Life, Once Again! - Chapter 751
“Dammit, this won’t leave behind a scar, will it?”
Yoon Hyungseok touched the cut on his chin as he looked into the mirror. An old razor ended up making a cut on his skin. He wiped away shaving foam with warm water and checked again. It was a sharp cut, so it looked like it would heal soon. That was good.
He shook the water off his razor and left the bathroom. ‘Zeck’ was crouching under the sunlight coming through the whole-wall window. He was posing in a ‘baking bread’ pose, and his yellowish-brown fur was really similar to a piece of baked bread. Hyungseok approached him and patted him from the head to the tail. Zeck cried in a pleasant manner and stood up before walking away proudly.
“You up?” asked a woman as she picked Zeck up.
She, wearing shorts and a black bra, was opening the door to the refrigerator like it was her own house.
“I dislike women who touch items in other people’s houses.”
“How petty,” the woman replied as she took out some milk from the fridge before pouring some into a glass.
“Do you live alone, oppa?”
“That’s why I could bring you here. Rather than that, why don’t you put something on?”
“We’ve seen everything about each other already. Now that I look at you, you have quite a naïve side to you. You were like a beast last night too.”
“That was because I was drunk.”
“That excuse bores me the most.”
The woman tickled Zeck’s chin. Hyungseok clicked his tongue. This guy scratched and bit his master despite him feeding him all the time, yet he was like an angel in a woman’s arms. Where was he hiding those sharp claws?
“I need to go now.”
“Do you work too? I thought you were totally unemployed from how you were rocking like mad last night at the nightclub.”
“Unemployed? Oh please, I’m going to become big later.”
“Big? The thing I saw last night wasn’t that big.”
The woman’s eyes headed down. Hyungseok twisted his body a little with an awkward expression. The blatant gaze prickled him a little.
“Is it up?”
“No, it isn’t. Anyway, you can either leave with me after breakfast, or you can go first.”
“I’m fine with this.”
The woman finished the milk and entered the bathroom. The sound of the shower continued on for a while before she came out while drying her hair.
“You’re really neat alright. I thought I was in a motel or something. No wait, motels aren’t this clean either. Do you have an obsession or something?”
“I just like things tidy.”
“You really like that word, huh. Yet such a guy brought a girl for a one-nighter?”
“That’s that and this is this. But hey, you’re acting totally different from last night. Were you just pretending?”
“How can people live with just one personality? You were obviously into cute and docile girls, so I put up an act for a bit.”
“Put up an act? You’re like a child in front of an adult.”
“What do you mean by that?”
Hyungseok just shook his head and waved his hand. The woman didn’t seem to intend on prying either and just threw the wet towel on the ground before entering the room.
“No wonder. Her skills were extraordinary.”
Hyungseok sighed as he remembered last night. Zeck came by his feet and scratched his foot. Hyungseok frowned and lifted Zeck up.
“Hey, you’re taking revenge because I neutered you, aren’t you?”
After staring holes into Zeck for a while, he put him down on the sofa. Zeck got ready to sleep again with a yawn as though he was satisfied after bullying his master. Hyungseok sometimes thought that Zeck was a human behind a cat mask. He was way too cunning.
“Hey, this place is pretty good. How much does it cost per month?” the woman asked after putting her clothes on.
“And why do you ask that?”
“Because I need to graduate college and move out. What’s the deposit like for this place?”
“It’s definitely not a place a college graduate can afford.”
“Didn’t you say you were twenty-five? Aren’t you still in college if you did your military service?”
“I never went to college. Also, do you think a poor college student can afford a place like this?”
“What the, you’re secretly boasting that you’re quite capable, huh? Do you have a girlfriend?”
“Stop asking. You’re bothering me in the morning.”
“It’s good to get to know each other. Anyway, I’m going to leave now. I put my number in your phone, so contact me from time to time. I’ll play with you.”
“Forget it, girlie. You might suck the life out of me if I play with you a second time.”
