six: ala muku


Susan’s left hand gripped the overhead handle while her right clenched the door. Despite being fully strapped into the Maserati’s harnesses, she prepared for the car to roll. 

Kumai explained the maneuver as a precise immobilization technique.  “I gotta warn you though that we might lose control of the vehicle if I have to pull the move at too high a speed.”


They flew past Kane’s Hummer using the oncoming traffic lane, took position seventy feet in front and paced them while they waited for all the other traffic to clear.  When only their two vehicles occupied the roadway, Kumai gripped the steering wheel, swerved left to cover both lanes, then right to block the Hummer.


The monster vehicle closed in fast.  Too fast.  She wondered if she had underestimated its bulk.  It handled like it was armored.  The driver swerved right to go around, then left as Kumai tacked into their path.  The Hummer gassed it and bumped the Maserati, putting them into the spin they had planned for the SUV.  As the Hummer steered clear they went sideways off of the pavement and into the lava.  Stone exploded in collision with metal.  Two tires deflated on the sharp rocks.  


Chunks of a’a lava showered down on the top of the SUV like an out-of-tune tympani.  Men spilled out from all four doors, handguns triangulating the black sedan.


“Down!”  Kumai yelled as Susan dropped forward toward the floor.  Kumai threw her body over Susan’s, trying to keep herself below window level.  Shots peppered the backside of Taka’s car.  Glass showered down around the women.  


The deafening noise stopped.  Kumai wondered if her ears were blown.  Her dizziness eased.  Hot metal clinked and glass bits tinkled as the remains of windows gave up to gravity.


Kumai held her breath to listen.  Susan didn’t seem to be breathing either.  Kumai wondered if she was hit.


Boots crunched across lava, then onto pavement.  Men’s voices drifted nearer.  Someone called out an order.


The boots ran.  Kumai strained to listen.  The sounds were getting fainter, she was sure of it, but she still couldn’t bring herself to look up.


“Don’t freak out.  Don’t freak out.”  Susan muttered to herself.  She shifted and groaned.  She whispered,  “Are you alive?  Please be alive.”


“Shh.” Kumai hissed.


Susan startled and her elbows flew out.


“Ouch.  Holy crap.”  Kumai rubbed her ribs.  “Easy there.”


“Oh good God.  Oh geez.  I thought they killed you!”  Susan let out a gasp.  “Can you get off me now, please?”


“I dunno.  If they’d shot me, I think I would have been dripping stuff on you.”  Kumai straightened and peeked over the glassless window frames.  “I think they’re gone.  Just be ready to duck again in case they’re waiting for us to move.”


Susan’s body tensed.  “I’m never going to be able to move again.  And I think I’m going to be sick.”  Susan moaned.


“Easy, easy,”  Kumai soothed, sitting up.  She patted Susan on the back and helped her to sit up.  “Think about something else.  Think about France.”


A vehicle approached from the opposite direction and slowed.  They pulled over and a family of tourists stared out from a white PT Cruiser rental.  The driver rolled down her window and yelled to Kumai, “Are you guys okay?  Need us to call the police?”


“We’re okay.”  Kumai turned and waved them on.  “The police are on their way.”


The Cruiser pulled away slowly.  As if on cue, Peter pulled up behind them in a government SUV, snapped a cherry light on top of the cab, and stepped out.  Taka climbed out of the passenger side and trotted over to his perforated car.  Kumai couldn’t help but wonder what was going to come out of his mouth.


“Is anyone hurt?”  Taka asked, pulling open Susan’s passenger door and placing two fingers on her neck.  “Your pulse is erratic.”  Susan blushed and looked apologetically at Kumai.  


“We’re both fine, Taka.  Just a little shaken up.  They ran toward the water.”  Kumai pointed in the direction of Kiholo Bay.


Taka unbuckled Susan, which seemed to affect her pulse even more, and helped her to stand.  She raced to the roadside and retched.  Taka held back her hair and rubbed her back until she could stand again.  


Once Susan was seated in the back of the SUV, he came around to Kumai where Peter was already chiding her.  “I told you not to pursue.”  Peter’s hands were shaking as he fumbled at the buckles on Kumai’s harness.  The clasp seemed to be jammed.


“Allow me?”  Taka asked, kneeling down where Peter had been.  Taka checked Kumai’s eyes.  “You okay?  You don’t seem to be in shock.  How do you feel?”


“Bad about your car.”  Kumai looked away from Taka’s concerned gaze.  “I don’t know what came over me.”


“S’alright.  Cars fix.  I thought you said you wanted to sit this one out.”


She ignored the implied question.  “Can we follow them from here?”


“They’re long gone.  Kane has multiple connections.  He probably had a boat pick him up from Kiholo by now.”


Kumai’s heart dropped.  She needed to capture Kane.  It was the only way to protect herself and her family.


Taka released the harness.  “Don’t worry.  We’ll check the area.  We also can pursue him by air.  He won’t get far.”


