In a darkened room a pretty Asian girl with her face painted white tuned a strange instrument. Her lips and corners of her eyes dawbed with red fingerprints and her eyes had carried a certain melancholy.
The intrument resembled a guitar but had a long neck and only four strings and it seemed to be made from a re-purposed road sign. The girl wore a long and billowy white gown and kneeled as she held the instrument close to her. Suddenly with a what looked like the lid of a can of soup she rapidly scrapped the strings. The instrument giving off a strange tinny resonance which grabbed the attention of the room.
The room was dingy and small, the only light coming from holes in the corrugated iron ceiling and walls. The light perforating the thick smoke from people huffing engine fumes.
The girl started to sing and the odd cast of characters in the audience in the dimly lit room cast their eyes on her. She started to wail in a strange language they’d never heard before. Her voice seemed broken and out of tune but also charming and compelling. Filled with a resonant emotion which touched despite not understanding the words of the song.
“arayashikiku no dei
(in search of a new land)
harasaku baku no dei
(let’s build a new house)
hare fushigyurasa nejyuku
(by neatly gathering hay)
(to thatch the roof)
hare fushigyurasa nejyuku
(by neatly gathering hay)
(neatly gathering hay)
(to thatch the roof)”
“I can’t understand you” All but a gaggle of chucklehead diesel huffers were entranced by her song.
kirishigaki ku no dei
(at the stone walls)
kuganeya be tatei tei
(let’s celebrate the golden house)
hare momo tobyuru wakya
(that was built)
ya uriba yuwa o yondo
(by a hundred carpenters)
hare momo to byuru wakya
(that was built)
momo to byuru wakya
ya uriba yuwa o yondo
(by a hundred carpenters)
“Speak American!” One of the voices said cloaked in fumes.
“Hey you’re kinda cute” Another said.
hateigachi ya naryuri
(August draws near)
tobibani ya neranu
(but I have nothing to wear)
hare utou katabani
(I want to dress up)
(brothers, lend me a sleeve)
hitotsu aru bani ya
(I want to dress the children and those I love)
kanasha se ni kusuitei
(with the single kimono I own)
hare wanu ya okuyama
(I will wear vines)
(that I picked deep within the mountains)
“Wanna be my animu girlfriend?” One of the fumers said mocklingly.
ojyuugoya no teiki ya
(the full moon shines)
kami gyurasa teryuri
(far and wide like the gods)
hare kana ga jyo ni tataba k__o tei taborei
(when my lover comes to visit, I wish the clouds would hide it a little)
The song ended and the girl opened her eyes and looked into the smoke and said nothing. Not even remotely acknowledging her hecklers as she left the raised stage are in silence. The rest of the patrons waking from the spell she put them under, feeling melancholy but invigorated by her song.
The girl waded through the smokey room carrying her instrument in a gunny sack. She approached the bar and exchanged whispered words. The bartender reluctantly handed her her some form of currency and motioned with his head towards the door.
The girl nodded sullenly and picked up her gunny sack and walked towards the exit. The door was little more than a hole cut into what seemed to be a building made of storage containers. Outside the wasteland was still with a slight wind blowing all the nothing and the heat beating down. Really missing that ozone layer.
Passing through the door into the wasteland she heard a voice coming from the dark dive bar.
“Hey I said you’re kinda cute, didn’t ya hear me over your wailing?”
The sound of snickering laughter from the dingey darkness of the diesel punk dive.
A grotesque figure lunged out of the murk, his leering dusky face covered in weird tattoos that looked like a drunk childs scribblings. A spattering of facial hair among scars that looked vaguely like sunburn or radiation poisoning. His lips chapped and blackened from sucking on tail pipe. His eyes were red and moist looking and he grabbed at the girls arm when suddenly something barred his path.
A tiny demon face leapt at him from the darkness at his side. The vicious little face with a big smile laughed at him as it hit him square in his bulbous nose knocking him flat on his ass.
“What the fug!” The fumer said clutching his bloodied nose trying to sweep the darkness and smoke away to see the full figure of the demon that assaulted. He wiped the tears from his nose and his vision unblurred. Standing before him was a clown with an unusual sword halfway out of it’s sheathe barring the door like a thin silver arm.
The clown said nothing, he just tilted his sheathe up and let the sword fall back. An unsettling mechanical laughing sound coming from the little devil’s face on its butt.
“Oops, didn’t see you there pal!” The clown smirked.
“POOKIE” Margherite screamed powerless as she watched their blades fly through the air, so fast she could barely see them.
In an instant they rushed past eachother and stood back to back. Pookie resheathed his sword with that horrible canned mechanical laughter ringing out.
Coldslaw stood, his swords still drawn, a manic smile on his face, a mask which slowly slipped. He dropped his swords and they stuck in the ground like two head stones. He fell to his knees clutching a mortal wound before toppling over on his side into the dust under the orange moon.
“NOOOOOOO!” Margherite wailed as she rushed to Coldslaw’s side as he lay dying.
“Coldslaw!” She cried, her facepaint running off her face.
Coldslaw coughed and looked up at her, his eyes dipping slightly. “Ha, it’s not a tattoo, face paint huh, must be cool to be the ringmaster daughter” He laughed.
“Stop talking nonsense.”
“Don’t mourn for me” He laughed smiling a real smile. “It was all a big joke, don’t you get it?”
