Twilight Struggles. It was a book whose title told you everything, a story of an abandoned old man who goes into a cruel killing spree. Maru was reading the book laying down in his room with his windows opened. It was February; the white snow of January had completely disappeared and all there was left was an incredibly cold wind. In the end, Maru closed the windows. It was a bit too cold for his liking.
“I wonder when Spring will come.”
He missed Winter in Summer and he missed Summer in Winter. He wished that the entire year could just be Spring and Autumn, but if that were the case, he’d probably complain about the boring weather. Humans can never be satisfied for long.
‘...Is it because of the book?’
The book was clearly feeding him too much ill will towards humanity, he was reading through it for the fifth time now. He’s been constantly reading ever since he was at the hospital. It was an odd book where each read through took longer than last time.
The main character of ‘Twilight Struggles’ was an old man in his sixties long forgotten by his children, that age immediately made Maru think of Moonjoong. The main character lived a life like any old man of habit, he was someone who went around town collecting scrap paper for money with his bike. Since he had to wake up a bit earlier to get as much paper as possible, he got into a habit of waking up at 5. He ate cold rice in water for lunch at home and went out to pick up more paper afterwards. At night, he comes back and goes to sleep with his broken TV on. The book described this old man’s mundane life in great detail. The writing depicted everything from his feelings to even what his room looked like.
A change occurred to this man, someone stole the old man’s bike. Without it, the old man had to walk around town in his sneakers all day. Only at night was he able to find his bike, the criminal was another old man who picked up scrap paper. They got into a fight and they ended up going to the police. The main character shoved the thief out of anger, causing the man to call upon his children for retaliation.
Being pushed around by younger people made the old man call his own kids out of sheer anger. But his kids didn’t come, and in the end, he was only able to get his bike back thanks to police involvement.
On the way back home, the old man keeps calling his children several times out of anger. None of the calls went through, so he walks all the way to his eldest son’s home. There, he learns that his son has been ignoring his calls on purpose. Out of desperation, he goes to see his second daughter and his youngest son. There, he hears from them that they don’t want to support him anymore, that they don’t want him contacting them either.
The old man buys some soju on the way back home and drinks. He sacrificed his youth for his children, but all he got in return was coldness. By the time he starts falling asleep in the cold, he started feeling a few young men start touching him. He thought to himself that there are still some people who care for him. He got immediately let down when the young men beat him and started running away with what little money he had.
At that moment, the young men’s expressions overlapped with that of his children’s. Flames of rage took over his heart right there and then. Moreover, the words that one of the young men said as he ran stabbed him even more.
- How fucking retarded do you have to be to be alone with nothing at that age?
The old man comes back home and leaves his children a message. That he’s lonely, that he wants to talk. All he got back was silence. The old man takes a look back on his life at his seat. He spent his life at work, since his wife’s passing at a young age. He retired from his company at the age of 50. Then, he spent five years as the CEO of a smaller company and then he spent the rest of his time maintaining a restaurant.
By the time he sent off his youngest son to marry, all he had left was a tiny room and a broken bike. He was living on telling himself that he raised his children well. Looking back, he really was a ‘retard’ like the young man had said.
He gave his children money for college, houses, money for marriage, everything. He thought that was love, he thought this love would be repaid to him in time. In the end, all he received was nought. That’s when he realizes that his children hadn’t contacted him for the last three years, he got nothing back in return. He sat down thinking to himself all night and by the time it was morning, he was holding a hammer in hand.
The story speeds up afterwards, the old man’s sighs soon turn into madness and the rest of the book dyes red with bloody carnage. Maru still couldn’t forget the old man’s last line at the end of the book at the face of his death.
- I can finally see myself.
Maru tried imagining this scene with Moonjoong. An old man who always looked so nice, acting in the role of a crazy actor? He couldn’t imagine it.
“What’s so wrong with using my life to teach wild dogs?”
Maru said the lines in the book as he rolled around, he emphasized with the main character since he was a father himself. If he was still alive and well, he would’ve grown old with his wife after sending his daughter off to marry. He had to wonder what his daughter would be like during the twilight of his life.
