Kumai put on the Artis Luxe swimdress. James said it was for her, along with any other garments or supplies she might need from her suite. The matching cover-up turned out to be unnecessary since she was left alone on the pool deck.
The second shell of kava had released her internal grasping for what might be next. She sunned herself, swam laps in the pool, played in the netted portion of the ocean, sunned herself some more, and eventually pushed the button that James had given her to ring if she had any needs.
“Yes?” A sporty thirty-something woman appeared from inside the salon. “Would you enjoy a cocktail, beer, or iced drink perhaps?”
“I’d love some water.” Kumai said, then added, “But I can get it if you just show me where.”
“S’alright. I’m glad for something to do.” The woman said too sincerely. “Would you like something with it? We make outstanding smoothies.”
“That sounds healthy.” Kumai said. “But right now all I need is some water.”
The woman nodded and left. If Kumai didn’t know better, she would have called her expression disappointment.
She returned with a large selection of bottled waters. “I forgot to ask: still or sparkling. So I brought both.” She set down an ice bucket. A crystal glass frosted in the humid air and began sweating.
“Chef wants you to know that he is preparing brunch. Do you prefer pork or fish?”
“Brunch? Well, then fish. Thank you.” Kumai had to admit that she was getting hungry.
The woman said with an elfish grin, “If you prefer, you can have dessert first to be sure you have room for it.” She walked away and left and Kumai puzzling over what drink would have been perfect to order for sitting poolside mid-morning. A mimosa? A margarita? She wondered if there was such a thing as a virgin Mai Tai or if that would be akin to a martini without gin.
She surprised herself by how long it took her to choose a water. There was Perrier, Pellegrino, St. eau d’Tap, Hawaiian Springs, Menehune, and Coconut Water. Settling on Menehune, she counted on it helping her to get up to some mischief’. She opened the bottle and guzzled it.
The kava was still working its magic in a lovely, languid relaxation. From the closet she selected a layered sundress from savvy Batik that felt comfortable. The tags were still on all the clothing, minus prices. Relief washed over her as she found no evening gowns in the collection. In fact, there was a suspicious plethora of khaki. Someone had done research on her tastes.
With nobody to guide her around the ship, she felt adrift. Thanks to the kava, she was more bold in her explorations than her normal reserve allowed. Next to her quarters was a cracked door that opened onto another berth. The room looked more like a den or office than a place to sleep although a tall Queen size bed was the center feature. Sheer netting in a pale gold draped the canopy frame like attending goddesses. Light shimmered off of the threads of gold shot through the weave.
A map on the far wall drew her into the room. It was Taka’s Oceania, with the Pacific Ocean centered as the featured form. Nautical symbols, charts, and legends were explained in beautifully-lettered boxes from each corner. What wasn’t explained were the gold ink lines around whole small islands and chunks of land, as well as several small pins placed throughout Oceania. The heads of the pins were gold, some shaped as pyramids or cubes, and others as balls set with sapphires. The Big Island held many sapphires, mostly on the Hilo side. Kumai was interested to see a few sapphires marking the very farthest edges of the ocean at the map’s upper right. California?
She checked along Puako, but the finger of land had no pins. As she tried to figure out where her place would be along the landforms, the light caught on a dark pin hole right around where she would have placed her house. A hole, but no pin.
The desktop was devoid of anything interesting which gave her a chill. She left off her studies of Oceania to answer a more pressing question, why was that mattress so bloody high?
After sitting on top of the covers, she was even more curious. If pressed to describe the feel, she would have used the word fleshy. She glanced at the open door and then pulled back some of the covers. Linen sheets. Sigh. She pulled back the sheets and the mattress pad, but still couldn’t tell what the bed was made of. So she felt under the mattress, above its platform. The thing was so heavy she could hardly lift it. It felt just like a soft body.
“It’s Aquafoam.” The woman from the pool deck said.
“Oh!” Kumai startled and yanked her hand out from under the mattress. “Never heard of it.” She tried to tuck the sheets back in but couldn’t lift the flesh.
“The latest. It’s not on the open market yet. It’s a hybrid waterbed using memory foam technology.”
“I’ll wait for the SeaFoam iteration.” Kumai said. I’d give anything to have a pea right now. “I like to be able to lift the mattress for making a bed. Sorry about messing it up.
“Not my domain.” The woman chuckled. “I’m the Deck Steward. I’ll let housekeeping know that the bed needs a tuck in. Don’t worry, I’ll tell them that I was checking on something for Mr. S.” She winked.
“Thanks.” Kumai said.
“Brunch is served. Inside or Out?”
“It was getting kinda hot out in the sun.”
“You have a covered lanai or air conditioned dining room available.” The server reported.
