Inspired by the Princess and the Pea.
Once upon a time, in a strange and distant land that is neither here nor there, there was a great temple on a hill, the holiest place in the land. All through the day and deep into the night, the hallways echoed with the susurrus of the faithful at prayer and their slippered feet as they trod well-worn paths on the pilgrim circuit around the sacred grounds in hopes of gaining merit through their acts of devotion.
The Holy of Holies around which the murmuring pilgrims perambulated found it intensely annoying.
The thirty-first Toa Genjo Sanzo of Chou-an, guardian of the Maten Sutra, would fain have shot the lot of them, or at least cussed them all away from their determined orbit of his room, but capricious Fate had thumbed her nose at his intentions and installed distracting irritants about him to vex him sorely whenever the crowds began to oppress His Holiness, thereby causing him to forget completely about the harmless pilgrims and turn his wrath on less worthy targets who could bear the abuse better.
So it was that on a certain day of especial religious eminence when, as the holy Sanzo sat smoking at the table with his accustomed newspaper, pushing up his reading glasses to better examine the fine print on an advertisement for leather bodysuits, there came a terrifying cacophony of overturning furniture and such ear-splitting juvenile invective that he forgot whatever small pique he might have felt at the awed whispers that filtered through his windows and set aside the newspaper. Taking up his holy gun, which would exorcise whatever malevolent spirit he shot, Sanzo fired upon the squabbling children who dared intrude on his meditations, but as they were merely annoying rather than malevolent, no harm was done.
Save to a cup of hot coffee his patient servant was bringing him, which scattered many scalding droplets over the servant and his little dragon. The innocent creature cried in pain, and as the servant had long borne the burden of mediating between the quarrelsome children and His Holiness with little thanks for his troubles, the servant looked upon Sanzo with reproach, and left with his injured pet, abandoning Sanzo to his twin afflictions.
Nor did he return for a long spell, and while Sanzo did as he could to suppress the depredations of the kappa and the monkey who plagued him, with bullets and paper fan, it was to no avail, for no one else dared intrude on the august monk's holy sanctum to clean up whatever mess they made, and it was beneath Sanzo's dignity to serve as a housekeeper however the image of him in the uniform of a French maid might strike one. Things, as they would, piled up.
And it came to pass that the kappa was eating of peanuts with his beer one day, when lo, for no good reason that any could tell, his hand slipped and down fell the tiny snack, which rolled into the fearsome chaos of overturned books, broken furniture, old clothes, empty food packaging and other assorted trash which had not been cleared out since the servant's departure from Sanzo's presence. This proved to be the very last straw indeed, or rather peanut, and Sanzo was very much wroth. Casting aside the ineffectual gun which would not hit its target, Sanzo took up his paper fan, and began to belabour the filthy visitor about, demanding he clear out the peanut before it could attract more noisome pests as cockroaches and rats, for was he not afflicted sufficiently with a monkey and a thrice- cursed kappa?
But try as the kappa would, which was very hard indeed with Sanzo's continuing blows to his head as he searched, he was quite unable to locate the errant peanut, though he overturned more bookshelves and spilled many valuable books on the floor in his quest. When finally both Sanzo and the kappa had exhausted themselves in their fruitless hunt for the peanut, they both had to seat themselves down with beer and cigarettes to catch their breaths through a round of poker.
Then came the monkey, all muddy from a day spent in play outside, fair reeking of sweat and other noxious odours which quite put both the others off their beer, and in the way of monkeys the world over both here and there, he begged for something to eat.
"There is nothing here, you stupid monkey," snarled the aggrieved monk, "so get out and take your kappa friend with you."
These were hurtful words indeed, but the monkey was not listening, for his little monkey nose was twitching as he caught a most delightful scent, and before you could say, "Tada!" the monkey had pounced upon a spectacularly large pile of refuse and unearthed the elusive strayed peanut.
"There is food!" crowed the monkey in triumph, and happily popped it into his mouth before their disbelieving eyes. And to crown it all, Sanzo's true servant followed in after with his pet, having chanced to meet the monkey at play and remembered his duties while his little pet had finally taken out its resentment by scorching sticks thrown for it by the monkey and imagining Sanzo's face on them.
In a thrice, the able servant had restored everything to the way it had been, and soundly trounced Sanzo and kappa at poker, so all was right again in that distant land that is neither here nor there. It is not known if Sanzo tolerated the monkey's antics with better grace afterwards, but reliable sources tell us that he never raised fan or gun to his servant again, nor even near him, though he continued to abuse monkey and kappa much as he did before.
There, that is a true story, and if you do not believe me, you can read in the records of the temple about how pilgrims and monks ever after, in imitation of that exemplary servant, have worn placid, if sometimes strained smiles on their faces however provoked, so that they might not be shot by His Holiness should they perchance give him offence.