A new television detective drama brought to you by Arthur Meursault.
Voiceover: In the aftermath of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, crime and despair had descended upon the once harmonious Middle Kingdom. Without the concept of a unifying effort to rally behind, moral decadence now gripped the hearts and minds of the descendants of the dragon. Terror stalked the lower tier cities. Dogs were raped. Women were eaten. The people cried out for a saviour, but the corrupt police were too busy with their banquets to listen.
An alternative was needed.
A search took place throughout the land for that one man who could help fight crime with astonishing powers of deduction and reason.
Eventually that man was found.
Unfortunately, he was immediately hit by a bus and died.
Instead, the only available hope was a new type of detective. A detective who had ample time to solve mysteries due to only being on a 15 hour per week contract with his school. That man was…
Detective Ed U Cator: TEFL Detective!
SCENE: Funky 70’s music plays over the backdrop of an urban tier-88 cityscape. It’s the type of music that makes a man want to grab a woman by a log fireplace and force her to caress his masculine chest hair. Suddenly a red sports car is seen pulling up beside a police station. The camera then totally ignores the sports car to centre on an overweight foreign man in his 40s riding on a beaten-up e-bike. Huge letters in an aggressive yellow font zoom out to announce the title.
TITLE: Edward Ulysses Cator is…
SUBTITLE: THE TEFL DETECTIVE
The foreign man on the bicycle pulls out a bottle of erguotou from his jacket pocket and takes a swig. After a brief sick, he turns to the camera and smiles. His yellow broken teeth demonstrate his Britishness.
TITLE: STARRING HUGH LAURIE AS DETECTIVE ED. U. CATOR
A montage of exciting scenes commences. Detective Cator handcuffing a trio of sex traffickers; Detective Cator singing in front of a Kindergarten; Detective Cator rolling over a car bonnet with a murderer in a headlock; Detective Cator stood in a Kindergarten office demanding to know why he hasn’t received his salary yet; Detective Cator firing a gun into a suitcase full of drugs; Detective Cator in front of a room of children crying over a photo of his ex-wife and kids who he hasn’t seen in 6 years.
A huge explosion fills the screen.
TITLE: TONIGHT’S EPISODE – M is for… MURDER.
SCENE: The camera opens on an average tier-88 police station. Faded posters cover the walls carrying bold statements like “REPORT A FOREIGNER TODAY” and “COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS A CRIME UNLESS APPROVED BY THE GOVERNMENT”. Behind sturdy wooden desks, several diligent police officers bravely do their part in the fight against crime by sleeping. However, two officers are awake: Officer Rocky Zhang and Officer I Like World of Warcraft Liang (English name chosen by himself). The two officers are inched over a series of grisly photographs depicting a murder scene.
Officer Liang: The facts still don’t make sense to me, Officer Zhang. For the sake of clarity, and needless exposition, would you mind just walking me through the details again?
Officer Zhang: No problem, Officer Liang. Even though it makes no sense why I would didactically recite the basic facts of a murder case to my close colleague when we’ve obviously been working on the case for some time, I shall proceed to do so.
Officer Liang: That’s what makes you a great police officer, Rocky!
Officer Zhang: Yes, that and my shoot-to-kill policy towards elderly Falun Gong practitioners. Anyway, let’s go over it again. Victim is a mid-twenties Caucasian female named Tina Budong who was grossly overweight by our harmonious standards. Her body was found at the stairwell of her apartment by an elderly neighbour who tried to recycle her. Cause of death appears to be either massive damage by a blunt weapon to her head and body, or a Pumpkin Spice Latte deficiency. Forensics aren’t sure yet. We’ve tried to analyse her intestines, but the pure vegan diet that this feminine expatriate adhered to has made it impossible for any of our laboratory team to be in the same room as her stool sample for more than one minute. So far we haven’t managed to find any further clues.
Officer Liang: It’s certainly a mystery. No leads. No clues. I just don’t know what we’re gonna do. If we don’t solve this case soon then the resultant loss of face for our department will be worse than that time the Chief of Police was caught in a cheap hotel room… with his wife.
Officer Zhang: (Shudders) The shame. A man of his seniority should never have contemplated sleeping with his wife. What was he thinking?
(The two officers sit silently for a moment)
Officer Zhang: You know, there is one man who might be able to help us. Have you heard about that new maverick laowai detective who assisted Officer The Diaoyu Isles are Ours Chen in the fake fake milk powder scam?
Officer Liang: Hmmm. You mean that fat freelance guy who worked out that the fake milk powder was actually real milk powder so the resellers were losing out on profit?
Officer Zhang: That’s the one!
Officer Liang: How did we find him again?
Officer Zhang: He was stood on Zhongshan Road handing out leaflets for No. 8 Happy Giraffe Kindergarten and on the back of the leaflets he had scribbled a note claiming that he was a freelance detective. Apparently he has a lot of time on his hands as he only has a 15 hour per week contract with his school. We could give him a call and get his take on the case.
Officer Liang: That’s not a bad idea, Rocky. Just do me a favour: make sure he comes over here to the station rather than we visit him. I know how these foreign teachers live and I don’t feel like walking up six flights of stairs in a grotty apartment that doesn’t even have an elevator.
