There was a series of battles known as the Battles of Kawanakajima. It was an extremely famous set of battles during which two heroes who represented the Sengoku period, Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin, fought.
However, the Battles of Kawanakajima were actually not significant in the context of history. The Takeda and Uesugi armies contested for control of the island of Kawanakajima five times, but they were mainly minor skirmishes, and only once was there a conflict which was large-scale enough to be called a battle. However, even that battle can’t be called a turning point of history by any standard. Needless to say, it can’t be compared to the Battle of Sekigahara1 or the Siege of Osaka2, but you could say that even the Sieges of Nagashima3 had greater historical impact. In fact, the Battles of Kawanakajima were not included in the history textbook we were using at Funado High School.
So why are the Battles of Kawanakajima so famous, although they were nothing more than a localized skirmish?
The answer lies in the romanticism brought about by the two heroes clashing with each other. Whether it was significant in the big scheme of things, or whether it takes a big spot in history, don’t matter at all. Stories from The Battles of Kawanakajima continue to be told, simply due to the confrontation between the dragon and the tiger4.
I was struck by this thought while I was about to hide the existence of the third slice of cake, with Osanai-san as my opponent. Yes, this would be a battle between me and Osanai-san.
She’ll be a worthy opponent. Quite worthy indeed.
If this were a battle, the battlefield would be limited to the surface of the table.
Traversing my memories, I realized that I never told Osanai-san how many Charlottes I bought from Jeff Beck. All I wrote in the email was that I bought the cakes, and even when I reached her house, the only things I said were “Sorry for intruding” and some words on how hot it was outside. There was a point when Osanai-san was about to open the cake box, but the phone rang, causing her to leave the living room. In other words, she never saw the contents of the box. We would eventually have to calculate the bill, but I still hadn’t told her how much everything cost in total.
Meaning that if I adequately dealt with the items on this table surface, I could hide from Osanai-san the existence of the third Charlotte.
So, what items were on the table? To avoid making the foolish mistake of excluding an item from my consciousness just because it seemed like it wouldn’t bear any relationship to the situation at first glance, I carefully considered each item.
On the one hand, there was definitely a time limit. I didn’t know what she needed to talk about on the phone, but she couldn’t be on the phone forever. I couldn’t hear her talking from her, so I wouldn’t be able to tell when her phone call ended. It was completely unclear as to how much time I had for thinking and taking action. Thus, I should bring about the largest effect with the smallest action.
These were the things on the table:
- The remote controls for the television and the air conditioner. I looked around, but there was nothing that would cause the Bavarois to scatter.
- A box of tissues. However, they were yet to be opened.
- Mango puddings, two, untouched.
- Charlottes, two, untouched. Exquisite products.
- Cake boxes, two. They were empty boxes, but they were not completely empty, for there were paper napkins in them. Also, more importantly, there were paper wrappings stuck to the bottom of the boxes with cellophane tape. What were the paper wrappings for? I understood as soon as I opened the box earlier. They were there to prevent the cakes from sliding and collapsing while they were being moved around. The mango pudding box and the Charlotte box had the paper wrappings affixed at different positions. That was only natural, since the two types of cake had differing shapes and quantities. There were two pieces of paper wrappings in the mango pudding box, and three pieces of paper wrappings in the Charlotte box.
- A golden cardboard dish that used to hold a Charlotte. There was a little Bavarois left on it. Leaving it there was out of the question.
- A bit of film that also used to wrap a piece of cake, also stained with Bavarois. This also directly suggested the existence of the third Charlotte.
- The spoon I’d used, also with some Bavarois stuck on it. On the other hand, the spoon that Osanai-san was supposed to use naturally also had some Bavarois on it.
- Coffee, in two perfectly normal, white coffee cups. Osanai-san’s coffee hadn’t decreased in volume, but mine had decreased by approximately half its original volume.
- Barley tea that Osanai-san had poured for me as a reward for running an errand under the blazing sun. There was about half of it left in my beer mug.
- Small plates. I’d eaten a Charlotte placed on one of the plates with a spoon. However, since the cake was held by the cardboard dish, no trace of it was left on the plate.
Now, how can I pull wool over Osanai-san’s eyes, especially when there’s something sweet involved?
The film and cardboard dish have to be disposed of. Let’s start with that. I scraped off the Bavarois on those items with a spoon, wiped off the remaining bits and stuffed them in my pocket.
Next, the cake box. The problem with it was the paper wrappings to prevent the cakes from slipping on the bottom of the boxes. Looking at the mango pudding box, the paper wrappings were affixed at locations that one would naturally choose to prevent two mango puddings from slipping. As for the Charlotte box, it made me think that though it would be quite difficult to judge, with sufficient ability to interpret shapes, one would be able to deduce that the paper wrappings were in such positions to prevent not two pieces of cake, but three pieces, from slipping. Furthermore, it would be absolutely dangerous to underestimate Osanai-san’s abilities? What should I do with the wrapping paper?
The best option would be to tear off all three bits of wrapping paper, then paste them at positions appropriate for only two pieces of cake… However, the act of peeling off cellophane tape that had been stuck neatly without leaving behind any traces of it, then thinking of appropriate positions and carefully sticking the tape at those locations would consume a lot of precious time. If Osanai-san were to return while I was in the middle of such work and ask, “What are you doing, Kobato-kun?”, the battle would instantly end in my defeat.
That said, I couldn’t possibly leave them in their current state.
