27 Iwakaluakumamahiku ~ In the Market

Kumai was glad that Officer Tako wasn’t a rookie.  He was less likely to take their witness statements by the book.  He did take a lifetime, however, to find the forms and longer than forever to review them.  Even the coffee he offered them tasted unenthusiastic.  She began to wonder if he was stalling them. Hunger might have been pushing her toward paranoia.

Susan slouched sideways in her plastic chair, arms crossed.  She wore light blue jeans that looked like they had been ironed.  Her plain linen shirt was handkerchief thin with tiny stitching in dark blue thread.  She glanced at Kumai, “Are you sleeping okay?  Your eyes have dark rings under them.”

“I slept soundly, thanks.  That bed is cozy.  This is just some residue from Lilio’s paint job.  I can’t scrub it off.”  Kumai shrugged, then noticed the officer studying her.  She was so hungry that she wanted to yell at him, “WHAT?”  Instead, she leaned forward and put her head in her hands.

“You sure you’re okay?”  Susan asked.

“Getting a little too hungry.”  Kumai answered.

no_mango_picking“Boy, me too.”  It came out like a growl.  “If that crepe guy closes up before we get there, I’m gonna be an unhappy taxpayer.”

Kumai peeked up.

The officer raised his eyes from his papers, bored, and slowly looked back down.

Kumai wondered if they were in for an even longer wait now.

“Do you have wrist weights on under your cuffs?”  Susan asked the officer.  Kumai sat up.  He held very still.  Susan continued, “No really, it’s just that your arms seem like they’re heavy or something.  You oughta have that checked out if it’s not weights.  Have you thought of taking magnesium?  It does wonders for neurologically-based motor difficulties.  Or there’s frankincense.  That oil works for all of your body functions.  How’s your elimination?  In fact, each stage of digestion can be helped, from swallowing, on down to…”

“Okay.”  He said.  “You can go.”

When they were out in Lightning, Kumai asked, “What was that?”

“Homeopathy.  Works like a charm on old-school people like Mr. Tako.  Only thing better is to talk about how I have been helped by my religion.  I save that for my big guns.”
Waimea_Market_food
“Genius.”  Kumai started the truck and drove the short distance to the market’s grass parking lot.  As she pulled in, she scanned under the white shade covers and saw the crepe guy folding up.  “Bad news.” she said.

“I see.”  Susan nodded.  “Other options?”

“Let’s look around.”  Kumai parked and got out.  Clouds crouched over the rainy side of town while here the sky was an uninterrupted ocean of blue.  Like a box of crayons, everyone was wearing bright colors.

The goat cheese stand had samples but no product left for sale.  Kumai took one of each flavor, willing herself not to reach for seconds.

Susan was at another booth reading about Hawaiian vanilla.  Kumai wanted to get to the meal vendors.  She bought a small baggie of dragon eyes to eat while she waited.  The tart, sweet fruit helped to slow her pace and enjoy the market.  The small bites were juicy and slaked her thirst.

farmers_market_flowersA shopper who looked like Sage with blonde dreads and tye-dye leggings walked ahead in the distance.  Kumai wiped her sticky hands on her bare legs and dialed Sage’s cell.  The shopper stopped.

“Hey Kumai!  You were on my mind just now.  We’re in Waimea.  Can you come meet us at the Farmer’s Market.”

“Um, I might be a second.”

FarmersMarket4“That’s fine.  We haven’t had breakfast yet, so look for us at the grills.”

“Second’s up.”

“Huh?”

“Look behind you.”

“Oh ha!  Hi!”  Sage waved, hung up, and trotted over to hug Kumai.  “Didja eat yet?”

“No.  I’m starving.”

“And you have black eyes.  How’d that happen?”

“Oh it’s just makeup.”

“You sure?  It’s a little far down your eyes for mascara…”

Kumai touched her cheekbones under her eyes and felt the tenderness there.  Taka.  Well, in fairness, the eel probably helped.

Farmers-Market2Susan joined the two women.  “What’s that?”  she asked, pointing to Kumai’s clear bag of fruit.

“Longan fruit.”  Sage answered.  “Great yin-enhancing properties.”

Susan smiled at Kumai, “I wonder if Officer Taka knows about that.”

