The Fourth of July, or Independence Day, was a federal holiday in the United States of America. It was an important day in American history.
However, on this day, Li Du, Hans, and Godzilla were on their way to check out the area of old houses that would be their next auction.
Their truck cruised along the road, which was partly sealed off for the Independence Day parade.
Hans took a sip of the beer and commented, "Dont the papers always say theres an economic crisis in America? Why does everyone still have the mood to celebrate all this sh*t?"
Li Du, startled by Hanss comment, looked at him in disbelief. "Woah, buddy, you are an American. How could you say that? Gramps Washington and Father Lincoln are going to be very upset with you."
Hans shrugged. "The one I like is Franklin."
He pulled out a green hundred-dollar bill, and kissed it two times.
Godzilla made a smooth U-turn, pulled onto a different road, and left Flagstaff city. They went toward the north-east direction, cruising along the highway to Carpenter Town. If they continued driving along the highway, they would reach Las Vegas.
The small town was like an oasis amongst the desert. There was natural greenery all over the place. It was full of trees, along with beautiful, flowing streams of water.
All they could see for their journey was the yellow desert sand; the sudden sight of greenery was definitely refreshing. They saw a patch of grassland where a small herd of sheep was leisurely grazing while two sheepdogs played on the field.
"So, we are entering Carpenter Town, right?" Li Du asked, looking at the scenic view outside.
"Yup," Hans replied. "On this highway, the moment you see greenery, you know youve reached Carpenter Town."
"Carpenter sounds familiar to menot sure where Ive heard it. This must be a famous town, right?" Li Du casually remarked.
This time, it was Hanss turn to look at Li Du with disbelief. "You dont know the Carpenters? The Carpenter siblings are really famous!"
Li Du glanced at him with an awkward smile. "Yeah, but I dont really know any of their songs."
"Yesterday Once More, Top of the World, Please Mr. Postmanyouve never heard of these songs?" Hanss face was still filled with shock.
Li Du surrendered with his hands up. "Okay, Ive heard about them. Its just that my memory sucks."
Hans patted Li Dus head and teased, "Dont be sad, kid. Carpenter Town is also famous as well. You might really have heard of it before."
"Cut it out!"
Carpenter Town was indeed famous. The Carpenter siblings had lived here for a while before. "Please Mr. Postman" was said to have been created here.
When the Carpenter siblings had left the town, the townsfolk decided to rename the town after them. There was a Carpenters Museum in the town as well.
The town was also famous for its beautiful, lush scenery, and surroundings. There was a mineral spring spa resort as well, reputed to be one of the oldest spa resorts around.
But Li Du was not interested in one of the "most famous" spots. He noticed that Americans really knew how to create hype and attention for their towns, given that almost every one of them had their own gimmicks to attract tourists and visitors.
However, Hans strongly recommended Li to chill out at the spa resort.
"Buddy, you have been looking lethargic these past few days. This means that you are stressed out, mentally and physically. We need to go to the spaits a MUST."
Li Du, however, was skeptical. "Dont tell me theres some unusual activity in there?"
Hans was dumbfounded for a second. "What unusual activity?"
"Like, uh will there be naked women accompanying us in the spa?"
Hans rolled his eyes. "Sh*t, I just wanted you to relaxwhat were you thinking?"
Li Du laughed, "Okay, okay, Ill go. Im just joking!"
Hans snorted, "Your treat."
"Of coursemy treat it is. But we should check out the houses first!"
The oasis town had a smooth landscape. Rows of sturdy palm trees lined the roadside. Small gardens with colorful flowers were seen near the entrance of almost every neighborhood.
When they drove past some water streams, they could see some ducks swimming on the peaceful waters surface. Children were sitting in a small raft, playing with their dogs in the river.
They stopped next to a convenience store at the junction for some drinks. Li Du had a glass of iced orange juice, while both Hans and Godzilla drank cold beer.
They did not have to worry about drunk driving, given that they had almost reached their destination.
Li Du rested his arms on a bridge, watching the children and dogs playing not too far away from them. He smiled at the pleasant sight. "The scenery here is really lovely."
The owner of the convenience store had a toothpick clamped between his teeth. He chatted with them, as there were no other customers besides them at the moment.
The store owner looked proud when he heard Li Dus remark. "Of course young man, the Carpenter siblings came here because they were drawn by the beautiful scenery. Thats also the reason why a vacation resort will be built here as well."
Hans handed the store owner a cigarette. "So a vacation resort is going to be built here? That means a lot of houses will have to be demolished?"
The owner took the cigarette and nodded. "The Cumulus Cloud residential area just behind here will be demolished. Its the oldest residential area in the town."
Hans and the store owner smoked while chatting with each other. Hans gradually shifted the topic to the Cumulus Cloud residents: who was wealthy, who were collectors, who were generous, etc.
Li Du knew he was lobbying for information with regards to the upcoming auction on these old houses at Cumulus Cloud, so he listened quietly.
Cigarettes and alcohol were two of the world's most suitable icebreakers when it came to human relationships.
Ever since Li came to the United States, this was the first time he saw someone using cigarettes as an icebreaker. A common sight in China, but rare in the United States.
However, this method proved to be very successful for Hans. About half an hour later, Hans and the store owner waved goodbye, and the trio carried on to their destination.
Li Du carried a backpack with him when they reached the soon-to-be-demolished neighborhood.
Hans was puzzled and commented, "Whats in there? Its simply crazy to carry a backpack around on such a hot day."
Mr. Li gave him a mysterious smile. "Youll know very soon. Its something good."
The houses in the neighborhood were old, simple, and seemed to have witnessed the ebb and flow of life.
What the store owner said was true: this was the oldest residential area in town. Many houses had become dilapidated.
It was no wonder the real estate company could successfully acquire the whole area.
Li Du asked, "The houses in the entire neighborhood will be put on auction?"
Hans nodded. "Correct."
There were over forty houses in the entire neighborhood, which was considered a small residential area. The houses of American towns were mostly single-family houses that look like small villas.
Li Du felt overwhelmed.
There were over forty houses; the area each house occupied was big, with some of them having second stories and attics.
Since they were not near each other, using the little bug to conduct a search of each house would be really energy-consuming, even if it was not a detailed one.
Fortunately, he had come prepared. Putting down his backpack, he asked, "Did you get any useful information?"
Hans said, "Yup, a couple of things, but we cant get into those houses. Theres not much use at all in trying."
Li Du smiled, "Says who?"