This was really a battle of wits!
Li Du had the sudden impulse to cry as he looked at the mobile phone that laid face down on the table.
Why are other people's pets adorable and clever? he thought in frustration. Why are their pets good and obedient? Look at mine! I have to worry about both of them!
Li Du had three pets, which was considered a lot back in China. However, in the United States, three pets was not a lot. Many American families had five or six dogs and, on top of that, kept another five or six cats, just like a mini zoo.
He picked up his phone to watch the video in a hopeful manner. Sophie carried Ah Ow in her arms and came up to him for a look as well. But, there was nothing useful. The camera was facing Ah Ow when all of a sudden, the scene went dark.
From the video, it was impossible to see whether it was Ah Meow or Crispy Noodles that had flipped the phone. Sophie was perplexed and remarked, "The phone flipped because you didn't place it properly? It's not possible that they are so intelligent, is it?"
Li Du hazarded a guess that it was either Ah Meow or Crispy Noodles that had pushed the phone!
Nevertheless, there was no need to say that to Sophie. He put on a reluctant smile and said, "Of course, the phone flipped by itself, haha."
The lady doctor said, "Why not face the camera at Ah Meow or Crispy Noodles? Use the elimination method, as long as either one of them doesn't move away from the cameraforget it, I'm too serious."
Having said that, she laughed as well.
Li Du was unable to laugh. Sophie's idea wouldn't work not because she was too serious, but because she had taken it too lightly. Dealing with these kids needed a more careful, well thought out plan as both pets and owner would face each other using their intelligence!
If the two mischievous pets realized that they couldn't avoid the camera, they would not attempt to bully Ah Ow for they were not stupid in the slightest.
Ever since the last time Li Du had used the video recording function to investigate which pet had eaten up all the fish fillet, both of them knew that they should not do anything when the mobile phone was being directed at them!
After a while, Sophie could no longer bear the fatigue and went to bed.
After Sophie went to her room to sleep, Li Du put down Ah Ow and pretended to go to the restroom. At the same time, he released the little bug to spy on them.
As he entered the bathroom, Ah Meow and Crispy Noodles stared at the door with their eyes flashing.
After they ascertained that the bathroom door was closed, the two scheming pets looked as if they had something up their sleeves. Having been bullied two times in a row, Ah Ow clamped her tail between her legs and quickly tried to hide under the coffee table.
Ah Meow immediately leaped at her and turned her over. Crispy Noodles raised his buttocks, Ah Meow picked Ah Ow up and tucked her below the raccoon's butt. Crispy Noodles immediately cooperated and sat on the poor puppy!
Not only that, Ah Meow patted the raccoon's butt with his paw, just like how Li Du used to dig pits to bury trash, then pat the pit with a shovel.
The bathroom door swung open; Li Du rushed out like a gust of wind. He grabbed the scruffs of the two little partners-in-crime and threw them onto the sofa. This time, the two sly ones had jointly collaborated to commit the "crime." Both of them had to be punished.
Ah Meow and Crispy Noodles tried hard to look innocent. But Li Du would not go soft on them. His big palm took turns hitting their butts and the two naughty animals screamed incessantly.
To avoid disturbing Sophie from her sleep, Li Du pulled them to the backyard and continued to whack their butts.
Little Ah Ow tried to follow as well, walking in a crooked line from excitement. She had a smug look and kept howling happily.
In the afternoon, when Sophie woke up, she was mystified at Ah Meow and Crispy Noodles. "What's with their posture? Why are they on the ground with their butts raised up high?"
"Not sure," Li Du replied coolly, "maybe they want to look for a mate or something?"
Sophie smiled shyly and patted lightly on their butts. "Bad postures are not allowed," she said softly. "That's not what a good child should do."
Both Ah Meow and Crispy Noodles gave out a shrill cry. They got up and limped away from Sophie.
Sophie was shocked. "I...I didn't use any force. I just patted them gently."
Li Du took out his mobile phone and threw it at the two pets. The two of them stopped limping and avoided the flying mobile phone swiftlyone of them went up a tree and another hid in the grass.
"They're just acting." Li Du knew these naughty kids too well.
Sophie was amazed. "Are the animals evolving? Why are they so smart?"
Li Du retrieved the mobile phone he threw and changed the topic: "Wow, the Nokia phone's really good. It still looks perfectly fine even after I've thrown it..."
When the lady doctor had gotten off work from her night shift, it had already been nearing noon. After her afternoon nap, they could start preparing dinner.
When she saw Li Du preparing the ingredients for dinner, she stopped him. "Let me prepare dinner today so you can try my cooking."
"But you just did a night shift," said Li Du. "You should rest more. How about this: You play the piano and I'll prepare dinner while listening to your music."
"What songs do you want to hear?" Sophie chuckled. She walked over to the piano with lively footsteps, opened the lid, placed her ten fingers on the piano and the beautiful melodic notes of the piano was heard.
Ah Ow hurried to Sophie, howling at her. Sophie picked up the puppy and placed her on the piano, where the little puppy sat down obediently beside the music score.
Ah Meow and Crispy Noodles ran over as well. Ah Meow did not require any helphe leaped up onto the piano while Crispy Noodles jumped onto the same bench as Sophie and sat there. It was obvious they were more eager than Sophie.
Li Du had brought with him the Amish's organic fruits and vegetables. They tasted great and were free of pesticides. They required only a wash and could be eaten right away.
He wanted to prepare some salad when Sophie started to play a famous classical piece of music. "Canon?"
Sophie just smiled; her fingers continued to dance with the rhythm and the music became livelier.
Not long after, the music changed to Richard Clayderman's famous piano piece, "Mariage d'amour."
Different piano pieces were played interchangeably with some of them linked with another while they were being played halfway. Li Du did not know most of the songs but he could make out a few famous songs like "Ballade pour Adeline."
The music persisted until he finished cooking dinner. Besides the vegetable salad and fruit platter, he also whipped up four Chinese dishes: big fried prawns with white cabbage, stir-fry string beans with minced pork, onion egg rolls, stir-fry bamboo shoots, and green peppers.
Sophie loved Chinese food, especially light Chinese food. Li Du knew this very well. The four dishes he prepared were homely but required a lot of skill to cook wellSophie adored the dishes and praised his cooking repeatedly.
After dinner, while she was clearing the table, she said, "Right, Li, are you free at the end of the month? I would like to invite you to Michaelmas."
Michaelmas was a festival commemorating the archangel Michael. Western Christianity celebrated the festival on September 29th while the Eastern Orthodox Church honored the archangel on November 8th. Flagstaff followed the former.
Originally, the festival was more of a sporting activity; this was because St. Michael was one of the principal angelic warriors, and had always been regarded as a protector against the darkness of night.
However, because the date coincided with the autumn harvest season in many parts of Western Europe, the nature of the festival had evolved to become an autumn harvest festival.
Arizona was a farming and pastoral state, and hence festivals relating to this aspect were grand and widely celebrated. Many folk customs were related to it and almost every place celebrated this festival.
"Is there anything I need to prepare for this 'Fall Festival?'" asked Li Du. "I've never participated before."
"There's nothing you need to prepare," laughed Sophie. "Just come and enjoy yourself. There's an activity that's really interesting and it's related to your job."
"Auction?" Li Du laughed bitterly. Am I attending another charity-related auction? he thought.
Sophie understood the implied meaning of his expression and laughed. "There's indeed an auction, but you don't need to spend money. You'll know when the time comestrust me, it's really interesting."