Life, Once Again! - Chapter 350
He was the man that he saw back then during the camera test for Twilight Struggles. He was number four. He didn’t know the man’s name though. He tested first and was notified of his failure first as well. The reason he remembered him was because this man sighed his way until the end of the test. He sighed so much that it almost disturbed him. He couldn’t just tell him not to sigh since he was so depressed and tried to ignore him as much as possible, but that didn’t mean that the man left a good impression on him.
“Did you pass the audition back then?”
“I knew it. I knew you’d pass. The judges all seemed bored when the other applicants acted, but they were busy talking to each other and looking at the monitor when you were the one acting.”
“I was lucky.”
“Luck, huh. Luck is definitely a big factor. It would’ve been good if I was a little lucky back then too.”
He spoke in a self-loathing tone before becoming quiet with an awkward smile. Although the conversation ended, Maru did not see the need to continue the conversation so he stayed still. The man’s greeting was neither welcome nor distasteful. He just replied because the other party acted like he knew him.
He scratched his head.
“Sorry, I acted too familiar, didn’t I?”
“No, it’s fine.”
“Really? That’s good. Haa, I feel frustrated just thinking about what happened back then. I can’t understand why I wasn’t able to show everything I got. I mean, I showed them less than half of what I had.”
“People just have their bad days. On bad days, you won’t be able to do anything no matter what you want to do.”
“Right? Oh yeah, did you shoot after that?”
“Then did you watch senior Park Taeho’s acting?”
“I haven’t seen him acting. I was only a minor role, so I only shot for one day.”
“I see, that’s such a pity. I wanted to see him in action too. I got into acting after seeing him in a movie while I was in middle school.”
“It’s set to be released at the end of the year, so you’ll be able to watch it soon.”
“Watching it at a cinema and seeing him in real life is different, you know? I want to watch how he gets into acting. Oh, how was the shoot? I’ve never been to a movie shooting set before. I’ve always been a background role in dramas.”
“It’s not that different from drama sets. There are just more lights and cameras compared to dramas.”
“But there’s the atmosphere. Or should I call it pressure? I feel like there are things like that.”
After talking for a while, the man made an expression as though he made a mistake.
“I acted too familiar because it was too nice to see you. I’m twenty-one. I’m older, right?”
“Yes, you are.”
“Can I drop the honorifics?”
“Then I will. Actually, I had a hard time after I dropped out of the audition. My acting skills are quite good, so my academy and my parents support me a lot, but I felt too embarrassed when I failed that audition even though I assured them that I’d pass. That’s why I started taking background role part time jobs. But curiously, I didn’t become nervous at all when I stood in front of the camera. The producer complimented me for my acting as well. Fortunately, there was someone who saw me in a good light, and I was able to get a minor role quite frequently in dramas. Last time, I took a role as a reenactment actor. You know about ‘Surprises in the World’ that airs on HBC, right?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Did you see the episode last week?”
“I don’t watch TV that much.”
“That’s a pity. Try watching it next time. It feels somewhat wrong for me to say this, but I think I did better than the young actor that came out before me.”
The man grinned. Maru just said some words to fit the situation.
“That’s good, you caught someone’s eyes. Now all that’s left is to climb your way up.”
“Haha, you flatter me. This is just my prediction, but I might get a support role in the near future. A producer I know said that he’ll contact me if he remembers to.”
Maru wordlessly smiled at the excited man. Contact him if the producer remembers, huh. That just sounds like ‘let’s hang out one time’. Nothing good would come out of popping his big dream, so he just congratulated the man. Also, Maru thought that if he was the producer, he’d never contact him. It was better to distance people that blabbed about things that they shouldn’t talk about.
“Ah, I might have passed if I was in good condition back then. I was really confident, you know? What role were you applying for?”
“Me too. It’s such a pity. The academy had high hopes for me but I just had to go and make a mistake. Haa, like what you said, I wasn’t lucky. I would’ve passed if I was lucky too. Of course, I don’t mean that you would’ve failed instead. Since you did well too. I’m just saying that it’s just a little bit of a pity.”
The man seemed to want to defend his mistakes that day. He kept saying that he would be able to do well if he was given another opportunity. There were many people in the world like this: ones that still give meaning to what happened in the past and could not get over past events. While he understood their feelings, there was no benefit from doing so. The only thing that remained was tragic self-consolation and meaningless fantasy.
When the conversation halted, Maru looked at the script again. He was pretty much signalling the other party that they should just mind their own businesses, but this man didn’t seem to be any good at reading the mood. He started talking again. Maru just stared at that man. The man seemed to have felt that Maru’s gaze wasn’t normal and stopped speaking.
“You’ll do well. If you do become famous, don’t forget about me. Now then, if you would please excuse me, I have to look at the script. I don’t have a good brain so I have to keep reading the script.”
It had been quite a long time since he felt tired just by listening to someone else. He remembered that one of his superiors in his previous life was like that. That superior always complained about his life whenever he ate with someone. When that superior wanted to eat dinner together, at least one of the members always killed off a distant relative and excused himself so that he could go to an imaginary funeral. It was quite funny, but it wasn’t something to laugh about.
He completely memorized the script after reading it about two times. He could even remember the directions. He took out a pen and wrote down his own interpretations on the side. Based on those interpretations, he created a general outline for his acting. This kind of work was necessary in order to provide the kind of acting requested by the producer immediately.
It would be good if he could mesmerize the producer with his own acting, but in the case of minor roles, most of the time, they had to act as requested by the producer. If he just acted as he wished to, the producer would just shake his head and say one thing: ‘get him out’.
