Chapter 31: Suicide
As a police officer there are two situations in which time seems to drag especially slow: during overtime and when on duty. These times were slow because there was nothing out of the ordinary or because there was nothing to look forward to.
Zhang Chi was different. He looked forward to his eight-day shift on duty. The work wasn’t that interesting, but he was on the same duty roster as Gu Shi. Getting to spend more time with someone he liked was just what he wanted.
That evening, Gu Shi had not even sat down at her station before her police radio went off, making a chorus effect with all the other radios lined up. “Two-oh-two, this is one-oh-seven calling,do you read?”
“Two-oh-two here, go ahead.” Gu Shi grabbed the radio and got her pen ready to jot in her notebook.
“There’s a young woman at Qingdi Homes threatening to take her own life; the caller reported the situation is critical. Send officers to the scene immediately. The person who made the report is at…”
Zhang Chi watched, smiling faintly, but when he heard the news his smile stiffened and disappeared and he got up and ran to the on-duty office living quarters and quickly returned wearing his duty belt, a policeman’s hat already on his head. The two officers in the other office heard the report on the radio and went to the dispatch window to await orders.
Zhang Chi neatly wrote his information down on the on-duty register and grabbed a body camera from a drawer and hung it around his neck. He stood by Gu Shi with the police cruiser key in his hand, waiting for her orders. As she took down the phone number of the person who had reported the incident, he paid close attention as she called out each number and he dialed it on the external line, connecting to the person’s cell phone.
“Hello, I’m an officer from the city branch, are you the one who reported the incident? What’s it like at the scene? Please speak slowly and clearly. Where exactly are you all right now?” Zhang chi was taking down information. “Don’t worry, we’ll be there very soon. First just try to calm and stabilize her.”
Gu Shi kept glancing at him, listening closely to what they were discussing. Once they had responded to the command center and she was clear on what they had discussed over the phone, she took the equipment Zhang Chi handed her and headed out. “You didn’t ask what her mental state was. Bring restraint straps just in case. Take more body cams and record the whole trip. I’ll go get the car. You go get Little Wu and we’ll all three go together. Meet me at the entrance.”
Zhang Chi didn’t get why she insisted on driving. Everyone knew his driving skill. Was she even better?
His doubts were erased as soon as he and Little Wu got to the door as he watched a police cruiser scream toward them from several hundred meters out, backing up straight to the entrance.
Zhang Chi and Little Wu looked at each other in amazement and ran out. Gu Shi stepped on the gas as soon as the car doors were shut, police lights flashing, siren shrieking, zipping past cars on the road. Zhang Chi smiled at the face of Gu Shi looking back at them through the rearview mirror, while Little Wu sat upright and gripped the handle over the window.
A few minutes later they arrived at the building where the scene was unfolding. A fire truck was there and several firefighters were selecting a spot to set up their air cushion, but there wasn’t much space for it because the area was crowded with parked cars.
“One-oh-seven and two-oh-one are at the scene, looking for the person who reported the incident,” Gu Shi reported to the command center. She turned to Zhang Chi and Little Wu and pointed to the building and they sprinted toward it.
Zhang Chi could faintly make out a white figure in the window of the high-rise in the distance, a paper-thin figure, two legs hanging our the window, skirt rustling in the wind. Little Wu was still trying to locate her when Zhang Chi clapped him on the shoulder and told him to come on.
The three of them got to the lobby of the thirty-story building. There were only two elevators operating, one of them always stopped on the nineteenth floor, like someone was moving out. The other elevator was sluggishly descending from the top floor, frequently stopping at other floors along the way for other residents.
“Hurry,” Gu Shi told them impatiently. “We’ll run up to the twelfth floor.”
She had no longer finished her sentence than Zhang charged ahead two steps at a time. The building was taller than most so running up the stairs was no picnic. Gu Shi saw Zhang Chi big back, nimble and powerful, and not to be outdone, she quickened her pace to keep close. When the two of them got to the entrance of the person who reported the incident, they quickly caught their breath while Little Wu came huffing and puffing up behind them, his face flushed, drenched in sweat.
Zhang Chi didn’t have time to laugh at him; he saw Gu Shi slow and soft her steps. She had definitely seen something. Going forward he noticed the door to the person’s room was open. A thin man was kneeling in the living room not far from the entrance, facing inside and urgently pleading in a low voice, his hand on the ground propping him up shaking nonstop.
