The rain poured down ruthlessly. Li Du had never known that spring rain could be as heavy as this. This was unthinkable in his hometown.
They were drenched by the time both of them reached the first house. He agreed with Rose—there had been no need for her to change into fresh clothes. The Chinese had a saying: The blind lighting candles—a waste of wax.
The lady cop's expression was stoic, as if she didn't feel the cutting winds and ice-like rain. This impressed Li Du. This was a woman on her period!
Unlike Phoenix, spring in Flagstaff was still somewhat chilly. Especially so when it was pouring rain.
Ah Meow had come along with Li Du faithfully. But once the rain touched its fur, it chickened out and jumped into Li Du's bag. Now, just its furry little head could be seen. It refused to go out and freeze.
At the door of the house, Rose took a deep breath. A faint smile appeared on her oval face.
She was just about to knock when Li Du stopped her. "Nevermind. Let me do it. You should practice smiling. Your smile is too cold. A salesperson wouldn't smile like that."
Silently, Rose nodded. Just as he was about to knock on the door, she said softly, "If you find anything wrong, back out immediately. I'll handle them."
Li Du sniffed in contempt. 'Look down on me? I'll show you what Chinese Kung Fu looks like!'
He let out the bug. It passed through the rain and the walls of the small house.
Even as he knocked on the door, Li Du's vision changed. The living room and the guest room were empty. In the master bedroom, a middle-aged man and a woman were having a tumble in bed, obviously enjoying themselves.
The rain outside splattered on the ground, mirroring the sounds in the bedroom.
The robbers definitely weren't in this house. He had no wish to see such dirty things and called the bug back hastily.
He kept knocking and ringing the doorbell. Only after a long time did a man open the door, obviously very angry. "Hey, what's your problem? What do you want, coming to my house in such weather?"
Rose was just about to speak when Li Du cut her off. He pretended to peek inside. "I'm sorry, sir. We're from the neighborhood association. The rain is very heavy. We're just here to remind you to be careful of leaks and floods.
The angry man seemed to calm down a little. He looked at them suspiciously. "Oh. I thought that you were here to sell insurance, toilet bowls, or something like that. Thanks. My house has no leak or drainage issues."
After they left, Rose couldn't help herself—she asked, "What are you doing?"
"The robbers aren't in this house. Do you want to get a fired for nothing?" Li Du replied.
Rose wasn't satisfied. "How would you know? I need to find a way to search the house!"
Li Du stopped her. "If you want to be made fun of by your colleagues, then go ahead. Otherwise, follow my lead! You have to follow my lead!"
Rose stomped her foot in frustration. Her white, open-toed heel with black lace trimmings made smacking noises as it hit the water.
Li Du didn't want to waste any time or energy. There were consequences to using the bug. He would leave as soon as possible once confirming that the robbers weren't in the house.
There were seven or eight people in the second house. It was obviously a co-op. Such places had no secrets or privacy—it was impossible for the robbers to be here.
There were a few families having a party in the third house. After scanning through the house, Li Du approached them with the same story, then excused themselves again.
Just then, Rose's radio sounded. "Rose, what the h*ll are you doing? The others haven't even finished with their first house, and you guys have already done three? Don't tell me that you're just taking a stroll!"
Rose answered stiffly, "Boss, I'll be accountable for myself. I will catch them!"
"Okay, may God bless that stubborn head of yours!"
Pocketing the radio, Rose walked on in silence.
"That house earlier could not have had any robbers. Those were just some ranchers having a party. They were obviously celebrating the spring rain," explained Li Du.
Rose pursed her lips and said with determination, "I believe you!"
They made fast progress. By the time the others were on their fourth or fifth house, they had already swept through more than 50 houses.
After confirming that another house was empty, Li Du shook his head. "Next. There's no one in this house."
Rose didn't move.
"Let's go to the next house," Li Du repeated.
She shook her head. "There is no next house. That was the last one. My colleagues have searched all the others."
Her face was expressionless, but her eyes were red. It was very clear how bad her situation in the police station would be when she lost to Chuck.
Two of the policemen from earlier strode toward them, fuming.
"D*mn it, Rose. You've knocked on all the doors. What are we supposed to do now?"
"Do you think that this is a joke? You want us to take a shower in the rain with you guys?"
Li Du glared at them. He pulled Rose to the side and asked, "Are you sure that the robbers are in this area?"
"Yes," she said, firmly.
"Your colleagues have looked through all the other houses that we didn't?"
Li Du gritted his teeth. "Let's visit all the other houses again!"
Rose froze. She cried out, "Do you want me to offend all of them?"
If she did that, she would be infamous for not trusting her colleagues. That was one of the worst things a cop could be known for.
Very soon, her supervisor contacted her on her radio. "F*ck, what are you doing? Report to me, Rose. What the f*ck are you doing!? Those houses have been searched!"
Rose's voice was raw. "Yes, boss, I know! But I want to look through them again!"
Li Du was quite amazed. The lady cop trusted him far beyond the norm. He, too, wanted to win. If they didn't find the robbers, then he would have single-handedly brought this tragedy on her. Why did she trust him so much?
He reached his limits after another seven or eight houses. He started feeling tired.
But he couldn't back down. The lady cop was just beside him. He gritted his teeth and kept on going.
Rose stopped him. "You look terrible! What's wrong?'
Li Du didn't reply. At the next house, he released the bug and knocked on the door.
The bug flew in. The house was similar to the others, with four rooms and two halls. It was very messy. Clothes, dirty dishes, and trash were scattered all around.
There was no one on the ground floor. On the first floor, he found a white young man and a pair of black men. They were smoking cigars and laughing.
Both black men were big and buff. One was bald, with a scar on his face while the other sported an afro.
Li Du smiled through his exhaustion.