"Are you sure you can drive home?" the lady in a black dress called to JaeJoong.
"I'll be fine! You guys know I don't drink much," he shouted back.
"Just make sure you guys call for a taxi, alright?" he reminded them.
"No worries Jae, I've got yellow cab on speed dial," the bartender called back.
"Thanks Mack, I'll see you next Friday!" JaeJoong waved to the bartender and his friends and headed for the exit.
"See ya!" the bartender called back.
JaeJoong and his co-workers would come out to the local bar after a late shift every Friday night. It was a routine thing. And JaeJoong being the light weight, couldn't drink more than 2 beers. He mainly went to the bar to socialize with his co-workers.
He got into his car and got on the highway. It was 9:30pm and for some, the night was just starting. But for JaeJoong he had a routine of calling his sisters in Korea at noon their time. He was living in Iowa of all places. Most of his friends didn't believe him when he said he was moving to Iowa from New York a few years ago.
"Yah, it really is all cornfields here," he said when he first got there.
But after 2 years, he's gotten used to the harsh winter, and the tornado and flood warnings come every spring. Graduating from NYU but taking a job offer for a sales director position for a small financial business didn't go so well with his relatives in Korea. His uncle and aunt wanting him to get into the big bucks right after graduating. They were the main reasons why he chose to take the job offer in Iowa. He felt it was the only place he could go to where his relatives wouldn't visit him. He feels bad that he's ignoring his aunt and uncle, but he knew better than to have them meddle in his business. While he was in school his aunt had tried to set him up with another Korean woman who was in med school. And that bothered JaeJoong very much, because all his life he knew that he didn't like girls. He just didn't have the heart to tell anyone about it.
Exiting on the highway he took a left at the intersection. There were barely any street lights and most of the stop signs were crooked or lying on the ground. No one needed it anyways, there were no cars after dark. Right when he took a left turn, out of nowhere something ran in front of his car.
"What the heck!" JaeJoong shouted and stepped on his brakes.
He wasn't sure if he hit the thing or not. But he saw it fall in front of his car. He put his car on park and unfastened his seat belt. He pulled himself up and looked over his hood to see what just ran in front of his car. He didn't see anything. He slowly opened his car door and slowly walked up to the front of the car. A body laid a few feet away from his car!
"Are you alright?" JaeJoong called and kneeled down to see the person.
"Help me," the person mumbled. There were blood all over this face and on his jacket.
"Are you alright? I'm going to call the cops!" JaeJoong was in shock and tried to go back to his car for his cellphone.
"No, we don't have much time. We have to leave now!" the man told him.
"What? Is there something chasing you?" JaeJoong looked around to make sure.
"We have to go now!" the man ordered.
"I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to call the cops!" JaeJoong tried to go back to his car again but the person grabbed his wrist.
"You have to listen to me, if we don't leave right now we'll both be in danger!" he explained.
JaeJoong looked at the person's face and saw that he was serious. Without thinking much, he pulled the stranger's right arm around his neck and dragged to the passenger's side. Opening the door he set the stranger down in the seat. Then he ran back to the driver's side and got in. He took off.
"I'll take you to the police station," JaeJoong spoke.
"No," the stranger put pressure on his forehead to stop the bleeding. "I can't go to the police station," he said.
"What? Why not?" JaeJoong was getting nervous now. He had picked up a stranger who had blood all over his body, and now he's saying he can't go to the police.
"I'm not an American citizen, I'm a tourist. And I don't have any information on me," he explained.
"You shouldn't be worried about that right now. You're bleeding for god's sake!" JaeJoong said. "I'll take you to the hospital then," he offered.
"No, I have nothing on me. Plus they can't know I'm here," he said.
"Who can't know you're here? And how would they know you're here?" JaeJoong was so confused.
"I can't tell you right now. Take this," he handed JaeJoong a little piece of paper with his bloody fingers. "Don't take me to a police station, a hospital, or a hotel, take me some place private and call this number. Tell them 'saengil chukha hamnida' and tell them the address of the place. Memorize it, 'saengil chukha hamnida', you have to say it correctly," he mumbled and tilted his head in silence.
JaeJoong hearing the phrase 'saengil chukha hamnida' jumped a little. "He's Korean?" he thought. It was hard to tell with all those blood on his face, plus he had flawless English.
"Hey! Are you alright?" JaeJoong stepped on the brakes again after seeing the person's eye shut and his head tilt to the side. "Hey! You! Wake up!" It was no use, the person didn't respond.
"Is he dead?" JaeJoong wondered. He brought his hand up to the stranger's nose, relieved when he felt air on his fingers."Should I just take him to the police?" JaeJoong wondered. "Who cares if he doesn't have any identification on him," he thought. Then he looked at the little piece of paper in his hand. It was an international number, a phone number for Korea. "He is Korean, I should do as he says," JaeJoong thought. "But what if he's a bad person?" he looked at the unconscience face over next to him. "But as a Korean, I should help him," JaeJoong decided.
"You're so heavy!" JaeJoong commented as he carried the stranger on his back. It was a good thing that his garage was attached to the house. He made his way thru the door to the kitchen. He carried the stranger to the dark brown leather sofa. Forgetting about the blood on the stranger's body, he laid him down."You're heavier than you look," JaeJoong commented as he stood up. He finally saw the blood and got a little light headed.
He ran to the bathroom and washed up his face. "I should clean him up," JaeJoong told himself. He ran into the kitchen and grabbed the biggest bowl he could find and filled it with warm water. Grabbing the unused hand towel from the closet he quickly went back to the stranger. After cleaning him up, JaeJoong finally saw the stranger's face. "He sure is Korean," JaeJoong thought. "And he sure is good looking," JaeJoong told himself. "Aish! What the heck?" he shook the thought out of his head.
He pulled himself up and looked around to see where the blood was coming from. A slit on his right side of the head was the cause he figured. He grabbed the first aid kit he had bought a year ago, but never had used it so there were plenty of supplies. After carefully bandaging up the slit he proceeded to taking off the stranger's bloody clothes. He figured that he would just cut the shirt off, since the blood stain had dried on some parts of it. Then he unzipped the stranger's jeans and pulled it off. "At least he's got a boxer on," he thought. JaeJoong found more bruises on the stranger. The elbow, knee, and a strange horizontal cut on his left waist. JaeJoong looked back up at the stranger and wondered what kind of situation he had been in.
After bandaging him up, JaeJoong came back to the living room with a shirt, pillow and a blanket. "You'll have to wear my shirt for now," JaeJoong kneeled down to put the shirt on the stranger. JaeJoong carefully put the shirt on him and buttoned it up. He placed the pillow under the stranger's neck and pulled the blanket over him. Right as he was going to leave get cleaned up himself, he felt a piece of paper in his pocket. "The note," he thought. He brought it out and stared at the number. "Do I call it?" he wondered. He turned to look at the stranger who was still knocked out. "What the heck! I've already come this far!" JaeJoong went to the kitchen and grabbed his house phone. JaeJoong thought back to what the stranger's instructions were. Then he dialed the number.
"Yeoboseyo," a little kid's voice came across."Saengil chukha hamnida," he said with a stutter. JaeJoong waited, thinking someone would say something after that.
It was complete silence.
"Umm, 1133 5th avenue southeast, Northwood, Iowa," he spoke.
They hung up.
"What the heck?" JaeJoong thought.