Chapter 30

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Three years ago, my wife called my cell phone in the early afternoon. I was at work at the time, but the students were still on winter vacation.

She said, "Ken not here. I can't find him."

I said, "What the fuck does that mean?"

"He not here. I vely worry."

"How long ago did he go missing?"

"He reft apartment at ten. I alweady call porice."

"Did you try his phone?"

"He not take da phone."

"What the fuck is the point of having a phone if you're not going to take it with you?"

"Why you relling at me?"

I've always been a tightly-wound ball of stress, and many evil images began flooding into my mind. Maybe some pervert in a nondescript van had picked him up and was at this very minute raping the boy. Perhaps he got hit by a passing bus and was now nothing more than road kill. Then again, he might have fallen into the sea and drowned.

I snuck away from my desk and drove back to my villa. Then I walked to a local game room.

Nothing.

I checked all the computer cafes I could find.

Nothing.

I started to panic. My asshole puckered, and tears of grief welled sorrowfully in my beautiful green eyes.

My cell rang. It was Ken.

I said, "Where the fuck are you?"

He said, "I'm at the school apartment."

"How did you get there?"

"I walked."

I was quite impressed. That's a good six mile jaunt.

I said, "What the fuck happened?"

He said, "Mom kicked me out of the house, so I came here."

"But you don't have a key."

"I'm in the guard shack."

So I went and picked him up. What his mother did is common in Korea. She threw him out of the house, and he was supposed to kneel by the door and beg for her forgiveness. Then she would come and angrily tell him how she paid for his rice and cooked all his meals. He would subsequently cry like a girl and be graciously admitted back into her humble abode.

But Ken had walked away instead.

Maybe I should have been angry. However, I didn't blame the kid. Who the fuck wants to kneel by a door in the middle of winter? At least he managed to keep himself warm with a brisk walk.

I took him to dinner at a restaurant called Smoper Chicken. We ate fried bird, and I drank two bottles of soju. After that, we went home.

Ken and I walked bravely into the Dragon's Den. She began to beat him with a broomstick. I grabbed her by the shoulders and held her against the wall. She's a physically powerful woman. I don't call her the Dragon Lady for nothing. It took all my strength to restrain her.

I said, "Call the police!"

Ken said, "Are you sure?"

I said, "Just do it!"

She dropped the broom and began to laugh. "You so stupid. Dis is my cun-tlee. What you think porice do?"

I said, "I hope they put you in prison, you fucking maniac."

Two officers arrived about ten minutes later. Long story short? She was right. Ken told them the tale in Korean. They laughed in his face.

One said, "Dis is not Amelica."

The other said, "Risten to da mommy."

To make matters more humiliating, they threatened to bring me to jail. Grabbing her by the shoulders constituted an assault.

I said, "They're fucking kidding, right?"

Ken said, "They seem serious."

I said, "Are they going to arrest me?"

Ken said, "If we call again, you're going to the station. But they might be bluffing."

I said, "Holy fuck."

I'm telling you this story for a reason. Yesterday, Number One Sister-In-Law became very angry because her children didn't finish their math assignments. She took out a long slender piece of bamboo from the closet and proceeded to cane them quite viciously. Her violent outburst left raised red welts on their arms and legs.

It broke my heart. The little eight-year-old spent the whole day weeping.

Maybe I'm a liberal pussy, but I hate to see children getting the shit knocked out of them. In my opinion, it doesn't help with discipline or character development. It merely turns the victims into mean and sneaky assholes.

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