Life, Once Again! - Chapter 572

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Jincheol brought the standing sign inside and flipped the status sign on the window. The hand-written ‘open’ sign now could be seen from the inside. Just as Jincheol was reaching up the glass door to lock it, two women, who seemed to be customers, came around. Jincheol poked his head out of the door and talked to them with a smile. He seemed to be apologizing for closing early.

“Give us some freebies next time.”

“Yes, of course. I’ll give you some buns the next time you’re here.”

“Have a good day.”

The women turned around after saying goodbye. They didn’t seem to feel unpleasant at all as though this happened frequently. It probably meant that the café was just that comfortable for the customers.

“Don’t your sales take a hit if you close so early?” Maru asked Jinjoo who was busy inside the kitchen. It was 6 p.m. It was the golden hour when they could attract people going home from work and school, yet they had closed the store and were preparing to eat dinner. He was a little envious seeing them being leisurely, but he was slightly worried as well.

“We don’t need to be in a hurry since we don’t have to pay rent. Well, normally, we stay open from 9 till 8, but we should close early on a day like this when we have some people around.”

He had forgotten. Forgotten that this place was run by the landowner as a hobby. Maru realized that there was nothing more meaningless than worrying about these two so he decided to mind his own problems.

“Don’t pull too much,” he said as he looked down.

Two children were sticking to a leg each. They were Jincheol’s children who had come back from nursery. The one quietly grabbing his left leg was a boy, while the one mercilessly shaking his right leg was a girl. It seemed that the girl inherited traits from her mother. This little one had a very strong gripping strength.

Maru walked around the store with the two children in his arms. The kids giggled when they were lifted in the air.

“I was always worried because those two didn’t like strangers, but I’m glad to see that they’re obedient in your arms,” Jincheol said.

Joongjin, and Geunsoo, who were drinking beer next to him, were also looking at Maru with interest.

“Perhaps I was a childcare worker in my previous life.”

He lifted the children up high and ran around the store. He was soon surrounded by cats, and the ones that were playing around on the 2nd floor were around him as well. There was a total of 11. It seemed that the ones from the 2nd floor were the bosses as they were on the sofas meant for customers. The spotty one was one of them.

“Dinner’s ready.”

A savory fragrance could be smelled from the counter. He brought the two children over. A large bowl of red-colored bibimbap, miyeok-guk[1], and stir-fried potatoes were there.

“Bada, Haneul. Come to mommy and get ready to eat.”

The two children that left Maru’s side walked to the counter. Gaeul sat next to Jincheol.

“She has the same name as my sister.”

“Who?”

“Bada.”

“Really? Is your sister a tomboy like our dear Bada?” Jinjoo asked as she pinched  Bada’s cheeks.

“She’s a tough one alright. Father named her such intending for her to become like the calm sea[2], but she grew up like a storm.”

“I hope our Bada becomes a little more obedient. She always causes trouble at the nursery. I heard she goes around beating up the boys or something.”

“I don’t!” Bada denied it in a loud voice.

Maru quietly laughed. Girls were bigger than boys when they were very young. It wouldn’t be strange if a girl like her made boys around her cry. Compared to her, Haneul was very calm for a boy. He could tell at a glance that he didn’t make his parents worry.

“Bon appetit, everyone. Don’t leave any behind.”

Maru looked at the two children who were using their little hands to use a spoon to scoop up food before picking up his chopsticks. He thought that he wouldn’t have any appetite since he ate a lot of things, but it came back to him when he ate a spoonful of bibimbap. The spiciness of the gochujang[3] was just right.

They talked about a lot of things over dinner, and most of it was about children. They look the cutest around that age - he thought that as he looked at the children and time passed by in a flash.

“Honey. I’m going to go back first with the kids so come home after you clean up. Don’t be too late.”

“Alright.”

Jinjoo took the three kids out of the store. While Jincheol and Geunsoo cleaned up the store, Maru washed the bowls. After putting the bowls in the cupboard, he shook off the water from his hand. He suddenly had the thought that it was not a bad idea to open a store like this. Of course, he knew that running a business was akin to war, so it was very unlikely that he would do so. Though, he might consider it if he earned an uncontrollable amount of money as an actor.

“Looks like you wash your dishes a lot at home, yes?” Joongjin, who was watching him from the counter, asked.

There was a strangely large number of cats around him. Perhaps he had a smell that attracted cats.

“If there’s a pro license, I would get one.”

Jincheol and Geunsoo also finished cleaning the store and came back to the 1st floor.

“I wish I was born a cat.”

Geunsoo said that as he looked at the corner of the store. A large cat was sleeping. Maru smiled and left the counter.

“Sorry to make you work when I called you here as a guest,” Jincheol apologized.

“I ate for free, so I should at least do this much. Is it all done now?”

“We don’t have any more things to do. Oh, wait.”

Jincheol, who went behind the counter, took out a bag of coffee from the display. He then put the coffee bag in a paper bag along with some other things.

“Take this home with you. You just have to put one scoop on a filter and brew it with some hot water. Do you want one too, hyung?”

“I don’t.”

Joongjin shook his hand.

“Hyung-nim, why aren’t you asking me?”

“You can drink here. You’re gonna have to be here every day once the shoot starts.”

“Now that makes me feel tired already.”

Geunsoo laughed. Joongjin looked at his watch.

“Looks like I’ve been held up here for longer than I expected. Jincheol, thanks for the food and drinks today. Mr. Geunsoo, Mr. Maru. See you later.”

“Have a safe trip back home.”

Joongjin left while dragging his slippers. Some of the cats followed him to the door and meow-ed at him.

“We should get going too.”

