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Chapter 96 Part 1 - The Mysterious Art Museum

A street artist's life changed when he ended up at a mysterious art museum. DBT,Korean,Novel,Translation,Art,Artist,Slice of life,Poor to Rich,Mystery

A Painting for Them (10)

Two days later, in Jongno.


Winter had passed and early summer had arrived during the exhibition preparation period.


It had been a long time since I last visited an art gallery.


It had been over eight months since I met Henri.


Is his exhibition still ongoing?


Damn art gallery. They should at least announce it in advance.


They change exhibitions abruptly and sometimes extend them for a long time, so it's unpredictable.


If only they had a website, or even a phone number, I wouldn't have to visit in person.


"Phew, luckily it's still on."


The art gallery, still in the same spot, doing the same exhibition.


Looks like I can still meet Henri.


I quickly bought a ticket and went down to the basement.


Now, it feels normal for it to be empty.


Walking into the deserted gallery today, I sat on a rock sofa amidst grand music, waiting for Henri's painting. The painting that makes me dream. Until Henri's bed appears.


I waited for the painting in the most comfortable position I could manage.


And when the painting finally appeared, I closed my eyes, accustomed to the dizzy sensation.


**


Clopping, jingling.


The sound of a carriage on a muddy road, people in boots walking over puddles.


When I gently opened my eyes, I found myself standing on the grass next to a country road.


A carriage passed by, followed by two gentlemen walking. In this dream, too, I wonder if people can see me?


One of the two gentlemen talking to each other glanced at me. As seeing an Asian in this era's Paris was unusual, they looked at me curiously and nudged each other, gesturing towards me.


'I am visible again this time.'


I straightened my clothes and approached them on the dirt road.


"Excuse me, monsieur."


Somehow, I can communicate with people of this era. The gentlemen were surprised to hear me speak their language.


"French?"


"No."


"Did you come by ship? To where, Spain?"


Henri asked similar questions. I evaded them.


"Yes, that's right. May I ask you something?"


"What is it?"


"What year is it now?"


"..............."


It's a trivial question. But think about it. If someone came up to you on the street and instead of asking for directions, asked what year it was, you'd find them strange, too.


"It's 1899."


"Oh, is that so? And where is this?"


The two gentlemen looked at each other and then up and down at me, as if I were a madman.


"Neuilly-sur-Seine, on the outskirts of Paris."


"Ah, thank you."


The gentlemen, startled by my deep bow, a rare sight in Europe, quickly walked away. They probably thought I was not sane.


But I couldn't worry about their reaction.


I had guessed what might be happening to Henri based on the information they gave.


'1899, Neuilly-sur-Seine. This must be when Henri was hospitalized for alcohol-related mental illness.'


Oh no! I forgot to ask for the location of the mental hospital.


I waved my hands frantically and chased after the rapidly departing gentlemen.


"Excuse me, monsieur! Where is the mental hospital?"


The gentlemen ran away in horror.


"Ahh!"


"He's mad!"


No, I'm not saying I want to be admitted there. I need to visit someone.


Chased away like a mad dog, the gentlemen ran off.


I stopped in my tracks, daunted by their monstrous glares.


"Damn."


Where do I find a mental hospital in Paris in 1899?


I caught my breath from the chase and looked around.


I could see a few buildings in the distance. Like in Joseon at that time, even in a large city, a short distance outside the city limits was completely rural. Paris was no different. If I head towards where there are buildings, I should find people. Then I can ask again.


A building resembling a Greek temple.


I stopped looking for passersby to ask directions and instead headed towards the building, noticing a sign carved into a stone panel of the building.


'Folie Saint-James Asylum'


Folie Saint-James Mental Hospital.


I don't know which mental hospital Henri was confined in.


But it's unlikely that there are two mental hospitals in such a rural area.


I should have studied more before coming here. Let's just go and see.


As I enter the hospital, a woman dressed as a nurse in the cozy lobby looks at me and is startled. It's the same unfamiliarity with an Asian, now a familiar reaction to me.


I straightened my posture and asked.


"Excuse me. I've come to visit a friend who's admitted here."


The nurse, surprised once again by my fluent French, quickly realized my request and began looking through the charts.


"What's your friend's name?"


Phew, I never thought I'd actually have to say this long name.


"Comte Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa."


Damn these nobles with their long names.


Unlike modern hospitals where a PC search would suffice, the nurse flipped through charts to find the room number and then handed me a document.


"Room 303. Please write your name and signature for the visitor's record."


"············"


Hmm, signing is fine, but what about the name? Maybe I should just write it in English?


I wrote my name in English and added the signature I created, then handed it back to the nurse.


After checking my name, the nurse asked.


"Are you from the Netherlands?"


I get this question a lot. The Ban surname isn't common in Korea, but in Europe, it's always assumed to be Dutch.


"No, I'm from another country."


The nurse seemed to want to ask more but then nodded.


"You said he's a friend?"


"Yes."


"Let's go together. But if he doesn't recognize you, you cannot visit."


"Okay."



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