Life, Once Again! - Chapter 904
(Warning: more animal abuse.)
The breathing of dogs could be heard from the man’s residence. The high and low panting noise, the sound of legs dragging, the sound of scraping the cage. The man had to stand up whenever he heard a thudding noise of bone and metal hitting each other. There was only one thing he had to do with the long rod. It was to push back the dogs that were bashing their heads against the cage after having gone crazy. It would be big trouble if they ended up breaking their heads open and going limp or something. Whenever he raised the rod, the dogs gnashed their teeth and fell back. There were no exceptions. The stronger ones would glare their pitch-black eyes at him for days and get ready for a fight, but after tasting a few stabs from the rod, they would loosen their legs and roll up their tail. Whether it was men or dogs, there was no winning against violence. After preventing suicide, he had to feed them. They would only not go into a frenzy if they were given a path to escape. The rod would be useless against those that had given up on their lives, so he had to prevent that before it reached such a state.
There were those that were bashing into the cage again today. The man grumbled and stood up before looking for his rod. He had sharpened the rod with a planing tool a few days ago. A stab should shut them up and make them more docile. He opened the door and the dog cage door right next to it. A foul stench of rotting dung and piss wafted about. There was a woman with a dragon tattoo who got into the dog cage wanting to see the dogs up close, but she ended up leaving the cage while vomiting.
The struggling dogs became docile. Even these dogs had heads and could differentiate when they could act up and when they couldn’t. The only ones that couldn’t, were those that rampaged around like they had rabies. He stood in front of the cage to the left. He knew it would be this one. It was a new one that came in two days ago. It was the last pup birthed by the breeding dog. Apparently, it almost died the moment it was born from being bitten to death by its mother. Perhaps because the first sensation it felt since its birth was its mother’s teeth, it bit everything in its sight. He heard that the trainer who managed breeding dogs and fighting dogs alike had given up training this one, which was the first time in his life. As dogfighting was a form of business, there would be great losses if a product was damaged. The dogs should moderately bite each other and stop once the opponent dog lowers their tail, but this one apparently ripped apart its opponent with its canine teeth without caring whether the opposing dog admitted defeat or not. Supposedly, in the last fight, this one had before coming to this place, it had bitten the opposing dog’s mouth, resulting in that dog’s guts spilling out. The president, who loved people with a screw loose in their head, bought this guy over with a surplus sum of money.
The man spoke softly: shut up and stay still. That one didn’t even care. It kept crashing into the cage. It seemed to want to know whether its skull would break first, or if the metal would dent.
It was time for the rod. The dog was the president’s favorite, but that didn’t matter. Even a dog that the president was head over heels for had to be docile in front of the rod. Of course, he didn’t plan on killing it or heavily injuring it. If he did, the president himself would pick up a rod of his own. The man did not want to live the rest of his life limping.
He pushed the rod against the dog’s head. Even without teaching them anything, dogs knew how foolish it was to crash their heads into a sharp object. Even dogs who had never tasted the rod would yelp and turn around if he did this.
But this one was different.
The man cursed and pulled the rod back. Had he been a moment too late, the dog would have become one-eyed. This one lacked too much fear. It seemed as though it had forgotten what being hurt meant and what pain was. It was time for a more effective method than the rod. He brought boiling water. Even the most vicious dogs who bite their owners would turn into the most docile dogs in the world in front of water that could literally cook their flesh. When he lifted up the kettle that had a burnt bottom, the dogs inside waited with bated breaths. The man enjoyed the silence brought by the boiling water before clicking his tongue at the thudding sound that he could still hear. That one was probably rampaging around because it didn’t know to fear the boiling water.
He stood in front of the cage and tilted the kettle slightly. Steam rose from the beak first, followed by boiling hot water. It flowed down in one constant streak and touched the dog’s waist. The dog jumped up and fell back. Even pouring water required quite a bit of technique. At first, he was unable to control it properly, and a portion of fur ended up falling off of the dog. Even some puss came out from the cooked flesh later too. Now, he no longer made such mistakes. The man boasted that he could pour water more delicately than anyone in the country.
The dog that snapped back even in the face of the rod finally put its chin on the ground. It lowered its butt and placed its two front paws in front. The unrelenting dog had finally accepted the rules of this place. The man predicted that this one would function properly as a dogfighting dog from the next match. A dog that would bite moderately and gain victory.
The man returned to his residence. He lay down on his bed with the stench of dogs still on him. He could no longer hear the dogs’ breaths. He could finally get some quiet sleep.
* * *
It had been thirty minutes. Maru didn’t budge from the sofa. He sat still with his eyes closed as though he was meditating. Without the occasional twitch of his eyebrows, the roughening of his breath, and his upper lip rolling upwards to the point that his canine teeth could be seen, she might have mistaken him for sleeping.
She wanted to go to the bathroom, wanted to open the fridge, and wanted to boil some water in the coffee pot, but she just watched Maru quietly because she didn’t want to disturb his focus.
