Life, Once Again! - Chapter 777
A wall had formed between the signature white tiles of the hospital and the rough flooring of the warehouse. This was the first time he felt the fourth wall from up close. Hyungseok glimpsed at the urgently shouting Han Gaeul before taking a glance at the staff who were looking at the actors from outside the set. He could see over fifty people in the group of staff at a glance, but he could not hear a breathing sound from them. The actors, who had been joking around just 3 minutes ago, had turned into doctors and nurses who were doing their best to give the patients emergency treatment while walking around the emergency unit everywhere. The staff also maintained their tension as they did their work. Actors did what actors had to do, and the staff did the same. Watching the two entirely separate workspaces fit each other like two neighboring puzzle pieces to complete this scene gave him a sense of surprise. Although this feeling would disappear due to simple labor once NGs started flying everywhere, this first shot felt very special. Hyungseok watched the actors that moved according to the lines that the director showed them during the rehearsal and he too became immersed in his own acting. He wanted to become a seriously urgent patient rather than one that didn’t look hurt. He recalled that he should not go overboard as well as Maru’s words that he had to do ‘his own act’.
“Hey, intern! Aren’t you going to get yourself together? You were all high and mighty because you graduated in first place. How can you turn stiff in the emergency unit!”
“If we send a person to the ICU when we could have taken care of them in the ER, are you going to take responsibility for that? Is it your job to make the patients worse?”
“I’ll get myself together.”
“You’d better do that if you want to look the patients in the face later. Check the patient’s abdomen and tell doctor Choi. Don’t space out this time, punk. Got it?”
Hyungseok could see Giwoo clenching his hand after hearing the middle-aged actor’s scolding. From the looks of things, it seemed like he was getting scolded as he was the lowest rank here, and since he was dazing out. Hyungseok looked at the middle-aged actor’s back as he left the emergency room. He didn’t know the name of that actor. He didn’t know how this would look in real life, but in his opinion, that middle-aged actor was the one who bestowed a sense of realism to this place. If Giwoo, the main character, was emphasized on the TV screen, it would probably be thanks to the middle-aged actor who set up everything for him.
The shoot paused for a moment. Circular rails were installed around Giwoo, who was standing in the middle of the emergency room, and a camera was placed on top of it. The camera slowly turned and shot Giwoo. While the camera moved around, Giwoo looked around the ER as though he was resolving himself.
“Giwoo. You’re doing well, but it’s a little too clear where you’re looking. You’re looking here, then there, then here again. I can clearly tell where you’re looking, so it doesn’t look that good.”
“I’ll try to make it as soft as possible.”
“Alright, let’s leave that to when we do the shoot.”
The shoot resumed. As the scene was mostly composed of actions without difficult lines, Hyungseok thought that it was going to end quite soon, but there was an unexpectedly large number of NGs. Sometimes, it was Giwoo who made a mistake, and other times, a staff member got caught on camera which made them have to reshoot. This was the first time that the smooth shoot hit a wall. It seemed that a still and gentle scene was more difficult to Kang GIwoo than moving around busily and shouting medical jargon.
“Director, I think he’s nervous.”
Just as the atmosphere of the set was freezing up like it was dunked into an ice bath, Han Gaeul spoke while laughing. Kang Giwoo, standing in front of the camera, replied to her with an ‘is that so?’ Following that, the director jokingly told him to loosen up a little. They took a small break. Hyungseok, who was outside the center of the shoot, inwardly applauded Han Gaeul for the precise timing of her words. From the way the director was opening his mouth, the director also seemed to have realized that it was about time for a refresh, but Han Gaeul was a step ahead of him. The taut atmosphere loosened up a lot.
The following shoot was smooth. Kang Giwoo showed the arrogance of the top seat intern as well as the shame of an intern who made a mistake, and next to him, Han Gaeul expressed an intern with great companionship. Hyungseok’s gaze was fixed on Han Gaeul from one point onwards. Just like the middle-aged man who imbued a breath of life into this artificially created ER, she was also breathing life into this inorganic object that was the set. She was running around to the point that the nametag around her neck was flying everywhere, and it was truly like she was a real intern in the ER, not an actress. It was to the point that what caught Hyungseok’s eyes were not her pretty face but her hands as she looked after the patients. When he looked at her and then at the new actor next to her, the dream broke and Hyungseok could feel that this was a set. It wasn’t that the new actor was bad at acting. The serious eyes, the urgent hands that reached out to the patients – it looked very neat, but when he watched him, he could realize that this was a shoot. What was so different about them? Hyungseok believed that identifying that difference was the path to improving his own acting skill.
“Okay. Let’s stop here for today.”
The background actors, who were, like him, lying down on the bed, groaned as they stood up. ‘Staying still’ was unexpectedly something quite hard. Hyungseok also straightened out his stiff back. He could hear snapping noises continuously. The ones that left the shoot first were the ones that came last. Hyungseok looked at Kang Giwoo, who thanked everyone for their work as he left, and realized why popular actors were popular. Who would hate people that were polite in this hierarchical society?
“Erase your makeup and get changed.”
Background actors flocked to the bathroom. People gathered around a man with special makeup on and took a photo together. Just as he put up a v with his fingers while putting his face against the wound, Hyungseok heard someone shout ‘let’s wrap things up quickly’ from afar.
