Scene: The camera shows a sky-high view of the Number 8 Happy Giraffe Kindergarten. On the streets surrounding the Happy Giraffe Kindergarten are the usual detritus found nearby China’s junior academies of learning: namely, unscrupulous principals with bags full of ready cash and middle-aged TEFL teachers rolling on the floor clutching their hangover-induced aching heads. The camera zooms in on Officers Rocky Zhang and I Like World of Warcraft Liang who are stood by the main entrance.
Officer Liang: So, our detective friend has finally gotten over his mini-breakdown?
Officer Zhang: So he says. He sent me a message on WeChat last night. Here it is.
(Officer Zhang shows Officer Liang the message on his phone. It says “I’M FEELING BETTER NOW PLS COME OVER. PS DO YOU KNOW HOW I CAN ASK THE WOMAN IN THE DIY SHOP FOR NEW LIGHTBULBS?”)
Officer Liang: He sure likes to use capital letters.
Officer Zhang: Apparently the caps lock on his phone is broken.
Officer Liang: And why is it we have to meet him here? Can’t we just meet at the police station like normal procedure?
Officer Zhang: He told me that his school forces him to do “office hours” so he isn’t allowed to leave the building between classes. He’s got a spare hour now between Listening Comprehension and his 8th Grade Conversation class and he mentioned that he should be able to fit revealing the murderer of Tina Budong within that time.
Officer Liang: Right. Let’s get this over with then.
(The two policemen enter the school and make their way to a spare classroom that Detective Ed U Cator has set up as his investigation room. Within the room Detective Ed U Cator is stood in front of a whiteboard while three other adults are sat on chairs in the front row. Officers Zhang and Liang stand by the open door deliberating whether to knock first.)
Detective Cator: Come in! Come in! You’re five minutes late though so you’ll have to sing a song. Can you sing Jingle Bells for us?
Officer Liang: Fuck off.
Detective Cator: OK! Take a seat then. Now, let me introduce what we are going to be talking about today. I’ve created a short powerpoint presentation. Eyes forward!
(There then follows a twenty minute scene where the overhead projector fails to operate properly. Several hilarious scenes ensue: Detective Cator banging the laptop and getting increasingly angry; Detective Cator screaming down the corridor for someone from IT to help him; Detective Cator crying as a useless oxygen thief from the IT helpdesk just taps at the screen and repeatedly says “Uh? Uh?”; Detective Cator finally throwing the laptop out of the window and proclaiming that this kind of thing would never happen in a “proper” country.)
Detective Cator: Right, we’ll do this the old-fashioned way then. After analysing the evidence of the Tina Budong murder, I have established that it was only logistically possible for one of the other foreign teachers who live in the same seven storey walk-up to have committed the murder and escaped unseen to their respective apartment. I have gathered all of the foreign teachers here and will introduce them for the benefit of Officers Zhang and Liang.
(Detective Cator approaches the first teacher: a dishevelled looking specimen who has three empty bottles of erguotou already in front of him.)
Detective Cator: Bryan Scumis. 61 years old. Australian. After teaching TEFL in Saudi Arabia for twenty years he swore in 2013 that he would never return to the Kingdom but blew all of his cash in Thailand during one long hot summer. Forced to do “one last trip”, Bryan was unable to re-enter Saudi due to certain comments on his social media channels. China welcomed him. Bryan’s hobbies include drinking, online pornography, painkillers and white-water rafting. Say hello to everybody, Bryan!
Bryan: You can all go fuck yourselves (vomits).
(Next, Detective Cator approaches what on first sight appears to be a stranded whale that has been covered in clothes by Greenpeace in an attempt to keep it warm. On closer inspection, it turns out to actually be an American woman.) Detective Cator: Elly Mint-Fresh. 43 years old. American. Cis-gendered and unmarried. Identifies as “Gender Queer”. Teaches conversational English and second-wave feminism to six year olds. Was close friends with Tina Budong and both were working on setting up a regular slam poetry session at the local English Corner. Elly has told me that her preferred pronoun is “zhe”. Is there anything you’d like to say to the class, Elly?
Elly: DONT TOUCH ME, YOU RAPIST CUM-SKIN!
Teacher: Dzień dobry! Ah am der native Engerlish speaker!
Detective Cator: …erm, here we have “Kevin” who according to his CV is from Manchester in England.
Kevin: Tak! Ah am loving der Manchester footsballs! Eet always raining der dogs und cats een my hometown. Very rainy!
(A female student walking past the room looks up when she hears the word “rainy” but quickly scuttles away.)
Detective Cator: Kevin has told me that he enjoys collecting surplus military equipment and that his favourite film is The Human Centipede 2. Also, he told me that his name is not – absolutely not – Mateusz.
Kevin: It’s true! Fish und chips!
