The Case Files of Jeweler Richard - Case 4.5
This isn’t really the end of the book since there’s still an extra chapter. But all I have to say is: gg Seigi
It was exactly a month after the redesign order. The diamond engagement ring was returned in a pretty box. In a literal rebirthed form.
“How is it?”
Before a nervous-looking Onodera-san, Richard was holding a light-brown velvet box in place of the usual Urashima’s casket. Inside was a jewelry box with a cushion, and enshrined in the center of it was a silver tiepin. What was once a design drawing in pencil now existed with the weight of three dimensions.
The flat tiepin with a wavy pattern was mixed with the platinum from the melted-down ring. The glossy luster felt like it was making an appeal to the owner to touch it.
And then, there was the diamond.
The stone, which seemed like it attached to the tiepin to protect it, to me looked nothing like what was put in Onodera-san’s jewelry box. There was no trace of the black charcoal. Was it really such a bright rainbow-colored stone?
The diamond gathered all the light in the store and shone like a tiny sun.
“In making the tiepin, we adjusted the culet and pavilions* on the lower part, as well as the pointed part of the stone and its surroundings.”
(TN: The pavilion facets of a diamond are the facets that are below the outermost edges of a diamond, and the culet is where they meet.)
Onodera-san, sitting on a sofa, stared at the tiepin in the box for a time. It was not a sad smile. A little while later, he let out a long sigh, and then looked at Richard with a tearful-looking smile.
“…How did you do it?”
“The way light enters changes greatly depending on the gem’s cut and setting. The craftsmen worked hard to delicately reproduce the brilliance of the past ring.”
Onodera-san was silent for a time, and then murmured a few words.
“So diamonds are this beautiful.”
His voice was warm, as though something that was stuck in his throat was removed.
Onodera-san lightly wiped his eyes, then looked at Richard and I.
“Thank you. This is wonderful work. So wonderful that I don’t know what to say.”
He lovingly caressed the diamond on the tiepin with this thumb.
“It is a very fine stone. Apparently, the craftsman who polished it was also surprised.”
That‘s right, Onodera-san nodded. He took a sip of the royal milk tea I brought out, then opened his mouth like he remembered something.
“…Today, I recalled my wife’s smile for the first time in a long while here. There is no other thing in this world that is as beautiful as that. You have my gratitude from the bottom of my heart. Thank you.”
Onodera-san thanked us many times, and then bowed, saying, “Let us meet again.” And then right before he left the store, he turned toward me alone.
“About the talk before, are you really sure?”
“About the talk before, are you really okay with it?”
“I also thought it over a lot. Thank you for everything.”
“Is that so. I understand.”
You‘ve become a bigshot, Onodera-san smiled, and then left the store.
To Richard, who looked like he was the only one who didn’t understand what happened, I grinned broadly as though I never showed that expression on my face in my whole life. His beautiful features distorted creepily.
“…What is this ‘talk before’.”
“Oh, to tell the truth, I got recruited.”
I slowly, slowly explained the circumstances to Richard, whose brows were gathered.
“Onodera-san invited me to intern at his company. They seem to be quite busy, but they pay properly, and apparently it’s effectively an apprenticeship for becoming a full-time employee. He said, ‘Why don’t you work hard together with us while thinking about your future after school?’ Isn’t this what they call buying a rice harvest while the fields are still green?* It’s a sales job.”
(TN: This Japanese expression, 青田買い, can also mean “recruiting university students before the agreed date.)
At the coffee shop some time ago, I, who had talked on and on all the way up to unneeded things, went so far as to reveal to Onodera-san about going to university and that I was studying economics. After we exchanged email addresses, I got an email from him. The contents summarized were “Would you like to work at my company?”
“When I looked them up, I found that they’re really quite amazing. They sell machine parts wholesale to all kinds of countries like Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. It looks there aren’t a lot of competitors because it’s a niche market, and I think their market share still has a lot of room to grow. And more than anything, the president took a liking to me. It’s a pretty attractive story in these times.”
