Chapter 85: When You’re Missing Pieces of the Puzzle (2)
TL: emptycube / ED: Isleidir
Was this how paranoiacs felt?
Since the moment the fact that an incident big enough for me to threaten someone in the future settled in my mind, I kept looking at people with suspicion.
There were Son Chaeyoung and Teacher Shim Kyungtaek, who would happily chop Lee Songha and me apart if they held an ax, as well as the traitor, who seemed to be rotting than simply being uncomfortable.
There were also Producer Go Joontae, who I wouldn’t find strange if an incident broke out where I wanted to grab him by the collar even though we separated with a handshake, Sugar Cats, who were in a fuss to see Neptune and Im Seoyoung fail, and that guy from Punchline, who was an eyesore whenever I saw him.
Besides them, there were also people who happily ridiculed us when Lee Songha’s controversy broke out but said that we were lucky when things started going well…
There were just too many suspicious people.
Should I say it was like looking for a bomb only to find that my surroundings were filled with landmines?
Among the countless landmines, which one would explode?
“Hey, is your family experiencing some troubles?”
As soon as I sat in the meeting room, Kim Hyunjo asked me suddenly.
“No, they are well.”
“Then problems with love, no, there’s no way you have a girlfriend.”
“Now really, what do you mean by that? I could have a girlfriend.”
“If you can date on top of your current schedule, then you’re my senior.”
When Kim Hyunjo said while chuckling, team leader 3 joined in. They talked about how long it had been since they dated and that this would be my future. They were pouring cold water on my bright future.
Just what were they doing after calling me over when I was busy?
When I gave them a nasty look, Kim Hyunjo grinned whilst supporting his chin.
“I’m asking since you seem so serious considering that you should be grinning all over the place. We finished Next K-Star without any problem and Cat Guardian Ghost, after being heralded as a historical drama, is creating a second wave in China. Everything’s proceeding smoothly.”
“Yeah. At every team leader meeting, I was bashed that we were pouring the money Blackout was making into Neptune and team leader 2, that bastard, never forgot to add his own remarks, but now I can walk in with my back straight.”
Right. It was currently the best time since I was assigned to Neptune.
The final recording of Next K-Star ended well despite our worries, and Cat Guardian Ghost ended after receiving high praise yesterday.
Since the highly anticipated dramas, like Mermaid out of Water and Time Slip, flopped badly, we gained their audience as well, resulting in a syndrome.
It wasn’t spring yet, but reporters were picking Cat Guardian Ghost as the drama of the year and the audience were petitioning for a director’s cut, saying that they would even empty their bank accounts for it.
Lee Songha’s image couldn’t get better.
If the drama was on a public network than cable, then no one would argue with the opinion that Seo Jijoon should receive the acting award and the Rookie of the Year award should belong to Lee Songha.
This was why it wasn’t strange for Kim Hyunjo’s dark circles to fade noticeably and obvious that the team 3 leader would go around with a happy face.
I would have been the same.
Only if I hadn’t seen that future that could give thrillers a run for their money.
“There’s something else on my mind. I guess that’s why I’m like this.”
When I just glossed over it, Kim Hyunjo said as if he understood,
“Is it because of Son Chaeyoung and Teacher Shim Kyungtaek?”
“Well, there’s that too.”
He wasn’t wrong.
The team 3 leader crossed his legs and clicked his tongue.
“Lucky Charm, sometimes, it looks like you worry too much. You shouldn’t worry about them. It’s like a hundred-year poo finally being dislodged. If we were to really expose Teacher Shim Kyungtaek, he’s someone whose secrets would pour down like hail so he won’t try to bite us back.”
“I even heard he’s resigning from the university he’s been teaching at? Something about rumors spreading amongst his students?”
I didn’t know that.
“Since rumors have spread far and wide, all the private lessons with rookies should have been canceled as well. To be honest, if he hadn’t used Son Chaeyoung’s name, he wouldn’t even be close to the number of private lessons he gave. But that’s over now that his relationship with Son Chaeyoung has gone sour.”
“That’s why they say you have one shot in life. How will he live now, that guy?”
“His career in this industry is over.”
The team 3 leader and Kim Hyunjo’s smiles revealed how refreshed they were.
“This is an appetizer, I have more refreshing news.”
Kim Hyunjo smiled meaningfully before grabbing an envelope from the side. The envelope was so thick it looked like it might explode.
