Life, Once Again! - Chapter 771
Even though he should be doing weights right now, Giwoo told the trainer that he would be running alongside his friend for a little and went back on the treadmill.
“Didn’t you just finish running? You’re full of sweat.”
“I was going to run for a little more.”
“You don’t have any weight to lose. Why even bother?”
“This is about raising my stamina. It has nothing to do with my weight.”
“Is that how it is? That’s amazing, actor Kang. Maybe I’ll see you doing a triathlon later.”
“If the opportunity arises, I do want to do it.”
He put the speed at 10km/h and started running. He checked Maru’s speed. It was 9km/h. He put down his finger from the speed-up button.
“Anyway, it’s been a while since I saw you at this hour. You rarely visit during the afternoon.”
“My dream was to be unemployed my entire life, but I got work to do. I thought that training early in the morning wasn’t going to be enough, so I just changed slots. Calisthenics is good and all, but there’s nothing better than using machines to form a good body figure.”
After saying those words, Maru turned up the speed by one level. Giwoo put his hood on again and started breathing heavily. After maintaining that speed for about 30 seconds, he raised the speed by another level: 11km/h. His heart, which had calmed down, started pumping rapidly again. When his cooled body started warming up, the fatigue he had forgotten temporarily started seeping out of his muscles again. His soles felt burning hot, but Giwoo kept running without showing it.
“You’re good at running,” Maru said.
This is nothing – Giwoo replied as he upped the speed by two more levels. There was heat coming off of his legs as they brushed past each other. His thighs warned him to take a rest. He looked at Maru through the corner of his eyes. Although his face couldn’t be seen through the hood, from the way he had stable breathing, he looked leisurely. Was he not planning to increase the speed? Just as he thought about going down, he saw Maru tapping on the button rapidly. He started running at 15 km/h.
“You going down?” Maru uttered those words.
Giwoo deeply pressed the increase button. After setting the speed to 15km/h, he grabbed the hems of his top and wiped the sweat off his face. He felt like there were bags of sand attached to his feet. His heart and lungs were protesting due to the excessive load.
Giwoo ran for 30 more minutes before coming down from the treadmill. He sat down on a bench and started panting heavily. His knees were shaking. He smacked his knees and thighs. This body was a pathetic one that could not live up to his willpower. He came down first because he couldn’t run that much. The fact that he was already fatigued was no excuse. Losing to someone was a terrible thing in itself, but losing to that guy leisurely jogging on the treadmill right now was something beyond terrible.
“Looks like treadmills don’t suit me. It doesn’t feel like I’m running,” Han Maru said those words as he came down from the treadmill after running 20 more minutes.
Giwoo offered him a bottle of protein shake. The guy accepted the bottle and took a sip.
“Is it chocolate milk? It’s pretty good.”
“It’s a supplement drink. Protein and vitamins and whatnot.”
“Is it fine for me to drink it?”
“It doesn’t matter. It’s not something that needs a specific constitution or anything like that.”
“Well, there’s no way it’s a bad thing when you’re the one drinking it. But hey, you’re in really good shape. Just how much did you work out?” Maru asked as he returned the bottle.
“If it’s just keeping in shape, I kept it up for a long time. You should tell me about it if you need it. I’ll have some good trainers look after you.”
“I’m still semi-unemployed right now, so I don’t need something that grand.”
“Don’t worry about money. Money’s all I have right now. I can do that much. We’re friends after all.”
“Having rich friends is good huh.”
“How about it? Want to get a consultation with a trainer?”
“Nah, it’s fine. It’s not like I’ll be going to a bodybuilding competition or something. I’m just doing this in order to keep in shape, so I don’t need any personal training. Rather than that, give me some of that. It was pretty good.”
“What, the drink?”
“Yeah. If it’s something that you’re having, it must be organic or premium or something like that. Let me have some too.”
“I’ll give you every flavor you need.”
The guy stared at him as though he wanted one right now. Giwoo received some supplements from the counter.
“I get to eat something like this thanks to having a good friend, huh. Thanks.”
Maru lined up the bottles of supplements under the bench and started giggling. Looking at the smile on his face, Giwoo recalled the chilly eyes that he showed a long time ago. Those eyes, which reminded him of his grandfather, stopped him from speaking and restricted his heart. The eyes that were reminiscent of a beast’s vertically slit pupils were deeply engraved into his retina, and ever since then, his heart started racing by itself whenever he saw this guy. His sense of shame told him to trample on the guy, but a sense of wariness and fear that eclipsed his shame made him unable to speak. Above all, this guy knew his secret. He couldn’t help but be restless whenever he thought that this guy would start threatening him with the ‘play’. Although he didn’t leave anything behind that would lead to him, he felt like this guy was more than capable of creating previously non-existent evidence and driving him into a corner. There was a time when he changed his attitude and tried to be friends with him, but Giwoo didn’t take it the slightest bit seriously. He treated it as a cheap tactic of betraying after putting down his guard.
It was three years ago when he realized that the beast had died. It was 2008 when he was busy due to his acting skills which received a spotlight after ‘Building’ became popular. Back then, he got a message from Ahn Yeseul and Park Jichan that the members of ‘New Semester’ should meet up. Although he had no reason to refuse, the name ‘Han Maru’ got on his nerves. He hesitated due to the unease that something might happen if they met again, but the moment he saw his reflection in the mirror, he agreed to go to the meetup. He couldn’t forgive himself for looking like a defeated soldier. The master of not just his own life, but everything in his environment, was crumpled tragically. He had a hard time accepting that. The moment he opened the door to the meetup place, Giwoo looked for Maru. He recalled the shame he received two years before. He thought that he had changed and was plenty capable of winning against a beast. When he made eye contact with Maru, who was quietly drinking at the corner of a table, Giwoo couldn’t help but laugh in vain. There was no need to get ready to fight. The guy’s eyes were dead. He had the same eyes as those who screamed and begged for forgiveness while kneeling down in front of his grandfather. They were the eyes of someone who had given up as well as the eyes of someone who had lost the will to flee.