Richard sat down on a sofa and took a sip of his partially-drank royal milk tea.
Huh? Was that his only reaction?
“…Aren’t you going to say anything?”
“I think you are suited for it.”
“The sales job.”
After taking another sip of tea, Richard slowly clasped his hands on top of his knee. His expression was bright. His voice was operating as usual.
“The heart in people thinking preciously of gems is similar to the heart in people treasuring people. Whatever you told him then, the fact that you properly accepted what he cherished, and cleaned and returned it, is worthy of praise. I cannot imagine what kind of job a Japanese civil servant does, but I think you are certainly more suited to sales than desk work. You love people, do you not?”
“…I do love them, but…well, would you be especially inconvenienced if I don’t come here anymore?”
“When will you begin your internship? I will put out a job advertisement at that time.”
This was the usual Richard. His expression and voice were the same as ever. His face changed a lot more when I let the tea leaves overflow.
So, anyone would do? No, that was a matter of course, but…
Even if it wasn’t me. If he knew their strong points, and they could make tea…
Even though he said he only wanted to leave the job to someone he chose precisely because anyone could do it. Even though he had such a high opinion of me last time. Well, he might have been just trying to encourage me.
Seeing the stunned me, Richard looked down and put his hand to his mouth. It seems he had burst into laughter.
“What? Do you want to cry?”
“…I’m honestly a little shocked. I guess I optimistically misunderstood everything.”
“Just when I was wondering what you are going to say. I did not intend to hire a part-timer if it was not you.”
When I lifted my face, Richard was smiling. Ever since I saw him in the train, every time I looked at him, I felt like my heart was being gripped tightly. His expression was like a jewel polished by the world’s best artisan. How were we both humans? Wasn’t it enough to be a natural phenomenon now? Today will be sunny, later cloudy, with occasional Richard‘s smile.
“This is a jewelry store. The priority should be on dependable personalities, not knowledge or refinement. If I wanted someone knowledgeable, I would merely hire a specialist. Although, I believe this is the same in any occupation in any country.”
“You get a passing mark on that point. Excellent. You told me ten resumes-worth of personal information at a coffee shop, and you have enough of a sense of morality to rescue a foreigner being attacked on the roadside. Those are also endorsements. While you say you don’t understand gemstones, your attitude towards the stones is always honest, you never hide your astonishment or sadness, and you respect beauty. Being candid before beauty is the sole and unconditional requirement for loving gemstones. When you are by my side, even I can also look at gems with fresh eyes. I thank you for this.”
Nonetheless, you only live once, Richard continued. His movements of drinking royal milk tea were a bit more affected than usual.
“Do what you want, where you want. I am doing so as well. Anyone can serve tea. Even if I am by myself, I can do it.”
“…If there weren’t anyone capable, wouldn’t you just hire a part-timer?”
“What would you even want me to do by hiring someone who is not worth working here?”
After my complacent smile collapsed, Richard’s brows drew together tightly.
“What is it. You have been acting strange for some time.”
“I turned it down.”
“The internship. I want to work at this store. If I’m here, I can see stones I’ve never seen before, as well as all kinds of customers. I want to continue working here more. It’s exhilarating, having a new world quickly open before me. I suddenly gave up on my dream of becoming a civil servant. And my boss isn’t so bad.”
Heh heh heh, I laughed, and Richard’s brows, which had a valley carved between them, returned to their regular positions.
They returned, and then quickly knitted together. Huh?
What was with that deep sigh? Why did he turn his face away?
“……I hired a bigger idiot than I thought.”
“How stupid. No, excuse me. I am not familiar with Japanese morality and sense of compassion. Whatever you say, I will not raise your base pay.”
“That wasn’t what this is about! Wait, isn’t there anything!? It’s like fighting spirit, as in, ‘let’s work together, the two of us.’ Or maybe, starting a new life.”
