The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage chapter 59

The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage

“Hmm.”

Kang Tae-han peered at his smartphone with a look of interest. On the screen was a message from Chae Eun-bi.

[Oppa, I passed the preliminaries! I even ranked first in my group haha]

[I decided to participate to get a feel for the competition again, but things went better than expected and I made it to the main round~ Now that it’s come to this, I’m contemplating whether to start my pro career right away!]

Below the message was a photo of Chae Eun-bi, holding a golf club and smiling brightly. Her cheerful expression was a sight to behold, but the pristine white sun cap, tied-back hair, and the vast grassy field in the background complemented her image so well, it was a delight to look at. It was as if she had returned to where she truly belonged.

“I knew she had talent.”

Although Kang Tae-han wasn’t deeply knowledgeable about golf, he had always been aware of Chae Eun-bi’s exceptional skills from the first time he saw her play. It was only her back pain that prevented her from fully showcasing her abilities.

That was precisely why he had approached her, offering unsolicited advice and assistance to assess her condition. It seemed a waste to let such talent languish over a minor issue.

“Still, I didn’t expect her to achieve success so quickly.”

He had thought that once her back pain was resolved, she would soon regain her true form. However, the actual results were beyond his expectations.

Kang Tae-han let out a small exclamation of amazement, feeling inwardly proud. Seeing someone improve after his treatment was a satisfying moment for him as a massage therapist.

‘If it’s the preliminaries, then the main round must be next.’

He didn’t know the exact structure of the professional golf world, but passing the preliminaries likely meant the main round was up next. There, he might be able to offer further assistance.

Kang Tae-han typed a message suggesting, ‘Come in for a massage before the main round,’ and set his smartphone aside.

“It should be about time.”

He glanced at the pot on the gas range. He had boiled it on medium heat before letting it simmer gently on a low flame. Inside the pot was the rice he was cooking for his dinner – a method often referred to as pot rice.

The charm and challenge of pot rice lay in not knowing if it’s perfectly done until the lid is lifted. Nevertheless, having plenty of experience with cooking rice over an open fire, this was a simple task for Kang Tae-han.

“It looks like it’s done.”

He turned off the stove and retrieved a plastic container from the fridge, filled with deodeok (lance asiabell roots) marinated in a spicy red sauce. The key to pot rice is allowing it to steam properly.

Timing the grilling of the seasoned deodeok to coincide with the steaming of the rice was part of Kang Tae-han’s plan. After lightly oiling a pan and heating it, he placed the deodeok on it. Letting it cook gently on low heat would do the trick.

Once the deodeok was grilled, he placed the pan on a trivet and returned to attend to the pot. Now was the moment to check the results.

As he carefully lifted the lid, an aroma wafted through the air,

“Indeed, the scent of autumn pine mushrooms is truly delightful.”

The fragrant scent of the dense pine mushrooms mingled with the steam and the nutty aroma of the freshly cooked rice. Just the smell alone felt like tasting a spoonful of pine mushroom rice.

When he fully removed the lid, torn pieces of pine mushrooms nestled amongst the fluffy white grains came into view. Kang Tae-han mixed the contents evenly with a rice paddle before transferring it to a bowl, along with some prepared soy sauce for seasoning, and brought it to the table.

“Looks promising.”

During his time exploring the mountains, Kang Tae-han had spotted several areas where pine mushrooms grew. He had waited until they were the right size before harvesting a few.

Pine mushrooms can be finicky to grow, so the yields weren’t large, but there was enough to share with his father and for himself.

“Now, let’s give this a taste.”

He first tried a spoonful of the steamy pine mushroom rice without any accompaniments, letting the intense mushroom flavor burst forth upon entering his mouth. The slightly bitter, fragrant aroma coupled with the savory rice grains, enhanced by the umami of the kelp broth used as the rice water, made its presence known.

“As expected, it’s excellent.”

Pine mushroom flavors may not be for everyone, but for those who enjoy it, there’s nothing better. Especially autumn pine mushrooms—a delicacy among delicacies. Even without any sides, cooking rice with them is enough to create a superb special dish.

Moreover, the rice was infused with a rich spiritual energy. Naturally absorbing the essence from the pine roots and soil they grow from, these mushrooms from Mount Yeong, too, were steeped in spiritual energy.

‘This is practically a spiritual elixir.’

A delicious elixir with an exceptional aroma, indeed, it was the icing on the cake.

After stirring in a bit of the seasoned soy sauce, Kang Tae-han brought a second spoonful to his mouth, taking a bite of the grilled deodeok along with it. A contented smile graced his face.

* * *

A few days after Jo Chan-hyuk’s visit to the shop. There weren’t many customers present at the time, but the aftermath of his visit was spreading much faster and wider than expected.

[A friend recommended this massage place last week, and I saw Jo Chan-hyuk getting a massage here yesterday. Totally legendary #MassageHeaven #SawACelebrity #BookedImmediately]

[I thought the master course was too pricey and had to be booked at least two weeks in advance, but after seeing Jo Chan-hyuk, I booked it right away lol #MassageHeaven···]

[The shop itself is nice, but the masseur Kang Tae-han is unbelievable. Never experienced healing like this. If you’re always…

Highly recommended for those who work late.]

