Kamisama no Memochou:Volume 5 Chapter 1

From Baka-Tsuki
Jump to: navigation, search

Everyone, lift your chest up and play.

The numbers on your backs will be retired numbers of all the Kintetsu Buffaloes.

Nashida Masataka

The Origins of Hanamaru’s Soup[edit]

This was the third case that I encountered after becoming an assistant detective— In other words, it occurred after the Angel Fix uproar. As it happened when I had just started to record the cases, it was really hard to name that incident appropriately. The whole case was like the thin noodles of ramen tangled with the straps of a bra. Even though it didn’t take a long time, it was extremely confusing and idiotic. I changed the title to the aforementioned only because of Alice’s criticism that the earlier names were too lacking and tasteless.

A lot of things did indeed happen in this period of time, but speaking from the results, it was actually just a story that happened before the ramen soup was completed.

*

The Yamanote Line and other private railways converged untidily at the large station near Hanamaru Ramen. One could find the shop in a dead alley with bad airing between short buildings just six minutes from the station on foot. As soon as night fell, salarymen would gather here, crowding up the shop in an instant, while the leftover customers would have to claim foldable chairs or overturned crates outside the shop— that was how the shop was.

Although the owner’s skills improved substantially recently, it was still really hard to say that the shop’s ramen was ‘tasty’ even in politeness. One of the reasons that this shop could still barely continue its business in such bad conditions was because the ice cream that the owner made due to personal interest was exceptionally scrumptious, and another was because the owner’s breasts were really large. Well, that was what I personally think, anyway.

Min-san, the owner of the ramen shop, was a young woman. Standing in the kitchen, she kept her long hair in a ponytail, her chest wrapped in a sarashi, and a long apron tied around her waist, covering the tank top she was wearing. Nobody knew Min-san’s real name and age. A rude customer once asked for her age, and she promptly beat the person up. An even ruder customer asked for the size of her bra, and she said ‘I don’t buy these things’, and beat the person up. And I had to wash bowls and cut onions beside such a person, earning a daily pay of 700 yen with my life on stake.

Speaking of which, I would occasionally think of this— Is working under a person whose name you don’t know really in line with social norms? The school rules stated explicitly that part time jobs were forbidden, so I never mentioned this at school, and added with the fact that both of my parents weren’t at home, while my sister who was in charge of looking after me was a permissive person, she didn’t have anything to say even if I didn’t return for two days— To put it bluntly, nobody actually cares who I work for at all.


This was what Alice told me when I mentioned this to her.

“I do not know Master’s name as well, but I know her father’s name. Her father was Hanada Masaru, the exact same name as the 66th yokozuna, it seems. At first, he planned to use his name directly as the shop’s name, but someone said that the name sounded weak, and so he removed the tones of ‘da’ and ‘sa’ [1], thus forming the current name ‘Hanamaru’— that is how things are said to be, but I cannot affirm to its validity.”

On the third floor of the building with the ramen shop, there was a room with a signboard saying ‘NEET Detective Agency’, while the owner of the room was this strange girl who called herself Alice. The room had air-conditioners going strong in all seasons, while the walls were full of computers and equipment. The low hum of machines functioning shrouded the whole room. A large bed was at the center of the room, while the girl who wore teddy-patterned pajamas, had long black hair and large doll-like eyes, Alice, usually sat on the bed with her slender legs extended.

I got to know Alice because of the incident that happened in winter. From that time on, I was in charge of sending ramen to the picky hikkikomori girl’s room, making her eat them all up. Unknowingly, it seemed to have turned into my daily routine as well.

“Why do you only know her father’s name?”

I estimated the time for Alice to finish her ramen, took out a can of Dr. Pepper and handed it to her while asking.

“Why? Because he is the person who signed the rental contract! Of course his name is on the contract.”

“…… Contract? Oh…… So Min-san’s dad is the owner of this building?”

So that’s why a ramen shop that had long got out of fashion was here…… Just when I finally understood slightly, Alice spoke:

“No no, I am the owner of the building.”

I nearly fell on my back.

“Why are you so surprised? If I am not the owner, can I still modify the room and install surveillance cameras as I like? You’ll know this just by using your brain a little.”

Giving me a disdainful look, Alice shrugged and pointed at the sixth small monitor arranged by her bed. The monitor was connected to the high-functionality surveillance cameras recording at all times that were set up around the building. Indeed, disregarding those in her own room, setting these things outside the room as she liked was a bit overboard……

“Seriously, you really lack common sense of the community.”

You as a hikkikomori don’t have any right to say that! But I couldn’t talk back, and thus stayed mute.

“Strictly speaking, I did not sign the contract with Hanada Masaru-shi directly as well. He was already living here when I took over the building with illegal means.”

You took over the building with illegal means……? Then I think it’s better not to ask how.

“…… Which means, you kept living on the rent for the rooms, huh?”

I nodded in understanding. After all, I thought that the source of income for this hikikomori girl was a mystery from a long time before. However, Alice immediately flew into a rage when she heard my words.

“What sort of rude comment was that! The rent for the building is directly deposited into the account of the legal owner, and I never even touched it! I just required an office! Although I know that your brain of sponge will not comprehend this no matter how many times I speak of it, let me speak of this once again— I work as a NEET detective, and earn a considerable amount of pay as a detective!”

“Sorry, it’s my fault, I apologize!”

Seeing that an empty Dr. Pepper can was about to fly over, I hurriedly covered my head and maintained a low position. The girl in pajamas is really a prideful (self-proclaimed) detective.

“Actually, it is fine with me even if I don’t collect rent for Master’s store, but she is a prideful ramen shop owner as well. Even if we don’t know each other’s true names, we still respect each other very much. That is why I allow her to meaninglessly continue depositing rent into the account of a shell company.”

Speaking of which, I don’t think I know Alice’s real name either. I just heard that her name was Yuuko……

“Even so…… With your capabilities, aren’t you able to find out Min-san’s real name with just a little investigation?” I asked randomly while looked at the machine rack that loomed so tall behind her that they almost covered the whole wall.

“She never spoke of her name, which means she has no intention of letting me know. Don’t you even know the concept of privacy?”

“A person who steals files from other people everywhere online doesn't really have the right to say that to me……”

“That is all the more reason I cannot investigate! Even in her room, the NEET Detective can still search the whole world. Before such a detective, every personal message is like a naked body. That is why I must decide on a boundary that I must follow with my strong will.”

“You don’t say……” You’re saying it like it’s real.

“Of course, there is some privacy that I do not respect. For instance, the names of the anime that you rented at Tatsuya[2] yesterday are all in my grasp. Although I cannot say that it’s bad taste, the standard of moral ethics is really baffling as people under eighteen are actually able to rent videos with such content……”

“GYAAAH, you wait just one minute!”

In a huge shock, I frantically grabbed the edge of the bed.

“Is my personal privacy really that meaningless!”

“Didn’t you rent the videos along the way when you went out yesterday to buy things for me? I only started investigation because you came back too late. This is an evident case of laziness while on duty!”

“Ngh…… But you didn’t have to check out even the contents!”

“If I did not investigate the contents thoroughly, I would have been unable to berate you effectively!”

“Aren’t you just looking for a fight? And how was I lazy while on duty! Is even going out on errands for you my job as well?”

“Is that wrong? From a long time ago, the job of an assistant detective was already to run errands for the detective and being bullied by the detective to reduce the detective’s stress!”

I weakly fell onto my knees. That’s right, I’m indeed this person’s assistant. Although I had no other choice due to various circumstances, currently, I regret it very much— and I don’t have a pay as well.

“You’re getting better at talking back recently, so it’s worth it for me to bully you. I’m really happy, you know! After all, you’re the only person who visits me here everyday like this.”

While saying that, Alice rested her chin on her raised kneecaps, her words completely unsuited with the innocent smile on her face. Seeing her look, I couldn’t say anything more as well.

*

Late that night, I packed away the portiere and lowered half of the steel gate. When I was noisily washing the plates and bowls, Min-san walked in from the kitchen door while carrying a cardboard box.

“Narumi, stay here for tonight.”

“…… What?”

“I’m changing the soup for the ramen. We’re going to cook soup the whole night!”

The cardboard box fell onto the desk with a ‘thud’. Inside, there were onions, carrots, dried mushrooms and thick rib bones. After that, Min-san took off her tank top, leaving only her sarashi on her upper torso— She entered battle mode.

“Um…… But I still have to go to school tomorrow……”

“You can stay at my place for the night. I already called your sister. She even said that this will save her a meal’s worth of money!”

What’s wrong with this diplomacy without regard for the party concerned!

“Is it possible…… that you’re asking me to go to school tomorrow directly from here? No no no, how can this be possible……”

“That’s fine, you can bathe at my place.” Min-san said while pointing at the door exiting the kitchen. The interior of the ramen shop connected directly to her room. Erm…… But it’s inconvenient in a lot of ways for young men and women to stay together under a roof for a night…… Can you please not do this, Aneki!

“…… Why are you changing the soup all of a sudden?”

I asked cautiously. Min-san stopped peeling the onions and glared at me.

“Do you remember the customer who came in at about eight tonight and ordered miso ramen? The one on the chair at the side.”

I pondered for a moment and remembered the customer that she spoke of.

“The one wearing shades?”

“That’s right. I saw him at the shop for the first time last week. It’s the third time this week.”

“Well aren’t you clear about this……”

“That guy ordered soy sauce, salt-flavored and miso ramen in turn, but he actually left them alone after just one mouthful. Although I don’t know what person he is, but an action like that is just plain challenging me!”

If he thought that it was bad after just a mouthful, he shouldn’t have came back again. That person was indeed rather mystifying, but how did she see that as a challenge?

