Chapter 36:

Kintaro Returns for Round 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

Tonight’s my thirty-sixth time working the till.Bookmark here

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

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“Welcome, irasshaima... Huh.”Bookmark here

“Oh, honey! It’s been ages!”Bookmark here

Our first customer of the evening flips back her short blonde hair, exposing more of her bare shoulders. With a bubbly wave, Kintaro the drag queen comes bouncing into the store.Bookmark here

“So, what brings you here today?”Bookmark here

“Weeeell, I thought I’d pay your manager a little visit. How’s he doing? Good?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, he’s fine. ...He’s asleep in the break room right now, though, like usual.”Bookmark here

“Is he now? Shoot. Well, now what? It’d be mean to wake him up, sooo... Hm.”Bookmark here

Placing a hand on her cheek, Kintaro tilts her head to the side in thought.Bookmark here

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“Aw, I even got all dolled up for him, too. See? I tried out a new shade of lipstick today. Isn’t it sexy?”Bookmark here

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Kintaro leans in waaaay too close for comfort, her lips puckered in an almost-kiss.Bookmark here

“Uh, yeah. Looks good.”Bookmark here

“Ooh, I really did want to see him...”Bookmark here

She clenches her hands, bunching up the fabric of her sunflower-patterned dress, looking pretty disappointed.Bookmark here

It’s sweet that she’s gone all out for her crush — even if her whole “blushing young maiden” persona is kind of at odds with her muscle-bound physique.Bookmark here

Either way, she did go through all that trouble... It’d be a shame to send her home empty-handed.Bookmark here

“Would you mind waiting a minute? Since you came all this way, I’ll run in and see if he’s available.”Bookmark here

“You’d do that for me? Aw, thanks a bunch!  You’re such a sweetheart!”Bookmark here

She squeals in girlish glee, flapping her hands excitedly — which just makes me chuckle.Bookmark here

I mean, I adore my manager, but I get the feeling that his overall look is keeping him from getting too close to the rest of the convenience store staff.Bookmark here

Like, that he finds it hard to strike up a conversation because his face is pretty terrifying. I know that he hasn’t really made his peace with it, so it makes me happy to see that there are more people who are willing to face him head on, and to love him just as he is.Bookmark here

...Okay, maybe I’m a little jealous that he’s got someone else now.Bookmark here

But I really DO want him to have a social life, so I’m just going to have to get over it and learn how to share.Bookmark here

“Hey, Manager? You’ve got a visitor.”Bookmark here

“Hm? Has Pops come by again?”Bookmark here

“No,’s someone else you know? Kintaro? Uuum, the drag queen?”Bookmark here

“...I know a Kintaro?”Bookmark here

My manager is still scratching his head in confusion as he steps out of the break room.Bookmark here

Well, Kintaro’ll be thrilled either way.Bookmark here

Smiling at my good deed, I head back into the find my manager pinned up against the wall. Bookmark here

“Haru... A little help here?”Bookmark here

“Oh my god, Manager...! Hey, Kintaro! Can’t you greet him like a normal person?!”Bookmark here

I quickly step in between the two of them, and Kintaro blurts out:Bookmark here

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“I can’t help it! Whenever I see that handsome face of his, I’ve just gotta get right up close...!”Bookmark here

Overwhelmed, Kintaro presses her hands to her cheeks, and I push her a little further away from my manager.Bookmark here

“Well, you can’t! C’mon, the poor guy hasn’t even gone on a date before! You’ve got to take baby steps with him!”Bookmark here

“Ooooh, that’s riiiight. ...But don’t you think that side of him’s just the cutest? Tee-hee! I absolutely LOVE it.”Bookmark here

Kintaro winks, emphasizing her point by using her hands to make the shape of a heart. ...Well, I tried.Bookmark here

“Okay, soooo... How slow are we talking here, honey?”Bookmark here

“You could probably start by, y’know, getting to know each other a little better?”Bookmark here

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“Haru, what are you two talking about?”Bookmark here

“Ehehe... Why don’t you and I go have a little chat over there, Manager?”Bookmark here

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“Whoa! Um, maybe don’t pull so hard, either?”Bookmark here

