Volume 1 / Chapter 12
After a night of deep sleep, his body felt light. The only signs that something had happened were his bloated face and stiff, bandaged back.
“You’re awake now? How do you feel?”
“Oh, mister. Yes… I’m okay.”
“You must be hungry. Sit there and I’ll make you something to eat.”
Jun Hyuk sat uncomfortably in a corner of the cafe. He had only seen the boss on the first day when he ate the tonkatsu, but there were two young people cleaning and preparing the hall now. He could also see the boss making something next to the chef in the kitchen.
The two young employees cleaning the hall kept glancing over at Jun Hyuk as well. Yoon Kwang Hun came out with a plate once that attention started to become uncomfortable.
“Eat this first and ease your stomach. We’ll eat more heartily for dinner.”
Jun Hyuk only noticed that something was wrong with Yoon Kwang Hun’s face after he had scarfed down the porridge.
“But mister. Your face?”
“Oh, this? Those high schoolers hit me a little yesterday. At any rate, I thought you would be able to fight a bit but you couldn’t.”
“If we fought properly, I would have won for sure. What can I do when they’re all ganging up on me? I could have run away if it weren’t for you but you came…..”
“Hey kid! Your tone is different after being saved. Ha ha.”
Jun Hyuk wanted to thank Yoon Kwang Hun who was laughing with a bruised face, but he lost his chance to show his gratefulness because of his next words because they were entirely unexpected.
“Do you want to work here?”
“You don’t have a place to go anyway. You can sleep in that small room and since this is a cafe, your meals won’t be a problem.”
Yoon Kwang Hun had considered taking Jun Hyuk home as well, but the cafe was better suited if he wanted to be surrounded by music at any time of the day. Yoon Kwang Hun’s CD collection and the audio system he had spent thousands on were at the cafe. If Jun Hyuk even wanted to make ramen at the house, he would have to be careful of Yoon Kwang Hun, but if he were alone at the cafe, he could go into the refrigerator at any time and eat whatever he wanted.
“But what type of work?”
“Instead of dealing with the customers, preparing to open for business and cleaning the hall and kitchen after closing. That’s it. What do you think?”
“So you’re telling me to just prepare and clean, right?”
“That’s right. Isn’t it completely ideal?”
He thought Jun Hyuk would be jumping for joy at the offer of simply cleaning in exchange for food and shelter, but he had a strange expression that was neither positive nor negative. What’s more, the expression did not look favorable either.
“Excuse me, mister. Tell me honestly. What do you want from me?”
“What? What do you mean?”
“There’s no adult who gives out food and shelter for free. There’s no such thing as free food.”
His eyes were full of distrust. His lips were forming a slight smile.
Adults made a young child like this. Could it be that he had never experienced kindness and goodwill?
“That… that… Whew~.”
Yoon Kwang Hun stopped talking to depress this horrible feeling. How had the world treated this 15 year old boy and what awful tribulations had he endured on his way here?
Yoon Kwang Hun had so many questions, but did not want to revisit old wounds like they had done the last time. Instead, he told Jun Hyuk what he needed to do going forward slowly and clearly.
“Listen carefully, Jun Hyuk. There are also adults who give hungry children free lunch without expecting anything in return. And it’s not free, is it? I’m making you clean.”
Jun Hyuk’s expression was that of disbelief. No matter how hard he searched his memory, there had never been a person who treated him like this without expecting something in return. He felt Yoon Kwang Hun’s sincerity in the way he was speaking clearly as if he were upset.
“But why are you being nice to me?”
“Um… let me think. How should I say it?”
Yoon Kwang Hun thought for a moment about how he could say it in a way that would help Jun Hyuk understand.
“You have a tremendous talent that you don’t know about. I don’t know how extensive it is either. I want to see that talent and I don’t want it to disappear.”
“By chance, can I hear… I mean, do I have a talent in music?”
“So far it seems so. It could be an incredible talent.”
Jun Hyuk hung his head. Yoon Kwang Hun could guess why his head was hanging and went on speaking.
“Even if you don’t have a talent, let’s live here together until you’re an adult. I’m alone and you’re alone.”
Jun Hyuk finally lifted his head and thanked him.
“Thank you, mister. I’ll make sure to be successful with my music and repay your kindness.”
“You’re embarrassing me… Forget about that. And you’re not just playing around. You really have to start studying hard.”
“Excuse me? Study?”
“Yea, study. You’ve never been to school, right?”
“So you won’t know hangul?”
“Hey, it’s fine. It’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s natural that you don’t know it if you’ve never learned it.”
Yoon Kwang Hun hit the back of Jun Hyuk’s once again hanging head.
“When the cafe opens in the morning, go to your room and sleep. Sleep well and you can listen to music when you get up. We can study together after the cafe is closed. We’ll learn hangul and sheet music.”
“Yea. Sheet music makes it possible to read sounds.”
“Yes. It means you’re recording the pitch and length of sounds. And since you don’t know tones yet, you’ll need to learn an instrument. You need to know the different sounds instruments make.”
“Then… if I learn sheet music, I’ll be able to write down the sounds I think of?”
‘Exactly. This is it.’
Yoon Kwang Hun felt a shiver run through his body. There’s definitely music unique to this child in his head. Yoon Kwang Hun wanted to see that music. He needed to know if this child was Mozart reincarnated or if he just had absolute pitch, a sense for tempo, and amazing memorization.
If Jun Hyuk was not talented in composition, he would need to receive professional training. Yoon Kwang Hun thought this far ahead and started to worry. How much money would this cost?
“Jun Hyuk, you can think about making music slowly. You need to listen to a lot of it before that. As you listen to a lot of music, it’ll become clear how you can make the sounds that you are thinking of.”
With that, Jun Hyuk started to live at the cafe.