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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Coin asked the young author a question out of the blue. After thinking about where he might be coming from, he answered while fiddling with his red hat in his hand, “About what?”
“What do you think? Getting the Double Crown.”
“Of course, I am. It’s the highest honor an author can receive.”
It was needless to say that the young author was happy. There was no reason not to be. The Double Crown was one of the few honors an author could experience. Juho had written even after having lost his house, wealth, health, and eventually, his life. In the end, he had been rewarded with insurmountable joy.
“A genius,” Coin said. “First Asian, Korean and the youngest winner of the two most prestigious literary awards,” he added, and Juho looked toward him. Coin was looking at him like he was testing him.
“What’s with the titles?”
“You like ’em?”
“I don’t have control over what people call me.”
“That wasn’t my question.”
“I don’t know. But I gotta admit, it doesn’t feel half bad hearing it from Kelley Coin himself.”
“Smartass,” Coin let out, and Juho laughed by reflex.
“What makes you think that, though? Genius is a good word,” the young author said.
“Don’t play coy with me now. What you’re saying might be true elsewhere, but not in this field. If you didn’t know that, you’d be on cloud nine still.”
Juho looked at the water trickling down into the pond. There was nothing weird about a stream of water falling from a height. It was simply returning to where it belonged, just like how it was unnatural for humans to fly.
“You’re right,” Juho admitted. He wasn’t fond of the fact that the water trickled downward. “I’m not a fan of the word,” he said in a calm tone of voice. Juho’s face wasn’t visible from where Coin was. Then, Juho heard him standing up.
“And what’s your reason?”
“I’ve heard it too much for way too long.”
“Very long, long enough that thinking about just how much I’ve heard people call me a genius makes me gag.”
The young author was not satisfied with the title. He had fallen despite having been called a genius by people, and people were still calling him by the same title to that day. It brought Juho a sense of crisis and it forced him to write, making him kick desperately in order to stay above water.
“I won those awards because I’m alive, and to live is to fight. I stood my ground with everything I had, and I won.”
“The victory belongs to those who survive.”
He had survived. When he breathed in, he smelled the water in the air. To write was to repeat that process over and over.
“There is no talent in surviving,” Juho said. It was with the help of countless people that he had gotten to where he was currently.
“‘Genius’ isn’t enough. I don’t find it satisfying. I’d much prefer something even bigger, shinier and more embellished.”
Then, a burst of hearty laughter came from behind, and Juho turned his head to look toward Coin in order to catch the moment. Coin was bending down while holding his sides. It was a rare sight.
“I knew it. Pure, huh? You want more people to agree with you and recognize you. You want every person in this world to read your writing.”
Juho didn’t deny it since he knew those very desires were hidden deep within him.
“You’re the same, aren’t you?” he asked. Coin had published about two-hundred forty pieces of writing in different genres, and his study was filled with even more pieces that were yet to come out to the world. He was rugged and blunt, and Juho already knew what his answer was going to be.
“Of course,” Coin said. Then, narrowing his eyes, he looked at the young author. “You know, you tend to act like an old man who’s pretending to live his second life.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Juho asked, trying to remain calm while feeling pricked in the heart. Then, as he waited for Coin’s answer, Juho heard a group of people approaching in the distance. The two authors looked toward them, and soon, the group came up to the stone bridge. All were dressed formally, and one was in a white dress and another in a tuxedo.
The white dress of the bride was, by far, the most captivating. The bride was smiling brightly. Juho took a step forward in order to get a better look. As he got out of the shade, the Sun beat down on him. As Juho covered his eyes, the bride in the white dress looked in the young author’s direction. Then, confirming that there were other people in the park, she looked away. The shutter sounded off, and they seemed like they had already had a number of photo sessions in other parks prior to that. As the bride and the groom switched places, the groom became more visible. At that moment, the bride whispered something into his ears, and the groom looked in the direction of the two authors.
At that moment, a shadow cast over Juho as Coin stood in front of him. When Juho looked up at him, puzzled, he was wearing his sunglasses.
“What are you doing?”
“Put that hat back on.”
“But you hated it.”
“He’s a journalist.”
“What?” Juho let out by reflex as he put the hat back on. Meanwhile, Coin’s brows furrowed with annoyance. “He’s coming toward us. I think he recognized you.”
“No, he didn’t.”
“I think he did. So much for the beard.”
“We’re not in trouble, are we?”
“What can a journalist in a tuxedo do without a camera? He’s coming,” Coin said quietly. Unlike the things he was saying, he was speaking quite fast. Then, he put his hands into his pocket, looking defensive. Meanwhile, Juho remained standing candidly next to him.
“Kelley Coin! I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”
“Have we met?”
“Oh, shoot. Where are my manners? Pardon me,” the man in the tuxedo said, looking through the inner pocket of his jacket by habit. Then, realizing that he wasn’t in his usual attire, he reached for the back pockets of his pants and took a slightly crumpled up business card out of his wallet. There was a logo of a famous magazine on it, which Juho also recognized. It was a magazine that introduced books that were published by Fernand, and Coin, too, had published quite an array of works through the company.
“Seems like you’re in the middle of a photo session.”
“That’s right. I’m on the other side of the camera for once.”
“Well, I’ll let you get back to your business, then.”
“Oh, no. It’s fine. We’re taking a break. And don’t worry. I have no intention of interviewing you.”
