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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Juho rose from his seat. Although the young author was clearly driving his guest out, Jenkins looked up at him and waved both of his hands in a hurry.
“Hey, hey! I was just messin’ with ya! All right. How about this? Do you have a favorite actor? Hollywood actor, that is. Counting directors.”
“This has been a long day for me, Mr. Jenkins.”
“Hold on! This is so unfair! You gave that Korean director a chance! Why can’t you give me one!?”
“You can shout all you want outside.”
With that, Juho kicked the director out of his room. Even while being dragged out, Jenkins kept trying to convince the young author. After getting pushed out the door to the hallway, Jenkins desperately wedged his arm between the door and the frame and said, “One last thing!”
“I have one more question.”
“… Go ahead.”
“There’s a question that you’ve avoided answering in every interview, a questions about your future to be precise. How would you like to be remembered in the future? What’s your goal in life?” Jenkins said in a hurry, dreading the possibility of the door closing on his arm.
“Who wants to know?”
“I’m a fan. I’ve been meaning to ask you that all along. What is it that you’re trying to earn through your writing?”
Since there was no one but Juho on the floor, the hallway was dead quiet. The young author had the entire floor to himself, which eliminated any possibility of another person overhearing their conversation. Seeing that the director was getting clingier, Juho decided to give him what he wanted and close the door after. Thankfully, it wasn’t all that difficult of a question to answer.
“I wanna be great.”
At that, Jenkins pulled his hand away from the door. As the young author closed the door, Juho saw a subtle smile spread on the director’s face, which seemed like neither a sneer nor a chuckle. Rather, it was the look of a person who had finally gotten his hands on a long-awaited piece of clue. In those eyes, Juho saw a reflection of himself holding his breath and wondering, ‘What’s he thinking?’ Finally, the door closed, and the air sank into silence, devoid of even the footsteps of the unwelcome guest, or his pleas to open the door.
“I’ll come back, Mr. Woo. This isn’t over yet.”
As Juho remained silent, the director disappeared down the hallway. Left alone, the room felt even quieter than usual. Throwing himself on to the bed, Juho let out a deep sigh.
In some ways, Jenkins was even more of a challenge to deal with than Coin. Although appearing to be scatterbrained and a man who stayed true to his instincts, there was no doubt that the director had a broad perspective on things.
“I’m beat,” Juho let out and closed his eyes, the director’s words still lingering in his mind. Juho had what the director wanted, but the director couldn’t provide Juho with what he wanted. The deal was a no-go. Having trouble falling asleep, Juho opened his eyes, his head filled with thoughts, such as:
‘Shouldn’t you be trying to do everything within your power rather than backing down after a single failure?’
‘Your books are impossible to put down.’
‘I wanna try something similar. I wanna make it into a movie.’
‘I’ll make a movie that no one else can make.’
Juho sat up on his bed. Wrapped up in blanket, his feet felt heavier than usual. He felt as though he was caught in a swamp that kept him from moving forward. Letting out a small sigh, Juho opened his laptop and searched for Jenkins’ movies.
“Zara Jenkins!? What are you doing calling me!? It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to work with a director like him!”
As Sang Young’s voice blasted from the receiver, Juho turned the volume on his phone down. Sang Young seemed to have a good knowledge of how Jenkins came to reach his current directorial position. In short, he was saying that…
“He’s a genius.”
Sensing a bicycle coming toward him, Juho stepped aside. At that moment, he heard the faint sound of street performers in the distance; one of them sounded like a violin. After glancing in the direction of the sounds, Juho continued on his way.
“He started off strong with his first movie, even though it wasn’t until later that it came out in Korea. But from what I’m gathering from how you’re describing him, he’s quite the character. He flew all the way to Germany just so he could see you? He must be out of his mind.”
‘You’re one to talk.’
As Juho swallowed the words that came all the way up to his throat, Sang Young raised his voice even more, saying, “You’re doing this, right? You have to! He’s the director with the fastest-rising acclaim in all of Hollywood. I’m sure he knows your book inside out by this point. When you watch his movies, you can tell just how much he understands the subject. Everything he touches becomes multi-dimensional almost instantly. Personally, I think I have an idea as to why he wants to do a film adaptation of the novel. He’s probably confident, both in his interpretation of it and his skills.”
