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Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
The two drunkards were arguing with each other in German. Navigating through their speech, which was both hastened and slurred from the alcohol, Juho studied the situation. In the end, the two were quarreling over a rather simple matter.
“One of them owes the other money.”
One had borrowed money from the other, adding an additional dimension to their friendship: that of a debtor and a creditor.
“Who’s the debtor?”
“The guy in red.”
“Two hundred euros.”
“Just that? That’s pathetic.”
It was about 225 US dollars worth of money. However, judging from the intensity of the situation alone, one could easily assume that there would be thousands of dollars worth of money involved.
“I don’t think it’s entirely about money. There must have been a lot of pent up resentment.”
As a response to Juho’s observation, Coin let out a small chuckle. Meanwhile, the pedestrians who had been watching the quarrel started going on about their way around the two drunkards. With his eyes fixed on the two still in a fierce argument, Juho imagined how the situation would come to an end. The happiest ending would be for the debtor to pay the creditor back in full. Since there was no way to know the details behind their situation, the young author started with the most visible factor, the one on the outermost surface.
“I think it’ll be over once the guy pays back his friend,” Juho said.
At which point, Coin sneered as if he found Juho’s ending to the story silly and said, “I’d end it with the debtor never paying back his debt.”
“There are a lot of different ways to go about that, you know.”
Unless somebody let up, the quarrel would go on. At that moment, Coin brought up a thought that occurred to him, “What if you take one of them out?”
Put in a dilemma, Juho thought to himself that he’d rather see the man in red meet his demise, saying, “I think I’d want to write a story about the debt he died with. I wonder what kind of purpose it serves in the otherworld.”
“I’d keep him alive. He’d probably stab his friend just so he didn’t have to pay him back.”
“Stab him? Where?”
“You’re the one that brought up the otherworld.”
Once the debtor committed something he could never undo, the two hundred euro he owed his friend would suddenly lose all substance. Perhaps, it would even be cruel. At that moment, the debtor shoved the guy in red.
“Let’s not just think about this subtractively. Why don’t we try adding to it? We can always have a third person get involved. Since they’re both directly involved in the situation, neither of them will be able to put an end to their quarrel.”
“All right. Who?”
“I don’t know. Whoever, really. Family, the next table, a waiter, the bar owner, a street cat, the cigarette stand owner…”
Anybody would fit, even an author watching a fight in Germany.
“Then, who’s the most interesting one?”
“That would be…”
Instead of finishing his sentence, Juho looked toward Coin. At that moment, Juho realized that Coin was thinking the same thing as him. At which point, he brought both of his hands up to his mouth and shouted in German, putting an end to the quarrel, “It’s Kelley Coin!”
It had been a while since Juho had shouted in public sober. Fortunately, the two stopped fighting and looked toward the young author.
It had been a means of self-defense. Besides, there was the added benefit of having stopped a fight before it got any worse. Although he regretted nothing, Juho ran toward the two friends and stood in between them. Meanwhile, the pedestrians around were all looking toward the young author, still clueless as to what happened. Although sticking his nose into other people’s business was the last thing he wanted to do, Juho took hold of the opportunity.
“Coin?” the two said, looking around. Although they both looked quite worked up, it was nowhere near like they once had.
“If you guys go on, things will get a lot worse than they need to. Alcohol has that effect, trust me. Why don’t we call it a night for the time being and pick it back up where we left off another day?” Juho asked the two.
“Who are you?”
“Oh, just some tourist who happened to be passing by. I gotta say, Germany looks beautiful at night.”
“… Where are you from?”
“South Korea. That person over there, on the other hand…” Juho said, pointing toward where he and Coin had been standing. However, Coin was no longer there. He had run off. Resisting his urge to chuckle, the young author said, “Well, I guess he’s not there anymore. In any case, if you wanna know more about the guy, look up Kelley Coin on the internet.”
“Did I make myself clear? No more fighting!”
The two didn’t seem like they wanted to fight in front of a tourist, either. Besides, the atmosphere made it awkward for them to keep going. Feeling at ease, Juho rushed out of that place. Coin was nowhere to be found still. As he was running, the phone in his pocket started vibrating. Upon checking the message, the young author was forced to stop in his tracks.
