Chapter 38: Mafias of Sumqayit (3)
There is a proverb: ‘When fortune knocks upon the door, open it widely.’ Applying it to Jongil, Youngho decided to keep supporting Jongil when Karajan seemed to also be interested in him. Jongil needed to be matched with a woman for him to stop looking for the second Fatima. When they returned to Baku, Youngho asked Karajan to show Jongil around as a sign of appreciation for today. Jongil, leaping with joy in his mind, followed her.
That night, Jongil even received a ride to the farm from Karajan, making a fuss as he stepped onto the porch.
“Youngho, I’ll admit that you are ahead of me. You’ve found Fatima too, and now Karajan. You are officially my master.”
‘He always speaks of Fatima whenever he can,’ thought Youngho.
“Did Karajan say she wanted to see you more?”
“You are such an expert. I know why you are so great.”
“Stop blabbering. I’m asking if things are working out.”
“I think she’s into me. She said my English is pretty great and asked me if I’ve lived in foreign countries for long, so I told her I did. I couldn’t say that I learned in Armenia though. When you speak to her, say the same thing, okay? If you mess up, you’ll be dead.”
Jongil was in good spirits. Youngho thought he could take care of himself with Karajan for now.
“You sly dude. If it works out with Karajan, it’s all because of me.”
Jongil seemed confident after today’s date. He wore satisfaction on his face. Youngho cringed looking at his expression.
“Don’t go near the flea market anymore. You’ve been just purely embarrassing.”
“I have Karajan now, why would I go there?”
“Haha.... Please keep your word.”
It looked like Karajan held his arm or something. He would not look this happy if something did not happen between them.
“Youngho, what does Karajan like? I’ve got to push it now.”
“Stop it. Karajan is not someone who’d be shaken by gifts. Just be sincere to her. Don’t approach her in the Korean way.”
“What? Gifting is sincerity. Who’d give gifts as a lie?”
Jongil gave bogus bags that he bought in Itaewon* to every girlfriend he met back in Korea. Youngho knew all of Jongil’s past, and Jongil was blatantly lying in front of Youngho.
“You need to help me all the way. She must like something. Tell me now.”
Hearing their conversation, Fatima approached them with a smile on her face.
“Jongil-oppa, do you want to know what Karajan likes?”
“Yes, Fatima. You’re the only one. My only friend here is not telling me anything.”
“Karajan is into bowling these days. She goes to play bowling every weekend.”
“Oh yeah? Hahaha, Youngho, I know what to do now. I’m a bowling master. I even have trophies from bowling competitions. Thanks, Fatima! You are an angel and he is a devil.”
Jongil was excited to find out more about Karajan.
“Just go take a shower, you maniac.”
“Don’t look for me during the weekend, okay? I’ll be super busy.”
Jongil’s idle remarks made everyone in the farm laugh.
Zeynep, not even understanding what bowling was, nagged at Jongil to teach her how to bowl. Jongil tried to dissuade her by saying that she should not interrupt his love business. Even with the noise, Szechenyi only quietly smiled and opened a book called, ‘First Step of Korean.’
Szechenyi became even more mature after returning from Korea. As if he felt something from the Korean trip, he became passionate about learning Korean. He must have thought that Korea was the richest country. It was understandable since he lived in the slums in Istanbul and the only places he had been were Istanbul, Baku, and Seoul. After visiting Korea, he seemed to have a broader outlook on his life. He started asking about how to do business well and what he needed to learn to become a businessman. He looked determined. Youngho could not help smiling at his passion.
Youngho had been teaching him defensive tactics and gun shooting, and trained him with the leather shoes. Even though he was trained with high intensity, he did not complain at all, which warmed Youngho’s heart.
Szechenyi’s vision was specially developed, to the point that that he anticipated and defended against Youngho’s every move when sparring. Youngho also asked Jongil to teach him some martial arts skills. Jongil even shook his head at Szechenyi’s skills, saying that he was like a monster. His senses were special. Youngho did not know how this training would affect Szechenyi’s life in the future, but his philosophy was that a man should be able to defend himself. Even though it sometimes made Youngho sorry for Szechenyi, Youngho kept training him.
It snowed in Baku. Although Baku’s yearly precipitation was only about 200mm, the rainy season spanned from October to March, and it rained or snowed 30mm each month on average. The winter’s temperature hardly went below 32 degrees in Fahrenheit, but it was still cold after snowing just like other places. It had snowed sometimes, but they were not comparable to the snow this time. The snow piled up to the ankles, and as the weather got colder, the road turned icy.