Officer Zhang: I’m on it! I’ll send him a WeChat message right away…
SCENE: A large interview room within the police station containing several empty desks and stools. Officers Zhang and Liang wait patiently upon the stools while smoking. A large whiteboard covers the front wall of the room covered in facts and details about the case.
Officer Liang: I thought you said he was due at 2pm? He’s already an hour late.
Officer Zhang: He sent me a message to say that he’d be late. His school re-arranged his schedule at the last moment without notifying him and he had to teach a bunch of special needs kids that pay double. He’s on his way.
Officer Liang: He’d better be. It took me all morning to write all those case details up on the board. If he…
(The door suddenly swings open and an overweight man in his mid-forties bounces into the room. Detective Cator has arrived)
Detective Cator: Hello everybody!
Officers Liang and Zhang: Erm…. hello?
Detective Cator: Hello! I’m Detective Ed U Cator! Do you know how to spell Ed U Cator?
(Detective Cator uses the edge of his food-stained sleeve to wipe off all the case notes that Officer Liang wrote on the whiteboard. He grabs a marker pen and replaces it with the words ED U CATOR in large letters)
Officer Liang: My notes!
Detective Cator: Ssssh, no talking in class. Now, I’m going to throw this small rubber ball around the room and when you catch it I’d like you to tell me your name and something interesting about yourself. Catch!
(He throws a small ball towards Officer Zhang)
Officer Zhang: Erm… My name is Officer Zhang Lei, but you can call me Rocky. I am a police officer. My hobbies are eating and sleeping, do you know it?
Detective Cator: Very good, Rocky. Now pass the ball over to your friend there.
(Officer Zhang flips the ball to Officer Liang who throws the ball to the ground in disgust)
Officer Liang: We’ve no time for this – there’s a woman dead in the autopsy room and we need to find the killer. We need your help Cator, but if you cock up then it’s my ass on the line. You understand? Your cock-up – my ass!
(Officer Zhang flashes his colleague a brief look of confusion)
Detective Cator: Don’t worry! I am not just a teacher – I am Ed U Cator! And I will solve this as easy as A, B, C…
Officer Liang: That’s a relief to hear, Cator.
Detective Cator: …D, E, F, G…
Officer Liang: Erm… you can stop now.
Detective Cator: …H, I, J…
Officer Liang: Stop it!
Detective Cator: Oh, ok. Sorry about that. Sometimes it’s hard to forget about the day job. Show me the facts.
Officer Zhang: (He places some photos of the corpse in front of the Detective) This is the victim, Sir. One Tina Budong. American citizen. Had been in China for only six months. Her body was found like this.
Detective Cator: I see. She was obviously attacked in a very vicious fashion. I can see that there has been massive damage to the heads, shoulders, knees and toes.
Officer Zhang: And the eyes, and ears, and mouth, and nose.
Detective Cator: Hmmm. Heads, shoulders, knees and toes… knees and toes. What could it mean?
Officer Liang: Do you think you can help?
Detective Cator: It won’t be easy, but I think that it’s possible. With a case this serious I’ll have to create my own lesson plan first. I just hope that the school photocopier is working. Give me a call in two days and I’ll let you know what I’ve deduced. In the meantime, I’d like you both to write 250 words about your hometown. Now you’ll have to excuse me gentlemen, one of my students is waiting outside and I need her to help top up my phone credit.
(Detective Cator leaves)
Officer Liang: Mao damnit… are you sure about this guy?
Officer Zhang: I know he’s eccentric, but they say he’s one of the best. (He picks up a pen and opens his notebook) How do you spell “delicious” in English? I want to write about the sweet and sour chicken in my hometown.
Caption: Two days later…
Scene: Back in the police station. Officers Zhang and Liang are back behind their desks.
Officer Liang: Where the hell is he? He was supposed to report to us today on his findings!
Officer Zhang: I’m not quite sure. Officer The Diaoyu Isles are Ours Chen did warn me that sometimes Detective Cator gets a bit depressed and can sometimes go quiet. He did leave me a voicemail at three o’clock in the morning though.
Officer Liang: Who the fuck leaves voicemail? Anyway, let’s hear it.
(Officer Zhang pulls out his phone, accesses his voicemail and puts it to speaker)
Voice of Detective Cator: (The voice is very slurred) Wei, wei, wei, wei, wei, wei? Fucking wei! That’s all you bastards ever say. Wei, wei, fucking wei! I fucking hate this place. I fucking hate this job. I’m Ed U Cator! I’m fucking better than this, you fucking cunts. Eight yuan for erguotou? It tastes like fucking piss. Fucking school. Don’t trust these cunts. I wouldn’t be teaching these fucking brats if that whore wife of mine hadn’t left me. Barbara! Why? Whhhhyyyy? I loved you! Just let me speak to the kids. Just once. Pleeeasssse. Fucking Chinese fucking…
Officer Zhang: (Hitting mute) It goes on like that for another twenty minutes. I guess he meant to call somebody else.
Officer Liang: Hmmm. I’ll give him two more days to let him recover. He’d better come up with some results fast though, otherwise I’ll be taking a very close look at his work visa. A very close look indeed.
Voiceover: Will Detective Ed U Cator catch the foul murderer? Has Detective Ed U Cator been working illegally on a tourist visa? And just how will he stretch his measly teaching salary to cover his alcohol expenses? Find out in the next thrilling episode of Ed U Cator: TEFL DETECTIVE!
To be continued…
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.