Something of a sequel. Longer, though.

Ph34r & Loathing in Yoyogi Park

"Have you seen this guy?"

I turned and looked into the tired, bloodshot eyes of the SEGA guy. He seemed a bit the worse for wear - not surprising when you consider the amount of whiskey he put down last night. I was a bit surprised to see him out and about so early, even on such a fine morning as this. I leaned my mop against the tiled wall and took the photograph he proffered. Bartender by night, bathhouse swamper by day - ah, the things I have to do, to keep body and soul together.

I inspected the photo; it was the seiyuu's fanboy from the party, sans the Sanrio hat. "Nope," I said, handing it back. "Not since last night."

His eyes narrowed. "You saw him last night?"

"Sure," I said, "at the Hikari no Umi. Don't you remember?"

"Uhm, yeah, right," he muttered, wincing as the Noise Boys started up their dawn show, across the street in Yoyogi Park.

"Say buddy, you look a bit hung-over," I said sympathetically. I pulled my hip-flask out of my back pocket, flipped the lid open. "I'd prescribe some 'hair of the dog'; a little sip would make you feel worlds better!"

His complexion, already unusually pale, took on a slight greenish cast. "Uh, no thanks," he gasped, then turned away and hurried off down the street, toward the NHK building.

I shrugged and pocketed the flask, then turned to watch the Noise Boys do their act. The bongo player, sporting a huge pompadour that had been moussed to a long, forward-projecting point, was sitting on the concrete bench in front of one of the pools. The guy on harmonica stood with one foot up on the bench, his eyes half-closed. His instrument was jammed between his teeth, and his shoulder length hair partially obscured his face. They weren't very good, but they were certainly enthusiastic.

As I watched, three uniformed schoolgirls walked toward the Noise Boys, an especially cute-looking kid with her hair tied back in ponytails leading the group. As she passed beneath the cherry trees, petals began to fall around her. As the trees were not now in bloom, this must be accounted a Curious Circumstance.

The girl approached the harmonica player and began speaking. From her posture, and the hangdog look on the boy's face, she was giving him a scolding. He spread his arms helplessly and ventured a response, which evidently failed to ameliorate the situation. The girl said a few more words, then marched off with her head held imperiously high, her retinue in tow. He called after her, but she didn't turn, though the girl with the pageboy haircut turned him an inscrutable glance. The boy stared after them; then his distressed expression took on a mulish cast, and he stuck the harmonica back in his mouth. His playing was worse than ever.

I felt a sharp pain in my left shoulder, and looked over at the teen-aged girl standing next to me. She was frowning, her fists clenched.

"What was that for?" I asked mildly.

"We don't pay you to stand around out here on the street, you know."

"Just taking a little break, Miyuki," I said.

"I need you to get the locker rooms mopped up - we've got customers coming in!"

"Already done."

She raised an eyebrow. "The shower rooms, too?"

"Yep."

"Huh. You're fast," she said, her expression relaxing. She glanced across the street, did a double-take. "What's that guy up to?"

I followed her gaze to where a guy with a Food-Mart bag over his head sat cross-legged beneath a cherry tree, some sort of console with a whip antenna lying across his knees. A rather baroque looking model vehicle was turning circles on a bicycle path, about twenty feet in front of him.

"Wait long enough," I said, "and you'll see just about any damn thing in Yoyogi Park."

"That's the truth," she said. "Look, can you take over the front desk, while I go pick up some breakfast?"

"Sure thing. Bring me an egg sandwich and a coffee?" I dug into my pocket, handed her some yen. Miyuki stuck her tongue out at me, grinned, and headed down the street. Beyond her, headed toward me, I could see a group of customers coming, two of them holding bathing essentials. I ducked into the bathhouse and behind the desk, thinking that they looked familiar.

This impression was confirmed when the quartet approached the desk. I recognized them all from the previous night. The goth chick had changed her style a bit, having traded in her ribbons for a cat-eared headband. Hello Kitty, I think. She seemed to be in charge, and somehow got the fanboy to pay for all of them, over his weakly voiced protests. I wondered if I should tell him about the SEGA guy, then decided it was none of my business.

The girl with the digital earrings just blinked and said nothing, while the big-haired skinny guy stood silently, staring at the goth chick as if he expected her to sprout horns and a tail. I wondered if he'd gotten the nail-polish off of his toes yet. If not, it might raise some eyebrows in the pool. I handed them their keys and they headed toward the locker rooms. Fanboy didn't even turn his head when his buddy started to follow the girls; he just grabbed a handful of shirt and towed him along behind, his friend protesting - something about keeping the zombie queen and her minion under surveillance. I shrugged. This kind of shit happens all the time in Megatokyo.

