Antique Shop『BEAR』 - Chapter 42
Chapter 42 – Tortoiseshell Sunglasses
The following day, upon waking up in the morning, there was a mild hangover. Even though today was Saturday and he had to work, he had a problem. He knew he was scheduled to be in attendance for work, and it was certainly his own fault for going out drinking, so he changed his outlook.
Hurriedly, he took a shower, changed his clothes, and got on the train to head to work.
In his bag was a pair of tortoiseshell sunglasses he had acquired yesterday. Yesterday, he indeed felt like he could see his reflection in the lenses, but Aiba bitterly smiled, telling himself that he had been sleepwalking or drinking excessively yesterday and had spooked out.
After arriving at the sales office, the members of the team working on Saturday and the president had a morning meeting before he and Kuma headed for the site. While Kuma was checking the site in the passenger seat, Aiba retrieved his sunglasses and put them on a short distance from the office.
“Oh… Oh. You brought them to the office? It suits you.”
“I absolutely love it. Tortoiseshell patterns are common, but I never thought I’d find real tortoiseshell.”
“Indeed, it’s a rare product.”
“Why didn’t the boss purchase it at the sales office?”
“Because it was damaged.”
“I see… The owner of this pair of sunglasses passed away, didn’t he?”
“Yes. It was a customer who went to the office to sort out his belongings. However, there were other buyers as well, and I believe the final purchase price was quite high.”
“Huh〜 Making money even in death?”
“In fact, he was in debt and had sold off most of his assets, including his house and car, as well as furniture and decorations. His wife was a wreck.”
Listening to the story, Aiba was reminded. Prince Okubo, the owner of a pair of tortoiseshell sunglasses, was a wealthy man who owned a house in a prime location in Tokyo. Even though his business had failed and he had huge debts, he was still trying to maintain his lifestyle and look good. However, when he finally had to part with everything, he committed suicide by hanging himself in his study. Therefore, an estate liquidator and a buyer were called in to auction off his belongings. Kuma was the one who accompanied the president at that time. All Aiba distinctly recalled was that Kuma returned to the office with a pair of genuine tortoiseshell sunglasses.
“Oh, yeah. I remember now.”
“Well, I heard that he had three mistresses, each with their own children and that he acknowledged them and had them live in his apartment, but his wife was not blessed with any children and he was arrogant to her, so she may have been relieved.”
“That’s how it is…”
Right at the moment when he was wondering if the wealthy man had died with no remorse for his past, a black figure crossed in front of him at great speed. Aiba hurriedly braked, and the car made a squealing sound and smoke rose from the tires. However, after stopping, he checked the road and discovered that nobody had crossed the road and not a single car had stopped in the oncoming lane.
“Is… everything fine?” Kuma regarded Aiba in astonishment.
“I’m sorry, I must have been seeing things wrong. Are you hurt?”
“Ah, I’m wearing my seatbelt.”
Aiba removed his sunglasses when a loud horn sounded from behind, and then he started the car.
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The two of them finished their cleaning duties for the day and went back to the sales office, which was in the middle of its busy season in September, coinciding with the start of the company’s second half. Tomorrow, Aiba would be off, but Kuma would be attending work.
“I don’t know how you work so hard while operating a store late at night.” He smiled wryly as he spoke to Kuma on the way to the station.
“It’s irregular business over there, so I can manage.”
After parting ways at the station and arriving home, he showered, switched clothes, put on his sunglasses and went out into the night. In the third bar, Aiba got into a conversation with a woman he had not met and she asked him to go to a hotel with her, but he refused.
Of course, declining an invitation from a woman was considered disrespectful, but he was not here to pick up women.
As he exited the store all by himself, he spotted a shadow between the stores. Removing his sunglasses and paying close attention, he found no one. The moment he put on his sunglasses again, his eyes caught sight of himself gazing back with hollow pupils between the stores.
“No way… What the hell!”
Running away involuntarily, he was greeted by the sight of himself in all directions. Each self was staring at him with vacant eyes, looking sorrowful. The following moment, the high school student version of himself dashed out into the road and was knocked over by a car. The car drove past without a hitch and as a high school student, he was flung into the opposite lane and continuously struck by other cars.
He rushed all the way to the station and stopped at the roundabout, out of breath, gasping on his shoulder. When he detached his sunglasses and put them away in his bag, there was no trace of his former self anywhere. Why he could see his old self in the sunglasses… Aiba was at a loss, unable to conceive of it.
Once Aiba made it home, he lay down on the couch.
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I’ve been a total scumbag up until now.
In junior high school, he started hanging out with delinquent friends, and that’s when he began drinking and smoking cigarettes, which he has since quit. It was around the same time that he got a girlfriend, and in high school, he became a full-fledged member of the delinquents, engaging in fights and shoplifting all the time, and even getting in trouble with the police. He lived his life switching from one woman to the next, three-timing them, sleeping with other women, not even considering their feelings.
During the summer break of his senior year in high school, he had thoughts of quitting school. There was no meaning in attending school anymore, and the teachers probably wished for him to drop out. But his parents were very much against it and insisted that he graduate somehow, so he kept attending.
After the summer vacation, everybody around him started taking exams and job hunting, and for the first time, he had to face his life. At this point, there was no way he could make a living as a delinquent. A sense of uncertainty overwhelmed him.
From that time onwards, he began to contemplate leaving the group and seeking employment.
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