Geunsoo picked up his jacket. Maru looked at the store once more. He liked this place. He decided that he should visit this place, if he had the time, and enjoy some coffee. His gaze moved along the wall and stopped on the staircase that led to the 2nd floor. He was reminded of Jung Haejoo, who wasn’t here but was mentioned more than anyone.

“It would’ve been good if I could see her.”

He talked to himself in a small voice. The actress that stole the hearts of geniuses. He wondered what her acting was like. However, it was impossible to see the acting of an actress who died 16 years ago. Hearing about it from someone else wouldn’t give him first hand experience, so it would be meaningless.

“If you’re talking about Haejoo’s acting, there’s a way you can see her.”

He heard a voice right next to him. It was Jincheol, who was holding a cat.

“I can?”

“We have some videotapes we recorded while I worked at Yecheon. I can’t guarantee the quality, but there shouldn’t be a problem with just watching it. I was feeling a little sorry since I only gave you coffee after you came all the way here, so I guess this is good now.”

Jincheol told him to follow him and left the store. He locked up the store and went around the building. He opened a glass door and went in. An iron door leading to the store and a staircase appeared. On the iron door was a sign that said ‘no entry’.

“The 3rd floor is my house.”

TV sounds could be heard from above. When they arrived at the top of the stairs, a door with a heart-shaped sign that said ‘Jinjoo’s’ on it could be seen.

“Wait a bit.”

Jincheol went inside first. After a while, the commotion died down and the door opened.

“Come in.”

Maru carefully walked inside. There was a soft mat at the entrance. In the living room were two toy slides that were shaped like an elephant. It was clearly a home that had children in it.

“The kids just fell asleep. There would be big trouble if they wake up, so be careful,” Jincheol said.

He walked across the living room with cat-like steps. Jinjoo and the three children could be seen inside the room that seemed to be the baby’s room. Jinjoo was gently stroking the stomachs of the children who were sleeping. Meeting eyes with her, Maru silently greeted her. Jinjoo smiled and nodded.

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Jincheol opened the door to a room and went inside. This room seemed to be used for storage as there were a lot of boxes and items piled on top of one another.

“It should be inside this box.There’s quite a lot, so you need to check the label.”

Jincheol dragged out five blue plastic boxes and placed them in the middle of the room. Maru cleaned off the dust with some wet wipes and slowly opened the cover. Inside were a bunch of videotapes.

“It looks like there’s around three hundred in total.”

Geunsoo said as he sat down.

“It’s over a decade’s worth after all. These days, they don’t take up much space because you can put them all on CDs, but those didn’t exist back then.”

Listening to Jincheol’s words, Maru took out the videotape at the very top. A tape that was slightly longer than his handspan. It had been a really long time since he had seen one. CDs had replaced all storage media when he entered middle school, and ever since then, videotapes became a relic. There probably wasn’t a household these days that still used videotapes to watch movies.

“There’s a treasure here,” Geunsoo said as he took out one of the tapes.

‘Secret sister-in-law.’ - that was the label on the tape.

“It’s one of the relics from cheonggyecheon[4]. Do you want it?”

“Nah. This seems to be filled with wedding videos and celebratory occasions. Maru, how is it on your side?”

“I’ll have a look at what’s below.”

Maru took out some of the tapes at the top and looked below. Unlike the top, which just had tapes, the lower tapes were stored in casings. Jincheol exclaimed when he saw them.

“It’s those. I remember now that I see it.”

Jincheol took out the blue casings. The yellowed-out paper labels on them said ‘Yecheon’.

“Let’s take them all out for now.”

The three of them took out all of the tapes in the big box.

“Man, we took a lot of videos.”

There was a total of 57 videotapes encased in blue casings. All of them had a label that said ‘Yecheon’.

“One VHS is around 220g each, so they should be about 13kg if you count the casings. If I could, I’d love to have you watch them at my house, but we have children, and more importantly, don’t have a VCR.”

“Of course. I’ll take them and watch them by myself. I’m thankful that you’re lending me these at all. I would hate to disturb you even more.”

Maru placed the tapes in a cardboard box that Jincheol gave him. After wrapping the box with tape, he tried lifting it. It was quite awkward to lift it up since the volume was big, but it wasn’t like he couldn't move.

“I want to watch them too since he told me that the president fell in love with her as well.”

“You aren’t taking a step out from this place today, you know that, right?”

Geunsoo licked his lips in pity as he looked at the box.

“I’ll give them to you once I finish. I’ll take notes on them too.”

“I’ll be thankful if you do. Uhm, hyung-nim. I’ll take Maru home.”

“It’s okay. I can take the taxi home. It looks like you have work to do. You don’t need to mind me.”

Maru picked up the box. He quietly left the room, trying to not make any sound. He met Jinjoo in front of the door and she told him to visit again. Maru nodded before going towards the door.

“I hope the next time we see each other, we do it because of work. I feel like working with you will be fun.”

“I’ll gladly take you up on any offer.”

Maru shook hands with Jincheol.

“Are you sure you don’t need a ride home? You look pretty uncomfortable.”

“I can load it on the taxi.”

“I feel sorry about it.”

“Why would you be? Thanks to you, I got to meet the director and got precious things too,” Maru said as he thought about the videotapes and the coffee. Geunsoo took a step back, saying okay.

“I’m off then.”

“You’ll probably have to go to the high street to get a taxi. You don’t see them around here that much.”

“Okay.”

He picked up the box and left the house. His steps were light thanks to the unexpected gifts. He looked forward to watching them already. What kind of acting did she do? He was excited like a child.

Just as he started walking, he remembered something important.

“Did we have a VCR at home again?”

Maru frowned.

[1] Seaweed soup.

[2] Bada means sea

[3] Red pepper paste. It’s the reason why bibimbap looks red.

[4] A popular electronics district in Seoul that no longer exists today.

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