Crank Up 8
‘Gukji looked at the dog that just rolled in.
It literallyrolled inside.
As dogfighting was also a form of business, the dogs would be pulled back if the fight looked like it was going to get bloody or if one side surrendered, but this time, an accident happened before they even got the chance to do anything.
The dog that was tossed into the dog shed by the head manager kept gasping for air while sprawled on the ground.
“Have a look at it, and deal with it if it looks no good.”
The head manager left those words before leaving.
Gukji sat down in front of the dog, crossed-legged.
The dog, panting with difficulty with its tongue out on the ground, didnt even flinch or move its eyes as though it didnt have enough energy to stay on guard.
It seemed to be wholeheartedly focusing on breathing.
The blood that flowed out from the dogs neck drenched the ground red.
As the pool of blood became deeper, the lungs of the dog that quickly moved up and down started slowing down.
This was no good.
Gukji stood up.
He picked up the shovel, which rested against the wall.
The puncture wound on the neck was one thing, but the dog was too old.
Even left alone, it wouldve naturally met its death.
It might last through the night while gasping for breath, but any signs of life would leave it by sunrise.
He looked down at the dog with the shovel in his hand.
Maybe it had sensed what was about to happen.
The sprawled dog pulled back its tongue and stood up after pulling together its shaky legs.
It seemed to be saying with all of its body that it could still do more, that it was still not yet time to die.
Gukji tightened his grip on the shovel and raised it above his head.
He could not hit the body.
He had to strike right between the eyes, accurately and quickly so that he did not give the dog any chance to twist its body in surprise.
The sound wasnt that loud.
He could feel the dogs inside the cages perk their ears up and look over.
Other than that one dog that had lost all interest in the world, every other dog was watching with wariness at the dog that was losing its life.
Gukji loosened his arm and looked around at the dogs.
The dogs all turned around when they met eyes with him.
They seemed to be saying that they did not see anything.
He put on some cleaning gloves.
Although he had lived for a long time inside the dog shed, he never once touched a dead one with his bare hands.
Although he had no qualms touching a dog covered in blood and during the moments before death, once it died, he had a hard time touching it.
He could only guess that he hated thething that did not budge despite being extremely hot.
He put the dog inside a plastic bag.
The dead dog was heavier than normal.
He left the dog shed with the shovel in his left hand and the plastic bag in the other.
He moved along the mountain path covered in snow.
The grave of the dogs wasnt that far away.
Under the tree that had been snapped because of a lightning strike, Gukji put down the plastic bag and dug the ground.
The shovel touched the frozen ground and created a loud noise.
Clang, clang– he dug the ground while focusing like he was hammering a nail.
Somewhere around here were five more dogs.
If he was unlucky, he would strike a dog bone under the frozen ground.
After digging enough to bury the plastic bag, sweat started forming on his head.
Fortunately, he did not run into any dog bones while digging.
He pushed the plastic bag inside and looked down at the pit for a while.
Whenever this moment came, he would involuntarily remember what happened in the past, whether he liked it or not.
What fun do you have in life — this was a question that all six of the head managers before the current one asked him without fail.
The second of them was a woman, and she would sometimes watch him bury the dog from the side.
She sometimes watched when he struck the dog between the eyes with a shovel, or at times, a bat.
When she saw that, she would always comment the same thing: so this is fun for you, huh
He wiped his sweat with the back of his hand and filled the pit with the soil that he had dug up until the blue plastic bag was completely buried under the soil.
When he returned to the dog shed, he saw Maehwa standing in front of the entrance.
“Where have you been”
Gukji showed her the shovel.
Maehwa nodded as though she understood.
Maehwa reminded him of the second head manager.
Whether it was her smile, the worry in her eyes as she grumbled, or her attempt to close the distance to him, she was similar to the second head manager.
“Youre sleeping in there even though its snowing this much”
“Isnt it cold”
“I dont know.”
Perhaps because it was always cold, or because it was less cold than when he walked around in the snow barefooted when he was young, Gukji was rather numb to the cold.
His body only signaled that it was cold when he found the dog similar to him completely dead.
On such days, his sense of cold would reappear.
This time too, he would probably feel the cold ifthat dog died.
“The head manager told me to have a look at what you did to the dog.”
“I killed it and buried it.”
He showed her the shovel once again.
The blood of the dog that splattered as its skull was smashed had stained the tip of the shovel, making it look like it was rusted.
Maehwas eyes twitched and she stepped aside.
Gukji walked inside the dog shed.
He put the shovel against the wall and walked to the third cage from the right.
It was a cage that would remain empty for a while until the head manager brought a new dog.
Gukji pushed his body inside there.
A faint sense of warmth welcomed him as though it was glad to have him here.
