Before leaving the store, Osanai-san went into the toilet, while holding her sports bag in her hand.
The Osanai-san that returned had shed her worn-out leather vest, and was now sporting a vest made of denim fabric. She hadn’t changed out of her short jeans and inner shirt, but by just changing her vest, the suspicious rocker vibe she was giving off had completely disappeared. A hairclip raised her hair in an asymmetrical manner. Osanai Yuki, in a sporty arrangement. This way, I wouldn’t be embarrassed walking in the streets with her. Still, I wasn’t expecting her to carry a change of clothes. I wonder if she’s got a black ninja garb as well?
After that, the two of us walked through Sanya-dori, in the opposite direction of the train station. Since it was a distance away from the shopping and entertainment district, Sanya-dori was not lively, though it was not exactly a street full of shuttered stores. Next to the sports equipment was a small shrine, and next to that was Muramatsu House. I asked Osanai-san if the candied apple here made it in the ranking of her sweets selection, and she nodded with a broad smile on her face.
Behind Muramatsu House was a bookshop and a police box, marking the end of Sanya-dori. The path still continued, but it had a different name past that point. I took the two maps out of my pocket.
The first was the note that Kengo had left behind. The other was the “Sanya-dori Festival” flyer that was laid on the tray at the burger shop. I stacked the two maps on top of each other.
Obviously, Kengo had not challenged me to a challenge of wits. He just doesn’t do that sort of thing. What he had drawn was a map that could be understood in a glance. When he was about to leave the shop, the map printed on the flyer at the bottom of the tray was right in front of his eyes. He then tore off one piece of note paper, and made a continuation of that map. That was to tell me that his partner was over there, past the edge of the map on the flyer.
That was a an entirely natural course of action.
However, due to me not properly listening to Kengo, as well as Kengo not confirming with me, I had immediately picked up the note, separating it from the flyer, and turning the map to “half”.
The lower horizontal stroke of the “half” character showed the road that continued straight past Sanya-dori. Since the character was drawn flush to the right side of the note, it should connect to the left side of the flyer’s map. After going past Sanya-dori as shown on the map, turn right at the first intersection to reach the second intersection, the one with the checkmark. That would be the destination.
We arrived at the intersection in question. There was a gasoline stand, as well as a café.
It was a small café named “Chaco”. I pushed the stained glass door, which creaked open. A portly woman smiled at me from behind the counter.
Osanai-san had hidden somewhere. I waved a hand and replied.
“Sorry, but I’m not a customer. I’m here at Doujima Kengo’s behest.”
A voice piped up from a booth that was hidden by a decorative plant.
“Did something happen to Doujima-senpai?”
The voice came from a girl with a faint pink shirt and denim pants. She had short hair which was dyed a little. She was slim, and had demure facial features. Is this Kawamata Kasumi, or is this a Newspaper Club member? Well, it didn’t matter either way. My work was done after confirming that Kengo’s partner was indeed here.
“Ah, yes. Kengo saw something, and he went chasing after them.”
“I see. Where is he now?”
“I don’t know. Well, that’s it for now. Good luck.”
Leaving behind some meaningless words, I exited from Chaco.
There was certainly more that I could have said. Kengo had told me to contact them if I saw anything suspicious, but I didn’t even know who to look out for.
Well, it is entirely possible that I was looking down the entire time.
At this rate, it would be possible for us to get to Berry Berry before the appointed time of half past three. We headed back to Sanya-dori, which we’d just been at.
Osanai-san followed a few paces behind me.
“As expected, you were able to decode it.”
I responded with my back still turned to her.
“Yeah… I suppose.”
“Even when you said you wouldn’t do something like that.”
I scratched my cheek.
“Yes, that is true.
“But then again, it’s not like I was showing off to anyone. I believe that this is a valid course of action even according to the path of the petit bourgeois. In that situation, anyone would have tried to solve the mystery behind the memo. All I did was solve that mystery.”
Osanai-san and I have a promise to cover for each other. At the same time, we also had a promise to stop the other party if they were about to act in a manner unbefitting of a petit bourgeois.
What I said was not devoid of reason. Osanai-san was probably just chiding me based on that promise. Just as she had always done.
…Since she was silent, I turned around to check on her, only to be greeted with a slight lifting of her lips, like a wry smile.
“Yes, you’re right.”
I responded to those words with a smile of my own.
But my head started filling up with doubts.
It was certainly strange, I thought. While I was trying to decode Kengo’s memo, Osanai-san was stirring me up, instead of stopping me, right?
And that smile that lingered even in her eyelids. Just when I thought I’d reached the truth, she smiled. I’d thought that I knew Osanai-san fairly well. I’d thought that I could grasp the pattern behind her thoughts and actions to a certain degree.
But something was clearly wrong with my assumptions. This was completely beyond the range of my current understanding.
Why did she seem so happy in the moment that I solved the mystery?
Still behind me, Osanai-san spoke excitedly.
“Hey, Kobato-kun, I’ll treat you to today’s frozen watermelon yoghurt!”
Editors (Tier 2) : Joshua Fisher, _Maki
Assistants (Tier 1) : Definitelynotme, Rolando Sanchez, empra
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