Doppio Senso – Chapter 5.1


90% of the guests at the KeumOh founding party were obviously YongSung gangsters. They were all wearing black suits as if it was a uniform and had thug-like faces. They might as well have stuck signs on their foreheads that said ‘I am a gangster’.

The gangsters of YongSung and the drug traffickers all had distinctive features that set them apart from the normal employees who worked in front of computers in the KeumOh office building. Having seen enough of these kinds of people at Serim, EunHa wasn’t scared. She was merely struck with awe as all these men lowered their heads when KyungHyun passed by.

“Straighten my tie for me.”

After sitting down at their table, KyunHyun looked around the room and took a sip of wine. Then he lowered his head to EunHa’s ear.

“It looks fine.”

EunHa distanced herself from him a little before tilting her head. KyungHyun clicked his tongue and brought his head close to hers once again.

“Just do as I say.”

EunHa helplessly straightened his tie and his shirt collar. She glanced at the white, folded handkerchief in his breast pocket. She recalled where it had been used and felt a rush of embarrassment flood over her.

“Can’t you please take this out?”

“Didn’t you tell me that it was gentlemanly for a man to carry around a handkerchief?”

“But it isn’t supposed to be used for that.”

“Why is it okay to use it to clean your face but not other places?”

KyungHyun gave her a languid smile. A few days ago, when KyungHyun had used his handkerchief to wipe the dirt off her face, EunHa had called him a gentleman. If she could take back her words now, she would have.

Even though they had sex in the car just moments ago, KyungHyun kept a straight face as he greeted the guests. As expected, EunHa merely smiled prettily like a mannequin and played her role at his side. Instead of his secretary, EunHa felt as if she were playing the role of Shin KyungHyun’s woman. It was a strange feeling, but she couldn’t show her discomfort.

All the men’s glances that had come her way subsided in an instant when she sat down next to KyungHyun. They didn’t even greet her. While it was refreshing to be treated like an invisible person, it also blocked any opportunity for her to approach someone else to obtain more information. EunHa smiled bitterly.

“Good work, Hyung-nim.”

A man lowered his head and spoke in a country accent. KyungHyun raised his liquor glass in the man’s direction.

“I also heard that you’ve been through a lot lately.”

“I shouldn’t have used part-timers in the first place. Who knew those young bastards would take the gold and run? I heard they’re in prison right now, but I’m thinking of tightening the screws on them as soon as they get out.”

“It’ll be dangerous, so stay low for now. I heard there’s been an emergency in the Japanese customs, so they’re cracking down pretty hard.”

“Yes, sir. I wanted to thank you for blocking the efforts of those bastards at the Yamamoto-gumi…”

“It’s fine. Don’t worry about any of that and just eat and drink before heading back down.”

Many more men took turns coming up to KyungHyun’s table and bowed their heads. Sitting next to him, EunHa held her champagne flute and ate her food as she looked around the room.

Even though it was formally called a founding party, everyone here was eating and joking around noisily. Korean food and western food, Chinese food and Japanese food. The cuisines of many different countries continued to be brought out haphazardly. Tables were full of wine, soju, whiskey, beer, rice wine, sake, and kaoliang liquor.

The chandelier sparkled, and the elegant banquet hall was filled with cigarette smoke. Instead of classical music, the sexy song of a popular girl group was playing inside this sophisticated space.

This atmosphere didn’t seem to match the gloomy wedding hall situated in the middle of the ruins of a construction site. It also didn’t seem to suit the sparkling KeumOh building that stood in the middle of Gangnam either.

“Hyung-nim! Let me pour you another glass!”

KyungHyun didn’t reject his underlings’ offer and received it. As time passed by, the atmosphere in the room began to lift.

“How it it? What is your impression of our company’s founding party?”

KyungHyun shrugged his shoulders as he watched EunHa take a bite of the slice of cake next to the salmon sushi.

“I can’t tell if it’s a picnic or a party, but I don’t think it’s bad at all. Everyone seems to be having a good time.”

