Life, Once Again! - Chapter 319
Receiving the glare of others didn’t feel that good. Especially if that other person was a junior. Normally, Maru would look straight back and ask what was the problem, but he could only avoid her gaze for now. The entire cause was him.
‘I became a mindless old fool who decided to interrupt the business between two youths.’
Maru glanced at Jiyoon as he took a bite out of a piece of dumpling. She was pouting and was biting little pieces off the pickled radish. They met eyes just now and she had something akin to resentment in her eyes. Maru felt like he was sitting on a chair made of needles. When he opened the door, Jiyoon was about to say something to Daemyung with a flushed face. He just had to interrupt at that moment, so saying anything would be just an excuse.
“The dumpling is good. Where did you get them?”
Maru glared at Daemyung who obliviously just talked about dumplings. Seeing him stuff his cheeks with dumplings and drown himself in happiness, he felt even more sorry towards Jiyoon. It seemed that this guy didn’t even know what kind of situation he was in just now.
Someone sighed. Maru was sure that it was Jiyoon without even looking.
“Daemyung, are they good?”
“I see. You should eat some more then.”
He wanted to say something, but he couldn’t because he saw Jiyoon’s prickly glare. Maru made a bitter expression and spoke to Aram who was enjoying dumplings as well.
“You should have guarded outside.”
“We didn’t know you’d be back so early. We just went to get some drinks. No wait, if you saw that something was happening when you opened the door, you should have closed it immediately.”
“Our eyes already met, so it would be even stranger if I just closed the door without saying anything.”
“Anyway, it’s all your fault.”
Aram pouted as well. She looked like the sandcastle she painstakingly built had just been washed away by a wave. Of course, the wave was Maru. Maru scratched his eyebrows.
“Since it’s like this, let’s redeem it through the festival.”
Aram made a suspicious smile.
“Daemyung-seonbae. Have you decided on what to do for the festival?”
“No, not yet. I was planning to talk about it with you right now. If you have anything you want to do, please go ahead and speak.”
“We’re the acting club, so of course we have to do a play. Why don’t we give it a twist and do a play with a lot of ad-libbing?”
“A lot of ad-libbing?”
“Yes. Doesn’t that sound fun?”
“Well. If there’s no storyline, doing a drama at all will be hard. If we’re going to do a play, we should decide on the main storyline at least.”
“Nah, it’s a festival we’re talking about. It’s not a proper play but something we can all have a laugh over. How about it? Doesn’t it sound fun?”
Aram poked with her elbow. She was signalling Maru to help her out. Having no choice, Maru decided to speak.
“We should just decide on an ending and see how things go. How about it?”
“Really? Are you okay with that? Just because we’re the acting club doesn’t mean we have to do an act at all. If you have anything you want to do, then you should talk about it.”
It seemed that Aram had already signalled everyone as everyone said that an act would be good. Jiyoon also nodded.
“If everyone’s okay with it, then let’s go with a play. We don’t have that much preparation time, so we shouldn’t do anything too difficult.”
“We should do a romance!”
“Yes. It’s a festival, so there’s no need for tragedies. How about Romeo and Juliet?”
“That’s a tragedy though….”
“It’s fine because it’s an ad-lib. Please, please?”
Maru said ‘that sounds decent’. He could see what Aram was thinking. This was a scheme that was known to everyone but Jiyoon and Daemyung. Aram continued her story with an excited face. It was already turning into a ‘how to tease them perfectly’ rather than ‘how to tie them properly’, but it was the results that were important after all. As long as it went as she said, the two would definitely become closer.
“Let’s decide on roles now. Also, you should make a general plot. And then we should do the act! Sounds good, doesn’t it?”
“Al-alright. Everyone seems okay with it.”
“Then Jiyoon is Romeo and Daemyung-seonbae is Juliet.”
“Isn’t it the opposite? No wait, why am I Romeo in the first place?”
