The Inimitable Swimsuit
“Hey, Master? What’s this?”
The idiot elf, who had been rummaging around in the heap of stock items I was calling the ‘failed merchandise storage,’ pulled out a few pieces of stretchy blue fabric held together by a cord.
“Uh, it’s a bikini,” I answered absentmindedly as I tried to tally up the store’s sales.
What was with this base twelve crap? I didn’t get it at all. Why did 8 times 2 come out to 14 and not 16?
“It’s a swimsuit,” I answered with irritation.
It was right in the middle of May on the other side. About the time swimsuits started coming into season.
Since there was a temporary swimsuit section even at the home center, I had thought they might sell well and bought a reasonable number.
When I really thought about it, there wasn’t even a river near this town.
And so my stock of swimsuits immediately became dead inventory.
“Is a swimsuit a kind of clothing? What do you wear it for?”
“It’s a swimsuit. You wear it when you go swimming, of course.”
“Swimming?” The elf girl cocked her head. “Why would you go swimming? Like if you fell into a pool of acid in a dungeon?”
“Why would you swim somewhere that horrible?”
I gave up trying to keep focused on the account books.
I focused on the dumbass elf saying dumbass things.
“Are you dumb? You’d swim at a river or the ocean. Or a pool— Which…maybe you don’t have? This is an alternate world, after all.”
“From my point of view, your world is the ‘alternate’ world, Master.”
“No, wait. You just said you had them. Pools, that is. Pools.”
“I’ve seen pools of acid and pools of oil. Pools of acid don’t even leave bones and if you fall into a pool of oil, you’ll catch fire.”
“Not like that. Don’t any rich people have a large pool filled with water in their yards?”
“First, it would take a lot of labor to collect that much water. And if you could save all that money, what would you use it for? If you had enough for your daily needs, wouldn’t you donate the rest? Speaking of which, Master, you’ve saved up a lot of profits. What’ll you use that for?”
“I’m not saving it so much as have no use for it,” I said with a sigh.
No matter how much of the local currency I saved, I didn’t have much use for it. While I could technically exchange it for Japanese yen on the other side, it involved a lot of hassles.
When I sold things at the shop, I got the money of this world.
Gold coins were worth the most, silvers were worth a twelfth of those, and coppers a twelfth of a silver. And it seemed there were tin coins worth less than that, but I didn’t see them often since they were usually only carried by the occasional child.
As for how much they were each worth in terms of modern Japanese money? I still wasn’t really sure.
Up until now, I had been tossing them all into a large, empty can, but figured maybe that was a little too negligent.
So I came up with the idea of at least doing a daily tally and entering it into the account books.
“Anyway. So, this is clothing, right?” the elf girl asked, holding the bikini top and bottoms against her body.
“That’s right. A kind of clothing,” I answered offhand. Then I turned back to the account books. I counted up the previous day’s take: One copper, two coppers, three coppers…
The idiot elf was making some kind of rustling noises, but I worked to ignore her.
No doubt she was doing some dumbass, idiotic thing.
“What do you think, Master?”
“Just look this way a moment.”
“Oh, for crying out lou—Wow!”
When I looked her way, I was knocked speechless. The contrast of her white skin and the blue suit dazzled my eyes.
Her golden hair shone with the blue of the swimsuit. Shone vividly.
“That’s—! W—What are you doing!? Y—You idiot! Idiot Elf!”
I was shocked. Shocked! Shocked!?
Why had she suddenly changed into the swimsuit!? Or rather, when had she changed!?
Just now!? When she was making those rustling noises!? That was the sound of her changing!?
“I—I—I mean, why are you wearing that!?”
“Well, you said these are clothes, Master. So I thought I could have one?”
“Why would you think that!?”
“Because. I don’t have any clothes. Before I settled in this town, I lived on the road.”
“What does that have to do with anything!?” I shouted. My heart wouldn’t stop pounding.
Idiot Elf, you idiot!
