By Joseph Palmer
“Class, one more thing for today.” Miss Hinako picked a folder off her desk, and held it over her head. “The office has asked that we make sure your records are up to date, so I’ll pass out these out, and I want you each to check your form carefully, and make corrections if there are any changes.”
She walked up and down the aisles, dropping each student’s form on their desk. Ranma frowned at the form, picked up an eraser, and began to make changes.
“It’s open desu!” principal Kuno called from his desk. “Jus’ come’in, ’den.”
Miss Hinako opened the door then climbed the bamboo ladder to the principal’s tree-fort office. “I have the student records here, all up to date.”
“Kay den, jus’ leave ’em on ’da desk.” The principal returned to tuning his ukulele, then stopped. “Any ’dem big changes?” he asked.
Hinako flipped through the papers. “No, just a few new phone numbers, a few parents have new jobs, oh, and Saotome Ranma has a new address.” She dropped the file onto the principal’s desk open to Ranma’s form.
“Gawdam Saotome Ranma,” Kuno spat. “‘Dat kolohe ’bin cause me haad rub. He go too far. One day I ’git him back plann’y.” He grabbed the form and stuck it to the dartboard next to Ranma’s picture, then threw several darts. Each missed the picture, and two missed the dartboard completely and whipped out the window, but one punched into the form.
Miss Hinako sighed and started down the ladder. “Yes, principal. See you tomorrow.”
“‘Kay ’den. Aloha.” Kuno waved over his shoulder while he retrieved his darts from the board. He got to the last dart, the one stuck in the form, and froze.
Ranma found Akane waiting at her usual place by the gate. “G’morning, Akane,” he called.
“Morning! It’s about time you showed, everyone else is already inside. There’s some sort of assembly...” Akane pointed to the banner draped from the clock tower. “Looks like ‘Hawaii Luau Week’.”
“Our Principal is an idiot,” Ranma said, following Akane into the school. “Today’s Friday. Who starts a Luau week on Friday?”
In the gymnasium, principal Kuno stepped up to the microphone. “HELLO-MY-STUDENTS!” he screeched. “Today I announce the beginnin’ of new special holiday Luau week! Pineapple and haircuts an’ da kine fo’ all MY stu—dents!
The students replied with ‘boos” and cat calls and a surprising quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables.
Ranma shouted at the stage. “Hey! Listen you, we’ve been through this nonsense before and... and...”
“And WHAT, boy?” Principal Kuno had pulled down his sunglasses and stared down Ranma. The entire crowd went silent. Ranma stood frozen, the look in the principal’s eyes was unlike any he’d seen there before. There was the usual insanity, but this morning there was something more.
“Ha - ha - ha - HA - ha! Mah stink-eye be bodda you? You in ’da choke jam-up now, boy.”
“NOW as I was sayin’... Nex’ week gon’ be ’da BIG luau, fo’ all MY students, and it all because of somethin’ ’dat hap’n las’ night.”
“Yest’aday you all update records, An’ I looka’ all the forms, and all’s okay but one. ’Der was jus’ ’dis one form got stuck in my nut.” The principal rapped his head with his knuckles, then pulled out a student contact form and pointed at it. “I jus kep’ lookin’ at ’dose numba’s. Der’s da neba’hood numba', ’den the block numba', ’den the house numba’.” He held the form out at arm’s length, tilted it, then tilted his head the other direction and squinted at it. “See, ’der was sum’tin’ about ’da numbas’.”
“So firs’ I add’m up. I fine’ nuttin’. Den I subtrac’ one from ’de ud’der. Ag’in I fine’ nuttin’. I ’den even multiply one to ’da next, and ’den ’da next. An ’dat time, ’DAT TIME... Still nuttin.”
The students began to murmur and scratch their heads, wondering where this was all going.
“Sha’dap! I tell you e’ri’ding.” The principal walked the side of the stage and grabbed a rope hanging from the rafters. “‘Den at t’ree in the mornin’ I’m think, if ’dis an address, where is ’da house? So... I looka’ map.”
The gymnasium was filled with the sound of a hundred students simultaneously slapping their foreheads.
