Chapter 11:

The Monstrously Cute Couple's Visit (Part 2)

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

“Um, I guess I’ll head back to the register, then.”Bookmark here

“No, you stay here until I’ve finished getting ready. If you go back out there now, they’ll eat you alive. We’ll face them together. Well, more or less. You can just hide behind me.”Bookmark here

“Manager, you’re the beeest...”Bookmark here

Seriously, how is a guy this awesome still single? I mean, I’d totally go for someone like him.Bookmark here

Rummaging through the break room drawers, my manager finds what he’s looking for. It’s a knife.Bookmark here

Grinning from ear to ear, he turns it over in his hand, the very picture of a blood-crazed murderer. Bookmark here

“Whoa!! Sir!! What do you think you’re doing?! I know these guys are obnoxious, but even they don’t deserve to die!! You don’t have to get your hands dirty!! Seriously, cool it!! Manager, I know you’re better than this!!” Bookmark here

I latch onto my manager, trying (in vain) to keep him from making a horrible mistake.Bookmark here

“Whoa, take it easy, kid. All I did was pick up a knife. No need to go losing your head. I can’t look that scary.”Bookmark here

Dude, you’re plenty terrifying even without any accessories.Bookmark here

Don’t you know that people call you things like “Mad Dog Manager” and “Once-in-a-Century Champion” behind your back?Bookmark here

“So, uh...what are you going to do with it?”Bookmark here

“Why don’t you wait and see?”Bookmark here

My manager pulls an assortment of cooking utensils from the break room drawers, somehow manages to find a cutting board, then takes out a selection of ingredients from his own satchel. Bookmark here

“Wait, is that vanilla essence? And you just happened to have it in your bag?” Bookmark here

“Sure did. Who doesn’t, nowadays?”Bookmark here

“Nobody. No one does.”Bookmark here

I don’t even have to think about that.Bookmark here

“...The scent calms me down.” Bookmark here

My manager takes a few dainty sniffs from the bottle (which is adorable), but if I went around town and polled guys on what they were carrying around in their bags, I can guarantee you that vanilla essence would definitely not make the list.Bookmark here

“Well, that ought to do it.”Bookmark here

His prep work finished; my manager makes his way over to the door.Bookmark here

I hurry and trail along behind him.Bookmark here

“Thank you both for your patience. Mr. Muramatsu here explained everything. Sir, I think it’s quite admirable for you to be so determined to celebrate your wife’s birthday. It shows how much you truly love each other. I’ll be preparing something fit for the occasion, so if you wouldn’t mind waiting over in the seating area...”Bookmark here

My manager gives the couple his most professional smile and...uh, did I hear that right? He’s going to make them a cake? Right now?Bookmark here

Sure, I guess we’ve got one of those microwaves that doubles as an oven. And there’s that takoyaki grill that the manager brought in. Or the hot plate. Bookmark here

Before the couple can settle down in the seating area, though, my manager pulls out a pair of red and white heart-shaped cushions from out of midair. Then, with a flick of his wrist, he drapes a lace tablecloth over one of the regular tables.Bookmark here

Huh. Maybe he’s a magician.Bookmark here

Next, he does a quick circuit of the store, picking out a bar of chocolate, a carton of eggs, a package of mini cream puffs, a box of those cone-shaped chocolates, a bag of silver dragées, a carton of whipping cream, some tinned fruit, a bottle of white wine and a packet of that sherbert that comes in bite-sized balls. He rings it all up himself, pays for it out of pocket, then hurries back to the break room, stopping to give me a: Bookmark here

“Keep an eye on the till, would you? If those two give you any trouble, just let me know.”Bookmark here

“Uh, sure.”Bookmark here

It doesn’t take long before my manager reappears, clad in a charming pink apron.Bookmark here

“Thank you for waiting.”Bookmark here

He’s carrying a tray, and on it sits a pair of elegant cocktail glasses. (Where did he even find those?) The drinks themselves are clear, with purple orbs that sit in a neat pile at the bottom.Bookmark here

What’s...going on here? Bookmark here

My manager-slash-chef-slash-maître-d’ sets down the glasses with a flourish that would stun even the swankiest of butlers in the classiest of restaurants.Bookmark here

“An aperitif, to tide you over. Made from white wine and forbidden fruit, I call it the ‘Adam and Eve’.” Bookmark here

We’re still just a convenience store, right?!Bookmark here

He’s still just my manager, right?!!Bookmark here

We’re not turning into a swanky late-night date spot, right?!!!Bookmark here

And, seriously — what the hell’s an “Adam and Eve”?!Bookmark here

“Goodness, going so far as to start with a cocktail? Wouldn’t you say this is a lovely little spot, Pompom-om-nom?”Bookmark here

“I’d say it’s simply fabulous, cuddle bug.”Bookmark here

And with that, my manager disappears, like a professional stagehand.Bookmark here

“The frozen sherbet really adds a refreshing fizziness to the white wine, doesn’t it?”Bookmark here