He erased his makeup and changed into the clothes he came in. The lights in the set were also being turned off one by one. After leader did his roll call, he was about to get onto the bus back to Seoul. At that moment, he saw Han Gaeul giving out autographs to people in front of her van. Hyungseok also rushed over. After taking a photo with a staff member, Han Gaeul looked at him.
“Oh, you’re the patient who was next to me back then, right?”
“Yes. I’m surprised you remember me.”
“I remember you because you were good at acting. You looked like you were really in pain.”
“Was my acting that decent?”
“It was good. I don’t flatter people, so you can believe me.”
Han Gaeul held a pen in one hand and a phone in the other. A photo or an autograph; she seemed to be asking which one he wanted.
“Can I take both? The photo is going to be for me, and I’m going to give the autograph to someone else.”
“We worked together, so that’s nothing. But you’re going to give the autograph to someone else? I don’t think my autograph is that valuable.”
“I have a fan who’s a friend of yours, Miss Han Gaeul. I didn’t hear it from the person himself, but I saw him grinning in satisfaction when he watched your acting before.”
“Really? Then I guess I must do it. I’m acting thanks to the fans as well.”
Hyungseok raised his phone up high. When he awkwardly stood next to her, Han Gaeul said that he could come closer. After taking a photo, he took a look at the result. Even though they were standing side by side, the difference in their head size was quite big. He thought that actresses sure were different.
“What’s the name of the person receiving the autograph?”
“Before that, I don’t have paper with me right now, so can I come back after going to the bus?”
“That’s okay. I have some paper in the car. Though it’s nothing that good.”
Han Gaeul opened the door of her van and took out some paper that was a little larger than his palm. It was laminated as well.
“Sorry, I haven’t even prepared even though I came to get an autograph.”
“Don’t say that. What’s the name of this person?”
“It’s Han Maru. It’ll be even better if you can write that you wish him luck with his work. I’m the same age as him, but I’ve learned a lot from him. So I hope he does well in what he does.”
Hyunseok thought about how Maru would rejoice after receiving the autograph before lifting his head after seeing that Han Gaeul’s hands had stopped. Her widened eyes were looking directly at him. Hyungseok flinched and looked around; was there a fire behind him or something? He looked at the progression of staff who were pulling out before looking forward again. He saw Han Gaeul still looking at him while frozen stiff.
“What’s the name again?”
“My name? I’m Yoon Hyungseok.”
“No, I meant the person getting the autograph.”
“Han Maru. A pretty weird name, right? I thought of popsicles when I first heard his name in the military.”
Her leisurely face turned into that of an urgent one. Hyungseok didn’t flinch anymore; he was panicking now. He was worried that she had a sickness or something. He gave a glance to the manager. He had his face buried in the phone as though he was playing a phone game.
“Is there a problem?”
“No, it’s not like that.”
“If you don’t feel fine, you don’t have to do it. I must have taken too much of your time.”
“No, it’s not that. I was just a little startled.”
He wanted to ask what made her startled, but he decided not to, thinking that he would be too nosy. Her expression went through a series of panic, a little unease, then a little confusion, and finally a strange sense of joy. Looking at the change in her expressions from up close, Hyungseok was reminded of fireworks. Hyungseok could feel the back of his ears burning up. He had forgotten for a while, but Han Gaeul was a beauty, and she was his type.
Perhaps this encounter in this drama might lead them into a romantic relationship in the future – he thought such but the delusion didn’t last more than 3 seconds. The sense of realism he had built up while running a clothes sales business had folded the wings of delusion before they could span out. If life went as one dreamed, he would have become the president of a company as large as SC right now.
“What does this Han Maru do for work?”
“Rather than wishing him well for what he does, I think it’ll be better to write what that is clearly.”
When he looked at Han Gaeul saying those words, he was reminded of a documentary he watched in the military, where a white fox played around with a rabbit while hunting it. The smile in her eyes felt like feelings beyond just goodwill towards a stranger. This woman, was she always such a prankster?
“He does acting. He’s quite a popular actor in Daehak-ro. I watched his play once, and it was full of people.”
“So he has the same occupation as me. Alright.”
Han Maru was just a play-actor, but Han Gaeul seemed strangely overjoyed by it. Han Gaeul put a pen against the paper. She quickly moved her hand and completed the autograph.
“Wait a sec.”
She curled up her lips before kissing the corner of the sign paper.
“That friend of yours must like it if I do this, right?”
“Of course, I’m sure he will be overjoyed to death.”
“Please give it to him, and I said please.”
“Of course, I will. Thanks for the autograph. I wish you luck in your activities.”
“You too, Mr. Hyungseok.”
She got in her van and left.
“She remembered my name.”
The wings of delusion that had folded up started squirming again. Hyungseok got on the bus with the signed paper. He sat down and checked what she wrote on it.
-Mr. Han Maru, I hope I see you on the same stage as me.
“A popular actress is cheering for him. He must feel great.”
Hyungseok looked at the hickey in the corner before quickly covering it up. He found his lips protruding out.
“Yoon Hyungseok, you can’t do that. That’s inhumane.”
He put the sign paper in the bag.