A tall man in a lavender aloha shirt stood in Kumai’s entryway behind two police officers. He looked more like a retiree triathlete than an agent on the job. For this past year, Kumai had known Peter Yelley as her Dive Master on a commercial boat. Now police were introducing this 60-something sailor as a special agent.
Candid-camera chagrin washed over Kumai. She raced through her memories for hints of his dual identity. Then she went further back in time to wonder if this salty mongoose knew about her dive partner’s death in Florida. But why would he? Her embarrassment flowed from shame into betrayal.
“Thanks, Guys.” Peter said. He raised a crisp shaka. They turned to go. “You’ve done a thorough job. Text me when you hear what prints you pulled from the car trunk.”
“Yessir, Agent Yelley” The tall one said. The officers filed out of the front door.
“I need you to tell me what’s going on.” Kumai said and crossed her arms.
“Kumai, you were in possession of sensitive documents that you never delivered…”
Peter held up a hand. “If you have any idea what was in there, it could help our investigation. You’re not in trouble. And if you help now it will keep eyes off any records about you.”
“What records about me?!” her voice squeaked. Kumai stormed to the sofa, then turned, “Are you threatening me?”
“Settle down. No, no threat. But I know about Florida.” He paused, removed his Mephistos at the door, and took a step closer. “I assume you don’t want other people to know. That’s all I’m saying.”
Kumai blushed and gestured for Peter to sit down in a bamboo Papa-san chair. She sat on the sofa and tucked her legs up under her. She absently rubbed her knees, thinking.
In a softer tone, she asked, “What do you know about Florida?”
“Not all the details. But I do know it wasn’t your fault.”
A wave of nausea washed over Kumai. “Then you don’t know much.” she murmured and crossed her arms over her chest.
They sat in silence for a while, then Kumai said, “I’m going to need see some ID before I tell you anything.”
Peter smiled. “We don’t carry badges under cover.”
“You carry something.” Kumai waited.
“Yes. Okay,” Peter opened his wallet and lifted a card to reveal a hidden pocket. He pulled out a round token and handed to her the embossed plastic. “I retired early in Hawaii by agreeing to patrol U.S. borders. My turf here is from the shoreline out 200 miles to sea.”
Kumai looked at the chip with his name and photo, same grey buzz cut and suntan. The other side was stamped with Latin in a ring around three letters: CIA. Kumai tossed it in her hand. At quick glance, it looked like a casino or bus token, a memento. It probably showed up like that on any x-rays, too. She looked closer. An edge lifted to reveal a micro USB.
“Mind if I take a look?” She asked.
“Yes.” Peter nodded. “But I’d be impressed if you could.” His perfect white smile made Kumai think of the eel’s teeth yesterday. She handed back the identification.
Kumai sighed. She thought for a moment. Had she broken any laws along with that seal on the envelope? She didn’t think so. And it all seemed so… like nothing. Nothing to kill or steal for. She wondered how much to say, if anything. She sat back, “The dossier held a bunch of old maps and loose documents.” Kumai watched Peter’s face closely. He seemed surprised, but she would not want to play him in poker.
“The Big Island.” She answered. She cut her answer short, before adding that her uncle recognized the wedge-shaped maps of the original land divisions. And she knew that some of the documents related to the Bishop Estate. She remained silent and tried not to fidget. Her ohana didn’t need to be dragged into this. Besides, she didn’t feel sure of anything right now.
The pup loudly licked an empty water bowl. Kumai stood up to get more water for the dog.
“Didn’t know you have a dog.” Peter offered.
“Bet there’s still a little you don’t know about me.” Kumai snapped.
“I’m sure. You’re not our …um, uh, target. You’ve been great help to us this year with your conversational skills. Many of our dive clients have told you things that we needed to know.”
“Great.” Kumai said. Peter would know how she enjoyed helping people get what they want. He had played her to his advantage.
He put up both hands, palms facing Kumai, “Okay, okay.” he laughed nervously. “Not a basis for trust. But do you tell your clients how you do your work? Every detail?”
Kumai thought about how she smoothed over the rough spots to improve her clients’ experiences. Like buying a surprise truck. Hey! Where was Sage? And why was Kumai suddenly feeling so angry with Sage? Then she remembered she was mad at her liar Dive Master undercover special agent.
“Well, do you?” He shrugged and smiled.
“I’m a con-see-air-juh.” Kumai said. “Not a freaking undercover agent.”
“Come sit down?” He asked.
Kumai looked out the front again for Sage.
“I saw an old truck getting on the highway from Puako Road. She’s probably just letting it stretch its legs, seeing what it can do.” He said.
She looked out back and saw Bonnie splashing out in the ocean. Kumai sighed, poured two glasses of water, and carried them to the coffee table.
“Thanks. You really don’t need to be hostile, Kumai. We’re on the same side. I still need your help.”
There it was. He was trying to pull her in again. “You need my help? Don’t you mean we?”
“Be hurt if you need, but try to get over it by tonight. Things are moving faster. We need to do a night dive from Kailua Pier. You would be a real asset.” Peter stood to go. “You’re my safest diver. Think about it. We dive tonight one hour after sundown. Do you have someone to watch the dog?”
Kumai looked at him without answering. She pulled in a chunk of her cheek and bit on it.
“Okay.” He said. “I hope to see you tonight.” As he put on his shoes to leave, he asked, “You didn’t happen to see anything helpful on those maps?”
“There was a big Red X and the words ‘Treasure Here’.” she quipped.
“Good.” He laughed. “We’ll need you to show us that location.”
“At sea?” she scowled.
He paused mid-step, laughed again a little too quietly, and left.