“Thank you, please come again.”
The business line got attached to his mouth. His motions as he accepted people’s credit cards became natural, and his eyes became quick at looking at the bills. His head had already come up with actions he had to take depending on the situation. This customer wanted a cash receipt, this customer wanted two copies of the receipt, this customer wanted the change in stashes of 1,000 won. When a middle-aged man said he’d come again while grabbing a handful of mint candy from the counter, he almost told him that he didn’t need to.
“Hey, did you get a job here, seonbae?”
Sora, who arrived ten minutes ago, said that like a scientist who just found an interesting sample. Her eyes were full of the passion to research and analyze this special case. Maru looked over the cocky junior’s shoulders towards the interior of the store. The store, which was full to the point he could barely get through between the tables, finally had an empty table. This was also the moment the human storm that Sooil brought had ended. He subconsciously groaned when he found the island where he could take a rest. After the last customer left, Dojin closed the restaurant. He said that he couldn’t sell any more as he ran out of ingredients.
“Uhm, can I take a photo with you? I’d like to hang it up on the wall.”
“Of course. You’re Maru’s friends. Do you need an autograph?”
“That sounds good. Since you’re signing an autograph, I’d love it if you could write that you’re a regular here.”
Iseul used her business mind. Sooil smiled with Dojin and Iseul on either side. Ando was the one who took the photo.
Maru printed the account from the POS machine and compared it to the paper orders written by hand. There were no mistaken orders or miscalculations. They had sold 900 bowls of gukbap today alone. Combining that with the sales of boiled pork, alcoholic drinks, and takeouts, the sales amounted to 11 million won. He didn’t know what the profit margin was, but it sure seemed like it was enough for the gukbap restaurant couple to laugh about it.
“Hey, you knew Yoo Sooil?” Dojin asked, coming over.
“I do know him since we belong to the same company.”
“You two look pretty close for someone you just know.”
“I guess we are close then. The sales is 11 million won. How much is my pay?”
“You shouldn’t talk about money between friends.”
“I can always stop being friends with you for a brief moment, get paid, and then be friends with you again.”
“I’ll provide you with unlimited gukbap in the future, okay?”
“Please take care of me in the future, owner.”
“This isn’t even my own store. Don’t call me owner.”
Even though he was saying that, Dojin’s lips were twitching uncontrollably. He was probably imagining the pink-colored future. Maru handed him the sales for the day and asked him to check.
“If every day was like today, I’ll be rich in no time.”
“If you keep receiving as many customers as you did today, you’ll die of overwork.”
“Overworking sounds better than not earning anything. But man, the celebrity effect is real alright. So many people rushed in and ordered takeouts. Though, most of them just watched without doing anything.”
“He did hold a handshake event with the customers who bought takeouts. As a fan, they wouldn’t be able to hold back. I saw a customer order 5 different portions separately.”
“Mr. Yoo Sooil brought fortune to my store. I hope he comes around from time to time. No wait, you should bring him over. And make sure you let everyone know when you’re coming.”
“If you’re going to hire a broker, you need to pay fees, right?”
“0.5 percent of the sales on the day Yoo Sooil comes, deal?”
“No deal. You’re blind for money. Do you not have confidence in the gukbap of your in-laws? You need Yoo Sooil’s reputation?”
“If you put it like that, then I guess it goes against my conscience. Right, a good restaurant must use its food to compete. But still, bring him around from time to time. Or better yet, bring other actors. You see that wall over there?”
Dojin pointed at the empty white wall between the air conditioner and the menu board.
“Wouldn’t it look like those stores on TVs if I fill that wall with celebrity autographs and photos? It’ll help with the sales, and we’ll become well known amongst the people around.”
“Man, time is scary alright. You were just a delinquent when you were young, but now you’re a money-seeking delinquent.”
“Because I have a family now. I should earn a lot while I’m young and get prepared for my later years. I don’t want to make Iseul suffer. That goes for my future children as well. If it’s suffering, I alone am enough.”
