Chapter 89: A New Opportunity for A-Jiao
Jiang Zhengkai and Zheng Yueshan conducted their conversation in a most peaceful and harmonious manner. Unlike Yao Tianyu, Zheng Yueshan wasn’t a quick-tempered person. Quite the opposite: he had a very mild manner. If it weren’t for the police uniform, you would probably mistake him for a soft-spoken retired college professor.
When Jiang Zhengkai got up to to leave Zheng Yueshan’s office, the Deputy Commissioner got up as well and escorted him to the door. He then patted Jiang Zhengkai on the shoulder and kindly said, “Keep up the good work, young man! Commissioner Yao and I will retire soon, so it’ll be up to younger officers like you to run the police bureau one day.”
“Hehe! Nonsense, Commissioner Zheng! Both you and Commissioner Yao are glowing examples of good health. I’m sure the two of you have many more productive years ahead of you. I’ll probably have to come and bother you about this case again,” Jiang Zhengkai said somewhat embarrassingly. His hands were filled with a thick stack of files. These were all the documents related to the alley drug ring case from two years ago.
“Don’t worry! Feel free to stop by anytime,” said Zheng Yueshan as he waved his hand. However, his countenance quickly grew dim as he gravely said to Jiang Zhengkai, “But you do need to hurry up and crack this case. I won’t mince words with you. Too many of our officers are standing watch in that alley, which is an unsustainable deployment of our forces. Many of our routine operations are now being backlogged because of the alley operation. So you need to do everything you can to speed up the investigation. I’m not rushing you; I’m just telling it as it is.” Afterwards, Zheng Yueshan looked intently at Jiang Zhengkai’s face.
“Understood! Don’t worry, Commissioner Zheng! I will crack this case ASAP!” Jiang Zhengkai didn’t know what else to say to him. Although Zheng Yueshan didn’t explicitly say it, Jiang Zhengkai knew criticism when heard it, even if it was said in a roundabout way. Specifically, Zheng Yueshan had always opposed deploying police officers to stand watch in the alley.
By the time Jiang Zhengkai left the municipal police bureau headquarters building, the sun was already shining in the west. He looked down at his watch and saw that it was already 5:30. If he drove straight to the preschool right now, he would be there just in time to pick up A-Jiao. This was just his number one concern every weekday afternoon.
“Hello, Honey, what are you doing?” asked Jiang Zhengkai as he called A-Jiao over the phone. He knew that all of A-Jiao’s classes at the preschool had already ended. Right now, she was either covering another teacher’s class or painting in her art studio.
“Well… I guess I’m at the preschool,” A-Jiao said somewhat hesitatingly. “What’s going on? Are you not busy today?” Her voice seemed to have gotten a bit quieter.
“Not at all!” Jiang Zhengkai noticed the difference in the volume of A-Jiao’s voice, but didn’t seem to think too much of it. He thought that perhaps it was because she was in the presence of her superiors and couldn’t really talk on the phone. If that really were the case, then there was no need for him to keep the conversation going. “I’ll come pick you up after work, ok?”
“Ok!” A-Jiao said happily into the phone. Her voice then immediately grew quiet again. “So yeah, come pick me up. I’m with Cui Jing right now… damnit! Alright, just come!” When A-Jiao said the words “Cui Jing,” her voice became unusually quiet. Perhaps there was something wrong with Cui Jing?
“Alright, I’m hanging up now!” said Jiang Zhengkai before he hung up. “Cui Jing?” he mumbled to himself, but he didn’t think any further of it. Cui Jing wasn’t A-Jiao, so her well-being wasn’t really a concern for him. If Cui Jing really were to die, then he supposed the impact would be that he would have to visit the crime scene. Cops weren’t gods, although Jiang Zhengkai had no intention of becoming a omnipresent world policeman like the Americans anyway. Therefore, he was in no mood to care about the lives of other women.
“Was that your boyfriend calling you?” asked Cui Jing. Her voice was a bit hoarse, and her eyes did a thousand-yard stare. Deep in her heart, she still hoped against hope that Li Hongbin could give her call. Even if he wasn’t going to apologize or console her, if his call was just to curse or insult her, it would suit Cui Jing just as well. At least that way, she would have no more illusions about their relationship. She would be free to feel that he wasn’t worth everything she had given him. But instead, there was nothing, as if nothing had transpired, as if Cui Jing had never existed in Li Hongbin’s life.
