Jan 012012

Traditional Chinese Tales with a Twist

Stories of Lord Jade Rabbit of the Moon

Lord Jade Rabbit and the Footballers

Lord Jade Rabbit and Wu Gang lived on the moon. Although this was home to them, they had already gone to Earth several times. On one trip they had even bought a radio and brought it back so that they could listen to the news from all over the world.

One day, Rabbit and Wu Gang were sitting under their favorite Sweet Osmanthus tree playing chess and listening to the radio. The radio was carrying a news report saying, “Within just a few days, a new flu virus has infected 20,000 people all over the whole world. The most recent treatment method for this terrible flu is Hocuspotisone.”

Wu Gang asked, “Do you want to go treat these people?”

Rabbit said, “Once people are found with this flu, they are taken to big hospitals and quarantined. I can’t get close to the patients.”

Wu Gang suggested, “Then why not go to the remote countryside where there are no hospitals.”

Rabbit said, “Aren’t you a clever monk! There’s probably nobody with this flu in those remote places, so what would be the point?”

Wu Gang asked with his eyes glued to the chessboard, “How about that Hocuspotisone new drug?” And with that he suddenly moved a chess piece and added, “Checkmate!”

Rabbit swept all the chess pieces off the board in a huff. Then he thought about it for a spell and said, “If this flu is not treated, 20,000 will die out of 100,000. I’ve heard that Hocuspotisone can possibly save the lives of 15,000 people. However, after using it, there’s a chance, because the drug is so new, that everybody will suffer side-effects. There’s even a chance that some could end up handicapped for the rest of their lives.”

Wu Gang mumbled, “Is that true?! Why on earth would people still use it then?”

“Doctors don’t know of any other better treatment right now. This is a new drug and it seems to work.”

About this time Wu Gang turned his attention to the radio again. It was reporting, “Our beloved football players cannot escape the disease. Most recent information says nine footballers from the Jade Rabbit team have been diagnosed and taken to the Quarantine Hospital.”

Wu Gang exclaimed, “Did you hear that?! That’s the Jade Rabbit team! What can footballers do when they become disabled?”

Rabbit suggested, “Wheelchair football? Handball?”

Wu Gang said, “Don’t be sarcastic. We need to do something. What are we waiting for, let’s go rescue those sick players of the Jade Rabbit team.”

Rabbit said cynically, “Absolutely. I was just waiting for you! Up to now, it seems all you know to do is play chess!”

The pair hopped into their trusty UFO and as fast as you can say “moonbeam” they found themselves on top of the boiler room of the Quarantine Hospital. Wu Gang pressed the camouflage button and the UFO morphed into an old water-tower.

The sun was still bright when they landed, so Rabbit and Wu Gang sat inside the UFO planning how to get into the hospital and how to get the football players out.

Wu Gang grabbed Rabbit’s whiskers and said, “Listen to me. For us to sneak in, we must have that special hazmat clothing.”

Rabbit tugged at Wu Gang’s beard in return and said, “You listen to me too! The football players are sick. The only way to get them wheeled out of their ward is if their ward appears to be on fire.”

Rabbit put on the protective hazmat clothing that Wu Gang had pulled from storage and went hopping down the stairs from the boiler-room’s roof and into the hospital. Inside the corridor he pulled out a small smoke bomb from his pouch and threw it on the floor and started shouting loudly, “What’s that smell? Is there a fire?”

As he said this, he would open each room to see where the football players were quarantined. Once he got to a football player’s room, he would crawl straight under the bed and throw out another small smoke bomb.

At this point the ward became alive with frantic activity, as nurses and doctors scurried about. Rabbit crawled out from under the last bed. In his hazmat outfit, he seemed to fit right in with this kind of emergency. And although the hood pinched his ears sorely, he managed to yell out, “Quick. Let’s get these patients out fast!”

Nurses and doctors came running and started wheeling the hospital beds out of the building to a safe place in the yard. As they did so, Rabbit made sure that the nurses wheeled out the nine football players into a group away from the rest of the sick people. Rabbit then arranged them for a quick exit from the yard.

Wu Gang, in the meantime, had brought the UFO down to the entrance, morphing it into what looked like a bicycle parking shed. One by one, Wu Gang pushed the beds into the “shed” as Rabbit made sure that the nurses and doctors kept busy with the other patients.

