Treasure hunting was a trade that was highly dependent on one’s observational skills and luck. Because people weren’t allowed into the storage units, they could only rely on analyses made from rumors about the contents, as well as observations made in a very short period from outside the storage unit. These things made it very difficult to earn money in this line of work.
"Every storage company has precious treasures. But to receive them, one needs God’s blessing." This was a saying Li Du had learned in the treasure hunting trade. Everyone consoled themselves with it after buying a storage unit.
All the auctions that Li Du had participated in, however, had earned him money. Last month, his income had been very high, coming up to more than 50,000 dollars—even after tax. This made him a true middle-class income earner in America. Li Du knew the he shouldn’t look down on the middle-class. They were the backbone of the United States of America; the strongest country in the world was supported by them.
Hans had, naturally, joined the middle-class along with him.
But Hans was an extravagant spender. Each time he earned money he spent it right away on things like drinking and womanizing. He enjoyed and really lived his life to the fullest.
The bug was what sustained their current lifestyle. Li Du often felt anxious and afraid that the bug would leave him someday.
Luckily, it seemed like he had been worried for nothing. The bug hadn’t left, and had actually grown wings. Li Du felt lost about this; he had no idea how the bug had evolved.
After having his dinner, Ah Meow went out to play. It jumped up onto the windowsill, and down again very nimbly. Seeing this, Li Du hurried over to get a closer look.
Hans asked, "What are you doing?’
Li Du said, "Did you notice that Ah Meow isn’t limping anymore?"
He wasn’t too sure about this since, by all standards, Ah Meow’s leg shouldn’t have recovered so fast.
Doubtful, Li Du called toward the outside, "Ah Meow, come back here first."
"Meow…" Ah Meow turned its head and mewed, a look of bewilderment on its round, cat face. Despite this, it ran back obediently, its movements smooth and graceful.
Hans was amazed. "Yeah. Its leg is back to normal. It really is a beast—no wonder it recovered so fast."
Li Du knew that this wasn’t the reason for the cat’s quick healing. Ah Meow suddenly having strong powers of recovery definitely had something to do with the bug. If this was so, then he had to experiment a little. The bug must have evolved after entering Ah Meow’s brain.
The next day, he went to the park to look for stray cats and dogs.
Before he managed to find any, however, he saw the familiar and beautiful figure of Dr. Sophie.
The lady doctor was wearing a light blue, tight, boat neck dress. She sat on a bench, a large loaf of bread in her lap, tapping a light-hearted rhythm on the ground with the toes of her feet.
Li Du had seen many women wear boat necks in America, but few could wear it with the charming effect and style of Sophie.
The effect was wholly due to her beautiful figure. Her full breasts pushed the shirt collar forward, making her mildly curved clavicles just vaguely visible, like fluttering butterfly wings. It was an unearthly, sophisticated sense of beauty.
Young men and elderly gentlemen alike slowed their pace as they walked past the lady doctor, gazing at her appreciatively.
Li Du wanted to go and greet her, but the morning rays fell on Sophie and the mottled bench she sat on. The scene it created was a touchingly elegant, peaceful one.
Considering her and the scene that was created, Li Du thought about it for a moment and then just left.
They weren’t close, after all.
"If I had only brought Ah Meow." Li Du shook his head in frustration. "Damn, there’s only a cat between that goddess and myself."
He walked around the garden a bit, and then went back to where Sophie was. Not that he was still thinking of approaching her, but he returned because he had noticed that all of the stray cats and dogs had run towards her.
There were now some other people there other than Sophie. All of them were cradling large loaves of bread which they tore to strips and fed to the cats and dogs.
Li Du looked around, but didn’t see any bakeries nearby.
A voice suddenly rang out from behind him. "Hey, mate. Do you want to buy some bread?"
Li Du jumped in shock. Turning around, he saw a young black man. Laughing in embarrassment, he asked, "How did you get so close to me? I didn’t even notice."
The young man also laughed, showing two rows of pearly white teeth. "I’m a thief. I know the art of stealth. Alright, let’s not waste your time. This bread is fresh from the oven, and the cats and dogs like it. Twenty dollars. Do you want it?"
Li Du was shocked. "This bread, for twenty dollars? It should cost only two dollars!"
Normal sourdough bread like this was very cheap. Such a large loaf would usually only cost two or three dollars, not 20.
The black young man smiled cunningly. "But the chance to approach a beauty is worth at least 20 dollars, isn’t it? This is an honest price for a brother. Are you a tourist? This is the lowest price I’ll give to a tourist."
Li Du understood what he was saying. The young man thought that he was after Sophie.
To him, 20 dollars was now a small sum. He passed it to the young man for the bread. Holding the loaf, he blended into the small crowd feeding the strays.
He truly hadn’t bought it to approach Sophie, but to get near the cats and dogs. He squatted on the ground, tearing the bread into strips and placing them in front of him. When any cats or dogs came close he would let the bug out and try to burrow it into their heads.
Following his instructions, the bug flew over, landed on their heads and did its best to burrow down but failed. The cats and dogs didn’t even realize that it was there.
He tried this with almost all of the cats and dogs. Ten minutes later, Li Du was so exhausted that he was huffing and puffing, but the bug was still flying in the air.
He was confused. Why is it that the bug could burrow into Ah Meow’s brain but not other animals’?
He stood up suddenly; as a result of squatting for a long time and exhaustion, he nearly blacked out, and swayed on his feet.
An old man with a ruddy complexion and eyes that crinkled up like the moon caught him before he could fall. The old man smilingly said, "Young man, the pretty girl is gone."
Only then did Li Du notice that most of the people had left and that Sophie was nowhere to be found.
He smiled bitterly. "You misunderstand, sir. I admit that there was a very beautiful girl here, but I wasn’t here for her. I was here for these little fellows, I swear to God!"
The old man looked at him with interest, nodding. "No need to swear. I believe you. Your gaze is frank and honest. It’s quite obvious that you’re not lying."
After speaking with the old man a little, Li Du felt better and called a cab back.
When he got home there were some people out walking their dogs. He resumed doing his experiments, still to no avail. The bug couldn’t fly into the animals’ heads at all!
Having gained nothing except fatigue, Li Du had to force himself to stay awake until after lunch. Then, unable to resist any longer, he fell into a deep sleep in his bed with Ah Meow.
Ever since obtaining the bug he had been able to sleep soundly, almost undisturbed by dreams, and would wake up feeling fresh and rested.
The sky was bright when Li Du woke up and yelled happily, "Hello to a beautiful day!"
The door opened with a bang and Hans popped his head in. "Yo, you handsome pig! It’s half past eight. We have less than an hour until the auction!"