Maru closed the script. He had no intentions of investing more energy than necessary. The man that talked to him non-stop had gone to someone else and started talking to them. A group had formed in this short time. Three men and two women. They formed a harmonious atmosphere. The others also started approaching the group. Since a pivot had formed in the group of scattered people, it was natural that people were gathering. Moreover, their waiting time was getting dragged out, so they needed someone to talk to in order to relieve their boredom.
“I’ll talk to him for you. It’ll probably work you know? Oh, you too, noona? Yes, of course. Trust me.”
The man gave out blank cheques and people gathered around him. It was just like he was the Pied Piper of Hameln. That was much better than just awkward silence. While the man boasted of his glib tongue to everyone else, Maru looked for an empty seat. Just then, he saw that a seat next to the window was vacant. He was about to go and sit down when a girl that stood in front of the seat caught his eyes. When he stared at her, the girl pointed at the door. When Maru followed her finger and looked at the door, the girl sat down. Then she grinned. It was the smile of the victor.
He chuckled in vain. Just then, the man sitting next to her stood up and entered the group. The girl kindly pointed at the empty seat.
“There’s a seat.”
He could see that. He sat down for now. The girl took out an MP3 player and put earphones on. Maru also took out his MP3 player and started listening to some music. He was listening to TTO’s music per his sister’s recommendation. Just then, someone tapped on his shoulder. When he opened his eyes. The girl gestured to him to take out his earbuds.
“Uhm, excuse me, do you have any spare batteries?”
He ignored her and was about to put the earbuds back in.
“Then can we listen together?”
“No, we can’t.”
“Don’t be like that.”
The girl seemed to be around his age, or perhaps in her early twenties. She asked in a pleading tone. If he was listening to music with speakers, he would’ve just said ‘go ahead’, but earphones were another matter altogether. He said ‘sorry’ before he closed his eyes again, but before he did that, he saw that the girl’s hands were shaking. Noticing that, the girl tried to stop her shaking with the other hand, but even the other hand was shaking.
It was quite a contrast with her leisurely expression.
“No, it’s fine. You can listen to it by yourself. I’m fine, I’m fine.”
The girl opened the script with a smile.
Maru watched her for a moment before putting his earbuds back in and closing his eyes. Just as another song was nearing its end, he heard a tapping sound. When he opened his eyes, he saw that the girl was tapping on the floor with her heels. She clearly looked fl.u.s.tered as she was biting on her fingernails as well. When he met eyes with her, the girl smiled, stopped tapping on the floor, and took her hand out of her mouth as well. She was looking at the script as though nothing was happening, but her eyes were shaking nonstop. She was clearly not able to focus.
He sighed slightly. She wasn’t in a state he could ignore. She looked like she was about to start tap dancing so he pulled out his earbud from one ear and offered it to her.
“Listen to this and calm down.”
“Then stop shaking your legs.”
“It doesn’t act like how I want it to.”
“Then listen. Don’t you calm down when you listen to music?”
After hesitating, the girl received the earbud with a bold expression. After seeing that the girl put the earbud in, he closed his eyes again. The song changed and it was another song by TTO. He wondered just how many TTO songs his sister put in here.
“You like TTO?” The girl asked.
Maru opened his eyes and shook his head. However, the follow-up ‘why?’ didn’t come. She nodded as though she accepted it.
Now that she had some music, the girl neither shook nor tapped on the floor. She just read the script and said a few of her lines. To describe the fierceness of the competition, each minor role had a line or two. They were mostly ‘sorry’, ‘give me another chance’ or ‘I’ll do it again’.
“Please give me another chance. I’m really confident in this dish.”
The girl spoke her line in a desperate tone. Although she was shaking before, she was actually quite good at acting. After repeating the same line a few times with pleading eyes, the girl sighed in exhaustion.
“It’s strange, isn’t it?”
“No, you’re good.”
The girl closed her script and closed her eyes. Maru also crossed his arms and closed his eyes. He found a small silence amidst the group of chatting people. He hummed to himself the melody of the song as he spent his time.
“It’s real. Hey, didn’t I fail Twilight Struggle’s audition by just a small margin?”
Mr. Number Four smiled and asked him a question. Maru raised his head and looked at the group of people. They were all waiting for an answer. It seemed that Mr. Number Four had gotten a good position in the group. Maru scratched his brows and spoke.
“Yes, you did fail by just a small margin. You were just unlucky.”
“See? If I was just a little bit luckier back then, I would be on the shooting set right now. Though I did get acknowledged in dramas, so there isn’t a big problem. So don’t be down everyone and cheer up. I also didn’t get a lot of trust at first, but when I continued doing it, people started to take care of me.”
The man had him affirm that it was due to luck that he didn’t pass, not skill. Maru could say that as many times as necessary if he could get consolation from it. After all, it wasn’t like it would do him any bad. He just wanted the man to stop bothering him. If he asked the same question next time, Maru just might end up replying cynically. He didn’t have a big heart after all.
“Luck is also a skill.”
When the man led everyone away, the girl, who had been staying still the whole time, spoke.
“Don’t you think so?”
“Why didn’t you tell him then? That he failed because of his skills.”
“Why would I do that?”
“Why? Doesn’t it make you feel better?”
“I don’t know. We’re not that close for me to be so kind to him. I’ll just gloss over it.”
Maru smiled and spoke in a small voice as he looked at Mr. Number Four.
“If I tell him right now, he might realize his mistake. If I stay still at times like this, he’ll make the same mistake in other places as well. And that might end up costing him something important.”
“…You, you are a bad one.”
“Can I have my earbud back then?”
“No, I was wrong. Sorry.”
Then she closed her eyes.
Maru sighed and took out his phone. His waiting time was nearing an hour at this point.