Chapter 17:

A Werewolf Wanders Over (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

The three of us gather around a table in the seating area, equally spaced.Bookmark here

One of us is drinking a black coffee, another is sitting quietly with his arms neatly crossed, while the third member of the group is staring at the other two with an uneasy grin.Bookmark here

You’d...never guess that we were going to talk about romance, that’s for sure.Bookmark here

But, sipping that coffee is all that werewolf’s done since we sat down, and all my manager and I can do is wait impatiently for him to speak up.Bookmark here

“So, I, um... I’m having a bit of trouble in the love department.”Bookmark here

That’s the exact same thing he said ten minutes ago!!Bookmark here

“What do you mean by ‘trouble,’ exactly?” Bookmark here

Great! My manager isn’t going to stand for this silence a minute longer! Now maybe we’ll get somewhere with this.Bookmark here

“...Ah. Um, so, it’s like... I’m planning on telling the person I like how I feel about them...”Bookmark here

Okay, that seems normal enough.Bookmark here

“Alright, so, I was thinking that I’d wear a white suit, and bring her a bouquet of a hundred red roses. Then we’d drive out to the coast in the white sports car that I just bought, and I’d pop the question out on the beach. Yeah.”Bookmark here

Uh...wait. Hang on. This isn’t a marriage proposal — they’re not even dating yet! Isn’t that taking things way too far?! Bookmark here

Sure, a grand gesture like that might be okay in an anime or manga, but wouldn’t most girls find it a little too over the top? I think it sounds kind of overbearing, at least.Bookmark here

And what’s he going to do if she turns him down?! ...I mean, I hate to say it, but that seems highly likely.Bookmark here

“Hrm...”Bookmark here

With a grumble, my manager rests his chin on his hand as he mulls this over.Bookmark here

“But, yeah, I guess that’s setting the bar a bit too high for a guy with zero experience.”Bookmark here

Dude! If you want advice, lay off the insults!Bookmark here

My manager gazes thoughtfully at the ceiling as he mutters:Bookmark here

“You might want to consider...getting nine hundred ninety-nine roses...”Bookmark here

Wait, what’s with the sudden spike in greenery?Bookmark here

“So, uh, why so many? Isn’t a hundred pretty standard?” Bookmark here

“In the language of flowers, giving one hundred...means that you love them with all your heart. Nine hundred ninety-nine, on the other hand... Shows that no matter how many times you’re reborn, you’ll never fail to find them.”Bookmark here

Whoa, that’s laying it on WAY too thick!! The poor girl’s going to get crushed under both the weight of those flowers and those lofty expectations! Sure, I thought my manager could do no wrong, but he’s definitely, extremely off base when it comes to romantic relationships!!Bookmark here

“Ooooh, okay. So, um, if I let the flowers do the talking, then she’d almost certainly say yes! You’re a genius! Sorry for, uh, you know, giving you a hard time about your lack of experience back there.”Bookmark here

“No, pay it no mind. Besides...I appreciate your attention to detail. It’s a fine plan if ever I’ve seen one.”   Bookmark here

My manager and the werewolf share a look and a smile, bonding over some kind of mutual understanding.Bookmark here

Uh, hold up. So, neither of them sees any issue with this extravagant confession? Not the white suit, the ridiculous number of red roses, the luxury convertible, or even the ocean-side setting? ...Am I the one who’s got it all wrong?Bookmark here

“So, this girlfriend-to-be of yours... Have you known her for very long?”Bookmark here

Thanks to my manager’s genuine interest, our lycan lothario has opened up completely, grinning from ear to ear as he elaborates on the major plot holes in his master plan.Bookmark here

“Nah, I saw her downtown yesterday, and it was love at first sight.”Bookmark here

Whoa. Whoa, whoa! Back it up! Yeah, no. That’s DEFINITELY not right!Bookmark here

“We haven’t even exchanged two words.”Bookmark here

The werewolf chuckles shyly, and I’m just...wondering what to do with my excessive frustration. No, really. I think I’m two seconds away from grinding my teeth into nothing.  Bookmark here

“Hmm... Professing your feelings for your newly-met beloved with a big bouquet of roses is rather...”Bookmark here

It’s weird, right? Manager, even you think that’s taking things too far, don’t you? Please, you’ve got to say something about that!!  Bookmark here

“Splendid. Truly, the pinnacle of romantic gestures.” Bookmark here

My manager gives him a confident thumbs-up — complete with dazzling smile — while I hang my head in despair. ...Nope. There’s no hope for my love-struck manager!!Bookmark here

I can’t take any more of this. I raise my hand, to get a question in. Bookmark here

“Uh, if you don’t mind my asking... How, exactly, are you planning on inviting this woman you’ve never even spoken with out on a drive to the coast?”Bookmark here

The two wannabe Romeos exchange a look.Bookmark here

“Oh, yeah, sure. Got that all planned out too.”  Bookmark here

The werewolf jerks his thumb over at an invisible sports car, with a... Bookmark here