After taking the envelope out, Kim Hyunjo pushed it towards me.
“Here, a commercial for a jeans company. It’s for Songha.”
“Son Chaeyoung used to do that commercial, you know.”
The team 3 leader added.
Kim Hyunjo took out a much thicker envelope this time. It was a scenario.
“This is Director Chae Munho’s new movie. He said he wanted to audition Songha.”
“This was a project originally for Son Chaeyoung as well.”
A commercial proposal, movie scenario, and drama synopsis came out after that. Although they were diverse, they all had one thing in common.
They were all projects Son Chaeyoung used to do or ones they were discussing with Son Chaeyoung to do.
I pushed my thoughts about landmines and bombs into a corner of my mind. I looked enchanted at the envelopes in front of me. Oh my god. To those who didn’t know, this sight would only look like a bunch of paper, but to me, they were a more shocking sight than diamonds.
The team 3 leader scratched his nose and smiled,
“You should know by looking too, but they are a difference of heaven and earth in terms of roles and investment scale compared to the ones Lee Songha received. Of course, we will have to have internal meetings about movies and dramas and she would have to audition for them, but these are opportunities that don’t come to people at Songha’s level.”
I did receive scenarios and synopses from a few directors, but none of the roles were as important as these. These were roles given to actors whose talent had been verified through multiple projects.
Actors like Son Chaeyoung.
“All of these went to Lee Songha? Is that possible?”
“Normally, it would be impossible. Even though Mermaid out of Water flopped majestically, someone at Son Chaeyoung’s level wouldn’t lose so many commercial and project offers because one drama flopped. However, for so many and for all of them to go to Songha…”
“The CEO probably had a hand in this.”
The team 3 leader and Kim Hyunjo answered in turn.
Then the team 3 leader gave me a strange look.
“From what the director said, apparently, you’re the one who got these?”
“… I got them?”
“Well, I don’t know if he was joking or not, but that’s apparently what the CEO said. That Jung Sunwoo obtained them.”
I suddenly recalled the phone call I had with CEO Baek Hansung.
When I asked that Son Chaeyoung pay a proper price instead of a simple apology, CEO Baek Hansung had said that he would think about the price.
Kim Hyunjo said while grinning,
“This is probably the worst nightmare for Son Chaeyoung?”
Since an ending party was a place where people expressed their inner thoughts after the drama ended, the mood of the ending party changed depending on the success of the drama. In the case of Mermaid out of Water, there was an article that they didn’t even hold an ending party.
On the other hand, Cat Guardian Ghost’s ending party was wild.
As if they were venting about the busy schedules they had while filming the drama, the film team were pouring bomb shots into their stomachs. Even the production employees, employees from TVL, and the celebrities unbuckled their belts and drank. People were drunk on alcohol and excitement at every table that they were causing a commotion.
“Mr. Sunwoo! Here, here! Come and have a drink!”
It hadn’t even been ten minutes since I returned to Lee Songha’s side.
Did they all decide to call out my name as their drinking habit? They’ve been calling my name from all around for a while now. When I turned around, I saw it was the table of managers this time.
“Jung Sunwoo, you’re busy today,”
Chief Lee Bongjoon chuckled beside me. He shook his round body left and right. Since Seo Jijoon, who was sitting beside him, wasn’t good with alcohol, he took a few shots for him, and it seemed like he was drunk considering his face was red.
“I know, right? It feels like they are calling my name more frequently than the waiters and waitresses.”
“It’s good. Good. This industry runs on who you know, and this is proof their perception of you has changed; from one of the countless managers to someone worth befriending. It might also be that you’ve become more approachable because of the entertainment show.”
Then he giggled again, saying that just looking at me made him laugh.
While clicking my tongue, I looked to my side. Lee Songha was nodding and eating while listening to someone talk. It seemed she drank quite a bit of alcohol every time they toasted, yet her face didn’t change in the slightest.
Lee Songha stopped eating when a vibration rang from below the table.
Seeing as it displayed ‘Home’, it seemed to be from her family. Lee Songha stared at the screen for a while before putting it in her pocket when the ringing stopped.
“If it’s too noisy inside, you can call them outside.”
“It’s fine. It’s better if I don’t answer now. I had some drinks too.”
She whispered after leaning her head towards me.
Were her parents strict? While thinking this, the table of managers called my name out again.
“Songha, it looks like I have to go to that table over there.”
