The Great Worm Lich Chapter 44
George's house was two streets away from Zhang Lisheng's new house in New York. It was not a stand-alone bungalow with a garden, but an apartment building with security personnel. Judging by the surroundings, this place is considered to be one of New York's business districts. Compared to the bustling street that Zhang Lisheng was living in, there would be hookers even during the day in rather secluded alleys. They were standing at the alleys soliciting flirtatiously.
The floor of the apartment building's hall was covered with a maroon carpet, Zhang Lisheng courteously asked the black hunk who was working as an attendant and security personnel at the counter, "Morning, my name's Zhang Lisheng. I'm a school mate of George who lives on the 9th-floor Unit 3. I need to speak to him."
"A moment please, young man," The black hunk rang the 9th-floor Unit 3's door phone with all seriousness. He spoke after the door phone was picked up, "Hi, may I know if this is Mr. Dolby?"
"My dad's still sleeping, I'm Harvey."
"I'm so sorry to bother you so early, Mr. Harvey. There's a young man named Zhang Lisheng at the lobby. He's looking for your brother George, he's his schoolmate."
"Oh really, let him in then."
"Sure, Mr. Harvey. Goodbye," The black hunk lifted his head to look at Zhang Lisheng and said after turning off the communication device, "Young man, you can go in now."
"Thanks," Zhang Lisheng walked to the old-style elevator at the apartment building that he wondered how many years it had been in service. He arrived on the ninth floor. To his surprise, George was already waiting outside the door as soon as the elevator door opened. He greeted Zhang Lisheng with a fist bump and asked, "Buddy, it's a rest day today. Why are you here looking for me?"
"The expiring raw meat from Dan Souza Butcher Shop isn't enough for me, I need your help to get me more dead cats and dogs," Zhang Lisheng told George the purpose of his visit without even trying to hide it.
"Hey Lisheng, hadn't I repaid the favor I owed last night?"
"Last night was a surprise, I'm here today so you could deliver your promise."
George was stunned for a moment and gazed at Zhang Lisheng's face that was as calm as still water before speaking helplessly, "Damn it, I knew this would happen. I really shouldn't have taken the initiative to know such a weirdo like you. It's better to be insulted at school than to take a bullet."
"Isn't that a little too exaggerated?"
"You can only find the 'stuff' that you need in Queens. There are lunatics there who would shoot someone's head just for a pair of new arrival running shoes."
"Didn't you grow up here?"
"I grew up there and that's how I know how dangerous it is exactly. If you really insist to do this alone, I must be straightforward with you. I could only connect you with the dealer, you'll have to deal with it on your own from there onwards."
"Sure, you can leave anytime you want after you connect me with the dealer. But George, I'm just wanting to buy some expiring raw meat. Why are you saying it like I'm dealing with drugs."
George said while looking serious, "Buddy, don't you know that committing crime's also a federal felony just like dealing with drugs? Of course, both of them has a similarity which one gets away with them easily. Nevermind, give me a minute. We'll leave right away," He turned around and ran home. When he got out of his house, he had put on a rather old black jacket and an old pair of shoes.
As Zhang Lisheng was about to go downstairs with George, he realized purchasing sufficient meat for his wizard worm was not a direct task that could be done simply even though George had the source. He asked carefully, "Do I need to put on older clothes too?"
"Lisheng, you'll need to pay for your stuff. It's wrong for you to not have new shoes on."
Zhang Lisheng touched his backpack that he carried on his back by instinct and said calmly with a smile, "You're right about that, George." Queens was the only major district where many minorities of colors gathered among the five districts in New York. It was a tourist destination because it was named as the second largest icon of New York metropolis in the whole world. The official statement was that if Manhattan was once the charm of New York, then Queens would be New York's new future of acceptance, blend, and livelihood.
The new immigrants who had the 'American dream' from all over the world would stay in Queens when they first arrived in New York. There was local cuisine from all around the world, one could admire the arts of emerging artists with the style of their own.
Meanwhile, people who had been living in New York for over a year would look at Queens in a different way. For instance, this major district of New York with over two million of its population had no basic business district nor hypermarkets; One-third of the community's people were poor and they would usually roam around the streets even if it was past 8 o'clock. Although most had guns and drugs on them, these dangerous communities seemed like a blindspot to the New York police district because there were hardly any police patrolling the area there. New immigrants, whether they came in legally or not, apart from earning peanuts with their hard labor, another way for them to earn money was to rob or steal on the streets with a gun in their hand. Most of the emerging artists who lived here would busk on the streets or subway stations with all sorts of strange tricks as their part-time job. Some of them would work at cafes or restaurants because it only involves a little bit of labor. As soon as their art was recognized and began making money, the first thing that these artists would do was to move away as if they had all planned to do it together.
