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He came as I went

Yesterday I went down to Nowon Station to visit the KEB bank to pay a couple of bills and transfer some money for a trip I’ll be taking with Habiba in a couple of weeks. Once I’d done that I headed to the Holly’s Coffee for a bagel and a strawberry smoothie.

I placed my order and sat at a table; I got The Neverending Story out. When my order was ready I picked it up and went to sit back down. A man had sat at the table next to me. The coffee shop wasn’t especially busy, but there a couple of Korean girls on the other side of me and some Koreans on the other side of him. He was maybe in his late twenties to early thirties, and wearing a black suit with an open-necked shirt and, I think, sandals. Something about made me feel awkward. He seemed a bit odd and lonely in quite an obvious way. When I sat down – we were on the same bench seat along the café wall – I tried to maximise the distance between us and angle myself to look the other way.

I had my bagel, sucked at my smoothie and read. After a while I noticed, from the corner of my eye, this guy’s hand moving rapidly at his crotch. I felt a pang of oh-my-gosh-he’s-not-really-masturbating-is-he? I gave him the benefit of the doubt – he could just as easily have been scratching – and resolved to ignore him. But I couldn’t – and I could sense that he was still doing whatever he was doing.

I decided to leave. As I did – edging between my table and the two girls’ table, not wanting to look at him, but also kind of wanting to look – I saw a little jet of fluid down by his lap. I only saw it with my peripheral vision – which was more than enough. No one else in the place seemed any the wiser. I briefly considered saying something to someone, but what can you say in a situation like that, and in a foreign country? I left hastily.

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