Chapter 7: Blocked

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May 11, 2023Merchie

Li Yangxiao wept in silence, which made Chi Mingyao feel a bit bad for him.
So he opened his mouth to comfort him: “If you can’t get a role, do something else.
Being an actor isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
If you encounter a pervert like Chen Rui, you’d better not be fucked to death by him.”

Li Yangxiao remained silent.
He merely tilted his face toward the window, as though he did not want a stranger to see how he looked while he cried.

He recalled that during his high school days, because he had insisted on taking the arts examination1, the teachers had all approached him one after the other and tried to persuade him to keep his feet on the ground; he recalled the fights he had with his parents in the name of becoming an actor and how he had borrowed money to take the arts examination in another city; to this day, the relationship between father and son had never warmed up.
He recalled the time when he had just been accepted into university; a teacher who was about to retire had praised him as a budding star during the first class.

These memories already seemed so distant.
But in a single moment, they all returned with perfect clarity.
He did not know that he would actually be able to remember them so clearly.

Everyone once dreamed of becoming an actor, but how many of them had actually been able to make that dream a reality? Li Yangxiao had thought that he would be one of them, but he never expected that this dream had quietly come to an end half a year ago, and all this time, he had had no idea.

He had thought that he was at the cusp of realizing this dream.

He had thought that he was very lucky, that all he needed to do was wait for a bit.
But it was only during this period that he realized that all of the waiting he had done in the past was all for nothing.

Li Yangxiao’s grief was so intense that it almost seemed to infect Chi Mingyao with the same emotions.

Chi Mingyao sighed inaudibly and cast another glance at Li Yangxiao: why was he crying like this? It was as if, along with his tears, never-ending sorrow was pouring down alongside his tears.
This kind of silent weeping seemed to carry a deeper sense of despair than sobbing until one’s voice was hoarse.

Chi Mingyao pulled out a few tissues and handed them to Li Yangxiao.
Li Yangxiao did not take them, so Chi Mingyao placed them on Li Yangxiao’s leg, before he said: “Think about it.
Doing something else is pretty good too.
If you really can’t find something else to do, you can come to my place.
I’ll see if I can find someone to get you a job.”

Li Yangxiao laughed; it seemed to be laced with derision.
He was still looking out the window as he said: “What do you know.”

Chi Mingyao had comforted him out of goodwill, but he was not about to take a jab from him.
He could not help but retort mockingly: “What? Acting is still your dream?”

Li Yangxiao did not respond; it was as though he was not in the mood to acknowledge him.

When they arrived, Chi Mingyao pulled over to the sidewalk and parked the car.
He was regretting his reply just now; what was the point of one-upping someone who was in such a sad, sorry state?

On top of that, those words he had just said had probably stabbed Li Yangxiao’s sore spot; it had been a little too rude.

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Chi Mingyao felt like a bit of a bastard.
He wanted to tell Li Yangxiao, “Stop crying, I’ll help you see if I have any contacts that match up with you.” Just as he was about to open his mouth, Li Yangxiao spoke, his eyes pinned in front, “Chi Mingyao, have you ever heard this saying?”

“What?” Chi Mingyao froze.

“Unlike you young masters, we have to put forth all our effort just to live2.” Li Yangxiao’s voice was very calm, without any trace of a sob.
After he finished speaking, he pushed open the car door and got out without sparing Chi Mingyao a single glance.

Chi Mingyao watched as Li Yangxiao walked past the front of his car, and said in a low voice, “Fuck.”

After Li Yangxiao returned home, he laid face-up on his bed.
He looked at the paper memos stuck all over the wall.
They were crammed with lines, all in his own handwriting–every morning, he would wake up and practice these lines.
He had kept this habit up for years now.

But now, he felt desperate and lost.
He did not know in which direction to take his next step.
He reached for his pillow and buried his face in it.

If he could not act, what should he do?

Chi Mingyao had already made it very clear to him that getting blacklisted by Chen Rui meant that he would never be able to enter the mainstream entertainment industry.
And if one wanted their movie to be in cinemas, they would have to make connections with all sorts of big shots.
Li Yangxiao had never participated in any of these complicated operations, but he knew that his career as an actor was basically dead.

Of course, if he acted in a few boring short films and did a few modeling gigs, he would earn enough to scrape by.
But now, he did not even have the slightest hope for the future; what was the point of doing any of this? If he could not do the things he wanted to do, what was the point of living? Just to earn enough to make ends meet, to live just to live? Then would this long life of his be very boring?

Li Yangxiao did not leave the house for a week.
Every day, he sat at home, letting his imagination run wild, to the point that he was about to turn himself into a philosopher.

One day, after he finished his takeout, Li Yangxiao held the takeout box and began to contemplate life again.
Xu Yan had called, asking if Chi Mingyao had introduced him to any industry contacts.

Li Yangxiao faced his phone and said: “Don’t worry, Young Master Chi is pretty diligent.
He said he’d look out for anything, and that he’d contact me soon.”

Xu Yan said: “Then make sure to tell me if there’s any news.”

Li Yangxiao agreed, and Xu Yan said: “After shooting’s over, I’ll visit you.
Yangxiao, when that time comes, food’s on you.”

This single sentence threw Li Yangxiao back to reality.
He suddenly realized why Xu Yan had so kindly helped to introduce him to industry contacts: it was not because of their relationship as former classmates.
It was merely a fair exchange.

An exchange of industry contacts and funds for his body; this could not be much better than that time with Chen Rui.

Li Yangxiao’s heart thumped with fear, but he forced a laugh and said: “Of course, don’t worry.”

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After hanging up, Li Yangxiao immediately blocked Xu Yan on every platform.

