The wind howled through the streets picking up debris and randomly whisking it into the night sky. The shops had closed and the people had packed up their carts and vanished into the camouflage of the surrounding concrete jungle. Seoul was an empty shell of human existence except for Rayman who stood in the shadows near a corner with his hands stuffed deep into his pockets watching the night deepen. Up the road a concentration of bright lights near the hospital entrance illuminated the adjacent ten-foot stonewall of the Changgyeong Palace and faded into the over hanging trees. Rayman watched a singular silhouetted figure wrapped in a heavy coat stagger against gusts under wind shaken street lamps. He watched as she drew closer and knew she was elderly due to her stride and stammer. She walked to the transverse corner and stopped. She stood looking into the shadows at a western man in the dark in the middle of Seoul in the middle of the night. She glanced back the way she came and finally spoke, ‘Rayman Stell?”
Rayman stepped part way out of the shadows, “Yes.”
“Stay here. I’ll be right back.” Young-ja turned and crossed the road and disappeared down a narrow alley towards her house.
Rayman backed into the shadows and watched as leaves blew over the brick wall and down the street. It was below freezing and the ground below Rayman’s feet was firm and crunched with ice as he moved his feet. A siren sounded in the distance and drew closer. Rayman took another step back into the shadows as an ambulance raced up the road and turned into the emergency hospital side entrance up the street. Across the street the lit up trees moved in waves as the wind pushed along the wall and through the branches and leaves.
A few minutes past before Youn-ja returned, “I am Lyin’s wife, Young-ja. Monica called me and told me you might need help with a place to stay. I can help you stay safe and silent but we must get rid of all of your belongings and your backpack, everything. The Won already have pictures of you and your clothes so we will change them. I’ll get you clothes tomorrow. Please follow me. My relatives have just arrived from Mongolia and I will be your interpreter. They speak no English and little Korean. I am their voice and I am yours. Do you understand you must remain humble and it’s best not to show any emotion? For them it’s a sign of weakness.”
“Yes.” Rayman followed her down a narrow red brick alley to a small neighborhood of quaint brick houses with a traditional curved tile roof with the corners turning back towards the sky. On the eves stood seven different animal figurines to the edge. A dim light shown through an old four pain window with bubbles in the glass. Young-ja opened her heavy door and inside the dimly lit room stood four men in quilted Mongolian coats near a fireplace that had just been lit. A low center table separated them and two couches and a recliner chair cozily surrounded them. Rayman followed Young-ja silently into the living area and bowed to each of the men before him.
The four men bow simultaneously. Their strong facial features and clothes flickered with golden firelight.
Young-ja came to Rayman’s side and did a loose introduction pointing at Rayman with two open hands and looking at her relatives, “Rayman.” Young-ja then looked at Rayman and explained, “Rayman,” again pointing with open hands, “This is Lyin’s father and uncle, (2) Mongolian names, and this is my father and my oldest brother, (2) Mongolian names. Please, sit with them. I’ll be right back.”
The Mongolians sat down on the couches and Rayman sat in the chair. A moment of awkward silence followed as Young-ja went into the kitchen to bring out Ghinggas Khan Vodka and glasses. As she returned she said, “This could be a long night for you because these men want to hear the whole story of Lyin’s death and the Won involvement and everything up to now. I will help you explain.” Young-ja brought out a tray with a bottle of vodka, a bottle of water, and 5 glasses and put it on the table. She quickly grabbed a chair from the wall and sat down next to Rayman and asked, “Is there anything you have that would show good faith and a mutually honorable ending for all seated here?”
Rayman nodded, “I do, but I also have a request of a similar nature. Is it possible to hear your historical story on how it came to this?”
Young-ja looked at Lyin’s father and translated into Mongolian.
He looked at Rayman and nodded in agreement.
Rayman reached into his pocket and pulled out the small collection of photographs from Cale’s dining room table. As he stood up, he took off a rubber band and displayed the pictures of the Won’s map of vaults and placed them on the small table for them to see.
The picture at the top is photoed by a friend, I can’t spell her name. 🙂 Met her on Bunekan Island Sulawesi.