The woman opened the door and left. Hyungseok cleaned up the towel on the floor and cooked some breakfast: chicken breasts and a handful of cereal. He also gave Zeck some cat food when he purred for food.
“That’s all you get. You seem to be gaining weight recently.”
As soon as he said those words, a front paw flew into his face. This guy definitely understood human language.
After finishing his meal, he started cleaning. He cleaned twice a day, and it was an important ritual he had to do every day. Hyungseok found this time very important since he could organize his thoughts.
He looked around his house, which had become clean, before smiling in satisfaction.
“Bro’s going out, so watch the house, okay?”
He glared at Zeck, who did not reply, before leaving. As soon as he got on the elevator, he started missing the air conditioning. The heat was vile.
He got into his car and started it. The first thing he did was to turn the air conditioner on. It was 11 a.m. Hyungseok tuned the radio frequency to KBS and increased the volume.
-Today’s way too hot for a drowsy afternoon, is it not, everyone? For some reason, even the wind that’s blowing through the window feels hot. I wish to gift you all a breeze of cool air. Hello, I’m Han Gaeul, and I’m your host for Movie Stroll.
Hyungseok changed gears and drove off. He grabbed the wheel with one hand and put his smartphone next to his ear with the other.
“Hey, I’m on my way there. Where are you? In front of Renait in the 1st district? Alright. The others? I’ll pick you up and then think about it. Okay, wait there.”
He drove towards the first district of Anyang. His friend was waiting in front of a famous hair shop, Renait. He stopped the car on the other side and sounded the horn. His friend waved his hand and crossed the road.
“The weather is crazy,” that was the first thing his friend said after getting on.
“It is crazy alright. But hey, it’s been ages since we saw each other, yet it feels like I saw you yesterday.”
“We’ve seen each other enough for two years, that’s why. Hey, got anything to drink?”
“Since it’s hot and all, why don’t you go buy something? There’s a convenience store right there.”
“Dammit, you were always good at making people run errands. What do you want?”
“Coffee; buy me a sweet one.”
His friend got out again. Hyungseok called his other friends who should be waiting.
“Hey, I met Gitae. Where are you? You’ll be in Anyang soon? …Alright, we’ll be waiting so call me up when you get here. Gitae, you, Youngjin, and I just need to pick up sergeant Han. … Alright, see you there.”
His friend that went to buy drinks returned and gave him a coffee.
“Who was that?”
“Beomsoo. He’ll be arriving at Anyang station soon.”
“That dude has it the hardest. He said he lives in Ulsan, right?”
“Yeah. He arrived at Suwon last night and slept there. He’s coming right now.”
“That sounds like a pain.”
“That’s why I don’t plan to collect money from him. Everyone else is living in Gyeonggi-do or Seoul, but he’s the only one from Ulsan. Such a pitiful guy.”
“At least he’s coming. I’m touched. It has been, what, a year since we were discharged?”
“It’s been about that long. What are you up to these days?”
“Ah, right. You’re only twenty-three, aren’t you? Hey, call me hyung while I still feel good. You know this bro’s twenty-five right?”
“Bullshit. Once a colleague, forever a colleague, don’t you know that?”
“Damn this guy.”
“If you didn’t want that, you should’ve come to the military early, Mr. Hyungseok. Eh?”
“You’re getting way ahead of yourself.”
Gitae giggled and opened his drink.
“Okay, so I’m in college. What are you up to? Are you still doing your business?”
“No, I quit a while ago. The business a friend of mine and I raised together was taken care of entirely by him while I was in the military.”
“I heard you made some good money selling clothes. Why did you quit such a good thing?”
“Because I found something I want to do. I have the money, so don’t you think it’s about time I do the thing I want?”
“Good for you. Meanwhile, here I am worried about employment even though I’m not in the graduating year. But hey, is selling clothes online even profitable?”
“It’s already a red ocean there. It’s been taken over by large companies now. Don’t get tempted to waste your money by ads that tell you that you can make a quick buck. This bro knows everything about it.”
“Looks like I should just shut up and focus on studying.”
“That’s right, you should focus on studying. Twenty-three is the perfect age for studying.”
