Two officers came, both in uniform. One a tall, gaunt man, late 40s, hair greying around his temples. The other a woman younger than Chrissy, barely a girl, looking unsuited, ill-fit to her regulation blue shirt and black trousers. Both of them, she noticed, had incredibly ugly shoes. Chrissy imagined that these trivial details were what you concentrated on in times of shock and anguish. Her husband had never had official visits from police. He made official police visits. Hence, this wasn’t a sign of anything good.
“Mrs Lee” said the tall man, when they arrived. “My name is Leung, this is Sergeant Wong. We have to ask you some questions.”
“Perhaps you should sit down, Mrs Lee” said Wong. She had a bright, cheery voice, the kind you would use when talking to a simple child.
“Of course” said Chrissy, leading them into the lounge, sitting down on the end of the sofa nearest the window.
“We need to ask you several questions” Leung repeated. “Firstly, when did you last see your husband?”
“Last night” said Chrissy.
“What time did you see him?”
“It would have been about eleven” she said. “Why are you asking me? Where is Anthony?”
“That was late for him to get home, Mrs Lee.” Leung remained standing, looking at her. Wong had sat down on the other end of the sofa, was writing in her notebook. “Wasn’t it?”
“He’s often – he was often working late.” Wong and Leung exchanged glances.
“And today? What time did he leave this morning?”
“I – I don’t know. He was sleeping on the sofa.”
“Why was he on the sofa?” Leung asked. Chrissy was crying again. He choked back some of the sobs, blew her nose.
“We – we’d had an argument.”
“Why are you asking me? I don’t understand what difference that will make. You come here, asking questions, where my husband is, what we talk about – where is he? What’s happened?” She could hear a panicking tone infecting her words.
“Mrs Lee” Wong interrupted. “Please keep calm. We’re trying to help your husband.”
“You’re trying to help? What does that mean? What’s going on?”
“We can’t tell you that right now” said Wong. “I think maybe you should understand that some things can’t be revealed to people outside the police force -”
“We need you to contact us if you hear anything from your husband” Leung interrupted. “And of course you don’t mind if we check a few things while we’re here, do you?”
Leung went over to the front door of the apartment and let in two officers, both carrying guns. “We need to make sure he’s not hiding here. There’s nothing you’d like to tell us before we search, is there?”
The two men moved into their bedroom and she heard them uprooting furniture, pulling open the wardrobe, flinging things on the floor. Something smashed.
“What are you doing?” Chrissy began to sob. “He’s not here! You don’t have to break everything apart.”
“We have to be careful” said Wong, patting her on the shoulder. “This is standard operating procedure.” Was that meant to console her?
Leung was up now, his gun pointing towards the door of Alfred’s room.
“No!” she shrieked. “My son’s in there.”
On cue, Alfred woke up and started crying. The two men stopped rearranging Chrissy’s bedroom and came back out into the lounge.
“Check in there” said Leung, indicating Alfred’s room. The first officer opened the door, the second covering him, and then they walked into the room, ignoring the increase in decibels from Alfred and beginning to slam things open. Meanwhile Leung was moving along the bookshelves of the apartment, knocking over ornaments, looking behind books.
Wong stood up, went to the kitchen area, opened all the cupboards and drawers. “He’s not small enough to hide in there” Chrissy snapped at her. Wong didn’t give her a second glance, just carried on checking.
“What are you looking for?” she wailed. Leung ignored her, carried on taking books off the shelves, dropping them on the floor.
“Nothing” said one of the other men, returning from Alfred’s bedroom.
“Did you check under the bed?”
“No, but -”
“Then check under the bed.”
The two men went back in. Chrissy started after them, scared for Alfred.
“Sit down!” Leung barked at her. He was facing her, hand on his gun. “My officers are proceeding in a criminal investigation, you are not to interfere.”
Alfred’s wailing increased. There was the sound of grunting as they shifted his cot. The two men came back out again.
“What do you mean, ‘criminal investigation’?”
“Mrs Lee, understand that your husband could be in a lot of trouble at this point. We need to make contact with him as a matter of great urgency. If you know where he is right now, you should tell us. If you can contact him, you must tell him that he has to present himself at Wan Chai station immediately. If he comes here, you must call us immediately.”
“Why? What’s going on? What’s happening?”
“I am not at liberty to say. Just remember to tell him to call us.” He stood up. “Wong, you two, come with me.” They marched back out, didn’t bother to close the door. Chrissy had to get up and shut it, then sit back down and start sobbing again, sat on the sofa, surrounded by the wreckage of the apartment. What was she to do? Her husband wasn’t the kind of person who went crazy and got in trouble with the police. He was the police. He was the kind of man who spent his time reading dictionaries and being smug when she lost to him at Scrabble. He liked company law as a hobby, thought Sudoku games were a bit too exciting. He was too grey, too dependable to be some kind of criminal.
It must be a case of mistaken identity. That made much more sense. There was somebody else that they’d confused for Lee, somebody else who’d done it. But done what? And then what? Was he dead? She collapsed in tears again, folding herself up on the sofa, crying. Lee might be vain and boastful and obsessed with the most boring things that anybody could ever think of, but she’d known that when she’d married him. He was the kind of person that you could trust, that she knew would always be reliable, always taking notice of her. OK, there was all the fuss she’d made about him having an affair, but she knew that he hadn’t really, it wasn’t the sort of thing he could countenance. She only shouted at him, told him those things to keep him on his toes, stop him from lapsing into complacency. And now – what? Had he involved himself in something dangerous? Perhaps he was dead.
But dead – then why had the police torn the flat apart? What could they possibly suspect him of? What had they been looking for there? She stood up, went over to the bookshelf. They’d knocked every book off, as though they suspected that he’d been hiding something behind them. They hadn’t been looking under Alfred’s bed because they thought he was concealed there – that was ridiculous. They’d been looking for something. Why would Lee have had anything that anyone else would be looking for? She knew there was nothing he’d hidden in the apartment – she cleaned everything night and day, so there was nowhere he could have hidden anything, she was bound to have found it.
Outside, Wong and Leung waited. They knew she would be panicking. Soon she’d make contact with her husband, and then they could catch the two of them, and have them put away for as long as they deserved.