However, I did not have any room for rebuke. After all, I owed Min-san too much, and even if that weren’t so, this person wouldn’t have talked things over with me nicely as well. After all, she was an action-type person who would first beat people up to shut them up.

I sighed and took out a new soup pot from under the desk to wash it.

*

It was already late night when I heard that noise. I was sitting before the large pot that was stewed by a gentle fire, weakly stirring the ingredients inside.

I raised my head and looked around the dark ramen shop. The aroma of the rib bones soup was almost suffocating, and only sounds of showering water came from behind me. Min-san handed me the job of looking after the pot when she went to bathes, but I started to doze off during that time.

An odd noise rang out with the sound of water once again. At first, I thought that it was Min-san’s footsteps— but the sounds of the shower did not stop, and the direction of the noise wasn’t right as well.

The sound came from the deepest part of the corridors, the direction of the front door—

And it was approaching the sounds of showering?

I was shocked. In the house— someone else was there.

I lightly rose from the round stool, took off my shoes and walked towards the dark corridors, exiting through the kitchen door. An orange light was lit a few steps in front. It came from the bathroom. Apart from that, there was a shadow blocking the light from the bathroom, stirring at the entrance of the changing room.

I was in too much shock to remember that the wall was just behind me, and took a step back without further thought. With a ‘thud’, a light impact came behind me. A sound of something falling came by my foot as well. It was a beer bottle— and not waiting for me to remember the fact, the shadow already jumped.

“…… W- Who’s there!”

As though blasted away by my voice, the shadow almost flew away. The footsteps were devoured by the darkness in the corridors in an instant. The sound of the front door being roughly pushed open broke the spell. I finally came to my senses and chased the silhouette.

The door was still open. Outside, it was the parking lot at nighttime. The light of the streetlights barely shone in the space surrounded by buildings at three sides, and the silhouette just now had long disappeared without a trace.

He escaped. I weakly knelt on the cement floor of the entrance. What person was that? A thief?

“— What’s wrong?”

Sounds of speaking suddenly rang behind me, and I hurriedly turned around in shock, but instead stumbled into a sitting position on the floor.

Min-san’s face was just before me, a red flush on her skin after her bath. As she bent down to look at me with only a towel on, those breasts…… Um…… Wouldn’t it be harmful for your health if you keep things of that size wrapped in a sarashi? No, now isn’t the time to think about that, I have to calm down.

Kami05 027.jpg

“Well….. W- Why don’t you put on some clothes first?”

“Nn? But it’s really hot recently!”

Stop fanning yourself by pulling on the towel before your chest!

I first locked up the front door before pushing Min-san into the corridors to explain what happened just now.

“…… A thief?” Min-san wiped her hair with a raised eyebrow. “I don’t even have anything valuable to steal over here!”

Shouldn’t you be more concerned of your own safety? Someone actually barged in while you were stark naked! This person really didn’t have any sense of danger……

“Anyway, we’ll have to do some investigations. And also, please lock the front door well!”

“I did lock it! And besides, nobody even uses the door over there.”

That’s true. If so, where did that guy come in from?

“Ahhhhh!” Min-san suddenly cried out when she returned to the changing room.

“What happened?”

Her eyes burning with the flames of fury, Min-san rushed out and finally crashed into me.

“My sarashi that I left there to dry disappeared!”

*

The next afternoon.

“Narumi? You look really bad. Didn’t you sleep?”

Tetsu-senpai asked the instant he saw me cleaning up the road in front of the ramen shop.

“…… Really? I was sleeping through every period……”

Recently, I kept thinking of why I go to school.

“Just hurry up and drop out! It’ll be a miracle if you can move up successfully.”

Although I was rather unwilling to admit it, Tetsu-senpai was right. After all, I barely went to school during the third semester, so it was not easy at all for me to pass the make-up exam that was like a raging hurricane.

“You can always ask me if you want to know how to drop out! After becoming a NEET, you can sleep until noon everyday, and that’s better for the health as well!”

“It seems like senpai is healthy every day……”

Tetsu-senpai dropped out of the high school I am currently studying at three years ago. It is said that he was once a boxer. This person had brown skin, a thick chest, while his exposed arms were unbelievably muscular. I met him for the first time in November last year, and he was in this short-sleeved get up through the whole winter. The few people who usually haunted the ramen shop were usually oblivious to the seasons when it comes to their clothing, and senpai was one of them.

“Master, I’m starved today, so I’ll gobble up even failed works! Anything good to eat?”

Tetsu-senpai triumphantly strolled into the ramen shop that was in preparation stage and there still weren’t any customers, but ran out immediately after being roared at by Min-san: “SHUTUPANDGETOUTYOUJOBLESSBUMINDEBT!”

“…… Say, she seems to be in a particularly bad mood today. Did anything happen?”

Senpai hurriedly pulled me to the special seat made of worn out tires, gasoline tanks and plastic baskets for beer that was at the back of the ramen shop and continued his questions.

“And also, why is Master’s sarashi blue today? What’s that?”

“Ah— That? I heard that it was a piece of cloth left over from the portiere. Well, her sarashi went missing.”

Tetsu-senpai tilted his head in puzzlement, and I had no other choice but to explain things that occurred the day before. After hearing my words, an expression that was between a wry smile and confusion surfaced on his face. It was rather strange.

“I say, that person…… probably wasn’t a thief, but a stalker, isn’t he?” He said, “ If he wanted to steal something, he would’ve ran off when he heard sound of water from the bathroom. Not only run away, he would’ve probably be afraid of coming in if he saw lights in the bathroom, wouldn’t he?”

That sounded reasonable.

“Did you see his face?”

“It was rather dark in the house that time……”

Judging from build, it was probably a man.

“Master, did he sneak a peek in the bathroom?”

Tetsu-senpai poked his head through the kitchen backdoor.

“No matter how dense I am, I would have noticed if someone was peeking from the door, okay!”

“Shouldn’t that count as failing to peek? But why would he steal a sarashi of all things?”

“Yeah, when you mention it……”

Min-san’s hands that were cutting the cabbage suddenly stopped. She raised her head to stare at thin air.

“My sarashi going missing seemed to have happened last week as well. I even thought that I mistakenly threw it away that time.”

Wait a minute. That means—

Tetsu-senpai and I met gazes. At these times, senpai’s movements would be especially quick. He immediately took out his cellphone and started dialing.

“…… Is this Alice? Yeah, it’s me. Have you heard of Master’s issue? Not yet? Is that so, uh huh……”

He quickly explained the entire matter.

‘I understand. Call Major and Hiro over right away. Tell Master to come over to the office when the two of them reaches.’

After saying that, Alice hung up.

*

“Vice-admiral Fujishima, it’s been a while! I heard that you’ve successfully advanced in your education, is that true?”

After thirty minutes, those were the first words that Major spoke to me when he reached Hanamaru Ramen on his scooter. And the Vice-admiral Fujishima that he spoke of would be me.

Although Major was the same age as Tetsu-senpai, he was of a much smaller stature than I, and his skin was white and smooth like that of a primary student. That day, he was wearing his camouflage shirt and hat with baggy military trousers that had loads of pockets. A pair of goggles-styled glasses hung on his neck.

“Vice-admiral Fujishima, I’m so disappointed in you! Getting red in five subjects is an incredible chance! Not having any experience of staying the year will set you back on being an excellent NEET!”

“No, I'm not planning to be a NEET at all!”

“What are you talking about! Vice-admiral Fujishima, you don’t have any choice other than being a NEET in the future, you know that as well, don’t you?”

“Yeah yeah, hurry up and get upstairs! Alice is asking for you.”

Major’s butt was kicked by Tetsu-senpai, and he reluctantly walked into the gorge between the buildings, clambering up the emergency stairs. I could only sigh. For some reason, these people kept thinking of pulling me into the path of a NEET. Having school attendance that barely passed the school rules and five subjects to retake for the semester finals— does my future really look so dim to the others like this? Perhaps that’s exactly it in the others’ eyes, huh? But that was a given.

“It’s best if Master and Narumi goes as well.”

Hearing Tetsu-senpai’s words, Min-san and I glanced at each other, some distance apart.

“Why must I go as well?”

“You’re the victim! And Narumi’s the eyewitness! You might notice something if you see the video recording. Just leave the shop to me!”

“I’m making a new soup!”

“Which one is more important, your own safety or the soup?”

“The soup, of course!”

Seeing that a mystifying fight was about to occur, I hurriedly wedged myself between them.

I explained to Min-san that it probably wouldn’t take a long time and finally convinced her to head to Alice’s office with me.


Major sat on the cramped space before the bed with his laptop computer open, and was talking to Alice about something. The moment we stepped into the room, Alice immediately raised her head.

“Why hello there, Master. It’s been a while since you came to my house…… Waaa!”

Min-san unhesitatingly walked to the bed and pushed Major away, extended her arm to pass through Alice’s armpits and raised her small body.

“W- What are you doing! Hurry up and put me down!”

“Why didn’t you grow at all? Did you really eat everything obediently? I even secretly put some more meat in them lately!”

“What? That is just too despicable! Everyone has a size suited for themselves, so don’t think that you can increase their volume just by adding carbohydrates!”

Alice struggled frantically with her feet bare, but since she was a weak hikkikomori, she was still raised high in the air for quite some time.

“Whatever, I’ll slowly increase the portion for the food after this anyway. Narumi, you’re in charge of making her eat them all up!”

With that, Min-san finally put Alice down on her bed, while Alice puffed out her cheeks in displeasure.

“So? What did you call me up for?”

“We’re searching for the images recorded by the surveillance cameras.” Major answered while his eyes were still glued to the monitor. “You said that there was a thief before this as well, didn’t you? How long ago was that?”

