“I’m surprised to see you guys over here so soon,” Bo greeted them despite his face showing no trace of the surprise he spoke of.
“I hope it’s the good type of surprise,” Lilly replied smiling.
“Always, kid,” was Bo’s response. “How do you like my city?”
“It’s cool,” Lilly answered.
“Not really,” Bo said. “Then again, I work here. You came for fun.”
“That’ll create a difference in opinion real fast,” Mr. Hill agreed. “This being my third visit to Beijing, I must say, I like it just the same, meaning, I detest this place.”
Lilly and Bo chuckled.
“Do be careful!” Bo urged in his Chinese accent as they padded around his apartment. He pointed to a pile of delicate China resting in a corner. “A glass broke April 29th and I haven’t had the time or mind to tend to it.”
“April 29th?” Mr. Hill questioned, turning to his friend with concern written all over his face. “That was a couple months ago.” As long as he and Bo knew each other, Bo’s un-normal behavior and strange capability to remember extreme details still weirded him out at times. “You hardly sleep, never eat, yet you operate like a superhero,” he had once remarked in Bo’s presence.
“Um, where’s the means?” Lilly asked.
Bo pointed to a broom only two feet away which reclined against a small ivory table, home to a dozen or so scented candles. These marked the only sweet spot in the barren wasteland that was his apartment.
Lilly deftly swept the glass fragments into the dustpan then disposed of them in the trash bin.
Bo exhaled as if relieved. “Thanks, kid. Now I don’t have to fear cutting myself and staining this non-carpet anymore. Living with terror for two months was enough to tire me out psychologically time after time.”
“No biggie,” Lilly said. “That was an unnecessary terror. My mom always says ‘Don’t complicate your life.’”
“That’s good advice,” Bo decided. “In the vein of Aristotle’s ‘Know thyself’. I’m pleased she never said, ‘Don’t contemplate your life,’ as that would be horrendous advice for most indeed and would breed insufficient living in those around her.”
“I suppose so,” Lilly said. She regarded Bo as a borderline genius even though he claimed to have failed the Bar five times. A lover of wearing cozy, colorful cardigans under his suit jacket, unbeknownst to his clients, Bo moonlighted as a hacker of harmless documents. He was a master of all trades, shy in demeanor but bombastic in presenting evidences to win nearly all his criminal cases.
Mr. Hill laughed. “Are we interrupting something important you were doing?”
“Not at all,” Bo answered. “Even if you were, I wouldn’t have the heart to tell you to go away and leave me to my affairs. I was only watching some old Law & Order episodes. They always make our jobs look easier than they are.”
“They do mine,” Mr. Hill surmised. “However, you make our jobs look easiest of all.”
“Your flattery leaves my soul untouched. It is dead on arrival,” Bo smiled. “What do you need? Have a seat.”
Bo stuffed his legs into the most comfortable chair in the apartment. Mr. Hill took the only other chair and Lilly took shelter in the mustard yellow hammock swinging betwixt the doorway of the rooms.
“I’ll tell. You listen closely and butt in if I miss anything down to the minute details,” Mr. Hill told Lilly.
She nodded, “Gotcha.”
True to her word, Lilly did not let Mr. Hill leave out anything. When his accounting of the former events came to an end, Bo clasped the left side of his close shaven head and pressed it hard. He licked his bottom lip, and said addressing Lilly, “Kid, you weren’t able to remember the exact route mentioned in the emails?”
“Sorry, no,” Lilly answered. “I think it started with a ‘W’ though. I do remember having seen it before on a sign or somewhere–”
“If you recall seeing it before,” Bo began, “then I have a good idea what transportation method is being used to take the pastor to labor camp and where it is located. Once, I was allowed to see one of my guilty clients off there. A long story. That’s how I’ll know if I’m not mistaken. Good thing I have a plan too.” Bo stopped talking and greedily quaffed the remaining contents in his cup. “Hope we’re not too late.”