“Our business must go through reform; nothing illegal, no more tax evasion.” 

Without the awareness of the road or the rain, the car moved over the highway, lights on full beam. Lee watched how the yellowed yet bright light played in the droplets, showing this deluge, this flood from the sky, in apparently solitary drops.

“ ‘Great artists risked failure, we’ve got to risk it, too.’ By Steve Jobs.” He introduced himself, with an indifferent smile to return hers and a light tap on the wheel. “I’m Lee Chan-Woo, bringing failing bars from the brink of death! And if you came in to manage our clientele, oh my!” 

The wind pushes on the car to no avail. The tires made their monotonous hiss over the rain-washed highway. Rain rattled the metal roof of the car and showed no sign of abating. The screech of tires echoed through the night as they grinded against the old pavement of the highway and the hum of an old engine roars. 

“According to quantum physics, thoughts will create our reality.”

“Quantum physics stated that?” The passenger asked. She turned to look at Lee, rubbing his thumb over the wheel.

“Precisely. An atom has a nucleus and an electron spins around it. If an atom is the size of a stadium, then a nucleus is a baseball, and the rest of it is empty, that huge stadium.” he explained.

As the car turned, the streetlights flashed by as the soft humming of the engine vibrated.

“Space is formed with particles smaller than an atom, but they are not hard particles, but waves that carry energy!” He added, adjusting the heater. “We’d better get going.”

As they got out, the vibrant outline of the building could be seen. In front of it was the foot of a long driveway that wound up to a low sort of white, cinder-block building, around four storeys tall.

“What’s funny is that these only exist as waves; but if someone observes them, they suddenly turn into a visible shape, like you.” Lee lifted up his fingers, then winked.

“I only appear before you because you’re looking at me. If you look elsewhere, I might disappear. Watch the floor here.”

The woman gave a tight-lipped smile as she walked into the complex.

• • •

They were greeted with crowds of young people feeding off of the smiles and fast dancing. No one could see the dance floor, it was wall-to-wall people dancing to the club music. There was no room for any more but somehow when Lee and Jung entered the space magically came. The music was all nineteen nineties but the partygoers danced like it’s jive, twisting, turning, holding hands as the duo squeezed through the crowd. 

“Is your club always this busy?”Jung queried. Lee raised his eyebrow at her, opening the door to his personal office.

“I think not. It’s the start of the holidays, so many students from the university next door would pop by after dark.” He sighed. “Come in and have a seat.”

Jung peered inside, admiring the room’s interior design. A bookcase lined the entire left-hand wall. There was a leather sofa with a fur rug over the back and an Indian blanket draped over the arm. The far wall had a window, vertical, and narrow and on the mantle, an antique clock. Books piled everywhere, and folders on the top of a long oak table under the window. “You really do have a good taste in design.” She commented.

“We definitely have the same taste, do we?” He smiled. “According to quantum physics, all things in space possess their own energy wave. When people whose wavelength matches work together, a giant energy field is formed.” “Synergy effect, if you will.”

“You’re pretty funny,” she scoffed, looking amused. “I heard you read a lot. You do have a silver tongue, don’t you?”

Chan-woo rubbed his head, flattered. “Making up for being a high school dropout, a silver tongue makes money in the liquor business. I really think this would take off with your help, so why don’t you come check out my club?” He handed her his business card. “You know how famous I am in my line of work.”

He clearly wasn’t done yet when a suited man entered the room. He peeked his head through the opening of the door, and the duo looked up, mid-sentence.

“Mr. Lee Chan-Woo, there is something I have to tell you, it’s something impor-”

“Sir, I’m talking to one of our potential investors. Can you discuss it with me later?” Lee waved his hand, but the man looked flustered. 

“I’m afraid that this is way more important. You received a letter from the police.”

He handed Lee an envelope. Lee mouthed a “thank you” before closing the door. He rolled his shoulders, stepping back inside. The blinds were down, and an entire dossier was spread out on the floor. He groaned at the sight.

As he rested his chin on his palm, he stared blankly at the letter.

“Your appeal to renew your permit has been disqualified.”

Jung hushed in shock as Lee sat down and threw the letter into the bin. “What do you mean? How is it disqualified? We cleaned everything up and got permits, too.”

“You weren’t supposed to.” The man spoke, without looking up. “This area is full of office buildings, and I don’t know how much you paid off the guy in charge, but this isn’t allowed.”

Lee looked over his shoulder while adjusting his tie. 

“Paid off?” He glanced at the man with a smirk as wide as his face. 

“Say it again-”

Grabbing him by his collar, Lee jerked him close to his face, his jaw jutted. 

“Wait a minute, paid off? I did what?” He looked into the man’s eyes and found not a mocking look, but sincerity that matched his tone. Inwardly, he was seething.

