Chapter 32:

Strong Women Come Strut Their Stuff

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

There are rumors going around town about a Jack the Ri-... Sorry, “Stripper.”Bookmark here

The pervert gets his kicks from, well, snipping the clothes off of women who could probably kick his ass. It sounds like no one’s actually getting hurt, but...Bookmark here

“Hang on. Isn’t that the sort of thing that you ought to be reporting to the police?”Bookmark here

“If we did, then there is the possibility that they would have the kuchisake-onna brought in for questioning; whereupon her disguise would be exposed. Naturally, that would cause a great deal of trouble for everyone involved.”Bookmark here

“...Fair enough. So, someone asked you to track this guy down, then?”Bookmark here

“Well, it happens to be my business.”Bookmark here

“You mean like, your job?”Bookmark here

“Right. The werewolf and I run an errand service, of sorts, for our otherworldly fellows. Whatever their troubles, we are happy to lend a hand.”Bookmark here

He strikes a practiced pose as he says this. Must be part of their schtick.Bookmark here

“Uh...huh. So, back to this ‘Jack the Stripper.’ If he’s the sort to come out here in the middle of the night, he’s not exactly normal, huh?”Bookmark here

“I should hope not. Surely no sensible person would choose to conduct himself so!”Bookmark here

Well, yeah.Bookmark here

I’m glad we’re all in agreement here.Bookmark here

“And this errand shop of yours extends to capturing criminals?”Bookmark here

“We certainly cannot let him roam free. Our staff has recently increased, as well. Umibozu is on the hunt, too — though he can only work late nights.”Bookmark here

Wait, he knows Umibouzu, too?!Bookmark here

“If you’re tracking him, then I want to help too. What if I was to act as bait?”Bookmark here

“Haven’t you been through enough this evening? I’m not going to watch you put yourself in danger, Ayame. You’re staying in the store with me tonight, and that’s that.”Bookmark here

I cross my arms, my mind made up.Bookmark here

“Oh, Haru... You’re so cool when you take charge...”Bookmark here

Huh. I thought she’d argue that one. ...She can be really cute when she’s not trying to start a fight.Bookmark here

...Oh, no. The demon trio is still inside. Well, maybe... Nah. That’s a bad idea.Bookmark here

Yep. Going inside is definitely out.Bookmark here

Especially since Chronoa’s there tonight!!Bookmark here

Great. Now what do I do?Bookmark here

“There will not be any need for you to act as a decoy, miss.”Bookmark here

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Before the shinigami can elaborate, though, his phone starts to ring. He pulls it out of his pocket, bringing it past his gas mask and up to his ear.Bookmark here

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“...Yes, speaking. ...Is that so? ...Right. See you then.”Bookmark here

“Who were you talking to?”Bookmark here

“A rather formidable young woman I recruited this afternoon. When I explained the situation, she immediately agreed to lend a hand. So, we made sure to exchange contact information. It should not take her much longer to get here.”Bookmark here

Honestly, that’s...a pretty vague description.Bookmark here

“Uh, out of curiosity — what makes her so strong?”Bookmark here

“...You will know as soon as you see her.”Bookmark here

Well, that doesn’t sound ominous at all.Bookmark here

More importantly, I’ve got to get the demonic trio to take a hike, ASAP. Especially Chronoa.Bookmark here

“Hey, Ayame? Would you...mind waiting out here for just a minute?”Bookmark here

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“Is something wrong?”Bookmark here

“I was in the middle of restocking, sooo... The store’s a mess.”Bookmark here

“Now, why would you lie about a thing like that?”Bookmark here

Uuuuh...Bookmark here

“I can tell, Haru. After all, I watch you more closely than anyone else.”Bookmark here

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She stares at me, wide-eyed and unblinking, her gaze like a steel trap.Bookmark here

“...Someone’s in there, aren’t they?”Bookmark here

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Ayame turns on her heel, taking sharp, quick strides towards the convenience store.Bookmark here

“Whoa, Ayame! Wait up!”Bookmark here

Ding-a-ling-a-ling...  Bookmark here

“Haru...”Bookmark here

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I come flying in right behind her, but to my surprise...Bookmark here

...There’s no one here. The store’s just as empty as it (almost) always is.Bookmark here

How’d THAT happen?Bookmark here

Glancing around, I spot a scrap of paper sitting on top of the register.Bookmark here

