four: naholo

 

The guard at the gatehouse for the Hapuna Prince Resort leaned on the half-door of his stone hut and talked story with Taka.  

Kumai dismounted the scooter and latched her helmet to the rack. “I’ll walk down the drive to the resort and look around.”

Taka nodded.

longsleeves

She was dressed in a fresh pair of boardshorts and a rash guard.  The tops of her thighs already felt prickly from impending sunburn.  She was glad for the protection of long sleeves.

A sea breeze rolled up from the shore at the bottom of the palm-lined lane where a Grecian classic resort perused one of the world’s top-ten beaches:  Hapuna.  At the Waimea hospital, the wide stretch of silky white sand was known as the C4-5 Beach, indicating the frequent site of neck injuries on people unaware that various waveforms shaped Hawaii’s shorelines.  At any time waves could pile up together and come in to shore as a massive rogue wave.  More than one smiling tourist with their backs to the ocean to face a camera had been captured in photos showing them dragged away by devouring surf.

Kumai shivered.  Even under the hot sun, the power of the ocean sent a chill through her.  Familiar as she was with the sea, her respect for the forces of nature had only grown over the years.   She remembered her first visit to the islands when her aunt taught her the mantra:  never turn your back on the ocean.

Sunlight sparkled on the indigo water.  Farther out to sea, breezes dotted the inky surface with white caps.  The horizon extended across the full span of her arms as she stretched them wide and pinched taught the line between sea and sky as if it were a string.  A scooter putt-putted up behind her.

“Yoga?”  Taka asked.

“Just stretching my imagination.”  She smiled and leaned to untie her helmet from the scooter.  

Taka sighed.  Kumai glanced at him just in time to see him admiring her.  She flushed with pleasure.  Or was it the power of the ocean?  Or maybe she was hot.

“I’m getting thirsty.  You?”  Taka asked over his shoulder as they rolled down the smooth road to Oz.

“Yes.”  Kumai yelled over the roar of the wind as they picked up speed.

The convenience store in the resort stocked refrigerated bottles of water.  Kumai pointed to the price and raised her eyebrows to Taka.

“Pool Bar.”  He said.

As they walked to the back lanai of the resort, she said, “At eight dollars, we need to at least get an umbrella with our waters.”

“And ice.”

Kumai snorted.

“I want to wash my hands.  Meet you out there?”  Taka asked as he headed toward the door marked with a stickman petroglyph and the word KANE.  

“Me too.”  Kumai looked for the door marked WAHINE.

“Other side of the hall.”  He pointed.  “First one to the bar orders for both of us.  But no alcohol for me.”

“Me too.”  She entered the women’s lounge and was transported to 1930’s Hawaii.  Gold velvet chairs with rattan arms sat in front of ten foot disc mirrors.  Rattan poofs waited to rest her feet while she powdered her nose.  Areca palms the size of trees filled the vast space.  She wondered how much those palms cost.

Kumai decided that the sitting area was about the right size to dry dock her sailboat, when she got one.  She unbraided and fluffed out her long hair into its natural dark waves.  She had on a bikini top under the rash guard.  She pulled off the outer layer and tied it around her waist.  Then she untied it and draped it over her arm.  Then she lifted it over her shoulders which felt about right because the looped arms nicely covered her cleavage.  She looked ocean preppy, perfect for this place.

fluffinghair

 

She freed her hair again and fluffed it, washed her hands, and as she exited the restroom nearly ran over Susan.  

“Kumai?”  Susan was wearing golf clothes.

“You’re not in California!”  Maybe Kumai’s concierge services weren’t needed after their trip together.  She wanted to ask why Susan hadn’t contacted her.  

“Well, this is awkward.”

“It needn’t be.”  Kumai smiled and put on her professional concierge demeanor.

“Kumai, no.  I didn’t let you know I was coming to the island because I was embarrassed.  I, uh, well, I came to meet someone.  I was going to contact you next week.”  Susan shuffled, “And make it look like I had just arrived.”

Kumai snorted before she could catch herself.  Then Susan let out nervous laughter.  Kumai wondered why Susan felt the need to hide.  Although close in time to her husband’s death, Susan had every right to find a new love.

