Life, Once Again! - Chapter 926
When he wiped his snot, it became a layer of thin ice on the back of his hand before crumbling apart. It was so cold that insults were mixed with every white breath he breathed out. Dongwook approached the drum barrel where a small fire was lit up. As expected of the labor market which started off earlier than anywhere else, it was filled with people. Dongwook wasn’t new to this, so he didn’t look around awkwardly like a novice and put his hand between his crotch as he got some of the warmth from the fire.
Today was the fifth day already. Waking up early every morning according to the sound of the alarm felt terrible, but he had no choice in order to meet Mari’s man. He sniffled his snot that came out regardless of his will and had a look at the clock. According to some info that one of the private investigators found, Mari’s man was working in one of the labor markets in the Southern parts of Busan. He wished he could just search through everything, but if there were any watching eyes around the man, then his investigations until now would be for naught. He had already missed once too. The fact that he didn’t know what the man was thinking also tugged on his mind. Mari might be waiting for him dearly, but the man might have changed.
“God damn, it’s cold. If I had any money, I would’ve quit this job ages ago,” said a man wearing a black beanie.
Dongwook nodded. For him though, it would be Mari’s man that would make him quit this job. He had the desire to give that guy a big hug if he ever did find him. However, if he suffered a few more days under this freezing pain, he might slap the guy the moment he saw him.
Dongwook had another look at the photo of the man he got from Mari. He had seen him to death to the point that he would show up in his dreams, but he looked at the photo whenever he had the time. He didn’t even do this with his first love either.
“How’s it on your side?”
He got a call from a private investigator who was doing the same thing as him in another labor market. That private investigator had been waiting for two hours ever since 3 in the morning, but Dongwook was told in a tired voice that he did not find the man.
“You should get back inside and rest if you want to do the same thing again tomorrow.”
-You got anything? Even a feeling that something might happen?
“I’m not sure. My intuition seems to have frozen over as it won’t activate. Dammit, why couldn’t he go missing during warm springtime.”
-I’ll have another look around this place.
Dongwook hung up. It was good that he came to Busan following the information he got from the action leader, but the man’s following course of action was up in the air. He didn’t know whether the man felt a sense of danger to his safety, or was on orders, but when he arrived at Busan, the man had already switched to another office. That marked the start of searching through all the labor markets scattered throughout Busan. It was fortunate that he was able to narrow down the region to the Southern areas. Of course, on the off chance that there was something wrong with the information, some of the investigators were looking into the North, West, and East areas.
He suddenly became curious about the amount of money president Lee Junmin must be paying those people, but he soon dismissed the thought. He possessed an entire apartment ‘building’ with a view of the Han river. That alone was expensive enough that an ordinary salaryman could never hope to earn in a hundred lifetimes. He had heard a rumor that president Lee Junmin was a close confidante of the president of the country, and it probably was true.
Just then, a van came over with the high beams on. The people gathered in front of the drum barrel immediately scurried over to the van.
“Two for ductwork.”
Many of the people gathered raised their hands. There was no mention of pay or the place they would be working in, but people tried their best to get picked. A man holding a ledger scanned around before picking two men at the front. He gave them a 500 won coin each and told them to wait while drinking some coffee.
“Two for plasterwork.”
“Three for setting beams.”
“Five for menial work.”
After selling the work positions like an auction, the man left in the van with the ones he picked. The remaining people returned to the drum barrel. After that, something similar occurred many more times. The people who weren’t picked looked up at the sky towards the east. The labor market would end once the sun was up.
So today was a dud too, and he started feeling hungry. It seemed that he would have to visit various labor work offices after getting something to eat once the sun rose. He did wait for a little more since he heard that the man might show up while driving, but this might as well be finding Mr. Kim in the middle of Seoul….
Just as many people started leaving, thinking that there was no more for today, another van slowly entered the clearing. That was probably the last van. Dongwook also pulled his clothes tighter before approaching the van. A man in his middle forties got out of the van. From his hairstyle to his facial shape, he had zero similarities to Mari’s man, not that he had a need to look at that man since he was clearly in his forties.
With the final bit of his hope, he walked around to the front of the van. It was time to have a look at the one in the driver’s seat. A man who had a blue towel wrapped around his head was fidgeting with his phone with his head down. It was a feature phone. Dongwook slowly approached the driver’s seat. The man who had his head down seemed to have been bothered by the reflecting headlights and raised his head. He was quite handsome considering that he was just driving a van in a place like this. He was also Mari’s man that Dongwook had been looking for all this time.
Dongwook tapped on the window. The man looked around before scrolling the window down.
“Uhm, can you tell the leader on the other side to use me?”
“Mister, don’t do this and just raise your hand over there. I don’t have any power.”
“Now, now, don’t say that.”