“Well, that’s another reason you should be on your way.”
“C’mon, now. Bear with me, would ya?”
It wasn’t clear if he was simply oblivious or if he was merely pretending, but despite the apparent look of displeasure on the author’s face, the journalist didn’t seem like he was going to walk away anytime soon. He kept trying to strike up a conversation with Coin in a friendly manner, saying how he knew that he lived nearby and asking if he came to the park often and raving about how beautiful of a park it was. As the exposition went on, Coin grew increasingly annoyed, and Juho started to naturally walk away from them.
“Speaking of which, who’s your friend? I love his hat.”
As the journalist brought attention to the young author, Coin answered in a hurry, “I don’t know him. Just some local kid who’s been pestering me, like you. Actually, this is perfect. Why don’t you try talkin’ to him instead, and you can let me go?”
‘What’s he up to? Is he genuinely annoyed and trying to get himself out of the situation, or does he have some sort of plan?’ Juho wondered, pulling his hat down as he couldn’t help but chuckle at the situation.
“Hey!” the journalist greeted him in a friendly manner, and instead of greeting him back, Juho responded with a subtle nod.
“Did you know he was famous?” the man in the tuxedo asked, pointing at Coin, and after some contemplation, Juho answered, “He’s written some books, hasn’t he?”
“Haha! That’s right!”
As Coin looked down at the young author quietly, Juho resisted his piercing glare and pressed on with the conversation.
“So, I saw a street performance recently. It was of a story that takes place in the UK, and the actor who played the king was wearing a red hat that looked just like yours.”
“You mean a crown?”
“Was it really that similar to my hat?”
Juho lowered his eyes slightly. The journalist was sounding the young author out. Kelley Coin and an Asian boy. It painted too clear of a picture for it to be a coincidence. ‘I wonder what he made of the conversation I was having with Coin earlier,’ Juho wondered. Then, pretending not to know, Juho kept on, “Was the performance any good?”
“I guess so? It was all right. Although, I can’t say the same for the costumes.”
“That’s hilarious coming from a man in a tuxedo.”
“Oops. I forgot I was wearing one,” the journalist said. Then, he sighed quietly as if he was about to give up on something. “I loved your speech at the Hugo Award Ceremony.”
‘Does he know?’ the young author asked himself, looking up slowly. The journalist was looking toward Coin. An unfounded belief didn’t have much use. On top of that, the man didn’t even have a camera, let alone a recording device. As Juho remained silent, Coin said in a calm tone, “Why don’t you ask Yun Woo when you see him?”
“Sure, sure. Here’s the thing, though. Will I ever see him?”
“Why ask me?”
“No reason. Call it a lingering attachment,” the man in the tuxedo said. He had to turn back although it was probable that the boy in the red hat was Yun Woo. That day, he would have to be on the opposite side of the camera from the one he was normally on. On top of that, the bride was waiting for him.
“Hey, you in the red hat.”
“Show me what you look like next time, will ya?”
Juho gave no answer. Then, saying a brief goodbye to Coin, the journalist crossed the stone bridge.
“He clearly underestimated my fame.”
“Let’s get outta here.”
With that, the two authors left the park in a hurry. Later, when the man returned to the same spot as a journalist, there was nobody there.
The journalist was at his bachelor’s party. Despite the name, it was closer to a get-together between friends. Although the man of the hour showed up nearly an hour late, his groomsmen had already started enjoying themselves without him. Some of his closest friends had come together, from the friends he had made after he became a journalist to friends from school.
“So, anything fun?” one of his friends asked, one who dug up information in politics for a living. Pushing him aside, the groom took a swig of liquor in order to soothe the lingering attachment in his heart, which bothered him quite a bit. ‘I should’ve been direct and just ask. Maybe I should’ve been audacious and just taken his hat off,” he thought to himself. Even the thought that the boy might have been Yun Woo made his hands shake. Although that would have been as pretentious as he could have gotten, he didn’t even dare to think about getting his hands on the boy’s hat.
“It was probably a coincidence,” his friend let out. Then, the groom was struck by a sudden realization.
“Yo, get off me!”
The boy had to be Yun Woo. An Asian boy who was accompanying Coin, speaking fluent English in a similar voice to the one he had heard in the interview. It wasn’t uncommon to see an Asian child speaking fluent English, and unfortunately, the journalist didn’t have the ear for voices. It might have been exactly like Coin had said, “Just some local kid.” Although there was not a single piece of evidence, the journalist couldn’t shake off the feeling that the boy could’ve been Yun Woo. His heart started beating faster, and as the alcohol entered his body, his emotions became more intense. He had spoken with Yun Woo in person. The young author had been right before his eyes.
If the journalist hadn’t been in his tuxedo, he wouldn’t have thought twice about interviewing him, which would’ve given him enough to write a myriad of articles. Although his wife-to-be comforted him, telling him that he had made the right decision, the journalist felt a desperate need to get drunk.
“You listenin’? What’s a coincidence?” his friend asked relentlessly, pestering him.
The next day, when the journalist woke up with a terrible hangover, the world was flipped upside down with the news of the boy wearing a red hat.
“Yun Woo Was in the States. Asian Boy in Red Hat Spotted?” he read the short sentence out loud. He felt nauseated and, needless to say, he couldn’t remember a thing. However, one thing was certain: he had done something unbecoming.
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