The big man paused to smoke. I watched the man from inside the sandwich shop. A closer look found one more fishy thing. Right now, it was mid-August. It was still a time where the last heat of summer was left, but he was wearing a dark windbreaker.
‘He is suspicious.’
I looked carefully at the windbreaker. Something like a stick was creating shading in the windbreaker. Something long made a specific angle. If I had been as usual, I would have thought about a small booklet or a large smartphone.
But this morning, as I saw the article, I understood something as one hundred percent weapon.
[The criminal, wearing a mask, was a 180-centimeter-tall man; he approached Oh Hyun-joo and stabbed her upper abdomen a couple of times with a sharp weapon before running away.]
I suddenly remembered the conversation my dad, a Judo coach, had with me and my younger sister when we were in middle school.
“Sang Hoon, Su-jeong.”
“How many years have you been training in our training center?”
My sister and I had been training in our dad’s training center since we were very young. We used to live in the countryside, but everyone went to piano lessons or the Taekwondo center.
For my parents, who were not well off, sending their own children to their own Judo training center would have been a natural choice, rather than sending them to other private education centers.
My dad scratched his head for a moment when he heard it. He made a face as if the years had passed so fast and said to us, “Well, as I always say, Judo is meant to train one’s own mind and body. You are not learning to beat a person.”
At the remark, I glanced at Su-jeong. At that time, Su-jeong, a sixth grader in elementary school, was tall and shoulder threw boys who teased her with the skills she learned in the training center. It seemed as if my dad had called us to talk about it.
‘I am involved with this because of Su-jeong.’
I grumbled inwardly. I had been learning Judo for seven years, and I had never shoulder thrown anyone except for sparring.
“You really should use Judo techniques only in situations when you can’t help it. You should not use them when someone is making fun of you or just taunting you. Do you understand?”
“That’s because I’m worried about you guys. As you know from learning, Judo skills work for the right weight class. No matter how good your skills are, it’s hard to beat a guy who weighs twenty to thirty kilos more then you.”
I glanced at Su-jeong.
‘That’s what he is telling you to listen to. The boys you beat right now will be ten or twenty centimeters taller than you.’
Su-jeong said, feeling a little down when she knew she was the target, “Yes…”
“And now that you know it, that’s enough.” My dad tried to get up from the place, but he said one more thing, as if it had suddenly come to his mind.
“Ah, and when you see someone with a weapon, run away without fail, whatever your weight class is. Even any fighter of martial arts meets a robber with a weapon, the best thing is to run away. No matter how clumsily he wields a weapon, you could get a fatal wound. Okay?”
As I listened to my dad, I asked him a question that suddenly came to my mind. “What about when I meet a robber without a weapon?”
At that time, my mom saw the scene from behind and intervened. “You have to run away then, too. You’re getting caught up in something weird.”
My dad shook his head. “That’s not the spirit of a martial artist.”
But then my mom hit my dad’s back loudly. “The spirit of a martial artist is a mess. It is nothing for the family budget.”
My dad, who was hit in the back, could not say a word.
My mom told me, looking at my dad. “That’s enough. Sang-hoon, you are not going to do the training anymore. As you are in a high school now, you have to study.”
The man was smoking one cigarette after another, nervously. Whenever he moved slightly, I clearly saw the shade in the windbreaker. The long object drew to a concave end as it went up.
‘That’s 100% a weapon. It’s very reckless to confront someone with a weapon with the bare body. I have to call the police, anyway.’
I looked at the clock. 8:20. There was now thirty minutes left until the crime. I had to do something to prevent the crime. But all of a sudden, the man ran for somewhere.
‘What is it?’
Half an hour was still left, and I chased him with my eyes. The man suddenly headed for the subway station.
‘What is it? Why is it so?’
I took the sandwich and went out of the sandwich restaurant. Right then, in front of me, a big van with a triangle star that was taller than most people, stopped.
A moment later, the van’s door opened, I heard a woman’s high and clear voice. “I’ll be back soon. It’ll take about half an hour.”
It was familiar. I thought for a moment where I had heard this voice. ‘TV.’
The moment I had the answer, the time stopped. No, I felt that time had stopped, as a woman with great beauty got off the van. She was tall, but she had a small face. From the neck to the forehead, her skin glowed like a white jade, not to mention her beauty. I was overwhelmed by her beauty and had no choice but to stand there for a while.
In the meantime, she brushed past me, trailing a light perfume. At that moment, I turned my head after her unknowingly, like holding a hot pot and pulling my hands away, or closing my eyes when I saw a pointed object approaching. There could have been no more primitive instinct. I did it for about three seconds as I watched her go into Choo Hospital.
The funny thing was that it wasn’t just me. The people who were around me, men and women, regardless of gender, were out of control looking at her. When she finally opened the hospital door and went inside, the rest of the people started to move again, as if they had finished a task.
“Did you see that? Oh Hyun-joo! She is a total goddess!”
“I’ve seen it. I’ve really lost my mind. I almost drooled.”
“I thought I was really out of time, too.”
“Me, too. She is not a human being!”
So, her beauty was a huge presence, as if she were stopping time for people around her. After a brief pause, I shook my head a couple of times to wake up. In the meantime, the van that had picked her up ran to somewhere with a low exhaust sound. I didn’t come to my senses until I looked at the van.
[After seeing the manager’s car arrive on the side of Nonhyeon road, he went to the crime, and the police started the investigation because they thought it was a deliberate crime by her acquaintances.]
The van had also appeared in the article.
‘That’s the manager’s car. It will be back in half an hour. So, who is the suspect?’
I looked towards the subway. The suspect apparently sneaked into the subway station after seeing the manager’s car. That meant he knew the manager’s car.
‘Who is it? How does he know the manager’s car? Is he a stalker?’
At that time, he appeared from the subway station. I glanced at him. He looked at the front door of Choo Hospital where Oh Hyun-joo had entered, without paying attention to me. He was fidgeting with something in his arms.
‘He’s a 100% criminal.’
Now I was perfectly sure. I picked up my cell phone after falling off the subway station where he was. I was afraid I had no choice but to report it.
‘Let’s just say a man with a knife is standing in front of the hospital. I didn’t see the knife in person, but I saw it in the article. That’ll do me no harm in identifying and reporting.’
When I thought about it, I got 112 on my cell phone again.
‘I might get into trouble for this. However, a woman is about to die, so that’s not the problem.’ With the thought, I pressed the phone button.
“A police officer of 112.”
“There’s a man standing in front of Choo Hospital with a weapon. Can you come over and investigate?”
“A weapon? What weapon?”
“I don’t know well, but the flashing thing looks like a knife.”
Frankly speaking, I didn’t see the flashing thing, but I made up my words entirely on the article in 12 Hours After.
“He has his hat pressed, and he is wearing a black mask and a windbreaker. I’m afraid he is going to stab someone, so please come quickly.”
“Yes, I see.”
I checked the time of the call. 8:30 It was twenty minutes before the crime took place. I watched him on the side of the subway. He was standing near the subway station watching the hospital. In the meanwhile, a police car approached from the side.
It had been less than five minutes since I had called 112. Standing in front of the hospital, the big man looked at the police car and hurried inside the subway when he saw it coming towards him. The two policemen who got out of the police car seemed to see the big man who ran away. The two looked at one another and said something, and one of them followed him into the subway.
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