Chapter 96

“This is the makeup room and it’s exclusive for the main characters of the play.”

Ganghwan looked at the door of the room with both a jealous and nostalgic look on his face. Under the tag of the room, there was a name written “Kim Jiyoon”.

“Someone you know?”

“Not at all. I was just wondering if I could ever enter one of these myself.”

Right then, the door of the room opened and an actress walked out. Ganghwan and Maru flinched a bit before stepping back.

“Do you have business here?” the actress asked.

“We were just looking around. Were we being a bother?”

Ganghwan answered politely, the woman relaxed a bit after hearing Ganghwan’s response.

“No, you weren’t. Have we met before, by the way?”

“I’m just a no-name in the business.”

“Is that so?”

The woman narrowed her eyes for a few seconds before exclaiming in surprise.

“Wait, could you be Mr. Yang Ganghwan?”

“You know me?”

“You are! I enjoyed your most recent play. Ah, perhaps that’s not the right word for it.”

The actress smiled before telling the two of them to wait a bit. She walked back into the makeup room and came back with a pen and paper.

“Could you give me your signature?”

“My signature?”

“Yes.”

Maru saw Ganghwan’s mouth curl up into a grin right there. Then again, there weren’t many men that would be displeased from being asked for a signature from a pretty woman.

‘A female lead at the reopening event… She’s probably a rising star or something.’

The actress went back to her room with a smile after getting the signature.

“You should’ve asked for a number.”

“...Maybe, yeah.”

“Didn’t you say you didn’t even have a girlfriend? You have to pay attention to the small meetings like this if you really want to succeed.”

“Hah. I hate how I can’t even talk back to a high schooler right now.”

“By the way, was that lady someone popular?”

“In Hyehwa, yeah. She left a government funded theater company for a private one.”

“Left a government funded company? Wow.”

What an amazing woman. Did she receive an offer better than a stable pay from the government? Or did she choose to challenge herself?

“Huh, I guess I would be pretty amazing, too, then?”

“What?”

“I was in a government funded one, too. Obviously, I got out. How is it? You feel that respect rising up inside of you yet?”

“...They don’t just pick anyone over there, do they?”

“Hey, stop looking at me like that.”

Maru smiled slightly. This was the first time he heard of this fact. So this person was sort of amazing, after all.

‘I guess that’s only to be expected from someone so popular in the future.’

Maru followed Ganghwan to look around some more at the Myungdong Art Theater. There were a lot of restricted areas, but they were allowed access with their staff name tags. They could even look at the top of the stage where all the lights were, with the help of the lighting crew. Apparently even the team didn’t like to frequent here because of how dangerous it was.

“This is pretty amazing.”

The ceiling of the stage was dotted with black rods, it almost looked like they made a spiderweb out of steel. The lights hanging off from this network of steel was what lit the stage below.

“The bigger the stage, the more effort an actor has to put in for a successful play. But the stage managers suffer just as much in that regard, you can’t just make a stage bigger just like that. You have to focus on how the lights hit the stage and making sure that everything is in complete coordination.”

Maru nodded. Even now, he could see many of the staff running around trying to fix the smaller things. Ganghwan noted that the staff didn’t just have to take care of the ceiling and the stage, but also the area under the stage, too.

“Whenever I look at this, I feel responsible. I feel like I shouldn’t make mistakes. Sure, not making mistakes is important for the audience, but I can’t ruin things for the many people that are trying to make this play a success. That’s why actors often like to come to the stage mid-production. Cheer on the staff, while trying to keep themselves nervous. To actually engrave in themselves the fact that it’s not just them that’s trying to make this a success.”

Ganghwan put a bit more strength into his words, the man’s words resonated with Maru. These words weren’t something born out of mere theory, but something that was dotted with experience.

“Let’s go down.”

“Where?”

“To eat.”

“Again?”

“Again? It’s already 3 o’clock. Three hours passed since our last meal. Also, senior Junmin’s downstairs, so we might as well ask him for a free meal. Hmmm…. Beef, yes. Beef sounds good. Hehe.”

