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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Juho woke up just at the tail end of the morning. The house was quiet, and it remained that way as long as the owner of the house stayed quiet. Yet, the house wasn’t exactly silent due to the noises that came from both inside and outside, from his toothbrush, which made noise as he brushed his teeth, to the refrigerator, and the cars outside. As the young author sat on top of his sheets, they also made a noise. Then, he went back to the bathroom in order to rinse out his mouth. That day, he was paying close attention to every little task he was doing, which he would hardly have paid attention to normally. He had to write a story in order to introduce the two short stories to the world and he wanted the new story to be something purer and more cheerful than what he usually wrote.
“I better eat something,” the young author said. After a quick meal, he opened the refrigerator in search of water and saw the leftover beer from the time when he had his clubmates over. Needless to say, a thought crossed his mind: ‘Maybe I’ll think of something after a drink or two.’ Then, the sound of the refrigerator slamming shut reverberated through the house shortly after.
After meeting with a certain reader, Juho had decided on the direction the story would take. The reader’s remark about the young author taking his time deciding to publish his short stories had been lingering in his mind, and in response, Juho wanted to write something that would be worth the wait to his readers. Frankly, on the day he had met with the reader, he had wanted to run out of the restaurant in the middle of the meal in order to come home and write. The itch on his hand had nearly gotten out of control. Upon arriving home, Juho wrote away frantically and discovered that the story still wasn’t quite good enough. The stacks of manuscript paper on his desk were proof of that realization. One story was about dropping out of school. Another was about beautiful, daily life at school. And finally, one was about the chaos of a student’s confusion upon finding out that the had been in the wrong classroom the entire day. Every single one of them was subpar.
Juho paced back and forth around the house, cleaning and ventilating the house while he was at it. He also hung the laundry and finished doing the dishes. As the house became more organized, so did his thoughts. His patience started to grow thin.
In the end, he sat in front of his computer and logged on the internet for some news. From the hottest topics to the biggest controversies, politicians targeted by critics, and weather, a slew of information appeared on the monitor. At that moment, the name Yun Woo jumped out at the young author.
Yun Woo’s decision to publish the short stories had already become widespread news, and the reader’s post on the fan cafe, of which she was part, was spreading across the internet like wildfire, including the news about the short stories. As the fans grew incredibly excited, the media outlets started putting out articles that would hype up the news even more. Despite the obvious and shallow intentions of the media, people still fell for their strategy. However, Juho still couldn’t find what he was looking for, even in the midst of the chaos. At that moment, a movie review caught the young author’s attention. It seemed like Myung Joo Mu, with whom Juho was acquainted, was in the movie. Although the movie seemed well received by the general public, there were a handful of people who criticized the movie, as well as those who defended it. How people were able to take something as simple as a movie and to turn it into a complex debate was beyond the young author. ‘It’s been a while since I’ve watched a movie. Maybe I should go watch one sometime,’ Juho thought to himself. However, he knew full well that he would most likely not be able to carry it out.
“The Sun’s already setting,” he let out. By the time he finished the movie, Juho realized just how much time had passed. It was starting to get dark out. Then, after standing in a daze for a little while, he picked up a pen and started to write, still not entirely sure of what he was writing. Brushing his teeth. Alcohol. Politicians. Sunset. An actor. Nothing interesting came out. By the time he finished writing, it was completely dark out. Just like that, after even more time had passed, a noise started echoing through the house all of a sudden. It sounded like something was shaking. It was his phone, which was vibrating, letting its owner know that Dae Soo was calling.
“We need to have an outing again,” she said, getting right to the point. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough context for the young author to understand.
“I think it’s about that time. We need to hang out. We’ve all been very busy.”
“I guess that’s true.”
There were a handful of authors who Juho hadn’t seen in a while, and as the leader of the club, it made sense that Dae Soo was trying to organize another outing.
“So, when is this gonna be?”
“We’re still figuring it out. When are you free?”
“Anytime. My schedule’s been pretty flexible lately,” Juho said.
“Perfect,” Dae Soo said as if glad to hear that.
