- a J-Walk short story
“Focus, Jaeduk! Focus!”
Jiwon watched Jaeduk aiming the target in the air, throwing punches and then quickly retreating his fists. Rivers of warm sweat trickled down Jaeduk’s face as he continued to move side to side, pretending to dodge the imaginary opponent’s hits.
He was tired and wanted nothing more than to stop, but he trusted Jiwon and went on with his training. No one could be the best without working hard. He let his gloved fists shoot out again and again. They made quiet whizzing noises when they cut through the still silence of the room.
“Okay, Jaeduk. That’s enough.” Jaeduk obviously didn’t hear because he didn’t stop. He gritted his teeth and narrowed his eyes.
“Hello? Jaeduk? I said you could stop.”
Jiwon got up in front of him and waved his arms.
Jiwon fell to the floor. Jaeduk suddenly stopped after realizing what he had done.
“Hyung! Oh my God! I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to hit you. I didn’t even see you.”
A groan came from the limp body as Jiwon got up rubbing the side of his head.
“It’s okay. After all these years in boxing I should know not to get in front of someone throwing punches. I’m okay.”
Jaeduk’s lip began to quiver. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to”
Tears and sweat dripped off of Jaeduk’s chin.
“It’s okay, Jaeduk. I told you already. I’m fine. Stop crying.”
Jaeduk rubbed his eyes with the back of his boxing gloves.
“You did a lot today. Go home and come in the morning.” Jiwon got up and slowly made his way to the door.
Jaeduk pulled off his gloves with his teeth and laid down on the floor. He sighed. He didn’t realize how sore he was until now.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, hyung,” he called out.
Jiwon grabbed his coat and exited the dark room.
Jaeduk tried to keep as still as possible, his chest only rising to breathe.
He ran his fingers through his drenched hair.
“Number one Number one Always be number one” he murmured as he slowly closed his eyes.
Suwon looked at the clock for what seemed to be the hundredth time. Where could he be? He promised He paced back and forth until he caught his reflection in the mirror. Suwon ran his fingers down his clothes. He smoothed out the wrinkles in his shirt.
Here he was all prepared for his date. A few strands of hair fell out of his slicked back hair.
Suwon picked at it and tried to comb it back. It refused to stay.
“Humph. Fine, be that way, hair. I look good anyway.”
He smiled at his reflection and tugged a little at the collar of his shirt.
The bird in the clock came out and cooed eleven times.
It was eleven o’clock and his date still wasn’t home. He groaned a little.
“I guess he forgot again.”
With a sigh Suwon began to pull out his tucked in shirt and unbutton it. He sat down on the floor and took off his socks.
“What a waste. I bought all this stuff”
He headed toward the fridge and pulled out the strawberry ice cream. Sitting on the kitchen floor, he dug his spoon into the creamy pinkness.
“It’s not like I was expecting him to remember anyway. I knew he was going to forget again.”
The blue light from the television greeted Jaeduk as soon as he stepped into the apartment. Everything else was black except the TV.
No answer came. He rubbed his eyes and little and yawned. He shouldn’t have had that drink at the tiny street bar after training. It was bad for him to be drinking.
Still no answer came. Jaeduk took off his shoes and headed toward the living room. He saw Suwon asleep on the couch, his shirt unbuttoned and his hair in disarray. Jaeduk couldn’t help smiling at the sight.
“So sweet. He’s all dressed up” Jaeduk’s smile disappeared. “Shit! I forgot again!”
How could he have forgotten again? This was the fifth time. He began shaking Suwon awake.
“Suwon? Suwon, wake up.”
“Suwon. Suwon, wake up. Come on.”
A sleepy Suwon yawned and slowly opened his eyes.
“Yea, it’s me.”
Good. He didn’t seem that mad.
“Jaeduk, is that you?”
Suwon’s face turned smug.
“I’m not talking to you.” He turned over and faced the other direction.
“Suwon” (whine, whine)
“No! You go sleep in the room by yourself. I’m staying out here,” he said defiantly.
“Wonnah I’m sorry. I didn’t mean”
Suwon got up and faced Jaeduk.
