On Saturday morning, I caught a train with Bob Horne from Nonsan to Pusan. My head was throbbing from the previous night of drinking. But I had the perfect cure for a hangover. I slammed five large cans on beer on the journey. My headache and queasy stomach gradually started to feel better, and before long, I was as right as rain.
Bob scowled at me. “You know what you are?”
“I have no idea.”
“A fucking alcoholic.”
“Well, I’ll drink to that.”
“Do you remember what happened last night?”
“Not all of it. I recall hitting Yvonne in the forehead with a peanut and getting kicked out of the bar. But everything after that is hazy. Were girls involved? Did we score?”
“Well, we bought more soju at a convenience store, and then we all sat at a picnic table to drink. But you started insulting the Canadians.”
“Really? That doesn’t sound like me. What did I say?”
“You kept calling them igloo dwellers and seal killers. Plus you told them that hockey is a sport designed for retards.”
“It sounds like I was being a real asshole. Did I piss anybody off?”
“Piss them off? You were about to get your ass kicked. You’re just lucky that Brandon was there. He restored order, and eventually they all went home.”
We rode in silence for fifteen minutes. I gazed out the window at the scenery. Korea isn’t a beautiful country. The landscape is dotted with rusty tin shacks and smokestacks belching dirty air into the sky. And the houses are ugly, too. Most people live in Soviet-style concrete apartments which can get as tall as thirty-stories high. The entire peninsula is pretty much a shithole. But, with that said, I feel genuine love for the country. It kind of grows on you.
Bob turned to me. “Seriously?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I can’t believe it. You don’t remember the girls and what you did?”
“I honestly don’t have a clue.”
“Later that night, these three Korean college girls sat next to us, and they wanted to practice their English. So we gave them soju and started up a conversation. Real stupid stuff. What is your favorite color? Do you have any hobbies? That kind of shit.”
“Were they beautiful?”
“Well, I wouldn’t kick them out of bed for eating crackers. But I’m bald and hard up.”
“How would you rate them on a scale of one to ten.”
He shot me the stink eye. “Do you want to hear the story or not?”
“Sure. Go ahead.”
“The best-looking lady out of the bunch couldn’t take her eyes off you. No shit. In fact, she kept rubbing the hair on your arms.”
“Really? I bet I had a huge boner.”
He started laughing. “Unfortunately, you puked on her shoes. And I’m not talking about a little bit of vomit. It was more like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. Her feet and legs were covered in your bodily juices. Christ, you should have smelled it. I almost barfed myself.”
“What happened after that?”
“Everybody turned in. But that’s OK. It was getting late.”
“I’m sorry that I fucked up your evening.”
“Don’t mention it. I actually had a pretty good time.”
The train made a stop at one of the towns along the way. A drunk middle-aged Korean man sat down next to us. He was wearing a dark-blue suit and a brightly colored tie. He looked sharp. But here was the problem. The guy kept screaming at us in Korean. I don’t think he was saying anything bad. In fact, there was a big friendly smile plastered across his broad flat face. Sadly, he was so inebriated that he simply forgot how to control his volume.
Eventually, security was called to the scene. Two cops grabbed the man by his arms and dragged him kicking and screaming out onto the platform. The policemen proceeded to throw the man down to the concrete floor. Then they stepped right on his head.
Bob and I witnessed the entire event right from the window.
I said, “Wow. That’s harsh.”
“Those guys don’t fool around.”
The train started moving again. We would soon reach Pusan.