Petit Bourgeois Volume 5: The New York Cheesecake Mystery (Part 5)

Full Text

The New York Cheesecake Mystery (Part 4) | Contents | The New York Cheesecake Mystery (Part 6)

As the October sun started to set, a cold gust of wind blustered through the exposed sports ground. Crackling sounds from the bonfire reached my ears, and while I was happy to get some warmth from the flames, my illuminated face was getting sizzled.

No one approached us in the middle of the sports ground. I’d thought that some other people would come after hearing the commotion, but my expectations apparently missed the mark. There should have been many witnesses, so did they all pretend that they didn’t see anything, in accordance with some petit bourgeois-esque principle of letting sleeping dogs lie? If so, I should have probably learnt from them.

Suddenly, the schoolwide public address system came to life.

The Brass Band will be perfoming in the gymnasium from 3:15. Those who wish to watch their performance, please head over to the gymnasium. I repeat…”

Indeed, I could hear the disjointed sounds of brass band instruments preparing for the performance over the autumn wind.

Kogi-san spoke.

“The CD? Didn’t the first-year student have it when he collided into Yuki-chan-senpai? I saw it in his hand.”

Was her theory correct? Did the first-year’s lie really cause the three boys to suspect Osanai-san?

No, I couldn’t think that to be true.

“That can’t be. The trio touched his body to check if he had the CD. As you mentioned, they poked his body here and there. And when they confirmed that it wasn’t on his body, they concluded that Osanai-san had it, by process of elimination.”

The gang of three checked Osanai-san’s bag, but didn’t find the CD. They probably wanted to check her body, but they couldn’t possibly touch a girl wearing casual clothes in broad daylight. They were probably thinking of ways to obtain the CD they thought Osanai-san possessed, like getting a female collaborator to conduct a search in another location, or somehow coercing her to empty her pockets.

“But… I don’t believe that senpai has the CD.”

I gave a light nod.

“I think so too. If Osanai-san followed the trio while she had the CD, it would be to negotiate with them. If so, she could do it on her own, and there would be no reason to call me.”

With a face that suggested she couldn’t quite follow my reasoning, Kogi-san asked a question in an uncertain tone.

“Umm, so basically, neither Yuki-chan-senpai nor that boy has the CD… is that what you’re saying?”


I paused a little for effect.

“Neither Osanai-san nor the first-year student has the CD on their body. That means it can be thought to be hidden by one of them.”

And it was hidden somewhere close by.

“So who hid it? Needless to say, it was Osanai-san. The boy had no opportunity to do it while he was being chased and punched.”

“…If we’re talking about opportunity, that boy was the one with the CD. How did he tell Yuki-chan-senpai to hide it?”

That was a good question. The first-year student had no opportunity to hide the CD, while Osanai-san didn’t have the CD.

Then, there could only be one answer.

“The boy handed the CD to Osanai-san.”

Kogi-san’s mouth went agape in surprise.

That was the only conclusion that could be drawn after organizing the events that had transpired in order.

“The first-year student running away with the CD collided with Osanai-san, and their possessions got scattered. At that point, the first-year student realized that he would get caught, so he promptly handed the CD to Osanai-san… and entrusted it to her.”

“That’s impossible!”

Kogi-san laughed in disbelief.

“I mean, I should have witnessed that moment, but…”

She said, but her words trailed off.

If her testimony was accurate, Kogi-san was about to retrieve the contents of Osanai-san’s bag after the collision, but turned around when she heard the coarse voices. Right after that, her eyes were on the first-year student who had started running away. She then saw him being subjected to physical violence by the gang of three, upon which she called them out, resulting in an argument.

“After the two of them collided, you didn’t approach them, so you were not constantly looking at Osanai-san and the first-year student. Is that correct?”

I asked for confirmation, and Kogi-san meekly nodded.

“How long were your eyes away from Osanai-san?”

After a brief pause, she replied, visibly frustrated.

“One minute or two… I don’t think it was as long as two minutes, but at least a minute and a half.”

“Handing over the CD would take ten seconds even by the most generous estimate. Saying, ‘Please take care of this’ would take five seconds. What did Osanai-san do after that? After seeing the three-man group beat up the first-year student, she should have realized that the CD was something important. Should she run? Osanai-san is quite quick on her feet, but trying to run in Reichi Middle School, a location unfamiliar to her, from three boys who seem to be from athletic clubs would be too dangerous. So, should she obediently give it up? That’s not a bad choice, and above all, it’s what a little citizen would do… but Osanai-san did not do that. She hid the CD such that it would not fall into the hands of the trio, and followed them on her own accord.”

