"I think they might start a fight," remarked Li Du on the way out. "Are you sure we should go now? This conflict was started by us after all."
"So what? You have no idea how long I have been waiting for this day. I would be happy if they started fighting," Hans replied with raised eyebrows.
"Happy? Wouldn't it be even better if we get involved as well? Like if we also give that crazy cow a few punches."
Hans was caught off guard for a moment, but then happily responded, "Haha! Buddy, I'm starting to like you more and more."
"Thank you, but I still like the treasures here more than you. How should we sell them?" questioned Li Du.
"Let's get rid of the garbage first; then we'll go to the second-hand store for the other stuff. As for the drums and the piano, we'll have to bring them to professionals to get a more accurate estimate," Hans answered.
Hans was responsible for the logistics of selling everything while Li Du was only responsible for picking out the valuable items from both storage units.
The trash they needed to dump cost around 180 dollars to be processed, but Hans only gave the security guard 50 dollars, and he allowed them in without any registration.
"Isn't this bribing?" questioned Li Du in a shocked tone.
"No, to me, it's called accurately using my intelligence and my network. Plus, to him, this is extra income."
After getting rid of the garbage, they went on to sell the other items such as the National Geographic collection and the desk lamp. Hans was quite familiar with Phoenix, and after visiting only two stores, they were able to exchange their stuff for 450 dollars.
The only thing left was the two boxes of National Geographic magazines containing all the editions starting from 2000.
"How much are these worth?" asked Li Du.
"If we are lucky, then we'll be able to sell them to someone for fifty dollars. You see, the ones here aren't continuous; otherwise, a collection that spans over ten years would sell for much higher."
"You are very lucky then. That someone is right in front of you," said Li Du. "Here's sixteen dollars, these magazines are now mine."
"Huh?" Hans was confused.
"I've recently found that I still lack knowledge about America. So I want to read these to learn more."
"That makes sense, but why are you paying sixteen dollars?"
"You want to sell them for fifty, but that's only the starting price. So, after several rounds of bartering, the final price should be around forty dollars. According to our agreement, you get forty percent of forty dollars, which comes out to sixteen dollars."
"Buddy, you are a sly businessman. You must be born for this work," Hans laughed.
With nothing else to do, they soon arrived back in Flagstaff.
When they got back, they saw a dressed-up Hannah preparing to go out. When she saw the two, she gave them a smile, "Why did you guys return so soon?"
"We made a big profit in a short amount of time. So, of course, we had to rush back. I didn't want to make my dear sister worry about us," said Hans proudly as he patted the side of his pickup.
"Thank God, it looks like my foolish brother has finally grown up. I didn't expect you guys to come back so soon, so I didn't prepare any food. I've also got some stuff to do, so you guys will have to call for takeout."
"Going out?" Hans asked. "You finally have a day off, why not stay home and rest? You can accompany Li for a meal instead. He often speaks of you on the road. I think that you guys are still not too familiar with each other."
Li Du, who was currently helping Ah Meow with its recovery exercises, glanced in their direction, "Big Fox, what are you saying?"
"Nothing. Just that the weather is nice today, and that my sister is going on a date."
"Have a nice date, Hannah."
Their Phoenix trip was fruitful, but the journey still exhausted all of Li Du's energy.
When the two got back, it was already dusk. Li Du made a campfire in the backyard and sat on a deck chair. As he sipped from a freshly brewed cup of coffee, he quietly admired the sunset.
Beside him, Ah Meow glared at the dancing flames, occasionally using its front paws to try to reach them. However, with its lower body still wrapped in bandages, there was no room for much movement. As a result, it could only pitifully let out some low meow sounds.
Hans got some sausages and placed them over the fire using sticks. Soon, their surfaces started to crack, and their fat dripped onto the fire, filling the air with an alluring smell.
When the sausages were done, he gave some to Li Du and Ah Meow. The meat was both juicy and chewy, and the aftertaste was as good as fresh bites of the meat. Li Du and Ah Meow could not have enjoyed a finer meal.
"This is delicious!"
Hans laughed, "Of course it's delicious. These are Marquette sausages. A single one of them costs as much as an entire meal."
That night was restful. The next day, Li Du, Ah Meow, and Hans had a relaxing morning; they went to get an estimate for the drum set and the piano in the afternoon.
Their truck arrived at a wooden apartment near the center square of Flagstaff. As Ah Meow sniffed the surroundings, it immediately started moaning and refused to get out of the vehicle.
Li Du had to leave Ah Meow in the car as Hans went to ring the doorbell.
The door opened, and an elegant shadow fell out from it. From the side, Li Du saw a familiar curvy body once again appearing in front of him.
With golden locks framing her fine and graceful face, she gave Hans a dazzling smile. "Big Fox, my father prepared a hunting rifle for you."
"Dr. Sophie?" Li Du asked in surprise.
This beautiful girl in front of him was the same doctor who saved Ah Meow's life in the hospital.
Sophie turned around and saw him. She was surprised as well. "Hi sir, What a coincidence! Is your ocelot better?"
Pointing toward the truck, Li Du answered, "It's right there, but it seems unwilling to come out. "
Sophie smiled at him. "Ocelots have a great sense of smell. It must have sensed my presence and is afraid of another operation."
Li Du turned to the truck and saw Ah Meow hiding behind the front passenger's seat, revealed half of its head to observe the outside. Its emerald eyes were filled with distress.
Clapping his hands, Hans interrupted, "Hey, hey, hey! You guys know each other? But Sophie, I'm the main character today, and I want to ask you for a favor."
"You want to ask my dad to test his rifle on you?" Sophie teased.
"Dammit, that was a story from my teenage years, so please forget about it. I'm here today because we would like you to help us examine and appraise a set of drums and a piano."
Li Du was quite surprised. He would never have thought that the number-one musician of Flagstaff that Hans mentioned earlier was this female doctor.
However, as he considered it further, he found that it made sense. From his first meeting with Dr. Sophie, he felt that she emanated a presence different from an average doctor. This must be a result of her musical temperament.
The two opened the trunk and pulled the drums out.
Sophie put on her gloves and examined the drums for some time. She nodded her head, "DW Performer A2 series, this is a great product. It uses a chain drive system, and a 5002 series peddle. This is a revolutionary product in the drum industry.
"This particular set was probably made in the mid-90s. The maple body and seven layers, the 14-inch cavity, and the rose-patterned side all confirm my conclusion."
"How much is it worth?" Hans asked.
Sophie didn't answer the question. Instead, she knocked on the drum and listened to the sound. "Very nice, this is the exact sound of the popular drums from the mid-90s. Deep and soft. I often heard my father playing this sound."
"How much did Mr. Martin buy it for?"
"The price at the time was around 2,000 dollars. However, if this was maintained well, it will easily be worth more than 10,000 dollars," Sophie said.
"YES!" Hans started pumping his fist in the air.
"But that's only if it's maintained well, right?" Li Du asked, picking up the doctor's unspoken words.
Sophie gently stroked on the frame of drums and said, "Yes, the front here is good as new. However, the back was repainted. This reduces its value. You should still be able to sell it for 6,000 to 7,000 dollars."
"Well then, take a look at this." Hans unwrapped the cover, and the wine-red grand piano was revealed.
At the first sight of the piano, Sophie was enthralled by its beauty. "You guys managed to get the Empress?!"