What the hell happened to the cool guy from before? Maru shook his head as he followed behind Ganghwan jumping down the stairs.

* * *

“Hey, why aren’t you coming?”

“Wait a second.”

Changhu glared at his friends for a second before taking out his phone. It was 3 o’clock. Their meeting time.

“I got a call.”

Changhu cleared his throat before taking the call, he had to pay particular attention to how he talked. These girls liked it when he acted cute.

“Yes, big sis.”

- Sorry, Changhu. I told you the wrong place. The cathedral doesn’t have any good restaurants nearby. Come to the Myungdong Art Theater. Do you know where that is?

“Myungdong Art Theater?”

- Yeah. It’s pretty famous, so you can probably get directions if you ask around a bit. You’re coming with friends, right?

“Yes. They’re nice kids. Your friends are here, too?”

- Of course. Anyway, come quick. I’ll pay for the meal. We can just go hang at a karaoke afterward. Karaoke during the day is super fun.

“Sure. Alright, we’ll be right over.”

Changhu spat on the floor as soon as he hung up.

“Hah, does this bitch think we’re dumb dogs or something?”

“Why?“

“She’s telling us to go to the Myungdong Art Theater now.”

“Myungdong Art Theater? The hell is that?”

“Apparently we can just ask around for directions.”

“Really? Might as well go. I’m freezing my ass off. I should’ve worn more layers.”

“You idiot, why didn’t you bring a jacket or something?”

“I thought we’d go somewhere nice right away. Plus, thicker clothes make me look fucking fat.”

Changhu and his friends headed down from the cathedral, laughing amongst themselves. On the way down, they learned the whereabouts of the theater from an old lady.

“Yo, by the way, Seoul has a lot of pretty women,” one of Changhu’s friends said.

Changhu had to agree. There were a lot of women walking around in skirts even during the winter. Some even had tights on, too.

“Our town is kind of trash, dude.”

“If only we had girls like this.”

“Yo yo, dude, look at those breasts. That’s at least a C cup, isn’t it?”

“Isn’t it bigger?”

“Dunno. I’d have to sleep with her to know. Ah, you think I can lose it today?”

“Good luck. I don’t think you can do it though, you look too much like a baby.”

“You bastard, I’ll show you what a real casanova looks like.”

As the four of them walked, they eventually reached an odd building. It had loads of posters about acting taped to the wall.

“That must be it.”

The building just looked like a theater from the outside. Indeed, walking closer, they found that they were right.

“Over here.”

The group could hear someone call out to them from a bank on the other side. Changhu waved his hand towards where the voice came from.

“It’s them, what do you think?”

“Oh, hell yea.”

“I’m happy.”

“Dude, peach stockings are mine.”

Changhu explained to the others to call the women ‘big sis’, and to act cute in front of them.

“And then you can start to think about leading them on. Girls like that sort of stuff.”

“I know, I saw it on television.”

“No dude, theory is different from the real thing. Just watch how I do it before you try it. Trust me.”

“Okay, okay. I’ll let you play the king role today, Changhu.”

Changhu walked to the women with a smile, they all came out in pretty casual clothing. But the fact that these women were loaded and had nice bodies didn’t change. That alone made Changhu very happy.

“Hello, big sis.”

“We’re Changhu’s friends.”

Nice, they were going with the plan. Maybe Changhu shouldn’t even have bothered worrying so much.

“Are they really high schoolers?”

“Pretty nice looking for high schoolers.”

The other girls seemed pretty happy, too.

“Ladies, young men are always the best. Don’t you know that? Besides that, we’re cold. Are you going anywhere?”

“Oh dear, you were cold, Changhu? I’m sorry.”

“Buy us something tasty if you’re sorry.”

“Sure! I’ll pay. Does everyone like meat?”

The blonde woman smiled as she took out a card from her wallet. Changhu exchanged a quick look with his friends.

‘See? This girl’s rich.’

‘Nice.’

Changhu and his friends immediately dragged the girls over to a restaurant, they all stepped forward to grab the hands of the women they took a liking to. The women didn’t seem to hate it.