“A long long time ago! Do you still have a record of something that happened such a long time ago?”

“We have records of the latest two months!” Major answered triumphantly. It was said the surveillance camera system was made by Alice and Major.

“Hmm…… When was that again? I seem to recall that it was last week……?”

“It’ll take a long time if you can’t remember it. After all, it’s really hard to determine a range for the search on the screen.”

“Ah! I remember now! It was the day when the guy with shades came for salt-flavored ramen. That night, I went back to the shop again to try making soup after washing my clothes, and it went until late night.”

“The guy with shades? Who’s that?”

“Oh nothing, just a customer who annoyed me somewhat.”

That was how Min-san answered.

I suddenly felt a sense of strangeness.

The intruder— assuming that the one who stole the sarashi the first time was the same one— had twice broken in on a night when the peculiar customer who ordered ramen but only ate a mouthful showed up.

What sort of relationship existed between the two? No, the man with shades was rather stocky. I thought back on the thief that I saw in the darkness. Although his facial features couldn’t be clearly seen, from his overall silhouette, it was indeed quite far apart from that customer.

“Didn’t it happen on Thursday?” “What time did that happen?” “God knows!” Can you recognize that person from the video?” “You didn’t film the shop, how do I know?”

Min-san poked her head out from behind Major while muttering.

“The entrance of Min-san’s house and the shop…… wasn’t filmed?” I tried to ask Alice.

“Didn’t I already say this? I respect personal privacy a lot. Besides, these surveillance cameras are here to prevent uninvited guests from coming to my house, so nothing is filmed except for the road outside and the area near the stairs.

Alice shrugged.

In the end, the recording was only seen about once before Min-san’s limited patience was used up. Nothing of value was discovered. Thus, she left Major and went back to the shop.

“Why you, who gave you permission to eat it?”

In the kitchen, Tetsu-senpai was holding a steaming bowl, causing Min-san to explode the instant she saw him. So Tetsu-senpai cooked some ramen to eat…… Oh please, and you actually put so much chashu!

“What matter does that make! Just treat it as my pay for taking care of the shop.”

“It matters a whole lot! And you actually ate my new work? I haven’t even tasted it myself!”

Tetsu-senpai lightly evaded Min-san’s lashing fists, finishing up the food in the bowl in an instant. As expected of an ex-boxer.

“Thanks for the meal!”

“Blast……”

After kicking Tetsu-senpai out of the kitchen, Min-san took out two new bowls, poured soy sauce soup and broth, making two bowls of soup.

“Narumi, you try it as well.”

“Ah…… Okay.”

I moved to the outer side of the counter and sat down by Tetsu-senpai’s side. After that, I picked up the spoon and swallowed a mouthful.

“…… Hmm—“

The fresh taste of kelp and fragrance of dried mackerels immediately spread out in my mouth, so it wasn’t really bad. But even though it wasn’t bad……

“How is it? Say it clearly!”

It was really a taste hard to comment on. Min-san picked up the bowl for a sip as well, and her mouth immediately bent into a へ.

The one who first broke the silence was Tetsu-senpai.

“If you’re aiming at a Japanese flavor…… Your old man made it better.”

Min-san’s shoulders shook visibly. As she had her head lowered with a bowl in her hands, the expression on her face couldn’t be clearly seen.

“This new soup is probably made in imitation of your old man, isn’t it? I think the previous soup tastes better.”

Min-san neither got angry nor rebuked him, but just poured away the soup in the bowl. I was rooted to my original spot, and could only look at the expressions of the two in turn.

Her old man’s soup?

Min-san wasn’t a talkative person, but she once talked to me about her father as well. I heard that her father suddenly left her daughter and the ramen shop, disappearing just like that. Because of that, Min-san gave up on her dream to become an ice cream chef, choosing to inherit Hanamaru Ramen instead.

It was a long time after that when I came to the shop. That was why I could not know what kind of taste the soup had when Min-san’s father was the chef there.

“— Narumi, what do you think?”

My gaze fell on the amber soup in the bowl, and I raised my head to look at Min-san after that.

“The taste doesn't seem well-matched…… But that might be because I was looking at the process of its production, so I just had this feel that I could recognize the ingredients inside.”

But there wasn’t any ‘ramen soup’ feel.

“Is that so……”

Min-san pursed her lips in slight self-deprecation, took down the large pot from the stove and poured the whole pot of soup and ingredients away. For a moment, the kitchen was filled with thick puffs of heat.

“So I just can’t make it as good as my old man’s! And I never asked for the recipe and method as well……”

While stuffing the remains of the soup into a plastic bag, Min-san said while shaking her head.

“But my old man probably never thought I would take over the shop as well……”

“So that’s why?”

“Ever since I entered a confectionery school, he seemed to have given up already, and never mentioned the matter at all. He probably thought that it didn’t matter any more. Both me and the shop, we didn’t matter to him anymore……”

It didn’t matter anymore……

So that was why he suddenly left everything and went missing? Well, I can’t say that I’m really clear of the process of Min-san’s father going missing as well.

“He might just come back one day!”

Tetsu-senpai muttered. Min-san smiled while shaking her head.

“He won’t come back anymore! It’s already been five years. He might not even remember me anymore. Or he might have died long ago!”

That was the first time I saw Min-san wearing a lonely expression.

*

That night, when the seats in the shop were all full and the customers were bursting out of the shop, Hiro-san hurriedly rushed into Hanamaru Ramen.

“I heard that Min-san got targeted by a stalker?”

A customer nearly stood up, another nearly spat out his ramen, while another spilled his teacup. Min-san’s hand that was holding the kitchen knife stopped, and she stared blankly at Hiro-san, who was standing at the shop entrance.

That day, Hiro-san was wearing a beige blazer with a Polo shirt and a single-colored tie. As usual, his trendy get-up was completely out of place in the ramen shop far away from the busy districts. Actually, this person was just a NEET who was the same age as Tetsu-senpai and Major.

“…… What are you talking about? Hurry up and scram to the back. Don’t bother the customers over here.” Min-san said in annoyance.

“Isn’t Hiro-san a bit late?”

Major just left Alice’s office and poked his head in from the backdoor.

“Sorry, I was driving the ladies who were drinking with me last night back to Chiba, and just came back. Ah! Sheesh, so Tetsu is here as well?”

Hiro-san said while moving to the back of the ramen shop.

Three sides of the dark space behind the ramen shop was surrounded by buildings, while there were gas tanks, old tires, plastic baskets and a wooden stand that was a replacement for a table there. It had long turned into the gathering spot for NEETs.

“So the idiots are all here?”

Min-san shook her head somewhat unhappily. But since they were customers as well, I pushed the back door open and took their orders.

“Narumi, why don’t you sit down as well! We’re starting our tactical meeting.”

“Ack!”

Tetsu-senpai pulled my apron and forced me to sit down on the gas tank.

“But…… I still have to work……”

“As there was a limited number of surveillance cameras, we just couldn’t get a clear image……”

Completely ignoring my protests, Major started to explain by himself. Hiro-san and Tetsu-senpai leaned forward as well, staring at the laptop computer on the center of the wooden stand.

“I’m checking out a silhouette that kept loitering near the ramen shop these two weeks. He always appeared at night, about one in the morning.”

“But his face couldn’t be seen?”

“Well, the distance was too far, and the light was too dim!”

I took a look from behind at the video taken as well. Videos of the surroundings of the building appeared in a few windows, and almost all of them were so dark that they were really unclear. Only the legs of the person spying in the shadows of the opposite building shone on by the streetlights could barely be seen, or a few unnatural shadows moving in the darkness.

“Is that really the stalker?” Tetsu-senpai asked.

“Hiro-san, you understand stalkers very well, don’t you?”

“Of course! Night club ladies and those in the ‘special’ profession always face them! I even met a few stalkers directly when I stayed at women’s houses before this as well.”

As expected of a gigolo.

“Min-san, have you ever received any silent phones recently? Or did you see anything strange in your mailbox?”

Hiro-san directed his question into the kitchen through the backdoor. Say, if there were really such obvious movements, Min-san should have realized that there was a stalker no matter how dense she was. Just when I was thinking that, Min-san answered directly:

“Silent phones? Ah…… I’m getting those quite often recently.”

What did you say?

“And also…… I found a lot of my photos in my letterbox as well.”

That reeks of a stalker no matter how you look at it! I could almost hear everyone doing tsukkomis in their hearts. Seriously, why does this person ignore abnormal situations like this completely?

“W- Wait a minute, you said photos…… What kind of photos are they?” Hiro-san started to get anxious.

“Nn? Nothing really……. Just some photos of myself working in the shop or going out to buy stuff occasionally! Who on earth would take photos like this? There are really some strange people who would really do meaningless things like this.”

“It seems like the opposing party’s stealthy photo-taking skills aren’t much…… Hmph! An unprofessional stalker!”

Major muttered to himself somewhat triumphantly. Can you please not feel triumphant because of things like this!

“Oi, you bunch of jobless bums, hurry up and let Narumi come back for his work if you’re not ordering! There’s almost a hill of cutlery here now!”

Min-san roared.

“But we can’t pretend we don’t know anything in such a situation……”

Hiro-san lowered his voice. He was right, it was already an obvious criminal act.

“Do we need to call the cops?” Major asked somewhat unhappily.

“A stalker doesn’t count as a stalker if the party concerned didn’t notice him, does he?”

“So that’s why the few of us have to think of something!”

“But that person doesn’t seem like she would give us a request! She doesn’t feel like she’s a victim at all, does she?”

These people who took pride in being hardcore NEETS— although they would be bored to death without a job, they would only take action when they received a request. Or else, they would rather mutter in a dark alley, cocking their ears to listen to the voice of the city.

