The Hana Sun Does Shine – POETRY
Take the Water to the Mountain – FICTION
Shaking the Tree – FICTION
The Brazilian – FICTION
Legend upon the Cane – FICTION
Quill and Ink – POETRY
Keith R. Rees
True and amazing love.
To discover such euphoric happiness and passion is like finding
The rarest of all gems.
For those who seek it, may it be as you wish…
The street lights glowed up and down the boulevard of Honoapiilani in the late evening darkness. The rush of traffic from tourists and locals alike had long since subsided and only a car or two meandered down the tropical island road. Palm trees swayed on both sides of the boulevard. Myna birds cackled as they settled for the night. All was quiet on this typical summer night in West Maui, all except for the three mischievous shadows ducking across the highway, snickering as they ran.
“You got the flashlight?” one shadow blurted to another.
One of the three boys sighed with exasperation. “We don’t need a freakin’ flashlight. I know these streets like the back of my hand. Now shush!”
The two Kapule brothers rolled their eyes and continued to follow close behind their buddy, Vince. The three boys hustled down the narrow, darkened streets of Lahaina, ducking under plumeria trees and around overgrown oleander bushes.
“Come on you guys,” Vince whispered. “And try and keep up will ya?”
“Hey, where are we going anyway?” protested the younger Kapule brother, Naoki.
“Quiet, Oki! You’ll see,” Vince assured him.
“Yeah, quiet back there,” Oki’s brother Kai hissed.
“Oh that does it,” Oki whined out loud, sticking his foot out to trip his brother. Kai fell right into Vince and both went crashing into some bushes. Oki roared with laughter. “You klutzes.” Apparently they weren’t too sore at him. They both got up and brushed themselves off, snickering the whole time. “I got you guys good.”
Waving his ball cap at his brother and still laughing, Kai said, “Knock it off, will ya?”
“Yeah, knock it off,” Vince added. “We’re here.”
“We’re where?” both brothers asked simultaneously.
“Shhh,” Vince said, holding his finger to his lips. Then he pointed across the street at an old darkened house right on the corner. Both boys looked puzzled. It didn’t look different than any other house in Lahaina.
“I don’t get it,” Kai said. “Doesn’t look like much to me. Whose place is this?”
Vince grinned from ear to ear. Suddenly it dawned on Kai what Vince was up to. “Oh no, we didn’t. Tell me we did not come here!” The one thought that he never wanted to talk about, much less go looking for.
“What? What?” Oki exclaimed. “What place is this, huh?”
“Please tell me we are not gonna spy on Fat Mazy,” Kai said flatly.
“Yep,” Vince answered proudly. “If she is what I think she is, then the answer to that my boys is ‘yes’!”
Oki gasped. “Oh forget this man! I ain’t goin’ near that woman. I don’t care how fat she is. She’s not Fat Mazy, she’s Crazy Mazy. She lives with two dozen cats you know. This is making me nervous.” Oki pulled out a candy bar and began to chow down on it.
“Hey, what do we wanta do with her anyway, Vince?” Kai pleaded. He didn’t like the idea either. “I bet she’s not even as big as you think. Nobody can be that fat.”
The legend was that Fat Mazy was indeed the largest woman anyone had ever seen on the island. And the legend grew even more since no one really saw her at all. No one had ever seen what she looked like. She never came out. Not even to go the grocery store. People just assumed a friend or relative did it all for her. Other rumors that became popular over time were that she lived with dozens and dozens of cats and she had gone crazy long ago and relatives just kept her inside away from rude onlookers. But the craziest rumor of all was that she was some kind of sexual legend and had a way seducing any man, young or old. And that was the legend Vince was banking on.
Vince shook his head, smiling. He couldn’t wait to get a look at her. “I don’t think she’s fat at all boys. I think that’s all a bunch a hooey. See, this is what I think.” Kai and Oki leaned in, as if they were about to hear the secret of the century. “I think she really is some kind of sex goddess. The rumors are just to throw people off. And the cats, I bet she doesn’t have a single one. If she had dozens, where are they? All in there? I doubt that. And the fat thing, I bet she’s not fat at all and she’s hot as ever. Unbelievably hot! She sneaks out at night all fixed up in somethin’ slinky, shows up at one of these fancy resorts and tries to pick up some loser that just got dumped by his girlfriend.” Kai just shook his head. “And she never fails because she’s so dang hot! That’s what I think the truth is!”
“Wow!” Oki exclaimed. “I wanta see her then too.” He seemed convinced already.
“And I suppose she brings them back here to this dump,” Kai said sarcastically. “Next day the dude disappears like some kind of Black Widow thing, right?”
