Mari woke without opening her eyes. The rain had stopped overnight and the clouds had cleared away. She could feel a lash of hot sunlight on her bare back, as firm and substantial as the chest of Takoda Usho, which lay beneath her. "You're awake," he said, matter-of-factly. "Move. It's getting too warm in here!"
Mari rolled away, giggling. She opened her eyes. The Kotoro School's second student lay on her thin futon naked, his lean and muscular body splayed comically. Usho’s hands were folded confidently behind his head and he was watching her through half-lidded eyes. A look of languid pleasure was tugging at the corners of his lips.
"You act like a woman-hater," Mari said. "Yet your eyes have such a lewd expression."
"Idiot!" Usho groaned, playfully.
"If only the master of the school could see you now . . . the sullen, dedicated Takoda Usho, lying in my bed like a woman's plaything! If only these so-called swordsmen could see you as I do. . ."
The student arched his eyebrow quizzically. "And how do you see me?" he asked.
"As a *swordsman,*" she answered. "Whose skills are beyond reproach."
He laughed. She rolled into him, grappling on him like an octopus, and the two tussled until they were out of breath.
"Do not confuse my love of pleasure for dereliction of skill," said Usho, as he lay in the daylight, panting. "I am the equal of any swordsman in this school. Morning, noon and night I dedicate myself faithfully to perfecting the drills and techniques of the Kotoro style. Were it not for the master's son, that embarrassing mama's boy, Tokomora Genji, I would be the first pupil here. Soon I will defeat Genji in a duel and assume my rightful place."
"You will kill the master's son?" Mari feigned surprise. "Men always assume that women will love them if they are bold and foolish. Genji could never best you in the kind of swordplay *I* prefer."
Usho laughed. "True enough!" he said. "But it hardly matters." His voice grew serious. "As long as he can appeal to his beloved mother he will always win more respect than he is due. The fool hasn't even drilled with the advanced students in a month! Asho, the stable-boy, says he is melancholy and has been walking in the woods alone, dreaming of suicide! Ha! Would that he had the courage.”
Mari, who worked as a cook for the school, didn't like Usho when he was in these moods. She had known Genji for years, however, and believed him to be kind and well-meaning. That he was insufficient as a swordsman she knew also, for her lovers from the fencing school (and there had been many over the years) all talked about it endlessly, and Mari acknowledged that they were likely correct in their assessments. She felt none of the anger his position ignited in her lovers, however. To her, Genji was nothing more than a tall, sweet dullard. He was the kind of man who fumbled among the girls giving out flowers after the Spring Festival and spoke with unfailing politeness at all times. His love for his mother, another item of contempt among the student body, seemed perfectly natural to Mari. If she ever carried a son to term, it was her hope that he would resemble Genji: doting, well-mannered, and completely under her control.
"You should not be so hard on him," Mari scolded. "He has always been gracious to the maids and cooks."
"No doubt," said Usho. "Weakness in men is appealing to women. Just as falcons prefer mice with broken legs.”
"You're cruel," said Mari, snuggling closer.
"Of course," said Usho. "A swordsman must be cruel. Don't get mixed-up. Just because I enjoy the pleasures of life does not mean I have grown intoxicated by them. A man must drink deep of the world, before he dies. He must have wine as well as clear spring water, embraces as well as the comfort of cold winds. Each fresh experience is a different face of the world. A swordsman must see fortune from all angles, if he is to survive."
Mari grabbed his cock -- it was about as long as a bun-length hotdog, and thick as snickers. "But my swordplay is more fun," she teased. "All that discipline must be exhausting!"
"I'll show you exhausting!" Usho said, grabbing her firmly by the waist and laying her down in the burning sunlight. He was hard as hell, and the censor bar between the tip of his penis and the shaft was razor thin.
the morning passed too quickly
Later that day, in the dojo, Trump bowed low before George Herbert Walker Bush. The swordsman’s raiment was disheveled and stained but Trump, calm and clear-eyed, retained a warrior's carriage. The students, kneeling in a semicircle behind the visitor, watched him with obvious curiosity. Somewhere close-by, a robin was singing.
Tokomora Genji sat at his father's right hand, as demanded by his station. On Bush's left sat Genji's mother, Maoka, her old face beaming pleasantly above the red-and-white Kimono Genji had procured for her in Kyoto last year. Beside her, in a relaxed posture, sat Takoda Usho. There seems to be a certain smugness in his face this morning, Genji thought. While the first student’s expression was placid, his face had grown beet-red!
"So," said Maoko deliberately. "You have come from Shimata to seek a match with the master of the Kotoro school?”
Trump bowed affirmatively. "Hn," he said.
"And you were waylaid by the storm?”
"Yes," said Trump. "I arrived late and met one of your students in the rain. He told me to seek shelter in the woods and inquire about a match tomorrow."
