Chapter 4 – One’s uglier self
Nami woke up next morning and noticed the living quarters were darker than usual. She looked out the window to notice that today wasn’t a bright one. Dark clouds completely covered up the sky, signalling a change of weather to come. It was then that her head started to ache again as more memory fragments popped up in her mind.
"Something about knowing what weather was coming by analysing clouds and wind strength… A ship with tangerine trees… That same flag again… I don’t understand any of this.” Just then Rick came into the room opening the door quite fiercely carrying a piece of paper in his hands. A look of frustration was on his face as he walked in.
“Good morning master! How are…” Rick walked past Nami not saying a word as he headed to the table on the other side of the room.
“Oh… good morning Jinglette.”
“What’s wrong master? Are you ok?”
“NO!” he cried raising his voice which took Nami back a bit. Rick deep a deep breath. “Sorry I... didn’t mean to startle you…”
“What’s the matter, master? Is something wrong?” Rick simply showed Nami the piece of paper in his hand. Nami read out loud.
“Soon your curtains will call for the last time… Along with your greatest treasure? Be prepared… What is this note master?”
“A threat. A threat to me.”
“This is horrible! Who on earth would do such a thing?!”
“It has to be somebody in this town! I had a feeling something about this place felt wrong…” Rick crushed the piece of paper in his hand and was clenching his teeth. Throughout all of Nami’s 2 years under Rick’s control, this was the first she had ever seen him like this.
"So what shall we do?” asked Nami nervously.
“Heading into town. Pass flyers around or something.”
“Pass flyers? I don’t know if we have much more.”
“Just do it anyway!” Rick shouted turning his view towards Nami looking angry. “The stilt walker will find a way to kill time after that. Got it?!” Nami shivered but obeyed him regardless. Rick stormed out of the room and grabbed Nami’s left arm dragging her out along the way.
“Master I’m scared… Please stay calm…” Suddenly another memory fragment appeared into her head and she kneeled down on the floor holding her head in pain. Rick was broken out of his rage when he saw her in pain.
“What the? Jinglette what’s the matter?!”
“Ugh! Fishman…Map drawings… pain…blood...”
“Jinglette!” cried Rick as he got close and hugged her tight. “Tell me what’s wrong!”
“Ugh…! Master… My head hurts…”
“Your head hurts?!”
“But… I don’t know why? I don’t even remember the reason…” Questions were flooding into Rick’s mind as he then remembered Nami having some sort of a headache a few days ago.
“What’s wrong with my Jinglette? This can’t be just a simple headache… As if this day couldn’t get worse!”
“I’m sorry master…” Nami hung her head down in shame.
“For making you mad… Having a headache when you are feeling worried about that letter. I’m just a nuisance…”
“You aren’t Jinglette. I’m just very worried right now, and I can’t have you feeling like this in this crucial time. We have a show tomorrow night and we’ve been working hard for this. I need you to be well if we…” Rick sighed thinking about the current situation.
“As much as I want to get off this island and go, I can’t. I have people to entertain. You have people to entertain. The whole reason we are here is to entertain and going back on what we live for would destroy our reputation…”
“Yes… I must make the people happy. For you…”
“That’s right Jinglette. I have raised you since birth to be the best puppet in theatre history, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. The show is your reason to live. It’s my reason to live. I can’t do this without you.” He held Nami’s hands and looked her in the eyes.
“I love you very much Jinglette.” Shocked at such a response, Nami blushed a little.
“Me too master…” Without being able to think for herself within Rick’s presence, the bond between them was nothing but obedient programming and she wouldn’t be able to realise it. Rick got up and helped Nami back on her feet.
“Are you feeling ok now?”
“Yes… Thanks to you.”
“That’s good…” Although in a moment Rick didn’t want to end, it had to be cut short as he needed to head back into town to get to the bottom of this mystery. He took Nami to the backstage where the stilt walker was waiting. All strung up to her strings and ready to go, the trio left the ship for the town.
Later, they arrived and the stilt walker was puppeteering Nami to hand out any flyers they had left. Meanwhile, Rick split up from them to go and find himself some answers. Holding a flyer of his on in hand, he walked around a quiet area of town where he saw two men speaking casually with each other down a small alleyway closed off from the public view.