“Wait a minute. What am I talking about? YOU sleep out here. I’m going to bed.”
With that he stormed into the bedroom and slammed the door. Jaeduk stood alone partly in shock and partly in confusion. Suwon had never been so angry before.
A few seconds later a pillow came flying out the door.
“You drool on your pillow and it stinks so it’s going to stay out with you!”
Suwon yelled from behind the door.
Jaeduk didn’t know what to say. Now he was a little irritated.
“I do not drool!” he called back, “Yo’ mamma drools!”
When no reply came, Jaeduk made his way to couch. He sighed. Suwon was really mad this time. He turned off the television and laid alone in the dark.
Alone. If Suwon wasn’t mad Jaeduk would probably have curled up in his arms right now. He stared at the ceiling.
What was this?
Jaeduk heard muffled cries from behind closed door. What had he done? He walked up to the door and knocked. He only heard more crying from behind the door. It was unlocked so he walked in.
Jaeduk’s eyes still hadn’t adjusted to the dark so he felt his way around the room. He ran into the bed and felt Suwon huddled up on top.
“I didn’t mean to forget today, Suwon. I’m really sorry. I finished training really late, too. Are you really mad?”
<sniffle> “It’s not just that<sniffle>”
“What is it then, Wonnie?”
“What is it? Tell me.”
Jaeduk placed his hand on Suwon’s back gently.
“It’s” Suwon’s sniffles kept interfering.
Jaeduk waited patiently.
“It’s My mommy doesn’t drool!” Suwon blurted, “She doesn’t”
Suwon began wailing. Biting his lips to keep in his laughter, Jaeduk put his arms around his love.
“I know I’m sorry, baby.”
Jaeduk pulled Suwon and himself under the covers of the bed. He wrapped his arms around him, waiting for Suwon’s cries to silence.
“Suwon Tomorrow I won’t forget. We have a date, okay?”
“I don’t really care if you forget or not, Dukie. I understand.”
“Yea, but nothing is more important to me than you.”
“And nothing is more important to me than you, too. Tomorrow morning I’m going to go to my parents and tell them about you.”
Jaeduk was silent for a moment.
“Yea. Kim Jaeduk, you’re my number one.”
Suwon sat up and looked down at Jaeduk. He couldn’t resist him. The double folds in his eyes, the sweet Pusan accent. He was so beautiful. He took off his unbuttoned shirt and unzipped his pants. Getting the idea, Jaeduk peeled off his clothes, too.
“You sure you want to do this again? We did it yesterday, too. And the day before. And the day before that. And that. And that. And that”
Suwon placed his hand over Jaeduk’s mouth and nodded.
“Everyday,” he whispered as he began to run his hands down Jaeduk’s chest.
He nipped at his nipples and licked the skin on Jaeduk’s washboard stomach.
It tasted salty from the unwashed sweat from practice earlier. But this is what Suwon liked. Jaeduk’s bittersweet flavor.
Locking lips, Suwon let his hands roam freely around Jaeduk’s body. Jaeduk’s own hands gripped his butt tightly.
Their bodies had adapted to each other’s shapes, accepting the other one.
When their lips unlocked, Suwon gave Jaeduk’s penis a slight squeeze.
“I love you, Jaeduk.” Suwon always said it and always waited for Jaeduk to say it too before he entered his body.
“I love you, too”
Jiwon waited impatiently at the lonely ring in the gym. It was already noon.
Jaeduk always began his training at five. The door flew open.
“Sorry, hyung. I got a little caught up with things last night and”
“Jaeduk, you should stop trying to please Suwon so much during your training,” Jiwon said quietly.
Jiwon cleared his voice. “I mean you should stop seeing Suwon altogether when your training as much as you are now.”
Jaeduk’s eyes widened in surprise. And then he looked at Jiwon somewhat offended.
“I can handle it, hyung.”
“You just don’t understand.”
“Jaeduk, if anyone else knows about your relationship, do you know what it could do to your career? Do you have any idea what kind of shit you can get into? That guy you have a match with next week, if he hears you’re going to have to kiss this all good bye. You’ve worked so hard, why are you throwing it away?”
