The manager walked off, joining the other employee. Jiyong was left alone in the employee's room with the girl. He took a deep breath, then exhaled loudly. He grabbed a stool nearby and pulled it closer to the girl sitting on the couch.
There was an awkward pause. It was clear that the girl wouldn't talk, and that he didn't want to initiate the conversation. Jiyong felt lost, completely clueless of what to do. What was he supposed to exactly do? Tell her that shoplifting was bad? It was common sense that stealing was a crime. He was sure that she was old enough to understand such a thing.
Then, Jiyong flinched when her droopy eyes met his awkward gaze.
"Hey…kid," Jiyong stammered.
The woman said nothing. Her lips were sealed, her arms still crossed, but her eyes locked with his.
"So you go to that high school up the street, right?" Jiyong asked, checking out her uniform. He noticed how the girl uncomfortably shifted in her spot. To him, it was a sign to avoid talking about school. "Where'd your friends go?"
"Not telling," the girl declared.
Jiyong widened his eyes as his eyebrows raised. At least she's talking.
"Let me tell you that there's nothing you can get out from me. I swear that I will keep my mouth shut until I die," the girl stated firmly.
"You just opened your mouth," Jiyong teased, grinning. The girl was not amused, as if it was such a childish joke. He cleared his throat, and looked away from her sharp gaze. "Uh, anyway…I just wanted to let you know that stealing is bad. Yeah." Silence filled the atmosphere. "Do you normally not talk much or are you just doing this because you're in your moody days—"
"Excuse me?" The girl gave him an offended look. "I—"
"Oh neat, you got her talking." The two looked up and saw the employee enter the room. "Sorry to disturb you, but there's a kid who might be able to help us."
Jiyong furrowed his eyebrows. "Just who can help—" He smiled when he saw the familiar figure. "Jiho! Hey!"
The blond student entered the room, slightly annoyed at the sight of Jiyong being happy. His eyes rolled across the room, examining every inch and corner to its detail. His brown orbs finally landed on his fellow classmate, which caught him by surprised. His eyes slightly widened, but quickly softened as he looked away.
Jiyong looked over at the girl, who became tense. Her face paled, and her jaws dropped at the sight of Jiho entering the room. For a minute, Jiyong mistaken her reaction for being alarmed to see a crush, but when he noticed her hands trembling in fear, he knew that she wasn't staring at him with eyes full of love. She was becoming anxious of something, and Jiyong didn't know what it was. All he knew was that she was scared, as if something had came to attack her or to ruin her life.
"Kid, you know anything about this girl?" the employee asked.
"She's Bang Minah. She's a c—" The girl froze for a second. "—lassmate of mine. She's a good classmate."
The girl relaxed her shoulders, but her eyes were still wide.
"A good classmate? Jiho, be honest. She was caught shoplifting," Jiyong said.
"Sorry. I don't know her much," Jiho said, his eyes averting Jiyong's or Minah's. Jiyong took a glimpse at Minah's reaction. She seemed rather disappointed or sad, but she had definitely calmed down.
How strange, Jiyong noted to himself.
"Can I go now? I have to go to school," Jiho told them.
"Yeah. Thanks, kid," the employee said, shooing him.
Jiyong stared at Jiho for a minute longer, then opened his mouth as he remembered his earlier conversation with Jieun. "Hey, Jiho. Do you know anyone named Lee Jieun?"
The boy stopped and stared at Jiyong with a frown. "How do you know Jieun?"
"Nothing, I was just asking. We talked earlier this morning," Jiyong explained. He paused. "Then do you know a guy named Chanyeol?"
Jiho's eyes darkened. "He's a bastard. That's what he is."
"Language," the employee warned him. He finally turned to Jiyong. "Jiyong, I'm going to go. I got to get to my college classes. Later!"
"Yeah, see you," Jiyong said, bidding his fellow worker a small "goodbye."
Although the worker left, Jiho was still standing in front of the door. He peered into Jiyong's innocent eyes, trying to figure out why he knew Jieun or Chanyeol. When he knew that he wouldn't get an answer just by looking at him, Jiho gave him the cold shoulder and left the room, leaving Jiyong alone to deal with Minah. Jiyong finally turned to the girl, getting up from the stool.
