6.2   "Return of the Rain"

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In the beginning there was darkness. Nothing. Po.

Po was a vast, empty land, a dark abyss where only one life form dwelled. This was the spirit of Keawe. A single light shone through the darkness of Po: a flame holding the energy of creation.

In this chaotic vortex, Keawe evolved order. He opened his great calabash and flung the lid into the air. As it unfolded, it became the huge canopy of blue sky. From his calabash, Keawe drew an orange disk, hanging it from the sky to become the sun.

Source: http://www.coffeetimes.com/gods.htm

From her twin bed on the grounds of  Kukio Kai, Pualani stared out the window. It was around 3:30am, that nebulous realm when late, late night merges with the very early morning. It was dark out: no moon, only the stars and planets, Keawe’s ancient handiwork strewn across the sky. It hovered there, a shimmering display, everything appearing to be resting calmly in its place. Except those permanent sparkly fixtures were hurtling through space at a million miles an hour and you would never know it.

This was something Pualani couldn’t wrap her mind around, this cosmic trick of existence: if all the universe is expanding outward, then shouldn’t the position of the stars shift? Why doesn’t the Southern Cross get a little bit wider every year? Shouldn’t Venus rise each winter in a different location?

She had queried Kyle on such mechanics of the universe while in bed one evening. There had been no moon that night, either. She was looking out the window and he was lying beside her, just a profile above the pillows, his eyes closed in calculation or possibly prayer. “The universe is governed by Relativity,” he told her without opening his eyes, “so motion is relative. Since we’re all moving at the same rate, it appears that none of us is moving at all.”

“That’s depressing.”

“How so?”

She turned towards him. “If the world is hurtling through space at a hundred thousand miles an hour, wouldn’t you want to experience it? I mean, at least feel a little bit of that wind blowing through your hair?”

Kyle found her hand beneath the sheets and grabbed onto it. “You don’t want to be standing on a big round ball in the middle of nowhere with hundred thousand mile an hour winds surging past you, my dear.”

“Yes, I would. Just a little bit. Or maybe see Mercury zooming across the sky…” Anything, she thought,some bit of evidence to help me understand how we’re connected to all of this.

Pualani tried to will herself back to sleep but it was futile. Somebody had Kyle’s cell phone and they wouldn’t answer her calls. She’d spent a day of frustration and worry, ever since that first text appeared.

In the morning, at breakfast, she set her phone in front of Willow. The two young women were in the dining hall together, the infant Noby attached to Willow’s breast. “Look. Whoever it is won’t answer, he keeps texting back: Not home. Not home. Sorry.”

“Maybe it’s a joke,” suggested Willow. “If he’s as much of a jerk as you make him out to be—.”

“No—I’m—. That’s not fair. He has his faults, but there’s a goodness in him, I felt it.”

“For real?”

“Yes. This couldn’t be him. Somebody must have stolen his phone.”

“There’s only one way to find out.” Willow picked up the phone and typed: Where’d u get that phone fucker?  She tapped the Send button.

“What did you do?” Pualani grabbed the phone and looked at the screen. “Willow..!”

Prudence went into work, a welcome distraction from the tree carnage along her driveway and the generalized hangover from the wind storm. Solia was on vacation with her husband and Prudence was covering her shifts.

“Thank goodness for that,” exclaimed I’ilani with a smile. “Huh?”

“I know. Talk about timing. I owe Kam a small fortune for all the dozer work. I’ll show you pictures. It was incredible.” Prudence noticed that I’ilani was practically beaming as she chopped the lemongrass. “You’re in quite a good mood today.”

“Oh, yes.” I’ilani stepped away from the cutting board. “I had a visitor last night: my Kamoku came to see me.”

“No kidding.”

“Called me up, said, How’s my favorite makamaka? I’m on Maui, girl. Coming to Big Island. Got room on your pillow?

“No way.”

I’ilani rolled her head. “Taught me some new, upcountry moves.”

“But wait, you’re his favorite friend?”


“There are others?”

“Of course! Big man like that. There’s plenty of him to go around. I’m his only girl on the Big Island, though.”

“You sure about that?”

“Oh, I’m sure. This is a big island, but it’s not that big.” She raised her chopping knife. “I assure you that.”

