Except that the lyrics, when Seunghoon finally paid attention to it, was usually from a piece of newspaper on the table in front of them. They were all singing about a particular traffic incident that was reported in the paper. Sometimes, increased rent and economic crises of Seoul. Other times, finding missing person and most wanted criminals. And it always sounded >marvelous.
Not all lyrics need to sound like poems to the ears. Somehow that made Seunghoon grin. Somehow that made Seunghoon, for the first time in his life, feel as though being outside his room and talking to people who weren’t certified as friends at the time could be a good idea.
It all started with a joke. A few stupid jokes from the peers, that was all it took.
Nam Taehyun, with Jinwoo sitting on his laps, let out a long blow of smoke while avoiding the older’s effort to steal the cigarette from him:
“You can’t be hanging with us and not have a partner. That’s like really lame.”
“He actually meant you can’t be a virgin at this point.” Jinwoo, newly invented red-haired boy who decided that pink highlight on pigtail hair was so emo-girl aesthetic - which was exactly why it suited him in the first place – carefully picked up the burned-over cigarette and inhaled one last hit before dropping the rest on the floor. He did it quite skillfully, like he has been a smoker for years. Taehyun directed Jinwoo to exhale into his mouth and they giggled as their nose touched. Seunghoon rolled his eyes at the scene. Since Jinwoo started seeing Taehyun, he got into all the habits that the golden-haired boy has. It wasn’t all that bad; these guys didn’t do anything worse than what Seunghoon could get used to. Same smoking, same drinking, same occasional highs and different types of stimulants at times, but not the worst he had seen.
“Explain Seungyoon then.” He challenged the group.
“Never mind him,” Taehyun shrugged. “He is in a committed relationship with his guitar.”
“And occasional seasonal flings in which he intentionally let others dump him in order to write believable lyrics.” Minho added.
“I screwed them both.” Seungyoon smiled upon seeing the question in Seunghoon’s gaze. Jinwoo turned to look at Taehyun with his deer-like eyes widened. So Seunghoon had thought Jinwoo’s eyes are the pivotal of human’s eyes capacity, but of course they could get bigger. Taehyun hurriedly explained. “Only when we are really high, kissing a cow at that point would feel same to be honest.”
“Hey.” Seungyoon showed objection through his visibly disturbed facial expression.
“That’s so hot.” Minho choked on his cigarette as he heard Jinwoo. He coughed violently and motioned his hand to dissolve the smoke, very believably coming from his ears. “We didn’t make it pass second base because Seungyoon thought my foot can come.” Seunghoon pretended to vomit while Taehyun just gave a grimace of disgust. Jinwoo covered his mouth in awe when Seungyoon quickly responded:
“To my defense, whatever your foot is, I think it did.”
Seunghoon remembered laughing so hard that his ribs hurt. A very hurt Minho elbowed both Seungyoon and Jinwoo because they wouldn’t quit trying to touch his feet while screaming at him “Minho got three legs~” and Taehyun did absolutely nothing to savage the situation. All he gave was a simple nod of approval to which Seunghoon responded with a slow clap.
“You guys have a very wonderful and deep friendship.” Seunghoon said, emphasizing the word ‘friendship’.
“I swear to god, Seunghoon, if these motherfuckers ain’t my only source of income I wouldn’t even sit with them.” Mino shook his head and lay back to the couch, threw his legs onto the table. He gave up on the other guys.
“Oh but you have three legs, the resources of income should be abundant. Right guys?” Jinwoo still wouldn’t quit the joke.
“He should make so much money he can shit coke out of his ass.” Seungyoon added.
Minho suddenly looked grumbling. His usual low voice sounded even coarser as he reached for his coat and stood up. At first, people in the room thought he’d been kidding, but as soon as Minho headed to the door, Taehyun stopped laughing and thrust the burnt cigarette to the full ash tray, while Seungyoon shrugged and shook his head. Jinwoo nervously sensed at the dying laughter in the room. This was news, Seunghoon thought.
“Can I talk to you for a bit?” From the door, Minho’s voice echoed back. “Seunghoon-ssi?” He looked across his shoulders at the other guys, who only responded by drifting their gazes elsewhere, and shrugged. “Sure, wait up.”