"Well," Jiyong started again, "I think we're done here. Just don't shoplift at our shop, okay? When you step outside, just apologize to the manager and promise that you won't pull off a silly thing like that again."
"How do you know Jiho?" Minah asked, completely ignoring Jiyong's words.
"Hm? Jiho? Oh, he's a regular visitor," Jiyong said. "Anyway, you know what to do when you step outside, right?"
"He's a bad kid. No one likes people like him." Minah's voice grew distant. "No one likes him…"
Jiyong blinked his eyes. "Um, hello? Are you okay?"
Minah quickly shook her head, snapping out of her thoughts. "Huh? Y-Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks. I'll apologize to the manager. Sorry."
She got up from her seat and patted down her skirt. She politely bowed at Jiyong, apologizing to him once more. Just as she was about to leave, Jiyong stopped her.
"Oh, Minah?" he called her.
She whirled around. "Yes?"
Jiyong smirked. "You're bad at keeping promises, aren't you?"
"What makes you say that?"
"No, nothing." Jiyong shook his head as he put away the stool back where he got it from. "Nothing at all…"
* * *
Jiyong was quite surprised when he saw Jiho staring at him after school. Jiho and his three friends were eating a cup of ramen at a small table across from the cash register. Normally, Jiho didn't care too much about Jiyong, but today, Jiho payed exceptionally well to Jiyong's actions. For a second, Jiyong wondered if he had done anything wrong to offend the boy, but deep inside he knew that he did nothing wrong.
"King Kwon! How much are these chips?" Wooshik asked, raising a bag of chips in the air.
"Come over here and then pay for them," Jiyong said lazily, sitting behind the counter.
"Aw, come on King Kwon! You know that he'll pay. It's too far to walk to you," Changshik complained.
"It only takes a few steps. If you want the chips, come here and buy them," Jiyong replied.
"King Kwon, we have money right here! If we don't, then you know that Jiho has the money," Kyungsoo pointed out.
"Don't you dare open that bag without paying first," Jiyong responded, looking up from his magazine. He saw Jiho stand up from his seat and take the bag from Wooshik's hand. He thought that Jiho would put away the bag, but was surprised to see him walk towards him with the bag and some money in his other hand. The three boys cheered, obviously happy that they didn't need to get up to pay for their little snack.
"How much?" Jiho asked, setting the bag down on the counter.
"Here," Jiho said, handing him the exact amount.
"Thanks." Jiyong took the money, but was stunned when Jiho forcefully held onto the money from the opposite side. "I'll take the money now…?"
Jiho stared at him, his eyes squinting as if he was about to shoot lasers. Jiyong awkwardly looked down at the cashier, unsure of what to do. Should he stare back? Was this some sort of new games that teenagers made? Was he supposed to do something amazing?
"I still don't get it," Jiho murmured.
"G-Get what?" Jiyong asked nervously. When Jiho finally let go of the money, Jiyong almost fell back. He stumbled for a few minutes, then looked at the money in his hands. He put them safely back in the cashier and pushed the snack closer to Jiho. "You can go now…?"
"This doesn't make any damn sense," Jiho muttered to himself, turning around with the snack in his hand. Jiyong blinked his eyes and slightly tilted his head, wondering what was going inside Jiho's mind.
Teenagers are so hard to deal with, Jiyong thought, heaving a sigh as he rested his forehead against the palm of his hand. He looked around the counter. I need a light…
He stopped himself when he heard the bells chime, notifying him that someone had arrived. He sat up with a proper posture, only to realize that the person entering was Jieun in her usual paparazzi disguise again. He relaxed his shoulders, and searched his pockets for a cigarette. When he couldn't find any, he gave up and went back to reading his magazine.
In matters of minutes, he saw a box of bandage and some ointment on the counter. He held his head up and saw Jieun nervously rolling her head back and forth, checking to see if anyone else was coming in.
"Is this all?" Jiyong asked.
"Y-Yes," she stuttered.