Hyungseok turned on the radio again. With perfect timing, the ads were ending.
-August 2nd, 2011. Let me read some messages from people who have their birthday today. The music is BGM from a film I like. The first one is from Miss Ahn Jeonghee. Hello, Gaeul-unni, I’m an examinee student in my 3rd year of high school. I became a fan of yours after I chanced upon your program while studying. Uhm, I’m really grateful that you became a fan, but isn’t 11 a.m. time for you to be studying, Miss Ahn Jeonghee? You’ll get scolded by your teacher. Turn off the radio right now and focus on class. Also, you’re an exam student, you can’t do this. Please listen to my radio once CSATs are over. Oh yes, you said it was your birthday today, wasn’t it? Then let me send you a set of red ginseng extracts to help with your studies. Happy birthday and I hope you can cheer up with these.
“Isn’t her voice good?” Hyungseok said.
Gitae just said that it was meh and fidgeted with his smartphone. He was giggling while messaging someone, and it didn’t look like he was talking with a dude.
“No, not yet. She’s a new student in my department.”
“Is she pretty?”
“You were worried about employment and all, but hey, you seem to be having a good life.”
“Money isn’t all you need to live in this world. You need other things too. Hey, isn’t that Beomsoo over there?”
“That’s him alright. His face is so dark.”
Hyungseok got out of the car and waved his hand. Beomsoo, who was looking around, grinned and came over.
“He has that same smile alright.”
“He smiled when the seniors picked on us. Hey, Beomsoo! Run!”
Beomsoo crossed the road in a flash and got in the car.
“Long time no see. It must have been hard taking the train all the way here.”
“Nah. Where’s Youngjin?”
“I’m going to have to pick him up now. He’s in Suwon, so it won’t take that long.”
Gitae, who was in the passenger seat, gave Beomsoo something to drink. After drinking a sip of water, Beomsoo spoke,
“Where’s Sergeant Han?”
“We’re gonna have to pick him up as well. Man, I wanna see him, our direct senior.”
“Hey, do you have anyone other than Sergeant Han that you keep in touch with?”
“I don’t. How about you, Gitae?”
Gitae shook his head. Hyungseok rolled his phone around in his hand and spoke,
“Right, that reminds me. Beomsoo, this guy, he cried the day Sergeant Han got discharged.”
“Hey, I wasn’t the only one. Gitae probably cried too.”
Gitae snorted and said that he didn’t. Hyungseok probed his memories. He saw Gitae with teary eyes next to Beomsoo who was crying. Gitae was a proud guy, so he would probably deny it until the end if he said the truth, so he decided to stay quiet.
“I wonder what he’s doing.”
“I heard he was doing plays in Daehak-ro before he got enlisted. Maybe he’s still doing that.”
“Maybe. I’ve called him and talked to him about stuff, but I didn’t ask what he was up to. It’s been a year since we last saw each other.”
Listening to the conversation between Beomsoo and Gitae, Hyungseok frowned.
“Hey, I’m also the same age as Sergeant Han. Why do you give him the big brother treatment but not me?”
“Because he’s different. He’s a class above us too.”
“Forget class. If you’re going to give him the big brother treatment, you have to call me hyung as well.”
“Hey, Yoon Hyungseok. Can you go up to him and say that you wanna be friends with him? If you do, we’ll gladly call you hyung,” said Gitae indifferently. Hyungseok hesitated for a moment before shaking his head.
“Forget it. Why would I want the big brother treatment from you guys? It’s not like you’re anything special.”
“Fucker, you’re wimping out, aren’t you?”
“Who’s wimping out!”
“You are wimping out. Han-hyung is a good person, but he was scary when he got angry.”
Those words reminded Hyungseok of what happened 3 years ago; back when he was all smiling after having finished boot camp. The day he was assigned to his station was freaky even when he thought about it now.
“For now, we’ll go pick up Youngjin.”
Hyungseok trembled and started the car.
 Ulsan is in the South end of South Korea, while Seoul and Gyeonggido are relatively North.