For a moment, he became curious. What happened to Han Maru in the past two years that had changed the chilly eyes of the 19 year-old Han Maru into ones with such murky darkness in them?
“I’m going to the military next week.”
The guy who had never shown his face in the drama industry after New Semester chose his next destination to be the military. Giwoo told him to watch out and filled the guy’s glass full of booze. It was the booze that represented his farewell to his lacking self that had been enveloped in fear all by himself. It was also his way of mocking the beast that had died.
After that, he had no opportunities to hear the name Han Maru for a while. He came across the name again after two years. The guy, who had a sly smile on his face with a tanned face, had changed once again. Although he was smiling, Giwoo was unable to read anything from his smile. Neither hostility nor goodwill. He couldn’t help but feel like he was facing an intricately-made doll.
Ever since he realized that they went to the same gym, he saw the guy’s face from time to time, but Maru had changed again during that short time. When he just got discharged, he looked like a doll without emotions, but right now, he once again showed that nonchalant attitude from when he was in his 3rd year of high school.
Giwoo looked at Maru who was looking at the instructions on the back of the supplement packaging. This guy had become a human that wasn’t even worth his attention now. The acting charisma that he showed during ‘Apgu’ should have disappeared due to the long break, and the bone-chilling gaze that reminded him of his grandfather was gone without a trace as well. Talking to him was a waste of life since he had become another one of the people who looked like ants from the top of a skyscraper.
“I wonder if strawberry flavor tastes good.”
“It was pretty good in my opinion.”
“If it suits picky taste buds like yours, then I’m sure it’ll fit me. How much does this cost per bottle? Isn’t it expensive?”
“I’m giving it to you so don’t think about the cost. If you need more, you can tell me about it.”
“You’re giving me more? I know shame, I can’t receive more.”
Giwoo wondered as they spoke. Even though it was clearly a waste, why was it that this man kept getting on his nerves? He was now living a completely different life from Maru. Whether it was their careers as actors or their backgrounds, the two were incomparable. While he was under the spotlight, rolling in a bed made of money, this guy would keep doing minor and supporting roles and live on chump change. This guy was merely trash that had to be cleaned out of his sight, and all he had to do was to sweep the trash with his feet, but his senses, which were beyond the realm of his head, kept shouting at him to be wary of him.
The reason he felt a meaningless competitive spirit towards him, and the reason he was so kind to him was the identity of this guy known as Han Maru was so mysterious for not getting out of his sight. The beast he saw during their 3rd year of high school had died. He had experienced for himself countless times in the past year that this man was just like a meaningless reed that just swayed in the wind. Strictly speaking, this guy had completely become an ordinary ‘just so-so guy’. He thought something every time; that he would shake his hand like chasing away a fly and get rid of this guy from his life. Also, it was always Giwoo himself that became wary.
“Perhaps we’ll become competitors this time,” Maru said.
Giwoo slowly looked into his eyes. He didn’t look like he was joking. The word ‘competitor’ was laughable in his opinion, but his mouth was already asking a question back,
“I heard you were doing that KBS medical drama.”
“I’m in YBS. You know that we’re doing a medical drama too right? Around the same time slot.”
Giwoo felt a lump of something unpleasant squirming inside his throat.
“You’re shooting a drama?”
“I wanted to keep playing around, but I couldn’t. The president keeps pushing my back telling me that I should be earning money. Even wild beast cubs would start hunting in due time, so it kinda felt wrong of me to keep playing around as a human being.”
Maru stood up with the supplements in hand.
“There should be a press meeting today; you should look it up on the internet. Though, I probably won’t show up because I’m just a nobody.”
“Didn’t you give up on doing dramas?”
“Me? Did I ever tell you something like that?”
“You didn’t, but from the way you acted, it didn’t look like you were ever going to return to the TV scene.”
“I might have come off like that, I guess.”
Maru winked as he smiled. That smile increased Giwoo’s displeasure index.
“I also want to live an easy life. I no longer need to analyze carefully before I do something.”
“Really? Congratulations. I don’t know what role you’re playing but do your best. I’m sure you’ll become well-known in no time with your skills.”
“Kang Giwoo, you’re a great guy after all. You’re encouraging me like this, on top of giving me supplements.”
“You’re a big-hearted man. No wonder you’re popular with the ladies.”
He was no beast. But those eyes weren’t those that belonged to someone who had given up. Although he was still dead, he looked like he was going to move. Giwoo was suddenly reminded of the expression: ‘a sociable corpse’. Or maybe, a smiling zombie.
“But if you want an easy life, I can always introduce you to a good place. Something much more stable than just acting.”
A sense of indescribable crisis made his mouth move. He felt like he could not afford to let this guy into the field that was known as acting.
“Really? Are you putting me in YM?”
“If you want.”
The guy, who looked like he was going to accept it in a heartbeat, suddenly shrugged his shoulders.
“I’m really thankful for the offer, but old dogs can’t learn new tricks, so I should just keep acting; whether it’s for the quiet fellow that lives with me or for those meaningless memories.”
Thanks for the supplements – Maru hummed as he walked. Giwoo almost stopped him. He realized that he had been too emotional. That feeling was just a feeling. What could a corpse do after it escaped to the military when it was supposed to spread its wings out wide? Even if he returned, his life would end at the bottom of the ladder.
“But I think I heard that hum somewhere before.”
Giwoo stared at Maru’s back which was getting distant.