"You got beaten up again or something?" he asked her. She remained quiet, which confirmed Jiyong's suspicion. "You know that we sell some cosmetics, right? It's pretty cheap and efficient."
"Make-up? For what?" Jieun asked, her voice muffling through her dust mask. She lowered her large pair of sunglasses, revealing an even more purple bruise on her eye.
Jiyong shuddered. "For that. Don't tell me that you walk around school looking like that."
"I usually put my hair down and long. My school only has clothing restrictions. We can do whatever we want with our hair," Jieun explained.
"Mhm." He stared at her slip back on her sunglasses. "Okay, forget it. Go and turn around and get some cosmetics off the shelf."
"I don't have the mon—"
"I'll pay for you. I'd hate to let you leave knowing that you'll look like that. At least go to school tomorrow with more confidence," Jiyong said. When Jieun wouldn't budge from her spot, he heaved a loud sigh and looked at one of the three students. "Hey! Um… Wooshik, right? Go over there and get me some concealer."
Jieun looked up with amazement. "You know make-up terms?"
"I know a thing or two. I'm not sure on how to use it, but I know it," Jiyong replied.
The two watched Wooshik get up with enthusiasm, while the other two shot him a glare, jealous that their role model had told only one of them to do something. Wooshik walked over to the make-up counter, looked over at the many products, and took box of concealer from the rack. He approached Jiyong with a beaming smile, as if he had accomplished something big. Jiyong only have him a nod and took the concealer from his hands.
"Thanks, Wooshik," Jiyong said. "You can go back now."
"Yes sir!" Wooshik saluted, turned, then scurried over to his friends, bragging about his little mission.
Jiyong's attention was back on the items. He checked off the bandages, ointments, and concealer as he pressed several numbers on the cash register. Once he was done, he put them in a bag and glanced over to double check that he had made the right calculation.
"Your total is—"
"Yo, Chanyeol! Isn't that Jieun?" someone asked. Jieun gasped, pushed away the bag, and quickly bowed at Jiyong. She brought arms closer to her face and took off, making sure that no one else had seen her.
Jiyong widened his eyes as he saw Chanyeol and his friends enter the store. He looked down at the items in the bag. Didn't she need all this?
"Hey mister!" Chanyeol's deep voice rumbled in Jiyong's ear. He saw the high school student approach him with angry eyes. "Do you know the girl who was here just now? You looked awfully chummy with her."
"Cut it out, Park Chanyeol." Jiyong was surprised to see Jiho stand up from his seat and step up to the taller man. "Get off the man. He didn't do anything. I was watching."
"No, no. I clearly saw him flirt with her. Disgusting," Chanyeol muttered.
Jiyong widened his eyes. "What? Excuse me?"
"Chanyeol, this guy has no interest in kids like us. Leave him alone," Jiho said.
"Why should I listen to you? You're always flirting with Jieun. Heck, she even flirts back. She was at your house last night, huh?" Chanyeol turned his body and extended his arms out to shove Jiho. "Admit it, Jiho. She was sleeping with you again, right?"
Jiho frowned. "What? I don't even know where she leaves. She doesn't even know where I live, either. Stop making assumptions based on your own fantasy!"
"Save it, Jiho! She was at your house last night, huh?" Chanyeol grabbed Jiho's collar. "Damn you, Jiho! I told you to back off!"
"I did nothing to her or with her! I didn't even see her last night!" Jiho yelled back, trying to pry off Chanyeol's fingers.
"Everyone knows that you're just toying with her. Stop it and leave my girlfriend alone—"
Before Chanyeol got to finish his sentence, a plastic bag full of items was thrown at his face. Chanyeol released his grip, and Jiho fell on the ground. Jiho slowly looked up and stared at Jiyong with wide eyes, stunned to see Jiyong's dark side.
"That will be 10,000 won," Jiyong said slowly.
"What the freak was that for, you old—"
"She wasn't at his house. She was at mine," Jiyong replied. Jiho dropped his jaws while Chanyeol gritted his teeth.
"Tell her to come back tomorrow. She needs to pay. For now, give her the items in the bag and I'll pay for her," Jiyong said. He took out the exact cash and slipped it in the cash register.
