48 Hours a Day
Chapter 516 - Key Questions
Chapter 516 Key Questions
“Noomi, I’m from Sweden,” the girl replied, licking her lips.
Seeing that she was still a little uneasy, Zhang Heng produced a cigarette from his pocket and handed it to her. She thanked him graciously, but it wasn’t until the cigarette touched her lips that she realized something odd. She then asked slowly and cautiously, “You… How did you know I smoke?”
“It’s simple. Although you haven’t smoked in a while, your teeth are still yellowish, and the holes on your clothes are the result of cinders burning through them,” Zhang Heng said. After that, he paused for a while, noticing how his mannerism had become more and more similar to Holmes. It was probably because they had been living together for some time now.
On the other hand, Holmes was no exception to Zhang Heng’s influence, greatly interested in hsi fighting style and having started indulging in rock climbing lessons.
Noomi’s surprise brought Zhang Heng back to reality, “Oh, what is your profession? You have an excellent observation.”
“Detective. Actually, I came to investigate Bernice’s death. Oh, and the two victims before her as well.”
“Are you a detective?”
Noomi was relieved. “No wonder you went to that place. I overheard the men in the tavern saying the police have locked on to a suspect. They all said that the devil is doomed.”
Zhang Heng wasn’t allowed to comment on this matter. It had always been the usual practice of Scotland Yard, where they would first release a batch of vague information to stabilize the situation. It was done to put the public at ease, which would otherwise have ended up in panic and hysteria. As far as these murders were concerned, only they knew how far along the investigation was, so far.
“I am just helping out,” Zhang Heng was forced to say. “Before the murderer is arrested, I would advise you to be more vigilant about your safety.”
Noomi wasn’t the least bothered.
“Not only are the girls in a state of constant fear in a time like this, but our business has greatly deteriorated as well. Everyone hates that guy. Anyway, it’s not easy for me to get a customer, and I can’t be bothered by other things. Of course, if everyone is as generous as you, my life would have been much easier.”
Zhang Heng did not say anything after that. He chose to change the subject, “Do you know all the three victims?”
Noomi hesitated, “As I said, even the prostitutes have their territory. I’m not familiar with the first and third girls, but I live quite close to her with the second victim. We even cross paths sometimes…”
Zhang Heng swiftly retrieved information about the second victim from his mind.
“Edna? What do you know about her?”
Noomi pondered for a while. “I heard that she had an Indian boyfriend, and he worked in a glass factory. But he was no good to Edna. He was a violent drunkard, bludgeoning her up every time he had too much to drink.” Zhang Heng raised his eyebrows. This was a new clue. The police had also found out about Edna’s boyfriend, but they did not know about the latter’s violent tendencies, nor did they know that the two had conflicts before. That said, it was highly unlikely that Edna’s boyfriend was Jack the Ripper. The police had an excellent job of covering all the aspects of their investigation. On the night of Edna’s death, Jack was drinking at the bar with someone, leaving more than a dozen witnesses to prove his alibi.
It was a good sign, though. Zhang Heng’s decision to approach the prostitute could prove vital to the investigation, and thus, he continued his interrogation.
“Any other information?”
Noomi shook her head. “I don’t know Edna too well. This is how we usually behave in this line… every woman for herself, looking out for themselves first. We usually have no time to stick our noses in the affairs of others. Oh, one more thing! I’m not sure if this helps, but I heard that Edna had a child before she met her boyfriend, but she sent it back to her birthplace.” “Oh?”
This time, Zhang Heng’s interest was truly aroused.
Back in the real world, someone had managed to summarize the similarities between the victims of the Whitechapel homicides. Other than the fact that they were all prostitutes, most of them suffered from moderate to severe alcoholism. Otherwise, they would be living with at least one drunkard and even had offspring as well. In the three homicides, Zhang Heng was currently investigating, the victims’ names and ages had been altered to some extent. However, alcoholism and cohabitation were two factors that remained unchanged. The second victim, however, was the only one with a child.
Nonetheless, the information provided by Noomi now filled the gaps in dotting Zhang Heng’s investigation.
As of now, Zhang Heng was confident Jack the Ripper didn’t select his targets based on the difficulty of achieving his goal. When he was hunting, he did abide by a set of strict guidelines. Or at least for the first few crimes that he committed, he carefully selected his targets. When the authorities started to close upon him, he would then abandon some of his rules to stay afloat.
So the question was, how did he acquire information about his targets?
According to Noomi, there were territorial boundaries, even among the prostitutes. They were usually unfamiliar with their counterparts from a different territory, and it just happened that Jack the Ripper committed the crime in a vast area. Not to mention how only a few people knew that the second victim had a child. At most, it was just a rumor that was spread among the inner circles.
The prostitutes were considered the group of people who belonged to the lowest of society’s lows even if they lived at the East End. However, the men that live here still needed their services. No one would care about their affair other than their bodies. Even if one met up with them every night, they would not know their living conditions, families, and interpersonal relationships.
A man deliberately collecting all this information would surely attract attention. Although the police officers of Scotland Yard were not as capable as Sherlock Holmes, they were more diligent than expected. It would be impossible for such a person to exist without catching their eye.
The case was beginning to get more and more interesting. Zhang Heng realized that if he could find the answer to this question, he might not be far away from finding Jack the Ripper.
Seeing that Zhang Heng had paused and seemed to be thinking about something else, Noomi became a little nervous. “Sorry, I’m not bright, and I don’t have many friends. Did I manage to help in any way?” “No, you did a great job. Have we arrived at the restaurant? Let’s have dinner first, and let’s stop talking about homicides. Let’s talk about your daily routine.”
“My daily life?” Noomi was bewildered. She has been in this business for so long and had encountered many strange requests. No one, however, had asked her such a common question. It was then that a look of sudden realization flashed across her face.
“Oh, you want to know about my customers and me…”
“No, no, I don’t want to know about that. I want to know about your hobbies, places you would go to every day, people you meet, and so on. I don’t need the details,” Zhang Heng explained. He simply wanted to learn more about the prostitutes through Noome. From there, he hoped to find how Jack the Ripper selected his targets.