Thus, the gazes of the three naturally focused on myself.

Ah, here we go again……

Now that I think of it, that time, I still wasn’t accustomed to my role as an assistant detective, and seemed to be always given troublesome jobs. (Um, why does that still seem to be the case right now?)

I returned to the kitchen with the gazes of the trio outside completely focused on my back. I picked up the sponge and started to clean the bowls in the sink while asking softly.

“Erm…… Min-san……”

“What!”

Min-san was staring at the ramen dancing in the water with a solemn gaze.

“Wouldn’t it be better if you request Alice and the three to look into this?”

“Look into what?”

“And you’re asking me what to look into…… Didn’t your house get broken in recently?”

“I’ll lock the doors and windows properly! If they can still break in even so, wouldn’t beating them up suffice?”

I could only sigh. As I saw Min-san knocking out four drunken thugs looking for trouble with my own eyes, I knew that the reasoning of ‘a woman living alone will often encounter dangerous situations’ could not convince her.

So what should I do?

I pondered for some time and finally steeled myself to speak.

“…… Your sarashi…… Wasn’t it stolen?”

Min-san’s brows furrowed when she heard those words when she was piling up a small hill of onions and bean sprouts.

“Right now, the offender must be using the sarashi in disastrous matters.”

“Huh? What kind of disastrous matters?”

“…… Say, something like picking it up and sniffing it?”

Min-san’s expression changed visibly.

“Shut up! Why are you saying such disgusting things!”

“Sheesh! So the thief only stole her sarashi?” a frequent customer with his face red because of the consumption of two bottles of beers started to laugh. As the shop was quite small, even conversations in a low voice could be clearly heard by the customers on the counters.

“So that’s why you’re wearing a sarashi with color?”

Another frequent customer on the neighboring seat stared at Min-san’s breasts.

“That’s true……. Stealing a thing like that, it can’t be used in any way other than sniffing it……”

“For me, I’ll sniff it as well.”

“If it’s Min-san’s, count me in.”

After gulping down alcohol, the drunken customers started to say so one after another. Min-san cried out with her face green:

“Why are everyone saying that! Shut up, it’s really gross!”

“I……” want to sniff too— I nearly said that out loud with them, but fortunately stopped myself in time. I won’t do something like that. Of course not.

After that, Min-san stayed silent, but would occasionally lower her head to look at her breasts while cooking ramen. It seemed like my words had an effect on her.

But I really couldn’t say it was something to show off for.

Min-san only muttered while keeping the poached eggs in a container when the customers on the seats gradually left, and the peak hour of business passed.

“…… I get it already! If you can find a way, do whatever you like!”

Just when I was about to forward the words to them after opening the door, Tetsu-senpai, Major and Hiro-san had long stood up energetically. Hiro-san held his cellphone by his ear and was happily talking on the phone: “Oh, Alice? Yeah, it’s me. Min-san gave us the request. Yeah, we’re starting right away…… Yep, yep, we’re counting on you then.” Seriously, so these loafers kept eavesdropping with their ears perked up?

Anyway, the NEET Detective Squad started moving just like that. That was on the second night after the incident happened.

*

Speaking of which, though they started their movements, I didn’t have any particular task. I still had to go to the ramen shop after school as usual, stay up to accompany Min-san who was making a new soup, send food to Alice, and being bullied by her along the way.

“It’s natural that an assistant detective is like this! The word ‘useless’ is included in its definition as well.”

Alice said such overboard things without even batting an eyelid.

“And also, do not think that you can contribute anything to the world. Perhaps you care for this world very much, but this world actually does not particularly care for you.”

Holding a can of Dr. Pepper, Alice waved her sockless legs on her bed while sneering at me.

“That thought is really too much……”

I leaned my back on the side of the fridge and sat on the floorboards while stirring the vanilla ice cream with cranberry sauce in the paper cup, muttering to myself in despair.

“But this is the truth! Humans can only grow after learning about this. Well, many people do not realize this in their whole lives, dying in vain just like that as well……”

If so, continuing to be an innocent child seems fine as well. Speaking of which, why must my life be criticized by a hikkikomori NEET like this?

“It’s okay, Narumi. Even if everything else in this world ignores your existence, only I will still be worried for you.”

Those words really couldn’t help but make people’s hearts accelerate, but Alice continued after that:

“After all, if you do not come here anymore, I will have to get the Dr. Pepper from the fridge by myself.”

I sighed and leaned my head on the fridge.

“You can pick a better way of saying things if you want to console me. Do I really have nothing else that I can do?”

“I was not consoling you, but merely describing the truth. That’s right, hand the ice cream over after you finish stirring it!”

I somewhat unhappily handed the paper cup containing ice cream to Alice. The girl in pajamas really had weak arms, as the action of stirring the hard ice cream with a spoon was enough to make her breathless.

“Try thinking of the conditions that God bestowed upon you that Tetsu, Major and Hiro does not have. Please do use your brain sometimes.”

Conditions that the three did not have, and was only owned by me.

I thought for awhile and thought of something.

“…… Only I am working at the ramen shop?”

“Exactly. Which means, you are the closest with the target that we are protecting. Well, although you had next to no effect when the intruder appeared last time…… That is why I am telling you to keep your ears peeled, eyes open and focus on washing the dishes. If you notice anything or see any strange people, tell me immediately.”

After that, I remembered the odd customer in shades that only came ate a mouthful after ordering miso ramen who came to the shop on the day the burglar appeared. Speaking of which, it seemed like I had not mentioned that to Alice yet.

“Although this might be somewhat unrelated—“

When I spoke of the matter, Alice’s brows immediately twitched.

“You…… Why did you not speak of this earlier! Your denseness makes me speechless. The decay of protons is fast compared with the speed of your brain moving. On what basis do you judge that the person is irrelevant to the matter? How do you know without further investigation? If you continue to keep your mouth tightly closed like a clam……”

“I’m sorry……”

If I left her alone, I would probably get a twenty minutes scolding, so I could only interrupt Alice and apologize, while she immediately turned her head around to face the monitor.

“Anyway, I will have to search first. Although a recording of the shop premise does not exist, he should be captured on a surveillance camera when he enters or exits. As we can lock on to a date and time, things will be much simpler.”

*

It was already over five in the evening when I left the detective agency and returned to the lower floor. Min-san was about to flip the wooden sign on the door with ‘In Preparation’ to ‘Open Now’, while by her side was Major, who was unusually early. He knelt on the floor, holding a peculiar gadget that looked like a mini magnifying glass, checking out the sliding door of the ramen shop entrance.

“Major, what are you doing?”

“Investigating the invasion route of the criminal.”

It takes a thief to catch a thief, the words suddenly floated into my mind.

“He didn’t come in from the shop, because I was sitting right over there that time.”

I pointed at the counter.

“You were probably dozing off while sitting there, weren’t you?”

Min-san was spot on, and I could only shrink my neck.

“Hmm, he would probably be filmed on the surveillance camera if he came in from the front, so it’s actually quite impossible. But to be sure, it’s best if we check it out.”

Major spoke while standing up.

“The door at the back didn’t have any sign of being pried open as well…… Min-san, have you ever dropped your keys?”

“But all of my keys are here.”

“Then perhaps he came in from the windows? How puzzling…… Vice-admiral Fujishima, did the suspect immediately throw the front door open and scarper? Did he take a long time to open the door?”

“Well……” I tried hard to recall the situation that night. “He did indeed open the door to run away right away.”

“If one chose to climb in from the windows, an expert of illegal infiltration like me will definitely affirm a route of escape, that is common sense. But to a guy who’s spying on people when he couldn’t even take photos without permission…… It’s hard to imagine that he has such intelligence!”

Hey hey hey, I won’t pretend I never heard that, you know? A person like you…… actually avoided capture up till today, you’re just too lucky.

“In any case, let’s strengthen the security first! We can start by pasting anti-theft film and installing an anti-theft bolt on the windows. It’s safer to change the lock of the front door as well.”

“The front door?”

Min-san crouched through the counter to return to the kitchen and frowned when she was tying up her apron.

“The lock of the front door…… can’t be changed.”

“Why? Even though the lock didn’t have any signs of being pried open, such an outdated spring lock is still very unsafe!”

“Just don’t. Do whatever you want with the windows, just don’t touch the front door.”

Min-san’s tone was rather stern. Major and I exchanged glances. Why? Was it because she didn’t want to deal with it due to being troublesome? But the landlady was Alice, so we didn’t need to tell her all of the details at all. Besides, wouldn’t it be fine just to hand it all to Major?

“Narumi, prepare to start work!”

“Ah, okay.”

I only rushed into the kitchen in a fluster when Min-san started to roar at me.

*

That night, I was still accompanying Min-san in her quest to make a new soup. It felt like I didn’t go home for a whole week already. I had almost forgotten what my sister looked like.

Late night, only the low hum of the ventilator could be heard in the kitchen. The Rishimi kelp (specially for business, the type that’s cut into thin strips) had long been half used up, as she had to use a whole pot of kelp to stew her new soup.

“…… It stinks of seaweed.”

After adding some soy sauce, I sipped a mouthful of soup and immediately expressed my thoughts. Min-san’s expression clouded over, but it seemed like she felt unsatisfied as well, so she did not get angry.

“The taste of kelp seems more obstructive now. Would it be better if we don’t add in dried mushrooms?”

“Is that so?”

“It feels less and less like soup for ramen. Did the ones made by your father taste like this?”

I only realized my mistake after asking, and could only sneak a peek at Min-san’s expression. Her gaze was full of confusion, like a cheetah mistakenly kept in an elephant zoo. It was the first time I saw her with an expression like that.

