Chapter 761.
Sequence 2

“You want me to show you?” Maru replied dryly.

His indifferent voice made him seem like he was asking if there was really a need to do so.
This was Maru’s conversation style that Hyungseok had frequently experienced in the military.
This person did not like being roundabout.
When there was a need to, he would add all sorts of detail so that the person he was talking to wouldn’t realize it.

“Don’t say that.
Listen to this junior’s request.”

“It’s been ages since we got discharged.
Why are you conveniently making yourself the junior? Also, weren’t you intending for us to be friends?”

“Ah, hyung, please.”

Hyung was a calling style that he automatically blurted out when he asked for something from other people.
The sound of the revolver cylinder turning could be heard.
This was the scene where the main character in the film resolved to take revenge and rolled the empty cylinder.
The depressing music as well as the figure of the main character planning his murder expressionlessly was the epitome of what Hyungseok aimed to do as an actor.
The popped veins on his temple and his calm touches of the revolver.
Seeing the actor contain two extreme sides of emotion in one body.
Hyungseok was able to carve out a specific form of his dream.

Being told that he was similar to the actor he admired was closer to a compliment, but he couldn’t entirely be happy. ‘You were literally Flipps just now’ would have different meanings according to the interpretation.
He felt proud when he heard it but after seeing Maru turn his interest elsewhere immediately, he was convinced that his act lacked something.

“I don’t feel that confident though.
I’m not talented enough to do something I haven’t practiced.”

“Sarge Han, when I saw you in the military, you were definitely on the talented side.
You did the things you were shown in just one try.
Do you know how much we were chewed because of you? Everyone always asked us why we can’t be like you.”

“Well, that’s because I did those a few times already.”

“You did them already?”

Maru tilted the cup again.
After emptying the coffee in the cup, Maru twisted his neck and stood up.

“There won’t be that many differences.
I guess I should do the scene you showed me, yeah?”

“Sounds good.”

Maru started twisting his ankles, then his knees, hips, waist, and neck.
After shaking his entire body up and down on the spot, Maru looked down at his body and muttered in a small voice: that should do.

“What did you do?”

“A little warm-up.
Acting is something you do with your body, so I should warm myself up.
A stiff body would only produce stiff acting.”

Hyungseok looked back on his own acting.
He got into the emotions with a stiff body after having just woken up.
He did not feel the need to do stretches since it didn’t require a lot of movement, and the scene was something that just used his face.
In the first place, it wasn’t an official stage, and he was just practicing in front of a friend.
He did not see the necessity to go through the proper procedures like he was doing business.

Maru stretched his arm slowly, just like how a wolf would groom its fur after waking up.
An unknown sense of tension made Hyunseok sit up.
He twitched his toes, which still had a tinge of sleep, and straightened his back before shaking off any sensation of the bed.
He felt like he had to do so.

“Is there a video on the internet?”

“Wait a minute.”

He hurriedly ran inside the room.
He put his hand among the three people who were still rolling on the ground.
He found his phone under the blanket.
He looked up the video and showed it to Maru once he got back.
Maru put the phone in one hand and watched the video indifferently before throwing the phone away saying that he had seen enough.

“Your act will probably be more similar than mine.”

Maru, who was breathing in long, thin intervals slowly sat down on the floor.
His act had already begun.
His two knees touched the ground.
His torso, which swayed as though it was about to fall at any moment, eventually curled up into a circle.
There were intermittent breathing noises.

Hyungseok came down from the sofa.
In order to see Maru’s expression, he had to lower his eyes as Maru was kneeling and curled up.

The hands were clasped like he was praying had turned pale.
His head kept lowering until it reached the floor.
The two hands, which were above his head now, were shaking.
The pale hands had turned red.
They clasped onto each other like they were going to break each other.

The cry of a beast escaped the crack between his lips.
The depressingly low voice sounded like a requiem.
His cry burst out at once as though he was fainting and did not last long.
His sadness was faint like charcoal remains after a burn.
It felt like a touch would rekindle the spark within and engulf everything around him.
The sadness and rage did not get released to the outside and just imploded inwardly.

Hyungseok started worrying that Maru would start to have a hard time breathing.
He almost ended up asking if he was okay.

Maru calmed his breathing and stood up.
Hyungseok watched his face closely.
He looked like a completely different man after his act.
You were literally Flipps just now – he remembered those words.
It was him who imitated the act of the main character of the film.
He had watched that scene several times over and analyzed the characteristics each time after all.
Asking professional critics for an opinion wouldn’t result in much difference.

Meanwhile, the act that Maru showed had zero similarities to the scene in the film.
From his posture, his expression, and even the line, everything was different.
Yet, the feeling it gave off was similar.
One side exploded, while the other side imploded, but the total quantity of rage felt the same.

“It shouldn’t feel that similar.
This is just how I interpreted that scene.”

“Interpreted that scene?”

Maru walked to the kitchen with the empty coffee cup before stopping.
Hyungseok wanted an answer.
Maru turned around and scratched around his eyebrows.

“A person who does the same act as Flipps will never be able to win Flipps’s role.
That’s the only advice I can give you.
You figure out the rest.”

The moment he heard those words, an exclamation broke through his lips.
His contentedness from being satisfied with his current act shattered into smithereens and made that sound.
It was natural.
It was something he bore in mind when he ran his clothes sales business.
There could not be two same brands in the same world.

A sense of urgency poked its head up within him.
This was the moment when he realized that the things he did until now weren’t at all useless but not particularly great either.
He started feeling like he was running out of time.
The sense of tension he felt when he woke up early morning every single day with his eyes red, and the feelings of pity for the time that was being wasted, started filling his body again.
The stress that made his heart race, as well as the sense of frustration from having a mountain load of work smashed his consciousness.
A sense of excitement overwhelmed him.
The moment he felt a sense of pleasant anxiety that heightened his whole body, Hyungseok rushed into the room he slept in.
He put on the clothes that were strewn across the ground and walked towards the door.