Kogi-san looked down for a while, her cheeks illuminated by the bonfire. She was probably thinking that what I said made sense. Eventually, she spoke in an impressed manner.

“Even though it was suddenly entrusted to her, she didn’t just pass it on to someone else… That’s my Yuki-chan-senpai… she’s so brave…”

“Well, the marshmallows were ruined, too.”

“…Isn’t that unrelated?”

Who knows?

“But even if the first-year student had time to pass the CD to Yuki-chan-senpai…”

Seemingly thinking as she spoke, Kogi-san’s tone was cautious.

“It was right in the middle of the sports ground, and she didn’t even have two minutes to do it.”

Kogi-san didn’t know Osanai-san very well, and was not cognizant of her intellectual agility and initiative… Ninety seconds was definitely enough for that girl.

“There was enough time. The question is, where and how did she hide it?”

I replied while surveying the sports ground.

The brass band’s performance started. The music that could be heard from the gymnasium was Ravel’s Boléro. The timbre of flutes was carried by the wind, reaching my ears.

Being in an urban area, Reichi Middle School felt somewhat cramped, but the sports ground was spacious enough.

Estimating its size was difficult, but seeing that a soccer goal post was placed on each side, I could tell that it was at least big enough to play soccer in. The central area with the bonfire was currently devoid of people.

…Then again, we occasionally got looks from the direction of the school building or the school gate. Standing and talking to a girl right in the middle of the sports ground apparently drew a lot of attention to us, and while that was an undesirable situation for a petit bourgeois, the more significant point was that hiding places in this area were extremely limited. Besides the bonfire, there were only water buckets that were probably meant for fire prevention and planters which contained flowers that I had seen before but didn’t know the name of.

I couldn’t see any permanent lines on the sports ground, so they would have to draw white lines every time they did a hundred meter run or played soccer. Looking closely, there were some metallic nozzles placed here and there, but they were just hose bibs meant for keeping dust away.

There were six buckets placed such that they were surrounding the bonfire. They seemed to be made of tin and were colored red on their exterior, with “For Fire Prevention” written in white paint. All of them contained water of varying levels.

On the other hand, the planters were rectangular in shape and about one armful in size. A total of four planters were placed on each side of the bonfire, approximately two meters away. I asked Kogi-san, “What flowers are these?” and she instantly replied, “Marguerite and Alyssum.” The planters were densely covered by the blooming flowers, so I was unable to see the earth that should have been spread under.


As the main theme of Bolero was repeated, the instruments playing the melody were switched again and again. Some loud cheers unexpectedly came from the school building, and I turned around to see a male student lean out of a window and shout, “2-B is the best!” at the top of his lungs.

A short distance away from our position, some objects that looked like turquoise and amber gemstones lay on the ground. I went over to pick one up, only to have it deform in my fingers. They were probably the marshmallows Osanai-san had bought as a gift, though I had no confidence to eat one. They’d scattered when she was about to fall. That would mean that Osanai-san and the first-year student had collided here, about six or seven meters away from the bonfire. There was no question that the passing of the CD occurred around here as well.

I now understood the gist of the situation. I folded my arms and looked down, about to do a little thinking, when Kogi-san questioned me in a voice even sharper than before.

“Are you listening? I was asking how she could have hid something in the middle of this sports ground.”


My arms still folded, I gave a half-hearted answer.

“I can currently think of four ways.”

Lifting my head slightly, I noticed that Kogi-san had her eyes opened wide. I waited to see if she’d had some sudden realization, but eventually, all she said was this:

“Let us hurry up and find it, then.”

Thus I racked my brains. If I could think of four ways to hide the CD, my desire would be to cut that down to one through observation and reasoning. However, with the consideration that Osanai-san was still in captivity, Kogi-san had a point in suggesting that we start from methods that could be readily investigated.

“Shall we begin?”

“Where should we start…”

Kogi-san’s voice was so full of gusto that it seemed like she could soar into the air. I felt bad for diverting her momentum, but there was something I had to know.

“Just tell me one more thing. The last time I saw Osanai-san, she was wearing a white blouse and orange cardigan. She was holding a bag in one hand and two balloons in the other. Was it the same when she was being taken away?”

Kogi-san shot me a quizzical look. She was probably wondering how I knew about the balloons, and if I’d secretly followed them around. I didn’t mind being misunderstood, but it would be troubling if I couldn’t talk to her any more.