“Actually I don’t really remember them now.” Min-san said while showing a slightly lonely smile. “Before this, I kept making ice cream and would get into fights whenever I meet my old man, so I didn’t eat his ramen often at all.”

“It’s already nice that you can squabble with him. I don’t even have any impression of having spoken to my dad at all.”

“Hmph!” Min-san smiled coldly. “So you want to change dads with me? Let me tell you, that guy always acts impulsively! Once, he suddenly said that he felt like fishing on a Saturday night, and then dragged me to run all along to a beach at Chiba……”

“R…… Ran all along?”

“He’s an idiot who likes to work out!”

Min-san said while narrowing her eyes in nostalgia.

“Why…… Now that I think back on it, maybe he just didn’t know what to say to me? My mom died quite suddenly as well. It just feels like…… he only started to be more oppressive when only the two of us were left.”

Hearing those words, I suddenly realized that Min-san’s circumstances were quite similar to that of mine. My mother passed away long ago, and my father turned strange after that as well.

“Even though he knew that I didn’t like it, he still forced me to follow him everywhere. If it’s not a snowy mountain somewhere around, it would be a super faraway island.”

“That’s probably because…… he was lonely, huh?”

When the words came out, Min-san suddenly showed a gentle smile.

“That might be so! Men are really stupid. Won’t saying it out be fine!”

I thought that nobody was harder than frankly expressing our own troubles. That was one of the facts that I learnt using a whole winter.

“Actually going missing all of a sudden as well…… Then why did he insist that I had to inherit the ramen shop before this! In the end, he just thought that it didn’t matter what I did!”

With her hands on the chopping block, Min-san lowered her head. Did she still resent her father?

Or perhaps— she actually wants to see him again?

My gaze fell on the large amount of kelp swimming in the pot. His father’s soup— Min-san couldn’t inherit its taste.

Perhaps because she realized my thoughts, Min-san raised her head.

“Enough about my old man, he’s irrelevant to this matter. It’s just because the appraisals on his ramen’s taste wasn’t bad.”

Min-san smiled faintly and poked my forehead.

That moment, the ringtone of ‘Colorado Bulldog’ rang. It was Alice.

‘Come over to the office for a moment. I have something to confirm with you.’

I looked at Min-san. She said : “It’s fine, just go. I’m going to take a bath after clearing away the stuff.”

“I’ll go right away.”

I answered. After that, I put away my phone.


“I’ve watched all of the recordings and noticed something peculiar.”

On the bed in the detective agency, Alice told me with her back on me while typing on the keyboard.

“Regarding the strange person with shades that we mentioned before this, he did indeed come to the shop last Thursday and Monday the week before, correct?”

“Yep.”

Alice turned over and pointed at the six monitors arranged on the floor by the bed.

“But the surveillance camera did not capture such a person at all. Did you mistake the date? I even checked out the recordings one day before and after as well.”

“…… Eh? Why’s that?”

“That’s what I want to ask you! From the recordings, I lifted the features of the men in the shop. You can confirm if the person is among them.”

Alice waved at me. Although I was somewhat nervous, I still clambered onto the bed, approaching her side. One of the monitors displayed a full screen of portraits.

“These are the customers who came to the shop these few days. Do not miss anything. It is possible that the person put on his sunglasses only after he entered the shop.”

I repeatedly looked through the portraits of the tens of people for about half an hour. As they were images lifted from a recording, some people were not facing the camera, and the quality was rather rough as well, so it was quite hard to identify anyone.

“…… I don’t see that person.”

“Is that so? Fine, I shall trust your eyes and ears for now. After all, you barely have any other strengths. Your good eyesight and hearing might be gifts from God to you.”

Oh, shut up.

“However, there is something that I am puzzled about.”

“Didn’t you say that there aren’t any surveillance cameras directly facing the interior of the shop? Besides, that person could avoid the other surveillance cameras deliberately while entering and exiting.”

“Although it is not impossible, people who can do so must clearly know the positions of the six surveillance camera. Regarding the installation of the cameras, I only told the tenants of the building. Basically, it is not likely for outsiders to know of this.”

But…… It’s possible that he just wasn’t filmed on coincidence, isn’t it? Alice seemed to have seen through my naïve thoughts, and she spoke:

“I shall consider the possibility. I just feel that this matter is not like a simple theft, so the inability to attack actively is very vexing. Currently, I can only ask Hiro and Tetsu to help keep an eye open, and ask Major to strengthen the security measures. The lock of the front door was just an ordinary spring lock, so it will be easy to pry it open if one wishes to do so.”

“But Major said that there weren’t any signs of it being pried open after he checked it out. Does any other people have keys to Min-san’s house?”

“I have a spare key on me over here, and Master should have two there instead. Why are you looking at me with this gaze? Are you perhaps suspecting someone of stealing the spare key from me?”

“No…… Not really, I’m just thinking of the possibility……”

“Please do not look down on the security system of my room. Bringing Persephone back from the underworld will be easier than taking the spare keys away from me.” Alice said while puffing out her flat chests triumphantly. “But still, changing the lock will be more appropriate. Didn’t Major say that he could do that already?”

“That’s true……” I thought back on Min-san’s odd reaction that time. “But Min-san wasn’t willing to do it, so we couldn’t change the lock.”

Alice’s eyes completely lost its color in an instant. Then, her large eyes widened even more.

“…… I see…… So that’s why. I understand now.”

Alice nodded by herself, as though she just realized something.

“So that’s why things are like this…… The door was open in the first place. The surveillance camera didn’t manage to film him as well. So that’s why…… Hmm……”

“…… What is is? Did you think of something?”

“Yes, I have understood everything.”

The detective proclaimed thus directly. I was dazed, and could only stare at the side of the doll-like face.

Understood…… everything?

“What…… happened?”

“Just that. The features of the case have surfaced more or less, oh……”

Seeing that I was about to open my mouth once again, Alice suddenly pressed her index finger on my lips. I was shocked, and reflexively swallowed my questions while taking a large step back.

“Do not ask now. I have once said, the NEET Detective can grasp the truth even when she is on this bed, but that is the truth, but not the facts.”

“But—“

“And there is another thing. Unfortunately, the truth that I have just obtained is completely unhelpful to the victim, Min-san. And telling her would cause her to scold you as well. Hoho…… Facing the people happily living below the sunlight, the messenger of the dead is helpless to the extent of despair, because we can only dig out words that were lost.”

Alice’s gaze moved away from my face.

The helplessness of facing the world.

The shadow of fate in Alice’s heart— I once got a glimpse at it during my previous cases as well. But she didn’t need to be so self-berating even with such a small matter, did she? At least, that was what I personally thought.

She extended her small hands and covered her eyes, staring at blank air while muttering:

“That is why…… You must call me when you catch the criminal. I must once again reaffirm if I am able to muster whatever courage I have to step out of this castle, touching this world with my own hands, and to turn the truth to facts through questions and the answers of the criminal.”

After a long time, Alice finally turned around to face me.

“This is a promise.”

Those eyes looked wet because of the overflowing of tears.

I stayed silent for some time, and finally lightly held the hand that Alice extended.

*

About eight that night, the man in shades appeared in Hanamaru Ramen for the fourth time.

That afternoon, I played handball for two consecutive hours during P.E period, and I rode my bike to a handicrafts shop to buy new cloth to be used as Min-san’s sarashi before my part time job started, so I was tired to half death when I returned to the shop. It just had to be on this kind of day that there were a lot of customers. The customers sitting outside ordered beer and fried dumplings one after another, so I didn’t notice for a moment that the man was already sitting on a temporary beer crate seat.

“…… Ah, welcome.”

It felt like my gaze met the guy in shades’ directly. The man before my eyes was about fifty something. He was stout as a bear, while his shoulders and chest were quite muscular as well.

When I sent iced water to him, I only managed to control the trembling of my hands after a huge effort.

“Sesame ramen!”

The man ordered ramen in a rough voice.

Back in the kitchen, I signaled to Min-san, and she immediately nodded, signifying that she already noticed long ago.

What kind of person was he?

After sending him the sesame ramen, I originally wanted to continue staring at him nonchalantly, but there were just too many customers in the shop, so I couldn’t manage to notice so much at all.

I poked my head out of the backdoor to take a look at the area near the emergency backstairs, but only saw Hiro-san texting on his cellphone, sitting on the gas tank by himself.

“What is it?”

Hiro-san noticed me and shifted his gaze form the liquid plasma screen. I tried to tell him that the man in shades was in the shop with only my physical movements.

Hiro-san glanced at the front of the shop from the corner of the building and seemed to have understood. He nodded and said in a small voice:

“Got it, I’ll keep an eye on him. I’ll tail him after he’s done as well.”


After about five minutes when I was sending a large bowl of chashu ramen to the customers outside, the man had long disappeared. There was only a bowl of barely eaten sesame ramen and 800 yen coins left on the beer crate.

Hiro-san was missing as well.

Geez, what kind of person was that? What sort of relationship does he have with the stalker as well? Or did he come for a different purpose? I couldn’t help but get startled at my own thoughts. Although I wasn’t doubtful of Hiro-san’s stalking skills— after all, I myself had experience of being tailed by him as well— that person was extremely good at it. However……

If there wasn’t only one stalker? I heard that there were some situations of criminal organizations as well. He might not even be a stalker, but appeared for a more deplorable motive……

I still couldn’t rid the meaningless delusions in my mind when I cleared away the empty bowls and was washing my hands full of bubbles. Although I was at Min-san’s side, I could only look at the others taking actions.


After about an hour, Hiro-san returned to the ramen shop. That time, the crowd of customers had already returned, while the shop turned much quieter.

“I’ve been had! He gave me the slip.”

