I Almost Worked for a Cult 31

Ridiculous Suggestions, an ending

An English language compound.

Run by Russians.

In Korea.

Close to the DMZ.

Nothing dodgy about that, eh?

That was the first solid offer we had received since turning down Cambodia. We almost accepted it too, until I was offered a seemingly more legitimate position. It would be a position that I ended up accepting too, and one where herself would come on board as well after a few weeks.

Ok, I got a bit ahead of myself here. Please allow me to use a flashback, within a flashback. (Jaysus, you’re being spoiled with narrative devices, wha?)

We’d been pretty much drifting around Seoul for the three weeks or so after our horrific experience with Sunshine Academy. It was a combination of PTSD, severe back pain, and chronic procrastination. A deadly combination, in fact. I hate to always go on about money, but believe me, eating out all day and renting rooms in guest houses has a way of eating in to your funds. We were almost in to the “let’s get the fuck out of here” fund, before herself had what seemed like a strange proposition.

Have you heard of couch surfing before? I hadn’t. Apparently (this is how it was pitched to me) it was like Air BnB, but there was no charge. You could stay in someone’s house, free of charge, either on a couch, blow up mattress, or bed if you were lucky. Herself really gave it the soft sell (tainted love!), but all I could think about was being murdered in my sleep and an embarrassing photo of me turning up in the national newspapers. It would be my confirmation photo as well. The one where I have a blonde bowl cut and a beige denim jacket and check shirt. That was the ensemble that earned me my MilkyBar Kid nickname in secondary school. I like that photo, but years of abuse has made me hate it.

I didn’t know at the time, because I’m not a fucking psychic, but this suggestion would end up introducing us to our saviour in Korea, and a friend for life. I won’t use his real name, I wouldn’t want to embarrass the man. He knows who he is.

Let’s just say he was a kindly Brit who took us in to his home, gave us some incredible support and advice, and didn’t make us convert to Protestantism, or steal our land, or make us give him our potatoes. He really looked after us while we lived in his home. In fact, he looked out for us for our entire time in Korea. I’m not a religious guy at all, but this dude was our guardian angel. A Spurs fan, and a grandmother from Monaghan, but sure nobody’s perfect.

We got to know his kids, his circle of friends, and the fun side to Korea. If we hadn’t have met him, we would have returned to Ireland with a very bitter and twisted vision of a country that wasn’t that bad actually. It wasn’t a utopia, but sure, where the fuck is?

We were staying in his house in Illsan when I received my legitimate teaching job. Our British benefactor helped us move to our new town, kit out our apartment, and help us settle in. We finally had a sense of security in our new home. After a few months of weirdness, we were about to embark on a structured, calm, and settled year teaching Korean kids English.

I just read that sentence back, and laughed out loud. The year teaching was more fucking mental than the first few months. I have so many fucked up, crazy and weird tales to tell you about my time there, but it’ll be under a different title, and at a different time.

And now, dear reader, we come to the end of I Almost Worked for a Cult.

Thank you kindly for reading and following these stories for the past few weeks. It’s been incredibly cathartic writing about this experience. Herself could only bring herself (grammar check loved that sequence) to read this a few days ago. She had forgotten about a lot of what happened. She said she had blocked it out, possibly as a coping mechanism. It was mad, wasn’t it? Or are we over-reacting? Nah, we can’t be. The whole thing was fucking insane.

It’s affected me in a few different ways, both positive and negative. It’s really made me question why religious groups have so much power and are allowed to operate with virtually no regulation. That’s a hot take, but just have a think about it. In Ireland their influence is still great, and in my opinion, it shouldn’t be. Telling people how to live their lives based on a racist, homophobic and misogynistic book that was written in the dark ages (allegedly) is fucking bizarre. It’s mass hysteria (pardon the pun). Anyhoo, yeah, it strengthened my mistrust of religious groups.

