Dave let out a screech. Kumai looked up from the lawn to see the parrot playing tag with the cat. As the tabby stalked the bird, Dave pretended to be unaware. When the cat crouched near enough to stage a pounce, Dave flew to a different perch and jeered. Then he meowed.
“Play nice, Dave.” Kumai said as she pushed herself up from the lawn to her knees. She groaned at the soreness in her muscles. She really hoped that no one had been watching when she was snorkeling this morning. Even if she had ended up needing a rescue, the humiliation would have killed her. Her experience in Florida had shamed her enough for one lifetime.
The urchin dome looked like it was still intact in the mesh bag. She stood up and fished out the eggshell-thin structure. It was a hardy design that could endure this morning’s misadventure. Kumai walked over to her lanai table and added the lavender globe to the seaglass and shells collected in a large bowl.
She switched from earphones to a bluetooth headset from her kitchen counter. Emptying the cold cup, she poured another coffee, started brewing a second pot, and bagged frozen peas to treat her swelling wrist. Then she dialed Annamae. It was always easy to reach Annamae. The trick was in letting loose of her once you got ahold. Cell phones provided plenty of dropped call opportunities, especially on the Big Island. Most people didn’t appreciate dodgy phone service. They would, though, if they ever needed to call Annamae.
Kumai realized she hadn’t listened to the message that Annamae left. In order to maintain a professional appearance, she thought it better to bluff. She stole a sip of her coffee, then answered, “Okay. Anything else I need to know?”
“Oh good. You’ll do it. Did you hear the client’s contact number clearly on the message?” Annamae asked.
“I’d better double check. Give it to me again?” Kumai asked.
Annamae carefully articulated a California telephone number. She finished with, “There’s a little over two hours left to get things arranged. Think you can do it?”
“Sure.” Kumai said, hoping it wasn’t a wedding. Still, she could try.
“Are you catching a cold?” Annamae asked. “You sound stuffed up.”
Kumai dreaded looking at her nose. “No, I’m fine. I was snorkeling. You know how sea water is.”
“Oh yeah, I do.” Annamae laughed. “No wonder you didn’t take my call. You can’t use a phone in the water! I told the girls you were either dead or your phone was, ’cause you never miss a call.”
“Yeah, true,” Kumai cut her off. “Thank you for the referral, Annamae. I appreciate it.”
“Sure, yes. Make us look good!” Annamae quipped. “Oh, and that banquet last night! Did you…” Kumai made static noises then ended the call.
Her coffee was lukewarm. She went to her bathroom mirror to assess the damage. Her nose was red, but not swollen. She moved the peas from wrist to nose, started the shower while she peeled out of wet swimwear and listened to Annamae’s message on speakerphone.
“Kumai? This is Annamae at the Four Seasons. A new client, Susan Winters, called asking for a concierge to meet her at 11:00 from charters. Today! The job involves coordinating the transportation of equipment and herself to her Waimea ranch. I told her we have just the person. I hope you’re not on another job from the resorts because this one sounds big. BEE EYE GEE.” Annamae finished with the client’s contact information. She requested a return call to let her know if Kumai was covering the job.
The business part of the message done, Annamae continued the recording, “Also, if you know anyone needing a carpool to the resorts from Kona, I’m going to start one. Maybe I told you that already? A cousin of mine…”
Kumai looked at the duration indicator for this message. It was barely to half way. She tapped the trash icon.
Well, at least it’s not a wedding, she thought, and glanced at the bathroom clock. 8:38 a.m. Piece of cake. A few questions nagged her. If she was transporting to a ranch, what was the equipment? Horses? And if so, were the charters via airline or boat? She shut off the shower and dialed the client’s number.
“Susan here.” A business-like voice answered.
“Aloha, Ms. Winters. This is Kumai, private concierge. I was given your number by the Four Seasons resort on the Big Island of Hawaii.”
“Kumai? Ah. Yes. Kumai. Let’s see, I didn’t check all your references yet, but the one I did gave me positive feedback about your work. I need two charters to be met and transported. I just heard from New Zealand that they shipped last night.”