Hiro-san sat down on the gasoline tank, pounding on his thigh with clenched fists. After that, he raised his head to look at me and said in a small voice:

“That guy might just be a professional.”

“…… Professional? What kind of professional?”

“I’ve once tailed a professional private detective. It made me think of the situation that time when I was tailing that guy today…… Blast! Even though I’m so familiar with this area that I can go around in a circle with my eyes closed…… That guy must have discovered me. If not, he wouldn’t have especially waltzed into Hands, slipping away from another side exit!”

I couldn’t help but recall the maze-like floor plan of Tokyo Hands.

“In the end, I was given the slip after a large circle when we reached the station again. Ahhhhh, blast, how unfortunate!”

“What kind of person is he?”

“That’s what I want to know!”

Why would such a person be interested in Min-san? I was already unclear of everything, and couldn’t help but start feeling rueful towards Alice, who looked all-knowing but wouldn’t tell anything.

“In any case, let me call Tetsu and Major over first!”

Hiro-san said while taking out his cellphone.

“That guy appeared two times before this, and there was a thief twice. Perhaps the thief will appear tonight as well.”

That moment, the prelude of ‘Colorado Bulldog’ suddenly blared from the phone Hiro-san was holding.

‘It’s me. You lost the guy in shades?’

“You saw it huh. Was he caught on camera?”

‘No, he avoided being filmed perfectly. I only saw Narumi say something to you with his face green, and then you scuttled away, so I guessed if it was so.’

This person is still so uncomfortably sharp. Speaking of which, the surveillance cameras still couldn’t film him? Is it possible that he really had a way to avoid the cameras?

Or was it because he was indeed as Hiro-san said, a ‘professional’?

“And also, the thief might appear tonight as well, so I’m planning to call Tetsu and Major over……”

‘No!’

Alice unhesitatingly interrupted Hiro-san’s words.

“Why!”

Hiro-san raised his voice as well.

‘And you still ask why? If the three of you hide in a dark spot with your eyes sparkling, the prey definitely won’t fall into the trap!’

“Even so, we can’……”

‘Like the thief’s previous entry, just leave it to my assistant, who is currently in a daze by your side. He is a very good mosquito light. If my assumption is correct, everything will end tonight.’

Just when Hiro-san was about to say something else, she hung off.

Hiro-san glared at his phone for some time, snapped his phone closed and spun it in his hands, then sighed magnificently in the end. After that, he raised his head to look at me.

“— And there you have it. All the best!”

Hiro-san patted me on the shoulders, infecting me with his sigh as well.

*

Eleven in the night, after business hours ended. Once again, only Min-san and I were left in the kitchen full of steam.

“Sesame ramen won’t do as well huh……”

Min-san sat on the round stood, muttering to herself with her shoulders slumped. Sesame ramen was a popular new flavor that appeared this year, and was the masterpiece Min-san was most confident in so far. However, the man in shades still stopped eating after only a mouthful.

“Um…… Well…… But that man was really just too suspicious! Perhaps he didn’t leave them just because it tasted bad, and maybe he didn’t come to the shop to eat ramen at all?”

I frantically consoled Min-san. Compared with the previous ones, the taste of the sesame ramen wasn’t really so bad that she would need to despair over it.

“That doesn’t matter at all! It’s completely irrelevant to the man in shades, I’m the one who’s feeling unsatisfied.” Min-san said while shaking her head. On the small stove, a large number of kelps were swimming in the steaming hot soup bowl.

“…… Is it better to stew the kelp soup longer? Or would changing the ratio to 4:1 be better? Changing the other ingredients to sesame oil and onions…… Not putting the whole chicken but just the bones…..?

Min-san continued to murmur about how she should mix and match the many ingredients and suddenly stood up.

“I’ll go take a bath first to clear my mind.”

Seeing her take off her hairband holding her hair in a pony tail and swing her hair, my heartbeat couldn’t help but accelerate, nearly making me stand up.

“What are you blushing for?”

“Eh? Ah, n- nothing. Oh yeah, please be careful, because there might be strange people lurking around.”

“That doesn’t matter at all! I’m leaving the soup in the pot to you.”

Min-san disappeared from the kitchen after leaving the words. That person really thought nothing except for ramen…… A young girl saying ‘I’ll go take a bath’ (even when there isn’t any special meaning) will have a bad effect on teenagers! Can you please think for me albeit slightly?

I shook my head, flinging away the idiotic thoughts and continued sitting on the chair.

Similar to that night, I was the only one in the kitchen once again.

I heaved a deep sigh.

All the lights in the shop were switched off. The only radiance that came in view was the blue flame of the small gas stove.

Only the boiling sound of the soup and the dull noises uniquely owned by the gas stove of the restaurant could be heard. Not long after that, sounds of the shower came from behind as well.

After dimming the stove flame, the noise of the pot got even smaller. Then, I closed my eyes.

Narumi, only your powers of hearing is okay. So, you don’t need to approach the front door, just take note of the sounds from the surroundings— I recalled Alice’s words.

Mosquito lamp.

Deliberately making people feel that security was lax to lure the criminal into the trap. As for why— this was what Alice said:


Because I have questions for the criminal. To solve the mysteries that complicate the world, that is why I do so—

I put my hand into my pocket, grabbing the thing about the size of a cellphone.

Finally— my ears and the edge of my consciousness registered a faint noise.

The sound of the front door opening.

How odd— I couldn’t help but think. Why didn’t I hear the sound of the door unlocking? But now, I don’t have any time to feel surprised for such a small matter. Some slightly drifting footsteps— the pitter-patter footsteps, as though someone was unsteadily walking on the wooden floorboards on tiptoe, gradually approached, while my heartbeats accelerated along with it as well. Is it okay with me alone? What if he had weapons on him? One step, two step…… I could clearly hear the footsteps getting nearer to the sound of water in the bathroom. After that, the footsteps stopped, and at that moment, I could almost see the silhouette of the criminal extending his hand towards the bathroom handle.

I sprang up and rushed into the corridor. Through the rays of light that came through the foggy glass of the bathroom door, I could see the unsteady silhouette turn around, flustered. I rapidly took out that thing from my pocket and threw it at the silhouette, and immediately turned around to face him with my back, shut my eyes and closed my ears.

A colossal sound that almost uncovered my hands blasted there, while blinding white light spun away the whole darkness in the corridor in an instant.

It was a Stun Shell that Major carefully concocted.

*

“You’re just plain harassing the neighbors!”

Min-san swung her steel fist down on my skull, and then added another hit on Major’s head, as he looked quite delighted that his trusty handmade weapon had such a great effect. Due to her threatening aura, even Tetsu-senpai and Hiro-san reflexively flinched.

The criminal hunt ended in an instant. Rushing in from the front door, Tetsu-senpai defeated the criminal in one punch, tying him up with the wire Hiro-san provided with no further trouble. My pain only started when Min-san ferociously dashed out of the changing room with only a towel wrapped on her.

“People not in the know thought that it was a gas explosion! Can’t you people have a slight bit of social common sense!”

“That’s not it…… Min-san, don’t be so agitated! The Stun Shell will only cause a large bang and lights to throw the target off balance for a short period of time. It is purely used for threatening purpose, and does not have power to harm……”

“Shut up! That isn’t the main problem, is it?”

Major’s head was pounded once again.

“Why do you always do such things……”

Having only a towel on her after just finishing her bath, Min-san started a long lecture with such careless attire. I could only shrink on the corridor floorboard like a tortoise, secretly questioning Hiro-san behind me.

“Um…… Wasn’t it said that you guys don’t need to supervise today?”

“Alice did say so…… But we couldn’t just leave things like this! We were really worried……”

Hiro-san answered in a small voice.

“So we kept you on surveillance through binoculars from the neighboring building.”

Well aren’t your reactions quick— I couldn’t help but think so, and at the same time totally understood the fact that I was completely untrusted.

Min-san’s complaints were like an everlasting rain, but was suddenly interrupted by the voice of a girl.

“— Master, please stop just right there!”

Everyone looked at the front door almost at the same time.

With teddy bear pajamas and black hair almost reaching the floorboards floating along the wind— a girl stood outside the open door.

“…… Even you came? Seriously, what a commotion!”

Min-san glared at Alice while saying sarcastically.

“You really caused a huge stir. I could hear it even from the third floor. Narumi always forgets to get me, so I could only come down by myself. Master, sorry for intruding.”

Alice said while stepping into the corridor.

“What did you come for!”

“Master, please do not forget the case that you entrusted to us. I am here to conclude the case. I have only two things to ask the paralyzed stalker over there, and what happens after that is none of my concern.”

That moment, moans came from below Tetsu-senpai’s butt, and we finally remembered the man’s existence.


“…… Kimura Tomio, hmm, thirty…… thirty eight? It says that he’s the head of a Development Department. Wow, what a bigshot!”

Hiro-san fished out an employer’s ID from the tied up man’s pocket and read out the information it contained.

“But I never heard of this company…… What does it do?”

Tetsu-senpai interrupted and asked.

“You don’t know? They’re a super famous lingerie manufacturer! This person is a designer of lingerie. I’ve bought some from them as gifts for other people!”

I lowered my head to look at the middle-aged man that was currently squashed beneath Tetsu-senpai’s butt. With his sleek face, healthy skin color and strangely child-like gaze, it was really hard to see that he was already thirty-eight.

This guy was obviously not the man in shades. Not only was their face shapes and build completely different, the man also had a suit that looked extremely expensive on him.

“P…… Please, c…… can you not inform my company of this matter?” Kimura Tomio-san pleaded in extreme subservience. “I have a reason for it as well……”

“A stalker saying that he has a reason……?”

