Chapter 74: Farewell
Gu Zhichang’s funeral was held at ten that morning. The team responsible for making the arrangements all set about their tasks in an orderly manner, some responsible for registration, some contacted the funeral parlor personnel, or led the guests to their seats or set things up in the viewing room… Everyone peacefully and silently finished their part of the assignment.
Gu Shi was dressed in black, wrapping her originally not small and thin body as if concealing herself, standing pale-faced among the murmuring crowd in the main hall entrance greeting the her father’s friends as they arrived. But a few minutes later reinforcements arrived as Zhang Chi came up beside her. Seeing her respectfully greet everyone, neglecting no one, he pursed his lips and held back the tears that were ready to fall at any moment. He felt an unspeakable ache in his heart, bit all he could do was bring a chair over so she could sit and rest a bit in between guests.
Many more people came than they had expected. The leader of the city bureau came, the branch director came, the former district magistrate of the area came, evn some civilians Gu Zhichang had once helped came, bringing flowers, tears streaming down their faces. Zhang Chi knew Teacher didn’t care for extravagance. Only this last group of people were the ones he’d really care about, but everyone was a guest, and they couldn’t screen them or stop them from coming.
Just then a there was a rumble of whispers in the main hall as a group of travel-weary people arrived, asking directions. They were directed over to Gu Shi and Zhang Chi by the funeral personnel. They stated their names and it turned out they were a group of Gu Zhichang’s old police friends he had had contact with over the many times he had been away on assignment. They had drove in from other cities to pay their final respects to Gu Zhichang. Gu Shi said to them one after another, “Thank you, my father would be happy to know you came.” By the time she finished tears were streaming down her face.
The group entered with teary eyes. The city bureau leader, Director Zhang, and some others, put away their phones and came over and bent over and extended their hands in greeting, very deferentially toward a middle-aged man in a white shirt standing to one side of the room. Zhang Chi and Gu Shi looked and saw a person standing next to the white-shirted man who looked to be a secretary holding a black leather briefcase.
Director Zhang enthusiastically and sincerely paid his respects. “Minister Yao, did you have a smooth trip? Why didn’t you tell us you were coming personally? We should have picked you up at the airport.”
Minister Yao was not very tall and a little chubby, with a kind face. He nodded slowly, but his eyes were searching the crowd. “Two officers sacrificed themselves in the line of duty. You must implement the proper honors and remuneration.”
“Of course, of course.”
“It is said our public security team must focus on raising the sons and daughters of our officers and give them special treatment and arrange for them safe posts so there will be no more mishaps.”
Director Zhang nodded quickly. “Alright, we’ll look into researching a foster program and special treatment policies.”
“That criminal composite sketch artist was the apprentice of that fallen officer?”
“Yes, his name is Zhang Chi. He was discovered and developed by Old Gu.” Director Zhang spotted Zhang Chi and beckoned him over. Zhang Chi whispered a few words to Gu Shi and helped her sit down, then went over to them.
Minister Yao saw Gu Shi sitting down weakly. “Is that your teacher’s daughter?”
Zhang Chi nodded and looked at her anxiously, afraid she might faint before the farewell ceremony.
“You all go on inside, I want to speak with them for a moment.” Minister Yao signaled that Director Zhang did not have to accompany him.
Minister Yao said a few comforting words to Gu Shi, then said gravely and earnestly to Zhang Chi, “I know your teacher placed a lot of hope on you when he was still alive. You have a lot of room for development, a lot of opportunities, you’re fast, and that deserves a kind of reciprocation. What do you think?”
Zhang Chi knew what he was getting at. He said tactfully, “My teacher always gave me the freedom and authority to choose. I’m very grateful to him.”
“Now, I’m giving you the authority to make another choice. Next month, our Ministry of Public Security’s second bureau will establish a sketch investigation office. We would like to invite you to be the director. If you find joining investigations more interesting, you can choose the criminal investigation bureau’s technology department. The salary is the same. You don’t need to worry about living arrangements.” Minister Yao clapped him on the shoulder and had his secretary give Gu Shi a packet of money expressing his sympathy and solicitude, then he went into the assembly hall.
Gu Shi looked at Zhang Chi, who was silent, his expression complicated. They looked at each other for a while, then Zhang Chi said, “Don’t think about that now. It’s almost time, let’s go inside.”
The day after the funeral, despite everyone’s protests, Gu Shi insisted on resuming work. She didn’t want to continue wallowing in grief. Zhang Chi knew she was using her action to honor her father, feeling that as long as her body could take it, it would be best for her mental state. So he didn’t try to dissuade her.
At seven in the morning parked his car in front of her building and gave her the breakfast he had prepared for her, letting her sleep in a little and eat slowly in the car. Gu Shi was silent at first when she got in the car. Then she abruptly asked, “Have you thought about what Minister Yao said yesterday?”
His first impulse was to reject the minister’s proposal. But, then he thought about the current situation. If he stayed here, there would be no way to cover up his relationship with Gu Shi, which would make things more dangerous for her. And given her fearless personality, if he told her what was bothering him it would only add to the risk, and it would have no effect on her. He was still thinking how to respond when he heard her say, “If you want to go, I won’t stop you. But, have you forgotten your original decision?”
Zhang Chi smiled wryly to himself. His hesitation could not escape Gu Shi’s perceptive eyes. It was just that, the reason was probably not something she would ever be able to guess. The thought of that caused a solemn, stirring surge of righteousness within him. He didn’t bat an eyelid but started the car, not wanting to explain.
Gu Shi’s hand, which was about to open a carton of milk, hung in the air. She was silent for a minute or two, then said indifferently, “If you think this is none of my business that has nothing to do with me then just take it as me speaking out of turn.”
“You know I don’t think that.”
“Then you regret your original decision? All that not wanting to be an official, about not caring about fame or wealth is just bureaucratic jargon?” Her looked at him aggressively. “A lead post in the ministry is a chance that many people will never have as long as they live, especially for someone in your line of work, and to be appointed by the Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Public Security, your career prospects will be great. That’s even better.”
Every word she said stung him. So it turns out that in her mind he was just a worldly person who cared about money and went back on his word. There was a red light ahead. He stopped and stared at Gu Shi seriously. This sharp-tongued girl had stubbornness and tenacity written all over her face. She had turned toward the window on purpose, but her chest was heaving, clearly showing she was intensely emotional. If it was not for the sake of love, then for what?
They both knew that Gu Zhichang was not the excuse, that power and position was not the reason. Zhang Chi felt a lump in his throat right then, but he smiled, relieved. He made a false step in his heart, “You know I was always a carefree person. Ever since I had Teacher I had you. So, if I were to stay in this city for your sake you know I would do it willingly.”
Gu Shi could not hide the comfort she felt inside. She spun her head around and said, “Really? You won’t regret it? You won’t get an opportunity like this a third time. You really won’t resent me later?”
Zhang Chi pushed the uneasiness in his heart down and drove faster. He nodded slightly. “However, first you have to apologize for looking down on me just now.”
As he said this he stopped at the intersection nearest the station compound. Zhang Chi always stopped here for them to get out because their relationship was still not public.
“Yeah right.” And she briskly got out of the car. He smiled and watched her walk away. He didn’t drive away right away, his smile following her ponytail as it swayed back and forth, gradually disappearing.