Descent of the Demon Master - Chapter 276
Kang Jin-Ho had to contend with Jo Gyu-Min’s sudden visit first thing the following morning.
“And now! I shall brief you on why you cannot drive such a car, Mister Jin-Ho!” Jo Gyu-Min roared while scanning the staff room of the pizzeria.
Kang Jin-Ho was taken aback. “Hang on a minute. What is the meaning of…”
“Listen to me first!” Jo Gyu-Min glared as proverbial flames shot out of his eyes.
“Wait, did you stay up all night, Chief Jo?”
“…!” Jo Gyu-Min chose not to answer that. Instead, he used a stack of reports and data for this briefing to shut Kang Jin-Ho up. “I did not work in the corporation for a laugh, Mister Jin-Ho.”
While Jo Gyu-Min was swimming in despair, his saviors came in the form of the planning department, which happened to be burning the midnight oil at the time.
One of the unfortunate things about the company was that it was a den of tigers and dragons, also known as ‘clueless senior officers or directors!’ They were so clueless to the extent that if the company were into designing and producing cars, they would have asked the designers, “Why can’t you attach wings to our new cars and make them fly?”
A veteran employee would one day find themselves no longer explaining to the senior management folks why they had to do so-and-so. No, they would be desperately pleading with them why they shouldn’t be doing so-and-so instead!
Unsurprisingly, Jaegyeong was filled with professionals in the art of persuasion, and when they saw the dazed and despairing Jo Gyu-Min, they rolled up their sleeves and lent him their assistance. The result of this collaboration was the data for this briefing!
“Why! You must not! Buy such a car!” Jo Gyu-Min roared in full of spirit while connecting a projector to his notebook PC. Then, he used one of the pizzeria’s walls as the projection screen. He started his explanation once everything was set up. Starting from efficiency to cost-effectiveness, all sorts of reasons were laid out succinctly and clearly.
His efforts were commendable but too bad… Kang Jin-Ho was as firm as an immovable boulder. “So, does that mean you can’t find a car like that?”
He remained resolute in his position as if he were a boomer boss disinterestedly asking back, ”So, can you do it or what?” even after listening to a lengthy briefing session explaining why their demand was not feasible.
Most salarymen might give up at this point and offer the perfunctory “Sir, yessir, we’ll go ahead and make it.” However, Jo Gyu-Min was not like most salarymen. Wasn’t he a grizzled war veteran who survived the battlefield called Kang Jin-Ho? Wasn’t he a competent and talented employee?
As if he had expected such a response from Kang Jin-Ho, Jo Gyu-Min immediately pulled out his ace in the sleeve. “No, Mister Jin-Ho! It’s definitely doable! I can certainly find a car like that! And if such a car doesn’t exist, I can have it custom-made and even get it certified by the Ministry of Environment so you can legally drive it! Those uncles will cook up a new law and pass it as long as you grease their palms sufficiently enough anyway! However!”
This was the point in the briefing where Jo Gyu-Min’s ace displayed its might.
“Such a car… It’ll become a one-of-a-kind, literally the ONLY one in the entire country, Mister Jin-Ho! In other words, everyone who wants to know where you are at any given moment will be able to track you. Is that what you really want?”
“That’s a definite no…”
As a result, Jo Gyu-Min’s logic finally moved Kang Jin-Ho’s heart. After thorough persuasion from Jo Gyu-Min, Kang Jin-Ho agreed to buy two cars at the same time.
Jo Gyu-Min earnestly, desperately explained that Kang Jin-Ho could afford to get a sports car if he wanted something sporty and also buy a practical sedan for those times when he wanted to go to shops. That finally did the trick, and Kang Jin-Ho agreed to this course of action.
“In that case, I’ll also entrust you with buying a suitable sedan, Chief Jo,” said Kang Jin-Ho with a brief nod.
Jo Gyu-Min asked cautiously, “…What kind of a sedan are you looking for?”