“Also, why do clothes from the other world have so little material?”
“Th—that’s… B—Because it’s a swimsuit! Of course!”
“Also, why do you keep refusing to look this way?”
It was galling to have that pointed out.
I pursed my lips and…looked!
It wasn’t all that shocking, was it? She was simply wearing a swimsuit.
She had merely peeled off her usual tattered cloak and gone from her utterly unsexy tunic-and-trousers look to a bikini top and bottoms, which exposed a teeny tiny bit more skin than before.
I mean? If I went to a pool on the other side? I would see dozens of young women! Wearing just as much!
She had a really nice body? For an idiot elf.
“Oh, my. I think I get it. You shouldn’t look at me like that, Master.”
“What the hell! First you say ‘look’! Then you say ‘don’t look’! Which is it!?”
“But, I, uh. I just asked you to look this way…not to, um, look at me.”
The idiot elf covered her body with her hands. She shot me an accusing look through her lashes.
“Isn’t there a…bath towel or something in storage…over there?” I said. I turned away and pointed at the corner of the shop.
“I can have one of those?”
What had gotten into her?
She was going to avail herself of all that!? Shamelessly!?
The swimsuit!? And a bath towel!?
“Thank you very much. It’s the first thing you’ve given me other than the canned food. This other worldly ‘boss foul’ fabric feels so nice on the skin. Wouldn’t they sell well if you brought in more?”
“I—I’ll think about it! And! It’s not a ‘boss foul,’ it’s a ‘bath towel’!”
“Bhath towl, bhath towl, bhath towl.” The idiot elf repeated it three times.
“I saw that! I saaaaw that!” a piercing voice suddenly cried out. “Not faaaair! So not faaaair!” The one singing in this ear-splittingly, shiver-inducingly shrill frequency was Auntie.
Since our shops were so close together, Auntie often came over like this to have fun when her cafe wasn’t busy.
Incidentally, Auntie was the second other-worlder to start drinking coffee black. The old dwarf was the first to get used to it and become addicted, and Auntie its second captive.
Since Auntie sat at the hub of all interpersonal relations in this town, thanks to her extolling it everywhere as a ‘taste only a grownup could love,’ coffee sets were gradually starting to take off.
The idea that only adults could stomach it was slowly creating a bit of a fad.
But anyway, enough about that.
“It’s not fair! You get so much stuff. You and only you! Isn’t there one of those for Auntie!?”
“One of what?”
“Those blue obebehs!”
What’s an ‘obebeh‘?
“They’re so adorable! Don’t you think I’d look good in one, too?”
“Yeah.” I nodded. I said it with a look of total resignation. I had lost the strength to make the completely reasonable demand that she pay. “I think there’s one for early teens somewhere.”
Oh, well. It was dead inventory, after all.
Auntie struck a pose like an amateur model in a teen fashion magazine.
She was wearing a denim tankini. Her navel was visible, but the top and bottoms were restrained—the sort of swimsuit middle school girls liked to wear.
I had stocked it thinking that girls of that age in this world would no doubt be developing an awareness of fashion, too. But hadn’t imagined Auntie would snatch it up.
“So how do I look? How? The bloom isn’t off Auntie’s rose yet, is it?”
I had no idea what she meant.
Looks-wise, Auntie appeared to be a fifth or sixth grader—maybe a brand new middle schooler at the most.
A flower bud.
So rather than a rose that had finished blooming, she was one that hadn’t even opened yet.
“Mmm. Auntie, yours looks good, too. But it’s out of my size range.”
“As for you, you’ll get sick with your belly all exposed like that.”
“It’s so nice out. It feels pretty good.”
“That’s true. Want to go get some sun?”
The two swimsuit-clad beauties went out front together. They started sunbathing.
They didn’t quite get how to use swimsuits.
“Hey, Auntie? I asked Idiot Elf here this before, but…”
“Don’t you have a river or ocean nearby?”
