(本名)
(本名) コーヒー-妖怪-シャツ
       

コーヒー・タイム

小豆洗いが小豆の代わりにコーヒー豆を洗うようになって半世紀以上がたった。

彼はもう老齢期を迎えており、整髪料で整えた白髪とピンと張った髭がトレードマークだった。

きっかけは戦争だった。

戦後、住む場所を失った妖怪たちは人間世界にひっそりと馴染むために色々な職業に就いた。すべては大妖怪ぬらりひょんの知恵のおかげだった。

そんな理由で、小豆洗いは都会の片隅でひっそりとコーヒー屋をやっていた。

最近では以前と違って安いコーヒー屋が幅を利かせるようになったが、小豆洗いは気にしなかった。ダメならば店を畳んでまた人のいない場所で小豆を洗ってひっそりと生きていけばいい。そういう風に考えていた。

今日も小豆洗いは店を開ける。洗いざらしの真っ白なシャツに袖を通すと気持ちがパリッとしてくる。このキチンとクリーニングされて糊のきいたシャツでなければダメだった。いつものルーティンに従って、選別した豆を挽いてコーヒーの香りがたってくるとお客さんが入ってくる。

小豆洗いの店はいろんな人間や妖怪が引きも切らずやってきた。河童やひとつ目小僧などが人間に化けていたり、スーツ姿の営業マンが喉の渇きを潤しにきていたりと客層は雑多だった。妖怪たちは人に化けていた。こうして見ると、疲れているのは妖怪も人間も同じだ。

そんなやってくる客たちにコーヒーを振る舞うのが、小豆洗いにとってとても充実した時間だった。

忙しないランチタイムが終わり、午後ののんびりした時間が過ぎて夕暮れが町を包む頃、今日も営業が終わった。

最後の客を丁寧に見送ると、小豆洗いは自分のためのコーヒーを入れてシャツを脱いだ。そして店内用のレコードではない自分用のジャズのレコードに針を落として音楽を嗜む。

低いサックスが優しく店内を包んだ。小豆洗いはこの時間が生きている中で1番好きだった。この時間を守るためにこれからもずっとひっそりと、都会の片隅で生きていくのだろう。

ゆったりとソファに腰を沈めながら、小豆洗いは目を閉じて、充足した幸せを噛み締めた。この幸せを少しでも長く味わうために、今日も小豆洗いは1日を懸命に働くのであった。

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