SOSHI: Aesop’s Twisted Fable – Chapter 3

September 23, 2013 in Aesop's Twisted Fable, moonrise31, SOSHI by moonrise31

Chapter 3: Gossamer

Gossamer: n. Something very light, thin, and insubstantial or delicate. (New Oxford American Dictionary)

Attention was everything.

Drawing it, diverting it, paying it.

Attention was in the details.

Yoona shifted the backpack strap so it hung more comfortably on her shoulder, snapping the piece of gum she was chewing as she did so. It was loud enough to cause a few students nearby to look up or turn their heads, but she didn’t acknowledge them and they shrugged it off before returning to their previous occupations.

Attention drawn, paid, diverted.

She liked the details.

The way a person gestured when he talked, his posture around his friends versus when he was with strangers, the kind of smile he had when he was with a girl he liked. Speech patterns, the jokes he made, the phrases he used.

Bang Yongguk had been on SOSHI’s radar for a while as the leader of the BAM gang, so Yoona had given him her utmost attention.

The details she’d picked up were more than enough.

The freedom of a university campus made her task easy. She could sit in class and watch without the professor ever realizing that she wasn’t registered. In fact, if she wanted, she could walk around in a hanbok and no one would bat an eyelid after she explained she was part of the Chuseok club — which was actually nonexistent as far as she knew.

She could also wait in line for coffee just behind Yongguk and conveniently see the book he was carrying under his arm, and then start a conversation.

He turned when she tapped him on the elbow. “Hi.” She grinned and pointed at the text. “You’re in Literature 2033, huh?”

Yongguk smiled back—the one he reserved for girls he thought attractive, Yoona noted smugly—and nodded. “Professor Moon is pretty rigid, isn’t he?”

“I think he’s pretty awful,” Yoona declared, seeing Yongguk’s shoulders relax a fraction. Venting about professors was always a common ground for students. Not to mention the fact that he’d seemed particularly bored in lecture earlier that day, and all the days prior, when he bothered to show up at all. “The paper’s gonna be bad, I’m telling you. I took his class last semester and had to go into his office hours basically every day. Still barely managed to pass, and he scared the crap out of me every single time.”

“Oh, you already took the class?” Yongguk held the textbook out and bowed playfully. “Please help me do well, sunbaenim.”

Yoona laughed and shook her head. “I’ll be happy to help as much as I’m able. Ah, it’s your turn to order now.”

Yongguk turned and named his drink before looking over his shoulder. “I’m Bang Yongguk, by the way. Fourth year. You?”

Yoona held out her hand, fingers splayed out but slightly curved, just the way she’d seen him do when he was completing a drug deal for BAM — or at least, they suspected that was the case. Either way, he would only recognize the gesture subconsciously; but the familiarity was now planted. She sealed it with a grin and an introduction:

“Jang Saebyuk, fourth year. Nice to meet you.”

They got their drinks and sat down, talking about this and that—mostly his interests that Yoona had picked up after monitoring him for the better part of three weeks. Not that he knew, of course; she was good at making Saebyuk’s interests happy coincidences with his. Soon enough, Yongguk had class, but he didn’t leave without first trading numbers. Yoona’s delighted grin had a double meaning: they didn’t have this phone on record. Perfect. Now they were getting somewhere, finally.

Attention had been drawn, paid. To be diverted when she pleased.

The details were just the beginning.

“Okay.” Tiffany set her mug down and turned to face the board again. “Let’s paint a picture of what happened.”

Hyoyeon moaned from where she was slumped over the conference table. “Not again. I swear I can recite it from memory by now. We’ve been going all day about this.”

Sunny yawned and leaned back in her chair, propping her feet on the table and over the papers scattered across the surface. “Things aren’t adding up though. And until we figure out exactly what those things are, this case isn’t going anywhere.”

