Chapter 39: Nowhere To Be Found
"Sure, I'll be right there." After hanging up the phone, Chen Jin drove straight to the Commercial Aircraft Corporation (CAC) where his dad worked.
Half an hour later, Chen Jin saw his dad waiting outside the gate anxiously. To keep random riff-raff away, the company had a strict policy and did not allow anyone that was not an employee of the cooperation inside.
"Hey, Dad. What's going on?" Chen Jin asked as he got out of the car and his dad hurried to where he had parked.
"Come here…" Chen Gang put his arm on Chen Jin's shoulder and took him to a flowerbed behind a rockery. He said to him in a low voice, "We'll talk here."
Chen Jin was puzzled. He couldn't figure out what his dad was up to.
"Son, let me ask you one more time. The watch that you gave me, where did you get it from?" Chen Gang asked, looking him in the eye.
"Daaad, didn't I tell you already? I bought it from some street vendor in Shang Hai City. How many times do I need to repeat myself?" Chen Jin simply just did not want to answer his question ever again.
"Where was the vendor that you bought the watch from?" Refusing to give up, Chen Gang continued to try and get some valuable information out of his son.
"I think it was near Zhonghai Garden Road, or somewhere in that neighborhood…" Chen Jin tried very hard to recall.
"Son, can you help me find the street vendor? Find the man that sold you the watch! We must find him!"
Oh boy. Chen Jin stamped his feet and said to his dad, "Haven't I told you already? They move around all the time, those street vendors. They don't do business in the same place; it is impossible to find him."
"But we should at least try! Son, this man is crucial. He is of great importance!"
"I…" It's just a street vendor. How important could he be? Chen Jin just could not understand what his dad was thinking. It was as if he had OCD and refused to let it go unless he found the street vendor.
Chen Gang then explained to his son why he desperately needed to find that man. "Son, did you know the watch that you gave me two months ago was, in fact, not some cheap, knock-off watch, but rather, a very high-tech one that has extremely high timing accuracy? There is a microscopic cesium atomic clock inside the watch, which means it regulates the time, and the deviation will remain less than one second even after 100,000 years! The kind of industrial technology and skills used to design this watch is beyond our understanding. Our country would never be able to produce something like that even if we continue to advance and develop new ideas and technology for 30 more years. This watch has unimaginable value!" Chen Gang waved his arms and spluttered as he explained, getting more and more excited. "This watch is critical to the industrial development in our country; right now, we are still uncertain about the manufacturing process behind it, but if we can get more of this kind of watch, we'd be able to do reverse research and use them as a reference. This will undoubtedly be greatly beneficial to our industrial technology!"
WHAT? Chen Jin was appalled after listening to his Dad. Who would have thought? Even an ordinary watch could create such drama? It could even have a great impact on our country's technological development in the future. An unimaginable value?
All of this gave Chen Jin an idea. He wiped off the spit his Dad accidentally spluttered in his face and asked with an inquisitive look."So…Dad, is that watch worth a lot of money?"
Money? This particular train of thought caught Chen Gang off guard, but he responded and nodded shortly. "Oh yes, it is worth a fortune."
"Like $15k, or even $150k!"
"Only $150k? What if you raise the price? Could you sell it for $1.5 million?"
"Probably. If I was the one in charge, I'd buy the watches for whatever price they give me…Wait, what the heck? Kid, I'm being very serious with you here!" Chen Gang shook his head fiercely. Price? What price? Money would never be comparable with this watch. He grabbed Chen Jin by his arm and said in a very serious voice, "Son, please! Find that man for Dad. Find him! If you can find him, you'll do your country a solid, and everyone will be forever grateful for you!" Chen Gang finished with a hint of imploration in his voice and his face covered in sincerity, hoping Chen Jin would agree and help him find the street vendor.
Seeing his father like that, Chen Jin couldn't help but nod. He knew his father; like the senior comrades from the revolutionary times, his father was also a true patriot and was always ready to vigorously support his country. It really was rare to find someone like him in a time like this.
Besides, even though he was the vice president, which was not exactly a low-level position, for crucial aircraft equipment at CAC, his monthly income was merely a little more than $2,000 with some national allowance, which was only a tiny bit higher than the average income in Shang Hai City.
Compared to those celebrities who hardly knew anything about acting but still made $12-$15 million for each crappy movie they produced, what his dad made was nothing. Of course, there were several privately owned businesses who invited him to work for them and offered $150 million each year as well as a house and a car, but he stayed with CAC and turned them all down, because it was his dream to build massive airplanes for his country!
Deep down, he was Chen Jin's hero, even though most of the time he didn't appreciate his father's criticism regarding his behavior.Therefore, he decided to join his father on this one. "Ok, Dad. I'll do my best to find this guy. I'll give you a call once I spot him, but please don't blame me if I don't. Shang Hai is an enormous city, after all. There are crowds everywhere. It wouldn't surprise me if I didn't find him."
"Yes, you are right. Just do your best. It's not your fault if you can't find him." Chen Gang had adjusted his mindset. His son was right, after all. With this kind of population in the city, the possibility of finding this man was incredibly slim. Still, he planned on driving around the city over the weekend himself, looking for this street vendor that, according to Chen Jin's description, was oddly skinny and had eyes like that of a mouse.
Inevitably, he blamed himself for not having enough power; if he had a higher level position, he might be able to use his connections in the Police Department and locate the street vendor via their security system, which would be much more efficient than driving around, looking for one man among hundreds of thousands.
"Dad, I'm going to start looking now. Go back to work. I'll call you if I find him."
"Alright, don't worry about me. Drive safe!"
"Got it." Chen Jin waved his dad goodbye as he drove away in his Mini Cooper.
Aimlessly, he drove around Shang Hai City, without a single intention to look for this street vendor. There was no such man; where was he going to find him?! So he simply drove around and took some random pictures to prove that he did try. With an ironic smile on his face, he muttered to himself, "I've been playing dumb for days, but Dad still got it all figured out after all. I wouldn't have given him a watch like that if I'd known this was going to happen. I'd have given him anything but this. Ahh, I should have paid more attention to it. I almost gave myself away."
Fortunately, I'm an actor with excellent acting skills. I fooled him good, so he didn't notice anything else that didn't add up.
After all, he'd been playing games with his mom for years, the two of them manipulating each other. He wouldn't call himself the best actor, but for a little scheme like this, he was able to manage.
After driving a few more rounds in the city, Chen Jin finally came home around 9 PM, fatigued from the trip. He showed his Dad the pictures on his phone. "Dad, I looked everywhere, but I still didn't find the street vendor."
"Oh, that's fine. We'll keep looking tomorrow." Chen Gang shook his head. He was unsurprisingly disappointed. But he wasn't ready to give up just yet.