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Friday, January 26, 2024

F³ Establishing Bona Fides 49

             “Um,” I said, confused. “I’m looking for Han Lee.”

            “Yes, this is the place. This is Han Lee’s, shop.” The young woman beamed a customer-service smile.

            “It’s changed since I was here last. Is Lee here?”

            Her smile slipped and her eyebrow questioned me. “Why do you want Grandpa?”

            One of his granddaughters. Thought he said none of them were interested in running the shop.

            “I know him. I’m Matt Allen. Wanted to ask him about some things.”

            Her smile completely disappeared. “Ask about what things? Grandpa’s not in some kind of trouble, is he? I won’t answer any questions without a lawyer.” She pulled out her phone.

            I held up my hands defensively. “Whoa. I’m not a cop. I’m a PI. Your grandpa has helped me on cases, before. I’m Matt Allen.”

            “What’d you buy?”


            “You’d have to buy something for Grandpa to help you out. So what’d you buy?”

            I searched my memory. “Jade tortoises, a bunch of them. A bronze gong. Some beads. Silk cloth. Some other things over the years. I’m sure he wouldn’t have talked about them.”

            “No, he didn’t, but I’ve got all of the shop’s records I can search through?”

            “Wait, Lee digitized everything?”

            “No, I did. Grandpa is still afraid of cordless phones, much less mobile phones and cloud computing.”

            That fits.

            “Hmm. Okay, I can see that you have made purchases.” She scrolled through her phone. “Pretty random stuff, and you only come in rarely. Would it kill you to be a more regular customer?”

            “I’m a bit far away to be a regular. Usually only need his expertise rarely. Is he here?”

            “Expertise? On souvenirs? That’s weird, man. No. He’s not here. He went back to China.”


            She shrugged. “Maybe. He is pretty old. At least a year, though.”

            “Oh, well. Okay. Thanks.” I turned to leave.

            “What? That’s it? Thought you had some case and needed answers.”

            “I do.”

            “So, ask. I know about everything in this shop.”


            “Everything. Grandpa wouldn’t agree to me running the shop until I knew everything. I had to sit through and listen to him drone on until I could repeat it back to him.”

            “Okay, but I don’t have questions about items in the shop. I need to know about Chinese mythology and this.” I pulled the jade figurine from my coat and unwrapped the cloth carefully.

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