Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Retirement of the Ninja

It's not so easy being an aging ninja. Sure, I can still walk over water, but last week while crossing Lake Guchiyami to assassinate the Counsellor of Nug, I tripped on a goldfish and sprained my ankle. I had to limp my way through the rest of the mission, but suffice it to say that the Counsellor won't be skimming profits from the Luin highway construction project any longer. I can still slip into a crowded banquet hall, dispatch my victim, and melt back into the night again before anyone even realizes what has happened. And I'll snatch a few sushi rolls for a snack on my way out.

I must say, the ninja diet doesn't do much for me. I've never really enjoyed the rice and vegetable regime, with a little raw steak or fish thrown in from time to time. And now my belly is starting to show; it hangs out ever so slightly when I turn invisible, like a phantom gut just suspended there, and all the other ninja have taken to calling me "Pots". Yes, the younger ninja laugh at me. I know they do. But let me see them do a double back flip off the pontoon bridge and land on a passing rice skiff while being pursued by a gang of deadly samurai. These days it's all poisonings and evasions, and nobody wants to get their gi dirty, or impersonate a demon possession to intimidate the townsfolk.

They say I've grown old and soft, but I don't see them hanging upside down from the Tree of Woe for three days straight just to prove that physical pain and deprivation mean nothing to a ninja. And that was on my vacation time, too, while everyone else was off in the capitol playing video games or whatever they do in this age of lawlessness and hedonism. No, it's not easy being an assassin for hire today. It used to be we bumped off corrupt officials and rival clansmen and other scum of the earth who tried to erode traditional values. Now it's all corporate jobs and character defamation--covering up for big money so as to avoid some costly lawsuit or other. Oh well, you take work where you can find it, I guess. I don't know what I'll do when the lawyers finally replace our kind. Will the ninja clan cease to exist, or will they keep one or two of us around as curiosities to entertain foreign investors with smoke and swordplay? PFFAT! I'd rather cut my own jugular than stoop to such antics.

I guess there's always the movies. But even there ninja seldom appear in anything more than peripheral roles; as hapless targets for the machine gun of some big American star with a phony accent. It's not like the eighties, when the ninja was respected in cinema. The royalties from Enter the Ninja alone kept my master clothed and fed to the end of his days. After that, he only took the occasional job, for the interest factor. Nowadays, having a ninja on the set is old hat; we're treated like common stuntmen. The indignity of it! I'd just as soon ingest my own nerve toxin than prostitute myself in such a manner.

Give me the political intrigue of the old clan wars, when loyalties could shift with the simple unfolding of a fan; when a falling cherry petal, improperly celebrated in a clumsy haiku, was enough to topple great, noble lineages. Bah! Those days are gone. To be replaced with what? Pokemon, palm pilots and affordable automobiles for the masses. Moving swift and silent as the wind means nothing to these people. I will mount an assault on all that is modern and easy! I will reinstate the ninja as a force to be reckoned with in this jaded epoch. Once again, the faceless warrior will be feared and respected, our names whispered quietly in shadow to avoid summoning our kind by a word carelessly spoken, and paid for in blood. Or maybe, on second thought, I'll just boil another one of these Ramen noodle packets. They're pretty tasty if you chop up some radishes and tofu, and add a bit of soya sauce.

1 comment:

Valerie said...

This was a most enjoyable way to start my day. I loved the cherry petal. Thanks