Chapter 98: The Mysteries of a Woman’s Life and Death
A-Tie lay on a hospital bed. His body was still hooked up to a myriad of different colored tubes, but his condition was now stable. Jiang Zhengkai, Zhang Nan, and Lu Xiaoqiang appeared at his bedside, as A-Tie looked at them with tears in his eyes.
“Thank you! Thank you, Inspector Jiang! Thank you, Sergeant Zhang! Thank you for saving my life!” Although A-Tie’s voice sounded quite feeble, he was nevertheless quite coherent. It looked like the coma wasn’t the result of any permanent damage to the brain.
“Don’t mention it!” said Jiang Zhengkai as he sat on a stool next to the bed. “Saving lives is what the police is supposed to do. However, we would like to ask you a few questions, if you don’t mind…”
“Yes, please do!” A-Tie’s voice was still very weak, but his eyes were laser-focused on Jiang Zhengkai. Jiang knew A-Tie was very grateful to the police for saving his life, so he was confident A-Tie would tell him everything he knew.
“Good! The men who attacked you: do you know what they wanted from you?” Jiang Zhengkai asked in a soothing tone as he propped himself on the hospital bed.
“They wanted to find their missing men,” A-Tie replied concisely. He paused for a second as he took a deep breath, which caused his chest to noticeably rise, before continuing. “And to find A-Xiu.”
“Find A-Xiu?” Jiang Zhengkai repeated in surprise. Was Sui Zhongyi’s crew trying to find A-Xiu’s whereabouts as well?
“Yes, they were looking for A-Xiu,” A-Tie said again.
“So do you know where A-Xiu is then?” Jiang Zhengkai asked.
A-Tie’s chest rose and fell in rapid succession as he started hyperventilating. He opened his mouth but couldn’t provide an answer to the question.
“Quick, get a nurse!” Jiang Zhengkai saw A-Tie’s facial expression and immediately called out to the nearby Lu Xiaoqiang. “A-Tie’s condition is unstable! Call a nurse right now!” He turned to Zhang Nan. “That’s all for today. Make sure he lives!” After he finished speaking, Jiang Zhengkai looked at A-Tie one more time. He was just about to walk away when A-Tie’s hand suddenly reached over and grabbed his wrist. He said in an unusually clear voice, “Dead, Inspector Jiang! She’s dead!”
“She’s dead?” Jiang Zhengkai continued to stare at A-Tie. He desperately hoped A-Tie could keep on talking, but A-Tie could not hold out any longer and passed out.
After Jiang Zhengkai gave Zhang Nan his orders, he and Lu Xiaoqiang quickly left the hospital. While on the road, Jiang Zhengkai kept thinking over what A-Tie had told him. Did he say A-Xiu’s dead? Why would he say that? Was A-Tie talking about the real A-Xiu, or A-Xiu’s body double A-Dan?
“Inspector Jiang, we’re officially off-duty now. Will you be returning to the sub-bureau, or are you going to the preschool?” asked Lu Xiaoqiang as he stopped at a crossroads between the road to the preschool and the road to the sub-bureau.
“Hehe! Clever boy!” Jiang Zhengkai awkwardly chuckled at Lu Xiaoqiang’s question. “Preschool.”
“Yes, Inspector,” replied Lu Xiaoqiang, hiding a smile as he turned the car onto the road to the preschool.
By the time Lu Xiaoqiang parked the car in front of the preschool’s front door, A-Jiao was already waiting impatiently inside. Jiang Zhengkai got out of the car and immediately gestured for Lu Xiaoqiang to drive away.
“How was your day? Was it busy?” asked A-Jiao as she saw the police car drive off. She wrapped her arm around his and then sweetly asked, “Are you tired?”
“I’m alright,” replied Jiang Zhengkai as he bent over and gently kissed A-Jiao on the forehead. “How about you?”
“I’m alright, too. Oh right, Honey,” said A-Jiao as she bit her lips and looked at Jiang Zhengkai, “Cui Jing might really be missing! I found her cell phone underneath her office desk today.”
“Really?” Jiang Zhengkai looked intently at her. “Are you saying she hasn’t been here for the last couple of days, but her cell phone has been in the office the entire time?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying! What should we do?” asked A-Jiao as she swung his arm back and forth.
“Does your principal know?” Jiang Zhengkai asked.
“I think so,” A-Jiao said uncertainly. “She went to attend a meeting with the school board in the afternoon. I subbed for Cui Jing’s afternoon classes. A co-worker and I only found the cell phone after I had finished teaching Cui Jing’s classes.”