Woofie hopped over. She would walk over to Maru with her bowl every morning, but she seemed to have felt that something was serious today and came over to her instead. She wanted to lift her up and place her on her lap, but there was a prior visitor today.
Gaeul grabbed the paw of the Pit Bull trying to scratch its cone. When Maru returned home in the middle of the night a week ago, he was holding this dog. Gaeul covered her mouth and groaned the moment she saw him. There was blood all over Maru’s clothes. She subconsciously reached out to her phone to call 119, but Maru stopped her. The blood didn’t belong to Maru, it belonged to the dog. The dog had a serious wound on its face. There was another one on its left leg. Its flesh had been pushed to one side as though a saw blade had ripped its leg. Maru said that the dog belonged to a dogfighting arena. Thinking that getting the dog treated was more important than finding out what happened, they took it to a nearby veterinary hospital. The vet there asked if the dog got hit by a motorbike. The skin on its stomach was mangled as though it had been dragged across concrete. Fortunately, the vet also said that there would be no problems with some suturing and good treatment.
“He’s Woofie’s friend. I’m not sure if he’ll adapt though,” Maru said as he brought the dog home after treatment.
Only then did she hear what had transpired. Apparently, he went to a dog fighting arena because of matters related to director Park Joongjin’s film and met this dog there. After listening to everything, Gaeul rubbed the Pit Bull’s chin, saying that he did the right thing. She also added that Woofie would be glad to have a friend. It was Woofie who soothed the Pit Bull’s wanderlust. The two of them approached each other, smelled each other, and licked each other’s wounds the moment they saw each other. The Pit Bull licked Woofie’s limping leg, while Woofie licked the Pit Bull’s wound. Gaeul was glad to see that, but one thing came to her mind. Maru mentioned a dogfighting arena. Fighting wasn’t something that can be done with just one. From what she vaguely remembered from watching the news, dozens of such dogs would be raised in one such area. She asked Maru, who was watching the dogs stuck to each other affectionately. What happened to the other dogs? Maru did not answer. Gaeul knew that, as they shared a lot of things, they needed to be even more careful around each other. She hadn’t heard the details, but she could understand vaguely. That was why she decided not to ask anymore.
The Pit Bull kept trying to scratch its cone as though its wound was itchy. Gaeul tapped on its nose and frowned. It may look menacing at first, but it was quite docile and acted quite cute. It broke her heart to think that such a dog was growling and fighting other dogs in a dogfighting arena.
“You were up?”
Maru opened his eyes. It had been forty minutes since she started watching. Gaeul looked at the clock. It was going past 8:10 in the morning.
“I thought I shouldn’t disturb you.”
“I didn’t mind. Wasn’t it boring?”
“It was good because it was rather interesting to watch you. You were cute when you were frowning too. So what was that about?”
“I tried refining the character in my head, so I can get a grasp on what his feelings are.”
“I thought it would be something like that. Your head has been filled with the film you’re shooting ever since you brought this one home, hasn’t it?”
“It’s a film I’m making with a good director.”
“And it’s your first lead role too. Are you excited?”
“How can I not be?”
Maru approached her and kissed her lightly on the forehead. Gaeul placed the Pit Bull on her lap on the floor. Woofie and the Pit Bull walked under the table side by side.
“We should get eating, and feed these ones too.”
He opened the fridge, while Gaeul headed straight to the bathroom. When she came back out, Maru asked,
“Were you holding back?”
“I think you were.”
“Just ignore things like this. You just had to ask.”
“Rather than that, did you think about that one’s name? I’m worried since it’ll be like Woofie all over again, and he won’t have a name for a while.”
“You make one for him. I think my naming sense is terrible.”
“He’s supposed to be a parent, but he’s such a terrible one, isn’t that right?” she said to the Pit Bull staring at her from under the table.
“You’re not going to name your child in the future either, are you?”
Maru, who was holding a pot, said something. Due to the running water, she couldn’t hear him properly. She approached him and asked what he said.
“I’ve already made the prettiest name in the world for someone. You won’t know how glad that person was about it.”
“You said you never had pets before. Who did you name?”
Maru smiled and just replied, “a small child.” Gaeul frowned. Her woman’s intuition was ringing alarms. This was not about an animal. It was about a person, a woman at that.
“What the heck? So you gave a splendid nickname to another woman?”
“My first love is you though?” Maru put his face close to hers and said.
His eyes did not contain a shred of lies. At the same time, the eyes felt somewhat sorrowful.
“Sit down. I’ll bring the food soon.”
Gaeul no longer pried. This felt like something she shouldn’t ask.
“Is there anything I can help you with?”
Gaeul nodded. She did not want to talk about something that he did not want to talk about. If it was something necessary to talk about in their relationship, he would have talked about it. Gaeul rested her chin on her hands and watched Maru’s back. Actually, it didn’t matter even if he was lying to her in some way. What was important was that she had trust in him.
“So, did you think of a name for this one?”
“Should I go with doenjang-jjigae?”
“Let’s… not talk about it,” Gaeul replied with a smile.