‘Good, good.’

It was time to drink.

* * *

“Why don’t you try having some shame for a change?”

“I know you’ll buy us food even if you say that, Senior.”

“You only take this senior’s word seriously when you’re asking for food.”

Junmin sighed in defeat before standing up. In the end, Ganghwan’s begging actually worked.

“Maru, I’ll let you have some nice meat today.”

Ganghwan proudly took the first step outside.

“He never changes, does he?”

“Never and not in the good sense, either.”

“How did you meet with Coach, sir?”

“Me and Ganghwan? It’s been a while. More than a decade now, actually. He was a college dropout that appeared out of nowhere asking to act at my theater company.”

“I… can sort of imagine that.”

“Whatever you’re imagining, it was even worse. He wouldn’t listen to any sort of sense or logic.”

“I did expect that to be the case, after hearing about him living homeless for three months. He’s pretty amazing, isn’t he?”

“Well, in that sense, you’re pretty odd as well. That 300 million… Use it well.”

Junmin pat Maru’s shoulder with a faint smile.

“Come on, walk faster, senior! The beggars in my stomach are about to start a coup d’etat!”

“Does he really want to act like that in his thirties?”

Junmin sped up his pace as he clicked his tongue, the three of them stepped into a little alleyway after coming out of the theater. According to Junmin, there was a pretty nice bbq place inside.

“I haven’t had beef in a while, I’m excited.”

“Can you not be so excited by stuff like that?”

The two of them were exchanging words like experienced comedians. An odd combo, for sure. Maru smiled faintly.

“Over here, right?”

Ganghwan asked as he looked up at the second floor, there was a massive signboard written “beef” on the building.

“This place is a restaurant and a butcher shop, all in one. It’s pretty cheap, but also delicious.”

“Whatever you say, Senior.”

Ganghwan headed up the stairs first.

* * *

“It was big, right?”

“Yeah.”

Bada headed out of the Myungdong Art Theater with her friends. There was a little tour for what the backstage looked like before a play and they were lucky enough to join in. The theater from the inside was massive.

“They even had three floors for the audience.”

“They had rooms on the left and right side, too. Probably for the VIPs, right?”

“I want to try watching from there, too.”

Bada took a picture in front of the entrance with a grin. “Where should we go now?”

“What time is it?”

“3:20.”

“Should we start exploring clothing shops now?”

Right then, one of Bada’s friends raised her hand.

“Want to get some waffles before that?” she said, pointing at a store nearby.

Bada nodded vigorously. Just thinking about waffles made her mouth start to water.

* * *

“Dad, where are you going?”

“There’s someone that wants to meet you.”

“You’ve said that already. Who is it?”

Dowook followed behind his dad, who told him to stop asking so many questions. Just who were they going to meet?

“Ah, maybe we should buy some of that,” dad said, looking at a waffle shop.

“You said we were going to eat something, though.”

“Well, she likes waffles a lot.”

“She?”

“Anyway, let’s buy it. Don’t you like waffles too?”

“...I got sick of it after eating it so many times.”

Dowook immediately regretted what he said. Indeed, his dad’s expression was darkening.

“I’m sorry. I should’ve paid attention.”

“...Just buy it already. I’ll eat the jam.”

As he walked towards the waffle store with his dad, a group of middle school girls passed by him, laughing with each other.

“We should’ve moved a little faster,” his dad commented.

After arriving at the store, Dowook ordered three waffles. Dad took out his wallet and handed the money.

“I’ll make a call real quick.”

Dad stepped outside. Just why did he keep having to leave to make the call? The man clearly wasn’t talking to any of his gas station employees, judging from his expressions.

“Wow, he’s handsome.”

“Shh, he’ll hear you.”

Dowook turned around, making the middle school girls turn away with a flinch. Dowook quickly turned back awkwardly to look at a mirror on the wall. Wow, he looked like a delinquent.

“Oh yeah, I saw your brother,” he heard one of the girls say.

“Bada’s brother? Ah, Maru?”

‘Maru?’

Dowook turned around, hearing a familiar name.

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