“I’m not a stalker! I…… I just want to look at how that female looks in private……”

Even though his back was pressured, causing his body to arc in agony, Kimura-san continued to stare at Min-san, who was still only in a towel, with an uncomfortably passionate gaze. Min-san stuck out her tongue in apparent disgust.

“You look like a stalker through and through!” Tetsu-senpai kept poking Kimura-san’s head with sparse hair.

“You’re just blaming us for your actions……” Major said.

“No! Actually, my aim was not to stalk her. As my objective was already completed, I swear that I will never do such a thing ever again! I swear! So please……”

“What kind of rubbish did you say just now! Wasn’t you the one who stole my sarashi?”

“That was for a reason as well…… AHHHH! THAT HURTS! Nghh…….”

“Do you want to die, stalker? Why don’t you shut up already!”

“Tetsu, wait!”

Seeing that Tetsu-senpai was almost snapping Kimura-san’s neck, Alice’s words caused him to loosen his hand. Alice walked to my side and squatted down, matching Kimura-san’s gaze. It was as though the lewd gaze that contained a slight heat licked Alice who was wearing pajamas, making even me feel like landing a punch on his face. However, Alice seemed to be completely unconcerned, and calmly asked:

“One of the questions that I wish to ask you is regarding this. Why did you steal the sarashi? Tell me the truth according to its importance, and you might be dealt with in an appropriate manner.”

Kimura-san’s eyes widened, as though stupefied by Alice’s arrogant tone that was in sharp contrast with her young appearance, and only spoke slowly after that:

“Because…… I- I wanted to see how that lady looks without a sarashi!”

…… What?

At the same time when everyone was stupefied, Kimura-san continued in a sincere tone:

“I am a designer, and I hope that you will treat me as a designer of lingerie who has artistic upbringing. Listen well, lingerie can support the delicate body of a female, while the delicate body of a female can highlight the finer points of lingerie— that is my belief. I hope for everyone to wear lingerie with an ideal design suitable for herself, that is my vision as well. I believe that nobody can be my rival in custom making lingerie. The common man might not believe it, but I will know the size and design that is most suitable for her as long as I see her body.”

…… Knowing the size just by a look?

“You can see it? Even through clothes? Then do you know the size of my jeans?”

Hiro-san asked in curiousity.

“But of course. It’s 31-2 of London Slim, correct? However, the crotch area of the jeans is actually higher than you imagine, so you should buy a female version two sizes larger, or custom make it.”

“Ngh!” Hiro-san was shocked into standing.

“This oji-san looks like the real thing!”

“Hurry up and tell us why you stole my sarashi!”

The impatient Min-san stepped on Kimura-san’s head.

“Just wrapping it with cloth will not do! That will cause the breast to change shape, an attire that goes against the nature of the human body, so it just won’t do. Ever since I saw you, who were in the midst of shopping, I kept feeling heartbroken as you treat your cup size bestowed upon you by God so carelessly! To release your beauty, I have understood that my mission is to design wonderful lingerie for you!”

Min-san stayed rooted with her mouth open.

This person…… is an idiot. Just an incurable idiot, actually coming over to steal just because of this……

“Which means, I have just grasped the shape of your breasts. They are 70 below 95 above, G cup, and is known in our industry as a miraculous shape at the level of Taj Mahal, and is even the most precious of all mankind!”

Kimura-san stared at Min-san’s well-endowed breasts with his blood-laced eyes, and cried out as well.

“I have to get back to my company to design! P…… Please, let me go for this reason, and please don’t mention this to my company……”

“…… I remember now. This guy is the idiotic customer who asked for my breast size before this.”

Min-san’s voice was so weak that it was like a sigh. I started to remember as well. So he was the idiot that time……

“Were you behind the silent phones and Min-san’s photos?” Hiro-san asked gently.

“It…… It was done by me. But I really didn’t mean any harm, and just wanted her to know what she looked like without wearing proper lingerie……”

My head hurt all of a sudden, please don’t say anything anymore……

Under the extremely awkward atmosphere in the house, only Alice’s voice was cool as usual.

“Then, another mystery is solved. Lastly, I have another thing to ask.”

Squashed beneath Tetsu-senpai’s butt, Kimura-san shook.

“Instead of saying that I am asking you, it is more like a confirmation. As to how you broke in the house……”

Tetsu-senpai, Major and I were all startled and raised our heads. Indeed, that was the most basic question of this whole matter.

“Wh…… What broke in? The front door wasn’t locked at all.”

“What are you talking about? I did lock the front door!”

When Min-san was about to roar, she was stopped by Alice’s raised hand.

“Tell me the truth. You keep this house on surveillance almost every night, so you probably planned to peek from the windows when Min-san took a bath, whenever you had the chance, didn’t you? However, sometimes, an even better opportunity arose— someone just opened the door and entered the house before your very eyes. Is that correct?”

Kimura-san’s eyes widened in surprise.

“That…… That’s right, but how…… how did you know?”

“Oi, what’s wrong with this?”

Alice continued to coldly ignore Min-san’s questions.

“Of course, you thought that the person was Master’s cohabitant, didn’t you? Thinking that he only returned late at night, and always carelessly forgot to lock the door. You thought to yourself that it was a chance of a lifetime, and thus snuck easily into the house through the front door, planning to peek directly outside the bathroom. In the end, it was just too hard to pull off, and thus you could only run away after stealing just the sarashi— and it happened thus not once, but twice.”

“Why…… Why are you speaking as though you saw the whole process?”

Kimura-san’s face paled.

“Hoho……. However, that person was not living with Master at all! In fact, he was an intruder like you.”

“What?”

“He didn’t forget to lock the door, but just left the door unlocked to leave a path open so that he could escape at any time.”

“Oi! Alice, you explain things properly to me!” Min-san roared by my ears. “You mean to say that that guy broke in even before this stalker?”

“That is indeed so. Isn’t that right?”

Seeing Alice smile at him, Kimura-san could only nod frantically.

“Wait a minute, if so, is the other person still hiding in the house?”

Tetsu-senpai asked a scary question, but Alice shook her head while smiling.

“It is most probable that he already left when we caused such a large hustle. After all, that sly and thorough guy could evade all of y surveillance cameras, and even gave Hiro the slip as well.”

“Was it the man in shades?”

I couldn’t help but interject.

“Who else can it be?”

“Oi! Alice, I don’t get what you are talking about at all. Speaking of which, who was that guy in shades anyway? Why did he keep leaving after eating a mouthful of ramen, and even snuck into my house?”

Alice stood up and immediately spoke after turning around to face Min-san:

“I heard that you were not willing to change the lock of your front door.”

“…… Ah?”

“So that is the answer. Master, your choice was correct.”

“What are you talking abo……”

Half through her words, Min-san froze with her eyes wide.

“Ah…… No, but……. How can this be? Even though he……”

Min-san muttered incoherently. She leant against the corridor wall with a look of disbelief, sliding onto the floor in a sitting position.

Alice bent down and gently patted Min-san’s shoulders.


“Why do I feel like we don’t understand what you guys are talking about at all……? More importantly, how do we deal with this idiot?”

Tetsu-senpai spoke, while Kimura-san gave an odd shriek beneath him.

“I do not have anything else to ask him anymore. I shall leave him to you. It is up to you to decide, even if you wish to cook him for dinner.”

“What do you mean cook him for dinner……”

“Please, I…… I’ll pay you however much you want, so please don’t call the police! Okay? I beg of you!”

Tetsu-senpai, Hiro-san and Major gathered with looks of disinterest and discussed for awhile. In the end, Hiro-san finally slapped his thigh forcefully.

“Oji-san, we have something to ask you……”

“What…… What is it?”

“You can know the size of their lingerie just by looking at their figure, right? What if……. I’m saying what if. What if that person was a girl with completely nonexistent breasts? Can you see that even so?”

“Of course I can! In truth, something like ‘nonexistent breasts’ is completely impossible. There only exists the common man who does not know how to admire the beauty of slightly smaller breasts. Wearing lingerie correctly can release the beauty of the breasts’ shapes itself—“

“And if she is wearing pajamas, can you see it as well?”

“But of course.”

Hiro-san and Tetsu-senpai came to a consensus with just an exchanged look.

“Hmm…… Kimura-san, to be honest……. We have a request to ask of you, and if you are willing to comply, consider this matter forever buried in the depths of our hearts.”

“Rea…… Really? I will do anything!”

“Well…… Anyway, it’s somewhat inconvenient over here, so let us talk outside!”

Carrying Kimura-san’s thin body’s left and right side respectively, Hiro-san and Tetsu-senpai dragged him out of the front door just like that.

Only lukewarm air remained in the house.

“…… What are they going out to talk about?”

Alice’s head tilted in puzzlement, while I troubled over whether I should explain it to her…… Or would it be safer not to explain? But that wasn’t the main point……

“Alice, I still can’t understand what happened.”

“As I thought so.”

“What as you thought so!”

“Let us have a look at the shop. I think the answer should already be placed there.”


A tumbler was placed on the table in the kitchen. Major was the first person to notice it.

“This is……!”

Looking strangely excited, Major picked up the tumbler wrapped in a sunflower yellow cover. I did not have any impression of having seen that object before. There shouldn’t have been something like that tumbler in the kitchen just now.

“Isn’t this a tumbler for use of the American land army! Hmm…… And it isn’t a fake as well!”

You can actually see if it’s a fake? As expected of a military otaku…… Um, no…… The thing is, why did this thing appear here?

“Give me that!”

Min-san changed into her casual attire of a tank top and jeans, and after entering the kitchen along us, she snatched away the tumbler Major was holding after that.

She poured the contents of the tumbler into a bowl. Puffs of steam wafted from the amber liquid.

“…… Soup?”

Min-san raised the bowl to her lips with trembling hands and gulped down a mouthful.

