Cast of characters




Miss No




Mr E




Mr Kang








Mr Go








Only open road lay ahead of E and company – until the next checkpoint – with hordes of traffic badly bottlenecked at the toll booth behind them.




E maintained a swift and speedy velocity.




No gloated with self-satisfaction. “Now we will be in Chinju in a few minutes. Maybe it is not too late. I am going to try to phone Mr Go again.”





“I don’t know why he hung up last time but it is worth another try. Yo-bo, your phone please!”




 E removed one white-knuckled hand from the steering wheel and fumbled in his breast pocket for his cell, and then handed it over.








Mr Go’s Attack      




The soju micro droplets that had permeated the keypad of Go’s cell had evaporated sufficiently over the last few minutes and the phone was back in working order.





Fred almost jumped out of his skin when it suddenly rang.




One ring. Stop. Two rings. Stop. Three rings. Stop.




Miss No’s back – already. Fred found himself inadvertently glaring at the sushi knife again.




* Will Miss No’s commands work on Go this time? *




Go was right in the midst of tapping his wooden name stamp into the red ink pad, but suddenly froze and his hand went limp.





The stamp dropped, bounced lightly off the pad and landed sideways on the desk with a mild clackety-clack.




Go stiffly rotated his torso toward the ringing sound. Looking bewildered, he scratched his temple lightly and then picked up the revived cell phone.




Now he had two phones going at once – one in each ear. It looked comical – yet in a horrifying way.




In his left ear, Miss No’s voice came through the cell speaker as a tinny, rapid squawk. In Go’s right ear, Kang’s benign yet authoritative voice barked through the landline.




Two commands, back and forth, left to right and sometimes on top of each other.




* Whose commands will win out? *




Fred couldn’t make out what was being said but was getting a pretty good idea by watching Go’s facial contortions and eye movements – and the beads of sweat now shooting out of his temples.




And the damn sushi knife continued sitting there.




Go uttered into his cell phone: “Yes Comrade No. I have Comrade Kang on the landline in my other hand.”





“[No: Squawk, squawk.] Disconnect Comrade Kang’s call? Yes Comrade No.”





Go went to hang up on Kang but his arm movement was uncoordinated, awkward and stiff.





The landline’s receiver dropped, deflected off the phone body, and bounced – settling on the desk.




Kang’s call was still in tact though, and Fred could hear him calling out commands. Comrade Go, however, was focused exclusively on Comrade No’s orders.




Squawk squawk squawk.




“Yes Comrade No, I understand.”




His next gesture shocked Fred. “Mr Go – don’t do it!”




Go was reaching for the sushi knife. Being right-handed though – and with his cell phone in that hand – he awkwardly picked up the knife and then realized he had to switch hands.




Furthermore, even though the cell phone had dried out, the knife had been sitting in the puddle of spilt soju on the desk – and the residue on the knife handle was all sticky.





Go strongly disliked anything sticky.




“Ayeesh…” he muttered irritably.




Fred’s first instinct was to back away from the desk, but then he recalled a sparring trick from Tae Kwon Do – always stand your ground in the face of a dangerous attack.




So he didn’t move.




He remained sitting rigidly in his chair across the desk, practically beckoning Go to make his next move with the knife.





If Go strikes down with that knife, all I can do is deflect it with an arm block…




* Will Go land a strike on Fred?! *




Instead, Go – with the knife still in his wrong hand – clumsily lunged at Fred across the desk as if executing a fencing maneouvre.





The knife’s path was Fred’s heart, but the waygook quickly stood up and side-stepped it.




Go was now awkwardly leaning forward over his desk, his arm fully extended with knife pointed forward – off balance, prostrated, vulnerable.





Fred quickly lowered the boom on Go and slammed his torso down on the desk.




He lost his grip on the knife and it fell on the floor on Fred’s side of the desk, out of harm’s way.





Go also fumbled the cell phone in his other hand and it bounced off the desk.








Tomorrow: Go wavers under the stress of his two commanders…