“I love Suwon. You don’t understand anything. None of you, nothing.” Jaeduk threw down his duffel bag.
He began to run out of the room. Jiwon followed and grabbed a hold of his arm.
“Jaeduk, look at me. No, look at me,” his eyes focused in on Jaeduk’s, “I understand completely. It’s you that doesn’t understand. Here, look at this.” Jiwon threw his wallet in Jaeduk’s face. When he opened it, he found a picture of Jiwon hyung a few years earlier. It was a newspaper clipping.
“Isn’t this when you boxed?”
Jaeduk looked at the next picture.
He saw the next picture. It showed Sunghoon smiling and Jiwon wearing an apron, kissing Sunghoon on the cheek.
Another picture fell out. It was done much like a family picture. Jiwon, Sunghoon, Ppo Ppo (Sunghoon’s white dog), and a little girl Jaeduk had never seen before.
Jiwon sighed. “Jaeduk, I gave up this boxing for Sunghoon. And that girl.
That’s Sarah. We hired a birthmother and got her through artificial insemination. She’s Sunghoon’s girl. Pretty, huh?”
Jaeduk looked back at him in disbelief.
“I guess all I’m saying is,” Jiwon’s voice became barely a whisper, “Be prepared to give it all up if you have to. If you know you’re not going to be willing to give up everything for Suwon, then end it now.”
“If you love him”
“Hyung, I love him. I love Jang Suwon.” Jaeduk said with confidence “And I love boxing, too. I’m not going to give up either one”
Jiwon sighed as Jaeduk left the room after telling him he was leaving to see Suwon. “You don’t know, Jaeduk You really don’t”
“You fucking queer! I sent you to college and you come back telling me what?
That you’re a queer? That you like guys That you love who? What’s that son of a bitch’s name?”
Mr. Jang sent a fierce blow to Suwon’s head with the back of his hand. Suwon winced in pain.
“There is no way for you to come out of this alive today. You you are a disgrace. You don’t deserve to even live. To breathe.”
Suwon lowered his eyes and stared at the floor.
“Jaeduk,” he thought, “Jaeduk, what am I going to do?”
He lifted his eyes. “If I love him, there’s no need for me to be ashamed.”
“Ahbuji I love him”
Mr. Jang lifted his hand and to hit Suwon again. This time Suwon couldn’t hold it in. He fell to the floor.
Across the room he saw his older brother staring at him.
“Thank you for coming!”
Jaeduk smiled at the girl and walked out of the store holding pink roses in hand. They were Suwon’s favorite flowers. He paused for a moment to take in their sweet scent.
“Just like my Wonnie.”
He couldn’t wait to see Suwon. He hoped the visit he had with his parents had gone well.
“Hey, Kim Jaeduk.” Suwon’s brother stepped out from an alley.
“Huh? Oh hi.”
This was unexpected. Why would Suwon’s brother want to come see him.
“Hey queer, are you the one that fucked up my brother? Let me ask you, did you two fuck yet?”
Jaeduk slowly began to back away.
“What’s wrong? Aren’t you some big shot boxer? Why don’t you come over here and kick my ass?”
Suwon’s brother pulled out a gun and twirled it around his finger.
“Huh what’s wrong Jaeduk? You don’t really think you can make Suwon like you, do you?”
“Suwon loves me,” Jaeduk stated firmly.
“What? Say anything like that again and I swear I’ll fuckin’ kill you.” Jaeduk stepped closer.
“Suwon loves me.”
“You if you”
“Suwon loves me. I love – .”
It felt like fire burning right through him, turning his flesh and bones to dust.
The pink roses fell to the ground. Jaeduk dropped to his knees and placed his hand on his chest where blood was flowing from. He looked down at himself.
And then he looked up. Suwon’s brother glared back at him with eyes full of hatred.
“Suwon loves me,” Jaeduk whispered, “I love Suwon”
He raised the gun again and aimed for Jaeduk’s forehead. The full moon was shining over the two of them, illuminating the black sky. Slowly he pulled the trigger
“-swallow those tears,
I’ve caused too much pain.
You and I both know,
This world won’t let us live.
You know and I know,
Heaven is where we’ll meet again.”
– j. chun