Chapter 4:

The Triumphant (_) Return(s)

It’s My First Time Working Late Nights at a Convenience Store, and If I Keep Getting Demon Lords, Kappa and Other Oddballs as Customers, I’m Giving My Two-Weeks’ Notice

Before she left, yesterday’s kuchisake-onna gave me a smooth:Bookmark here

“I’ll see you again, Haru.”Bookmark here

I’m willing to bet she will, too — given that she left her bag of hard candies on the counter.Bookmark here

I’m not entirely sure how I missed that, but maybe it might’ve had something to do with the overwhelming feeling of relief I’d felt at her leaving. Hard to say.Bookmark here

“...What should I even do with these?”Bookmark here

I guess the only thing to do is give them to my manager and let him know what happened (kind of). Bookmark here

His response?Bookmark here

“A customer...forgot this? Seriously? Their entire purchase? Honestly, some people...”Bookmark here

Dude, you have no idea.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Tonight’s my fourth shift at the convenience store.Bookmark here

Ding-a-ling-a-ling... Bookmark here

“Welcome, irassha-...”Bookmark here

In rushes the kuchisake-onna, dressed in her usual hat-sunglasses-mask combo. What little I can see of her face is tinted the same scarlet as her strapless dress.Bookmark here

“! I think I left something behind yesterday? I bought some, um...”Bookmark here

Extremely embarrassed, her voice trails off to almost nothing. Huh. Today’s version of the kuchisake-onna is a far cry from the woman who jumped on the counter and threatened me with a blade last night.Bookmark here

“Uh, yeah, we’ve still got it. Just hold on a...hehe...”Bookmark here

Whoops, I really shouldn’t be laughing at this. C’mon man, get it together.Bookmark here

I take a deep breath, to try and keep myself from completely losing it.Bookmark here

Shaking for an entirely different reason than the last time she was here — pft! — I hand her a full basket’s worth of hard candies.Bookmark here

“Th-...thanks. So, um, I’ll see you again sometime,!” Bookmark here

“Guh!”Bookmark here

Whoa! She just flung a bag of candy at my face!Bookmark here

What the hell was that for?!Bookmark here

Harsh, man. I mean, that’s no way to treat someone who went through the trouble of setting aside the stuff you forgot. (And it hurt!)Bookmark here

Turning on her heel, the kuchisake-onna keeps her back to me as she shuffles out of the store as quickly as she possibly can.Bookmark here

And just like that, the storm passes.Bookmark here

With a long-suffering sigh, I slump down onto the register, glancing at the bag of candies left on the counter.Bookmark here

What are these...lollipops? Huh, I don’t think I’ve had one in years.Bookmark here

A grin creeps across my face, and I straighten up again.Bookmark here

“Alright, let’s do this!”Bookmark here

I murmur the encouragement, trying to psyche myself up.Bookmark here

It doesn’t matter who walks through those doors, I’m ready for ‘em. Bring it on!Bookmark here

Ding-a-ling-a-ling...Bookmark here

“Welc-...” Bookmark here

“It is I, lad — the Demon Lord.”Bookmark here

“Welcome, irasshaimase. You’ll find the exit right behind you, sir.” Bookmark here

Go on, get lost. Bookmark here

With a curt wave of his hand — as if to say  ’sup, Haru — that hulking jerk awkwardly strolls into the store, ruining whatever semblance of normalcy I’d had.Bookmark here

...Great. What is it this time?Bookmark here

The demon lord walks right up to the register, his armor clanking loudly with each step.Bookmark here

“I have depleted my rations. I desire more of those ‘pork cutlet sandwiches’ you so generously provided before.”Bookmark here

“Hold on. Just to be sure, you’ll be paying for this in...?”Bookmark here

He snorts dismissively — but stops to consider the question.Bookmark here

Oh, no. Don’t tell me...Bookmark here

“If gold coins are acceptable, then...”Bookmark here

“They’re not! We don’t take foreign money here! Okay, sure, I say ‘foreign,’ but what else am I supposed to call money from another freaking plane of existence?! We use yen! Japanese money!”Bookmark here

Honestly, nothing surprises me now.  Bookmark here

At first, I’d thought this guy was just some weirdo dressed as a demon. That made the whole thing easier to live with, really.Bookmark here

But since then, I’ve had what was obviously a kappa and a kuchisake-onna stop by as well, so he’s probably the real deal.Bookmark here

...The only customers this place attracts are ones with issues.Bookmark here

“There...won’t be any of this ‘yen’ until Sheri has her ‘payday’.”Bookmark here

The demon lord sighs, clearly depressed, and I can’t help but wonder how these guys are even getting by.Bookmark here

“So, uh...what do you do all day?”Bookmark here

“Acquire empty cans from public areas in the company of a group of...‘homeless,’ they called themselves?”Bookmark here