“How did I pay them off? You guys are the ones who got paid off! I worked so hard for this, how could you accuse me like this? Now get out of my club before I kill you. Leave.”

He jerked his arm away from the man and glanced sideways from him, diminishing. He plucked the cuff of his shirt, and walked towards the door. The man followed suit, amusement swept over his face. 

“Didn’t you hear?” he said. “Someone in this bar was in possession of drugs.” 

Before he clenched the knob, Lee spoke without turning back, “Was that all you have to say? Now get the hell out.”

• • •

The agent assigned to Lee’s case was a smart, tall, handsome man, no older than thirty. He was broad, but not ridiculously broad. His hair was black, though nearing brown, his eyes pale grey.

He walked into the interrogation room, his files under one arm and his keys in his hand, while he shut the door behind him with the other. Within a few large steps he was at the steel table where Lee was seated and dropped his papers and dossiers on his side of the plain, cold surface. “Hi.” Lee smiled up at him. 

He shook his head at his greeting, pulled out his chair and sat down. “Good evening, Lee Chan-Woo. I’m Officer Park,” he introduced himself with a dispassionate smile. “I am the Special Agent on the case you’re being interrogated for. I trust you know why you’re here already?”

Lee nodded. He could not tell whether he was on his good or bad side, whether he just wanted information from him or suspected him to be the accomplice, and this fact made him very conscious about everything he did.

“Even though I never committed a crime in my life, I know all too well what that drug guy had done, as I did some digging by myself as well.”

“His name is Kim Young-Nam.” 

As Park intertwined his fingers on the table, Lee noticed how big his hands were. He nodded again, straightening his shoulders but letting them sag instantly. 

“First off, where did you meet him?”

“In my bar.”


“I honestly wouldn’t know. Probably, about a week ago?”

Lee pinched his thumb between his index- and middle finger. Stupid, you should’ve looked at your calendar before coming here.

Leaning forward, he folded his hands before him on the surface. “Well, I already knew that something was off from the start, didn’t I? It’s not that I’m making any assumptions, I’m stating facts.” Lee sighed. As he finished his story, a considerable weight slipped off his shoulders. 

“And so you claim that he was not in his right state of mind.” Park concluded with a toneless voice.

“That was what I was saying all along, yes.” Though he felt that Park had a lot more hiding in there than he was letting on. He wiggled in his seat.

“Please tell me if you do have any connections with Nam, and if he made reservations for your bar. I’d also like to know if he used any digital devices to get in touch with you.” 

The interrogation seemed to last for hours. Park had lots of questions ready to fire at Lee, from how he felt about it and what drugs Nam took, to what kind of conversations Nam had in the room and whether he had hinted at any plans of criminal nature.

It was already getting dark, probably around nine. All Lee’s body parts were aching from sitting too long on the same hard chair, and his throat was getting considerably dry.

Park did not bother hiding his annoyance as he gathered his files and stood up from his chair, his face written ‘how unprofessional’ all over it.

“Let’s go to the sketcher, I don’t bother keeping you here hanging,” he declared and reached out his hand to Lee to help him out of the seat. 

• • •

“My business would be in shambles.” Lee stated and turned to Jung. “Thank you for investing in it, though.”

Jung twirled her brown hair around her fingers.

“There is a way you can recover your losses. You just need to set up Nam at the club.”

“You’re hiding something from me.” Lee leaned closer; his intention written all over his face. “That man’s long gone. I know you’re satisfied when I catch bad guys but no, I have to look after my people. And my bar too, you idiot!” he despaired silently, giving a dismissive wave of his hands. “I’m focusing on the road. Talk to you later.”

Lee turned his head away from her to steer from the shoulder to the city street. The cold aftermath of the rain seemed to have crept inside the soul of this city that never ceased its constant movement and rearranging of businesses. 

“It has always been my dream to start a business. Throwing out idiot thugs who run bars after using them.” he glanced out of the window. Cars flashed by. “After leaving home during my last year in high school, I worked from the bottom and after 20 long years, I had to turn this into a success.”

He switched off his phone and turned to look at her. “If you were with me, I could do anything.” 

“But why do you want that success so badly?” She asked. Lee nodded, but kept fiddling with his thumb. 

“Success makes a man. People treat you differently depending on what car you drive, and what house you live in. That’s why I opened it with people on the same wavelength and sharing everything equally. How could you…make me into a materialistic person?”

Jung shook her head. “Then how would you like getting it back?”

“Don’t tempt me!” he mumbled, driving into a parking spot and turning off the engine. “They have no problem killing people. We’re both dead.”

Word Count: 1982

Raegan Loo Qi Shan (Class of 2026) likes writing stories inspired by the people around her. One might think that the people she meets are in the least bit questionable.