“Hey, babe. Wanna ride?”Bookmark here

That’s it?! That’s all he’s got?! If some guy I didn’t know pulled up and offered me that line, I’d run the other way! Seriously, that’s beyond creepy!Bookmark here

...C’mon, Manager. Even you think that’s not cool, right? Please, please, nip that bad idea in the bud! Bookmark here

“No, that might not be the best way to proceed. If some unknown gentleman suddenly appeared and suggested a drive, most women would regard that offer with trepidation.”Bookmark here

I nod in enthusiastic agreement with my manager. Finally, something resembling common sense! This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for! Bookmark here

“You’ve got to introduce yourself first.”Bookmark here

...Yeah, but...! That’s really not the problem here!Bookmark here

“Ah, uh, right. I hadn’t considered that. You’re one step ahead of me, huh? ...Still, introductions are kinda scary, though. D’you think I could give her my business card instead?” Bookmark here

And yet, inviting a woman he’s never even spoken to out on a drive isn’t? This wolf’s got weird sensibilities.Bookmark here

Seriously, though — most of this scenario would probably get the cops called down on his furry head. Is there anything between those ears besides fluff?Bookmark here

But the ridiculous romance consultation session just keeps going.Bookmark here

“Well, I think you’ve come up with an impressive plan so far, but have you given any thought to how you’ll convey your feelings to her?” Bookmark here

The werewolf rifles through the black silk bag at his side, pulling out an expensive-looking leather-bound notebook.Bookmark here

“Here, take a look.”Bookmark here

The title inscribed on the first page says it all.Bookmark here

“Words to Woo By” Bookmark here

And he’s filled the book already?! Wow, she must really be something, if he’s fallen that hard for her... Bookmark here

We flip through the pages, unearthing such gems as:Bookmark here

“Our love was written in the stars. No matter how many times the world turns, I will never stop loving you.”Bookmark here

“Until I met you, my heart was gray like a cloudy sky. You were the sunshine that chased the clouds away. The rainbow that promised better days ahead.”Bookmark here

“You are my reason for being. Believe it.”Bookmark here

Is this...supposed to be poetic? Bookmark here

I glance over at my manager, who’s reading through this rubbish with the serene expression of a Buddhist saint. Well. If someone who’s attained enlightenment could blush that shade of red.Bookmark here

You’re not falling for this nonsense, are you Manager? Does it actually make your heart skip a beat?!Bookmark here

“I rather like this one about the rainbow. It’s very romantic.”Bookmark here

... I’d thought that one was the worst of the bunch, but you do you, man.Bookmark here

“...I knew it. Mister manager, you DO get it!”Bookmark here

The werewolf throws his arm around my manager’s shoulders with a broad grin that’s eagerly returned. Bookmark here

“C’mon, cashier kid! You get in on this, too!”Bookmark here

He almost crushes my shoulders as he pulls me into this late-night, high-spirits huddle. I smile too, but it doesn’t reach my sunken eyes.Bookmark here

Yep. There’s nothing I can say now that could stop this train wreck. Good luck, were-dude.Bookmark here

I mean... How he’s going to FIND this mystery woman he’s only caught glimpses of downtown is a whole different story.Bookmark here

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

“I had a feeling this is where I would find you.”Bookmark here

A surprisingly familiar face floats into view.Bookmark here

That crisp suit paired with a matching black gas mask... Those grenade-shaped disinfectant bombs strapped to his back...Bookmark here

“Hey, Grim! What’s up?” Bookmark here

“Absolutely nothing, as we should be on our way.”Bookmark here

The shinigami tugs on his arm, and the werewolf reluctantly stands up.Bookmark here

“Yeah, yeah...”Bookmark here

“You two know each other?”Bookmark here

My manager glances between the two men in suits. Bookmark here

“Oh, yeah, uh, he’s one of our new hires. This guy’s obsession with cleanliness can be a bit of a hassle, though. And on that note...we’ve got to get back to work.”Bookmark here

That reminds me — where’s his murder of crows? I take a look outside, scanning the skies for the black birds. When he notices the direction of my gaze, the shinigami offers an explanation.Bookmark here

“The one requirement I have for my birds is that they do I am not. Their most recent target, however, has been this werewolf’s car. Quite frankly, I was unimpressed with their behavior and have been too upset to take them out on my walks. They do still come when I call, though.”Bookmark here

Yeeeah, I can see how that’d tick him off.Bookmark here

“I see the store has not changed much since we last cleaned it. It pleases me that you are keeping it tidy. I will be sure to come again.” Bookmark here

With a polite bow, the shinigami drags the werewolf out of the convenience store.Bookmark here

“Bye, Manager! So long, cashier kid! Let’s chat again sometime!” Bookmark here

“Oh, good luck with your confession! It’s sure to be a success!”Bookmark here

“Thanks, man!” Bookmark here

The two hopelessly misguided romantics give each other another round of thumbs-up, grinning from ear to ear, which finally brings an end to the comedy of errors that was that horrifying brainstorming session.Bookmark here

I guess there’s nothing left to do but wait until that wolf comes back, so we can hear the results.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.