Novel Translation

The Greatest Showman – Chapter 95

Chapter 95 – Confined Experience

Jose Martin skillfully pulled up the door curtain, turned on the radio, and music flowed out. Then he took a broom and began to sweep, starting the day’s work with a relaxed attitude.

As a funeral company, the daily operations of the storefront were not very busy. Customers, having bid farewell to their loved ones at the hospital, would call based on the card provided by the hospital. They would then personally visit the funeral company to make contact and discuss further arrangements. While there were occasional walk-ins, customers coming in individually to inquire about services were relatively rare.

Jose, who was set to start university in September, has been helping at his family company. Since there wasn’t much business, his responsibilities mainly involved looking after the place and maintaining the storefront.

At this moment, Jose, holding the broom, spun around abruptly with the rhythm, as if he was dancing gracefully in a ballroom. Then a figure appeared in his line of sight, leaving Jose momentarily stunned. He thought his eyes were playing tricks on him. Immediately after the spin, he twirled in the direction of the entrance for the second time, seeing the figure again. Though, this time, he saw two figures. Jose became flustered, quickly stopping in his tracks. However, due to the inertia of his spin, his body stumbled for two steps, nearly falling.

“Be careful. Do you need help?” a concerned voice came from the entrance. Jose shook his head repeatedly, not expecting that this simple action would make him even more dizzy. As a result, he ended up sitting on the ground due to a loss of balance.

Jose wished he could just dig a hole and crawl into it. “Sorry,” he mumbled as he stood up, bowing his head in apology, his cheeks turning red with embarrassment.

After a momentary pause, Jose realized there was no response at all. He couldn’t help but sneak a glance and found two people standing in front of him. The person on the right looked indifferent, with sharp eyebrows that made it hard to maintain eye contact with him.

The person on the left, however, wore a slight smile and politely looked at him, not saying much. He was not pretending to be unaware of what happened or overly inquiring with concern. This made Jose slightly calm down and adjust his voice, “Good morning, welcome to Martin Funeral Services. How can I assist you?”

“I require a coffin,” the man on the left with his right hand in his pocket said, still wearing a faint smile.

Jose finally regained his composure. He carefully examined the two individuals; both appeared very young, likely in their early twenties, belonging to the same generation as him. Considering the circumstances, it was probably their grandparents who had passed away. Jose thought for a moment and carefully chose his words, “I’m very sorry for your loss. May I ask for whom this coffin is intended?”

“Oh, no, the coffin is for me,” the man on the left said, his smile lifting slightly, like the morning sunlight filtering through plane tree leaves.

“Oh, it’s for you…” Jose maintained his calm tone, as if suddenly realizing something. However, his throat then got seized, eyes widening in disbelief as he looked at the man before him, momentarily at a loss for how to respond.

Jose was so shocked that he stood frozen in place, looking quite comical. Renly chuckled lightly and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not an unyielding spirit crawling out of a grave.” Renly then explained the purpose of his visit, saying, “I need to rent a coffin so that I can lie inside and spend… well, around eight to ten hours in the coffin. I wonder, how is the cost calculated?”

In Europe, the Gothic style is not uncommon. A small number of Gothic enthusiasts, or faithful followers of vampires, would purchase a coffin as their bed and sleep inside it every night. Although the mainstream public doesn’t usually do this, it’s not considered overly shocking.

So, someone like Renly, who wants to lie in a coffin for a period of time, may seem peculiar, but Jose, now somewhat relieved, didn’t make a big deal out of it. “I’m not quite sure what you mean. You just want to take a nap in the coffin?”

“No, that’s not it,” Renly shook his head. “I hope you can nail the coffin shut…”. Seeing Jose’s bronze bull-like eyes looking like they were about to fall out, Renly laughed dumbfoundedly, “But leave some gaps to ensure airflow so I can breathe. I don’t want any accidents to happen.” Renly also made a joke in passing, but it was clear that Jose wasn’t finding it amusing.

In fact, in “Buried,” Paul only spent less than three hours before the heavy sand pressed on the fragile wooden boards, directly burying him. At the same time, the air inside the coffin was gradually decreasing, so many of Paul’s emotions were suppressed to the extreme, avoiding too much fluctuation that could lead to rapid oxygen consumption.

Trying to completely simulate the state of being buried alive is quite difficult in real life, and the danger level is also high, requiring the presence and supervision of professionals. However, the cost of that is inevitably high, and the “Buried” crew is not really a wealthy bunch; neither is Renly. So, in the end, Renly came up with a compromise.

“…” Jose stared at him, overwhelmed. “What exactly do you want to do?” Jose, disregarding politeness, asked directly.

