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
It’s my thirty-ninth evening at work.
Whenever the phone rings, for the most part, it’s going to be for my manager, not one of us lowly peons. Not that I’ve ever had to worry about it. In all my time working the graveyard shift, the store’s phone hasn’t rung once.
Besides, anyone who calls a convenience store at two in the morning either has the wrong number or is a belligerent drunk.
It’s 2:22 AM. On the dot.
And for the first time ever in my history as a cashier, someone’s calling the store.
Okay, chill. I’ve just got to answer the phone, take a few notes, then put them on hold...
Before I can run off screaming for my manager. Yeah. Cool. I’ve got this.
I timidly reach out to grab the receiver, but the stillness of the empty store only makes my heart pound even harder.
“Hi, you’ve reached your local Mawson’s. How may I he-...”
“It’s me, Mary. I’m just outside the clinic.”
“Mary”? Haven’t I heard that name somewhere before?
Oh, right. She’s supposed to be a doll or something. She keeps calling as she gets closer and closer, until she’s right behind you and... Uh. Bad things happen. Even I know that urban legend.
If she’s talking about a clinic, I’m guessing it’s the area’s Blood Red Cross? That’s kind of far from here, though. What’s she doing all the way over there? Setting the mood?
Nah, couldn’t be. For all the weirdos that we’ve had wander in here, not one of them has been from a horror story.
...Hey! She hung up on me! I didn’t even have any time to put her on hold!
“I guess she might call back, so...maybe I should go mention this to my manager.”
But, when I turn towards the break room door, it suddenly opens.
“Was that the phone just now?”
My manager pops out, already in his uniform.
Whenever he makes an appearance, I always feel so much more at ease.
“Um...yeah. Someone called like, two seconds ago.”
“Do you know what they wanted?”
I’m not at all sure what’s going on, but my manager keeps his tone nice and gentle. That kind consideration of his is s—
There it is again. The ringing of the telephone makes a chill run down my spine. It’s Mary. She’s getting closer.
“Hey, um... What if we just...didn’t answer that?”
I grab his arm, but my manager shakes his head.
“No, we can’t do that to our customers. Even the ones with unreasonable complaints deserve to be heard.”
Well, that’s why he’s the manager, I guess.
He picks up the phone, bringing the receiver up to his ear. I lean a little closer, so that I can listen in on the conversation, too.
“Hello, you’ve reached the Inukawa Mawson’s. This is the manag—”
“It’s me, Mary. I... I’m calling from a pay phone in a nearby park, and I was wondering what the best way to get to the convenience store was. ...Not that I’m lost or anything. I just wanted to, um, you know... Make sure that YOU knew how to give half decent directions.”
...Yep. She’s lost.
“By ‘park,’ I presume you mean the Inukawa Park? That’s roughly a ten-minute walk from here.”
That chill, level-headedness is so like him.
“Yeeeek!! What the heck?! A dog with the nastiest face just walked by!! Oooh... That was kinda terrifying. Being alone in a park at night is scary! I started over at the clinic, and that wasn’t too bad. I mean, hospitals and stuff are even freakier in the dark, right? Like, saying that I was close to one at this hour would make people nervous without even having to try. So, I— AAAAH! Oh my gosh!! That dog is LOOKING at me! No, seriously! He’s REALLY staring at me! Nope! No way! I’m super not good with dogs! The last place I lived in had this big ol’ stinky one, and I just can’t handle the slobbering things!”
“Calm down, miss. You’re only a short distance away. From the park, head out onto the main street. Then, turn right at the first set of streetlights. We’re located just past the residential area.”
“O-Okay. Whenever I get sent a text, if I call the number and someone answers, then I HAVE to go see them in person. That’s the rule. So, I...I’ll be on my way. ...Eep! You! Dog! Go on, shoo! Go somewhere else!”
There’s a click, and the line cuts out.
“Maybe I should have gone to pick her up.”
“...Nah, I’m sure she’ll be fine.”
On one hand, I’m glad she’s kind of ruined her whole horror vibe, but... If she’s afraid of dogs and other things that go bump in the night, then I have to wonder how she’s even made it this far in her career as a scary creature.
Whoa, we’ve got a customer?! Is it...?
“Welcome, irasshaima...se? Hm? Oh, it’s you! The booze hound!”
“Hey, kid! Howzit hangin’?”
The middle-aged mutt holds up his hand — sorry, his paw — and salutes the convenience store staff with a goofy grin.
“Pops! It’s been a while!”
My manager’s face lights up, and we’re all genuinely pleased by the impromptu reunion.
The porcelain doll that he’s dragged all the way over here, however, is anything but.
“Yeah, it’s me. Mary. In the flesh. ...Well, sort of. Ugh, would you look at this? I’m sticky and slimy and covered in spit, my hair’s a disaster, and I STINK. I’ve been to all kinds of places and scared SO many people, but this? I’ve NEVER been so humiliated in my entire LIFE.”
Her voice quivers, like she’s about to burst into tears.
“I saw the lil’ miss havin’ a rough time of things while I was at the park, so I thought I’d lend her a paw.”
Mary finally peels herself off of the convenience store floor. She takes a tentative whiff of the little pink purse at her side, making a face that suggests it smells awful.
Honestly, I feel kind of sorry for the poor girl.
The booze hound is grinning at his good deed, and my manager smiles in turn.
“So, you must be the young lady who called earlier. ...Don’t worry, you still look lovely to me. You did well to help this damsel in distress, Pops.”
“You call THIS helping?! Do you have ANY idea what it feels like to be picked up in someone’s MOUTH and hauled off at high speed?! It’s TERRIFYING! And that’s not all! Look! Look at my favorite purse! It REEKS! All I can smell is your disgusting drool! Ugh, it’s worse than rotting chicken!”
The petite porcelain doll stomps her feet in frustration, her shoes clicking on the convenience store floor.
“A-And you! Don’t you go calling me ‘cute’ or ‘lovely’ or anything like that! It’s not making me feel the LEAST bit better! Well, I guess I should thank you for giving me directions... Except they ended up being completely useless.”
Her fabulously disheveled ferocity is...surprisingly endearing, actually.
“I just...want to go home.”
Mumbling to herself, Mary turns and starts to stagger towards the exit.
“Are you gonna be okay on your own, missy? I can drop’ya off wherever you need t’go.”
The booze hound means this in this nicest way possible, but Mary turns, pointing a sharp finger at him.
“Don’t even THINK about it, you mangy monster!!”
She screeches the warning, glaring at him with all the strength she can muster. Then, she finally totters off to wherever it is she calls home.
I watch her fade into the distance, wobbling like some worn out office worker who’s done one overtime shift too many, while the two drinking buddies chat away.
Between getting lost, wandering around in the dark, then being carted off by a booze hound, this evening’s been nothing but a string of disasters for Mary. I get the feeling she won’t be calling us back any time soon.
“It’s me, Mary. Um... I thought I’d go back to the clinic, but I’m not really sure where that is from here. So, I figured I’d at least try and head to the park but... The whole trip over was a blur, and now I don’t know how to get back there, either. ...Help?”