“Anybody who can’t make it?”
“San Jung probably can’t. She’s in Taiwan.”
San Jung had flown to Taiwan in order to gather more data for her next book. Once she finished collecting all the information she needed, she would probably start writing immediately. Slowly and unhurriedly, one word at a time. Her absence meant that her studio in the mountains had been left unoccupied, which made Juho wonder if the mountains were at all affected by the absence of the author.
“Eh, it’s not a big deal. It’s not easy to have everyone come out,” Dae Soo said.
“That’s a bummer.”
“Oh, well. Makes planning easier on my end,” she said, adding, “Choi’s been acting like he’s busy too. He’s writing, apparently.”
She still refused to call the romance author by his full name. Having been at the scene while Choi asked San Jung for information when they were at her studio, Juho thought it made sense that he would be busy by now.
“From what I heard, the two pupils have been spending most of their time in their studios as well. Eh, I don’t know,” she said as if they were bothersome to her.
“I guess it’s turning out to be a bit of a challenge, huh?”
“There are still people who come out more consistently though. Well, anyway, I’ll just assume that you’re coming out then,” she said.
With that, he hung up and, later, received a text from Dae Soo about the date, time, and place of the outing. It was going to be on a weekend, and as usual, they were meeting at Madame Song’s restaurant.
“Been a while since I’ve gone,” he said, looking forward to the outing.
“Get in,” the driver in the car told Juho, who was staring at the wall, still mapping out his story. As the window slid down halfway, Dae Soo’s face appeared on the other side.
“It’s Yun Woo!” Mideum said from the back seat, and he greeted them as he got into the passenger’s seat of the car, “Long time no see.”
“What’s with the hat and sunglasses?” Mideum asked, pointing at the young author’s face and chuckling.
Then, taking his hat off, Juho said, “It was kind of bright out today. Besides, there are still a lot of people who don’t recognize me.”
“Yeah, right,” Mideum said. Seeing that she wasn’t buying his answer, Juho explained further in order to build up trust with her, “I don’t wear them when I go out to exercise.”
“Really? Do you put makeup on instead?” she asked, putting a different twist to the answer, just like a detective writer. However, the trick was much simpler than that.
“No. I just keep running,” the young author answered, As long as he kept running, others around him wouldn’t recognize him, just like how he wouldn’t recognize them. He had never been stopped while in his everyday run.
“So, you just keep running, huh? What about traffic lights?”
“I usually stop where there are no people around. I’ve never been caught while waiting for the light… so far.”
While the two conversed, the car took off. Then, looking at the young author’s house fading into the distance, Mideum said, “How’s it having your own place?”
“Nothing all that special.”
“Do you keep your house clean and tidy? You’re not living in a pigsty, are you?”
“I can confidently say that I live in a civilized home after all the cleaning I did a few days back,” Juho said, remembering all the cleaning he had done while mapping out the new story. Of course, not knowing what the young author was really talking about, Mideum exclaimed quietly, impressed.
Then, Dae Soo asked, “You don’t have a pool table sitting in your house, do you?”
“I’d never do anything like that. You can rest assured.”
“I’m telling you, he really needs to work on that spending habit of his,” she said.
“But we get to play pool for free because of that,” Juho said.
“Sure, but that’s the only good thing about having a pool table, though,” she said. Although Dae Soo had some harsh things to say about Seo Joong and his spending habit, nobody dared object.
“Well, what did you do when you became an adult? Did you drink?” Mideum said in order to change the subject.
“I did, with my friends,” Juho said and told the two authors a brief summary of that day he drank with his clubmates at his home.
“Man, I remember when I was twenty years old.”
“That sounds like youth, all right.”
“Speaking of which, I can go for a drink or two. Dae Soo, what do you say?” Mideum asked. She was quite the drinker.
“You make it sound like you can keep yourself under control,” Dae Soo said, snorting.
“Juho, you’re drinking with us, all right?” she said in an excited tone.
Meanwhile, the young author was looking out the window, looking at the scenery rushing past, thinking of how uncannily similar it was to how things looked to someone drunk.