* * *
Maewha opened the door to the dog shed before frowning slightly.
Gukji had crawled inside a cage where a dog should be.
He lay down on the floor where dog excretions werent even cleaned.
Maehwa watched while biting on her nails from the outside before eventually taking out her handkerchief.
She sprayed some perfume onto the handkerchief before blocking her nose and mouth with it.
She took a step inside, but the foul stench pierced through the handkerchief in an instant.
It was a stench that had been created over years.
“Youre going to fall ill and die.”
Although it was wide for a dog, the cage was incredibly narrow for a person to stay inside.
Gukji, who curled up his body and covered his face with his arm, looked very uncomfortable.
She didnt know why she was doing this in this place and wanted to leave as soon as possible because of the disgusting smell, but after seeing Gukjis nose stuck to the floor where there must be a ton of bacteria, she couldnt easily take that step out.
“You damn prick.
Youre really going to die like that.
No matter how uneducated you are, you must know what it feels like to be hurt.
If you stay in a dirty place like that in this cold weather, even a healthy man would get pneumonia or the flu.
Get up now.”
Gukji did not budge no matter how much she spoke.
Maehwa felt like she was going to get angry.
She wasnt here to do charity work, so why was she even here She could just ignore it and just turn around.
Her life fell into this **hole because of her nosiness.
Had she not returned home worried about her mom who had returned after drinking, had she reported her dad who put his hand into her skirt, no, in the first place, if she could become someone who only cared about herself rather than others….
She started feeling really bad.
She felt like vomiting because of the smell.
Forget it, he could die for all I care — she turned around after taking the handkerchief off her mouth.
It was barely audible.
However, those words also returned her feet, which had half-left the dog shed already, back inside.
“I told you to go inside and sleep if its cold.”
Maehwa tucked her handkerchief in her pocket.
* * *
Cheonho looked at Maehwa, who walked while supporting Gukji.
He had told her many times not to approach him, yet….
She was a rather unpredictable woman.
She couldnt be more proficient in ripping money off of married men, but she would be unable to pass by an elderly lady selling vegetables on the side of the street.
At times like that, she would look like a rather innocent woman.
“Where are you going”
“I cant let him sleep inside there like that.
The weathers like this too.”
“I told you not to take care of that little **er.”
Cheonho looked at Gukji, who looked drained of energy.
He didnt look this bad when he saw him in the morning, but he turned into an ICU patient in mere hours.
Just as Maehwa said, it looked like they would have to take care of a corpse if they left him alone.
“When did this happen”
“It happened so suddenly.
He looked perfectly fine until just now, but he lay flat on the ground before getting to this state.
Stop staring and come and help me.
This guys heavier than he looks.”
“Why should I”
“Are you really going to do this”
“Whats it got to do with me whether that prick dies or not Rather than that, I told you not to get involved with him.
I mean, just look at him now.
Look at his eyes.
Are those eyes that are looking at someone whos trying to help him Hes not **ing human.”
“Are you going to deal with him if he dies Also, the head manager told us to take care of him when he brought him here.
What would he say if this guy died”
Cheonho spat on the ground.
As iffy as he felt, Maehwa was right.
There was noactual problem even if he died since he wouldnt even be reported as dead, but if the head manager put the responsibility on him, it would be a pain to deal with.
He didnt want to get nagged at because of someone worse than a fly.
“I can just toss him in the room, right”
“Why grumble when youre going to do it anyway I should take him to the room and wash him.
This guys a lump of bacteria.”
“Dont you have something like gloves I dont want to touch him like this.”
“Why dont you have a look at me and say that again”
Maehwa was lending Gukji her shoulder.
The woman who hated dirty things had great endurance at a time like this.
Cheonho took Gukji to the room with Maehwa.
He tossed him below the bed after opening the door.
Even though they had been in contact for very little, his outerwear smelled like rotten eggs.
He felt like he wouldnt be able to get the smell off even with washing, so he took it off and tossed it next to Gukji.
“Ive done my job so you do the rest.
I might as well slam the door shut and leave if someone says something to me because this guy died because he couldnt take care of himself.”
“Bull**, you arent daring enough to do that.”
Choenho raised his hand at Maehwa before putting it down.
Getting into a fight with a woman was quite unsightly.
Also, Maehwas foul language didnt just come about a day or two ago.
Before he left the room, he looked at Gukji, who had curled up.
This was the first time he saw a guy he couldnt get attached to.
His intuition told him that this guy would cause big trouble once and that he should not get close to him.
“Dont you spend too much time either.
That **er is a dangerous one.”
“There you go again.
Are you so scared of someone who got sick because he couldnt take care of himself”
“Dont regret it later and listen to my words, okay, missy”
Cheonho turned around, his eyes twitching.
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