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Years later in Beijing
January 26, 2008 Saturday
The Olympics are close. China prepares to welcome them. A cold winter night. One in the morning. Cosmos plays music with his band in Tianjin. Gone are the days of rock and roll and playing Eagles’ songs. The time is gone when he dreamed of becoming the new Cui Jian. The current group is very New Age. They play tunes close to the Buddhist tradition. Cosmos has fully entered the logic of Falun Gong. For years, he has had no contact with his foreign friends. He’s driving on the outer ring of Beijing to get to his apartment in the western suburbs. Na is at his side. She is lost in her thoughts. Since her arrest and years of prison, she has changed a lot. Yes, years in prison. During the repression of Falun Gong in 1998, she was arrested. Torture, police, prison, trial and torture again. She was lucky. They didn’t remove organs from her body, and she is alive. The torture has given her a powerful will. Sometimes she can no longer really talk to Cosmos.
Lulled by the sound of the engine she slumbers. Cosmos thinks about all these years. He couldn’t stay in touch with his foreign friends. Too dangerous. Sometimes he walks to the Friendship Hotel. Maybe someone he knows is back. But he dares not enter. Since Na left prison, things have worsened. Fortunately there is the music. In his mind he sees again the CD sleeve of "Resident in Valley", the songs he made with his group “The inhabitants of the valley of the universe”. The cosmos, again.
He chose his nickname well. His friend is standing, a guitar in hand, the singer, Xiao Juan is wearing a long white dress, like a goddess, with a guitar and he sits just beside with a tambourine. The images jostle in his head. The video was shot in the apartment of his friends. This haunting music, "wode jia," my house. He likes it when their three heads come together, the steaming tea, roses that appear here and there. He suddenly remembers his last conversation with Erwan:
"You're like a father to me, Erwan! Take me as your son."
Erwan did not answer but his attitude was eloquent. Erwan just wanted to be his friend. Erwan took him by the shoulders, affectionately. Erwan confided sometimes when he was in trouble with Cécile. Erwan wanted to learn Qi Gong. At one point, he tried to convert him to Falun Gong when Erwan came later to visit China.
"You should read this book, Erwan. All this is true."
"Cosmos, I'm your friend but please spare me the over-religious zeal. This religion is yours, but I don’t want it! What's the point of leaving the Communist Party to go into something worse?"
And that discussion with Wang Jun, the last time he saw him. Wang Jun asked him to leave the Falun Gong:
"It will end badly Cosmos! The government wants to destroy Falun Gong! It’s enemy number one for the Party! They negotiate with the Kuomintang, but not with Falun Gong. It’s a war to the death. Especially as Falun Gong is also in the party."
He insisted. But there is Na. Na suffered in prison. They almost completely destroyed her. Fortunately there is music.
Cosmos does not realize that lost in his own thought he is driving too fast on the ring road and he’s gone round twice. He forgot to turn off. Where is he exactly? He hesitates, slows down and decides to take the first exit. He will go through the city center. Na wakes up and smiles. He heads for Jianguomen.
"You missed the exit again?"
She is used to seeing him do this stuff. He is not concentrated enough to drive a car, always in his dreams, always in his music.
"Yes, I went twice around. I will cross the city center. It will remind us of the past."
He checks the time displayed on the dashboard. Half past one. He lost a lot of time. He wants to go home.
Muxidi crossroads. A police car with a red light flashing. Two officers get out of the vehicle. Tang Gang and Du Jiansen are waiting for cars to check. Few people tonight. But the instructions are clear. For the Olympics, the city must be clean. Du Jiansen has a new task since the death of Lao Huang. He is responsible for the training of young officers, and a particular task, the integration of former soldiers into the police, like Tang Gang returning from Tibet. A special case. He studied his case. Occasionally, Du Jiansen accompanies one of his recruits in the field. It is the case tonight.
