“You’re okay? Then shall we do that again?”
Hearing the producer’s words, Maru heavily turned his head around. He was supposed to show that he was okay, but unlike his wish, his face made a stiff smile instead. If he did this one more time, his knees, his head, and his arms wouldn’t be as intact anymore.
“I was just joking. You did great. You did great too, Miss Joohyun.”
“Then do move on to the next part?”
“We should move on to the next scene.”
The producer told Maru that he did well and patted him on the shoulders. Only after hearing that they were moving on to the next scene could he loosen his body. Two hours of waiting, five minutes of shooting. The only thing left for him now was to go home.
The producer, who was about to turn around, stared at Maru’s forehead before brushing away his hair which came down to his eyebrows. Maru cringed for a brief moment there. That was because he could feel a dull pain when the producer’s hand touched him.
“This guy’s bleeding.”
The producer called one of the staff members. Maru was guided by that staff to the waiting room. He said that he was okay and that he would be fine as long as he wiped it off with a tissue, but the producer was quite stubborn. He told Maru to get proper treatment and go to the hospital if anything arose.
“I don’t think there’s a big problem since it’s only a slight cut, but go to the hospital like the director said. We can provide the hospital fee if you give the receipt to us.”
The staff left the waiting room while telling Maru to be careful as he went home. Whether it was a rough shoot, a shoot with a good atmosphere, or just a quiet shoot, they were all sensitive to accidents. Since there were more accidents during shooting than people expected, everyone was sensitive to people getting injured. Maru tried touching his forehead. The rough sensation of the gauze could be felt. He tried tapping on it, but the pain wasn’t as bad as last time.
‘Looks like I don’t need to go to the hospital.’
He picked up his bag and left the waiting room. He heard some laughs from the set which was at the end of the corridor. It seemed that an NG had occurred.
He left the studio building as he started eating the chocolate cookies he took from the waiting room. The sun had completely set and it was dark. Thanks to the fact that the heat from the summer hadn’t gone away, there were many people in the park in front of the building. He could hear a saxophone sound from afar. It seemed that someone was putting on a performance.
People were gathered around a café in the middle of the park. A cable that protruded out from a black sedan was connected to an amplifier, and next to that amp was a chair with long legs that an old gentleman, who seemed to be over 60 years old, was sitting on. He bowed his head at the people in front of him after turning over the page. The audience quietly applauded.
Maru walked up to the front and sat on the ground. Although the concrete was cold, he did not mind. The people gathered around also started sitting down one by one.
The old gentleman took a deep breath before starting to play the saxophone. The saxophone rode on the low-pitched music box-like sound that came out of the amplifier. The old man closed his eyes and played in a relaxing manner.
Listening to the music that made his heart calm, his emotions, which had ragged edges, started becoming blunt. He didn’t know what the music was, but for some reason, he could follow along with a hum. The people around him also hummed as well.
‘I need more experience.’
Although his ears were listening to music, his head was in deep thought. Even a little child could one-sidedly pour out emotions. He had to go beyond that stage and be able to communicate with those emotions.
After the performance ended, Maru applauded the old gentleman who bowed again.
“It’s pretty hot out here, isn’t it?”
The old gentleman spoke after grabbing the microphone on his stand. An amp, a microphone, and even the leisure to emcee. It didn’t look like he had little experience doing street performances. Maru stopped thinking about his matters for a while and looked at the old gentleman.
“When I first performed with this saxophone, I was really embarrassed. I mean, even the name of the instrument is ‘sax’ophone. Just saying my instrument out loud was embarrassing.”
The audience giggled.
“When I first came across this saxophone in the Nakwon mall, the first thing I thought was me playing this instrument in a cool fashion and grandmas looking at me in astonishment. Men want to receive attention from women even at this age, you know? I was completely won over when the employee told me that I’d look really cool since I could play the saxophone at my age, and bought it. Do you know how I felt when I got home and tried blowing in it? I went - Ah! I was completely fooled!”
The old gentleman puffed up his cheeks before blowing the saxophone. It sounded like a children’s squishy toy.
“No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get it to sound cool. It was frustrating. I thought I would be able to make a cool sound if I just blew in it like the recorder my grandson played for me. But it didn’t work like that. I bought this saxophone for one-and-a-half million won. Then, it became a one-and-a-half million won paperweight in three days. It hurt my lips to blow in it, and god, how hard the finger techniques were!”
The old gentleman paused with a satisfactory smile before showing off his saxophone a bit.
“But curiously, even though I thought my skills would never improve, it did when I kept trying. When the squeaky sound became more manageable to listen to, I became greedier and kept practicing and practicing. I’ve never been as passionate about anything ever since I retired from the workforce, but ever since I did this, I tried going to local study sessions, and tried studying to look things up on this internet thing…. I lived every day as enjoyable as I did in my youth.”
The old gentleman put down the microphone and spoke. His raw voice and the voice from the amplifier intertwined with each other to create a strange ring.
“It doesn’t matter what the trigger is. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing. If the thing you’re doing makes you move, if the thing you’re doing makes you uncontrollable then that… must be the most meaningful thing to your life. There’s no need to be hasty just because you’re bad at something. If you keep doing it, you’ll do well someday. What is important is to keep holding onto it.”