Surely his daughter wouldn’t be this cold, but he did have some doubts. This book only had shades of grey. In view of the law, the main character was a demon. From an emotional standpoint, the children who said ‘our dad just won’t die already’ were the evil ones.
The old man uses his broken body and his broken morals to unleash a demonic evil. Somewhere within this man, you were still able to see a vestige of a human you could still relate with. This book was bound to be a success.
He didn’t know how he felt towards the movie’s success. It wasn’t a family movie and it was the type of movie that would look terribly frightening to people.
‘That’s just a prediction, but...’
Something might happen if the movie became a sensation, perhaps they might succeed if word about the movie spread.
“Bro, come to dinner,” Bada said, walking into the room.
Maru closed the book and stood up. Three days until school starts back up again. He might be able to read it one more time before then.
* * *
The frigid winds were as cold as ever, even during March. The school still looked square and the disciplinary teacher was still outside passionately ‘educating’ tardy kids. Thanks to it, the front entrance was lined with late students. Nothing much changed with the start of their second year. Maybe just the fact that he had to go up an extra set of stairs?
“Ugh, so cold.”
Dojin was coming up the stairs behind him, Daemyung was there, too. They didn’t end up splitting up as they headed up a year. The air was warm inside the classroom. Like always, Maru’s seat was next to the back entrance, with Dojin sitting next to him. The one thing that changed was that Daemyung was right in front of Maru now.
“I just can’t be rid of you fucks, can I?” Dojin said with a laugh.
Those ‘fucks’ included Dowook as well, the boy sat down in front of Dojin with a slight frown. They were sworn enemies at the beginning of the first year, but they were on fairly good terms at this point. They got along together pretty well given their faces and personalities.
Maru looked forward, popping one of Dojin’s candies in his mouth. The blackboard had the words ‘membership in a club is required’ written on it.
“Come to think of it, it’s today.”
Daemyung looked slightly confused, so Maru pointed down at the floor. Only then did the boy nod in understanding.
“We should go.”
“You, me, Geunseok, huh.”
Maru bit down on the candy in his mouth before turning to Dojin, the boy looked down shamefully.
“Just three people.”
“So long as you are, help us advertise. Geunseok’s pretty handsome, but he’s way too cold for this kind of stuff. We’ll need you to look welcoming.”
Dojin didn’t seem to know what to do, Maru decided to stop with the teasing here.
“Just kidding. Have fun in the cooking club. You’re going in with Iseul, right?”
“Yeah. They were all nice people. I liked it.”
“I heard marrying into a girl’s family is always really difficult.”
“The hell does that mean?”
“Good luck. Let me try some of your food next time.”
In the end, the acting club was just left with three members. Aside from those who wanted to take up acting as a job, everyone went somewhere else. Dojin and Iseul went to the cooking club, and Taejoon and Soyeon joined the movie watching club. Taejoon didn’t seem to mind staying that much, but when Soyeon told him she was leaving, he made up his mind as well. They all apologized, but Maru told them not to worry about it. He didn’t want to tie down the club members with their sense of responsibility. After all, this was their last chance for any of them to do what they wanted. All the other current third years left the club, as they previously said they would. They decided to put as much work as possible into job hunting. They did say they would come by to help though, which was great.
The fifth-floor auditorium transformed into a fancy gym, which has been filled with a ton of new equipment. Looking at it made Maru feel a little bit empty inside. It felt like the half-year he had spent there was completely fake.
“This is the script.”
Daemyung handed Maru the paper, it was for today’s ‘advertising’. A little thing they would use to pull the first years into the club.
“...I wonder if I’ll be able to get a female underclassman?”
Daemyung waved his hand, implying what he said was a joke with an awkward smile. Maru caught the little glint of seriousness from the boy though.
“Now now, let’s take a seat.”
The teacher walked in calmly, Maru looked at the man with a slight smile. It was Taesik, their homeroom teacher.
“We’re going to be choosing our clubs today, so think well. There’s a lot of hard-working and rewarding clubs out there. Like the acting club… for example.”
Taesik was talking with a smile on his face, making Maru shake his head.Previous Chapter Next Chapter