Tang Gang is nervous. He is familiar with this intersection of Muxidi. After several years in Tibet quelling demonstrations, he was invited to join the Beijing police. Why not! He is cured now. The doctors who took care of him for years reassured him. The disease which led to that violence many years ago is completely controlled. One condition, they told him: Do not forget the little pills. But since he returned to Beijing, so far so good. He has walked in sensitive areas without any problem for him. He feels good. He wanted to find that young woman, who loved him, Lin Hui, who had taken him in. He searched for her in vain. Suddenly he hears the voice of Du Jiansen:
“Hey! Tang Gang! Where are you? It's too cold to put yourself up in your head! Come back to the real world!"
Tang Gang turns to his instructor!
"But Chief! I was thinking of a girl I knew a long time ago!"
“Ha ...Ha...It is time you got married."
Tang Gang says nothing. Yes he should find a girlfriend. Get married, have a child. Why not?
Cosmos has left the ring road and is driving on Tiananmen Square toward Muxidi. All these places he knows so well. His car is old. The engine is quite noisy and the silencer doesn’t work correctly. He realizes he has forgotten to change the headlight bulb on the right. The owner of the cabaret in Tianjin told him last week:
“Yu Zhou! You must change that bulb. It does no good to get noticed by the police. You should not ask for trouble. Do it as soon as you can!"
Cosmos promised, but all that bores him!
He suddenly thinks about the concert he gave in October 2007 at the Club Mao. What an atmosphere. An excited audience. He sang with a cap fitted with a Red Star. Xiao Juan began and then he continued. Everyone applauded. Na was not yet out of prison. Lost in all his thoughts he does not notice that his way of driving is a bit messy. He reaches the intersection at Muxidi. Na comes out of her doze.
"Yu Zhou! There are police officers pulling us over."
He sees them now. The flashing light is on. He slows down and stops abruptly after the checkpoint. Well, he will explain that he is tired. At this time, the police only want to go home. The vehicle is stopped and the two officers come straight over. Cosmos lowers the window. One of the policemen shouts:
"Park the car! Spot check! Get out of the vehicle!"
Cosmos has stalled the engine. He starts again and parks a few meters in front of the police vehicle.
"Let the engine run! Get out!"
Yu Zhou gets out. The car is small and it's hard to get out.
"Faster! The woman too!"
Na opens the door and stands beside the car. She is afraid. She wants to take her coat but the policeman yells again:
"Get out of the vehicle!"
She turns towards him. He scares her. His face is hard. She became accustomed to her tormentors in prison, she is suddenly afraid. She feels that this one has a serious problem.
Tang Gang feels the adrenaline rush. Du Jiansen lets him do it. He wants to test him.
She leaves the vehicle. She is cold. She’s just wearing a dress and a big wool sweater. She would like to put her coat on, but she knows that kind of person well. It is best not to irritate them. Cosmos asks the police.
"But she is cold! Why do you not let her get her coat?"
Tang Gang looks back at him:
“Silence! You only speak when I ask you! Do you want me to knock you out?"
He has already taken out his baton and taps it against his boot. Message understood. Yu Zhou is silent.
The officer goes around the car:
"The car is noisy, and it there’s a bulb missing on the right. Give me the papers! Is it your car? Maybe it is stolen! I feel like I’ve already met you somewhere!"
Du Jiansen is impressed. This Tang Gang has got a nerve. An excellent recruit to the police. What a good idea to integrate these soldiers into the Beijing police! He remembers Wang Jun and his hesitations to arrest anyone. Well, what happened to Wang Jun? He heard that after his marriage to the niece of Lao Huang, he was reintegrated into the Police. Besides traffic, there are not many services where he could be useful. And as a spy, the experience was not really conclusive.
Tang Gang continues to check the documents.
"Hum, Yu Zhou, a strange name. And you live in Beijing?"
« Yes, I live in the west, near Babaoshan!"
"And what are you doing here at this time?"
Cosmos is beginning to worry. What a crazy cop this one is? Overzealous no doubt!
"I am a musician and I work at a club in Tianjin. I’m going home."
"And the girl? Your girlfriend? "
"It's my wife!"
He addresses Na:
"Give me your papers!"