I never want to have to interact with a religious organization like that ever again. I don’t think they should be outlawed or anything, each to their own and all that, but I just don’t want to have any part in their fantastical nonsense. And I don’t want their fantastical nonsense to have any impact on me or the way I live my life, educate my future children, or how my country’s health service is run.

Also, it really made me more cautious in my decision making and less trusting of people. I suppose the trust thing is sad, but naïveté caused a lot of issues here, we weren’t entirely blameless in this situation! From the outside, a smiling calm Mr Yun would seem like a stand-up guy. But he wasn’t. He was a fucking maniac. A control freak. A bully. All concealed behind a wall of bullshit religious piety, that in a way put us in a false sense of security. I’m sure some other poor fucker was taken in by this act, and I feel terribly sorry for them if they were.

Where are they all now? Who knows. Preaching the good word to gullible poor people, I presume. Business as usual.

Anytime I stay down in Herself’s parent’s house in Tipperary and hear the boy racers doing dough-nuts at the cross in the middle of the night, I always assume for a brief second that it’s Mrs Joy, she drove her Integra all the way to Ireland, and she’s found us.

She’s sitting in that bucket seat, smoking a fag, patting the glock decorated with crucifixes that’s strapped to her leg.

I Almost Worked for a Cult 24

Doing a runner

We went out on to the street and tried to find somewhere for lunch. There was a Paris Baguette café just around the corner from the apartment. It served good coffee and questionable sandwiches. We had a couple of gorgeous caramel macchiato and some disgusting sandwiches.

The staff in the café were staring at us the entire time, texting on their phones. It was unsettling. I was convinced that they were cult members and were informing on us. WhatsApping Mr Yun.

We finished up and set off to find a PC Bang. I had seen one that morning across the road from the train station. We cautiously made our way there, keen to avoid bumping in to Yun or Joy.

Every PC Bang that we had ever been in so far in Seoul had been jam-packed. They were always full of teenagers quaffing energy drinks and furiously playing StarCraft or Fifa. This one was deserted. It was equipped with all the latest and greatest in PC gaming technology. Best of all, it had a functioning air-con system. Oh, the cool air. How I missed thee!

There wasn’t a sinner in the place, though. We approached the counter to see if there was a bell or something that we could ring to get attention, when a door to the rear of the room flew open and a large bald man wearing a Bluetooth headset came in and started screaming at us.

M – Hey, we need to use the internet. How much for one hour?

BM- No! Closed! No internet! Closed! No Internet!

M – Relax, ya big galoot!

He pushed us towards the front door. We obliged. Another cult member, I presumed.

Herself suggested that we climb the hill to find another establishment. The decision was made to walk in the opposite direction of the school and train station. Somewhere that hadn’t been infected by the cult.

We soon came to a kind of square, well an open space, littered with western style pubs and a load of teenagers with skateboards. There was a giant, bustling PC bang on the corner. We went in and paid the money to the friendly staff. Nobody passed any remarks on us. They were too engrossed in their gaming sessions to care that a couple of distressed looking foreigners had entered.

We took our seats at side by side machines.

M – Ok, let’s look at some temporary accommodation first. Something that we can pay for in cash if we need to.

H – Ok. Good idea. No harm having a backup. Let’s price flights as well.

M – Really?

H – No harm. We’ll cover all bases. Just in case.

M – Ok, cool.

We booked accommodation close to Ehwa women’s university in Seoul. It was fairly cheap. €50 for five days. Our flights home would clear us out, but it was a hit that we were prepared to now take. Our minds were made up. Anymore shit from Yun or Joy, and we were out of here.

Back to the Emerald Isle.

Back to the land of living in sin without judgement!

Next time: A dash and an injury

I Almost Worked for a Cult 18

Better put a ring on it

On the Friday morning of our first week, we were greeted by a very hoarse and pale Mr Yun.

He explained his condition before the morning prayer:

“You will have to excuse me this morning. I was partaking in a revival for the past few days. Mr Boyle will lead our morning prayers.”

Mr Boyle nodded graciously and prayed that God would heal Mr Yun’s voice. Yun smiled and took out a lozenge and popped it in his mouth, just to be sure.

