The tape recorder is vintage, serving more for aesthetics than pragmatic use. Namjoon bought it off an antique store on his first day of work. He remembers how the cashier up front butters him up when he mentions that he is a journalist by saying, This will bring you good news, the man laughing at his own pun. He can tell it is on its last dying breath, just one more recording until it hits the road.
Namjoon thinks that this is how it should go. This little old thing deserves to go out with a bang, to be used as the sole source of the biggest news he is and will cover in his career.
The staff guarding the entrance take a double look at his little artifact, his trinket as they call it, and laugh. They say, You reporters are a walking stereotype, and he doesn’t bother correcting them regarding the difference. Namjoon likes to think of himself as a writer, a purveyor of stories happening in the same lifetime he is put on this Earth. He is not interested in fiction either, only pursuing those in the mortal realm to immortalize them forever on paper.
He sets out the said tape recorder on the table along with his moleskine journal and expensive pen, his name engraved on the side. It was a gift from his Father when he graduated from university two years ago. He clears his throat and extends his hand in greeting towards his subject.
They shake hands. The subject’s eyes glaze over his belongings to settle on the tape recorder.
“I have one of those.” The subject says. His low voice vibrates and bounces in the sterile room.
Namjoon reckons he do. If he was asked if he thinks the subject had a predilection towards these old world devices, he would say that yes, he definitely does. It comes with the subject’s line of work.
What catches his attention is the use of present tenses.
“They still let you have it?”
The subject chuckles, back straightening and eyes meeting him. Namjoon has looked into those eyes before. From the newspaper to magazines, televisions, and even on YouTube, the photo they use of the subject paints him the same way and true to life.
“This is an asylum. A facility. It’s not really prison.”
“Do you think you deserve to be here?” Namjoon hasn’t even pressed record yet. It’s a question burning on his tongue, a wonder that has haunted him ever since the court judged the subject as insane and threw him here instead of prison.
“Of course I don’t.” A snort. The subject rubs on his chin with his pointer finger and thumb, a sliding motion with the digits kept flexed. Namjoon rushes to note down the movement. “I’m not insane after all.”
Namjoon hums. He presses a bit too hard on the period at the end of the sentence, darkening and swarming the page.
“That’s good then. I trust you will be a reliable narrator.”
The subject laughs. He laughs in a way that signifies his amusement at being called such. Namjoon smiles politely. The reason he managed to get this interview is because of his neutrality towards the news. Some people paint him bad because of it, some gave him writing awards for it. He doesn’t mean to take the side of oppressors. He simply takes life and turns it into flowery and pretentious stories that read as cut up fiction. He has been told that the subject liked that about him, the man in question a big fan of Namjoon’s works.
“I trust you can turn this story into my last offering to the world.”
This particular sentence has Namjoon nodding rapidly. Of course he will. This is what he is here for. He thinks for a moment that they could’ve been friends. Both academics with a flair for the pretty things, it is quite surprising they have not brushed shoulders before the accident.
Before the murder.
“Shall we begin?” Namjoon’s finger hovers over the button on the recorder. The only story it will record, and in turn the one Namjoon is sure will be his most interesting work to date.
The subject nods. His finger exerts the force needed to start the machine up.
“Please introduce yourself.”
A clearing of a throat.
“My name is Min Yoongi. Ivy league graduate,” He counts it on each finger, “The Silverfish Company’s art director,” nostalgia clouds his face, “husband,” a chilling grin paints his lips, “and a killer.”
The story begins not with the man whose death transpired on Yoongi's hands. No, it begins with the one who he should have killed.
The new member of his theater group is a fresh face with a talent rivaling the greats. He hears over the phone from Silverfish’s most prolific investor how Jeon Jeongguk is the son of a family friend. Jung Hoseok tells him about how Jeongguk is studying in Yoongi’s alma mater, and that he has decided to take a gap year.
Yoongi disliked him through the phone conversation alone. He gets sent a photo of a boy, Yoongi refuses to acknowledge him as more than a kid, with a muscled build and black hair with the tips dyed blue. The day Jeongguk gets introduced to the rest of the actors, Yoongi was running late, a business meeting on the other end of town taking his time two hours more than the allotment he gave it.
