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Friday, January 19, 2024

F³ Not The Guy 48

             Shadow Valley was a warren of tangled streets that made the Grind look navigable. While the Grind came from the Hooverville shanties during the Depression, Shadow Valley’s knots of streets arose from the various immigrant communities setting up their own places since they were forced to live outside of the towns where they worked in factories.

            Modern GPS systems didn’t know any straightforward way to get to a destination, insisting on dozens of turns in what it thought was the most direct route, but over the last few years, I had learned a shortcut that worked off of three streets, based on landmarks rather than street signs, which had a habit of disappearing.

            The smells of the Golden Peach restaurant called to me. I almost always stopped for some food before I came here, but it was already late, and Han Lee kept irregular hours in his shop. Instead, I went down some steps to the basement of the building and entered the shop.

            Before getting all the way in, I froze. A waving cat statue greeted me. Bright overhead lighting banished all shadows, and instead of the chaos of shelves and counters that resembled the streets above, the place was completely organized. It looked like a dozen other souvenir shops I had passed on the way here.

            “Welcome to Lee’s Cruios,” a woman’s voice said as I came in. “Something I can help you find?”

            I turned to the woman, who was in her twenties, wearing a Chinese-style dress in green silk.

            That was not the guy.

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