"Mr. Harris, you're here." That was Rick's voice.
Li Du and Hans glanced at each other. This was another enemy of theirs. It seemed like their trip to Holbrook would be filled with drama and trouble.
Soon enough, they heard Harris's chilly voice: "I'm here to know how the preparations are going."
Immediately came Lil' Rick's voice: "No need for that. Tomorrow, at the storage company, just wait and see how we'll deal with that Chinaman. They'll definitely be in for a fix!"
"Don't be overly confident, young man," Harris sneered. "That Chinaman ain't easy to deal with."
Lil' Rick replied, "Of course, but this time he'll lose miserably. You can just relax and enjoy the show. We'll be the ones playing him this time."
Rick added, "Yes Mr. Harris. There's no way he'll know that the mahogany furniture in the storage units are all imitations!"
Li Du and Hans looked at one another, and Hans whispered, "D*mn, you guessed correctly. The units this time are worthless, but did how do they know that?"
They heard Harris's voice again: "That mahogany furniture, is all of it really fake? You're sure your information can be trusted? If it's genuine, its value should be pretty high, right?"
Rick hesitated a little before saying, "We're about 70 percent sure of that. Mr. Harris, you have to understand that there is no one who is absolutely sure of this."
Harris sounded dissatisfied. "What if the furniture inside is real? If that happens, will you be able to tell me that you've fooled the Chinaman?"
"We had the photos of the mahogany furniture appraised. They should be fake."
"Should, should, should! To hell with 'should!' I want an absolute answer! D*mn, what if the mahogany furniture is real?"
By now, Li Du had guessed what was going on. There was no need to listen to them any longer.
Hans got it as well. "Those b*st*rds wanted to fool us with fake furniture? Why are they so confident that we will be taken in by them?"
Li Du puffed out a sigh. "Maybe the fake mahogany furniture's appearance can really pass off as genuine."
The fake furniture could indeed be passed off as genuine. If not for the little bug that could go into the furniture to check the patterns and structure, it would not be an easy feat to tell the furniture's authenticity just from its appearance.
The three of them were still arguing in regards to this matter. The Native American was very greedy; he wanted to see Li Du in a fix, but he wanted to earn big bucks at the same time.
Rick's intention was to take a gamble. They believed that the furniture were knockoffs.
They also held the belief that the Chinese were fanatical and obsessed over mahogany furniture. The Ricks believed that the appearance of the mahogany furniture would cause a bidding frenzy from Li Du, which would lead to him paying for the units with exorbitant prices. That was the reason why they felt certain that Li Du would bite the bait.
"Because the Chinese like mahogany furniture similarly as the French like foie gras, and the Russian's love for caviar," Rick told Harris.
The battery soon went dead and they couldn't hear the three of them arguing anymore. It was dinner time anyway, so they went to a restaurant for dinner.
While sitting down and waiting for their food, somebody came over with a warm smile. "Xiao Li, it's such a coincidence to see you here."
Li Du looked up and smiled too. It really was a coincidence: the Liu family was there. Mr. Liu, Mrs. Liu, and Wesley, who was walking with the help of a crutch.
He got up and shook hands with the Liu family and asked Wesley, "So, how's your wound recovering?"
The plump young man laughed optimistically. "Not bad, but as the saying goes: 'When the bones and muscles are hurt, it requires over 100 days to recover.' I better be careful about it."
Wesley could walk slowly without the crutch. But they were obviously out for sightseeing, so Wesley took the crutch with him.
Mr. Liu asked, "What are you doing in this town? Are you doing what we're doing? Taking a self-driving car tour along the historic Route 66?"
Wesley chimed in, "Dad, you can't guess it? He must be here for work. He could be attending an auction." Turning to Li Du, he asked, "Holbrook has units on auction, right?"
Li Du nodded, laughing. "Yes, we're here for an auction. So all of you went on a self-driving car tour? Route 66 is really a good choice. There are very few cars on the road and nice scenery the whole way."
"Just that there are too few Chinese people around," complained Mrs. Liu. "No matter who we meet, be it Hispanics, black people, or white people, I feel like they are not friendly to us."
Wesley also complained, "My dad only reads all the time and hardly trains his muscles. Because of that, he looks like a scholar. Many of the ruder Americans like to bully Chinese scholars like him because usually this group of people has money and a good temper."
Hearing that coming from his son, Mr. Liu did not know whether he should be happy or angry about it. He wore an ironic smile and remarked, "Isn't it good that I look like a scholar? You mean it would be better if I looked like a butcher instead?"
They were just teasing Mr. Liu's scholarly look and build, but when Li Du heard that, an idea came to his mind.
The aesthetics of the mahogany furniture were based on Chinese culture and spread to the rest of the world. In fact, ancient Chinese furniture had spread to the western countries a long time ago, but locals did not know of their origins.
It was when a French intellectual by the name of "Odilon Roche" described the mahogany furniture in his book, "The Furniture of China." This started the popular wave of owning mahogany furniture in Europe and America.
What attracted westerners most of all about the mahogany furniture was not its durability or beauty, but the complex mortise and tenon joints adopted by the Chinese craftsmen used for frame making.
Westerners liked things that were skillfully made. The various mortise and tenon joints contained within the ancient, classic furniture were breathtaking and fascinated them quite a lot. Odilon had written, "I am unable to find anything more steady and solid to compare against the Chinese furniture."
In addition to the mortise and tenon joints, westerners were also intrigued by the creation process and Chinese artistry of the classic mahogany furniture.
Although the furniture had been spread to western countries way before the 20th century, the westerners did not copy or learn the art of creating Chinese furniture. It was simply pure appreciation for them.
The westerners had thought that some of China's huge pieces of furniture or artifacts were very sophisticated, but such exquisite craftsmanship was not used to exhibit their greatness nor for flaunting. The ancient Chinese focused on durability and preservation, so that the furniture could be passed on to their descendants.
Westerners were not interested in leaving behind a set of furniture for their descendants, nor were they keen on studying rosewood or learning the creation process.
As a result, in the 1920s, when the westerners fell head over heels for the mahogany furniture, they were not equipped with the necessary knowledge and ability to appraise the furniture, and, therefore, it was easy to get cheated.
Because of that, the early Chinese immigrants were seen as experts in rosewood research. After World War II ended, the beautiful and practical mahogany furniture gained even greater popularity.
By this time, Europe and the United States started to study in-depth the creation process of the popular furniture. Today people from many different countries were rosewood experts.
However, the expert image left by the early Chinese immigrants was too deeply etched in people's minds. Many of those who did not know much about mahogany furniture preferred to trust Chinese rosewood experts.
With all this in mind, Li Du looked at Mr. Liu, who did possess the scholarly air of an expert, and had an idea.
Didn't Rick set up a trap for him? Well, he could also lay a trap as well. Let's see who will be the hunter and who will be the prey! he thought.