Seokjin meets Jeongguk before he does. He didn’t know it then, but he knew it now.
Ten minutes into introductions, extended hands being shook and names exchanged, Seokjin falls in love with the boy younger than him by at least five years.
Fourteen minutes into introductions, Jeongguk and Seokjin meet backstage, conversation flowing freely between them in the most cliche of places: the water cooler situated nearby the toilets.
Seventeen minutes into meeting Seokjin, Jeongguk tells the actor, “You are the loveliest person I have ever met, Seokjin-sshi.”
Twenty minutes was all it took for Yoongi’s husband of six years to be on his knees in front of Jeon Jeongguk in a bathroom stall, hands on the other’s thighs while Jeongguk’s fingers grip Seokjin’s blonde hair.
They must have been quick about it. After all, Yoongi knows how good Seokjin is with his mouth. He should have been suspicious from the get go when he arrives in the theater. He recalls Seokjin clinging to his side, breath cool and minty against his cheek, while Jeon Jeongguk introduces himself with a polite smile. He should have known that something was up when he thought the new hire was smirking at him and Seokjin while they walk in the parking lot, when Yoongi accepts an out of the blue kiss on the mouth from his husband.
Yoongi should have killed him right then and there.
The talent their new hire has is astounding. The first production he feature in brings the biggest money into Silverfish’s pockets. The pouring of five star ratings would not stop, and with it, the opportunities. New sponsors, new investors, and headlines. Jeon Jeongguk becomes the shining gem of the company.
Yoongi liked him during these times. He would pat Jeongguk on the back in congratulations, and ask him to join him and Seokjin for dinner from time to time. Jeongguk was always eager about those invitations. Seokjin would always make up an excuse to push the date back.
The suspicion rises on a weekend afternoon.
The glow of the sun shines on Yoongi and Seokjin’s naked bodies, twisting together on white sheets.
Seokjin pulls out from him to crash down on the bed. Instantly he says, “Come on, do me too.”
It surprises him. Seokjin usually likes taking the lead, whether it be by fucking him or fucking himself on Yoongi’s cock. This pliant and writhing form is a rare sight. Yoongi complies, parting the long legs aside and laying on his stomach. As he fucks Seokjin with his tongue, the moans his husband produce makes him hard in no time. Seokjin is so sensual lately, more confident with his body and willing to be taken apart.
In the middle of thrusting inside the older’s body, the doorbell rings.
“Oh, fuck. Oh, fuck. Sweetheart, I forgot. I invited Jeongguk for drinks.”
Seokjin tightens around him, forcing Yoongi to hold him still. “Hey, hey. Wait, we have to stop.” He says.
“Jeongguk?” Seokjin gasps, “Why is he here?”
“Drinks. Celebration for the new prod.”
The doorbell rings again.
“Is that Jeongguk?” Seokjin asks, sitting up on the bed.
“Yeah. Probably him. Let’s stop, yeah?”
Except Seokjin pulls him down by encircling his arms around Yoongi’s neck, whispering to his ear, “I’m sure Jeongguk will wait. He’s a good boy. You have to finish me off or I’ll be upset.”
It turns him on, the idea of fucking Seokjin into completion while Jeongguk waits for them downstairs. It turns him on more when Seokjin would moan into his ear repeatedly, “Jeongguk’s waiting— you have to hurry. Babe, you need to, Jeongguk—”
Seokjin comes with the name of another man on his lips. Yoongi watches his face, going over the edge. He was too entranced to even care that Seokjin called him babe when their terms of endearment are limited to darling or sweetheart.
Yoongi finishes on Seokjin’s thigh, white spilling on white skin. Seokjin grins up at him, dopey and delirious from the high of an orgasm. Seokjin is never like this. Yoongi likes it though.
He cleans himself off with a wet wipe, jumps into his pants, throws on Seokjin’s shirt, and runs downstairs to open the door and let Jeongguk in their apartment.
They do small talk, joking around good-naturedly. Seokjin appears at the top of the stairs while Yoongi takes the bags of beer Jeongguk brought.