“Well, it shouldn’t be too heavy and dad mobile-like. But it shouldn’t be too light, either. While driving, it has to have decent responsiveness. That’s the kind of sedan I’d like. I hope you can find one like that.”
“…!” Jo Gyu-Min clamped his mouth shut, finally realizing something just then.
‘My workload… just got bigger, didn’t it?’
He might have prevented the worst-case scenario from unfolding, but the consequence of that was being saddled with the heavy responsibility of selecting two separate vehicles that fulfilled Kang Jin-Ho’s peculiar tastes.
After sighing deeply, Jo Gyu-Min muttered, “…I’ll give you a call later, Mister Jin-Ho.”
Ju Yeong-Gi watched Jo Gyu-Min trudge outside the pizzeria before offering some words of sympathy. “Gee whiz. He’s going through a wringer all thanks to a stubborn mule, huh.”
“You’re totally right,” Park Yu-Min shook his head, signaling that he was also fed up with what just happened.
Ju Yeong-Gi glanced at Kang Jin-Ho. “So weird. Whether it’s a car or a bicycle, didn’t he have no problem riding whatever? He’s getting more and more handful as time goes on, isn’t he?”
Park Yu-Min rubbed his chin. “I think his time in the army changed something in him. Did something happen while he was serving?”
“Huh. I think it’ll be easier for me to explain what didn’t happen in the army, dude.”
In the army, they practically suffered through every trial and tribulation life could throw at them. Especially in Kang Jin-Ho’s case, his military life was a tumultuous tempest itself!
“Hang on a minute here. Jin-Ho, you ain’t doing this deliberately to torment Chief Jo, right? You never bullied your juniors back in the army, so it’s a shocker to see you do that out in civilian society! I bloody knew it; you can be one mean bastard if you want to.”
“…No, that’s not true,” Kang Jin-Ho protested against Ju Yeong-Gi’s malicious slander with a vigorous wave of his hands. “I mean, I gotta stick with those cars long-term once I buy them, won’t I?”
“Nope, you’re gonna wreck them soon.”
“Yeah, I think so, too.”
Kang Jin-Ho was left speechless at the combined attack from Ju Yeong-Gi and Park Yu-Min. What saddened him was how he himself couldn’t be a hundred percent sure of not wrecking the cars in the near future, either! He groaned, then quickly changed the subject. “Didn’t you say our new chef will come to work today?”
Park Yu-Min nodded. “Yeah. We agreed on ten in the morning, so we’ll see soon enough.”
“Mm…” Kang Jin-Ho slowly rubbed his chin. Honestly, he was slightly worried about this.
He was a bit leery about having a new person intrude into his and his friends’ personal space. And if that chef went beyond the call of duty and started revising the menu, even the sanctity of the kitchen wouldn’t be safe from a ‘hostile takeover,’ too!
“Hmm. I’m a bit wary about this…” Kang Jin-Ho muttered.
“Doesn’t mean we can huddle together and play house in this place for eternity, though…” Ju Yeong-Gi muttered right back.
The trio used to have a tacit agreement among themselves. Initially, the plan was to have a go at running a business and see what could happen before they had to go back to university. After working on various facets of this place and keeping it going, though, they had grown attached to it and couldn’t bear the thought of shutting it down just like that.
They all started to harbor the thought of keeping the pizzeria’s doors open if it were possible to leave it to other people. Their thoughts were more or less in line with that idea.
‘Realistically, though, it won’t be easy.’
Unless one of the three stuck around, it would be difficult to keep the store going. Without Kang Jin-Ho, the revenue would obviously plummet. Even if they hired a manager, it would still be hard for the trio to consistently pay attention to the matters of the pizzeria. Honestly speaking, they were simply wishing for their store to keep going since they had created so many memories in this place.
It was right at that moment that the old idiom of ‘A devil will show up if you call its name’ demonstrated its power once more because someone started knocking on the door.