Kumai followed the steward through a narrow passage on the side of the yacht to a forward deck. An overhang extended onto a cheerful blue and white striped awning. A small cafe table was set for one, with only one chair. She took the seat and immediately jumped up because she thought she had sat on a curled up cat. It was a circular cushion of the same feel as the mattress.
“Takes some getting used to.” The woman said. “They’re trying it on all the cushions.”
”I see.” Kumiai sat down carefully. Once she knew she wasn’t harming a small animal the pad felt almost okay.
Chef had done himself proud. Kumai enjoyed the fresh mahimahi on a warm salad of shredded and lightly steamed vegetables. It was all drizzled with a lilikoi hollandaise sauce that she wanted to drink straight. She let the steward talk her into a Tahitian limeade, with fresh coconut milk.
“Coffee with your dessert?” The woman returned with a tray and cleared Kumai’s china and used silverware. She placed a tiny fork, spoon, and spread where the others had been. A small curved metal scoop helped her to remove any troublesome crumbs from the navy tablecloth.
“I don’t think I left room.”
“Since they’re already made, you might as well try a bite and leave the rest…”‘
They? Did she use the plural for dessert? Kumai groaned. ”Are naps permitted afterward?”
“Required.” The woman laughed.
“Then make it a decaf, please.”
The woman returned with a translucent shell tray bearing an array of tiny desserts. Kumai started with the miniature chocolate chip cookie. Her eyes rolled up in bliss when she tasted a sea salt crust on top. Then she sampled a carrot cake petit four, a pink champagne mini cupcake, a caramel macadamia nut cluster, and a dark chocolate-dipped chunk of candied ginger. To melt it all down, she sipped her coffee. Maybe it had tasted so good because she wasn’t really full like she thought. So she tried them all again. Nope. They were just that good.
The only thing she skipped was a plain white spongy rectangle that she couldn’t identify.
The steward returned and said in disappointment, “Oh, you didn’t try your Hawaiian Honey marshmallow? Chef made them especially for you. The staff has been gobbling them up.” She reached to clear the tray.
Kumai put out her hand. “I’m not quite finished.”
“Oh, excuse me.” The woman stepped back, got a pot of coffee and refilled Kumai’s cup. “Housekeeping has your bed turned down for you.”
“Thanks. I’m sorry about earlier. I didn’t mean to snoop in a private area.” The door was open…”
“If it were private, you wouldn’t have been able to be there.” The woman said. “You can explore the ship at will. Carry the call button in case you feel lost. Will you want help finding your suite?”
“I think I’ve got it. Thanks.” Kumai said.
After the steward disappeared, she sampled the homemade marshmallow. Her mouth threw a disco party while her brain sounded alarms about strangers knowing way too much about her preferences. She named the marshmallow a “creepy treat” and nibbled on it slowly. As she emptied the last of her coffee, she saw that she had also emptied the entire dessert tray. She shrugged to herself. When else would she get to live it up? In fact, after a nap and maybe another swim, she would try some of those cocktails she had been thinking about.
Her return to quarters was less interesting than she had hoped. Most of the glossy teak doors she found were closed. And locked. Several we made of slatted wood. She stood near them to listen, pretending to enjoy the view of Kona town and Hualalai Mountain. It wasn’t difficult to pretend. Her town was postcard pretty with church steeples, rock walls, and lush layers of greenery. A few corporate blots marred the view, like one grocery store’s super-sized S, bold letters on the usual Marts, the new Holiday Inn Express building, and the grey cement block prison buildings she knew to be Kealakehe High School.
Even though the rooted well being from the kava was wearing off, a food coma offered to take over. She made it to her mattress just in time to get her toes up for a sleep.
She dreamed that her dad had come back to Idaho and brought her a new mom to sleep against, all cushy and warm. She gently rocked as she snuggled against this mother’s belly and played with her necklace of gold beads, the round ones dripping water onto her hands. Then the mother turned into a huge marshmallow and Kumai knew that her bed was going to melt if she let the necklace drip onto it. She tried to keep her arm away from the bed, but she couldn’t find the edge. Until she did. She woke up when she hit the floor.
Her elbow took the worst of the landing. She rubbed the spot where it should have been getting sore and got her bearings. The light shined sideways through the portholes in the head. It was was getting into late afternoon. If that’s what kava did for her, she could do without losing an entire day. In fairness, her long sleep could also have been induced by a full belly and a flesh bed.
Back into a swimsuit, this time the Venezia bikini, she took a brisk swim in the ocean. She dove in the open water outside of the protected area. The deep blue enveloped her as she opened her eyes underwater and looked at the vast substance in which she moved. Her bubbles returned to the surface at the same pace as she did. Swimming felt rapturous like never before. She swam a lap around the vessel, and then decided to do another. She could hear dolphins clicking and whistling underwater. The anchor rope descended into the deep blue until it disappeared. If she were free diving, that would be her tether to reality.