Only Daemyung and Jiyoon objected to that. Of course, the rest stayed silent since it was what they had agreed upon. It seemed that USS Aram had departed the port and couldn’t be returned. Aram was at the helm, so he decided to let it be for now.
“You did things like crossdressing competitions in middle school, didn’t you? Our school did. Did you not?”
“I guess that happened.”
“See? Just an ordinary boring play is no fun. Since it’s a festival, let’s twist things up.”
“But me as Juliet is a little….”
Daemyung smiled awkwardly as he spoke. At the same time, he was sending a desperate plea for help to Maru. His eyes were saying something along the lines of ‘help me’ or ‘save me’. Maru slowly turned away his head.
This is all for your own good.
Daemyung flinched and looked at Dowook next, but there was no way Dowook would help. Jiyoon was just looking into nowhere with a face that looked like she had given up. At that moment, Aram whispered into her ears, and Jiyoon’s expression slowly brightened up. Although the confusion was still there, it seemed that she had accepted it somewhat.
“I’m… fine with it.”
One of the main characters ended up accepting the role. Maru looked at Daemyung. The flow was unstoppable and Daemyung ended up accepting.
Though, the one that was the happiest was Aram.
* * *
“Have a safe trip back home!”
“See you tomorrow.”
They scattered in front of the school gates. After watching some of the members walk towards the bus stop, Maru got on his bike. He had to do some grocery shopping before going home. Today, pork neck was on sale. Making some kimchi-jjigae out of it would last two days at least.
“What is it?” He braked as he answered a call. It was from Bada.
That ‘oppa’ was spoken in a nasal voice. It was clear that she had a request.
-Yeah. Potato ones.
“I’ll buy them, so clean up the house for me.”
Just as he was about to start biking again after the call, his phone started ringing again. He thought that it might be Bada and put his ears against the phone. However, the voice belonged to a man.
-Can you take a call right now?
“Ah, yes. Byungchan-hyung.”
It was his manager Byungchan.
-Are you at home right now?
“No. I’m going back from school right now. We had practice.”
-I see. Which school did you go to again?
“Woosung Engineering High.”
-Then can you wait there for a moment? I’ll go pick you up.
“What’s this about?”
-Writing a standard contract. I hear that it’s not usually written, but the drama production company said that you should write a contract perhaps because of the president of our company. You just need to read the contract and sign it. It’s nothing complex, so it won’t take that long.
“How about you sign it in my…”
-That’s not good! Contracts are very important. It involves money, so you’ll be in big trouble if you have someone else do it. You should read them through carefully or else you’ll receive damages when you grow up. I’m giving you advice as someone who’s been in society longer than you.
“Okay then. I’ll be waiting in front of the school.”
Maru smiled as he hung up. He just probed him out to see how much he should share with this man. Although this might seem petty of him, Maru liked the fact that Byungchan tried to maintain basic principles. He was a reliable man as a partner that overlooked his business. As for his personality, Maru had seen enough in the Gukbap restaurant before, so he thought that he could ease his guard somewhat around him.
He turned around on his bicycle and returned to the school. Beneath the darkening skies, the school was a lot quieter than during the day. It would be noisy once again once tomorrow arrived. After he waited around 10 minutes while saying goodbyes to some of the teachers that left at this hour, a sedan with its headlights on stopped on the side of the road. It was Byungchan’s car.
“I’m late, aren’t I?”
“No. I didn’t wait for that long.”
Byungchan was wearing a hoodie and jeans and looked as tired as always. Maru got in the passenger seat.
“I had to drive around all day because of someone’s photoshoot, so I’m kinda tired.”
“You should’ve come tomorrow if it wasn’t anything urgent.”
“Nah. It’ll be easier for me to sleep at night if I get things done today. Here, read this for now.”
Maru took out the contract form within the envelope. It was only a single page, and it mentioned the involved parties, his payment per episode, his payment date, as well as a couple of lines of things he had to keep in mind. Since he was like a minor role that was more like an extra, the contract was simple as well. He could understand what Byungchan meant when he said it’s not usually written. He signed the two copies of the contract with his name in block letters at the bottom.
