Lilly sighed contently, closed out Skype, and brought up the email screen. The Suns’ e-mail account was already logged in on the screen. Inadvertently, a few emails from gov.cn addresses caught her eyes. Each one was in reply to an email with the rather sketchy subject line: ‘church business plan.’ Her interest piqued and suspicion aroused, Lilly opened the emails in rapid succession. Her eyes scanned the words furiously, and her mind comprehended them as fast as it could.
She was shocked upon reading one email signed with Evan’s name detailing Pastor Manchu’s address, the church meeting, and an immediate plot to lure him outdoors to “do whatever needs to be done.” Someone named ‘Pat’ responded in agreement saying Evan had done enough and might be paid some yuan for his labor, once the pastor was safely transported to a labor camp. ‘You’ll be richly rewarded for your proven loyalty to the great Republic of China. As was promised, your continued loyalty ensures you stay free from all charges of debt,’ Pat wrote.
All of a sudden Lilly became aware of hot breath on her neck. Forceful hands came from behind and slammed the laptop screen down. Lilly swiveled around to face Evan Sun standing before her. He held a slender knife glistening with small specks of diced onion on its blade, and his hand quivered as if he was restraining himself from plunging the knife into her that instant. To Lilly, all the air in the room seemed to have been sucked out in a second’s time, but she kept her grip on the chair’s arms and held Evan’s angry gaze undeterred. She had been so engrossed in the revealing emails that she hadn’t heard Evan’s low knock and entrance. Now he broke the silence.
“So you’re going to run off and tell everything to that father of yours?” Evan said in a steely manner.
Lilly nodded slowly. “You said it.” She eyed the knife warily. “I’m not afraid of you.”
“You would be if I put this inside your neck.” Evan flashed the knife before Lilly’s face so close it flicked her eyelashes. A slimy piece of onion flew off the knife’s blade and softly slapped Lilly’s skin. She blinked and the cruel look in Evan’s grey eyes dissipated.
“Luckily for you, child, I’m not a disposer…but there is a first time for everything,” he warned stepping back a few paces towards the door.
“Yeah. Maybe you’ve never physically murdered anyone,” Lilly began, “but you are killing people’s future, dreams, and family life by aiding the government in their injustice. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?”
“Maybe it does. But what it means to me means nothing to you,” Evan said gripping the bedroom door handle with his free hand. “Learn your lesson. Don’t go snooping in other people’s stuff.” He shut the door soundly with his laptop in tow. Opening it again, he thrust his head inside. “You’ll be staying in here for the time being. Don’t try to come out.” He shut the door once again, but quickly opened it back up. “By the way, your fresh cabbage soup, tofu, and egg roll is going in the trash.”
After Lilly heard his footsteps recede down the hall, she removed the piece of onion from her arm and dropped it on the floor. Yuck! As if I’d want to eat any meal you prepared now. She moved to the bed, collapsed onto the bottom bunk, and stared up at the top bunk. Questions and ‘ifs’ swirled inside her head then dropped like deadweights without answers. If only I hadn’t invited the Suns to come to church with us Manchu wouldn’t be missing now. This whole situation wouldn’t be a situation! And how can Evan feel so blithe betraying us while we’re staying in his house? Lilly shut her eyes but the sound of chains at the door roused her. She jiggled the stubborn door knob while yelling, “You can’t lock me in here! Think of your kids. What if they were being treated this way!”
There was no reply.
Lilly tried to get Evan’s attention again. “My dad’s coming back for me! If you don’t let me out, you’re going to get hurt for real!”
“Don’t be so sure about your father,” Evan said from the other side of the door. He walked off humming a soft, raggedy, Asian tune.