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The stage is dimly lit, and empty, and the audience awaits the featured speaker. He walks onstage, carrying a meter-high three-legged stool. He sets it down, center stage front, and as the spotlight falls upon him, we notice the dark circles under his eyes. He has aged twenty years or so since we recall him, but it is clearly Hikaru Gosunkugi. His days of dabbling with voodoo long behind him, he now holds forth weekly on this very stage, and his gravy-like voice (well, it's brown and lumpy, anyway, as he would say) is carried across Japan on NHK public radio.

The audience is silent as he begins his monologue:

"It's been a quiet week in the Nerima district of Tokyo, my hometown…

Kouchou no Fukushuu
(The Principal's Revenge)

a Ranma ½ fan fiction story
by Ukyou Kuonji

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. This story is dedicated with great respect to the memory of Garrison Keillor, whose work inspired it.

It's been a quiet week in the Nerima ward of Tokyo, my hometown. The palm tree in the middle of the Kuno family compound finally bore fruit this past week, just in time for Ranma Saotome's fortieth birthday. I'm sure Principal Kuno would have found it most appropriate.

After all, it was he who planted that tree, right smack in the middle of the Japanese garden. It looks ridiculously out of place there, standing brazenly amidst freshly raked sand and a scattering of stones, like a man in an aloha shirt amongst a group of salarymen. And the huge root sticking out in front of it doesn't help; at the very least, it makes raking the sand in proper Zen formations that much more difficult for poor Sasuke.

But then, that was Kuno-kouchou, after all. Always making life difficult for everyone else. That tree represents everything he was… and is.

Did I say he'd planted that tree? I should correct myself. That tree planted him, to be accurate. Most of you probably remember that palm tree the principal had growing out of his head. It certainly served to rivet a class's attention whenever he was speaking:

"You know, Kimiko, I'm sure that thing didn't reach to the top of the chalkboard at the beginning of the semester…"

"Oh, you're imagining things, Akisa. It's always been that big."

After a couple of years, succeeding classes began to discover that Akisa was quite right. Slowly at first, but faster and faster over time, the tree on Kuno-kouchou's head was growing. After a while, the debate shifted from whether it was growing to how. Most of the kids assumed the tree was receiving its nourishment from the principal's brain. It certainly would explain his (to put it mildly) erratic behavior. Others insisted that no, if that was all the tree lived off of, it would starve to death in short order.

Well, it was feeding off of him, that much was clear. Finally, though, it had eaten away too much of whatever it was of Kunou-kouchou for him to survive, and he pitched forward on his face one bright summer day in the middle of the garden. By the time the medical profession was summoned, the principal had been dead for days.

Kunou-kouchou's death came as a terrific surprise to all concerned in Nerima. Not that it happened, or even how it happened (though your average Neriman, if asked before the event, would have assumed the man would meet his end at the hands of the students he so loved… to torment), but rather where it happened. For all the zeal he put into punishing tardiness and truancy, he was best known for his own absentee record, spending most of his time in Hawaii, evidently at school expense. Some folks would have preferred he pass away over there — at least the palm tree would be relatively inconspicuous in the middle of the Pacific, and he could be quickly forgotten. Of course, it would have gone against his grain to be inconspicuous anywhere, so perhaps it all made sense.

Actually, the tree that killed him also helped Nerima forget about him. The medics not only proved too late to resuscitate the principal, they were too late to even move him onto a stretcher. The tree had already taken root in the soil of the Kunou garden, and Kunou-kouchou could not be moved, pinned as his head was to the ground by a web of roots. Within a year, the tree's root system had swallowed him up entirely. Now, the only person who gives even the most passing thought to him is Sasuke, as he has to constantly rake around that ridiculous man-shaped root only half submerged in the sandy soil.