‘I’ll see you at the fair.’
Coin’s exit was just as unexpected as his appearance. Chuckling, Juho walked through the buildings unhurriedly.
“I’ve seen that guy somewhere,” one of the two said. However, it wasn’t until the next afternoon that they came to realize who the two tourists had been: Yun Woo and Kelley Coin.
“Hello, Germany!” Zara Jenkins, the genius Hollywood director, murmured, breathing in the air. Massaging his tense shoulders, the director unwound himself. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been to Germany. The most recent trip had been during his college years, which had also been spontaneous.
“I wonder if anything’s changed since?”
Pulling his bag, Zara got on the subway, getting off at the Frankfurt Central Station, and walked out to the square. He was planning to look around the Main River. Simultaneously, the director was thinking about the rumor that Yun Woo had been spotted in Germany. Since he knew exactly where to expect the young author to be, there was no need to rush. Still, he caught himself having to slow down. Stopping in his tracks, he said, “Think I’ll get me some gelato.”
“One mango, please,” the director said after walking into the gelato shop. As the shop owner pointed toward the mango gelato with a brusque expression on her face, the director nodded in affirmation. Taking the cup from her hand, the director took a bite and shook his head at the refreshing flavor of the gelato. ‘That’s the stuff.’ Since there was a table set up just outside the shop, Jenkin decided to stick around a little longer. The director felt the owner looking intently in his direction, as if she knew who he was.
“Do you know who I am?”
“Who are you?”
It wasn’t long before the truth was revealed. After which, the shop owner looked away without hesitation. Meanwhile, Jenkins took his phone out while quietly eating his gelato. At that moment, two more guests walked into the shop. Appearing to be middle aged, one of them was wearing a red top. A potent whiff of alcohol wafted from the two.
“I’ll take a banana.”
“Blueberry for me.”
Then, one of the men said to the other, “So, you have enough to afford a gelato, huh?”
“Really? Are we doing this again?”
“I keep telling you. This will all be over once you pay me back.”
Although Jenkins couldn’t understand a word of what they were saying, he was able to grasp that there was something uncomfortable between the two. Refraining from speaking his mind, the man in red, who seemed to be at a disadvantage, paid for the two gelatos.
“Oh! We ran into a celebrity yesterday!”
“Who?” the shop owner asked, wearing the same brusque expression on her face.
The man in red seemed uncomfortable about the particular subject at hand.
“You know Yun Woo, don’t you?”
“Of course, I do. I even got his autograph.”
“What!? Did you see Coin too?”
“No,” the shop owner said as if she had no interest in their business, cutting the conversation short. At that moment, Jenkins called to the man in red. He had been eavesdropping on the conversation that had been taking place inside the store.
“Wait, did you say Yun Woo?” the director asked.
“What the… Who are you?”
“Yun Woo? That’s what you said, right?”
“Yeah. What’s it to you?”
“Where did you see him?”
“At a bar.”
While Jenkins didn’t know a word of German, the man in red seemed to be somewhat fluent in English. However, he appeared to be in no mood to be interacting with the director since his friend kept bringing up his debt at every opportunity.
“I’m busy, so if you’re lost, ask the shop owner over here.”
“No, no. I’m not lost.”
“Just where do you think you’re going? You’re not going anywhere until you pay what you owe me.”
“I will! Will you stop pestering me about that!?”
“We wouldn’t be having this issue if you would just pay me back!”
As the two started raising their voices at each other, Jenkins couldn’t bring himself to get in between them. Instead, he looked toward the shop owner and asked, “Yun Woo?”
“That’s right. I even got his autograph,” she said, repeating what she had told the two a moment before. Unfortunately, she didn’t seem like she was in much of a mood to talk either. Instead, she lifted her hand and pointed in a certain direction. When Jenkins looked toward it, he saw a piece of paper on the wall with the young author’s signature on it.
“That’s Yun Woo’s?”
