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IMDR Vol. 2: Chapter 2

House of the Golden Bird(2)


Underneath the white letters of the restaurant’s name, a white tag was hung with a golden chain. Although the tag read ‘in preparation’ in black letters, he had received a message from his employer to go straight in.


Rihito tapped twice on the brass knocker and then pushed the door open. The doorbell on the inside rang in the quiet room.


“Excuse me.”


As he stepped into the dimly lit room, the aroma of rich and fragrant coffee tickled his nose.


His eyes, accustomed to the brightness of the sun outside, could only see vague outlines at first, but gradually the interior became clearer.


Just like the exterior, the interior was also Western-style.


The black matted wooden floor and white plastered walls fitted well with the white ceiling and a lattice pattern formed by thick dark brown lattice work.


The interior of the restaurant, lit by a series of dark orange lamps, was long and narrow. There was a long dark brown counter with round tables for two. Each had a wooden chair with a dark green cushion.


In one corner of the store there was a bookshelf as tall as Rihito, filled to the brim with books. Most of the books were in foreign languages, with English, German, French, and many other languages adorning the spines.


He heard a noise and looked over to see a thin man standing behind the counter.


Dressed as a waiter in a white Western shirt, black vest and bow tie, he looked like he was in his mid-fifties. His dark hair, streaked with gray, was neatly brushed back and he wore thin, celluloid-rimmed round glasses that gave him an air of elegance and intelligence.


The man was facing one of the glass balloon-shaped siphons lined up on the counter.


An alcohol lamp flickered just below the siphon, and boiling water slowly rose into a rotor attached to the top of a round flask. The aroma of coffee in the air became stronger as the man stirred the coffee beans and hot water in the roaster with a spatula.


A few seconds after the water had finished rising, the alcohol lamp was extinguished and the extracted coffee fell into the flask below.


The man who had been watching the glazed brown liquid fall finally turned his quiet gaze toward Rihito.


“Sorry to keep you waiting.”


He bowed to Rihito, who had the appearance of a foreigner, and was not particularly surprised to see him enter despite being in the middle of preparations.


“The owner told me about you. Please come in this way.”


“Thank you.” Rihito replied.


He indicated with his hand to the back of the store. A sapphire-colored curtain hanged on a part of the wall.


Rihito bowed to the man and headed toward the back of the store but stopped halfway.


“… Oh yes, I’m sorry for not saying my name. My name is Chizaki. May I ask your name?”


“My name is Miyake. I cook and serve here.”


The man who introduced himself as Miyake smiled calmly and said: “We only have one employee.” Rihito asked the affable man a question as if it were completely unintentional.


“I see… I was wondering if you knew the name of the owner. I haven’t asked him yet.”


“I have been told to call him ‘Ono Kahoru’ since the other day, so I call him Kahoru-san.”




Whether he realized Rihito’s intentions or not, Miyake didn’t break his smile and headed back to his coffee.


Rihito cowered inwardly and then turned towards the curtains.


Pulling the thick velvet curtains to the side, he found a staircase leading to the basement and a large space. Five steps down, turning right at a small landing, two steps down and there was a room about six tatami mats in size.


The room was half-underground but the high ceiling made it feel spacious. The light from the chandelier on the high ceiling and the sunlight from the window made the room feel brighter than the dimly lit restaurant, even though it was underground. The floor was covered with a flax-colored carpet with red and dark blue oriental flower patterns woven into the fabric.


This room also had bookshelves filled with books, but unlike the café, this room was lined with Japanese books as well as Western books. There were also a variety of popular literary magazines, as well as specialized books on medicine and history.


In the center of the room was a round table and sofa set with a chessboard and Western-style board games. At the end of the room was a rectangular cabinet with a fountain pen, an inkwell and a half-sheet of paper with alphabets and numbers scribbled on it in the corner.


It could be a secret study in the back of a coffee shop.


Rihito landed on the half-underground floor, looked around the room, and noticed a small figure sitting on one of the couches on the opposite side of the room from the window.




He stopped and blew out a little because the situation was similar to the one before.


Leaning deeply against the one-sitter sofa, holding a book and closing his eyes, was Rihito’s employer. He seemed to be asleep. Rihito thought of him as a child who likes to sleep a lot.


Maybe he should have been the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ instead of ‘Rumpelstiltskin‘.


Rihito wondered how to wake him up, but before he could finish thinking about it, the curtain above moved and at the same time, the aroma of coffee descended.


Then, without warning, Ono Kahoru, the employer who had been asleep, opened his eyes.


“Ah, Chizaki-san. I see you’ve arrived.”


A silver tray was presented beside him. The person holding the tray was Miyake, who had come down the stairs. It was a white ceramic cup with an aroma and steam wafting from it, probably containing the coffee that had just been brewed.


“Kahoru-san, here you go.”


“Thank you.”


Kahoru took the cup on the tray and smelled it once with a little satisfaction, then took a small sip.


Miyake then asked Kahoru how the coffee tasted.


“Today’s beans seemed to be a little deep-roasted, so I ground them more coarsely than usual. What do you think?”


“Well… The aroma is fine. The taste is a little sour.”


“Yes sir. I will grind it a little finer. Shall I brew it again for you?”


“Yes, please.”


Miyake bowed to him and left with the empty tray under his arm.


Rihito, who had been watching the whole sequence of events, heard Kahoru’s voice.


“I am sorry, Chizaki-san. I was the one who called you, but I fell asleep.”


“No, don’t worry about it. Would it be better if I said please don’t worry about it?”


Rihito changed his tone because Miyake was using honorifics for Kahoru.


He had heard that this boy-Kahoru-was the owner of the coffee shop, but Rihito had secretly (and rudely) thought that he was just a decorative shopkeeper.


He had thought that there was no way a child could be the owner of the store, but the blotched alphabet that he had glimpsed on the half-sheet of paper he had just seen on the table probably indicated the type of coffee beans and the customers. Scattered among the numbers were some formulas, probably indicating prices and sales.


Furthermore, with the way Miyake completely entrusted Kahoru with checking the taste of the store’s coffee, it was obvious that he was playing the role of a proper shopkeeper even as he was a child.


In that, case Rihito, who was indeed a hired worker, could not talk to him casually.


He asked him about it but Kahoru shook his head.


“You don’t have to use honorifics. You are older than me.”


“But Miyake-san seems to be using honorifics.”


“He has been doing so for some time, you don’t need to worry about it. You don’t have to change your tone towards me. It’s better suited to the job.”


“What do you mean? You are the owner of the coffee shop, right?”


As Rihito tilted his head, Kahoru’s lips curved upward.


“I’ll have you work as a waiter, but you have another job as well.”


“What other job?”


“That’s something I’ll explain to you as we follow you on the road. Miyake will be bringing some coffee soon, so for now, let’s enjoy the coffee and pastries that Café Grimm prides itself on.”


Saying so, Kahoru fetched a square metal tin from the top of the cabinet and offered him a large butter cookie.



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