Chapter 46:

Frankenstein's Monster Moseys In

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


“Haru, there have been reports of a suspicious character of substantial build skulking about the neighborhood.”Bookmark here

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Soooo... My manager?!Bookmark here

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“...Oh, not you, too. When I made the announcement this afternoon, everyone else had the same reaction.”Bookmark here

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Wait, it’s...NOT my manager?!Bookmark here

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“Quickly followed by that one. I don’t understand. Did I miss something?”Bookmark here

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He rests his chin in his hand, in cute contemplation. ...It’s too late. If he hasn’t figured it out by now, he’s never going to get it.  Bookmark here

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Still, it’s kind of sad that it’s all too easy for our thoughts to jump straight to the manager whenever anyone mentions anyone “freakishly large.”  Bookmark here

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“It’s nothing you need to worry about, Manager. Everyone working here knows that you’re a really good guy.”Bookmark here

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“Hm? I appreciate the kind words, but... What brought that on?”Bookmark here

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He scratches his cheek, clearly pleased (but also still confused), and it’s just too cute to bear.Bookmark here

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Come on! Who could EVER believe that this sweet, sensitive man is anything BUT an upstanding citizen!Bookmark here

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Okay, sure, I had my doubts for a moment there, but that’s beside the point! It’s not my fault there isn’t anyone else in the area who even comes close to measuring up to him!Bookmark here

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“If you see anyone who matches that description, we’re to report it straight away. Alright?”Bookmark here

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“Um, you mean the cops actually stopped by today?”Bookmark here

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“Right. Since Keigo is on friendly terms with the local law enforcement team, they’ve been patrolling the area more frequently. He says that we’ll be fine regardless, since we haven’t had anyone suspicious come to the store. ...Still, I am a little nervous about all the police cars that have been parked in the lot. I think it’s upsetting our customers.”Bookmark here

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Yeeeah, no. They definitely came by to keep an eye on our manager!! Keigo did a nice job of covering that up, but that’s not going to lessen anyone’s doubts about the poor guy! Aren’t they just picking on him based on his looks? Bookmark here

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“So, um, has this guy done anything wrong, or...?”Bookmark here

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“Things like frightening children and being mean to dogs.”Bookmark here

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Yeah, that’s a pretty solid rap sheet.Bookmark here

We’d better find the real culprit and clear the manager’s name, ASAP.Bookmark here

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“If you see anyone who fits that description, alert the authorities with all of your might.”Bookmark here

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“Uh, sure. ...Like, with a megaphone, or...?”Bookmark here

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So starts my sixty-seventh lonely late-night behind the till.Bookmark here

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Ding-a-ling-a-ling...  Bookmark here

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

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This guy who’s even TALLER than my manager walks in. No, seriously. This dude must be like, eight feet, minimum. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s even more ripped, too.Bookmark here

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I can’t see him all that well, though. He’s wearing a light green hoodie, with the top pulled down over most of his face. You can tell that he’s used to not fitting through doorways and stuff, since he’s shuffling around with his head hunched down.Bookmark here

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A pair of beat-up slacks and grungy sandals complete this guy’s look. Having his face covered like that reeeeally makes him look sketchy, though. Maybe HE’S the one the cops are looking for?Bookmark here

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I try to sneak a peek at his face from my lower vantage point — but as soon as he sees me staring, he pulls the strings of his hood even tighter and rushes off to the back of the store.Bookmark here

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Well, that’s not suspicious at ALL.Bookmark here

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I watch as this dubious dude grabs a few different kinds of packaged bread, a selection of candies and a bottle of water before making his way to the register.Bookmark here

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He sets his basket on the counter without a word, and I start to ring him up.Bookmark here

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There’s a lone pork cutlet sandwich mixed in with his assortment of snacks — which reminds me of the demon lord.Bookmark here

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“That’ll be nine hundred twenty yen.”Bookmark here

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The peculiar customer pulls out a slightly wrinkled thousand-yen bill. He takes his change and his purchases in complete silence, then shuffles back out.  Bookmark here

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...So, should I call the cops on this guy, or what? ...Then again, it’s not like he’s any more suspicious than our usual clientele.Bookmark here

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Ding-a-ling-a-ling...  Bookmark here

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“Um... Thank you for your patronage!”Bookmark here

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Thinking about it, I honestly don’t know enough about this guy to go raising the alarm. ...So, that’s that. Time to get back to work. I figure I might as well go and start straightening up the displays. And that’s when I notice...Bookmark here