Ranma certainly doesn't give the old principal much thought, as he's rather preoccupied with the fact that age is catching up with him, too. Soun Tendo passed away at the age of nearly seventy without a wrinkle and without a hair lost or graying. Ranma wishes he were so lucky. Already his hair's gotten so thin that the only time he can wear his trademark pigtail is in his girl form, which still looks every inch the knockout she ever did… you must remember, it was Spring of Drowned Young Girl that he fell into, after all. Which means that now, both of his forms are challenges to his manhood.

Yes, that's right… his hair is thinning. Is that such a surprise? After all, his father was spear-bald barely into his thirties, and it was inevitable that heredity would catch up with him.

Oh, but there's the Dragon's Whisker, isn't there? Well, yes, but some curses fade over time, and others gain strength. In this case, the one gaining strength was the Saotome heredity (or would that be 'lack-of-hair-edity'?), so there came a day when Ranma, noticing his hair's condition, finally decided enough was enough. Curse or no curse, he pulled the Whisker out of his pigtail… Actually, it had gotten so old and brittle that when he tugged at it, it simply snapped in half.

But nothing happened. His hair just sat there on his head, rather than cascading out of it like a hirsute fountain. All that happened was that a couple more hairs by his temples went white from the shock. It was enough to send a man among men like Ranma to his knees. Folks don't go in for irony much around here, or they would have pointed out that if Ranma wasn't always trying to be so manly, this wouldn't bother him so much. But he was, and it did, and that's that.

To be honest, though, the Dragon's Whisker hadn't lost its effectiveness. It just found itself thwarted by Ranma's genes, and spent the rest of the day moving elsewhere. By nightfall Ranma's chest looked as if he'd fallen into the Qiongniichuan — Spring of Drowned Gorilla. Well, at least it looked manly… sort of.

His son Akima thought his father's distress was pretty funny, and it did look odd for Ranma to have that thin pigtail — well, unbound, it was more of a ponytail — attached to a head that was starting to resemble that of a Franciscan friar. But you don't laugh at Ranma Saotome, not even if you're his son. Akima's old man may indeed have been getting old, but he was still Ranma Saotome. He whirled around and grabbed his son by the collar: "Laugh all you wanna, kiddo," he hissed, pointing at the bare circle on his head, "but you're looking at the future, y'know."

Now, I understand that male pattern baldness is passed down through the mother's genes, and if that's true, Akima has nothing to worry about. But Akima didn't know that. And late that night, he snuck into the kitchen to make himself a midnight snack of ramen… and Dragon Whisker.

The next morning, the Saotomes awoke to a scream coming from Akima's room. The girls were the first ones to investigate. They charged into his room to find him sitting bolt upright in bed, hollering as if he'd woken up from a nightmare.

At which point the girls joined in the scream. Because while it was supposed to have been Akima sitting in his bed, it sure didn't look like him. What it did look like… was Cousin Itt. Akima was covered in hair that poured straight down from the top of his head, pooled around his buttocks where he was sitting on his bed, and ran in rivulets off the bed onto the floor and beyond. Several locks were lapping at the girls' feet by the time Ranma arrived.

All Ranma could do when he walked in was sigh, partly out of irritation at Akima's foolishness, part out of envy that the Whisker worked for his son but not for him. Fortunately, Akima had only eaten one of the broken halves, so Ranma headed off to the bathroom, looking for the other half to tie his son's hair up with.

"Akane… do we have a pair of shears?"

Faced as Ranma was with both physical and chronological reminders of his own mortality, he was naturally in no mood to celebrate. Not that it discouraged anyone else.

Is it ever a good idea to throw someone a surprise party? Especially when they hit such a milestone like the Big Four-Oh? It's that concrete reminder that you are, statistically, past the half-way mark. No one wants to be reminded of stuff like that.

