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The Hustler

"How come girls and bad players keep asking for more every time they get killed?" Wook mumbled as he felt in his pocket the money he had just won over the night, all crumpled in a bunch. It was a distinctly Korean pun, as the slang term for the woman's role in sexual congress and being massacred on the go board was the same. He smiled with satisfaction to recall Madam Kang, who got 'killed' several times two nights ago, and countless killed groups of Stupido Sr. during last night's games. She and he both demanded the next rendezvous as soon as possible. Yes, striking similarities between girls and bad players. Wook, the hustler, was amused.

He took out a handful of crumpled money. About fifty thousand. Not bad. He pushed the money back into the pocket. This would buy five hundred packs of Chungja. Converting the money into cigarettes added to his confidence and satisfaction.

Wook left the motel quickly and directed the cab driver to a luxurious bath house. He could afford the special room today. The special room featured an enormouse bath tub with connecting bedroom. He stripped rather hastily and plunged himself into the tub full of hot water. Eyes closed, he contemplated the feelings of the Creator on His seventh day.

What should he do with a sabbath? he pondered. It was only nine a.m. Maybe he should take a nap here for a while and rest. He deserved the rest. Then he would take Ikoo out for a drink, beer tonight for a change, not soju, the cheap distilled liquor that one could buy at every road side stand. Stupido Sr. would not get his return matches from Wook today. This struck Wook, a boxing fan, as appropriate. Remember Liston? It was hard for him to get return matches with Clay after losing. Of course, losers deserved to suffer.

There was a knock at the door. It was the masseur he had ordered. The courteous masseur, a blind young man in his 20s, scared Wook a little for no apparent reason. Was it because he was blind, or because Wook was unconsciously afraid of strangers?

Wook, satisfied with the comfort and relaxation the king-sized bed provided, let the masseur work on his tired body. The masseur set to work with his skillful hands, powerful yet soothing. The feeling of tiredness in Wook's body slowly disappeared, replaced by one of gratification.

Outside, the noise of the students' anti-government rally continued. It irritated Wook a little. But not for long. He slowly fell into a deep and comfortable sleep.

[to be continued...]

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