Chapter 50: Night Swim
The newly-opened fitness center was located in a social club within a high-rise building in a residential quarter. An enthusiastic staff member welcomed them with a smile when they entered the hall that was ablaze with lights and led them on a tour of the facilities.
Gu Shi didn’t want to waste time. “Just show us the swimming pool. You can show us the rest later.”
The staff member smiled and nodded and led them ahead. “Our swimming pool is a twenty-five meter short course pool, the international standard size. It’s twenty meters deep and kept at a constant twenty-five degrees celsius. We also have a shallow special beginner’s and children’s pool.”
She led the two of them directly to the swimming pool. Eight lanes of clear water, and only two or three people piddling about inside, yet the lifeguards on either side were watching attentively. Not a thing was lacking.
Seeing their relaxed, pleased expressions, the staff member continued. “If you look up you will see our facility’s most distinguishing feature.”
Zhang Chi had specially asked them to point out this feature. He was sure Gu Shi would be happy when she saw it.”
“While you’re perfecting your backstroke at night you can look through our glass ceiling and get a view of the stars. You can request a cover to be pulled over it during the hot midday hours. Our glass ceiling is has UV protection so you can enjoy the sun without worrying about sunburn.”
Gu Shi indeed was interested. She turned and asked, “Do you have any other locations?”
“Our nearby facility in the economic center, the Zhenghai City facility, has all the same equipment and amenities. It will open this month. All VIP members can use their membership cards there. Whether traveling on business or as part of your daily routine, we will provide you the best service.”
Gu Shi thanked her politely and the staff member gave a practiced bow. She called to Zhang Chi, then went to the women’s locker room.
Zhang Chi took off his jacket and quickly rinsed his body off, and in no time he was by the pull warming up, eagerly waiting on her. This wasn’t his first date with a women at the pool, but this date was not a “date”, which threw him off his game like he was a newbie. His heart was pounding.
What would should wear? A conservative one-piece, or a bold bikini? Did she have a slim body or a voluptuous one? It was hard to tell when she was in her usual loose-fitting police uniform. All he knew was he didn’t need to see her in the water to verify her face, which always looked the same. Gu Shi normally wore no makeup, She didn’t have any blemishes that would make her look bad.
The corners of Zhang Chi’s lips were turned up in a smile as he thought of this. He saw a man with a six-pack jump out of the water after seemingly spotting someone he knew; he went directly to a curvy female with a pale back.
The women wore a silvery-grey swimming cap and a two-piece sky blue bathing suit. She had a slim waist, but it did not all influence her shapely bust and buttocks, which shook gently with each step she took. Even from this distance he could see how springy they were.
In all fairness, even though the man was dripping wet, his hair dishevelled, his manly aura still shone through. From the side he reminded one vaguely of that virtuoso pianist. Moreover, his tall build would catch the eye of any woman.
But the woman looked upset; she didn’t look him in the eye. The man hurriedly said something in earnest, but she didn’t say a word, keeping her back to him the whole time, even stepping away from him quickly to maintain their distance. Just then nearly all the lifeguards focused on the woman.
When the woman turned to face the pool and began her warm-ups, Zhang Chi realized it was Gu Shi, the Gu Shi with a look on her face like she was talking with a stranger!
He held his head up and walked over without hesitation. He faced the man who seemed at his wit’s end, and said, “Excuse me, can you step aside, I need to help my girlfriend stretch.”
The man turned to him, a doubtful look on his face. But when he saw Zhang Chi with his taut muscles, in a pose like he was ready to fight, the man humbly apologized, shook his head helplessly, and left.
Gu Shi waited until the man had left, then turned to Zhang Chi and smiled at him gratefully. “Thanks for stepping in.” Then she jumped into the pool with a splash.
Zhang Chi got in the adjacent lane and accompanied her, swimming several laps, finding the scenery pleasing to eye and mind. In that moment there were no heavy, complicated files, no grieving victims’ family members, no foggy, hard to solve cases. He took a deep breath and felt a rare moment of peace, an ineffable comfort.
He could understand why Gu Shi had to swim every day; it was a good way to slough off the stress built up from work. Watching her focused eyes, her graceful limbs gliding along, Zhang Chi involuntarily increased his rhythm to chase after her, really entertaining the thought of accompanying her like this until the end of time.
As they exited to the swimming facility, Gu Shi said to him, “Are you hungry? Want to go get a snack?”
That was just what Zhang Chi wanted to hear. “So we just burned all those calories for nothing?”
Gu Shi smiled. “I’m not trying to lose weight. You care about that?”
With that, they headed to a lamb spine restaurant.
It was past nine o’clock, but the place was still busy. It was the end of summer, but there were still several fat men with bared arms throwing back bottles of beer, laughing merrily amid the bursts of steam. Zhang Chi looked around curiously. He never expected Gu Shi to pick such a blue collar establishment; it was very much not a sophisticated private restaurant.
They sat down and Gu Shi ordered, clearly familiar with the dishes. “This is my treat; don’t stand on ceremony with me. Eat whatever you want.”
Zhang Chi knew she was paying him back for the free swimming, so he just smiled and didn’t object. He poured her a cold glass of sour plum juice.
Gu Shi took the glass and sipped from the straw. “I heard Li wasn’t too pleased with your sketch today?”
He smiled but didn’t comment. He was so happy to be eating with Gu Shi alone, like he was a young man on his first date.
“Seems you don’t have a problem with your sketch.” Gu Shi carefully arranged the bowls and chopsticks
“Li is an outsider, you think I could explain it to him? It takes a good cat to catch a mouse. Let’s wait and see how it turns out.”
“So then you are pretty confident. What’s different about this sketch compared to previous ones? Gu Shi’s interest had had been piqued.
Zhang Chi rinsed off the chopsticks for her and handed them to her. He nodded. “After all, you’re more of an expert. This sketch definitely has a big difference. You could say it’s an incomplete sketch.”
“No wonder he wasn’t pleased. Why be in such a hurry to make the report, then? Our work must maintain its quality first, speed second. Good preparation will save time in the long run.”
“I gave it to him unfinished on purpose.” Gu Shi looked puzzled. “There’s only one witness in this case. Our information is incomplete. So you tell me, under these conditions, with less information, could the crucial core information stand out more?”
“So you were worried about a mistake in your sketch interfering, so you left it blank?”
Zhang Chi nodded. “Certainly from an artistic point of view, the sketch feels unfinished, doesn’t look good enough. But since the information available pointing to the suspects distinguishing features is limited, rather than relying on luck to fill in the rest of his features, I prefer to emphasize the parts we know, such as his wide face, large space between the eyes, and his harelip.”
“From that sketch someone who has seen him before will be able to recognize him immediately, while someone who has not seen him before won’t make wild guesses, instead narrowing the scope of our investigation.”
“Yep, that’s what I mean; so you do understand me,” Zhang Chi blurted.
Gu Shi didn’t say anything. She really hated such smooth talk. However, she now understood that it wasn’t always a put on, but sometimes just came out of his mouth out of habit.