Auntie cocked her head too.
Like she didn’t know. Like she didn’t even understand those words.
I gave up asking about it. It wasn’t possible that this world didn’t have rivers or oceans.
“If only I had a lot of water. We could put it in a pool,” I muttered.
I didn’t have any in stock just now, but I had seen plastic pools at the home center.
“There’s the well.”
“It’s a pain to draw up the water.”
There was a well around back.
You dropped a bucket on a rope to the bottom and drew it up by hand. How much hard work would it take to draw up enough to fill a plastic pool? I couldn’t imagine.
That made me wonder…how did they take baths in this world?
When I went over to the other side, I would stop by my apartment to change clothes, and that’s when I took baths.
But what about the idiot elf and Auntie?
“Master, are you going to do something with water?”
“Hm? Well, uh. I was thinking if we had a lot of water, we could make a pool.”
“About how much do you mean by ‘a lot’?”
“Hm? I guess if it was a plastic pool, it would take—uh. Hold on a sec?”
Something occurred to me.
Earlier. I had read it in some light novel.
In that story, they had used tarps to turn a club room into a pool.
And I had a tarp—a massive, waterproof one I had bought on a purchasing trip the other day.
I rushed into the shop.
There it was.
It turned up after a brief search.
I rushed back out front while unfolding the huge tarp—10×10 meters according to the label.
As I steadily spread out the compactly folded tarp, it grew to a size requiring two people to hold it, then four people, then eight people.
We got help from some nearby townspeople.
When the tarp was completely unfolded, it was large enough to block the road.
Houses lined either side of the road. The road was about five meters wide. The tarp was bigger than that.
“What did we unfold this big thing for, Master?” asked the idiot elf.
With it completely unfolded, I realized something. I was an idiot not to realize it before the idiot elf said anything.
“Umm. Well. How to explain? This tarp. It’s watertight. So if we secure it somehow, we can fill it with water and make it into a pool.”
“Secure it? Can’t we do that by fastening it to the pillar of that house and that house?”
Holding one side of the tarp, I feebly cast around for an idea.
“Could someone go get the dwarven blacksmith? He’s very good at this sort of thing,” said the idiot elf.
The blacksmith was called in.
He listened to our plan and took a glance around.
“Humph. That pillar, that pillar. And here. Use a rope three empts in width or thicker. And you have to reinforce it with crates. Fill them with sand,” he snapped out instructions.
Like a foreman, the blacksmith started using the townspeople, ordering them about.
The townspeople, though they had no idea what we were starting, smiled and seemed to enjoy being used by the smith.
They finished hanging up the tarp.
“But we don’t have any water? What’ll we do about water?” I said, turning to face the idiot elf at my side.
“I call on thee, Neptune. Gather unto the murmuring of this maiden the shimmer of purest water—the source of all creation,” the idiot elf chanted, throwing her arms above her head.
A blue shimmer gathered above her.
A strange energy was filling the space there.
Something was appearing.
In empty space, water was appearing.
The huge ball of water grew rapidly.
Until finally there was a mass of water several meters wide floating above us.
“Do you think this is enough water, Master?
I couldn’t manage a better reply.
Water filled the area surrounded with the tarp.
The pool was finished in an instant!
“Wha? Whaaaa? That… That… What was that?”
The elf girl held out her hand to me where I had fallen on my ass.
“Master. Look. We made a pool? Show me how to use a swimsuit.”
“Was that…magic?” I asked, grasping her hand.
“Oh, noooo. Really. I can’t use magic—not at all.”
The elf girl smiled brightly.
◇ ◇ ◇ ◇ ◇
Alongside the townspeople who had helped build it, we enjoyed playing in the water of the improvised pool that had suddenly appeared in front of C-Mart.
There were two beautiful girls in swimsuits. And me in the only mens suit I had.
The others wore their underclothes or took everything off.
It was utter chaos.
And for another day, smiles abounded in front of C-Mart.