“I’m sorry about your truck.” Kumai said.
“S’alright.” Susan muttered.
“Yeah.” Bonnie muttered.
Kumai sat in the shade of the lanai cover. Even though it was early morning, she was tired of being hot from days of driving across black lava in a Spam can. She needed to get into the ocean to refresh herself. Maybe this morning.
“There’s a reason people don’t loan their cars to others, and it’s not just the threat of texting and driving.” Bonnie commented.
“Oh?” Kumai asked.
“Yeah, if it’s a classic, what if it gets blown up?” Bonnie asked.
“That’s not very likely for most people, though, right?” Kumai asked.
“You think?” Bonnie asked, clearly disgusted. She put her head on her chin and looked out to the water, squinting.
“I’m really sorry, Bonnie. Lightning was irreplaceable.” Susan was apologizing now, even though the truck legally belonged to her.
“S’alright. I’m glad you two are okay. Mr. Yelley told me a little about what’s going on.” Bonnie said.
“He did?” Kumai asked. “Mind sharing it with us?”
“That’s on a need-to-know, in-case-of-emergency basis.” Bonnie folded her arms across her chest. “You didn’t think you needed to share any of your details with us.”
“I’m sorry, Bonnie. I didn’t want to alarm you if there was nothing to it. I think any attempt on our lives qualifies as needing to know.” Kumai grumbled.
“I s’pose.” Bonnie said. “Mr. Yelley said that he was here to disarm a bomb. That got me asking what was going on and he told me all about you, Miss Kumai, your diving and how you are helping out an investigation.”
“Sure.” Susan said dryly.
“No, really. I’m just, uh, a diver.” Kumai didn’t think she could safely say concierge as a career again. That Ben guy hadn’t called her yesterday like he said he would. She wondered if she had lost the job. If she did, then what would she do for income? She could dive, sure, but that wouldn’t bring in enough money to live on, even though she didn’t pay rent, now that she was buying groceries for both herself and Bonnie. She drew in a huge breath and huffed it out.
Bonnie raised her eyebrows.
“Stressful night.” Kumai said.
“I’m glad you both weren’t in the truck.” Bonnie said.
“My knees are still jelly.” Susan said, then asked, “Kumai, how are you staying so calm?”
“I’m numb.” Kumai said. “I really need to go get in the ocean today just to detox. Do you want to go?”
Susan hesitated. Kumai didn’t blame her. Who would want to dive with someone who had a target painted on her back?
“That’s alright.” Kumai said. “I’m good to go alone.”
“No, it’s just that…” Susan said, “There’s a middle-aged man looking in the kitchen window.”
Kumai turned to see Peter Yelley shielding his eyes to see past the glare into the kitchen. He went to the front door and knocked. Kumai went into the house to greet him.
“What’s with peeping in the windows before coming to the door?” Kumai asked as she held the screen door open for him.
“I just wanted to be sure that the stove hadn’t blown up, or a truckload of coconuts dropped through your roof, or something.” Peter laughed nervously.
“Gallows humor?” Kumai asked.
“Something like that. I guess you know how much danger you’re in without me telling you.” Peter said. “But if you trust me at all, you might want to get yourself off of your usual paths and disappear for a while.”
“The scarface guy talked.” Kumai said it as a statement, not a question. “What’d you find out?”
“There’s a hit out on you.” Peter said.
“But why?” Kumai asked. “Who did I piss off?”
“He didn’t know the answer to that. His understanding was that you had seen too much, maybe knew too much about the dead neighbors.”
“I can’t even remember their names.” Kumai complained. “Where do these criminals get their information?”
“From other criminals. They don’t need facts. You are a marked woman. Do you understand what I am saying to you?” Peter asked.
“Yes, that my next piercing might look more like a bullet hole than I had intended and I’d do well to look on Pinterest for ideas on interesting tattoos to cover scar patterns.”
“You’ve got much more to worry about than piercing and tattoos.” Peter said.
“Everyone does. That’s why they’re such a delightful distraction.” Kumai quipped.
“Get serious, Kumai.” Peter hissed. “You dodged two bombs and yesterday an attacker. This is out of hand. I can’t protect you if you aren’t more careful.”
“More careful than what?” Kumai asked.
“Than, uh,” Peter tried to think of something. “Why don’t you just let me put you into protective custody for a week or so. Maybe you would enjoy time on the island of Lanai? I might even be able to get you onto Ni’ihau.”
