the awnings were painted black and white stripes. the parting of two lovers. changmin comes back for answers and gets them.
there is a house in the center of the woods. painted ghostly white with immaculate arches. the house looks desolate and unoccupied. it is. not a soul has stepped into the place for twenty years. the caretaker, the villagers whisper, killed himself because the silence was too deafening and loud for him to bear. insanity bred on the old soul and finally led to him tying a noose around one of the firm, wooden awnings, striped black and white.
the curse envelops and weeps over the desolate house, casting an eerie, yellow glow on the roof and reflecting off the white walls. the awnings glitter and children run away in fright, dogs and cats refuse to venture nearby. rats are found dead the next morning, near the gates. a place to avoid, breeding evil and spewing in filth.
the old caretaker was once a very handsome man. jung yunho, they said. faithful and married to the house. they do not know it all. unfaithful to his wife and cavorting around with the beautiful owner. such things do not go unnoticed indeed. gone was the wife, one sunny day, vanished into thin air, specks of blood on the floor in the basement and the stink of rotting flesh premeating from the wooden planks, these were all that remained, the middle-aged cop notes carefully, refusing to let sheer fright overwhelm his senses.
excerpt from the notes of inspector shim changmin:
jung yunho, loyal caretaker of the Kim Estate for 35 years-
employed by the young master, Kim Jaejoong, moved in with his wife-
screaming, the old servants said, lots of screaming, the master was-
wife missing, search warrant-
Mr. Kim brought in for questioning, convicted, life imprisonment-
final words said to a distraught Jung, kicking and crying:
not till death do we part, lover. beyond eternity-
changmin stares at the awnings, black and white, impressive and beautiful. he closes his eyes and sees it all, in live technicolour. anguished cries, merciless whispers, coy teasing, friendly smiles, firm shake of the hand. he traces it backwards and sees the beautiful, young master in all his anguished glory, dragging a petrified woman down the stairs. the caretaker coming in and finding his lover in the basement. the final, painful parting. and the striped awnings.
especially the awnings. he can see that too well and it hurts.
"rest in peace, hyung," changmin whispers, a lone tear running down his cheek. "god rest both your demented souls in peace. and unnie's too."
a light breeze ruffles his hair and he knows his kindly words were just what the awnings needed to hear.