This story was one I thought up early in the I Wouldn't Want to Be a Fish Right Now ideas phase. I wanted to show Pilaf pranking some people, in his stupidity, to get a Dragon Ball that he uses to wish for youth in the Androids Arc. From that idea, this story was born. There is not much to it, other than Pilaf having a small conversation with the guy who has the ball, and then eventually killing him for it after his pranks lead to nothing (I think Pilaf is evil, always has been, and thus would not be below killing people - he routinely tries to do this in Dragon Ball, so it would be out-of-character for him to give that up). He also pranks that cashier, but that was only added in during the third draft.
The other major part of this story was Pilaf seeing what some of the villagers are up to by peering in through their windows. Most of them are doing lewd things, although one old guy pranks his wife, which provides a consistent trickster theme throughout the text. Those were the main features. I suppose the main theme of this story, aside from people getting what they deserve, is to not underestimate one's competition. Regardless of how inept Pilaf is, he never gives up. That is his greatest quality, and one I tried to showcase in this story. The village chief underestimated him and thus got what he deserved.
This was the third story I wrote for I Wouldn't Want to Be a Fish Right Now. I began it on November 17, 2020, one day after writing Welcome to Rapture. I began at 9:30 am, getting about 400 words done before taking a break at 10:03 am. I returned to writing at 4:52 pm, and continued writing until 5:05 pm, getting about six paragraphs done in that time. I wrote about a paragraph the next day, not getting that far into the story before giving up for the day. On November 19th, I wrote sporadically from 10:22 am to 1:34 pm, finishing the first draft during that time.
I didn't touch this story again until August 30, 2020. That evening, I edited the story, finishing the second draft by 7:13 pm. I edited the third draft on September 2-3, 2020, adding in the scene with the store clerk at that time. I did a final polish on October 4, 2020, not changing much except for some wordings (the story overall became 39 words longer, though). It was posted on October 7th along with all of the other second-half IWWTBAFRN stories aside from Insatiable.
This is a fairly short and straightforward comedy. I don't expect there will be much to say about it. Anyways, onto the endnotes.
Merely a year and a half ago, Emperor Pilaf had begun his noble quest to once more collect the Dragon Balls. Nobody else seemed to be going for them, so it was an opportune time to sneak in a wish. Through sheer brilliance and perseverance, he had already collected four of the balls. Mai and Shu had been sent to a volcano in the southern islands to collect the fifth ball. Partaking in such a dangerous affair would be unbecoming of an emperor. They had taken their Pilaf Machines with them, so they would be fine. And if some tragedy befell them, he could always find replacements on craigslist.
One of his long-distance spies, a swarthy, sneering fellow named Dim, had alerted him to this ball’s location last night. Supposedly a man named Oscalermo Tahne, the head of a small village in the northern mountains, was in possession of a Dragon Ball. Pilaf would be able to deal with him well enough on his own.
It was cold up there, so he wore his scarf. He had landed on a snowy path overlooking the village. There were no more than thirty people living amongst a few log cabins. Smoke was rising from most chimneys.
He called up Dim. “This is Emperor Pilaf. Tell me, Dim, which house does the village chief live in?”
The spy gulped audibly. “Oh yeah, you know, boss, it’s the, uh, uh… the, uh, the big one.”
He scanned the houses, making sure. Blinking rapidly, he tried to contain his emotions. “They’re all the same size. You never watched him go into his house, did you?”
“Well, uh, boss, he’s wearing it around his neck–”
He hung up, biting his tongue. He would be sure to fire Dim on the morrow. His blood running hot, Pilaf made his way into town, taking his trusty binoculars from his Pilaf Machine with him. He began to whistle, so as to not draw attention to himself. It was cold as a night in the desert. He hated this place. It was awful; he wanted to go home. He had to think about his future self, and what he would think of giving up now. That simply would not do. He could not disappoint Future Pilaf. He had to go on.
In the first house, he spied an elderly woman sitting in a recliner, watching television. There was a grey-and-white cat on her lap. She was sipping a drink and talking to her cat with great vigor. The old bat leaned in and started bathing her feline with her tongue. Gagging, Pilaf decided to move on.
