Li Du could now understand why Big Quinn was very interested in houses from better neighborhoods: he wanted to get his family away from the current one.
In order to enable ones children to be successful, one must not live in this kind of environmentan environment that would destroy children.
As Li Du drank his beer, he started to feel anxious; he was someone who looked out for his buddies. He felt like helping Big Quinn leave the neighborhood.
The real estate industry in Flagstaff was doing well. Big Quinn could sell his house and Li Du could lend him 100,000 dollars. That should enable him to move to a good neighborhood.
Li Du believed that Big Quinn would definitely repay the loan, as he was now working for him. Repaying the sum of money would simply be a matter of time.
However, Li knew that this would not be a smart arrangement. Big Quinn had just joined his team, after all, and Li had already provided him with very good employment terms. If he were to offer him a loan, he might face difficulty leading the team in future: his employees might start expecting large sums of money from him instead of appreciating something like a loan as a favor.
"Gratitude for the first liter of rice, but hatred for the next bucket of rice." This Chinese saying applied to all regions of the world.
If it were Godzilla, there would be no problem. Godzilla had been working for him for a long period of time; he was a hard worker, and had never once complained. If he were to ever ask for a loan to buy a house, Li Du would immediately lend him the sum without any qualms.
Big Quinn also did not have such a desire: the thought of borrowing money from Li Du to buy a house had never crossed his mind. This dinner invitation was basically to let Rosalind meet his boss and his colleagues.
American parties were mainly beer, barbecue, and music.
Big Quinn set up the grill in the small yard. Hans remarked, "Its time to perform your forte?"
Barbecue was certainly Big Quinns forte; they had seen that the man was really creative with barbecue food.
The big burly man grinned in response. "Of course, my wife has marinated the veal and pork. We can eat to our fill."
Li Du wore a crooked smile. "Pal, please don't. Eating meat too much meat has made my stomach upset. Would you be able to prepare some vegetables?"
Li had concluded that Americans were too fond of meat. There was beef, pork, chicken, or fish at every meal. For most Americans, it wouldnt be a proper meal if there was no meat.
American beef was also very cheap. Some supermarkets even dealt with unsold meat, which one could get two pounds of with just a few dollars; even the poor could afford to eat meat.
When Li had first arrived in the country, he felt as if he entered a world made of meat. Li had not come from an affluent family, so when he had come to the United States, where meat was so cheap, he had a feast.
However, after enjoying eating just that for just a week, he had been unable to take it anymore. The first thing to collapse was his stomach: he had constipation for a period of time that made him feel like he was dying.
But ever since he had gained the little bug, his digestion and absorption capabilities had been greatly enhanced: he could eat anything he wanted without worrying about indigestion.
However, it was inevitable to get sick of meat when he had too much of it. Now, he craved vegetables and fruits.
Big Quinn laughed loudly and replied, "No problem. Watch me."
He called out for something, and Rosalind came carrying a bowl of fruit salad and put it on the table. She also placed a plate of baked cookies with a golden-yellow hue and soft donuts. The salad looked especially delectable and tempting.
Big Quinns three kids sat nicely at the table and asked, "Daddy, is it okay to start eating now?"
He replied gently, "The three of you say your prayers first. Let God hear your voices, then you can have your dinners."
Allen was dissatisfied. "But Daddy, Sawyers family never prays during meals. His Daddy says theres no God at all. That everythings a lie."
Big Quinn gave Allen a peck on his forehead and said, "Thats not true. God gave Daddy a job so that Daddy can buy food for you. Shouldnt we be grateful to him?"
Allen thought for a while, nodded his head, then held hands with his brother and sister. They closed their eyes and began to pray with devotion.
As night fell, the lights came on.
Wild music was heard in many parts of the neighborhood. Some young kids formed groups and strolled down the streets.
The kids held beers in their hands and smoked cigarettes they had made themselves. They howled wildly from time to time, making the atmosphere of the neighborhood dark and somber.
Big Quinn was already accustomed to such scenes. He laughed and asked, "How about a dish of caponata?"
Li Du said, "That sounds great."
Big Quinn gave an introduction of the dish as he worked on it: "The Sicilian caponata is like the Russian eggplant salad. The difference is that one is a main dish while the other is a salad. It tastes especially nice after some grilling."
Rosalind brought over some stir-fried eggplant, peppers, and other vegetables. Big Quinn cut small openings in the eggplant. He stuffed a clove of garlic in some of the openings and sprinkled some with other vegetables. Then he poured olive oil on it.
After that, he mixed tomatoes, onions, celery, all cut into tiny pieces with black pepper and salt. He blended them and put them into the oven.
The oven was already in use, but the grill was not free either.
Rosalind cut some mushrooms, bunching onions, shallots, potatoes, and other vegetables: all these could be used for grilling.
Big Quinn wrapped the potatoes topped with tomato sauce that he had prepared with aluminum foil and put them on the grill; he then said, "It'll be ready very soon."
Barbecued mushrooms could be grilled together with the bunching onions. There were several ways of grilling the mushrooms individually too: grilled mushroom caps, barbecued mushroom roots, and so forth.
Besides that, there were also barbecued peppers and grilled okra. Hans said, "Get some meat, man. Whats a party without meat?"
"Dont worry," Big Quinn laughed, "Ive prepared lots of meat. Nobody will go hungryeven if one more Godzilla shows up."
Godzilla stared at him. "Ive never eaten my fill before."
Everyone was at a loss for words.
Besides barbecued food, Rosalind had prepared other dishes as well.
A delicious-looking golden-brown apple pie, a plate of crispy fried capelin, fried sausage rolls, country ham, German minced sausage, clam chowder, and so on.
Soon, the table was lined with all kinds of dishes. Li Du called Big Quinn over. Then he used a fork and tapped on his glass of beer a few times. "Come on everyone. Let us give a toast to Big Quinn and his wife for their warm hospitality."
Big Quinn laughed and replied, "Boss, its our pleasure."
The lively Allen said, "Im glad that Daddys working for Big Li. Our meals at home have become better. The barbecued meat is now nicer too."
Everyone laughed. That was the truth, as Li Du had already given 10,000 dollars to Big Quinn; he was undoubtedly using that money to improve the meals at home.
And as they were enjoying their meal, a teenager appeared outside the fence and stared at them.
Li Du was the first to notice the teenager, and asked, "Whose little friend has come?"
Rosalind glanced at the boy, then went to the kitchen, took a paper plate and filled it with some fish, meat, and desserts for the teenager. The boy ran away after getting the food, and had not uttered a single word.
Big Quinn puffed a sigh and explained, "Thats a poor child. His fathers in jail and his mother abandoned him. Hes currently living with his grandmother, whos unable to work."
"Yesterday Simon and his gang bullied Alex," said Walter. "I drove them offtheyre a bunch of *ssholes!"
Big Quinn patted his son on the shoulder with a comforting smile. "Very good, Walter, you did what a man should do. But remember, the first rule of helping others is...?"
"Protect yourself!" the three of them said in unison.
Li Du was eating a piece of the barbecued mushroom and couldn't help shaking his head when he heard that. He had never come in contact with such an environment before.
After experiencing this environment, he felt that the domestic news broadcast back at home had been rightmany people living in Western countries led difficult and painful lives.