...I think I might start to cry.Bookmark here

This guy’s lifestyle couldn’t be any further from the usual depiction of demon lords in light novels or anime. And I...don’t know what to say to that. Bookmark here

Ding-a-ling-a-ling... Bookmark here

“Demon Lord! Sir, what d’you think you’re doing?!”Bookmark here

The dark-skinned elf-maid who’d dragged the demon lord away the first time comes bursting into the store yet again. Except that tonight, she’s wearing a super skimpy pink dress — you know, the kind of thing you’d see a woman who worked in a hostess club all decked out in. Bookmark here

“C’mon, time to go!”Bookmark here

“...But, I wish to eat another of those delectable sandwiches.”Bookmark here

“How many times do I hafta tell you? We’re broke!”Bookmark here

“Uh...Miss Elf-maid? Ma’am?”Bookmark here

I know I really, really shouldn’t be sticking my nose into this, but I have to know.Bookmark here

“If you don’t mind my asking...what do you do for work?”Bookmark here

The elf-maid glances down at her outfit, before flashing me a quick smile.Bookmark here

“Oh, I’m over at one of those places where human guys just wanna chat over drinks.”Bookmark here

That’s totally a hostess club!!! Bookmark here

“I desire pork cutlet sandwiches! Nay, I require them!”Bookmark here

“Quit bein’ so selfish! I’ll be bringin’ home more of the shop’s leftover snacks tonight!”  Bookmark here

“Every day, the only sustenance we consume are those stale potato chips! I hunger for thick, juicy sandwiches!” Bookmark here

I can’t take this anymore.Bookmark here

I abandon the register and dash over to the break room.Bookmark here

Opening my locker, I pull out my wallet and take quick stock of what’s inside.Bookmark here

Okay, I’ve got five thousand yen.Bookmark here

That’s a decent amount, but it’s not quite enough.Bookmark here

“Dammit, if I had a little more, then I could leave myself enough to go out for sushi or something, but nooooo, I’m going to blow it all on those two losers!”Bookmark here

Not that anything’s open at 2 AM, but it’s the principle of it!Bookmark here

I force myself to look up, otherwise I really will start to cry. What the hell is with that dumbass?Bookmark here

That elf-maid deserves to be applauded for putting with all this crap. Society is tough enough as it is.Bookmark here

I toss the store’s stock of pork cutlet sandwiches into a basket, along with a few other bread products, a couple of 2-liter drinks, some sweets, and even one of those manga magazines, to give the poor guy something to do with all his free time.Bookmark here

“...What is your problem?! Seriously, I was workin’, and you just had to go off an’—”Bookmark here

“My problem? ...You there, lad! This is no time to be ignor—!”Bookmark here

I finish ringing up the items for the awkward pair and hand them the neatly packed goods.Bookmark here

“Wh-...what’s all this? Why would’ya...”Bookmark here

“There are...pork cutlet sandwiches.”Bookmark here

They stare at the contents of the bulging plastic bags, then glance back up at me, their eyes widening in disbelief.Bookmark here

“Look, just take it, okay? It’s on me. You don’t even have to eat all of it, just the stuff you like.”Bookmark here

I’m not doing this because I pity them, or anything.Bookmark here

At least, calling it that...strikes me as a really bad idea.Bookmark here

“...I mean, I couldn’t just stand there and watch, so...”Bookmark here

As I trail off, the elf-maid practically pounces on me, wrapping me up in a crushing hug.Bookmark here

“Oh my gosh, thank you so much! Honestly, you have no idea how many times I came close to shoving this selfish so-and-so in the ditch! You got your precious sandwiches, so now will you shaddup about ‘em?”Bookmark here

“Lad, I must voice my appreciation. Frankly, eating nothing but stale snacks was starting to chip away at my very being. While Sheri was free to consume whatever she desired, I was left with the dregs. But this...this I can safely consume.”Bookmark here

Aren’t these thank yous...just more thinly veiled grievances?Bookmark here

C’mon guys, give it up already!!Bookmark here

“Oh, right.”Bookmark here

I grab the bag of lollipops that the kuchisake-onna had chucked at my face and add those to their stash, too.Bookmark here

“Explain those, boy.”Bookmark here

“Isn’t this, um...some kinda candy?”Bookmark here

“They’re magic. Whenever you guys feel like you’re about to blow your top, suck on one of these instead. They’ll perk you right up.”Bookmark here

The demon lord and elf-maid exchange a glance before they each grab a bag, taking care not to disturb the contents.Bookmark here

“Thanks, man. This really means a lot.” Bookmark here

“You have my gratitude, lad.”Bookmark here

My wallet’s completely empty, but my heart couldn’t be any fuller.Bookmark here

Well, I guess I’d better go restock the shelves. Bookmark here

Smiling to myself, I step away from the register and head out onto the floor.Bookmark here

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