Hah,” Tiffany said triumphantly, and then tapped the picture of Ryuhwa taped to the whiteboard. “So here we are. Kim Kwangsoo checked out of his office just after two in the morning, as confirmed by the electronic logbook at CCM. We have three sisters with solid alibis placing them outside the house at the proposed time of break-in and assault.”

“Run through them again.” Sunny closed her eyes.

Tiffany obliged. “Rabom said she was at a club downtown, and we confirmed with a DJ who was on duty that night. And then…uh…off duty afterwards. With Rabom.”

“Noted,” Sunny commented drily.

“Hyunji and Jungin were over at a friend’s place,” Tiffany continued, sliding the two sisters’ pictures to the side of the board. “We’ve got security footage with timestamps documenting as such. So that leaves—“

“Jungeun, Youngsun, and Yeonji in the house when Ryuhwa was attacked,” Hyoyeon interrupted in a mimicking monotone. “Plus all the staff that Sunny interviewed yesterday.”

“Okay, that much is solid,” Tiffany finished with a glare. Sunny withheld a snicker as the other woman muttered a few choice words about Hyoyeon’s intrusion. Hyoyeon simply responded with a V-sign and overenthusiastic eye-smile before her expression dropped and she flopped onto the table once more.

“Let’s clear all the daughters first,” Sunny decided. “I may or may not have offended Kwangsoo-sshi by mentioning that they were suspects, so the sooner we get them sorted out, the better.”

“The staff don’t seem to be that helpful anyway, by the sound of it,” Hyoyeon muttered. “Or lack of sound,” she added, thinking of the silent butler.

Tiffany cleared her throat. “Anyway, the tapes from that night have been conveniently misplaced—most likely stolen. Which means that this was probably an inside job.”

Sunny raised a finger. “Too early to assume that. Accomplice, yes—it doesn’t make sense for an outsider to let themselves in, assault Ryuhwa in the office, know where to go to take the tapes, and then break out through the office window. But alternatively, someone in the house could’ve let the perpetrator in and then gotten rid of the evidence later without actually assaulting or breaking anything.”

“This is useless.” Hyoyeon groaned. “Where. Is. The. Motive.” She pounded her fist dejectedly on the table once with each word.

“Kwangsoo-sshi is above rich,” Tiffany pointed out. “Money is motive enough, and his office is a good place to look. Ryuhwa was probably just at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“And where were the others?” Sunny peered at the whiteboard, filled with Tiffany’s diagrams and lines from one picture to another. “Jungeun and Youngsun said they were in the parlor. They came running when they heard the window break.”

“Wait.” Hyoyeon sat up. “Where’s the parlor in respect to the office?”

“Uh…” Tiffany found a floor plan among the sheets littering the tabletop and traced along it with one finger. “The office is near the middle of the east wall, and the parlor’s on the same wall, but at the back.”

“There’s no way they could’ve heard it from there, then,” Hyoyeon said confidently. “It’s too far.”

Sunny tapped her chin. “Are you sure?” She remembered how long she’d been able to hear Tiffany and Hyoyeon talking as they walked down the hall, away from her, yesterday. On the other hand, in respect to the mansion’s monstrous size, they hadn’t walked very far at all before the space around her and Kwangsoo had fallen deathly quiet once more.

“Hyoyeon-unnie’s probably right,” Seohyun said from the doorway. She gave a small, sheepish smile when three heads turned in her direction. “Sorry, I should’ve knocked, but the door was open.” She cleared her throat. “But as I was saying, the acoustics of such enormous buildings are certainly better than most houses, but unless they’re built for such purposes, sound actually doesn’t travel that far or that cleanly. To say that the breaking glass was loud enough for the two of them to hear and find it worth investigating is a bit of a stretch, and that’s assuming that they were sitting in absolute silence.”

Sunny nodded. “Okay, we’ll have to revisit Jungeun and Youngsun tomorrow, then. Doctor, how were your analyses?”

