Cast of characters




Mr Go








Miss No




Mr Kang




Mr E
















Toll Booth     





Comrade No’s mind-washing power over Comrade Go had just been drowned out. Seconds later, like clockwork, the landline rang.




* Is it Mr Kang calling again? *




An agitated Go gave up on the soju-soaked cell phone. He now – perhaps strangely – seemed befuddled about the knife.




To Fred, the raw fish cutting utensil was no longer menacing. It looked listless; inert; almost like a toy.





Yet Fred did not dare touch it or try to remove it from the desk.




Not yet.




Slowly and cautiously he picked up the fresh call on the landline, and efficiently transferred Mr Kang over. “Just a moment Mr. Kang,” Fred whispered. “Here’s Mr Go.”




“Hello? Comrade Go? Hello?” shot through the voice from the other end. “It’s Comrade Kang. Long time no see Comrade Go!”




He chuckled hoping to relax Go. “Do you recognize my voice?”




“Yeah, yeah…”




“Comrade Go you must not obey Comrade No’s orders – I repeat: Not obey.”




There was a pause. Fred, sitting across the desk, cringed and could palpably feel the wheels of Go’s mind completely shifting from forward to reverse.




“You must follow my orders only.”




“Yes Comrade Kang.”




“You must sign Fred’s contract so he can work for me here in Ulsan.”




Go’s facial expression noticeably changed – from confusedly twisted to a more normal, businesslike scowl with furrowed eyebrows. “Yes Comrade Kang, one moment please.”




Fred inferred what was going on and hastily retrieved the document and ink stamp from nearby and placed them neatly on Go’s desk.





Still the knife sat there. Still Fred didn’t dare touch it.




With Miss No neutered for the time being, the knife was harmless.




Go sat down in his chair with dignity and seriousness. Moving with slow but decisive actions, he brought the ink pad closer and flipped the lid open.





Then he grasped the stamp and hammered it down into the ink with a decisive thud.




Next, he positioned Fred’s new contract and flipped it to page two where a dotted line at the bottom beckoned. He wet the stamp in the ink pad.




Fred very slightly nodded with approval, not wanting to betray overconfidence. This whole sordid, soju-soaked situation would be over in a matter of seconds.




The Korean Gods had forgiven him and he’d be going to Ulsan for a second chance in this God-forsaken country…




Go cocked his forearm and down came the stamp toward the paper…




* Has Go completed what he needed to to let Fred work in Ulsan? *








Back at the beach, up at the taxi parking area.




Miss No was oblivious to the soju spill on Go’s desk and she was baffled and frustrated that her phone call to him has just been aborted.





She swiftly abandoned the public phone just as Mr E pulled up in the car.




Donna and Damion were in the back seat. No hopped in the front passenger side.




“Pali, pali,” she snapped.




E hit the gas and skidded with a Hollywood-style screech out of the taxi parking lot and adeptly cut right into traffic.





When the beachside road widened to two lanes, he nimbly weaved in and out of traffic like a madman – but in slow motion.




Traffic was thick – still moving slowly – but thick. Only able to advance a few metres at a time, E would hit the gas in short bursts into an open space – and then have to hit the brakes.




Donna was going to suggest that they’d get just as far cruising along slowly with the traffic flow but decided to bite her tongue.





She looked to her right to see if Damion had anything to say but he was fast asleep.




He’d drifted off moments after they’d left the beach and the car’s interior had warmed up.





The only sounds coming from him were a mild snoring and occasional tummy rumble.




“Can’t you drive any faster?” No nagged. “There – there – there – get into that space. If you see a gap, slice your way into it.”




“Ayeesh – congestion,” E muttered, feeling the need to say something, even if it was totally obvious.





A crack did open up to the right front and he slowly wedged his car into it.




He moved ahead about half a vehicle-length but was again sucked-up into the standstill traffic and came to a crawl.








Tomorrow: No instructs E on how to get past the traffic… disregarding how illegal it is.