Juho agreed. After watching one of Jenkins’ movies, he had realized just how talented of a director Jenkins was.
“I’m sure he is.”
“Man, I would like to see that movie made!”
At that, Juho looked down and said hesitantly, “… I don’t know.”
“Or you could always let me do it.”
“I don’t know about that either.”
“That was quick.”
Juho chuckled at Sang Young’s playful remark. However, the moment was short lived because he heard a familiar voice upon arriving on his floor.
“Yun Woo!” Jenkins shouted, springing up from the floor in front of Juho’s hotel room.
“I gotta go. Jenkins is here.”
“What? Now!? In front of you!? You don’t think you could let me talk to…”
Before Sang Young got to finish his sentence, Juho hung up and put his phone in his pocket. After which, Jenkins approached the young author swiftly.
“You were speaking in Korean just now, weren’t you?”
The director nodded his head as if thinking about something. Observing him for a brief moment, Juho said, “You’re really here.”
“I’m a man of my word.”
“I didn’t realize it’d been a promise.”
“That’s how most promises are kept.”
Walking past him, Juho reached for the handle of the door to his room.
“What’s the matter? Did you forget your key or somethin’?” Jenkins asked upon seeing the young author hesitate in front of the door, anxious to go inside. Tilting his head, Juho asked, “Do you think this is some sort of battle?”
“Is that supposed to be a riddle? Like that of the Sphinx? A rite of passage perhaps? Are you gonna let me in if I answer your question?”
“You’re not gonna jump off the window if I get it right, are you?”
Thinking of the tales of the Sphinx and the creatures’ death, Juho smiled and reassured the director, saying, “Don’t worry. I’m not taking my own life.”
“As you said, this is a battle,” Jenkins said with his hands on his sides. Then, clearing his throat, he asked, “What is the creature that has one voice, walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?” as if imitating the arrogant voice of the Sphinx. As Juho remained silent, the director spread his arms open and said, “Man.”
That had been the answer Oedipus had given to the riddle asked by the Sphinx, which ultimately had saved his life from the mythical creature. Overcome by anger and humiliation, the Sphinx had taken its own life. Meanwhile, Juho stood completely still in front of the door.
“Personally, I think Oedipus depicts the most fundamental aspects of mankind. More specifically, the root of tragedy. Just look at the man’s life. He’s a hero who defeated a monster on one hand, but he’s also an incestuous, murderous criminal who killed his own father. He’s done unspeakable things to the very people who birthed him into the world. As he moves up in society, his appearance also changes. He crawls with his limbs, walks on his feet and, eventually, with a cane at various points in his life. Yet, he lives just like how it was predicted. It’s just as interesting as your writing.”
It was well-known myth. In the end, the hero became blind after stabbing his own eyes out willingly, causing him to wander aimlessly, without a place to settle.
“We’re no different from Oedipus. We’re both human, Mr. Woo, always finding ourselves at crossroads, trying to find our identities, letting things define us, and constantly wrestling with ambiguity. But what makes us different, are the things that you and I are looking for. Think of this as a conflict necessary in order to reach a mutual understanding. A perilous tug-o-war, if you will.”
“I don’t think I follow.”
“All I’m saying is that I’ll never give up trying, even if I don’t get the movie rights from you. I’m not Oedipus himself, so I’m sure things will turn out slightly better for me.”
“I still don’t follow,” Juho said.
“Let me rephrase this.”
By that point, It was clear that Jenkins was a man of confidence. Shaking his head, Juho turned the door handle.
“Why don’t you come in?”
Since Juho couldn’t eat the director alive for giving the wrong answer, like the Sphinx would have, he felt the need for a conversation. Bringing out a loaf of rye bread he had bought on his way to the hotel, the young author asked, “Do you like bread? I got some milk if you’d like.”
Juho turned around in order to see the response from the director. However, instead of a response, he was greeted by a gun. At which point, a wave of information about the director’s country came rushing through the young author’s mind. Juho blinked, but everything around him remained unchanged. The buttstock, the barrel, the iron sights, the slide, the magazine. Scanning the structure of the pistol in the director’s hand, Juho wondered, ‘Where did he get that?’