“Excuse me?” he called out to them. “May I speak with you?”
“Huh?” replied one of the men wearing a purple top. “What is it?”
“My name is Rick Gray. Captian of the Jolly Jingle and creator of the Jinglette Marionette show.”
“Oh yeah!” replied the other man wearing a green top. “I got a ticket a few days ago from the puppet lady herself for my kid to go see your show. Tell you what that girl of yours is a pretty colourful character!”
“Thank you. Seeing as you brought a ticket, that leads me into asking you something.”
“Sure what?” Rick took the letter out of his coat pocket, including a gun which he aimed at the men.
“What’s the big idea?! You crazy or something?!”
“Did you bastards write me this letter?!”
“What are you talking about?!” Rick glared deeply at them and used his devil fruit powers to hypnotise them.
“Write my name, Rick Gray down on the back of this paper right now!” he ordered taking out the flyer and a pen for them to write on.
“Yes…” they replied as they wrote his name down. Rick took the paper off from the men and was disappointed to find that their handwriting didn’t match the threat letter he received.
“Damn! Nothing," he thought. "Make yourselves useful and run away from this town. When you are far away... fight each other to the death until one of you dies. If one of you is left standing, then commit suicide.”
“Yes master,” replied the men obediently. They turned around and ran away as fast as they could, glaring each other in the face with pure hatred of each other.
“Good riddance to garbage,” said Rick feeling relieved. “Doesn’t matter who sees me at the end of the day. They will meet the same fate if they cross me.” As he walked away to find other people, hiding in the distance was Sugar who had seen and heard everything.
“Interesting. No wonder this Rick guy is living the easy life with devil fruit powers like that,” she said to her monkey toy servant and Cindy, the marionette formally known as Jennie.
“That guy is pretty twisted huh master?” said Cindy in a cheerful tone of voice. “When are you going to mess with him?”
“Patience little one. That time is so close I can feel it. I suppose we will have to take extra care if his powers are that effective. I’m not worried but never hurts to be on your guard. Won’t stop me from trying to provoke him later on though!”
“I hope you know what you are doing master,” said the monkey toy.
“It’ll be fine! He’ll crack soon.”
Back with Nami and the stilt walker, all the remaining flyers had run out so the pair of them had to entertain townsfolk with of course the stilt walker doing all the work. Kids would make a line so that one by one they could come and say hello and get a hug. Although Nami was delighted to entertain the children, she couldn’t stop thinking about Rick’s earlier behaviour wondering if he was ok. What Nami didn’t expect next was who she saw waiting in the line to say hello.
“It’s Sugar!” Nami thought, doing her best to keep the permeant smile on her face which proved hard. “What is she doing here?” Sugar was looking taller than usual and she couldn’t quite tell why. When she was next in line, Nami saw that Sugar was standing on some old buckets carrying Cindy’s crossbars in her hands.
“Hello Jinglette!” she said acting all excited. “I made my own puppet here see? Her name is Cindy! After seeing you in person that time I was inspired to make my own puppet!”
“Wow Sugar,” said the stilt walker, “that looks wonderful! Jinglette is delighted to see it too, aren’t you?” He pulled Nami’s strings to make her clap her hands and shake up and down on the spot. “Oh, Jinglette you sure have your ways to express yourself!”
“My little Cindy wants to dance with Jinglette Mr! May she?”
“Of course! Jinglette loves to dance after all!” The stilt walker made Nami dance around whilst Sugar manipulated Cindy. The audience was quite surprised to see that Sugar’s puppeteering was surprisingly good as Cindy danced alongside the Jester. The whole time Nami was still confused as to what Sugar wanted as she watched the way she made Cindy move.
“This is a lot of fun Jinglette! You and Cindy make a great duet!” said Sugar who wasn’t even looking at what she was doing anymore to keep her eyes focused on Nami.
“That girl is a strange one,” said a local. “She means no harm but she seems quite the mystery and I don’t really know why?”
“She seems to get along so well with the other toys around here,” said another. “Who knew she was a great puppeteer as well!”
“Look at her go!” said a young boy to his friend. “I wish she’d hang out with us so I could learn how to be as cool as her!”
