Complaints issued from the backpack.
"What was that? Asking about such stupid stuff!"
"Shh! If anyone hears you we're in big trouble."
He twisted his head around to shush the backpack. Passersby avoided him as if he were some kind of lunatic.
Less than an hour before they had been locked in verbal battle, with Tomoya telling Kanako to wait quietly at home while he went looking for her right arm, and Kanako demanding to go with him. Neither would yield. Finally, Kanako opened the window and bawled out,
"People of the neighborhood! He's a kidnapper! Help!"
In the end he put her in the backpack and took her along.
"Let's start asking around."
Oblivious to Tomoya's trepidation, Kanako was full of energy and intent on finding her right arm. Even so, Nakano Broadway is a big place. They searched every corner of its labyrinthine halls and stairways, fished through empty-capsule bins at figure shops, and even went around checking the toilets.
By evening Kanako's weight, as well as a sense of futility, lay heavily on Tomoya's shoulders. He hadn't even gone to school.
"Hey, how about that place?"
Kanako was pointing through an opening in the backpack at a rental showcase establishment. Dozens of cube-shaped transparent acrylic showcases sparkled under the shop's lights. The cases, each with its own label, were filled with figures, postcards, accessories, and other such items. People could rent a showcase for a monthly fee. The exhibitors displayed goods, intended to appeal to various specialized interests, in their respective cases, and commissioned the shop to sell the goods for them. Rental showcase shops are places where you can share your hobby with other people and earn a little something at the same time, which makes them unusual.
Tomoya entered the shop, taking care not to bump his backpack against the showcases. He suddenly stopped.
"What is it?"
"Nothing. Just a second."
Trying to calm the malcontent in his backpack, Tomoya gazed at a showcase labeled "No. 56." He'd been here yesterday.
Number 56 was his favorite case. A number of original figures, which appeared to be handmade, were on display inside it. They were simple, but he felt they were executed very tastefully—it was hard to explain. He'd bought items from this case time and again.
He heard footsteps and turned around. A girl was standing next to him. She was about his age, maybe a little younger.
Thinking he must be blocking the way, he moved the backpack and cleared the aisle, but the girl stayed where she was. Tomoya found this odd, and he was about to ask if there was something she wanted when she let loose with a shout."Uh, um, WELCOME!"
She didn't look like a store clerk, but she bowed deeply. She was blushing.
Copyright (C) Shokichi/Web Japan, English translation (C) John Brennan
Edited by Japan Echo Inc.