Life, Once Again! - Chapter 903
Maru took a few photos on the way out. The man in charge of managing the dog cages looked at him with weird eyes.
“You really aren’t a detective, right? You can’t surprise me later by telling me that you’re the cops. People these days are so evil and many people would smile in the front but stab through the back. Of course, I’m not saying that you’re one of those people.”
“That won’t happen, so don’t worry,” Joongjin said in his stead.
The foul stench didn’t end even after they left the greenhouse. The smell felt like it wouldn’t go away even after a shower. That man would probably continue to kick, stab, and pour hot water on those dogs amidst that stench, as a faithful laborer working to earn money.
“Don’t you sometimes think that the world might have been a healthier place than it is now if violence was legal and was something that can be traded for money?”
Joongjin seemed to be talking about people’s secret imaginations. Perhaps something like wishing bad luck to fall on other people without actually saying it: from wishing that someone would fall over, to terrible curses that wished for other people’s death by car crashes. Maru just replied that he didn’t know.
“It is already a tough world we live in, so getting hit just because you don’t have money sounds even more depressing.”
“That’s nothing new though. There are people who beat their subordinates with bats as punishment. If they’re going to hit and be hit, you might as well cleanly make the trade with money. The price will differ according to the wound. It will give a new meaning to the phrase ‘using your body to pay.’”
“Is there a person you want to do that to, director?”
“You mean a person I want to beat up or kill legally?”
“There were a few, but there is only one person I want to beat up to death with my own hands.”
“It’s not the president by any chance, is it?”
“My relationship with him has never reached such a terrible state before. We’ve cleared up our grudges a little too recently. Thinking about it, it’s thanks to you that I had an opportunity to talk to that person. Thank you.”
“It’s rather strange to be thanked when I haven’t done anything.”
They walked down a road filled with gravel. Cheers broke through the barking from the greenhouse. It seemed that a match had ended. Maru could vaguely see a dog being dragged out of the cage in the distance. Like the first match, it was dragged on the ground like it was dead. The owner with the leash walked towards the greenhouse. The dog that was being dragged like luggage stood up again while trembling like a newborn calf. It was doing its best to hold on with its exhausted body, desperately expressing that it did not want to go back to the greenhouse.
“If dogs ever gain intelligence, I’m sure humans will be the first ones to be hunted.”
The dog owner walked past them. The dog, which had the courage of a fighting dog stripped away along with its flesh, fell down in front of the greenhouse. The dog stood with its four legs planted on the ground and had to be forcefully dragged by the dog owner. Maru stood on the spot and watched the dog. The dog was also looking at him with sparkly eyes. It was also foaming at its panting mouth.
“That’s quite a desperate struggle.”
The dog owner shouted at the greenhouse. The door opened and the man from before walked out. In his hand was the sharp rod as though he was already aware of what he was going to be dealing with. The dog barked loudly after seeing the man. It was not a bark of wariness. It was a cry of desperation.
“Can I get paid a bit of my guarantee in advance? Or just lend me some money for one hour.”
“What are you going to use it for?”
“I watched a TV show that dogs can get lonely and need friends.”
Joongjin opened his wallet without hesitation. He took out a stash of 50,000 won bills and handed it to him. Maru lowered his head as he received the money. There was probably more than 2 million won. He folded the stack of cash in half and walked towards the dog owner and the young man.
“You haven’t left yet,” said the young man as he raised the rod above his head.
The dog owner asked who the two were.
“How much is that dog?”
“Why do you want it?”
“Because I met his eyes. How much?”
The dog owner and the young man exchanged looks.
“Pitbulls are an expensive breed. You’ll be surprised if you hear the price.”
Maru took out his phone to look up the price of dogs and showed it to the dog owner.
“It has become quite convenient these days.”
The dog owner sniffed before calling someone.
“Yeah, it’s me. There’s someone who wants to buy a dog here. The one I just dragged here. From the looks of it, he doesn’t seem like he belongs to that side. Well, even if he is, it doesn’t matter that much, does it?”
As they were running an illegal gambling den, it seemed that they didn’t deal with the dogs so easily. The call lasted for a few minutes. Maru looked at the dog rolling its eyes around the dog owner’s feet. It looked at the sharp rod anxiously before looking for a road that didn’t have a human presence.
“Just take it. Grab the leash tightly. It’ll run if you’re too loose.”
The dog owner gave him the leash. Just as he said, the taut tension could be felt from the leash. A moment of distraction, and the dog would run off to the mountains.
“Do you really not need any money?”
“Mr. Choi told me to just give it to you when I told him that you’re with Sir Park. I was worried that you might be part of some animal rights activist group which got me scared. But why did you want this one? It ain’t fit for dogfighting since the first thing it looks for is a way to run. Also, hey, I think I’ve seen you somewhere.”
“I do have a rather common face.”