“Heck no,” Vince answered. “She makes them take her somewhere classy. All part of the plan, man.”
“Yeah, and then she kills ‘em after lovin’ ‘em up,” Oki laughs. He frowned suddenly and changed his mind. “Man, I don’t wanta mess with this chick.”
Just then a couple came walking down the street. The boys knew right away that they were tourists. The woman smiled politely at them and stopped. “Could any of you young men tell us if we are near the Old Prison?” she asked.
Speaking in the most polite tone, Vince answered, “Oh yes ma’am. Just two blocks that way, you can’t miss it. But I’m afraid they’re closed now, but you can tour the prison for free daily until 4 p.m.”
“Oh thank you, young man!” she said cheerfully. They began to walk in the direction of the prison. “The people are so friendly here!” the woman said to her husband. “We’ll have to check it out tomorrow.”
“Yeah, maybe they’ll get to see us locked up tomorrow,” Kai said sarcastically.
Vince looked up and down all the darkened streets to make sure the coast was clear. “Shhh! Quiet now. C’mon, let’s go!”
The brothers followed close behind as Vince stood on the sidewalk outside Fat Mazy’s home.
“No lights on in the front,” Kai observed.
“Yeah, maybe she’s on one of her dates of death right now,” Oki whispered.
“C’mon, I see something in the back,” Vince whispered again. He peered around the back side of the house and saw one small square window where the lights were turned on inside. “She’s in there all right.” He crept underneath the window. It was too high for him to peek in. “Kai, come here. Gimme a lift will ya?”
“Hey, I wanta come see too!” Oki pleaded.
“You stay there and keep a lookout,” Vince called back. Looking perturbed, Oki flashed him the bird and folded his arms while looking up and down the street.
Kai did his best to lift Vince up on his shoulders, but he could feel the strain of his weight already. “Come on, make it quick!” he gasped.
“Here we go,” Vince said with anticipation. “Time to see the goddess of the island.”
“Or Sasquatch in a dress,” Kai retorted.
The shades were pulled down behind the window, but he could still see through the cracks around the edges. He could barely make out items on the walls and on the floor.
“You see anything?” Oki hissed.
“Shhh! Not yet!” Vince whispered back.
Kai’s face began to turn flush, he couldn’t hold on much longer. “Come on man, I ain’t got much left!” he pleaded. “I gotta let go man.”
“Wait!” Vince said excitedly. “Just saw a shadow. She’s in there!” He started fumbling around in his pockets. “Dang it! Need to find a way to get her to come to the window. Oki, bring over those fireworks!”
“Ah forget it man!” Kai said, his face turning red.
“I don’t have ‘em, Kai does!” Oki answered.
“Come get ‘em out of his pants pockets,” Vince ordered.
“Uh, no,” Kai said, regaining his stance. “I can get them. Just hold on to the house.” Kai quickly retrieved some fireworks and a lighter from his pocket. He hesitated. “You sure this is your plan to get her to show herself? How about just knockin’ on the freakin’ door?”
Vince began to chuckle. “Hurry up, light it will ya?”
Kai’s knees began to buckle under the strain as he started to light the fuse. Suddenly a car passed a block away, honking its horn as it crossed the intersection, startling Kai and Vince too.
“Dude!” Vince yelled. “That’s a chaser, not a firecracker! I said bring firecrackers!”
Kai looked up in horror just as his legs finally gave way. He tossed the lighted chaser away from them before they tumbled to the ground. The chaser went off, sending ball after fiery ball of dazzling colors spinning and screeching in every direction up and down the street. A light switched on in the room just above their head.
“Oh geez!” Oki yelled. “The Yeti’s coming!” He took off as fast as he could down the street with Kai and Vince tailing close behind him.
The tourist couple came walking back after finding the Old Prison when they saw the fireworks going off. “This place is so festive, I just love it!” the woman exclaimed.
The boys finally stopped running a few blocks away, coughing and wheezing and laughing at the same time.
“What the hell’d you run for, Oki?” Vince yelled.
“That was a stupid plan, Vince. We all ran, dude.” Kai said in his brother’s defense.
“Hey, before we left, I said a firecracker lit on the ground would do man,” Vince fired back. “Not a Chinese fire drill out in the street! Come on, let’s get out of here.”
Just as they turned to walk back home, the three boys bumped right into Tua, a local policeman in Lahaina.
“Evening boys,” Tua said calmly, but sternly.
Startled, Kai gathered himself. “Uh, good evening officer.”
