Chapter 37: Trust
When Zhang Chi and Little Wu received the order they drove straight to Zhenghai City, two hours away. At the same time, Mr. Liu, father of the missing girl, sat in the criminal investigations team conference room, absorbed in smoking a cigarette.
Mr. Liu was already a regular visitor here. He didn’t have an entrance card, yet he always found a way to get inside. He hadn’t been seen for several days, and now his face was dark, not as calm and collected as before. He was often seen pacing back and forth in the hallway.
Gu Zhichang moved his office temporarily to the conference room. Allowing him to rest in here he was not ignoring the man, and he would still be free to come and go and do his work. Mr. Liu frequently looked up at the officers shuttling in and out, and whenever Gu Zhichang went out to answer a phone call he would turn to the doorway, as if expecting something miracle at any time.
Gu Zhichang turned to see his hopeful expression. He stopped Gu Shi, who was just coming over to him, and had her come in and look after him.
On his end, Zhang Chi answered the phone and kept his voice low. “Sir, We’re all ready. We don’t know how many people are in the room. Should we just go by the plan?”
“Yes, move. Be safe and report back promptly.”
As soon as Gu Zhichang gave the order, Zhang Chi and Little Wu too their “instrument bag” and got out of the car and went into the building. It was an ordinary residential complex in the suburbs of Zhenghai City. They went to the fifth floor and knocked on the door to one of the rooms.
“Who is it?” came a female voice.
“We’re here to fix the air-conditioning. We just got a call that the A/C wasn’t cold. Was that you?”
A light flashed through the peephole. After checking to see who it was, the door opened slowly. It was an unfamiliar girl. The door to the other room was shut tightly.
Zhang Chi and Little Wu were wearing repairman uniforms and they got to work quickly and quietly. They had bought the clothes at a labor equipment shop before they came. They had looked up how to make the repairs by watching videos on the internet. Now they each had their own task. Zhang Chi was adding refrigerant to the A/C as he asked, “There’s only this air-conditioner?”
“No, there’s one in the other room as well, but it’s working fine.”
Little Wu handed her a business card and enthusiastically introduced himself. “So, we’re a new repair company. Since we’re here to fix the A/C, we’re offering free cleaning as well. I noticed the air-conditioner has not been cleaned in a long time. Germs will reproduce quicker when you have it on at night, much easier to get sick. Add us to WeChat Moments and we’ll provide this service.”
“You’re sure it’s free?”
Little Wu nodded at once. “Absolutely free. All you need to do is add us to WeChat Moments and send us a screenshot. Is there someone in the other room? Can we go in?”
“Someone is there, just knock.”
The two looked at each other and Zhang Chi went to the bedroom door and got his tools ready while Little Wu asked the girl, “What’s the person’s name?”
“I don’t know, we just rent together.”
He heard the door opening and Zhang Chi looked through the dim light and was delighted. He took out his police i.d. “Liu Xin, we’re from Shanghai Public Security. We’re here to take you back home.”
The girl’s face was frozen in fear and she quickly shut the door, but Little Wu blocked it. “Your parents are worried sick about you. Why are you hiding?”
“What’s going on??” the first girl said, astonished. “You’re not repairmen?”
They ignored her, still talking to Liu Xin. But the girl was not listening. She just sat in a chair and babbled incoherently. “I did what you all told me to do. Didn’t you say you wouldn’t arrest us? What have you done to my parents?”
Zhang Chi and Little Wu looked at each other helplessly.
Gu Shi’s phone rang and after she picked up she only let out a few “ohs”, either with a sigh, or in surprise, or in her usual calm way. After she hung up she opened WeChat and received two photographs. She went to Gu Zhichang and whispered in his ear and showed him her phone.
He stood slowly. The other special investigation team members busy at work picked up on this and looked up. Mr. Liu came back to life and went back to his phone, not picking up on the change in atmosphere in the room.
Gu Zhichang was expressionless, suppressing his excitement. “Mr. Liu, can you come here for a minute.”
