New fiction: 'Penny For Your Thoughts' - 4


Wu scoffed. “What is this ‘privacy’ you speak of?” he asked disdainfully. “If you have done nothing wrong, why try to hide it?” Chu didn’t have a good answer to this question. He had an indistinct sense that there were things that still belonged to him and were not for the authorities to know, and that this was not wrong, but he knew that these men wouldn’t think much of such a notion. The fat detective sat back and crossed his arms, nodding triumphantly, as if Chu’s silence was itself an admission.

”Look, we want to help you,” the thin policeman said. “Things aren’t very bad for you right now. But if you refuse to help us, it will make things a lot harder for you.” There was a note of sympathy in his voice, and Chu wanted to believe him, though there was also something in all of this that seemed practiced, and he knew they had the advantage of him. The man slid a piece of paper across the table and offered him a pen in his other hand. “Just sign this, and we’ll recommend that the judges go easy on you.” What judges? Were they talking about a criminal case against him? It was all happening very fast, and he didn’t have much time to think. 

“What does it say?,” he asked. He tried to read over the page as quickly as he could, but the thin man wouldn’t let him pull the paper any closer, and he could only catch scattered words and phrases - ‘conspirators’ and ‘agitation’ and ‘threat to public safety’ - which were a legalese that he couldn’t really understand.

“It is a statement admitting that you indiscretely exchanged certain messages with others, but you intended no harm and promise not to engage in any similar activity in the future.” His eyes, scanning nervously, tried to find those words on the paper, but couldn’t quite locate them. This explanation eased his fears a bit, though, since they seemed to realize that his part in whatever had happened wasn’t of much consequence.