When Rabbit saw that all nine players were inside the UFO, he yelled at the nurses and doctors to make sure they went back inside to see that no one was left behind. Then he too went into the bicycle shed, closed the door and said, “Wu, take off right now.”

“Where to?”

“Bright Moon Taoist Monastery.”

The football players were all pretty sick. Most had respirators attached to their bed and could not talk. Two were without respirators and could still talk. From the charts hanging from their beds, Rabbit saw that they were named Big Bull and Big Tiger.

As Rabbit made the rounds of the other seven beds, Big Bull whispered to Big Tiger, “Hey, are we being taken for treatment or are we being kidnapped?”

Big Tiger whispered, “Don’t know. Send coach a short message?”

“Cell phone was confiscated when we came to the hospital.”

“We’re doomed. I can’t live without a cell phone. That pretty nurse from the ward didn’t come with us either. I think we’re actually being taken for ransom or something.”

Soon, the UFO landed in the courtyard of the Bright Moon Taoist Monastery. This was an abandoned monastery. The building was still OK, but there were no Taoist monks or worshipers anymore.

Nor was there any electricity in the monastery. So Rabbit pulled out all the respirators and pulled off each player’s breathing apparatus. He and Wu Gang got out of their hazmat garb and Rabbit raised his hands and said to the players merrily, “Players of the Jade Rabbit team, we have come to your rescue!”

The players looked very startled and started to shout, “What is this hell hole? Why did you get us out of the high-cadre ward to a place like this?! It’s filthy and run-down! This is no hospital.”

“I can’t breathe. I am going to die. Give me a shot quickly!”

“Are you two out of your minds? Do you even know who we are? We are the Jade Rabbits! How dare you kidnap us?!”

One even threatened, “Hey, Monk, are you tired of living?”

Wu Gang said with a frown to that last question, “I am not a monk, I am a Taoist.”

Then Wu Gang pointed at Rabbit and asked, “Do you know who he is?”

“That’s our Jade Rabbit team mascot, of course. We have thousands of fans, hordes of pretty cheer-leaders and of course our beloved mascot. Who cares about an old rabbit?”

At this point they all started cursing and jeering the “rescue” team to the point neither Rabbit nor Wu Gang could handle it.

Rabbit was not happy and went to his room to lie down. Wu Gang went to the kitchen to get some pots and pans and then made some porridge for the athletes.

Big Tiger said, “Hey, Monk!”

Wu Gang replied frowning, “I am not a monk, I am a Taoist.”

Big Tiger said, “Buddhist monk, Taoist monk, who cares! Don’t make this type of gruel next time. We want hot chocolate!”

After making the simple porridge meal, Wu Gang went to persuade Rabbit to go get some herbs. But Rabbit just lay there and would not move, “Tell them to change their name to the Panda team, or better yet the Pork team.

“OK, OK, let’s ignore the name of the team. You still have to treat patients, don’t you?”

So Rabbit went out, pouting and mumbling to himself, to gather herbs. After a short while, he came back with a big load on his back.

The athletes were so rude and self-centered, however, that Rabbit decided to treat them accordingly. He mixed up some medicinal plasters and smeared their bodies so that they all looked like horse droppings. He cooked up some medicinal soup and forced them to drink it. If anybody said a four-letter word, he made them drink more.

But after three days, all the athletes were cured. Big Bull no longer bull-shitted. And Big Tiger became a big pussy cat.

On the fourth day, Wu Gang gathered the players together and asked them, “Why is your team called the Jade Rabbit team?”

“We are sponsored by Jade Rabbit Sneakers.”

“Have you heard about the Jade Rabbit in the moon?”

“In the moon?” They looked at each other and obviously nobody had heard about a rabbit in the moon. Rabbit shook his head and waved his hand at Wu Gang, “Give up. It’s not worth it.”

But Wu Gang said, “No, I won’t give up. Since they are called the Jade Rabbits, they are somehow connected to us. I must teach them something. So they won’t lose face for us in competitions.”

So saying Wu Gang brought out a cloth bag, tied it up with a string, and hung it on a tree. He demonstrated to the footballers the trick of kicking the ball while turning a hand-stand. After a day of practicing, all nine players had mastered this technique. They became respectful of Wu Gang and started calling him Master.