“Jus’ wait, ku-da-SAI!” He pulled the rope and huge map of Nerima unrolled from the ceiling. He picked up a long ruler and tapped near the middle of the map. “‘Dis place be ’dis school. An’...” He reached over, tapping near the edge. “‘dis over here be ’dat house.”
The students got quieter. Ranma turned to look at Akane over his shoulder. There was concern in her eyes.
“An you see ’dis red line ’dat goes all ’roun’ ’da school?” He followed the path with the ruler. “Well, ’dat’s the houses ’dat come to ’dis school. But ’ju see, ’dis house is jus’ on ’da line, so...”
He walked to the other side of the stage and pulled another rope. A map of the neighborhood surrounding that house unfurled. “Dis map be closer up of the house and ’da school boundary line, but I still can’ see, so...”
He walked to the middle of the stage and pulled the last rope. A huge map unrolled, revealing a cutaway view of the house from above, with the roof removed. On the left of the map Ranma lay sleeping, sprawled on his futon, wearing nothing but boxers. The image brought guffaws from the boys, and squeals and nervous laughter from the girls, but silence from Ranma. He was busy staring at the red line that passed just outside his bedroom wall.
“Den, finally I looka’ ’dis one-to-one scale map. In ’dis map we can see ’da house at ’dat address...” He pointed into the Ranma’s room, “Is outside ’dis school boundary.” He slapped the red line with the ruler, then stepped in front of the map. Saotome Ranma, ’Dis school fo’ LOCALS ONLY. Start Monday, you go to Koruhoze High School.“ He pointed the ruler into the teacher’s seats. MISS HINAKO!”
Hinako jumped to attention. “Hai”
“I wan ’dis boy’s records—every bit’a paper wit’ his name on it—al’o’dem. I wan’ it all sent to ’da new school.”
“Yes. Principal.” Hinako replied.
The principal pointed to the exit. “Send ’dem NOW, KU—DA—SAI.”
“YES SIR,” she shouted, running for the door.
The principal walked to center stage and pointed the ruler. “Saotome Ranma, ’dis time you go too far.” He turned and held the ruler against the map, measuring from the tip of Ranma’s toe to the red borderline. “Ninety-t’ree centimeters too far.”
The students erupted into pandemonium. Ranma turned to Akane, but she was surrounded by her friends. A hand fell on his shoulder.
“Oh man, tough break,” Hiroshi consoled.
Daisuke leaned on his other shoulder. “This is sure gonna shake things up around here. I can’t believe he finally got you.”
Ranma shook them off. “I’m not beat yet.”
Hiroshi scratched his head. “I suppose you could just move in with Akane.”
Daisuke patted him on the back and gave him a knowing smile. “Yeah, you’re a lucky man, Saotome.”
Ranma turned his attention back to Akane. She was listening to her friends chatter, but her eyes were on him. “Umm... I...” he began, taking two steps in Akane’s direction, then was pulled back by a tug on his arm.
“Ran-chan!” Ukyo chimed. “I have the perfect solution! You can stay at my place! It’s so nice and cozy, perfect for the two of us.” She snuggled both of her arms firmly around Ranma’s right arm.
Ranma tried to shake her free. “U-chan, I...”
“Great! It’s all agreed, let’s go change your address.” Ukyo dragged him off in the direction of the office. They got two steps before they ran into Akane.
“SO! I see you’ve already made arrangements.” She growled.
“Wait, I never said...” His words where cut short by the tip of a wooden sword. At the other end was Kuno Tatewaki.
“Saotome Ranma, thou’st outsider cur, I would dispatch thee here...”
His words were cut short when Ranma grabbed the end of the sword and flipped it like he was casting a fishing pole. The other students ‘oooh’ed and ‘aah’ed as Kuno sailed high across the gymnasium. His landing, headfirst into the basketball net, brought cheers, applause, and three points on the scoreboard.
“Not bad, Saotome,” Daisuke said. “Nothing but net!”
Hiroshi shook his head. “Still, I would have preferred to see a little backboard action.”
Ukyo tugged Ranma’s arm. “Ran-chan, shall we go?”
“Wait,” Akane said firmly. Her head was down, her eyes covered by her bangs. Her hand came out tentatively, her fingers twitching like she was trying to decide between making a fist, and grasping Ranma’s arm. She seemed to waver.