Because of the lack of snow removal system, the city of Baku was frozen. The snow had melted during the daytime and had frozen again due to harsh winds The road looked like a parking lot with all the cars stuck in place. Because of the outrageous winds, it actually felt like Youngho was in the fields in Siberia.
Youngho closed his stores, since the city was all closed down. The city had many hillside roads that many cars could not drive on. Thinking about how much money he could make when he sold potassium chloride from Korea in here, Youngho left his store with Park Jongil.
Even with chained tires, he had a hard time driving to the farm with the car’s wheels slipping on the ice. As soon as he got to the farm, he instructed Karajan to announce that the store would be temporarily closed for the next two days due to the snow. Karajan insisted in opening the store since she lived near downtown, but Youngho could only stop her after browbeating her, saying that there would be no customers at all and she could go work out by herself if she was bored.
In the farm, the Fatima siblings and Gerhardt’s children were playing outside to make snowmen. Youngho and Jongil even joined them in a snow fight against each other’s team. They played as if they had returned to their childhood, being chased and chasing after each other. Zeynep complained that her snowballs would not fly far. Zeynep ran after Jongil when she was hit by his snowball and all the children joined her and knocked down Jongil and covered him in snow.
At the same time, Fatima was also chasing Youngho. After catching him, she tried to put snow in his shirt from the back of his neck, but she slipped and fell on top of Youngho. Embarrassed to feel Fatima’s chest upon him, Youngho got up and calmed himself down. Fatima did not seem to notice him. Jongil, who caught the scene between the two, did not let it pass.
“You guys, get a room! I can’t even have fun because of the snow but you two are hugging each other openly.”
When Youngho stared at him, he walked away toward the other children.
Only having a week of his break left, Jongil kept complaining that his love business was hindered by the weather. So, Youngho encouraged Jongil by inviting him to go deer hunting in the mountain behind the farm, which got Jongil excited. He surely acted like a little brother. Youngho had planned on hanging out with Jongil before his break was almost over. Youngho was thankful for Jongil’s friendship, since he came to a foreign country to work at Youngho’s call. Youngho was lonely too, and Jongil’s existence was a great comfort for him. They always looked like they were bickering with each other, but it was a way to show off their friendship.
When Youngho and Cho Sangchun first opened Chunho Merchant, Jongil was the one who came to help when needed and bought them food and alcohol since the business did not do well until very recently. They were still poor. They could not pay off the monthly rents for their office and they lived off debts. During those hard times, Jongil helped them out with the small wage that he earned from working at a bodyguard company. Even though he was a good friend of Youngho, Yunsuh still had a grudge against him after he had a bad breakup with Yunsuh’s friend whom Yunsuh introduced after Jongil’s continuous requests. Jongil’s problem was his consistent womanizing. He tried to make excuses about the breakup, saying that it did not end badly. After a week, he would go back to Nagorno-Karabakh, and Youngho would not be able to see him as often. So, in order to make a special event for his friend, Youngho had suggested going deer hunting.
The next day, three men with each a rifle on their shoulder, went up to the mountain. Jongil, who saw what was in the safe room, made a fuss, asking if Youngho would be waging a war soon. Youngho just made an excuse that he took them from the mafias. To Youngho’s surprise, Jongil’s reaction was positive. He said that it was better to have more weapons and especially heavy firearms, and he also said that they should make the farm a base when a war broke out. Youngho was afraid that what he said might really come true.
Even after eating the lunch they brought, the three men did not catch a single dove. Jongil, who had invited Karajan for a deer meat party tonight when leaving the farm, was getting frustrated, but deer still did not show up.
“Don’t you think it would be dangerous for Karajan to drive on the icy road when she comes to the farm?”
Youngho laughed at Jongil’s panic as he worried about Karajan. He surely had a bad crush on Karajan and Youngho hoped that it would last for long this time. If he ended up quitting soon after he dated her, Youngho was determined to drag him down before Karajan. If Jongil ended up badly with Karajan, it would affect Youngho’s business since she was the main employee.
“Don’t worry about her, I gave her snow chains for her tires and taught her how to use them. She practiced twice with me already.”
“Man, I shouldn’t have called her in the morning. Dude! You said there were deer. Have you even seen it?”
“Don’t rush it. You think I lied? Ask Gerhardt. He said, the half of the mountain is deer and the other half is woods.”
Gerhardt jerked at Youngho’s words. Even though he had seen many deer in the mountain, he still felt guilty that they were not seeing any today. Not noticing that, Jongil kept on complaining.
“Where are they anyway?”
After wandering around in the mountain for a while, Jongil suddenly stopped and raised his hand.
*Itaewon – a region of Seoul, Korea, known as Western town
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