10 Umi ~ Building Storm


Trade winds resumed after days of pressing heat. Kumai breathed in the cooling breeze. Winds would make Agent Yelley’s dive tonight more dangerous with surge.  Susan’s arrival tonight made the decision easy for her not to dive.

An experienced Technical Diver, Kumai could handle choppy surfaces and strong currents. Schedule conflicts between her diving and concierge services were usually resolved by her going on the dive. Even after Kate’s death, Kumai had found solace in the quiet rocking and steady press of the deep blue water’s embrace. This was the first time that Kumai could remember not wanting to dive.

Puako Road was golden with sunlight and empty of traffic. No sputter or roar of the old truck “Lightning” gave her hope of Sage’s return. She went back inside to find her phone and found the cobalt message light blinking. Three messages. None from Sage.

The first was from Bradon, unhappy with Kumai’s lack of follow-up about meeting in Waimea last night. She wanted to text him a sarcastic reply about being busy with a murder, but decided against it. Bradon needed to try wait, she concluded, and deleted his message.

Next was a message from Susan Winters, her new client, giving flight details for her arrival scheduled for 10:08 p.m. tonight. Kumai jotted down “9:30 to airport” with the private arrival terminal information and saved the voice message. She added “WEAR I.D.” to her note and inked back over the letters a few times.

The last message was from Kirby, “Hi, Kumai. This is Kirby Ishida, the EMT you met last night. I mean, uh, one of the EMT’s. Um, anyway, maybe I should have waited for you to contact me first. But I figured since you told me to call …from your phone… to give you my number, you also meant for me to have yours.” He cleared his throat. He was right. Under normal circumstances she would have been more cautious with letting out her number. But she was rattled last night and hadn’t thought. Or had she?

He continued, “I’ll keep it short: I’m going into Kona today. We could meet up at Lava Java’s, or Bongo Ben’s, well, wherever, if you wanted to or it’s convenient or whatever. Or, I could come back using the highway instead of Mamalahoa and meet you somewhere near the resorts, like Tommy Bahama’s. Okay. Uh. Thanks.” There was a silent pause before he ended the message.

Kumai smiled, then scowled to realize again that she had to work tonight. And even if she didn’t, there was the first message from Bradon. It would be rude for her not to give him warning of any weather-change in her affection.


Her thumb flipped through her contact list on the phone to find Sage, then swiped right to call her. An old truck’s rumbling engine noise came down Puako Road. Kumai ended the call and went into her room to pack an overnight bag.

Sage came into the room and reported, “I’m not sure how reliable Ole Lightning would be…”

“Nonsense!” Bonnie hollered through the lanai screen into Kumai’s bedroom. “He’s never died on me.  Don’t tell me you killed him.”  Bonnie must have shaken like a dog to get the ocean water out from her hair. It was standing on end, making her look insane. “Didja kill him?”

Sage did a double take, ignored Bonnie and continued, “I think it could overheat with the right circumstances.”

“I could overheat, with the right circumstances.” Bonnie growled.

“It’s okay, Bonnie, I’ll take the truck.” Kumai held up her hand.

“You will?” Sage and Bonnie asked in unison.

“Yes.” Kumai walked to the bedroom screen door and looked out to Bonnie, “May I run my debit card through your phone to pay straight into your account?”

“Sure, uh, how do I do that?”

“I’ll show you. May I use your phone again to set up where to enter the information?” Kumai asked.

Bonnie went in through the living room screen door and came around the corner to the bedroom with her phone extended out to Kumai. “Twenty thousand, right?” Sage coughed. Bonnie continued, “And I need cash for an airplane ticket to Hilo, please.” Bonnie went back out to the lanai through the bedroom screen door.

“Okay… I’ve never bought an airline ticket with cash. Do you want me to take you to the airport or should we book your flight on line first?”

“I’ll book it. I’m enjoying the dry side of the island today. Don’t worry about me. I know how to get around.”

Sage did a quick glance toward Bonnie, then returned to sorting Kumai’s overnight bag from light to dark.