“That’s his autograph.”
For the director, the gelato melting away in his hand was hardly a concern. He looked down at his phone, which showed when Coin was going to be onstage.
“This is massive.”
Not only was it massive, but the place was unbelievably spacious. That was the first thought Juho had when he stepped into the exhibition center. It was enormous, more than big enough to accomodate the eight thousand companies participating in the fair. The place seemed big enough to fit a number of buildings into it, and the directory alone was indicative of how massive of a exhibition center the place was. By that point, Nabi had already taken part in the preceding events, including a number of meetings.
“Did you catch the prime minister’s speech?” Juho asked the agent as they made their way into the building.
“Of course! I also saw the king of Netherlands. They’re guests of honor this year,” Nabi said.
“This is one ginormous event.”
“I mean, there are even shuttles bringing and taking people out of the place. Once the public day starts, that’s when all hell breaks loose.”
“Children’s literature and comic books have always been popular. Are we going to the Asian section first?”
“Yes, we are. It’s on the fourth floor,” Nabi said, showing the young author around. There were countless booths set up, and within them, were people who were waiting for their meetings to start. Dressed in professional attire, the presenters were explaining the data they had prepared for those who had come to meet them. While some conversed casually, others appeared noticeably nervous. In addition, there were also those who were waiting for people who were yet to arrive. On the booths set up by larger, more well-known companies, there were pictures of their most iconic authors.
“Everyone seems to be busy.”
“Of course! People are busy arranging meetings with as many clients as possible. I’ve had twenty daily meetings at one point. Everyone’s just gunning for that one copyright they’ve been eying,” Nabi said, chuckling quietly. When she arrived at the South Korean booth with the young author, they saw there were a number of meetings that were ongoing simultaneously. Juho looked toward the books that were being displayed on the wall. Similar to the relatively small booth, there were relatively fewer books available. Nevertheless, everyone there was hard at work. Meanwhile, after locking eyes with someone, Nabi started walking past the booth. Noticing the look he was getting, Juho bowed subtly before catching up to Nabi, who was making her way toward the Chinese booth. Although it was a given being that they were at a book fair, it dawned on Juho just how many books there were around the world.
“Seo Kwang would be stoked,” Juho said to himself, imagining the look on his friend’s face if they had been at the fair together. Then, a science fiction story written by a famous Chinese author came into view. “So, this is the original,” the young author said, skimming through the pages. The difference in the feel it carried compared to the translated version was quite noticeable. At that moment…
“Hello,” somebody said, walking toward Juho. Seeing the lanyard hanging from his neck, the young author grasped that the person was a staff member. After exchanging a brief greeting with Nabi as if knowing her, the staff member looked intently at the young author.
“You must be Yun Woo,” he said, reaching out for a handshake. Juho grabbed his hand and replied, “Yes, pleasure to meet you. I see a lot of interesting books here.”
With that, the staff member proceeded to introduce the publishing company to the young author, which happened to be the publisher responsible for publishing Juho’s books in China.
“We finally meet! This feels strange.”
There were countless people involved in the process of turning the young author’s manuscripts into books. Seeing Yun Woo in person was quite intriguing. While Juho and the staff member were chatting, another voice came from behind Juho.
“Ah! Molley!” Nabi said, greeting the older gentleman gladly. He seemed to be a publishing agent like Nabi, and the staff member from the Chinese booth also seemed to know the older gentleman.
“I haven’t seen you since last year. How’ve you been?”
“You’re right. I always come across all these lovely people whenever I’m at the fair.”
At that moment, Juho locked eyes with the gentleman, who offered him a hand to shake first, with a gentle smile on his face.
“Hello. John Molley,” the gentleman said, adding the name of a big agency after his name. It was a company that had worked with a number of big-name authors. From what Juho had heard from Nabi, Molley was the person who had been of tremendous help to her when she had worked on getting the young author’s book exported for the first time. Grabbing his hand, Juho replied, “Yun Woo. Pleasure to meet you.”
“Why, of course! The pleasure’s mine, Mr. Woo. I’ve been dying to meet you!”
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