How did I see this? Well, I had not been closing my eyes during “prayers” since the first meeting on Monday. Why? Well, I didn’t trust the cunts, that’s why!

I mean, this was a guy that was away for two days at a revival? A revival of what? Fucking Supertramp? This was evangelical shit. Events organized to convert (brainwash) new members of the church (cult) and bring them closer to Jesus (take all their money). No way was I closing my eyes around these lunatics!

After the meeting Mr Yun asked us to stay back. Great, I thought, more fucking wedding shit. He sat down in front of us.

“So guys, I think you should go out today and buy some rings for your wedding.”

Ha? Rings? Did this gowl fall off the stage at his revival and get a concussion?

“Excuse me?” asked herself.

Mr Yun chuckled “We can’t have a wedding without rings!”

I’d had enough of this bullshit. We were almost stone broke, in a strange land on the other side of the world, sitting in front of a smiling maniac who was suggesting that we buy rings for a wedding that we hadn’t fucking agreed to. If I had ever been exposed to a high concentration of gamma radiation as a child, it would be at this point that I’d have turned my purple trousers into rags with my exploding green muscles.

I put a hand up. “Listen Mr Yun, we are not spending money on rings for this so called wedding. We haven’t agreed to this. This entire suggestion is beyond ridiculous.”

Mr Yun inhaled, smiled, and turned around to herself.

“So, Mrs Joy has found a wedding dress for you and some nice shoes. Do you have time today to try it on?”

Herself blanched.

“A wedding dress? No, I do not have time to try on a dress. Please furnish us with our contracts and stop asking us to get married. It is not going to happen.”

Yun considered this. He took a step back and reloaded his brainwash shotgun with some guilt pellets.

“But everyone is invited. All the children are excited. All the teachers have prepared. You will get married before school and then teach your classes for the rest of the day.”

Wow. Way to upsell.

“You should not have invited anyone to a wedding or any event that we haven’t given consent to. You can go back to all these people and tell them it isn’t happening.” I roared.

The prick completely ignored me again and spoke directly to herself. It was an impressive technique to be fair. Don’t even acknowledge something that goes against your views. A proper fundamentalist.

“Your apartment will be ready tomorrow.”

Ah, he was using shock and awe tactics now. Clever.

“Mrs Joy will meet you in the morning and take you there.”

“And what about our contracts?” asked herself.

Yun waved his hand, “Talk to Mrs Joy about that, she looks after contracts.”

He turned to me.

“You look upset. What is wrong?”

Was this guy a fucking idiot, or just acting the bollox? I got up out of my seat to leave.

“I’ve work to do.” I walked out of the room and went straight to my classroom. It probably made me look like a petulant child, but I had to get out of there. I had such a strong urge to punch that man in the face. Give him a proper haymaker.

Herself followed me in to the room, locked the door and drew the blinds.

We had to hash this out immediately. Things had really gotten out of hand.

Next time: Crisis Talks

I Almost Worked for a Cult 18

Better put a ring on it

On the Friday morning of our first week, we were greeted by a very hoarse and pale Mr Yun.

He explained his condition before the morning prayer:

“You will have to excuse me this morning. I was partaking in a revival for the past few days. Mr Boyle will lead our morning prayers.”

Mr Boyle nodded graciously and prayed that God would heal Mr Yun’s voice. Yun smiled and took out a lozenge and popped it in his mouth, just to be sure.

How did I see this? Well, I had not been closing my eyes during “prayers” since the first meeting on Monday. Why? Well, I didn’t trust the cunts, that’s why!

I mean, this was a guy that was away for two days at a revival? A revival of what? Fucking Supertramp? This was evangelical shit. Events organized to convert (brainwash) new members of the church (cult) and bring them closer to Jesus (take all their money). No way was I closing my eyes around these lunatics!

After the meeting Mr Yun asked us to stay back. Great, I thought, more fucking wedding shit. He sat down in front of us.

