Just Eric – Part 8
[Warning – This entry contains some explicit language]
As I searched the city for the North Korean Princess who I’d seen only once, I started smoking since that what she was doing on that day and I thought it might somehow attract her to me. I really didn’t even know where to start looking, I stood around that subway station entrance where I first saw her and smoked just hoping she’d show up again. No matter how hard I concentrated though, I couldn’t locate her with my mind or draw her to me with my will. Then one day I took a break and went into a coffee shop at the corner. I walked up to the counter and the staff gasped – yes it was me – so I gave them what they were waiting for, “gruzuh kepeep.” and their eyes bulged out of their heads. The barista guy made me my coffee, a perfectly creamed latte, while the cashier girl refused my money. I lit up another cigarette even though no one was allowed to smoke in here but, of course, those rules didn’t apply to me. Just casually, I glanced through the cafe and that’s when I saw her. Over there at a table, the North Korean Princess was just sitting and leafing through a fashion magazine like she was a bored student trying not to study. She stood up, walked past me on her way to the door, and just as I’d feared all I did was stand there and watch with that cigarette dangling from my lips – a frozen idiot with nothing to say. She left and everyone in the coffee shop was pointing at me and laughing. I couldn’t believe they had the nerve to laugh at me! I waved a hand and cleared their minds. They were blank slates at the point and I filled their heads with pure violent, angry gibberish. Then I swiped my hand up and everyone in the coffee shop rose to their feet in unison. I made a fist and these people started to fight and destroy the place. They ripped at each other’s skin and clothes, punched and kicked without any measure, and bit like zombies feasting on the flesh of the fallen. They threw chairs and slammed each other onto tables, shattered the glass on the cabinets, tipped over the coffee machines and refrigerators, as everything fizzled and steamed. I was able to walk out safely and didn’t once bother to look back as I lit another cigarette and searched down the street in the direction of where the North Korean Princess had gone but I couldn’t see her anywhere.
I caught up with her a second time in an area full of night clubs and young people. Even the North Koreans sleeping on the sidewalks and wandering through those streets were university aged, and everyone seemed to be having fun, singing and dancing with a breezy carefree whimsy. I was there with Stacy, Ken and Veronica, but left them in the club to look around, never knowing when I might run into the Princess again. And then there she was, right across the street and turning into a club. I rushed over and followed her in. The front area was more of a bar but still as packed and dark as a club. She couldn’t have gotten far inside the dark crowd I figured. A band started playing a roar of heavy metal on a stage in the corner and everyone went insane, pushing forward and cheering like they were at a football game. For a moment, I was caught up in the mayhem, shoved around and squeezed in a crowd for the first time in a while but then I shook it off and they remembered to give me my space. A sliver of bright white light caught my eye from a crack in the women’s washroom door as it was swinging closed. I thought that must be her and so I went in, shocked to find that the room was empty of people, which was totally weird for Seoul in those days. Only the one closed and occupied stall stood out. That had to be her. I could be patient for a few more minutes. I starting thinking about what I would say, how polite I should try to be, wondered if she spoke English at all and if she might remember me? Maybe I should start up a cigarette, I thought, that might jog her memory. There was a shuffle, maybe toilet paper unrolling, so she should be out in a few seconds. But then the washroom door flew open and I looked over. There was a flush at the stall so I looked back. That stall door didn’t open but women started pouring in and filling up the room and there was nothing I could do to control it. All the stall doors were then opening and closing and the women were talking and laughing, completely ignoring me as I was trying to shout them down and push them out of the way. I couldn’t get out of the room, I was stranded in the centre and realised that the North Korean Princess was gone. All the women formed a tight circle around me and started laughing in a screeching, humiliating shrill. I didn’t feel like I had the effort to fight back, which was strange because before that nothing seemed to take any effort at all. If I wanted to control them it was going to take a huge strain on my system and I was exhausted so I just sulked out of the bar and back to my friends.