“Oh, yeah, it was,” replied A-Jiao as she sat back down next to Cui Jing. “Do you want some water?” A-Jiao had already tried to comfort Cui Jing for a while now. Even though she had a feeling that Cui Jing’s present state had something to do with Li Hongbin, she couldn’t figure out exactly what had happened to her. After all, A-Jiao wasn’t God either; she wasn’t omnipresent and couldn’t see what had happened to Cui Jing. As for Cui Jing’s present state, A-Jiao couldn’t help but take a small amount of pleasure in her misfortune. She felt that it was past due for Cui Jing to get hurt; now that she had been, Cui Jing could finally see Li Hongbin for what he truly was, and only then could she leave his side.
“Ziyuan, are all men liars?” asked Cui Jing, not bothering to answer A-Jiao’s question. She seemed to be muttering to herself. “My ex-boyfriend lied to me, now Binbin lied to me. Is it because I’m stupid and easy to trick?”
“What are you talking about? Of course you’re not!” replied A-Jiao as she wrapped Cui Jing in her arms. “It’s all the fault of those stinking, lying men! They’re bastards, all of them!” As soon as A-Jiao spoke, her face grew red to the ear. Was Jiang Zhengkai a bastard, too, then? Ah, whatever! Who told him to be born a man? He can be on the receiving end of the insults this time around.
Jiang Zhengkai parked his car outside the preschool. He arrived right when parents were all hurrying to pick up their children, so he didn’t rush in to find A-Jiao. He parked the car right across from the preschool’s main entrance. That way, it didn’t matter if A-Jiao was in her art studio, classroom, or office; she could easily see his car from all three locations. As for Jiang Zhengkai, he didn’t actually get out of the police cruiser. He kept sitting in the driver’s seat and opened up the documents that Zheng Yueshan had provided him. It was still a few minutes to six, so he might as well browse the drug ring documents first.
A-Jiao saw Jiang Zhengkai’s cop car from inside the office, but Cui Jing was still sitting beside her, staring blankly into the air. A-Jiao wanted to leave her to go find Jiang Zhengkai, but she knew doing so was inappropriate given the situation. At the end of the day, Cui Jing was A-Jiao’s friend and colleague, so she couldn’t just leave her alone in her time of need to be with her boyfriend.
“The two of you haven’t left yet?” asked an English teacher named Zhang Yali as she walked in. “Oh right, Ziyuan, the principal is looking for you. It seemed pretty urgent. She told me to tell you to see her first thing tomorrow morning, but since you’re still here, you might as well go see her now.”
“Oh, okay!” acknowledged A-Jiao as she left her office. Over in the principal’s office, the old lady told A-Jiao bad news that was good news. That afternoon’s audited class had unexpectedly been rated “excellent” by the school board. As a result, A-Jiao had to prepare another audited class, and the course content would of course be music again.
“But… Principal Li, I… I’m an art teacher!” protested A-Jiao as she looked awkwardly at Old Lady Li. A-Jiao was correct in that she was indeed an art teacher. Although girls usually liked singing anyway, music wasn’t her specialty. Plus, Cui Jing was her good friend, and A-Jiao had no intention of stealing this opportunity from her. “Could you perhaps let Cui Jing teach the class instead?”
“Let Cui Jing teach?” Principal Li glanced at A-Jiao, then shook her head. “School Board Chairwoman Zhou came in person this afternoon. How do you think I’m going to explain it when he realizes I swapped teachers between the first and second classes? What do you think that would do to the reputation of our preschool? Plus, Chairwoman Zhou said the young teacher he saw today was very special. That means he remembers you!”
“Oh…” A-Jiao helplessly responded. True, to be able to impress the School Board Chair was no small feat. After all, Old Lady Zhou was in charge of all primary and secondary schools in the city, and there weren’t many teachers who were able to impress her.
“Alright, it’s settled then!” declared an overjoyed Principal Li, whose grin had turned her eyes into slits. “The class is scheduled for next Wednesday. Be sure to be well-prepared. If there is something you don’t know, feel free to come and ask me. Remember, I used to teach music before I came a principal.” Old Lady Li added that last sentence that emphasize that she, too, was a subject-matter expert.
“Alright then. Thank you, Principal Li. I’ll be going now,” said A-Jiao before she left under the radiant smile of Principal Li. Old Lady Li truly and deeply liked A-Jiao. She was obedient, diligent, didn’t cause trouble, was always punctual, and had a special talent. With all of these qualities, A-Jiao was exactly the type of talent that Old Lady Li needed and wanted in her preschool. Whereas before, she favored A-Jiao and Cui Jing equally, Old Lady Li was now gradually starting to tilt towards A-Jiao.