“So guys, I think you should go out today and buy some rings for your wedding.”

Ha? Rings? Did this gowl fall off the stage at his revival and get a concussion?

“Excuse me?” asked herself.

Mr Yun chuckled “We can’t have a wedding without rings!”

I’d had enough of this bullshit. We were almost stone broke, in a strange land on the other side of the world, sitting in front of a smiling maniac who was suggesting that we buy rings for a wedding that we hadn’t fucking agreed to. If I had ever been exposed to a high concentration of gamma radiation as a child, it would be at this point that I’d have turned my purple trousers into rags with my exploding green muscles.

I put a hand up. “Listen Mr Yun, we are not spending money on rings for this so called wedding. We haven’t agreed to this. This entire suggestion is beyond ridiculous.”

Mr Yun inhaled, smiled, and turned around to herself.

“So, Mrs Joy has found a wedding dress for you and some nice shoes. Do you have time today to try it on?”

Herself blanched.

“A wedding dress? No, I do not have time to try on a dress. Please furnish us with our contracts and stop asking us to get married. It is not going to happen.”

Yun considered this. He took a step back and reloaded his brainwash shotgun with some guilt pellets.

“Bust everyone is invited. All the children are excited. All the teachers have prepared. You will get married before school and then teach your classes for the rest of the day.”

Wow. Way to upsell.

“You should not have invited anyone to a wedding or any event that we haven’t given consent to. You can go back to all these people and tell them it isn’t happening.” I roared.

The prick completely ignored me again and spoke directly to herself. It was an impressive technique to be fair. Don’t even acknowledge something that goes against your views. A proper fundamentalist.

“Your apartment will be ready tomorrow.”

Ah, he was using shock and awe tactics now. Clever.

“Mrs Joy will meet you in the morning and take you there.”

“And what about our contracts?” asked herself.

Yun waved his hand, “Talk to Mrs Joy about that, she looks after contracts.”

He turned to me.

“You look upset. What is wrong?”

Was this guy a fucking idiot, or just acting the bollox? I got up out of my seat to leave.

“I’ve work to do.” I walked out of the room and went straight to my classroom. It probably made me look like a petulant child, but I had to get out of there. I had such a strong urge to punch that man in the face. Give him a proper haymaker.

Herself followed me in to the room, locked the door and drew the blinds.

We had to hash this out immediately. Things had really gotten out of hand.

Next time: Crisis Talks

The Barber

A Short Tale of Horror

A Short Tale of Horror

There was a queue. Peter hated queue’s. His least favourite letter of the alphabet.

A stack of magazines and tabloid newspapers sat on top of the sturdy, low mahogany table. He wouldn’t be caught dead reading any of that basic drivel. As far as Peter was concerned it was just pointless small talk in print. These cheap publications did not deal with the real issues of the day.

He had a copy of this week’s Economist tucked under his arm. Peter was a socially conscious man and wanted to make sure everybody in his local town knew it. Sure, he was a country bumpkin, but he had spent time in the big city. He was better now. He had raised himself above his station – he would command respect. Peter adjusted his thick, non-prescription glasses and unfurled the crumpled magazine and began to read.

The barber called him to the chair just as he finished off an intriguing article on the worsening situation in Catalonia. He left his magazine on the table, removed his thick woolen jumper

“What can I do for you my friend?” drawled the barber in his broad country accent.

“I’ll have a number two on the back and sides, blend it in to the length on the top, keep the length on top please. Oh, and a beard trim, with scissors.”

The barber nodded and smiled and wrapped a tight smock around Peter’s shoulders.

An elderly man entered the shop, took a seat and picked up Peter’s copy of the Economist. Peter noticed this in the mirror as the barber worked on the side of his head.

“Sorry! Excuse me! That’s actually my own magazine that I brought from home!”

The old man raised a hand in apology and placed the magazine on the empty seat behind him. The barber gave Peter a look of disappointment, which Peter confused for jealousy.

“I have to bring that with me when I get my hair cut at home man, you know? I mean, the Mirror and the Sun? I couldn’t read that shite.”