“Okay, sure.” Kumai said to Bonnie. Then she turned to Sage, “I don’t know what to do with the neighbor’s cat.”

“Leave him with me.” Sage offered.

“But Tom’s allergic.”

“I’ll stay here at your place. Less upheaval for the cat.”

“Wow, that’s great, Sage. Thank you for helping me through this.”

“I’m glad you called. It’s fun to play in your life for a while! Your Hale is like a resort to me.” Sage smiled. “Where’s Dave?”

“You have a man?” Bonnie interrupted. Kumai opened the screen and handed Bonnie her phone.

“Huh? uh, I don’t know, Bonnie, uh, anyway just punch in your account information there.” Kumai turned away from Bonnie with a puzzled look to Sage, “Dave is with the Ohana at the shack.”

“Dang. I love playing with that bird.” Sage said.

Kumai went back in and zipped her bag closed. “Uncle’s got him since I may be staying at the client’s ranch overnight.”

“Oh, I wondered why you weren’t packing anything fun in the carryon.” Sage grinned. “It’s cuz you’re not going to be carrying on!”

“All work and no play.” Bonnie sang out softly.

Pleading with her eyes to go out and smack Bonnie, Sage talked as if all was normal, “I can stay as long as you need me to, as long as it’s okay for Tom to be here too when he can?”

“Of course.” Kumai smiled. She went to the lanai to finish with Bonnie’s phone, entered $20,000.00 on the Square App, ran her card through the reader, signed, and said to Bonnie, “Our business is complete. Thank you for selling your truck to me. Is there anything you need before you go?”

Bonnie whistled at the whole transaction. “Great. You’ll love Ole Lightning. Uh, the cash..?”

Kumai went to her passport wallet and pulled out four twenties, opened the screen, and handed them to Bonnie after a handshake.

Bonnie ignored the money and pulled Kumai in for a bear hug and kiss on each cheek, then she took the money. “Thanks. Listen, you get you a beau. I know you’re not askin’ me, but I’m jus’ sayin’. Oh, and, could I hang out on your lanai for a while?  I wanna dry off in this wonderful breeze. Chafes, y’know, to walk around all soggy.”

“Ah, well… Sage? Is it okay with you if Bonnie stays for a bit longer?”

Sage looked up from texting and nodded yes, then returned to tapping her fingers on her phone.

“Okay. I’m all set then. Anyone have needs before I set out?” Kumai asked.

“The dog?” Sage reminded. “And what’s the cat’s name?”

“What’s the dog’s name?” Bonnie asked.

“They both need names.” Kumai said, “Why don’t you two name the cat? Maybe something Hawaiian?”

“Surely the dog came with a name?” Sage asked and reached for the Kiwi Air Quarantine folder that came with the dog. “Here it is! Dioji.”


“Yeah, Susan said it was a difficult name to remember. She wanted something easier.”

“That’s a hoot! I heard that one before.” Bonnie said, laughing. “We could name the cat ‘seeAyTee’!”

“What are you talking about?” Sage asked, letting her exasperation begin to show.

“How do you spell dog?” Bonnie waited. “Now what if you put the emFASSis on the second letter? Waddaya get?”

Sage said, “Ah.”

Kumai snorted and grabbed her bag, “Definitely need a new name for that dog.”

“Hey, we could make the cat’s name a Polynesian version of spelling ‘CAT’.” Bonnie came in and pulled Sage toward the lanai.

Sage rolled her eyes and hugged Kumai before letting herself be dragged outside, “Be safe, Kumai. Do lots of things I wouldn’t do!”

Kumai laughed, “I don’t know of anything like that. See you later, Sage. Nice to meet you, Bonnie.”

But Sage was protesting to Bonnie, “There’s no ‘s’ sound in Polynesian phonetics.”

“Then we improvise. What do you use for the ‘s’ in your name?” Bonnie insisted.

Kumai shrugged, whistled for the pup, and went out. She would have paused to soak in the quiet comfort of her home if she had realized what was ahead. This was the calmest atmosphere she would enjoy before a tempest blew through her life.


And then…

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