Chapter 993. Crank Up 9
Maru hung up and looked inside the shop. The awkward atmosphere looked like it was making even the plants dry to death. He opened the door and went inside.
“You should sing happy birthday.”
“We’re too old for that.”
Miyeon waved her hand in denial. Dongwook looked embarrassed as well.
“It’s better than staying still doing nothing. As the youngest one here, I’ll light the candles and wear the cone hat.”
He took out the roll cake and stuck the candles in. Miyeon, who said she didn’t want to do it, didn’t hold him back. As the roll cake was rather small, he only put three long candles. When he put on the conical hat, which was a freebie, the two people sitting opposite him laughed at the same time.
“I’ll act cute in front of you elderly, so please stop with the cold war, and let’s bring back the peace and harmony. I’ll light it up now.”
He lit up a matchstick and lit the candles. The two people awkwardly looked down at the cake. If Maru let them act as they pleased, they might watch until the cake became covered in candle wax. He clapped and sang happy birthday. The two people did not sing along.
“Uhm, I’m going to sing this again and again.”
When he started singing again, Dongwook followed along, albeit awkwardly. Now, it was Miyeon’s turn. She hesitated before looking away slightly and laughing awkwardly.
“I can’t win against you, sheesh.”
After the happy birthday song, Miyeon blew out the candles.
“Since we sang the stereotypical happy birthday song, I should ask you the age-old question too, right? What did you wish for?”
“I heard that saying it out loud is no good.”
Miyeon took out the smoking candles and continued speaking,
“I wished that only happy things will happen from now on. I don’t want to experience those terrible things again.”
“I’m sure it’ll come true. You should make a wish too, hyung-nim.”
Dongwook twitched his lips before speaking — eat well and be happy. Miyeon glared at him, saying that she didn’t feel a shred of truth from that.
“Geez, you sure want a lot. Have some of this already.”
Dongwook sliced the cake with a plastic knife. Miyeon stood up, saying that she would bring some plates.
“I’ll get going now.”
Maru also stood up.
“Why? You should have some.”
“I’d love to, but I have something to attend to. You should eat by yourselves. Hyung-nim worked really hard this time. You should treat him to something good.”
He bowed to Miyeon, who looked at him with a look asking him to stay. Dongwook didn’t hold him back. It seemed that he realized that Maru truly had something important to attend to.
“Give me a call if something happens.”
Dongwook said those words before leaving. Maru left the shop and grabbed a taxi. The invitation was something he couldn’t reject. It wasn’t forced or anything, but the inviter was so charming that he wanted to meet that man even if he had to break his prior engagement. Though, Miyeon might have freaked out if she heard the name of the host.
The taxi stopped in front of Bukchon traditional town. Maru looked at the building on the other side of the road. Three black sedans were waiting in front of the large gate. Men who looked like security guards looked around.
“I apologize, but the reservation is full.”
When he walked up to the gate, a man in a suit politely informed him of that fact. Maru mentioned the name of the person inside, namely, lawyer Park Sunggoo. The man in the suit put his hand on his earpiece. He seemed to be checking immediately and soon guided him inside. Maru walked on the well-crafted road.
“A guest has arrived.”
A sliding door covered in old paper opened. Lawyer Park was sitting down right in front of the door. Maru greeted lawyer Park with his eyes and bowed to the chairman who was on the other side of the table.
“Yes, yes. Come in. I was worried that I called someone busy today.”
“Not at all.”
“Sit down first.”
He sat down next to lawyer Park. The food on the table was rather shabby. Some jeon, some sushi, and some japchae were everything.
“You should order some more if you want it.”
“It’s okay. The liquor will taste worse if there’s too much to eat.”
“You know your stuff despite being young.”
The chairman held out a ceramic kettle. Maru unflipped the ceramic glass in front of him and grabbed it with both of his hands.
“Here, have some. You should have some too, lawyer Park.”
The chairman poured liquor into the two glasses and put down the kettle. Maru looked at lawyer Park. He asked who should pick up that kettle with his eyes. Lawyer Park smiled and grabbed his glass. He meant for Maru to pour it.
“Allow me to pour you a glass as well.”
He pressed the lid of the kettle and tilted it forward. He filled the chairman’s glass about halfway before tilting the kettle back up.
“Weren’t you puzzled since I called you suddenly?”
“It was rather puzzling because it was unexpected.”
“I usually don’t make unscheduled appointments so suddenly, but you have piqued my interest, young Han. Let’s have a sip as a greeting for now.”
Maru turned his head around and drank the liquor. The liquor in the clear ceramic was strong enough to burn. Anyone weak to alcohol would have spat it back out.
The chairman grinned. He pointed at the side dishes on the table and told him to eat without holding back. Maru picked up the pair of chopsticks in front of him and grabbed a pepper jeon. The degree of frying, the meaty fragrance, and even the flavor of the soy sauce he dipped it into was perfect. He, who was not a gourmet, could tell that, so the skills of the cook must be amazing.