The barber smiled. “Oh yeah? Why’s that?”

“It’s just so blaah! You know? Like, why would I care if some celebrity was doing coke off a midget’s head in a nightclub? That doesn’t concern me. I pay attention to the real issues. I pay attention to political situations in the world man, I pay attention to society. Leicester drew one all at Stoke? Who cares, man?”

The barber uh-huhed and ah-hahed, all the while working his razor on Peter’s head.

“People are starving in Sudan! Leo Varadkar runs half marathons? So what! Donald Trump is destroying America! These issues need to be paid attention to, you know?”

The barber grunted. Peter knew that he was educating the man. The barber placed his razor back on its hook.

“How’s the hair look?” he asked.

Peter turned his head from left to right. It was a fantastic hair-cut. If he did just as good a job on the beard, he’d be getting a tip, or maybe even a positive Google review.

“Perfect man!”

The barber took out his scissors from the sterilizing glass and commenced work on Peter’s balm-softened beard.

“What about people who read tabloids? What do you think of them?” asked the barber.

Peter mulled this over for a second.

“I feel sorry for them, man. They’re asleep, you know? They just live their mundane lives, not aware that there’s a whole world out there for them to explore and shape to their preference. They prefer to take it at face value. That upsets me, man.”

The barber nodded to the elderly man waiting for his hair cut. The old man got up, bolted the door of the barber shop and pulled down the blinds.

“Closing early?” asked Peter.

“Just not taking in anyone else until after I have my lunch. Now, I’ll just edge the rest of this with the straight razor.”

Peter was impressed with the authenticity of this beard trim. He couldn’t wait to tell his friends about this experience after work the next Thursday while sipping some micro-brewed nitro stout.

The barber finished off the shaping and asked Peter his opinion.

“I love it!”

The barber smiled. “Great, oh wait, I missed a bit!”

He grabbed Peter roughly by the hair, pulled it back and dug the blade deep in to Peter’s neck severing all his major arteries. The mirror was covered in blood. He turned to the old man, brandishing the razor with a manic grin on his face.

The old man chuckled, “Jaysus, you dragged that out Sweeney. Now, bring him downstairs and let’s eat. I’m starving!”

He took the copy of the Economist with him and threw it in the bin.

Check out some more chilling stories from The Gammy Eye here:

Sean Nós-feratu

Love, Vacuously

Three Short Tales of Horror

 

Sean Nós-feratu

A story, in rhyme, about respecting your traditions.

Waking up on a Sunday after taking a sup

I couldn’t move a muscle, couldn’t get up

The missus came in and said “Give up drinking ale!”

But conceded after my protests that I looked unusually pale.

 

Now, I’m not a man that gets into terrible states from drink

And my unusual condition this morning made me think

About anything strange or unusual that happened me last night

To make me awaken feeling like I’d eaten dog shite.

 

So, I was in the local with the regular blokes

And had six pints, no whiskey, and one or two smokes

I didn’t leave my pint unattended, so I know I wasn’t spiked

And I didn’t go to the chipper, so it wasn’t a burger that my insides disliked.

 

My energy levels were terrible, I felt unnaturally weak

It took a massive effort to reach the kitchen to wet my beak

Perhaps my tolerance for booze was beginning to wear out?

No that couldn’t be it, sure I’m a demon for stout.

 

I forgot about it for the next few days

And time passed quickly, my thoughts in a haze

Until the following dark Thursday night driving past the cemetery

I spotted a man in black, and he was staring straight at me.

 

My first reaction of course, was to beep the horn and wave

Never thinking it odd, that the lad was getting out of a grave

How do I know him? I put my brain through the wringer

Bejaysyus! That’s yer man from the other night! The Sean Nós singer.

 

He was in the local the previous Saturday and sang a couple of tunes

And I remember in the smoking area his lighter was made of bone, and decorated with ancient runes

I told him how his constant interruptions were being the ruination

Of the craic we were having in the pub, and my friends and I conversation.