“Akane, you can do it!” Yuka cheered.
Sayuri dabbed away tears. “Oh, it’s so romantic!”
Akane raised her head and locked eyes with Ranma. Her hand opened and reached for his arm. As her fingers touched his skin, a pale blue ribbon snapped tightly around her wrist and pulled her hand away.
“Ranma-sama! Oh, my poor Ranma-sama! I heard the news and came as quickly as I could!”
Yuka and Sayuri took refuge behind Daisuke and Hiroshi, who were bravely hiding behind Ranma.
Ranma sighed. “Kodachi. What are you doing here?”
“Oh Ranma-sama, I’ve heard you’ve lost your school, I’ve come with an application to St. Hebereke!”
“But that’s a girl’s school.” Ranma protested. “I couldn’t go there!“
There was a long silence while everyone but Kodachi pondered the truth of that statement.
“Anyway, I’m not going there.”
“Good. It’s settled then.” Ukyo snuggled his arm and pulled him one way.
“Not so fast!” screeched Kodachi, grabbing his other arm.
“ENOUGH!” Ranma shouted, then broke free and leaped up to the rafters, then out through a skylight.
“Ran-chan! Wait!” called Ukyo, giving chase.
“Ranma-sama!” cried Kodachi. She waved her ribbon, showering the gym floor with rose petals, then bounded out in pursuit.
Akane stared at the open skylight. “Ranma...” she said sadly.
“Dear, I’ve just had the strangest call from the school. A foreign sounding man called to tell us that Ranma’s been going to the wrong school, and must transfer on Monday.”
Genma looked up from the paper. “That’s crazy, it’s the same school as Akane and Nabiki...”
“Yes, but apparently this house falls just outside the district. I never thought to check.”
“Well, if it’s that close, can’t they just let him stay?”
“I asked, but he said that the rules are very, very strict, no exceptions. He was strangely adamant about it.”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for coming on such short notice, but as you will soon see, we are faced with a crisis.”
“What is it Mr. Chairman?”
“This morning I received this package from the principal of Furinkan High School.” He lifted a large box onto the table. “Inside, I found this...” He held up a thin manila file folder. “Transfer records for a student.” He flipped open the folder and scanned the contents. “One with a rather undistinguished academic record at that.”
“And that’s the crisis? That’s why you’ve had us all rush over?” There was a rebellious murmur around the table.
“No, there was more.” He began to pull file after file from the box. “These are damage reports and repair receipts.” He picked up the first. “Removal of damaged trees... 120,000 Yen. Repair of sidewalks... 230,000 Yen, replacement of drinking fountain... 90,000 Yen.” He slapped the file to the table then slid it to the person on his right so she could review it. “All that was just in the first two weeks.”
He selected another file and flipped through it. “There’s dozens of reports here, everything here from the replacement of the gymnasium floor to...to... to the clean up of rose petals.” He slid that file further down the table, then followed it with the others. There were more folders than there were board members. The chairman stood and walked to look out the window. “Read for yourself, please.”
The murmur changed in tone. There were gasps of astonishment, and the occasional chuckle. After five minutes the junior member asked, “Are you telling us that this one student is responsible for all of this damage?”
The chairman returned to stand at his place at the head of the table. “Not all, no. Most of the damage appears to be done by friends or rivals, but you’ll see that his name figures prominently in each of the incidents. Some of you may recall a certain incident at our skating rink...”
There were nods and moans up and down both sides of the table.
The chairman sat heavily and rested his chin in his hands. “The same boy was involved there, as well.”
“So you’ve heard, then.” Ranma turned to lean against the wall. He switched the phone to his other ear.
“Yes, we’ve had calls from both schools this morning. I’m so sorry dear.”
“But we’re so close. Jeez, if I lean out the window I’m half in this district. Can’t the school board...?”
“Yes, but apparently the principal must approve all exemptions.”
Ranma kicked at the sidewalk. “No chance of that then.”
“Have you talked to Akane yet?”
“Not yet, things got kind of crazy here...”
“Don’t worry, son. I’m talking with your father, I’m sure we’ll figure something out.”