“Really?”

“Yes. I thought the president would come out and give a speech, but it seems that he isn’t. That’s a bit surprising.”

KyungHyun moistened his throat with some liquor as he listened to her indifferent voice.

“Didn’t I tell you before? The president doesn’t come out in public very often.”

“But isn’t today a bit more important than usual?”

“A few years ago, at a party where all the gangsters were gathered together, someone brandished a knife.”

Eunha looked at him and silently swallowed. In this moment, she was about to hear whether the rumors were true.

“…Who was the attacker?”

She wanted to grab this person by the throat and ask why he couldn’t kill him with one stroke of the blade. But she suppressed this urge and asked cautiously.

“The president’s nephew. In other words, it was a coup d’état.”

“…And he ultimately failed.”

“Yeah. I got stabbed instead, and, with the knife still lodged in me, I killed the guy.”

EunHa’s eyes silently trembled. Looking into her eyes, KyungHyun put a cigarette into his mouth and lit the lighter with a click. EunHa’s view became cloudy as the cigarette smoke slowly flowed out of his mouth. KyungHyun’s eyes narrowed as he spoke in a low voice.

“Thanks to him, I made it all the way up here.”

“…I see.”

“If you risk your life, most people will trust you.”

“…So you’re saying that in order to gain your trust, one would have to risk their life.”

KyungHyun took a deep drag of the cigarette and chuckled.

“And what would you do after having gained my trust?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think I want to go through the trouble of obtaining it.”

EunHa let out a refreshing laugh and raised her liquor glass.

“I’m someone who values her life more than anything else.”

“That’s good.”

KyungHyun raised his own glass and clinked it against hers. His gaze on her seemed to grow deeper. Without looking away from her, he downed the liquor in his glass in one go.

“Director.”

General Manager Cha, who had been sitting at another table, came over to them and bowed.

“The room has been prepared.”

EunHa pretended to be disinterested and glanced away. However, she read General Manager Cha’s lips as he whispered to KyungHyun.

“It’s about the matter at Shenzhen…”

KyungHyun glanced over at EunHa, and she quickly placed her eyes back on her plate. He straightened his clothes and got up from his seat.

“I’ll be right back, so wait here.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll do that.”

EunHa obediently nodded her head. She pretended to be calm, but her heart was rapidly beating inside her chest. She had definitely heard General Manager Cha say ‘Shenzhen.’

Shenzhen, China. This was where the medical headquarters was located. This was where they were developing the new drug. Even inside KeumOh, this project was kept top-secret, so it was difficult to find any information on it. No matter what, she needed to eavesdrop on this conversation.

“Let’s go.”

KyungHyun took General Manager Cha and exited the venue. EunHa sat at the table by herself and sipped her wine. Then she pretended to go to the bathroom and got up. The corridor was full of men passing through, and the lights flickered on the walls. General Manager Cha and KyungHyun had disappeared and were nowhere to be found. In order to avoid any attention, she went to the bathroom. She turned on the faucet and washed her hands.

“Where is the Boss? Shouldn’t he be here to raise the atmosphere a little? He’s having Director Shin do everything for him. What if something goes wrong? I don’t know what he can be thinking, seriously.”

“Things have been looking good for Director Shin. I’m almost certain Director Im went down to Busan because he couldn’t stand to see it any longer.”

“Makes sense. Not that long ago, everyone crawled on their knees whenever Director Im said anything. But now that Director Shin is treating him like an underling, it’s weird to see.”

“Hey, you bastard. Now that Director Im isn’t here, look who’s talking big. If you go around talking like that, you’ll vanish off the face of the earth one day, you idiot.”

“A guy saw Director Im before he left for Busan and told me.”

She could hear the drunk voice coming from the men’s restroom next door. The subject of their discussion, Director Im, was the former deputy director in charge of Busan and Kyungnam.

When she had been gathering information about YongSung, she found that this man had the most men under his authority before KyungHyun had taken power. Even though the profits gained from his nightclubs and show business ventures had gradually shrunk, many still followed him in the name of old glory.

