Chapter 245

Walking around with a script in one hand, Geunsoo suddenly turned his head towards the dining table. His phone was making a loud noise from the vibration. He picked up the phone from the glass top.

“Hello?”

-Senior, this is Han Maru.

“Oh, yeah. Maru.”

He put the script down and sat down on the sofa. He turned on the TV intending to rest a little. He saw celebrity actors laughing and enjoying themselves in a reality TV show.

“What did you call me for?”

-I have something to tell you.

“Something to tell me?” Hearing that, Geunsoo lowered the volume. Maru’s voice was usually calm, but today he sounded desolate. Geunsoo frowned slightly as he felt as though Maru was about to tell him some bad news.

“Tell me.”

-Someone poured paint on the costumes and props of the Blue Sky acting club. The culprit went out their way to spray everything with black spray paint as well. Thanks to that more than half, no, almost all the costumes are beyond saving.

“That’s not good news. Do you have to throw away the mourning clothing that was knee-length? Miso and I made that one you know.”

-If you’re fine with it being green, then sure.

“What about the lamp? Soojin painstakingly made that one.”

-The paper is all ripped.

“Miso will erupt into anger if she finds out. Ah, we spent quite a lot of time creating those, you know? Although it’s a decade-old memory now, it’s still vivid. Our first act was an old traditional play. Thanks to that, we went all the way to Dongdaemun[1] to get the materials and we went through a lot to make a set of Hanbok. But in the end, we couldn’t make a Hanbok[2] and had to settle with making a set of mourning clothes instead. We ended up borrowing the jeogori[3] and the skirt.”

Although this event happened a long time ago, the event was so vivid in his memory that he still remembered it to this day. Their first challenge, their first ordeal, and their first success. It was from a time where everything felt new.

“I don’t think that’s good news at all.”

-What I told you is not good news at all, but it’s about to get worse.

“What is it?”

-The one that ruined the props is Geunseok.

Geunsoo sighed and laid back on the sofa. He did have his guesses from Maru’s intonation. After all, there was no actual reason for Maru to report to him about problems that occurred in Blue Sky. If there was one reason, then it had to be that it was related to his little brother.

“Senior Junmin told me about him a while back. That he’s a little lacking to keep him by his side. I thought that Geunseok had given up since he became quiet, but it seems that he’s been waiting this whole time. It’s really… haa.”

His little brother, Geunseok, was a polite kid. At least on the outside, it was hard to find any flaws on him. Even in elementary school, he did everything to perfection with a single compliment. He brought back great results, and their parents complimented him for those results. From some time onwards though, that made him look down on others. That was how his personality to look down on others and be obedient to his parents came to be. From the moment his brother smirked at him after receiving a bunch of Christmas presents from their parents, Geunsoo decided to leave his house. He talked a few times with his little brother to try and turn his head the other way, but he seemed to like his way of living. He left his house despite his father saying that he would disown him when he said that he would major in acting. The word his brother said to him that day as he left his house was ‘loser.’

A lot of things happened after that and when he took his mentally unstable little brother to Daehak-ro[4], he believed that his little brother had calmed down somewhat and was going to lead a stable life in the future. However, he was wrong and his brother’s roots hadn’t changed. Well, if everyone changed their minds for the better with just one event, then injustice wouldn’t exist in this world. Despite that, he believed that it was good progress that his little brother now had motivated himself to do things, but it seemed that acting was just the means, not the end. If he really liked acting, then there was no way he would go as far as to ruin all the costumes and props that he and his friends had painstakingly went lengths to create back then.

He had given up on a good brotherly relationship a long time ago, but still wanted to be closer to him than absolute strangers, but from the news he heard today, he ended up realizing that his brother took after his father too much.

It was even frightening how similar the two were.

“And what’s the reason for your call?”

-First is to tell you that I am going to end this here because I think it will get even messier if I let him be; second is to apologize to you because the first reason might put your younger brother in a very uncomfortable situation; and the third and last reason is to get your father’s number, senior.

“...I don’t get what you’re trying to do, but I do get that Geunseok is in for trouble.”