Na digs into her handbag. She takes out her identity card and hands it to the policeman. He looks at her, looks at Yu Zhou again:
"Wait for me, we'll check it all!"
He walks away towards the police vehicle and opens the door. He sits down and rummages in the glove box.
Na and Cosmos are perplexed. Na was released recently from prison. But it's just a check.
Du Jiansen approaches Tang Gang:
"What’s the name of this guy and what they are doing here at this late time?"
The response of Tang Gang suddenly reminds him of something.
Yu Zhou! The same name as the friend of Wang Jun! Is he the same? This guy they have sought for so long. Huang Yinghua identified him so easily. That chick was really skillful. Too bad the new Chief of Police did not want her nor her infiltration methods.
"Tang Gang, we will verify their identity on the Police computer. Turn off their car engine."
Tang Gang goes back to the vehicle. He turns out the lights, cuts the engine and returns to the police vehicle. Meanwhile the fog thickens. The cold is biting. After years in Tibet, he is accustomed to it. He watches his two victims. Yes, that man! He knows him: something far back. How old is he? He must be about forty. He did not pay attention to the date of birth on the ID card, but that must be it. Du Jiansen calls. He rushes. Cosmos anxiously watches him moving. He too, it reminds him of things. That way of moving. Not a regular policeman. And the other one that looks like a leader, a paratrooper style or Special Forces. He sees them talking together. The discussion is lively.
Some words reach him:
"Falun Gong ... search ... jail ... Tiananmen ..."
Fear suddenly seizes Cosmos. And now he realizes how things could be bad. He forgot to remove all the Falun Gong books from the car. The trunk is full. They have to run away. He comes closer to Na. He takes her in his arms.
"Na darling, these are not ordinary policemen. We must escape!"
"But Zhou, all of our stuff, our car ..."
"There are loads of books of Falun Dafa in the trunk. I forgot to remove them. They'll search the car and you’ll go back to jail."
"But where can we go!"
Don't worry. The fog is thick and we can hide into the area right here. I have a friend who lives nearby. We can hide. I have my phone on me."
At this moment Tang Gang returns to them:
"Come this way both of you. We'll search the car!"
Yu Zhou takes Na’s hand.
"Come on, let’s go!"
They run together to the buildings. Du Jiansen is surprised.
"Tang Gang they’re running away! Catch them!"
But Tang Gang is already running. He pulls out his weapon. He takes the magazine from his left pocket and places it in the weapon. He primes the first bullet. He moves into shooting position. Suddenly three people put themselves between him and the two fugitives. People he knows well. Ha...Ha...Ghosts. Tang Gang is surprised. He hesitates. And then he gets up and rushes. Yu Zhou and Na are about ten meters ahead of him. They have almost arrived in the block of buildings close to Muxidi. He must catch them. Suddenly, Na stumbles taking Yu Zhou in her fall. He gets up but Tang Gang is already on them, raises his gun and shoots him in the head. Du Jiansen arrives in the meantime. He wrings Na’s hands behind her, cuffs her and gives her a big kick in the ribs. All is suddenly calm. Tang Gang drops his weapon. He is strange. He stares at Jiansen who picks up the gun and hands it to Tang Gang.
"Get up Tang Gang! You're the kind of man we need in the Police."
