Mr. Tao, an American of Chinese origin went up to his room in the fifteenth floor after spending quite a good time in the bar of a famous luxurious five star hotel in Hong Kong. Chanting and singing holding his bottle of whiskey he walked into the room. He stayed in a spacious suite with a center table and a large balcony with a wonderful view to the city. Mr. Tao was short bald man with square glasses and sharp features that earned him the nickname Tao the shark among people in his business, he is told to be able to sniff out petroleum in a zone just by walking through it and smelling its soil. While placing the bottle on the table he noticed a cigarette burning in the ashtray it had been there for a while obviously because it’s almost out. And in the center of the ashtray standing was a golden bullet. His sharp featured eyes suddenly widened and he began to look around the room and scream in mandarin ‘Where are you??’ He looked around frantically trying to figure out how did the intruder find his way in his room but he knew all too well the meaning of that golden bullet.
He kept screaming and looking around the room but no reply ever came back nor did he find anyone in the entire room. He picked out his cell phone from his pocket with shivering hands and dialed a number and a calm voice came from the other side “What is it that you want Mr. Tao ?” , Tao replied in a panicking voice ‘The Phoenix’ , he repeated it again ‘ The Phoenix was here Mr. McKinley!!! He was here in my room in the hotel”, the voice on the other side came back “First Don’t ever refer to me as McKinley again! Second what nonsense are you mumbling about now Tao? It seems you’ve had too much to drink!”, Tao’s hands shakingly took a photo from his cell phone and sent it to McKinley and added “Do you still think Charles that I’ve had too much to drink?”, Charles’ voice came back “mmm I see.. Seems we will have to look into this more closely. I’ll send a couple of my men to come pick you up and move you somewhere safer. “Hurry please!” Tao yelled frantically and hung up.
All of a sudden a wire wrapped its way around his neck and pulled him backwards then raised him upwards, while Tao began struggling for his life, feet kicking in the air, his hands trying to reach behind him to grasp his assailant.. He couldn’t reach him and slowly his face turned blue as his struggle became weaker and weaker and suddenly his head fell forward. The man lowered him to the ground and let him drop, placed his wire back in his pocket and moved forward taking the bullet raised it to his face which was completely hidden behind a black ski mask. He carefully took also the cigarette and left.
Half an hour later a couple of men in grey suits walk knock the door of Tao’s room and no reply come through, when after three times they get no reply they get out a card attached to a replicator and place the car in the room’s door card slot and open the door and walk in and begin to search for Tao, one of them calls ‘Come I’ve found him’ they gather at the spot where Tao was lying dead. “Let’s get out of here fast” their leader says quietly
They leave quickly the room and get out of the hotel an into their car, their leader makes a call as soon as Charles picks up, ‘He’s been taken Sir!’ , Charles replied “You haven’t left any trace , have you?” , “No sir, no traces” the leader answered , “Good now , stay out of sight for the coming week or so” Charles ordered him , “Yes sir” and they both hung up.
The following day was both cloudy and rainy, the rain fell so heavily it was as if a curtain of water had been laid over the city. At the hotel, the cleaning lady had found the dead body and subsequently the management called the police.
The HKPD had sent its forensics unit along with their famous inspector Tony Kiang. Walking into the hotel Tony looked around and searched for the hotel Manager. Tony was a average heighted person with an X mark under his right eye, a calm man with a dark brown mustache hair brushed to the side. He picked out his pack of Lucky strike and picked out one and lit it as he spoke to the manager. “Can you tell us what happened Mr. Kakachi?”
Mr. Kakachi “Please Mr. Tony, this Hotel has a big name and we really would appreciate if can have this managed in a way that wouldn’t cause us a scandal!”
Tony nodded and replied “While I understand your point Mr. Kakachi but this is a homicide. There’s nothing we can do about it. We will try to be as discreet as possible in the meantime ,I need you to keep the press off this case and on my side will guarantee that none of my team will share any information with the press , now please tell me what do you know about the murder?”
The manager nodded quietly and added “Nothing much, Mr. Tao is a regular here and has been coming for a number of years, causes no problems, always has a good time if you know what I mean but never caused any scenes or troubles for anyone even the girls that come love him. As for the incident, we have no idea how it happened or who did it, Mrs Xiang who is part of our cleaning staff discovered him this morning while doing her morning round”
“I see” Tony exclaimed and continued “Well I will need to speak with Mrs Xiang, meanwhile I’ll have my team checkout the scene. The hotel manager nodded and went to call Mrs Xiang.
