Chapter 23 – Mr. Jang Who Brews Liquor (2)

“Donggun Jang?”

The young lady looked at Minho as if it was her first time hearing that name.

“Ah, Sister-in-law!”

Daho hastily followed behind the young lady.

“Ey, I’ll be honest. Truthfully, you have to grab a firm hold on Mr.Jang so that I can get free liquor every…Huh? Who are you?”

Daho looked at Minho with a questioning expression. He spoke as if he didn’t recognize him with his scrubbed and shining face.

“It’s me. Mr. Jang.”

“Ah, Mr. Jang! Wow. I didn’t recognize you. Did you clean yourself up to meet my sister-in-law?”

Daho was about to continue as Minho nodded but flinched after looking to his side. His sister-in-law who just a moment ago had been saying she didn’t want to go was now glaring at him with intimidating eyes.

“Th-then I’ll be going. Ha ha. G-guys, have a good time.”

Daho quickly disappeared after giving them a look as if to say good luck. During that brief moment Soyoung returned to being an innocent young lady. She glanced over at Minho’s face as she lowered her head shyly and spoke.

“Did you want to meet me?”

Minho nodded silently. Soyoung’s cheeks turned red as he stared at her. She saw the bouquet of flowers that Minho had brought.

From deep within his mind, Minho seemed to hear a story filled with sorrow.

『Ah! If only I’d had enough courage at that time…ughhh!』

‘Cheer up. Grandpa.’

Minho deeply felt Mr. Jang’s sincerity through his thumping heart. Then a short memory of what had originally happened at the mill when he encountered Soyoung briefly passed by; it was different from now.

What had Soyoung Yoon been like then?

Her expression was stern toward Mr. Jang who smiled innocently from the beginning. He was so nervous that he fumbled his words and she glared at him more unpleasantly. Her glare made him feel sorry and embarrassed. 

In the end, he had much to say but couldn’t even make eye contact and went back forlornly.

The memories of silently shedding his tears as he walked back alone in the late night–who would understand this feeling of sorrow from embarrassment? That hurt and mistrust caused him to lock the doors to his heart more firmly afterward, as the feelings burrowed deep into his soul. 

‘Grandpa Jang……’

It was the hope of Mr. Jang who died brewing after wine in solitude all his life without fulfilling his first love. Who would’ve known that the first piece could be fitted into place so easily.. Indeed, the start of change begins with a little courage and preparation.

‘Of course, Grandpa, you had….a bit too much of a homeless fashion.’

Minho, deep in thought about Mr. Jang, looked at Soyoung in front of his eyes.

It was now clear what he had to do. This confirmed the relic’s scheme. . He took the last steps to a successful date. He was to confess his love with the lines from a memorable drama that he had seen.

“Ms. Soyoung Yoon.”

“Yes.”

“Can’t you like me?”

“Oh my, why so hasty?”

Despite her words, she didn’t seem displeased, as she didn’t look away. 

“I might make you go through some physical hardships but I won’t put you through heartaches.”

‘What else was there?’

“I’m thinking about starting a one-sided love at least. With you. If you don’t mind~.”

He felt Soyoung’s heart slowly starting to move due to the sensible and sophisticated remarks. It seemed like this kind of line was working, helped along by a good-looking face.

“I’m pretty old. And at this moment that I’m facing you, I’m the youngest that I’ll ever be for the rest of my life. I’m in my youth more yesterday than today. So I’m going to put all my sincerity into every moment I’m with you.”

“Wow…”

When would a country girl ever hear words like this? With Mr. Jang’s eyes and emotion, on top of that. Soyoung stared with her two hands held tight as if she were falling into him as the sound of his heart beating flowed out ardently through his voice.

Minho spoke the last line.

“I want to kiss you but I’ll wait. Since that looks more cool.”

“What is kiss?”

‘Ah. this is the countryside in the 70s.’

“To touch our lips together.”

Soyoung touched her lips without thinking. As he stared at her trembling hands and lips, he saw her swallow once.

When he saw this, Mr. Jang’s soul pushed Minho forward. It was an automatic reaction, and Minho let his body move to the feeling rather than forcefully controlling it. This was Mr. Jang’s world, not his.

Mr. Jang handed over the flowers clumsily, then quickly pulled Soyoung by her arm and kissed her.