Pualani walked with Willow toward her room in the communal housing. “I’d give you a ride,” she said apologetically, “except. Well.”

“That’s ok,” said Willow. “We were going to meet somewhere called Four Corners but I asked him if he could come here instead.” Matthew had finally relented and agreed to see Willow and the baby.

“Oh good. I mean, we could find you a ride easily enough.”

“No, don’t worry, it’s fine. He can come here.”

“You’ve seen the condition my car is in.” She couldn’t help but feel embarrassed. “It’s barely drivable.”

“I know, what a shame. He treats cars the way he treats other people.” A dispirited look fell across Pualani’s face. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it that way.”

“That’s ok.” (But it wasn't.) At least she had her car back, despite its dreadful condition. Mimi and Kam had driven her down to the end of Red Road yesterday to retrieve it. She’d talked herself into believing that somebody had captured Kyle and taken his phone. That was the only explanation for the odd texts and the lack of him answering his phone. Neither Kam nor Mimi was convinced of this – Mimi, in fact, rolled her eyes when Pualani suggested it – but they played along, neither denying nor encouraging, in order to help Pualani deal with her disappointment.

When they neared the end of Red Road, Pualani saw the back of the car jutting out from some shrubbery. “There it is,” she said excitedly. Then when she climbed down out of Kam’s monster truck and took one pass around the red sedan, tears started welling in her eyes like the lava lake rising in the caldera. “Oh my,” she whimpered as she touched her hand against all the damage. “Oh my.”

Mimi climbed down after her. “Yowza,” said Kam. He was still perched in the driver’s seat and was looking down on the beat up little 4-door. “He did a number on that one, didn’t he.”

Pualani rummaged around the inside of the car and glove box looking for the car keys and possible evidence of Kyle’s whereabouts. On the floor of the backseat she found his sandals. She held them in her hand, regarded them briefly, then set them on the other side of the floor with exaggerated reverence. Digging her arm underneath the driver’s seat she found the set of keys, a square headed one for the ignition and a rounded one that opened the doors, both latched onto a palm tree carved out of koa wood. She went around back (by far the least damaged part of the car) and opened the trunk. There she found Kyle’s suitcase unzipped but closed, with his culottes tossed on top. Inside nothing seemed particularly out of order; nor was there a sign of his ubiquitous satchel.

“At least it’s drivable,” offered Mimi.

“During daylight.”

Pualani stood quietly by the door observing Willow and the baby. Willow changed Noby’s diaper on the bed; he was fussy but compliant. The young mother smiled at him: “You’re going to meet your biological father today. Just don’t get attached. Remember: this is only a meet and greet.”

Pualani felt like she was intruding on their private conversation but she had to ask: “Did you really fly all the way over here just to show Matthew the baby and then leave?”

Willow shrugged one shoulder then lifted the baby up against it. “Kind of. I’m looking for somewhere good to raise him. I haven’t traveled much, but I do like the Big Island. Even though it’s only my second visit. But I’m not prepared to just up and move anywhere.” She gently rubbed Noby’s back and approached Pualani. “Hawaii is certainly more appealing than Indiana. All those dumb rules. The stifling social norms—.”

“Oh, I totally understand. Puna is a far cry from where I'm from.”

Willow pulled Noby away from her shoulder and laid a white cloth over Pualani’s shoulder. “Still no word from the phone thief?”

Pualani groaned. She looked at her phone. “Nothing. It could be Kyle, you know.”

“Friend,” insisted Willow. “It’s not him.” She held the baby out toward Pualani.

“No, no—.”

“Just for minute. I need to run to the girls’ room.”

“Oh.” Pualani clumsily took hold of the baby. “Well, ok. I guess so.”

“Keep a hand on his neck so he doesn’t fling his head back.”

“Would he?”

“He’s still young and doesn’t have the muscle tone to hold his head up yet. If it falls backwards he could snap his neck.”

“Oh!” Pualani’s hands started shaking as she pulled the fragile cargo against her chest. “I wish you hadn’t told me that.”

I could never have one of these things, she thought, as she bounced gently in the middle of the room.