The dog owner talked all on his own before eventually walking towards the cages with a ‘not my business’ attitude. Maru saw him nodding towards Joongjin on the way. Maru tried pulling on the leash. The dog, which had its stomach on the ground, did not budge at all.
“You knew the president? I didn’t know that and acted rude. I’m so sorry.”
The young man hid the rod behind him and started smiling. His eyes were fixed on the stack of cash in Maru’s left hand. Maru handed the cash to the young man.
“You’re giving it to me?”
“I will, but let me ask you to do one thing. I’m not sure if you’ll keep it, but don’t pour hot water on those dogs while you don’t run out. If possible, don’t poke them either.”
“You, big brother, liked dogs, huh? You should’ve told me earlier. I’ll look after them well in the future.”
The man bowed towards him before walking back into the greenhouse. Maru could hear him kick the dog cages the moment he went in. He didn’t mind since he didn’t have a shred of expectation. Instead, he looked at the dog crouching down in front of him. This fellow was within his reach. He reached his hand out slightly. The dog growled at him before trying to bite him. Maru opened his hand and pressed its nose before grabbing it by the snout. He could feel a sticky, warm mass. It was a bloody piece of flesh. He reached his hand under the struggling dog’s stomach before lifting it up. At first, the dog struggled desperately, but when Maru turned its snout around and stared into its eyes, it soon became docile.
“I’ll pay you back the money once we return to the city. Or if you tell me your bank account number, I’ll send it to you directly.”
“No need at all. Let’s just consider it a fun trip with Mr. Maru. I may look like this, but I’ve earned quite a lot of money. The president of the production company gave me a strong guarantee because he didn’t know the movie would hit 10 million views.”
“If you don’t like that, then just consider it an investment. An investment in an actor that I have high hopes for. From what I saw today, that couple million won doesn’t seem like a waste at all, and it makes me happy. But why did you decide to bring that dog specifically? There are a lot of dogs inside.”
“Because I locked eyes with it. It was asking me to save it, and I ended up looking directly, so I had no choice. The ones inside are pitiful as well, but I don’t have the leisure to look after all of them. Also, I’m not a charity worker.”
“Perhaps you didn’t need to come and see this place. You’re closer to the character I’m thinking of than I thought.”
“That doesn’t sound like a good meaning to me.”
“I’m telling you that you’re extremely humane.”
They walked to the parking lot with the dog. On their way down, Maru found a man with his eyes glued to the main road. He seemed to be watching out for any police that might show up. Maru let the dog loose on the back seat. He also loosened the leash which was tightly wrapped around the neck. The dog also seemed to have understood that it wasn’t being locked up or beaten up, and it stayed docile below the seat. It was quite quick-witted since it was raised in an environment where it was constantly kicked around.
“Is it because of minimum conscience that you gave him the money?”
“You can call it that.”
“How about you report to the police then?”
“From the looks of it, you seem to be acquainted with the person up there.”
“I guess we know each other. I know all sorts of people after all.”
“Then it’s fine.”
Before Maru started the car, he looked at the dogfighting arena colored in orange. He had not yet heard about the theme of the film from Joongjin, but he could already picture how it would turn out in his head. A plain lunacy – Joongjin’s mise-en-scène would probably charge straight to that phrase.
“I haven’t gotten an answer before, so can you elaborate?” Maru asked when the car got on the main road.
Joongjin turned and asked what he was talking about.
“The one you wanted to beat up with your own hands. I’m curious about who it is.”
“Oh, that? She’s an ordinary housewife. She’s a woman with a son, a great single mother who has divorced her husband and has raised her son by herself until now.”
“Then why would you….”
“Because she made a single mistake. She grabbed the driving wheel after drinking. It was a rainy day, too. The roads must have been unclear due to the weather, and she even drunk-drove, so how good could her judgments possibly be? The car she drove ignored the speed limit and ended up crashing into a person that appeared in front of it. So strongly that there was no time to help the victim. She was the one who did it. I’m sure you know what story this is.”
After that, Joongjin no longer spoke. His ever-cheerful mouth had finally quit working for the first time.
“That woman should not have drank. At least on that day.”
Joongjin said those words after about an hour. He started talking cheerfully again as though he had shaken off all the gloomy feelings. Maru laughed from time to time to go along with him. The sound of the wind hitting the car, the sound of the engine, the sound of Joongjin’s laugh, the sound of the dog whimpering. The car was more noisy and bustling than ever, but for some reason, it even felt quieter than dead silence.
“Should we donate some of the profits to animal protection groups?”
“Doesn’t sound bad.”
“Then let’s do that. I’m sure the better you do your acting, the better the lives of dogs will get. Then do your best.”
“Me doing my best won’t be enough for that, will it?”
“It probably will, I think.”
Joongjin’s words contained a hint of conviction that his way of production would not fail.
“Then let me explain the outline, shall I?”
Maru pressed the gas pedal as he listened in.