Chapter 12:

A Booze Hound Stumbles on By

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

This my fifteenth shift at the convenience store.Bookmark here

Okay, so — the legal drinking age in Japan is twenty. Same goes for if you want to smoke or vape.Bookmark here

Generally speaking, most convenience stores will ask you to show some kind of ID if you don’t seem like you’re old enough to be buying that stuff.Bookmark here

So, then...what are you supposed to do when you get a customer of questionable age who doesn’t have ID and, more importantly, isn’t even human? Do you still sell them their smokes and booze, or what?Bookmark here

“Heeeeey, buddy! *hic* Gimme some o’dat booze.”Bookmark here

Standing over by the automatic doors is some drunk old dude...with the body of a dog.Bookmark here

Yep. Everything from the old-man-face down is light brown and hairy. I’d say he’s probably a...shiba inu?Bookmark here

He’s also got what looks like a wrapping cloth tied around his carry his stuff in, I guess?Bookmark here

But, four paws aren’t enough to keep this booze hound from wobbling as he makes his way into the store.Bookmark here

“Sir, pets aren’t allowed in here.”Bookmark here

Well, they’re not. I say this as regretfully as I can, which only earns me a:Bookmark here

“Are you really that dumb, kid? I ain’t noooobody’s pet!” Bookmark here

Huh. So, that was him talking before. Wait, what’s the point of sticking some old guy’s head on such a cute dog? Okay, sure, it’s not like a normal pet would have a face, so... That must mean he’s some kind of monster.Bookmark here

The booze hound staggers up to the register, plunking himself down hard in front of the counter. It was 2:30 AM when he first barked out his request, and I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be a better idea to call him an ambulance. Or take him to a vet.  Bookmark here

“Uh, I’m pretty sure that alcohol is supposed to be toxic for doggies...”Bookmark here

“I ain’t some young pup, y’dumb punk! I’m forty-seven! *Hurk*...!”Bookmark here

Well, that can’t be right.Bookmark here

I mean, this dog is already three sheets to the wind, for one. Bookmark here

“Uh, were you, maybe...drinking before you came here?” Bookmark here

“Yeah, sure, I was drinkin’. Found another old guy hangin’ out on a park bench with some booze. He thought he might’a been dreamin’, but he passed me a drink with a ‘Well, whatever. Bottoms up, little guy!’” Bookmark here

What is it with old drunk guys and their ability to shrug off practically everything?Bookmark here

No, seriously — if you saw a dog with a human’s face, would your first thought really be “he’d be fun to do a few rounds with”?Bookmark here

“Look, I’ve got the cash for it.” Bookmark here

In a practiced move, the booze hound tugs at the knot on his wrapping cloth, pulling out a wallet that’s seen better days.Bookmark here

He deftly undoes the clasp, rifling through the contents.Bookmark here

“...Huh, izzat all? Well, it’ll still get me a drink.”Bookmark here

He hands me a thousand yen bill.Bookmark here

Wait, this mostly-dog-shaped drunkard has more money than a demon lord?! Seriously, what is this world coming to?Bookmark here

“Just to be you have any ID?”Bookmark here

“’Course not. Who’s ever heard’a dog with a driver’s licence?”Bookmark here

He flings his front paws wide, in the best semblance of a shrug a dog can give.Bookmark here

C’mon man, you can’t just swap species whenever it suits you.Bookmark here

“Oh, could I get a pack of smokes, too? One of the Green Leaves.”Bookmark here

“Wait, you smoke?!” Bookmark here

“Can’t a man have a few vices? A dog’s life is hard enough.”Bookmark here

“...I think I’m starting to see that.” Bookmark here

This old guy drinks like a fish, probably smokes like a chimney, and still has the body of a dog.Bookmark here

I don’t want to drag my manager into this, but...Bookmark here

I really don’t know what I should do in a situation like this.Bookmark here

I mean, you’re not supposed to let dogs drink booze, right? So, if I sold him some, would that be like, a jailable offence? I don’t want to end up behind bars!!Bookmark here

The feeling of guilt that I’d have to carry around after selling controlled substances to a minor (?) aside, I’m pretty sure this guy would give me almost as hard a time if I didn’t. Honestly, it feels like I can’t win either way.Bookmark here

“Would you...hold on for just one second?”Bookmark here

“Huh, gotta take a leak? Sure, but hurry it up, kid.” Bookmark here

With the booze hound’s blessing, I slip quietly into the break room. Bookmark here

“Hey, um, Manager...?” Bookmark here

I soon hear the long, mechanical sigh that signals the start of his boot-up process.Bookmark here