“You leaving?” Maru asked while washing his hands at the sink.

Hyungseok replied while grabbing the doorknob,

“I don’t have time to be doing this.
I realized what I should be doing.”

He stuffed his foot into his shoe.
His plans for the future snapped into existence like fireworks inside his head.
He felt like when he first went to an amusement park as a toddler.
He was afraid of the unfamiliar place, but the parade and various attractions excited him.
He felt the same right now.
He wanted to do many different things.
He decided to cancel all the appointments he scheduled for the weekend.

“You haven’t met them in a year.
They’ll be disappointed if you leave like this.”

Hyunseok had opened the door halfway when he heard those words and then closed the door again.
Because of his excitement, he had briefly forgotten about his friends fainted inside the room.
He took his shoes off and sat on the sofa.
The fanfare ringing inside his mind had eventually quietened down, but the heat of passion from wanting to act spread to various corners of his body.
He also felt a sense of regret.
He realized that this past year, which he originally thought that he had lived sufficiently earnestly, was filled with endless gaps.
Those gaps were things he couldn’t see before.
The holes he didn’t see before because he had fallen for the misconception that he was preparing earnestly, could now be seen thanks to watching Maru’s act.
He felt bitter about the time he wasted until now, but he was not a foolish man who would waste even more time by having regrets.
A mistake is an obstacle, but it is also a foothold – this was the line that his friend put at the top of his computer monitor.
Hyungseok liked this line as well.

“You seem serious.
A little desperate now too.
If you do anything with that kind of attitude, you won’t stay at the bottom at least,” Maru said those words as he walked past.

To Hyungseok, that was the best kind of encouragement he could get.

It took another hour for the rest to wake up.
What Maru placed in front of them when they crawled out into the living room was soju.

“Let’s drink slowly, yeah?”

Hyungseok looked at the gamja-tang that was boiling.
He never knew that Maru was going to ask to drink again.
Gitae, who was wailing and vomiting by the toilet, shook his head in fright and stepped back.

“Hyung, you should stop drinking now.”

“I had to cancel two weekend appointments in order to see you guys.
I met you, so I can’t disappoint you when it comes to food.
Don’t refuse and just drink.
If you don’t like soju, I have some wine over there too.
Also, some vodka if you want it.
Just tell me.”

Perhaps the reason Maru stopped him from leaving was not because the others would feel disappointed but because Maru wanted some people to drink with.
The way he quietly poured soju into glasses reminded them of the evil private first class Han Maru from the old times.
Empty this, while I am still telling you in a good way[1].

“I’ve been getting kinda lonely these days, so it’s good to have you over.
Since you’re here, stay for around three days.
I can provide you with infinite booze and snacks.”

Maru pushed the glasses with his fingers.
Hyungseok looked at the waving soju in the glass in front of him.
He felt like there was a stranded ship on top of the waving soju.
The ship was about to capsize with the four of them on board.
If he drank, he would die, but if he left it alone, he would be left between two deadly cliffs.
Hyungseok quietly raised his hand.

“Hyung, I think I should go practice after all,” he voiced his opinion with difficulty.

“Leave after you drink.”

His opinion was lightly ignored.

“What’s up with you? Did you get possessed by a ghost that hasn’t had enough booze or something? Why are you drinking so much?”

“I usually don’t drink that much, but you guys were the ones who started it.
People around me refrain from drinking with me these days, so I’m getting my wish fulfilled thanks to you guys.”

“Of course they would refrain.
You’re a freaking whale when it comes to drinking.
Half of your fridge is filled with booze, isn’t it?”

“I’m not an alcoholic.
I just drink like this from time to time.
What are you doing? You’re not thinking about waiting until it evaporates, right?”

Maru raised his glass.
He kept talking about toasting, and they couldn’t just keep ignoring him.

“I’m reminded of the general manager where I was an intern at.”

Youngjin emptied the glass in one go while frowning.

“Console this old man who lives by himself.
Here, drink!”

Maru shook the empty glass above his head with a bright smile on his face.

* * *

“We’re leaving.”

Hyungseok trembled while looking at the empty soju bottles that had been lined up like a fence before turning around.
Maru, who was holding the door open, waved at them to have a safe trip home.
On the elevator down, his colleagues all commented as though they were confessing their sins: I’m never coming here again; Even if we do meet, I’m gonna meet him outside; I’d rather go back to the military than come here again.

When they left the elevator on the first floor, Hyungseok realized that he had left behind his wallet.

“Hey, I only brought my phone.
I’ll be right back.”

“Hurry up.”

He took the elevator back up.
Just as he was about to press the bell in front of the door, he instead grabbed the doorknob and turned it.
It was unlocked, just as he had expected.

Maru was sitting down on the balcony.
He was watching something on the laptop on the table.
Hyungseok entered the bedroom and picked up his wallet before walking over to the balcony.
The thing Maru was watching was the drama titled ‘Flaming Lady’.
It was the drama that became hugely popular before he entered the military and also the one that Maru said he decided not to participate in.

Just as he was about to open the balcony and say goodbye, Hyungseok stopped when he heard the faint sound.
Maru had the expression of the happiest man alive while looking at the face of the girl on the screen.
He did not want to break that mood.
Hyungseok wondered as he closed the door: Was he a fan of that actress?

[1] There used to be a ‘tradition’ to make new recruits drunk when they get stationed.
Nowadays, it’s mostly considered bullying and is no longer present.

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