Cast of characters




Miss No




Mr Kang








Mr Go








Fred said in a calming fashion, “Everything’s okay Mr Go. We’re both safe now.” He released Go and helped him collect himself and sit back down in his swivel chair.




The boss looked confused, wasted, pathetic. Fred felt sorry for him. This whole unfortunate unfolding of events wasn’t fair. Go was a sick, suffering man.




* Do you think Go will end up being okay? *




Now a garble bellowed out of the Kang phone and Fred was reminded why he was here in the first place – the get his new working contract signed.




* Will he get it signed? *




Surprisingly, Mr Go seemed to now regain focus and picked up the landline receiver coolly and confidently – or so it seemed.




“Yes Comrade Kang, hello again sir. Sign the contract? Yes sir.” He picked up the name stamp and dabbed it in the crimson ink.





He was struggling though, only moving in super-slow motion, as if he was a robot on very low battery.




A few seconds later the raspy tone of Comrade No’s voice uttered forth shrilly from the cell, now lying down on the floor nearby. “Do not sign anything.”




Go put the name stamp down. “Yes Comrade No …” however his voice had dropped an octave and he was talking at half speed.




Fred watched dumbfounded as Go sat there with one phone in each ear again, his eyes shifting back and forth as if watching tennis.





The same disturbing scene as a few minutes ago – this time without the sushi knife.




The sweat now poured off Go’s face. Fred could feel the tension emanating from the man. His brain must be like a red hot charcoal.




Kang: “You must sign …”




No: “Do not sign!”





* What will Go do?! *





“Yes Comrade…”  but Go had comprehended the last order only dimly and his voice trailed right off. His chin dropped and rested on his chest.




His arms remained rigid however, resolutely holding both phones up. He was white as a ghost with sweat still steadily seeping from his temples.




Having gone without food too long now, the stress of the conflicting phone calls had burned up the last molecules of blood sugar in his brain.





He started gasping and wheezing.




Fred could no longer sit idle and watch his best Korean friend self-destruct. The man needed medical attention and Fred hoped it wasn’t too late.




* Could it be too late?… *




He stood up and leaned over the desk, attempting to look into Go’s eyes, but they were barely open and glazed.





Fred carefully but decisively removed both phones from his hands.




Go was too weak to resist and voluntarily lowered his limbs very slowly to the desk where they went limp. Fred grasped one hand; it felt clammy.




“Mr Go, I think if we just get you something to eat you’ll be okay. You’re running on empty. We need to go out and get some rice. Now.”




He fished around for the extra chocolate bar in his pocket, peeled off the wrapping and broke it into chunks.





Go summoned enough strength to take the pieces and slowly eat them, methodically chewing on each chunk; again, all in excruciatingly slow motion.




“Good work Mr Go. In a minute or two that will kick-in and should give you enough energy to go with me and get lunch.





We’ve got to get that blood sugar of yours back up.”




Go waved him off with a weak, limp hand. “We … have … no … time,” he blathered; disoriented. “I must … talk to Comrade No… Comrade Kang … hello?”




He looked around the desk and felt blindly for the phones.




“Mr Go just relax and breathe deeply. Fill those lungs with air. Get your breathing back under control. Oxygen, Mr Go. The source of life. Breathe…”




Go merely groaned. “Comrade No … Comrade Kang … Hello? Where am I? What doing here?”




The chocolate hadn’t metabolized yet. Go’s eyes were almost closed and he was unable to move his head.





He felt around the desk again listlessly for the phones but Fred had nudged them out of reach.




His contract – and his future in Korea – still sat unstamped on the desk, with the stamp nearby.





He now realized it would probably not get signed yet he no longer cared. This whole thing had gone too far.




Way too far.




Ironically, he felt some relief at the thought of Miss No arriving shortly to order his deportation.





I’ll tell her to spare me a condescending lecture. I’ll politely and diplomatically give her a respectful bow and depart for the last time.




Imagining the scene, he shook his head and chuckled. How did I ever come to think that she wouldn’t get her way in the end?




Not agreeing with his fate but firmly resigning himself to it, Fred wanted his last act in Korea to be helping his friend Mr Go.





Then, years from now he could look back on his short stint in this God-forsaken country with pride.




Suddenly, a dull thud.




* What has happened? *








Tomorrow: Fred’s fate in Korea is still yet to be determined…