For a brief moment, Dojin’s eyes turned into those of a father of three. I don’t care what kind of hardships I have to go through, so don’t let my family starve – Maru could feel a sense of desperation from him. Although he immediately returned to his mischievous self, the breadwinner that took place within him was probably there without a doubt. So you too, are changing; from a youth into a husband and then to a father.
“Hey, think about those things after you get married. You even failed your proposal, so talking about the future sounds kinda pointless, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah, why didn’t she accept my proposal?”
Dojin started pondering seriously again. If he told him that Iseul was preparing one herself, he would probably become all smiles and shake off his worries, but Maru decided to stay silent because he just got used as a part-timer despite being a friend. And just as Iseul said, it was kinda interesting to see him so anxious. Though, definitely not cute.
“You’re friends with Maru-seonbae?”
Sora’s finger pointed at Maru’s face. Whenever the finger moved up and down, Maru felt like an item on display. Maybe he should find it fortunate that she didn’t call him ‘that’.
“We’re close friends,” Sooil said.
“A business relationship,” Maru corrected him.
He took off the apron and put it on the table. Although his body wasn’t that fatigued thanks to the god-given stamina, he was mentally exhausted. He sat down on a chair and stretched his arms out. It had been hours since he last stretched his shoulders.
Iseul and Dojin went to the kitchen, saying that they should clean up, and the rest of the people gathered at one table. Jiyoon, who had fallen asleep, also returned with a tired-looking face. Having found Sooil, Jiyoon just blinked several times and asked if it was a dream.
“You said the president sent you here?”
“I came to the company because of a contract for a commercial and met the president. Things led to another and we ended up talking about this. He told me to go to the restaurant and increase their sales.”
“He’s quite considerate.”
“Everyone at the company knows that the president dotes on you.”
“He’s not doting on me. It’s a claim-obligation relationship. He sent you, the observer, to watch me, the slave, to make sure that I don’t fool around.”
After saying those words, Maru reached out for his cup of water. Only then did he realize that the people at the table were staring at him.
“What is it?”
“It just feels strange that you’re close to Mr. Sooil, seonbae. Maybe I should be saying that you two don’t suit each other at all,” Sora said with a disgruntled look.
“Sorry that I’m acquainted with a famous actor.”
“You don’t have to feel sorry. Anyway, you’re really handsome Mr. Sooil. There’s a halo around your face now that I am looking at your face in person.”
Sooil smiled awkwardly. Sora’s way of conversing, that is, not holding back, was probably enough to make an ascetic flustered.
“Why don’t we drink a round for now? When else would we get to drink with a famous actor? Here, I’m pouring it.”
Sora quickly poured as many glasses as there were heads at the table before raising a glass above her head.
“To the prosperity of the restaurant!”
“And also, may the movie I’m shooting this time go well enough so that I can quit my job!”
Maru stopped bringing his glass to his mouth and looked at Sora. Everyone froze up and looked at her, who was smiling. Sora emptied the glass in her mouth as though she didn’t care before slapping down the glass on the table.
“Mr. Sooil, you’re quite expensive, aren’t you?”
“Yes. You must be expensive, right? But you don’t receive any guarantees if you do things like friendship appearances right? You know, like cameos.”
“It differs according to the situation, but most of the time, I wouldn’t get paid.”
“Have you ever played a cameo?”
“A couple of times. I showed my face for a brief moment when a director I know did a piece.”
“Do you have any appointments this weekend? Or is it a secret?”
“I’ll be on break for a while. But why do you ask?”
“That’s perfect. This must be a god-sent opportunity.”
Sora took out a half-folded lump of paper from her bag. Maru knew what that paper was. It was the completed script that Daemyung showed him before.
“Won’t you shed some light on a salaryman and a student who are poor but have dreams?”
“It’s a script for a film?”
Sooil received the script.
“Yoo Sooil. That girl who sounds like she’s selling insurance is completely serious right now. If you take it as a joke and reply to her that you’ll think about it, she’ll lead you by the nose. Think carefully about what you’re going to say next,” Maru warned.
