“Thanks for calling me. I’ve been waiting for your call.”
Suhyuk smiled at his bright voice.
“Hello? I can’t hear you well because it’s noisy around you there.”
“Wait a moment.”
Suhyuk went out of the restaurant.
Left alone, Dongsu was dozing off at the table and murmuring.
“Yes, it’s you, man… I’ve got this evidence against you. If you keep making excuses, I’ll get you...”
Though the grilled pork belly restaurant was crowded, Dongsu’s closed eyes would not open.
How long passed?
Suhyuk, coming back from outside, paid the bill and came back to the table.
And he filled his cup with soju. Looking at it quietly, he then drank it all up. He did so several times.
Wiping off his lips wet with soju, Suhyuk smiled at his friend, saying
“Dongsu, let’s go home.”
But he would not move, with his face down on the table.
Then Suhyuk rose from the seat, but he tottered, as he was very drunk.
Putting his hand on the table, he barely regained his balance.
At the same time a bottle of soju fell onto the floor and broke.
The owner came up and said, “Are you okay?”
Suhyuk lifted up Dongsu and said, “Dongsu, let’s go home. Stand up.”
No response, just like before. After some effort, Suhyuk lifted him, holding his arm.
Only then did he half open his eyes.
“Okay, let me treat you at another place. Let’s go!”
Suhyuk took him out, feeling the cool air blowing toward him occasionally.
“Come to your senses, man!”
Still, he was tottering, leaning against Suhyuk. Suhyuk did, too.
He was just a bit less intoxicated than Dongsu.
Dongsu was closing his eyes, with his head down.
“Are you sleeping?”
Shaking his head, Suhyuk said again, “Dongsu, I’m not sure if what I said was good.”
Then, some sort of slurred words were coming out of his mouth,
“Yes, you’re my friend, man. Good job, good job.”
Having said that, he became silent.
“Do you know Cheil Hospital?”
Of course, it’s impossible he could not know such a big hospital. But no answer came from him.
Suhyuk continued, “They say they would pay me a lot if I moved there. But I rejected their offer.”
For a moment silence prevailed.
Under the streetlights there were some people passing by occasionally.
“Was it a good decision?”
Still no reply came from Dongsu.
Letting out a long breath, he looked up at the night sky.
When was the last time he looked up at the stars?
As he gazed at them for quite a long time, the stars seemed to twinkle more brightly.
It was now almost 2am.
When Dongsu became sober, Suhyuk sent him home by taxi and silently opened the door of his house. He moved quietly so as not to wake his sleeping parents.
Then he heard noise from TV in the lobby.
His mother was asleep on the sofa, holding a remote control.
Obviously she fell asleep waiting for him. He cautiously took the remote control from her hand and turned off the TV, and he brought a blanket and covered it over her gently.
He sat on the floor, leaning against the sofa. He turned his head toward her and looked at her, saying to himself, “Mom. I’m sorry. Wait a little more… just a little more.”
He still had a lot of things to do at Daehan Hospital.
Patients looking for him.
The old woman who had milk mixed with Angel’s morning glory seeds, the little girl who he thought had been abused… He might not be able to see them again.
And when the day came when he had to leave Daehan Hospital, he would not go to Cheil Hospital. He wanted to go to a larger hospital, one which was his own decision to go to and not by someone else’s will.
Suhyuk, who was murmuring as if he was whispering to his mother, rose up.
Then she showed a smile, tossing and turning.
Suhyuk, too, smiled.
It looked as if his mother was saying something with a smile, “Cheer up, my son!”
Suhyuk opened his eyes at the sound of the doorbell.
Getting up from the bed slowly, he checked his cell phone.
Did Dongsu return home safely?
Then the doorbell rang again.
He went to the living room, with his buzzing cell phone left behind.
He could call Dongsu later.
“Who is it?”
Suhyuk opened the door to find that it was Dongsu.
Scrutinizing Suhyuk from head to toe, he shook his head, asking,
“Were you sleeping until now, not knowing what time it was?”
“Is it okay for a doctor to be so lazy?”
Having said that, he came into the living room as if it was his own house.
“Mom, dad, it’s me Dongsu.”
“They’re out for work already.”
Dongsu put down a bag he was carrying on his shoulder, and sat on the sofa.
At his asking, Dongsu made an unbelievable look,
“Don’t you remember we agreed to go fishing today?”
No, he did not make that promise to him.
“Did you have a weird dream?”
Dongsu shook his head from side to side.
“You don’t remember anything as you were completely drunk yesterday.”
Suhyuk made a blank face because he never said anything about fishing.
“What’s this, anyway?”
Rising from the seat, he went to the kitchen, and took off a paper covering something.
Dongsu swallowed his saliva from seeing lots of delicious side dishes there.
“Can I eat this?”
