[What you need to know to start the day: Get New York Today in your inbox.]
A long-limbed man carrying a black bag moved with purpose through the morning bustle of Flushing, Queens. He walked into the hush of the Chun Fook funeral home and down the marble steps to where the paperwork of death is handled.
An employee in black led him into the privacy provided by a wooden screen. On a table draped with a gold cloth sat a small white box, and behind it, a framed portrait of the man’s sister and only sibling, Song Yang.
In late November 2017, she either jumped or fell from a fourth-floor window as the police were banging on her door to arrest her, once again, for prostitution. She landed hard on 40th Road, a truncated street known for restaurants, illegal massage parlors and women on its sidewalks calling out “Massage? Massage?”
Song Yang was 38.
Her brother and mother, Song Hai and Shi Yumei, rushed from their remote home in northeastern China to unfamiliar Flushing, where they spent the next 15 months. Distrustful of the police account, Mr. Song, 36, began his own investigation into her death, distributing information-wanted posters, swapping tips with reporters and interrogating his sister’s sex-work colleagues.
He became convinced that the police had thrown his sister from the window, and that the authorities were engaged in a cover-up. It did not matter that surveillance video demonstrated otherwise, or that an inquiry by the Queens district attorney’s office found no evidence of police misconduct. Bitter suspicion infused his grief.
But Mr. Song’s investigation had stalled. Money had run out. Visas had expired. And a wife and 5-year-old son were waiting. It was time to return to China.
Time to bring his sister home.
The funeral home employee, Kevin Liu, opened the box. He explained to Mr. Song that the certificate of cremation — needed for customs — was inside, along with a sealed bag containing Song Yang’s ashes.
Mr. Song raised the delicate matter of payment for more than a year’s rental of storage space — about 0. But the funeral home was well aware of the family’s woes. Whenever the brother and mother visited Song Yang’s remains, the mother was known to weep without pause.
Mr. Liu settled on 0. Then, at Mr. Song’s request, he wrapped the box in a cloth of red, the color meant to convey wishes for safe passage of the soul.
Mr. Song removed a black backpack from his bag, and the two men carefully placed the box and the portrait inside. Mr. Liu helped to strap the bag to Mr. Song’s back, shook his hand, and said, “Yilu shunfeng.”
Have a safe journey.
We spent most of 2018 following the Flushing travails of Mr. Song and Ms. Shi, as they inhabited the absence of their loved one, Song Yang. Then, in October, The New York Times published “The Case of Jane Doe Ponytail,” our lengthy account of her death and its aftermath.
Now, in late March, her brother and mother had to tend to last-minute matters before ending their American journey — including the collection from the funeral home.
Carrying the remains of his sister on his back, Mr. Song crossed Northern Boulevard and headed south on Main Street. So many times he had walked this street, searching for clues, sorting out matters in his head.
Past the Confucius Manning Pharmacy. The Rainbow women’s clothing store. The landmark Episcopal church, St. George’s, where his grieving mother had found solace. Its members had given her a sense of purpose by enlisting her to volunteer at a weekly food pantry.
A construction worker in a hard hat leaned against the church’s gray stone wall, smoking a cigarette. He personified the ongoing transformation of Flushing into an oasis of glass towers. Mr. Song walked through the man’s blue-white exhalations.
He crossed the busy intersection at Roosevelt Avenue, where he had once grabbed his sister’s “boss”: an elusive, square-headed man known as Lao Li. Song Yang had paid him as much as 0 a night for a 40th Road apartment and the illusion of protection.
Their tense encounter had attracted a crowd, as Mr. Song waved down a police car and insisted that this “boss” be arrested. Explaining that things do not work that way in the United States, the police had allowed Lao Li to scurry away, leaving Mr. Song confused and angry.
He continued on, deaf to the street songs of immigrants. A woman hawking beauty treatments. A man promoting tax services. A peddler selling Chinese-language books, including “F.B.I. Mind Reading — U.S. Federal Agents Teach You to See Through People.”
