In the distance, the red sunset fell. The autumn wind blew gently, and the Han River flowed smoothly. Children kicked and played with soccer balls, and students in school uniforms were buzzing past on their bikes. Old people in colorful climbing suits played badminton in pairs. I watched it while drinking beer with Crow.
Crow, who was watching it all, said “This is good, sir.”
“Yes. This is how people in Seoul enjoy their leisure time.”
“I see. Most of all… look good to be peaceful.”
I glanced at him. He had a strange look on his face, as if he was reminiscing.
He said, holding up the neatly stripped chicken bones, “And this fried chicken is really good.” He was holding a piece of spicy chicken with a lot of red seasoning on it.
After filtering out the chicken from the last buffet, I once again picked the seasoned chicken from the choices of fried, seasoned, or garlic chicken.
“Oh, yeah. This is called seasoned chicken… It is the most popular and delicious food you can eat in Korea. Most Koreans eat it at least once a month. It’s popular food.”
“I see.” He nodded his head and tore the chicken apart. If I watched him doing this; he looked like a foreigner who came to play on the Han River.
“By the way, that’s great. That black eye patch…” As I spoke, Crow silently ate the chicken. “It was like magic. There’s been a lot of VR stuff coming out these days, but… they are not vivid as that.”
Then, he looked at me and said, “… it’s just a dream made up. Sir, don’t get absorbed in it too much.” His blue eyes were quite serious.
I lifted my eyebrows and nodded, “Sure.”
Crow ate all three chickens. I’d eaten about a piece or two of each kind, but he was a real glutton. ‘I thought three would be enough… …but I should have ordered one or two more.’
“I’ve had a good meal today, sir.”
“Yes. I watch you twice a month, so let’s eat something delicious and talk.”
“Then let’s get to the point… and what I want to ask you to do this time…” As I said that, I looked around. There was no one who could hear the conversation near our mat. “Do you know Tak Mun-su, vice chairman of Suyeon Electronics, who came out in that dream?”
“His weakness. Can you investigate his weaknesses and evil deeds? From what I noticed, he looked quite different from the inside.”
“… what exactly do you mean?…”
“Well… about something corrupt or to kill people in the process of becoming vice chairman or when he has served as vice chairman…”
However, Crow, who was listening to me, was reluctant. “That’s… that’s going to be a little difficult, sir.”
“If I’m going to investigate, I need such specific factors as a certain place, a certain time and a certain incident, etc. If you ask me to do a background check on him, that’s not what I can do.”
‘Umm…’ I thought about Tak Mun-su for a moment. ‘a certain place, a certain time and a certain incident…’
Before I came here, I had already investigated Tak Mun-su for myself, but he had a very neat past. No story had been written that he had abused his power, nor had he been told that he had benefited in an unfair way. With only the information from the portal, he was completely clean.
There’s a lot of praise for him in the industry, said even Vice President Jang. In addition, the news given to the public was really good and beautiful.
“There’s no such thing as a peculiar case.”
“Then I can’t start an investigation…”
‘What shall I do?’ I thought for a moment, then suddenly I got an idea, ‘Maybe, I can use the dream again.’
“Can I get the data that Tak Joon-gi prepared to attack Suyeon Group?”
“Do you mean the data Tak Joon-gi prepared?”
“Yes, he said in the dream. His ultimate goal was Suyeon. He was a member of the Suyeon Group, although he had a low ranking as a successor. If he decided to shoot inside and collected information, he’d be able to collect the details of the corruption that Tak Mun-su wanted to hide.”
“….. yes, then, is that my job to collect data of the dead Tak Joon-gi?”
“Yes. Is that possible?”
“Yes, I think I can.”
“Then I ask you, to be exact, all the information that Tak Joon-gi had for his corporate offensives. Please bring it to me.”
But, in the meantime, my cell phone rang in my pocket. I picked it up and it was Ah-young who called.
“Wait a minute,” I tried to ask for his understanding, but he was already gone, as usual.
I answered the phone in a slight embarrassment, “Uh, Ah-young?”
The elevator opened with a sound. I walked towards my apartment through the hallway. Then the next door opened, and Ah-young poked her head out. “You’re here, oppa?” She tied her hair whether she was in the middle of her work. It looked so cute.
“How? How did you know that?”
“You said you were coming. Besides, I know if it is oppa or not, when I hear the footsteps in the hallway.”
“Hmm, really?” I had been about to enter my password, but instead approached her and kissed her lightly. “I’m sorry. I’ve been so busy lately. I can’t even show my face to my girlfriend often.”
“You can’t help it. Besides, I’ve been busy too.”
I had been busy, but she had also been pretty busy preparing for her graduate work.
“So, how’s your graduate work?”
