Without a sign of Remonin’s army and their help, Li Du had no choice but to stay on Good’s territory and comply with the arrangements made for him.
Although Li Du knew that he had managed to frighten Good and had proven that he was no pushover, he knew that it was only temporary. If there was any trouble, Li Du believed that Good would not hesitate to kill him.
It was common for foreigners to go missing without a trace in Africa. Unless there was a media exposé or the missing person was a high-profile public figure, no one really bothered with these cases.
This was especially applicable to Li Du now that he was in a sensitive area, the border of three different countries where laws and regulations were poorly enforced. Not only foreigners, but locals as well were likely to vanish without a trace here.
Of course, if one were to run into an accident here, nobody would care – not even any of the countries’ government. The governments in African countries were good for nothing but shirking responsibility.
Good had arranged a guest room to accommodate Li Du and his two companions. The room was much more comfortable than the one at Ramonin’s camp. The guest room was a huge, carpeted double room. The walls of the room were painted pure white, and was it well-equipped with furniture and electric appliances. It was a comfortable place to stay.
As their phones had been confiscated, Li Du and his companions could only pass time by watching TV.
Fortunately, the television could receive satellite signals and had cable. Hence, they were able to choose from a wide range of international channels.
Near dinnertime, Good’s guards brought Li Du to the commander’s quarters. They had to go through a stringent full-body security check before they were able to enjoy dinner in Good’s company.
Good’s office was equipped with a dining table, and that was where Good had his daily meals.
Upon seeing Li Du enter the room, Good smiled amiably and warmly invited Li Du to choose a seat at the table.
On the table, there was a pot filled with a thick-textured, pale yellow food that resembled mashed potatoes. Known as Nsima or Sadza, it was actually corn porridge. For people in many African countries, it was a favorite staple food.
Good caught Li Du eyeing the pot and asked him with a grin, “Do you know what this is?”
“Yes, this is a specialty local staple food here. I’ve tried it before and find it pretty good,” Li Du said with a nod.
Good’s grin widened and he replied, “That’s good to know. There is a lack of resources locally, and the food is scarce. Please excuse us, Mr. Li, if there is any area where we are lacking in terms of hospitality.”
Besides Sadza, there were a few other dishes laid out on the dining table. There were beans, celery, broccoli and other vegetables, as well as fried chicken, grilled chicken, and grilled fish.
These were the side dishes to go with Sadza. In most parts of Africa, only the rich could afford to dine like this. This was because the poor could barely afford Sadza, let alone the vegetables and meat side dishes.
Besides the food, there was also a bottle of red wine to accompany the meal.
Initially, Li Du did not pay much attention to the bottle, as it looked just like any ordinary bottle of wine. However, as the guard started to pour the wine once Li Du was seated, he had a closer look at the bottle and was startled. The wine label carried an image of a vineyard with the words ‘Petrus, Pomerol Vineyard’.
All red wine that originated from Pomerol Vineyard was known for being extremely expensive. According to the statistics from London’s International Wine Trade Association, red wine from Pomerol vineyard was priced at an average of 20,000 euros per crate.
The red wine on the dining table cost as much as hundreds of tables of Sadza and its side dishes.
“Great wine,” Li Du marveled.
Seeing Li Du’s appreciation, Good smiled again. “Are you referring to this bottle of wine? Ha, it’s alright. This was a gift from my friend. His son lost his directions around here and I managed to help him find the boy. Later, he gave me this wine as a gesture of thanks.”
Lost his directions? Or perhaps this lunatic here kidnapped him? Li Du thought as he forced himself to laugh politely.
It was obvious that Good enjoyed high quality, expensive food. However, Good had no reservations consuming commoner food like Sadza either.
He ate using his bare hands, clearly enjoying the Sadza very much.
Li Du was not used to eating like this. Most Chinese men would not be able to stomach such food for the mere thought of how it was made.
Sadza was corn paste. It was made by grinding corn into cornmeal, pouring the cornmeal slowly into a pot of boiling water and then stirring the mixture in a single direction using a wooden spoon. Once that was done, the mixture was left to settle into corn paste.
This preparation method reminded Li Du of how his neighbors back in his village in China prepared pig feed. Besides, the corn paste still carried the strange smell of raw corn powder.
The people of Africa, however, loved Sadza. To them it was what dumplings were for the Northern Chinese – a top staple food one would miss terribly if they didn’t have it in a while.
In between mouthfuls of Sadza with vegetables and meat, Good took small sips of the red wine. “It has been a long time since I had dinner with a friend, and it feels wonderful,” he said.
Li Du did not know how to respond. He raised his glass in appreciation and declared, “Then let’s make a toast to friendship and delicacies.”
Good smiled. “Gladly.”
That shared meal eased and improved their relationship, at least outwardly. Deep down, both remained wary of each other. Li Du, for instance, wished that Good would choke to death so that he could plan his escape.
However, this was just wishful thinking. The next day, Good was still alive and kicking, and he insisted on bringing Li Du to his diamond mine to show him around.
Similarly to Remonin, Good’s motive was to make use of Li Du to sell his diamonds and exchange them for cold hard cash.
After Good inspected the soldiers’ training in the morning, he brought Li Du out of the army camp in a jeep. Once in the car, Good went straight to his point. “Mr. Li, how many diamonds can you buy from Africa every month?”
Li Du answered honestly, “The key purpose of my trip at this time is to do market research. Procuring the diamonds is not my responsibility.”
“Oh, so that would mean you cannot buy diamonds in bulk? You’re useless to me?” Good interrupted, narrowing his eyes.
Good’s words were rather direct and the underlying message was clear – why am I keeping you if you are useless to me?
Li Du quipped immediately, “I was talking about my purpose, not what I can do. I can, of course, make purchases. But I don’t understand why you would need my help with this.”
“I don’t need your help. I just wanted to see your valuation,” Good said. “Previously, a few diamond traders provided me with their valuation. However, I am not satisfied, and want to have a few more valuations from others,” he continued.
“What was the price they offered?” Li Du asked.
Good smiled lightly. “You shouldn’t be focusing on the price they suggested, but on where they ended up after making the offer. I was not happy with their valuation, so I sent them off. After that, they never managed to return home.”
The blood drained from Li Du’s face. This is a direct threat, he thought.
Good noticed his reaction and explained pointedly, “Oh, don’t misunderstand me. I didn’t hurt them. It’s just that there are many leopards and lions in this area. Without protection from me, they might have ended up as the prey of these ferocious animals. However, it’s not my fault, right? Since they could not be my working partners, I had no obligation to protect them, did it?” Good went on.
Li Du nodded his head and said coolly, “You’re right.”
F*cking right you are, old lunatic!