Kumai laughed.  “Susan, this is my friend Sage.  Sage, this is my new client, Susan.”

“Oh!  Nice to meet you.”  Sage said, “Let’s grind.  Can you and Kumai join us?”

“Who’s us?”  Kumai asked.

“Me, Tom, and Bonnie.”

“Bonnie, seriously?”

“I’m too hungry to do anything right now,”  Susan said, “Could we eat first?  I’m even hungry enough to eat one of those nuts, if you don’t mind my trying it?”

dragon-eye“Sure.”  Kumai said and pulled out a longan.  “It’s a white frosty fruit inside the nutty shell.  There’s a glossy black stone in the very middle.  Start by peeling it.”

“That is some freaky looking little fruit in there.”  Susan said.  “It’s staring at me!”

“Its other name is ‘dragon eyes’.  You can see why.”  Kumai said.

“Uh.”  Susan said when she tasted the fruit.

“Might be an acquired taste?”  Sage asked.

“It’s …surprising.  Like a really sweet onion.  Wait, no, now it tastes like marzipan.”  Susan spit out the pit.  “I kinda want to try another one but I think I’ll save that for another day.”

Kumai turned to Sage, “Lead the way.”

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERASage led them past produce stands with bags of freshly-cut bamboo shoots, sheaves of prehistoric-looking warabi fern curls, round prickly rambutan, a tank of fresh eels and octopus, and wrapped cuts of Waimea beef and lamb.  Vegan dog food in paper bowls heaped with peas, grated carrots, chopped apple, and chunks of boiled purple sweet potato made Kumai drool.

Bonnie and Tom were at a picnic table engaged in an argument.  Sage advised, “They are at each other from waking to sleep.  I stay out of it.  It’s hard not to laugh sometimes, and even harder to imagine that they only met a few days ago.  They fight like old friends.”  Sage bounded ahead to hug Tom.

Kumai and Susan looked at each other.  Kumai shrugged.  They walked over to join the table.  Tom was wearing a purple t-shirt with DiVA! printed on the front in sparkling pink letters.  The i was a wand with a comet trail of magic following it.

“He’s not gay.”  Bonnie said when she saw them reading his shirt.  “I been finding him shirts around town but he doesn’t look at ’em in the morning when he pulls ’em outta the bag.  Once he’s left the house, it’s too late.”

“I want to wear this.”  Tom protested.  “I like it.”

Kumai snorted.  “You could always turn it inside out.”

“Had to, with one of them.”  He grumbled.

Bonnie burst out laughing.

“What are you having?” Sage asked, looking around at the food trucks.

Susan said, “That barbecue smells divine.”  She pointed to a rotisserie trailer with chickens lined up on the spit and doing a slow roll.

“We call those ‘Huli Chickens.’  If you want Southern barbecue, there’s also Charlie’s over there.  I think I’ll get Lotus Thai — they source most of their ingredients locally and are delicious.”  Kumai couldn’t vouch for any of the other vendors.

Sage picked up Tom’s fresh coconut and sipped from its straw.  “You can get these from the guy with the machete at the pickup truck over there.”  She pointed to a man standing by a truck backed-in with a load of green coconuts heaped in the bed of the truck.  He lopped off one end of a coconut and handed it to a shopper with a straw stuck in the new opening.  “I’m gonna go get a Kamuela Green-Side Smoothy.”

“Everything sounds good.”  Susan looked to Kumai for direction.  “I don’t know what to get.  I’m tempted to eat junk again today, but my body is going to rebel soon.”

“We probably could use some detox after last night.”  Kumai realized she wasn’t going to get her Phad Thai.  Her client needed a little more watching over.  And Kumai knew it wouldn’t hurt to eat more healthfully.  “Sage and I will get the smoothies if you want to keep shopping.”

dragon-fruit“Oh, fantastic. Thanks.”  Susan walked past buckets of flowers to the produce stands, picked up a fluorescent pink fruit, and asked the vendor something.

“A keeper?”  Sage asked.

“I dunno.”  Kumai turned back to Sage.  “She’s got potential.”

“And…?”

“Some aspects of her aren’t clear yet.”  Kumai answered, thinking of this morning’s meeting.  “I’m in wait-and-see mode.  What’s the deal with Bonnie?”