Detective Cator: Now, as part of my excellent TEFL Detective process I have utilised the finest detective methods known to mankind to eliminate the suspects and find out – resolutely and with no doubt – who was behind the brutal murder of Tina Budong.
Officer Zhang: Do you implement DNA testing within your process?
Officer Liang: Do you use advanced algorithms to calculate a rate of possibility?
Detective Cator: No! I simply asked each of the teachers to write me an essay of no more than 250 words explaining what they did on the evening of Tina Budong’s murder.
Officers Zhang and Liang: Ohhhhhhhh…….
Detective Cator: (Pulls out three exercise books and hands them back to the teachers) First up: Bryan Scumis. Please read out what you wrote for me.
Bryan: Darkness. Endless darkness. I tried drinking bleach tonight so that I don’t have to fuck around finding mixers for the erguotou. That fucking bitch upstairs is stomping around with her big fucking hooves again. She’s always sneering. Just like all the other white bitches. In Saudi they’d be burka’ed up and not allowed to speak. That’s how it should be. I’m gonna show her what…. That’s it.
Detective Cator: That’s it?
Bryan: Well, there’s more but I can’t read it ‘cos the page is covered in blood, cum and vomit.
Detective Cator: No problem, Bryan. Good effort. Elly?
Elly: (Stands up) On the evening of my friend Tina’s brutal murder I was, as always, at home working on my blog: “White men and their venomous impact on Asia”. Most importantly, I was busy putting the final touches to my lesson plans as unlike the other teachers in this school, I take my role as an educator of young minds quite seriously. This entire exercise is pointless and a demonstration of Detective Cator’s male privilege.
Detective Cator: OK, thank you. And… Kevin?
Kevin: Ah am sorry. Ah did not do der assignment. Ah was buzzy wiv reading der Shakespeare and watching der Human Centipede 2. Have you seen eet? Eet bardzo dobrze… ah mean eet very good! I like it.
Detective Cator: Officers, it should now be clear that one of these teachers is not telling the truth. One of these people gathered here is not who they claim to be. The one who is hiding the truth about their identity will undeniably also be the killer of the unfortunate Tina Budong.
(Everybody sits up straight in their chairs. The tension is high. All eyes are on Detective Cator.)
Detective Cator: The murderer of Tina Budong is…
(There is a suitably dramatic pause.)
Detective Cator: Elly Mint-Fresh!
Detective Cator: That’s right – the clues are obvious. You’re a liar and have been hiding your real identity all this time!
Elly: What the fuck are you talking about you cis-gendered scum?
Detective Cator: Simple. Allow me to demonstrate.
(Detective Cator pulls out a marker pen and begins writing on the whiteboard.)
Detective Cator: In your statement you wrote that you were working on a blog entitled “White men and their venomous impact on Asia”. Any educator with even an ounce of training will know that although the word “impact” has in colloquial terms come to mean “to strongly influence”, this is technically incorrect. The verb form of impact means “to strike with force”, not “affect”. The noun form of impact can mean “to strongly influence” but the verb form cannot. Furthermore, you began the next sentence with the words “most importantly”. Within the established rules of adverbs, “importantly” means “in an important manner”, hence “most important” would be the correct construction in this case. A genuine English teacher who has been offered the privilege of teaching the young minds of China would know this; therefore you cannot be who you claim to be. Officers! Arrest this woman!
(Officer Zhang leaps out of his chair and clubs Elly Mint-Fresh around the head – knocking her unconscious. With the help of seventeen nearby police officers – who just happened to be around – they soon succeed in carting her comatose body to the police station. Bryan Scumis and Kevin leave the classroom with grins on their faces. Only Detective Cator and Officer Liang remain in the classroom. Officer Liang shakes the detective’s hand.)
Officer Liang: I have to hand it to you, Cator. I doubted your skills. I thought that English teachers were worthless members of society who had nothing to offer anybody, but you showed me today that I was wrong. Please accept this duty-free box of cigarettes and a bottle of Maotai as thanks.
Detective Cator: You’re welcome, Officer Liang. Just doing my job.
Officer Liang: Tell me, now that you have solved the case of the Tina Budong murder, what’s next for Detective Ed U Cator?
Detective Cator: (The camera zooms in for a close-up) A teacher’s work is never done, Officer Liang. Whenever there is need to sing the numbers one to ten to children: I will be there. Whenever there is a spare five minutes in a school’s New Year performance that needs filling by a foreign man singing the Little Apple song: I will be there. Most of all, whenever a young girl from the countryside absolutely must jerk off a man in exchange for 150 RMB: I will be there. Because, my friend, I am and always will be…
(The camera zooms in even more.)
Detective Cator: AN EDUCATOR!
(Exciting music. Closing titles.)
Caption: Next week’s episode – P is for… Paedo?
If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.