I swore that the next time I saw her nothing would stand in my way. I couldn’t go through all that again and again. I needed to see her up close and talk to her, tell her how I felt, how beautiful she was and what I was willing to do to be with her. In fact, at that point nothing else mattered, I just spent all day and night walking from my apartment to work, smoking and scanning the massive crowds hoping I’d see her dark black hair again. Then I was walking home at night to my suburban apartment from the subway station. I didn’t even think about looking for her out here and figured maybe it was time to move to the city. At least out in the suburbs the North Koreans had yet to really fill up the streets yet, so there was some sense of calm when I was around there. But not at that late hour because the cool school classes were just getting out and there were kids and foreign teachers everywhere. For a moment I fondly remembered back to my time teaching and how much I loved working with these kids, playing around with the gibberish ideas that would later make me a fortune and one of the coolest people around. And then out of nowhere there was the North Korean Princess, right across the street from me at a big intersection, and she looked to be hailing a cab. I didn’t have much time and luckily the stoplight between us just went green. However, blocking me and walking slowly across the street was a large group of cool school teachers, having just finished their shift and on their way out for a night of partying. Leading the pack were these four white guys all wearing the same powder blue bell-bottoms, open neck white glittery button-up shirts, cheap gold chains, and aviator frame sunglasses. One guy even had on an afro wig. They were talking about how tonight was going to be ‘funky’, and the guy in the afro wig stops in the middle of the street and starts to dance with one hand on his hip and the other pointing to the sky like he’s in Saturday Night Fever. All of the teachers around him stop to laugh and applaud, even the kids coming out of the schools, who idolise these cool teachers, clogged up the walkway with their screaming and cheering. A taxi slowed down in front of the North Korean Princess across the street; I was going to miss her! Two cars then collided in the middle of the intersection and spun out like loose helicopter blades, chopping into the group of foreigners and kids that were standing in the middle of the street and blocking my way to the Princess. Explosive bursts, sprays of blood, globs of oil, car parts and body chunks all splattered on the ground, giving me a clear path to cross the street. I ran, each step just missing another slosh of gore or chunk of metal. Just as the North Korean Princess was reaching forward to open the taxi door, I was able to grab her wrist and stop her. She smiled and we embraced.
The next day I was out with my girlfriend Stacy and I was incredibly distracted. She should have suspected that something was wrong but instead she just kept jabbering on about her day and the flight she’d just gotten off. Her and her friend Veronica had to put up with an exceptionally rude European passenger coming in to Seoul who didn’t want to respect the All-English policy. She said they tried to explain the gibberish language craze to him as an alternative but that idea only made him more belligerent – or something like that – I was barely paying attention to her, thinking instead of how I had licked clean the beautiful face of the North Korean Princess only hours earlier. Stacy’s usually pretty face just looked exceptionally plain. I was leaving the table every ten minutes to go and have a smoke and Stacy hadn’t said a word about it no matter how many times I told her I was going to the washroom and then came back smelling yellow and tasting like dirt. I started feeling guilty and then began overcompensating by talking too much. I told her lies about my own day at work and a completely fabricated story about researching new gibberish language teaching techniques at the office, the music I’d listened to with a CD player on the way to meet her that I didn’t even own, and telling her about how wet I got in the rain because I forgot my umbrella even though it hadn’t rained in Seoul for weeks. She believed all of it, so as usual I had her in the palm of my hand and figured this was as good a time as any to break up – even if it was Valentine’s Day.
I employed my flowery uncut gibberish and hypnotically laid her down on broken glass like it was a soft pillow. Then I switched to the delicate whispers of English and concocted a reasonable cover story about not being able to take the stress of Seoul anymore. Since I was one of the most famous people in the country at that point it was understandable to be overwhelmed by the attention and fame I was getting, and of course I needed to return to Canada for a while to try and get my head straight. She was starting to get really sad, and I thought she might cry, so quickly I suggested that we play ‘rock, paper, scissors’ for it – if she won I would stay in Korea and be with her but if I won then it would be best to break up before we got any closer and made it even more difficult in the future. I beat her but at least she thought it was partly her fault, so we walked away from our relationship very amicably.