Mr. Song turned right on 40th Road. He walked along the sidewalk on the south side, where his sister had once called out to men.
Song Yang had come with her much-older husband to Flushing in 2013, after an economic downturn in Saipan forced them to close the two restaurants they owned. With her husband unable to work, she had scrambled to find a job. Before long, she was offering sex for money on 40th Road, a dangerously vulnerable job.
She was beaten, robbed and sexually assaulted. She was also arrested a couple of times, which she feared might thwart her chance to secure legal residence in the United States.
Arrested again in late September 2017, Song Yang became despondent. “I’ve fallen so low I can’t be saved,” she wrote in a WeChat message to a lawyer trying to help her. “Without purpose, without direction, what meaning is there to keep on living?”
On the night of Nov. 25, she fell prey to another sting, this time by a team of 10 police officers who had nicknamed her “Jane Doe Ponytail.” She escorted an undercover officer up to her fourth-floor apartment in the tired building at 135-32 and offered him sex for , but he demurred and left. Almost immediately she saw, on a surveillance monitor in the apartment, the images of police officers ascending the stairs.
Song Yang hurried to a small balcony overlooking 40th Road. She hit the pavement a few feet from the undercover officer, just as he was exiting the building.
Now her brother was looking up at the balcony from the exact spot where she had fallen. He entered the building and climbed the tile steps leading to her old apartment, where another massage operation called Heaven on 4th had opened shortly after her death. But renovation work blocked the stairwell, and a sign in Chinese on the window of the first-floor restaurant explained what was happening.
Third floor, fourth floor
Suitable for all kinds of offices
Things had changed along 40th Road.
For one thing, the police were targeting johns, in keeping with a stated policy to focus less on the employees of illicit massage parlors and more on their owners and customers.
The police also began enforcing nuisance-abatement laws. One of the first operations had targeted a massage parlor in a building across the street from 135-32 — one run by Song Yang’s old “boss,” Lao Li. The authorities had padlocked its doors and plastered its windows with “CLOSED By Court Order” and “RESTRAINING ORDER” signs.
Finally, a task force of several city agencies — including the police, fire and buildings departments — began focusing on property and business owners, zeroing in, for example, on apartments with illegal subdivisions and faulty plumbing fixtures.
In addition, the news coverage that followed Song Yang’s death — including the account in The Times — had increased the political pressure to address the sex business along 40th Road. City Councilman Peter Koo, who had long received complaints about women overtly soliciting sex on the street, began calling landlords to put them on notice.
No more renting to illegal businesses, Mr. Koo said he had warned them. And make sure your tenants do not sublease space to shadowy operations.
One recent afternoon, a woman who calls herself DongDong, and who often wears a pink bomber jacket, emerged from a 40th Road restaurant carrying takeout. “We’ve all split up,” she said in Mandarin. “We can’t stand on the street anymore.”
Later that night, though, DongDong was lingering, mostly alone, outside her old haunt. She and other women now connect with customers after midnight, and then lead them to locations on other Flushing streets.
The 40th Road cacophony includes the ping of basketballs in the playground at one end, and a fruit stand’s chatter at the other. But, at least for now, you rarely hear the once-ubiquitous “Massage? Massage?”
Mr. Song continued to carry his backpack south on Main Street, ignoring a man under the Long Island Rail Road trestle who was selling patches sure to relieve pain. He turned right on 41st Avenue — passing a nine-story structure that wasn’t there when he arrived in Flushing 15 months ago — and entered a squat building of subdivided apartments where kitchens and bathrooms are communal.
His mother, Shi Yumei, was waiting in the 12-by-12-foot room they share. Its window looks out at the back of two oversized Chinese characters that advertise the senior center downstairs. “Happiness,” the characters say.
On the nightstand sat pill bottles and cigarette lighters. On the mother’s bed, one of her daughter’s beloved teddy bears. And, in the corner, eight overstuffed pieces of luggage, a few containing some of the belongings left by Song Yang.