“It was you who called the police?” The girl sitting in the window inched her body further out when she Gu Shi in the doorway. “I took you as a friend and you betrayed me!”
“Weiwei, don’t do anything rash,” the man explained softly. “We’re all here to help you, nothing else.”
Gu Shi went up to the man and looked at the girl. She asked him softly, “Why is she like this? What happened? Are you her boyfriend?”
“I want to be her boyfriend, but she says I’m just a friend. She’s been down the last few days. Today she suddenly posted a message in our friend group saying she wanted to kill herself. I called her but she didn’t answer, so I came here directly.”
Gu Shi glanced around the room. It was a nondescript, single woman’s apartment. “Where do you work? What do you do? Where are you from originally?”
The man stared at the girl, ready to run to her at any time. His forehead was beaded with cold sweat. “She’s a graduate student at a university. She’s from here. Her family lives in the suburbs.”
The man was frantic. “Officers, she’s not in good health. She suffers from anorexia; right now she’s not even forty-five kilograms. She’s been sitting in the window for over an hour. Please do something quick. I asked her why but she won’t say a word about and won’t let me get near. I don’t know what to do.”
The girl’s legs were dangling in the night air, leaning dispirited against the window frame, from time to time looking down at the scene below, every time her emotions fluctuating each time. Her strength seemed to be nearly exhausted. The situation certainly didn’t look optimistic.
Suddenly from outside the door came the sound of voices. It was the girl’s school counselor and school leader, as well as people in charge of maintenance. Zhang Chi greeted them and motioned for them to keep silent. They lowered their voices and explained they were there to understand the situation.
The sensitive girl wanted to cry but she had no tears, frequently looking out the window, then back toward Zhang Chi out in the hallway, a look of despair gradually emerging on her face. Seemed she didn’t really want to jump, but had been backed into a corner by everyone with no way out.
The people from the school and the maintenance people were anxiously discussing something, not coming forward, only standing outside the door, peeking in to check out how the situation was unfolding.
Gu Shi slowly made her way toward her, stopping when she was about three meters away. “Relax, I won’t get too close. I had to get close enough so you could hear me clearly.”
The girl turned slightly to look at her, confused and curious.
“I really do understand how you feel right now, even though I don’t know what you’ve been through,” Gu Shi said.
The girl turned back to outside as if she hadn’t heard anything. She seemed to be lost in a trance.
Gu Shi continued speaking clearly. “Whether you believe it or not, I want to tell you that I used to be just like you are now.”
The girl turned to the side, but her hand slipped and she staggered. Her delicate hand gripped the window frame again before anyone had time to cal out, her face blanched. She recovered a bit, but everyone else was still badly shaken.
She smiled faintly at Gu Shi. “Just like me, ready to jump? You’re making it up. You’ve not felt what I feel. No one understands me.”
“It’s normal for you not to believe it. Back then I didn’t believe I’d ever not want to live, but the thought was crystal clear, like a hunger pang.”
When he heard this, Zhang Chi gave Little Wu a look, seeking confirmation. Wu just shrugged and whispered in his ear, “Maybe it’s just a tactic.”
“Then why are you just standing there? Don’t you want to know why I’m like this?”
“I never force people.” Gu Shi looked at her, calm and focused. The girl looked away. “I just want to tell you that I don’t regret my final decision. I’m very glad that someone then lent me a hand.”
“Don’t get close to me. I don’t want you to lend me a hand.”
“You misunderstand,” Gu Shi said coldly. “I didn’t choose the way you have, too lofty.”
The girl was curious. “What way did you choose?”
“That’s personal. I didn’t get probe into your business, don’t probe into mine. Drink some water. No matter what else you’re unhappy about, don’t take it out on your body.” Gu Shi placed a bottle of water on a nearby table.
“You think you can get me down like that?”
“It’s your life, your responsibility. I’m just trying to make things a little easier. Seeing your lips are chapped like that makes me thirsty.” Gu Shi looked indifferent as she she turned aside.
“Officers, this is how you plan to handle this?” the school counselor said, pulling Little Wu to the side and speaking in a low voice. “The last person her parents will come to is us. Do something, quick.”
