nine: noho ʻana


Kumai hadn’t thought to try calling her father’s mobile phone.  He never turned it on.  Unless he was traveling.


“It’s not that I don’t like this resort,”  Susan said.  “I’m always glad for a good massage.  But it’s a place that takes itself very seriously.”


“Yeah, I’m sorry, Susan.  I don’t know what has happened to my dad.  I’ll try his cell.”  Then she had to explain that statement.  Susan let Kumai hang up to try her dad’s mobile number only on the condition that she call right back and report in.




Kama!”  Her father answered on the third ring.  “S’up?”


“You’re not at home?”  Kumai asked.


“How did you know?  These things aren’t camera phones are they?”  His voice sounded like it moved away.


“Dad, put the phone back to your ear.  I can’t see you.  You just never use your cell is all.”


“Oh ha ha!  Good wanana pono.  What’s going on with you?”


“Not much, but apparently something’s going on with you.  Where are you?”


“Me?  Oh, I’m just, you know.”


“No.  I don’t.”


“I’m on a little holo holo.”


“I got that part.  Dad?”


“Well, I just thought I’d go somewhere a little tropical for a while.”


“You live on Oahu.”


“Didn’t want to go somewhere cold.”




“Okay.  I’m helping your mother a little bit here.”


“You’re in Mexico?  With Mother?!”


“Well, yes.  Don’t be all, whatever that is.  Not that any of this is your kuleana.  We liked each other, you know, long before you existed.  Still like each other.”


“Just not enough.”  Kumai muttered.


“Hey now.  Logistics can be a bitch.”


“I know.”  Kumai said before she caught herself.


“Do you?”


“Oh, well, I just wanted to be sure that you’re okay.”


“I’m more than okay.  This work your mother’s doing is vital to this village.  She is an amazing woman, Kumai.  You take after her.”


“Thank you, Dad.  Yeah, she is amazing.  I can’t talk much more right now.  I just got worried when you didn’t answer your phone at home.  When you coming back?”


“Don’t know.  Not for a while.”


“Perfect.”  Kumai said, thinking that Kane would never find her parents in her mother’s tiny village in Mexico.




“Well, yeah uh, that’s a good way to be of help.”  She scrambled to explain but left it at that.


“Right…”  He waited.  “You okay?”


“Doing great.  Back on the Big Island now.  We’ll catch up soon, Dad.  Gotta go.”


“My busy keiki.  It’s good to hear from you.”


“Give my love to mom?”


“Will do.  Love you.”


“You too, Makuakane.  Be safe.”


Kumai redialed Susan, who answered with, “They boast of decorating the place in seven shades of white.”


Kumai waited for more information.  None came.  “That sounds nice?”


“Yes, I’d say it as a question too.  It’s an interesting concept.  Bleaching out the tawdry greys, I suppose.  Really, Kumai, I know you meant well, but I don’t like cities.”


“Yeah, I’m so sorry.  My dad’s in Mexico, as it turns out.”




“I know, I should have found that out.  It’s just that he never travels, so I didn’t expect this.”


“Apparently ‘never’ isn’t entirely accurate.”


“Right.  What are your wishes now?”


“I want you to get over here.  Tonight, or sooner if you can.”


“Me?  Why would I want to go to Honolulu?!”


“I’m asking myself that same question.  Let’s answer that when we’re together.”


“How about I just get you back here?”


“Oh no.  I’ve traveled enough for today.  And we’re not wasting this pigment-free palace that you booked for tonight.  They have a masseuse you’re not going to believe.  Get over here.”


Kumai had never heard Susan bark an order.  She thought it might be a good idea to comply.  She had, after all, been the one to ask Susan to go to another island in the first place.  And, it gave her a way to get out of tomorrow’s morning dive.  That last reason decided it.




On her flight over from Kona to Honolulu, holding her seat mate’s baby while they struggled to buckle in, and remembering how much she also hated cities, Kumai had to admit to herself that something about guiding tour dives no longer worked for her.  If she was willing to go to this length to avoid the dive boat, it was time for a new gig.


Susan had a car waiting at the airport, a stretch limo.  Kumai rolled up to the resort and stepped out of the crystal-laden carriage wearing her work khaki shorts and top. The driver formally removed her items from the trunk and handed them to the bellhop.  


The bellhop held his head high while he escorted Kumai to Susan’s room.  Several travelers from Japan stared at them as they passed.  One young couple sported t-shirts with Engrish memes.  His said, “beauty is the tomorrow,” and hers bore in cursive with flourishes, “I’m already using it the necessity to us habit forming.”