After a moment of thought, he found Chi Mingyao’s WeChat contact and blocked him as well.

Since he would never be able to get into the entertainment industry, all of these people who had anything to do with it could get out of his life.

Since the dream he had held onto for over a decade had now been destroyed, he had to live with a little more dignity.

Li Yangxiao felt that he had thought it through: from today onward, he would not act in accordance with others’ opinions.
He would live freely.

In order to bid a thorough farewell to the past, Li Yangxiao found his previous films and watched them all again.

Then, he planned out a new path for himself, something that was completely different from what he had done in the past, a path that he had never once thought about.

Even if he could not be an actor, he did not plan on living a dull, boring life.
He wanted to do something special.

That same afternoon, Chi Mingyao and his elder brother Chi Mingkai were having a rare meal together.
In their company was a director who had gained some reputation in the past year; he had come looking for Chi Mingkai to discuss an investment deal in a drama.

In the middle of the meal, Chi Mingkai left to take a call.
One could tell that he was obviously not very interested in this drama.

The director, named Xu Junzhi, stood up.
He reached out toward Chi Mingkai’s back, wanting to say something more, but Chi Mingkai left quickly and closed the door behind him.

“Ai, your brother doesn’t want to invest in this project anymore.
The director sat down dejectedly, “Last year’s drama didn’t receive the expected viewership.”

“You want to focus on movies this year, right?” Chi Mingyao asked.

“That’s right.
And the main actors this time might not be able to entice the viewers.
Your brother doesn’t want to risk it.”

“Who are they?” Chi Mingyao asked casually.

“Wei Linlin and Xu Jingye.”

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“They’ve only gotten famous in the last two years, no? They’re not very popular.”

The director sighed: “Ai, that’s right.
Originally, Zhang Xi was cast as the sidekick.
In the end, his manager called, saying that this role was too plain, and that he feared it would affect his image afterward.
As for who the role will go to, I still have to mull it over during the next two days.”

Li Yangxiao’s face suddenly flashed through Chi Mingyao’s mind: his silent, tearstained face.

That day, after he had sent Li Yangxiao home, this image often appeared in Chi Mingyao’s mind.
Whenever he sat in the Volkswagen Phaeton he had driven that day, he suddenly thought of Li Yangxiao.
Then, inexplicably, he would feel a bit depressed.

In the following days, he really could not handle it.
He switched to driving a different car, but in the end, he would still think of Li Yangxiao.

To witness the moment when a person’s dreams were shattered was not easy; who did not have their own dream at some point?

So, when Chi Mingyao was not paying attention, he asked: “What kind of actor do you need?”

“Someone young, anything’s fine as long as he’s attractive.
Nowadays, the only thing people look at is the face.” The director said.

“I have a friend,” Chi Mingyao said, “He fits your requirements quite well.
He just doesn’t have much of a name for himself.”

“That isn’t a problem.
After all, it’s just the sidekick, he’s not going to be the one pulling in the viewers.
Young Master Chi, do you have a picture? I’ll take a look first.”

I’ll look through his Moments.” Chi Mingyao found Li Yangxiao’s WeChat contact and tapped on his Moments page.

Li Yangxiao had not made any new posts in years.
The most recent one was a silly photo from New Year’s Eve, in which he was crossing his eyes.

Chi Mingyao scrolled down, trying to find a normal-looking picture.
But after looking at just a few photos, he became a bit impatient: fucking mental, why are there people who insist on crossing their eyes in every picture? Is there something wrong with your brain?! Chi Mingyao cursed him in his mind.

Only after tapping through a few photos did he find a normal-looking one.
It was the one that Cao Ye had shown him the other day.
It was probably the same one Chen Rui had painstakingly unearthed back then.

Chi Mingyao handed his phone to the director: “It’s this guy, is he all right?”

“Th-this, isn’t this that Yang… Yang… “

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“Li Yangxiao?” Chi Mingyao finished for him.

“Right! Isn’t he the actor Rui-ge called useless before?”

“News really travels far and wide around here.
You heard about it too?” Chi Mingyao was a bit speechless.

“Back then, it was spreading through chat groups.
So many of mine received the news.
Young Master Chi, will this be all right?” The director examined the photo, before he looked back up at Chi Mingyao.

“It’ll be fine.
Just see if he’s all right or not.
If he’s good, cast him.
If something happens, I’ll sort it out.”

“All right then.
Young Master Chi, why don’t you have him send his previous works over for me to look at? I want to see how he acts.”

“I’ll tell him.” Chi Mingyao took his phone back, exited the Moments page and sent a text to Li Yangxiao:

“Do you have any previous works?”

It did not send.
A system message appeared on the screen: “The message is successfully sent but rejected by the user.”

No way, he had just been able to view his Moments page! Was there something wrong with the system? Chi Mingyao closed the settings, and reopened WeChat.
He sent the text again, but the result was still the same.

Chi Mingyao found this to be a bit weird.
He tapped on Li Yangxiao’s Moments page again–and discovered that he could not view any of the photos.

Li Yangxiao had actually blocked him?!

Chi Mingyao was about to throw his phone: just moments earlier, he, Chi Mingyao, had repaid ingratitude with kindness.
Just as he had been about to give Li Yangxiao a helping hand, in less than a minute’s time, Li Yangxiao had actually finished blocking him?! 


Sorry for the delay ah~ Thanks for reading~

艺考 (yì kǎo): Art college entrance examination.
It’s an alternative to 高考, the usual university entrance exam.
This exam is for those who want to major in fine arts/music, with content and grades based on certain courses. In the raws, there is a note that points out that this line is from Gintama.
I found the episode, and the English subtitle for this line was “unlike you rich people, we can barely scrape by day to day”.

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