Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Four people and a dog were sitting in the shade, and Barbara was taking out the food from the basket. The dog, Hans, was drooling and scratching at the basket with its paws.
Giggling, the blond girl handed it a beef bone, which it dropped on the ground. It continued to look longingly at the stew in the small pot.
“This is not for you, little Hans, but for big Hans. Go and eat your bone. I’ve cooked it just for you,” said Barbara, smiling.
The big dog was not as intelligent as Li Du’s pets and kept staring at the food.
Li Du asked, “Big Fox, what’s the matter with you now?”
Hans did not answer. First, he took a plate, put some beef on it, picked out a piece with a bone, and threw it into the air. The big dog jumped, caught it and ate it greedily.
Then he said, “You see, I’m working here now, trying to pull my weight on the Bryan farm.”
Li Du stared at him and said, “What do you mean?”
Hans soaked the tortillas in a bowl of beef stew and ate them as he spoke. “I mean what I just said. I’m going to stay here. I told Barbara I’d come to see you this morning so you wouldn’t have to worry, but I knew you’d come first. You didn’t fight Victor and Ken, did you?”
Li Du said, “No, but I want to know exactly what happened to you. Where is your phone? Why haven’t you contacted us?”
Hans said helplessly, “I lost my phone, so I couldn’t contact you.”
“Nonsense, this is not some third world country. Couldn’t you borrow someone else’s phone?”
“Yes, but I don’t know your phone number by heart,” Hans spread out his hands innocently.
“How about Hannah’s phone number?”
“I don’t know any number by heart except my own. Come here, eat. The food is so delicious that we cannot waste it,” said Hans, smiling.
Li Du said, “Not so fast. Do you know how hard it was for me to find you?”
Hans laughed and said, “Look at your sulky face, brother. No matter what you say, I will not go with you, for my heart belongs to Barbara now.”
“That’s tacky,” Young Ris shook his head and left.
The blond girl stared and asked, “Did your heart belong to Li before?”
Hans continued to laugh. “No, my heart was floating in the air.”
Barbara sighed in relief and said to Li Du, “Oh, that’s good. I don’t like to come between people.”
Li Du did not know whether this was a joke or what. He was speechless.
“Thank you for coming to me, brother,” said Hans. “Indeed, thank you very much. But as I told Barbara to tell you, you should go home. I intend to stay here.”
Li Du was surprised. “Are you serious? Are you going to stay here? Weren’t you kidnapped and unable to leave?”
Hans rolled his eyes and said, “Kidnapped? This is my home, the place where I belong!”
Li Du was about to say something rude, but given Barbara’s presence, he restrained himself.
“You want to settle here? So have you talked to your sister? Have you thought this through? And you’ve got to bring your stuff from Phoenix. What about your work?”
Hans said, “My sister is fine. We don’t contact each other that much. Part of my income, as usual, will go to the welfare homes to help people in need. As for work? I will continue to deal with it.”
Here he put down his plate and said, “Yes, I have almost finished taking care of your paintings. I sold eight of them and made a total income of 7.8 million. How about that?”
He was great. Li Du did admire him. Hans was a genius in sales.
When he put down his plate, the dog came nearer, and Hans offered it his leftovers. The dog began to eat, merrily wagging its tail.
Wiping his hands, Hans said with a smile, “I’m serious, brother. I’m going to stay in Riverdale. Of course I’ll still work remotely through the Internet and the phone, and I’ll fly from time to time, but on the whole, I’m going to stay here.”
“Because of Barbara?” Li Du looked at the blond girl, who was a little shy, but still gave him a smile.
“Mainly because of Barbara, and also because I love this life. From my contact with it, I knew I loved it,” said Hans.
He stood up and gestured around him. “The farm, the pasture, the sheep, chickens, ducks, horses, and dogs, that’s what I want.”
“You want to be a farmer?”
Hans said, “Not a commercial farmer. I want to live a life like this, like when I was a child. You might not know that when I was a child, I lived with my parents in the country. My grandfather had a small farm, and we helped him with chores every day.”
“Later, my parents went to Flagstaff to work, and I stayed on the farm until I went to middle school. The country is where I belong.”
Li Du understood now and said, “This place makes you feel like you did in your childhood?”
Hans laughed. “Yes, that’s it. Li, I’ve thought it all through during these days in Riverdale. This is where I belong!”
“You know me as someone who goes to bars and clubs, someone who likes partying and making money. In fact, I don’t really like those things. I was bored, I needed to fill a void in my life, so I would go out and try to have fun.”
“Life at Riverdale and on the farm is steady, monotonous, but not boring. Seeds of grain and vegetables are planted in the spring and then harvested months later. It’s fun to herd cattle and sheep and watch them grow fat day by day. This gives life meaning.”
Li Du said, “So are you really going to become a farmer? I didn’t see you that enthusiastic when you lived next door to the Amish in Flagstaff.”
With a sly smile, Hans put his arm around the blond girl and said, “There’s no Barbara among the Amish.”
Next to them, Barbara’s brother saw this scene, shook his head and went further away. Li Du gave up.
He looked at his friend’s smiling face and laughed, saying, “If this is the life you want, you stay here. I was afraid you were detained.”
“Well, I was, sort of. Victor locked me up for a few days, and then, at my request, I became a farm employee,” said Hans.
Li Du said, “What on earth have you done that they treated you like this? I know they took you to the police station.”
“I held hands with Barbara,” said Hans.
“You held my hand even after I did not agree to it. I thought you were going to take my whip,” said Barbara.
“You were imprisoned for holding hands?” said Li Du in amazement.
Hans said, “No, I was imprisoned because I slept with Barbara.”
Hearing that. Barbara’s brother made a few more steps away.