“I saw the events unfold from the fourth floor.”

I added. Even so, she gave me an evaluating stare, before suddenly muttering, “Now that you mention it…”, seemingly having just noticed something.

“Where did the balloons go? Yuki-chan-senpai wasn’t holding any.”

“…Any differences besides the balloons?”

“I think she looked exactly as you described.”

“And to be precise?”

Kogi-san frowned.

“She had a bag in one hand, and was holding something else in the other hand. I’m very sure of that.”

I let out a small groan. Kogi-san’s eye for observation could be trusted, but that only opened up another mystery to be solved. Where could they have gone?

“But more importantly, if those four methods are not just something you said off the top of your head, we should start searching.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

With another half-hearted reply, I raised my head. I was curious about the disappearance, but now was the time to eliminate the possibilities. Using my hand, I indicated the entire sports ground.

“The first, and the simplest method is to throw. Osanai-san could have thrown the CD while the trio was distracted with the first-year student. It’s flat, so it can fly quite far.”

“…I see.”

That was a listless response. Kogi-san must have expected a more proper answer. Paying her no heed, I continued.

“The benefit of this method is that it’s simple to execute, but there is a problem. CDs are resistant to changes in temperature, but can be easily scratched. If the CD flies out of its case, and the writable surface slides onto the dirt, it could be severely damaged. Even so, there is the possibility that she chose to do that because it was an emergency, so we should search in an approximately twenty meter radius from where the marshmallows were scattered.”

Kogi-san nodded, though she did not seem very convinced.

“Got it. I will begin the search.”

While Kogi-san bent down and started looking around, I considered the other possibilities.

“Popcorn for sale!” From somewhere in the school, a cry could be heard. With the Cultural Festival ending soon, they must want to somehow get rid of the leftovers. I was thinking of purchasing some popcorn if they came over, but no one approached us while we were standing next to the bonfire, and I never heard that voice again.

As for the second method, was it possible that she hid it in the planters? Marguerite and Alyssum grow densely, so it would be a perfectly suitable hiding place. With only four planters, it wouldn’t take long…

Thus I searched the planters, but found nothing. On to the third method.

What about inside the fire prevention buckets? They just contained tap water, so even if you threw a CD in, anyone peering into the bucket can easily spot it. Conversely, it wouldn’t be seen if no one checked the buckets. CDs work fine even when they get soaked, so hiding them in water could be a good idea. If not, what about under the buckets? Size-wise, a CD could easily fit there.

Since there were six buckets, and given that I had to lift them up for a moment, it would be a little troublesome to check them all. As a matter of practicality, Osanai-san might not have had the time to hide the CD in the buckets on the other side of the bonfire, but given that I was already here, I might as well check them too.

…However, I found nothing. There was one bucket that had water spilled around it, making me think that it was recently moved, but I was unable to find the CD within or underneath it.

As I matched my footsteps to the repeating melody of Bolero, Kogi-san ran towards me, slightly out of breath.

“I was unable to find it. It might not have been thrown.”

Because I was thinking of someone else, my response was somewhat sloppy.

“Yeah, I suppose.”


Oh, crap. Sensing the remonstration in her voice, I hurriedly fixed my facial expression.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t intend to make you do something meaningless. I just thought that it would be good to check just in case, even though the probability was low. I’ve also searched some other places, but I’ve found nothing.”

Kogi-san glanced at her wristwatch, then turned to look at the school building. The four banners were swaying in the gentle wind.

“We won’t find it by doing this! Isn’t it faster to ask around if anyone has seen the three boys?”

“Even if we do find them, we can’t just fight them with Osanai-san on the line. We need some cards to play.”

“That… makes sense, but…”

I could understand her panic, but it was still too early for that. I looked straight at Kogi-san and spoke.

“Think about it. Calm down and think. What was Osanai-san holding? Did anything go missing? I’m sure that will give us a clue. It’s too early to declare that we can’t find the CD.”

I was certain that a clue was hidden there, but I wasn’t sure how I could realize it.

“What Yuki-chan-senpai was holding, and if anything went missing…?”

Muttering those words, Kogi-san looked up at the autumn sky. I followed suit, drawn to the direction she was looking at, and spotted a bird that looked like a kite1 circling around high up in the sky, as the melody of Bolero swelled.

“The gang of three peeked into Osanai-san’s bag, and determined that the CD was not present. That was strange. Before pulling out such a heavy-handed tactic as abduction, shouldn’t they have searched her bag a little more thoroughly?”