“If you’re afraid of taking responsibility then why did you come, just to see a show?” Zhang Chi ridiculed flatly. In the dim light he glanced at Gu Shi and winked.
Little Wu pulled him back. “Everyone is on-edge and working together. Don’t say such useless things.”
Gu Shi was still there speaking calmly. “Know what the biggest thing I felt after I survived?”
The girl looked at her expectantly, dubiously, not aware of Zhang Chi sidling close on the flank.
“Drink some water and I’ll tell you. Talking with you is tiring. Even drinking water is too much for you that you won’t get it yourself. Here.” Gu Shi grabbed the bottle of water and made as if to toss it to her.
“Hey, no, hand it to me. I can’t catch it.”
Gu Shi slowly took two steps forward and held the bottle out to her. The girl took a hand off the window to reach for the bottle, almost reaching it, her legs still hanging out the window, her eyes fixed on Gu Shi, watching for a change in her expression.
Gu Shi casually leaned in, her center of gravity going forward, her face still blank. The girl could almost reach the bottle…
She shot out and grabbed the girl’s arm with both hands and pulled hard, her sudden explosive force pulling the girl off the window where she fell inside the room. The force propelled Gu Shi backwards and the girl fell on top of her, both of them crashing to the floor together.
Zhang Chi ran to the window and locked it up. Little Wu waited until everyone was gathered, then helped the two up. The girl sat on the floor, sobbing. Gu Shi struggled to sit up, her taut face slacking as she pulled the girl into her arms.
The people from school applauded her, relieved, and the maintenance people clapped. She felt the girl in her arms shaking. It was like she was holding her former self. She was filled with emotion, heedless to the girl’s tears staining her uniform.
“How much of what she said do you think is true?” Zhang Chi asked Little Wu.
“Who knows. All we know is she’d never mentioned her private life, and she seems to not have a boyfriend. Still, she’s pretty and all, but she’s so dauntless, who would dare go after her?”
“Dauntless. That’s the only word you can use to describe her? That’s a bit much.”
“You don’t know. I heard her dad say when she was young she used to stick up for others, would fight with the boys. The parents went to complain about it. Also, there guys from other departments who were trying to get with her. The kind that wouldn’t give up. She took one to see an autopsy, then another the next day to a horror film. In the end they all gave it up.”
“Too intense, couldn’t take it?” Zhang Chi nearly laughed. Who could tell she would be like that from her gentle exterior?
“Not only too intense, but aloof,” Little Wu said furtively. “Probably ‘frigid’ cause she never had any response, like she was hiding from a ghost. Together six months and never so much as even held hands. Wouldn’t you say that’s strange?”
Gu Shi rubbed her back and said a few words to the man and coldly shot them a look.
Little Wu kept quiet immediately, zipping his mouth up behind her back.
Zhang Chi had the man who called the police write down his information and nodded to him sympathetically.
The counselor helped the girl to a seat on the sofa while the school leader strode forward and shook Gu Shi’s hand, thanking her repeatedly. “At the crucial moment the people’s police came through. Please forgive us if we caused any offense just now. You don’t know how tough a position the school is in right now. If something were to happen to a student, the parents would seek compensation from us and hold us responsible; we have to deal with every bad situation.”
Gu Shi listened to him patiently. “We’ll she’s safe now so she’s all yours. Remember to contact her parents and get he a psychological evaluation. We have other matters to attend, so we’ll be on our way.”
Gu Shi reported to the command center, then shut off her body cam and the three of them got in the elevator. “It’s all hindsight. Ma’am, you were bold and tactful,” Little Wu said, finally having the chance to say something. He stuck his thumb up in approval.
“Aren’t you tired? Just save it.” Zhang Chi swept his hand over Wu’s head and tousled his hair and reflexively pulled back to the corner. Gu Shi paid no attention to them, but walked straight to the police cruiser.
It was quiet in the office at noon when the phone rang. Little Wu shot upright. “What? Missing?”
Little Wu’s grogginess instantly disappeared and he stood. He stroked the phone line and shook his head, speaking into the mouthpiece, “She just can’t leave well enough alone, can she? I give up! Anyway, us two will go; you do your stuff. If there’s a problem I’ll call you.”