 

Was it my imagination, or did his eyes then glow red?

Or is this the usual post hangover anxious build up of dread?

Perhaps he’s just one of those alternative trad reformers

That add gimmicks to their act to be more memorable performers.

 

Something didn’t feel right, I decided to call my spouse

But a stranger answered the phone. The cunt was in the house!

I stalled the car, it wouldn’t go in to the right gear

So I jumped out and ran, fueled by my fear.

 

When I got to the house my terror increased

The music of Foster & Allen was blaring, what is this strange beast?

I could barge in the door, or use tactics of stealth

But first things first, I had to arm myself.

 

What would be best, a close combat weapon, or one of range?

Or harness trad singers’ biggest fear – change?

I laughed at my joke, that lightened the mood

Then was sobered by the fact that my wife was being held captive by this dude.

 

So I picked up the closest thing to hand

An old wooden hurley, sure this’ll do grand.

I entered the house screaming my wife’s name

Throwing stealth out the window, to save my eternal flame

 

The beast appeared in front of me, a grin on his pale face

And raised his hands in welcome, as if he owned the fucking place.

Usually this is the part where the villain explains his motives and final plan,

But I didn’t have time to listen to his shite, I’m a busy man.

 

So before he had time to open his evil mouth

I swung the hurl as hard as I could and knocked him clean out.

When he fell, I ran to the sitting room and turned off the racket,

Then found my sobbing wife and wrapped her in my jacket

 

She was cold from fright, despite being tied up in front of the fire

Wouldn’t you be if you were attacked by a fucking vampire?

She was fine, she hadn’t been bit or hurt in any way

And I told her that we’d both live to fight, laugh and love another day.

 

But would you Adam and Eve it, I spoke too soon

The beast reappeared, making me feel like a goon.

His long fangs were bared and his cape billowed around his back

I thought, Jesus, such a load of hassle to go through every night for a snack.

 

He advanced on me, obviously revitalised from his brief rest

When all of a sudden the wife shoved a poker through his chest.

He disintegrated immediately into a cloud of dust

And I don’t want to admit this, but I suppose I must:

 

I’m now writing a Sean Nós song about the Vampire and how my wife was triumphant,

and if a trad singer interrupts the craic in the pub, it’s best to reserve judgement.

Because, it happened to me and could happen to you,

Be targeted for death by a dreaded Sean Nósferatu.

Three Short Tales of Horror

The Ageing of Youth

When it happened he was 22 years old. Up until that morning he had been content. He was a powerful, confident, young man. The world at his feet. 

He discovered it after his morning shower. 

A grey pube. 

Death had finally made it’s presence felt.


Flipped

The last Tuesday before Lent. Shrove Tuesday. It was Laura’s favourite day of the year. She bloody loved pancakes. All the ingredients were bought the day before. Eggs, nutella, marshmallows for the kids and lemon juice for her husband Brian.

Brian came down to the kitchen and yawned and stretched. ‘What are you making, Laura?’ Brian asked through the yawn.

‘Pancakes babe. Sit down and I’ll make you some.’

She would take Brian’s chilling reply to the grave.

‘No thanks babe. I think I’ll just have toast.’


Time to take out the bins

John hated doing the bins. It was the most annoyingly tedious job that he had to do in the house. Their driveway was a full kilometre and a half long and he had to drag the heavy wheelie bins down the rough gravel every Sunday night before the early morning Monday pick up.

One week he just couldn’t be bothered and he was fined the following week for an overweight load. Apparently one of the binmen had injured his back.

From then on John religiously dragged the bins to the road on Sunday nights. He wasn’t willing to risk another fine.

This week’s load was particularly heavy. They’d had a party the night before and someone had knocked over the crate for glass recycling. All the broken glass would have to be thrown out instead of being ethically recycled.

John reached the end of the lane. He pushed the bins into their slots and let out a sigh of satisfaction.

‘That’s it now for another week!’

It was at this point he was murdered by an evil clown.