The shining stars
– Lizhong Zhang
The night mutes every slight sound, justice gradually falls into sleep, murders and crimes eventually wakes up, hides in every invisible corner, among every empty street, desire to find the correct target.
Darkness hosts this room, as if here is where the night derives from, none of the light is welcomed to become its guest.
Only the flickering cigarette uncovers that a person is sitting here in silence.
“I believe you come here is not for my answer.”
Lewis gazes at the man sits in front of him. Although everything is covered by darkness, he immediately realises that where the guest stands.
“You`re right, Lewis. This is the invitation from Sir Dornan. He wanna hire you to protect his painting.”
The man gives a letter to Lewis, the detective takes that yellow paper, then reads it line by line:
Dear Lewis Peterman,
This is the invitation which exclusively belongs to you.
Sir Dornan William Jackson earnestly wishes you to protect his painting: ‘The Shining Stars’.
During the exhibition, Sir Dornan William Jackson will show his well-known and foremost collection ‘The Shining Stars’ for the first time.
‘The Shinning Stars’ is one of the most precious and invaluable paintings around the world.
Sir Dornan William Jackson spent one million pounds on buying his treasure in 1992. He firmly believes that ‘The Shining Stars’ is his collection par excellence amid all the treasures he has, consequently, the painting never be shown to anyone.
Sir Dornan William Jackson unswervingly insists that all the guests will never regret after attending his exhibition.
However, out of expectation, Sir Dornan William Jackson receives a threatening letter which written by a man names Aden about he plans to steal the invaluable collection during the exhibition.
Sir Dornan William Jackson extremely worries about the destiny of ‘The Shining Stars’ and desires to have an outstanding person to protect it.
After solemn and serious selection, Sir Dornan William Jackson invites you for the heart, Mr. Lewis Peterman, to protect his unparalleled, inestimable ‘The Shining Stars’ and catch that brutal, savage thief.
Sir Dornan William Jackson
“Boring! Boring! Boring! I have no interest in protecting any painting.”
Lewis yawns, leisurely stretches his arms.
“Sir Dornan believes you`re the right one, the incomparable one, the only one! If you`re willing to come, you can write down any amount of ‘budgets’ on it.”
With extremely calm and impassive tone, the man puts a check book on the desk.
Lewis stares at it, suddenly bursts into laugh.
“What a fucking wealthy man! If I write one million pounds down, will Dornan still let me protect his painting?”
Lewis gazes at the man who hides in the darkness, motionless and emotionless.
“That`s what Sir Dornan told me. Just wrote down the number you want.”
Lewis stops laughing, picks a pen and draws a smiling face on the check book.
“Interesting. How valuable the painting is? How brave your Sir Dornan is? He invites a little-known detective to protect his favourite painting. It`s illogical, but I love everything illogical.”
Lewis throws his check book to the corner, gazes at that indifferent man.
“So, you`re willing to come?”
The male voice slightly increases, Lewis nods and stretches his arms.
“Yeah, just for my curiosity. I`m so curious about Dornan`s intention. But the painting is not what I interested in. How many people will attend?”
“Around 100 people. Sir Dornan will give the list to you. By the way, they`re all elites, we believe they won`t steal ‘The Shining Stars’.”
The male voice gradually returns to calm and impassive.
“Why not? Nothing is impossible.”
Lewis stares at the shadow, the man stuns, suddenly bursts into laugh.
“Maybe, but why? Why they`ll do something definitely ruin their reputation?”
“Well, you may be familiar with a person`s face, a person`s habit, a person`s intelligence, but you`ll never know their minds. All the people have their dark sides. No one can diminish his or her desires after they are successful, on the contrary, they will have much more desires. My friend, please don`t underestimate them, they can help you, they also can ruin you!”
The man keeps in silence for a while, then claps his hands.
“I start to understand why Sir Dornan chose you.”
Lewis laughs again and stands up, stares at the serene metropolis outside the window.
“Please remember, Sir Dornan doesn`t wanna see the painting be stolen.”
Lewis nods with smile, then takes a deep breath.
“Well, I`ll try my best, but you know: nothing is impossible. I`m still confused about something. I need to see your lord first.”
Lewis turns back, the darkness covers up his eyes.
“What a weird! You`re definitely not English, you just leave here without telling me!”
Lewis disappointedly shakes his head, then turns back and stares at the noiseless night again.
As if the detective has been here for uncountable times, the manservant recognises him immediately when Lewis arrives at the grand hotel and stands in front of the main entrance.
“Mr Peterman, Sir Dornan is waiting for you, he hopes you are willing to immediately meet him when you arrive.”
The manservant leads Lewis to the second floor, Lewis then follows him to the tremendous office, looks at he knocks the door three times, subsequently opens it for the detective.
Simultaneously, a beam of genial and warm sunshine touches Lewis, he looks at the man stands in front of him, smells a puff of cologne.
“Lewis, it`s so great to meet you! Oh, you`re totally different from what I imagined: old, fat, stubborn. You`re so handsome! You should be a superstar!”
Dornan turns around, stares at Lewis, gestures him to sit on the sofa.
“You should know what I look like when you chose me. But to be honest, I don`t think you made a good choice.”
Dornan suddenly bursts into laugh, pours a cup of water for Lewis.
“No! no! no! I believe I made a best choice. Well actually, I felt regret before I met you, but now, I know how stupid I was!”
Lewis frowns, stares at that cup of water.
At same time, Dornan gives a key to him.