In the second house, he spotted not a soul. A pot of soup, or something similar, was simmering on the stove, neglected to high hell. He waited for a few minutes, hoping to watch it boil over. Instead, after a time, a middle-aged man rounded the corner, singing to himself about having his favorite soda, cherry red, holding a ladle and a cup of vanilla pudding, the top having just been ripped off. He was as naked as he was fat. The emperor fled with haste.
The third was home to at least five different people. None of them was wearing a Dragon Ball around their neck. He ground his teeth. In the cold, Pilaf was forgetting his imperial kindness. Why did he always have to be so unlucky?
In the fourth home, he noticed a wrinkly old woman calling for someone to come look at the daily paper. As her elderly husband lumbered over, she cried out, having opened it to find a heaping pile of cat litter and shit inside. It spilled all over her. The man slapped his knee and guffawed, his cheeks turning rosy with pleasure.
He was starting to shiver bad. Moving on to the next house, he spotted an older gentleman sitting at a computer, working at something fierce on his lap. Pilaf did not understand, but the man was almost entirely naked (save for his socks), so he didn’t stay long.
His nose drippings had begun freezing over; he couldn’t stop his teeth from chattering. The emperor was of half a mind to fly back to his castle to fetch another jacket. The ground was hard as asphalt. This snow had been here for a while. He did not understand how people could live in such a place.
The emperor couldn’t take it any longer. Pilaf retreated to the only convenience store in town, hoping to find some relief.
“Hello sir, welcome sir, how are ya doing sir?” the cashier asked him as he entered.
Pilaf took a moment to stop his teeth from clacking. “I-I… I’m here for the interview.”
The store clerk had an overly pleasant, almost poisonous voice. “Now, what interview would that be, sir?”
“With the village chief. Yes, I’m sorry I’m late, but I’ll make up the time, don’t you worry!”
The cashier cocked his head sheepishly. “I’m afraid I don’t follow, sir.”
His mind was racing. “I’m a, um, reporter! Yeah, that’s right.” He plucked his shoe off, holding it up like a camera. “I’m here to interview Chief Tahne. He’s done such, um, a great job managing this village that KTUM has decided to run a story on him.”
“Oh, that’s special, sir!”
Pilaf gave the red-haired bloke the sneak eye. “You wouldn’t happen to know which house he lives in, would you?”
“Oh certainly, sir.”
“Which one is it?”
“Oh sir, I can’t tell you that. It’s confidential.”
Pilaf drew himself up, acting haughtier than a dog with all three bones. “Very well, in that case, I’ll take my investigative reporting to the next town. And I may leave in a short blurb about the rudeness I experienced when meeting this town’s residents.”
“Oh my!” the cashier said, sucking in air as he tried to remain professional. “Oh sir, that’s unnecessary. Please, forget what I said earlier. I’ll tell you. Chief Tahne lives in house #8.”
“Will I get to be in the promo, sir?”
Pilaf was already gone, having nicked a sweater on the way out. The hapless cashier hadn’t so much as noticed.
With courtly manners, he knocked on the door of house #8 and pulled out a piece of paper, staring at it so as to keep the charade going a little longer.
“Yes, who is it?”
“Good afternoon sir,” Pilaf began in a dramatic voice. “I have come a long way searching for my Great Granddaddy Pilaf’s ancient heirloom. Maybe you have seen it? It is an orange ball with two stars.”
“Why, that’s odd. I found this here ball about five weeks ago down by the frozen lake,” the man said, tugging on his necklace, which invariably had a Dragon Ball hanging from it.
“It’s my Great Granddaddy’s ball! Oh, good sir, you are a life-saver. Thank you for finding it. I am forever in your debt.”
“Hang on a second,” the man said, his face wrinkling over in thought. “How’d your Great Granddaddy’s ball end up down by the lake over there? There’s no one in this village by that name.”
“He lost it two years ago while out on a midafternoon stroll.”
“Your Great Granddaddy was out here walking about in the mountains? I find that hard to believe. There aren’t any other villages within twenty miles of ours.”
Pilaf scoffed, showing him the paper. “Here’s the documentation if you don’t believe me.”
The man read Great Granddaddy Pilaf’s certified, verified, and very official-looking paper stating, unequivocally, that he owned that two-star ball. He shrugged and handed back the paper. “I don’t care about that. It doesn’t mean anything to me. I found the ball, and I like it. It’s mine. Unless you have anything else to say to me, we’re done here.”
He stepped back inside, preparing to close the door on the emperor.
