Itaewan

Posted on June 5, 2009

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I HEAD TO ITAEWAN FOR A DRINK. On the subway I have two Cass Reds, the big bottles. It’s a long ride from Sillim Prime, it’s been a long week. Old men stare at me on the train, I’m sitting in their section, I’m a wayguk– a foreigner. I want to tell them to fuck off. I want to throw an empty bottle right at them, that’s the kind of mood I’m in.

The lights whiz by us in the darkness as the train moves along the outdoors tracks and the lights turn into forest faeries glowing fluorescent blue and green and white. I’m tipping left and right as the train moves along a curve, I feel the sick part of me start to fall asleep and something else inside of me waking up. I put on my sunglasses and tousle my hair. I can smell a kimchi fart from someone near. I can taste the heat off everyone’s body.

“My name is Astro-Boy,” I whisper to a boy as he gets on the train and stands  next to me. He can’t understand a god-damned word I’m saying. “I killed a shark as big as a canoe once with nothing but a pair of toe-nail clippers.” The boy looks at me with hollowed eyes. Disdain translates easily, even to children.

In Korea everything has a kind of dirt on it, even the cleanest stuff and when I step out into Itaewan I can see the dirt everywhere. I chuck my bottles into a pile of garbage. People of all colors walk around me, their flesh lit bright by the street lights all around them. A black man with a beard braided in all directions walks past and our shoulders touch and I can feel his sweat, it is drunken sweat, and I like it. I find my way to a bar, my feet make crunching noises as I walk over plastic sundae cups, my heart is racing and I can almost taste the whiskey.

Polly’s Kettle is a shit of a bar and they serve flavored soju in the bottom half of a pop bottle for 5000 won. I suck on down while I wait for my drink. Across the street on hooker hill a girl waves to me. She’s wearing a little mauve sweater with a Care-Bear on it; Proud Heart Bear. She’s got presumptuous eyes and big fat thighs.

“You’re brave to try and bait a Canadian, street-meat” I holler over as a man passes me a tall glass of whiskey. “Come over and have a sip.”

I lift the glass to Heaven and toast Him for it all.

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Posted in: June 2009