“Hey, looks like our chef’s finally here?” Ju Yeong-Gi grinned suspiciously and got up to open the door. And then… he just stood there, utterly frozen.
Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head in confusion when his friend remained unmoving for a while. “What’s gotten into him?”
“Not sure?” Park Yu-Min also tilted his head and walked up to Ju Yeong-Gi. “What’s the matter, Yeong-Gi?”
“N-no, it’s nothing!” Ju Yeong-Gi turned around, clearly in panic. Then, he wrapped his arm around Park Yu-Min’s neck and dragged him away.
“…What now?!” Park Yu-Min gasped in surprise.
Ju Yeong-Gi dragged Park Yu-Min to where Kang Jin-Ho was and asked in an urgent voice, “Why didn’t you tell me our new chef’s a woman?!”
“Eh? Why is that important?”
“Of course it’s important! How could you bring a woman into a den of stinky men!”
“Huh? Who cares about that?”
Ju Yeong-Gi stared at Park Yu-Min in a daze, then nearly facepalmed.
‘Ah, that’s right…!’
He just remembered that Park Yu-Min had grown up in an orphanage where boys and girls always mingled. Growing up in such an environment meant Park Yu-Min wouldn’t have any qualms about sharing an intimate space with the opposite sex.
“Dang it, I should’ve been the one hiring…”
“Hey, that’s gender discrimination, you know?”
While Ju Yeong-Gi and Park Yu-Min bickered on the side, the new chef could only stand around in the doorway, unable to either enter or leave.
Since Kang Jin-Ho was the only free one, he got up and went to the doorway to greet her. “Welcome.”
“Ah, hello to you too. I’m Jeong Su-Yeon. I’m going to start working here from today.”
“I see. Please come inside.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded and led Jeong Su-Yeon inside the store.
The concept of a chef stuck inside Kang Jin-Ho’s head was a dude wearing a large chef’s hat, but Jeong Su-Yeon definitely did not fit that image. She was actually a beautiful woman with a slender figure.
‘Hmm, but working here will be tough for her…’
Kang Jin-Ho glanced at her slender, feminine hands and wrist and he started wondering if she could even cook properly. He had valid reasons for his doubts, of course—from what he had experienced so far, working in a restaurant kitchen was a lot harder than one would imagine. Being exposed to constant heat the whole day was a given, and one would also have to wield heavy frying pans, so he couldn’t help but worry if she could handle the workload with such a delicate figure.
“Welcome to our store. I’m Kang Jin-Ho.”
“Ah, hello. And… the person who hired me is?”
Search bit.ly/3iBfjkV for the original.
“That will be him over there.” Kang Jin-Ho pointed at Park Yu-Min.
Park Yu-Min waved his hand at Jeong Su-Yeon. “Hello, I’m Park Yu-Min. I’m in charge of the dining area.”
He then shot a quick glare at Ju Yeong-Gi, forcing the latter to clear his throat and introduce himself. “Hello, there. I’m Ju Yeong-Gi. I’m also in charge of the dining area, but I pop into the kitchen every now and then as well.”
Jeong Su-Yeon nodded. “Ah, I see. In that case, who is the original chef?”
Kang Jin-Ho stepped in. “That will be me.”
“And the owner is?”
Ju Yeong-Gi pointed at Kang Jin-Ho. “It’s also him.”
Jeong Su-Yeon quietly studied Kang Jin-Ho before nodding away. “Ah. You’re an owner-chef.”
“I’m sorry?” Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head after not understanding the implication behind the term.
Jeong Su-Yeon kindly offered a brief explanation, “There are quite a few advantages if the owner personally works in the kitchen, you see?”
“I know that the… ‘correct etiquette’ is for me to introduce myself first, but… Before that,” Jeong Su-Yeon looked at Kang Jin-Ho with a subtly different look on her face. Would it be correct to say that her previously-soft and warm expression had become a little more serious? “Do you mind if I take a look at your kitchen first?”
‘What is going on here?’