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Friday, 8 May 2015
Sunday 1st of October 2000
Nice weather on this 1st of October. It is the national holiday. Cao Yu is attending the festivities at the Language Institute of Sichuan, where she has taught since 1994. She has forgotten the episode of Lanzhou. With Weina, they have rebuilt their lives in Chongqing. The bad memories are buried. When they arrived in Chongqing they were received well. She must admit that the Iron Tiger and Wang Gang did things quite well. Nobody ever asked about their previous life. They live together in a small apartment in Ciqikou, actually a small house at the end of an alley, 400 m from the main street. Their house overlooks the Jialing River. Her son Zhen has grown considerably. He is beautiful even if some days he reminds her of Wang Jun. Wang Jun, she prefers to forget. Officially Zhen is the son of a soldier killed during the riot in Lanzhou! It gives him advantages. He is the son of a revolutionary hero died in battle. Their life is calm! Cao Yu's mother comes from time to time. She didn’t ask any questions when her daughter came to Chongqing. She also knows the price of silence. She saw her daughter come home. That's all that matters. She is happy: a grandson who will not experience the problems of her own children born from an enemy of the revolution with a poor social background. Finally, all is well. Even if this girl, Wang Weina, she has a lowly style. Sometimes some of their friends come from Beijing: girls heavily made-up and a Tibetan from the Aba district. But all is well. Life goes on. She would like her daughter to have a husband and stop living with Weina. She spoke to Cao Yu. The response was quick and clear:
"Mom! No! I do not want a husband. Mine is dead! I am a widow and Weina is my best friend, my sister. You cannot know what she did for me. We are real sisters, only death can separate us!"
She did not insist. She has seen too much in her life. Her grandson is lovely. He studies very well in school. He is very sociable. Today is the First of October, National Day.
Cao Yu spent the day at the Institute of Languages. Her son accompanied her. She would have liked Weina to have accompanied her also but the Hotel Yudu asked her to do extra work. Tourism is developing a lot in Chongqing. Weina has become a sort of leader of the receptionists. She speaks English perfectly now. She also has learned German and Cantonese to welcome the many customers who come from Hong Kong.
Cao Yu remembers all these years. Her life with Weina. Everyone thinks they are real sisters. Nobody asked questions. The only one who knows the truth is a special agent of the Office of Public Safety. He summons them at times to see if all is well. He is a man of sixty. He is very kind to them. He himself suffered during the Cultural Revolution.
She loves Weina. Sometimes they sleep together, their arms around each other. They have both decided to no longer have men in their lives. They are inseparable. Cao Yu sometimes asks:
"Don’t you regret your life of before? In Beijing? Was your life better? You earned more money! Could you go back?"
The answer is invariably the same:
No! We experienced some very difficult things. I am with you and your son. I have a job that I like!"
They are the same age. Today, Cao Yu is 32 years old. Ten years already! Wang Zhen turns 10 on Oct. 23.
The weather is so nice today. Weina has just returned from work. All three settle on the couch in their living-dining-all purpose room. In their small house there are just three rooms: the living room overlooking the street (bedroom for Cao Yu), a bedroom for Weina and another for Wang Zhen plus a kitchenette-bathroom. Concerning the toilet they have to go to the public toilets at the end of the lane in which they live. They dream of a real bathroom. Some neighbors are more comfortable. They have shower-toilet combination.
Weina puts the TV on. It is an old Sony device but it works well. Crackling sometimes but the picture is good.
There are all three of them there. The outer door is left open as usual in Chongqing.
It's time for the news on CCTV1, live from Beijing, their only link with their former life.
The anchor is very classy and pretty. Make up with flashy lipstick and a gray flowered blouse. First of October in Beijing. Some pictures of the festivities. A quick interview with the Chinese President. A few words from the Mayor of Beijing. More images of celebration, children in the parks, the crowds of October 1 when all the parks are free for everyone. The camera zooms in to a reporter from CCTV at the Summer Palace. He speaks about maintaining order during the day, the hard work of police officers. Then, a long tracking shot of the camera to two police officers working traffic at the entrance of the Summer Palace. The reporter follows the movement of the camera and heads for the two agents. Nothing very unusual. But something intrigues Cao Yu.
The journalist is now close to both officers. He will question them. The camera zooms in on the first. Cao Yu opens her eyes wide. She does not believe her eyes. That's him. It is Wang Jun! The emotion is too strong. Suddenly she cries:
"Wang Jun! Wang Jun!"
Her son and her friend do not understand. Weina takes her by the shoulders.
"What’s happened, do you know this officer?"
Her son is close to her.
She is crying now. Great sobs. She finds it difficult to articulate, to say a few words:
"He's alive! He buried me alive!"
On the screen, the journalist continues his interview. Cao Yu hears nothing. She doesn’t see anything. Wang Jun is alive!
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