But surprise parties are generally an act of vengeance; it's a giant game of 'pass-it-along'. In this case, Nabiki was getting her own back. A year ago, she was more or less abducted from her downtown office by a bunch of guys in sunglasses and white suits — the whole yakuza look — and brought to some undisclosed location (she thinks it had to have been in Nerima, otherwise there wouldn't have been so many old friends there), where she was noisily feted on her own fortieth birthday. Even her husband hadn't been told about it: Tarou had shown up with a suitcase full of money after he got a call informing him of where she was being "held". Everyone was congratulating him on bringing the most appropriate present for his wife of anyone there.

Before the event, there weren't a whole lot of people who both knew when Nabiki's birthday was, and had the gall to pull off a stunt like that. So Nabiki teamed up with Akane to nail Ranma… and you know Akane's going to get it but good herself when she hits forty later this year. (Meanwhile, Kasumi got off scot-free, partly because at forty-three, she's untouchable for another seven years, and partly because Nabiki still can't believe Kasumi has mob connections. She doesn't, of course, but you don't have to be yakuza to own a white suit…)

Ranma's celebration was held in more conventional and familiar surroundings: the Tendo Dojo. The one catch was to try and get him out of there. Martial arts being both vocation and avocation for Ranma, it's quite rare that one doesn't see him there, aside from eating, sleeping, and battling the occasional monster threatening either Akane or the kids or Tokyo, in that order.

And that was just the excuse that was used…

"Good afternoon, Ranma-kun… have you seen Sis around?" Ranma was caught in mid-leap by Nabiki, walking in casually. It's not easy to walk casually into a room where a man is catapulting over your head as you do so, but Nabiki can pull it off. She's seen enough not to be fazed by anything.

Ranma landed on his feet barely a foot in front of his sister-in-law. For all of his ailurophobia, Ranma behaves more like a cat than anyone I know (barring Shampoo), even when not in neko-ken mode. But I'm not going to tell him that. "Akane? Thought she was in the family room with the kids. She's not in the… kitchen, is she?"

Nabiki sweatdropped and shook her head. "Uh-uh. Didn't see her anywhere, and I looked around. I wouldn't ask if I hadn't done my homework."

"Well, let's go through the place together. I might be able to find her."

Nabiki gestured toward the door. "Lead on, bro'…"

The girls had been reasonably well-coached (well, Nagisa had to be bribed a bit) regarding their mother's absence. Akima didn't need coaching: engrossed as he was in a martial arts show on television, all he answered to his dad was "Huh?"

On their way upstairs, Nabiki fiddled a bit with her pager. Less than a minute later, the phone in the master bedroom began ringing furiously.

"Yeah, yeah, I've got it… Saotome."

"Missing something, fem-boy?"

Ranma growled. Brother-in-law Tarou may be, but that didn't mean he had to like him. He shot Nabiki a look, which she instantly recognized as his patented 'why-the-hellja-marry-this-jerk-anyway' look, and to which she simply shrugged.

"What do you know about this… Pantyhose?"

"Pantsuit, fem-boy. I know everything. Take a listen…" and the next sound Ranma heard was the muffled 'Mmph! Mmph!' of a woman with a gag in her mouth.

"Akane! What's he done to you? Where's he taken you?"

The muffled sounds faded as Ranma cried out to his kidnapped wife, to be replaced with a sneer. "That, as they say on the playgrounds, is for me to know, and you to find out."

"Dammit, you won't get away with this, Tarou!"

"Oooh, I'm so scared. Old man karate's mad at me."

Nabiki watched as steam began to seep out of Ranma's ears. It wouldn't do for her brother-in-law to have a heart attack before the festivities. She tapped him on the shoulder. "Uh… Ranma-kun…?"

He spun around… "Nabiki! What about Nabiki?" he yelled into the phone.

There was a brief pause on the other end of the line. Hah… Pantyhose Tarou caught off guard. "…Nabiki…?"

"Yeah, Nabiki… your wife, remember? She's standing right here next to me, squid. If she finds out you're kidnapping her little sister, she's gonna sue you for divorce so fast… and you're gonna wish you kept those pantyhose, Pantyhose, 'cause it'll be all you'd have to cover yourself with once she gets through with you."