“If I say I just want to experience some excitement, would you believe me?” Renly half-jokingly said, but Jose’s forehead was already sweating, completely incapable of saying something in return. Renly tightened his smile and said, “I’m conducting an investigation on claustrophobia. Coffins when sealed are one of the most confined spaces. I need to personally experience the feeling of being in it and gather more data.”

Renly did not mention the “Buried” matter. If he said he was an actor trying to immerse himself in his role, even if the media wouldn’t be interested in that, ordinary people would come to join in the fun. So, that would not only add some trouble to them, but it would also increase uncertainty, which would not only threaten his experience of immersing in the character but could also pose a threat to his personal safety. Therefore, Renly came up with such an excuse.

Although he received a reasonable explanation, Jose still couldn’t respond. “But, but…” He felt that his brain was not working properly. He sensed that something was not right but couldn’t articulate what exactly was bothering him. It was truly frustrating.

“But what about my personal safety?” Renly had considered this matter very thoroughly. He knew that activities with such inherent danger could lead to complicated consequences in case of a disaster.

Even companies specialising in high-risk sports are unwilling to bear enormous risks. Take skydiving as an example, before the official jump, everyone will sign a plethora of liability waivers, and if any kind of accident occurs, all the people involved in the skydiving company will not be held responsible. Even insurance companies are hesitant to provide coverage for that, with specialized extreme sports insurance companies offering relevant insurance terms, but basically only to professionals.

This applies even to professionally trained extreme sports enthusiasts, let alone to Renly and his current situation. He had randomly chosen a funeral company and presented them with a challenging and thrilling request. If any potential deviation occurred, they would have a hard time explaining themselves.

Matthew, who had been silent on the side, approached him. “I am a licensed lawyer. I will draft a liability waiver, he will sign it, and then everything will be fine.”

After saying this, Matthew glanced at Renly with disbelief. He could hardly believe that today Renly wanted to lock himself inside a coffin. Even for Renly, this was way out of character. They hadn’t seen each other for a year, but now, upon their reunion, he found himself drafting a liability waiver for Renly. The urge to roll his eyes was almost irresistible.

Renly spread out his hands, looking calm. Matthew on the other hand showed that he was powerless to complain.

Meanwhile, Jose had already given up thinking. Upon hearing the words of the man on the left, he nodded in agreement; but when he heard the words of the man on the right, he didn’t know how to react—liability waiver? What does that mean? So, can this be done or not? Wait, what did the man on the left want to do exactly?

“Uh… I need… uh… to make a phone call, to inquire,” this was Jose’s only reaction now. Faced with such a situation, the 18-year-old was unable to handle it and had to call his elders for help.

Renly spread out his hands and looked at Matthew with a speechless expression. “Well, a simple matter has become complicated. Now we are in for some tussle.” After drafting the statement, if the other party is cautious, they will surely ask their own lawyer to read it as well. Then there will be arguments back and forth, like a never-ending loop. “If I’d known I’d have locked myself in the bathroom; it would have been more convenient.”

Matthew decided to ignore Renly’s complaints and watched the young man who was reporting the situation on the phone with a panicked look. This scene was strangely amusing, and suddenly Matthew remembered something, “You were planning to do all this by yourself?”

“Why not?” Renly shrugged, looking nonchalant. “There’s no danger as long as you ensure air circulation.” While it was a bit of unconventional to try to experience the extreme feeling of being sealed in a coffin, the truth was that there wasn’t much danger, provided of course that one made sure that the coffin wouldn’t actually be sealed.

Renly is bold, not crazy.

“Let me tell you, I have to stay inside for at least eight hours. It will be very boring and unpleasant. If you have other things to do, I don’t mind if you leave first,” Renly said considerately, with a face full of sincerity

Matthew narrowed his eyes and looked at Renly for three seconds, then silently turned his gaze away, standing still and showing no intention of leaving.

Renly shrugged, “I’ve given you a heads up.”

Two hours later, after repeated confirmation and thorough checks, Renly’s incredibly bold and adventurous plan could finally be put into action. All the tension and anticipation seemed to have worn off. Now, Renly just wanted to get into the coffin quickly; otherwise, he would miss not only lunch but also dinner.

Jose watched as Renly climbed into the coffin without any hesitation and confirmed one last time, “Ready?” Getting an affirmative nod from Renly, he closed the heavy coffin lid.

In Renly’s world entered absolute darkness.

T/N – As a person who experienced claustrophobia I would never and I say NEVER do something like this. This next chapter is gonna be tough to translate, not gonna lie…

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