Beer bottles were lined up on the bartenders counter, and the brown bottles had the huge letters "IPA," along with the Stone Brewery logo imprinted on them. They made the surrounding Singha bottles look like they were beverages for children.
A man wanted to take a beer but Hans held his wrist. "One moment please, I have something to say. Firstly, I would like to apologize for what I did last night; the inconvenience I have caused to all of you here, I am sorry.
"Next, I would like to find out who told you I am the culprit? I bet that you received a tip-off.
"Tell me who it is, and Ill buy all the drinks for today. All of you can drink to your hearts content." Hans looked at the group of black men one by one and turned to look at Sandy as he finished his speech.
Sandy shook his head. "We are the ones who invited you over for a negotiationthe beer should be on us."
Sal spoke in a low tone, disapprovingly. "Sh*t, Sandy, thats over two hundred dollars!"
As trashmen, this group of people belonged to the lower class of society. They had big families, and their pay was not much to begin with. They had to pinch every penny, especially if they wanted their children to get a good education.
Sal felt the pinch not only for himself, but for everyone in the gang as well.
"Just one name and you can drink all you want, is it not a good deal?" Hans asked persuasively.
Sandy wore a serious countenance. "No one told us. The surveillance cameras"
"There arent any surveillance cameras at those spots. I have been dumping in the exact same spots for the past few months, so why didnt you know it was me then?"
The group of men glared at each other upon hearing Hanss words; they ignited their flames of fury once again.
Hans spoke again, "It must have been Dog Ears Rick, am I right? He has a pair of jug ears."
Sandy shook his head. "No. I dont know what you are talking about."
Hans smiled at Li Du. "Buddy, that Dog Ears wasted no time to get us in trouble. He sure acted fast."
With that, Hans insistently handed each and every one of the men a bottle of the Stone craft beer.
Li Du took a bottle, opened it, and smelled the richness of the aroma from the hops. The fine craft beer had a tangerine smell, with a slight herbal and fruity citrus scent as well.
Li Du took a sip of the beer. At first Li felt it tasted like orange peels, then he smelled the rich aroma of fruits mixed with a light wheat scent; he felt the presence of banana, peach, and bitternessobvious, but not too strong.
Now that he had tasted the Stone craft beer, the Singha beer seemed like it had only a single taste throughout its flavor. Unlike the Singha beer, the craft beer was a beverage that could really lift up peoples spirits.
Sandy hesitated for a while before taking the beer. "I have nothing to hide and I do not understand what youre saying. Truth is, someone told me about you via a phone call."
"Oh, so youre saying youve forgotten what Rick sounds like?" Hans chortled. "Hasnt he called you up frequently for cleaning jobs?"
Sandy replied firmly, "Lets not talk about this. What we are here for today, pal, is to say that you shouldnt do this anymoreits too much work for us."
Li Du nodded. "We wont do this anymore, I can promise you that. For the trouble that weve caused, Im deeply sorry. How should we make amends?"
Sandy stroked the Stone beer bottle and said, "Our original plan was to get a days wages as compensation. However, since you are willing to buy us beerthis type of fine beermy men will be happy with this arrangement."
"Okay, thats a deal. For the next six hours, you and your men can drink to your hearts content." Li Du smiled as he had no reason to turn down a reasonable request like this.
The men in blue overalls cheered and whistled. One of them remarked, "Sh*t, the storage auction business seems so profitableyou both must earn a fortune!"
Hans mingled with them. "You can become a treasure hunter too. Anyone can be a treasure hunter. You do not need any educational qualifications to become one."
Sandy shook his head and looked at the beer bottle. "This beer is nice, but it is not easy to brew it well. If old men like us can taste it occasionally, thats good enough."
Suddenly, someone entered the bar. He blocked most of the light shining through the door, and instantly the bar felt darker.
Li Du turned to look at the big guy; for a moment he thought he saw a black version of Godzilla.
This big, burly black man looked really tough. The blue overalls he wore had probably been specially tailored for his size. His height was around seven feet tall, and as he walked over, Li Du could feel the ground shaking with each step he took.
Although Godzilla was big and burly, he had an angular face with defined lines and clean-cut, chiseled features, that in Li Dus point of view, were not extremely daunting.
This big guy was different: he had a shiny, bald head, and a face which made him look ferocious and tyrannical. He quietly walked over with a straight face without saying a word, but he emitted an aura like a predator ready to pounce on its prey.
The group of black men looked more at ease when they saw the big guy.
Sal waved to him. "Big Quinn, what the f*ck, why are you so late?"
The big guy grinned, "Something cropped up, sorry about that."
Although the tone of his voice was gentle, his smile looked hideous. His white teeth made him look like a beast ready to hunt. Li Du felt that this guy should not be a cleaner, and that he should join an underworld gang; his size and look alone were enough to kill.
Sandy introduced the big guy to the trio. His name was OQuinn, but due to his size, the group of men called him Big Quinn.
"This fellow here has an extraordinary looking face, but he is a good, mild-mannered, guy. I have never met another as accommodating as him. Hes like a blue whale that has entered land."
Hans handed him a bottle of beer and said, "Youre not local, right? Ive never heard of you."
The black guy smiled, but it looked savage. "Im from Caliente, Nevada. Ive been here for two years now."
Sal asked, "So why are you late today? Is everything alright with Rosalind?"
Big Quinn shook his head. "No, its those people from the bank."
"What do they want? Those a**holes in ties need a good bashing!" said a sullen Sal.
Big Quinn smiled broadly. "Its my problem. I couldnt pay up my housing loan, as I havent gotten my paycheck for one and a half months now. These people came to evaluate my financial status."
Upon hearing this, the men in blue suddenly went silent.
Sandy furrowed his eyebrows. "The company has gone too far; our paycheck is long overdue and everyones having a hard time. Im going to have a talk with the manager tomorrow."
Big Quinn smiled. "Im okay, Brother Sandy, Im still fine. And this beer tastes great. Stone IPA? This is pricey."
"The two wealthy lads are buying." Sal pointed to both Hans and Li Du. "They are treating us with beer for the trash we cleared this morning. Hey pal, you gotta drink more of ityou did most of the work."
Big Quinn shrugged. "I cant drink too much, just one bottle will do. All of you should drink more, though. Now that everythings fine, I need to go after I finish my beer."
"You still have something going on?"
"I hunted a deer yesterday. Im thinking of making some venison and selling it to Bills Fast Food Restaurant. As you know, my venisons rather popular with their customers. If I can earn some extra cash, then why not?"
Sandy and his group nodded, and when Big Quinn finished his beer, he left.
Li Du patted Hanss shoulder. "I have something going on too. Dont get drunk, and remember to pay the bill."
"Leave it to me," Hans nodded.
Big Quinn got in a rusty looking Toyota pickup. Li Du walked up to him and asked, "Care to give me a lift? I dont have a car."
The big guy smiled, "No problem, as long as your destination isn't too far away."
"Its nearby. Just drop me off in front of Wells Fargo."