Kumai nodded and took Taka’s arm as he walked her to the SUV.


Their drive to Kumai’s house was subdued.  In that time Kumai figured out how she wanted to proceed.  She would set a trap for Kane and lure him in.  She needed only to figure out how.  Maybe it was time to call Annamae, her former coworker from the Four Seasons who had all the contacts and most of the spandex.  She disappeared from the resort a few months back.  Kumai let the friendship stay silent since Annamae chased shadows in her usual schemes.  Which meant she might know where to find Kane.


“Why didn’t we get grazed or shot?”  Susan wondered to the passenger window.


“Car was armored.”  Taka spoke softly as he turned toward Susan and winked with a dazzling smile.


She blushed and returned her gaze outside.


“Why don’t you stay at my place?”  Kumai whispered to Susan, “That way we can monitor each other for shock.”


“Sounds good.”  Susan agreed.  “They don’t even know at the ranch that I’m on island.  I have a change of smalls and toiletries in my bag.”


“Let me know if you need anything.  I’ve got clothes you can use, of course.  My mom just sent me some new PJ’s from Costco that you can have.”


“Thanks, but I don’t wear any.”  Susan sighed.  She continued to gaze out her window.  “Is it too early for wine?”


Kumai watched Taka from her seat behind him.  He tensed at the PJ comment.  He cleared his throat.  They pulled into Kumai’s driveway.


“It’s past time for wine in France.”  Kumai said, then louder, “You guys wanna come in and debrief over a glass of wine?”


Taka cleared his throat again, glanced toward Peter and muttered, “Debrief.”


Peter looked at Kumai in the rearview mirror.  “You gonna be okay if we just drop you?  We need to stay on the trail.”


“We’re good.”  Kumai smiled at her boss’ reflection.  “Go gettum.”


chattingonlanaiBonnie offered to make margaritas, but Susan gave her a wad of cash and a shopping list instead.  Glad not to have to talk, both women sat out on the lanai, sipped wine, and watched the sun drop toward evening. Kumai stretched out on a chaise.  Susan curled up in a fetal position on the punee.


“I’m thinking about a swim.”  Kumai tried to change their thought processes.


“Now?”  Susan exclaimed.  “Not me.  My muscles are all cramped.  I’d drown.  I might soak in your tub, though.”


“Good point.  No need to risk anything after surviving today.  But I think I’ll put my toes in the water just to detox.  Coming?”


“Nah, thanks.  Are you doing okay?”


“I’m good.  You?”


“Yeah.  That was something.  Not what I expected for today.”


“Go get your bath.”  Kumai smiled.  “I’ll see you in the morning.”


Susan stood.  “No shock here.  See you tomorrow.”


Kumai wriggled her toes in the shallow water, digging in the sand.  She tried to pull up thoughts of Taka, but her mind had decided to turn toward memories of Kirby. She sighed and pulled out her cell phone from a pocket, hit the contact for Kirby before she lost her nerve, and waited while it rang.  And rang.  The call didn’t go to voicemail, which was probably good, but she wondered who didn’t have voicemail anymore.  The tone changed from ringing to disconnect.  She stared at her home screen in disbelief.


She debated trying him again but decided to scroll to Annamae and dial her instead.


“Kumai!”  Came the squeaky, too chipper voice.  “Are you on island?”


“I am,”  Kumai said.  “Are you?”


“I am, but not the Big Un.  I’m on a little island off of Lanai.”


“You mean the island of Lanai?”


“Nope.  This is a privately owned little place.”


“Lanai is privately owned…”


“Just off of Lanai.  Gorgeous resort here.  And, hey!  They just happen to be searching for a concierge.  You must be psychic.”


“Oh?  Well, tell me about the place.”


“Can’t.  It’s very private, all hush-hush.  You know the type.  But you could come see it.  Maybe you want to interview?  Oh please come!  Check it out!”


Kumai thought about Annamae’s tendency toward sketchy schemes and dodgy deals. She wasn’t interested in making money that way anymore.  But she had to admit to feeling curious.


“Come on.  You know you’re curious.”


Now who’s psychic.


“Just visit and check it out.  Even if it’s only to be able to recommend it to your higher-end clients.  It’s a place just made for those people.  We have world-class diving…”


“I dunno.  That’s not actually why I called.  But go ahead and text me the info and I’ll check it out.”


“Huh uh.  Not how it works.  No website or online presence.  At.  All.  Word of mouth and connections only.  It’s a place for people to completely unplug.  Tell you what. Get yourself to Oahu and I’ll book you the transport from there.  Just tell me when.”




“Oh shoot!  I’m so sorry.  Clients.  I have to go.  So good to hear from you.”


“Wait.  I’m looking for Kane.”


“Oh?  Well I couldn’t say.  Seriously, I need to run.  Call again soon so we can catch up properly?”




Kumai kept her feet in the water while she pulled up Google Maps, then Google Earth, then she googled private Hawaiian islands.  No islands were listed for Hawaii.





…and then?

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