“Yeah I wish so too,” said his friend. “But she only ever wants to hang out with the toys here. I’d really like to be her friend.”
“That’s right Straw Hat Nami, keep enjoying yourself,” Sugar thought feeling confident. “It’s only a matter of time until I win you over and break that man you care about. Fake bonds just aren’t meant to be after all.” The dance was over and the audience clapped for the both of them.
“That was wonderful!” said a lady. “They really should consider doing a team up!”
“I agree!” said a man overhearing her. “Sugar and Jinglette should really do something together!”
“Yeah!” cried everyone else as they continued to applause them. Sugar took a bow whilst also manipulating Cindy to do the same.
“Thank you, everyone! Cindy has been taught by the best!”
“Jinglette loved dancing with you too, right?” said the stilt walker as he made Nami shake her head up and down. “I knew you would!” Sugar walked up to Nami and quietly whispered in her ear.
“Continue to think about my offer, ok? I can make your life eternal whereas the one you live with cannot.” She stepped away, got down from the buckets she used and walked away with Cindy in tow. As the audience waved goodbye to Sugar, Nami was more conflicted than ever.
“I really enjoyed that… I hate to admit it, but she could make Cindy dance a lot better than the puppeteers controlling me ever have…”
When Sugar was out of sight from everybody, she placed Cindy back down on the ground where she could finally move for herself again.
“Do you think that will work master?” she asked wrapping her wooden fingers around each other.
“Am I a twenty-two-year-old with the body of a ten-year-old?"
“Of course, is your answer! Thanks to my amazing puppeteer skills that could rival the boss' own, the town wants us to be together and I’m certain Jinglette deep down is thinking the same."
“So what’s next master?”
“I’m gonna go screw with Mr Grey again. You, make yourself useful and steal me some fresh grapes unless you want me to smash you into pieces.”
“Yes, master! I’m on my way!” Cindy dashed off as far as her wooden legs would carry her whilst Sugar left to find Rick.
“Damn it!” said Rick becoming angrier that he had so many failed attempts to find the one who wrote the letter. He was with a woman under his hypnosis who just so happened to be one of the people praising Sugar and Jinglette’s performance. He had been hypnotising quite a number of people now, but all of their handwriting never matched the letter.
“Fine! Make yourself useful and return to your home! You’re going to find the sharpest knife in your house and chop of half of your right arm! Bleeding to death should be a fitting punishment for you.”
“As you command…” The woman walked away to carry out her task whilst Rick walked away to avoid being seen.
“This is bullshit! How can I not find this person!” He walked on in frustration and passed by the toy store where he suddenly thought of something.
“Ever since I went in there, I’ve seen some strange things about this island… It has to be him. That bastard shopkeeper with the living monkey toy seems suspicious enough!” Rick made he made his way in and this time the shopkeeper was in the store today. The man smiled at Rick as he came in.
“Ah, hello there Mr Gray!” he said cheerfully. “How nice to see you aga-
“Cut the crap!” replied Rick slamming his hand on the desk staring angrily at the shopkeeper. “I demand answers right now!”
“Mr Grey what on earth is the matter?!”
“SHUT UP!” Rick slammed his hand down again clenching his teeth beginning to scare him. Outside the shop, Sugar was close by and could hear what was going on.
“It’s happening! Rickie boy is starting to slip!” She ducked under the front window and stood next to the door out of sight.
“Please Mr Gray, calm down! I have no idea what you’re talking about!”
“Don’t lie to me you sick bastard! You threatened me I know it’s you! Ever since I came into this store, things haven’t felt quite right! Having a monkey toy that is alive, a funny looking girl who I know must be your daughter and now a letter threating to take away my Jinglette! MY Jinglette!”
“Mr Gray, I must ask you to leave my store this instant! You are horribly mistaken and starting to scare me! Leave my shop or I shall call in the Marines!”
“You aren’t going anywhere,” said Rick calmly giving the man an evil looking smile, as he started to use his powers to hypnotise him. “Write my name on this piece of paper. I’ll prove to everybody that you are trying to murder me when your handwriting matches this letter.”
“Yes…” The man took the paper and pen from Ricks' hands and started to write down his name. Rick was smiling as he wrote, fully believing this man was the one who did it. When the writing was done, he snatched the paper and read it. He started to shake his hands in frustration as the writing didn’t match the one on the letter.
