Xiao-Mei was exhausted when she returned home so she made a cup of tea and relaxed on the sofa. She began mulling over the events of the past few months and what may lie ahead and had nearly dozed off when Qian came home and startled her out her rumination.
“I have great news mother. The lawyers successfully filed a petition to remove the visitation ban from father. So, the family can go see him now. I think this will really help lift everybody’s sprits.”
This good news brought a smile to her lips; the first since this whole ordeal began. She actually felt like this was a turning point. Although the funds she had raised were short of the lawyer’s request, perhaps Qian could convince him that she had exhausted all her resources he would accept the lesser amount.
“Qian, I have already raised 800,000 NTD which is $200,000 short of the lawyer’s target but I don’t have any other potential resources in sight and, besides, that is not a paltry sum by any means. Would you discuss this with Zhong-Ping and see if you can convince him to proceed without additional funds?”
“I’ll try mother” then he nodded and left.
The next day she could barely endure waiting for the end of the school day when all the children would go home so she could go visit her husband. She rushed out of the building, close on the heels of the last of her little charges to leave and hailed a taxi so she could get to the detention center as soon as possible.
Her initial elation at the first glimpse of her husband coming through the door to the visiting room quickly evaporated when she saw how haggard he looked in his prison uniform. She tried desperately to hold back tears of sadness to no avail. Not wanting to burden her husband’s heavy heart with worry for her well being, she quickly wiped away the tears and eagerly waved to her husband. She was disappointed that they were separated by a thick glass wall and could only communicate with him using the microphones. They might as well be a thousand miles apart. She lovingly pressed her palm against the glass and picked up the microphone.
“How are you holding up? How is the food? You look so thin.”
“I can manage to bear it. I thought I would get a chance to talk to Zhao to see if he could help me but, they sentenced him immediately and moved him to another facility before I could locate him.”
“Are they trying to force a confession out of you?”
“No. I am not a political prisoner so they won’t spend a lot of time on the case. They just want to convict me quickly and then sentence me to serve my time. I suppose that if there is any good thing about this mess, that would be it. At least they won’t try to beat a confession out of me.” Xue-Heng’s attempt at levity could not conceal the downcast expression on his face.
“Take care of yourself and don’t worry. Mo-Xiu has found a job and things are going well at home. And, the lawyer we hired thinks there may be a good solution to your case. I expect you will be out very soon.”
“I don’t see any way to get out of this. The lawyers have repeatedly urged me to plead guilty. But, you know that I could never confess to crimes that I have not committed.”
“We will have to spend a large sum of money to get a lawyer capable of achieving a favorable outcome for your case. The lawyer I have retained has an excellent reputation and is considered to be one of two best criminal trial lawyers in Taipei. He was a judge before retiring to private practice and is familiar with most of the judges and court officials. And, Ying-Quan personally recommended him. I think we can trust his judgment.”
“So what is his strategy?”
“If we provide him with the proper amount of funds, he will be able to influence the court system and get favorable judgment in your case.”
Xue-Heng’s eyes widened in dismay. He could not believe that his wife, who had always shared his moral standards and ethical principles, could now be suggesting that they bribe a judge. Aside from the fact that considering such an action was totally repugnant to him, it would be an extremely dangerous course of action. How far could the morals of society have degraded so that even his wife would succumb to the temptation of such a lawless act? In the end must I rely on this unscrupulous act to be free from this unwarranted arrest and incarceration?
“Don’t do this thing. You are playing with fire. Why should we trust this lawyer? We had never met him until after I was arrested. Besides, what can they do to me? I did not commit the crimes they accuse me of. If you try to bribe the judge, he will think I am trying to avoid punishment for a crime I have committed. It is the same as admitting guilt and once your reputation is tarnished, you can never restore it. Besides, where will you get that much money?”
“I have nearly enough already. I think we must do everything possible to suppress the evidence against you. Even if you are not guilty what’s the difference? The main goal is to get you out of here. I think we should respect the lawyer’s advice. He is very professional and experienced. I will try anything to get you released. As long as you are safe and healthy, there is hope and we can always start over.” She hoped that her words would give him an optimistic attitude about the trial and cheer him up a little.
They were still talking when the guards came for him. “4678, your time’s up.”
She was distressed and saddened that their time to visit was over so soon. Before she hung up the microphone, she shouted parting encouragement. “Please believe me, I’ll get you out. I will see you again soon.” But Xue-Heng had already hung up his headset and never heard her farewell. She could only watch with a saddened heart as he disappeared through the door to his cell block.