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Jinpok was famous for being an asshole. He was six feet tall, taller than the average Korean male, with a well-built, muscular body. From the beginning of his streaming career, he showed off his bald head with tattoos all over his body, gaining quick popularity. He was nicknamed the physical therapist, or ‘Forced anger management therapist’ because of his style, but it didn’t last long. His content didn’t change and viewers soon lost interest in him.
He resorted to threatening former acquaintances or ex-girlfriends to do joint broadcasts and live streams. Bad rumors about his lifestyle quickly circulated.
‘He must be crazy, thinking he helped me in the past.’
Joonbum thought about Jinpok uncomfortably. Jinpok always considered him as a loser and was he even belittled publicly on Jinpok’s broadcast that made it hard for him to do any kind of broadcasting. It was him who nicknamed Joonbum ‘Pig.’
‘You call that help?’
Joonbum shook his head while turning off his phone. It was absurd. He knew clearly that he was not helped but used instead for Jinpok’s own profit.
“How can you be so presumptuous?”
Joonbum lit up a cigarette and walked toward Galfus.
He shouted, throwing a pig leg that Galfus snatched up while it was still in the air. Galfus soon obliterated the leg in its mouth.
“You like that, huh?”
Weeks had passed after removing the casts. Joonbum kept examining the leg and carefully controlled Galfus’ food intake. It seemed to feel a bit weird moving its legs, but it was otherwise fine. After he finished off the cigarette, Joonbum started moving the machine. After one chain that bound Galfus was loosened, all of the chains followed and fell to the ground. Galfus stopped and watched Joonbum.
It looked as if it was puzzled by its sudden freedom. There was a slight moment of silence between Galfus and Joonbum.
“You’re free to go. Go back to your fam-”
Joonbum stopped muttering as he was startled by the sudden movement that Galfus made. It jumped up on Joonbum and brought him crashing down. When he came to his senses, he was on the ground with Galfus’ front paw pressing him down so he couldn’t move. He couldn’t say anything and had no choice but to watch Galfus. Soon, a big mouth closed in on him.
He could smell something bad through the opening of its mouth.
‘Is it the pig I fed him?’
He thought about the pig leg he threw earlier.
‘I must be crazy.’
He couldn’t believe that he would be pondering such petty things even in this life and death situation. At that moment, Galfus’ mouth opened up and its tongue closed in on him. Joonbum was terrified and couldn’t move. There was no way to resist. He closed his eyes and clenched his fists. His life up until now flashed before his eyes.
A large tongue licked his entire face, making him feel its rough texture. The tongue left Joonbum as soon as it was done wetting his face and the paw pressing down on him also disappeared soon after. When the terror faded away, Joonbum opened his eyes and saw nothing in front of him.
He was relieved to be alive but at the same time felt lonely and empty inside. It was a weird sense of loss.
“Come on in. Please sit here.”
“Excuse me, a soju please.”
“Can I have a ‘pig’ broth soup over here?”
Joonbum frowned after drinking a glass of soju.
“Can I have two ‘pig’ broth soup? Oh, one extra large.”
‘Crap. I chose the wrong place.’
Joonbum was practically immune to that word since he was used to it by now. But his mood had collapsed after Galfus left and he was now irritated by every little thing. It left a huge wound in his heart and he felt like his heart had been cut in half.
‘Damn wolf ran away without looking back. I helped you live for over a month and a half! Running away like that? HAH. Damn it!’
“Hey, started already?”
Joonbum looked at the other side of the table who just sat down and adjusted his expression.
“Sungjae, you’re here.”
Sungjae nodded and shouted at the waitress.
“One pig broth soup and a glass, please! Oh and extra meat!”
Sungjae turned to Joonbum as he finished ordering his food.
“I heard you’ve been good lately!”
Joonbum grinned at Sungjae’s comment. He knew Sungjae was not jealous or envious, it was true happiness for his friend.
“I was lucky.”
Joonbum smiled as he shook his head, at which Sungjae retorted in excitement.
“Lucky? That’s called results! It’s not luck. But look at you, man. How is it? That should help you settle down, right?”
Sungjae poured soju into his glass and drank it.
“Aww, it’s bitter.”
He shook at its bitterness and picked up a piece of meat and chewed on it.
“Oh, this one’s pretty good!”
His face was red because of the heat and he started on his broth. Sungjae noisily chewed on the red radish kimchi.
“This radish kimchi is so good. It mixes well, you know. But, where did you learn that kind of skill? I saw some of those responses but it was so crazy. Where did you learn that? Oh, and did you notice those other streamers? That bastard, Jinpok or whatever he’s called, was going crazy about you. I remember him using you before and now he’s saying you betrayed him! Oh, and I heard you ignored Youngah Lee? Good job! That girl has dropped off the charts now. Haha, good for her.”