“Wait a minute… I’ve got something for you.”
Out came the switchblade. The man who was ten times his height could do nothing but laugh. “Do you want me to bury you under the snow?”
“I have money!” the emperor said desperately, pulling out bricks worth ten thousand zeni and throwing them at the man’s feet. “Please, I must recover my Great Granddaddy’s ball. It means the world to him.”
“Mmm.” He kicked one of the bricks off his stoop. “Fake zeni. Nice touch.” With that, he slammed the door in Pilaf’s face.
So the story goes, that night, there was a wicked avalanche, and while most of the townspeople were snowed in for a few days, it was a week before they found the body of the village chief, whose house, despite being located in the center of town, had been hit the hardest. The roof had caved in, the second story had collapsed on the first, and every room had been filled with fresh snow. It goes without saying, but when they found him, buried underneath a sheet of ice on the kitchen floor, he was no longer wearing the orange ball with two stars around his neck.
- Pilaf attempts to swindle the village chief throughout this story, though he is unsuccessful. That is why it is named as such. However, Pilaf does swindle the cashier out of a sweater, which was pretty sweet.
- Bulma was pretty lazy to let Pilaf sneak in a wish under her nose. She should be checking the Dragon Radar routinely to prevent baddies from collecting the balls. This is the same problem that happens in ROF. Very sloppy on her part; she could have gotten loads of people killed with her negligence.
- It goes without saying, but Pilaf was scared of that volcano.
- Pilaf's long-distance spies are mentioned in the Emperor Pilaf Saga, but nowhere else. I decided to use one of them here. Dim is a pun on the food "dim sum".
- I have no memory of how I came up with the name "Oscalermo Tahne". I don't know if it's a pun on anything or not. I don't think so, as my document that records all of the puns for IWWTBAFRN one-shots doesn't have him listed.
- Dim couldn't be too good at his job, or Pilaf wouldn't have hired him.
- I doubt Pilaf fired Dim; he probably forgot after returning with his Dragon Ball.
- Pilaf's tactic of not disappointing his future self is one I too employ when working on things I don't really want to but need to.
- There was an A&E documentary, I think, about a woman who would lick her cat. I find that to be incredibly disgusting and I love cats.
- "a middle-aged man rounded the corner, singing to himself about having his favorite soda, cherry red" - this line references a line from "You Can’t Always Get What You Want" by The Rolling Stones, which is the theme song of I Wouldn't Want to Be a Fish Right Now. The vanilla pudding thing has to do with a decidedly German fetish of lathering up one's member with said pudding and then smiling proudly at the camera.
- The prank that occurs in the fourth house is something Jim Norton used to do to some of his friends' fathers when he had been a boy.
- Pilaf is so sweet and innocent to not understand that the guy in the fifth house was masturbating. Pilaf isn't the most aware individual in the world, it must be said.
- The theme of yuugen in this story is spread out over the text from Pilaf landing in the village until he moves into the store. I tried to utilize yuugen in a more indirect way in this story than in the other yuugen stories. Dunno how well that turned out, but I'm happy with it.
- I imagine the cashier to have the voice of that preacher in F is for Family (Bill Burr provides the voice for the guy, making it all the better).
- Pilaf must have thought he was being so sneaky to use his shoe as a camera.
- Pilaf worked that cashier good. He has potential to be a swindler. Tahne was just a much more aware individual. Pilaf's abilities are only so great.
- I'd like to think that Pilaf's official documentation for the two-star ball is nothing more than a crayon-drawn picture of his Great Granddaddy Pilaf holding it, and a fake signature attesting to its authenticity.
- Pilaf was ruthless with how he handled Tahne. That's some old-school Pilaf right there. I was glad to have been able to showcase a bit of his gumption and cutthroat behavior, which has sadly been forgotten as time has worn on. I doubt Toriyama remembers Pilaf ever pulling a switchblade on anyone in the old days.
I like this one to a decent degree. It showcases Pilaf quite well and allowed me to make him more evil and less of a bumbling mess due to Goku not being around. This was a fun one. All of the shenanigans going on in the houses were fun to write, as was the conversation between Pilaf and the cashier. Pilaf's pitiful attempts to trick Tahne at the end were very much in-character, in my opinion. He ended up having to use brute force, not his mind, to defeat the man, and I don't think anyone should be surprised by that.
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Part 136 ---->