Zhang Heng did not know where Holmes had disappeared again. On the other hand, he managed to find a few prostitutes who were relatively close to the three victims, and through them, found out about their daily routines.
In the end, Zhang Heng set his sights on a man called Mark Cohen, a Jewish doctor active around the Whitechapel area. He wasn’t a qualified doctor registered by the Central Medical Commission, but it was also rare that prostitutes were offered the luxury of getting a qualified doctor to treat them.
During that era, a physician held a high and mighty social position, belonging to a social class called the gentries. However, with the rise of surgeons and pharmacists, physicians gradually lost their high standing, especially after pharmacists gradually transformed into general practitioners, working hand in hand with surgeons to actively promote the British medical system’s reform and strive for better rights. But even when it came general practitioners, few were stationed at the East End. None of them were willing to provide any services the prostitutes working around this area.
It was the reason why people like Mark Cohen existed. In a sense, his role was somewhat similar to that of a general practitioner, where he would do his best to treat various illnesses. Other than that, he also doubled up as a midwife and an obstetrician. This made Zhang Heng pay special attention to him.
The prostitutes had mixed comments on him. On the one hand, his services were cheap, and although he wasn’t a qualified doctor, he had managed to do his job reasonably well. On the other, a large number of prostitutes had also voiced their discomfort when they were examined, where his stare seemed to follow their every movement, very much like a slithering snake.
Zhang Heng then enquired about Mark Cohen’s residence, arriving at the place before sundown.
A stench so intoxicating and revolting overwhelmed the senses, not to mention the pigsty not far away. Chicken manure was everywhere on the road, and Zhang Heng spotted a few women doing their laundry by the ripe sewage while a couple of men with blackened faces walked towards him. They looked to be stokers that worked in the nearby factories.
It did not take long before Zhang Heng found the doctor’s apartment. After a few knocks on the door, there was no answer. He then took a look at the lock on the door and found it to have a basic mechanism, one that was only effective against ordinary men. Battling the nauseating odor, Zhang Heng’s eyes darted around like a wildcat, ensuring that there weren’t prying eyes before he gently picked the lock with a knife.
The smell inside the apartment was worse than outside, bearing the strange but putrid mixture of sweat and decay. With a deep frown, Zhang Heng and pulled out the revolver strapped to his waist. As he explored the apartment further, he saw a pool of blood on the ground. The unit itself was relatively empty, sparsely furnished with only a bed, wardrobe, and dining table. Socks and filthy garments were strewn everywhere, and as Zhang Heng followed the bloodstains to the curtain, a pair of boots could be seen under it.
Instead of drawing the curtains open, he slashed it with his knife, the blade tearing through it as if it were butter. Unfortunately, he did found no monsters concealed behind. A false alarm? The boots were still on the ground, probably placed there by their owner.
Zhang Heng quickly drew the rest of the curtains with his other hands.
He saw a spot that looked like a simple consultation room. With only two stools and a small workbench in the middle, the thing most noticeable was a very bloody lump of flesh on the workbench.
This was the origin of bloodstains on the floor and putrid odor, where a massive swarm of black flies noisily devoured the decaying body part. Zhang Heng’s first reaction was finding the third victim, Bernice’s missing uterus and abdominal flesh. With that, he could lock on to the serial killer. When Zhang Heng walked towards the table and observed the organ, however, he found that the object didn’t resemble a woman’s womb in shape or size but rather looked like it belonged to some kind of animal.
Zhang Heng then thought of the pigsty that he saw on the side of the road. Other than that, he also saw a notebook on the table. After opening it and flipping through its pages, he only found random notes and scribbles, most of which happened in his daily life. Some medical research was documented, as well. But as Zhang Heng progressed through the notebook, the contents gradually changed. The writer had apparently become more and more agitated with each entry.
Not only had the handwriting become more and more scribbled, but the contents had also changed. Most of them were related to prostitutes. He lamented about a large amount of money they made yet wouldn’t stop acting pitifully here in the East End. From an entry about a month ago, he seemed to have gotten into conflict with two prostitutes. One had stolen his pocket watch while they came to seek his service. Mark Cohen went after the prostitute, but the other made him trip, causing him to lose a tooth.
Zhang Heng was going to keep reading, but he heard the door behind him getting opened. He slipped the notebook into his coat, and at the same time, the person entered the apartment. Judging from the footsteps’ sound, it appeared two people were walking around in the unit. This surprised him a little but also did little to affect his plan.
He could always jump out the window, but the path had been ruled out when he slit the curtains before this. Once Mark Cohen found out that his place had been broken into, he would definitely make a run for it. Not to mention how Zhang Heng had taken away his notebook, as well.
Hence, he decided it best to arrest Mark Cohen here and bring him to the police station. He hid behind the curtains, listened intently to the sound of the footsteps, and did some calculation in his mind. Once one of them reached out to lift the curtain, and that was when Zhang Heng pointed his knife directly at him. Zhang Heng could see that his target was in shock, and luckily, he managed to retrieve the knife before anybody got hurt.
Almost instantly, the other policeman drew the pistol from his waist and pointed it at Zhang Heng. Zhang Heng raised his hands and threw away the weapon, indicating he harbored no ill intent.
An hour later, Holmes arrived at the police station. He knocked on the floor with his walking stick and looked at Zhang Heng from behind the iron fence. “They planned to let you out half an hour ago, but I asked them to keep you behind bars for a little while longer. I want you to take a moment to experience what I experienced.”
“Did you tell the police to arrest Mark Cohen?” asked Zhang Heng.
“Yes, in fact, before you went to his house, the police got to him. The two officers you encountered were there to collect evidence,” Holmes laughed. “It seems that I will win the bet this time. I can finally think about which opera I should watch.”
“I don’t think so,” replied Zhang Heng as he looked at Holmes. “You’ve caught the wrong person.”
“Apprehended the wrong person?” Holmes raised his eyebrows.
“You haven’t interrogated Mark Cohen yet.”
“Yes, but Lestrade said he admitted he was the murderer as soon as he was in custody.”
“It’s useless for him to admit to the crimes.” Zhang Heng took out the notebook and shook it in front of Holmes. “If you interrogate him, you will know he suffers from amentia.”