“Before you say anything about someone else’s language skills, you should be the one who needs to pay attention to the careless use and misuse of Japanese words you are not familiar with. How foolish. I thought you had a slightly more average head.”
“What about a boss who taught me how to make royal milk tea before how to work the door lock?”
“There are things that take priority over everything else. Some tea, please.”
“I already poured some for you.”
“Another helping, please.”
Instead of telling him to do it himself, I opened the paper bag Onodera-san left behind. There were baked sweets inside. And then, there were two boxes. The lid was tight for food.
“What is it?”
(TN: Noritake is an old tableware and technology company. Their china is hand-painted so they’re prized by collectors.)
In the boxes, there were two white mugs with golden bands around them, placed together side-by-side.
Second period on Mondays was Basic English. It was lunchtime when it finished. The moment class was over, I dashed, and by the time I returned, the area in front of the back gate that led to the central library was crowded with people.
The group of girls who always stayed in the classroom until the end bustled down the stairs of building number fifteen.
I sucked in a breath and called her name.
She, who was next to her usual friend, gently shook her dark hair and looked at me. Her round eyes suddenly widened. Not at me, but behind me.
Wind filled her billowy white skirt as Tanimoto-san walked down the stairs. An angel. An angel was walking. In order to go to heaven, I must strengthen my resolve.
“Um, here’s the sportscar, and it’s a Jaguar! But…it’s not mine!”
The minute I shouted that, the green luxury car that came to a temporary halt on the road behind me took off soundlessly. The emblem sparkled. When I saw it off with a side glance, I could not see the driver’s face anymore.
Tanimoto-san, who had come close to me, tilted her head with a curious face.
“It’s not yours, Seigi-kun?”
“…Yeah. That car just now…belongs to an acquaintance. I didn’t mean to lie, but when I sent you that text, I messed up a bit…I’m really sorry.”
“It’s fine, don’t worry about that. That car was really beautiful. I read an account in an essay in a mineral magazine that compared the beauty of stones to sportscars, so I wanted to try seeing one once. I guess that curvaceousness certainly does have something similar with the beauty of stones. It’s also just like the luster of a malachite…um, thank you so much!”
My words were stuck in my throat. Go for it, me. I thought about my purpose for bowing my head to Richard and having him bring his car all the way to school on a weekday. When I begged him to please give me a push from behind, the beautiful store owner looked displeased, but in the end, he thankfully gave in.
It was quicker to clear up misunderstandings and to confess at once.
“Oh! I…don’t own a Jaguar, but I have a driver’s license, so…”
Even if you didn’t own a Jaguar or diamonds, people should convey important things to others. If there was love.
“If you’re fine with a much less flashy car, how about we go for a drive together then next time, or something like that…”
Please. Please go out with me. I like you. Thanks to you, it’s enjoyable to live everyday, my meals are tasty, and I feel happy just from looking at your face. If it’s for you, I can do anything. I love you.
That was what I wanted to tell her if I could, but I couldn’t say it. It was no good. My tongue was frozen. The drive was my limit.
I’m begging you, I want you to give an answer. Please. Please.
Tanimoto-san smiled cheerfully, and then lowered her eyebrows.
“Sorry, I get carsick really easily! That’s why I can’t do the drive.”
My vision became dark. Her “Sorry” whirled around and around in my head. Sorry. I can’t. Sorry. I can’t. Sorry. Sorry. Aah. Aah.
“But I’m fine with trains.”
“Do you know about the rocky outcrop at Miura Peninsula? It’s incredible, there’s a path that cuts through the cliff and you can see a stratum that looks like a shortcake. Do you like that kind of thing, Seigi-kun?”
“I…I do! I love it! From the bottom of my heart!”
“That’s great! I love that kind of thing too!”