A long string of customers entered and kept me busy for a while. As the morning rush started to taper off, Miyuki returned with my sandwich and coffee. "Any problems?"

"Nope," I said, and sipped at my coffee. "Thanks."

"Not at all," said Miyuki, grinning. "Least I could do, since you bought me breakfast."

"Huh. Remind me to give you exact change in the future, kiddo."

"Oh, of course I will. Trust me!"

I had just unwrapped the sandwich when I spotted the model car, or whatever it was, roll through the door past a departing customer, the long whip antenna on its back vibrating with its movements. It cruised into the lobby, passing in front of Miyuki's desk.

"Hey!" I called, at the same time that Miyuki said, "What the...!"

The thing paused, and a bright point of light sprang up from a lens mounted upon its carapace. An instant later bag-man was standing in front of us, the see-through quality of the image suggesting a holographic projection. The crudely drawn face on the paper bag winked at us, then disappeared. The little vehicle then rolled swiftly into the locker room. Specifically, the women's locker room. I started after it, then checked abruptly when I realized where it was going. A moment later, Miyuki swept by me, in pursuit of the thing. Under the circumstances, I decided to wait until my assistance was specifically requested.

Behind me, out in the street, I heard the familiar sound of a patrolling patlabor. I glanced out the window in time to see a great, armored leg swing by, the legend TPCD plainly stenciled on its side. Behind the giant mech came an orderly file of men in orange jumpsuits, obviously a work detail of prisoners on community service. Each member of the group carried a different set of tools: hedge clippers, weed-whackers, sacks and trash pickers, and the like. I went out on the street for a better look, stepping around a sleek, black van with tinted windows that was idling in the street. I noticed the words "Sony Enforcement Division" painted on the door in small, discreet letters.

As I examined the work gang more closely, I noticed that many of them were not entirely human-looking. A few looked half-decomposed, while others showed more than the normal numbers of limbs, eyes, heads, etc - there was even one that seemed to sprout tentacles. At the end of the file came a figure even larger than the patlabor, scaled and armored with a heavy shell. It seemed the giant turtle was being required to repent for its rampage last night. I wondered how many hectares of cloth it had taken to tailor the oversized jumpsuit it wore.

The amplified voice of the officer driving the patlabor began directing the work crew to various tasks within the park. The turtle started trimming the tops of the cherry trees with a prodigious pair of hedge clippers. There came a sudden pause in the string of orders the officer was giving. Then it called out:

"YUUJI! WHY AREN'T YOU IN SCHOOL!"

I saw the Noise Boys start and look up, then the kid with the harmonica turned and darted toward a group of trees.

"YUUJI! COME BACK HERE THIS INSTANT!"

The kid kept going, and the officer clanked in pursuit.

"YUUJI!"

At that moment I became aware of the sound of screaming in the bathhouse. An instant later, dozens of women in various stages of undress, ranging from brief swimsuits, to strategically clutched towels, to nothing at all, poured from the front doors, across the street, and into Yoyogi Park.

"Aiiiii!" "Run for your lives!" "Save us from the giant armored crab!"

I spotted the goth chick, wearing a black, two piece swimsuit, in pursuit of the earring girl, who seemed to be wearing only the shirt in which she had been dressed this morning. Her shirt tails flapped as she ran, briefly revealing strategic portions of her anatomy.

"Ping-chan, stop!" the goth chick cried out. "It's only a hologram! Ping-chan, come back!"

I heard the squeal of tires, then the Sony van sped by me at no more than arm's-length, heading toward the two running girls, who had just reached the edge of the park. The earring girl looked over her shoulder and screamed "Tohya-chan!". Then the panic dropped from her features as suddenly as a lightning stroke, and I heard her shout "Entering client-protection mode!" She leaped back toward the goth chick, pushed her to the ground and covered her with her body. The left-front wheel of the van struck her from behind. Instead of crushing the girls, however, the wheel ran up the earring girl's back, as though it were on a braced ramp. An instant later it was sailing through the air in a graceful arc, with a slow longitudinal spin, that ended when it crashed into the back of the patlabor's knees. Van and mech went tumbling into the pool with a huge splash. The earring girl assisted the goth chick to her feet. "Are you alright, Tohya-chan?" she asked the girl, who seemed shaken, but otherwise unhurt.

I turned back toward the bathhouse when I heard roaring noises behind me. The turtle was swinging whistling roundhouse punches at a red, crab-like robot that was more than twice its size. Each blow passed harmlessly through the thing - it was indeed, as the goth chick had observed, a hologram. There came a muffled report from the direction of the van, and the giant crab image seemed to stutter, then abruptly winked out. The model car sat in its place, a thread of bluish smoke rising from it.