“How is it?”
“It’s very good. Very different from what I’m used to eating.”
“It’d better be. How much do you think it costs here? But it’s still okay since they’re as good as they get paid. One of the other reasons I like this place is because they don’t try to put too much effort into decorating and just focus solely on the taste. Should we have another glass?”
“I’ll gladly accept it.”
Now that he had a closer look, the liquor was a brownish-orange color. It seemed to be a sort of grain wine. The primary scent was spicy, but it was soft as it was swallowed. Though, that didn’t change the fact that it was strong enough to make ordinary people lose their minds after just one or two glasses.
“What a drinker you are. People in my family are great in all aspects, but they’re weak in drinking. I don’t like that. Lawyer Park, how about another glass?”
“I’d love to, but I have to start working today, so I’ll stop here.”
“Right, right. I can’t offer wine to someone who’s about to do important work, especially since my own money is involved. What should I do then…. There’s still a long time left.”
The chairman waved the kettle in the air. As someone who worked in business before, Maru naturally knew what that gesture meant. Maru quietly placed the glass in front of him and took the liquor.
“I was just going to see your face today, but I can’t stop here. A young man can drink so well, so I can’t pull out.”
Three glasses were exchanged in a blink of an eye. Even Maru, who had never gotten drunk in his new life, could feel his face become hot. The chairman, on the other hand, brightened up as though the liquor was some rejuvenation tonic. His alcohol capacity was absurd. The amount of alcohol he had to drink in order to build that super company must have built his alcohol tolerance to a ridiculous level. Or perhaps his absurd alcohol tolerance is the reason he was able to rise to that position.
“You got involved in such a matter because of your lover. You’re really like me when I was young. I was also blinded by love once.”
It seemed that the chairman already knew what kind of relationship he had with Gaeul. Well, it would be strange if the chairman didn’t know what Kang Giwoo already knew.
“Lee Miyoon, that woman just can’t handle it. She looked a little useful, but she was no good after all. No wonder she got caught in the trap that you and journalist Kim set so easily. Little Hong was a bit crude as well. Though, he’s an elite who never made a big slip, so I guess I should be understanding. He was always doing the stabbing and has never been the one being stabbed.”
“I apologize for having inconvenienced you, chairman.”
Maru sat up properly. When he did, the chairman waved his hand in the air in denial and raised his voice,
“Don’t. I’m absolutely not trying to blame you here. I’m not that petty to nitpick about some trouble they got into because of their own lack of competence. If anything, I’m evaluating you very highly because of that. I can already understand why president Lee likes you so much.”
“Thank you for your good words.”
The chairman smiled in satisfaction and emptied the glass in his mouth.
“You know my grandson too, eh?”
“And you aren’t that close, I gather?”
“That boy. He really doesn’t know who to befriend. I’ve always told him to get along with exceptional people and not some street thugs you can find anywhere, but he always has his runts around him. That’s what puts him at ease, because it covers up his flaws. The one who is supposed to be the true crane amongst cranes is practically chirping his greatness amidst crows. Though, I still let him be because what he does is cute.”
“I’m sure he’ll change once he experiences more of the world.”
“No, people do not change so easily. It’s one of my philosophies. That boy will ultimately gnaw away at the things I built up throughout his entire life. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I’ll be happy as long as he grows up healthily. It’s just a bit of a pity. If my grandson was a talent just like my son is, YM will last another fifty years at least.”
At that time, lawyer Park’s phone started ringing. From how he didn’t put it on silent or off, it looked like it was a call he had to take.
“Chairman, allow me to leave for a little. It seems like the work I’m taking over has arrived already.”
“Go on, go on. Don’t mind me. It’s me who should be mindful of you.”
Lawyer Park left the room. Maru calmed his breath and looked at the chairman. It seemed true when he said that he called him here just to see his face. If he had any other intentions, he would have mentioned it already. The chairman was not someone who would be considerate of other people’s circumstances.
“I have told my grandson not to be hung up over some woman. Another man’s woman, no less.”
“Thank you for your consideration.”
“You too. Don’t be so at odds with him and get along. He’s my ugly duckling, but he’s my bloodline after all.”
“I’ll keep my heart open. If that fellow doesn’t hate me anymore, we’ll naturally get closer.”
“Well, I guess it would be strange of me to ask for any more than that.”
The chairman dipped a jeon in some soy sauce.
“Have you drunk with president Lee?”
“Many times, sir.”
“How am I compared to him? Are you enjoying drinking with me? Or is drinking with president Lee more enjoyable?”
“Had I known you better, it would definitely have been enjoyable.”
The chairman slapped the table with hearty laughter.
“True. Drinking with someone you don’t know is the most terrible way to drink. In that sense, I am indebted to you, young Han, and I settle my debts quickly. Now I’m obliged to treat you to something good to drink.”
 Korean drinking etiquette when drinking in front of elders.