Another pause. Ranma was sure he had Tarou by the short hairs.

"Nabiki's standing… next to you?"

"Yup… and she's heard the whole thing." Ranma was sounding as smug as Tarou usually did.

A third pause, and then, a low growl. "Put… the bitch… on. NOW!"

So startled was Ranma that he promptly turned the phone over to Nabiki without a second thought.

Nabiki blinked. And took the phone. "Tarou… what do you think you're doing?"

She could hear the grin in her husband's voice. "Getting my own back. These two really made asses out of us last year, so I'm enjoying this." There was a feminine gasp, and; "There you go. Sorry about that, but we had to make it sound convincing."

"Yeah, right…" Akane's voice.

Nabiki's expression didn't change. "What are you going to do to her?"

"Heh. You should ask what I'm going to do to you once this is over with…" And completely unconcerned with the fact that his sister-in-law was sitting only a few feet away, Tarou began to launch into a litany of marital acts that were, shall we say, unique to the Tarous.

You see, Pantsuit Tarou, unlike Ranma, had learned to embrace his curse rather than shun it. This applied to every aspect of his life, including romance — if you could call it that. And once she got over the initial shock, Nabiki learned to embrace it, too… quite literally. After all, here was a guy who was not only rich, but intelligent and arrogant as she was, and to top it all off, hung like a bull! She even discovered she enjoyed tentacles now and again.

But Pantsuit was going a bit far with this list — and in front of her sister, no less! "Pantsuit, no… Don’t do this."

Ranma watched as her sister-in-law turned crimson with rage and quavered in fear. Finally, he could take no more; he snatched the phone from Nabiki's hands and without even bothering to bring the receiver to his ear, screamed into the mouthpiece "I don't care where you are, panty-boy, I am gonna hunt you down to the ends of the earth, and I am gonna put you in a world of hurt!" SLAM. He charged out of the room, down the stairs, and out the gates, leaving Nabiki behind, still staring at the phone.

At which point, she broke down laughing. Kami, but Ranma sounds so like a pro wrestler when he's like this. So cheesy. Maybe if he didn't write his own lines…

And she headed for the Ono clinic to fetch her husband and sister. She'd need help decorating the dojo, even though she knew Ranma wouldn't return until he found them himself.

It was a good thing they were at the clinic, too. Pantsuit had barely set the phone down before he got clocked by red-faced Akane. "And I used to think Ranma was a pervert."

Many hands make light work, they say — although folks watching Tarou working in his cursed form might disagree (including him) — and with Kasumi in the kitchen and the others festooning the dojo with black crepe, preparations were made swiftly.

And none too soon, as the hordes were about to storm the gates.

"Hello there, Yuka, Takeshi…"

"Hi there, Kasumi… place looks nice."

"Why, thank you."

"Oh hey, Tarou… Ranma was looking for you. He seemed pissed."

"I know. We had to get him out of the dojo somehow…"


"Nihao! Shampoo need hide for surprise Ranma?"

"Yeah, but stay human for this one, okay?"

"Of course. Bull-man know that Ranma look for…?"

"Yes, yes…"

"Ah… come on in, Hiroshi-kun."

"Thanks, Kasumi. Oh… hey, Tarou, Ra—"

"I KNOW!!"

Finally, everyone was in the dojo and in their places. Everyone, that is, except the guest of honor.

"Well, honey… guess it's time to bring him in." Splash.

In his cursed form, all Tarou could do was let out a questioning "Mrr?"

Nabiki smiled. "Oh, come on… you know he's expecting you to face him like this. Besides, you're easier to find this way, too." She put her finger to her lips as if trying to remember something. "Oh, and Akane…"


"You'll need to be tied up." She gestured to several of the other guests to get some ropes from the supply cabinet, which several of the still-single guys were all too eager to do.