“Then that means your principal probably doesn’t know,” said Jiang Zhengkai as he looked out onto the street. A-Jiao quietly nodded her head in response. She wasn’t sure if her co-worker had reported the matter of Cui Jing’s cell phone to the principal.
“How about this: if Cui Jing is still not here tomorrow morning, you give me a call,” Jiang Zhengkai said in a serious tone, as he looked intently into A-Jiao’s eyes and held her shoulders with his hands. He didn’t believe Cui Jing would simply vanish into thin air, but there was a good possibility that she was indeed missing. Unfortunately, she hadn’t been missing long enough for the police to file a missing person report.
“Okay!” A-Jiao eagerly nodded. “So, where are you taking me tonight?” she asked, as if she had completely forgotten about Cui Jing’s predicament. To A-Jiao, Jiang Zhengkai would always be number one. She couldn’t care if it were Cui Jing or Li Jing, she only had time to worry about them when Jiang Zhengkai wasn’t around. Perhaps this was why the sayings “bros before hos” and “chicks before dicks” exist.
* * *
Across from the preschool watched one other person who truly cared for Cui Jing: A-Meng. When he saw A-Jiao leaving hand-in-hand with Jiang Zhengkai, he quietly snuck out of the apartment building and went to the hospital.
Cui Jing had already spent two days in the hospital. Her body had more or less recovered. Even though she’d been sexually assaulted by that group of southern businessmen a few nights ago, they hadn’t actually done anything that would result in any permanent harm to her body. As such, even though she didn’t feel well, she wasn’t actually physically injured in any way. Of course, there was the matter of her fever.
“My cell phone?” Cui Jing asked with an evil grin on her face as soon as she saw A-Meng walking through the door.
“Here!” snarled A-Meng as he tossed Cui Jing a brand new smartphone, still in its original packaging. “Don’t say I never got you anything!”
“Why would I say that?” Cui Jing opened the packaging and took out her new smartphone. She held it in her hand and looked it for a while before remarking, “It’s really quite nice! Thank you for going through the trouble of getting it for me. I do have another question though: where’s the SIM card?”
“Ha! Check inside the box!” A-Meng said grumpily. “Is there anything else I can get you? A long-term cell phone contract, perhaps?”
“Oh, hehe.” Cui Jing saw the expression on A-Meng’s face and started giggling to herself. She’d just been messing around when she’d told A-Meng he owed her a cell phone. Who knew that this man with the one-track mind would take her at her word and actually get her a new cell phone? Still, women often like men with a one-track mind. “My contacts are all gone! How am I supposed to call my friends when I don’t have their numbers anymore?” Clearly, she was still playing the bratty princess.
“Dial 411!” A-Meng barked. “What did you want for dinner tonight? Porridge or noodles?”
“I want dumplings!” Apparently, Cui Jing wanted a third choice that wasn’t on the prescribed menu.
“No! The hospital is only serving porridge and noodles tonight,” A-Meng insisted.
“I don’t care! I want to eat dumplings!” Cui Jing sat in her hospital bed and kicked her legs up and down like a fussy three-year-old girl. Seeing Cui Jing act that way, A-Meng let out a soft grunt before turning around and walking out the door without uttering another word.
“Hey, you! Where are you going?” When she saw A-Meng walk away, Cui Jing thought it was because he was mad. She immediately stood up straight in the bed and called out, “What are you doing?”
“I’m going to buy you some dumplings!” A-Meng replied without so much as turning his head around, as his muscular silhouette quickly exited the hospital room.
“Hehe! What a fool!” Hearing A-Meng’s response made Cui Jing break out in giddy laughter. She had never been pampered like this before when she was with Li Hongbin. Only now did Cui Jing realize that a woman in love could enjoy such special treatment.
“Wait, what? Love? Could I really have fallen for him?” At the thought of that, Cui Jing began to blush. She then quietly muttered to herself, “But I don’t even know his name…”
Perhaps, when true love hits you in the face, a name becomes nothing more than a word by which you call someone. Like a person’s physical appearance or social standing, a name is something that’s extrinsic to what truly defines a person: his heart and soul. When you really love a person, what truly matters is what’s on the inside rather than what’s on the outside. In that case, things like name, standing, family, and all other extrinsic things float away like clouds. Unfortunately, these clouds will eventually float past you again, and the only thing a grounded person like yourself can do is to look up at them from afar.