Two Years Later
Park Jimin scanned what had to be the hundredth item of the morning at the 7-Eleven. His shift started at eight in the morning and he was already feeling monotonous. The business was relatively steady as usual, he was scanning through the normal group of morning coffees and snacks grabbed by regulars before they went to work or school. He heard the bell from the door once again and looked up to see who had entered. A man about his age had sulked in, black hoodie and jeans. The hood was over his head so he only saw a shadow of his face when he faced Jimin and gave a lazy wave. Jimin felt something strange upon seeing the man but ignored the small twinge.
A moment later a young girl rushed in the door and straight into the snack aisle. Jimin chuckled as he assumed she was probably running late to classes. He pushed his brown hair back from his forehead and glanced at the news broadcast on the small television on the front wall of the store. He grabbed his glasses from the counter beside him after trying to squint at the headlines. When he put them on, he sucked in his breath.
Found in an abandoned lake a few miles out of town, was the body of former Detective Jung Hoseok. Two years ago he disappeared with almost no trace. His car was at his home and there were signs that he was in the home, but then seemed to almost vanish, never to be seen again. It was covered by the news when it first happened for months as they searched for him, but as most stories do, this one had faded. It was assumed that one of the many criminals that he had investigated or put in jail had gotten to him out of revenge, but the news never disclosed who they suspected.
Jung Hoseok was a local and frequented this store often. Jimin remembered how kind the officer was whenever he came. What he remembered the most was the beaming smile that made the sun seem dull. He was so full of life, and Jimin had always wondered how a man surrounded by death and the evils shown by mankind could have such a positive disposition. The confirmation that he was dead this whole time upset him. He wasn’t very close with the man, but there was that small impact that someone who had once lived and breathed and conversed with him was cold and dead. He would no longer see his family or help put away the scum of Daegu. Who could do this?
Jimin snapped out of his trance at the screen and noticed the hooded man staring at the news as he was. There was an emotion hinted upon his face, but Jimin couldn’t quite place what it was. Jimin looked around and still couldn't see the girl. He stood in wait for the customers to find what they came to purchase. The man glanced at Jimin and quickly shifted his eyes once Jimin had made eye contact with him. He quickly slinked into the snack aisle. A moment later, the girl walked quickly out of the aisle, tossing a water bottle and bag of candy onto the counter. Her leg bounced as she looked at the door. Jimin rung up her items and she handed him what she owed. Taking off her backpack, she tossed the items in and ran out of the door.
Jimin glanced up and saw the man run out the door after her. What was going on? He saw him get down the street some then give up and turn around. The man entered the store and walked up to the counter and handed him money.
“She had a few more snacks in her bag that she didn’t give you to check out. She just might be struggling right now, here is what I saw she owed,” he said. Jimin looked at awe at the man. He could have just let the girl steal and said nothing, but he was standing up and paying for her.
“Did you know her?” Jimin asked. The man shook his head. “I’ve never seen her before.”
The man took off his hood for the first time. Jimin took in his unruly black locks. The curls were messy and careless, but almost purposefully. Jimin smiled at him, observing his big brown eyes for the first time. “That’s very kind of you, I’m sure the manager appreciates stand-up citizens like you. Thank you.”
The man shrugged his shoulders. “No big deal.”
“Is there anything I can get you? On me,” Jimin offered the man.
“No thank you, Jimin,” he said with a small smile. Jimin paused as the man said his name.
“How did you know my name?” he asked nervously. The man pointed to his name tag and laughed. “I can read.”
Jimin joined him in the laugh, his worry vanishing instantly. He was being silly. Why was this man messing with his emotions? He wasn’t sure what he was doing, but he just felt off.
The man gave him a small wave before replacing his hood and walking out of the store. Jimin was baffled by this incident. The man was even more interesting to him. He looked back up at the screen and saw that through the whole ordeal that enough time had passed and the news story about Jung Hoseok was being played again. With a sigh, he looked away from the screen and began to count the money in the register to pass the time left in his shift.