Kumai said, “I am pleased to help you get what you need. If the shipment left last night, that means that the charter is an aircraft. Is that the case for both charters?”
“Well, yes. What else? Oh, of course, a boat.” Susan took a breath.
Kumai smiled, “Will you be flying from New Zealand as well?”
“What? No. California. That’s the other thing.” Susan paused for a moment. She said, “Excuse me, Kumai.” and directed someone to book something on her end. Kumai realized then that although the eel had scared the pee out of her, she had also drunk two cups of coffee this morning. She dialed the client a little too soon for her bladder.. She wondered if she could mute the speaker phone long enough for a bit of relief. Susan came back to the conversation, “Okay. Still there?”
“Yes!” Kumai chirped.
“Okay. We’re waiting on a repair for our jet. Preflight inspection, all that.” Susan said it like it happened to Kumai all the time. “Anyway, I will call you and let you know when I’ll arrive.”
“Okay, Ms. Winters.” Kumai tried to think of any loose ends, but her thinking was being flooded by her body’s urgency. “What are your needs for the New Zealand shipment?”
Kumai pressed the peas to her nose for a moment, then picked up her pen and sat down on the closed toilet lid to take notes. She quickly returned to stand at the kitchen counter in hopes of giving her body a different message.
“I’m shipping several steamer trunks of this and that. I shopped online since I was chartering a flight out of there anyway. Oh, and I found a resource for a down-filled double-faced sheepskin bed topper. They told me it’s large but I don’t know the dimensions. Probably whatever a king bed is.” Susan stopped talking.
Kumai jotted, “__ # trunks, KS bed topper” and waited a moment longer to hear if there was more. Please be done.
“Hello?” Susan asked.
“Yes, I’m here,” Kumai reassured her. “I thought maybe there was more since you said you were booking a charter ‘anyway’?”
“Oh! Yes. I forgot to mention the pup. He’s the reason that I booked the plane.” Susan laughed.
Susan asked, “Was that a cat?”
Kumai cringed. “A parrot.”
“Oh. That was fairly good.” Susan continued, “Anyway, the dog’s a border collie mix. I’m not into purebreds. They named him something aboriginal. I’ll need you to come up with a new name since I can’t seem to remember this one.”
Kumai kept her responses professional no matter what clients said. She wanted to raise her eyebrows sometimes but had trained the reflex out of herself. She wished she could train her bladder.
In fairness, most of her work requests weren’t too strange. Usually they were requests from normal people with money who wanted extraordinary versions of regular things like adventure, luxury, escape from reality, or simply love. She had the resources and was ready to help.
Naming a dog was minor. She answered, “I will have a list of dog names written up for you. Do you want Hawaiian, New Zealander, or more traditional American names?”
“Any of those. Great. Anything else?” Susan asked.
Kumai sensed that Susan was also under pressure this morning, so she kept it simple, “Yes. How many trunks do I need to receive? And do you want me to inspect any part of the shipment before signing a receipt?” She pictured herself inspecting a dog. Yup. Four legs. Tail. Look at the manifest, is it still supposed to have a tail? Hey, this dog’s a girl. Send her back, dagnabbit.
“Oh let’s see, it’s five or six trunks. No. More? I don’t know. I’ll find out and text you.” Susan was sounding frazzled. “Don’t bother with inspecting anything. You wouldn’t know what to be looking for. Please take water and food for the dog.”
I can tell a girl from a boy dog, Kumai thought. “Will do.” She answered. “One last question. If everything is going to one place, what address would you like me to deliver to?”
“Yes, all to my ranch. The address is… Kealoha Ranch, Kamuela.” Susan said the words as keyLOWha and kamWAYla.
Kumai got out her kitchen mop just in case the call lasted much longer. “Thank you for the opportunity to work with you, Ms. Winters. Do you have any more information on the address? Hawaii addresses usually start with two numbers followed by a dash and more numbers. Kamuela is 67-….”
“I don’t know!” Susan said in a panic. Maybe she really needed to use the bathroom too. “It’s a new acquisition, so I’ll find out and get back to you. I’ll text you.”