-There will be no such thing as a ‘good ending’. It’s not my wish for him to start repenting after this incident. I just want things to stay quiet. I just don’t want him to get on my bad side.

Geunsoo smiled bitterly after hearing Maru’s words. He felt responsible. He felt responsible for leaving his brother until he ended up in that state. Although none of this was mentioned, Geunsoo realized that when Maru asked him for his own father’s number, he was indirectly telling him to take part of the responsibility.

‘Well. If I really wanted to take action for my brother, I should have done so while I was still under father’s wing. Not just leave by myself.’

Geunsoo started speaking again,

“I’ll send you the number by text.”

-Yes.

“I’m sorry for being an irresponsible brother.”

-That’s what I’m trying to say. However… I’m not trying to blame you. It’s the parents that are the mirrors of their children. Senior, no, hyung-nim, I believe that you’re splendid in that regard. You’ve saved yourself. I’ll hang up now. I guess the next time we meet will be at the shooting location.

“Probably not, we don’t have any overlapping scenes. See you during the read-through. Though, that will be the only time.”

-Yes. Then please rest.

Geunsoo hung up and raised the TV volume. He had run all the way here without looking back, but now that he thought about it he wondered whether he should have looked back sometimes. He closed his eyes with the TV still turned on. The laughter from the TV didn’t seem as enjoyable anymore.

* * *

Geunseok hung up on the call with a fearful gulp. He had gotten a call just after getting on the bus after separating from Jiseok. The call came from Junmin.

Junmin very calmly asked him whether he knew about what vandalism was. At that moment, he felt a shiver running behind his back. Junmin then continued to say that someone had vandalized a container that was under his name. Hearing his rebuking voice, Geunseok unintentionally ended up making excuses and apologized. Junmin was somewhere high above, on the same level as his father. He inwardly vowed to get vengeance, but he was well aware that he should not get on his wrong side right now.

Getting off the bus, Geunseok ended up kicking a trash bin out of anger. It was obvious who told him that. It could be none other than Han Maru. Geunseok left the place before other people stared at him. The putrid smell from his shoes made him become more angry.

When he arrived at his apartment complex, he widened his eyes after finding a black sedan. 2487. It was the number of his father’s car. It was 9 in the evening right now. It was still early for his father to be home as he had heard that his father was going to play golf with his colleagues today.

He felt uneasy for some reason. He felt as though there was an ominous aura emanating from the black sedan. He felt paranoid. He consoled himself by thinking that it must be because of Junmin’s call as he got on the elevator.

Along with a ding sound, the doors opened. His apartment was to the left. Geunseok carefully entered the passcode and opened the door. The first thing he saw was his father’s golf shoes. It was tidied up neatly towards the door. Although it wasn’t that different from usual, it looked quite scary today.

He took off his shoes and entered. His father couldn’t be seen in the living room. He heaved a deep sigh of relief. He might have lost it if his father was calmly sitting down on the sofa. The fact that his father was in his room meant that it was okay.

He carefully walked towards the main bedroom and knocked. However, he didn’t get a reply. He was confused since his father’s golf shoes were still there.

“Excuse me, father,” he called out to no avail. He wondered if his father was asleep. Now that his thoughts arrived there, he was even more relieved. Just as he was about to return to his room, he smelled something.

A faint smell tickled his nose. It was the smell of cigarettes. The moment he realized that, Geunseok felt a tingle running through his head, nay, his whole body. He felt very tense on every part of his body.

His father was a god in self management. As such, he did not smoke. Correction, he did, but that was only for cases when someone higher up than him offered him to. His smoking was for business. He faintly remembered his father saying how smoking and drinking was a form of sociability. At the same time, he heard the words that he would never smoke alone. He always said that smoking alone was just throwing away lifespan. However, there was just one situation where his father would smoke. On those days, Geunseok never left his room. He just locked up his room and kept staring at the wall.

Geunseok grabbed his shaking legs and quietly looked towards the veranda. He saw an orange light flickering. The faint silhouette sucked on the cigarette before spitting some smoke out. Geunseok held his breath. He grabbed the door handle to his own room with shaky hands so as to not tick his father off. It was just as he was about to push the handle down to enter his room when his father called out.