“Still, how can he not show up on a day like this?”

“If Director Im came, would he or Director Shin be able to fully enjoy themselves?”

“I guess so. Since Boss isn’t even here, I guess there’s no point in spoiling the mood.”

Anyone could tell that KyungHyun and Director Im didn’t get along very well within YongSung. After storing this piece of information inside her head, EunHa exited the bathroom. It wouldn’t be good if she ran into another gangster when KyungHyun was gone. She began to quickly walk away when she heard the other man’s voice ring in her ears.

“I don’t know. I think Boss might be here.”

“What bullshit are you saying now?”

EunHa stopped dead in her tracks.

“He might not be up out front, but he’ll probably be watching everything through a screen. I heard it from our hyung-nim, so I’m pretty sure that’s the case.”

“Why is he hiding around like a cop? It’s not like he’s watching us play around.”

“I told you to fucking watch your mouth. It’s because he’s that careful that our organization is still afloat, you bastard. If not for him, those Serim sons of bitches would have infiltrated by now and killed us all.”

The men’s voices came closer, so EunHa went back and hid behind the bathroom wall. Her heart began to beat loudly. If what they said was true, then the head of YongSung was currently in the same building as her. She tried to calm down by telling herself that there was a chance it wasn’t true.

“I’ll be right back, so wait here.”

She recalled what KyungHyun had said. If he had to get up from his seat to meet someone, then it meant that this person had to have a high position. It couldn’t hurt to make sure. EunHa left the bathroom. Instead of heading back to the banquet hall, she silently began to walk around the first floor.

Even though there were may event venues on this floor, all the doors were locked. She couldn’t hear anything inside these rooms either. Was she mistaken? EunHa pondered this as she walked back to the banquet hall. She walked towards the back entrance and saw that the party venue was still noisy and full of cigarette smoke. She still couldn’t see any sight of KyungHyun.

“……”

She stopped in her tracks. A red ‘X’ was sprayed onto the iron doors of an old elevator to indicate that it wasn’t operating. However, she saw someone push a cart inside and disappear.

There was no way someone outside of YongSung was in this building. All the gangsters were gathered in the banquet hall on the 1st floor.

There was no reason for the female employee to be pushing a bar cart full of liquor anywhere else. After the elevator doors closed, EunHa quickly found the emergency staircase.

Holding her high heels in her hand, she ran upstairs. Pant. Pant. She needed to move faster than the elevator in order to find out which floor it was going to.

3rd floor.

5th floor.

8th floor.

Damn it. Was this all because she had picked the Wheel of Fortune card at a tarot stand at the beginning of the year? Was it a sign that the wheel would continue to turn until her death? EunHa felt that she had been running constantly since Hong Kong. Just when she almost lost her breath and her legs had become tense from all the blood rushing to it, the elevator finally stopped with a ding.

“Haa…Haa…”

Just as the doors opened, EunHa quickly hid in the stairwell and panted silently. The corridor was absolutely silent. Afraid that her rapidly beating heart would be heard, EunHa took in a deep breath and closed her mouth. The female employee pushed the cart across the dirty carpet of the corridor and finally stopped in front of a door at the end. She knocked on the closed door. EunHa’s eyes narrowed in the darkness.

A familiar face answered. It was the face of General Manager Cha, who had disappeared together with KyungHyun. This meant that KyungHyun was in there as well.

The female employee pushed the cart full of liquor inside, and after about 5 minutes, she came back out. The employee got back on the elevator, and EunHa waited for the doors to close shut. She slowly exited the stairwell and stepped into the corridor. A long sign with ‘SECURITY’ written across it was hanging next to the closed door. She could smell the faint scent of cigarette smoke coming from inside the room.

“When did you say you were leaving the country?”

She could hear the faint voice of a man. EunHa lowered the sound of her breaths and brought her ear closer to the door.

“In one month, sir.”