“Okay, one second.”
Lee Songha began collecting her glass, chopsticks, and plate. I quickly grabbed her shoulder since it seemed like she was going to follow me.
“What do you ‘one second’? Don’t you see they’ve made a mixture of beer, soju, and coke and are drinking it in bowlfuls? Just stay here with the chief.”
After sitting back down, Lee Songha looked at Chief Lee Bongjoon. I was on my way to the table calling my name out like a song after patting her small shoulders twice when I heard Chief Lee Bongjoon grumble,
“Hey, Lee Songha. Don’t you think the expressions you look at your manager and me with are too different? You’re making me sober up.”
I looked back because I was curious of her expression, but I only saw the back of her head.
“Hey, Mr. Sunwoo, come sit here. Sit.”
“I only learned how funny Mr. Sunwoo is after watching the broadcast!”
As soon as I sat in the empty seat, they began talking about Star Manager. It seemed that it would serve as my business card for a while. The ratings were clearly only 12%, but it felt like the entire country had seen it. Everyone knew it no matter which table I went.
They changed the topic only after talking about my damn dark past and flattering me by saying that they thought I was a good person even though they found me difficult to approach.
“Now that the drama’s done too, all that’s left is for Lee Songha to sweep the commercials. It seemed like she’ll be in a ton of them? Advertisers like people like her.”
“I hope we get a variety of proposals.”
When I replied while smiling, someone said while sighing,
“Wow, if you filmed and uploaded that, then she might even get a Korean barbecue restaurant commercial proposal. How can she eat meat so elegantly? What a waste to not film it, what a waste.”
The bomb shots I had taken almost came out.
When I turned around, Lee Songha was still eating voraciously amidst the celebrities. Since the mood was so good, it looked good no matter what she did. Still, if people looked at her carefully, they wouldn’t say she was elegant. It would make sense if they said she ate heartily.
A few more rounds of bomb shots passed.
Since we were all managers, we naturally began talking about our work.
We talked about what the celebrities we were assigned to were thinking about for their next project and about how it was difficult to choose because we were receiving too many synopses after the success of this project.
There were even quite a few people asking me what I was thinking for Lee Songha’ next project because Pan Production had told people that I picked Cat Guardian Ghost after reading its synopsis.
The thin Chief Ju licked his lips as he said,
“Mr. Sunwoo should develop Lee Songha further. She’s good at acting, has good luck, and you never know, right? She might become a walking one-person company. Then you can quit your damn company and set up your own.”
“That’s easier said than done. It’s not like W&U is some mom-and-pop shop, his assigned celebrity will change a few times while he gains experience.”
Chief Kim joined in, shaking his head.
The managers from the table next to us joined in,
“If they are compatible, they might continue to work together. There are cases like Chief Lee Bongjoon and Seo Jijoon at W&U. I bet if Chief Lee asks Seo Jijoon to leave with him, he will.”
“But Ms. Lee Songha seems like she’s willing to leave if you ask her to right now. They have a good relationship. I saw that she looked at you every time you moved tables. She also looked back whenever she heard your name being called out loud.”
Chief Ju replied to my question with a laid-back expression,
“Kids always check to see if their moms are still there when they are dropped off at a playground. Something like that I guess. She’s looking at you now.”
When I turned around, my eyes met Lee Songha’s.
We both blinked once before smiling simultaneously. Seeing this, Chief Lee Bongjoon tapped her shoulder and said something. I didn’t know what he was saying, but she was listening carefully. I was curious if he was saying strange things again.
I was looking for the opportunity to move back to that table when Chief Kim placed his empty glass down and tapped my back.
“Mr. Sunwoo, I have something I want to talk to you about, mind if we step outside for a second?”
“Talk with me?”
I looked at him in surprise since we weren’t close. Beyond his glasses, his eyes curled into a smile.
To sober up a little, we went outside.
Facing the moist night breeze, I brushed my hair to the side. Maybe it was because it was the end of February, but sleet was raining down instead of snow.
Chief Kim paused for a moment before saying,
“Mr. Sunwoo, I am just passing on what my superiors want to say.”
“Yes, please say it.”
“Do you have any thoughts on moving to our company?”
I asked back because it was so sudden.
It seemed I didn’t hear wrong due to the influence of alcohol because Chief Kim said,
“Of course, under better conditions than the ones you have now and as a chief, how about it?”