Kang Yu’s second-in-command approached Sung-min while he practiced throwing his knives on the edge of the pistol firing range.
“That’s pretty good,” said Moon. “What, fifty feet?”
“Yes,” said Sung-min. “It’s a good practice range. Sometimes I’ll do much shorter distances, fifteen-twenty feet, just to keep loose.”
Moon nodded, impressed. “You could probably be a pretty good pitcher. You should go to America and play baseball, make a lot of money.”
The two laughed. Koreans playing baseball in America. That’d be the day.
“Come on,” said Moon. “Mister Yu would like a demonstration now.”
It had been three days, and Sung-min had wondered if the old man had forgotten about watching the young man practice his art.
The two walked over to the lawn fronting Kang Yu’s mansion. Yu sat in the shade on the veranda.
“Ah, Sung-min,” he called out. “My apologies for making you wait to give me a show. The time has finally arrived. Please, let us all see what you can do with those beautiful knives.”
Two men brought out a standard shooting range target and set it up thirty feet from where Sung-min stood.
“Is that a good distance?” asked Yu.
“Yes, sir,” said the young man. “This will be no problem.”
Moon spoke up. “He can hit the center from fifty yards, sir. I just watched him do it. He says he can do it from an even greater distance.”
“Ah,” said Yu, “most impressive. I’m sure your father would be proud of you. Please, let us all see what you can do.”
Many of the guards in the area had come over to see what was going on.
Sung-min took one of the perfectly balanced throwing knives. Holding it out in front of him, he took a slow breath, then in a lightning motion, flexed his elbow and unleashed the knife. Before anyone could blink, the knife sat in the very heart of the target.
“Excellent, excellent,” cheered Yu. “That was terrific, son. Step farther back if you like, and show us a second throw. Do you need the first knife removed?”
“Oh no, that’s not necessary,” said Sung-min.
He turned and walked back another 10 feet. Again, holding the knife out in front of him, he took a deep breath and then hurled the knife at great speed. The second knife landed within an inch of the first.
“Wow!” exclaimed Yu. “I’ve never seen anything like that. I don’t remember seeing your father do anything like that. What a great grouping of the two.”
Sung-min bowed. “Thank you, Mister Yu. I’m honored by your compliment.”
“Not at all, son. But you know,” said Yu, “what I did see your father do?” His face was lit up with a huge smile. He waited.
Sung-min wasn’t sure what to say. He didn’t even have a guess. Because the old man kept smiling at him and not speaking further, he finally said, “I’m sorry, sir. I can’t guess what you might have seen him do?”
Yu clapped his hands together, and two men dragged a man from the shadows of the veranda out onto the lawn. A third man followed with a chair. The man had been beaten badly, and he was blindfolded and gagged.
They dropped the man into the chair and propped him up.
“Well, I’m pleased to say,” said Yu, “that I had the honor of watching your father kill with his knives.”
He paused and observed the young man’s face.
“I will guess, son, that you’ve never killed a man. Would I be correct?”
Sung-min, stunned, looked from the old man to the man slumped in the chair. Fearing what might follow, he said, “No sir, I’ve not. I’ve not ever killed someone, and I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
With another broad smile, Yu said, “It’s practice, son. Just like learning to throw those knives as well as you do, killing with them just takes practice. Now,” he gestured to the man in the chair, “it’s time to take your first lesson.”
Sung-min shivered. “I, sir, with all respect, I, I can’t do that.”
“Give him his knives,” ordered Yu, and one of the men pulled, with some effort, the knives from the target and brought them to Sung-min.
“Please,” said Yu, a sterner note in his voice, “go on and begin your practice now, son.”
The knives felt heavier than they had ever felt. They weighed down his arms, his shoulders. Perspiration ran down his face. “I can’t, sir, I’m sorry.”
The silence was all anyone could hear. Yu watched the boy, a harder look settling into his face. “How about this, son?” he said. “What if I told you that this is the man who killed your father?”
Sung-min blinked and wondered if he’d just heard correctly what Yu said. He looked back at the man in the chair but said nothing.
“Sung-min,” said Yu, “do you hear me? This is the man who killed your father. It took a few days to track him down, but here he is. Is this enough incentive for you to give it a go?”
The face of a father he’d never seen did not materialize in Sung-min’s mind. But the face of Kang Yu, a curious mix of humor and menace, suddenly captured his attention, and a shot of adrenaline coursed through his body. His father’s murderer.
“Well, son? Want to have at him?”
Facing the man in the chair, Sung-min raised one of the knives in front of him. His hand shook, although from fear or anger, he couldn’t tell.”
“Want to get up closer this first time?” asked Yu.
He’d not even bothered to check how far he was from the man. It was a good 40 feet. His hand shook again. He took a few steps forward.
“Very good,” said Yu. “Now do it.”
Sung-min took a steadying breath. His anger now, he was sure, caused his hand to shake still, but he raised the knife and with one quick motion let it fly.
The man groaned in anguish as the blade buried itself in his shoulder. There were small cries and a few gasps from the crowd.
“Not bad, not bad at all,” said Yu. “Practice will make perfect, son. Give it another shot.”
When the blade had hit the man’s shoulder, blood had spurted out in a thin arc. Sung-min had been surprised not at his lack of revulsion to this, but because it had given him an odd twinge of pleasure. To spill the blood of his father’s killer. This was what revenge felt like.
Raising the second knife, Sung-min took a breath. He smiled a tiny smile seeing his hand sit steady as stone. With a quick flex and release, the blade, traveling almost as fast as a bullet, pieced the sitting man’s neck just below the Adam’s apple. This time a plume of blood came both from the front and the back as the blade traveled completely through and out.
“Now that’s the way to do it, son,” Yu called out. “Bravo! I see a tremendous future for you in our business.”
Son, thought the young man. Kang Yu calling him ‘son’. It dawned on him that this no longer bothered him in the least.
That night, after all the applause and the accolades from the other men, Sung-min lay on his bed thinking about how admirably he’d avenged his father. He could hardly wait to tell his mother. Had she a phone, he would have called her immediately. The good news would have to wait, however.
Drifting off, a smile stretched across his face as he played back the scene of the second knife hitting the man. Such a blood spray. That he could draw blood in such a powerful manner astonished him, and he slept a deep and blissful sleep.