Without RemedyAn Original Short Story by Paul Cook
KoreanAmericanStory.org announces its publication of Paul Cook’s first short story, Without Remedy, as a fitting work to commemorate the twenty-first anniversary of the Los Angeles Riots. Set in present day Los Angeles County’s San Gabriel Valley, Without Remedy chronicles the escalating tension between two families: one ex-gang Chicano and the other Korean. Fueled by misunderstandings and resentments, the two families battle to exert their will and dominance over their tiny plots of the American Dream.Telling the story through multiple perspectives, voices, and even languages, Cook’s haunting story delves into the fault lines between the two settled immigrant American families. In doing so, he exposes the very same complex dynamics of resentment and mistrust that existed between the Black and Korean communities and erupted into the violent mayhem of the L.A. Riots.Cook’s modern recasting of the classic American family feud also contains a damning portrayal of a contemporary America, whose broken educational, social, and judicial systems conspire to create the perfect conditions for the fostering of violent and even homicidal youth. Paul Cook’s impressive debut heralds the emergence of a new, important voice in the evolving narrative of Korean Americans.
Without RemedyA Chicano family with a gang history of slanging drugs and robbing houses moved in next to the Korean house. They wanted their smallest house on the block to mean something. The Korean mother said that their house was inhabited, though, by evil demons. The previous owner, a middle-aged-lady of the house, had a heart attack and asked her sons to call nine-one-one. Instead, they allegedly left and played basketball. When the teenagers came back, their mother was already dead and cold.In their front yard, the new Chicano family planted palm trees, which had grown thick and tall. They felt like they were becoming Egyptian royalty now. Finally, they could start their lives afresh in the sleepy San Gabriel Valley, where they believed the mountains would hide and protect them from their past.The Korean family’s relatives too found haven there as well, when Los Angeles burned. They lived at the dead end of the cul-de-sac in the valley of the greater Los Angeles region.The depth of the valley resembled its guardian-Archangel-Saint Gabriel’s horn, which apparently has an infinite surface area but finite volume. Thus, the angelic mountain ranges stood as a row of blue, stone guardians for the grand valley. But because of the smog screen, one almost never perceives how far away they are.The block used to be Filipino dominated, but they flew when the Mexicans and Chicanos moved in. Now, only one remained. The Korean family should’ve flown too, but the old lady of the house hated change.One Saturday, at the dead-end house, John woke up from his tall, custom-made, princely bed. He jumped off it. The balls of his feet landed against the cool, golden, hardwood floor, like a cat springing off the top of a wall and landing on stone. He always loved the hard and smooth texture against his bare feet; it felt better to his naked feet than stepping on cheap plastic laminate or worn carpet.He went to urinate in the toilet, the same one he had urinated in since he was two. His urine was a bright yellow and created a bubbly froth on the surface of the toilet water. Smells earthy, he thought.His mother heard him flush the toilet and she screamed, “John! John! Breakfast is ready.” She screamed because that’s how she always called for her kids, even when they were close and already fully grown. She was missing a front tooth and had black wiry hair that showed her scalp. The latter was probably in her DNA.She had a worn face, evidence of the bitter sufferings she went through from her first life in North Korea, her second one as a refugee in South Korea, and her third one in America. She survived by telling herself every morning that life goes on. She even learned to reincarnate her suffering to her advantage. For instance, her marriage battles with her then-husband seasoned her in how to raze a man away to nothing with words...CLICK HERE