It didn’t work. The code didn’t work. The police officer stepped forward. Yoon Bum’s hand trembled. He hunched down as the officer approached. The man reached out and suddenly, the list of codes was removed from his hand.
“Sangwoo isn’t really your relative is he?” the officer asked.
Bum trembled as he hunched in on himself further.
“Please turn around,” the officer asked.
Bum considered making a break for it, but this man stood between him and the gate and there was another officer in the car. He resigned himself to his fate, another restraining order loomed in his future. He only wanted to get closer to Sangwoo. He knew it was impossible to really be with him, but he wanted to be closer. He tried to muffle a little sob, but failed. He lifted his hand to wipe at his eyes as he slowly turned around.
The officer looked him over. He looked at the paper and then the door. “Can you tell me what’s going on here?” he asked. His voice was gentle, but firm and Bum knew it was a command more than a request.
Bum bit his lip. He didn’t want to explain. It would all sound so awful. It was awful. This man didn’t look angry or aggressive, but it was only a matter of time until that changed. Once he learned what a freak Bum was, that expression would change from calm to disgusted and his tone would turn from gentle to harsh. He probably wouldn’t hit him, since he was an officer, but it could also happen.
“Please?” The man asked. “If you can’t tell me what’s going on, I’ll have to assume the worst and take you down to the station.”
Bum clenched his fists and looked down at his feet. “It’s exactly what it looks like,” he mumbled.
“How so?” The officer prompted.
“S-Sangwoo. We attend the same university together, but...we’re not friends. I w-want to be. But we’re not.”
“I see.” The officer was silent after that.
Bum dared to look up at him through watery eyes. The officer was giving him a hard look, as if considering his next move. He didn’t look disgusted or angry. Not yet.
“Have you asked him to be friends?”
Bum blinked, not expecting that question. “He likes girls,” Bum blurted out before he could stop himself. Once he realized what he’d said, he snapped his mouth shut so tightly his teeth clicked together.
“Ah, a crush,” the officer said. “I think, male or female, trying to get close to your crush by breaking and entering is not a very healthy thing to do. You’re blowing your chances before they even began. You’re breaking trust.”
Bum shut his eyes as tears began to spill out again. “I’m s-sorry,” he said.
The officer sighed. “It’s not me you have to apologize to. It’s this Sangwoo guy.”
“I’m s-sorry,” Bum stuttered again, bowing deeply.
“Sorry that this happened or sorry that you got caught?” The officer asked.
Bum whined softly in his throat. Both. All of it. Everything. Sorry he was born even! But he didn’t say that.
“Please stand up,” the officer said.
“Tell me your name.”
Bum considered giving him a false name, but his mind was suddenly blank. The truth was the only thing that tumbled from his lips. “Yoon Bum.”
“Yoon Bum, this is quite a serious situation. If you were a girl, stalking her crush, some people might wave their hand and find it romantic. But the truth of the matter is, girl or guy, stalking is not romantic. It’s very harmful, for the person you like and for yourself. You know very well this is not healthy behaviour.”
“Yes sir,” Bum said softly.
“My question is, if I let you go now, will you try to change your ways? Or will you be back here in a week trying to crawl into the window?”
Bum looked up at him, eyes wide. Let him go?
The officer stared at him. “Please answer my question.”
“I..” Bum began. He wanted to say that he wouldn’t try it again. But it was an obsession. He’d been dealing with it for so long. “I would try to change,” he said, knowing even as the words passed his lips that they were weak and unconvincing.
The officer frowned and nodded. “I thought as much.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a card case and a pen. He opened the case and sorted through the cards before selecting one. He scribbled something on the back of the card and handed it to Bum. “This is a small mental health clinic that a friend of mine runs. You will go here and you will have an appointment with a therapist.”
“R-right now?” Bum asked.
The officer tilted his head. “I was going to let you go there on your own, but perhaps it’s better if we dropped you off there. I can’t leave you here knowing what I now know.”
“You’re not going to take me to j-jail?” Bum asked, his voice almost cracking at the thought of it.
The officer shook his head. “No, but I am sentencing you to ten mandatory therapy sessions.” The officer put away the card case and removed a pad. “Please write down your address and contact information here.” He held the pad and pen out to Bum.
Bum took the offered pad with shaky hands. His writing was a messy scrawl as he put the requested information. He handed the pad back to the officer. The man pulled out his phone and immediately entered Bum’s number. Bum’s phone chimed in his pocket. The man nodded, having confirmed that it was Bum’s actual number.
“Please come with me,” the officer said as he turned and motioned for Bum to proceed him.
Bum stared at the path and the car beyond it where the other officer was watching them curiously. He hesitated, but managed to move one foot in front of the other. He stopped in front of the car and did not look at the other officer.
“What’s going on?” the older officer asked.
“We’re going to take a ride to Dr. Lee’s clinic,” the younger officer replied. “Yoon Bum has an appointment.”
“Well, we don’t want you to miss it now do we?” The older officer asked in a kindly way that made Bum flinch. “Now, now, don’t be scared. I’m the nice officer. Officer Yang here is the one you need to look out for.”
Officer Yang sighed. “Don’t scare him more than he already is Officer Park.” The man moved forward and opened the back door of the car for Bum.
Bum meekly entered the car and buckled his seatbelt. He glanced up and found Officer Park studying him through the rear view mirror. He quickly looked down at his hands, where he was still holding the card Officer Yang gave him. The man had scribbled down his name, Yang Seungbae, on the back of the card, along with his cell number and instructions to check in with him. He glanced up again as Officer Yang got into the car. Officer Yang looked back at him, offering him a small, reassuring smile. Somehow, that made him feel a little better about this.
He hadn’t made it into Sangwoo’s house, and that was probably for the best. Officer Yang was right about it being the wrong way to get close to somebody. He’d probably just end up sniffing Sangwoo’s underwear and masturbating in his bed. And who knew what would happen if Sangwoo ever came home unexpectedly to find him there. So this was good. He had to keep telling himself that this was good, or he might start crying again. He was shaking all over, but still, it was good. If he could get a little help, a little push, then maybe he would have the confidence to someday walk up to Sangwoo and talk to him, to be his friend for real. Someday, just not now.