Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
On December 24th, the weather was not so good.
The day before, the sky had darkened, and it looked as if it might snow.
It was pretty cold in Phoenix that winter, but snow was rare. The children were looking forward to it, though, hoping for a snowy Christmas.
While children were hoping for snow on this special day, treasure hunters were drinking hot coffee in hopes of warmer weather, as their protest was to be held outdoors.
They were going to gather in the central plaza next to the Arizona State Capital building.
This building was located in Phoenix and was tall and magnificent. Once home to the Arizona state legislature and many state offices, the towering structure was now a museum.
Originally built to show Arizona’s determination to become a state, it opened in 1889 and the state legislature moved in in 1900.
In 1960, the state capital officials grew tired of the shabby interior decoration of the building, and as the architectural style could not adapt to the modern trend, they moved to the next building, which became the new seat of the state capital.
Finally, the governor’s office moved out in 1974 and the building was repurposed as a museum.
The place was chosen for the protest activity to evoke the memory of the past governments, as many people believed that the previous governments were more responsible and more caring towards the people.
Secondly, this square was very close to the current government buildings. People would be able to see the protest activities clearly, which could also play a role in the protest.
Most importantly, there were many places around selling hot dogs, coffee and hot tea. It was very cold for outdoor activities, and hot food and drink would be appreciated by all.
The event was scheduled for 9 o’clock, the time when the warehouse auction was due to start and when the weather would usually warm up.
However, today, somehow, the weather seemed to go against them. It was cloudy early in the morning, and the north wind from Alaska was blowing so hard it made people shiver.
Li Du was now an important person, and many people would observe him. He had to take the lead, and at eight o’clock, he departed.
By the time he got to the square, not many treasure hunters had arrived. Only Black Mustang and a few others were tidying up, handing out signs and lining up trucks.
The police have received notice of the protest and came to the square to supervise.
They rolled their eyes as they stared at the treasure hunters. It was a cold day. They could have sat in the warm office and played cards, but now they were outside in the cold.
After Li Du got oout of the car, Black Mustang saw him and brought him a cup of hot coffee. “Drink this and warm up first. We are so unlucky, the damn weather is very cold.”
“It okay, we’ll be more spirited that way,” said Li Du.
Black Mustang was pleased with his attitude and tapped him on the shoulder, saying loudly, “You’re right, Li. Everyone must rally their spirits in activities like this. We should tell the greedy government it is not acceptable to leech our money like this.”
A policeman came to inspect what Li Du and the others were doing and said, “No weapons, no guns, no knives, no dangerous objects. Don’t make trouble, you understand?”
Black Mustang was angry, and roared, pointing, “Reporters, look here, everyone, look here, record police officer’s words. Let the American people see what we paid to raise…”
The policeman said angrily, “What did I do?”
“You tehreaten us, the taxpayers, that’s what! Look at this police officer, he carries a baton. He’ll say he was just warning us but actually the police want to beat us up in their hearts, oh yeah yeah, police officer, you think you could take control of everything, do you think you can shut people up? Without our tax money, you would live on bread and water. I advise you to stop supporting corrupt officials and change your stance as soon as possible.”
Black Mustang’s body quivered rhythmically, his hands waving and pointing directly at the policemen as he attacked them with words. The speech was so good that it seemed like a stage performance.
Li Du was dumbfounded. He decided that Black Mustang was a natural speechmaker.
Black Mustang spoke so fast and so loudly that the policeman could not retort and was clearly tempted to use force to silence him.
Unfortunately, there were reporters present, and a few cameras were shooting the whole proceedings. One wrong move, and the whole police force would suffer.
A female police officer came to pull him away, frowning. “Stay away from contact with them. We will just keep things safe.”
The policeman gave Black Mustang a fierce look. Black Mustang flew into a rage, chased him and started vehemently speaking and gesticulating again, which had a spectacular effect. Several other treasure hunters followed along.
Of course, they did not swear, but they did criticize the police. The police officers were angry and their facesturned white, but they were helpless.
As more and more treasure hunters arrived, they started to mingle and greet each other, like at a party.
Black Mustang had money, so he rented a coffee cart and offered coffee to the treasure hunters for free.
Li Du rented the hot dog cart next to him. Many people got up and came without having breakfast.
He took a few hot dogs to the police officers too. At first, they refused with cold faces, but Li Du smiled and said,”we are not enemies, you know. The price of oil is harming you too.” The policemen seemed to be convinced and took the hot dogs with a warmer expression.
“A crowd of police and bandits,” an amused voice sounded nearby.
Li Du turned his head and was surprised to see Chen Haonan, whom he had not seen for a long time.
“Why are you here?” he asked.
Chen Haonan smiled happily and said, “I don’t work as an engraver now. I have changed my career. Just like you, I do warehouse auctions.”
Li Du laughed. “You have really change a lot. When did you start this?”
“After you came to Phoenix, I was walking by a warehouse auction and somebody mistook me for you, and I thought it was funny, so I decided to bring my talent to the industry,” said Chen Haonan.
Li Du said, “Then follow me, don’t go by yourself. This profession seems simple, but it is quite challenging. Besides, I have a lot of enemies, so be careful if you want to go on your own, because they might think you are me.”
Chen Haonan said without hesitating, “no problem, you are the master, please accept my homage as your apprentice.”
As he said this, he was about to kneel. Li Du was startled and quickly pulled him up. “Don’t mess around, come on.”
The treasure hunters nearby came close and one of them said with a pleading look, “Big Li, I also want to be your apprentice, please take me along.”
“Big Li, may I follow you?”
Li Du was helpless, and shuffled his feet in embarrasment.