Life, Once Again! - Chapter 453
There’s something called premonition. It is possible to predict the outcome of a business contract by looking at the face of the president of the business partner. Putting aside whether the business looked good or not, it was possible to see the success or failure of the contract purely based on intuition.
And right now, Maru saw the signs of success from the man in front of him. If he was working on some risky business, he would have to reconsider saying what was on his mind several times, but there weren’t any risks at all right now. What was needed here was the man’s courage and time. No one lost in this trade, and if things went well, it was likely to end on a good note.
The man faintly smiled and looked at the people dancing.
“I don’t think that place needs me right now.”
“You don’t know for sure. Don’t you have something you want to say?”
“Something I want to say?”
“Anything is fine. Every story is welcome here. This is not a stage that only welcomes funny and good stories. You saw what was written on the coffee cans, right?”
The man looked at the coffee can he was holding before nodding his head slowly.
“Then do it.”
“But it looks like it’s about to end.”
“There is no start or finish to a street performance. Is there?”
Maru pointed at where Ganghwan, Hanna, and the audience were. The man fidgeted with the can in his hands for a while before starting to walk. The direction? The stage.
Maru put the name tag that he put in his pocket around his neck again. Then he stood in front of the man. A rather old pop song was being brought to life by the strings of the guitar, while people were singing along and enjoying themselves. Maru pushed through that crowd like a servant serving his master. The man followed him at first but soon stopped in front of the wall of people.
He tapped on Ganghwan’s shoulders as he was letting his body go along with the music and pointed at the man. As Ganghwan was quick-witted, he seemed to have realized that Maru meant that it was the appearance of a new actor, and put his doctor’s gown on again.
Maru quickly unfolded the chair that was pushed to the side. At that moment, the audience seemed to have realized the change as they watched the stage with curiosity.
Maru called out to the doctor with the loudest voice he could muster. As Ganghwan was prepared, he naturally returned the act.
“I’m not going anywhere so calm down.”
Maru panted heavily as though he was out of breath. He managed to attract everyone’s attention with his exaggerated breathing. When he breathed heavily a few times, the stage became quiet. The musician at the center of the stage made way after a guitar stroke.
“Doctor. I was going home right after the medical exam, right?”
“I saw someone walking back and forth in front of the hospital.”
“But that person’s expression looked really heavy. That’s when I felt that he’s the person who needs your help the most.”
He snapped his fingers and waved his hand exaggeratedly. From the moment he went on stage, he had switched his internal variables to fit the play.
He looked around with eyes full of curiosity. He looked like a child looking for a four-leaf clover.
“And who am I? Am I not the person that sighs all the time because of my worries? When I looked at that man, I was so worried that I couldn’t go home. I stopped on the spot and wondered what I should do for ten minutes, and then I decided.”
“Decided on what?”
“To bring him here.”
Maru turned around and walked up to the man who was in the crowd. The man, who was still holding the canned coffee in his hands, had none of his resolute expression anymore and looked like he was hesitating. He was also taking steps back, as though to run away.
At that moment, what was reflected in Maru’s eyes was not a bearded man in his 40s, but a little child. Not any little child, but one that was struck with fear. The man who introduced himself as an actor seemed as though he was a child who was afraid due to doing a presentation for the first time in front of his class. There was no excitement. There was only the feeling of wanting to run away from this situation. Maru could vaguely understand why he said that the stage wasn’t for him and why he stopped several times while walking forward.
“I don’t think I can do it,” said the man in a small voice.
The can of coffee in his hands crumpled pitifully. Maru looked at the man, who looked like he was ready to run away, for a while before grabbing his hand tightly.
“Just one step. One step is all it takes. Once you’re on stage, leave everything up to luck. Who knows? You might end up telling a cool story. I’m not telling you to do well. I just… want to listen to your story.”
The gazes of the people looking their way became fainter and fainter. Interest dwindled. Maru could feel the concentration they built up until now being reduced. Ganghwan in his doctor’s gown was doing his best to preserve the atmosphere by telling some of his episodes, but that could only last a few minutes at best. The audience would start going home after thinking that the performance was over.
“But you have a lot to talk about, don’t you?”
“Still, it’s a little….”
“You don’t want to because the stage is too crude?”
“It’s not like that.”
“Then is it because the level of the people here is too low?”
“Then because you’re scared of the stage?”
“I don’t think an actor should go up to the stage with that kind of mindset.”
“How can you call someone an actor when that person doesn’t go up on stage? You must go up first to be called an actor, whether you’re evaluated well or not. We don’t call a person in the audience who’s good at acting, an actor, do we? Even if they’re just like a tree, that’s standing still, we call someone who’s up on the stage an actor. You called yourself an actor, didn’t you? Then you must come up to the stage at least. You must come up first and then see whether you’re a good one or not.”
Maru uttered his words to the man amidst the crowd that was laughing at Ganghwan’s play. Even he couldn’t understand why his emotions were stirred while he was speaking. At first, he was planning to use this man to his advantage to make the play successful, but now he was focused on putting this man on stage regardless of the success or failure.
He breathed out a heavy breath. The man was looking at Maru in a daze.
“Phew, I talked too much, didn’t I?”
“If you really don’t want to, then you can leave now. It’s your decision, so I guess I can’t force you to do something. Next time, if you have the opportunity, please come up. Sorry for taking up so much of your time,” Maru apologized.
It was really strange. This wasn’t something he should be emotional about. He should have chosen to persuade him with words or to provoke him and have this man stand on the stage one way or the other. But instead, he ended up being swayed by his own emotions and said neither of the two.
Why was that?
“Phew, alright. Whatever I make out of it, I should start at least. Even a young fellow like you knows it, geez. But don’t expect too much from me. While I did introduce myself as an actor, I’m actually nothing much,” said the man as he walked towards the stage.
When he stood in front of the audience, he breathed out every now and then and spent the first ten-plus seconds just standing still without being able to say anything.
No one seemed to mind him. Ganghwan also just watched without any signs of urging him to talk. Maru felt himself becoming more and more hurried as time went by. This was the first time he put so much emotion into someone else – Go on, talk!
He looked at the man desperately. The man made his presence known with a nervous breath before speaking out,
“U-u-uhm, can I have a w-word with you?”
He wasn’t ‘acting’ like he was shaking. He was truly shaking. If that was acting, then he would be god-level. The nervous voice was soon drowned out by the noise in the surroundings, but Ganghwan seemed to have caught his words.
“Looks like our final patient for the day is finally here. Well then, make yourself at home and come here. This place is a quiet one with just you and me.”
Hearing Ganghwan’s words, the murmurs in the audience died down magically. The man was incredibly fl.u.s.tered due to the sudden arrival of silence, but he did not run away. He slowly walked and sat down on the chair that Ganghwan provided.
“What was that about?”
Hearing a voice behind him, Maru turned around. Sooil was looking at the man on the stage.
“You looked like you were angry when you talked to him.”
“Who else? What happened between you and that man? I was nervous because I thought you got into a fight.”
“Was that what it looked like to you?”
“Was it not? I thought you were shouting because you were angry.”
Sooil shrugged before leaving at Hanna’s call. Maru looked at the man on the stage chair in a daze. Why did he act like that? He still couldn’t make anything out of that question.
The man coughed a few times before carefully speaking.
“Uhm, I hope you can understand even if I s-stutter a bit. I tried to fix it many times but I couldn’t.”
The man started telling his story by starting off with his immaturity. Maru crossed his arms and decided to watch for now. He would probably find out what made him so emotional if he watched on.