Read: Brian Dutremble
Brian Dutremble is a male model / cage fighter from Worcester, Massachusetts, USA. When not writing, he enjoys taking selfies and using the internet.
The sky was charcoal before sundown but the rain never came. My mind was a haze, the world a Polaroid that hadn’t quite finished developing. I waited for the one oh six, thumbing through a small book of phrases, trying to retain something, anything; it was like picking up jello with chopsticks. The high school students to my left glanced in my direction in between levels of the games they played on their phones. Kids. Just damn kids. No idea what was ahead of them. Backpacks full of god-knows-what. God, to be their age. To be in their shoes so that I could hate being in their shoes. I took another swig from my flask. The hair of a dog named Soju, his claws in my throat. Things were different now, or I wanted them to be. I’d moved here for a new start. I moved where I thought it couldn’t follow me.
The bus driver almost missed the stop. I almost wanted him to. I threw a thousand won into the machine at the front of the bus. Two hundred won short, but the driver didn’t seem to care. I knew that feeling. I drank because of that feeling. You can only take on so many passengers before you give up, before you become something else.
Eyes all around me as I found a seat. Eyes looking for what, I didn’t know. ‘You can have whatever’s left,’ I tried to tell them with mine. I couldn’t tell if the world was shifting because of the driver or my flask. It didn’t matter much. A child pointed at me, tugging on her mother’s sleeve, crying. Waygook was my new name and she already knew it. I looked away, focusing on the scooter gang that was currently passing the bus. Their engines reminded me of home and I thought I saw her for a moment. I think I see her everywhere.
The ride to Homeplus lasted twenty minutes, if my father’s watch had it at all right. My stomach said it was longer, the rest of me didn’t much care. I didn’t speak the driver’s language, but we understood each other as I stepped down onto the sidewalk. It was a city full of guys like us, guys with too many passengers.
My shorts were a blue I’d never worn before. I was trying to be something I’d never been before, trying to find a place in this crazy city, in this crazy world. My feet ached. My shoes were almost done.
The automatic doors of Homeplus welcomed me like I needed to be welcomed and I grabbed a cart, my companion for the next however long. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I hoped Homeplus would have it. I wandered the first floor, responding to anything that was said to me with, ‘ann-yung-ha-say-yo,’ and a smile, my eyes never really leaving the too-polished floors. Home plus what? The circuitous path I took around the store would have made a sailor sick. My eyes still needles from the night before. Home plus what?
And then it hit me. A goddamn grand piano from the eightieth floor.
Home plus nothing. Just…home.
The caring but uncaring staff, the bountiful but unfulfilling aisles. It was all I knew, all I wanted. I grabbed a five kilogram bag of rice and put it in my cart – it felt like ten. I took another swig. The sun had finally quit on the day, but I couldn’t tell and I didn’t care. The fluorescent lights hummed above me. The prepared foods section warmed me like a weary hunter caught in a storm.
Homeplus was all I needed.
Homeplus was home.
Home plus nothing.