“Ah…”

Soyoung flinched but stayed still as if she liked it. Their lips touched and he could feel the warmth of her body in her breath. Their eyes, wide open in surprise, closed slowly as they looked at each other.  Just like that the moment that Mr. Jang’s body and soul had hoped for passed by.

“I’m sorry. You were so beautiful that I couldn’t help it.”

Soyoung opened her eyes wide at the nonchalant compliment. She touched her lips and smiled brightly as she came closer.

“It’s okay. I like how manly you are.”

It was a memory of a night filled with the sound of grasshoppers and the flowing water. This scene of this moment wrapped up beautifully and with a shuddering sound it turned into a faded photograph.

Minho’s consciousness departed as the scene ended.

***

He was sleeping deeply and contentedly.

“Mr. Minho Kang?”

“Emm. Three more minutes…”

“We’re here.”

“Huh?”

Minho flinched as he opened his eyes. Manager Gong, sitting in the driver’s seat, was turned around looking back at him. It was as if Minho was drunk as he saw an overlapping image of someone else’s face so he shook his head a few times. Then he was able to properly see Manager Gong’s face.

“You must’ve been really tired. You didn’t even notice Ms. Sora leaving.”

“Ah, really?”

Minho pushed himself up groggily and got out of the car. He was definitely awake but it seemed like he had dreamed a really long time.

Manager Gong spoke to Minho who tilted his head due to the strange feeling.

“You don’t have anything else scheduled this week. So rest well.”

That was good to hear even if he was only half awake. It felt like he had received a gift, so Minho beamed a smile.

“Bye, Manager Gong.”

Manager Gong said goodbye and drove the van away. The van grew small and disappeared around the corner. At that moment, Minho made an ‘Ah!’ sound.

“The relic and the dream.”

The memories in the dream entered his head a second later as if data was being transferred. 

Minho looked at the gourd bottle in his hands. The faint glow had disappeared. But he was able to discern its power. It was like the coin and pocket watch. The gourd bottle had that liquor that Grandpa Hwang had wanted. The liquor Mr. Jang boasted of that was good for men.

If you drink it you’ll burst with energy.

‘Hoo hoo.’

Minho looked around him to see if anyone was looking, then he opened the gourd bottle cork and peered inside. But what the–there was nothing inside, not even the unique pungent smell.

Did he need to follow Mr. Jang’s recipe and mix cherries and wild raspberries and different kinds of liquor?

‘But this is a so-called relic.’

Thinking there would be something special, Minho ran straight to the gaming house. He had an idea.

When he opened the door, there were some obstacles that welcomed him.

“Welcome sunbaenim! Where is Sora nunim’s* autograph?”

“Hyungnim, Hayeon Gu! And Hyorim Jung for me!”

“Dojin Hyung’s for me!”

It was the juniors of the gaming team who were concentrating on training even this late at night. A group of them swarmed around him and Minho didn’t know if they were welcoming him or welcoming the souvenirs from the Youth Journal broadcast.

“Here!”

Minho tossed over the papers with the autographs on them that he had gotten beforehand.

“Yes!”

“Hyorim’s signature is mine!”

“Heh heh. I got Hayeon Gu’s as hostage!”

“Hand it over!”

Minho escaped this mob and ran to the kitchen. He took out the drinking bottle from the refrigerator and poured the water into the gourd bottle. Then he shook it and opened the cork, and unbelievably–

“It’s potent!”

The strong scent that stung his nose was the aroma of wine. It was at least ten times better than the one Grandpa Hwang gave him or the one Mr. Jang was brewing in the dream.

Who would’ve imagined that this great tonic with its effect of restoring energy could be made with just water.

It was definitely a relic!

Returning to his room, Minho sat on  his bed and decided to drink a shot in victory. He opened the cork to the gourd bottle and–gulp!

Gu…lp?

“Kahhkk”

He grabbed his throat.

There was a burning sensation down his throat as soon as he swallowed.

His eyes grew wide. And his body burned as if on fire.

“Why is it so bitter….!”

Before he could realize his words were slurring, Minho fell onto his bed

The next morning.

Minho abruptly woke in his bed. His body felt light enough to fly but the time was weird. The sun had risen but was higher than he would have thought.

“Ah, hyung, you’re awake?”

“What time is it now?”

Garam who was sitting on the next bed spoke to him.