“It’s just.  Well, it’s kinda soon.  And, well, you also know him.”

“I know who?”

“Connie.”  Susan said, pointing to the entrance of the resort.

“Connie?”  Kumai repeated, then gasped, “Not Kane from the White Benefit?”

“Yes…  KAH nay.”

“Susan, he is very dangerous.  I didn’t tell you about him because you had enough going on.  But he’s…”

“Leaving!”  Susan exclaimed.  “What is he doing?  He’s leaving without me?  Not without a piece of my mind.”

“Susan, wait.  Please be careful.  Promise not to mention my name or tell Kane that you saw me?”

“Okay… I won’t.  I’ll be right back.”  

Susan caught up to Kane, whose profile was now clear.  Kumai watched as Susan stood talking, hands on hips.  Kane took her by the elbow and forced her outside the entrance.  

Kumai stepped around the corner to the concierge desk and made a request.  Then she jotted down her telephone number and slid it with a hundred dollar bill toward the concierge.  She checked the resort entrance.  No one remained in the drive except two valets chatting at their podum.  Turning around, she went back down the wide curving steps to the pool while she texted Peter, “Kane leaving Hapuna Prince with my client.”

Thatched palm fronds slouched over the pool bar where Taka had pulled up two stools facing the ocean.

Kumai’s phone buzzed.  She ignored it.

“You can answer that, you know?”  Taka said.  His phone buzzed.

“I wouldn’t answer that if I were you.”  She warned.

“Why not?”  He asked.  He pulled his phone from a velcro pocket in his shorts, read a text apparently from Peter, and exclaimed, “You saw Kane?”

“A while ago.”

“We just got here.  Where is he?”

“Gone.  He was leaving when I saw him.  With Susan.”

“Susan, your client?  He’s dangerous, Kumai.  He tried to kill you.”

“I remember.  That’s why we can’t corner him.”

“We’ve got to follow them.”  Taka jumped up.

Kumai picked up her drink.  “On a scooter?”

“Oh shit.”  Taka sat down.

Kumai pulled out her phone to read her boss’ message.  “Observe but do not pursue.”  Peter texted.  She turned the message for Taka to see it.  

As she sipped her drink, she thought about how this might look like she was following Peter’s orders, like she was somehow helping them with the whole Kane thing again.  She wasn’t.  

She was helping Susan.

Taka worked his phone.  It rang.  He excused himself to take the call.

Taka came back and stared at Kumai.  “You don’t seem concerned.”

Kumai patted Taka’s stool and clinked her glass to his which was sitting in a pool of condensation on the bar.  “She’s a friend as well as a client.  I’m concerned and I’m on it.  I’m waiting to hear back on where they go.”

“From here?  Looking out at the ocean will tell you where people drove to on an island behind you?”  Taka took a small step back from Kumai.

“No.”  She gazed out to sea. “This will.”  She tapped a finger on her phone, and accidentally activated Siri.  She punched a button to silence it.

“Ah.”  Taka’s shoulders relaxed as he understood.  “Smart.  Someone else is following them.”

Kumai touched her nose with her index finger and said, “Your spy profession has crossed paths with my concierge profession.  Just for the record, I’m acting as a concierge.  I am not helping you capture Kane.”

Taka started to respond, but Siri’s British male voice said, “What can I help you with?”

Kumai blushed.

“Go ahead.  I’m listening…  Some things you can ask me are:

Play Kirby’s voicemail.

Text Kirby.”

Kumai held down her phone’s home button to shut off Siri.  They both jumped when her phone buzzed.  It was a text message from an 808 number, “Headed into Waimea.  Stopped at Crack Seed Store.”

Kumai showed Taka the text then forwarded it to Peter.  They both sipped their drinks in silence.

“I need my vehicle.”  Kumai decided aloud.  She dialed Bonnie.

“Kumai, he wants to kill you.”  Taka put his hand on hers.

Bonnie’s phone rang but didn’t go to voicemail.  Kumai hung up and said, “I thought that you wanted me involved.”