“After five years of not tasting Hanada Masaru’s soup, how does it feel?” Alice asked while sitting on the stool with her hands around her knees.

…… Hanada Masaru?

After putting down the bowl, Min-san’s eyes seemed to be faintly glimmering with tears.

“…… Haha……”

Unclear words poured from her lips.

“Indeed, this is the taste my old man cooked out…… Even so…… It isn’t as tasty as I imagined!”

Hanada Masaru— Min-san’s father.

That……. That guy in shades……. was Min-san’s own father…….? How can that be? Why?

“Master, that is just because you were hoping that your father cooked it better than you.”

“Shut up! Idiot!”

Min-san fell on the stood by Alice’s side.

“What the heck! Going missing all by himself, coming back just to send this thing to me? What was that guy thinking? Is he an idiot? What a joke!”

“Shouldn’t he have his own reason for doing so? Well, it is indeed hard to imagine. What follows are my own baseless guesses. He is probably accepting a vigorous special training, doing plastic surgery so that even his own daughter couldn’t recognize him, and even avoiding all of the cameras so that he wouldn’t be filmed…… But doing all that just to come back here.”

“…… Plastic surgery?”

I couldn’t help but gasp.

First going missing, then going for plastic surgery? Wouldn’t he have completely turned into another person then? What sort of reason would require him to do things to this extent? No matter how I thought, such a reason was just too unreasonable.

“It doesn’t matter to me what reason he had!”

Min-san said in annoyance.

“Since he already came back, then just drop me a word! What was he being so secretive for? Coming back just to laugh at the ramen I make?”

Just then, I suddenly recalled Alice’s words.

‘I heard that you were not willing to change the lock of your front door.’

‘So that is the answer. Master, your choice was correct.’

I finally understood what those words meant. Min-san was waiting for the other person who was holding the keys to come home, so that was why she was so firm in refusing to change the lock.

In these five years— she were always waiting.

Major picked up a spoon and secretly scooped up a mouthful of soup.

“Wow…… This really is the taste of Hanamaru’s ramen from before!”

I picked up the bowl as well. Thick fragrance of the kelp and dried mackerel wafted from the soup, and was so clear that it allowed people to see the pattern of the base of the bowl. Containing a mouthful of soup in my mouth, a nostalgic taste spread out, giving me the feeling of watching a black and white movie.

However……

I still thought that the current Min-san’s soup was tastier.

I secretly looked at the side of Min-san’s face. She had her head lowered, looking like she was crying, but she looked like she only had her eyes closed as well. I barely knew how her relationship with her father was in the past, and was thus unable to console her easily.

Even so—


I didn’t think that this was the only reason her father came back. To tell her that the taste of her own food was better? A sample to let her remake the taste of the past? I think those weren’t the reasons.

Although I didn’t know what reason Hanada Masaru was willing to abandon the past him completely for, he was definitely once a prideful ramen chef like her daughter now. If so, he must have realized long ago that the Hanamaru ramen right now isn’t worse off than it was in the past.

A chef definitely won’t deceive his own sense of taste.

That is why……

There should be something that we have not found.

I breathed in deeply and stood up.

“…… Narumi? What is it?”

I drove my usually dense brain on with all my power, Alice’s voice almost lost at the back of my mind. When did Hanada Masaru sneak in the kitchen? After I stepped into the corridor when I noticed the stalker, he shouldn’t have had the chance to go in. As the corridor was a straight line, there weren’t corners for him to hide at all. If so, the only chance for him to sneak into the kitchen was when I switched off all the lights in the shop. When I was concentrating on listening to the footsteps of the stalker, Hanada Masaru was already in the kitchen.

I checked out the kitchen backdoor, and finally noticed that the door was not locked! That strengthened my belief that my assumptions were not wrong. He slipped away through here while there was a commotion in the corridor. If so, if he left anything here, he would definitely put it in this shop. Where would it be? Min-san and I had long since become extremely familiar with the shop, and could navigate it freely even with our eyes closed. If there were anything unfamiliar at visible positions, we would definitely notice it immediately. But he probably didn’t have time to hide the thing at hard to find places, and besides, hiding it at somewhere people can’t find would be meaningless.

Where is it—

There was a spare stove on a table in a corner of the kitchen, while cardboard boxes with kelp stuffed inside was below it. I stopped before the cardboard box.

I pulled out the box— I was indeed right. The kelp that had been half used-up increased.

“…… Narumi? What in the world are you doing?”

I ignored Alice, who was approaching my side, and took out the bundled up kelp and stacked them on top of the table.

Finally, I saw what was hidden below.

“Min-san!”

Even I noticed that my voice was full of excitement. Min-san raised her head and looked at me with a gaze of confusion.

“This weren’t bought by you, were they? All of them are materials we never used before!”

Min-san stood up from the stool as though she was shocked, pushed aside Major and Alice who were sneaking peeks at the cardboard box, and then looked into the pile of kelp.

“…… Hah? Ah!”

Min-san’s voice sounded like old air squeezed out from the base of her body.

“…… It’s Turtle’s Claw! And there’s…… dried abalones? These scallops are really big! What type are they?”

The cardboard box containing kelp was stuffed full of rare ingredients. Min-san took them all out one by one to check them out and arranged them by her feet.

“That blasted guy, he never used any of these at all……”

The addresses, numbers , company names and other information, probably names of vendors were written on the plastic bag stuffed full of various ingredients.

“His writing is terrible as usual, who knows what he’s writing!”

Min-san wiped her swollen eyes with the back of her hand, but laughed out loud.

“His personality is terrible as before, deliberately hiding it at a place like this, wanting us to discover them only after finishing up the leftover kelp……” Alice smiled in slight sarcasm as well. So he planned to let Min-san continue on trying out using kelp to cook, being mistaken to the end?

“He was like that from before.” Min-san said. However, when she took out all the ingredients and saw the bottom of the box, she couldn’t say those annoyed words anymore. I could see that she was biting her lips, frantically trying not to let something flow out.

There was some untidy writing on the base written with marker pen—

‘Next time, let me try out the ice cream you made as well!’

*

In the end, my ‘Life Staying At Hanamaru Ramen’ continued for about a week. Although I said that I was staying there, actually I almost never slept at all, because I had to take turns taking care of the pot of soup on the stove along with Min-san. Each ingredient that Hanada Masaru-san sent had its own specialties and wasn’t easy to cook, and so we usually had to use a few days to do mistakes. The stench of the Turtle’s Claw was particularly hard to clear away, but those hardships weren’t in vain.

On the evening of the Wednesday next week, I finally returned to my house. “Who are you? Can you not break into other people’s house as you like? I’m calling the police!” Not only did my dear sister make a dig at me like so, she never even prepared dinner for me. Because of that, I could only fill my belly with cup noodles with tears that night.

No matter how you look at it, the whole incident was completely meaningless to me, so that was the obvious outcome.

However, at least the souvenir I brought back especially— Hanamaru Ramen’s new soup, was greatly praised by my sister, causing her lose all anger at me the following day.

“I went to the place you’re working part time at for ramen before……”

She made a startling comment once more. I was completely unaware of such a fact. When did she go? Before I went there to work part time?

“The taste right now is much better!”

“But you can still taste that it’s from the shop, can’t you?”

“Yes, I can.”

It was a taste that Min-san came up with after five whole years. Even though its features had changed, the most important thing was never lost.

*

It would never be more perfect if the story ended just here. However, there was still more to this incident.

That day, after the club events at school ended, I went to Hanamaru Ramen somewhat earlier. As soon as I entered the kitchen, I saw Min-san looking at something in her hands.

“Hello, Min-san…… Is anything the matter?”

“Hmm? You came at just the right time……”

Min-san shoved the thing in her hands in my face, scaring me into stepping back reflexively. It was what seemed to be a rather high class silk bra.

“…… Um…… This…… Well…… Where did you get it from? Why would something like a bra appear?”

“That’s what I just received from the mail. Since it was tightly wrapped up, I haven’t the faintest clue what it was! And when I unwrapped it, it was actually something like this. What in the world do I use this for?”

I took a closer look at it. The bra before my eyes was just so small that it wouldn’t be able to bear Min-san’s large breasts no matter how it tried to. To be exact, it was a delicate mini bra that was far smaller than the usual standards.

“I’ll give this to you! That can probably be used as an eye mask, so it’s really convenient if you’re feeling sleepy in class!”

“My high school life will be totally ruined if I do that. Speaking of which, who sent this thing to you?”

“Who knows. It wasn’t written on the package.”

The mystery was only solved when I sent dan-dan noodles to Alice’s office at night.

“Oh? It’s you. Just at the right time.”

Alice waved to me on the bed, a bra in her hands as well

“Tetsu and Hiro sent me this just now, saying that it’s a gift. I only realized that it was actually such a thing when I opened it. What do you think this means? I am completely clueless.”

There was a bra of a large size in Alice’s hands, so large that it could contain a whole melon. I used up all my energy just trying to contain my sigh.

“I have no use for something like this. Let it be a present for you! You can use it as a waist bag.”

Was it Kimura Tomio or Hiro-san and Tetsu-senpai who made a mistake with the contents of the parcels, I wonder? I don’t know, and don’t want to know. In the end, the only one who could correct this mistake was only me, but I really didn’t have the energy for it.

Due to the above reasons, a pair of high class brassieres that are like the ratio of Venus and Mercury were slumbering in my wardrobe.

And when my sister noticed the two bras after that, there was a huge commotion as well. However, that would be a story for another time.


Translator's Notes and References[edit]

  1. The pronunciation of very weak in Japanese is dasai
  2. Japanese video rental company
Back to Prologue Return to Main Page Forward to Chapter 2