Should I peel all of them off, then? No, in that case I would have to remove the paper wrappings from the mango pudding box as well. If not, Osanai-san might get suspicious of only one box having the paper wrappings. Moreover, peeling off all five pieces without leaving any traces would take up a lot of time.
What is the method that would remove all possible deductions from the paper wrappings, yet would take up the least amount of time? …After removing the napkins from the box, I carefully, yet quickly peeled off one of the three paper wrappings, and placed it into my pocket.
Observing the two remaining paper wrappings, I was satisfied. The structure was broken, and now it looked like there was no order to the arrangement. One wouldn’t be able to tell that the paper wrappings were to prevent two slices of cake from slipping, but no one would be able to tell that three slices of cake used to be in the box.
Other than that, there was the item which had direct contact with the cake, which was the spoon. How do I explain the Bavarois stuck on the spoon?
I instantaneously came upon two different strategies. One was to lick the spoon clean of Bavarois. That was the simplest, most perfect concealment method. Even Osanai-san wouldn’t check for saliva stuck on the spoon. Probably.
However, I decided to go with the second method. I reached out to the Charlotte that should naturally have gone to Osanai-san’s stomach but I was trying to usurp, then placed it on my plate. While recognizing the fact that there was no turning back, I used the spoon to break a corner of the cake so that it would serve as an excuse for the spoon being used… at the same time, the Charlotte became mine.
I moved the spoon with the Bavarois on it to my mouth. Perhaps due to the betrayal, it felt even tastier than the piece I had earlier.
Now, I couldn’t forget about money matters. I could ask Osanai-san to pay for one mango pudding and one Charlotte to evenly split the bill, but it would be inconvenient if she asked for the receipt. Speaking of which, the receipt was currently in my pocket, along with the film, cardboard dish and whatnot. I should say that I hadn’t received one. If I had to take it out from my pocket, it would look like I’d thrown it in a rubbish bin, which would only bring unnecessary trouble to myself.
With that, I’d completely dealt with everything related to the cakes. Is it perfect? I looked over the table again. There was nothing left on the table that would point to the existence of three cakes, I thought.
I was about to breath a sigh of relief, but…
I swallowed the sigh back down.
What the heck, isn’t the evidence that could give Osanai-san a decisive suspicion just right in front of my eyes! I held my head in my hands. Why did I have to notice this only after placing the spoon in the cake!
It was the coffee. The coffee had decreased in volume.
I’d come here in the blazing heat. Having been considerably done in by the heat, I’d gulped down half a mug of barley tea in one sitting. That was not unnatural at all. In fact, it was a perfectly natural course of action.
However, on the table right now was the mug of barley, which had not decreased at volume since I drank it at the beginning. In this heat, prioritising hot coffee over the cold barley tea is obviously strange. Why did I drink the coffee and not the barley tea? Because the coffee was a more suitable beverage to take with the cake. If I could notice this, Osanai-san would probably notice it as well.
It was good that I noticed it before I relaxed. However, I couldn’t do anything about the coffee that I’d already drunk down. What should I do? I desperately searched for a solution. Knowing that Osanai-san could come at any moment and ask, “Oh, Kobato-kun, why did you only drink the coffee?”, I felt cold sweat drip down from the back of my neck.
I needed to find a way to return the coffee I’d drunk. A method to increase something that had decreased. As long as the barley tea remained, so would the question of why I’d drunk the coffee. To suppress that doubt, I could drink up all of the barley tea, but then I would have completely drained the entire beer mug of barley tea on top of having drunk half a cup of coffee, which would cause a different seed of doubt to form.
If only I could somehow increase the volume of coffee. What about barging into the dining room and pouring some coffee from the coffee maker that is probably there? No, that is not the behavior of a guest, no matter what. In that case, should I pour some from Osanai-san’s coffee? That might be difficult. If her eyes are sharp, she might notice that her coffee had decreased in volume.
Or I could… But there was no time for me to be stuck on this problem. I shut my eyes tight.
“Guess I don’t have a choice!”
I pulled the mug of barley tea over and placed it by the edge of the coffee cup. Then, I poured the barley tea into the coffee cup.
While the deep black color of the was somewhat diluted by the barley tea, the change in color was not visible to my eyes. Some barley tea had spilled from the edge of the beer mug, but that was solved by giving the table a quick wipe.
How about this? Is it perfect now?
But I was not given any more time to scrutinize the table. The sliding door opened, revealing Osanai-san, who stepped into the room while wiping the monitor of her mobile phone with the sleeve of her dress.
“Sorry, I had a phone call from a friend. You didn’t have to wait for me, too… Wow, mango pudding! Thank you, I’ve been looking forward to this!”
You’re welcome. I grinned.
Editors (Tier 2) : Joshua Fisher, _Maki
Assistants (Tier 1) : Definitelynotme, Rolando Sanchez
Thank you very much for all your support!
- The Battle of Sekigahara was a decisive battle which effectively led to the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate, which ruled Japan for another two and a half centuries after.
- A series of battles undertaken by the Tokugawa shogunate against the Toyotomi clan, and ending in that clan’s destruction, putting an end to the last major armed opposition to the shogunate’s establishment.
- Part of Oda Nobunaga’s campaigns against the Ikkō-ikki, arguably among his greatest enemies.
- Uesugi Kenshin was known as the “Dragon of Echigo”, while Takeda Shingen was known as the “Tiger of Kai”.