“It’s delicious, isn’t it, Oni-woni?” Bookmark here

He made something that sophisticated from just those two ingredients?!Bookmark here

That’s incredible. I never would’ve expected something like that from him. Bookmark here

“Thank you for waiting.”Bookmark here

This time, my manager brings out a small tower made from mini cream puffs, studded with those cone-shaped chocolates. Honestly, it looks like something you’d see at like, a family Christmas party.Bookmark here

Oooh boy. That’s not going to cut it. Manager, these guys are expecting a cake! If they don’t get one, there’s going to be hell to pay!! Bookmark here

“Well now, what’s this? This...isn’t what we ordered. At all.” Bookmark here

Yep, here it comes. I can hear a low snarl sneak into Oni-woni’s voice, as his expression shifts to something a little more sinister.Bookmark here

“Oh, but this is simply the appetizer. The main course is still to come. It won’t be much longer before the cake is ready.” Bookmark here

“I...I see.” Bookmark here

“This dish, however, requires a few finishing touches.” Bookmark here

My manager ducks back into the break room, reappearing with a small pot of melted chocolate. Bookmark here

“You don’t mean...”Bookmark here

“If you’ll excuse me.” Bookmark here

My manager drizzles the warm chocolate over the pile of puff pastries, with a finesse that would rival a master chocolatier. He makes it seem like...fairies are sprinkling pixie dust over the dish, or something.Bookmark here

To finish it off, he sprinkles some silver dragées over the top before adding two tiny figures made from chocolate. I swear, the whole scene looks exactly like two dwarves scaling a miniature mountain of cream puffs.Bookmark here

“Ohmigosh, isn’t this just the cutest thing!”Bookmark here

Pompom-om-nom claps excitedly, overcome with girlish glee.Bookmark here

And seeing her joyful reaction makes Oni-woni smile.Bookmark here

“I call it the ‘Happy Little Dwarves’ Mountain Excursion’.”Bookmark here

Huh, the dish’s name is kind of cute, too. Nice one, Manager!Bookmark here

I mean, even I’m getting into this.Bookmark here

“Thank you both for your patience.”Bookmark here

Finally, the long-awaited cake arrives. Sitting on top of the cream-coated concoction is a bird’s nest made of spun sugar, and a chocolate plate that reads “HAPPY BIRTHDAY & BEST WISHES” rests in front of it.  Bookmark here

Did I say he was a magician? My manager is a god.Bookmark here

“It’s an actual cake! Isn’t that splendid, Pompom-om-nom? And it’s still only 2:50 AM!” Bookmark here

“Oooh, look, Oni-woni! There’s a message and everything!”Bookmark here

As the two of them gush over the dessert, my manager returns with the cake’s crowning glory — a pulled sugar dove that sits perfectly in the delicate sugar nest.Bookmark here

“ incredible craftsmanship. And, I didn’t think it could be possible, tastes even better than it looks. How did you make this? I thought that most convenience stores didn’t sell flour...?” Bookmark here

Oni-woni is in awe (and rightly so) of my manager’s prodigious pâtissier skills. The master humbly replies with: Bookmark here

“It was quite simple, really. With eggs, chocolate and vegetable oil, you can easily make a cake in a rice cooker. There’s also some canned fruit nestled in between the two layers, to add texture. Cooking just so happens to be a hobby of mine, so I already had most of the necessary equipment and ingredients on hand.”Bookmark here

“...Amazing. Simply amazing. Your cooking skills are unparalleled. ...The sweetness of the chocolate embodies the essence of our relationship. It couldn’t be more perfect. Thank you, sir. Being able to see my dearest Pompom-om-nom’s radiant smile for even just one hour more... It means everything to me.” Bookmark here

Oni-woni’s eyes shimmer with emotion, and my manager clasps a hand on his shoulder.Bookmark here

“It’s your love for your wife that makes her smile. ...Well, I hope that you both have a splendid birthday.”Bookmark here

Yep. That’s it. I’ve fallen for my manager.Bookmark here

“Of course! Really, we can’t thank you enough. You’ve done more for us than we ever could have imagined. Isn’t that right, wifey?”Bookmark here

“Honestly, I’m so glad that we stumbled across this convenience store. Hubby, you’ve done it again!” Bookmark here

“Hardly! Pompom-om-nom, this was all you!”Bookmark here

My manager looks on as the lovey-dovey couple sit, hand in hand, lost in the moment. He nods to himself, obviously pleased with the results. Meanwhile, I’m pretty convinced that if I married him, he’d probably make me the happiest man on the planet.Bookmark here

“...No, no payment necessary. Consider it a gift.”Bookmark here

My manager’s generosity holds true to the bitter end.Bookmark here

“Are you sure about that, Manager? I mean, they could have paid for part of it.”Bookmark here

“Oh, that was no trouble at all.  After all, birthdays only happen once a year, and I don’t have anyone to spoil like that. It was nice to have something to celebrate, for a change.”Bookmark here

I watch as my manager stealthily wipes his nose, and I swear, when his birthday rolls around on July 1st, I’m going to do something extra special for him.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.