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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Yun Woo?” Coin asked, sitting across from the young author. It was a confirmation.
“Yes,” Juho answered briefly, adding, “We meet again.”
“So you knew all along.”
“I would’ve introduced myself as Yun Woo, otherwise.”
If Juho knew that they would meet again so soon, he would have revealed his identity the first time they met. Taken aback by Juho’s fluent English and their conversation, the editors cautiously studied the situation.
“I knew that you weren’t just a regular ol’ kid. I should’ve known when you were talking about ‘Witch Hunt’ when you already knew who I was,” Coin said, glaring at Juho fiercely. While there was a cup of tea or coffee in front of everyone, there was an enormous thermos in front of Coin, which was, needless to say, filled with “Harpy” coffee. It looked like it could hold two super-sized cups of coffee with ease. Juho imagined the look on the cashier’s face as Coin placed a ridiculous order like that. Suddenly, Coin blurted out a familiar-sounding sentence…
“How can you dislike someone without having even met them?”
… exactly what Juho had said. It was the question that had come out of Juho’s mouth while he had talked to Coin about Yun Woo.
“You knew that I hadn’t met Yun Woo, obviously.”
Usually, one would have asked if he’d ever met Yun Woo or asked why he disliked the young author. Unfortunately, Juho had been certain that Coin was yet to meet Yun Woo, and there weren’t too many students in Korea that Coin knew who were of Yun Woo’s age.
“I admit it was a mistake. You didn’t make a big deal out of it, thankfully.”
“Well, if I caught on sooner, our conversation would’ve been cut much shorter,” Coin said, staring at Yun Woo intently.
“So we meet.”
With those words, Coin remained silent, and Juho realized that he had come a long way from being called a unicorn. Coin took a sip from his thermos, and the room grew quiet for a little while. While the two authors enjoyed the silence, the editors around them were walking on eggshells.
In order to shift the mood, the editor-in-chief opened his mouth to change the subject to the coffee Coin was drinking, “I heard the sales have been skyrocketing at the ‘Harpy’ since the news got out that you were in Korea.”
“That’s an interesting phenomenon,” Isabella answered quickly, and the rest of the editors chimed in to talk about Coin in Korea and Yun Woo in the US. The two authors listened quietly, and Juho opened his mouth near the end of their conversation to ask, “So, why did you want to see me?”
At Juho’s question, Coin took a big swig of his coffee and wiped his mouth, answering, “Because I didn’t like you.”
Although Isabella kicked his foot gently under the desk, the author didn’t budge.
“To this moment?”
“That puts me in an awkward situation.”
“Relax. At least, I don’t doubt your existence now,” Coin said, and then changed the subject all of a sudden, “Why? Are you afraid that I’ll smash your nose in too?”
Instead of an answer, Juho responded by shaking his head.
‘If I really was afraid, I wouldn’t be here,’ Juho muttered internally. Although he had planned out his escape in case of a violent outburst, Juho came to learn after meeting Coin that he didn’t seem so reckless as to throw a punch on a whim, contrary to his less than welcoming speech pattern. Maybe he’d finally grown more mature.
Then, Coin snickered and waved his fist, saying, “The first time I used one of these was when I was twenty years old. My first book had just been published, and I was evaluated as an author for the first time. They were mostly disastrous reviews, but I eventually came to accept it. What I didn’t know was that there were those who hid behind those who were criticizing my book in order to criticize me as a person. They were using my book as a tool to brag about themselves. When I confronted them, they had the most absurd responses, asking me what I could do about it. So, I thought I should introduce them to my fist just to prove a point. Nothing fancy. Although, it was a pain in the ass dealing with the aftermath, like the lawsuits.”
The news of a twenty-year-old rookie author breaking the nose of a widely recognized journalist had been quite sensational back then.
“You broke his nose though?” Mr. Maeng let out by reflex and covered his mouth with his hands.
At that, Coin let out another snicker and added, “In hindsight, you can really tell how hopeless he was when it came to smelling out a good writer. There’s no use for a nose without the ability to smell, so I just smashed it in. Well, I had and will always have words like “violent” following me around.”
The news spread to the masses, and there were those who judged him for his violent tendencies or gloated over him acting on his anger. Some argued that his actions were wrong, while others were much more tolerant of them. Some hated him, and others loved him.
However, the time eventually came when everyone talked mutually about the end of Coin’s career as a writer. Many thought that he wouldn’t be able to set his foot in the literary world ever again.
Juho looked at the author who sat across from him. The predictions had been wrong. Coin wrote a number of books within the span of five years, and the results had shaped him to be who he was currently.
Juho reminisced to his past, when titles like “fallen genius,” “pretty dressing,” or “ghostwriter controversies” had followed him around until his death. Now, although different in approach from Coin, Juho was standing tall in the literary world.
“You quit drinking, right?”
“Do I look drunk to you?”
“Just thought I should ask since we’re talking about being labeled.”
Though Coin didn’t seem offended, the editors around him were tensing up nervously. Aside from his well-known alcoholism, he had been a drug addict as well. Juho remembered what the author had said in an interview once: “I started it so I could write, and I stopped it so I could write.” That sentence alone was enough to make Juho realize how tenacious of a person Kelley Coin was.
“It was all meaningless,” he said and chugged his coffee. “Give it a try if you’re interested. It’s the quickest and easiest way to find inspiration. Oh, wait. Maybe it’s illegal here”
“Coin,” Isabella said in order to keep him from going any further, and Coin shrugged it off light-heartedly.