“DAMN IT!” he cried slamming his fist on the table. “Damn it, damn it, DAMN IT!” The man didn’t budge at all staring blankly at Rick.
“You will tell your monkey friend to take over the shop. As for you... you will stay in the stock room for the rest of your days. Never coming out to eat, drink or sleep. You will continue to do so until you die of starvation.”
“Get to it then…” The shopkeeper walked away into the stock room and Rick quietly left, feeling defeated. But before he could leave the area, Sugar snuck up behind him.
“Boo!” she cried out giving Rick a fright.
“What the hell?! Oh, it’s only you little girl.”
“I do have a name you know!”
“Yes, I’m sure…” Rick walked away to Sugar’s disapproval.
“Hey don’t go away! I just wanted to say hi!”
“Leave me, alone kid… I’m not in the mood.”
“Aww really? Why are you feeling unwell?”
“You could say that…”
"I just wanted to ask you about the show! It is tomorrow night, right? I’m bad at remembering stuff!”
“Yes, it’s tomorrow…”
“Yay! I can’t stop thinking about Jinglette!”
“Well she’ll sure put on a show you won’t forget,” Rick said starting to perk up slightly knowing the night was close.
“When the show is over, can I see Jinglette again?”
“Well, we will be setting sail the next day. I’ll see if she has time before we go.”
“I hope so! I wanted to give her my autograph that I wrote for her, see?” She handed him a piece of paper with her name written down. Curious about the style of her handwriting, it didn’t match the letter which he didn’t expect it to.
“I’m sure she’ll appreciate it.”
“Say, what were you so angry about earlier?” Rick gasped suddenly. “It was only for a brief moment, but I thought I heard you shout, DAMN IT, from a few steps away. Things went quiet after that before you left the store. Is everything ok?” Sweat was starting to form on Rick’s forehead feeling nervous that he might have blown his cover.
“Oh umm, I just banged my hand really hard on one of the wooden shelves in there! The edge was quite sharp so it hurt a lot!”
“Where did you hurt yourself?” Rick gasped again knowing he had nothing to prove.
“Just on the elbow is all.”
“Can I see?” The pressure was rising.
“I don’t think I’d want to show you the nasty cut I got! I have to go and get it treated right away!”
“Oh, I’ve brave enough. I promise I won’t scream.”
“I really can’t. I must get it looked at!”
“You aren’t a good liar Mr.”
“I don’t think you really did hurt yourself. If you did you would show me.”
“I bet Jinglette wouldn’t want you to lie! It would be sad if you did. She’s so kind and the dance she showed me in town earlier was great!”
“Oh so… You danced with her?”
“Yep! I even brought my own puppet to dance alongside her too! People even thought we’d be great as a team! Perhaps one day we will!”
“I see. How nice.” Rick sounded completely disinterested.
“So I hope you don’t lie to her like you are to me. Being lied to can be really devastating sometimes, you know?”
“Ugh, this annoying kid… I’ll get rid of her quietly.” Rick made full eye contact with Sugar and got ready to hypnotise her.
“What are you doing Mr?”
“Just look real close at me ok? I promise it will be ok.”
“Cannonball!” cried a voice which broke Rick’s concentration. Heading straight towards him was the monkey toy who had curled himself up in a ball and crashed into Rick’s face.
“Ow! Son of a!”
“Mr Monkey! What are you doing!” cried Sugar as she picked it up. “That was rather rude!”
“Sorry master! I was just having fun and didn’t notice there was this man in front of me!”
“You naughty little rascal! I’m gonna take you home right now and punish you!” Sugar looked up at Rick who was rubbing his face.
“I’m real sorry Mr! I gotta leave now and put this little guy in time out! Apologise to him before we go!”
“I should think so! Goodbye, sir! I’ll be at the show!” Sugar ran off feeling confident as ever, with Rick left feeling confused. He looked at the signature given to him taking a closer look at her handwriting.
“Why would I ever think that girl would write the letter? Look at me I’m overreacting. Besides, her handwriting is the least convincing of everyone I’ve looked at.” He put the autograph back in his pocket and walked down the path to collect Jinglette.