The forensics team went up to the room and Tony waited for a few minutes until Mrs Xiang came a short elderly lady in her late 40s, she was still trembling from the scene.
Tony held her hand tapped it gently, “I’m sorry for what you had to go through Mrs Xiang, but we are here to handle things now” Tony said reassuringly to the old lady. “Thank you she exclaimed it was horrendous, I’ve never seen something like that in my life, I mean I’ve sure read it in the papers or saw it on tv in the movies but it never crossed my mind I’d see something like this in person! But I can tell you, the killing was by strangulation and the use of considerable force! “, Tony raised his eye brows as the lady giggled trying to ease herself into the situation “I watch a lot of crime Tv series! “ , “Well Mrs Xiang you sure learned a lot! It’s good to have someone like you to help us! But what reassured you about the strangulation?” Tony asked, and she pointed her neck tracing a line as she replied “The victim has traces of something thin around his neck all the way, I would assume it was a wire!” Tony clapped smiling at her “Well Mrs Xiang you sure are of great help, you should consider joining the force! But first can you share with me what you did exactly today until you’ve found the body?” Mrs Xiang nodded and thanked him as she began to tell him “I arrive here at 6 , change take my tea and begin at 7 my rounds I normally reach the room of Mr Tao everyday between 9-9:10 , today I’ve reached it at 9 , he usually is out by that time but as hotel rules dictate I knocked three times and when I found no reply I went in, I began to empty the trash and it was then that I have found the body” , “Was there anything unsual about the room from your experience Mrs Xiang since you do the room every day and as I was told by Mr. Kakachi that Mr. Tao is a frequent guest perhaps you might have noticed something not in its place?” Tony asked, “No I don’t think so” she replied but then she paused for a moment and added “or maybe perhaps the ashtray as it was not in the same place it usually is but that could be from the struggle right?”
Tony nodded and thanked Mrs Xiang and told her that he would be getting back to her if needed.
She nodded and left. Tony headed to the room and met with his team, “So what can you guys tell me? ”
Tim who was handling the corpse replied “COD is strangulation, chief! The man was hung by a wire!”
Tony smiled at him “Tell me something I don’t already know!”, “What?? How could you have known?” Tim asked inquisitively, Tony laughed and added “turns out Mrs Xiang is an avid viewer of crime series! She even used the term death by strangulation!”, “Damn those Tv shows!” Tim exclaimed annoyingly,
“Be a good sport Tim, the lady was just trying to help” Tony giggled, so what else can you tell me Tim, “Well here’s something the lady won’t tell you, time of death was 10 hours!” Tim replied. “So this means Tao was killed around midnight”
The rest of the team came back to Tony, “Nothing out of the norm” in the room everything is in its place, no signs of struggle or force entry”
Tony nodded and added “Take a look at the ashtray”, “The ashtray sir? Sure but why?”, Tony replied “Tao is a frequent guest and Mrs Xiang always does his room and she noticed it was not in its place, there’s a big chance could that it had been moved while he was struggling for his life since as we can all see from the position of the body he was near the table which had the ashtray on it” , Stella the prints expert went on to check the ashtray and replied “Tony there’s no sign of any prints “ , she pulled it closer and smelled it “But there’s something strange , there’s odor signs of cigarettes but there’s no cigarette ash or any trace of a cigarette being placed in the ashtray, what could this mean?” she added.
Tony wore his gloves and looked at it up close, “If Tao was having a smoke, why would the killer clean the ashtray? Or in that case perhaps it was the killer.. Mmm interesting” Tony thought deeply for a second before continuing “Have we had a look at the corridor surveillance records?”
Kai replied “Yes Sir, we have 3 individuals walking in to the room and leaving less than five minutes after”
Tony replied instantly “ you said walking into the room?”
Kai added “Yes sir , the door was not opened from the inside and if my guess is correct they’ve managed to open the room on their own, but I can’t see exactly how, their backs are to the camera”
“What’s the time stamp on the surveillance tape?” Tony asked, Kai checked and updated him “They walked in 12:30 and left at 12:35”
Tony thought in the back of his mind for minute imagining the scene and the structure of the facts thus far. “Who are these men? Why did they come after he was killed? Could they were looking for something in the room? Why didn’t they alert the hotel management to call the police? Something doesn’t add up”
Tony walked to the window and looked outside quietly hands behind his back and then turned looking to Tao on the ground “Something is not right, but I will find it”
To be continued….