Then, Juho shared reading one of his interviews and how his answer had left a deep impression on him.
“That answer was strictly for interviews,” Coin said, snickering.
“You didn’t mean any of it?”
“I meant about a tenth of all that, maybe?”
“What about the rest?”
“I didn’t want to die,” Coin said as he took another swig of his coffee. “The ground kept sinking, and the world kept shaking relentlessly. What else can you do but shout for help when you’re getting sucked into a world like that? When it got to the point where I was vomiting my brains out everytime I wanted to pee, that’s when I realized that I needed to get my life straight.”
“Do you mean drugs or alcohol?”
“There’s hardly a difference. Honestly, I wasn’t all that fond of drugs. I don’t know if it’s because they were cheap, but same goes for cigarettes, or anything that involves smoking for that matter. What I really liked was alcohol. Although, it turned out to be a nightmare of its own eventually. You’re a teenager, so you’ll get addicted even quicker.”
With that, he began to share his experience with alcoholism. While the editors took interest in what he was sharing, they couldn’t help but be concerned about the young author who was still underage. Nevertheless, Juho listened to him intently.
“First of all, forget about your lungs. Your teeth might fall out, but it’s just calcium deficiency, so don’t worry too much. Oh, don’t even think about falling asleep without the help of alcohol. The moment you get addicted, you’re only left with two choices: to drink or die. Literally. There’s no time to eat or make a trip to the bathroom,” the author said wearing an intimidating look and adding…
“And this is where it gets really painful. Prepare yourself when you’re quitting. You can’t do it on your own, and your family won’t be able to help you either. If anything, you’ll get them sick, so it’s best to go straight to the hospital. They give you mental treatment too, so that’s nice. It’ll take about half a year until you can think on your own two feet. Oh, and make sure not to get carried away by a sense of kinship. You don’t want to be dating your own kind. It’s much better to hate them. What do you think it’s the first thing alcoholics do when they get excited over something? I don’t know how many times I had to go back to the program because of that,” Coin said, looking disgusted.
“Go to a support group instead. I went to AA meetings often. It’s cheesy as hell, but I gotta say, it helped. It’s fun seeing all sorts of people coming together, sharing their life stories. Some are absurd, while some are trapped in their romantic fantasies or the sadness of succumbing to alcohol all over again. Besides, the snacks were quite a treat.”
Juho understood most of what Coin was telling him. As soon as an alcoholic stopped drinking, their emotional damage became apparent as they come face to face with things they had been avoiding desperately. They often fell into depression, all without knowing whether it was the alcohol or the depression that led them to rely on alcohol.
Alcohol had quite an effect on the brain. It destroyed one’s ability to think, making it impossible to distinguish whether what they had just put into their mouths was food or alcohol. They were incapable of recognizing that they were alcoholics, and because of them lacking a nutritious diet, they were extremely prone to things like malnutrition, constipation, dental disease, and stomach issues. Of course, their intestines suffered just as much, as well as their muscles and bones.
“You mean the sweets.”
Alcoholics tended to be drawn to sweet food because the brain secreted the same chemical when they ate it as the one that it secreted when they were drinking. The chemical was responsible for pleasure, and despite having abstained from alcohol, it was also an indication that they were yet to be free of their reliance on the substance.
Juho looked at the coffee in Coin’s hand. Although he was speaking seamlessly, Juho knew that Coin was leaving out the truly tragic things of alcoholism. From convulsions to seizures, visual and auditory hallucinations, and hernias, quitting alcohol accompanied unimaginable pain, and countless people returned to relying on alcohol as a coping mechanism. Even if one had made up their mind to quit and managed to remain abstinent for a decade, the craving for alcohol followed them for life. The moment they gave in under their sense of security, the same hell came rushing back into their life.
“Interesting,” Coin said as he stared at Juho intently.
“Most people either freak out or give me a pitiful look. OR, they’re either interested or curious, much like the editors in this room. It’s only natural. Yet, you’re none of those things.”
Juho gave no answer.
“Were you an alcoholic?” Coin asked all of a sudden.
“Kelley Coin!” Isabella shouted as the author made a remark that was well outside of what was appropriate. Thanks to her, Juho was able put aside feeling pricked on the inside. Then, all the editors, including Nam Kyung, tried to laugh it off awkwardly as if they had heard a joke. At the same time, they studied Juho’s expression desperately.
“What? There are alcoholics who are in their teens. If anything, the number’s been growing.”
“Would you stop!?”
Despite the editors’ concern, Juho was laughing with Coin, and that drove away the dark memories that came back up to the surface one by one.
Then, as Isabella whispered something into his ear, and Coin kept silent all of a sudden. With that, the distractions faded away, and Coin changed the subject as he kept his eyes fixed on Juho.
“I gotta say, your vocabulary is impressive.”
It was a rather unexpected subject.
“Are you really Yun Woo AND Won Yi Young?”
“Are you still doubting it?”
“A little bit,” Coin said honestly.
“Most people wouldn’t be familiar with a lot of the words that I just used, but you understood as if you’re listening to your native language. I did hear about your language skills, but I’m starting to understand more and more as we talk.”
Then, his eyes narrowed, and he asked, still doubtful, “You’re not just pretending, are you?”
“That sounds like a ‘no,'” Coin said, chugging his coffee.
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