“Not bad?” As I asked, she picked up her cell phone and showed me the desktop. There was a figure on a colorful tree where people were angry, clapping, lost in thought, sad, and terrified.
“I’m working hard, but the professor doesn’t like my work, so… I don’t know what he wants.”
I thought with a nod, ‘Modern art…’ I didn’t have much thought, but sometimes such works were traded for a few or tens of million dollars among chaebols. ‘Art is tax-free, and it is a great means of investment. It is a reason why all the wives of large corporate leaders run one small art gallery.’
I told Ah-young playfully, “When it’s done, isn’t it going to be a few hundred thousand dollars, teacher?”
Ah-young smiled cutely and said, “I’m still unknown, so it’s going to be difficult. Not everyone has as much money as you.”
“You don’t know yet. A foolish rich person may buy it for a few hundred thousand dollars.” As I said that, I pointed to my chest with my thumb.
She laughed again at what I said, “No thanks. I have enough money! Anyway, you said you had dinner, right?”
“Ah… yes, but I ate a little less.” I didn’t know I’d order three chickens and wouldn’t eat much.
“Oh, then go in and wash first. I’ll make something for you in the meantime.”
Ah-young went into her apartment, ruffling her tied hair. I pressed in my password and came into my apartment. When I came in, I felt tired somehow. It was the second time, but filming was still hard.
‘I didn’t know it when I was talking to Crow, but was it because of the Chi-Mac?’
I undressed, hung it on the sofa and headed straight for the shower. I took a hot shower, so I felt a little less tired. During a shower, there was a noise outside. Ah-young must have come into my apartment. I finished my shower, toweled myself dry, put on my underwear, pants, and a T-shirt, and came back to the living room. Something savory reached my nose.
“What is this smell?”
Ah-young was standing behind the sofa and told me, “Walnut pie.”
“Walnut pie? Well, the taste would be good.”
But then, she swirled around. “Oppa, what’s this?” She had a small piece of paper on her hand.
‘What’s that? A business card?’ At the moment, I realized. That was a business card of MBE announcer Shin Min Sun, which was in my pocket.
Ah-young’s tone was slightly changed. He voice was slightly cold. “Is this a business card, right?”
“That’s… a business card.”
‘What the hell? Did she go through my pockets?’
“But why was it on the floor of the living room?”
‘Ah…’ I remembered just now, as soon as I had come in, I had taken off my pants and whipped them around the sofa. That must have fallen on the floor then.
“Oh, that. I got it today and put it in my pocket. It must have fallen from my pocket. It’s nothing. After the filming, the female announcer gave it to me and I received it.”
“Well… did you get it on business?”
“So it was.”
I said so, but I was a little bit conscience-stricken as the face of Ms. Shin, who was winking and saying, “Please contact me,” came to mind, and that red skirt that shook from side to side every time she took a step.
However, I told Ah-young, “You can tear it apart or you can throw it away. I don’t think we’ll see each other again anyway, for a while.”
“Uh.” Ah-young squinted her eyes and looked at me, and put the business card back in my pocket. “You have to give and take a business card. You should know somebody’s phone number when you work together. I believe in you.”
I loved her for believing in me.
But then she said one more thing, “But be careful. I believe in other women, too. They might even chase my man.”
The sense of a woman was scary. I nodded, “Yes.”
Tiriri tiriri tiriri. The alarm went off. It was seven in the morning. It was my alarm, but Ah-young got out of bed first.
“Oppa, I’m leaving. I should have done more work yesterday, but I came home early to spend time with you. I’m going to school early today. Have a separate breakfast.”
She got up, kissed me on the cheek and went to her place, as if she were a writer being chased by a deadline. Left alone, I woke up rubbing my eyes.
‘Umm… what’s the schedule today?’
It had been a while since I’d taken a rest while trading at home, but I would ask Secretary Seo. I came to the living room, opened the refrigerator, and drank a glass of cold water. As I saw now, the clothes I took off yesterday on the sofa were still there. I lifted my pants. In the pocket of the pants, there was a business card of ‘MBE announcer Shin Min Sun.’
When I saw the business card, I crumpled it up and put it in the wastebasket. I was sorry, but I liked Ah-young. I didn’t want to give up my faith. Then I tried to put it in the laundry basket.
‘Oh, my God.’ On the way, I suddenly remembered that there was a more important document in the coat. After a search, I found that it was still in the pocket inside: an invitation to Garden Royale, with a golden ‘R’ on it. I tried to open it again. What bothered me was the last phrase, ‘If you are willing to participate, please be holding this letter in the correct time and place.’
“Hmm…” I examined it, and then I came back to bed with it and put it under the mattress. If the old Garden Envy was a den of snakes that couldn’t become dragons, Garden Royale would be a meeting of people who became dragons.
‘Garden Royale…’ I lay in bed and thought about it.
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