D Minus Chapter 4

Author: nicotine

Recommending surgery to terminal cancer should not be like that, even if they had no sense. Hajin looked at the man a couple of times with pitiful eyes and rose up with the words, “Take your medicine and sleep.” The next thing was that the man reached out and grabbed Hajin’s wrist. Hajin’s eyebrows rose to the height of a mountain.

“Should I give you my stomach?”

“….What did you say?”

“I have very clean organs. I don’t smoke, I hardly drink. My stomach is big too.”

“…Huh?”

Hajin’s expression morphed into something as he stood next to the bed. The man continued his nonsense as if he was doing an introduction.

“What was it called? You know, how people do surgery to change organs.”

“Ha…”

“I don’t need it. You use my stomach, and sell the rest. You can make lots of money.”

“You must be crazy…”

There was a certain degree of being mischievous. Hajin, who was still listening to the man, looked down at him with cold eyes. He wasn’t too obsessed with living, but everyone had a fear of death. So did he. The name of the disease, terminal cancer, was unfair and fearful. Probably, until the moment he would be closing his eyes. The man easily ran his mouth talking about the disease. Rather than being angry, it was so ridiculous that Hajin laughed.

“Find out how long it will take. I have some work to do, so I can give it to you as soon as it’s over. After about like two months?”

But the man’s expression was more serious than anyone else. Hajin was staring at his bead-like eyes, and raised one corner of his mouth.

“I guess you can live without a stomach.”

“How can I live without a stomach?”

“So if you know it, like you are going to give it away.”

“I’m serious though? Just wait for two months. Then you can take it.”

“Then what about you?”

“It’s okay if I die. I am going to die anyway.”

The end of the conversation was strange. There was no lie in his eyes after looking at them for quite some time. Hajin clenched his lips tightly and put his hands behind his back to hide his trembling hands.

“It’s been less than a month since we’ve met.”

“So?”

“Is it that easy for you to give your organs away to someone you’ve never met before and on top of that, give them the go to sell it?”

The shrill voice of his softened. Perhaps the man noticed the subtle change that the corner of his lips crept up and smiled.

“You cooked for me twice.”

“Twice?”

“Today, and that day with the tofu dish.”

“Ah…”

Hajin remembered having an arrogant face and slapping away the man’s hands. That was needed. A guilty conscience crept up.

“If someone makes you rice, you are going to let them sell your organs?”

“It’s not that but it was the first time someone cooked for me.”

“…”

“I don’t have money or anything but my organs are in top shape. If I give you that, it’s good, right?”

“….”

“Since you cooked me food.”

It was strange. Hajin didn’t hate the dull smile on the man, who he didn’t like that much. What was even more strange was that his eyes were reddening. It was because Hajin couldn’t see himself smiling because there was no one who would be giving him 300 million won in insurance money. Whether it was someone who wanted to give away his organs to a person who cooked for them once or someone who would give away his insurance money to a relative of whom he didn’t even remember the face of. **

“Lie down. Let’s see if you are still leaking blood.”

Hajin’s eyes were bloodshot and tried to avoid the man’s gaze and laid the latter down. The man sitting on the edge of the bed pressed down on the bandage wrapped around his abdomen and replied, “I’m fine.” Hajin came back to the green desk and opened the bad “morning” written on it.

“Have your medicine.”

“Thanks.”

It was good that he said his thanks. Even though he lacked manners.

“I am grateful for what you said, surgery is only for people who are in their early stages so it’s no use for people who are already far in and terminal.”

The man’s hand flinched as he tilted his head and took the medicine. Hajin causally handed over the cup of lukewarm water.

“Since it is already rotting away, there is no way.”

The man gulped the medicine without water. Hajin scrunched his nose.

“Can’t you just rip off my stomach and put it in you?”

“Is that even possible?”

It was ridiculous but he was not as annoyed as he was before. Hajin laughed out loud without realizing. The man stared at Hajin without saying a word and furrowed his eyebrows.

“Sorry.”

“About what?”

“I’m stupid so I didn’t know. I thought it would be okay if you had surgery.”

“That’s nothing to be sorry for.”

“It’s because I didn’t learn. Make me understand, okay?”

From now on. For some reason, the man seemed to want to say that. Hajin’s heart throbbed strangely. It was like his body was sick and tear glands seemed to have broken down. Hajin rubbed his stinging nostrils with the back of his hand and looked at the bandage that covered the stab wound.

“You remember that we have to visit the hospital the day after tomorrow?”

“We can just do that here.”

“You’re speaking nonsense again.”

Fortunately, the blood didn’t leak out but the tape attached to the end of the bandage was tattered. After asking the man to wait, Hajin went to the living room and found the first aid kit. It was a multipurpose first aid kit that he bought from out of town yesterday and it had everything he needed right away. He searched inside and found a medical tape before hurrying back to the room. The man remained lying in that position.