“Oh,” Seokjin’s voice reaches him to the kitchen, scratchy from their sex. “Jeongguk. You’re here.” It makes him pause for a bit, quickly turning to them. The tone in Seokjin’s voice is new. He brushes it off and returns to looking for the cooler.
He hears Seokjin’s footsteps echoing, the sound at least something he is familiar with.
The noise of ice being poured into a plastic bucket drowns out Jeongguk’s voice as he says, “Yeah. I’m here now.”
Their marriage was not falling apart. It leaned more into the description of a fraying sweater, the kind where you know only a few uses will be left before you have to throw it away.
The sex had been great lately for some reason, but sex isn’t the end of it all. They still didn’t talk, silence ruling over him and Seokjin when they weren’t working together in the theater or when they were not fucking.
Yoongi’s affairs from years ago continued to loom over their heads. It makes him uncomfortable. He tells this to Namjoon.
“Not the affairs themselves. It’s the knowledge that if I was not caught, I would still be doing it. The shame of it kept me from getting into anything else. Funny how that backfired.”
Namjoon offers him a cigarette, a pack of Camels he keeps in his satchel at all times. Yoongi mentions he doesn’t smoke, yet he reaches out for one and hits it like a seasoned smoker.
“I thought I was hiding it well: my affairs. But my husband? Seokjin is something else.”
Seokjin re-meets the apartment he shares with Yoongi through Jeongguk.
Another meeting weeds Yoongi away from home. This time, it’s the discussion over budgets, a lookover he cannot simply do over the phone. He travels by plane to meet the sponsors, takes the check, and gets stuck in the airport due to a snowstorm.
“Are you going to sleep in the airport or book a hotel?” Seokjin has his phone on one hand and pressed to his ear, the other around Jeongguk as he gets fucked into the wall, the back of his knees hanging over Jeongguk’s arms.
Jeongguk leans to kiss the side of his jaw, lips trailing down and teeth nipping on his skin. It’s an unspoken agreement between them to not leave marks.
“I’ll get a hotel. I’ve been told this might take two days.”
“That long? Be safe, sweetheart.”
Jeongguk stops, pouting at him. Seokjin purses his lips to swallow the giggle.
“Yeah. I’ll be back soon.”
Seokjin tells Yoongi goodbye and throws his phone down to the carpeted floor. He is quick to wrap his elbows around Jeongguk’s neck the same time the younger re-adjusts their position.
“What’s the problem, babe?”
Jeongguk grumbles, his hair falling over his eyes. “How can you sound so normal when I have my dick inside you?”
Seokjin laughs. He smooths his fingers on Jeongguk’s shoulders, the muscles flexing under his touch. Jeongguk shivers at the touch.
“Then you have to fuck me better.”
The questions Namjoon asks Yoongi has answers easily accessible by the general public. Yoongi indulges him, entertained with the attention being given to his thought process.
Namjoon asks more about Jeongguk and Seokjin more than the crime. The connection between the three, the resulting dead body, and the entanglement other news sources are not able to cover because the two parties refuse to speak. Yoongi is more than willing.
“Was there a significant moment when you might have thought he was cheating on you?”
“There are a handful of moments. The thing is, I always suspected the wrong person.”
“You never thought it was Jeon Jeongguk?”
“No, never. I don’t know why I never thought it was him when it’s the one thing I think of every time I wake up these days.”
A tabloid journalist would ask, You don’t think of the man you killed?
A writer would go with, “Do you still love Kim Seokjin?”
Yoongi ashes his cigarette on the table. The remaining wisps of the smoke flutter towards Namjoon including bits of ash. “I killed for him. What do you think is my answer to that?”
They continue off with the interview that has now turned into storytelling. Finally, they arrive at the reason why Yoongi is sitting here in a home for the criminally insane.
Yoongi doesn’t mention the man’s name. At first Namjoon thought he was just being careful or even respectful. He realized after a good fifteen minutes of noting down Yoongi’s impactful words and actions that the other simply didn't care. The blood on Yoongi’s hands has been washed clean. This is the attitude he gives off, to say the least.