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Deer lad,Bookmark here

Chronoa and Sheri insist on being stubborne. We arr going to use Chronoa’s wharp spell to leave four today.  Bookmark here

Sea yoo again.Bookmark here

Demon Lord.Bookmark here

Aw, he’s learning how to write in a human language.Bookmark here

“...I suppose I was mistaken.”Bookmark here

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In a flash, I crumple up the demon lord’s note and toss it in the trash.Bookmark here

“See, what did I tell you? Anyways, why don’t you go ahead and make yourself comfortable?”Bookmark here

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“...Well, if you insist... It’ll be a nice treat to get to watch you up close.”Bookmark here

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Thankfully, the brewing storm seems to have passed us by.Bookmark here

I show Ayame over to the seating area, and help her get settled.Bookmark here

“...This place reeks of other women.”Bookmark here

“...Something wrong?”Bookmark here

“Oh, no. Nothing at all.”Bookmark here

Whew, okay. I think I’m in the clear.Bookmark here

Ding-a-ling-a-ling...  Bookmark here

The shinigami steps in to proudly announce...Bookmark here

“The volunteer that I was telling you about has arrived. Together, we shall lure Jack the Stripper over to this convenience store and trap him.”Bookmark here

“Do you guys really have to do that here?”Bookmark here

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“I think it’s a great idea. Wouldn’t he be more likely to make an appearance if I’m around?”Bookmark here

“But, Ayame...!”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, Haru. That pervert told me so himself — he never lets go of a mark. Until he gets me, he won’t target anyone else. I’ll manage. I can hold my own in a fight.”Bookmark here

She brandishes her sickle with a smile, and I slap my hands down on the table.Bookmark here

“You shouldn’t have to! I know you’re strong, but there’s no shame in letting someone else take care of you sometimes! I promise, I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you safe.”Bookmark here

It’s not right that she feels like she HAS to walk around with wickedly sharp objects.Bookmark here

“Um, H-Haru...? Your hand, i-it’s... Ah...”Bookmark here

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I’m holding hers. I mean, as her boyfriend, it’s the least I can do. No, should do.Bookmark here

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“ two mind if I brought in our guest? For, um, introductions?”Bookmark here

The shinigami awkwardly interrupts us, glancing away.Bookmark here

“Oh, right. Uh, sorry. Please do.”Bookmark here

“...*sigh*... I’m never going to wash this hand again...”Bookmark here

Ding-a-ling-a-ling...  Bookmark here

The shinigami’s “formidable woman” walks in...and you could hear a pin drop.Bookmark here

“I would like you to meet Kintaro.”Bookmark here

She has short blonde hair that falls in soft curls, her lips a provocative shade of red. She’s managed to stuff a very muscular figure into a rather snug dress, complete with diamond-shaped chest window. Like, she’s almost as ripped as my manager is. I glance down, and I can see a rock-solid calf peeking out of the slit that runs up her long skirt.Bookmark here

“The golden girl, at your service! Hmm? I spy with my little eye... An absolutely adorable couple! Tee-hee! Oh, to be that young and carefree again...”Bookmark here

“Uh... You’re not like any version of Kintaro that I’ve ever seen.”Bookmark here

Or like any of our previous clientele, really.Bookmark here

This Kintaro’s definitely a drag queen! Well, I guess if you’re looking for women who could bench press a pervert, she’d count.Bookmark here

“Oooh, you think so too? Aw, honey, that’s so sweet of you to say!”Bookmark here

“Huh? That wasn’t a... No, never mind.”Bookmark here

“Well, now that everyone has assembled, let us set the trap for Jack the Stripper!”Bookmark here

The shinigami holds out his fist, which Kintaro energetically bumps.Bookmark here

“You betcha! I’m not sure how useful I’ll be, but I’ll do my best!”Bookmark here

Ayame and I exchange a look.Bookmark here

...This can only end poorly.Bookmark here

“Alright, what’s all the fuss about...?”Bookmark here

The door to the break room rattles open, and out pops my manager.Bookmark here

He spots Kintaro instantly.Bookmark here

“...And who might this gorgeous young lady be?”Bookmark here

“...Omigosh, I think I’m in love.”Bookmark here

Seriously, this night’s just gone from ridiculous to completely outrageous! Ugh, what’s next?!Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.