Vignette:Family Business

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Family Business
Sajik-myeong-6-gil 62, Jegan, Geunsam-do, Equatorial Republic of the Yeosan Islands
31 May 2018

Welcome!" said Eun-seo from behind the counter of her family's small restaurant, greeting the newest customer that had just walked through the door. The man simply nodded back in response and sat at one of the individual tables next to the window left of the entrance.

It was 9 a.m., and aside from the man and Eun-seo herself, there was an elderly couple having breakfast on a table by the other window, and a man by himself sitting on one of the stools in front of the bar attached to the right wall. The TV hanging from the left wall was on but muted, while faint pop music played from the speakers located on all four upper corners of the small establishment. Eun-seo walked up to the man who was already through the first few pages of his newspaper and greeted him with a bow, before laying the menu on his table and walking back to the back of the room behind the counter.

As Eun-seo sat behind the cash register and pulled out her phone, her father Il-sung, came out through the backdoor taking off a dirty apron and replacing it with a clean one that was hung next to the door.

"I came to see if you needed any help" said Il-sung, tying the straps of his apron behind his back while looking down at his daughter sitting next to him.

"All good" answered Eun-seo, as she continued looking at her phone "But you can take that gentleman’s order if you want. The one sitting alone by the window" she added, briefly looking over the counter and pointing with her chin at the man whose eyes were now fixated on the TV.

Il-sung simply nodded and moved around the counter heading for the table, taking a small notepad and pen from his apron’s front pocket. As he got closer, he couldn’t help but notice how strangely familiar the man looked. He quickly shook the feeling away and stood next to the table.

"Welcome, sir. Have you had enough time to look at the menu?" asked Il-sung while greeting the man with a bow, notepad and pen at the ready.

"Can you believe they still haven’t found her?" asked the man instead, completely ignoring Il-sung's question "It’s been almost three weeks" his eyes fixed on the TV over Il-sung’s shoulder.

"Excuse me?"

Il-sung quickly noticed what the man was staring at before turning around to look at the TV. The morning news were on. The device was muted, but the text on the screen was enough for anyone looking at it to understand what was being discussed.

"Search for 17-year old, Kim Hye-bin, continues after mysterious disappearance on May 11th"

Il-sung turned back around to look at the man, his stomach turning as he then looked over his shoulder to the back of the restaurant.

"Is that your daughter?" asked the man, interrupting Il-sung’s thoughts.

"Hm? Oh, behind the counter? Yes. Her name’s Eun-seo" he looked back at the man who was now staring at him instead of the TV.

"Make sure to keep her safe. Next thing you know, some sicko may take her away like they did my Hye-bin" the man pulled his gaze away from Il-sung to stare out the window and to the sea, visible through the palm trees and only three blocks away from the restaurant "I’ll have a haemul pajeon and a cup of green tea, please"

Il-sung nodded and headed to the back of the restaurant speechless. He walked around the counter and ripped the order from the notepad before placing it in front of Eun-seo. She looked up to see the piece of paper, quickly read it, and grabbed it before heading to the kitchen through the backdoor, taking the dirty apron her father had left next to the door on her way in.

In the kitchen was her mom, So-won, sitting on a stool with her phone. She looked up to see her daughter walking in with an order in her hand

"Want me to help with that, Eun-seo?"

"I’ve got it, mom. No worries" she replied as she grabbed what she needed from the fridge to prepare the order "Did we run out of shellfish?"

"It’s in the freezer" answered So-won, without looking up from her phone.

Eun-seo closed the fridge, and laid everything she grabbed from it on the kitchen counter, before heading for the heavy metal door of the industrial freezer. She walked in, making sure the door wouldn’t close behind her, and started looking through the shelves on the right. When she turned around to check on the other side of the room, she was met with the dead, cold eyes of Kim Hye-bin, hanging upside down from the ceiling, her throat slit open. Eun-seo walked around the corpse, ignoring it, to look through the second set of shelves before finding the shellfish and closing the freezer’s door behind her as she re-entered the kitchen.

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