“He’s another son of a bitch actor who got recruited in Silverfish thanks to nepotism. Unlike Jeongguk, he had nothing going for him. You see, he could sing and dance and act, of course he has talent and skill. But that isn’t why he was useless. If you want to become a theater actor, you live and breathe theater. You’re an instrument to the story and not the other way around. You bend when you are told, and you jump when asked. Jeongguk understood that perfectly ever since the beginning. Now that I’m voicing it out loud, it’s probably why Seokjin liked him. They’re similar in that regard.”
“What do you mean by similar?”
Yoongi holds his hand out. Namjoon is confused for a good five seconds until he realizes Yoongi is asking for another cigarette. He gives him the crumpled box along with his lighter.
Again, for a self-proclaimed non-smoker, Yoongi is extremely accustomed on how to smoke. He places the box down in the middle of the table. It tempts Namjoon a bit. He keeps his hand steady on his pen.
“I inherited Silverfish from my Uncle. Guess that makes me another nepotist bastard. I graduated from university with a degree in art history, then I met Seokjin when I took over as art director. He didn’t like me ‘cause I was younger but had control over him and everyone else. He knew he had to act the part around me, it’s literally in the job description.” Yoongi laughs, blowing smoke into the air. Namjoon feels queasy at how fond he looks. He swallows it down, fascination battling with fear.
Yoongi continues on. “It surprised him that I was capable, and he piqued my interest with his skill. Well, I’ll be honest, he has the face of an angel, so who wouldn’t be? I don’t remember it clearly, but I believe that there was a time when he loved me and I did too. From there came marriage, and with marriage came the affairs.” The use of past tense has Namjoon asking, “Why say such things? I assume you still have feelings for Kim Seokjin.” He expected Yoongi to snort at him, roll his eyes and ignore the question.
Instead, he answers truthfully. “I’m talking about memories of when it was mutual. I harbor no illusion of it still being reciprocated. I mean,” Yoongi’s grin shows his gums, pink and swallowing up the space of the mocking smile, “Look where it got me.”
Namjoon’s next question is something he has been itching to ask ever since Yoongi mentioned it. This is the perfect opportunity for him to bring it up. “Why did you cheat on him when, as you said, the feeling was still reciprocated?”
“Funny,” Yoongi ashes the cigarette on the table again, “He asked me the same thing.” He moves on the chair, bringing his feet up and tucking it under his thighs. “I don’t know. I guess I’ve always been an awful person. There’s a line between fucking and loving, and marriage and fidelity, that always rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it’s commitment issues, or perhaps the people in white are right: I am simply not of the right mind.”
Namjoon sees through it, and he knows Yoongi does too. He’s a hundred percent sure the doctors who diagnosed Min Yoongi as criminally insane know it too. He’s too smart for a killer, too emotionally stable, and therefore, a danger to society. They branded him as crazy and locked him up here for the good of everyone else.
Time is running. Namjoon’s vintage recorder and the allotted hours he has with Min Yoongi is almost up. So Namjoon asks the final piece of the puzzle.
“What was it like for you when you killed that man? And how did it feel knowing it was the wrong one?”
The new actor has a lovely smile. He has an overall beautiful face fit for a main lead. He especially looks good when standing next to Seokjin. The newcomer's cherubic curly locks and Seokjin's perpetually bleached blonde hair creates a gorgeous visual that should've only exist in magazine spreads.
The sponsor who recommended the newcomer is a person from a high position in society. They didn't say it out loud, but it's obvious of what they are asking from Yoongi when they offered him a fat check labeled as a donation in-kind.
Give him a starring role.
It was easier than Yoongi expected to do. Seokjin particularly likes him too, finding the newcomer a riot. Yoongi thinks him a stubborn fool, grating on his last nerve whenever he changed a line on the script or sang in a different tone. Jeongguk seems to share his sentiments, standing beside Yoongi during practice, two steps back, and clicking his tongue every time an ad lib is inserted. The newcomer has an important role, and everyone had to adjust to his random bouts of lines.
Seokjin enjoyed it. Jeongguk glowers. Yoongi watches them in consideration.
"I think the fresh meat likes Seokjin-sshi."
"Hmm, you think so?"