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“Huh.”Bookmark here

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For some reason, everything’s in neat, tidy rows. The bread section, the sweets section...you name it.Bookmark here

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And that’s not all. All the packages are facing the right way, pulled up to the edge for easy access.Bookmark here

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Usually, at this hour, I’m stuck rearranging the jumbles of plastic wrap that have been strewn about the shelves.Bookmark here

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Since there’s not much left for me to improve on, I decide to go check on the garbage bins.Bookmark here

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Ding-a-ling-a-ling...  Bookmark here

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“Huh?!”Bookmark here

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The green-hooded stranger is crouched down in front of the store.Bookmark here

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He’s STILL here?! Bookmark here

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The stranger just about jumps out of his skin when he realizes I’m there, leaping up and getting ready to make a run for it.Bookmark here

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“Hey, hold up!”Bookmark here

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I reach out and grab the edge of the guy’s hoodie before he can bolt.Bookmark here

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“Uh, was that you, back there? You know, with the...”Bookmark here

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“...”Bookmark here

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...The garbage area is also pristine.Bookmark here

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There are always empty bottles lying around, or trash that’s missed its mark, but the pavement is bare.Bookmark here

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Actually, I think he might have even replaced the bags.Bookmark here

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“I knew it! You’re the one who did all that tidying up, right?”Bookmark here

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Huh. Even the flowers around the entrance have been watered. ...Don’t tell me. Is THAT what the bottle of water was for...?Bookmark here

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But, this guy just shakes his head, clearly eager to be off on his way.Bookmark here

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“Come on, who does a bunch of good deeds and then dashes off? Seriously — I’m not upset about it or anything. Maybe a little surprised at how quickly you managed all that, sure, but I’m grateful for the help.”Bookmark here

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“...”Bookmark here

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The hooded figure slowly turns to look at me, the bright lights of the convenience store illuminating the shadowy contours of his face.Bookmark here

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It looks like it’s been stitched together. His massive forehead juts out beyond his brow, his droopy chin sags down to his neck, and his tongue keeps poking out between what might be his only two teeth. I’ve never seen anyone like him before. And probably never will again.Bookmark here

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Feeling self-conscious, the stranger buries his face in his hoodie again.Bookmark here

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“My...naim...Fran-...ken-...shtine. ...I...uglii...”Bookmark here

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He’s got a rough, grumbling voice that makes him sound like some sort of wild animal. But, there’s a hint of vulnerability to it.Bookmark here

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“What? No, I wouldn’t call you that.”Bookmark here

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“...W-wy nott...?”Bookmark here

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“If you saw half the weirdos we get here, you’d get it. As long as people are friendly, I could care less about how they look.”Bookmark here

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If this job has taught me anything, it’s that you can’t judge a book by its cover. My manager’s been the best example of that. When I first saw him, I was so terrified that I had to rehearse every conversation six times before I could even work up the courage to speak to him — but now I know that he’s really just a gentle giant who loves flowers.Bookmark here

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It’s thanks to lessons like those that I’ve learnt not to assume things about people based on their looks.Bookmark here

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“...Thnk...yu...”Bookmark here

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“Nah, it’s nothing.”Bookmark here

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“...I...lik...kiz...’n...dugs. They...lik...braid...’n...sncks. Play...t’gether.”Bookmark here

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So, that explains all the bread and treats he bought! In that case...Bookmark here

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I’m willing to bet that the people who saw him feeding dogs thought he was teasing them.Bookmark here

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And the shrieks they heard from the kids was just them having fun.Bookmark here

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“...Btt...now...kiz...say...gr’wn ups...don’ wnt...go...cloze.”Bookmark here

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The hurt and betrayal in his voice is heartbreaking. He’s only being a good playmate to the local kids! It’s just his face that’s turning all the adults off. That’s not fair! He can’t help how he looks.Bookmark here

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“What? You shouldn’t have to listen to those jerks! Everyone’s having fun, right? There’s nothing wrong with that! You just keep doing you, man!”Bookmark here

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“...Thnk...yu. Kiz smaile wh’n giv sncks. Mak happii.”Bookmark here

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Gripping the bag in his hands, Frankenstein nods in deep appreciation. Without another word, he turns around and shuffles back out into the night, melting into the shadows.Bookmark here

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Honestly, a guy that nice deserves whatever happiness he can get.Bookmark here

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“Come back soon!!”Bookmark here

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I shout out towards the darkness, as loudly as I can.Bookmark here

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I really hope he heard that.Bookmark here

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