“Hong Geunseok.”

“Y-yes.”

“You know, I had to bow down a lot when I first entered society. I bowed down again and again and I even had to kneel at times. When a partner company’s CEO told me to pour vodka in my shoes and drink from it, I complied. That was because I believed that being servile was a necessary step to become successful. Years later, I had that CEO kneel before me and drink vodka mixed with ash. When I told him that I’d extend the refund period a week for every glass he drank and he did so with joy.”

Geunseok looked down at the floor. He didn’t dare raise his head to look at his father. When he was young, he thought that his father was a gentle man. This was because he complimented him whenever he won prizes at his school. However, after tasting failure just once in middle school, he saw his father’s true face. From that moment onwards, his father became the supreme law that he did not dare disobey. His father became his dogma, in a sense.

“From that moment onwards, I never had to bow down to anyone. Especially not because of something I did. That is because I know how horrible the taste is to bow down to someone else.”

“....”

“But for the first time today, I had to utter the words ‘I’m sorry’ to someone else. It felt new. I don’t remember the last time I said such words. And that made me realize once again how horrible it feels to apologize.”

“F-father….”

“I provided you with a place to sleep, food to eat, and clothes to wear. I did my best for you to receive the best kind of education, and to provide you with the best kind of nutrition. I think I did my part. Don’t you think?”

“Y-yes. You’re entirely correct.”

“Then, my son. You should have acted so that I don’t have to apologize to someone else on your behalf. I thought I was raising a son, not a pig.”

“....”

“At least Geunsoo never tainted my reputation. Oh, he even rejected my help and struggled to live his own life. In that sense, I admit that he deserves some acknowledgement. It is only natural for my - Hong Janghae’s - son. But… Why weren’t you able to control your own emotions and end up doing something like that? And also! If you did so! Then you should have cleaned up after yourself properly! If you did it then you should have done so in a way that you wouldn’t get found out!”

Whomp - the sound of leather being ripped apart could be heard. Geunseok covered his ears and kneeled down. He couldn’t bear to look at his father’s golf club ripping apart the leather sofa.

“It looks like I raised you wrong. You need some education. To think that what came to be from my seed is a ‘thing like this’. I cannot accept it.”

His father slowly approached him. Geunseok flinched away after seeing the black socks approaching him. That reminded him. No, that moment from his middle school surfaced from the depths of his memory. In that scene, his thighs and calves were covered in bruises, and he was saying ‘I’m sorry’ without stopping.

“Please son, at least do as much as I fed you. Do not shame me. ACT BETTER SO THAT I DON’T HAVE TO MIND ABOUT A MERE THING LIKE YOU!”

Geunseok closed his eyes. His lips were subconsciously repeating the words ‘I’m sorry.’

I will never do it again.

I will never do such a silly thing like that again.

I will do nothing but study.

I will… I will…

He felt his head go blank. Nothing mattered to him anymore. Only the huge thought that he could never cause trouble again filled his mind.

“This is all because I love you.”

Geunseok clenched his teeth when he heard the loud whooshing sound coming towards him.


[1] Famous for having a lot of clothing stores.

[2] Traditional Korean clothing. While Chinese Hanfu and the Korean Hanbok do have similar roots, they are not the same.

[3] The upper garment of usual Hanbok

[4] It’s in the glossary, but this place is famous for small-scale theater acts.

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KTLChamber's Thoughts

Author's notes

Whenever I create characters, I pick a keyword.
Using that keyword, I create the appropriate circumstances of that character.
In that sense, Geunseok is a character I have a lot of attachment to

(TL note: I'm not sure what author is trying to say, so the translation might be weird)
Without being someone absolutely supreme like a god or a deity, a person can neither be extreme good nor extreme evil. A simple expression that expresses that in words is 'A cold man to others and a sweet man to me'. It's about setting a range. Whether one's closer to good or evil from the middle point that is neutral. However, I believe that everyone has to have that middle point. Outside that range... it's no longer a person but something else.

Yes, Geunseok is retiring!
Well done, Geunseok!
And the story shifts.

---

Oof, a golf club... sounds painful