I got back to my apartment and the North Korean Princess was waiting for me, curled up in the sheets on my floor. Like a zombie I tried to devour her on the spot but she stopped me and went into the washroom first. I took off all my clothes, turned off the lights and when she opened the door the backlight from the bathroom illuminated her face a dark rosy red and twinkled the baby hair around her forehead dewy damp. I guided her slowly back into the sheets on the thin mattress on the floor, twisting my head to hover over hers and my breath followed around her memorised, flawless face: the pulping pop of eyelids holding closed on fresh flower buds, the pointing crest of forehead a flat lush almond hill, the hair behind her ears a trail of wet footprints in long grass, an antique beach smoothened rock soft chin, and lips like red dough pastries heaving fast motion inside a hot oven. Each curve a sand castle mound recreated with caressing air. Hesitant, my lips hovered at a tissue paper thin distance from her skin, and then softly to the left, her head turned and gave up a cheek. Moisture trickled on contact and I pushed forward into the cushion of soft welcome. Gently I tightened up my lips until my tongue poked out like the tip on a ballpoint pen and I traced up her cheekbone, finally placing a soft kiss on top of her closed eyelid. I continued kissing across one eyebrow, her forehead, and then the other eyebrow and, like a cat being rubbed, she instinctively rolled her head into his pattern until again I hovered over her lips. Then both of our lips combined into a soppy mesh and my tongue twisted like a candy spoon dissolving into a river of chocolate. The head of my hard penis bobbed above her pubic hair and I quickly grabbed the base of my shaft, hoping to rush it into her perfectly moist vagina while I was still able to contain my excitement. But as soon as the tip of my penis felt the oncoming warmth it melted in my hand like an icicle near a fire. Panicking, I kissed her harder and quicker, losing all of the romance I’d put into the effort up to that point, jamming my tongue into the back of her throat, grinding between her legs and twisting her thick nipples. She moaned as I ploughed two fingers into her vagina, my flaccid penis flopping in my other hand. Then I aggressively squeezed the tight skin on her back and ass while violently finger-drilling into her, sucking and biting at her breasts, yet still no life squirmed in my penis. Abdomen and butt cheeks clenched, I pushed but there was nothing. Depressed, all action just deflated from my body. There was no point trying to explain. She wouldn’t have understood me anyways. So with one last look at her perplexed face I fell asleep.
When I woke up it felt like someone had just punched me in the stomach ten times. I don’t think I’d actually eaten anything for days, having been kept alive and awake on coffee and cigarettes. My bones were like jelly and the hair on my arms and legs looked like it had been combed through with honey toothbrushes. There was a thick lump stuck in my throat like I’d swallowed a big hard wad of gum off the gum that was covered in dirt. My whole neck was rock hard and I swallowed heavy, driving a shocking pain through my body. I couldn’t even imagine rolling over, let alone sitting up, but then I noticed that the North Korean Princess was gone so I popped up and ignored the pain. Surveying the room, I saw absolutely no trace of her, like she’d never existed. Not even my own sexual conquest could prove that she’d been here because it hadn’t been completed. If only I had another chance, I thought, but it was too embarrassing and how could I face her again? I swore I’d try, and hoped she’d come back but I knew it was going to be so impossible to find her. So hungry. I stumbled to the fridge and it was as empty as this room was of my Princess. I closed my eyes tight, held it for a second and opened them again, but nope, she still wasn’t there and the fridge was still empty.
