Past Life Returner - chapter 9
I was bored reliving my middle school life. The joy I felt at seeing my friends, who I had almost forgotten, lasted only a day. My grown physique was the center of attention in this school, and thanks to that, my life went on without much incident. The seniors, let alone my classmates left me alone. I was already about six feet despite being a first-grader in middle school, and I could not help being more interested in the teachers’ adult lives rather than the young students.
It was break time, and I saw that the staff room window was full of people as I passed by. Male teachers were talking about stocks as they smoked, and their expressions looked better than yesterday. Even as major firms such as Hando, Sammi, and Chamro were going bankrupt, their ruin had not affected the teaching profession yet. Therefore, the currency war starting from Thailand would not affect them at all. It was enough for them that the stock they had bought the day before was rising.
I heard that the bell signaling that break time was over, and students began to run to their classrooms. The corridors emptied in an instant, and at first felt strange and awkward at the sight. However, things had not changed after two months, and the silent corridor made me think of things I would rather not, like my memories of a city where all of its citizens lay dead…
I headed to Gimpo Airport after school, as Jonathan was scheduled to arrive at seven o’clock in the evening. I waited at the entry place with a small sign that had Jonathan’s name (in english) on it. Since I had already seen his younger picture on the website and from our emails, I thought that I would not be surprised at how young he looked. However, that was not the case. Jonathan was not wearing the protective gear he had gotten from a silver box and instead wore a black suit, and instead of an iron club, he came in holding a 007 bag. (EN: Bags inspired or modeled after the Bond movies) Eyes only possible in a peaceful world looked up and down at me and my sign.
Jonathan did not have a grave expression like his picture, and his skin had a sheen. It seems the long flight had not been stressful, as he must have had good dreams as he flew over the Pacific to meet me.
He approached me and spoke. It was the first time I heard a lively voice and saw hopeful eyes on my old friend…
“Let’s go somewhere else to talk. Please, follow me.”
I spoke fluent English, and he looked a bit surprised at that. I had found an unpopular restaurant in the airport, and Jonathan’s confident footsteps followed me from behind as I led the way. He must be thinking that he would meet the individual that had sent him the email there, and it was a logical assumption. How could he think that a young teen like me with a backpack had sent him those emails?
Jonathan must be thinking of a stereotypical elite Asian guy, with a round face and gelled hair. He would be thinking that the man would be wearing a slightly larger suit than his frame, wipe his glasses, and ask Jonathan for a handshake after meeting him.
However, there was no one where I had led Jonathan, and I sat across the table from him. Jonathan blinked and even shrugged as if to ask what was going on.
“I sent you those emails, Jonathan. Thank you for coming all the way here to meet me.” (EN: No honorifics. I think the author was making the point that Jonathan was Sunhoo’s friend in his past life, and following American societal norms, by using his first name, he’s making Jonathan think Sunhoo is fairly close to his own age. And Jonathan forgot this was Asia, so he didn’t notice all the flags going off when Sunhoo left out honorifics. Silly Jonathan.)
Jonathan stared at me for a long time and covered his face with his hands. He sighed in despair. He did not move his hand as he stared at me through his fingers.
“I came here to bet everything on your prank. Do you know what you just did?”
Jonathan did not raise his voice, but I could see how angry he was only by his eyes. I knew them. He had those eyes as he glared at the monsters and mumbled that he would survive.
Jonathan stood up without saying a word and looked down at me. I felt the rage in his eyes, something that would kick me down and beat me until I stopped breathing.
“Does Wall Street judge people by their age?”
I answered, and that was when the waiter went back after coming to check our orders. This atmosphere was too tense.
“How old are you, eighteen? Twenty?”
“Someone will call the police if you continue to stare at me like that.”
I nodded to the counter, as the restaurant manager and the waiter were whispering about us there.
“You can go back, but it’s courtesy to give a gift to a guest who has flown across the ocean to come here.”
I took out an investment draft proposal I had written last night from the bag and handed it to Jonathan. He grabbed it out of my hands not to confirm the contents but to rip it apart in front of me. He gripped it with both hands to rip it apart before suddenly stopping because his fiercely glaring eyes noticed the chart on the report. I spoke again.
“Please sit down.”
“Today’s Asian financial crisis was inevitable as soon as the American government had let Asian countries borrow an infinite amount of American Dollars. They spoke of how the twenty-first century will be Asia’s and created the legend of the Four Asian Tigers. The hedge funds only placed their spoons in that.”
I used the spoon I was holding to mimic eating some food, and Jonathan nodded as he understood. He turned back to read my report from the beginning again.
“How is Wall Street?”
“What do you think?”
Jonathan replied in a distracted manner. However, the most important points were missing from the report no matter how many times he went over it.
I only showed the big forest in the chart, and the roots and branches were hidden beneath the leaves. The dates were missing.
“The trends will flow like that.”
I pointed to where the chart dipped again.
“You won’t tell me the dates until I sign? Well, you think that the attackers will be able to break the bhat.”
“Jonathan, you’re from Wall Street. Have you seen anything like this situation before seeing my report?”
Jonathan was unable to answer easily, and he would not be the only one. This was the day after the Thailand government had punched out the hedge funds, and the battle that had been considered one-sided now became uncertain.
That would be how Wall Street felt now, and it would last until the Thailand government announced their surrender on the coming July second.
Jonathan quieted down and flipped through the report. It was not difficult for me to piece together the process when I already knew the results. The traces of fierce battles occurring in the Thailand foreign currency market and the New York currency market were in the report, and I had organized the numerous charts and graphs to point to a single path.
It took less time than I had expected for Jonathan to arrive at a conclusion.
“The attackers will win if a certain condition is met…”
Jonathan stared at me, and it was clear he wanted to test me.
“I’m not the one that should be answering, Jonathan. You should, so I can decide whether you are someone I can work with.”
Jonathan laughed at that, and his face looked even refreshed now.
“Isn’t my money, my record, and my time not enough for you?”
“It’s enough if you want to step back from management, from being my true partner. Will you?”
Jonathan smiled as if he considered the question one that did not deserve an answer.
“I have bet everything. What are you betting?”
“Opportunity cost. How much do you think I would have earned if I had chosen someone else? Even as we speak, I’m losing money I could earn.” (EN: the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen. “idle cash balances represent an opportunity cost in terms of lost interest”.)
Jonathan stopped himself from replying, as he also knew the situation. Since everyone at Wall Street had bet on the baht falling, he knew that I could have earned an astronomical amount of money by betting on the opposite side.
“Haven’t you decided yet?”
“I need some time to think. In spite of everything, you’re…something else.”
“All right, I’ll wait until June third.”
I stood up.
“Hey, wait. Why June third?”
Jonathan also hurriedly stood up and even blocked me as if I would disappear like a ghost. His eyes followed my gaze to the report he was holding. He flipped the pages with a shout and put the report out to show me my estimated short-term baht exchange rate chart. Jonathan’s finger pointed to where the chart fell, where the short-term baht uptrend stopped. Since no one knew when the baht would stop rising in this situation, me telling him the exact date stunned him.
“This is June second, right?”
“Now, you only need to calculate how much we will lose until the date.”
“You can guess trends, but not dates. Unless you’re a god.”
Jonathan spoke firmly.
“Well, then you just might have met one.”
“Damn! I met a lot of people, but someone like you…”
“You have until June third, and if you cannot decide on then, I’ll think that our relationship is over.”
It was June third, and a mail arrived after a long lull.
-What do you think our company’s name should be?