She got back up into the boat, rinsed off in the pool, dipped in the hot tub for a few minutes, then decided she would rather tour the yacht some more. It took only minutes for Kumai to learn several things: 1. Skip should never use his real name, which was posted on the requisite vessel license as Clarence Oglesby Summerbourne; 2. she wanted to start drinking cocktails before 5:00; and 3. life on a yacht could kill a person by slow boredom.
Maybe yachts were less boring when a person had all their own stuff along with them. What would be her stuff? She would have dive gear. She wondered what she was doing on this boat when she had her own stuff to do.
Her wanderings had unearthed absolutely nothing interesting, illegal, or tawdry. Everyone knew that wealth at this level always meant secrets. This was like exploring a bar of soap. So why the locked doors? In contrast, if someone was being niele like this at her hale, they would easily discover hidden dirt in her drawer of romance novels.
Hours from now she would be wishing for less excitement. Rather than put on a drunk, she returned the direction of her room to prepare for disembarking back to the real world. James, the Chief Steward divined her location on the boat. “Madam. Mr. Summerbourne will be returning for supper and requests your company if you are available.”
Food? “Are there any marshmallows left?” She asked.
“Several. I tucked them away for you.”
“Good man. In that case, I’ll be there. How do I dress?”
“Anything except pool attire is suitable. Do you have everything you need?”
“Is there a bar I should know about?” Kumai asked.
“You may enjoy the media lounge on the next deck below.”
Another deck. Of course. “How do I get there?”
“Follow this corridor halfway aft. You’ll see a cubby on the starboard. That’s the top of the stair well. Just ring me if you would like to be escorted.”
“Got it.” Kumaid said, trying to remember what aft and starboard meant. Her work on a dive boat was about the dives, not the boat. She felt a little lighter to discover something that they didn’t seem to know about her. The fact that they always knew where to find her brought back the heaviness.
She chose a double-layered burgundy dress for supper, flapper style lace over a matching mesh slip. The door that had opened to the den-bedroom berth was now closed. She wanted another look at that map, so she knocked, then tried the handle. Locked. The stairwell was so narrow she had missed it on first pass. Once down the perforated metal steps, steep as a ladder, she found herself in an air-conditioned lounge.
Several flat screen TV’s were tastefully integrated into the room, shifting gently from one image of Hawaii to another. The row of short and wide tinted windows looked like screens as well, giving her the impression that she was somewhere on the mainland watching a movie called Hawaii. The scene outside panned and tilted gently as the yacht moved on anchor.
The air in the room felt still. She yawned and thought about curling up for a rest on one of the lounges. Silence pressed on her like heavy padding. The only movement was the shifting of silent slideshows on the screens. A remote on one of the tall narrow sofa tables offered relief when she pressed the power button and Billie Holliday sang about a Weeping Willow Tree. Kumai left the music on, but decided to continue exploring, mostly to find a bar. It turned out to be in the next room, through a dark glass door.
“What do you recommend?” Kumai asked in response to the bartender’s question of what she was having.
“Prohibition era drinks are coming into vogue. You could try a Pink Lady, or maybe a Twelve Mile. The Bijou is top of my list.”
“Okay. I’ll have one of those. But maybe I should start with a virgin.”
The bartender paused. “I’m trying to think of any Prohibition drinks that aren’t made entirely of alcohol.”
Kumai waited. “None?” She asked.
“Not a one.”
It was still before 5:00, and she had promised two men who had kissed her that she would be careful. “Those were the days.” She sighed, “Make me a virgin something?”
“One stiff virgin colada coming up.” He set a small plate of creepy treats on the bar top for her. She mindlessly reached for a marshmallow. The first divine bite brought her back to the moment. Pillowy texture only went so far, though, and this time she couldn’t help but notice a bitter aftertaste. She ate another one just to be sure.
As the blender whirred, she studied the room. A pool table, two game tables covered in green felt, one with white and red marks, and several juke boxes that made her Jams World look pale were banked by tufted vinyl bench seats that wrapped the room. A small stage was raised on the floor opposite the bar.
“Karaoke?” She asked.
“Sometimes.” The man nodded. “Usually just live gigs, though.”
“What kind?” She asked.
“Depends on who’s aboard.”
“Then it would be jazz. Would you like us to arrange that?”
She tried to smile, but mostly she froze in disbelief. “Thanks, but not tonight.”
“Any time.” He said.
“Who played last?” She asked.
He just smiled.
Okay. “Which way should I go to explore this deck?” She asked.
He pointed to his right. It was too fast of a response.
She thanked him, went out the side door he suggested, left her call button on the counter in a small bathroom off the hallway, and circled back through the media room. Billie had finished and Diana Krall was wanting a grape peeled.
Kumai exited the other side and hurried to investigate before they realized that she had left the tracker behind. But they found her.
And thankfully so did Peter Yelley an hour later as she floated in a dinghy, adrift and unconscious.