Kumai whistled for Mana. They darted through the maze of plants and pots in Tane’s garden and then leapt into the mail van. As they buckled in she heard her prey drive past. She rolled the cargo door closed and considered whether Wanda might be able to chase going downhill. Her only other hunting plan involved a swim to the historic site near her home to help decipher the scratches on her neighbors’ pier. Pursuing this guy was as good a lead as any.
Wanda went down the hill a little too freely. Kumai should have tested her brakes first. Even so, the other van had a considerable head start on her. When she reached the Belt Road she was sure that she had lost him. But her target had pulled off the road to the side. He was talking to a couple who stood in the neighboring orchard. A dark canopy of branches and leaves shaded an umber floor of fertile soil, pure gold on a volcanic rock. The trees were planted in perfectly spaced rows and columns that converged in a distant vanishing point. This particular macadamia nut farm belonged to the company that had just been cited for enslaving men from Thailand. One escaped to tell about it. Actually, the only citation that stuck to the corporation was tax evasion, but the slave trade had broken down in the process of investigation.
The couple were talking to the van driver through his window, gesturing and laughing. Kumai rolled up beside him, hoping to angle in front and block his escape. He saw her coming and floored it out onto the highway, causing other vehicles to swerve. She looked at the row of oncoming traffic and debated doing the same thing, until she looked over to the couple. It was Lani and Bradon.
“Hey!” Kumai yelled.
They looked startled. Bradon took a step toward Kumai, and Lani stopped him. “Aloha.” Lani sang out in a motherly tone. Kumai felt an unexpected urge to punch her former kumu. Kumai’s lack of sleep was coloring her mood.
“Do you know that guy?” Kumai asked, pointing ahead to the departing van.
“Yeah…” Bradon said.
“No,” Lani said stepping ahead of Bradon.
“So why were you talking to him?” Kumai asked.
Bradon looked up the hill as if he needed to see something up there. Lani said, “This is Hawaii, Kumai. The land of Aloha. There are no strangers here.”
Kumai squinted at Lani. “Fine. What were you talking about?”
“Oh, he just wanted directions.” Lani said breezily, “Got lost up this road. What are you doing up this road?”
“I got lost too.” Kumai snapped. When I decided to learn something from you.
“John says your garden could use some attention, that you haven’t been home very much. You aren’t taking gardening classes up there, are you?” Lani asked, her tone remained cheery but her eyes sparkled like black rock.
“Up where?” Kumai asked.
“Oh, nevermind.” Lani said.
“Okay. Let’s also nevermind on John’s ‘help’, Lani. He has trampled my plants while doing his eavesdropping. I don’t need that kind of help, thanks.” Kumai said. Then she decided to ask, “Where was that guy wanting to go? Directions to where?”
“Malama Pharmacy.” Bradon said. Lani shot him darts.
“Well, you told him they moved, right?” Kumai said cheerfully. “He shoulda paid you to take him there, with how hard places are to find around here.”
“If you don’t want to give people directions, that’s fine.” Lani snapped. “But I find it helps to live with aloha. Sometimes people just want to give things for free. If you don’t have any more aloha than that, don’t worry about it. Just go on about your business.”
“Thanks.” Kumai said. “Hey, Bradon. This past year with you? Your little slip-up just now made it worth it. Thanks. And by the way, you and I? We’re not dating any more. If you ever feel a need to call me, don’t.” She drove away toward Malama’s, hoping her underwater attacker would be there.
His van was parked in the lower lot. She cruised by slowly and looked into the pharmacy’s picture window to see Scarface’s back as he stood at the counter.
Kumai knew what to do. She parked at Choice Mart in the upper lot and bought a six pack of Kona Longboard in bottles. She ran down to the lower level, between two tall trucks, and hid on the rock wall while she smashed three of the beers on the lava.
Beer dribbled on her as she carefully picked up the bottom rings of glass and crouched along the side of the cargo van. He was still inside the pharmacy when she peeked to check. One bottle base went behind the left rear tire. She stuck her head out and checked his whereabouts again. It looked like he was finishing up in there. She dashed around the back of the van and tucked the other two glass rings out of sight on the right side of the van behind the wheels, jagged edges up.
She sprinted back to the stairwell, texted Peter, dialed 911, and caught her breath on the steps while she watched.
Scarface got into his van, then stepped out again. Kumai gripped her phone more tightly and covered the ear piece when the dispatcher asked, “Police, Fire, or Ambulance?”
He went back into the pharmacy. “Police.” Kumai said. He came back out and started the van.
“Where are you and what’s the nature of your emergency?” The dispatcher asked.
“Lower level of the Kealakekua Ranch Center, below Choice Mart, in front of Malama Pharmacy. A man who attacked me is in a white cargo van.” She gave his license number, then wondered why the van was driving away with no flat tires. Two of the three bottle bases remained in the parking space.
“Are you in need of an ambulance?” The dispatcher asked.
“What? Me? No, I’m fine.”
“You said that he attacked you. Is he armed?” She asked.
“I don’t know, but he may be. He also may be associated with three recent murders up in Kohala last week.”
“The police are on their way. Your name, please.”
“Kumai Kaimana.” She spelled her name while she went to gather the glass from the parking lot. She didn’t want anyone else driving onto it. “It looks like he is going to leave the area.” Kumai reported.
“Can you tell me which direction he may go?” the dispatcher asked.
“Was that a shot fired? Are you okay?” The dispatcher asked.
“No, a tire blew out. I’m fine. He’s stuck in the parking lot.” Kumai reported. “I’ll watch to see if he runs.”
“Please keep a safe distance from him. Stay on the telephone and report his movements.” The dispatcher then broadcast Kumai’s report on her radio to the officers, “Subject is in a disabled vehicle, white cargo van, lower parking lot…”
Kumai watched him step out of the van, circle the vehicle, then look up and search the area. Their eyes locked across the distance and she smiled as police cars pulled up on either side of his vehicle. He raised his hand to give her a shaka but only his middle finger was working. She gave him a shaka back. Hang Loose, Dude.