Sora, who sat next to Sooil, glared at him. Even Medusa would flinch back if glared at like that.
“I, Kang Sora, will be the one producing, and the script is created by Park Daemyung, who’s right here. The camera director is Koo Ando, who’s right here. The main character is Maru-seonbae for now, but if you wish, we can change it this instant.”
“That sounds tempting.”
“Right? I don’t think shooting an indie film like this is that bad for your career. Though, naturally, I wouldn’t be able to pay you anything. We’re all having a hard time getting by. Charity, volunteer work, or passion pay, or maybe, friendship, I hope you can make do with a combination of those four for your payment.”
Calling her words ‘evil’ would be a nice way of putting it. Maru signaled Sooil not to mind her when he saw that Sora’s shamelessness had reached the skies. However, Sooil looked more interested instead.
“If it’s a proper contract, there will be many problems with doing this, but if, like you say, I just do it for friendship, it shouldn’t matter that much.”
“That’s what I’m saying. The trend these days is for actors at the peak of their popularity to shoot low-budget films with directors who are known for their workmanship, right? You’ll be like that as well. Of course, I may lack the skills to get acknowledged for my work, but I can proudly say for sure that the script you’re looking at right now is an exceptional one. Though, it’s pretty weird for me to be proud of it when I’m not the one who wrote it.”
“You said you wrote this, Mr. Daemyung?”
Daemyung, who was quietly eating soondae opposite him, hurriedly nodded.
“If I appear in this piece, what role are you going to give me?”
“Eh? I-if you want, I’ll give you the main ch… no wait, I don’t think I can do that.”
“Don’t think about it too seriously; just tell me what you think. A script of this length should last about 15 minutes. There shouldn’t be that many characters, so I was wondering if I can even be in it.”
“There are only two people who are set in stone when it comes to roles. One is Maru, and the other is a fellow named Bangjoo. We were planning on getting people we know to play the remaining roles according to Maru’s schedule. You know, people from college or circles.”
“Right now, we’re doing this half as a hobby without any funds, so we can’t hire proper actors. If we want to recruit actors, we won’t be able to cope with the funds, and we don’t want that. That’s why we were just going to shoot for now with people who have time and with people who get along with us.”
“With people who get along. I like things like that. It’s just I can’t find many people who can get along with me.”
“I’m sure there must be tons of people who are willing to get along with you.”
“I’m always thankful towards those who unconditionally like me. But in human relationships, you’re bound to be attracted to people you can trust, right? In that sense, I wish to participate in this work as long as you two, the writer and the director, permit me. That fellow is one of the very few friends I can trust, so I’d like to help him. No, rather than helping him out, I’d like to do something with him.”
Everyone’s gazes flew towards Maru like sharp arrows. Maru looked at Sora and Daemyung’s faces alternately. Quickly tell him that you want him to join – both of them sent him silent gazes.
“Aren’t you busy?”
“I told you, I’m not.”
“Check your schedule just in case.”
“Don’t worry. Even if there is something, I can just adjust it.”
“You’re not getting a single penny, you know?”
“Sometimes, voluntary slave work can be fun.”
“Working with you puts too much pressure on us. You’re going to attract people again, aren’t you?”
“I just have to cover myself up and take it off during the shoot.”
“So you’re determined to do this, huh?”
“Then do whatever you want. Kang Sora, Park Daemyung, make sure you squeeze every last inch out of him. Tell him what passion pay is.”
As soon as he gave them permission, Sora cheered. Daemyung and Jiyoon did the same. Ando was already taking a photo of Sooil’s face with his phone.
“Well then! Raise your glasses! To commemorate Mr. Sooil’s participation, cheers!”
Sora shouted delightfully.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Kinda nice to see the old crew back together.
Now we just need Aram, Bangjoo, Dowook and Bada to return.
I would absolutely love to see a movie/drama made with the JA cast. Maru, Sooil, Suyeon, Miso, Ganghwan, Geunsoo, (am I missing anyone?).