“I expect the factory to run at full speed now.”

“It will, sir. I’ve already told them that they won’t get any money if the drugs aren’t of the same quality as the samples. And they don’t want to lose a customer who will want to purchase their product in bulk.”

“As expected, we need to see it with our own eyes when it comes to this amount. It’s not like we’re running a charity here.”

“I think it’ll be dangerous for you to come to the site, sir.”

“I’ll have you there with me, Director Shin, so what do I have to worry about?”

EunHa couldn’t completely understand what they were talking about. She got even closer to the door and stuck her ear up against it as she frowned. The conversation continued on.

“And there’s no issues with customs?”

“Yes, sir. After the ship departed from Shenzhen, it was scheduled to go through Hong Kong before coming to us. I’ve already met with Kim MinSuk and guaranteed that we won’t be facing any obstacles.”

“Make sure no one catches a whiff of it and comes running over. The men who are the best at smelling money are the ones in politics.”

“We’ve already obtained the medical contract, so they won’t be able to say anything.”

EunHa heard a someone’s low laughter.

“As expected, those Chinese bastards… Who else could have thought to establish a medical company in order to legally sell medical methamphetamines? And not even domestically but internationally.

EunHa’s expression stiffened.

“They declare themselves to be a research lab but boldly produce ice by the tons. Who could have imagined something like that?”

Methamphetamines. In slang, it was called bbong, ice. Black ice.

Philopon.

EunHa’s pupils dilated immediately. Her mouth went dry at this unexpected information. Her heart began to race as it had when she had run up the stairs.

If what they said was true, then SungHo had completely misunderstood the situation. The new medicine that Shin KyungHyun was developing was all fake. In actuality, they were planning on smuggling in a huge amount of drugs into the country. She now realized the true reason why KyungHyun had met with Kim MinSuk. By appeasing him, they had managed to find a way to get through customs and pave a path for their shipment to come through.

“If those hyena bastards at Serim realize what’s going on, they’ll come after us with their eyes wide open, so be careful.”

“I’ll take care of that, sir. Leave it to me.”

KyungHyun wasn’t wrong. Once SungHo knew the truth, they’d have to modify their plans. That greedy man would definitely try to snatch this away. This wasn’t something she could do on her own. She needed to get out of here and quickly let SungHo know what was really going on. EunHa’s hands were damp with sweat.

“One more thing, Director Shin.”

“What is it, sir?”

“I don’t see the woman who came with you to the party venue on the screen.”

Damn it. EunHa swallowed, her mouth dry. She needed to get back to her seat before KyungHyun went searching for her.

“But I see that she’s been caught doing something useless on this floor’s corridor camera.”

EunHa quickly lifted her head and clearly saw the security camera on the ceiling.

“…Let me go out and take a look, sir.”

There was no time to think. Just as she was about to run away, someone burst out of the room. She bit the inside of her cheeks and swallowed a curse.

“What’s going on?”

She looked up at the large man in front of her and blinked her eyes, fluttering her eyelashes, as she put a confused expression on her face.

“I came up to take in some fresh air on the roof, but I heard voices coming from here. Sorry.”

“You fucking bitch. Get inside for now.”

The moment the man snatched her neck, EunHa didn’t hesitate and kicked his groin with all her might.

“Omo, what do you think you’re doing?!”

“Uugh!”

The large man grabbed his groin and let out a low groan. He still managed to grab her arm and dragged her into the room.

“Let me go. My shoes are coming off…!”

Her voice became shrill as it got louder. She tried to catch her balance as she gave another kick. Behind the large frame of the man, she saw a middle-aged man sitting in the back of the room.

“……!”

This was the man whose photo she had seen so many times that she had lost count. YongSung’s president, the man who had ordered her family to be massacred. This man was gazing at her. Next to him, KyungHyun and General Manager Cha were frowning in surprise as they approached her. However, in EunHa’s eyes, only Noh HyungChul existed.

Her mouth went dry, and her face turned as white as sheet. Tears glistened in her eyes like glass beads.