"Tied up? Again? Are you out of your mind?" A bluish glow began to form around Akane.

"You're supposed to have been kidnapped, Akane… come on, you know the drill." Nabiki's eyes glinted mischievously as her sister's battle aura vanished. It was all part of the plan, after all, and Akane had agreed to it right from the start. "And admit it… you love it, Sis."

"I am noff yoof, Nafiffi."

"Nice gag, boys." It didn't take long, once Akane stopped struggling, and Nabiki began to understand just how satisfying this had been for her husband. She was already well on her way to getting even for last year's humiliation.

Now, to get Ranma.

"Time to take off, sweetie." Nabiki slapped her monstrous spouse on the flank, who lumbered over to Akane and slung her over his massive shoulder. "Try not to let him kick your butt too hard…"

Pantsuit Tarou was doing a bovine impression of a growl as he left the dojo. How dare that woman suggest Ranma could kick his butt!

But it was true. After all, while Tarou had made his fortune in the Nikkei, Ranma had continued to practice the Art. They were not evenly matched, and Tarou knew it. He would never admit it, even to himself, but he knew it. And he had no intention of letting his butt get kicked.

All he had to do was to find fem-boy, and lead him on a merry chase back to the dojo.

Assuming he could find him, that was.

Nerima ward has been home to many a strange sight, many of which centered around Ranma Saotome. But these days, sometimes the strangest sight is Ranma himself. I'm sure most of you still picture him as that muscled teenage cartoon character, a martial-arts superhero, albeit with plenty of faults. But the thing is, cartoon characters and superheroes never age. Oh, Ranma still has the muscles, and he still bounds ten meters in the air as he travels from rooftop to rooftop, but he's no teenager anymore. The rippling chest has been augmented by a pot belly — nothing like his father's, mind you, but you can't miss it — and what little hair he has is getting quite gray. He's very self-conscious about it, and it's why he keeps trying to act as much like he used to when he was still in his prime. He succeeds at this better than most, but there's something about that sight that even Nerima has trouble adjusting to from time to time.

It was a sight Pantsuit Tarou wasn't prepared for, either. If Nerima finds a sight strange, how much more so an occasional visitor (of course, Pantsuit himself is one of those strange sights Nerima used to be familiar with). Old Man Karate, indeed. He laughed so hard that he was forced to land, lest he drop Akane.

Which brings us to another thing about Nerima, and what people are used to: things break around there rather easily. It didn't use to be because everything was cheaply made, either. Buildings and walls and everything else used to be as sturdy here as anywhere else. But after twenty-plus years of dealing with martial artists that could wreck adamantine with a flick of the wrist, folks in Nerima started to give up. Why waste time and expense making something solid, when it'll soon get broken as surely as if it were made of balsa wood? Cheap and quick, that's the Nerima construction philosophy these days.

The reason I'm explaining this is because this posed a problem for Pantsuit when he landed. You see, when he came down, he landed on a roof.

Naturally, it gave way under his massive weight.

Naturally, it was the roof over the local sentou.

And naturally, he landed in hot water. In several senses of the term. Bad enough he was no longer in his cursed form. Bad enough Akane had landed on top of him, pinning him underwater for the moment. Bad enough that Ranma had spotted him aloft and would be there any second to pound him into dust.

But why in Kami's name did he have to land on the women's side? And what with the transformation, he was every bit as naked as they were.

Oh, crap…

Having seen Pantyhose drop into the sentou, and realizing from the screams exactly which side of the bathhouse he'd landed on, Ranma kept his distance. All he could do was to stand by the hole in the roof (looking away from it, of course) and holler, "Akane! Are you down there? Are you alright?"

"Yes, I'm fine!" By this time, Akane had been carried to safety and untied by several of the bathers who weren't making beef hash out of Tarou. "I'll meet you outside, and we can head home, okay?"

