Chapter 902.
Crank Up 2

(Warning: animal abuse)

A bowl of rice wine cost 10,000 won.
The woman, who earned 50,000 won with a bottle of rice wine that cost 1,500 won, ran off somewhere before coming back with another bottle and continuing with her sales.

“Do you want to drink some?” Joongjin asked.

“Even if I do, I don’t want to pay that much.
Let’s drink together once the match ends.”

“Not a bad idea.”

The sun started setting.
When the shadows on the ground started getting longer, the lights installed around the dogfighting arena started scattering light.
People even started some fires in metal barrels as well.
Despite the crude facilities, there was most of the necessary stuff: a chair where they could sit down, food and drinks, warm fires.
A van slowly approached the dogfighting arena.
The owner got out and opened the back door.
A reddish-black Pit Bull Terrier agilely jumped off.
It looked around without shirking away despite the numerous eyes on it and walked towards the arena with the owner.

That’s ma boi Thunder – said a man drinking carton soju.
The dog seemed to be famous in this dogfighting arena.

“Director, I’m asking just in case, but this place is illegal, right?”

“Dogfighting itself isn’t illegal.”

That was something he didn’t know.
Dogfighting was actually not illegal.

“But it’s not legal either.
There’s no law that can punish them.
If someone files a complaint, the police would arrive and make these people scatter, but they would not be punished.
Dogs cannot voice their opinions, and legally, they’re considered possessions.”

While Joongjin explained, another Pit Bull entered the arena.
This one had an extremely short ear.
The short-ear and the reddish-black one entered the same cage.
The two of them scanned each other before starting to growl at the same time.
If their owners did not pull them back by the leash, one of them would’ve seen blood already.

A man holding a green light baton stood in front of the metal cage.

“A’ight, everybody.
The first match will be a small one.
On my right is the blue corner, and on my left is the red corner.
The next match will be the same, so remember that folks.
Our coinlady will walk around and ask which side you’re betting, and I hope yer use yer intuition well.
The winners will get carton soju and some dried squid to enjoy the show.
Coinlady?”

The woman selling rice wine started walking around with blue and red colored sticks.

“I’ll go with red.”

Joongjin received a red stick.
It turned out to be a red-painted chopstick.
Maru just said that he was with Joongjin.

“This is jus’ appetizer, so no pressure.”

“Then I’ll go with blue.”

“Don’t ya lose it.”

‘Miss Coinlady’ walked around the dogfighting arena.
Everyone now held a stick in their hands.
Maru looked at the blue stick in his hand.

“Dogfighting might not be illegal, but adding gambling to it is definitely illegal, isn’t it?”

“That’s true.”

“So we’re sitting in the middle of something illegal?”

“Pray that we don’t get caught.”

Joongjin waved the red stick in the air.
He seemed to be enjoying himself.
Maru wondered if he would still be smiling if the police arrived.

The man with the green light baton spoke,

“Everybody got one? For a smooth process, take out yer cash before the next match.
And dun yer ferget ter pay our Coinlady some tips.
It’ll be boring to drag things out, so we’ll start with a match between these boys.
The one missing an ear is Martie.
His last match was his first one, and the boy got frighted and the match ended after getting his ear ripped.
So he got some education before comin’.
Thunder over here used to be king o’er in Gwangju.
He’ll start appearing more startin’ next week, so we prepared an event match fer y’all.”

The man with the green light baton waved his hand in the air and stepped back, and then the owners of the dogs let go of their leash at the same time.
The fight began without any signs.
The dog that used to be king in Gwangju immediately proved how he had become champion.
Thunder bit his teeth into Martie’s snout and started shaking his head violently.
The dog missing an ear now became a dog that was also missing half its nose.
At the sight of blood, the dog owners immediately grabbed the leashes.
Thunder’s loud shouts spread across the area, as though to declare that he was the new king in this place.
Martie leaned against the wall and started breathing heavily, tail pointing towards Thunder.

The man with the green baton curtly declared the results.
Coinlady started moving again.
Joongjin waved the carton soju and smiled.
It seemed that he wasn’t joking when he said he was good at taking bets.

There was a little commotion in the originally quiet dogfighting arena.
People started talking after drinking some soju from their cartons.
Maru could see why they were so passionate about it.
The violence that unfurled in front of his eyes contained indiscriminate brutality that couldn’t be seen in MMA.
There was also the addition of the secrecy of illegal business as well as the excitement of gambling, so it wasn’t surprising that they were crazy.
Animal lovers would faint at the very sight of this, but clearly, there were no animal lovers here.
Even if some of them raised dogs at home, they would differentiate the dogs they have at home and the dogs here in their minds.

While Thunder proudly returned to his van, Martie’s owner struggled to pull on the leash.
He had to pull out the dog that had no intention of leaving the cage.
The dog, which clearly seemed like it had something wrong somewhere, was dragged against the ground as it left the cage.
There were dotted lines of blood in its wake.

“Have a good look at the ecology of this area.
The positions of each person, the jobs they do, as well as what happens to the dogs.”

Maru looked at the dog being dragged away.
He could see the dog’s face as the light fixture above it swayed up and down.
The dog licked its own dangling flesh before jumping around.
The owner pulled hard on the leash.
The dog fell snout first and seemed to have difficulty walking as it lay on its side panting.
The pitifully inflated stomach shrank like a deflated balloon before returning to normal again.

“This is definitely not a place I can take a liking to.”

“People have their differences.
Do you raise a dog?”

“Yes.
I do have one at home, who just won’t listen to me.”

Joongjin nodded.
Maru looked at the dog disappearing into the darkness.
As much as he pitied it, he did not think that he should step up to help.
It would be a different story if that dog was his Woofie at home, but that was ‘Martie.’

