Chapter 92 – Unintentionally picking willows
Taking a look at Neil’s excited face, then at Stanley’s smiling face, and then looking at the others who were applauding him.
Reality grabbed Renly’s ankle, pulled him down forcefully, and then slammed him onto the ground, causing a tremor. After a moment of pause, trying to find the right words, but finding that his brain had a momentary glitch, and even for someone who experienced two lives, all of this was still too surreal.
An indie folk song with a completely different style? And it’s an indie folk song without any promotions on the radio or a music video shoot for it? Moreover, it was a single created by a newcomer who didn’t have any fan base. Don’t forget, this is also a single without a record label or a distribution company behind it – a single that was solely relying on online distributors.
Such singles number in the hundreds every day, and the chance of making it to the Billboard Hot 100 is about as likely as winning the lottery. The ranking is not important; appearing in any position in the top 100 is a miraculous feat. Even if it falls off the chart next week, and if all this is just a momentary flash, it will still be considered a miracle—a miraculous accomplishment of indie folk music.
Unintentional effort led to unexpected success, it all started as just a gift, and unknowingly, it has reached this current position. Life is indeed interesting, isn’t it?
After opening his mouth, Renly for the first time realized that words were actually rather pallid, simply unable to express his current feelings. So, he couldn’t help but chuckle silently, watching as Neil gently retracted his jaw. His emotions were so complex that he was unable to find a suitable way to describe them. He simply skipped over it all, letting silence convey everything, “…Do the two numbers on the cake represent the ranking of the single?”
Obviously, that carefully prepared cake was not for a marriage proposal but for a celebration. The surfing statue is supposed to refer to Renly’s experience of learning how to surf when he was in Australia, in other words, it implies the true subject of this surprise party. So, the special significance of those two numbers was not hard to guess.
“Yes!” Neil proudly puffed out his chest, and then as if singing, he raised his voice and said, “Ninety-seven! This week, ‘Cleopatra’s’ rank is ninety-seven!”
Just ninety-seventh, almost no one pays attention to rankings below fifty, a song that is still at the bottom; but for him this is still the craziest thing that happened to him in 2010. Even him getting the roles for “The Pacific” and “Buried” couldn’t compare to this.
“Ninety-seven!” Renly also raised his right hand high, revealing a big smile. Life is always full of surprises, and no one would refuse a surprise, right?
“Roar!” Everyone in the audience raised their right hands, joining the cheering and roaring.
“Tonight, all the drinks are on my tab!” Renly shouted again, completely igniting the enthusiasm of everyone in the room. Everyone raised their beers, shouting, “Renly! Renly! Renly!”
When he turned around, Renly saw Stanley’s hesitant expression. He knows that this party was organized by Stanley for him, and naturally, he didn’t need to pay for the drinks. But putting that aside, Renly still said to him, “Stanley, this is my party, and I’ve missed the preparation part. At least let me show some host-like behaviour.” Renly’s words made Stanley pause for a moment, but eventually, he smiled.
Stanley took a half step forward, close to Renly’s ear, and then said loudly, “Don’t worry, I won’t open that treasured bottle of whisky.”
Stanley has a precious bottle of whiskey, a Dalmore distilled in 1942, a blend of four single malt whiskies distilled in different years. There existed only twelve bottles of this whiskey in the world, each with a unique name. Stanley’s bottle is called Alexander Matheson., and its specific value is unknown. As a reference, a commonly found Dalmore 50 whiskey is worth $58,000, but it was said that the value of Alexander Matheson is at least double of that. (T/N – I don’t know anything about whiskey, so if I translated something wrongly please let me know.)
No one had actually seen this bottle of Alexander Matheson, they only heard Stanley talk about it. It was said that Stanley had been keeping it secured, waiting for a special occasion to open it. Everyone in the Pioneer Village always liked to joke about this bottle of Alexander Matheson whiskey.
“Haha,” Renly deliberately pulled the corners of his mouth, showing a disappointed expression, “This really broke my heart.” This made Stanley burst into laughter as well.
A glass of beer was passed up from the back, and Renly walked forward, took it, and then raised it high, joining the crowd. Then he tilted his head back and drank it all in one breath. The ice-cold beer slid down his throat and into his stomach, making him couldn’t help but exclaim. Renly raised the glass high and turned it upside down on his head.
The entire room erupted in cheers, and the atmosphere reached its climax at that moment.
While, in Renly’s apartment, a party that didn’t have anything to do with him was underway; in the Pioneer Village, a party that was prepared exclusively for Renly was also taking place.
“Guys, guys!” Janice’s voice came through the speakers, and the excited crowd finally calmed down a bit. “Who wants to hear the protagonist sing the chart-topping single now?”
In an instant, the whole crowd shouted again, “Renly! Renly! Renly!”
Seeing Renly’s helpless expression, Janice continued to tease, “Just now, Neil’s singing was absolutely terrible. I don’t want that to be my only impression of ‘Cleopatra.’ You have to help me cleanse my ears.”