“I have family on Ni’ihau, thanks.” Kumai said. “I don’t want to run away. I want to chase them down and then get on with my life.” Or whatever will be left of it. A wave of self-pity washed over her. She had tried to stay clean, to stay out of any trouble, and this was all closing in on her. So why didn’t she just go ahead and use cocaine? That way, she’d be more sharp than those guys and they could never keep up with her. The logic was so impeccable that she scanned her mind for people she knew on island who could get her the stuff. And now she knew where to find Annamae…
“Kumai?” Peter said.
“Oh, lost myself thinking of, uh, a plan. Hey! How about using me like bait? Turn this into a fishing trip.”
“Okay, okay. How about I just go explore all those places on the Big Island that I haven’t taken the time to see?” She asked.
“That could be good. I’d want an agent with you.”
“Or I could just take a friend.” Kumai suggested.
“Not unless they’re specially trained and willing to get hurt.” Peter objected.
“Okay, fine. I’ll vanish for a while, but let me at least get in a swim this morning. I got roasted alive driving a mail van for days. I gotta get into the ocean.”
“Take a friend.” Peter said. “Don’t go out for long. I’ll hang around.” He looked over at Bonnie.
Kumai smiled halfheartedly and went to ask Susan, “Hey, you want to go get in the water with me?”
“Sure! Makes me especially glad I stayed here last night.” Susan wiped her eyes and went in to change.
“Everything okay?” Kumai asked Bonnie.
“Yeah, just be gentle with her, okay? She’s lost a lot.” Bonnie wiped a tear.
“I’m really sorry about Lightning, Bonnie. I didn’t realize that he mattered so much to her too.”
“This isn’t about Lightning.” Bonnie mumbled. “Just go easy.”
Kumai wanted to ask. Maybe Susan’s board had taken the company away from her, and the ranch. Could they do that? Maybe Kumai could get Susan’s story out of Bonnie before too long. She didn’t dare ask Susan herself.
The water was warm after the series of hot days. Kumai knew where a fresh water spring fed into the sea and swam in that direction, going wide of the eel’s cave. Once they reached the cloudy waters, Kumai stopped to float.
“That’s invigorating!” Susan said after she pulled off her mask and snorkel. “Did you know there was cold water in this spot?”
“Yes.” Kumai nodded while she scanned the shoreline that surrounded them like a half-rimmed bowl. The hillside had sparse foliage, mostly tufts of a hardy grass. A few kiawe trees and rocky outcroppings could hide someone, but no one could hike in on the rough a’a lava terrain. She relaxed and floated.
“What are you going to do?” Susan asked.
“I don’t know.” Kumai sighed. “It makes sense for me to be bait, since they’re after me anyway. I could draw them out.”
“But your dive master doesn’t think so.” Susan said, “Do you report to him?”
“Only on the dive boat.” Kumai answered.
“So you can still be bait.”
“If I could put together a plan, I would. But I don’t have a team to back me up, no tools, no technology…”
“No Med Evac.” Kumai grimaced.
“I think your friends would be a good team.”
“For beach volleyball, yes.” Kumai agreed. “For trapping criminals, not so much. Although they did manage to capture a wild mongoose and keep it, I think.”
“That can’t be easy.” Susan said.
Kumai chuckled. “You okay?” She asked.
“Bonnie tell you?” Susan asked.
“Just that you have had great losses.”
“Well said.” Susan put on her mask and looked down into the water with held breath. When she came back up, her eyes were red from crying.
Kumai surmised that the woman facing her wasn’t a grieving CEO right now. Something private had happened and Susan wasn’t ready to tell Kumai about it. She tried to take it personally that Susan could tell Bonnie but not her, but somehow the sorrow on Susan’s face prevented any further pity party in Kumai. The idea of self pity, however, did remind Kumai of her earlier idea of using. She wondered if Susan might enjoy a line or two to ease her grief. Did Kumai dare ask?
“I’m not up for cave diving today.” Susan said.
“Let’s head back?” Kumai asked.
Susan nodded yes. Kumai would have liked to freedive down to the caves where the fresh water comes out. But they could still return home via the site where the other day they had seen Bradon, Kaandi, and Kumu Lani. Since the place bore the same symbols on the map as those that were carved onto her neighbors’ pier, a visit to the spot might clarify what was going on with her former friends.
“I need to make one stop on the way.” Kumai said.
Susan gave a thumbs up and waited for Kumai’s lead. The current again was stronger coming back, and Kumai tried not to flail herself for being so mindless about ocean safety. Susan was keeping up just fine, she actually seemed to enjoy the strenuous swim. Kumai slowed their pace so that they would have energy to make it all the way back to her hale after getting out of the water at the historic site.