Mr. Liu stood doubtfully and looked at the other officers in the room uneasily. Everyone looked serious. HE couldn’t detect any positive signs. He flinched as if expecting impending doom.
“Have a look, is this your daughter?”
Mr. Liu nodded without hesitation and waited for him to continue.
Gu Zhichang showed him a second photo. “See, our officers are already with her. You can relax about her safety. According to our process, we’ll need her to cooperate with us in giving information in Zhenghai City. Tomorrow we will send her back. Please don’t worry.”
Mr. Liu’s guard went down more and more with every word he heard. Finally, he sighed lightly and shook Gu Zhichang’s hand firmly. “Thanks so much, Public Security. I used to think police weren’t concerned much with us, but I was mistaken. Now I know that at the critical moment we still rely on you all. You do respectable work to set the people’s minds at ease.”
Then he hurriedly gave all his new buddies a cigarette. When he got to Gu Zhichang, the latter laughed. “It’s nothing. If you knew the process of making headway in solving a case you’d only be more worried, have more misgivings. Our work is not easy. If we could switch positions then everyone would understand each other, and understanding is the most valuable thing.”
The next day, when Mr. Liu and his wife saw their daughter, she looked ashamed and said nothing, embracing them tightly. Her parents did not reprimand her, but affectionately stroked her head. “Silly child, let’s go home.”
Zhang Chi and Gu Zhichang watched until they were far off, then Zhang Chi suddenly said, “Thank you, Sir.”
Gu Zhichang just smiled. “What’s this all of a sudden, thank me for what? When I sent you out it was you who had the idea of dressing like an A/C repairman to gain entry. I haven’t had time to commend you for such an outstanding job, yet you’re thanking me instead.”
“Of course I have to thank you. When others had given up on me you still stood behind me, every time giving me another chance to make up for past failures. I want to thank you, Sir, for believing in me unconditionally, for supporting me.” Zhang Chi found this a bit difficult.
“I also have to thank you for being patient with me and holding back your temper and not being stubborn, otherwise this really would have been hard on me.”
Zhang Chi stared down the hall, already empty and sighed with emotion. “Sir, after going through this case I really feel that sometimes confidence in each other is more important than anything else.”
“Oh, you’ve realized that. You’re getting better, kid. Explain it to me.”
People often feel that if you have talent then you have confidence, but that’s not the case. If you don’t have enough confidence it drags you down emotionally. Look at Liu Xin. If not for the fact that she loves her parents so much, the probability of her acting so impetuously would be lower. If she had trusted her parents more and told them everything from the start, then when that swindler posted that ‘arrest warrant’ on the internet, her father at least, due to his experience and knowledge, would have seen through it, and she would not have taken it as real either.”
“Yes. If she and her parents communicated well and trusted each other then Liu Xin would never have followed that swindler and transfered the money, and she would not have let her parents believe she had been kidnapped.”
When Zhang Chi returned from his trip he had not even dropped his suitcase off at home before coming to the station. His face was now dripping with sweat. He undid a button on his police uniform. “However, she unfortunately chose to fall into the swindler’s trap and used her ‘good intentions’ to deceive her parents. Sir, you didn’t see the shocked look on her face when she realized the truth. She even thought we were fake police officers until the swindler himself said that we were the real deal. It was really quite pitiful.”
Gu Zhichang sighed. Communicating with the younger generation is a problem. When the child gets to the mature stage and the parents are absorbed in work, it’s bound to create estrangement between them.”
“Sir, it seems you and your daughter don’t have this problem.”
Gu Zhichang laughed heartily. “Father and daughter? We’re more like brother and sister. There’s no hierarchy between us at home. After her mom passed, I’d take her with me to work overtime whenever I could. At the time I thought I was making it hard on her, but now it looks as if keeping someone company is the best love. The hardship was worth it.”
“Yeah, time you have together passes and is gone,” Zhang Chi chimed in, at a loss. “Even if you try to get closer, if you don’t put in the time and effort you can’t make it up.”