Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

John Stone!

Being an expat is not for most, and often in the process of sorting themselves out in their new challenging environment, people will be in a manner that some would consider strange or odd; this is great for the long term salty waeg, as they have more than a few stories of the fucked up weirdos they've met over the years.

But John was not a weirdo.  To the contrary: he was almost Mr. Straightedge America, save for the button down fly, Oxford shirt, and sports jacket: Mr. Contractor with the USFK, good heart, great salary.  John did like to imbibe, this is true; but as is the case with many a waeg who comes to Korea, it was something learned in the environment as opposed to an innate quality.  John was known as the soft touch who'd buy a few rounds or six, tell silly jokes, and be ready to take the piss out of himself as a means to defuse tense situations.  More than a few bar brawls were avoided thanks to John making a mockery of everything he was.

Well one day it so happened that John met a girl, a nice girl, a sweet girl; she had spurned more than a dozen potential suitors, and more than a hundred jackasses who approached with good time lines of what they could get for 5 dollars.  'Ice Queen', 'Lesbo', 'Cocktease' were some of the more frequent unflattering labels some tried to affix, yet none seemed to stick as it was easy to dismiss the lower specimens that used them.  This Korean woman exuded confidence and intelligence, a sense of someone unassailable if this was your goal, which kept most of the unworthy at bay.  She didn't frolic, or ask you to buy her drinks, or giggle.  That is, until she set her sights on John.

Now John wasn't an idiot, no one would think of assigning him this moniker; however he did have a good heart, and was open to finding someone of the same ilk, which was at the same time his strength and weakness.

Over the course of several weeks, many marveled at how John seemed close to breaching the unassailable wall, as the pair kept company more and more frequently; days trips turned into weekends, and when pressed to share peccadilloes amongst the guffaws of his compatriots as to how he had learned to carve stone, John would simply say she wasn't like that, nor could she be.  He was truly smitten, and many drinks were bought for the man amongst swine.

Weeks turned into months, and eventually John and his paramour began planning for the future: one night the condom broke, and several cycles of the moon passed clear, but for John this was something that seemed meant to be.  She had admitted humble origins, but John found this all the more endearing, so plans were made for an autumn wedding.  When a popular bar came up for sale, John stepped forward with his savings to buy it lock stock and barrel, as it would be the first of many investments to secure a future for his brood.  Papers were signed, invites were sent to the printers, everything was set.

And then the hammer fell.

First it was that John's phone no longer worked.  This wasn't so odd: perhaps it was just spotty coverage.  But when John went home, his key no longer worked.  He couldn't understand the grandma who tried to tell him the house was empty, but she opened the door anyway: the panic began to set when John saw an empty house.  When he went to the bar, there was a posse.  It took some cajoling, combined with intervention from more than a few soldiers and the MPs, to finally let John in.  But John was met by stone, and disdain.

What was said between John and her is a matter of conjecture, although it soon became common knowledge that John had invested his money in her name, and she had chosen the now cook as her partner.  John seemed broken, lost, as the drama unfolded.  It mattered little that everyone knew the truth, as the law clearly stated that John was in the wrong: waegs could not own small businesses at the time, and as everything was in her name, she had it all.  Many tears were shed: the baby had miscarried, everyone should understand her situation, she was poor, had nothing, had come to love another man.  Everyone get out!  Everyone leave!  This is my house!

While the drama played out between the two posses, John retreated to a small couch in a corner.  There he lay and closed his eyes.  When it was apparent that police involvement would be the next step, much effort was made to awake John.  But he did not move.  Just let him sleep a bit, you owe him that at least.  She acquiesced.  So he slept.

Days became weeks became months, but John did not move.  It became something of a local attraction, a cautionary tale.  The bar was still popular, as all his buddies kept checking in on him to ensure he was OK, and money spent would serve to establish revenue.  He rarely moved, rarely seemed to eat.  She mocked him from the bar: that?  It is only a stone, the head the hardest.  As his buddies were transferred out, others came and heard the tale.  But still he slept.  She did try to chase him out a few times, but it seemed that as everyone knew exactly what had transpired, and he did nothing to cause trouble even when the place was closed, and the new couple lived upstairs behind locked doors, no one tried to move him.  He was unassailable: no matter how the young bucks would try to goad him, spill drinks, draw crude penises on his face, he slept.  The next day he would appear unmolested, as if the couch nullified any of the proceedings.  After a time, most people no longer saw him, as he became like any other piece of furniture in the place.  It was as if the couch in the corner no longer existed.

He slept for near two years.  One day, he got up, and walked out the door.  No one knows where he went, nor did anyone ever see him again.  Shortly after, she left, leaving the bar to the cook; the base nearby had merged with Osan and the once bustling  tavern became a shell.  The cook tried to run it for about a year, but then he too disappeared.  It doesn't really matter what happened to any of them, as a stone does not tell time, nor cares.  What only matters are those who remain to tell the tale.


Jeff said...

That was so sad and miserable to read. Thanks for sharing.

F5Waeg said...

you're welcome?

Unknown said...

Yeah, meant it as a compliment. You pulled at my heart-strings this time, Waeg.

F5Waeg said...

Thanks dude. Been sitting on that story for long while, just wasn't ready to be told yet. Not sure what clicked to finally let it out, but glad you enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

A beautiful tragedy...glad this tale once known by a few can be seen by many. Enjoyed the read.

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