Rabbit watched on the side and his anger towards the players subsided. Then he joined in the practice and played defense with them. It was extremely hard for any of them to outrun him. After exhausting themselves, the players started to see Grandpa Rabbit as not only a good doctor but also a lovable person.

On the fifth day of training, Wu Gang and Rabbit at dawn ported the athletes back in their UFO to the team’s headquarters. This time, they parked the UFO by the road, disguised as a van.

The Jade Rabbit coach saw his nine players marching up the steps of the building and rushed out. He couldn’t believe it: not only were they free and healthy, but they were in extremely high spirits. The coach was exceedingly pleased, because the next day they had to play against the Tigers Team. Without these returned nine players, he wouldn’t have even had enough to send a team onto the field.

When Big Bull heard that there would be a match the next day, he hurried onto the street looking for Wu Gang. Wu Gang happened to be standing in front of a store window, absorbed by all kinds of electrical appliances on display there.

Big Bull said, “Master, tomorrow we have to play against the Fierce Tigers! You and Lord Rabbit must come and watch. You will sit with us players in the very front. We will certainly employ the handstand kick-trick you taught us.”

Returning to the UFO, Wu Gang said, “Rabbit, Big Bull’s team is going to play tomorrow. He invited us to watch, sitting at the very front.”

Rabbit said, “I am not going. Wearing a lot of disguise for a game of football is too hot for me. I won’t go.”

Wu Gang said, “But you don’t need to disguise. You are the mascot for the Jade Rabbit team. This is THE place where you don’t need a disguise.”

The next day Wu Gang and Rabbit went to the football field and sat behind the Jade Rabbit team. During the first half, the Jade Rabbits were far superior and shots-on-goal were many. The Tigers were always on the defensive. However, it was clear that the referee was pro-Tigers. For every shot-on-goal the Rabbits made, the referee matched it with off-sides or fouls. So the Jade Rabbits couldn’t score. This made Rabbit so angry that his whiskers all bristled in agitation.

When half-time came, the Tigers’ mascot pranced around the field first like a fool. During this time, Rabbit approached the referee, whose name was Mr. Toobias. “Referee Toobias,” Rabbit said, “Your reputation precedes you! I have heard of your high standards in judging games for many years–ever since when I was in the National Team. It is a great honor to meet you in person today. A great honor.”

As he said this, he reached for the referee’s hand to shake it. When the referee heard that this mascot used to part of the National Team, he thought to himself, “It’s hard to judge a person by appearance, even though he looks like a rabbit.”

But referee Toobias didn’t expect that Rabbit wouldn’t let go of his hand. Instead Rabbit held it in both of his paws and proceeded to squeeze and massage the ref’s hand. All the while Rabbit said endless words of flattery. The referee could do nothing but suffer on, with a forced smile on his face.

At this point the Tiger mascot’s dance came to an end, amidst cheers and jeers. It was Rabbit’s turn to perform on the field. Referee Toobias sighed with relief, happy to get rid of this strange fan who had just about shaken and squeezed his hand to death. But as soon as he returned to his seat, the ref felt a sudden urge to use the bathroom. And so off he went, thankful that it was still half-time.

Rabbit didn’t know how to dance so when he went on field he imitated a few moves the cheerleaders had been doing, but it felt all wrong. On top of it, the crowd started to boo and jeer. So he decided to just run circles around the field, like a real rabbit would do, but throwing in a few summersaults to spice up his performance. The audience went wild, thinking that the person playing the Rabbit mascot was doing a superb job. Some even started hopping in their seats, imitating Rabbit. It was truly a sight.

Referee Toobias didn’t come out of the bathroom. Every time he got up from the toilet seat to go wash his hands, he immediately ran back to empty his gut. He felt his intestines were all coming out. Meanwhile, the buzzer for the start of the second half resounded through the stadium. But still referee Toobias didn’t come out. Another referee was called in to replace him.

Once a new referee hit the field, the Jade Rabbits were able to score at will. Wu Gang’s handstand kick-trick accounted for five goals. Eventually the Jade Rabbits won, with a final score of eight to zero.

Wu Gang said happily to Rabbit, “See, my handstand kick was not taught in vain.”

Rabbit smiled and whispered in his ear, “Your handstand kick was not as powerful as my hand-massage-to-loosen-the-bowels technique. I just overheard some say that Referee Toobias almost fell into the toilet.”

And with that, they hopped into their UFO, and gleefully returned to the moon.