Being the director the organization, Ma Zhi-an carried the application forms and recommendation letters with him wherever he went.
Hence, after Chen Haonan had filled in the recommendation letter, and Li Du had filled in the application form, Ma Zhi-an signed his name; Mr. Li was now a member of an organization.
Putting the forms away, Ma Zhi-an extended his hand with a smile. "Welcome to our organization, Brother Li. I hope that well help and support each other as we make our mark in America."
Li Du shook his hand. "Definitely."
Ma Zhi-an was someone who knew his place, and did not overstay his welcome. After helping to accomplish this matter, he finished the beer in his glass and then left.
After a few minutes, a Native American man came over and placed a dozen glasses of fresh beer on their table.
Li Du said, "Excuse me, we didnt order this."
The Native American man smiled, "Its a treat from James. He asked me to send you a dozen of the freshest stout." James was Ma Zhi-ans English name; Li Dus impression of him was even more positive now.
But when the Native American left, Chen Haonan told him solemnly, "Forget about the food and drink. Li, let me give you a piece of very, very, very sincere advice: be wary of Ma!"
"Why?" Li Du asked. "Does he have an evil scheme for me?"
From the interaction theyd just had, Ma Zhi-an did not seem like such a person. However, Li could not only consider appearanceswho was to say what kind of a person he really was?
Chen Haonan nodded and then related more negative incidents having to do with Ma Zhi-an.
But he spoke too much, and Li Du thought that he could have been overstating things.
Disregarding the fact that he had met Chen Haonan first, Ma Zhi-an had given him the impression of being more reliable than Haonan. However, Haonan had closed a business deal with him successfully. In this regard, Chen Haonan would seem more trustworthy.
It was never easy to read someones character, and Li Du had never been good at assessing peoples personalities. After all, hed been merely a half-settled university student not even a year ago.
After making another round at the food market, they returned to Chen Haonans villa to rest. The next day they got ready to head back after breakfast.
Chen Haonan could not bear for them to leave. "Could you guys not stay on for a while longer? My hosting at the Food Market was inadequate; lets go dine at the Hilton Hotel tonight."
Li Du smiled. "Its not like the food market was filled with low-standard street stalls. The food there is probably better than some five-star hotel. Lets meet again another time."
Haonan still wanted to dissuade them, but Hans told him that they had to leave to attend to business matters. Chen Haonan could not refute that, and so he asked pitifully, "Then will you come when your beads are ready?"
Li Du was somewhat perplexed. He understood the guy was lonely, but there were plenty of Chinese in Phoenix: Chen Haonan did not have to solely depend on him.
But Haonan indeed looked very pitiful, so he said, "Of course, call me when the beads are ready and Ill swing by here again to hang out."
In the car on the way back to Flagstaff, Hans took out an address and said, "Buddy, head here. Lets go to the storage company to take a look. There are auctions the next couple of days."
Li Du asked in surprise, "Theres really an auction? At Smith Storage Company?"
"Of coursedid I not say that when I rejected your countrymans request for us to stay?"
"I thought you were only trying to find an excuse to decline."
"Of course not. I was sincere."
"Hmm, as sincere as when you were trying to get those dunno-how-many babes into bed at once?"
"I was also very sincere when I tried to get those dunno-how-many babes into bed at once."
Hans put on that signature earnest look of his, which earned him a flash of Li Dus middle finger.
Smith Storage Company organized an auction every month to manage the storage units whose contracts had not been renewed or violated.
There were not many storage units up for auction this time: only six.
After the truck arrived, Li Du let the little bug out to take a look. Out of the six storage units, half were medium-sized while the other half were small; but all of them were filled with stuff.
The little bug searched around carefully once but did not spot anything valuable. Among them, four of the storage units had some value and could be profitable.
In unit 29 there were two computersa desktop and a laptopwhile there was a set of surveillance equipment possibly left behind by a retail store in unit 30. There were some household items of value such as a carpet for the living room or bedroom, and a set of exquisite cabinets in the other two units.
Smith Storage Company held their monthly auction during a great day in September, with the autumn sun high in the sky.
Although there was nothing much valuable being sold at this auction, Li Du and company decided to take a look since it was just nearby.
If the prices were reasonable, he was willing to bid for these units. He could then put the items at the cabin for treasure hunters dealing in secondhand items to take their pick.
Li Du got out from the car and some treasure huntersTuris, Big Beard Carl, Ferris, Olly, and a few otherscame over to greet him.
"Hi guys, youre early today."
Turis said in a helpless tone, "Cant be helped, its best to be prepared. There have not been that many storage units put up for auction in Arizona, so we havent made that much money."
The beefy Ferris said, "Were planning to go on an auction tour. Wanna go together, Boss Li?"
Li Du asked Hans, "Whats an auction tour?"
Hans explained, "Driving a truck to a bunch of auctions until its fullalso known as "auction roving." Its risky: you could make tons of money or lose tons of money."
These American trucks were fuel guzzlers, but long-distance travel was necessary to attend the auctions. Although the cost of fuel was not considered high, there was also the expenditure for food, drinks, and accommodation to be considered. Each time the truck moved meant that money needed to be spent, so the cost could be significant.
It would either be a gain or a loss attending such auctionsthere was no breaking even. Hence, many were unwilling to participate in this.
Li Du looked at those around him. "Is it so tough to do business now?"
Turis looked at him wearily, "Sh*t, it really is. D*mn that Obama. He didnt fulfill the promises he made during the election and caused our economy to become weak!"
"All these politicians are the same," Big Bear Carl sneered. "During campaigning, they sound sweeter than those b*tches in bed. Who wouldnt take care of ones own interests when in power?"
Another truck had entered; Li Du took a glance and chuckled, "Our VIPs from the City of Angels are here too?"
The truck belonged to Frank and York; Li Du saw them once they got out of their truck.
Olly said, "Theyve been in Flagstaff for a few days. Looks like they plan on staying in Arizona. D*mmit, the competition is bigger now!"
Treasure hunters competitiveness could be divided into tiers, with the more expert ones providing the most threat. The rivalries amongst regular treasure hunters were not considered actual competition.
Li Du patted Ollys shoulder. "Then well not participate today. Big Fox and I will share with you guys the information we have and what we seeyou guys take this chance."