Although Jinho wasn’t a good drinker, there were days when he simply didn’t have the confidence to hold on without a drink in his body, and today just happened to be that day. While talking about each other’s lives with Sangcheol, a sense of sorrow suddenly swell up and Jinho unconsciously poured Soju down his throat.
He just didn’t have the confidence to hold on without it.
Flushing down the toilet, Jinho washed his mouth with tap water and wiped it with a piece of toilet paper. Perhaps due to the chicken’s sauce, his nose felt slightly hot.
As he stumbled through the bathroom door back towards his seat, Jinho’s phone rang. There shouldn’t be anyone calling at this time…, so he thought and when he checked his phone,
[Son, there wasn’t any call from you today. Are you doing well? Mom’s worried. I sent the living expense so don’t skip your meals. Call me when you’re free.]
Mom’s message from Korea showed up.
Usually he would’ve immediately sent back a message. But today he couldn’t. Jinho’s eyes reading the message became damp, and his fingers holding the phone shook.
“I’m sorry mom… Even though you sent me all the way to the America while barely scraping by… I’m sorry…”
The cost of language school, and Jinho’s living expenses; Jinho was still living off his parents to a point he feel too shameful to tell others. His friends who entered society early had one by one gotten hired already, while he himself was still preparing for art college. Once again, the wall of reality hit Jinho over the head.
It became difficult to even stand straight for Jinho as pain swelled up in his chest. After leaning against a wall for a while, Jinho returned to the table Sangcheol was sitting at and quickly took his coat. Seeing Jinho preparing to leave, Sangcheol became shocked and asked.
“Eh? Where’re you going? We still haven’t finished eating.”
“Sorry…. Here’s the money. I think I better go back first. My stomach isn’t doing well either.”
“Aahh. I called some girls since it was weird for two guys to eat alone. If you go the numbers don’t match. They’re from art school and are really cute. Stay a bit longer.”
“I’m really sorry. I’ll contact you later.”
Like that, Jinho went out of the restaurant and stumbled down the road. The distance to the subway that usually takes at least 10 minutes with a clear head took twice as long when he tried to walk while drunk. Paying with NY transit card and getting inside the subway platform, Jinho sat right down onto a chair.
At that moment, a picture came into his eyes.
Seeing a familiar looking painting on the platform wall, Jinho tilted his head.
“Where have I seen it…”
Even for Jinho who can easily remember a picture if he see it once, no information came up in his mind.
‘Definitely saw a painting with a similar colors… Looking at the simple patterns, is it Rothko’s work…?’
Once he thought up to that point Jinho realized the painting’s identity and brightly smiled.
“It’s the painting I saw at the Museum.”
And from that point Jinho’s memory stopped.
Tong, tong, tong.
The sound of water drops, falling from an open tap and hitting the sink, quietly echoed in the room. Quiet yet consistent sound; Jinho who concentrated his ears in response during sleep struggled to rise, and while rubbing his half-closed eyes went into the bathroom and closed the tap.
“Ugh, must’ve ran through the night.”
Jinho muttered with his hands on the sink and raised his head to look at himself in the mirror. As expected, there was a horrible looking man.
Sunken eyes and white powder around his mouth, as if one drooled while sleeping. The greasy hair doesn’t even need to be mentioned. With a disgusted look, Jinho raised his right hand to dust off his eyes but,
Jinho’s eyes became confused.
His right hand was pasted with paint. Upon close inspection, not only his hands but even on his clothes and legs were traces of splashed painting.
Not understanding what had happened, Jinho searched through his memories but nothing came up. Only thing left in his memory was himself barely keeping his body up while waiting for the subway.
Jinho screamed as he pulled on his hair in regret.
“Ah, you maniac… What the hell did I do with the paint after I got drunk?! Even though the paints are seriously expensive.”
A cheap single color paint was about 3 dollars. That is, if you bought a really cheap one.
When using paint, he always muttered about quality and bought expensive paints, but to think he’ll get drunk and play around with them. Jinho kept hitting himself in the head as he walked out of the bathroom. He dreaded checking the results, but the art supplies had to be checked. At the moment they were more expansive than Jinho’s body, though technically Jinho’s worth was in the minus and there couldn’t be anything cheaper in the world.
As he dragged himself across the dusty floor toward the easel, Jinho’s face was unmeasurably dark.
“Hah, how many days would I have to go hungry if I go buy the paints again….”
Jinho’s mouth that was spouting out his woes suddenly stopped.
