Life, Once Again! - Chapter 97
Bada’s eyes met with that of the scary person in the waffle shop .
So that must be what delinquents look like . Bada was pretty headstrong back in school, but this time, she had to avert her gaze .
“I wonder if he heard us . ”
“He’s still looking at us . ”
“I told you to speak quietly . ”
Her friends lowered their voices as well, at least the man couldn’t do anything to them in the store .
“Here you go, your waffles are out . ”
The employee handed them a paper bag . Bada took it and quickly walked outside . After the group exit the store, they quickly moved as far away as they could .
* * *
“My god . ”
Did he look like he was gonna to bite them or something? Those girls were looking at him like a hoodlum . Then again, his eyes did look pretty fierce, what with them being stretched out so wide . It was something he inherited from his mother .
“Here’s your waffle . ”
Dowook took the waffle and stepped outside, his dad was waiting after finishing the call .
“She’s at that cafe over there . ”
“Who is it?”
“Let’s go . ”
Dowook noticed an awkward smile from his dad . Just who was it? His relationship with his dad improved recently thanks to Maru . As a matter of fact, they were even going on fishing trips quite a bit . They didn’t talk much, but that was fine . Dowook didn’t expect a ten-year gap between them to be closed so quickly .
‘I guess that’s why I can understand him not talking to me about this . ’
Dowook stepped forward, following his dad into the cafe .
* * *
“So this is what it looks like when you eat normally . ”
Ganghwan grabbed a piece of beef, put it in his mouth, and chewed .
“But sometimes, people eat like this, saying that they’re just trying to act . ”
Ganghwan dramatically picked up a piece . His elbow was pointing to the sky, making him look very uncomfortable . He looked at the meat he picked up for a brief moment before putting it in his mouth . The highlight was him letting out a loud “mm” as he chewed loudly .
“No way,” Maru said, eating a piece of meat himself .
“Doesn’t seem real, does it? But there are actually a lot of people who act like this . Help me out here, Senior . ”
“There’s a lot of those, yes . ”
Junmin took a sip from his shot of soju, Maru thought that was an amazing feat in itself . The man was already taking his sixth sip from his tiny glass .
“People act awkwardly when they’re incredibly nervous . Like in the military… you wouldn’t know since you’re still too young, but people turn into idiots as soon as they step into foreign territory . ”
“I see what you mean . ”
Junmin’s words came to him very easily, he’s seen many people who act incredibly strangely in the military as well .
“See my ass . Say that after you go,” Ganghwan laughed .
“In any case, actors have to work from an uncomfortable position . They have to keep in mind how they act, but when they become too aware of their actions, they can’t act well . But if they try to act too casually, they make simple mistakes . They need to control themselves, and at the same time try to act naturally . It’s a strange profession . ”
“How are you at doing that, Coach?”
“Me? I’m… just a noob, really . ”
Honestly, Maru thought that at Ganghwan’s level, it would be okay to not try so hard . After all, the man was skilled enough to act in a play with his name on it and receive good reviews . That was no small feat .
‘In that sense, Junmin is…’
Maru turned to look at Junmin . This man in his fifties was pretty well-known throughout all of the industry . As a matter of fact, the man was even directing the first ever play of the Myungdong Art Center . In the world of acting, Junmin was a colossus .
“If you’re a noob, then I might as well stop calling myself an actor altogether,” Junmin said with a smile .
“Oh, come on, Senior . Well, I guess I’m a bit better at acting than you . ”
Ganghwan easily said words you could only say to a good friend, Junmin took those words in stride as well . The two very clearly had a very good relationship .
“I am better than a no-name actor, for sure . I used to dream of starring in a play myself, but I’m doing something completely different nowadays . I don’t regret the decisions I made, but I do like to think of the ‘what ifs’ often . ”
“Call me anytime you want when you want to act, I can easily give you a role as something like villager 1 . ”
As Ganghwan filled Junmin’s shot glass with a smile, Maru flipped the meat in the meantime so that it wouldn’t burn on the grill .
“You should try to learn a lot from Ganghwan . He likes to say silly things, but he’s very talented in terms of acting . ”
“Yes . ”
Right then, Junmin grabbed his phone and stood up . After saying a few words, he gave Ganghwan a few glances .
“Stay here for a bit . We’ll be back real quick . ”
The two of them left the table for a bit . Maru thought back to the conversation they just had and started filtering it for useful information . As a forty-five year old man, Maru couldn’t agree completely with what the two men had just said . As he organized his thoughts, he could hear a loud noise come from behind him . Voices of several men and women were making the restaurant get louder, ruining the peaceful meal Maru had until now .
“Big sis is paying!”
“Ohh! You’re the best, sis!”
“Can we order, please?!”
The group headed into a private room . Maru chose to ignore them as he continued grilling .
* * *
“Hold on, is that Maru?”
“Oh, it is . ”
One of Changhu’s friends pointed towards the hall . The group could see Maru grilling by himself on a circular table .
“What a pleasant surprise . ”
As they watched, an older man wearing a hat and a younger man sat down next to Maru .
“Is that his dad?”
“Probably . ”
Changhu stared at Maru’s back for a while before nudging his friends with a grin .
“Yo, let’s go earn some cash . ”
His friends quickly caught onto what Changhu was talking about .
“Sis, we’ll be back real quick . We’re going to chat with a friend . ”
“Yeah, that guy over there . We’ll be back quick . ”
Changhu walked towards Maru with his friends and tapped Maru’s back in a friendly manner . “Maru . ”
The boy had been pretty rebellious in the beginning, but he was docile now . Maru turned back to look at Changhu .
