The morning light that poured through the shoji was dazzling white.
Until now, it had only been dazzling and bothersome, but this morning it seemed unusually bright and beautiful. With his back to the light, Rihito looked down at his friend who was still sleeping, and called out to him.
“Wake up, Ichiya.”
The change in Ichiya’s expression as he woke up was quite a sight to behold.
His eyes turned to Rihito’s face and then they popped out as wide as they possibly could.
After making a blank expression, as if he had seen a dog standing on its head, he mumbled with a straight face: “This is a dream, no matter how much time I work in a day; Chizaki can’t get up earlier than me. This has to be a dream.”
Rihito slapped Ichiya on the forehead, who had been escaping into his own version of the dream world. Ichiya opened his eyes fearfully, but the pain and shock seemed to make him finally accept that it was real.
“…It’s not a dream.”
“Ah! It’s real.”
Ichiya got up from the futon and fixed the collar of his yukata as he looked at Rihito with a wry face. It was a very rude reaction, but it was also due to Rihito’s daily conduct.
After repeatedly comparing Rihito’s face with the dial on his watch that showed 8:00 A.M, Ichiya asked with a serious look.
“Hey, Chizaki, are you all right? Do you have a fever? Is it a harbinger of a natural disaster? You’re not thinking of something strange, like fleeing this world and trying to live a decent life for the last day or so, are you?”
“You’re overreacting. I don’t have a fever, and I don’t know if there will be a natural disaster. And I have no intention of dying. I’d like to live a long life if I could.”
Ichiya’s brows wrinkled as he grunted in exasperation.
“Then what in the world is going on?”
“I’ve got a new job actually.”
“And while I’m at it, I found a place to live.”
Ichiya peeled his eyes out.
To his astonished friend, Rihito laughed like a child whose prank had succeeded and told him the story of what had happened at the Otoki Salon the other day.
After he had finished listening to what a good deal it was to serve the café and be exempted from paying rent, Ichiya was silent for a good ten seconds, skipping the nonsense about Sleeping Beauty and Rumpelstiltskin.
Then, with a straight face, he said.
“You’re not being fooled by that, are you? Isn’t that a new kind of scam? No, of course, it is a scam. They’re trying to get you to do some shady business.”
“I agree. The story is so good that I feel as if I were the hero of a Märchen. Is he a dwarf who brings happiness or a devil who deceives and leads to ruin? I wonder which one it is.”
In contrast to Rihito’s easygoing attitude, Ichiya grabbed both of Rihito’s shoulders and shook him like a demon.
“Chizaki, don’t say bad things. Think again. Decline now! Decline! Refuse! If anything, I’ll go with you.”
Certainly, if Ichiya, a strong-looking police officer, went with him, the average swindler would be intimidated and lose interest.
However, Rihito had no intention of refusing, and he could imagine that the mysterious child would be able to easily get Ichiya off his back.
“Well, I think I can work something out.”
“I’m a little curious about it. I’m excited.”
When Rihito smiled, Ichiya blinked and relaxed the grip on his shoulder. He exhaled heavily and turned away, saying: “I don’t care if anything happens.”
Rihito lightly patted him on the arm to calm him down.
“Well, I’m off to inspect the workplace café now. If it’s a shady business, I might reconsider.”
“Go there and say no right away!”
Ichiya’s reluctant face never cleared up because of Rihito’s indifference.
Rihito finished getting ready and headed for Jinbo in Kanda.
Kanda was next to the south side of Hongo, where Rihito was located, and it wasn’t too far away by train.
After getting off at the Jinbo transfer point, Rihito turned his attention to the bookstore district on the south side of the street.
The bookstore district was lined on both sides of the street with Western-style stores covered with copper shingles and tiled exterior walls and the storefronts were stacked with secondhand books.
Now that he thought about it, he used to visit the Western bookstores in this area when he was still a student. With a sense of nostalgia, he walked along the intersecting streets, changing direction from south to east.
After walking for about ten minutes, he arrived at the building he wanted to visit. After confirming that the address was the same as the one on the piece of paper that had been given to him, he looked up at the building again.
The three-story stone building was a stylish Western-style building with white-gray stone walls and dark green entrance doors and shutters.
The second and third floors were lined with glass panes, one at a time. The ground floor facing the street had an entrance and three stores, and the store in question was the second from the right.
Two stone steps up from the white-gray covered porch was a dark green front door. The upper half of the door had been glassed over so that one could look inside, but now a colored curtain was down. On the darkened glass, white letters read.
Rihito’s mouth relaxed at the name, which really fit the child, who said he liked the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales.
E/N: Sorry for slow updates, I’m sick( ɵ̥̥ ˑ̫ ɵ̥̥)