"Get lost, kid. No one wants to deal with people like you," Jiyong snapped.
"Are you dumb? I said get lost!" Jiyong shouted, raising his voice.
Chanyeol clamped his mouth shut. He held onto the bag tightly, his fist shaking, enraged. He narrowed his eyes, obviously displeased with the employee. Finally, the student turned around and began to walk away. His friends quietly followed behind hm, scared and confused.
"Oh, and one other thing," Jiyong said just before Chanyeol and his friends left. "If you want your girlfriend to come back home, don't beat her up. She looks terrible."
Chanyeol quietly gulped as his eyes went wide. He bit his tongue and continued to walk away, acknowledging that Jiyong was more of a threat than an enemy. When the group disappeared from Jiyong's sight, Jiyong relaxed and watched the three delinquents help Jiho up from the ground. Once Jiho was back on his feet, the three turned their attention to the hero.
"King Kwon! That was amazing!" Kyungsoo exclaimed.
"Yeah! You didn't even need to use violence! Usually Jiho's the one fighting, but you only needed to say a few words to get that jerk quiet!" Changshik added.
"All hail King Kwon!" Wooshik cheered.
Jiyong chuckled. "Guys, stop it. I don't need this flattery—"
"How do you know Jieun?" Jiho asked slowly. He finally raised his head to meet Jiyong's. "Why was she at your house last night?"
"Things happen. It's nothing important," Jiyong assured him.
"No, I need to know," Jiho demanded.
Changshik leaned close to Jiyong's ear. "You better tell him."
Jiyong scratched his head. "Well…I saw something and something happened and I ended up taking her home."
"That's too vague," Jiho pointed out. "I want the specifics."
"Look, kid. If you want the details, go ask Jieun personally. This wasn't my business to begin with, so I can't tell you what happened between me and Jieun," Jiyong told him.
The boy stared at Jiyong a bit longer. Then, he sighed, giving up, and walked back to the table to grab his bag. He signalled his friends that it was time to leave, which was followed by complaints and grunts. Everyone bid their goodbyes to Jiyong except for Jiho, which was expected.
Jiyong was left alone at the counter. When he thought that no one else would come in, he took out a cigarette and a lighter. While he lit his cigarette, he carefully thought about all the chaotic events that happened today. He let out a puff of smoke, his eyes wandering off to the ceiling.
What a long day, Jiyong thought. He closed his eyes, and continued to think about his actions throughout the day. Yep, it was definitely a long day.
Jiyong didn't know if he was helping Jieun or not. He hadn't seen her for a few days after he had a little chat with her abusive (and overly jealous) boyfriend. He hadn't seen Chanyeol, either, so he assumed that things were going well.
The only thing on his mind was the money that Jieun owed him for the medical supplies and the cosmetics. He was a little short on paying the rent, but it seemed like good consequences came with the bad ones. Just a three days ago, he struggled with paying the monthly rent, but luck seemed to have chased after him when his manager gave him a raise. Apparently, some group of teenagers filed a complaint about Jiyong's "rude behavior" last week. He remembered that the manager was proud of him "telling the devils to back off" from the store. Jiyong didn't really know what the manager was so happy about, but he quietly accepted the raise as he needed it desperately.
Though the issue of money quickly disappeared when he encountered Jieun. Whether it was the cold or her presence, something pricked Jiyong's heart when his eyes met hers. A pang of guilt stabbed his chest as he bit his tongue and stared at an eye patch Jieun was wearing.
"What happened to you?" he asked her.
She looked up from the ground, surprised to see Jiyong standing in front of her with horror. Her eyes softened and she looked away with her lips sealed. It didn't take Jiyong a second longer to realize that she wasn't going to talk, and that it wouldn't be easy to make her talk.
"By the way, I just wanted to let you know that all the items that Chanyeol gave to you are on the house," he said.
Minutes passed by, and the two awkwardly stood in front of each other, not muttering another word. Jiyong wasn't sure whether to push on the pointless conversation or to just move along with his life. If she wasn't going to bother talking, then why should he? Shouldn't he just go back home and do whatever he does best: lazing around while munching on some snacks?