The mother and brother were leaving that night for John F. Kennedy International Airport. It would take them a full day of travel to return home to China’s northeastern province of Liaoning, where the family plans to bury Song Yang on a mountainside.
Ms. Shi, 66, sat bent on her bed. She is a much frailer woman than when she first arrived more than a year ago. Several months ago she required hip-replacement surgery after tripping or being knocked down on Main Street. She began talking of her gratitude to the United States.
But the face of her son, sitting across from her, darkened with every word of praise for a government that he believed had caused and covered up his sister’s death. Suddenly, he threw a suitcase lock in anger. It hit a wall and clattered to the floor.
“All that’s left of my sister are her ashes in a box,” he said. He listed other sorrows. A mother who was now broken, physically and emotionally. A father whose hair had turned white. A wife and son he had not seen in more than a year.
“I feel like Job from the Bible.”
The small room became smaller in the ensuing quiet. In the corner were the eight large pieces of luggage. Nine, now, with the black backpack containing the remains of their beloved Song Yang, who had fallen in Flushing.
Song Hai wondered aloud how he would carry it all.B:
“【对】【啊】，【我】【十】【四】【岁】，【也】【就】【是】【去】【年】【时】【候】【就】【取】【得】【硕】【士】【学】【位】【咯】！” “【十】【四】【岁】？！”【这】【王】【悦】【儿】【简】【直】【惊】【呆】【了】！【人】【家】【十】【四】【岁】【酒】【已】【经】【取】【得】【硕】【士】【学】【位】，【那】【么】……【她】【们】【的】【十】【四】【岁】【还】【在】【干】【啥】【子】【哟】！ 【完】【全】【不】【在】【一】【个】【世】【界】【频】【道】【上】【的】【好】【吧】！ 【林】【筱】【梦】【挠】【挠】【头】，【笑】【了】【笑】：“【嘿】【嘿】，【这】【不】【算】【什】【么】！”【又】【抬】【头】【看】【一】【眼】【林】【筱】【颖】，“【其】【实】，【真】【正】【厉】【害】【的】
【刘】【佳】【然】【胆】【子】【可】【还】【是】【没】【有】【多】【少】【长】【进】，【哪】【怕】【知】【道】【是】【假】【的】，【不】【存】【在】【的】，【可】【总】【是】【忍】【不】【住】【害】【怕】。 【没】【想】【到】【想】【着】【却】【爱】【上】【了】【看】【恐】【怖】【片】，【既】【害】【怕】【又】【特】【别】【喜】【欢】，【这】【还】【真】【是】【一】【种】【矛】【盾】【的】【心】【情】【啊】。 “【你】【想】【看】【什】【么】？【我】【看】【这】【里】【恐】【怖】【片】【挺】【多】【的】……” 【余】【恒】【扫】【了】【一】【眼】，【新】【出】【的】【恐】【怖】【片】【还】【真】【是】【不】【少】，【海】【报】【也】【做】【的】【很】【是】【不】【错】，【恐】【怖】【氛】【围】【很】【重】。