“Waddaya mean?”  Sage asked.

They moved up in the line for ordering their smoothies.

“I mean why is she still at my house?”  Kumai paused to order, “Two Waimea Greens.  One with ginger, spirulina, and almond butter.  The other with mint and B vitamin boost.”

“How’d ya know what she’ll want?  You didn’t ask her.”  Sage said.

“This is my job.  If she doesn’t like one, she’ll like the other.”

“And you like both?”  Sage pressed.

“Doesn’t matter.  I’m on the job right now.”

“So when do you get to enjoy your favorite?”

Kumai wasn’t sure what would be her favorite smoothy.  Did they make them with chocolate cake, marshmallow, and pink coconut?  Then she remembered that she hadn’t even wanted a smoothy.  Then she remembered that this also wasn’t what she wanted to talk about.  “Bonnie?”

“Just a sec.”  Sage said, then ordered three smoothies.

When she finished paying, Kumai asked, “Doesn’t she drive you crazy?”

“Who?”

“C’mon, Sage.  I’ll be home soon.  Am I going to need an eviction notice?”

“Oh I hope not.”  Sage sighed and looked over at the picnic table.  “Bonnie sold her home, so she doesn’t have a place to live.”

“Plenty of people sell houses.  Every day.  You know that’s no reason for me to house her.”

“Okay.  Here’s the scoop.  But I didn’t tell you.”  Sage sat down and Kumai joined her.  “Her husband is in jail in Hilo.  Armed robbery.  She was the driver of the getaway vehicle, but didn’t know it.  He told her they were making a withdrawal.”

“Kinda true…”

“S’what she says, ‘He never really lied to me, he jus’ didn’t tell me stuff so’s not to worry me.’  But the job got botched when he tripped on the way out of the bank and his paintball gun went off.”

“He used a paintball gun to rob a bank?  So the teller gave him money — why?”

“I don’t know!  Maybe she was already blue enough about her sucky job.”

“Was the paint blue?”

“I don’t know, Kumai.  The point is, they lost everything except one asset.  The getaway vehicle.  He was robbing the same bank he planned to give the money for their mortgage.  He’d gotten a few years behind on payments.”

“Recession.”

“That with some alcohol mixed in.  But he’s doing the Twelve Steps now.”

“That’s something good, then.”

Their orders came up and they gathered napkins.

“How’d Bonnie get off?”

“She was unaware of the plan.  Got out of the truck to help the dog her husband shot.  Refused to drive off until they had the dog checked by a vet.  Witness reports say he finally just walked back into the bank with the money and gave up.”

“He shoulda tried to apply the cash to the mortgage while he was in there.”  Kumai sighed.  “Okay, so no home or hubby to go back for.  She must have relatives in Hilo?  Where was she living before she came over to sell Lightning?”

“In Lightning.”

“Well, crap.”

“She’s pretty amazing, actually…”

“Okay, Sage.  Okay.  Gimme some time to think.”

They carried the smoothies to the table and Kumai took the two green drinks with her to find Susan.  She returned to the table a few minutes later with one drink.

“Which one’d she choose?”  Bonnie asked.

“Huh?”

“Which flavor smoothy did your client take?”  Sage asked.

“The first one, uh, ginger.”

“Aw, dang it!”  Tom said and pulled out his wallet.  He handed a five to Bonnie.

“Boy’s makin’ me rich.”  Bonnie gloated.

Kumai sat down and tried to sort out what she was feeling.  She usually had large swaths of time alone or with email and text contact only.  She found herself missing her solitude.  But if she went home, what would happen to Bonnie?  On the other hand, Kumai only agreed to buy a truck, nothing more.

“We know why your neighbors were killed.”  Tom offered.

“Tom and Bonnie have a theory.”  Sage clarified.  “It kinda makes sense.”

“Let’s hear it.”  Kumai waited.

“Bonnie’s heard stories from the other side of the island about a treasure in North Kohala.  The Kam Trove.”

“Named after King Kamehameha.”  Bonnie added.

“She knows that.”  Tom scolded.  “What she doesn’t know is that the King Kam statue that sank years ago had a hollow bottom.

And then…

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