“Minho hyung. You must’ve been really tired. You slept a whole 24 hours.”

“24 hours?”

Would a time slip feel like this? It was as if someone had cut out that time.

“I have a tournament today, so I’m gonna leave first.”

“Sure. Make sure to win and make it to the quarterfinals. But did you see my gourd bottle?”

“That? We’re using it as the house water bottle.”

“What?!”

Garam scratched his close-cropped head as he saw Minho’s surprise.

“Was it expensive? We were using it to see if it would change the mood around here. And it seemed like you were using it as a water bottle too. I’ll bring it right to you.”

Garam took out the gourd bottle from the living room refrigerator and handed it to Minho.

“You guys are feeling okay?”

“What?”

“…Never mind. Drink a gulp and do well on the tournament.”

The relic which turns the water you put in it into liquor!

Minho opened the cork himself and handed it to Garam. Garam smoothed his chestnut-brown  hair, took a swig from the bottle without touching it with his lips, then wiped his mouth.

“Thank you!”

He gave a cheerful shout as he left the room. Minho, left in the room, looked at the gourd bottle in bewilderment. Garam did have a higher tolerance for liquor than he did. But with the tolerance of a normal person he would have at least frowned or said it tasted bitter.

But his reaction was that of a person who just drank a bowl of regular water.

That meant it was liquor for Minho and plain water for Garam.

  • Our family has a secret passed down through the generations.

Minho naturally recalled his father’s words. He was able to clearly understand the situation thanks to the gourd bottle.

“So others can’t use it even if it’s handed to them.”

Minho held the gourd bottle and searched inside. The colorless and scentless water splashed around a bit and started to give off a scent little by little, and took on the color of Mr. Jang’s specialty liquor. It was truly something strange and marvelous.

‘This means awesome-smelling wine with a high alcohol content will spurt up with just water?’

It’s a strong liquor that’ll make you sleep like you fainted if you drink a lot. But once you wake up your body will be in the best condition. And you become a fiery hot man who walks with his head up high once you have the liquor in your system.

How great would the effect be after being reinforced by the relic? Minho was curious.

“Tsk Tsk”

Minho smacked his lips and carefully tilted the gourd bottle. He brought it to his lips and tasted a little bit.

His body shivered involuntarily.

“Woah, bitter.”

The feeling of warmth and tipsiness came rushing in. Down his throat and into the organs of his body the heat raced, running through his veins like a racecar.

‘I only drank a little bit…’

His vision went dim and foggy. His face was hot. But it didn’t feel so bad. 

Minho put down the gourd bottle. This must be the feeling of getting drunk in a good way. His stomach didn’t feel bloated. It just felt like the effect of the alcohol was filling his whole body

He clenched his fists and his arms were full of energy.  With one hand he lifted up the table that would normally take two, and it was surprisingly easy.  The effect was literally the best.

But, there was one problem.

‘Ugh, my tolerance is too low.’

Minho’s drunk habit was sleeping. When he got drunk he fell asleep.

“Eh bi beh eh…”

His words slurred.

For a person who loves drinking, water turning into liquor would be great, as long as there was no hangover. But Minho was the type who turned red with just three shots of soju.

The relic of Mr. Jang, who was the greatest drinker of Yulchiri, was too strong for Minho the way he was. Eventually, he was no longer able to keep his eyelids open even though his body was overflowing with energy.

The next next morning.

“Ahhhkk!”

He woke up again having slept the clock around when he had only meant to briefly sleep off the tipsiness.

“I slept again!”

After spending two full days drunk he felt dazed. His body was definitely healthy but he was tipsy all day long.

“Damn it!”

Minho brought the gourd bottle to the kitchen and emptied out everything in it. It was a waste but he couldn’t use it so what was the point? He kept sighing deeply.

“It’s my first good find but it doesn’t suit me!”

It was a power clearly different from the coin he received as an inheritance and the pocket watch he bought for 300 million won. This would have been a treasure that he wouldn’t trade if Minho loved drinking and was born with high tolerance. But this was bad chemistry.

‘Whew’

Minho decided to store away his relic number one.

————–

Relic: Brewery’s gourd bottle

Effect: One can taste the ultimate mind-clearing liquor that alcohol lovers long for.

Nunim – A formal way of saying nuna 

Hyungnim – A formal way of saying hyung


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