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Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations

Editor: Michala

 

Nan HuaiLin slept heavily. When he woke up, he checked his phone first and saw it was just after eight o’clock in the morning. After touching his forehead, he realized he still had a slight fever but it was not as serious as it had been the last two days. He got up, washed up, and then went downstairs to eat breakfast.  He ate two buns and a bowl of congee with a small dish of pickled vegetables.

Halfway through the meal, his phone rang. Nan HuaiLin answered, “Hello?”

“Me.” A word popped out.

“……” The voice was a little familiar, but not familiar enough to hear who it was based on one word alone.

“Your brother, Chong.” The other side added another sentence.

This time, he knew it was Shen Chong.

“Why haven’t you released me from the blacklist yet?” Shen Chong said discontentedly. “Hasn’t our friendship boat already set sail? Is it appropriate for you to treat me like this?”

“You…” Nan HuaiLin was speechless for two seconds. “Do you have a problem?”

“I can’t call you early in the morning?” Shen Chong said. “Do you remember the director Luo that you met at Pure K last time?”

“Yes,” Nan HuaiLin said, “Luo Ke.”

“I think I told you last time that he is preparing a new drama and he has booked me as the male lead.” Shen Chong said, “He called me yesterday and said that you are particularly suitable for the role of the third male character and wants you to audition for it.”

Nan HuaiLin was a little confused.

Luo Ke did say he was suitable for the third male role that day. He thought it was just a casual, polite remark, but was he serious?

“Hello? Are you still breathing?” Shen Chong said. “Why don’t you say something?”

“Ah, I’m listening,” Nan HuaiLin said. “But doesn’t the company not allow actors to take on private roles?”

Shen Chong said, “Isn’t your agent He Dinghong? He was fired yesterday, don’t you know?”

“Yes.” Nan HuaiLin said.

“Then that’s it.” Shen Chong said. “Don’t worry about anything else. Just go to the audition and I’ll say hello to the director.”

Nan HuaiLin hesitated briefly and said, “Then…thank you.”

Shen Chong laughed, “It’s not easy to hear a good word from you. Hurry up and get brother off the blacklist. I’ll send you Luo’s cell phone number later and you can contact him directly.”

Nan HuaiLin said, “Okay.”

After hanging up the phone, Nan HuaiLin was still a bit confused.

He was a bit flattered by the good things that came to him one after another.

Could this be the legendary ‘coming of age?’

This was so exciting!

When he recovered, Nan HuaiLin hurriedly pulled Shen Chong’s number out of the blacklist.

A text message came immediately afterwards, with only a cell phone number.

Then another one, [Call him now.]

Nan HuaiLin returned a [yes], took two bites of his congee until it was finished, checked out and ran home.

He opened the door, went inside, caught his breath, and then called Luo Ke with a sense of excitement.

The call was answered quickly, and Nan HuaiLin said as calmly as possible, “Hello, this is Nan HuaiLin.”

“Hello,” Luo Ke asked. “Did Shen Chong tell you everything?”

Nan HuaiLin said, “Yes.”

“Do you have time today?” Luo Ke asked again.

“Yes.”

“Then come to the Century Theater,” Luo Ke said. “The audition starts at ten.”

“Okay.”

After hanging up the phone, Nan HuaiLin scrambled to pick himself up, but found that he didn’t look too different from before, except that his hair was a bit neater. He was a little discouraged, but he didn’t have time to fuss anymore, so he had to hurry out.

When he arrived at the Century Theater, it was 9:30 a.m. Nan HuaiLin followed the directions to the theater’s rehearsal hall, where the audition would take place. The rehearsal hall was not very big, except for the first row that was empty, the rest of the rows of seats had almost been filled with people waiting for the audition.

Nan HuaiLin found an empty seat and sat down. Looking at the overwhelming number of people, he suddenly became nervous. Although he had been acting since his junior year, this was Nan HuaiLin’s first official audition. The reason was because there was no need to audition for the role of an extra. If they saw that you were suitable, they would use you. If not, they would not.

Nan HuaiLin suddenly remembered that he knew nothing about the drama and the role he was auditioning for. He was about to call Shen Chong to ask him about it, when he heard two people in the front row talking.

“…This play is called Star Country, it is a fundamental adaptation of the novel of the same name. I stayed up late last night to finish reading the novel. I think the second male persona is the most outstanding. If you play it well, you could be just as big as the first male lead.”

“I heard that the male one and male two have been determined, male one is Shen Chong, male two is unknown.”

“I guess it is also Ming Xi Media’s people, as this drama has Ming Hei as the investor. They will certainly want to promote their own actors, ah. Fat water does not flow outside the field well.”

Nan HuaiLin didn’t continue to listen. He took out his phone and searched for Star Country.

The top search results were all news about Shen Chong’s appearance in Star Country, and then there was a sliver of the novel on the website. Nan HuaiLin clicked it, and just after reading the line “This novel was first published on Jinjiang Literature City (JJWXC)”, he heard a ruckus. When he looked up, he saw a few people had come in, led by Luo Ke, and they all sat in the empty first row.

It appeared that the audition was about to begin.

Nan HuaiLin put away his phone and looked up at the stage in front of him, his heart both apprehensive and excited.