A low saxophone sound followed up. Maru felt drowsy as though he just woke up from sleep. His brain, which was researching the correlation between expression, emotion, and action had stopped working for a little.
There’s no need to be hasty. What’s important is to keep holding onto it.
If he heard those words in an ordinary situation, he would’ve forgotten about it immediately thinking that those were the words of the irresponsible, but right now, those words resonated with his heart. His lacking acting skills would improve as long as he kept doing it. Perhaps he might hit a wall of talent one day, but until that time, he would be able to progress, even if it was at a slow rate.
Maru checked the time on his phone. It was a little past 8 right now. He stood up from where he was sitting and went into the café. The people inside the café were also watching the elderly man with the saxophone outside. After getting the coffee he ordered, he sat in front of the old man again. He decided to enjoy this time to the end.
* * *
“Play that back again.”
Joohyun looked at the producer who smiled as he snapped his fingers. He played back the footage from the secondary camera several times over while nodding.
“Miss Joohyun, this guy’s expression is really not ordinary.”
On the monitor was Maru, who was growling while baring his teeth. Even though it was a still image, the viciousness could still be felt.
“Thanks to him, I had some fun. I thought it might be a little over the top since it’s an obvious scene, but Maru really brought the life out of that scene.”
“I was only looking at your expression from behind you through the main camera, so I didn’t realize what kind of acting he was doing. Now I can see why you were so excited as you were acting. I mean, just look at his face. His eyes are goddamn scary. I might need to consider cross-editing this.”
“I think you should cut out a bit of my part and insert his. What do you think?”
Joohyun usually did not make such opinions in front of the producer. That was because she thought that the direction of editing was the director’s authority alone. It was proper etiquette to not mention anything unless they asked, but she tried inputting her opinion since the picture looked so good.
“If you say that, I’d gladly do so. Your angle is really good, but this fella’s expression is just too good to pass by. Uhm, what was his name again?”
“Han Maru. Why don’t you commit it to memory now?”
“Sorry. But at least I remembered your name immediately. So that you wouldn’t swear at me.”
The producer grinned sneakily.
“Man, it’s such a pity. Since we used him up like this, we can’t use him again either. Miss Joohyun, you should’ve told me if you knew people like this.”
“You should call him for your next work then.”
“I won’t have any work to do for a while after this series, so how could I? I should keep him in mind and try poking him into some of my junior’s works. He doesn’t belong to an agency, right?”
“He should be in a contract with JA Production.”
“With JA? I heard that they only handle the best of the best. Oho, JA, huh.”
“He shouldn’t be doing activities under his name yet though.”
The producer nodded a couple of times before typing something on his phone.
Joohyun stretched her neck a few times as she returned to the set. She looked at the script while wiping the sweat she got from the strong lights. She was reminded of Maru’s eyes. It was quite scary. It wasn’t that she wasn’t looking forward to it or anything, but she didn’t realize that he could do so much. She thought that Maru was really good at putting his emotions into speech during the read-through for Twilight Struggles, but now that she saw his acting in person, his emotional acting was at a considerable level as well. There were parts where he was expressing too much emotion, but it was much better than holding back too much. Thanks to that, she had fun acting. As Maru came at her for real, she could also bring out her abilities without holding back.
Joohyun raised her hands and touched her neck. The part Maru strangled her was still aching a little. That boy really put his mind to it. She didn’t say anything at the time since she might make him worry, but in reality, she had a little hard time breathing at the last part. This meant that Maru was just as immersed, and also that he was not fully in control.
“We’re starting the next scene.”
Joohyun put down her script and checked the parts around her neck in the mirror. Thankfully, there were no visible injuries. Her skin was a little red, but it should calm down soon.
“Miss Ahn Joohyun.”
“Yes, I’m coming.”
Well then, it was time to finish things off. This was the last scene for the day. Joohyun shook her hands lightly as she walked.
* * *
“Why don’t we stop for a bit?”
“What? Why? Do you need to go to the bathroom?”
“Just now, you dozed off for around 3 seconds. I am really scared right now, so why don’t you park the car already?”
Byunchan looked at Yoo Sooil, who was smiling at him from the side, before nodding and parking the car on the side of the road.
“You should get some sleep.”
“No, I don’t feel that sleepy.”
“Then why don’t we get that to eat? I’m a bit hungry.”
Sooil pointed at the car in front of them. It was a small truck that sold grain pops and beondegi.
“I’ll buy it for you,” Byungchan spoke.
“Oh no. We should use company money to do this. We’re poor as heck. We’ll get our money back as long as we have the receipt, right?”
“I don’t think vendors like that give you receipts though.”
“That’s why I prepared this.”
Sooil took out blank receipts from his bag. Byungchan burst out laughing.
“Why don’t we get some fresh air?”
Byungchan said yes as he opened the car.
 The ‘sax’ part of ‘saxophone’ sounds similar to ‘s.e.x’ when said in Korean.
 Biggest musical instrument shop district in Seoul.
 Boiled silkworm pupae. Wikipedia for details.