a not-all-that-tragic story
told by Gary Kleppe

Working as the Guide, you never knew who you would meet next. That was part of the fun of the job.

The man and the woman appeared to be forty-ish. They both had light brown hair, and their white skin looked like it had been severely sunburnt. Average build, pretty much typical-looking westerners. A Chinese boy tailed behind them, toting a pair of suitcases. "Is this the cursed... is this Jusenkyo?" the man struggled to ask in Chinese.

"That right," the Guide answered in English. She used deliberately poor diction; though she was capable of much better English, people had come to expect the pidgin-speech. "More than one hundred spring here, each have own tragic legend!"

"Is this where Ranma Saotome started out?" the woman asked.

"Yes. More than ten year ago, he come here and fall in pool. He now famous martial arts fighter. But you no can become martial artist by go in pools here."

"You are the Jusenkyo Guide?" The man looked at the slim young woman, dressed plainly, with her long black hair tied into a braid hanging down her back, and consulted a book. "It says in here that you're a pudgy, bald man."

"Oh, that father. I take over job from him. My name is Lizi."

"Lizi," the woman said, looking in another book. "Doesn't that mean 'ruffian' or 'riff-raff'?"


"That word is PIzi. My name mean the fruit 'plum'. Maybe you call me by English word 'Plum'."

"Pleased to meet you, Plum. We're looking for a particular spring that you probably know about." The man took out a photograph and showed it to Plum.


"Oh, yes. This picture of American actor from ten years ago. Dirk Peters. I know spring you mean, this one," she said, pointing. "Father tell me very tragic story of this pool..."

|***********(Woo hoo!!)********************************(Hooray!)*******|
|***************** B E G I N F L A S H B A C K *****************|
|______(Yay!)________________________________________(Ding! Ding!)_____|

"Sir, this dangerous place. You need be careful," the Guide said. He could tell the boy wasn't listening to him. They never listen until it's too late.

The boy was thin and scrawny, with deep bags under his beady eyes. "Set that down right here," he said to the two local youths behind him. They carried some large object with a sheet tied around it.

"My name is Hikaru Gosunkugi," the boy said. "I need to find one of your springs that is fresh, I mean one that nothing has drowned in."

"There one here. But why you want that?'

"I've heard the story of the Ashura-niquan. A statue of the goddess Ashura was dropped into one of these springs, and because of it the spring later turned that girl Rouge into an actual Ashura. I'm tired of being the kind of guy that a woman doesn't give a second look to."

"You want become Ashura? Very bad idea, sir."

"Oh no. But I realized what that meant. That I could use a statue of something to change myself into that thing. Take a look at this." Gosunkugi untied a knot and pulled away the sheet to reveal a carving of a handsome muscular man. "This is Dirk Peters. He's a weightlifter and actor. Women all over are crazy about him. This is what I want to look like!"

"Oh, sir, we don't know for sure that it work like that. It could have been real Ashura that drowned in that spring. Whoever said it was a statue maybe be mistake, or story could changed over time. Many religious group want you to believe Ashura never real. They maybe make story that it only statue. I not want you make mistake."

"I spent my life savings to do this. I'm going through with it!" Gosunkugi pushed the carving into the pool. Minutes later, he dove in after it.

|***********(Much Rejoicing!)**************************(Whee!)*********|
|****************** E N D F L A S H B A C K ********************|
|______(Bwee!)____________________________________(Thanks for coming!)_|

"Yes, that's the same story we heard," the man said. "I've always been a big fan of Dirk Peters. My wife, an even bigger one. We thought, wouldn't it be great if I could look like him after a splash of cold water."

"It would be exciting," the woman said, stroking her husband's hair. "Especially in bed!"

The man stepped to the edge of the pool. "Geronimo!" he yelled as he dove in.

"Wait!" Plum said. "I haven't finished my tragic --"

The man crawled out of the pool, no longer looking as he did. He was now a scrawny Asian young man, with deep bags under his eyes.

"Oh, too bad. You fall in Gosunkugi-niquan!" Plum said, trying not to smirk. She'd given them a chance, but they didn't listen. None of them ever listened until it was too late. That was the real fun of the job.



Author's note: I've never understood why people explicitly announce flashback scenes, but I thought I'd try it here. Lest you think that I'm getting weird, I should remind you that I've always been weird. :P