8 Ewalu ~ Test Drive

mermaid_diveKumai watched from her front door as Sage sauntered up to the police and flirted for a moment.  She wore her hair in blonde dreadlocks.  Today she had on a little calico apron that made her swimmer’s physique and California-girl good looks even more earthy and natural.  Sage without makeup was Hollywood. Kumai without makeup was invisible.  After a backwards glance and a sly grin, Sage headed to the door.

“Should I be worried about you?”  Sage asked, brushing flakes of pink coconut from Kumai’s chest.  “I mean, you call for support and you have snoballs, both before your car is broken into.  Which means you were already stressed.  How are you now?”

“Now I’m actually starting to get pissed.”  Kumai answered, ushering Sage into the house.

Sage led Kumai to a stool at the kitchen counter and rubbed her shoulders, “Pissed is good.”

“Well, seriously.  I mean, I keep my nose clean.  I have, by the way,” Kumai paused to point to her nose.  Sage was her only friend in Hawaii who knew about the cocaine.  “I just work and try to have a life and then I come home to dead neighbors, and I have a dog and need to buy a truck, and Bradon’s mad at me, and there are these two other guys who are adorable, and now the trunk of my car is all ghetto…”

“Wait, wait. Your neighbor is dead?”

“Neighbors.  Both.  Murdered.”

“Okay, so you need to catch me up.”  Sage walked to the refrigerator.  “I’m making us smoothies.  But tell me about the cute guys first, okay?”

Kumai laughed and relaxed.  By the time she had summarized events for Sage, they were halfway through their smoothies, and Sage was on the living room floor in Crow Pose.  The police finished out front.  An officer came to the house and knocked.  Kumai answered the door, drink in hand.

“Ms. Kaimana,” the officer started, “this appears to be your third police report in two days.  Could all these be connected?”

“They may be.”  Kumai took a deep breath.  “I had a dossier – a file folder – in my trunk.  It was to be delivered to my neighbors.”  She pointed next door, “who are now dead.  I think the file is what they were after in town.  Can we check in the trunk to see if it’s still there?”

“My partner is checking out the car now while I take your statement.”  The officer hesitated.  Kumai’s cell phone rang but she thought she should leave it.  “We’re going to need you to stay here for further questions.”

“Questions?  Am I a suspect?”  Kumai squeaked.

“Not that I know of.  This case has gone on to a different office.  Someone from that division is coming to talk with you.”

“What division?”  Sage asked over Kumai’s shoulder.  She was standing in Tree Pose, swaying.

“I’m sorry miss.  We’ll need you to wait here.  Please cancel any plans you have for the afternoon.”

“Great.”  Kumai huffed.  “Glad to be a good citizen.”  Then she remembered how it is to be the messenger.  “Okay, sorry.  Sorry.  It’s been a rough two days.  You guys want a smoothie or something?”  She held up her glass with chunky green residue clinging to the sides.

“We will wait outside and secure the scene, thank you.”

Kumai nodded and went back into the living room.

Sage rose up from Downward Dog and hugged Kumai.  “Here’s what we’re gonna do: You put on your snorkel gear.  If they notice you going out back, I’ll distract them.  You swim out to sea and Tommy will meet you on his SUP.  You can hide out, maybe with your dad on Oahu, until this blows over.”

“Sage, seriously?”  Kumai pulled away and raised her eyebrows.

“You don’t want to be part of this, do you?  What if your neighbors’ visitor decides that you’re next?  When in doubt, run off.”

“I’m sorry, Sage.  I’ve been there, done that.  Florida, remember?  I’ve stayed out of this.  But somebody killed my neighbors.  Then somebody tore up my car.  Poor Inigo!  This is getting personal.  And if they think I’m next, they made a mistake thinking I’m an easy target.”

“Everybody is an easy target, Kumai!  Unless they’re lost at sea.  Things really can disappear in the ocean.  And the water has answers for you.  It’s your place of healing.  Promise me you’ll be sure to get into the ocean if you are going to hang around for this?”  Sage looked steadily at Kumai.

Kumai squirmed.  She hated woo-woo stuff and energy work and all that mana talk.  “Yes, I promise.  Today even, if I can.  But there are some things I need to do first.”

“Such as?”

“Buy a truck.”

“And wait on the police.” Sage reminded her.

“And think like a stalker.”

“What?” Sage asked.

“I always thought that if someone was stupid enough to try to stalk me, I’d figure out how to give them their own medicine.  This,” She shook her finger at the front drive where her damaged car huddled, “This has become a case of being stalked.”

“Oooh.”  Sage said, stepping back, “They drew out the huntress in you.  Big mistake.”

“Yup.  Back in the saddle.”

“Taking the reins instead of being taken for a ride.”  Sage chimed in.

A horn tooted out front.  Kumai looked out to see the old truck parked on the street.  The two officers waited by the Miata.  One started to go over to the woman in the driver’s seat.  Kumai trotted out to intervene.  No way was she sending away the only truck for sale on the island.

“It’s okay, officer.  I am thinking of buying this truck.”

“You don’t waste any time.”  One officer quipped.

“Ms. Kaimana,” the other stepped toward Kumai, “You were instructed to cancel any plans.”

“She drove from Hilo, officer.  I had no way to call her and cancel.”  Kumai lied.