"Right! I'll be by the door!" Heroics were not called for under the circumstances, and at his age, Ranma had learned when to simply wait for Akane to bail herself out. He knew the trouble he could get into on the wrong side of a bathhouse; whatever he could mete out to Pantyhose, the girls would give to him and then some. Besides, Akane could take care of herself; she had made that abundantly clear over the years.

"Oh, it was awful, Ranma! Having to be tied up like that… and Pantyhose was saying the most horrible things! Those things he was threatening to do…" Akane shuddered as she walking alongside Ranma back to the dojo. It wasn't simply part of the act, either — she had no taste for the exotic, um, amusements that her sister ran to. She knew that Tarou wouldn't have done anything to her, but the thought of him and Nabiki… Well, it sent chills up and down her spine.

Ranma put his arm around her shoulder. "Well, what matters is that you're safe. I figure those girls'll give him plenty of the punishment he deserves." He chuckled softly. "Of course, he may be into that sort of thing…"

It didn't earn him a malleting, but Akane did give him a sharp shove in the ribs. "Don't make me even think about stuff like that, Ranma!"

"All right, already! Sheesh…"

They were almost to the dojo when they saw him. Bruised and ragged, draped only in a towel, which he'd presumably stolen from the sentou. Heading for the dojo — and from all appearances, he'd get there ahead of them.

"Pantyhose… what the hell's he doing, heading for our house?" Ranma broke into a run, and Tarou, with a glance over his shoulder, charged into the courtyard of the Tendo compound. "How dare you? Dammit, Pantyhose, when I get my hands on you…"


Ranma's voice quickly dropped to a low murmur amid the cheering and the noisemakers, but otherwise, he didn't miss a beat. "…I am going to kill you."

This really wasn't a party for the children, but Akane had decided against sending them off to Grandma Saotome's, or else her husband might suspect something. After all these years, now Akane's giving Ranma more credit than he deserved when it comes to being observant. So they were there, too. Akima had to be pulled away from the buffet table more than once, lest he leave the guests hungry. And as Ranma was unwrapping his gifts, well…

"Daddy, they live on a farm… couldn't they have sent a real horse?" Noriko's one of those girls who asks for a pony with every birthday and Christmas, and she has the added insult of having a father who receives horse-motif gifts on a regular basis, thanks to his name. It's just another reminder of something she can't have.

Akane did her best to placate her younger daughter. "Honey, you know that's because of Daddy's name. Besides, the Hibikis live on a pig farm… you wouldn't want them to send us a live pig, now, would you?"

"Sure… I could wrestle it." Akima piped up. After meeting Yoiko, and hearing about how her parents met, he had gotten it into his head that that would be the way to win her affection. She certainly seemed like she wanted to spend time with him here in Tokyo, showing her around and what-have-you. It was the sort of thing that was beginning to sound quite pleasant, indeed.

For the first time that evening, Ranma grinned at his boy's eagerness. "Well, I'd bet Pops would think that would be good training, but I don't think we could keep a pig here, son. Maybe we can visit the Unryuu farm sometime."

"You mean it? Really?"

"Sure, why not? It's something I never got a chance to do."

Akane tapped her husband on the shoulder, "And a good thing for you, too… didn't you have enough girls chasing you without having Akari to deal with?" It was just about enough to cause Ranma to color a bit.

Meanwhile, Noriko sensed that she was being ignored. "But Mommm… Daddy gets all this stupid horse stuff, and I'm always asking for one…"

"(Yes, you are…) Noriko, honey… remember, Daddy's name means wild horse.' You wouldn't really want a wild horse, now, would you?"

"I could tame it."

Akane heaved a deep sigh. "That's what I've been trying to do for the past twenty years…"

Everyone at the affair had already presented Ranma with something, be it something he might want or need, or the occasional gag gift (Hiroshi, for one, had brought a bottle of Viagra from the local pharmacy he ran, thus covering both gag and useful in one fell swoop), when Daisuke stepped outside for a little fresh air — even at this advanced age, guys still drink way too much sake, just to show that they still can — and nearly tripped over an box that had been left by the entrance. Forgetting his queasiness, he ran inside with it.