George Herbert Walker Bush growled. “Hmmmm," he said, looking to Maoko to answer for him.
"My husband, the master of the Kotoro School, apologizes for this indignity, Master Trump," she said, demurely. "It was not the place of any student to offer or withdraw the hospitality which is the Master’s sole possession."
Trump again bowed low. "It was no trouble," he replied. "It does, however, relate to a second matter which I must discuss before we see to the duel."
"Go on," Maoko urged him.
"The student was quite insolent; I promised him that I would collect his head for the indignity." The swordsman seemed almost embarrassed.
Maoko's eyes darted to Genji, piercing him as surely as if she had hurled a dagger. The first student of the Kotoro School flinched involuntarily. Takoda Usho saw his rival’s panic and chuckled softly. To Genji, each exhalation was a thunderclap.
Trump's face was again against the floor. "I meant no disrespect,” he barked. "As a wandering swordsman my personal honor is my most prized possession. It demands that I punish insult severely, to retain my reputation for toughness. The matter, however, is entirely between myself and the student in question. As a gesture of good faith, and a gift to the Master of the school, I am prepared to give up my claim and allow this young man to keep his head."
Maoko laughed. "It is, I think, rather late for that. The Kotoro School takes the etiquette of fencers seriously. Whoever treated you so roughly lost their head long before you claimed it. Once the business of the match is concluded you may do as honor demands."
The students looked at one another with wild interest, each trying to determine which of his classmates had committed the offense. Genji, who had kept silent since Trump's disappearance the night before, grew redder and redder.
Maoko was explaining the conditions of the duel: “Sadly, the master himself has been unwell for some time. The strongest opponent we can offer is our first student: my son, Tokomora Genji.”
Trump bowed low. "As you wish," he said. "I am certain he is a strong and cunning fighter."
Maoko again looked to her son. Like Usho, she was smiling. "Yes," she said.
Genji began to feel faint. His blood was pounding in his ears. The sound of raindrops shaking off the nearby ash trees called to him; the rapture of the night before, running like sad bells beneath the total dissolution of his frame.
"It is custom at the Kotoro School for those who challenge the master to face the first student beforehand," Maoko continued. "However, due to the present circumstances, I must offer you a preliminary duel with our second student, Takoda Usho."
Usho bowed, still smiling. Trump gave him a sidelong glance, then bowed to Maoko. "I am honored to accept."
"Excellent," said Genji's mother. "We may begin immediately if you like."
Trump nodded. He stood, with Usho, as the students rearranged themselves against the walls.
Genji could not see or hear. He was blinded by rage. A lathe was roaring in his ears. He felt as if he was standing beneath a waterfall -- doused, chilled and sputtering: drowning on dry land. he saw the outside world through distorted flashes, suspended in the deluge. What am I to do? wondered the first student of the Kotoro School. What will become of me?
Trump, standing with Usho in the center of the dojo, stretched like a tiger, extending each muscle in his arms and legs one by one, in sequence. First he extended his elbow, then he twisted his wrist, rolling his fingers in and out of his sunburned fist, rolling his shoulders limberly. Each of the fencers was provided with a wooden sword, and as was usual for matches at the Kotoro School, a small crowd of servants and visitors assembled just beyond the dojo doors to watch. In the crowd, Genji recognized Asho, the simple-minded stable boy, the old woman Asko, who swept, and Mari, one of the cooks. Usually, Mari alone was more than enough to make him blush, but the duel was so diverting that the first student of the Kotoro School barely noticed her.
So what? thought Genji, at last, as he watched Usho taking a few practice swings. Even if I am out of shape, I am still the first student of the school -- and the son of a great master! This Trump is a ruffian and a hothead. If Usho doesn't defeat him I'll do so -- no problem!
Genji’s inner-voice was so adamant that he almost believed it!
In the center of the room, the fighters were prepared. They stood six feet apart, swords raised.
"Sho!" called Maoko, and the battle began. The men braced themselves, their stances assuming the quick malevolence of serpents, coiled to strike. Usho, his eyes bright and confident, held his sword tightly at waist level, angering its blade up approximately forty-five degrees. Trump, by contrast, held his sword slightly below the waist, angled downward. He seemed to favor his left side.
Usho, unsure of his opponent's game, took a purposeful step to the left. Trump matched him. The second student stepped forward, and Trump stepped back. The challenger's pose was oblique, illegible. To the untrained eye it might have been mistaken for disinterest, but Trump's face and eyes, more alive than those of anyone in the Kotoro School showed him to be a fencer of both guile and perception.
Usho waited for his opening, but Trump stayed still. The challenger’s face went through a cycle of extremely good expressions: eyebrows raised, as if hearing unbelievable news, mouth open like a puppet, head shaking in disbelief. As Usho watched, a steely-gaze gave way to a mobster's shrug gave way to a confused old man mouthing full, meaningless “O”s. Trump blinked meaninglessly.
