Three jangjung occupied a corner of the canteen. Technically, they were a kid sandwiched between two elders, but Kim Deuk-pal firmly believed they were three elders. They stood with their cup noodles and triangular kimbap on a countertop fixed to the wall, waiting for the noodles to cook. After three minutes, the jangjungs, who had glanced at the odd trio, opened the lid of the cup noodles. Hot steam wafted out, wafting spicy ramen smell.


Se-kyung, who had held the hot container of ramen in his palm, folded the lid of his cup as Song Yi-heon and Hong Jae-min folded the lid and scooped out the ramen. However, the ramen soup leaked through the cup’s cracks. It stained their white shirts.


“Fool, you can’t even eat properly?”


Hong Jae-min giggled and teased, and Kim Deuk-pal gestured for a wet wipe in the corner of the tabletop.


“Friends shouldn’t tease each other, just get along.”


It’s the kind of thing a bullying victim would say to a perpetrator, but it’s an odd position to be in. Hong Jae-min’s conscience was pricked as he remembered what he had done, and he meekly handed over the wipes. Se-kyung used the wipes to wipe the ramen soup off his uniform and finished eating. Jae-min, who was the first to finish his ramen, opened his triangular kimbap as the sound of noodles being inhaled echoed through the room.


Then Choi Se-kyung thought Choi Se-kyung had never eaten triangular kimbap before and couldn’t even open the package. She couldn’t miss the teaser and turned her head excitedly.


“Hey, you don’t know how to open a triangle kimbap……….”


Jae-min’s words trailed off as the scene unfolded. Se-kyung had tugged on the wrapper wings on both sides and tore it open, but Kim Deuk-pal only held a big pile of white rice. She tried to open the package, but the plastic wrapper was crumpled and steaming on top.


“How do I open this?”


He asked, scratching his head. He’d seen his younger subordinates eat it, but never tried it.


After a moment of silence, Hong Jae-min grumbled and switched it with my perfectly torn kimbap. Se-kyung, who was late, stared at my hand in the air, then picked it up and bit off a corner. Her normally smiling face was fat.


“Mr. Yi, you’re a rich bastard. What did you do without buying a triangular kimbap?”


“Jae-min took a lot of it.”


“This bastard can’t even talk……!”


Hong Jae-min cringed at Se-kyung’s passing remarks, but Kim Deuk-pal also wolfed down the triangular kimbap.


“You didn’t just take my money, you made me steal it.”


“Hey, That’s…….”


When Song Yiheon didn’t take his side or forgive him, Hong Jae-min nervously shoved a kimbap into his mouth. He had brought him here because he’d been hit by a car, and he didn’t want to look down on him. Kim Deuk-pal finished eating and picked up the ramen container. The fluffy kimbap made him thirsty, so he gulped down the noodle soup bowl. The seasoned flavor was the same as thirty years ago when he first ate it.




* * *




The three of them left the cafeteria with a bite each and walked along school .Hong Jae-min, who had followed them, cursed abruptly when his cell phone rang and turned off in a different direction. They reluctantly ate together, but when the bill came due, he disappeared without saying goodbye.


Whether Hong Jae-min was there or not, it didn’t matter, so Kim Deuk-pal bit his lip and watched the unfamiliar school. After lunch, the students had made a prior arrangement, and the girls walked around the school and the boys were playing soccer on the playground. To be honest, Kim was itching to get on the field and kick a ball around.


“Hello, Se-kyung.”




Choi Se-kyung, a celebrity, was busy greeting girls even on a promenade full of girls. If a group of girls waved and walked by, another group would call out to her and greet her. It’s amazing how each accepts his affectionately differently. Kim Deuk-pal clicked his tongue, thinking Choi Se-kyung’s life must be very tiring.


Meanwhile, the girls didn’t recognize Song Yi-Heon, who cut his hair short. She looks cute, but her eyes are fierce, and her expression is stern. However, she’s interested in a handsome boy who’s sucking hard on a chu-chu-ba.


‘Instead of Song Yi Heon,who I thought was a stranger, I asked Choi Se Kyung, who I knew well.’


“Who’s next to you?”


“My boyfriend.”


Se Kyung rolled his eyes and smiled.


“Have you gone crazy……!


Kim Deuk-pal throws down his chutzpah and grabs Se-kyung by the neck. The wide-eyed girl quickly realized it was a joke when Song Yi-Heon vehemently denied it, giggling and giving him compliments such as being an excellent match and making pretty love.


Only Kim Deuk-pal waved away Se-kyung’s sarcasm. He tried to clean up Choi Se-kyung, who couldn’t touch the girls.


“No, we’re not dating! can’t you say it right?”


“Why, Yi-heon, am I embarrassing you?”


Se-Kyung laughed harshly, even as his collar collar dug into his skin. But his laughter faded as his name was called and the boy’s identity was revealed. Song Yi-heon, who was rumored to be gay, could not be a joke.


“Oh…, you’re Song Yi-heon?”


With the change in mood, Kim Deuk-pal pushed away Se-kyung’s slap and stood up stiffly.


“Uh, and why?”


