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 is night number thirty-eight at the convenience store.
“Welcome, ira-... Uh...”
A man wearing round glasses staggers inside, sighing like he’s already lost at, well, life. Peeking out through the (not literal) black clouds that are weighing this guy down are two pointy horns.
It’s...oh, right. Oni-woni.
Wait, where’s his better half?
Seriously, though — what’s with all these heavy sighs? Why does he keep looking my way? Does he want to ask me something? What’s keeping him from it?
Yeesh, could he be any louder? That last one made me jump.
I know that calling attention to him is just asking for trouble... But if I just ignore him, then I’ll get caught in this endless cycle of moping. Which might actually be worse.
“...Alright, what’s your deal?”
“Hm? Oh, it’s you. ...You’re not married, you wouldn’t get it.”
Well, excuse YOU! Geez! The nerve of this ogre! Ugh, I HATE it when people practically scream that they want attention — then play it off when you finally give in! And quit looking at me like you want me to try harder, buddy!
“Then I don’t see what’s keeping you here.”
“Wow, that’s harsh. I’d have given you the reason if you’d asked a little more nicely. Look, I’ll give you one more chance. Go ahead, try again.”
What, so brushing him off only made him bolder?
And what’s with his whole high-and-mighty attitude? Like that’s going to make me want to give him a second chance.
“Fine, whatever. What’s troubling you, sir? ...Not that I really care.”
“You could at least wait for the answer! Alright, I get it! I’ll come clean! It’s my wife, Pompom-om-nom!”
“Right, she’s not with you tonight. You guys didn’t get divorced, did you?”
“...*sigh*... No, it’s not like that. At least, not yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if we did. We were burning with passion at the start, but now the fire’s dwindled down to practically nothing. Ha ha...”
Oni-woni laughs, but it’s a dark, hollow sound. His eyes have a kind of mad glint to them as he glances up towards the ceiling.
Yeah, that’s not the look of a man who’s doing okay.
“So, what happened?”
“Well, that’s just it. I don’t know. She just started giving me the silent treatment completely out of the blue. When she’s not yelling at me, that is. Whenever I asked her if she liked the food I’d made, she’d always smile and say it was delicious. Now she looks like each bite is torture. I tell her that she doesn’t have to force herself, but she says it’d be a waste of food otherwise. To top it all off, she has these bouts of severe lethargy, too. I’m not sure what I did, but it must’ve been something.”
The sudden silent treatment and/or bursts of anger = She’s fed up with his clinginess.
Not being able to stomach his cooking = She’s so pissed off that anything he touches is ruined.
She’s tired all the time = The stress of dealing with this annoying loser has finally caught up to her.
“Yep, you’re screwed.”
“What am I supposed to do?! I can’t even figure out what’s setting her off!”
“Look, the second you walked in here, you started shamelessly begging for attention. Maybe she finally got tired of your nonsense.”
“Come on, I know better than that. Lately, I’ve been doing ALL of the cooking and cleaning right after I get home from work, too. I run the bath and set out the futons and make her a mug of warm milk, too! She couldn’t be fed up with THAT, could she?!”
Okay, yeah, that sounds a pretty rough gig.
“...Wait, you mean your wife isn’t helping out with ANY of the chores?”
“Well, no. She hasn’t been feeling well enough to. When I asked what was wrong, she told me that she didn’t really know why, but just looking at my face made her sick.”
“...And you’re sure you didn’t screw up somehow?”
“Not that I can remember. At least, nothing comes to mind. And now I do so many of the chores that I could write a how-to book for henpecked husbands. I’d call it something like ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Suddenly Having to Clean up After Your Now-Demonic Wife’.”
“Dude. This really isn’t the time to be practicing your stand-up routine.”
“...No, you’re right.”
“For now, why don’t you just go home and apologize your ass off?”
I mean, as far as I can tell, he’s done something that’s touched a nerve.
And Oni-woni doesn’t strike me as the most perceptive of dudes. It’s entirely possible (probable?) that he’s done something to piss off Pompom-om-nom without even realizing it.
“I guess, but... I don’t even know what I should be apologizing FOR.”
“Whoops. Welcome, irasshai-...”
A young woman comes racing into the store, gasping for breath. She’s still dressed in her tiger-striped pajamas, with her black hair pulled back in a messy ponytail. The bits of hair popping up everywhere don’t do much to hide the traffic cone-esque striped horns on her head, though.
Oni-woni’s expression is one of pure terror, as Pompom-om-nom comes stomping up to him without a single word.
“Hey, um... No fighting inside the convenience store, okay?”
My warning falls on deaf ears as Pompom-om-nom suddenly breaks into a dash, charging at Oni-womi like a raging bull.
“Whoa! Babe? Baby? Bae? Can’t we talk this out?!”
His frantic plea doesn’t slow her down, so he flings his arms open wide.
“...Fine! Do your worst! Even if you hate me, even if you treat me like a servant in my own home, I still... Um?!”
Pompom-om-nom pounces on him, bundling him up in a big hug, with an even bigger smile on her face.
“Darling, I’m expecting!”
...For real? Oni-woni’s eyes (and mine too) widen at the shocking news, blinking in stunned surprise.
“...‘Expecting’? You don’t mean...?”
“Oni-woni, I’m carrying your child!”
“Wait, so then...?”
“Our family’s about to get a little bit bigger! Because babies! OUR baby, honey!”
“Oni-woni, you’re gonna be a daddy!”
Dude, seriously. Knock it off. There’s only so many ways the poor woman can define “pregnant” without it getting weird. I mean, even I knew what she was getting at, so he’s got no excuse.
Still, I’m happy to hear that the reason for all this drama is something well worth celebrating.
“That’s wonderful news! Congratulations!”
“Aw, thank you! I couldn’t be happier!”
Grinning from ear to ear, Pompom-om-nom tightens her hold on her husband.
“But dearest... I thought you hated me.”
“Now, why would you think a silly thing like that? Oni-woni, I love you to hell and back.”
Uh, that doesn’t exactly sound all that romantic to me, but I guess that’s just ogre culture for you.
“I’m so sorry for everything I put you through. I knew I wasn’t feeling like myself — but it’s not exactly like I can pop into the nearest clinic for a quick checkup. So, I asked around and I managed to find a place that treats non-humans like us. I went in for an examination a little while ago, and they just called with the results.”
“...I can’t believe I got it all wrong. I was so sure you... Wait, how did you know this is where I would be?”
Pompom-om-nom steps back to take Oni-woni’s hands in her own.
“What kind of wife would I be if I didn’t know all my husband’s favorite hideouts? I ran here as fast as I could.”
“Oh, but what if you’d tripped? Snookums, you have to hold my hand the entire way home.”
“...I’m sorry for shoving all the housework on you, too. I just felt so exhausted. But apparently, that’s another common symptom.”
“Don’t you worry, sugar. All good things come in pairs. Just like the horns on our head, we’re better as a lovey-dovey duo. And I’ll have to work even harder, now that we’ve got a little one on the way.”
“Oh, sweetie. You’re such a devilishly devoted husband. And I do adore that all of your cooking is absolutely overflowing with love — even if all of my tastes have changed for the worse.”
“It’s fine, I... Pompom-om-nom, I love you so much. I’ll do whatever you need me to, so you can have all the time you need to relax. The cooking, the cleaning — you name it. You’ve made me the happiest ogre alive.”
“Me too, Oni-woni.”
Arm in arm, the happy couple head on home.
That’s good, I’m glad they managed to work things out.
I applaud them as they leave, holding back tears. It already feels too quiet without them here.
I wish them nothing but the best.