Kumai threw the peas into the trash and poured herself a fresh fill on her coffee. “Perfect. Contact me at any point. I’ll text you updates as the transfer progresses. Is this the number where you receive texts?
Dave barked at the cat out on the lanai. Kumai closed the screen to keep the cat out and the bird in for today.
“That was the bird too, right?”
“Okay, so, yes, text this number. Thank you, Kumai. I’ll be in touch.” Susan was breathless.
“Aloha!” Kumai responded and hung up. Things sounded chaotic on the California end.
Kumai dashed naked back to the bathroom. Dave let out a wolf whistle.
Her bladder taken care of, she returned to the kitchen for her fresh mug of coffee. She tucked the mop away. Experience had taught Kumai to take nothing personally, including a brusque client. Everybody had their stresses, and most of it was around use of time. As it was, she had enough time this morning not only for a shower, but an online meeting as well. She looked out past the lanai to see some beachcombers looking in her direction. Their expressions reminded her that she was naked. She raced out of sight to the bathroom. Could she find any more ways to humiliate herself today?
She stared at her inviting bed but got in the hot shower instead. Kumai’s aches eased. She stepped out to dress for the day, putting away the play clothes she had set out and searching for what to wear to work.
In her closet, Kumai passed up the colorful Jams World tops that the resorts asked her to wear as a uniform. She felt like the many-colored designs made her stand out in a crowd, something she never experienced otherwise. She enjoyed being overlooked. She got more done that way. Besides, these Aloha prints were so loud she couldn’t hear herself think.
Her dark hair dripped water down her back. She toweled it off again and pulled it up high into a ponytail.
She chose to wear her usual uniform of a tan top and khaki dockers shorts. Showing her long tan legs drew the only attention that she ever cared to garner. She left her ID lanyard still hanging on its hook. She scanned her closet. Why did she keep all this other stuff to wear? She fingered the day off-clothes she’d put away and the copper gown she wore last night. Again she thought about consigning her unused clothing on her next trip to town, then noted that trip would be today. No time.
Her home page on the computer contained links to her online concierge resources, plus the SOS recovery meetings. Ignoring several notices of new email, facebook communiques, tweets, and blog updates, she joined her online group and read about others’ struggles with addiction.
One member wrote that she still didn’t have any sober day when she was free of the urge to use. Kumai remembered months of that feeling this past year, except lately. She congratulated herself that today was the first day in a while that she had seriously considered using cocaine again. Although old thinking, its infrequent occurrence was encouraging. The meeting wrapped up.
A weird relief washed over her as she recognized this moment as the official end to her day off. It was 9:22. She closed the meeting with the group, closed her computer, and closed her front door behind her. She put the top down on her late model Mazda Miata named Inigo Montoya and drove toward Kona.
Along Puako Road, drivers go slowly because of foot and bicycle traffic as well as narrow, almost one-lane sections. Kumai pressed her bluetooth into her ear and voice-dialed Bradon before she got to the loud highway. Sunlight and shade alternated in gentle flashes as she drove the plumeria-lined road.
“Hello.” Bradon answered.
She knew he had caller ID but his cold answer made her think he hadn’t looked at who was calling, so she said, “Hey, it’s Kumai.”
Okay. So. She suddenly wondered if she had done something wrong. Maybe at the banquet last night? True, she hadn’t hung on his arm, but surely that wasn’t it. She pushed on, “Hey, I’m on a new job but I may be able to meet you in Waimea for dinner tonight. Wanna meet up?”
“Dunno. Call me when you decide.”
Kumai paused. She kept it light, “Okay, will do. Have a good one.”
Bradon hung up.
She took a deep breath and tried to remind herself to take nothing personally. She reviewed the banquet again. They didn’t arrive there together and it wasn’t actually a date. It was just a fundraiser. Although they were becoming an item, they weren’t officially an item. Maybe Bradon thought they were? Did Kumai want that? She’d seen what “commitment” had done for her parents’ relationship. Maybe she should end it with with Bradon? But she enjoyed spending time with him.
What else happened last night? She had met an Asian-American man with his friends, a circle of very fit young men. Did she spend most of the evening with them?