Shaking his head, Suhyuk brought spoons and chopsticks to the dining table.
“What the hell are you talking about fishing all of a sudden?”
Eating hurriedly, Dongsu said absent-mindedly, “Any particular thing to do today?”
Suhyuk had nothing particular because he had a day off during the weekend.
“Which fishing place are you going to?”
“Just follow me. Wow! Your mother really cooks delicious food!”
Shaking his head, Suhyuk began eating.
Going out, casually dressed, Suhyuk got in Dongsu’s car.
They left in no time, and the music from the car radio made him feel drowsy.
Looking out the car window quietly, Suhyuk closed his eyes before he knew it.
Dongsu, holding the steering wheel, glanced at him.
How long did they drive for?
“Wake up, man!”
Suhyuk woke up at his voice.
Before their eyes there was a cool reservoir surrounded by swinging reeds.
When they got out the car, the smell from the reservoir tickled their noses.
Stretching himself, Dongsu glanced at Suhyuk, saying, “How about it? It’s cool, right?”
Suhyuk smiled, saying, “Yeah, so cool.”
“Okay, take it.”
Dongsu gave him a fishing case, and he opened it. He took out some spring water, some ramen, a burner, etc.
“Let’s go, man.”
Dongsu walked ahead, followed by Suhyuk.
As they walked near the lake, Dongsu looked around here and there because he could not find a good place for fishing.
“How about the opposite side?” said Suhyuk.
Like he said, there were some people enjoying fishing on the other side.
Nobody was seen on their side.
“What a bother, man! Let’s fish here,” said Dongsu.
Dongsu began treading on the rough reeds.
Seeing him, Suhyuk shook his head.
Suhyuk also began moving like Dongsu, and they soon made a fishing spot.
They opened the trunk and took out a fishing rod.
“Can you do it for me?” said Dongsu, offering a styrofoam box to Suhyuk.
Having said that, Suhyuk opened the box, and inside were lugworms wiggling in some dust.
Chuckling, Suhyuk asked, “Can’t you touch a lugworm?”
Dongsu made a frown, replying, “I hate it the most in this world.”
“Then you should have bought paste bait, man.”
“I heard that they catch a lot of fish using lugworms in this place though.”
“Give it to me.”
Dongsu moved his fishing rod to Suhyuk’s place. Suhyuk held a fish hook and put a lugwork on it carefully. Then, Dongsu threw it into the water, and so did Suhyuk.
Sitting on the chair, Suhyuk was looking at the float on the water. He has never done any fishing except for times when he followed Dongsu’s fishing trips.
Dongsu took a glance at Suhyuk. He could not find any trace of agony from Suhyuk’s face.
He thought he had done the right thing when he brought Suhyuk here.
Then Dongsu’s cell phone buzzed.
“Let me come back quickly after the phone call.”
Dongsu answered the phone at a distance from Suhyuk.
“Yes, this is prosecutor Kim Dongsu.”
“Hey, didn’t I tell you to report to work today?”
“Oh, I took a vacation leave today.”
“Do you think it’s just enough if you’ve submitted a vacation request? You should get the approval before taking leave. Don’t you know we’re busy today? Where are you now? Come back now!”
“Hello, hello, I can’t hear you. I’m now in a remote place where the cellphone reception doesn’t work well. I’ll call you back later.”
Dongsu cut off the phone, and even turned it off.
Poking it deep into his pocket, Dongsu went back to Suhyuk.
When he got back, Suhyuk was watching the bobber quietly.
Dongsu smiled at him, and thought to himself,
‘What would I be doing now if I had not met Suhyuk back then? Most likely I would have been doing manual labor or wielding my fists as a gangster. Maybe both. Lee Suhyuk, you’re really a man of blessing to me.’
Sitting on the chair, he asked like before.
“Isn’t it cool?”
Looking at the landscape slowly, he opened his mouth,
“Yeah, it’s cool.”
Then Suhyuk’s eyes glittered because the bobber, which had no sign of moving up to now, began bouncing up and down, and then went inside the water.
Suhyuk rolled up the fishing reel quickly.
The fishing line became tense, and the hooked fish seemed to be pulling the fishing line, moving from left to right. It must be a big fish, given the heavy feel he had on his hands.
Suhyuk slowly wound the reel, when Dongsu grumbled, “Damn it…”
Turning to him, Suhyuk cast his eyes down.
He saw some bleeding on his calf, who rolled up his pants.
Suhyuk held the reel back, then looked back at him quickly.
A long, limp object was in his hand. It was a snake whose color paired with a magpie, called a Short-tailed Viper Snake.
Suhyuk threw away his fishing rod, took off his shirt and tightened his thigh with it.
“What are you doing, man?”
Dongsu opened his mouth, looking at the snake he was holding.
Suhyuk turned back his head quickly, and saw a black bag containing spring water and ramen.