Serial Saturday #22: Six Months Later
Mei-Shan walked down to the path toward the bookstore on the north end of Matsu with a spring in her step. It had taken six months, but the debriefings were over. The Secretary was free to begin a new life wherever he felt like it. Her bosses back in Taipei were pleased with her- they had a mountain of new intelligence to pour-over. She had the satisfaction of having pulled off their highest level defection in decades and Beijing so far- appeared to be none the wiser.
She pulled the teal green front door open and heard the familiar tinkle of the bell as she stepped inside. Waiting for her in this usual spot behind the counter was Mr. Xu.
"It's about time," he said with a smile.
"Hello to you too, Xu," Mei-Shan replied. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"I mean the debriefers left last week and if I have to sit through another day of intensive discussions about tea, I might lose my mind," Mr. Xu replied.
"He wants to open a tea house," Mr. Xu replied. He came around from behind the counter and led her to the spiral staircase in the corner. "He's not sure where, of course. The mountain in Taiwan. Hokkaido. Darjeeling. It changes weekly."
"We should be able to accommodate his wishes," Mei-Shan said as she followed him down the stairs.
"Good," replied Mr. Xu. They emerged onto the lower floor and Mei-Shan could hear bickering in the other room. Mr/ Xu sighed. "Please tell me you have something for her to do as well. All-day long these two play mahjong and bicker, bicker, bicker..."
Mei-Shan laughed. "No worries, my old friend. Shan has new orders as well. We're putting her back out in the field. Hong Kong this time. You'll have the peace and quiet of your bookstore back sooner than you think."
Wei-Ting was three reports down from the day before and couldn't be happier to be assigned to patrol on Lieyu. The smaller island next door to Kinmen was... he didn't want to use the actual word, and being three reports down he didn't want to even think of the word, but let's just say it allowed for an officer to catch up on things.
He was putting the finishing touches on a theft report from the day before when the transmission came over the radio.
He bit off a curse. "Damn it." He grabbed the radio microphone and keyed up. "Go ahead, Central."
"Respond to Shang Kou Beach to meet homicide. They're requesting your assistance."
"Copy, central. Did they advise what they have up there?"
There was a long pause on the other end of the radio, before the reply came across, tinged with just a hint of sarcasm. "They didn't advise, 372, but I'd guess it's probably a dead body."
Wei-Ting rolled his eyes. "Copy, Central. I'll be en route."
Naturally, Shang Kou Beach was on the opposite end of the island, so it took him about twenty minutes to get there. As he pulled up, he saw the familiar figure of Pei-Shan waiting for him.
"Took you long enough, kid," she said as he opened the door.
"You're not even going to let me get out of my squad car before you start?" Wei-Ting asked.
"You're a big boy now, you can take it."
"What do they have?"
"Don't know much," Pei-Shan said as they made their way down the path. "Older male, face down. Dead. Forensics got here before me, so I haven't even seen the body yet."
They emerged onto the beach and saw the cluster of people standing a bit further down the beach. Pei-Shan started to walk towards them.
"Did you have fun on your rotation in Vice?"
"Yeah, it was good," Wei-Ting said. "Foot chase, then a car chase or two. Some shots fired on that warrant service that went sideways on us."
"I missed that one. Seemed like a good time."
"I don't know about good."
Pei-Shan chuckled and then nodded to the forensic team leader as they finally reached their destination. "What do you know?"
"Not much," he said. "We wanted to wait until you got here to turn him over."
"Go ahead then," Pei-Shan said. At a gesture from the team leader, two more of the forensics people got at each end of the body and turned it over. Pei-Shan's eyes widened with shock. "Him?"
"You know him?" Wei-Ting said.
"Yeah," Pei-Shan said, she turned and walked down toward the water, Wei-Ting followed.
"What is it?"
"When the Chief pulled us back on our last case, he gave me a tip. Told me to go running on the beach on Shang Kou and I did for a week until that old man back there approached me with some information."
"What the military was trying to hide," Pei-Shan said. "Now, he's got a bullet in his head."
"Oh," Wei-Ting stood and looked across the water at Xiamen in the distance. "Shit."