“It’s not like him to miss lunch.” Nabiki joined her sister at the hall window. “He’s not back yet?”
Akane looked at her sister for a moment, then shook her head and looked back out the window.
“So, sis, are you going to ask him?”
Akane snapped her head around and glared at her sister.
“Ahhhh... well, I see we got that a lot today, then.”
“Only about a thousand times—so far.”
“It’s not like he’s never stayed at our house before.”
“That... That was completely different. It was father who invited him... them to stay. And anyway, It’s not that simple anymore.”
“If I ask him to...m-m” Akane swallowed. “...move in, that means he’d be moving out of his mother’s house. She’s waited all those years, I don’t want to...”
Nabiki shook her head and smiled wryly. “My little sister is getting so grown up.”
“Any other comments?”
The treasurer stood. “Mr. Chairman, this is all most irregular. These funds have been set aside for budget emergencies.”
“It may be irregular, but we have been granted broad latitude in our charter.”
“This,” said the chairman flatly, “looks like a budget emergency to me.” He picked a folder off the table at random. “Perhaps next meeting you would prefer to be allocating funds for...” He flipped open the folder. “The repair of a two meter hole in a classroom wall and the replacement of four backboards.”
The treasurer deflated into his chair.
“Alright then, all in favor?” The chairman raised his hand, and counted the others. “It’s unanimous. I’ll start making the calls immediately following the meeting.”
Ranma slipped into his seat just as the bell rang. The books came out, and Miss Hinako started the English lesson, but all eyes were on Akane and Ranma.
“C’mon Akane, ask him!” whispered Sayuri.
Yuka nodded enthusiastically from behind her upturned book. She whispered; “Go for it!”
The boys were no better. Daisuke kept giving Ranma encouraging nudges, and Hiroshi did his part by passing notes. This went on for the better part of an hour until neither Ranma or Akane could take any more. They both jumped to their feet and shouted, “Cut it out!” at the same moment.
Miss Hinako turned from the blackboard and shouted, “Tendo Akane, Saotome Ranma. Go out in the hall!”
It was several minutes before Akane broke the tense silence. “Do you remember the first time we were sent out here?”
Ranma nodded. “Yeah, It was my first day here.”
“That day you did a cannon ball into the pool, from the third floor.”
He twisted his wrists back and forth, causing the water in his buckets to swirl. “Well, I didn’t know it was there...”
“So what are you going to do today?”
“I don’t know. Maybe a back-flip?” Ranma looked at her. “We’re not talking about the pool anymore, are we?”
Akane turned away.
Ranma sighed. “I wanted... to ask you first. You know, if... if it would be okay with you. But then everyone got in the way.”
“So, where did you disappear to?”
“I sat up on the roof for a while till things calmed down, then I went down the street to call home.”
“For three hours?”
Ranma pushed on. “They’d already got the news. She said that she was talking to Pop about it. She didn’t sound very happy—I didn’t know what to tell you.”
Akane teared up, then looked away.
“I... I’m sorry,” Ranma said. “It’s just that everyone else is off deciding what is going to happen to me, and no one has even bothered to ask me about it.”
Akane sniffled. “What do you want?”
Ranma took a deep breath. “I want to know—would it be okay with you if I...umm, stayed at your house?”
“What about your mother?”
“I’ll ask her later. I don’t know what her answer will be.”
Akane swirled the water in her buckets and stared at the ceiling. The muffled sound of Hinako’s voice and the striking of chalk against the blackboard filtered through the door.
Finally she replied, “No more wolfing your food at the table, right?”
Ranma nodded. “Okay.”
“And you’ll keep your female body properly covered?”
“At all times.”
“And when I cook something, you’ll at least try it?”
He hesitated. “Umm...okay.”
“And no more borrowing my clothes”
Ranma feigned a hurt look. “But“not even that cute little... Oh, alright.”
“And will you stop calling me kawaikune?” [Uncute]
“If you stop calling me baka.” [Idiot]
Akane smiled. “Then it’s okay with me, baka.”
Ranma skipped out on his assigned duties at the end of the day, explaining, “Since I don’t go to this school anymore, I shouldn’t have to clean it.”
