overhead him promise Melody that he’d divorce his wife once the company had gone public and money was no longer an issue. She’d also learned that the two of them planned to meet secretly during the contest by having matching butterflies, and that was the final straw.

She created a third butterfly identical to the ones they would both be wearing and had it printed onto her shawl so that she could lure her husband in once the lights had gone out. Then, she’d waited until the right time, taken off her glasses, and grabbed a knife from another table to make her move once the game started.

Once she’d found him and stabbed him while the loud music provided cover to any noise, she retreated to the stage to hide her gloves and shawl inside the back panel of the TV, which she believed the police would never think of searching as the no longer to be awarded prizes had no relevance to the case at hand.

The strange butterfly I’d seen during the contest had been her lifting the shawl off her neck, and the flying effect had been because it was on a moving fabric, not a hard button. She’d also made a mistake and lost one of the screws for the panel during the whole affair, which I’d found on the floor and which had led me to the TV as her hiding place.

After it was all done, she’d simply returned to her seat and waited, letting her rival have the secret rendezvous with the now dying President Lin, and making her look like the guilty party. Even without the blood or weapon, any witnesses on the floor would have seen two golden butterflies meet and the only two golden butterflies in the game were Melody and the President. Melody was as sure as convicted, whether she’d managed to find the President or not.

“I have to wonder why she did it,” Lin-Xi said as we were having breakfast at a traditional place in XiMenDing near her office the following week.
“Didn’t she confess?”

“No, not what I mean.” She replied. “Why did she make the third butterfly? All she needed to do was find him the dark and stab him, a third wasn’t necessary.”

I considered a moment. “I think it was a test.” At her raised eyebrow, I continued. “She probably wasn’t sure she could do it until she came to him and he thought she was Melody. Once she heard him say another woman’s name, that’s what gave her the strength to finally act.”

“Sounds stupid.”

I laughed. “Only to someone as un-romantic as you.”

She snorted. “Still stupid, she’s in jail because of it, and her husband is divorcing her.”

It was true. President Lin had survived thanks to a combination of his wife’s lack of strength, his own fitness and Lin-Xi’s quick thinking. He was recovering in the hospital, and had his wife served up the divorce papers while she was still in jail. I didn’t know what would happen between him and Melody, although I suspected this whole thing might put a damper on their relationship. Still, there was some justice…

“I heard A-O Soft can’t go public now,” I commented. “After so much negative press, nobody’s gonna buy their stock. His golden payday is going to have to wait for a while, and their game sales have dropped as well, so it might never happen.”

Lin-Xi considered that over a fork full of Dan-Bing. “Does that mean you won’t be working there?”

I shrugged. “My contract ended at the start of the new year anyway, doesn’t matter.” Then I sat up. “Oh, but that reminds me, I got a text from one of my other clients- they’re having a Beginning of the Year Party and want me to come. You interested?”

She sighed. “What does this company do?”

“They’re a farm machinery company.”

“Oh, sounds boring.”

“Not really, they’ve got a really interesting theme for the party this year.”

“Oh, what is it?”

“It’s a murder mystery dinner.”

I ducked and ran off to pay the bill.


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New Years Evil – Part 3

Under Detective Lin-Xi Kang’s orders, the company executives did their best to get the frightened employees and guests back to their seats. Lin-Xi had ordered the doors to the party be sealed to prevent anyone from leaving, and had building security standing guard until the police arrived.

She also had two of them watching over Melody, who was now sobbing on a nearby chair.

I shook my head sadly. I couldn’t believe Melody had done this- what was wrong with her? This just seemed so senseless, and there was no reason for it. Why kill a man who was about to make you rich? Now, with the President’s death the Public Stock Offering would have to be put off, and maybe never happen.

But, she had been standing there with the bloody knife in her hand, there wasn’t much doubt who’d done it. The only real question was why?

Leaving Lin-Xi to her work, I wandered back over to our table, where the rest of the guests where consuming the wine and snacks that remained.