A young bride and groom went up on the elevator with Kumai and the bellhop.  The girl smiled and nodded repeatedly to Kumai and her new husband.  The groom stared at the numbers going up like it was a countdown to his execution.  Kumai nodded to the newlyweds when she exited behind the bellhop and said, “Congratulations.”  The young man beamed a smile.


Down the hall of white damask wallpaper stood occasional hall tables with sprays of white orchids.  Frosted chandeliers dripped at regular intervals from the high ceiling. The bellhop tapped on the hotel room door, then used Kumai’s key to enter. Susan’s mouth fell open.  “You put your stuff in a laundry basket?”


“I couldn’t find any small luggage, and everything was in the dryer.  It’s all clean.  I just didn’t have another way to carry it.”


“Where did you put in on the airplane?”  Susan asked while she tipped the bellhop who was trying very hard not to listen.


“Overhead bin.  I measured it before I used it.”


“And TSA let you take it through their scanners.”


“Seemed to prefer it.  Everything out in the open like that.”  Kumai took the plastic basket from the young man and set it on the ornate wood luggage rack.


Susan closed the door and burst out laughing.  “First order of business:  shopping.”


“Oh please, no,”  Kumai whined.


“I’ll cover it.  You need a small travel bag.  And some decent travel clothes.”


“Really, please no.  We’re going home tomorrow.  I’ll use a grocery bag and leave the plastic basket behind if you want.  Just no shopping.”


“I don’t mean tonight, anyway.  Here.”  Susan handed Kumai an empty champagne flute and pointed in the direction of an ice bucket.  “One of the shades of white.”


Kumai chuckled.  The room had two sides of windows and two of vanilla walls.  The windows could be covered with white shutters which rested at the sides stacked up and waiting to unfold for a hangover.


She poured herself a glass, topped off Susan’s and they went out onto the lanai. Lights from resorts around the curve of Waikiki beach twinkled on the long lines of gentle waves.  Diamond Head was a darkness on the distant edge.  The Halekulani pool had an orchid motif that sparkled in navy tile on the bottom.  “A swim sounds good,”  Kumai said.


“Their brochure says they used 1.2 million tiles to make that Cattleya orchid.  It’s pretty lit up like this at night.  Do you want to swim after your massage or before?”


“Before.  Either that or I need to shower off salt water from today’s dive.”


Susan reached for Kumai’s glass, but Kumai slugged down the rest before giving it over.  


She still had on her suit from today since she didn’t have time to shower.  In her frantic packing at home, she just put on dry clothes over the bikini.  They finished off their glasses and went down to the pool.


No one else was out at the pool, so Kumai shrugged off her khakis and jumped in. Susan went to a lounge chair, dropped her orchid-embroidered kimono, and slid into the water from the steps.  She was wearing a white one-piece swimsuit that would have been transparent in sunlight.  


After a few gentle laps, Kumai asked, “Do they have a hot tub?”


“Over in that corner below the palms.”  Susan said and pointed to some beautifully uplit fan palms.  “It’s nice.  I used it earlier.  I think I prefer the cooler waters of the pool for now.”


Kumai self-consciously exited the pool and walked over to the hot tub.  She tested the water with her toes and found it to be a perfect temperature.  It pressed on her with heat that drained tension from every muscle without giving her a headache.  Kumai sighed at the thought that after this she was going to have a massage in the room. She knew she would sleep tonight.  She strategized how to make sure to fly home tomorrow on the first available and skip any shopping.


On her way to the hot tub, she had grabbed a pool towel so that she could wrap up afterward.  That turned out to be the only way she was going to get out because someone had joined Susan in the pool.


She tried to listen to their conversation.  Susan’s voice sounded relaxed, almost like she already knew the person.  The person’s hair was white, short, and the voice sounded male, a familiar voice to Kumai as well.  She tried to place it.  Finally, curiosity pulled her out of the relaxing soak.  She exited the hot tub, wrapped the towel around her, and dropped her legs into the cool water of the pool.


“Kumai, you remember Mr. Summerbourne?”  Susan said quietly.


Kumai shot up out of the water.  “You?”


“Ms. Kaimana.  Please allow me to apologize as I have wished to do ever since the unfortunate incidents on my yacht.  The offending staff have been arrested.  I have tried to contact you…”


“Unfortunate?”  Kumai interrupted.  “You tried to leave me swimming with the fishes.”




…and then?

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