“I chose you because I believe you`re the best! Your room is on the 10th floor, presidential suite. You can stay and enjoy as long as you want, totally for free. But please remember: DO NOT LET MY PAINTING VANISHES!”
Lewis picks the key up, imagines what will the presidential suite looks like, then puts it into the pocket, stares at the man ahead of him.
“I can`t ensure anything. But I promise: I`ll try my best!”
Dornan shakes Lewis`s hand, then spontaneously leads the way to presidential suite.
“This is your room. You can stay here as long as you want!”
Dornan glances around the decoration of his room, then smiles to Lewis.
“I won`t bother you anymore, you can enjoy your room now! But, please don`t forget what you should do.”
Lewis immediately nods, stares at Dornan until he closes the door.
Simultaneously, the warm sunshine swaggeringly descends into the presidential suite through its transparent window, leisurely lies on the six-seater leather sofa.
The fragrance of sunshine flies into Lewis`s nose, the detective picks a taffy up from the gilded table, relaxes his weary waist on the soft cushion while the TV is switched on.
“Good Morning, Mr Peterman. I`m your butler Sam.”
Sam walks into the suite, puts one bottle of champagne on desk.
“Butler? Why I have a butler?”
Lewis stares at the man who straight stands ahead of him, steadily holds a silver plate which has a cup of coffee and a piece of cheesecake lie on it.
“Because Sir Dornan believes that: as an excellent detective and our paramount guest, you deserve to have our best service, such as be serviced by the best butler.”
Sam stands in corner and smiles, analogical to an extraordinary sculpture. Lewis looks straight at the butler`s eyes, a hint of weird feeling marginally grows in his mind.
Unexpectedly, the detective is unable to explain it.
Sam slowly opens office`s door, gestures the paramount guest to walk into.
“Mr Peterman, Sir Dornan told me that I need to lead you walk around the suite.”
Sam smiles, Lewis stares at the butler`s soft and white hand, follows him to the office.
The office is as large as the living room, a wooden desk and five gilded bookshelves stand in centre. Hardcovers are cosily and leisurely lying on them.
“Mr Peterman, this is your office.”
Sam introduces the office in detail, but Lewis just immovably stands in front of a painting.
Lewis finally comes to life, points at the painting in excitement. Sam glances the painting and laughs.
“It`s the copy of ‘The Shining Stars’, all the suites have one copy.”
“‘The Shining Stars’!”
“It is the best name for this painting.”
At same time, he suddenly ignores everything around, as if his world solely includes the painting, it is the only thing exists in his world, and he suddenly becomes a moveless and senseless sculpture.
“Sir，if you like the painting, I can hang up some copies on the living room and bedroom, so you can see it at any time.”
Lewis nods, Sam bows to him, then leaves the suite.
Silence subsequently accompanies the detective, Lewis sits in front of the copy, his constricted muscles and depressed mind simultaneously relax.
Unaware but pleasing feeling fills in Lewis`s body, the detective closes his eyes, feels he is lying on a mountain`s summit, stares at pure stars which are shining like transparent and precious crystals lighten the verdant grass and multicoloured flowers. Lewis stretches his arms, unconsciously tries to touch those stars.
But suddenly, a series of knocks pull Lewis out of his mental world.
“Who is it!”
Lewis furiously stands up and runs to the door, the fade away of that magical feeling makes the detective open his door in angry.
Dornan is shocked when he sees that resentful face, but he still keeps smiling.
“Lewis, do you wanna see my favourite ‘The Shining Stars’?”
Dornan`s invitation as if an effective medicine, the angry face replaces by excitement in the blink of an eye. Then Lewis nods, follows Dornan wild with joy.
“These are all my collections, I spent half of my life for collecting these, I can say with no remorse: they are the symbols of my life, of myself and of my family! Lewis, I`m so proud of myself!”
Lewis glances around the sculptures, vases and paintings.
Unfortunately, none of them attracts the detective`s eyes.
Lewis tightly grasps the trousers, tries to control his excitement again and again.
Dornan stops to stand in front of the central wall. Lewis stares at that frame which is covered by a large piece of scarlet cloth. The collector gestures two men to loosen it.
“My friend, this is ‘The Shining Stars’!”
Dornan stretches his arms straight, as if he is a triumphant captain who finds a new continent.
Lewis expectantly and fretfully gazes at the cloth which seems to be reluctant to leave that painting.
But suddenly, the detective frowns and cools down when he sees the most famous, precious and authentic work.
“‘The Shining Stars’! My best and most valuable collection! Lewis, what do you think about it?”
Dornan proudly smiles, the detective just stares at the painting.
Lewis carefully inspects each of the shining stars, but no one provides that magical feeling again.
“What did you say?”
Dornan turns back, curiously looks at frowning Lewis.
Lewis shakes his head, shows a reluctant smile.
Dornan frowns, but chooses not to ask any further question, then turns back, stretches his arms like a triumphant captain again.
“This is ‘The Shinning Stars’! This is my favourite! I can`t find any painting better than it. That`s why I fell in love with her when I saw her for the first time in 1997. I was so crazy, I decided to spend one million pounds for getting this treasure—just in one second!”
Dornan excitedly looks his favourite, but Lewis solely gazes at the painting, confirmedly refused all the words to come into his ears.
“So, Lewis, please make sure no one can steal it, you`ll get everything you want if you achieve that!”
“I`ll try my best, Sir.”
Lewis bows to Dornan, the owner smiles at same time.
But suddenly, Lewis frowns when he sees that smile.