In conclusion, poor, filthy, and sinful was how Queens was portrayed to the people in the other four districts of New York. Taking the subway from Brooklyn to Queens was like traveling back into the 60s or 70s with a time machine. One could witness the deterioration of civilization happening before their eyes.
When they arrived at their destination, George looked gloomy at Zhang Lisheng who was next to him as he looked at the dirty vandalism all over the walls in the station. He had lost count of how many times he asked Zhang Lisheng to watch out. Finally, Zhang Lisheng was annoyed looking at the crowds that were walking around when they walked out of the subway.
"George, there are many traveling backpackers around here. I really can't tell why do we have to watch out here."
"At the zoo, some people stayed outside of the cage waiting for monkeys to throw peanuts at them, some would open the metal cage to do business with the lions. People behave differently with a different intention."
Once again, Zhang Lisheng felt how extraordinary the only friend he had in America hidden under his usual, odd behavior. He nodded and said nothing, they walked out of the subway station while following next to George with his guard up. However, he could not understand why would George be bullied at Lowbige Junior High. He forgot that a fish that weighed thousands or hundreds of pounds would die as soon as it made its way on land. A human was just the same in a sense.
There were joyous people and small houses outside of the subway station. Not even a skyscraper could be seen there, nobody was dressed in suits, no pedestrians who were walking with confidence and determination. Everyone who looked like tourists would get a friendly hug from a bunch of clowns in colorful clothes with balloons with them as soon as they walked out of the subway station. Children would get a helium balloon that was flying. Naturally, almost all tourists would toss one or two dollar notes into the hat in the clown's hand to repay them.
Zhang Lisheng who was carrying a backpack was categorized as a tourist. However, George spoke in local Queens accent when a clown got close to Zhang Lisheng, "Hey bud, we're not a foreigner," He then chased the clown away.
"Jackson's safety's considered the best among the few communities nearby, just that there are a little too many pickpockets. Alright, the place we're going is far from here. We'll have to walk for at least one to two hours. Let's go."
Zhang Lisheng asked in doubt hearing that they would have to walk for so long, "George, the place isn't connected to any subway, buses or cabs?"
"It would be safer if we walk. Put your hand in your pocket like you're holding your 'stuff', follow me."
"This is your territory, you'll call the shots," Zhang Lisheng followed behind George and blended into the happy crowd after he was done speaking. They continued ahead after passing narrow alleys and broad streets, Zhang Lisheng thought there were lesser and lesser people around while the people's faces were getting colder and stiffer.
After walking for over an hour with their heads held low and saying nothing, George who was quickly walking suddenly spoke, "Buddy, I actually have no idea where can I find those 'stuff' that you need. But I heard from Rocky when I was working at Dan Souza Butcher Shop that there's a lot of illegal meat business going on at the port of Queens. Furthermore, the person that I'm bringing you to has his way to get you anything illegal in Queens"
"He's the broker who has the most credence and a man of his words. But even though he's the best among all, you'll have to be careful with him later. It is best for you to not offend anyone if something out of the ordinary happens. Just do whatever they say," George said in all seriousness.
"George, you seemed to have an interesting past since you knew this kind of people."
"Gangsters and triads are the only specialties of the community I grew up in, it's only natural that I know them. Remember what I said, I really don't want you to get yourself into trouble. Otherwise, it's going to be hard for me to get away with it."
"Okay, I got it," Zhang Lisheng said while walking and panting. At that moment, there were four to five young black men in dark-gray hoodies walking towards them. When they were about to pass by each other, one of the fatties who was over 180 cm tall stopped walking all of a sudden. He pouted while gazing at George with cold eyes, "Hey hey, guess who I ran into. George, George, George. My old friend who left home, why did you come back to this filthy, shitty Queens that's full of sin?"
"Shit," George cursed softly since he could not avoid the person. He raised his voice while looking troubled, "Listen to me, Raby. I'm not looking for any trouble here. I came back to bring my friend to Big Gavin, so he could do business with him."
"You're here for Big Gavin, hehe George, it's been a long time since you left. Seems like you're not keeping up with the news," The fatty Raby stepped forward and forcefully held George's shoulders. He said softly, "Gavin was beaten up at Black Cat Bar earlier, it has been a few months since that happened. My brother Rocco's taking over now, you can look for me if you want to talk about business."