“Sorry, I’m not really feelin’ it today.”
“I didn’t really like the taste of alcohol all that much.”
“What!?” Mideum let out with her jaw dropped. On the other hand, Dae Soo remained unfazed and said, “That’s natural. You wonder why people even drink in the first place, you know.”
“Yeah. You need experience.”
At that, Dae Soo gave the detective writer a subtle warning, “Don’t even think about forcing him to drink.”
“… of course. That goes without saying.”
The car zoomed through the road, as if representing Dae Soo’s unforgiving point of view on alcohol. Arriving at Madame Song’s restaurant in a car was quite a different experience. Similarly, depending on how one decided to go about getting to their destination, it was possible for them to have different experiences getting there.
“It seems like people got here early.”
After getting out of the car, the three were greeted by the mirrors on the wall, with which they were all familiar. Then, led by the waitress, they arrived at a room that was slightly smaller than the one they had been in during their previous visit. However, it was still bigger than the one Juho had been in with Hyun Do.
“Hey!” Seo Joong greeted them, waving his hand and wearing his trademark sweatshirt and pants. Next to him, was Dong Gil, who gave them a nod with a cold expression on his face.
“Hey,” Dae Soo greeted back, seating in front of the round table. The seat facing her was yet to be taken.
“Weren’t you busy?” Seo Joong asked while Juho was preoccupied looking at the patterns of the wallpaper. His scrubby chin told the young author that he hadn’t shaved on his way out.
“Not really, no.”
“It seemed like you were when I read about you on the internet.”
“There’s a bit of a time difference between here and the US. I was pretty busy at one point.”
“Pff! You sound like an old man already. I think that what you’re trying to say is that you’re ABOUT TO get even busier,” Seo Joong said, laughing flippantly. Just as he had said, Juho was about to get a lot busier with writing.
“What have you been up to these days?”
“I watched a movie.”
“No, on my own,” Juho said and gave Seo Joong a brief summary of the movie. Although he seemed to recognize the name of the movie, he didn’t seem all that interested.
“Oh, man! We’re not late, are we?”
At that, Juho turned around to look to where the voice was coming from and saw two more people walking into the room, the two pupils. After Joon Soo came into the room, Geun Woo followed him shortly after, and when they took their seats, the table became fully occupied at once.
“Is this everyone?” Dae Soo murmured. At that, Juho looked around. From Seo Joong, who looked like a local bum, to Dong Gil, who looked like an officer of some conglomerate. Joon Soo, who looked happy by default, and Geun Woo, who looked naturally sad. Dae Soo, the leader of the club, and finally, Mideum, the drunk.
“This is a lot more people than I thought,” Geun Woo said from the seat right across from Juho. There were deep, dark circles underneath his eyes, which only made him look even sadder. Then, as the food arrived, the outing officially began.
“Good to see you all,” Joon Soo said in a friendly tone. Unlike Geun Woo, he was always smiling. Juho saw him tap his glass with his finger three times. He tended to obsess over the number three.
“Whew! That’s the stuff!”
“Go easy on the alcohol, now.”
As Mideum started drinking without hesitation, Dong Gil talked to her in order to prevent her from drinking too fast. As usual of him, he was cautious even while he was eating, making sure not to let the food stain his clothes.
“Eh, let her be. She’ll take care of herself.”
Meanwhile, Seo Joong was picking up the pieces of meat that had fallen out of his plate with his chopsticks.
“I’m just reminding you to slow down a little, that’s all.”
“So what if I’m drinking a little faster?”
“Excessive drinking ruins your health.”
“So what if it ruins my health?”
At that, Dong Gil’s face quickly twisted into a scowl. Because they were both equally stubborn, they tended to clash over the smallest things. It was very much a possibility that about half of their conversations took place in the form of an argument.
“All right, guys. Break it up,” Joon Soo said, raising his hand. By contrast, Dae Soo, who was the oldest in the group, didn’t even bother to break up the two.
Remaining unfazed, as if he was used to Joon Soo’s mediation attempts, Geun Woo struck up a conversation with Juho, “I read your interview.”
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