They asked me if there’d been any news, and I replied that we were still waiting for the police to arrive. Then I commented that I couldn’t believe that Melody had done such a thing.

To my surprise, that didn’t get quite the reaction I expected.

“He probably got smart and dumped her,” Franci commented, and a few of the others around the table nodded.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Melody and the President, they were…you know…” Mr. Lai commented. “Spending a lot of extra hours together.”

“Has anyone actually seen them?”

Franci and another receptionist nodded. “They both go to a bar a few blocks from work, Mr. Lo in accounting saw them go in, so did a few other people. They’ve been doing it for almost a year now.”

That was pretty damning, and not entirely surprising. Melody was flirty, but she was also ambitious, and President Lin was definitely an active and aggressive man. It didn’t take much imagination to see them together, or to imagine the hows and whys.

But that still didn’t explain why she’d kill him.

“Was he going to fire her?”

Not that any of them knew of.

“Did he cut her out of the stock options?”

No, as Vice President, she had huge amounts of company stock.

“Then maybe he really did call it off.”

On this, they agreed. It seemed the most likely answer.

With this information, I grabbed our jackets and headed back to where Lin-Xi waited. As I passed the head table, I saw that the wives of the other executives were consoling Mrs. Lin, who had her head in her hands sobbing. It was getting cooler in the room now that the excitement was gone, and I was surprised nobody had gotten her a jacket to cover her bare shoulders. I would have said something, but my Mandarin is terrible, so I decided to just leave them be.

While I’d been at the table talking, police from the local station had arrived to take over from the building security, and ambulance attendants were working on President Lin. He still seemed to be hanging in there, so maybe his family wouldn’t lose a father tonight after all. But, gut wounds were tricky, so all we could do was wait and pray.

“Did you try talking to her yet?” I said to Lin-Xi when she had a free moment. This made her brow wrinkle, as it usually did when she was annoyed by something. “She says she didn’t do it. Stupid lie.”

“What did she say happened?”

“She said she found him standing with the knife in him, but didn’t know it in the dark. Then he fell over, and since she was holding the knife it came out in her hand.”

I glanced over at the weapon laying next to the body- one of the silver steak knives that were found at every table. No doubt it was covered in her bloody fingerprints.

“Y’no,” I said, thinking aloud. “I wonder if she might be telling the truth.”
Lin-Xi gave me a long look, then cursed in Mandarin. “Foreigners, you think every little white face that plays with you is innocent.”

So, she was still jealous.

“That’s not fair,” I protested. “Why would she do this, and then claim she didn’t do it? Everyone can see she did it, so why not own up to it? There’s something wrong here.”

“When my team gets here, they’ll sort things out.” Lin-Xi turned away. “Go take a seat. I need to work.” Then she went over to where the ambulance attendants were getting ready to load President Lin onto a stretcher.

I watched her go, thinking about the events of the evening. What had happened during those three minutes the lights were out? I couldn’t help thinking it had something to do with that flying butterfly I’d seen earlier during the contest, but what?

I needed more information.

I set out in search of Harold Wu.


When I was done talking to Harold, I knew I had to find Lin-Xi.

I didn’t have all the pieces yet, but I had enough.

The problem was, I also needed to convince Lin-Xi, and that clearly wasn’t going to be easy. She’d already set her sights on Melody, and if I didn’t act it was very possible the culprit might walk right out of the party tonight completely free.

“Lin-Xi,” I said, slipping up to her. “I need you to do me a favor…”

“Sit down, Mark.” She didn’t even look at me, not a good sign. “The officers will come to take your statement soon.”

“I’ve been asking around, and I know why he was stabbed.”

That got her attention, and she turned to look at me. “Why?”

I shook my head, “I need you to do two things for me first.”

Dark eyes narrowed on me. “I can have you arrested for withholding information.”

“You could,” I admitted. “But then you’d have to explain to the rest of your co-workers and your boss why you arrested your boyfriend. That’s going to be fun gossip.”

She let out an exasperated sigh and shook her head. “What do you want?”

So I told her.

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