I had to go out and find some food so I pulled on a pair of stained sweat pants and walked shirtless down the stairs of my apartment building to the front glass doors. Like an aquarium, the entire street in front was full of people pressed up against the window doors, North Koreans and South Koreans mixed up, mumbling gibberish and slowly shuffling along. I pulled opened the front door and tried to step forward, expecting the people to part and make way for me to get through but the tightly squeezed mass of people remained in place. Again I closed my eyes tightly, opened them and tried to take another step but the result was the same. Nothing about this was cool at all, and I had no idea how to get to the convenience store that was across the street. Then I thought about just going upstairs to Ken’s apartment and getting something to eat from him, when all of a sudden he came crowd surfing across the heads of these people from further down the road, waving his arms and calling out to me. He seemed to be indicating that I should try the same thing, so I stepped up on the shoulder of one of the people, climbed onto their heads and just sorted of rolled my way over to him.
“What art hue duping?” he asked.
“I’m just trying to get something to eat before I head into the city for work.”
“Trite the commie lenience sore,” he suggested.
“Is it open? Seems kind of weird here right now.”
“Hair east no one hair. Just tape quart ever nuance.”
“Good idea, cool.” We high-fived and he surfed back towards our apartment building and I made my way over to the entrance of the convenience store, pushed open the top part of the front door and dropped in. The first thing I found in the open front freezer was a container of eggs. I took them all out of the carton and bit into them like they were tomatoes. The shells and yolk bled onto my lips, and while crunching the bits I grabbed a handful of cheese slices, stuffed them in my mouth and chomped the orange goo out from the seams of the plastic sheets. Then I took a big bite out of a stick of butter and let it dissolve in my throat as I poured an iced coffee on top. I grabbed a pack of cigarettes from behind the counter and chain smoked until I felt better. A total mess, I took off my sweat pants and used them to wipe all the food gunk from my face and chest and then just dropped it on the floor. Naked, I walked over to the front door, opened it, and scoped out the sizes of the men in the Korean zombie horde until I found a few who were wearing stuff my size that looked cool enough. Then I pushed through, took a pair of pants, shoes and socks from one guy, and a shirt and tie from another, put it on and then climbed back on the pack of heads and rode the wave all the way to the subway station.
The subways were running fine, as the crowded station platforms were hardly in any different condition now with all these murmuring zombies than during a regular rush hour. The train pulled up and people pushed on, and when it arrived at at major transfer station people pushed off. So I was able to get to the head office with little problem. I sat down at my desk, and looked around for the other staff members, and then I remembered that there were no other staff members left. It was just me and the ex-Supervisor of the ADD whose job I’d taken, and I couldn’t see her either until she emerged from the CEO’s office. She walked over to me and professionally let me know that the executives wanted to see me. The CEO and the COO were in the office, and the ex-Supervisor followed me in and closed the door behind us. They actually looked very happy and congratulated me on completing my task. I asked what task that was and they said that I’d finally replaced all of their cool school material with gibberish. They told me it was an amazing achievement and that I’d done it way faster than they’d expected. This didn’t sound right to me. I said that I still had tons of work to do, but then the ex-Supervisor chimed in and assured them that when we let the last members of the ADD go last week that all of the English in the textbooks had been replaced by gibberish. Again they looked very proud. No, I said, this can’t be right, we need to double check all the gibberish, how did we know it wasn’t repeating, I’d been known to write the same thing twice, I’d done it before. Then the ex-Supervisor reminded me that it was me who insisted that gibberish was always unique and impossible to ever repeat as it was original in its very nature. The CEO stood up and shook my hand saying that this was exactly why it was such a brilliant and popular idea. So you’re firing me, I asked timidly, and the CEO looked at the COO and they laughed, oh no, of course not, they said, but we think it’s time you went back to work at your cool school and taught this stuff, don’t you? As a teacher of the content I’d created they thought I’d bring in tons of business. The CEO said that he’d talked to the principal over at the cool school in the suburbs where I still lived and insisted that they hire me back. And before I knew it I was out the door with a box of pens and blank paper under my arm, and momentarily clueless as to which was I was supposed to go to get home.