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FICTION

Curry on a Desk

  • onJuly 21, 2017
  • Vol.36 Summer 2017
  • byApple Kim
Curry on a Desk
Tr. Jason Woodruff
2 015pp.

 

The other single men who have long lived on the same floor as me eat a lot of hamburgers. And they think I am ridiculous, they think they’re a hundred times better than me, because they think hamburgers are better than curry. I don’t understand it at all. If I’m a man, why don’t I eat hamburgers, they say to me, even the smell of kimchi is better than the smell of curry, they assert. But, I’m sorry, I hate hamburgers. Of course I hate salads even more. I don’t eat cocksucking salads like the women who live on the floor above. I just eat curry. If I didn’t eat curry, I would eat beef bone soup or cold noodles. Again, I hate hamburgers and I hate cocksucking salads. If I say this to the guys on my floor, they accuse me of trying to impress the girls, of being nothing but an opportunist. But, again, I’m sorry, I have no interest in trying to impress the girls (which is not to say I’m gay). I hate girls. Even more than hate, I despise them. Let me add that I despise men as well. I despise all humans, so really whether they are men or women is a secondary issue. When I told this to the guys on my floor, they said, Don’t bullshit us, you’re only trying to impress the girls. Motherfuckers.

I was lynched in the hallway last week as I walked back to my room from the showers. By which I mean the guys poured cold curry on my face and beat me up. I was so surprised I didn’t feel any pain as they hit me. After they hit me and ran off, I had to laugh to myself because they had run to the showers. The curry they poured onto me got all over them as well. Mixed with the sound of the running showers, I could hear them cursing one person specifically, probably the one who suggested pouring curry on me. Before they disappeared, they yelled out to me, If you use the shower, we’ll kill you!

Once they were gone, I heard a coughing from one of the rooms. And then a cough from the room across from that one, and then more coughs from several different rooms. Whether that was a sign of pity for me; a tacit signal to ignore me; a curse against the guys who did it; a cool way to say I’m glad you were hit, it felt good, and was fun to watch; a mix of all of these, or even just that all the guys in the rooms got itchy throats at the same time—I don’t know. After a few minutes I got up and went to the showers. No one came to kill me.

No one came to kill me, but no one ever tried to get close to me, either. There were a lot of people who thought I was crazy because I only ate curry. But that’s unfair. I don’t eat curry for all three meals in a day, there are times when even I hate to eat curry, and so I get take-out from the noodle place nearby or make kimchi fried rice. Or I buy a lunch box from the convenience store. It’s just that I do eat curry a lot. And that’s not the only weird rumor about me. One day I ran into the cleaning lady in the bathroom. She looked at me with a smile and said, I heard you are a feminist? I was so confused. A feminist? Doesn’t that mean you really like women? I was so confused I said, No I don’t like women, I actually despise women, I’ve never dated a woman and I don’t plan to ever date one. The expression on the cleaning lady’s face became very strange. And after that things became very awkward between us. If our eyes ever met, even from a distance, we would avoid each other, both creeped out by the other.

After that there was a rumor that I was a pervert. It started on the floor above us and one day a girl who always parked her bike on our floor mentioned it to me. Did you hear? Everyone on our floor says you’re a pervert. I stared at her, confused. She stood there shamelessly. She laughed and kept asking questions. You’re not? You weren’t caught taking pictures on the subway? I was silent. You’re really not? Her unwavering eyes staring at me, she felt like a judge, or God. Or like the God of Judgment, or something. She gave her final sentence. I guess you’re not, she said as she bounced up the stairs. Sorry.

This rumor was clearly started by the group that lynched me. But I didn’t care. I was just curious, why did they say I was a pervert and not that I despised all women or all humanity? Is there something about me that makes them think I’m a pervert? I don’t watch that much porn and I like the same female stars that everyone else likes. Is that what makes me a pervert? They’re the perverts.

After I saw the bubble tea girl, I thought only of her. The women from the floor above must have felt something, because they started to make a lot of noise. I could never tell if they were laughing or crying. It was a terrible sound. That’s why I hate women. They’re so perceptive. And they let you know when they have perceived something, with their whole body, as if they’re walking around bleeding. Does the bubble tea girl make those kinds of sounds when she goes home? Without a doubt. But she’s young, so there’s still a chance. If I get that chance, I intend to fix her. She’s clearly already ruined. Not ruined on the outside, but she’s ruined mentally, and that mental depravity is making itself known on the outside. Does her boyfriend know this and just ignore it? Does he savor the fact of it? I would love to be able to talk with him about it. And then smash his head with a brick, that would be perfect. Actually, that man looked just as depraved as she did. Didn’t he? If he didn’t, why do I keep thinking he did? Why do I keep having that thought? It’s confusing.

If I’m honest, I don’t want to hate women. In a better world, I would give the best to a woman. What is the best? It is, of course, my cock. I want to cut off my cock and place it before women. I want to hand over the most wonderful part of me to women. I’m not saying I would be a eunuch. It would actually be more like a coronation. We, the king, pass our kingdom over to you.

We, on this day, abdicate the throne of our (cock-sucking) kingdom.

Lawfully and whole-heartedly.

Accept my warm cock.

Lawfully and whole-heartedly.

Of course I don’t mean to become like King Lear. From the beginning, there exists an important distinction between us. I have no women. But my kingdom belongs to women. To speak to this fatal contradiction within my grand delusion . . .

I don’t feel like explaining.

In a dream, I order the bubble tea girl’s arm. I do so because she refused to cut off her own arm. When it arrives, her arm is soft and fresh. I put it in a glass bottle and place it on my desk because I don’t know what else to do with it. When I wake up the next morning I eat her arm. While I eat it, her arm asks me, Aren’t you sad? What?

The dream felt incredibly real. I decide to go cut off the arm of the one I love. The desire is so strong, no one will be able to hold me back.

pp. 93-96, 100-101, 105-106

 

 

Translated by Jason Woodruff
From the quarterly journal Jaeum & Moeum,
2015 Winter Issue.
 

 

Author's Profile

Apple Kim has published five novels, one short story collection, and two essay collections. She received a grant from the Arts Council Korea in 2007 to travel to the US and Europe, during which time she wrote her first novel Mina. The French edition of Mina was later published by Decrescenzo éditeurs. Her works have appeared in the Asia Literary Review.