Kintaro saunters off towards the seating area, dragging my flailing manager along behind her — looking very much like an extremely confused deer in headlights.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, I’m trying not to die of laughter. I mean, there’s just something inherently hilarious about watching two bodybuilders skip off together, arm in arm.Bookmark here

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

“My most loyal servants! It has been far too long since we last graced you with our presence!”Bookmark here

In what might be the best example of the worst timing ever, our local vampire waltzes in, grinning from ear to ear. Either some god really has it out for us today, or an evil demon is on a roll.Bookmark here

“Are we interrupting something? Because you appear to be having a splendid time with that tawdry tart.”Bookmark here

For all that Kintaro’s been called names before, I’m willing to bet that’s a new one.Bookmark here

“Excuuuse me? Like you’re one to talk, you walking trash bag.” Bookmark here

She hurls the insult right back at the vampire, who’s wearing a tight-fitting black dress that exposes possibly even more of her cleavage than the last time.   Bookmark here

The tart and the trash bag stare each other down, sparks flying from their charged glares.Bookmark here

“Now, now. You’re both two of our most valued customers.”Bookmark here

My manager does his best to diffuse the situation, but the diplomatic reply pleases neither woman.Bookmark here

“‘Customers’? Do you behave this way with all of your clients, you philandering oaf?”Bookmark here

The vampire strolls over to the seating area, draping herself across my manager’s free shoulder.Bookmark here

“Um, miss, you really shouldn’t throw yourself on people quite so freely...!”Bookmark here

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My manager’s less flustered and more freaking out at this point.Bookmark here

“That’s right! Keep your hands to yourself, you bitch! Have you no shame?”Bookmark here

“What of you? You’ve snaked your filthy arms around his with no respect for propriety!”Bookmark here

“What’d you saaaay?! Don’t you think that you can run your mouth off at ME, missy! I’m a hundred times better for the manager than your scrawny ass!!”Bookmark here

While they bicker, the vampire comes around to jab an accusatory finger in Kintaro’s face.Bookmark here

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“Hmph! Jealous of our youthful beauty, are you? Well, we care ever so much more for him than the likes of you. He would make an absolutely perfect slave... Oh, we would be able to dine on the most exquisite blood each and every day... Ahhh, we cannot wait for that moment.”Bookmark here

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The vampire sighs, wistfully nibbling on her thumb.Bookmark here

“Oooh, the nerve! A slave?! The manager deserves a future where he’s happily married! And he’d have that with ME! I’d wake him up every morning with a kiss, we’d end each day with a kiss, and whenever we go to an amusement park, I’d treat our entire family to ice cream!”Bookmark here

Yeah, that’s great and all, but could you please spare a thought for how HE’S feeling?  Bookmark here

He’s already had his sleep interrupted, and now he’s been pulled into this nonsense.Bookmark here

My manager turns to me, in silent supplication.Bookmark here

“Hey, you two! Knock it off! You’re forgetting whose decision this is actually supposed to be.”Bookmark here

Both ladies turn their attention back to the man of the hour, their voices overlapping.Bookmark here

“So? Who would you pick?”Bookmark here

“Well? Which one of us will you choose?”Bookmark here

...I’m sorry, Manager. That just made it worse.Bookmark here

He looks up at the ceiling, scratching his cheek in thought.Bookmark here

“To be honest, I’m not at all confident that I could make two beauties such as yourselves happy — though I do appreciate the sentiment. Still, I’m certain you would have your pick of much better men than me...”Bookmark here

“Darling, you’re the only one for me!”Bookmark here

“No other man would do!”Bookmark here

He doesn’t so much as bend under the pressure, though.Bookmark here

“I’m flattered, but... Um, I... I have a blind date tomorrow.”Bookmark here

“A what?! Manager, you do?!”Bookmark here

My startled outburst echoes through the store. Seriously, I did NOT see that one coming.Bookmark here

“A blind date...? You’re kidding me...”Bookmark here

Kintaro gasps, her hands flying up to her face.Bookmark here

“...What IS a ‘blind date’?”Bookmark here

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The centuries-old vampire, on the other hand, is understandably confused.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.