“I’m going to stick the tape on, so stay still.”

Hajin didn’t know why he was doing so to that extent, but he decided to go all the way with the favor anyway. It was ridiculous but he was left embarrassed by the word he uttered before that he would give away his stomach for him. The fact that he was being genuine meant a lot more.

“What are you doing…”

Hajin’s eyebrows narrowed inwards, as he had his hands on the man’s abdomen and pressed down the tape. The man’s stomach started to swell. As if his words that his stomach and organs were healthy were true, his firm muscular belly gradually started to inflate like a balloon. Hajin’s expression which was morphed slowly became blue.

“What is happening? Does it hurt?”

“This is my belly fat.”

“Aren’t you insane…!”

The man who inhaled enough air to raise his chest, and gave strength to his abdomen burst into laughter. At the same time, his swollen stomach became flatter and the solid muscle reappeared. Hajin was looking at him with rabbit eyes and chewed a curse and hit his solid forearm with his fist. The man laughed out loud as something made him really happy.

“Look at me. You can’t do this, can you?”

The man didn’t stop there and repeatedly inflated and flattened his stomach. He looked like a mischievous kindergarten student. No, it was worse than that. Hajin who was staring blankly at his stomach heaving up and down and burst out chuckling. The weak smile grew bigger and bigger and eventually produced a complete laugh.

“Ah! You’re bleeding!”

“I’m fucked.”

The white bandage was smudged with blood. Hajin who was laughing heartily while hitting the man’s forearm belatedly came to his senses and screeched. His hands trembled as he grasped onto the blood stained bandage. He was crazy, he thought, for laughing like a kid at such a prank. He felt absolutely pathetic.

Still, in retrospect, it was the first time he laughed since he got to know he wouldn’t live much longer and it was D-162.

“Don’t buy anything else and buy what you need.”

“Okay.”

Since that day, Hajin grew quite close to the man. However, it was not that they became that special to each other and ate together only once or twice a day. The man once shouted that he was good at cooking but Hajin became in charge of the cooking once he devoured some strange meal that the man made which was not porridge or rice.

The man mainly cleaned up the dishes but that day, Hajin ran out of some ingredients so he had no choice but to order the man for a troublesome grocery shopping. The advantage of the man Hajin found of that man was that he listened well without any fuss.

It was a little awkward that the dish he had to cook was for two people but he didn’t feel so bad. It would take 30 minutes for the man to come back so he thought he could prepare the rice in the meantime so he washed the rice first.

“Ah right, squid!”

It was not until he pressed the cooking button that he realized a stupid mistake. This was because he didn’t squid for the squid bulgogi, which was on the dinner menu that day. The only thing that increased in him after getting sick was the extreme cravings for food. Hajin couldn’t find a way to contact the man because he didn’t have a cell phone so he mulled on it for a while, and then barrelled out of the front door. There was no law that he couldn’t go grocery shopping together even though they ate together.

“Bi? Pi? What is written here?”

“…”

“I can’t recognize it because he wrote it too quickly. What letter is it?”

Hajin was a little worried about crossing paths with the man but fortunately he was able to find the man as soon as he entered the mart. He was holding a cute yellow basket which didn’t go with his bear like size and he was standing side to side with the mart employee wearing a red apron as they were looking intently at something.

Hajin, who was trying to call the man just one step behind, suddenly realized he didn’t inform the man that he was going to come. So he didn’t call him and approached him. Hajin approached the two seriously troubled people with their heads together, smiled kindly and greeted them.

“Are you still shopping?”

“What did you write here?”

The employee who seemed to have been caught by the man was semi forced to do the grocery shopping with him. Hajin greeted her once more, indicating that she could leave now that he was there.

“Which one?”

“Here.”

The man’s thick fingers pointed to the first of the seven letters of, “Peppers.” It was a bit crooked since he was then holding his pen with his thumb and index finger but it wasn’t unrecognizable. Hajin showed off his pride as a teacher, and jabbed the man in the back with his elbow.

“I explained it to you earlier, didn’t I? I’m going to put bell peppers in the bulgogi. How many times did I remind you not to buy paprika instead of peppers?”

“Sorry.”

Only then the man nodded. Hajin reminded him several times in the fear that he might  buy paprika instead of bell peppers but he seemed to have forgotten about it anyway. He looked through the man’s shopping basket to see if he had missed anything, and the man watched him calmly like a student who was undergoing a homework check.

“Only bell peppers and mushrooms are left.”

The rest of the items were correctly selected. The man followed closely behind Hajin, who headed to the corner which had the peppers and the remaining ingredients.

“The mushrooms are over there. Bring a pack of enoki mushrooms. Not other mushrooms but enoki mushrooms.”

“All mushrooms are the same.”

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nicotine

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