34 Handiwork

Translator: Vicky_

Hans went out for a drive, eventually bringing back two barrels of paint.

He looked around a bit for Li Du, asked him for some help. Then the two of them went to the basement and took out a box of tools. After digging through it for a while he slowly fell into a daze.

"Are you thinking of how to refurbish this set of furniture?" Li Du asked.

Hans remained silent for a short while before responding. "No, this toolbox was a birthday present that I gave to my dad for his fortieth birthday. I bought it with money I made from a summer job."

Li Du gave Ah Meow a look, and gestured for it to nuzzle up to Hans.

Ah Meow hesitated, and considered them both for a short while, before giving Hans another swipe with its claw.

"Sh*t, I didn't offend you or your dad!" Hans yelled. "Why did you scratch me again?"

Li Du felt awkward after this happened. He had only wanted Ah Meow to snuggle up with Hans to distract him from the painful memory of his father. Though the process went wrong, he supposed the result was technically as desired.

Hans started packing up tools like files, pliers and a small axe. "My father and I have used this set of tools before to do a bunch of great stuff. Damn, in those days I was the assistant and he was the main man, and now…" He snorted. "This damn world! This damn life!"

Hans glanced over at Li Du. "Now you know why I don't believe in God. If He truly existed, why would He take away a good man who was a faithful follower?"

Li Du didn't answer that question. "Let me be your assistant. A faithful one."

"Just like how I was with my dad?" Hans stared at him in anticipation.

Li Du nodded. "Yeah."

"Then first, call me daddy!"

"Ah Meow, scratch him!"

"Meoooww! Meoooww!"

"Shit, when did your cat become so obedient?" Hans groaned in pain, a new set of scratches on his leg. It was amusing, however, and didn't actually hurt that badly.

All joking aside, Hans was still very serious when it came to work, and quickly refocused on the task at hand. "For Neoclassical styles," he said. "Straight lines are used as the fundamental design, with a few intricate details. By mainly using straight lines they strike a sense of symmetry. While the designs are detailed, they are simple." He explained to Li Du.

"I can understand all of the words you said, but I'm lost once they are all put together."

Hans rolled his eyes. "Alright, I'll make it simple. Look at this. Both styles have decorations such as embroidery, tassels and rivets. This means we don't have to add or remove anything. Which also means there is no need to break anything for this long table. For restoration projects, this is one of the easiest kinds."

"Then what do we need to do?" Li Du asked.

Hans pointed to a line on the table. "Classical styles have more complex, yet milder lines. It emphasizes on sculpturing. Although Neoclassical styles also focus on sculpturing, their lines are simpler, yet bolder. This has already been established, and we can't change it.

"What we can change are the colors. Classical furniture has very striking colors, primarily white and yellow. This makes them feel grand and luxurious.

"Neoclassical furniture uses warmer colors, and tends to use the original color of the wood in its design. The two cans of paint I bought have a similar color to the original wood. Let's be patient and give the table a good brush. We'll hide some lines, emphasize some, and turn this table into a thing of beauty."

Li Du was nodding his head in agreement until Hans's last sentence. "You Americans are really uncultured," he snapped. "What you are doing is called passing off fish eyes as pearls! Substituting a raccoon for the crown prince!"

Hans was momentarily stunned by his words. "So what if you're good in a second-language?" He eventually grumbled, choosing to avoid the accusation.

Although Hans had made this plan sound easy, it was a difficult thing to execute. This set of furniture was very antique, and the paints Hans bought were of high quality. They had to be extremely careful, as some spots of the furniture could not be painted on.

It was like they were putting makeup on a lady. Hans was in charge of painting with Li Du acting as his assistant. Li Du held paint thinner, and whenever a spot was painted badly by Hans, he would clean it off quickly so they could try again.

To make the furniture seem like a legitimate set, they added some simple decorations to the sofa and table so that the design lines paired up.

They worked for a full four hours, all the way till midnight. Once they were finished, Hans brought out some beer, a grill for them to cook some meat and sausages as a reward

"Finally, we're done," Hans said, slapping Li Du on the back.

"I'm suffocating!" Li Du heaved a sigh of relief. The paint thinner was toxic, and a few sniffs would make a person feel woozy, high, or lightheaded. If exposed for too long, it could make them very dizzy and nauseous.

Now that they were finally finished, the two men each went to take a shower.

"Xi Ge Zhong Guai Zao!" Hans said.

Li Du stared at him; he had no idea what Hans was trying to say. "Huh?"

"Have you watched The Big Bang Theory? First season, first episode. Howard had just met Penny, and when she went to take a shower, the pervert said this phrase in Mandarin. It's famous. You really don't know it?" Hans asked in surprise.

Li Du threw his towel at his face. "Of course I know. It's 'Xi Ge Tong Kuai Zao,' not that gibberish that you just said. But then again, that phrase itself is rubbish. Us Chinese don't say such things."

Hans raised his hands up. "Okay, okay, I know your Mandarin is a deep and complex language, but can you please hurry up and take a shower? I'm tired of waiting."

"You two can shower together," Hannah said, appearing at the entrance to the room.

Hans immediately gave Li Du an eager look. "Really?"

Li Du rushed into the bathroom embarrassingly, showering much faster than normal.

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Hannah had bought some steak, pork rolls, sausages, and bacon. She had already fired up the grill and started cooking.

A few sausages rolled around the grill and sizzled, their surfaces full of oil, giving off a strong smell.

Once Hans had finished showering he walked out of the bathroom half naked. He closed his eyes and took a whiff of the air. "Oh, oh, oh! Oh God! This smell! This beautiful smell! Wonderful!" He sang loudly.

Hannah had a bottle of beer in her hand. "If I tell you that I've also prepared Steve Jobs, you'll find it even more wonderful, won't you?" She laughed.

Hans wore a surprised look upon hearing her words. "Really?"

"Of course." Hannah smiled.

"Steve Jobs? What do you mean?" Li Du asked, puzzled.

Hannah took out a tray. On it there were a few skinned apples.

"So you were talking about grilling apples. I thought you guys were gonna grill a person," Li Du said, amused.

Steve Jobs was the founder of Apple, the computer company. Of course, that Apple and the apples on the tray were quite different.

The grilled apples that Hannah made were not simply thrown onto the grill. Besides being skinned, the apple cores were taken out and replaced with a delicious filling; butter and brown sugar mixed with gooseberry, cookie crumbs, cinnamon, nutmeg and rosemary. After mixing them together, this was then stuffed into the apples.

In addition, the top and bottom holes of the apples were sealed with a piece of marshmallow on each side. When placed on the grill, the butter and brown sugar would melt under the heat and seep into the flesh of the apple.

The first items to finish cooking were the sausages. Li Du quickly grabbed one before it could turn cold, his mouth and nose full of the fragrances of grilled meat and cooking oils. Combined with the smells of chilli and cumin, the air was heavenly.

"Dude, compared to the grilled apples, this stuff is nothing." Li Du said, stuffing his face with his third sausage. "Hmm, but I guess it's still okay."

"Come on, give me another one," Hans whined. "I still want to eat!"

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