Stranger - Chapter 3.3
As I thought about it, my head turned cold, and the frustration stuffing my heart had subsided a bit. It seemed like it had been a week since I saw his face properly. He was a very busy person, and because he didn’t look for me, it was easier than I thought for a week to pass by without looking at him.
I liked to be alone, and I wanted to be alone, but perhaps because spending a few weeks with him made me already get used to the house with him, I felt empty. He said absence makes the heart grow fonder. To tell the truth, I was the one entering this place, but this feeling annoyed me and was unfamiliar.
I spent the whole day in a gloomy mood, and after having dinner, it was time for Yeon Woojeong to get off work soon. He might work overtime again today, though.
Out of nowhere, I hated to be in this house, so I took Yeon Woojeong’s card and went outside. I went out on impulse but had nothing to do, and nowhere to go. I saw a convenience store across the officetel. I crossed the road to enter there.
It was quite big inside, and there were two employees. I just absent-mindedly strolled around and found choco pie. Looking at the red package, I was reminded of the kid in the facility. He liked this the most.
An aunty who worked in the neighborhood’s supermarket sometimes threw choco pies at the kids. It was obvious that Lee Sugeol would go crazy, asking what money we used to buy that, so everyone secretly ate that in the corner. The kid that followed me the most amongst them always divided his choco pie in half and gave it to me. If I didn’t accept that, he would say, ‘this is tasty… this is tasty…’ wandering around me.
He must be doing well, right? He will do well. Even if he’s not, it’s not my business. I’m in a more desperate situation than him.
I had nothing particular to buy, so I went outside again. I wandered around nearby, and when I eventually went back, Yeon Woojeong’s shoes were left at the entrance. What good timing. I stayed there for a while, then I walked inside.
There was Yeon Woojeong in comfortable clothes looking at his notebook on the sofa. As I walked inside, he turned his head.
“Hi. Long time no see.”
I wanted to crumple that shameless face. For a moment, the white body I saw that night flashed on his face. Suddenly, my mouth started watering. I walked slowly and once I sat next to him on the sofa, he asked while looking at the notebook.
“Has your puberty ended?”
“It is said that when you start locking your room means you’re in the puberty phase.”
I didn’t really get what he was saying, but I heard it as Yeon Woojeong knew I was avoiding him. When I looked at the face with a loose smile hanging, the urge to ask where he went that day rose, so I tapped the table.
“What is this?”
“The documents that I should look at alone.”
“But why are you looking at this here?”
“Let’s make this a secret between us. I don’t want to go home with work either.”
Yeon Woojeong looked a bit tired. My annoyance melted as I saw that face. In contrast to having those kinds of dreams, I wasn’t really angry. Is this because I see him after a long time?
“What is this about?”
“About a kid your age robbing around pawnshops and then killing someone.”
“Is he underage?”
“No. He’s not underage.”
A kid my age. Looking at him pushing his nasal bridge with his finger, I recalled a supposition. I hesitated for a while, then I opened my mouth.
“If you found him first before you found me, would you pick him?”
Yeon Woojeong’s eyes turned to me. He stared at me with eyes oddly smiling, and said,
“Who knows. I don’t just pick up anybody.”
“Then why did you pick me?”
“Didn’t I tell you last time?”
That bullshit saying beautiful or whatever it was. Does he think I would believe that?
“Then what if I was on my way after killing someone?”
As I asked significantly with an expressionless face intentionally, Yeon Woojeong looked back at me and leaned his back on the sofa.
“I would still pick you, I suppose. It’s not like it’s written in your face, ‘I killed someone.’”
“Kick me out once you find out?”
Yeon Woojeong threw back his head and leaned his head too to the sofa. There was a faint bruise on the exposed neck. How clumsy.
“There is a principle called presumption of innocence. It means every person is considered innocent until proven guilty by the court. So, even if you really had killed someone… if I picked you, then it’s right for me to take responsibility.”
“What a stupid idea.”
“You think so?”
“If I killed someone, then that’s it. Why should you go so far to presume innocence?”
He smirked at my words while shrugging. Is he originally a tolerant person? Even if the theory works so, a murderer is a murderer.
The white nape entered my eyes again. I wonder if his skin is bruised easily. How did he get that? If I choke his neck with one hand right here, how will he respond? I absentmindedly thought about it, then asked,
“You believe so, but what will you do if I kill you here?”
“You think I will just calmly get killed like that, huh?”
Yeon Woojeong narrowed his eyes and snorted, then he returned to his notebook. What an annoying man.
As his gaze left me, somehow, I had the urge to talk to him again.
“So, how long will he rot?”
“How long will he rot in the prison?”
“That is for the judge to decide. Also, I’m not the trial prosecutor, and it’s not under my authority either.”
“Then what prosecutor are you, Mr. Yeon?”
“I… decide whether to hand it over to trial or not.”
“Will you hand it over?”
“But why are you looking at this seriously?”
If he decided to hand it over, then there was no need to keep working on this, wasn’t there? He didn’t look like he was attentively working on the case. There were only a few sentences on the screen.
“Just. He’s young.”
“Do you care about things like that?”
“Your curiosity is at its peak today. You have a high ardor to study, Mr. Kim Jiho.”
Yeon Woojeong beamed and minimized the window. I wondered if he were to stop working, but he opened another window—making me think he was unexpectedly diligent. Truthfully, rather than a passionate prosecutor or a prosecutor that thought about the weak people’s circumstances, he looked more like someone who licked up to the conglomerate or ruthlessly punished the criminals.
“Of course I do. The younger they are, the more room for edification.”
“There was a bastard I met back when I was in the youth shelter, and he was sixteen.”
He completely turned his head to stare at me. The sign of him listening made my fingertips spark.
“At home, he hit his mom, and at school, he harassed other kids, then he left. At the shelter, he took kids younger than him, and he was caught when he was about to make them sell their bodies, so he was kicked.”
“Do you think bastards like him can change?”
I didn’t think Yeon Woojeong had an innocent belief, but I hoped he wasn’t innocent and tolerant. Even though he would have never picked me if he was a cold person without blood and tears, I hoped he was someone like that.
I wished for him to be an unjust person.
Yeon Woojeong rubbed his temple with one hand and faintly creased his eyes.
“You’re not wrong. Just because they are young and have bad environments, not everyone will choose that option. And that kind of situation will not impact my judgment.”
“But still, sometimes they will pull the brake. While thinking over and over.”