“Yeah . ”
The boy didn’t look very surprised . Changhu was very dissatisfied with Maru’s expression, but he decided to carry on with a smile on his face .
“Hello, we’re Maru’s friends . ”
The older man nodded quietly, and the other one greeted them with a smile .
“Oh, right Maru . I wanted to talk to you about something . Excuse me, we’ll talk to Maru real quick . ”
He pushed Maru’s shoulder a little violently as he spoke, in an angle where the adults wouldn’t notice . Maru stood up after putting down his chopsticks .
“I’ll be back quick . ”
It was nice that he was being so docile . Changhu headed to the bathroom outside the building with a smile on his face . He made Maru stand near the urinals as he surrounded the boy with his friends .
“Heey, Maru . It’s nice to see you outside . ”
“We’re not that good of friends, but I’m glad you’re so excited about seeing me . ”
“Hah, you like to speak pretty words, don’t you?”
Changhu slapped Maru’s cheeks lightly with the back of his hand, the boy seemed to have feelings of rebelliousness in his heart . These types tried to hit back when you brutally stepped on them . You had to slowly bully them into submission . Maru grabbed Changhu’s hand and slowly put it down, making Changhu smile .
“Maru, we’re friends, right?”
“Let’s say we are . What do you want?”
“Hah, you like to get to the point, as usual . You’re a great friend for sure . So, the thing is… We don’t have cash . You saw just now, didn’t you? We came with some pretty girls, but we don’t have any cash . The girls have money, but we have to save face, man . We just need enough money to at least buy dessert . ”
Changhu sent glances at his friends . One of them blocked the door, and two of them stepped closer to Maru .
“We’re really good friends, so I’ll say this now . Lend us some money . You know that’d be best for you, right? You don’t want the adults outside worrying about you, do you?”
Changhu tapped Maru’s cheeks one more time . He was ready to punch Maru in his stomach if the boy refused him . Changhu was a fan of beating that spot because it was hard to see . Maru scratched his eyebrow calmly .
“So, how much do you need?”
“We’re friends, so I don’t want to take too much . I think just… 100 thousand is enough?”
“100 thousand won?”
“Yeah . That’s easy enough to get, isn’t it?”
“Hm, 100 thousand, huh . ”
Maru muttered to himself as he took out his wallet . Changhu had to let out a whistle a little when he saw the contents .
‘…The hell is this kid?’
He could see several checks inside . Next to those was a thick stack of 10,000 won bills .
“You’re rich, aren’t you?”
“Sure . Anyway, we’re friends, so I’ll keep it pretty cheap, too . 10% interest, to be paid out in 10 daily installments . 11,000 won every day . Not bad, right?”
Changhu stared at Maru dumbly . What the hell was the guy talking about? 10%? Daily installments? What?
“Hey, this is cheap, you know . Normally you’d have to pay 20%, but I’m keeping it cheap because we’re friends . ”
A small smile appeared on Maru’s face, the boy was handing Changhu a white check .
“You’re not taking it?”
“If you don’t want it, sure . ”
Changhu was rendered speechless for a second . Maru didn’t seem normal just now, either . But Changhu soon returned to his senses and pushed Maru back with gritted teeth .
Right then, Maru quickly dodged and grabbed Changhu’s wrist . The boy twisted his wrist, making Changhu shout in pain .
“Why can’t you just stick with one thing? If you want to play with money, go for that . If you want to bully people, just stick to that . Stop trying to confuse me by doing both . Also, stop acting so childish . If you need money, just ask for it . I’ll take an interest, but I can easily lend it to you . We’re friends, after all, right?”
“Ouch! Ouch! Fuck! Let go!”
“Stop shouting, you’re going to attract people . ”
Maru let go of Changhu’s hand like he was throwing away a piece of trash . Changhu glared at his friends, but they were flinching in a bit of fear .
“Take this . ”
Maru handed his money to a friend nearby .
“I don’t need interest, so just pay me back in due time . Also, let’s not try to ruin our relationship, yeah? I’d like to be on decent terms with you all as well . ”
Maru headed out of the bathroom .
“Fuck, damn it . ”
Changhu swore as he caressed his wrist .
* * *
“They were asking for money . ”
Maru came back and immediately started grilling again . There was quite a bit of burnt meat on the grill . Clearly, the other two men didn’t care for the food .
“So why are they glaring at you?”
Ganghwan asked, looking at the private room behind them . Maru told him it was nothing . He didn’t want to explain something so childish .
“Are you being bullied?”
“You realized just now? I’m a pretty famous victim . ”
Maru casually continued cooking . The other two men smiled slightly before continuing their conversation .
The word brought back memories from his road manager days . That’s when he realized how many bullies there were in the entertainment business and how many poor actors wasted their lives away under them . He even met a person who lived solely off of giving loans with daily installments .
‘Maybe that's why I stopped working in that industry . Because I got sick of seeing that . ’
Maru put down his chopsticks slowly before asking a question .
“I heard there were those in entertainment companies who liked to bully people with violence . ”
“Of course . There’s trash no matter where you go . ”
Junmin answered casually .
“Why do you ask, though?”
“I just thought of it . ”
“It’s an unfortunate thing . Having your passions taken advantage of is one thing, but to be beaten up at the same time . ”
Maru nodded before grabbing his chopsticks again .
“You aren’t asking why I’m not helping them?”
“People would’ve already helped them if they could be helped . The fact that no one’s helping them just tells me the mess they got themselves in goes very deep . ”
“I keep saying this, but you’re brutally realistic . ”
“That just makes life easier . ”
“I still don’t quite understand you . ”
“I just try to do some good where I can . ”
“God damn, are you really a teenager?” Ganghwan asked, putting Maru in a headlock .
Maru didn’t answer that question .