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“Why do I have to stay rotting in this office during such good weather? Ugh.”
Jongsoo Oh, a man with various tattoos on his arm, ranted as he shook his leg on the sofa he was slouched against. Another big fat man across the room with muscles like Jongsoo replied, “You don’t even have a girl. Stop mumbling.”
“What? You know the new girl Soomi at the club? She loves me!”
Dongjoo Kang shook his head.
“She loves you? Girls smiling at you doesn’t mean they fell in love, you dumb f***.”
“Then do you have one?”
“Then shut up!”
“I will if you shut up first.”
Another man quietly reading his newspaper frowned as the two began quarreling. He seemed to be annoyed.
“Cut that out, you piece of low-life sons of- Don’t make me feel more embarrassed at you guys as it is. Don’t even say you’re one of us when you’re out there, you hear?”
Younghwan Lee shouted angrily as the two men kept glaring at each other.
‘And they’ll go out to drink as if it never happened. Ugh.’
The office door opened and man in his early thirties with hawk-like eyes walked in. Every man in the office froze in nervous silence. The man who entered was Inchul Jang, the leader of a mafia gang named Texas that was based on the American military base. The boss, Taeshik Bang, who had been in the office all this time, opened his eyes at his entrance.
“What is it?”
Inchul approached Taeshik’s desk, bowed, and hesitated before speaking.
“Do you remember Taesoo Park?”
“Of course. What about him?”
Taeshik changed his expression as Inchul spoke of Taesoo.
“He’s poking into our business. My boys are getting irritated by him.”
Both fell silent for a moment.
“Are they? So?”
“Yes? So shouldn’t we warn him? He has been smuggling things without our permission and the amount already exceeds a few hundred million won. I think he’s getting more as we speak. I think we’ll have more flies looking for their shares if we let this pass.”
Taeshik owed a lot to Taesoo. Taesoo helped him settle down and find his place when he had nothing.
‘Hah, I wished he joined us before this happened.’
Taeshik let out a small sigh. This had been reported before, but he ignored it. In addition to his personal debt, he also knew about Taesoo’s current situation.
‘Wife and daughter at the same time… How can you be so unlucky.’
“Should I teach him a lesson? Just a cut on a muscle would…”
“Huh? What did you just say?”
Taeshik scowled at the question he heard while he was deep in thought.
Taeshik stood up. He was big. 6’3″ tall and weighing over 270 pounds, his size alone was enough to instill fear in others. Inchul froze.
Inchul’s head turned as blunt force made him fall back to the ground.
“The boys don’t know, but you do. You know what Taesoo Park means to me, don’t you?”
“I-I am sorry, Boss!”
“He’s the one who got me off the streets. He helped me settle down here. He was like my brother until we parted ways. Even animals pay back their debts. Have you not heard about his loss?”
“And you dare to say that? A cut? You want to rot in prison? He spent all the money on his wife and daughter’s surgeries and they’re still unconscious. He’s out of his mind right now. And you WHAT? He’s on the edge of the cliff already. AND YOU WHAT?”
“I’m sorry, Boss! I’m sorry!”
“You know it. You shouldn’t say that if you know it. He should’ve been your boss if he did not part ways with us. We can’t help him, but we can at least leave him alone. Besides, he’s like a bomb. If he opens his mouth, we’re all busted.”
“I was wrong, Boss.”
“Treat the boys to a feast and make some stories up to shut them up. You hear me?”
“I will, Boss.”
Inchul left and Taeshik turned his eyes to other three men in the room.
“If you let anyone know about this… you know the consequences.”
Taeshik sat down on his chair and thought about Taesoo. He was a useful individual also. His fluent English proved very useful against the American military and it was him who helped Taeshik build connections with the American military.
‘I was about to call him to bring him back…’
He had that idea ever since he heard of Taesoo’s incident. His family was the reason he left in the first place, but with the amount of money he needed now, there was a chance. It was also very dangerous to keep doing the business on his own.
‘I was hoping he would reach me out soon…’
His phone rang at that moment and Taeshik opened his eyes wide.
‘Taesoo! About time!’