Bonnie“Oh, no,”  Bonnie called out, waving her cell phone, “I have the phone you called me on here.”

Kumai shrugged sheepishly at the officer.  “This isn’t just a shopping adventure, sir. I’m not replacing my car.  This is part of my job.  I have a client who needs me to buy a truck for her by tonight.”  And I’m not delaying this if I don’t have to because now I need a decent vehicle to drive.

lightning6Kumai looked at the truck to consider if she would call it decent.  She liked it.  But would Susan?

The officer studied Kumai for a moment.  “No test drive.” He conceded.

“Right.”  Kumai said, “But my friend in the house can drive it, right?”

“Let me check on that.”  He answered and walked away.

Sage came out to look and whistled at the truck.  The pup trotted out behind her and Kumai scooped him up.

“Name’s Lightning.”  Bonnie said from the driver’s window.  “We name our vehicles.”

Kumai pointed to her Miata, “Inigo Montoya.”

“Nice.”  Bonnie drawled.  She stepped out of the truck and held the door open,  “Wanna take him for a spin?”  She was wearing a red and white checked skirt over a pair of overalls.  For a top she wore a red hibiscus print tankini.  She saw Kumai looking at her outfit and said, “I brought a change of clothes in case I had an overnight in Kona before you fly me back to Hilo.  I didn’t want to carry luggage if I’d be walking around for a while.”

“Smart.”  Kumai said.  “I’d love to test drive Lightning.  But I have to stay here to finish up with the officers over there.  Sage can do the test drive for me.”

“I can?”  Sage asked, excited.

Bonnie looked at Sage as if she were the one wearing layers of outfits.  “I’ll need to see a license.”

“Sure!”  Sage dashed inside and came out with her Kenyan market tote.  She felt under layers of papers that included cash, rattled some keys as she lifted vials of essential oils, and dug out her driver’s license.  The rainbow design glinted a holograph of the islands as Bonnie inspected the identification.

“Keys are in it.”  Bonnie said, handing Sage her license.

Sage got in, started the truck, and with a “woo!” drove away.  Very slowly.

Kumai wondered if the truck would be able to go faster.  She felt for her phone to check how long it had taken Bonnie to get here.  The police officer walked up to Kumai, “Ma’am.”

Kumai raised her palms in an ‘I can’t control her’ gesture.  “Sorry!  She should be right back.”

“Inside.”  The officer pointed to Kumai’s front door.

She was glad to go in.  Her feet were burning on the pavement.  She invited Bonnie, “Care to come in?”

“Sure.”  Bonnie ignored the officer.  As they walked past the Miata, she noticed the damaged trunk.  “Ouch.   Did they ticket the other guy?”

“Other guy?”  Kumai asked.

“Whoever rear-ended you.”

“Not yet.”  Kumai said.  Bonnie kicked off her slippers at the door where the officer stood waiting to close it behind her.  “Can I get you anything, Bonnie?”

She looked around and saw the blender.  “I’d have the rest of that green stuff if you’re done.”

“Sure,” Kumai said, picking up the empty glasses as she passed to go to the kitchen.  She washed a glass for Bonnie and turned to see her wiping a green mustache from her top lip.  She held the blender by the handle like a giant glass stein.

“Refreshing.”  Bonnie said.  “Thanks.”  and handed the blender to Kumai.

“Sure.”  Kumai answered.  “Were you able to install the Square app on your phone?”

“I have no idea how to do any of that.”  Bonnie answered and turned to look out back to the view of the sea.  The noon sun flashed white on the water.  “Feel free to try it if you want.”  She pulled her phone out from a chest pocket in her overalls and set it on the counter.  Then she felt absently at the other pockets and pulled out a toothbrush.  She set it beside the phone.  Stylus?  Kumai wondered.

Bonnie answered her unasked questions with, “You gotta watch these top pockets on overalls cuz they flap upside down when you go to the lua.  You don’t want that falling in there.”

Kumai wondered which ‘that.’  Her money was on the toothbrush.

“Where’s your lua?”  Bonnie asked like ‘helloooo.’

“Oh, sorry.  Just here, around the corner.”

Kumai picked up Bonnie’s phone.  Then she set it down and got a lysol wipe to swab it and her hands before she installed any apps.  She was drying the phone when Bonnie came out, overalls on one arm and skirt on the other.  She was a big woman in a tankini and Kumai had to admit that it wasn’t a bad look.  Bonnie was fit and tan.  Kumai guessed her to be in her 60’s but couldn’t tell if early or later.

“I’m thinking this may take a while.”  Bonnie said.  “Mind if I take a dip in your ocean?”

Kumai smiled.  “Help yourself.”

Bonnie’s phone showed it to be 12:15, so the truck could go the speed limit.  Kumai started the app loading and spruced up the kitchen.  She was cutting the white pineapple into wedges when the officers returned to her screen door.

“Ms. Kaimana, may we come in?”

“Sure.  Don’t worry about your shoes.”  Kumai answered from the kitchen.  She washed the juice from her hands as they entered.

“Hawaii police are now turning over the case.  We are asking you to cooperate with this Special Agent, Pete…”

“Peter Yelley?!”  Kumai exclaimed.  “My dive master is a Special Agent?”

And then…

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