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  • Supernova
  • Thomas Lee (bio)

Eugene could see nothing wrong with Michelle, though she insisted on suing her plastic surgeon for ruining her face. Blessed with delicate, high cheekbones and a regal nose, his potential client looked like a model for an Asian cosmetics company.

“Look at the folds over my eyelids. They are uneven,” she said as she inched her face closer to his.

Every young woman Eugene knew in New York’s Koreatown had little epicanthic folds surgically implanted over their eyes to make them look rounder. It was usually the first of many surgeries they had done in their teens and twenties so they could look like cover girls. He stared at Michelle’s face as closely as comfort would allow, but couldn’t see a difference between the right and left eyelids.

Eugene said, “I’m sorry. They look the same to me. I can’t sue if I don’t see how you were damaged.”

“They are clearly different. The left one is longer,” she said as her eyes started to tear. “That old doctor ruined me. I want to be an actress, but how can I be on TV with uneven eyelids?”

Already late for lunch with his sister at a fried chicken joint on Fifth Avenue, Eugene didn’t want to waste another minute on this girl. Though the flowery scent wafting off her wavy, light-brown hair aroused him, he tried to usher her toward the exit. He often [End Page 57] spent time with young K-town ladies as attractive as Michelle, but after work, not during. He assured her, “I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

“You have to take my case,” she pleaded.

“I’m not the only lawyer around. Perhaps . . .”

“Everyone else in K-town already turned me down,” she said apologetically. Despite only being 32 years old, Eugene started a solo practice near K-town the year before, thinking he knew enough law to thrive on his own. However, since most Koreans did not trust a lawyer as young as he was, he had only been able to land a handful of minor personal injury cases and was under a pile of debt.

“He said I’d feel perfect. That I’d be a star. But I feel ugly, so he lied,” she groaned as she started to cry with babyish shrieks in the middle of his disheveled office. Recalling some fuzzy concepts from law school, Eugene thought the doctor might have broken a verbal contract with the girl, perhaps enough for the bare beginnings of a case.

Eugene sighed, “I’ll look into it, okay? Let’s set up a meeting for next week.”

In the sultry heat of mid-August, Eugene strode through two bustling avenue blocks to the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 32nd Street. He had grown a bit stout from eating oily K-town delivery at his desk and could feel his sweat seeping into his Brooks Brothers suit. Passing several attractive young Korean women whose faces looked surgically altered, whether with rounder eyelids, reduced jaws or pinched noses, he thought about taking Michelle’s case. If Korean girls came to him every time they felt insecure about their cosmetic surgeries, he might be able to turn his practice around and eventually become K-town’s premiere attorney, as he had always dreamed.

“Nice. Leave your little sister waiting where everyone stares at her like a freak,” Claudia said when he arrived, as she dropped her cigarette on the sidewalk and entered the briskly air-conditioned restaurant. [End Page 58]

To his surprise, she had shaved her head clean since he had last seen her a month ago. Since she barely covered her muscular body in a wife-beater and torn jean shorts, she was asking for stares in K-town, Eugene thought. He kept that sentiment to himself, however, not wanting to set his sister off into one of her tirades about how sexist Koreans are.

“I couldn’t help it. A crazy new client,” he said.

“What ambulance did you chase now?” she asked with a smirk. She had an angular face that was untouched by makeup or plastic surgery...


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pp. 57-69
Launched on MUSE
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