A nice sandy finger stretched under water from the land where they wanted to go in. Kumai rolled to sit on the ground and remove her fins. Susan imitated her then they walked up out of the water into a low stone wall. They set down their gear on the wall and walked the perimeter. On the inside of the wall was a three-foot wide path and then another wall that was the foundation for a raised stone platform. It was a heiau, a place of worship. In the kapu days of Hawaii, chiefs and occupational groups, such as fishermen, practiced formalized worship in these temples. The only remaining structure here was the stone platform. Old greyed wood lay around the perimeter, likely the supports of the thatched houses that once stood there.
“My hairs are lifting off of my arms.” Susan said.
“Mana.” Kumai said.
“Where?” Susan asked in surprise. “I thought he was with Bonnie.”
“No, not the dog. Energy. Power. This place has mana.”
“Oh, yes.” Susan blushed. “Sorry.”
“S’okay. It’s not my belief system and you weren’t being disrespectful. I’m just now learning it all too.” Kumai smiled, remembering Bonnie’s admonition to go easy on Susan. Maybe Kumai was the one being culturally insensitive to name the dog Mana anyway. It wasn’t her place to judge anyone. “Let’s just stay outside the wall, in case it is kapu for us to enter here.”
“Kapu?” Susan asked. “Does that mean illegal?”
“Taboo, forbidden.” Kumai said. “I want to be careful. I don’t know enough to know if I am respecting the place or not.”
“But we don’t mean any disrespect, do we?” Susan asked, sounding hurt.
“Intention helps, but it’s no excuse for barreling in where we don’t have understanding.” Kumai hated it when white people acted hurt for being made aware that they weren’t aware. Just listen, accept, learn. Get over yourselves already. She tried very hard not to be “mainland” whenever anything cultural came her way. The entitlement given toward globalization efforts wasn’t necessarily shared by indigenous people.
“These rocks look like huge worry stones.” Susan said, pointing.
“Poi pounders.” Kumai said. “Best not to touch.”
“There are an impressions in the dirt where it looks like there were more.” Susan pointed again and crouched.
“Yeah.” Kumai said, starting to understand what the trespassers had been doing here. Artifacts could command a good price on the right market. But Kumu Lani didn’t seem the sort to disrespect historic sites. And Bradon, well, he talked like it was the worst offense ever to sell antiquities from sacred sites. The dealer protesteth too much? Kumai remembered Bradon swearing his devotion to Kumai as well. Yes, there was a good chance that those three were stealing from ancient sites. But why did her neighbors carve the signs on their pier? She wondered if they had known Bradon or Lani. She could find out through the coconut wireless, eventually.
“We need to get back home.” Kumai said. She would get the question out to her contacts as soon as possible. Meanwhile she would check the map key again to remember what exactly had been marked at this site.
When they returned to Kumai’s lanai, Peter was on a ladder stringing up Chinese paper lanterns as if setting up for a party.
“Decided your place is too small for a clown?” Kumai asked.
“It’s not my party.” Peter laughed. “Bonnie said the cookout was your idea.”
“Cookout? Oh, yeah. But usually you go out, not just out on your lanai. Like a beach thing, you know?” Kumai realized she was gesturing a little too wildly, and most of the gestures looked a lot like shoo.
“Yeah, I know. Take it up with Bonnie.” Peter answered and returned to hooking up the lights.
“Take what up with me?” Bonnie asked as she came out from the kitchen.
“A beach barbecue?” Kumai asked. “Usually involves going to the beach.”
“I hate sand on my hotdogs.” Bonnie said.
Kumai sighed. It might be too late to protest Bonnie’s misinterpretation. Kumai had created this situation by asking Bonnie to go to Costco when she wanted her out of the house. Then Kumai remembered that she told Bonnie it would be fun to do this with friends. “So, did you invite friends?” Kumai asked.
“Just yours. Most of mine are in Hilo.” Bonnie shrugged. “Except for Mr. Yelley here. He’s my new friend. I invited him.”
“Nice.” Kumai nodded. “I need to go wash up, then.” She raced to her bathroom and did a silent scream. The last thing she wanted tonight was to hang with the gang. She wanted to go get high so that she could lead some killers along a trail that ended with them being incarcerated. That was her idea of a party. Not sitting staring at sparks as they rose from a bloody campfire, wondering who was in the bushes with binoculars watching them. Or worse, rifle scopes.