TSA Chapter 46

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Chapter 46: Dizzy

Every victim’s miserable appearance, every family member’s despairing face, every stalemated case tested a detective’s nerves, challenged his or her fortitude. Gu Shi considered herself thick-skinned, yet the wear and tear of constanst battling, seeing it all over and over, left her physically and mentally drained and unable to strike back.

Gu Shi returned to her office, troubled, and carefully packed up her things. Chen Ting was lost in thought off to the side. He gaped for a long time before he said, “Do you need any help?”

“They ought to have all the necessary equipment over there. I’m just getting together some everyday basic essentials. I don’t need to take much.” Gu Shi arranged everything in her bag, separating things into different compartments.

“I heard Zhang Chi is going as well,” Chen Ting said.

“Mm,” Gu Shi grunted, preoccupied. She was thinking back to when Zhang Chi had reprimanded those two for whistling at her. She had never seen him so angry, as if the one he loved had been insulted. She felt a warmness flood her heart, but her face remained frosty.

Chen Ting just said, “Oh.”

Gu Shi looked at him. “I heard you were looking for houses. Have you found one?”

“I’m looking at some. I’d like your opinion. Which do you think is better, a small flat in the city or a bigger complex in the suburbs?”

Gu Shi stopped short. “My opinion? I couldn’t say. Depends on your specific needs.”

“Of course I’m thinking about after I get married.” Chen Ting’s voice was low as he looked at her expectantly.

Gu Shi didn’t look up, fiddling with something over and over in her bag. She took it at face value. “Well, then you need to look at everything. You shouldn’t just consider the size of the home. If you have kids you’ll have to think about their studies as well. One of my classmates bought a house in the suburbs at first, but had to move so her child could attend a different school. It was a real bother for her. You’re worrying about it now as a single man. Later you’ll be worrying about it as a family. It’s a big difference.”

Zhang Chi entered. “My things are all packed and loaded in the car. What, you’re still talking about that?”

Chen Ting felt a bit awkward. “Section Chief Gu is knowledgeable on these things, so I was asking for her experience.”

“If you ask me, Gu Shi is right. People with dual incomes and no kids won’t care what size, but everyone else ought to do it right the first time to save trouble later on.”

Chen Ting shook his head. “You don’t understand, it’s not that simple. A house in a school district downtown is about forty or fifty square meters. Quality of life is not very good for three people squeezed into such a tiny space, stepping all over each other.”

Gu Shi disagreed. “A three-person family living in a larger house doesn’t necessarily mean their quality of life will be better. Sometimes a smaller place is cozier and easier to manage. And a place with a lot of places nearby is much more convenient.”

“I agree,” Zhang Chi interjected. “Also the home’s value and appreciation. You could painstakingly save up for years and it not be even a tenth of the appreciation of the house. Location is the most important factor when choosing a house.”

Little Wu suddenly made up his mind. “OK, after listening to you all I’ve decided. I’ll buy a small place in a school district. As long as it’s big enough.”

“You decided just like that?” Chen Ting said, astonished.

“I have the final say, unlike you, who has to go back and ask your bankroller.”

Chen Ting looked at Gu Shi, his face flushed. “My mom is concerned for me. After all, she has a lot more experience. If what I say makes sense, she’ll accept my proposal. She’s very democratic.”

That night, the two of them, travel-worn and weary, took an overnight high-speed train to the capital. The accommodations set up by the Ministry of Public Security was not spacious, but it was clean. It was just that the hostel was a bit strict. If you missed the time for breakfast you were out of luck.

The day before as Zhang Chi was about to go to bed he had asked about the dining times. At 6:30 the following morning he rang up Gu Shi’s room to urge her out of bed, but no one answered, so he knew she had already headed out.

When he got to the dining hall he found her seated at a table, looking refreshed and relaxed, gracefully holding her fork and taking a small bite of something. He smiled. “I was worried for nothing. Early to bed, early to rise is good for one’s health.”

Gu Shi smiled at him. Zhang Chi was only too glad to bring her a few dainty treats he thought she might like.

“I wonder how difficult this case is?” Zhang Chi mused. This was the safest question at the moment to pose to a workaholic.

“The higher-ups gave an ultimatum, a deadline for solving the case. We have to obtain testimony ASAP. So I’d imagine it’s not an easy one.”

“I heard the investigation bureau director is leading the investigation personally, in coordination with every police unit, which has to participate,” Zhang Chi said. “You don’t see this kind of situation often.”

Gu Shi nodded. “Will you regret having to face important people like the director?”

Zhang Chi had stuffed half a meat bun in his mouth, but not he took it out. “Regret what?”

“You were specially selected to transfer over and you leave as soon as they tell you to. It was so sudden, do you not worry people will say you’re just greedy for profit?” Gu Shi smiled, teasing.

“You know that old saying: every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost. But the ones I care about the most are on the investigation team. You understand.” Zhang Chi looked her in the eye, steadily.

Gu Shi avoided his deeply emotional expression. “Yes, well you’re not likely to meet another good teacher like my father if you leave the investigation team. No one will care for me in that way.”

“Yes, you’re right. Caring for you is a matter of course. You’re his daughter. But I am very touched how he’s looked after me. I’m grateful for his support and encouragement. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay him.” Zhang Chi was following what her and speaking from the heart.

Gu Shi looked at him, surprised. So he did understand. He had taken it to heart. Her father had not favored him in vain.

At the meeting, the chief of the special investigation team and the vice chief informed the sixty or so members of the special investigation team from each police unit the details of the case.

The first slide was a photo from the first crime scene. The dead person’s arms were extended forward, eyes open, mouth and hands bound by transparent tape.

“Everyone note the deceased is male, age 45, the head facing south, the feet facing north, prostrate in the restaurant restroom entrance. His fanny pack has been opened. his i.d. and bank card still there, but no cash at all. At present we can confirm the cause of death is damage to the central nervous system. The major injuries have subcutaneous bleeding and muscle bleeding. The first and second cervical vertebra are dislocated, and the third and fourth are severed. There is extensive subarachnoid hemorrhage in the cranium, but the skull is not fractured.”

The vice chief added, “Preliminary judgments are that the tape was brought by the suspect, so the fingerprints on the tape ought to be the suspect’s. They should be good enough for comparison. At present, according to the leads we have so far, we believe the suspect was after money, and we can’t eliminate the possibility that there was more than one suspect. The suspect knew the layout of the scene of the crime. It was premeditated, and the suspect was prepared, and seems to be a person with a rather good physique. Now, Captain Li, please tell everyone our ongoing developmental work.”

Captain Li looked affable, short and pudgy. You wouldn’t think him a police officer from looking at him. “After a series of investigations, the suspect’s murder weapon, method, and physical build is similar to that of the breaking and entering case in Zhenghai City, where the victim was raped and murdered, and also similar to the Qichi City child molestation-murder case. The families involved in both cases have been informed and have come here to cooperate with our work. I hope everyone can do your utmost and give the deceased’s family a satisfactory answer.”

“Really so heinous,” Zhang Chi sighed. Gu Shi didn’t respond. He glanced at her and saw she didn’t look quite right, as if her body had suddenly been hollowed out, abnormal sweat appearing on the tip of her nose.

“You feel unwell?” Zhang Chi asked.

Gu Shi looked up and smiled, shook her head. She didn’t smile often, but when she did it was like sunlight breaking through a reef of clouds, warm and genial. But this smile was not pleasant like those smiles, but was squeezed out amidst dense dark clouds.

Zhang Chi was confused and was going to ask, but she pointed at the rostrum, indicating he should pay attention.

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