At that moment, Jinho couldn’t comprehend what was in front of his eyes.
The easel was definitely his, and sketches were also the ones he made. Although last night the sketches weren’t finished, it was definitely the one he drew.
“…the painting’s finished?”
But now the work on the easel was no longer at a sketching stage but was completed.
Color, balance, structure etc. Everything in Jinho’s imagination was perfectly expressed. As Jinho examined the painting he shook his head.
“N, no… This is beyond what I imagined. This flower’s texture, or this shading is beyond what I can do.”
‘What exactly had happened?’ Jinho thought he was hallucinating and kept rubbing his eyes, but nothing changed.
This time wondering if he was in a dream, he pinched his cheek, but the sharp pain made his eyes started to water up instead.
Jinho gave a hollow laugh as he sat down.
After getting drunk and waking up from sleep, the painting he wanted was finished. Can this truly be real?
“Ah um, so I just went? Ah, yeah. Sorry for waking you up, Sangcheol. Have a good rest. Me? Ah, I’m good. Just wanted to see if you’re okay. See you later.”
Finishing his call with Sangcheol, Jinho sighed and laid down on the bed.
It’s been hours since he found the finished painting on the easel, but there was no progress in his investigation. No, since he couldn’t remember what happened, there wasn’t anything to progress.
‘If I just look at the situation, it means I drew the picture after coming back drunk…’
It simply didn’t make sense.
If he looked at the finished brush strokes, they were in no way something one could do while drunk. Jinho brought his face closer to the canvas and examined the painting more carefully.
The brushstrokes were highly precise and clean. If he were to judge it would be one of the highest grade he had ever seen.
It was as if France’s Monet has came back to life to borrow his hand, and coated the hues onto the canvas.
Jinho raised his body and with the same look stared holes into the picture.
“I did this?’
Even if he thought about it, his head naturally shook in denial.
“Ha, no way.”
Jinho put the canvas back onto the easel and stood up. After scratching his forehead, Jinho decided to go outside for now. His stomach was hungry, and his brain felt like it needed some fresh air to think.
Picking up his nearly empty wallet, Jinho put on a coat and escaped his basement room through the door.
Due to its cheap cost, Jinho’s basement studio was located in poorer district of Queens.
Naturally the street outside was dirty, and hobos sat here and there begging. Technically, Jinho only had a place to stay, and was no different from them. No, perhaps he was worse than them.
‘If they’re begging on the streets for money, I’m begging for my parents’ backbones.’
As his face turned dark again from thinking about his parents, Jinho pressed his hat down. He felt too ashamed to even looked at the brightly shining sun.
As he walked on, a signboard for chinese bread shop he regulars soon appeared. A shabby exterior one can tell is problematic with a single glance, and beyond the glass wall the unorganized kitchen of the bakery was plainly shown. It wasn’t a place he’ll go if he was concerned with sanitation, but Jinho’s pocket was in more dire state than sanitation.
When Jinho opened the glass door and entered, the bell tinkled and notified Jinho’s presence. The chinese owner noticed Jinho’s face and smiled.
“Came again? You should eat rice instead of bread.”
“Ahjussi, you’ll lose a regular if you keep saying that.”
“Kuku, if young man eats only bread you won’t have any energy. Aren’t you at that age when you need to be energetic?”
At the owner’s joke Jinho’s face turn slightly red. The hand that was naturally putting breads into a basket became faster as well.
“… Maybe, but I don’t have that much need yet. How much is this altogether?”
“Hm, 4 dollar 50 cents.”
“Ugh, the price went up again? I won’t be able to come here again too.”
“Heeey. Obviously for the young man this red-bean paste bread is free. Now, we good?”
“I love you, owner. My loyalty won’t ever change.”
As Jinho paid the owner and was about to head outside holding a bag with the breads, something caught his eyes. It was a simple landscape painting on a wall. When Jinho stopped on his feet and stared at the unexceptional painting, the owner tilted his head and asked.
“What’s is it, young man? Is there something wrong?”
“… ah, no. It’s not that.”
At the owner’s question, Jinho slowly tried to say something but stopped. Watching this, the owner became agitated instead and asked again.
“What is it? If there’s a problem then tell me. It’s not like we’re strangers.”
“Ah… it’s, um. It might be a bit rude.”
“Um, it’s okay so say it.”
At the owner’s urge Jinho finally spoke the words that’s been in his chest.
“Would it be alright if I repaint this picture?”
<Miracle Drawing! 2.> End
Translator : CSV
Proofreader : Kuhaku