Porcelain Rose chapter 5

Chapter 5

“Bertrand and I started school in the same year.  At the beginning of the year, my overall score was ranked first in the school, but when it came to academic marks, Bertrand was first.”

“I was very jealous of him.”

“Bertrand beat me in many competitions; he was always first and I could only accept second place.  At the time, everyone mocked me for being forever second.”

“From birth, I was favoured by God, never would I have thought that, one day, some punk from the slums could walk over me and even cause me to be mocked.  I was very resentful.”

“During third year, the school had one admit by recommendation spot to Y University, which Bertrand and I competed for.”

“Then, Bertrand died……”

“As for me, you can see for yourself.  I’m here at Y University. From undergraduate to Ph.D, I completed all of it at Y University.  I remained here to be a teaching assistant and have successfully become a professor.”

“I was young and foolish back then, It was me who killed him.”

“I plead guilty and I wish to pay with my life[1].”

Clarence described the past events calmly.  In short, he killed his classmate over school admission conflict.

This is too fucking strange!

Stephen had Arthur lead the interrogation this time as well and it went very smoothly.  In fact, it was so smooth that Author simply couldn’t trust Clarence’s confession.  Clarence was definitely lying!

Arthur asked, “You killed a classmate just because of academics?  This motive is rather lacking.  I’ve spoken to your students about you, all of them say you are someone who is quite disinterested when it comes to your career, not even caring about promotions, basically the opposite of someone who would do anything for success[2].”

Clarence replied, “Isn’t academic conflict enough of a motive? There are countless similar cases across the world, are there not?  Furthermore, now is now, the past is the past.  It’s precisely Bertrand’s death that caused me to become indifferent to this kind of thing.”

Arthur continued, “With your family background and marks, you don’t even need to fight for that spot.”

Clarence replied, “I just felt humiliated from losing to a poor boy.”

Arthur inquired, “Then how did you kill him? Why was Bertrand at the school before dawn?”

Clarence said, “I called him out, he was standing on the roof and I pushed him down.  Then, I called the police.  I was quite frightened at the time, and pretended to be the first person to discover the scene.  You’ve investigated me before, you should know who my parents are, they helped me settle the matter.”

“Then what about your alibi?”

“My parents falsified an alibi for me.”

“Then the marks on his body were also caused by you?”

Clarence nodded, “Yes, I made them.”

Arthur was full of pent-up anger as he argued with the other, so he simply put Bertrand’s post mortem photo in front of Clarence and compared a few of the wounds. “What nonsense.  Take these two wounds for example, they had been caused at the same time; this wound here was evidently made by someone who was left-handed, while this one was right-handed. At the time, there were also many footprints obtained from his body and the shoe sizes were different.  Do you want us to believe that you switched shoes while you stepped on him?”

Arthur raised his head to see Clarence blankly staring at the picture, the corners of his eyes slowly turning red.

Arthur paused, expression unconsciously softening.  This situation was actually quite comical; the perpetrator used every trick in the book to plant the blame on himself while he, as the investigator of the case, tried to protect the other’s innocence.

This professor and that mayor candidate are both stubborn, just different extremes of stubborness.

Arthur calmly spoke, “Professor Hall, I’m still not quite certain where your insistence to plant the offence on yourself stems from.  However, the law is not some children’s game, please show some respect for the federal law.”

Clarence lowered his head and was already much more composed when he raised it again, “I know, I have never shown contempt for the law.”

He spoke in earnest, “I really sincerely feel that I killed Bertrand.”

Arthur was speechless, “……”

Clarence continued, “What I have said, you can go to the school and ask around.  Everyone knows that Bertrand and I are incompatible like fire and water.”

He laughed quietly, “We almost got suspended for fighting a few times too.”

Arthur was planning to go to the school to seek evidence even without Clarence’s reminder.

Arthur had tried to find some of the teachers from when Bertrand was still alive before.  Unfortunately, there was no news on the teachers who had taught him and the principal at the time had passed away just a few years ago from illness.

This is one of the difficulties of investigating an old case, especially ones from over two decades ago: most of the witnesses had passed away.

Alas, no matter what, it’s still important to investigate the site, there should still be a few long time employees.

Unexpectedly, Arthur really found two employees who had been at the school for over twenty years, one was the female music teacher and the other was a security guard.

The female teacher reminisced, “I used to teach Bertrand.  I still remember his first class with me…he doesn’t know how to play the piano or the violin and the students in the class laughed at him but stopped when I scolded them.  I consoled him in private but he didn’t mind and told me he could play the guitar.  He also said he liked the Beetles, I do too.”

“Actually, he had a good voice. I once asked him to be the chorister of the choir but he said he didn’t have time because he needed to work.”

Arthur didn’t interrupt her, waiting for her to finish reminiscing before asking, “Do you still remember Clarence Hall? Did they have a good relationship?”

The female teacher said, “Of course I remember!  Their relationship wasn’t very good.  There is only one first place, if one person gets first then the other will be second.  I remember they used to take turns on first place, sometimes Bertrand and sometimes Clarence.  The two of them would argue every time they met, often to the point of flushing with anger.  In their freshmen year, their argument even escalated to coming to blows.  Bertrand looks slender but he managed to injure Clarence’s head.  His family couldn’t compensate for medical fees, Clarence didn’t force them either;  he had Bertrand take care of him in the hospital for a week instead.”