A casually-dressed man walked onto the stage, holding a microphone in his hand, and after a few brief opening remarks, began to introduce the rules of the audition, “…Because there are too many people auditioning, in order to save time, we will group them by drawing lots. Each paper stick has a performance topic on it, and those who draw the same topic are automatically divided into groups, and they will cooperate with each other to complete a performance within three minutes.”

The people at the bottom answered in unison, “Yes, I understand!”

The man said, “Okay, let’s start drawing lots.”

The actors took turns to draw lots on the stage, and then formed groups of two.

Soon, everyone had a partner, except Nan HuaiLin, who was left behind.

There were fifty-five people who came to the audition today, and one of them was destined to have no partner, and Nan HuaiLin became the “lucky one,” so he could only perform a solo role.

After a breakup – this was the topic Nan HuaiLin drew for his performance. Only these three simple words, without any extra hints.

This was for actors to show their improv skills.

Nan HuaiLin quickly figured out how to act, and then silently worked on his lines.

After half an hour of preparation time, the actors again went on stage to draw lots to decide the order of their performances. Nan HuaiLin was unfortunate enough to be drawn as No. 2 and he couldn’t help but curse in his heart.

After the lottery, the audition officially began.

Nan HuaiLin didn’t care to watch the No. 1 group’s performance because he only had three minutes left to prepare. He was so nervous that his palms were sweating, and his heart was almost in his throat.

At this moment, his cell phone in his pocket suddenly vibrated.

When he took out his phone, it was a WeChat message from Fei Cheng, [Where are you?]

Nan HuaiLin replied, [Audition.]

After a two-second pause, he quickly typed, [Three minutes later, I will call you. You don’t have to speak when you answer, just listen to me.]

Fei Cheng replied in seconds, [Okay.]

No. 1’s performance ended in three minutes, and it was Nan HuaiLin’s turn to go on stage.

Nan HuaiLin took a deep breath, walked quickly to the stage, sat down at the edge of the stage with his legs hanging naturally and his face facing the camera.

The moment he faced the camera, all the nervousness disappeared, and the abundant emotions came up, pulling him into the role he was about to play.

“Let’s do it,” Luo Ke said.

Nan HuaiLin took out his cell phone and dialed Fei Cheng’s number, then put the phone to his ear. His face was expressionless and his eyes were vacant as he stared straight at the camera in front of him.

The call was answered.

“Sorry, I’m calling you again.” Nan HuaiLin’s originally clear voice was low and hoarse because of having a fever for days, and his tone was cold without a trace of emotion. “I couldn’t sleep. I haven’t slept for two days and two nights. Yesterday I stayed home all day and watched twelve ghost movies. This morning I went out at dawn. I walked a long, long way, and I wanted to see what was at the end of the road. Do you want to guess?” Nan HuaiLin’s tone suddenly lightened up, and he tilted his head slightly, a little smile floating on his face. “At the end of the road, there is a cliff, and below the cliff is the sea, and on the sea is the moon, and around the moon is a sky full of stars. I am now sitting on the edge of the cliff, do you hear the sound of the waves?” Nan HuaiLin suddenly laughed out loud. “Die? Why should I die? I don’t even love you that much. The person I love most is always myself, how could I possibly die for you? You are so ridiculous.” He was laughing, but a line of tears flowed down silently. “I want to thank you, thank you for letting me save enough frustration to finally start a new life. I’m calling this number just to say goodbye to you. Goodbye and we will never see each other again.” The moment he hung up the phone, Nan HuaiLin burst into tears, but quickly collected himself, smiling while shedding tears, staring into the distance, without making another sound.

The rehearsal hall erupted in applause.

Nan HuaiLin hurriedly stood up, wiped a handful of tears from his eyes, bent down and bowed towards the stage, and quickly walked off the stage.

Returning to his seat and adjusting his emotions, Nan HuaiLin was finally able to watch the others’ performances with peace of mind. It was good to finish the show early, at least without having to worry about it.

It was already 1 p.m. when the last group finished.

The host came on stage, “Thank you very much for coming to the audition today, notification of the audition results will be sent to you in three days by text message.”

Everyone got up and left.

Nan HuaiLin had just stood up when the phone in his hand suddenly vibrated.

The caller ID was Luo Ke, and when he looked up at the first row, Luo Ke was waving at him. Nan HuaiLin froze and saw Luo Ke shaking the phone, he hurriedly answered it.

“Stay here for a minute,” Luo Ke said. “I need to talk to you.”

Nan HuaiLin answered yes, hung up, sat down and became apprehensive again.

The rehearsal hall quickly emptied.

Luo Ke stood at the edge of the stage and waved at Nan HuaiLin. “Nan, come here.”

Nan HuaiLin got up and walked over.

Luo Ke said, “Nan, I’m sorry, but I can’t give you the role of the third male.”

Disappointment instantly overwhelmed him, but Nan HuaiLin didn’t show any half-heartedness, he smiled and said, “It’s okay, I hope I can have the chance to work with Director Luo in the future.”

“I’m not done yet,” Luo Ke smiled. “After watching your performance, I think the second male role is more suitable for you.”

 

The author has something to say: 

Cheng Cheng: If you were a painter, what do you think my profession would be?

Nan Nan: What?

Cheng Cheng: Illustrator. 1

— “One Hundred Cheesy Pick-Up Lines.”

 

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Translator Notes:

  1. The same characters creating the one word for illustrator 插画家 can also be split to be read as 插 画家 which means fuck (stick it in) the painter.
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