The turtle looked all around, roaring in confused anger. "It's gone," I shouted at it. The turtle turned its gaze on me, uttered an interrogative whuffing sound. I pulled my hip flask from my pocket. "You beat it. Good work!" I tossed up the flask. The turtle caught it, sniffed at it suspiciously, then popped it into its mouth and started chewing. It stumped ponderously over to the pool, waded in next to the wrecked patlabor and van, and sat down in the water. This caused a small tidal wave that washed over the officer and the bag-man, who were just then surfacing.

There was a moment of stunned silence, then deafening cheers as the bystanders broke into spontaneous applause. I turned back to the bathhouse, passing through a line of gaping, towel-clad men, including the fanboy and his friend. "Didn't I tell you we needed to keep them under surveillance?" the latter was saying. As I picked up my mop and returned to work, I began whistling a familiar tune. Can't remember the name of it just now, but I'm sure it'll come to me eventually...

=========================================================

Note: I did do a bit of research for this, but I have no idea if the Japanese require their prison inmates to do community service of this kind.
Types: Filk, Miho, Piro, Humor
Little Raver Girl

One day in my apartment down in Yoyogi,
Feelin' very put-upon I happened for to be,
As I was a-mopin' 'round and feelin' kinda poor,
A pretty little raver girl came knockin' at my door;

For she was right, I smelled high, everybody needs to bathe,
It was the little raver girl that made me feel afraid.

She asked me then if I would go along with her and Ping,
Over to a public bath to get our bodies clean,
When I asked her why it was she thought that I would go,
She said it seemed about high time, for me and for Largo;

For she was right, I smelled high, everybody needs to bathe,
It was the little raver girl that made me feel afraid.

Straight way for the baths we headed, Ping and her and I,
And Largo, with his dour look, was walkin' by my side,
Some echii thoughts were on my mind when Largo said "Don't drool,"
And knowing that the girl could hear him made me feel a fool;

For she was right, I smelled high, everybody needs to bathe,
It was the little raver girl that made me feel afraid.

Into the bathhouse then we went and changed out of our clothes,
We scrubbed down every inch of skin and let the water flow,
But when we tried to use the pool they wouldn't let us in,
They told us, "You and Largo must scrub yourselves again!"

For she was right, I smelled high, everybody needs to bathe,
It was the little raver girl that made me feel afraid.

Well finally we were clean enough to satisfy those folk,
We laid back in the water then and had ourselves a soak,
And if you ever reach Japan this info you should file,
There's fewer pleasures quite as nice as bathing Nihon style,

For she was right, I smelled high, everybody needs to bathe,
It was the little raver girl that made me feel afraid.

(apologies to Clannad)
======================================================
Lish Young Buy-a-Broom*
Traditional folk song, performed by Clannad


As I went a-walking in the North country,
Down by Kirkby Steven I happened for to be,
As I was a-walkin' up and down the street,
A pretty little buy-a-broom I chanced for to meet.

For she was right, I was tight, everybody has their way,
It was the lish young buy-a-broom that led me astray.

She kindly then invited me to go a little way,
Yes was the answer to her I did say,
There was me with me music walkin' down the street,
And her with a tamborine was beatin' hand and feet.

For she was right, I was tight, everybody has their way,
It was the lish young buy-a-broom that led me astray.

Straight way out for Kendal town we steered her and I,
Over yon green mountain the weather being dry,
We each had a bottle filled up to the top,
And whenever we were feeling dry we took a little drop.

For she was right, I was tight, everybody has their way,
It was the lish young buy-a-broom that led me astray.

The night was coming on and good lodgings we did find,
Eatables of all kind and plenty of good wine,
Good bed and blankets just for we two,
And I rolled her in me arms me boys, and wouldn't you do too?

For she was right, I was tight, everybody has their way,
It was the lish young buy-a-broom that led me astray.

Early the next morning we arose to go our way,
I called for the landlord to see what was to pay,
Fourteen an sixpence just for you two,
Four crowns upon the table my darling then she threw.

For she was right, I was tight, everybody has their way,
It was the lish young buy-a-broom that led me astray.

Well the reason that we parted I now shall let you hear,
She started off for Germany right early the next year,
But me being unwilling for to cross the raging sea,
Here's a health to my bonny lass wherever she may be.


Notes: lish = nimble, agile, genki; buy-a-broom = a broom-seller.

There's an mp3 audio clip of the song on the Tara Music page.

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