Antique Shop『BEAR』 - Chapter 53
Chapter 53 – Mystery Camera
“Kouki! Aoi’s here!”
In the morning, in a rare occurrence, his mother showed up in his room. Whatever it was, she was grinning.
From the time he was in elementary school, his childhood friend Aoi would often come to visit him at his house. As one would expect, after high school, she seldom dropped by.
“How long are you still going to sleep! She’s already waiting for you in the living room.”
Looking at the clock, it was already thirteen o’clock. Last night he was working frantically on his summer vacation project.
“Huh? What was that?”
“Hurry up and get dressed and come down.”
Kuma woke up lazily, changed his clothes, and descended to the living room. Aoi was sitting on the sofa awaiting him.
“Huh? What was it today…”
Kuma was rendered speechless upon catching sight of Aoi. She was wearing a black yukata and her hair was styled in an updo. She appeared to be a different person compared to her usual self. Her eyes and mouth were glistening, and she radiated maturity and sex appeal.
“Sorry! It’s summer vacation, so I thought we’d go somewhere fun! Shall we go to the festival at Hosho Station?”
“Eh… Hosho Station?”
“There’s a festival at Hosho Station today, isn’t it? You work there part-time and have no idea?”
“Ah… I see. I usually only go to the bookstore before leaving.”
“Are you free?”
Her tenderness induced Kuma to blush, and he hurriedly averted his face from Aoi.
“Okay, I’ll go get ready, wait for me.” He dashed back to his room.
＊ ＊ ＊ ＊ ＊
The two of them headed for Hosho Station via train. The day was quite warm with a clear blue summer sky and clouds floating in the sky. All aboard the train were people dressed in yukata.
“Did you finish your assignment?”
“Yeah, I managed. I worked until midnight last night and slept this morning.”
Aoi laughed. “I had it all done by July! And I’ve been bored ever since.”
Aoi didn’t have a part-time job, apparently.
“Oh, yeah, I bought a camera.” Kouki drew the camera out of his bag and hung it around his neck.
“It looks expensive.”
“It was expensive, but it does capture beautiful images.”
“Can I see it later?”
“You can just see it now.”
Upon turning on the camera, a photograph of the boat playground at Sakurada Minami Park came into view. The photo was shot against the surface of the lake, thus the playground equipment appeared to be floating on the lake.
“I took it early in the morning when no one was around.”
Kuma put the camera necklace strap around Aoi’s neck.
“You can look at it as you like.”
Aoi viewed the images one by one with pleasure. “You took great photos. It’s amazing.”
“Once one is accustomed to SLRs, taking photographs is not complicated.”
Aoi’s hand stopped pressing the button. “Huh…”
The screen displayed a photograph of red and black guardian dogs from Tenmangu Shrine.
“The place behind Sakurada Shrine…?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“This is where the murder happened a long time ago, right?”
＊ ＊ ＊ ＊ ＊
Hosho Station was crammed with people. There were some roadside stores set up on the street before the station, and the businesses were actively touting their products. Apparently, fireworks were to be launched along the river at night. The pair enjoyed some fried chicken sticks, okonomiyaki, and shaved ice at the street vendors and slowly made their way down the street. When Aoi bought a candy apple, Kuma pulled out his camera and said, “Say cheese,” which made Aoi smile bashfully.
“I’m embarrassed to be photographed like this.”
“It’ll be alright. So cute… I mean I’ll take a good photo properly.”
When he said that, Kuma snapped a photo of Aoi with the cityscape in the background, aiming for a moment with nobody present.
“Did you capture it?”
When Aoi peeped at him closely, Kuma felt his heart pounding. “I got it.”
The two entered a coffee shop next to a liquor store. It was quite hot outside, therefore it was cool and comfortable within the store.
“I’ll have the Anmitsu.”
“I’ll have a cream soda.”
After finishing their order, Aoi gazed out the window. “The Omikoshi will be here at four o’clock.”
“Let’s eat and watch under the shade.”
Kuma photographed Aoi with the anmitsu together. Aoi wanted to take a photo too, so he lent her his camera and she was capturing Kuma with the cream soda.
“You don’t have to shoot me.”
“Why not? You’re photographing me.”
Looking at the screen, he found himself beaming with the cream soda in sight and immediately wanted to erase it.
“Don’t delete it.”
Aoi saw right through him.
“You got me.”
Then the two of them indulged themselves in sweets.
“Oh, by the way, you mentioned earlier that there was a murder at Sakurada Shrine, when was that?”
“It was when I was in nursery school, so more than ten years ago, I guess. I don’t think you had moved in yet, Kuma.”
“That’s true, I moved over when I was older…”
“I don’t quite recall, since I was a little girl too. But, you know, there was a series of incidents in the neighborhood, so the adults were very vigilant and patrolled frequently. A woman was found dead at Tenmangu Shrine. There was a major commotion. The Tenmangu shrine was apprehensive that the number of visitors would decrease, so they didn’t cover it much on the news.”
“I see… Has the culprit been caught?”
“So… the case is settled…”
“Ah. The Omikoshi will be here any minute!”
They hastily finished eating, paid the bill, and left the restaurant. The route of the Omikoshi was patrolled to keep people out, and the road was swarming with people, so the two of them descended to the riverside to watch the Omikoshi. The Omikoshi is a traditional shrine that has been used for generations and is meticulously adorned with gold. The men wearing loincloths were carrying it gallantly, and the women were equally valiant in supporting them. Behind them, the children’s Omikoshi passed by. Kuma shot a number of photographs.
“It’s incredibly overwhelming. You might get an offer to carry the Omikoshi too, Kuma.”
“Eh! I don’t want to wear a loincloth.”
Aoi burst into laughter.
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