He walked with Akane down the front steps, ignoring the principal who was singing ‘Aloha Boy’ to the tune of Aloha’oi.
They were halfway to the gates when a passing truck skidded to a stop. The driver leaped out and ran to the back, opened it, and pulled out a large box and began to rush toward them.
“Excuse me, could you tell me where to find the principal?” he asked.
Akane pointed to the steps. “That’s him, the idiot with the ukulele.”
“Thank you,” the man said, then bustled off towards the school.
They turned the corner at the gate to find Ranma’s parents waiting in a taxi behind the truck. Ranma’s steps became heavier. He whispered to Akane, “Oh jeez, I thought I’d have more time to think about what I was going to say.” Akane gripped his arm and gave it a gentle squeeze. His mother rolled down the window.
“Mom, we need to talk...”
She smiled, “I know son, we can talk on the way there.”
“Akane and I were talking and...”
Ranma was interrupted by wails of “Noooooooo! No. No. No. Nooooooooooo!” from the schoolyard.
The screaming continued, and Genma leaned across to the window. “C’mon you two, get in.”
The driver pulled the latch and the taxi door sprang open. Ranma and Akane squeezed into the back seat with his parents. Seconds later, the truck driver returned. He slammed the back closed, hopped behind the wheel, and nosed out into the traffic.
As the taxi pulled out, Ranma saw that the principal was ripping down the “Hawaiian Luau Week” banner.
“Mrs. Saotome, where are we going?” Akane asked.
Nodoka rummaged in her bag for a moment, then pulled out a rumpled hand-drawn map. “Well, here are the directions.”
Ranma looked at the map. “Whoa, what a mess. Who drew this, Ryouga?” Akane elbowed his ribs while the taxi turned down a narrow side street.
“Son, I’m sorry we didn’t have a chance to discuss this with you.” She pointed out the windshield. “Our things are in that truck. We’re moving.”
“But...” Ranma protested, watching the truck make a turn into a commercial alley.
“It’s been a very busy day. First the call from the school, then we got a call from the chairman of the Koruhoze school board. He was most understanding and supportive about you wishing to stay at Furinkan High. He called back two hours later, and told us of a house that was available in the Furinkan school district.”
“He must have pulled a few strings,” Genma said. “The new place is bigger, in a better neighborhood, and the rent is a lot less than our old place. He even arranged for the truck, and helpers to load it.”
“And the taxi, too.” Nodoka added.
Akane watched as they passed the unfamiliar backs of buildings. “So now Ranma won’t have to change schools after all?” She found and held his hand.
“That’s the other reason we stopped at the school, to return his records. He’s back at Furinkan on Monday.”
After following a dizzying route through back streets, the truck pulled over, and the taxi stopped behind. The driver declined payment, explaining it had all been taken care of.
Genma stood in the front yard and took a deep breath. “The air is cleaner here,” he said, surveying the homes on the street. “It’s so much quieter here, too. No more trains shaking the house.”
Akane looked around. “This street looks familiar, but I can’t quite place it. It’s nice.”
The truck driver produced the keys and opened the front door.
“Oh, it’s marvelous!” Nodoka proclaimed.
Genma nodded. “I think it will do.”
“This is the first time you’ve seen it?” Akane asked incredulously.
“It was a very good deal on the rent,” Genma replied.
Nodoka and Genma went to explore the kitchen, while Ranma and Akane took the stairs to the second floor.
Akane looked in the front room. “Wow, this is really nice. I’m really very happy for you.”
Ranma slid the door to the back room. “I suppose.”
“Ranma, what’s wrong?”
“I guess I’d been thinking that it would turn out... different.”
Akane nodded. “Yeah, me too, but this way we get to go to the same school, and your mother will have you at home.” She crossed the room and slid open a glass door that led onto a tiny porch.
“It’s just that I wish...” Ranma poked his fingertips together nervously. “Well, I was kind of looking forward to walking to school together.”
Akane stepped out, and then a moment later she reached in and yanked Ranma out onto the porch. She grinned and pointed over the back wall at the house across the street. The house with a doujo. “Ranma, your wish just came true.”
July 26, 2001
“Manila” 2001 Joseph Palmer
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