Dongwook grinned and quickly scanned the man’s wrist. Mari said that she and her boyfriend made a matching bracelet. He found a bracelet around the man’s left arm. It was a bracelet made from braided pink threads. It was the same bracelet that Mari showed him. The fact that a man clad in black from top to bottom had a pink bracelet meant quite a lot.
When he took out a ten thousand won bill and gave it to the man, the man frowned and flicked his hand away. Dongwook intentionally hooked his finger into the bracelet the moment the man tried to do so, enough to break the bracelet if he tried hard enough.
“Hey! If this snapped off, I would have killed you.”
“Why are you so hung up on a cheap bracelet? You’re making me embarrassed.”
The man scrolled up his window, saying that he didn’t want to deal with a crazy man. Seeing his reaction, he seemed to cherish the bracelet quite a lot, meaning that he still had Mari in his heart.
“Finally, I’ll pick three men with quite a bit of experience.”
A voice could be heard from the other side of the van. It seemed that they were going to leave soon. Dongwook called Mari on his phone. She picked up immediately as she had been staying up all night just like him.
“I’ll give him the phone so talk to him. Tell him you love him, that you miss him, and that you want to see him, things like that.”
Dongwook tapped on the window again. The man glared at him. When he tapped a few more times with a pleading look, he sighed and scrolled the window down again. Dongwook handed the man the phone under a ten thousand won bill with a phone number written on it.
“You should pick up that phone.”
“What are you doing?”
“It’s the person you want to see. Don’t show it on your face.”
The man, who seemed suspicious of him, looked around in wariness before picking up the call. Soon, his eyes widened. His stiff expression softened up immediately. The man didn’t say anything; he only repeatedly said ‘yes, ‘yes’ with a teary voice. Dongwook reached his hand out. The man who was selecting people from the other side of the van was approaching. Mari’s boyfriend quickly handed him back the phone.
“What are you doing?” asked the middle-aged man.
Before Dongwook could reply, Mari’s boyfriend replied instead,
“This mister is giving me money so that I can refer him to you.”
The middle-aged man laughed before looking through his ledger.
“What can you do? We do have a welding job open.”
Dongwook waved his hand in the air in dismissal.
“I don’t want something like that. Can’t I get an easy job where I just clean some trash?”
“You seem to be a novice. Got laid off? You still seem young though. Don’t come to places like this and use your experiences to get a proper job. Once you start this job, you’ll never escape it.”
Dongwook nodded and turned around. Mari’s man was very quick-witted, so he should probably keep the number written on that bill. The only thing left now was to wait. Once he was done with his business, he would probably call Dongwook of his own accord. If he didn’t, well, that would indicate that he gave up on this.
“Miss Mari. Was that him?”
-Yes, it was. His voice sounds a little soft like he’s caught a cold, but that’s definitely him.
“Then I’ve done my part of the deal, right? I’ll wait for your boyfriend for a few days in Busan. If he calls me and we meet, I’ll bring him to you, and if he doesn’t, I’ll go back by myself. You know what that means, right?”
-Yes. I promised after all. I’ll help you regardless of what decision oppa makes.
Mari was filled with vitality from just calling him. Dongwook decided to give her another piece of hope.
“Your boyfriend was wearing that pink bracelet. He seems to be cherishing it.”
“Yes. He probably didn’t forget about you. You should wait for a little.”
-I don’t know how to thank you for this.
“We’re just starting off, so save your thanks for later. I’ll hang up now. I need to get some rest. You should get some rest too, Miss Mari. You’ve done a good job.”
This trip to Busan felt like it would take forever, but it came to a closure after merely five days. The only thing left now was to wait a few days and wait for the man’s call. Dongwook looked at the van going off into the distance. It was very rare for a youngster to use a feature phone in an era like this. Should he think that there were still prying eyes around? Since there was a history of him being dragged by gangsters and even locked up, he probably couldn’t make a move so easily.
Dongwook notified the private investigators that the situation was closed for the time being. They were all just humans in the end, so they all rejoiced at the fact that they no longer had to deal with the freezing cold now. Those who had to go to Seoul left, while three of them decided to remain behind in Busan. If Mari’s boyfriend ever needed help, they would have to reach out to him after all.
He met a few roadblocks on the way, but ultimately, he was able to get his desired results. It would be great if everything else went like this. Dongwook recalled the conversation he had with Maru a few days ago. Maru suggested that they should reinstate Lee Miyoon, who was excluded from this case, back to the center of it. He wondered if it was possible, but after hearing Maru’s plans, it didn’t sound too bad. Cuffing Lee Miyoon was something very welcomed by him. Hong Janghae might have been the one who dragged his junior journalist to the edge of a cliff, but it was Lee Miyoon who pushed her off.
It was 4 minutes past 6. The dark skies started brightening up. The people gathered around the drum barrel started disappearing one after the other into the brightening skies. Dongwook joined that group. He finished his job, so he had to fill his stomach now.