Life, Once Again! - Chapter 943
He bought some coffee from the convenience store in front of the apartment complex. Some warm coffee was a great companion that allowed him to last through the cold. He sat at the table under the parasol with the coffee in hand, then started counting the apartment floors in front of him. One, two, three…. The lights were off. Gaeul had gone to Jeju island, so it would be a big problem if the lights were on. It was 9 p.m. Maru called Yoojin, who was in Japan, through the messenger app. It seemed that she was on her phone as she picked up immediately after the first ringtone.
-What got into you that would make you call me?
“Some business. You aren’t busy, are you?”
-I picked it up because I’m not busy, don’t you think?
“Are you resting?”
-Yeah. I’m just gazing at the ceiling while in bed.
Maru opened the canned coffee and wet his lips. The things he was about to say now would hurt Yoojin. She might even snap out at him, asking him how he could do such a thing as a friend.
“I have something to talk about regarding your mother.”
-Wait a sec.
He could hear the door close over the phone. A few seconds of silence passed. Maru waited with his hands in his pocket.
“First up, I hope you can keep in mind that I’m not doing this in order to report your mother to the authorities or anything like that.”
There was no response. That should have made her feel complex already. He wanted to wait, but his entire objective was to give Yoojin a sense of urgency. He did not give her any time to relay that information to her head and continued,
“Just like how you talked to me about something important regarding your mother, allow me to tell you something important as well. I’m not sure if this will happen soon or will take some time, but what I can tell you for sure is that the matters your mother is involved in will become a huge issue.”
-Issue? Are you saying that you’re going to rat out my mother to a journalist? You’re selling my mother?
“Not immediately. As I said before, I have no intentions of selling your mother out at all. In fact, I’m telling you this because I want to help. I want to take her hands off this matter before the danger arrives.”
“I can’t tell you the details. But I can tell you that it won’t end so easily. If things go as planned, your mother’s partner will not get off scot-free. The person behind the curtains will also cut off their tail.”
-Are you talking about Hong Janghae?
“My objective is not your mother, but Hong Janghae. A bridge is required to reach Hong Janghae, and your mother is currently playing the role of that bridge. As long as she stays in that position, it will be incredibly difficult for her to escape the fire. In fact, she might be blamed as the main culprit and get all the sins on her. This is prostitution involving high members of society. It will be very noisy once it goes public. Of course, it will probably not influence the mastermind behind it all, but the middlemen will likely all be cuffed. Even if she manages to escape punishment, she will not be able to prevent images of herself from being leaked to the public. Once that happens, she will not be able to maintain those shops that she’s running under her own name.”
-Hey, Han Maru!
Yoojin screeched. It was the right decision for her to close the door. If her screeching voice echoed inside the whole house, there might be hindrances involved in this matter, ones that should have been dealt with rationally. It was ultimately Yoojin’s mother that he had to settle this deal with, but it would become a lot easier to pull Yoojin to his side first.
“Don’t raise your voice. It’s nothing to get angry about.”
-How could I not? Do you even know what I was feeling when I talked about all that to you guys?
“Calm down and listen to me. That’s why I’ve been telling you that I’m not doing this with the intention of socially burying your mother, but to save her. How did you feel when you talked about that secret to us back then? Did you want to feel refreshed by taking out what was holed up within you? No, you didn’t. If that was the case, you would’ve shouted to the sky. You want to save your mother, don’t you? Before she strays off even further, you want to pull her out before it’s too late.”
Yoojin’s angry gasping calmed down rapidly. There were no falsities in her feelings towards her mother. How worried must have she been when someone she couldn’t oppose had chosen the wrong path? And how much would she have blamed herself? These two were the psychological dilemmas that Maru wanted to stimulate within her.
“I’m sure you suffered. It must have been hard. I’m sure there were many other things that you weren’t able to tell us back then. I can’t say that I understand how you felt back then, but I can sympathize with your pains. That’s why I’m trying to help. Because you’re a friend; because she’s family to my friend.”
-I cannot go against my mother.
“I’m not telling you to go against her. Change your thinking. This is about helping your mother. It is definitely the wrong thing to get involved in bad matters. However, people can return to their original track through self-reflection. I’m sure your mother dipped her hands into dangerous business because she wanted power, but she has been pretty successful even without that, hasn’t she?” Maru said as he rested his chin on his palm and looked at a docile cat.