This would probably be easier if I was a teenager, Jiyong thought, scratching the back of his head. Oh gosh. What do I do…
Then, Jieun reached into her pocket and pulled out an envelope. Thinking that this contained some kind of letter, he took the white envelope and opened it. He widened his eyes when he saw money, and quickly handed it back to Jieun.
"Kid, I have no idea what this is for, but take it. I don't want it," Jiyong said. Jieun quickly shoved her hands back into her pocket, showing that she wasn't going to take it back. "Is this for the supplies you tried to buy from last week? If it is, I'll take the exact amount, but this? This is way too much. Here, take the rest."
It wasn't just a few cash in the envelope. Rather, it was a whole stack of green and yellow cash bundled up with a rubber band. With the money in the envelope, Jiyong knew that he could pay off his rent for at least three years.
When Jieun refused to take back the money, Jiyong reached out for her hand and forcefully pulled it out from her pocket. Then, he dropped the envelope in her hand and pushed it close to her chest.
"I'm not taking all of that, understand?" Jiyong said, frowning at her. Were teenagers taught to waste money like this?
"It's not from me," Jieun finally said. "It's from my boyfriend."
Jiyong frowned. Chanyeol? Her boyfriend? He would've thought that Chanyeol was the last person on earth to give him an incredible amount of cash like this.
"Why would Chanyeol give me money? For the supplies? If that's it, then—"
"No, none of them were for the supplies," Jieun said tiredly. "It's hush-money."
Jiyong swore that his eyeballs almost popped out of his sockets. "Hush-money? Really? For what?"
"He knows that you know about what he does to me." Jieun's lips trembled. "Why did you tell? I told you not to tell!"
"Was there a reason not to tell?"
"Yes! Yes, there was a reason not to tell!" She tried to glare at him. "Have you ever considered my feelings about this situation?"
"Of course I did!"
"Then why did you tell?"
"Because he was being a kid and annoying the customers!"
"Why didn't you tell him to quietly back off?"
"While he has the freedom to harass me?"
"You're an adult!"
"By age, yes! Otherwise, I'm nowhere near to be an adult!"
Jiyong heaved a loud sigh as he ran his fingers through his hair. He was frustrated—perhaps offended—at her comment. How could she just judge him based on his age? Physically, he was noted to be an adult, but was he really an adult? Could he carry the burden of adulthood on his shoulders? Of course not. If he could, he wouldn't have left his previous lifestyle. There was just no way he was ready to be an adult.
Completely irritated, Jiyong reached for his pocket and pulled out a cigarette. He fished out a lighter and quickly lit the soothing drug. Smoke rose in the cold air, expanding and becoming clear just like Jiyong's thoughts. He took deep breathes, occasionally inhaling the toxic gas. He closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them to look at Jieun, who was curiously staring at the cigarette stuck between Jiyong's second and third finger.
"Listen, I'm sorry for yelling at you just now. I also apologize for letting your boyfriend know that I know about your…risky relationship. I confess, that was completely my fault and I let that slip without your consent. However, your boyfriend was bothering the customers, and it was my responsibility as the employee not to let anything get out of control. I will only take the exact amount for the supplies. Spend this money on something better than me," Jiyong told her.
Jieun didn't respond. Instead, her eyes were still on his cigarette, which was getting smaller and smaller as the minutes passed by. When Jiyong noticed, he walked over to a nearby trash can, which fortunately had an ashtray. He drilled the lighted cigarette against the ash, watching the light disappear. He left the cigarette on the tray, then turned around to see Jieun staring at the finished cigarette.
"You seem really relaxed," Jieun mentioned.
"Ah, yeah. It helps me think sometimes," Jiyong replied, exhaling.
"When did you start smoking?" she asked him. Her eyes were still on the small cigarette bud.
"A few years ago. I started having some anxiety problems when I moved here so I started smoking," Jiyong told her.
"Anxiety problems? Like what?"
"Um, I guess it was like guilt—uncontrollable guilt. I'd rather not talk about it," Jiyong said shortly.
