In yesterday’s blog entry I claimed to be the Olympic Torch. Well that’s just not true. I’m a boring old pack of forgotten matches in City Light Books. I dream of something more however. I’ve dreamt of protestors putting out the Olympic Torch and then somebody trying to use me to start it up again. I would refuse of course. I would be the famous matches that refused to light. That’s a story for you.

  But today’s short-short story is about something completely different. 


A Bad Day


   Around ten o’clock at night the silence that rested all through the house was shattered by the electronic rattle of the phone. Pansori woke up with a bewildered start. His main duties at work immediately lined up in his mind when he realized it was only ten. Why was the phone ringing? He shuffled in his slippers to the phone.


    “This is Inspector Park from the Guri Police Precinct. We need you –“ the voice on the other end coughed and then coughed some more, “we need you to come in tomorrow afternoon at two o’clock.”

    “May I ask why ?” Pansori said while rubbing his eyes.

    “You are a suspect in a hit and run. We need to ask you some –“ again he coughed as if he were choking on a baby’s rattle, “questions.”

    The next morning, Pansori awoke from dreams whose shape he couldn’t recall but they nevertheless cast a shadow over his mind. He would have to go to work and explain that he needed the afternoon off but Mr. Lee wouldn’t be happy. Mr. Lee was never happy and he was always in search of some explanation for his misery. This morning Pansori would be his excuse.

   “Do you think we run a charity here?” Mr. Lee shouted so that all of Pansori’s colleagues could hear. A single vein ran down Mr. Lee’s forehead. It resembled a bolt of lightening.

    “No, sir.”

    “What did you hit and run? A curb? A duk-bo-gi stand?” Mr. Lee snorted. Everyone held back bewildered expressions. Mr. Lee was their boss and he was trying to make a joke so they should laugh but he was also very angry so maybe they shouldn’t laugh.

    One man, who always ate duk-bo-gi at lunch, laughed a single “Ha”.

    “Shut up and get back to work,” Mr. Lee fumed. “Alright Pansori take the afternoon off and try not to hit anyone on your way to the police station.”

   “Thank-you sir.”

    After a two-hour drive through heavy traffic, Pansori was outside of Seoul and in the district of Guri. It took him some time to find the police station and then he had to find parking. Finally, he was inside the station.


    “Pansori Kim.”

    “Have a seat.”

     This went on several times until finally a large police officer appeared in the waiting room. “Pansori Kim!” Pansori felt like he was back in the military. “Come this way,” the large officer said and then coughed into his ham-shaped fist.

     They walked through several corridors that all looked the same. Pansori began to wonder if they were going back to Seoul through a secret network of hallways. Finally they arrived at a room. 

     “Where were you last Friday night?” Inspector Park asked and then he coughed and Pansori had to wait.

    “I was at home.”

    Inspector Park looked at Pansori carefully.

    “Thank-you. That’s all.”

    “Thank-you,” Pansori replied but deep in his heart two words slowly emerged: “up yours.” These were English words he’d learned in Vancouver while studying ESL, words that were little bursts of freedom.