Taeshik picked up his phone and answered casually.
“This is Taeshik Bang.”
“Hello. This is Taesoo. We need to talk. How about 7 o’clock at dinner today?”
Taeshik checked the time at the clock on the wall and smiled.
“Are you treating me?”
“Okay. We’ll meet at the usual place.”
“Is that place still open? Okay, I’ll be there.”
- Taesoo let out a loud sigh as he hung up.
‘It was definitely about time.’
He needed to meet him to apologize. He knew Taeshik had let things slip under his watch. Taesoo knew the Taeshik was doing him a favor for old times sake, but he couldn’t just take it for granted when it was him who parted his ways with Taeshik. Taesoo needed to clean things up so that he could concentrate on taking care of his wife and daughter after he completed Joonbum’s last request. He was also considering going back as offered by Taeshik before.
‘This is too big of a task for me to handle.’
The gold could have been manageable, but the problem lay with all the jewels and gems. The case was packed with never-before-seen gems and jewels. Also, he needed Taeshik’s help to prepare the requested items.
‘If I take this and run? No… then I’ll have to live in hiding for my entire life.’
Taesoo slapped his face to wipe his thoughts away. He relaxed as he rubbed his red face. He could not run away without his family.
‘But what has he gotten into? Where is he going to take all that stuff?’
He grew curious, but it did not last long.
‘I don’t need to know. What’s important is my family. I don’t have the luxury to be curious here.’
He waved at a taxi.
“Let’s go to Hwang’s Bowl at Soohwa Estate.”
“Sure. Hop in.”
Taesoo rubbed on his eyes as the taxi drove off.
‘But I didn’t expect him to want such a thing.’
Joonbum’s requested item did not exist inside the country. It was possible to purchase it with the amount of gold he received, but it was enough to draw the immediate attention of the media the moment it was imported.
‘I will need Taeshik to bring this in quietly.’
Taesoo was troubled by the thought.
“Oh, okay. Thank you.”
Taesoo opened his eyes as the driver informed of their arrival.
‘Ugh, I’m already here.’
Thirty minutes had passed quickly as he was deep in thought. It was already twilight.
“Have a nice day.”
The taxi left as Taesoo approached the restaurant.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been here. Haha.”
The restaurant was same as he remembered from his memories. His past memories involving this neighborhood flashed back to him.
‘It was delicious back then.’
A hot spicy bowl with soju after a long day was its secret. He also remembered Taeshik whom he met here. He was able to visit the military base freely as his mother changed her partner constantly. Taesoo’s fluent English and his connection inside the base was the result.
It was then that he met Taeshik who had been living on the street while acting like a gangster around the neighborhood. He and Taeshik worked together to smuggle American goods out of the base and they started making good money. It was then that Taesoo’s wife became pregnant.
Taesoo decided to live without fear of getting caught and parted ways with Taeshik.
“Welcome. Are you alone?”
“Come this way.”
Taesoo looked around and found an old woman sitting by the counter.
“Huh? OH! Look who came! How long has it been?”
“It seems like you’ve been well.”
“Haha, you act all grown up now, eh? Yes, I’ve been well. I see you’ve grown old with all that gray in your hair.”
“Right, haha. Taeshik’s coming also. Is the room empty?”
“Of course. When is he coming?”
“He should be coming soon.”
“I see. Go on. I’ll bring the food.”
Taesoo felt as if he had returned to the past as he walked into the room. It was still same as he remembered it.
‘I guess I’m the one who changed.’
He grew sad at the thought. The memories of his early days kept coming back to him as he waited.
“Brother! Long time no see.”
“Come in. I’m sorry to have called you up so suddenly.”
Taeshik smiled softly and shook his head at Taesoo.
“No, don’t be. I wanted to set up a dinner or something soon also.”
Taesoo watched Taeshik who sat down in front of him for a moment and let out a bitter smile.
“So there have been talks about me, I suppose?”
“Yeah, the boys didn’t know what was going on. I took care of them, so don’t worry about that. How’s your family?”
Taeshik froze as he could feel the sadness from his words.
“Don’t worry about our boys.”
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