Jeong Su-Yeon found herself wading in the quagmire of confusion. She heard that this pizzeria had opened its doors only a month ago and that three amateurs were doing the kitchen work in shifts. However, that much information was enough for her to make educated guesses about the state of the kitchen.
She would normally avoid working in such an environment, but the condition of giving total control of the kitchen to her meant that… Well, she thought she would at least take a look at the state of the pizzeria first before deciding.
For one, she didn’t sense any territorial behavior-like attitude from the soft voice on the phone. And the next feeling she had gotten was that this store wasn’t looking for a new employee to lord over but a savior to come and rescue them!
So, she decided to commute to this pizzeria. If she were given full control of the kitchen and was allowed to do what she wanted, perhaps the place could survive somehow. But then, when she saw Ju Yeong-Gi’s rough countenance at the door, she thought, ‘Ah, it’s not gonna be easy in this place either…’
However, she had to revise her thoughts once again. The kitchen boasted a sight well beyond what her imagination was capable of.
The thing about kitchens was that no matter how much one cleaned them, they could never be ‘clean.’ Especially more so with a pizzeria where the main ingredient used was oily cheese. Tough grease stains tended to sneak into every corner imaginable, so it was a nightmare to keep the place clean without using strong detergents.
So, when Jeong Su-Yeon heard that a trio of men was operating a pizzeria, she naturally pictured a sorry spectacle waiting for her in the kitchen, but…
‘Wow. A fly might really slip and fall in this place!’
The floor was sparkling to the point that it dazzled her. And no, that wasn’t hyperbole at work. The floor was really sparkling. Just what kind of detergent did they use to polish the floor like that? Jeong Su-Yeon couldn’t wrap her head around it at all. To get such shine going, a really strong chemical cleaner had to have been used, and such a thing would, ten times out of ten, cause an unpleasant chemical odor to rise up from the floor. However, she couldn’t smell anything else aside from the enticing aroma of cheese in this kitchen.
She raised her head to scan the sinks, and her eyes powerfully quaked. Even the sinks found in the stores selling kitchen utensils wouldn’t be that sparkling clean!
‘How did they clean this place? What did they even use?!’
Jeong Su-Yeon’s heart started racing as she tried to set foot inside the kitchen only to stop herself. She had a sudden thought. What if she carelessly stepped inside only to dirty the floor with her footstep?
People’s first impulse when seeing a snow-covered field of whiteness would be to become the first person to leave behind their footprints. At the same time, though, they would feel reticent to do so after thinking that their footprint would ruin the picturesque landscape. And that was what Jeong Su-Yeon was feeling right now.
Still, she steeled herself with a deep, deep breath, then entered the kitchen. Her first destination was, of course, the fridge.
‘Don’t get shocked, Jeong Su-Yeon!’
One only had to take a gander at the state of the fridge to know how cleanly a kitchen was being run. Of course, the fridge’s inside wouldn’t be dirty at all. Jeong Su-Yeon was certain of that. With the floor this spotless, no way the fridge would be anything but clean. Otherwise, the owner should be classified as a madman!
Jeong Su-Yeon carefully reached out and grabbed the fridge’s handle, then slowly opened the door. And then, her jaw slowly fell, and her eyes quivered at the sight greeting her.
Ingredients were packed in an orderly rank-and-file according to their types. After taking a closer look, Jeong Su-Yeon also realized that not only were the ingredients neatly stored but they were also organized according to their expiration dates, too!
Jeong Su-Yeon gulped before cautiously asking, “Who is in charge of organizing the kitchen?”
The two men silently observing her inspection quickly pointed at Kang Jin-Ho to imply that they had nothing to do with all these.
Jeong Su-Yeon shifted her trembling eyes at Kang Jin-Ho and asked in a shaky voice, “M-Mister Kang Jin-Ho. By any chance… Do you have some kind of illness?”
And just like that… A barely-disguised scolding from the new hiree signaled the beginning of a new connection in Kang Jin-Ho’s life.