The Sketch Artist Chapter 3

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Chapter 3: Ice Queen

This piqued Zhang Chi’s interest. “Special in what way? You mean she won’t talk cause she’s an ice queen?”

Chen Ting was relieved. “So he told you and you still agreed. You’re a good friend.”

Zhang Chi dismissed his concerns with a wave. I have my ways for dealing with ice queens. Plus, I’m there to help her, not harm her. Once she sees my cool, handsome face the psychological trauma she’s faced will mostly go away.

Chen Ting laughed bashfully. Having known Zhang Chi for many years he knew that was no exaggeration. Though Zhang Chi liked to brag, his charming effect on women was obvious. On this front, Chen Ting had always looked up to Zhang Chi. The latter was of the rich second generation, yet he disregarded cars and houses and money. He was one of those who was enchanting without flashing his wealth. Handsome, openminded, tall and strapping, all sorts of appealing characteristics that made beautiful women flock to him. At the very least he knew there were no less than five women actively pursuing Zhang Chi, and some of them didn’t even know his financial situation. That was something he never flaunted. Chen Ting had seen it himself so he knew Zhang Chi could keep a low profile.

But Chen Ting was still taken aback when Zhang Chi walked into the room and he and the woman on the hospital bed pointed at each other in shock.

Zhang Chi quickly cleared things up for the sniggering Chen Ting. “This is my high school classmate. I never thought I’d meet her here.” Zhang Chi had been the most handsome boy in school and He Meng the prettiest girl, so even though they were not in the same grade they still kinda knew each other. He Meng’s entrepreneur father had sent her to study abroad in England after she graduated. It was no wonder they had not spoke each other’s name just then, having not seen each other for six years.

Chen Ting clapped Zhang Chin on the shoulder. “Small world, huh. I hope she’s able to fully cooperate with our assignment.”

“That’s a given, right classmate?”

He Meng nodded, smiling sweetly, but Chen Ting saw a trace of helplessness there as well, so he quickly turned and left so Zhang Chi could get to work.

Less than half an hour later Zhang Chi calmly packed up his sketch board and went out. He smiled when he saw Chen Ting. “Senior brother, you already knew she couldn’t speak right now, didn’t you? You messing with me?”

Chen Ting’s face flushed. “I was afraid if you were under pressure it would only make it harder for you to do your job.”

Zhang Chi shot him a sideward glance and laughed. “You were afraid if I heard the victim couldn’t even speak I would find an excuse to reject the assignment. All the same, if they can’t give me a description then I can’t make a composite sketch, much less a patient who can only grunt ‘mm’ and ‘ah’. You really put me in a bind.”

“You can’t say it like that. I was just thinking that, even though from a Western medicine perspective she had suffered a head injury leading to aphemia, from a Chinese medicine diagnosis, her head injury wasn’t serious. There’s no organic brain damage, and her external injuries have not led to blod-clot-induced aphasia, and it’s not the common stroke wind-phlegm blockage aphasia. Those are both hard to recover from and take a long time. From her physical and mental condition it looks more like aphasia caused by mental trauma leading to binding depression of liver qi. An excess of liver qi depression, chaotic counterflow of vital energy, clear orifices obscured…”

“Senior brother, sometimes I think you’re in the wrong profession. Just like your mother. You should have carried on the family business. A famous doctor cut off prematurely by police work; it’s really a pity. But come on, can you explain it directly in a way I can understand?”

“What I mean is, let’s come back another day. I think He Meng just needs to relax her mind and regulate her mental state and her ability to speak will come back quickly. I’ll go appeal to her family again. You can come back when you have time and reminisce about old times with her, help her relax her mind.”

Zhang Chi waved his hand emphatically. “Hold it. I don’t feel like coming here over and over. Everyone thinks I chase after every girl I see. I was just joking with you; my sketch is already done. Let me go back and revise it a bit, then I’ll immesiately give the final sketch to Mr. Gu. Relax.”

Chen Ting was thrilled. “You’re really something. How did you do it? Can you read minds?”

Zhang Chi pulled out a sheaf of papers from his bag and Chen Ting was even more amazed. All kinds of facial features were drawn on each page, only the eyebrows differed in thickness, height, density, neatness, concentration, connectedness, etc. Nearly twenty sketches. He had new appreciation for the seemingly-careless Zhang Chi. He had really come prepared. With those sketches, even though He Meng couldn’t speak, she could still nod or shake her head for each choice, which could then be combined and adjusted until a portrait finally emerged.

“How confident are you?” Chen Ting said hopefully, in awe.

“He Meng is a fine arts professional so her discernment wasn’t an issue. Plus, a person’s ability to remember a face is normally greater when under duress, provided one’s memory hasn’t been damaged. I showed her the sketch for confirmation. She couldn’t speak, but she looked panicked when she saw it, and the look lingered. I think it ought to be pretty close.”

The final sketch was taken as a wanted poster and was quickly sent out everywhere. The sketch was plastered like snowflakes in every corridor and street corner in the area the suspect was surmised to be living.

The next day an internal memo was issued. A local police officer in the district reported that the person in the sketch closely resembled one of the residents under his jurisdiction, over a 90% match. After He Meng identified the person’s photograph, a raid was organized quickly.

The police arrived at ten o’clock that night. No one seemed to notice the slim, short-haired beauty shuttling nimbly back and forth in the inky black night. It was Gu Shi. She had volunteered to join the arrest operation and her father, Gu Zhichang, had accepted her application with delight. Gu Shi and her male comrades closed in in a three-pronged outflank maneuver.

This wasn’t her first time participating in a raid, but this time they were facing a criminal with at least two lives on his hands, and she had been tasked with cuffing him. She went over and over in her mind the quickest way of applying the handcuffs. During the day she had practiced countless times on a corner of a desk, to the point the paint on the desk was worn off, her colleagues in the adjacent office peeking out to see what the commotion was.

The hallway inside the building had already been cleared and each floor had someone standing guard to respond to any sudden development. Through these winding corridors littered with odds and ends, narrow and cramped, the complicated layout with hallways extending in all directions meant that in order to prevent too many escape routes they would have to be quick. A baby’s cry was heard in the distance, then all was silent, to the point they could hear the ticking of the clock in the suspect’s room.

Suddenly, the lead group of officers burst through the door and the investigators filed into the room, frightening warnings echoing in the din. Suddenly everything went black and Gu Shi couldn’t see anything.

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