Genji watched Usho's expression change as well. He lost his overconfidence, and became unsure of how to best proceed. Genji almost smiled, delighted at this accidental revenge — but then he thought of Usho losing, and what it would mean for him.
The second student lunged forward. "Haii!" he yelled, swinging his sword upward in a demoniac arc. He was aiming for Trump's offensive visage.
Donald Trump stepped slightly to the right, dodging the blow, then spun on the heel of his left foot so that the blade of his wooden sword was directly beneath Takoda Usho's plump and pleasant balls. He snapped the weapon upward.
"Aiiie!" said Usho, wincing in pain. One of his nuts had burst. It sloshed around his sad-ass sack like a 6am apology
Trump backed off, resuming his stance. He closed his eyes and pressed his mouth into a thin, satisfied line. He looked like a rich man just informed that his investments had doubled in value. His head, puffy and square, wheedled in a circle on his neck.
Usho was enraged. Breathing hard, he widened his stance, holding his sword out on his right side. Genji had never seen him so incensed. His mouth, usually sly and expressive, had shrunk into an angry trapezoid. Genji could see his teeth.
"Haaa!" screamed Usho, slashing wildly at Trump's neck.
“Ha!” The first attack had been a ruse; Usho suspected Trump would duck it, allowing a second, smarter thrust to catch the stranger in the sternum. But Trump did not duck. Instead he dove past Usho's left shoulder, pouring behind his opponent like water. Silently, Trump brought his sword down once -- twice -- three times. Each impact on Usho's neck and head resounded through the dojo with a smart KABONG. The second student staggered away blindly, moving towards the open door.
Genji saw drops of blood falling to the floor as Usho moved. They were as red as his mother's kimono in the sunlight. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, he thought.
Mari, the kitchen girl, was holding her hand over her mouth, attempting to contain a horrified gasp. Asho, the stable-boy, wore an expression of pure glee, for he was cheering for Trump. The students sat transfixed, amazed.
"You bastard!" roared Usho, spinning to face Trump on uneven legs. He looked like a half-devoured beast -- the prey of a big cat. At least someone has a redder face than me today, thought Genji. No one will remember my embarrassment now!
Usho held his sword high, its blade pointed to the ceiling. He assumed the Kotoro's famous Dogen stance, planting both feet firmly with his legs spread wide.
Trump regarded him through slatted eyes, his sword held down. His lips were puckered -- kissing the air. He looked like a fish-mongoloid.
"Woh!" said Usho, as lunged forward behind a cut that could open Trump from neck to belly. He followed this vertical slash with a whirlwind of smaller strokes -- a pattern of criss-crossing blows that was impossible to dodge.
Trump's sword, swift as lightning, intercepted all of them. Dok! Dok! Dok! went the hollow sound of wood on wood. Dok! Dok! Dok!
Usho was breathing heavily. Trump's stance had not altered. The stranger’s eyes rolled crazily in his head and he shook his skull back and forth minutely, causing the fat around his mouth to jiggle.
"Be serious!" barked Usho.
Trump kept jiggling.
"Stop joking around and fight me!" Usho demanded. He charged forward, extending both arms in a thrust that would have run a lesser opponent through -- even with a wooden sword. Trump slid away from the blow like the petals of a dandelion -- then brought his sword down on Usho's hand, his wrist, his elbow and his shoulder. SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! POP! said the bones, as they shattered and dislocated.
Takoda Usho fell prostrate to the floor, howling. Pain filled his face: his eyes, his mouth, the ugly protuberance of his nose. Blood oozed from his broken scalp, spraying against the walls and the student onlookers. The second student of Kotoro School writhed in his inhuman embarrassment, thrashing like a stuck catfish.
As Genji watched, Mari rushed to Usho's side. He pushed her off, cursing, and the beautiful creature lurched back, her milk-white skin stained crimson. There were tears in her dark eyes.
"That's the spirit!" called Asho, the stable boy. "Trump wins!"
"Trump wins!" said one of the peasants.
"He's the strongest one around!" cried an old woman leaning against a bundle of firewood.
The students were silent.
The visitor from Shimata once again knelt before Maoko and the Master of the School, George Herbert Walker Bush. "Hm!" the master said, nodding his approval. Trump bowed.
"You have done well, Trump-san," said Maoko. "You may rest here tonight and refresh yourself. Tomorrow, at this time, you may fight my son, to the death.”
The class dispersed.
Genji was the last to leave. After class he found himself wandering down the hill from the Kotoro school on one of his favorite trails, deep in thought. He spent many hours there, walking beneath the scaled sunlight on the forest floor, contemplating the nature of light and lenses. That evening, as it began to rain, Genji was reminded of the outside world. It was then, and only then, that his thoughts returned to Trump.
The first student trudged morosely home.