“How long is general greeting supposed to last, in a socially acceptable manner, before we can talk about real stuff?” Jinwoo seems to slightly lose patience over Seunghoon’s overall silence.
“Equivalent of loosening up and lube time.” Seunghoon shrugs.
“Wow, you still speak like an asshole. I take back what I said, you didn’t change that much.” Jinwoo’s exclaim doesn’t sound remotely surprising. His expression quickly changes into that of seriousness:
“So why, Seunghoon?”
Seunghoon distractedly plays with the napkins on the table.
“Do you know that saying, ‘sons who are like their mothers will inherit the family’s bad lucks’?” He drips his finger into the water on the table and drags it around in circle.
“I grew up watching my mother going berserk at her own parents whenever they brought up my dad’s cause of death. But when the matter came to my hand, I…”
Jinwoo stares at his own feet.
“… made the same choice.” He finishes the sentence after Seunghoon is reluctant to say any further.
“You made the same choice.” He said.
He is the brightest light in my world.
It is always hard to look directly at the light as it is easy to fall in love with it. But we’re almost destined to gearing toward the light. Isn’t it fasinating how the human’s metaphor of truth, morality, and beauty all come down to this one simple thing? The naked eyes human love the light because it signifies so many things; positive, loveable, happy things. In the end, the glamour and undefinable, which could possibly blind them all if >they let it, is nothing but a metaphor of a great life they could lead or a great place they should be. Yet somehow, they try to materialize it, shape it, name it, position it as something reachable. Didn’t they see the way moths flying to the burning lamp just to find death. Perhaps that is what they seek. Perhaps going towards the light is ever the last stage of life that every moth has to fulfill – that their life is spent for that mere moment. Perhaps it’s their inevitable ending.
I had to. I gave up my roof for him. There was no turning back. He is in me now. Surrounds me with wonderful and bizarre sensations of what I am not supposed to feel. Fills me up with warmth and delightful sunshine, illuminating all my corners, sending every bit of dead human cells – the only thing I’m covered with – flying and glowing. I loved it. He could pour in me. I hoarded his light in my shell with such urgency and greed.
Because soon, the night comes.
>From “The Roofless House.” Lee Seunghoon, 2002
Despite all the times hanging at this coffee shop, Seunghoon never knew the neighborhood around. Following Minho through all the intersected dark alleys – which he did try to keep up at first, but eventually gave up after the fifteenth right turns and the eighth left – made him realize that. They passed by those small streets that were completely effaced from the surface of glamorous Seoul. The pavement gradually disappeared into the lane and at one point, Seunghoon found himself walking right next to a truck too big for the road but insisted on entering the alley. “Be careful.” Minho quickly said as he firmly grabbed Seunghoon’s lower waist and pulled him inside. “Get away from the truck when you see one, will you.” Seunghoon didn’t realize how but he was put on the safer sidewalk while Minho switched his place to be the one walking next to traffic. The warmth from Minho’s bare fingers etched on his skin through the thin T-shirt fabric like a ghost. He unconsciously brushed the spot again until the feeling went away.
“So, what was that about?” Seunghoon asked after spending another fifteen minutes in silence walking alongside Minho.
“What was what?” Minho distractedly asked back.
“You leaving the room all angry and calling me out here.”
“Nothing.” Minho twitched his lips into something that tried to resemble a smile but didn’t quite get there.
“You didn’t just make an excuse to spend private time with me, did you?” Seunghoon knew this type of joke wasn’t really a joke unless the one hearing it thought so.
“So that was what you think.” Minho tilted his head a bit to look at Seunghoon who rejected to return the gaze. “Do people always come onto you like that or are you just happy to see me?”
“Neither. I’m not really about that life.” Seunghoon said bluntly. He didn’t need to look at the guy, who somehow got closer and closer after each turn. “So Jinwoo-hyung wasn’t kidding when he said you don’t do dating ever.” Minho snorted as he slightly brushed his nose back and forth. “Is that a choice or a lack of opportunity?”
Seunghoon wanted to laugh at his choice of words. “Do you always come onto people like that or are you just really happy to see me?” He waited for another cocky response that always couldn’t wait to shoot out of the younger’s mouth. He was surprised at the silence. Mino touched his own neck nervously while looking away; his other hand slightly brushed against Seunghoon’s, at first innocently and naturally like an accident, but then Seunghoon could feel those fingernails trembling on his hand. “The latter.” Minho said in his lowest, tiniest voice.