Kogi-san openly showed her dissatisfaction.

“Are you talking about pockets? Since they determined in one glance that the CD was not inside, her bag is probably one that doesn’t have pockets inside.”

“No, I’m not talking about pockets.”

I looked down at the gem-like candies that were scattered on the ground. That was the souvenir Osanai-san had gone out of her way to buy. Even I could understand the disappointment of being about to happily receive that gift, only to have it wasted like that.

“I was referring to the marshmallow box.”


Taken by surprise, Kogi-san repeated my words.

“If that box was in the bag, it would have been strange for the trio to say, ‘It’s not here’ after just a short peek inside the bag. Based on what you told me earlier, isn’t the marshmallow box big enough to fit a CD? They would have taken it out of the bag to check its contents, shaken it, or done some kind of action on it.”

“Maybe they wanted to slowly check after taking Yuki-chan-senpai away?”

“Even so, it’s strange that they declared the absence of the CD.”

After taking a breath, I continued.

“Basically, the marshmallow box has also disappeared.”

Kogi-san tilted her head.

“But doesn’t that make things more complicated?”

No, that wasn’t it. With this, I’d focused the problem down to one single point. Just one more step… but I couldn’t reach that one last step.

“Osanai-san told you to contact me, right? Can you remember what exactly she said?”

I asked, not with the intention to blame Kogi-san, but for the sake of confirmation, because if Osanai-san had left a clue, there was a good chance that Kogi-san had heard it. However, she looked down, seemingly hurt by my words.

“I didn’t hear anything…”

She muttered. I looked up at the sky. Was this girl naive, or was Osanai-san special for not getting hurt even though she regularly communicated with me? In any case, I’d done something wrong.

“Sorry, I wasn’t implying that you were hiding something.”

“Yuki-chan-senpai said, ‘Call Kobato-kun.’”

“Yeah, I remember. Anything else?”

“Besides that, she also said, ‘Ask him if the cake was delicious.’”

So she did leave a message!

To summarize, Osanai-san and Kogi-san were exploring the Cultural Festival, when the topic of roasting marshmallows at the bonfire came up, so they first procured skewers before moving to the sports ground, with Osanai-san carrying the box of marshmallows. They both inserted marshmallows into skewers and were about to roast them, but a first-year student ran towards them and collided into Osanai-san who tried to get out of the way. As a result, the marshmallows were scattered, along with the contents of Osanai-san’s bag. Going by the earlier deduction, it was at this moment when the first-year student passed the CD to Osanai-san.

A trio of boys chasing the first-year student quickly caught up to him, and after some violence, conducted a body search on him. Osanai-san probably used this chance to hide the CD. The trio confirmed that the first-year student did not possess the CD, then turned to look at Osanai-san, who had interacted with him earlier. Osanai-san did not resist, but told Kogi-san to call me, and also said, “Ask him if the cake was delicious.”

…There was no way it was unrelated. The CD’s hiding place and Osanai-san’s mysterious message were definitely somehow linked!

“By cake, she means the cheesecake, right?”

As if intimidated by my excitement, Kogi-san timidly nodded.

“I, I also think she was referring to the New York cheesecake.”

Osanai-san was hinting towards something about that cake. It was a cheesecake. A New York cheesecake. What could that something be?

That cake was white. It was dense. It was delicious. We talked about the best tastes. Were there any hints from that conversation?

Also, she told me how that cake is made. It is put into a vat, then an oven, and…

“…Kogi-san, you mentioned how a New York cheesecake is baked, right?”

“Eh? Um, in a water bath?”

That’s it!

The cake’s ingredients are put into a mold, and that is placed into a vat filled with water and heated in an oven. Before, I was unable to understand what effect that would have. I was slow on the uptake. Isn’t the purpose of a water bath clear as day?



I gave an order to Kogi-san, who was for some reason standing stiffly at attention.

“Go back to the Sweets-Making Association and bring some tongs… Hurry!”


Without asking for a reason or showing any displeasure, she sprang into action and dashed off… was she perhaps the type of person who cannot refuse firm orders?

I hoped she wouldn’t push herself too hard, though.

The New York Cheesecake Mystery (Part 4) | Contents | The New York Cheesecake Mystery (Part 6)

Patreon Supporters

Assistants (Tier 1) : Rolando Sanchez

Thank you very much for all your support!

  1. Not the object, but the common name for certain birds of prey

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.