"Doesn't it bother you that he's so touchy with your husband?"
"As long as nothing is happening under my nose, then sure. Seokjin has that effect on people so I'm not too surprised."
"What if I tell you... I think Seokjin-sshi likes him too?"
Yoongi laughs. "What the fuck are you talking about?” He feels his insides go cold. Not at the possibility of Seokjin liking the newcomer and cheating on him, but that Jeongguk has noticed a crack on the frame and is breaking the picture perfect marriage.
Ivy League graduate.
The Silverfish Company's art director.
Yoongi has always kept up these labels, swimming in them, keeping them close and the only tag he likes related to him. Not things such as: adulterer, or the husband of one.
Seokjin couldn't just play his fucking role.
It's too loud in his head.
More so than lately.
The noise is getting out of control.
Yoongi’s mind has never been this quiet. He takes a step away from the body, careful not to let the pooling blood get to his leather shoes. The knife is gripped tightly on his right hand. He walks to the stairs of the stage, these wooden, rickety things he has been so familiar with. He keeps his other hand inside the pocket of his black silk trousers as he descends away from the carnage.
He walks the aisle in the middle, where people would walk to get to the theater’s red seats. He picks the best part in the house, the one where you get to see the stage in perfect glory.
Once seated, Yoongi places the knife down on the chair next to him. He brought cigarettes especially for this occasion. He takes the box out along with the lighter, also brand new, and lights one stick up. He takes it all in.
The silence. The quiet. The voice in his head has finally shut the fuck up.
The man trying to infringe in his faux peace has been silenced through his own means, under his own hands. Now, he can continue living in his fantasy.
He takes his phone out too. Music is the one noise he will let disturb him. It’s a song he likes but covered by an artist Seokjin adores. He lets the voice fill the empty auditorium. He lets his eyes linger on the dead body in the middle of the stage, splayed out in his own pool of blood. Yoongi continues smoking.
What a wonderful world.
The song is disturbed by a notification.
He looks at the text bubble hovering at the top of the screen.
It’s from Seokjin, and it says: I want a divorce.
An Excerpt from [Silverfish Sublimity]
Written by: Kim Namjoon
The high-profile murder of the son of a senator, Kim Taehyung, has simmered down. The limelight has been shone on him more than what a career in theater would've been able to offer. This time, the viewfinder is directed on the man behind the so-called theater company love crime, Min Yoongi. The man is all white. He is reminiscent of trees in the winter; bare and skinny, almost dead but never quite. Min Yoongi feels as if he is in eternal respite. He smoke cigarettes, yet claims to not be a smoker. He was a married man who had affairs. He says love, but means obsession, to keep up an image of perfection. The subject slips a lot, and his biggest slip is the murder of Kim Taehyung. He likes beautiful things, and he has indeed made beauty come alive: The Silverfish Company has always had the most exquisite of plays. This is where I come to realize that to the subject, beauty is terror, and only if done through his hand. The most compelling of all slips, is that Min Yoongi insists he killed the wrong person. He says the name with disdain. Jeon Jeongguk. I know for sure that if the guards ever let their said guard down, Min Yoongi would walk out of the place to kill Jeon Jeongguk, and come back in the same day. He seems the type to not leave unfinished business. A question runs through my mind as I write this article that is already going nowhere, and I'm sure it's a question the reader also wonders about: Why not kill Kim Seokjin? Why did he not kill Kim Seokjin? The answer to the question is simple, readers, critics, and theorists alike. Because Min Yoongi loved him to the very end. Loves. Present tense. Or, this is what Min Yoongi claims. He killed Kim Taehyung for the sake of love, and he was, allegedly, manipulated by Jeon Jeongguk into killing Kim Taehyung, for the sake of Jeon Jeongguk's love for Kim Seokjin, the ex-husband of Min Yoongi. We can try and make sense of the facts, but at the end of the day, Min Yoongi is a murderer. But we are interested, aren't we? If we weren't, I wouldn't have took the trouble of interviewing him and sharing my cigarettes with the man. You would not be here, reading this now and wondering what went down with the tragic art director, the dead boy, and the two whose love has prevailed.
Without further ado,
Shall we begin?