Neil, standing next to her, didn’t mind that at all and even nodded his head repeatedly, “Exactly, exactly. I was horribly off-key just now. You need to set the record straight, or this single will end up in the gutter.”
“Pfft,” the whole audience burst into laughter.
Renly didn’t hesitate either, after putting down the beer mug he looked around. “Where’s the guitar?” Someone immediately handed him the guitar, and others walked down, leaving the stage to Renly.
The party had just begun.
It was a wild night. The Pioneer Village suspended business for one evening to host a private party accessible only to those with a personal invitation. All burdens they all have were set aside to simply enjoy alcohol, music, friends, and the night on a Tuesday evening.
“Renly, come over,” Stanley interrupted Renly, who was arguing with an old man about whether Nirvana or Pearl Jam was more outstanding. “There’s a special guest I want to introduce to you.”
Renly said seriously, “Believe me, Kurt Cobain is a genius, but the greatness of Pearl Jam lies in them as a whole!” Seeing that the other party still wanted to argue, Renly ignored him and followed Stanley’s steps, leaving. From behind came the defiant shout, “Foo Fighters band! So, you’re saying Foo Fighters band isn’t outstanding enough?”
After Kurt Cobain ended his own life, the remaining members of Nirvana formed the Foo Fighters band, becoming one of the most important rock bands of the past fifteen years.
In the end, all these arguments have been left behind. Renly and Stanley came to a small table next to the bar. This small round table was built in a typical Parisian style, only accommodating two people facing each other, with their knees touching, but this kind of compact and congested style showed what the true flavour of Paris is really all about.
An old man with white hair was huddled in the corner, his frail frame almost about to be engulfed by darkness, only faintly visible through the light reflected from his glasses.
“Hey, Woody,” Stanley greeted him familiarly. “This is Renly, he can play a mean piano. Not the textbook competition-style piano, but the kind that truly merges with the music.” Stanley never spared his praise, and this time was no exception.
“I can tell. His guitar has flavour too,” the old man mumbled, speaking with a pure New York accent that sounded particularly familiar.
“Maybe in the future, you two can get on stage together and give it a go,” Stanley chirped, it was not flattery, it was more like the banter between friends, containing a vague hint of anticipation.
The old man shrugged, noncommittal, seeming not too interested in the proposal. He then lifted his head, casting his gaze towards Renly for the first time. However, he didn’t rudely scrutinize him; his gaze lingered on Renly’s face, studying it seriously, as if contemplating the meaning of the expression in Renly’s eyes.
It was only now that Renly finally saw the old man’s face. His face, covered in wrinkles, carried the air of a scholar. With his black round-framed glasses enhancing this demeanour. His silver-white hair was casually and disorderly combed to one side, revealing a full and smooth forehead. His somewhat listless eyes revealed an air of aloofness and pride, making him look unapproachable.
“Renly Hall, is that what you said?” the old man asked loudly.
Renly pursed his lips, then chuckled and said, “Who’s asking?”
Such a counterattack also carried an undeniable sense of pride. However, unlike the slightly critical and sharp questioning style of the old man, Renly’s standard London accent exuded the politeness and coldness accumulated from aristocratic life. While maintaining etiquette, he firmly and clearly defined boundaries.
The former is a literary person, and the latter is a noble. They were essentially different.
The old man chuckled lightly, and his faint breath revealed his disdain and rejection. He seemed entirely indifferent to Renly’s gentlemanly and noble attitude; evidently, the nobility had no influence on him. However, his eyes did flash slightly, seemingly surprised to encounter such a pure London accent here. “You, little fellow, are quite interesting.”
Then, the old man stood up and nodded to Renly, “Remember to let me know if there is going to be another performance of yours.” After patting Stanley’s arm, he said, “I’ll be going now; it’s time for me to go to bed.”
“Sleep well.” Stanley didn’t mind it and likewise casually patted the old man, before watching him leave. Then he turned to Renly and said, “Looks like you’ve gained another listener.”
“Yeah, a celebrity listener.” Renly nodded meaningfully. Woody Allen, even in Hollywood, is one of the top and most famous presences, let alone in the Greenwich Village.
Taking back his gaze, Renly raised his voice to Stanley again, “How about a round of tequila?” Then, he shouted, “Neil! Neil! A round of tequila!”
As he was approaching the counter, Neil had already arranged a row of tequila, with lemons and salt also ready. Renly took the lemon, and raised it high, while Neil picked up his own glass of tequila, and then he shouted, “Next step, top fifty.” His eyes were shining with anticipation.
Renly also showed a big smile, “Let’s wait and see! To the Hudson ride!” Then, he tilted his head and downed it all at once!
T/N – It is currently 4 am and I finally finished translating this chapter, this one was a tough one to translate. Let me know if you notice any mistakes. I don’t know if it’s just me but the last couple of chapters were really tough to translate, not gonna lie😅😁.
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