"Oi, gang… found this outside. There's no card or anything. Anybody not give Ranma their present?"

Stone silence, as everyone shook their heads. Then a rumble of footsteps, as everyone crowded around Daisuke to take a look at this mystery gift. All at once, Daisuke remembered he was in desperate need of air. As soon as the box was in someone else's hands, he dropped to his knees in an effort to crawl out from the crowd.

He almost made it to the patio.

Well, at least at that point everyone was more than willing to give him as much space as he needed.

Aside from Daisuke, who was lying on the edge of the patio like a seasick man in a hurricane, and Kasumi, who was busily cleaning up the effects of his, erm, seasickness, everyone was staring at the unidentified gift, and at Ranma as he picked it up and turned it around several times in his hands. Nobody could figure out who it had come from. Everybody that the Saotomes knew well was at the party except…

"Hm… from the look of it, you'd think it might have come from one of the Kunous?"

Which seemed a bit odd, as the Kunous never have any dealings with the Saotomes, and needless to say neither of them were at the party. Kodachi pretty much dropped her claim on Ranma-sama when Akane became pregnant with Nagisa; it was clear to even her at that point that Ranma-sama and Akane were… were… she couldn't even bear the thought of him having sex with someone other than herself, but the proof was incontrovertible. The only way Kodachi would ever be able to have Ranma-sama would be as a mistress, and to lower herself to such second-class status was the last thing she would consider doing. Which was fine, as she was the last person Ranma would ever consider for a mistress, assuming he ever would.

Tatewaki, for his part, had also been avoiding the Saotomes for a number of years, even the pigtailed girl. Especially the pigtailed girl, in fact. As the years went by, even he could notice that his darling still appeared to be about fifteen or sixteen years of age, and what with Kodachi's constant ravings about her being a witch, he was beginning to consider the unthinkable possibility that his sister might be right. He wasn't sure which part of the proposition was scarier, but he wasn't taking any chances.

But while it didn't seem as though it could have been from either of them, it was clear that there was this one last present from… someone. "Might as well open it… it's too light to be a bomb, anyway."

Thus assured, everyone crowded around him to see what was in this mystery box. The Hawaiian-motif kerchief was untied to reveal a black lacquer box, inside of which was a coconut.

An almond-white coconut.

There wasn't a whisker of that brown hair on it. It was Kunou-kouchou's gift to Ranma, a little reminder that, after all these years, Ranma Saotome had finally gotten that buzz cut the principal tried and failed to give him.

Spirit wards were immediately slapped onto the coconut's white skin, and Ranma hurled the thing into low earth orbit. But some of the partygoers could swear they heard the faint sound of the principal's booming laughter, even as they watched it disappear off into the horizon.

And that's the News from Nerima…

Where all the women are strong (and how!)…

All the men are… Well, they aren't always men, actually…

And all the craziness is above average.



Author's notes: Ara…

This story was taking shape so nicely, I thought I could have it out about a week after the pilot NHC episode was released. Needless to say, other stuff intervened. The story itself started to unfold quite a bit (which is a good thing when you're trying to ramble, but the writing takes longer), and then there was that weird Utena bit (you're right, Zen… I really need to lay off the midnight okonomiyaki).

I'm concerned, too, that I'm starting to lose the folksy monologue style of Keillor's original work… anyone familiar with it and willing to check this against it? And there's so many more ideas, but never the time to commit them to paper (or disk… or… Well, you know what I mean, sugar). Heh… sometimes I wish I could palm them off on someone else. Of course, any comments, criticism, flames, what-have-you can still be sent to me at ucchans@ameritech.net

Until next time, ja!

Itsu mo,
Ucchan ^_^

Haha Ukyou
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