While it had been occasionally mentioned on social media already, once the keyword ‘Cho Chanyuk’ was added, the level of discussion skyrocketed. The mention rate suddenly increased several times over, as if adding others’ testimonials to the mix. Perhaps as a result, the number of customers visiting the massage shop had jumped to twice its usual amount. Even though the sauna in the bathhouse was already quite popular, the lobby had become noisily crowded.

“This shop doesn’t usually have a shortage of beds…”

Choi Seonghyun murmured to himself as he surveyed the lobby with a puzzled tilt of his head. Outside peak times such as weekends or after work, there hadn’t been a situation where they turned customers away due to a lack of beds. But now it was 4 P.M., not a peak time, yet they were still having to send customers away due to the shortage.

“Do I need to make a reservation to be seen by Teacher Kang Taehan?”

“Yes. The Artisan Course requires a reservation.”

“That can’t be helped. Then, I’ll just take the regular massage.”

“The thing is, right now we don’t have any slots for a regular massage either. You’ll have to wait about 30 minutes.”

“Hello, this is the massage shop. Reservation for Teacher Kang Taehan’s Artisan Course? Currently, we’re fully booked up to three weeks from now. The weekend? For weekends, you have to check next month.”

With so many customers and a surge of reservation inquiries, the counter that typically had one person manning it now had two handling customer service.

“Just sitting still we’re this busy; I wonder how much busier we’d be if we had a signed photo of Actor Cho Chanyuk.”

It was busy enough with the rumor spreading through social media, but if there was actually a signed photo in the shop for authentication, the situation would have worsened.

“The response is more intense than expected.”

“Well, messages spread through SNS do have a significant impact these days.”

Especially since the posts spreading were not promotional posts for advertising or events, but voluntary posts by people, the effect was much greater. That kind of thing was always obvious at a glance.

“With things like this, you’ll have to be even busier.”

“I can’t be busier than this.”

Kang Taehan shrugged his shoulders as he spoke, and he was correct in his assertion. Since his arrival here for the first couple of weeks, he had never been without clients.

“That’s why you need to improve your skills quickly.”

“Me?”

“Yes.”

Taehan chuckled and turned his head back towards the lobby. There were still many customers waiting for their turns, either sitting or queuing at the counter for reservations. The capacity to accommodate them was sustainable for now, but there was inevitably a limit to a massage shop attached to a sauna.

‘Maybe it’s time to start thinking about the next step.’

As Director Hwang had occasionally worried, there had been many recruitment offers for Taehan. Offers with improved conditions, promises of guaranteed salaries – but they always came with strings attached. A minimum commitment of 1 to 3 years to the hiring venue. Being bound to another person wasn’t appealing to him. In Taehan’s mind, if there was a time to move, it would be when he opened his own shop to become independent.

‘It would be helpful if Seonghyun came along.’

Though he wouldn’t have anything to say if Choi Seonghyun chose not to follow, Taehan knew his character quite well through their long acquaintance and believed Seonghyun would certainly join him. The massage techniques and tips Taehan had been teaching him weren’t just out of kindness but also in preparation for such a future venture.

“What’s wrong?”

Suddenly looking at Choi Seonghyun, who promptly asked in a disgruntled tone as their eyes met, “What is it?”

“Just now, your look had a bit of a scheme going on. As if you were looking at a diligent employee?”

Choi Seonghyun always had a strange talent for sensing things, but Taehan just shrugged his shoulders and replied with a calm voice.

“You must be imagining things.”

“I don’t think so.”

Ignoring Choi Seonghyun’s suspicious gaze, Taehan re-entered the waiting area. Then, his smartphone vibrated.

‘…Director Park Hoyeon?’

This was the same person who had been present during his first meeting with Mr. Jo Wonho, and also the director of the hospital where Shin Junho was hospitalized. After that day, there hadn’t been any direct contact… so for that person to get in touch meant something important must have come up.

Although Taehan typically didn’t take calls during work hours, preferring to text, he decided to step outside to take this call.

“Hello?”

[Ah, Taehan. I’m sorry for interrupting during work. Do you remember who I am?]

“Of course, Director Park.”

[Haha. I’m relieved you remember.]

Park Hoyeon’s laugh was small and devoid of energy.

[Anyway, do you have any plans to come down to Daejeon?]

“Daejeon… I’m planning to go there tomorrow.”

Today was Tuesday. There wasn’t any specific appointment in Daejeon for the next day, but he had planned to visit to bring his father some homemade balloon flower root syrup, as he did weekly.

[I know it’s a lot to ask… but I was wondering if… could you possibly make a brief visit to our hospital this evening? I will certainly, definitely provide compensation.]

Taehan paused to think for a moment. Asking for a visit in the evening was already an imposition, but more importantly, it was about the matter that would follow. A simple visit wouldn’t mean anything without a specific purpose.

“May I ask why?”

That’s why Taehan asked this question before answering yes or no. Park Hoyeon hesitated for a moment before responding.

[It’s about a matter concerning my parents. It might be an impossible request to you, but as a son, I just want to do everything possible to fulfill my mother’s last wish.]



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