“A joke?” She sniffed.
“Yeah a big joke – ” He whispered as his head slowly lolled and his face became expressionless and dead like a dolls.
“Goddamn you Pookie! You didn’t have to-“
Pookie didn’t look back, he paused and breathed in and out slowly and walked away.
“You bastard!” She screamed.
“That stupid fuck” Banjo cursed and spat on the bare earth as he stood looking out at the horizon. His back to a huge truck, that was part of a convoy readying to move out carrying the whole circus on it’s back.
Margherite sat on a crate looking at Coldslaw’s clown mask which she held in both hands between her knees.
“I knew he’d get himself killed, what was he thinking going after Pookie alone?”
“He wanted to avenge our master.” Margherite said softly.
Banjo sighed and put his hand on her shoulder. “Well I’m glad you came back, have you told your father about this?”
“We don’t talk”
“Right.” Banjo seemed restless as he paced the wasteland sand pulling at the chain that hung from his sword hilt and wrapped around the scabbard. “Well that’s that.” He said finally almost to himself.
“What now?” He sighed angrily. “You still don’t think he did it?”
“No I know he did it, he damn near told me so.”
“Then what’s the fuss?”
“I don’t think he meant to” She shook as she said it.
“What the fuck are you talking about? You saying he slipped on a banana peel and killed Master Popsicle?”
“I think it’s more complicated and I think we might never know the truth”
Banjo hissed and spat in the dirt again and then looked as if he might say something before hissing again. He climbed up into the cab of the spray painted truck and slamming the door behind himself.
“You coming or not?” He shouted from the window.
“Sure” She said as she gently opened her hand and let the clown mask float off on the wind and over the horizon.
“I’ll kill you motherfugger!” The fumer with the broken nose said as he scrambled to his feet.
Another younger fumer came leering out of the dusky darkness of the dive. His pale flesh covered in soot, his hair slicked back with engine grease and his eyes red. “You’re gonna die for that!” He screeched with his scratchy broken voice.
Pookie dropped his smirk and positioned his sword in his belt, slipping his finger through the string ring pull ready to draw it.
“Wait” A strange voice said. A strong but smooth hand rested on Pookie’s.
He looked to his side, the strange girl was stopping him from drawing his sword.
“I can take care of myself” The girl said in a strangely masculine voice.
“Eh? Is that a man?”
“It’s a dude in a dress” The younger guy said.
He/she grimaced and suddenly yelled. “IT’S MAAM!”
The younger fumer lunged at the strange person with a makeshift butterfly knife but the singer was too quick. He/she moved effortlessly like a leaf on the wind moving with the current. The fumer slashed and each time he slashed at nothing.
The fight spilled out onto the wasteland dirt but the singer flowed too, moving fast and smoothly. The first fumer with the broken nose attempted to grab the singer from behind in a bear hug. The singer gracefully dipped kicking his/her attacker in the dick before flipping him over her/him’s shoulder like a slab of beef.
The other younger one gulped but couldn’t back down. He lunged with the knife again and the singer responded lithely, like a cat blocking the attackers wrist and then clutching it like an eagle’s prey. He/she twisted his attackers wrist turning his whole body and kicking him hard and fast across the sternum. Stealing all the breathe from his lungs and then in his other hand catching the knife as it fell.
The singer then twisted the fumers body back the other way. Allowing him to fall backwards across his/her legs and onto his back and shoulders on the ground in a pile of dust.
The other man was back up and brandishing a large knarled stick over his head. The singer blocked his wrist and with his other hand plucked the stick from his/her attacker. In one fluid motion span around and swept the fumers legs from under him.
The singer finished in a flurry, low in a powerful but graceful stance holding the stick as if it were a sword or the tail of a crane.
“Some kind of ninja tranny!”
The two attackers scrambled to their feet screaming and crying as they ran away with their tails between their legs.
Pookie watched in confusion, scratching his head as the strange singer passed him,
“Why did you stop me?” Pookie asked.
The singer looked at the stick in his/her and let out a little laugh before throwing it down on the ground. “Even assholes deserve to live.” The singer laughed.
Pookie didn’t really understand but just nodded politely. He watched as the singer climb into a little stripped down buggy after laying the gunny sack with the instrument across the top.
“But I appreciate the sentiment; I reckon I owe you one all the same.” The weird man lady shouted from the strange contraption. “Why don’t I treat you to some food, ya look half starved.”
Pookie looked back and wanted to say no but his growling stomach wouldn’t let him. He couldn’t remember the last time he ate or anyone offered him free food for that matter.
“Sure” He tried to say nonchalantly.
“Hop in” the singer said. “Wait who are those folks waving at us?”
Pookie looked back at Canard and Efron waving and smiling like idiots from the entrance of the dive bar in the middle of nowhere. “Oh they’re with me I guess.”
The tranny shrugged “Sure they can come too”
Pookie gave them the thumbs up at Canard and Efon came running and hopping along piling into the back of the strangers vehicle.
After a moment after they were settled, an uncomfortable silence raised it’s head.
“So are you like a-?” Canard probed.
“A faggot?” The stranger asked.
“What’s a faggot?” Efron asked.
“The lady clothes and the make up are just a tradition thing, I don’t take it up the ass for no one” The singer said. “And the names Riki”.
“Ok” canard said, sinking back into awkward silence as the weird little vehicle puttered down the dusty wasteland road.