Li Du asked, "But didnt you just mention that you enjoy wood carving?"
Chen Haonan said, "I lied to you."
Li Du chugged a mouthful of the canned drink; he did not know how to respond.
Hans was feeling anxious. "Speak English, lets speak English."
Chen Haonan gave him a glance, and used English to reply, "I cant speak English well."
"You spoke that very well." Hans gave him a thumbs-up.
Proud of himself, Chen Haonan said, "Of course. To explain myself, Ive learned to say that one thing well."
Li Du felt defeated and said, "Alright, I can translate for you guys"
Turning around, he explained to Hans, "This chaps family has always been in the wood business. He has determined the woods material, and is buying all of it for 100,000 dollars."
Hans pointed at the stump, and asked, "Whats this wood? This is worth 20,000 dollars?"
Li Du nodded and said, "Yes, this is the king of mahogany: South China scented rosewood!"
Upon hearing that, Hans went over to check it. "This stump is about 45 pounds, and it is South China scented rosewood? Then it should be worth 30,000 dollars!"
Li Du conveyed Hanss words to Chen Haonan, and the latter laughed out loud, "Interesting fella, this Caucasian, to think that its worth 30,000 dollars. He doesnt know that the price of such wood is inflated?"
"The prices of properties are also inflated, but there are still people who buy them for those prices."
Chen Haonan replied, "Alright, guys, let me share with you how the wood business works. For wood, the bigger the piece, the more it can fetch. One ton of this wood for 1.5 million dollars? Thats more like two or three tons of big pieces of wood. But then again, even 10 million for one ton is possible."
"So expensive?" Li Du said in shock.
Chen Haonan said, "Due to speculation. I remembered this stuff was not worth so much money in 2003. After 2003, it began to inflate, and after a massive hike in 2007, it has reached this price."
As though fearing that Li Du did not believe him, he began to explain in detail, and with great familiarity, about when the mahogany industry had gone through a revolution.
Unlike his wacky and humorous self from earlier, this Chen Haonan was full of confidence and composure, like an expert, when he spoke of the mahogany business.
Li Du asked, "How do you know it so well?"
Chen Haonan coughed. "Pardon memy fathers a cunning businessman who has participated in matters such as speculating in wood prices."
Li Du asked, "Then whats the final price of this piece?"
"Lets base it on the price your Caucasian friend has fixed: 30,000 dollars."
He was so forthcoming that Li Du felt uneasy, and said, "How about less?
Chen Haonan shook his head. "Nope, 10,000 dollars does not make much of a difference. No point in slashing the price, lets chat instead."
Chen Haonan turned glum. "You probably find me too much of a chatterbox?"
In his heart, Li Du was in fervent agreement with him. Besides that Chinese enthusiast with superb hearing they had met when they bought the buggy, he had never met someone who was this chatty.
Chen Haonan said helplessly, "Ive been holding backIm all bottled-up! My English is not fluent, and I rarely meet with fellow Chinese people since Im all holed here. Theres nobody to talk to!"
"Then why did you migrate here?" Li Du asked.
Chen Haonans mouth widened but he did not offer any explanation. He sighed, "Self-inflicted."
The wood was eventually sold for 110,000 dollars. Separately, Li Du still had some mahogany scraps, such as rosewood boards, Siamese rosewood pieces, et cetera.
Chen Haonan kept these items, but he was not keen on buying them. He said hed return them to Li Du after making them into beads.
Li Du accepted this, but not because he wanted to take advantage of him. He could tell why Chen Haonan wanted to do so: it was so that he could drop by more often for chats.
The deal had been sealed, but he did not leave straight away. Instead, he stayed for an afternoon of entertainment.
When they werent chatting, he was examining the wood carvings in the house. He found that Chen Haonan had done his ancestral craft proud; the carvings were skillfully-done and intricate. Some of them were done in his likeness, and were very realistic.
In the evening, Chen Haonan took them out in search of a restaurant to have dinner.
There were many places to eat in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area; Tempe was here, and there was a famous food truck market.
Passing by Arizona State University, Li Du saw many Chinese faces, and asked Chen Haonan, "Oh, right, theres a university here. There are many students from China who go there, right?"
Chen Haonan sighed, "Something happened to me here. Im not allowed to go near the school. Oh, what a pain in the *ss."
This could not work, that also could not work; Li Du also felt the *ss pain.
There was indeed a lot of delicious food in Tempe. After they entered the food market, the dazzling array of delicious food was somehow a consolation for the pain in their *sses.
Chen Haonan would look for food whenever he was free, and was hence familiar with the area. He stopped the eye-catching Lamborghini at the roadside, patted his chest and said, "Come with me, let me give you a stomach ache!"
Li Du blinked, stricken by numbness: What nonsense is this? Giving us stomach aches?
However, Godzilla and Big Quinn needed to be fed, therefore Chen Haonan needed to fork out quite a sum if he wanted to give them all stomach aches.
There were many food trucks at the food market. The trucks were unlike the small breakfast trucks in Li Dus hometown, but were constructed using large, open-concept vehicles.
There was a long line in front of one of the food trucks; the crowd of customers was blocking the pedestrian walkway.
Chen Haonan asked him to wait there with Hans while he brought Godzilla and Big Quinn to squeeze to the front. He tapped the person standing in the front of the line, then used his broken English: "Sorry dude, were in a hurry and no time to queue, can you help us to buy some?"
The black teenager, whose head was bowed, was busy playing with his mobile phone. After Chen Haonan finished talking, he sluggishly lifted up his head to reject him when he saw Big Quinn and Godzilla. Instantly, he beamed and said, "Sure, of course."
Soon, Chen Haonan carried a stack of boxes back, grinning. "Come, come, comefried sausages with potatoes. This stuff is very popular; it takes me hours in the queue to get this every time. This is the first time that I dont have to wait in line to buy them."
Li Du was given a portion of the soft chewy chorizo and fried egg over fried potatoes and mash, offering contrasting textures.
They ate as they walked, and came upon a beerhouse. There was a long line here, and so Chen Haonan brought Godzilla and Big Quinn to the front again.
The soon carried some fresh beer with them. Chen Haonan continued to beam.
Li Du said, "We should wait in line. You know youre asking to get beaten up if you keep doing that?"
Chen Haonan nodded. "I know, but Im with your two bodyguards, so I wont get beaten up."
Godzilla and Big Quinn were not pleased to be his accomplices, but because someone was providing them with free delicious food, they did not express any rejection.
They were eating happily when suddenly someone walked over and said warmly, "Xiao Chen? Hey, it has been a while, Ive missed you!"