There’s a difference between a positive nature and bravado. Kim Deuk-pal treated other people’s precious daughters as his own, but he wasn’t good enough to put up with spoiled children who openly showed their reluctance. If they were girls, he could only treat them harshly, but if they were boys, he was relentless.


“So you two, um…. Same-sex, kids, I mean, a real relationship……?”


It’s not that they’re particularly homophobic. However, Song Yiheon had been bullied at school for being gay, so it was difficult for her to accept it without feeling uncomfortable. The girls were terrified and crossed their arms tightly.


Song Yi-heon needed to make a clear statement about coming out to fit in with his peers. Unfortunately, the 47-year-old could not convince them of his delicate interests.


“We met at the same school, so why can’t we all get along?” was his crude argument.


Just as the girls got tired of Song Yi-heon’s coldness, Se-kyung intervened. He gave Song Yi-heon a shoulder to break the ice and explained.


“It’s just a rumor, my friend.”


“Uh-huh, really?”


“Yeah,He doesn’t get along with Hong Jae-min, so when he saw me and Yi-heon alone, he started a rumor about us and made him feel guilty.”


It was a plausible lie with just the right amount of truth. And when the reputable Choi Se-kyung explained it like a politician before an election, the girls didn’t doubt it.


“Yeah, Hong Jae-min is a dick.”


“Yi-heon shaved his head because he was annoyed by the rumors.”


“Do not touch.”


As Se-kyung toyed with Song Yi-heon’s short hair, Song Yi-heon kicked him in the shin with a fat kick. The girls’ faces lit up at the mundane play between the boys.


After clearing up the misunderstanding about the outing, the girls said goodbye to Song Yi-heon and parted ways. As the girls chattered away along the promenade, Choi Se-kyung picked up the chutzpah Kim Deuk-pal had thrown down and picked up the trash that had fallen nearby.


Kim Deuk-pal shoved his hands into his pants pockets and asked in a sibilant tone.


“What are you doing?”


“Pick up the trash.”


Se-kyung didn’t ask, but with one hand full of trash and his back straight, he walked away as if nothing was wrong. When Kim Deuk-pal didn’t follow, he looked back and blinked to ask why he wasn’t coming. He acted so innocently that Kim Deuk-pal laughed at him.


“Ha, a fox cub playing with people…….”


‘I wouldn’t be surprised if Choi Se-kyung had nine tails hidden in that flat ass.’

Kim Deuk-pal slowed his pace, resenting being manhandled by that fox cub. As he moved, Se-kyung walked again.


Song Yi-heon and Se-kyung walked hand-in-hand, but Se-kyung was alone and ahead of him. Deuk-pal, who had followed his back as he walked along the trail picking up trash, followed him as he sat down on a bench. The bench was off the path and in a thicket of bushes. Bugs crawled on their skin if they sat down, making students reluctant to do so.


Kim Deuk-pal sat cross-legged and watched Choi Se-kyung work. He set the trash he’d picked up aside so it wouldn’t crumble and pulled out a handkerchief to wipe his dirty hands. Druk-pal called out lowly.




But Se-kyung did as he was told, covering the pile of trash with his handkerchief. Not sure if he wanted to throw the soiled handkerchief away.


“Let’s keep your sexuality a secret while you’re at school. It’s Song Yi-heon who’s gay, not you anyway.”


“Are you sick? You say you’re Song Yi-heon in front of girls, but now you’re not because you’re talking to girls?”


When Se-kyung turned his head to look at him in disbelief, he smiled, but Kim Deuk-pal felt goosebumps. His eyes dulled under his soft smile. Even though they had searched for lights up until now, now that they were certain, they had no emotion left in them.


“If it was really Song Yi-heon, I’m sure he would have been stunned when I introduced him as my boyfriend.”


“Was the slap not enough?”


Se Kyung laughed self-deprecatingly.


“I mean, at least he wouldn’t have taken my slap. Song Yi-heon is the kind of kid who holds it in, doesn’t take it out on others. He was more surprised by himself when he threatened me. Even when I saved him from being ripped off by Hong Jae-min, he couldn’t say a word and looked at the floor.”


Choi Se-kyung grabbed Kim Duk-pal’s upper arms. He forced him to look at him.


“Yes, Hong Jae-min. Hong Jae-min doesn’t make sense either. You have a weak right ankle because Hong Jae-min stepped on it and stretched the ligaments, but being close to him in the incinerator did that make you weak? That doesn’t make sense.”


At the time, Se-kyung reported the bullying without anyone knowing. He thought Song Yi-heon was embarrassed after he stopped him from taking the money, so he didn’t get involved after that, but Hong Jae-min crossed the line that day. But when he saw Song Yi-heon and Hong Jae-min sitting comfortably together in the incinerator today, as if they were best friends, Choi Se-kyung felt a twist in his gut, even if he didn’t show it.


Kim Deuk-pal replied stiffly. There was only one excuse.


“I was in an accident, so I don’t remember.”


For the first time, Choi Se-kyung smiled, not a friendly smile, but a sneer. Kim Deuk-pal gritted his teeth at the child’s mockery, but Se-kyung’s tongue was sour.




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