Jieun kept quiet before she asked a foolish question. "Can I try?"
Jiyong scrunched his eyebrows. "You're not at a legal age to smoke."
"Everyone does it, though," Jieun muttered. "Can I try?"
"No, of course not," Jiyong said.
"How would smoking benefit you?" Jiyong looked at her. "You'd hate smoking. I can tell just by looking at you."
"I don't know. People say that they die early when they smoke." Jieun looked away. "Maybe I'll die early, too."
"Was that a death wish?"
Jiyong didn't bother to continue the dark conversation. "Anyway, tell your boyfriend that rather than hush-money, I'd prefer having him give you some freedom of speech. If that's too much for him, then tell me that I want him to let you talk to me at the very least whenever you want."
"He would never allow that. Chanyeol isn't that kind of guy," Jieun informed him.
Jiyong glanced at her. "Kid."
"Jieun," she corrected him.
"Jieun," he repeated, "have you even tried telling him that?"
"Well, no, but I would never dare to ask him such a risky bribe," Jieun confessed.
"Don't tell me what can happen and what can't happen if you haven't tried. Don't tell me that miracles can't happen based on one attempt or no attempt."
Jieun let out a fake chuckle. "Mister, I don't think you know my situation too well." She looked up at him, her eyes dead as ever. "In these situations, isn't it better to just accept what's given to you, like fate?"
Hearing this, Jiyong could only smirk. He slowly shook his head, then turned around to walk away. He waved without facing her, and began to make footsteps on the snow, walking away from the little girl. As he walked on the road, he looked up at the cloudy sky, exhaling to see his breath rise up into the sky like a ring of smoke.
Fate? Jiyong thought. What a helpless, helpless soul.
* * *
"…So with that, she will be working part-time under your supervision. I trust you the most amongst my employees, Jiyong. Watch over her carefully. I'm afraid that she might steal something again," Manager Kim told him.
Jiyong was alarmed to see the same shop-lifting teenager wearing the store's part-time uniform, which was a green apron that had their logo printed neatly on the center. He thought that the girl would never do anything stupid like shop-lifting, but he was proven wrong.
I swear, teenagers get dumber and dumber everyday, Jiyong thought, frowning at the young lady. The girl looked away with her nose high in the air, as if she still had some pride left in her shallow heart.
"There should be no need for introductions. Jiyong, this is Criminal Devil. You, this is Kwon Jiyong," the manager said, patting Jiyong's shoulder with care.
"My name is Bang Minah," Minah said, shooting him a glare.
"I would appreciate it if you treated me more like a human," Minah told the manager with a glare.
"You? A human? I'll treat you like a human once you start using your head," the manager snapped back at her. He turned to Jiyong and gave him a chummy smile. "Well, Jiyong! I'm sorry, but it looks like I have to leave early. I got an emergency call from the hospital."
Hospital? Jiyong wanted to know what was going on, but he didn't press further. "Sure, thing. I have nothing else to do, anyway."
"I might not be here for a couple of days, but just resume your shifts. Oh, and I made sure that you're off on New Years. I'll pay you the day after New Years. Is that okay?" the manager asked.
"Yes, that's perfectly fine," Jiyong told him. "Have a good day, sir!"
"Good luck, Jiyong! Keep the devils away from the shop as much as you can!" the manager said, taking off.
There was an awkward silence that followed after the manager's leave. Jiyong turned around, watching Minah take off the apron. She tossed it on the couch and fixed her hair. She was just about to head out the door until Jiyong stopped her.
"Um, Minah? What are you doing?" Jiyong asked, picking up the apron from the couch.
"Me? Work here? Please! There's no way I would work here!" Minah exclaimed.
"Well, I'm sorry, but you have to work your hours. It's your own fault that you're here," Jiyong said.
"I'm not working, and you can't make m—"
Дата добавления: 2015-10-31; просмотров: 148 | Нарушение авторских прав
|<== предыдущая страница|||||следующая страница ==>|
|A Flyer, A Guilt 1 страница|||||A Flyer, A Guilt 3 страница|