When Willow returned, Pualani carefully transferred the baby back to his mother. She sighed with relief and handed the white cloth to Willow. “I don’t know how you do it: to have something so small and totally dependent upon you.”

“You get used to it.”

“Taking care of myself is work enough.”

Willow grinned.

Pualani asked if Willow was excited to see Matthew. She tried to ascertain if there was something hiding behind the calm detachment of Willow’s relationship with her baby’s father. Willow didn’t reveal much, though; it was like trying to read the stars.

The young girl spread the woven papoose out on the bed and laid Noby in the center of it. She lifted the bundle up and strung it across her shoulder. Changing topic, she said: “Busy day today?”

Pualani fell quiet. Then: “Not so much. But I should probably to get going.”

Source: http://yosemitenews.info

All throughout the lunch shift, Prudence’s phone kept ringing. At one point she went to the kitchen to pick up an order and I’ilani remarked slyly, “You’re mighty popular today. Something you forgot to tell me?”

“Hardly. I can barely remember the last time—.” She grabbed a small spoon and took a taste of the curry sauce from the Seafood in a Jungle dish. “Mm, yum.” She grabbed the plates. “It’s nothing so sordid. People are finally starting to call about the ‘ohana, that’s all.”

After the lunch shift, Prudence called back her potential renters. She sat at the table closest to the kitchen, the one that would be occupied soon by I’ilani’s daughter, June, who was probably walking down Waianuenue Street from school right now.

 She had a total of five inquiries, of which one turned out to be a crank call; one was from a family of six looking for a place to stay while their house was being repaired after the wind storm; two sounded like real possibilities; and the fifth was a referral from Warren, the real estate agent: somebody was interested in possibly buying the cottage.

The crank caller didn’t get a call back. The family of six were informed that the place was “way too small” for six people (“but if you absolutely get in a pinch and don’t have anywhere to go, let me know”). She wasn’t about to sell the place, so she called Warren and told him so. The other two, she’d have to arrange something later in the week. “Saturday would be best,” she told them, and they arranged times to come by the house.

Source: http://yosemitenews.info

While she was in the business office at Kukio Kai, Pualani’s phone rang. It was Kyle. Or rather, it was Kyle’s phone. “Howzit,” said a man’s voice on the other end. “Who’s this?”

“It’s Pualani. Who’s this?”

“This your phone?”

“You have Kyle’s phone.”


“You called me from my boyfriend’s phone.”

“Yeah, yeah, my kid found it. Boy!” he called out to his son, “where’d you find this phone again?”

In the background a young boy’s voice muttered a response. Pualani couldn’t make out what he was saying.

“Heh?!” said the father. Then: “Oh.” He put the phone back to his face and told Pualani that, “the boy says he and his friends found it up by the summit.”

“Which summit?”

“Kilauea.” He called aside: “Devastation Trail, boy, yeah?...Yeah.”

“And that’s it? There was nobody else there? No bag or backpack or anything? They didn’t see anyone?”

“Hang on.” He gave the phone to his kid. “Talk to the lady. I don’t need to be no interpreter.”

“Hello?” said the boy sheepishly.

“Hello.” Pualani wanted to reach out the choke the little brat for the torment he put her through yesterday, but she tempered her anger in the hope of getting some answers. “My name is Pualani. I live in Lower Puna. The phone you have belongs to my boyfriend. He disappeared two nights ago and I’m trying to find out where he is.”

“Don’t know.”

“Did you find anything else with the phone?”

“Just a bag, lady.”

“What did it look like?”

“Small kind you wear over your shoulder. Like a whitish brown cloth. Saw the bag on the trail first. Then the phone off to the side, by the bushes. Like it’d fell. Or been chucked.”

“Oh my. Was there anything in the bag?”

“Nothing really. A book and some beads and shit.”

“Do you still have it?”


“And you didn’t see a middle aged white guy—?”

“No, lady, no. We were hiking the crater trail along Kilauea Iki.”

In the background, his father: “Told you boys to stay out of the crater!”

“We weren’t in it!”  Then to Pualani: “There wasn’t nobody.”

“Hang onto everything, please.” She was eager and exasperated. “Tell me where you are and I’ll come pick it up.”

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