It was easy to add a bit of a lie when talking to someone who he could not see. If his relationship with Yoojin was just a little more distant, or if Gaeul would not be sad about it, he wouldn’t care if Yoojin’s mother set her course in life straight to doom. He was only doing this because it would be a lot easier to coax Yoojin’s mother out of the equation and because a few people would be relieved.
He was also sugar-coating when he said that people could change through self-reflection. While he did not deny the fact that people would change through hard efforts, he did not agree with the fact that those that stepped over the line of morals would change through effort. Anyone who had been educated moderately would know a ‘line’ to never cross. Yoojin’s mother crossed that line. Those who had committed a crime of their own will would only stay low when being suppressed through the law, and they would reach their hands into the darkness once the guard was a little lax. Even if this whole ordeal went well and she becomes distant from this whole matter, she would join hands without hesitation if a second Hong Janghae reached out to her.
-Right. My mother is doing plenty well even without having to get involved in that business. I still don’t understand why she decided to expand her business into such a terrible thing.
“Anyone can make a mistake. Your mother is not a perfect human being. Don’t you think so too? A human cannot be perfect.”
Yoojin softly echoed the words that even her mother cannot be perfect. Maru had to give her motivation. If he managed to persuade her that she could become a hero that helps her mother, Yoojin would make a move. After all, to Yoojin, her mother was a sun that she could not afford to have disappear or fall. She would reach the conclusion that she would have to talk to her mother in order to protect her.
-What should I do?
“For now, try persuading her on your own. Is she with you right now?”
-Yeah, she’s downstairs.
“Then go up to her and bring up the topic directly. Don’t talk about what I told you and ask her if she could take her hands off that business. If things go well, your mother might pull out with just that.”
-No, that will absolutely never happen. Mother listens to my requests quite well, but she will never relent when it comes to her own matters. Heck, I can’t even get her to let me change her pillow covers without permission. There’s no way she would stop doing that through my words alone.
“Still, go ahead and try. You should show her that her daughter is desperate so that we can take this to the next stage easily. It will soften the conversation between me and her after you tell her your own feelings rather than me suddenly bringing up the topic. If you fail to persuade her, then talk about me.”
-Okay. I’ll do it right now.
The phone hung up. Maru sipped the coffee that had turned cold. The cat that had been lingering around him looked like it was startled or had found out that the human in front of it would not give it a can of tuna, and had disappeared. Maru leaned back on the chair and looked at the cars coming inside the apartment complex. Over the sea in Japan, Yoojin was probably making the resolution of her life before barging into the living room. Maru only hoped that he would get a call back soon whether things went well or not.
He didn’t get a call back even after he finished the canned coffee. He went back inside the convenience store and bought another one. The part-timer, who he had gotten to know after seeing him for a few months, asked if it wasn’t cold outside.
He put the coffee against his cheek and sat down. He did not want to bring this matter home. If Yoojin’s mother was just like she was known to be, he would probably be able to get this dealt with before the end of the day.
A cat poked its head out from below the car parked in front of the store. Now that he thought about it, the cat probably appeared according to the chimes of the convenience store door. So it was planning to get some food in exchange for looking cute if it found some soft-hearted person. Maru went inside and asked if there was some cat food. The part-timer smiled and pointed at the cat outside.
“That one’s a player. The owner even places an order for cat food specifically for it. Pretty smart. It would keep meowing for food if it sees some in a human hand.”
“That’s much better than people. It doesn’t at least hide its intentions when approaching.”
Maru left the convenience store. Just as the part-timer said, the cat jumped out from below the car when he waved the cat food. This cat had completely learned how to get by in this forest of gray. He also took some photos for Gaeul, who was helpless against cats. There’s no free food in this world, so act as a model in exchange for the food — he thought.
He took photos without restraint. Just then, he got a call from Yoojin. There was no power in her voice.
-I screamed at my mother for the first time in my life. I’m still shaking.
“Well done. You should show her that you’re that desperate. So? What’s the conclusion?”
-She wants to hear things out. Mom wants to call you.
“Perfect. Good job.”
-You’re really pulling my mother out of this, right? You aren’t deceiving me, right?
“I don’t want to be hated by Gaeul.”
-That sounds reliable. If you said that it was for me, I would’ve been suspicious until the end.
“Then hand her the phone now. We should finish this off before the day ends.”
-Alright. Wait a minute.
Maru put his phone down on the table. The cat that was eating in front of him had disappeared, as though it had no more business with a human after having fulfilled its objective.