The Phoenix Ceramic Art Museum was more than happy to buy the ceramic sculptures from them.
They had sent Payne to negotiate with them, and Hans finally met his match. Payne offered 40,000 dollars and Hans countered with the price of 100,000 dollars. A fierce negotiation ensued.
When Payne didn't leave after Hans suggested the ridiculous price of 100,000 dollars, Li Du knew that that they were sure to buy the sculptures.
Sure enough, they settled on the price of 61,000 dollars. Payne nodded. "Even though the price is a little high, we should respect the value of these masterpieces. We'll take your price."
Hans dropped his shrewd business front. He reached out to bump fists with Payne, laughing heartily. "Thanks for understanding, bro. May God bless you. So glad that you could buy them from us."
Payne smiled too. "And thank you for finding these ceramic sculptures. We knew that Kern had been in Humphreys, but we had no idea that he had left these treasures there."
All of them helped to put the ceramic sculptures in cardboard boxes. Payne and his colleagues had driven a Toyota Highlander to Flagstaff. They needed to hire a truck to deliver the ceramic sculptures.
Hans's car had been sent back from the garage. He didn't even hesitate. "Why spend more on hiring a truck? Come on. I'll drive the sculptures back. But in Phoenix, you'll have to treat me to some nice, cold beer.
Payne patted him on the shoulder. "Good man. The beer's all ready and waiting. There'll be good food there too."
"Then what are we waiting for? This damned hot weather. I can't wait to have some cold beer."
They had spent 1,000 dollars on truck repairs. Of the remaining 60,000 dollars, Li Du's share was 36,000 dollars.
Li Du was quite free since Hans delivered the goods himself. It was very hot in Flagstaff, the middle of the afternoon, smack at the end of March; it looked as if it was going to rain. The air was hot and humid, with dark clouds rolling in the distance.
With nothing on his hands, he checked out the supermarket and found Mexican plums on sale. He bought some, intending to make some plum juice.
Plum juice was quite easy to make. He also bought some rock sugar, hawthorn and osmanthus flowers. Throwing them into a pot, he brought it to a boil, then lowered the flame to a simmer.
After about an hour, the plums and hawthorn had been boiled down into dregs. He strained the contents of the pot through some gauze, leaving dark purple plum juice behind.
He tasted the juice after it cooled down. It was sweet and sour, with just enough sugar in it. Sadly, he didn't have any licorice; otherwise, it would have been cooling and soothing to the throat.
It was getting hotter and more humid. The dark clouds had already blocked the sun from view. There would probably be another spring rain.
Plum juice needed to be iced to taste good. Rose didn't have an ice maker, so Li Du had to put the plum juice into the fridge. He also found a plastic bowl, filled it with water, and put it into the freezer to make some ice.
In the evening, with a clap of thunder, the sky started pouring like a waterfall.
Ah Meow was frightened by the thunder. Its tail between its legs, it scurried around the house.
Li Du tried to comfort it. "Come here, Ah Meow. Come to Daddy. Stop trying to burrow into the sofa, you won't be able to. You won't be scared in Daddy's arms."
Ah Meow crept into his lap, put its head between its legs, and wiggled around, trying to feel more secure.
Li Du didn't know whether to laugh or cry. He picked Ah Meow up and hugged him tightly. "It's fine. It's fine. It's much scarier inside Daddy's pants than it is out there. Isn't it just cozy in Daddy's arms?"
He heard a key turning in the lock. Rose stormed in angrily.
She looked terrible. Her hair and clothes were wet. For some reason, she was wearing the uniform of an office lady. Her white shirt and figure-hugging black skirt were plastered on her, putting her slender figure on display.
Li Du's eyes widened. He stared, then shook his head in disappointment. The shirt material was too thick. He couldn't see anything.
True to her profession, Rose's senses were very sharp. Even though he hadn't looked at her for more than two seconds, Rose caught him immediately. She raged, "What are you looking at? Shaking your head? Now I suspect that you've been on ecstasy pills. Behave yourself!"
Li Du's mouth twitched. He decided to ignore her. Now, he was sure that his landlady was a real tomboy, and one always on her period at that. Rude and negative every day, she never seemed to be in a good mood.
After entering the house, Rose kicked off her high heels. Her black stockings had become translucent after being drenched by the rain. Her small feet stepped on the floor, leaving puddles wherever she went.
Finally, Li Du had a comeback. "I'm shaking my head because you're giving me more work. Look, the floor is so wet. And you don't do any housework—won't I be the one cleaning it up?"
Rose sniffed. She bent over, intending to take off the stockings. Catching sight of Li Du, she stopped herself. Putting on a pair of slippers, she padded over to the fridge to look for a drink.
She was surprised to see the plum juice. "Where did you buy this? There's ice here too. You really know how to enjoy yourself."
"I didn't buy it. I made it." Li Du walked over and closed the fridge. He chopped some ginger and boiled it with brown sugar.
Seeing him close the fridge door, Rose said contemptuously, "How stingy of you—don't worry, I didn't plan on drinking your plum juice."
Li Du passed her a mug of ginger tea. "Please, my dear landlady, it's not that I don't want you to drink my plum juice. But do you really want to drink something cold after just getting out of the rain? Do you think that your stomach and your immune system are invincible? Here, have a hot drink."
Rose held the mug. She opened her mouth to retort, then closed it again and started sipping the tea.
It was a little awkward. Li Du said, "Do you want to go and change your clothes? Don't catch a cold."
Rose said stiffly, "I'm not a fragile little miss. I don't need to change my clothes. We have work later. Even if I put on fresh clothes, they'll get wet again."
Li Du was appalled. "You need to work in weather like this? You American cops are really devoted."
Sensing the ridicule in his voice, Rose glowered at him. "We've always been devoted. We're looking for two robbers right now. They robbed a jewelry store in LA. Someone saw them in a suburb nearby. We need to catch them fast."
"Then go and search their houses," Li Du suggested.
Rose seemed to deflate. "We can't. We don't have a warrant. Because the witness wasn't 100 percent sure that it was them."
"And why are you dressed like this?"
"Because I'm undercover as a salesperson selling financial services. I'm supposed to knock on their door, and try to look for them."
"That's such a stupid idea!" said Li Du. "Who came up with it? What salesperson works in such weather? It's ridiculous!"
Rose seemed quite calm. "There's no other way. They're a threat to society. We need to catch them as fast as we can."
Just then, her phone rang. A loud female voice said, "Hey, Rose. Have you changed your tampon yet? The rain will be much heavier tonight. We need to get those sons of b*tches this evening!"
Rose blushed. Putting down her cup, she hurried away.
Li Du blinked. He had wronged her. The landlady was having her period.