39 The First Gathering

Translator: Vicky_

"Who?" asked Li Du. The name seemed familiar to him.

Hans looked at the messages on his phone while driving carelessly. "Dog Tail Reginald. A peer from the same trade as us in Flagstaff. We haven't seen him for a while now since he drank some moonshine and nearly died."

After hearing this, the reason he'd found the name familiar dawned on Li Du. He had heard it on the news in Flagstaff some time back.

This Reginald was quite unlucky. One of the storage units he'd bought had contained some moonshine which he mistook as fine wine. To celebrate getting so much of it at a low price, he'd opened and drank a bottle of it with his partner.

Both of them were hospitalized after drinking so much of the moonshine. Because of this, the Flagstaff police had launched an investigation, and had even interviewed Li Du because the moonshine had been stored there by another Asian.

Another car came at them head on. Hans hastily spun the steering wheel, nearly colliding with it. Li Du was shaking and covered in a cold sweat. He confiscated Hans' phone so that Hans would drive properly.

Hans laughed nervously. "I was a little too absorbed in the texts. Uh, I have good news. We're famous in Flagstaff. Dog Tail is organizing a party. He invited us to go have some fun."

"Have fun!?" Li Du screamed. "We almost just lost our lives!"

The gathering was on a weekend. They had to sell off the phone before that.

Before they even lifted a finger they had a customer. This man hadn't come to buy the iPhone, however, but the furniture. He had been brought by Kevin, the owner of the general store.

"This is Mr. Billy Gerson from Las Vegas," Kevin said, introducing the big man. "He works at a casino and is very interested in our furniture."

Flagstaff wasn't far from Las Vegas. The luxurious style of this set of furniture was similar to that of a casino's. It could have even come from one.

Billy Gerson was a thick-set guy without a single hair on his head. His scalp was bare and smooth and so were his large brow ridges, which overshadowed deep, sunken eyes and a ferocious-looking face. Li Du guessed that he was a bodyguard for some rich casino big-shot.

Hans displayed the set of furniture. Billy pulled out a magnifying glass and looked through it, examining the furniture very closely. "The table has a problem," he quickly said. "Neoclassical furniture uses inlay to give texture. The table's decorative patterns are too ornate and showy."

Li Du immediately understood that this was a connoisseur, not someone with brawn and no brain like his appearance suggested.

Hans was very frank. "Yes, but I believe you've noticed that I made some changes to the table. Other than experts like yourself, most people can't tell." 

Billy nodded. "How much?"

"We want to sell it for 5,000 dollars." 

The man's mouth twitched. "If the table were part of the same set as the sofas, 5,000 dollars wouldn't really be an issue. But these were obviously scrambled together. I'll give you 3,000 dollars."

Hans shrugged, saying, "That's too low, man. We can't..." Before he could finish, Billy cut him off.

"Never mind. I don't have the time to haggle with you. How about meeting in the middle at 4,000 dollars?" He asked, giving them his best price. "But you have to handle the delivery."

This price was perfectly acceptable. Hans and Li Du would have been willing to sell it even if he had insisted on 3,000 dollars. They agreed to this price, and sealed the deal at 4,000.

Hans bumped fists with him, smiling and saying, "Thank you very much, boss. Thanks for buying our lovely furniture. I hope your casino continues doing well."

The man smiled and pulled out wads of green banknotes from his pocket. He counted four thick stacks out and threw the money at Hans.

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He felt the cash in his hand without counting, just saying, "Four thousand dollars exactly. Come on, show us the way and then I'll send it to your doorstep."

Only one person was needed for the delivery and the two cities weren't far apart. Hans set out without Li Du.

The Ford raced after an S-Class Benz. Li Du was a little worried. "That guy won't bring Hans into the wild, kill him off and take the furniture, will he?"

Kevin looked at him with disdain. "Drive an S-Class Benz and then steal that furniture? It isn't worth enough to even pay for the gas!"

Li Du had to agree with this, and tried to relax. He'd watched too many Hollywood films.

Without the furniture, there was only the first-generation iPhone left to sell.

Kevin saw it and his eyes lit up immediately. He went over to Li Du. " Hey, China boy," Kevin said. "How much for this phone? Why don't you sell it to me? Uncle Kevin will give you a fair price."

Li Du gave him an innocent-looking smile and asked, "How much, Uncle Kevin?"

Kevin stretched out a hand and smiled innocuously. "How about 500 dollars? You can buy a new iPhone with that money." 

Li Du was shocked. "Five hundred dollars!?" He wasn't acting. Kevin was such a sleazy businessman. If that wasn't taking him for a sucker, then it was taking him for a fat pig ready for slaughter.

"Yes, 500 dollars," Kevin said. "You're amazed by the price, aren't you? I bet that there's no one else willing to give you a higher sum, as there are few people who are as nostalgic for old technology like this as I am.

"Think about it, boy. A first-generation iPhone in exchange for the newest iPhone. Your chance has come, take it!"

Li Du didn't even want to haggle with him. Pulling out his phone and going on eBay, he searched for the first-generation iPhone and showed him the prices. "Uncle Kevin, I'm from China, not Korea. I know how to use the internet!"

The asking prices for the first-generation iPhone on the internet were all very high, starting from 5,000 dollars onwards.  

Kevin didn't give up, nudging Li Du's shoulder and saying, "The prices here on the internet aren't real. There are no buyers for that kind of price. How about this, why don't you name your price. If it's acceptable, I'll take it."  

"Five. But the unit I'm using isn't 100, it's 10,000. I want 50,000 dollars!"

Kevin turned and walked promptly away. Before leaving, he said, "Boy, I should have known that you were a man with a huge appetite based on the last meal we ate together."

When Hans came back the next day and heard about this encounter, he doubled over in laughter. "That old rascal Kevin had it coming to him," he said.

From the furniture, Hans had earned 1,600 dollars. He then lost 2,000 dollars in the casino after pulling an all-nighter there. So after his trip to Las Vegas, the profit had resulted in a negative balance of 400 dollars.

On the weekend, they drove to Reginald's house to join the treasure hunters' gathering.

Hans was telling Li Du what to expect on the way. This type of gathering was usually within a small social circle, with no more than ten people, and the expenses were split evenly between everyone. The organizer usually provided the venue, and everyone paid for the costs of the food and alcohol.

The weather was fine. Spring in Flagstaff was abound with warm winds and sunshine, budding greens and blossoms. There were people working out all over the streets and in the community gardens.

The gathering Reginald had organized was located right in his backyard. There were neat lawns and a small, elaborate garden. There was a bunch of pickups parked at the door, and Li Du could hear that rowdy noises were coming from inside the house.

Once Hans and Li Du stepped out of the truck, they saw Dalton, who had bid against them in the Phoenix Classics.


Sticking his head out of the house window, he yelled, "Hey guys, looks like Lebron James got a big rebound! Let's see whether he can nail the buzzer beater!"

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