“Have you read over it carefully?”
“Then give it to me. I’ll send it over to them tomorrow. This one’s for you.”
Maru received the contract and put it inside his bag.
“Anyway, congratulations. I guess it’s your first contract.”
“You can’t ignore small contracts like this, because in the drama industry, actors are given a grade. If you join through open recruitment, then you’ll receive a grade immediately, but if you don’t, then these contracts are the basis of your grading. Right now, you have no tier, so you’ll only receive 50 thousand won per episode, but once you get a grade 6, your payment will multiply. If your grade rises and you get more experience, more and more people will look for you to hire as minor roles.”
Byungchan, who excitedly talked about it for a while, made a bitter smile. He, an aspiring actor himself, was explaining to him about actor-related work while working as his manager, so he must be feeling very complicated inside. Maru didn’t say anything until Byungchan had enough time to calm himself down.
“Oh yeah, have you had dinner?”
“Then let’s eat something then.”
“You should take out the company card at times like these, right?”
Byungchan made a satisfied smile. Maru messaged Bada that he might be a little late. Protecting a hard-working youth’s wallet was much more important than delivering some snacks for his sister. Byungchan hummed as he started the car.
* * *
He threw a pack of ch.i.p.s at his sister who rushed to the door as soon as he entered the house. Fortunately, she wasn’t annoyed or anything. She hugged the pack of ch.i.p.s like a bear would hug a honey pot and started eating it in front of the TV. After saying ‘you’ll gain weight’ in a small voice, Maru went inside his room. As he couldn’t just watch Byungchan eat without eating anything himself, he also ate a bowl of Soondae-Gukbap. He lied down on his bed feeling full and dazed out for a while before standing up again. His sister’s voice had gotten disturbingly loud.
He opened the door and looked at the living room. In front of the TV, his sister was calling someone. He perked his ears because he wondered if she was calling Dowook.
His sister looked quite agitated. Maru had a look at what was on the TV. It was talking about some news in the entertainment industry. After the host’s comment was over, the screen switched. There were a lot of journalists on screen as it seemed to be some press meeting.
He read the text on the top right. ‘The Five’s slave contract rumors – what’s the truth?’ was written on it. Idols? Now that he thought about it, Aram did mention something about The Five or whatnot. It seemed to be one of the topics that the four of them talked about after he and Bangjoo left to buy some dumplings.
“Who’s the bad one? Do the oppas have a problem?”
Are all the idols in the world oppa to you?
Maru quietly sat on the sofa behind Bada. At the table at the front were three men, and behind them was a banner that said ‘Soul Ent’. The journalists flashed their cameras at the three people that looked solemn. The speaker told the audience that the scene was from a press meeting that was held during the day.
Bada turned around. She seemed surprised that her brother was interested in this at all.
“Do you know those uhppas, oppa?”
She pronounced ‘those oppas’ with a weird pronunciation that was neither ‘o’ nor ‘uh’. Was this her way of acting cute?
“No. I’m just curious.”
Bada looked like it was Maru’s fault for not knowing who they were. Though he could ask Bada the same thing about knowing who the leader of the ruling political party was and he’d probably give her the same look.
“They’re called The Five. They’re the only idols that can compare with TTO oppas. Aah, they were cool.”
“But what, did a problem occur?”
His sister hung up after telling the other party that they should talk later. She seemed somewhat serious. Was she the president of their fan club or something?
“There is a problem. A big problem.”
“A bigger problem than your grades?”
“Do you want to die?”
“Sorry. So what’s it about?” Maru asked his sister for some explanation.
 Drama appearance contract. Not the first contract in his life. As for the movie, his company was the one handling that.
 Read the translator's thoughts for more details. But basically, 6 is the lowest grade you can get as an a.d.u.l.t (1~5 for child actors, 6~18 for a.d.u.l.t actors).