What was this. Just when I thought I got rejected, it turned out that wasn’t the case, then just when I thought the drive got turned down, I got asked out on a date, and the means of transportation was not by car, but she was fine with trains. What was this? I’d take anything now. Had spring arrived in my world? Tanimoto-san was breezy and lighthearted, so it was possible she couldn’t express it well, but if we were going out on a trip to hang out with each other, then that’s already a date, so in other words, she agreed to go out with—
“Seigi!” I heard a voice call out to me from on the slope. I strained my eyes at the path lined with trees, which were now thoroughly growing their green leaves thickly. A bike was rushing down. The one who was waving was my classmate in the same seminar as me, Shimomura.
“I saw the blond in that imported car! She really was an out-of-this-world beauty! I’m in love! I hope you two will be happy forever!”
Shimomura rode his bike without stopping from the top of the hill where the co-op was to the bottom of the hill where the central library was. For the first time in my life, I could see the god of death in someone’s face. Tanimoto-san tilted her head to the side.
“Imported car? Blond?”
“No! You have the wrong idea! The one who was driving the car just now wasn’t a woman!”
“Oh, it was a man. A foreigner.”
“Yes! A man! He is beautiful though!”
Tanimoto-san smiled. Thank goodness. I wondered if there was nothing more that could be done. Both God and humans were to blame for dropping then picking up and then dropping again. What would have happened if Tanimoto-san hadn’t been an angel? This time for sure would be a true happy end—
“I know him. He’s the person you are dating, right, Seigi-kun?”
Tanimoto-san smiled innocently before me, who was frozen.
“You two were looking at bridal rings at that Shinjuku department store, right? I caught a glimpse of your backs in the jewelry department, and I thought I was mistaken at first.”
“I-I’m afraid you really were mistaken!”
“Nope. I forgot something on the floor above. I kept going up and going down that day, but when you two were going down, I was on the escalator going up next to you guys. You said, ‘What do you want me to buy in the store basement?’ The man was so good at Japanese that I was shocked. Would you tell me his name?”
My heart was beating in a strange rhythm. The “broken engagement” he said at that time. That kind of thing. It was taken in that way. That was why that lady in the department looked so happy. Oh, it was like that. I might drop dead right here with this irregular pulse. Your encounter luck is terrible. That’s right, that recent ordinance about same-sex marriage in Shibuya—Richard told me that the time when I would have to pay for my careless words would come one day—
“No…! No, it’s a misunderstanding!”
“Hey, Seigi-kun, are you okay? Your phone’s been ringing for a long time.”
When she pointed, I became aware of the existence of the phone that was vibrating against my butt for the first time. It was my phone. Partly automatically, I pressed the button.
The messages surging into the LCD were all from the same sender.
“Dear Nakata Seigi-sama, I understand you are satisfied with the Jaguar housecall service.”
“Taking into account our honest relationship, shouldn’t a suitable fee be paid for this miscellaneous chore?”
“The store will be opened irregularly tomorrow, so come and clean the store today”
“The time does not matter, so come”
“There are many different stones I want to show you”
“I will treat you to dinner. Best regards”
Tanimoto-san saw the sender name “Richard” as she peeked.
“So his name is Richard-san. It’s nice you two are going out to dinner. You should respond right away. I’m going to eat lunch with my friends today after this.”
Bye-bye, she waved. Tanimoto-san’s departing back became small, merged with the girls, jostled by the crowd on their lunch breaks, and even when I couldn’t see her anymore, I couldn’t move well. The angel. My angel has left. My vision was pure darkness.
Wailing, I fell to my knees before the back door, and repeatedly beat at the asphalt.
“I just want to hold one, I want a stone that can let me do well at love…!”
“If a stone like that exists, I shall buy it.”
On the fourth floor of the Shiseido Parlour in Ginza, while looking down at the streets of Ginza outside the window, I moaned as I ate curry with four kinds of garnishing. After I cleaned the store so well that it sparkled, Richard showed me the diamonds he had just procured. All of those stones that emitted dazzling light would never know that humans could feel such painful feelings. May the gemstone-like man before me also never understand my anguish, even a little bit.