“I’m done for today… I’ll just have to watch my step…”
“Master that was scary what you did back there!” said the monkey toy once it and Sugar were far away enough. “He could have hypnotised you!”
“Heh, I wasn’t worried,” she replied confidently. “I knew you’d come along to stop him anyway.”
“You could have turned him into a toy easily! You can be so reckless!”
“What, and ruin my perfect moment to watch the fake bond between him and Jinglette crumble before doing so? I didn’t create you to question me, slave. Perhaps you do want me to destroy you after all.”
“No of course not! I just worry about you!”
“I know. But be careful what you say around me.” Cindy soon arrived carrying some grapes in her wooden arms.
“Here you go, master! I got away with stealing these for you without getting spotted!”
“Good. I won’t have to smash you after all.”
"I was considering it after you proved your worth by writing that threatening letter to Mr Gray for me. But you're alright so you can stay."
"I'm glad I proved myself useful!"
“We are gonna head back to that ship tonight you two. You chimp will spy on Mr Gray and Jinglette again. Got it?”
“Yes, master! I’ll do it!”
“So, how much longer until we take Jinglette master?” asked Cindy.
“Not long now little one. Given how Mr Gray’s state of mind is, and how much more interested Jinglette looked earlier, I have a feeling that brainwashing will leave her soon.”
“I hope it’s tonight!”
“I have a good feeling about it. Soon Jinglette will come over to our side. Because once the true person inside that head awakens, she won’t know who I am. It’ll make things all the easier.”
A few hours later, Rick and Jinglette were back to praising again, this time a run-through of the entire show as tomorrow was the big night. Things weren’t the most comfortable for Nami however, as Rick was manipulating her quite roughly with plenty of mistakes being made.
“Master I’m starting to ache all over…” she said feeling exhausted. This practice feels a little rough tonight.”
“Look Jinglette, the show is tomorrow night and we have to get through this quickly. I just want to get this done so we can relax for the rest of the night. Ok?!”
“Yes…” The practice continued on and things didn’t go much smoother. Nami thought about how Sugar was performing with Cindy again, comparing her to how she was being performed right now. She didn’t want to admit it to herself, but she was starting to feel jealous of how much better Cindy was treated.
Mistake after mistake was happening more throughout practice. Rick even started dropping Nami’s controllers a few times which only aggravated him a lot to the point of taking his frustration out on Nami. Things got even worse when Nami started to feel pain in her head again.
“Ah! Master, can we please stop? My head feels so bad!”
“Oh come on! Worry about that later!”
“But master! My head feels… AAAAAAHHH!” More memory fragments came into her head again and the pain was even worse.
“Treasure… A village… A straw hat… What is this?!”
“Jinglette just let me get on with this! We’ve almost finished this dance!”
“Master! Please let me stop!”
“FINE! HAVE IT YOUR WAY THEN!” Rick threw Nami’s crossbars down on the stage floor fiercely. These was a long awkward silence from the both of them.
“I’m sorry…” said Nami tearing up. “My head was hurting so much. I don’t know why this is happening nor can I remember why… I didn’t mean to make you mad…”
“What’s the point…? I’m just going to bed…”
“I’d like to sleep as well, master… If it’s ok?”
“Fine…” Rick took Nami backstage and put her crossbars on the hooks above. This time, however, he started walking out of the room without pulling Nami up in the air like he usually would.
“Master… Am I supposed to sleep standing tonight?” Rick didn’t say a word and left the stage, leaving Nami in a state of confusion. “If that’s what master wants…” She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep as uncomfortable as it was. Sadness was deep inside her heart.
Outside of the ship, Sugar and Cindy had already started hiding by the vessel waiting for the monkey to return from spying on Nami and Rick. Eventually, it made it out to the delight of Sugar.
“Things are going as you predicted,” said the monkey. It told Sugar everything it saw from the rough performance to even Nami’s headache.
“The brainwashing must be at its end point now,” said Sugar smiling. “Let’s leave for now and come back later.” The trio left the ship feeling a lot more confident that things were going to go the way they hoped.
“Things are getting even better with this interesting development. Their perfect little life together is gonna come crashing down at any point now. Then Straw Hat Nami will be history!”