“…You fucking bitch!”

“Stop!”

Just as the man was about to hit her, KyungHyun yelled out. EunHa didn’t waste the opportunity that presented itself as the man hesitated. She grabbed the gun that had been lodged inside the waistband of his pants and took it out. The moment she saw Noh HyungChul’s face, everything she had worked for had finally settled into place. Now all she had to do was kill the man who had killed her parents with her own hands.

Bang!

She didn’t have time to think before she pulled the trigger. Due to her trembling hands, the bullet missed its target and lodged itself in one of the screens behind Noh HyungChul. EunHa’s pulse began to race faster. YongSung’s head looked at her and let out a relaxed laugh.

“…How can such a pretty lady hold such a dangerous thing.”

“Go spew your bullshit in hell.”

EunHa’s finger tensed as she was about to pull the trigger once again.

“Lower the gun.”

She felt something touch her temple. KyungHyun was at her side as he aimed his gun at her. EunHa’s lips turned blue as her face paled.

“Seeing as how a rookie like her was stuck to your side… It seems that our Director Shin is finished as well.”

Hot tears dripped down EunHa’s cheeks. Seeing Noh HyungChul laugh as he scratched his white beard, EunHa felt as if her heart was burning with rage.

“Lower your gun. Now!”

KyungHyun spoke softly once again. EunHa looked at the screen showing the surveillance recording of the party venue. After hearing the gunshot, the gangsters suddenly halted in their tracks and began to leave the room in a hoard. This was YongSung’s base. Having shot a bullet at its leader, she was as good as dead anyways.

EunHa’s cloudy eyes narrowed as she smiled at her target. It wasn’t difficult to settle her heart. It was just like she practiced all those times at the shooting range.

“Lee EunHa!”

Bang!

Bang!

“Uuugh!”

The moment she pulled the trigger, Noh HyungChul’s fallen bodyguard fired his gun at her from behind. In one moment, two bullets left its respective guns as the sound rang in the room. EunHa felt a burning sensation run through her shoulder. The gun she had been holding fell to the floor. As she fell down, she saw Noh HyungChul grab his chest as he collapsed.

“Get away from her, Director Shin!”

The bodyguard yelled out as KyungHyun crouched over EunHa’s fallen body. The bodyguard couldn’t shoot freely because KyungHyun was too close to her.

“Damn it…”

KyungHyun cursed through his teeth and raised his gun as he took aim.

Bang! Bang!

He shot at the lights on the ceiling and completely destroyed them. The room was suddenly enveloped in darkness. KyungHyun covered EunHa’s body and began to fire several shots inside the room.

“What’s going on?!”

The door burst open, and the gangsters began to flood into the room. Bang! Bang! As the sound of shots rang inside the room, the gangster’s cries followed as they collapsed. As the windows shattered and the bottles of liquor crashed, an array of glass fragments shot out in every direction.

In the midst of all this pandemonium, EunHa began to crawl. She was in so much pain that she could barely breathe. Hot blood drenched her dress as it flowed out. A few seconds later, a silence settled inside the room. KyungHyun lit his lighter with a click.

Bang! Bang!

As the light cut through the darkness, KyungHyun fired his gun again, and two more men collapsed.

“Uugh!”

KyungHyun grabbed her and softly yelled out.

“Stay awake, Lee EunHa… Lee EunHa!”

General Manager Cha quickly rushed over to KyungHyun’s side and hurriedly asked.

“What should we do?”

She could hear General Manager Cha’s voice. KyungHyun gave him an order in a low voice.

“Get Lee EunHa out of here. I’ll take care of the rest.”

“Yes, sir.”

She was being lifted onto someone’s back. Her blood dripped down constantly as they went down the emergency staircase. The image of the blood-drenched 2nd floor carpet of her house kept overlapping with her vision.

“EunHa… No… Don’t come…!”

Recalling her mother’s eyes wet with blood, EunHa closed her eyes and lost consciousness.


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