【莫】【华】【松】【盯】【着】【肥】【龙】【问】【道】：“【肥】【龙】，【都】【这】【个】【时】【候】【了】，【你】【不】【告】【诉】【我】【相】【关】【事】【情】【吗】？” “【唉】，【其】【实】【也】【没】【有】【什】【么】【好】【说】【的】，【这】【一】【切】【都】【是】【一】【个】【意】【外】。”【肥】【龙】【轻】【轻】【叹】【了】【一】【口】【气】【说】【道】。 “【什】【么】【意】【外】？”【莫】【华】【松】【问】【道】。 【肥】【龙】【没】【有】【以】【前】【的】【玩】【世】【不】【恭】，【而】【是】【对】【莫】【华】【松】【说】【道】：“【我】【们】【在】【这】【里】【说】【话】，【似】【乎】【不】【大】【方】【便】，【要】【不】，【我】【们】【进】【到】【里】【面】【再】【说】七十一期马报生活小幽默【糊】【纸】【盒】、【贴】【标】【签】、【串】【吊】【牌】……，【下】【午】，【小】【毛】，【小】【花】【和】“【四】【眼】”【又】【围】【坐】【在】【一】【起】【做】【手】【工】【劳】【动】。 【将】【模】【切】【好】【的】【纸】【板】【一】【摞】【摞】【放】【于】【饭】【桌】【上】，【用】【毛】【笔】【给】【两】【侧】【小】【边】【均】【匀】【刷】【上】【浆】【糊】，【再】【将】【刷】【过】【的】【纸】【板】【两】【边】【扶】【起】，【大】【边】【压】【小】【边】，【然】【后】【用】【橡】【皮】【筋】【绷】【紧】，【错】【角】45°【叠】【放】。【最】【后】【自】【检】【合】【格】【后】，【悬】【挂】【上】【标】【示】【牌】，【这】【样】【一】【个】【纸】【盒】【就】【基】【本】【完】【成】。 【小】
“【快】【看】，【那】【个】【人】【还】【跪】【在】【那】【里】！” “【是】【啊】，【他】【已】【经】【跪】【了】【三】【天】【三】【夜】，【连】【一】【滴】【水】【都】【没】【有】【喝】。” “【真】【是】【可】【怜】【啊】！” …… “【就】【这】【样】【放】【着】【他】【不】【管】【吗】？” 【听】【着】【府】【中】【人】【的】【纷】【纷】【议】【论】，【再】【看】【看】【跪】【在】【楚】【楚】【房】【门】【外】【一】【动】【不】【动】【的】【剑】【晨】，【步】【惊】【云】【忍】【不】【住】【向】【身】【旁】【的】【许】【莫】【超】【问】【道】。 “【关】【我】【屁】【事】？” 【许】【莫】【超】【没】【好】【气】【地】【说】【道】。
【吉】【如】【那】【甜】【甜】【的】【笑】【容】，【让】**【菲】【看】【到】【了】【母】【性】【的】【爱】，【想】【起】【了】【阿】【妈】【的】【模】【样】，【也】【似】【乎】【就】【是】【这】【个】【样】【子】【的】。 【天】【底】【下】【的】【母】【亲】【都】【是】【一】【样】【的】，【有】【着】【一】【颗】【慈】【爱】【般】【的】【善】【心】，【可】【是】【像】【大】【太】【太】【那】【样】【的】【却】【毕】【竟】【是】【少】【数】。 **【菲】【对】【这】【个】【吉】【如】【的】【印】【象】【十】【分】【的】【好】！ 【吉】【如】【和】【孩】【子】【在】【里】【屋】【一】【直】【说】【着】【话】，【显】【然】【没】【有】【注】【意】【到】**【菲】【和】【二】【姨】【太】【的】【到】【来】。【一】【旁】【的】
【从】【严】【格】【意】【义】【上】【来】【说】，【这】【面】【彩】【网】，【是】【一】【件】【法】【器】，【而】【不】【是】【一】【件】【兵】【器】。 【楚】【冠】【男】【双】【手】【托】【着】【这】【面】【彩】【网】，【朝】【着】【严】【俨】【一】【抖】。 【顿】【时】，【那】【面】【彩】【网】，【迅】【速】【变】【大】【了】【数】【十】【倍】！ 【更】【加】【不】【可】【思】【议】【的】【是】：【那】【面】【彩】【网】，【发】【出】【了】【令】【人】【眩】【晕】【的】【七】【色】【彩】【光】，【就】【算】【是】【以】【严】【俨】【之】【能】，【目】【光】【也】【是】【骤】【然】【收】【缩】。 【楚】【冠】【男】【将】【那】【面】【彩】【网】【朝】【着】【严】【俨】【当】【头】【罩】【下】，【然】【后】，