This was the first time Li Du saw Hans with such a generous attitude.
His impression of Hans was that of a gambler, an alcoholic, a womanizer, and someone who lived only to enjoy life. Someone like that, in his hometown, would be called a vagrant.
But this was the norm in America; many American youths nowadays were like this.
However, when he came to this social welfare home, Hans seemed to become a different person.
He was pleasantly smiling with the children and warmly greeting the old people. When he saw that the trash can was full, he did not mind that it was dirty and immediately went out to replace it with a new trash bag.
Li Du was shocked. The change in Hans was huge. In the social welfare home, he was not the treasure hunter that loved to cuss and insult, but instead a young man full of love and patience.
Alright, more like an old youth.
Following the two of them was a black lady who walked in. She was about fifty years in age, wearing an oversized blue t-shirt that had almost faded to white, with permed hair; she walked lightly and quickly.
Seeing this lady, Hans passionately waved and greeted her. "Hey Mother Mesa, looks like you've been doing well recently. You've gained some weight. For the children's sake, you should start eating less."
The lady gave his shoulder a good slap, and said with a hearty laugh, "Lil' Fox, you haven't been here for half a year. If you hadn't been sending me those emails daily, I would have thought that you were involved in some accident."
Hans gritted his teeth while rubbing his shoulders. "I only came back to Flagstaff two months ago. I was in Phoenix previously. When I came back here, I was busy, so I couldn't visit."
"Busy? With what? I bet you're just busy drinking and f*cking!" The black lady curled her lips and said.
Li Du laughed. This lady understood Hans well.
Hans pulled him over and said embarrassingly, "I was working hard to earn some money. Look, this is my business partner. His name is Li, and he's a super awesome Chinese kid."
Mother Mesa and Li Du shook hands. "I know you, Du Li," she said. "Hans has mentioned you many times in his emails. He said that you're a young man he respects above everyone else."
When their hands held, Li Du could feel Mesa's warm and powerful hand. On it were many creases, almost like old tree bark under sunlight.
He smiled and said, "I guess I believe that he mentioned me. But I don't believe that he said he respects the most. That makes me feel terrified—I don't think of him as someone who can say something nice like that."
"You really know me well, brother," Hans laughed. "You really know me well."
Mesa took them into a run-down office. In it was only a table, a few stools, and a shabby old computer.
The two were invited to sit. Mesa then turned around and shouted, "Sally, go boil some water, and is there any more coffee or tea?"
"There is only some Indian red tea."
"Give Brother Fox and his friend each a cup of tea then," Mesa smiled. "Show off some of your skills, my female knight."
As she spoke, the black lady deftly took out a book from a cabinet and passed it to Hans.
"Mother Mesa, you know that I completely trust you."
"No, these are the rules, you must look at them. There are detailed accounts of how your money was used and what it was used for—everything is in there. You must check!" Mesa said firmly.
As Hans was checking the accounts, Mesa turned her attention to Li Du. "I really can't see it, Li. How can someone as young as you turn out to be such an excellent treasure hunter>"
Li Du shrugged. "God is probably looking after me."
Mesa said, "The money Hans has sends to me suddenly shot up these past two months. Frankly speaking, I was starting to get worried."
Hans said with dissatisfaction, "You had that little faith in me? You think I would do something illegal for money?"
"I was afraid that you went to sell organs for the sake of money." Mesa glanced at him from the side.
Hans pondered for a moment and said, "Perhaps I might do that. Since this place is like a home to me."
Hearing the conversation between the two, Li Du remember that every time Hans got his money, he would take a trip to the bank. He asked, "You went to the bank to transfer money?"
"What else? You think I'll store my money with those black-hearted cash-grabbers?" Hans regained his foul tongue.
Mesa said, "These two months, he has transferred over 24,000 dollars. Because of this money, the conditions in this social welfare home have improved immensely."
Li Du was surprised. Hans almost donated half of his income to the welfare home. He actually had that good a heart?!
The two started discussing some issues on the accounts and the development of the welfare home. Li Du could not join in on the topic, so he decided to take a walk.
The social welfare home mainly kept children and senior-citizens. The young folks, besides the nurses and staff, would be those with physical or mental handicaps.
However, the atmosphere was nice. The children had only a limited number of toys, but they were sharing and playing together with constant laughter.
When Li Du saw that those toys were old and torn in many places, he took out the new toys that Hans had bought and distributed them.
Seeing the new toys, the children widened their smiles and started surrounding him, calling him Mister China .
Li Du said, "These toys were bought by Mister Fox. I came here in a rush, so I wasn't able to bring any presents."
"But you're willing to play with us. Mother Mesa said that adult's time is more valuable than money and toys. Since you're willing to spend time with us, you're a good guy." A boy who sat on a wheelchair smiled.
His smile was pure, like a raw sapphire that was freshly dug from the earth.
A few girls were disappointed. "No Barbie dolls? Mister Fox always forgets to buy Barbie dolls."
"It's because he doesn't like them, he's scared of dolls." Victoria, who was carrying a comic book, said.
Li Du could not bear to see the disappointed faces of the girls, and said, "the next time I come, I'll get some Barbie dolls."
"I swear to God."
He stayed for the whole afternoon in the social welfare home. In the evening, they had a meal before finally leaving.
When they got in the car, Li Du was about to ask a question when Hans raised his arms and said, "Give me some privacy. I don't want to talk about the welfare home."
"I'm not asking about that," Li Du replied. "What I wanted to ask was if you could find us a fast-food restaurant? I'm still hungry."
The four antique clocks did not have any pricing, they were just posted online to show that they were up for sale.
That night, there was a call from Houston, Texas, expressing interest in their antique clocks.
Hans arranged for them to meet two days later. He told them honestly that two of the clocks were replicas and two were the real deal. They would have to appraise the clocks themselves.
On the afternoon of the arranged day, at two o'clock, a land rover drove to Flagstaff. Li Du and Hans welcomed the men who emerged from the vehicle. There were three of them; two middle-aged men and one elderly.
"Good day. Is this Mr. Raymond from Houston?"
The senior nodded. "Yes, it is. Good day to you too, Mr Fox. I am Raymond, Zoe Raymond. These two are my assistants."
Hans greeted them, and then Raymond went straight to the point. "As you can see, I am an old man. My days are numbered. Time is of extreme importance to me, so spare me the pleasantries. Take out the four clocks, and I'll get directly to main topic."