After some time, Lil Rick came back.
He passed a name card to his father as if he were presenting a prestigious item. "Ive found out who he is. His name is Oscar Liu. An employee from the Beijing Museum, he is mainly involved in wooden crafts. He is here in America for a tour and has been invited to appraise some Mahogany furniture during this trip."
"Whats the authenticity of the Mahogany furniture?"
"He refused to reveal anything related to it," Lil Rick said in frustration.
Rick walked away. After a few minutes, he returned and said to Frank, "Ive asked the Chinese man to stay. Would you like to talk to him?"
Frank flashed Lil Rick a condescending smirk. "This is your territory? You cant even question someone on your own territory?"
Rick gave his son a disappointed glance. If he couldnt even get the crucial information out of that man, what was the use of this son of his?
Yorks experience was not something that could even be compared to the experience of a greenhorn like Lil Rick. Yorks preparations were immense.
Having invited Oscar Liu, York brought him to a small caf to minimize the possibility of catching some other treasure hunters attention.
Now working together, Frank and Rick went to meet them there.
There were many Chinese people in America, especially Los Angeles.
However, when he saw Liu, Frank put his guard up. He first stated, "I know a Chinese man. His name is Du, Li. Hes a good man from Flagstaff."
Oscar Liu wiped his glasses and revealed a gentle smile. "We Chinese are all good people. A pleasure meeting you guys. Is there anything I can do for you?"
As he spoke, Frank had been observing his eyes and expression.
However, he couldnt find anything suspicious. When this Chinese man heard Li Dus name, he was unfazed. The clearest emotion on his face was just a tiny hint of confusion.
He analyzed it for a moment and felt that he was probably being too suspicious. Just because this man from China had appeared, it didnt mean he was related to Li Du.
Rick knew the reason why he was testing the waters. He scoffed and whispered in his ear, "You know that that Chinese arent easy to deal with? You know that youll have to keep your guard up against him, right?"
Frank ignored him and instead gave a bright smile to Liu. "Hi, buddy, nice to meet you. I love the Chinese. I love your culture. So heres the thing: we do indeed need your help for a few things."
Liu nodded pleasantly and said, "Go on."
"Its like this," Frank said, "Ive always been interested in this friend of mine called Du, Li. Even his name interests me. From what I know, there is something special about his name in Chinese culture, right?"
Liu smiled and said, "Oh, if Im not wrong, if we go by his Chinese name, it is pronounced Li Du?"
"Thats right, there is something special about that name. In the study of Chinese poetry, there was a line in a poem that goes like this: Li and Dus poems are so widespread that theyre no longer novelties."
Appearing very interested, Frank asked, "What does that mean?"
Liu explained, "It means that a poet with the surname Li, and another with the surname Du, had their poems and teachings spread widely. Li Du is a term we use that combines the surnames of two of our cultures greatest poets.
"Besides Li-Du, there were also combinations like Xiao Li Du,Liu Bai,Su Li,Gao Cen,San Xie San Cao San Su,Er Li,Pi Du,Zhong Xing Si Jie"
Frank and Rick had no clue what they were hearing, but they had no choice but to pretend that they were interested, because the important question had yet to be asked.
After Liu finished explaining, Frank said, "Buddy, you seem to be well-versed in poetry. You must be a scholar."
"No, it just happens to be my interest," Liu said with a smile. "In fact, Im an architecture expert."
"An architecture expert? So you study bridges and buildings?"
"No," Liu shook his head. "I study architecture and related renovations from the four dynasties: Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing."
Frank immediately asked, "Then you must have a deep understanding of ancient furniture from China."
"Yes," Liu smiled. "I do understand it. Thats a good way to put it: that I have a deep understanding of them."
Frank shot Rick a glance. Rick handed some photos over to Liu and said, "We would like to know what material this furniture seems to be made off?"
Liu studied the photos and soon there was a slight change in his expression. He then said, "Sorry, I cant tell. I dont think I can help you guys with this."
"Dont be like this, buddy," Frank smiled. "We dont have any other intentions, just that we need some help from you to appraise the material used for the furniture."
Liu shook his head. "Just from photos, one cannot tell the materials used. Fellas, if someone tells you that they can do that, then they must be lying."
"Really?" Rick asked with wide eyes.
"Unless he has some sort of supernatural power, it would be impossible. Validating the material of a piece of furniture can only be done with the actual thing.
"Even with the furniture in front of me, its not that easy. Several aspects have to be investigated, touched, and felt. A breathtaking amount of experience is needed too..." He then continued with a bunch of terms like "The yellows of the Heaven and Earth,""Yin and Yang balance," and stuff like "Sandalwoods true colors will grow thicker with time."
Frank and Rick had headaches listening to all these terms.
However, Ricks expression was turning more and more grim. The trap he was planning to set for Li Du was solely based on these photos. If the photos could not tell anything, then there was a huge problem!
Frank realized that Liu wasnt going to stop talking, so he slipped a few notes of cash to him, implying as he said, "Perhaps you could tell something from these photos, buddy. Help us out a little."
Lius face turned grim. "What do you mean, sir? What kind of person have you made me out as? Sorry, but I think I wont be able to help you guys. Ill be leaving."
With all his methods proving useless, Frank gave up.
Seeing such, Rick had a vicious look in his eyes and said, "I guess its still up to me."
He held Liu back and made a call. Soon, two Native American Indians walked in and asked, "Whats up?"
Rick said darkly, "We know this Chinese man has information on the mahogany in storage, but he wont speak to us. We have no choice but to ask you for help."
Harris used his poisonous gaze to scan over Liu. He waved his hand and said, "You guys head out. Ill have a talk with this guy."
Liu jumped up in a panic and said, "Sorry fellas, I have to leave"
"Dont be hasty, tell us a few things before you leave," Harris said with a diabolical smile.
Frank didnt want to leave and said, "Perhaps I can help out."
Harris suddenly flashed out a khukuri. He slapped the flat part of the blade onto Franks face and coldly said, "What can you do? For the d*mn sake of God, can you guys listen to me and scram?!"