“What...happened?”Bookmark here

“Uh, well, there’s this one thing I wanted to run by you. Um, I know that we can only sell smokes and booze to people twenty and up, but what if they’re uh, not human? Hypothetically speaking. Would alright to let them buy some?”Bookmark here

“...I see. I’ll be right there.” Bookmark here

He closes his eyes, mulling the situation over. It doesn’t take long before he’s come to some kind of decision, and he starts to pull on his uniform. Manager, you’re the best.Bookmark here

Still, even though nothing seems to faze him, I’ll bet this’ll throw him for a loop. Bookmark here

When he steps out into the store, the first thing he does is try to spot the problematic customer.Bookmark here

He glances around, eventually stopping to give me a questioning look. (So cute.)Bookmark here

Without a word, I flick my gaze meaningfully down at the space in front of the register. My manager’s eyebrows furrow in mild confusion, but he comes around to check.Bookmark here

“...Oh!” Bookmark here

“...Hm?” Bookmark here

...Huh? Isn’t that reaction kind of, well, weak?Bookmark here

The booze hound’s eyes widen in recognition, and my manager’s expression shifts to one of pleasant surprise. Bookmark here

“Heeey, long time no see! Howzit hangin’, Manager?”Bookmark here

“Oh, not bad. What about you? How’ve you been?”Bookmark here

My manager and the booze hound exchange a high five, grinning from ear to ear like they’ve been pals forever. Meanwhile, I’m really confused by all this. Bookmark here

“We’ve had a few drinks together over the years. Do you remember that first time? It must’ve been the coldest night that winter.” Bookmark here

“Tha’s right. Sometimes I’d wind up drinkin’ at the oden place ‘round the same time your manager was. We ended up sittin’ beside each other this one time, and when we got to talkin’, we found we got along just fine.”Bookmark here

Sure, that scenario’s normal enough, but overlooking those visuals would take some serious suspension of disbelief. Bookmark here

I watch as my manager crouches down lower, to have an animated conversation with the booze hound.Bookmark here

Something about that doesn’t sit well with me. ...Huh. I think I might actually be jealous of a dog. Bookmark here

“An’ we’ve crossed paths a couple’a times since then. So, yer still managin’ a convenience store? I still don’ see why a shy ‘un like you’d pick a job where you gotta talk to people!”Bookmark here

“Hey, knock it off, Pops. I’m trying to get better at it.”Bookmark here

His massive hand comes down on the booze hound’s shoulder, as he gives it a few light pats.Bookmark here

All in all, it’s a pretty surreal scene — but their good-natured banter makes them sound just like a father and son. My manager’s usually stepping in to save me from a bad situation, so it’s kind of nice to see him talking to someone more casually, for once.Bookmark here

Even if that someone is a dog.Bookmark here

“So, got’cher self a girlfriend yet?”Bookmark here

I would also like to know the answer to this question, yes. Bookmark here

“No, of course not. Who’d want to go out with someone like me?”Bookmark here

“Hey, now, have a little more faith in yerself! You’re a great guy! All y’hafta do is put yourself out there, and you’ll land a sweet lil’ thing in no time!”Bookmark here

“That’s...not going to happen. I’m...not very good at talking to girls.”Bookmark here

Oh my gosh, you mean this great hulking guy’s actually a blushing wallflower?! Bookmark here

“Ha ha! You’d never know it by the look o’ya, though!”Bookmark here

The two of them keep chatting for a while, and as they start to wrap things up...Bookmark here

“Here, it’s on me.”Bookmark here

My manager tucks a few cans into the booze hound’s makeshift bag.Bookmark here

Then, I watch as he slips a few extra bills into the beat-up wallet, pulling the extra yen from his own pocket while the old dog isn’t paying attention.Bookmark here

“I’m not getting you any cigarettes, though. They’re bad for your health, and I’d rather you kept dropping on by, Pops.”Bookmark here

He flatly refuses to buy the booze hound any smokes, though. The old dog huffs indignantly.   Bookmark here

“Sheesh. ...You’re the only one who tells me nice things like that, y’know. ...Maybe I oughta quit, once ‘n fer all.”Bookmark here

I never thought I’d hear a dog debate the merits of going cold turkey, but there you have it.Bookmark here

“I mean, it’d be nice t’see yer kids someday, Manager.”Bookmark here

With one last, barking laugh, the booze hound shuffles out the door.Bookmark here

My manager lets his eyes flutter closed, muttering softly.Bookmark here

“...He reminds me a lot of my late father.”Bookmark here

His voice quivers, ever so slightly, like he might start to cry.Bookmark here

Getting to see this more vulnerable side of my manager...was nice.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.