From Phlegm to Apothegm

Today I ran from 구포 (Gupo) to 하단 (Hadan), a flat and gentle distance of about ten or fifteen kilometers; I believe I spit about ten or fifteen times, and while I never hawk up phlegm I do make it a point of honor to spit as far as possible while running, and may be capable of firing a salivitic projectile a full two meters, which makes me rather dangerous, particularly to those who dishonor me or my friends; such copious spitting, combined with copious sweating, coated my face in a flaky mask of dried sweat, and depleted the blue reserves of hydrogen dioxide stored in my fuel tanks, to the extent that I was forced to replenish my supply by cupping my hands under the faucet on the left in the men’s bathroom of the Hadan subway station, which was actually occupied by a number of women who do a good job of impersonating men; I cupped these sturdy little hands under the faucet approximately ten or fifteen times, and drank the cool liquid therein with a loud, luscious slurping sound that could be heard over the flushing urinals (all of which possess movement sensors and therefore flush constantly due to the pranks of ghosts) and surely echoed out through the entirety of the station and even up into downtown Hadan proper, which I was then visiting for the first time, having never possessed a single reason to go there; while gulping down my fuel I did not look at myself in the mirror as I think I look even worse than usual while under physical duress, or while recovering from it.

I witnessed a number of surreal oddities, or surrealities, as one always does when one walks out the door in South Korea. On a particularly long stretch of strange, soft turf by the highway—one which was so long it stretched out and vanished into the horizon, like a railroad, or an illustration of perspective—I came upon an old man who was calmly walking backwards in a straight line. Earlier in the run I passed a (different) old man who was sitting on a bench while singing loudly to himself and kicking his legs back and forth like a child or a king upon a throne; such a sight will surely be included in further literary works in the same way that the caged panther Dante once saw in Florence lunging back and forth behind its bars lunged its way into the first lines of his Inferno.

Near Sasang-on-the-Nakdong a number of old men were rolling up mats made of straw, for no reason, to the pounding synthesized rhythms of some distant but seemingly nearby speakers; later on a sign only in English directed one ninety meters through an eerie field of wet elephant grass to a Migratory Bird Observation Tower, though no tower was to be seen anywhere except for the towering and excruciatingly-loud construction equipment somewhat downstream that no doubt frightened away most of the humans in the area as well as all of the birds. Despite the manifestly polluted quality of the Nakdong, which is not a river of water so much as a slurching worm of green sewage and waste, coated in scales of plastic wrappers, old men were sitting around everywhere and fishing. Few young people were to be seen, as the thin ones do not exercise while the fat ones are too embarrassed to do so; many elders were training on peculiar jungle gyms for the impending conflict with Bokan, or North Korea. Because communists make frequent use of monkey bars and merry-go-rounds in their invasions of southern capitalist neighbors one can have little doubt that the elders of Daehan Minguk will be well-prepared.

As I moved the apartment tenements shifted position against the flowing trees of the mountains, and the gate of a vast, unknown fortress was seen tucked into their slanting diagonals.

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