Chapter 61: Melting
“Do you want to go home and rest? I can take you.” Zhang Chi was pressed close to Gu shi, talking into her ear. With all the noise in the room this was the only he could be heard. The smell of alcohol on his hot breath made her recoil away. She quietly nodded after she heard him.
“I didn’t invite her here today,” Zhang Chi said after they left the KTV room. “But it’s just as well. Now everything is clear.”
“You don’t need to tell me all this.”
Zhang Chi sped up and stood in front of her, blocking her path. He said firmly, “You know why it was necessary. Because I want you to be my only girlfriend.”
Gu Shi went around him and kept on walking. “Everyone is free, no one is anyone’s anything.”
“I can grant you that freedom, but I don’t care about that. I want to be your boyfriend and care for you only.” He came forward and grabbed her arm.
She threw him off lightly. “You don’t really know me. How do you know we’re right for each other? We’re not children. You can’t just say I like you and then be able to get along.”
“Don’t you even want to try? What are you afraid of? Can you give me a chance to get to know you?” Zhang Chi felt his patience, which he had endured for so long, was about used up. He felt he was walking through dense fog and was trying desperately to see clearly ahead, but he just couldn’t.
Zhang Chi flagged down a taxi and opened the door for her and sat beside her and told the driver her familiar address.
“Once you know everything you won’t want to know me.” Those were the last words she spoke that night. After that she fell into a deep silence, or perhaps it would be better to say she fell to pointless remembering the past.
Zhang Chi didn’t push it any further. He knew he had to wait. Fortunately there would come a day when a corner of this iceberg would melt.
At the regular meeting that week no cases suddenly came up, and the special investigations case had been closed. It was a rare time when everyone was gathered in the conference room at the same time.
“This vicious murder case triggered by internet prostitute soliciting has really enlightened us about how we work.” Captain Liu summarized, “First of all, we need to change our way of thinking. Before, the first things we thought of were traces and other evidence left at the scene of the crime, and then analyze that evidence. But the experiences and from these last few cases has shown us that if there is a witness, the more time that passes, the less clear the witness is about their testimony, and that we have often missed the best time for composite sketching to be effective, thus reducing quality of the sketch.
“If there isn’t a witness then we have found the case is quite complicated and only when we don’t have any other clues do we turn to composite sketch techniques. This is not desirable either. Composite sketching, or to put it more simply, Zhang Chi’s work, has redoubled our efforts and is indispensable.”
The room was filled with applause, everyone turning to Zhang Chi one after another clapping enthusiastically. He nodded modestly and continued writing in his notebook.
“Secondly, we must also pay attention to the importance of taking our work a step further. Prostitutes and those who visit prostitutes use the internet, making it more difficult for us to solve the case. How to stop this devious social phenomenon at the source and control these communities that came make people become victims of the victimizers at any time, is a topic for discussion not to be ignored. We’ve already distributed reports of related cases to each region so we can all learn from it…”
Zhang Chi looked up and just happened to see Gu Zhichang waving to him, indicating he should come outside the conference room with him to talk. He put down his notebook and stooped over and quietly went out.
“Recently the cases have been smooth sailing, but I want to warn you, don’t let it go to your head, otherwise a cocksure army is doomed to defeat. I’m sure you understand this.”
“Teacher, you didn’t call me out here just to tell me that. Just say it.”
“First, I have some good news. The Ministry of Public Security sent the order, and the city council is taking the lead and the branch office is preparing it, but at the end of the month you will be given your own office.”
“That’s unprecedented for the city council. I don’t know about this.” Zhang Chi was a bit troubled. He just wanted to sketch in peace and help solve more cases. The reputation he was getting nowadays was not what he wanted.
“The higher-ups also ordered for you to be given our city’s first special appointment as a composite sketch expert. You ought to be aware that this is a double-edged sword for you. From here on you’ll have to put your head down and work hard. Fame follows merit. No one can cover for you.”
“So does that mean there’s another case?” Zhang Chi felt inexplicably excited. This was made him much happier than the previous “good news”.
Gu Zhichang nodded and showed him a text message and told him, “Later I’ll give you the specifics. Starting now you need to prepare yourself mentally. The higher-ups giving you this office means the administration could send you anywhere to help solve cases. Everyone thinks composite sketching is simple and direct, that the artist just deftly uses his pencil and sketches out facial features with ease, and that it’s an extraordinary method. You should understand that continuing to do your work well will not be easy.”
“What’s the case this time?”
Gu Zhichang smiled. “It’s a case in a foreign land. It’s not simple and the details must be heavy. You’ll know more when you get there.”
“Teacher, don’t leave me in suspense. Can’t you at least tell me when I’ll be leaving?”
“Of course. I just asked the man on duty and he agreed to take you and Gu Shi to the airport in a bit.”
“Gu Shi is going too?”
“Gu Shi is going out on assignment as well. You’ll be on the same plane, but you’ll have to take a bus on a long trip after you get off the plane to get where you’re going. For now, go on back and pack a light suitcase. I’ll see you tonight at seven in front of the compound garage.”
Zhang Chi assented, not trying to hide his smile.
“You’re satisfied with this case?” Gu Zhichang crossed his arms in front of his chest, very interested in his response.
Had Teacher heard something? What did he mean by “satisfied”? Zhang Chi had no idea and could only smile quietly and leave quickly.
Instructor Fan was in the hallway smoking a cigarette after delivering his last meal of the day. He heard them talk and came over. “That guy is pretty good, wouldn’t you say?”
Gu Zhichang watched with a smile as Zhang Chi’s big frame walked away, strutting. He nodded. “Too bad I’m old and can’t really do anything.”
“Little Gu is stubborn on the outside, but she actually cares a lot about your opinion,” Instructor Fan said, continuing to “stir the pot”. “Sometimes destiny needs a little push to get things started.”
Gu Zhichang laughed. “Have you resolved your own personal problems? And your anxiety ought to be greater than a young man’s. You keep this up and you’ll be finding love as an old man.”
“I’m not anxious. Whatever will be will be. Being single is fine too. I’m always comparing to my first wife, not satisfied with this or that about someone else, but actually I have no place being so picky. Why should I harm an innocent?”
Gu Zhichang patted his chest. “As long as you understand. You’re a sentimental person as well. Your way of thinking is good. One should not harm another. But these kids, we have to let nature take its course. They’ll be together if it’s fated.”