“Why were you so angry back in the coffee shop? Did they say something that upset you?” Seunghoon diverted the conversation. He couldn’t stand the nature of it. Minho’s head slightly jerked; he turned to Seunghoon with the most confusing expression on his face.
“I know someone.” My mother. Seunghoon carefully picked his words. “Who never appreciates when people joke about certain things.” Drugs. “I don’t know why but she always goes berserk when others, even halfheartedly, use it as a metaphor.” Because she got something to hide. “Are you like that too?” Don’t be like him. Seunghoon slightly shook his head as he thought about all the things he had encountered while going through his mother’s diary. She’s done it, but I won’t fall for an addict.
Suddenly, Minho gripped his hand on Seunghoon’s and pulled him over. Seunghoon lost his balance and fell on Minho’s opened broad shoulders as the drummer grabbed the back of his neck and slightly pulled back. “If you have to punch me,” he whispered under his breath, “wait until this is over.” Seunghoon thought he saw the whole universe unfolded in his eyes when the tiny gap between their mouths abridged.
Here’s the truth. Seunghoon found his mother’s diary under her bed on her 34th birthday. She had too much to drink and passed out in the living room, so he had to carry her to her room. It was a rare occurrence that she drank. Seunghoon never saw his mother touching any type of stimulants, not alcohol, not cigarettes, not even coffee. No pain killers, no sleeping pills. It was like she consciously tried to stay a hundred percent substance-free. He carefully brought the notebook back to his own room, locked the door, and started reading. ‘Here’s the truth,’ she wrote in one of the entries. ‘It starts with a flesh wound or a mental pain that couldn’t be subdued. Human are too fragile in the face of emotional erupts. You learn very quickly how our bodies are not made to shield against either extreme hardships or temptations. Even men. Especially them. The euphoria which refuses to leave would bring you into a field full of flowers and sunshine if you let it. With morphine, your body unlearns pains. For a moment, it brought you back to when your spirit and body weren’t in chronic, constant pain, forcefully instilled or naturally accumulated over time. Cocaine makes you feel invincible, like nothing has ever broken and dreams never shattered, and tomorrow can actually be a better place. Or that the hell hole in which you had your one foot on can be undone.’ Seunghoon was more impressed, at first, with the way this woman wrote her diary more so than the content.
Their lips touched, hesitantly in the beginning, but gradually growing stronger and deeper. It should in no way be the first time they kissed, if it brought out anything other than young infatuation and the sound of butterflies in the stomach. It tasted like familiarity, intimacy, and horror, all in once – that Minho knew so well the line of his teeth and the flesh of his tongue was almost fearsome.
‘But it never lasted long enough; the worst part of a beautiful dream is when you realize it was a dream, isn’t it? But if you let it, if you find yourself reluctantly pacing in front of a door, well knowing that the chance to step out of that room once you go in is smaller than ten percent.’ Seunghoon gradually realized that he finally found the answer to his lingering question since he was a child. “Mother, what is the real reason why dad is not here?” He would ask constantly at first, but after the nth time his mother smiled and said “shush, my child. Sleep well,” he eventually learned not to ask any question.‘Most of the times, you don’t stand the ghost of a chance to come back as yourself. Oh Lord, you never came back as yourself.’
Seunghoon could feel the ghosts creeping up on his body and the warmth he felt making its way back, not only on his lower waist where Minho landed his hand, but this time, chilling throughout his spines. Pulses should elevate, pupils should dilate; he almost heard the bloodstream rising up in each of Minho’s veins. ‘As high as those dreamy powders, snorted dry or penetrated through your basilic vein, can take you, don’t crash on your way back. But doesn’t it sound like you have a choice, to not crash on our way back? Why didn’t someone tell you that kissing it in the mouth is still holding on to life but once it seizes your vein death comes waiting at your door? Why did you do that, my love, why did you do that?’
He kissed Minho back until his tongue swelled up.
Oh Lord. He never came back. She wrote a total seventeen pages of the same sentence over and over again on that entry. It was on her 21st birthday.
+ + +