“Originally, I thought their relationship would improve after that, but they continued engaging in heated arguments every time they met. I don’t even understand the content of their arguments and occasionally, I would see them draw a blackboard full of letters and numbers after school.  I was most impatient with these things when I was in school and just looking at it gave me a headache.”

Arthur pen paused for a moment, then continued to ask, “……Were they competing for the recommendation to Y University?”

The female teacher tried to remember, then nodded, “Yes. If I recall correctly, it was given to Bertrand.”

Arthur’s mood was a bit complicated; something is off but he just can’t put his finger on it.  He was certain that Clarence was lying, but the testimonies from others confirmed that authenticity of what he said.  He felt like his brain was starting to short circuit.

Stephen glanced at Arthur before asking the female teacher, “When was it finalized? Approximately how long before Bertrand’s death was it?  Were there any sudden changes?”

The female teacher said, “It was in the last semester, there was an unexpected change; a week before Bertrand’s death, his recommendation was revoked.  I’m not sure why this happened.”

“That year……that year……” The female teacher wrinkled her brows as she tried to remember, “That year, his spot was suddenly revoked.  I was also quite surprised and asked a few classmates about this but they weren’t sure either.  Mr. Doug would probably know, Bertrand was his favourite pupil.  I think he should know, he was crushed by Bertrand’s death and resigned not long after.  The principal would definitely know as well.”

Stephen asked, “What about Clarence Hall?  Was he also greatly affected by Bertrand’s death?”

The female teacher answered, “I’m not too clear.  At the time, there were many rumours, saying he was involved in Bertrand’s death.  After Bertrand’s death, he never came to classes again and the last time he appeared in the school was when he came to complete the school transfer procedures.  I saw him once, his expression was quite despondent.  After that, I had never seen him again.”

Stephen asked, “Madam, do you roughly remember when he completed the transfer procedures?”
The female teacher thought for a moment, “About……about a month after Bertrand’s passing, somewhere around five to six weeks?”

Arthur’s brows wrinkled as he and Stephen shared a meaningful glance.

This was already a while after Bertrand’s case had been determined to be suicide.

While waiting for the next witness, Arthur analyzed, “This isn’t logical.”

“Say he’s arrogant, self-centred, couldn’t stand Bertrand winning over himself, and even actively schemed to kill Bertrand then disguised it as suicide, why would he be so affected by Bertrand’s death?  Even if it was just to lie low until the dust settles, after Bertrand’s case had been concluded, why did he transfer schools?  Why fight for the recommendation to Y University if he transfers?  Something is amiss.”

Stephen spoke, “The problem lies with why Bertrand’s recommended spot was revoked.”

Arthur grunted in agreement and rubbed his nose for quite sometime but still couldn’t sort out the facts.  He suddenly asked, “Stephen, despite what she said…do you think Bertrand’s relationship with Clarence was really that bad?”
Stephen shook his head, “I don’t think so.”

Arthur agreed, “I also don’t think so.”

At this time, the old security guard, who had worked at this school for over forty years and was going to retire just the next year, arrived.

The security guard was probably multiracial with African-American ancestry, and had a wide nose, thick lips, and a kind face. He already knew the purpose of their trip and spoke as soon as he saw them, “The two of you are here to investigate Bertrand’s case?”

“In that last year, those bullies got more out of hand, I once saw them beat him up.”

Arthur’s eyes lit up, “Sir, do you remember who they were?”

He seemed to speak with a heavy heart, “I remember, I’ve always remembered.  I should have spoken out back then, but I still had a child to raise and I couldn’t afford to lose that job.”

Arthur asked, “Was it Allen?”

The older man spoke, “He had participated but he was forced.  He was a very timid child back then, I had even seen Allen apologize to Bertrand before.  He wasn’t the leader, it was Casey, Casey Chalmin[3].

[1]一命抵一命 (yi ming di yi ming) – To pay a life for taking a life.

[2]急功近利 (ji gong jin li) – Idiom, “eager for instant success and quick profits”, refers to the short-sighted seeking of instant benefits.

[3]凯西 (Kaxi)·查尔曼(Chaerman) – interestingly the Chinese name for Abra is also 凯西 so I’m tempted to call him Abra now.

Tl’s note:

Not sure if the recommendation thing is applicable to the US but basically, in China, all High School students who want to go to uni need to take the National Exam, and the universities look at these scores to admit students.  Recommendations are guaranteed admissions to a particular Uni and can be obtained a few different ways (through excellence) but basically, if you get a spot then you don’t need to stress over the national exam. 

Clarence confessed so promptly that it makes Orlo Sr’s testimony seem a lil weird.

Tbh, this timidish description seems to fit more with the impression Allen gave me. He also had a few other crimes under his belt tho (i think) so who knows….

Porcelain Rose

Porcelain Rose

Score 9
Status: Completed Type: Author: Released: 2019 Native Language: Chinese
This is a mystery short story about an age-old case


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