“Since we’re done with the event, let’s start the real deal.
Let’s start off light with 200[1].
The money you bet will go ‘round to those who win except fer a small operation fee, so those of yer who pride in looking at dogs might be able ter win big.”

Cries could be heard from a distance.
It seemed to be a dog that was preparing for the next match.
Joongjin, who was chewing on a straw, looked around before standing up.

“Shall we get moving then?”

“Where are we going?”

“We had a look at the general atmosphere, so it’s about time we go to the place you need to go to.”

Joongjin approached the man with the green baton.
He spoke with the man for a little before returning.

“Come wi’ me.”

A man holding a yellow baton pointed away from the arena and started walking.
They walked about 300 meters away from the arena, where there was a vinyl greenhouse.
It was riddled with holes, and dogs barking could be heard from the inside.
They approached the greenhouse.
The moist smell from the mountain became faint.
What replaced it was a foul stench.
Maru covered his nose and mouth with his hand.
The smell became many times worse when the door to the greenhouse was opened.

“Look around.
Lil’ boy.
Show these people ‘round.”

The man with the yellow baton left the greenhouse.
The man called ‘little boy’ stood in front of them.
He was wearing a black jumper, a white mask, and a black beanie.
As for his age, he seemed to be in his early to mid-twenties.

“Don’t get too close.
They’ll start going crazy if they get stimulated,” the man grumbled as he turned around.

What is there to look at in a dog cage? – Maru looked at the dogs as he heard those words.
They were all Pit Bulls.
Were they all the same dogs because of the fun of gambling? The dog to his left was growling while bearing its teeth.
The one on his right was just staring at him calmly.
There were about twenty such dogs here.

“God, you shitty dog.
Shut up.”

The man poked the cage inside the greenhouse with a long rod.
The tip was quite sharp.
It had turned black as well, seemingly from blood.
The dog moved around, trying to dodge the sharp rod.
It did not stop barking even as it moved.

“Damn son of a bitch doesn’t know who he’s dealing with.”

The man went to the oil heater in the middle of the greenhouse.
He picked up the kettle on top of it before returning to the cage.
Maru cringed one eye.
The boiling hot water fell on top of the dog.
The dog who had its skin cooked couldn’t even scream as it got stuck in a corner and started trembling.

“Am I supposed to be looking at that person? Or the dogs?”

“You’re a person, so you should look at one.
That person shouldn’t have been like that from the beginning.
I’m sure he must have been afraid of and pitied the dogs.
But then, he got numb to it.
I’m sure you must know how frightening numbness can make a human.
But there’s a difference between knowing it and seeing it for yourself, and that’s the reason we’re here.
There’s a calm lunacy that cannot be pictured with imagination alone.”

Calm lunacy.
Maru observed the man’s actions.
He did not care about the onlookers when he was dealing with the dogs.
He would shout at them and would kick them if that didn’t work, then when that didn’t work either, he picked up his rod, and the ultimate method was pouring boiling water.
Looking closely, he never touched the face and the legs.
Whether it was the rod or the hot water, he aimed for the back and the rear.

Maru approached the man.
From up close, the man looked even younger than he originally thought.
Perhaps he was even younger than Maru.

“You look like you’re in charge of all the dogs here, am I right?”

“Well, yeah.
Hey, shit dog.
Stay still.”

Even as they spoke, the man kicked a dog that was sticking too close to the cage.
Maru took out his wallet from his pocket.
He could feel the man’s eyes quickly scanning his wallet.
He took out a few ten thousand won notes.

“What are you? You don’t seem to be detectives.”

“I just wanted to ask a few questions.
And not compensating you for it didn’t seem right.”

“I can’t answer anything strange.”

Even as he replied, he snatched the money away.

“Why do you do this job? Do you enjoy it?”

“Does this look fun to you? This place stinks like hell, and those shitty dogs keep barking all day.
Do you think sitting here for hours is any fun?”

“Then why are you doing this job?”

“Of course because I get fucking paid.
You ask some damn obvious questions.
What do you do for a living?”

“I recall it was me who gave you the money.
Am I obliged to reply to you?”

“No, you aren’t, fuck.
But hey, Stop glaring.
You’re damn scary.
If you have a problem with the way I talk, then tell me about it beforehand.
I don’t want to cause problems.
But are you perhaps one of the seniors from another area? Are you here to scout out the area?”

“No, it’s not that.
How did you feel when you first did this job? On the day you first met these dogs.”

The man scanned him from top to bottom, seemingly trying to grasp the intention behind his question.
But soon, he replied as though he couldn’t be bothered.

“It was shit at first.
These shitty dogs are those that can kill humans if let loose.
You don’t know how well untrained wild dogs can kill humans, do you? God damn, they’re fucking brutal.
I’m supposedly training and overseeing them, so of course it’s fucking scary.
I couldn’t do anything at first.
But when I kept going, I realized that these shits freak out if I scare them.
Since then, well, it became what you see now.
If they don’t listen, I kick’em.
I still need to watch out though, cuz I can’t kick them anywhere I want.
If something goes wrong with them, my money will go with them.
Fucking dogs, and yet they’re fricking expensive.”

The man wiped under his nose with his work gloves covered in soot.
There was no sense of disparity between his smile and the same figure pouring boiling water on a dog.
This man didn’t have a serious ethical problem, despise dogs, or was threatened to do his work.
He was just doing it because it was work.

Maru knew this, but he had gotten confirmation of it, so it was worth interviewing him.
Maru scanned the dogs barking.
He captured the eyes of the dogs that would soon be thrown into the craze of men.

“I think we can leave now,” Maru said to Joongjin, who was waiting behind him.

[1] As in, 200,000 won.
Think 200 USD

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