She lifted her hand from under Taka’s to text Bonnie, “Need vehicle.  Where are you now?” and pressed send.

When she set down her phone, Taka said, “I wanted you to ask Lani some questions.  Not to pursue a man who tried to kill you.”

“But you think there’s a connection, right?  You said for me to ask Lani about Kane and the documents.”

“We aren’t sure of any criminal connection.”

“It’s making me crazy just sitting here.”  Kumai huffed.  “I can’t enjoy paradise while a friend is in danger.”

Taka’s phone buzzed.  He checked his texts. “Okay, let’s go.”

“You want to pursue them on a scooter?  Or maybe just continue our hunt for a stolen palm tree while Susan is in danger?”  Kumai scowled.

“I want to help Susan.   Ready?”

“But how…?”

Taka offered his hand for Kumai to step down and held onto it as he led her to the resort entrance.  He tossed his scooter key to a man with Maori tattoos on one calf who sat on a bench under the porte cochere.

“You want a valet to get your scooter?”  Kumai hissed.

Taka chuckled.  He walked up to a small non-descript black sedan parked under the entry and opened the passenger door for her. She glanced sideways at him and said, “Right.”

Taka dropped into the driver’s seat, checked his mirrors, then helped Kumai latch her seatbelt harness.  While he secured the straps over her shoulders, she studied the medallion in the center of the steering wheel.  It was an upside down M shaped like a crown.  That meant she was in a Maserati.

Taka fired up the engine and pulled away from the resort with slow ease.  Alessandro Marcello’s Concerto for Oboe wafted from surrounding speakers.  Kumai caught herself wishing that she was the one doing the driving.  The ride up the entry lane was smooth as melted butter.  She felt her whole body relax.

Taka down-shifted to wave farewell at the gate.  The guard waved them to a stop and walked around to the passenger side, gesturing for Kumai to roll down her window.  She glanced at Taka.  He nodded to her and she pushed the button down.

“Ms. Kaimana.  It’s an honor.”  The guard stuck his hand through for her to shake.  “I can’t wait to tell my family that I’ve met you.”

“I, uh, thanks?”  Kumai said, stopping herself before she said me too.  What the what?

“Do you have time for a photo together?”  The guard asked, pulling his phone out of a cargo pocket.

“Sorry, Kiko, we’re in pursuit.”  Taka called out as he rolled forward.

“Oh, right!  Go, go.”  The guard stepped aside, snapped a photo of Kumai, and waved to the back of the departing vehicle.

“This is getting strange.”  Kumai muttered.

Taka focused on driving for a few minutes, then said, “You are a symbol now for self-sovereignty for your people.  You may want to try to get used to it.  They see you as their friend.”

“But I don’t know him.  Am I a friend because everyone wants something from me?  I don’t even know what I supposedly did.  I suck as a symbol.  Besides, I’m half Hispanic, and nobody there is symboligizing me.  This is all out of proportion.”

“Did you save rare artifacts in Mexico?”  Taka asked.

Once on the highway, Taka opened up the engine.  But instead of the roar and rumble of a Cobra, this vehicle glided with a hum along the highway through lava fields.  She imagined that from the air they looked like an oil drop on a black strip through grey crumbles.

The lava went by in a blur.  Road stripes flashed along in fast-forward.  This was what it looked like to ride a highway at 120 miles per hour, she guessed, and confirmed it with a glance at the gauges.  They closed in on a vehicle in front of them.  Taka signalled a pass, checked the road, and flew gently around the other car like it was debris on the road.

Kumai sighed.

Taka put his hand on her leg.  “Need me to slow down?”

“Your driving is fine.”  She lifted his hand and placed it on the center console.  Maybe now was a good time to mention Kirby.

“But…”

“I’m just thinking.”  of how to explain that I might be in a relationship with someone else but I’m not sure.  And that I really like your driving.  Really like it.  I wish I were a Maserati.  She sighed.

“Heavy thoughts.”  Taka chuckled and returned both hands to the task of driving.

Kumai’s leg felt cold where his hand had rested on it.

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…and then?

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