Seohyun handed over her clipboard. “Ryuhwa’s stable, but still comatose. There’s no telling when she’ll wake up. I’m estimating that the assault happened between 11 PM and midnight.”

“You can tell that from a living body?” Sunny asked, incredulous.

“Seohyun’s current research,” Tiffany explained proudly. “It’s already worked for hundreds of test cases, so she’s about ready to publish.”

Sunny whistled. “Hopefully that’ll hold up in court, but I’m impressed.” She frowned. “Hold on. Where’s Youngsun’s interview transcript?” She shifted through the mess, pulled out a page, and began skimming. “Here. She says, ‘The time? I think it 1:45? 2?’”

“Jungeun said the same thing, so their stories match, and that means they called Kwangsoo right afterward,” Hyoyeon added. “But that’s a good two hours off of what Seohyun just said.”

“Okay, definite follow-up needed,” Sunny confirmed. “Oh.” She turned back to Seohyun. “Doctor, did you get the glass fragments from the scene? I was hoping you could piece it back together and maybe get something.”

Seohyun nodded. “I’m working on it. From the looks of it, though, I can already tell that it was a kick, and one that would’ve left marks. There’s blood and some cloth threads that I’ll be analyzing shortly.”

“Perfect.” Sunny gave her a thumbs-up.

“Hold on a second.” Tiffany snapped her fingers. “Youngsun was wearing pants yesterday, even though her sisters all had on skirts or shorts. And in this weather, the heat must be stifling. It might be a leap, but I think we should take it.”

“Good work, everyone. Most of it is still fuzzy, but we might have a hold on something.” Sunny nodded. “We’ll follow up tomorrow. Now, I think we should call it a night.”

“Hey, Taeyeon.” Jessica poked her head into the office. “What’re you still doing here?”

Taeyeon put down her pencil. “Pretending to work. What’re you still doing here?”

“I fell asleep,” Jessica answered flatly. “Everyone else has left already.”

“As they should have.” Taeyeon nodded. “How’s the CCM case?”

Jessica shrugged. “I’m running some simulations for Seohyun, but I guess it’s too early to say.” She paused and blinked a few times. Taeyeon waited patiently until the other suddenly brightened again and pulled out a slip of paper from her back pocket. “Yuri stuck this on my forehead before she left.”

Taeyeon took the scribbled memo and raised her eyebrows. “Director wants to see me tomorrow morning? What’d you guys do this time?”

“Nothing he needs to know about,” Jessica replied with a flippant flick of her wrist. “But if you cared to decipher some more of the hieroglyphics that is Yuri’s handwriting, you’d see that it has something to do with Sunny.”

“Hm.” Taeyeon set the paper down carefully and picked up her pencil, wondering what the meeting could possibly be about. She began tapping the eraser end against her desktop. “Am I missing something here? I thought that kid and I kept pretty well in touch over the years after the academy, but maybe not as much as I thought.”

Jessica looked from the pencil to Taeyeon’s face and back again.

She watched the eraser go up and down, up and down, up and down.

Then she leaned forward and poked Taeyeon’s cheek. “Don’t go grasping at loose ends when the Director’s throwing you a solid lifeline in a few hours. Go home and get some rest, Taengoo.”

Taeyeon chuckled and batted Jessica’s hand away. “Alright, alright, I’m going. Same goes for you, Sica. Don’t make Krystal wait up for you.”

Jessica grinned at the sound of her sister’s name. She gave Taeyeon a last pat on the head with her goodbye and then left the office. Taeyeon stared thoughtfully at the shadows dancing across the wall opposite of her. She sighed.

“Sooyoung yesterday, Sunny today,” she said out loud, leaning back in her chair to stare up at the ceiling. The moonlight from her open window hit the ceiling fan and left long blades of darkness in its wake.

“Stop worrying, Taeyeon,” she whispered to herself. But she didn’t know if she could.

An alternate definition—

Gossamer: n. The faint discomfort in the back of the mind that usually foreshadows a brewing storm.