Sungjae spoke nonstop while he gorged himself on his food. There were a lot of questions directed at Joonbum, but some of it showed sympathetic anger toward how Joonbum was treated in the past.
“One more soju please.”
“Two pig broth here!”
Sungjae did not stop talking as they both ate and drank. But, Joonbum found that he couldn’t pay much attention to Sungjae’s stories.
He couldn’t find any interest to listen at all.
“I heard those girls trying to be prostitutes. Seolji seems to be traveling out of the country with some old CEOs. They all act clean up front but they’re all sluts. I mean, how could they not be frustrated with all these young girls coming into the scene?”
It was the same story over and over. Joonbum knew these stories and felt the same way.
‘I loved these stories before.’
He was same as Sungjae in the past. It was the only way of relieving his stress, talking about complaints he had non-stop, cursing, and jabbing at other people’s weaknesses.
“Is it? I don’t mind them anymore,” Joonbum said as he chewed on the radish kimchi. Sungjae stopped speaking, looking genuinely surprised.
“What? You don’t? Are you for real? Are you the same Joonbum I know? Are you that same poisonous toad? What about that bastard, Jinpok?”
Sungjae jokingly taunted Joonbum. Joonbum poured more soju into the glass, watching Sungjae’s playful expression.
“Yeah, I used to curse them all night but I’m done with that. They’re just not worth my time. Jinpok? He can threaten me all he wants but what can he do? He’s not a real gangster. He just pretends to be one. I don’t need to deal with him. If he goes overboard, I’ll just report him to the police.”
Joonbum spoke without much thought. Sungjae blinked his eyes multiple times in awe, then brightened up.
“Wow! You’ve grown! Beep, beep, the poisonous toad has evolved into a golden toad! Here, let’s drink.”
They kept on drinking until they finished the third bottle and came out of the store and headed for an outdoor cart bar. He complained about soju being bitter but it was back to its sweetness by having it with some fish cake and fish soup.
“This is delicious.”
Joonbum drank the hot soup. It was really delicious and its heat transferred down to Joonbum’s stomach.
‘But it’s still boring.’
Joonbum emptied the glass. The cold soju turned into a fire inside his belly, but that was it. His mind was still cold.
“Dongryul should be serving his time in the army. I heard Jungsoo is working at his father’s factory. Well, at least he’s got the factory.”
Sungjae updated Joonbum with all his friends, and there were very few. If it was like before, Joonbum would’ve replied with questions like ‘Why?’, or ‘How is it so?’. However, today, he just answered mostly with yes or no.
“You seem bored.” Sungjae told him, displeased. He wasn’t happy with how Joonbum had been reacting.
“No, not at all.”
“Then what’s with that face? You don’t want to speak to me because you’re rich now?”
Sungjae sounded edgy. He was a little bit drunk.
‘I’ve made a mistake.’
Sungjae was having a hard time. He once tried to become a streamer but gave up and started studying to pass the exam for a government job. It was Joonbum who had called him out during his studies. He should’ve at least tried to make it an enjoyable time.
Joonbum shook his head.
“No, man! Not at all! I just thought that everyone is doing their best now and it felt like we’re old, you know? It’s making me feel a bit sad. With no girlfriend…”
“Ouch, that hurts.”
Sungjae’s mood changed after hearing Joonbum and he exaggerated his actions.
“Couples belong in hell! Let’s drink!”
‘Whew. That was close.’
They got out of the cart bar while staggering around.
“Let’s go for more! More!”
Sungjae shouted mindlessly, but Joonbum dragged him toward a Thai massage shop located nearby.
“Can I sleep over?”
“Sure. You can sleep while getting your massage and stay overnight. If you’re too drunk, you can get massaged in the morning. How would you like it?”
A man handed over a small menu to him.
“We’ll both get oil massages for an hour and a half. He can get it when he’s awake in the morning. I’ll receive it now.”
“It’s a hundred thousand won. This way please.”
After Joonbum paid with his credit card, he dragged Sungjae who had already fallen asleep and laid him down inside the room. He then changed into a bathrobe and went into a shower room.
The cold water falling on his head quickly sobered him up.
‘An inn is too expensive.’
That was the reason he came here. The local inn had increased too much of its price, that it was absurd. Joonbum thought that a massage shop was a better deal since it included a full massage. As he finished taking the cold shower, Joonbum walked into a room and took off his gown, changing to a huge towel. He then lay down face down on the massage bed.
After about five minutes, a short woman came in after a knock.
It was a calm voice.
The woman unfolded the towel over him and mounted him, starting to massage his neck to his shoulder. He could feel the woman’s soft hands through the towel.
As she put pressure on his neck, he felt a moan slipping out from his lips. Every tense muscle screamed with pain as the woman massaged them. As the more intense massage began, the towel was removed and the woman applied oil over Joonbum’s entire body and massaged every muscle.
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