“Are you gonna shoot me?” he asked the director, who held the pistol in his hands aimed precisely at the young author’s chest.
“You gotta let me make this movie. I really want to turn your book into a film, even if it means you not finding what you’re looking for.”
Juho walked toward the gun unhesitantly. Similarly, Jenkins remained unfazed. He didn’t back up either. Then, grabbing the gun by the cold barrel, the young author moved it up to his head.
“Seems like you’ve thought about this quite a bit. Is this one of the ideas you came up with?”
“That’s right. You see, I found a hint from our conversation last night.”
“That’s what it seems. You even remembered that I hate water.”
At that moment, the director pulled the trigger. When Juho stepped aside, a weak stream of water came shooting out of the barrel of the gun, wetting the sofa.
“I’m going to follow you around with this thing everywhere you go, all day long.”
“Very original, Mr. Jenkins. I’ll give you that,” Juho said, taking the gun from the director and shooting it toward the ceiling. It was an elaborately-made water gun.
“Where did you get this anyway?”
“There are all sorts of movie props, Mr. Woo. You’d be surprised. In any case, it was all just a silly joke.”
“It was pretty funny. But, you’re not in Germany just to crack jokes with me, are you?” Juho asked, looking at Jenkins, who was sitting away from the wet spots on the couch. The lengths at which the director was willing to go were far beyond what was sensible. So much so, that they made the young author doubt whether Jenkins really was looking to convince him about the movie rights. If Juho hadn’t seen his movies ahead of time, he would’ve definitely come to that conclusion.
“Are you mimicking your own movie?” Juho asked.
“Ah! You’ve seen it, huh?”
“I have. It was about a fugitive.”
There was a particular scene in the movie that involved two characters pointing guns at each other, having a dialogue that lasted five minutes. Despite the seemingly insignificant length, it was often considered one of the most iconic scenes in the movie.
“Do you prefer milk or beer?”
Taking a bottle of beer from the refrigerator, Juho handed it to the director, who proceeded to open and drink it without hesitation.
“Aren’t you gonna have one?” he asked.
“No, thanks,” Juho replied, and the director didn’t ask any further about the subject, as if already aware of the author’s attitude toward alcohol. With that, Jenkins brought the bottle up to his mouth and guzzled down the liquid, looking at the label on the bottle afterward as if he’d liked the taste. Meanwhile, Juho sat across from him and looked attentively at the director.
“I saw your movie,” Juho said, and Jenkins looked up at him at the sound of his voice.
“All of them?”
“Just one,” Juho said, playing coy.
“It seems that people think your most recent movie does an incredible job depicting your inner being,” Juho said, bringing up the most common review of his movie. “The way you portrayed a person’s inner being in the movie was inherently different from a novel.”
“That’s a given, isn’t it? We’re talking about a movie, after all.”
“I liked it. I found myself getting lost in it.”
At that, Jenkins smiled brightly, his eyes filled with a sense of accomplishment. He wasn’t ashamed to express himself. At that moment, Juho remembered what Sang Young had told him about actors at one point: It’s all in the eyes.
“Well, I’d love to hear more about it, but it’ll have to wait. I’m not here to get compliments after all,” Jenkins said. Then, clasping his fingers together, he kept on, “Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? The conditions haven’t changed one bit. BUT, why don’t we add one more thing to the list?”
“Go on,” Juho said, remembering the smile that had been on the director’s face before he’d closed the door.
“I’ll make you the greatest storyteller there is.”
“Haha!” Juho let out, unable to hold back his laughter. Jenkins was insisting that he could offer Juho what he wanted. If it meant that he got to make Juho’s book into a movie, he wasn’t afraid to contradict himself. In an attempt to involve himself in the young author’s life, he had gone as far as accepting Juho’s discrepancies. Although it was charming, Juho couldn’t help but notice the one, major flaw in the director’s offer.
“My goal isn’t something that can be reached by another person.”
“No, I disagree,” Jenkins said, still refusing to bring up failures in their conversation. “It’s very much possible, as long as you let me do this.”
He was starting to sound like a con artist by that point. However, having no interest in how well or badly the movie did, Juho was finding that their conversation was getting more interesting.
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