“Hey Tua,” Vince said nonchalantly. Vince had known Tua most of his life since they both had grown up in West Maui and Tua was less than ten years older than he was. He knew he could probably talk his way out of anything with Tua. Kai and Oki were less confident though, since they did not know him too well. All on account they came from Kauai a year before to be boarders at the local high school, Lahainaluna. They had been friends with Vince ever since then, being that he was a boarder there too.
The high school was unique in that way as it was one of the few in the entire country to have a boarder program. They had dorms right on the campus for the boarder students, who came there to get away from bad situations or other reasons where boarding school was their last chance for an education.
Tua looked the boys up and down, shaking his head. “Vincent, what did I tell you about fireworks on these streets?”
“Um, what fireworks?” Vince said, trying to act innocent.
“And I do believe I told you to leave that woman alone, correct?” Tua continued. Kai and Oki looked at one another. Obviously their friend had made an attempt to see Fat Mazy before.
“Um, yes. That is correct,” Vince answered. “We weren’t bothering anyone though, really.”
“And the fireworks?” Tua asked.
“Fireworks?” Vince asked. “You guys see any of those?” The brothers shrugged. “Not sure about that. I think I may have heard something a minute ago. Wasn’t sure what it was.”
Tua just shook his head. “Uh-huh.” He put his hands on his hips. “I’m not going to tell you again Vince. Leave people alone from now on and find something else to do. And I don’t want to catch you again like this, you hear?”
“What’s that?” Tua said, putting a hand to his ear.
“Yes sir. From now on,” Vince said, feeling a bit guilty.
Tua took a deep breath. He knew they were the guilty parties. But he also knew their situation and any misstep would cost them their place at Lahainaluna. The only reason he was sympathetic was that he was a graduate and boarder of the same school. “Get outta here,” he finally told them. The three boys looked relieved and immediately walked away as fast as they could. Tua watched as they rounded a corner two blocks down and disappeared. He continued on his patrol, muttering to himself. “Sure will be glad when summer is over.”
Peter Lane sat in the cab of his father’s pickup truck. His father, Tadeo Lane, a big burly man, sat silently behind the wheel. The truck was parked in the driveway of their home. It was close to 1 a.m. Peter glanced over his shoulder, staring at the twinkling lights down the hillside along the coastline of the Big Island of Hawaii. The Kailua-Kona coastline was many miles away from Waimea, but easily visible from this high on the mountainside. One thing Peter knew for certain was he wished he was somewhere else just like the tiny little lights down below.
His father breathed another heavy sigh and finally broke his silence. “I know that wasn’t you I picked up down there.” Peter curled his lip. He didn’t want to answer. “I know that’s not you gettin’ mixed up in that stuff. It’s the other boys.”
“They are just my friends, Dad,” Peter finally said.
“Well, they are not good friends,” his father answered right away. “Good friends don’t get you involved in drugs.”
“I told you, I never took anything,” Peter protested.
“Regardless. Good friends don’t take you to meth labs and then leave you holdin’ the bag when the heat comes on. No, good friends don’t get involved in anything like that.” Peter folded his arms and took in a deep breath. He didn’t want to have this conversation any more.
“Pika,” his father said softly. “Pika, listen to me. I know it’s different now. It’s not like it was on the island when your mom and I were growing up. I know it’s hard. All I want to do is help you. You’re my son. But what can we do when I get a call to come pick you up at the juvenile detention center? That you been busted for running a meth lab?”
“I wasn’t running it! You just said you knew it wasn’t me,” Peter countered. “It wasn’t my idea, I didn’t want to be there.” His voice began to crack a little. He felt terrible for being involved even though he really didn’t want to be. “You’re just going to send me away.”
“Son, what other choice do we have? You’ll end up right back in this mess again. I don’t want that for you. Your mother doesn’t want that for you.”
Peter opened the door and walked to the house. His father followed him into the house with a concerned look on his face. One light was still on. Peter knew his mom was in the kitchen waiting for them. She sat dressed in a robe with a forlorn expression on her face, sipping on a cup a coffee. A brochure sat on the kitchen table by her cup. Peter knew exactly what it was.
“Well?” she asked, her voice having that tone Peter never liked. “What was it this time? Are you on something right now?”
“Sara, please,” his father pleaded. “He’s not on anything. And it wasn’t his fault.”
“Tad, you are always defending him!” Sara bristled. “I don’t want that kind of thing in my house!”
“It’s just the wrong crowd he is in, you know that. They are a bad influence on him.”
Peter interjected, “I’m standing right here, don’t I get to say something?”
“What can you say, Pika?” his mother cried. “I’m sorry for getting arrested? It won’t happen again? I’ve heard it all before.”
“It wasn’t my fault!” Peter protested.
Just then his little sister Ana came wandering in rubbing her eyes. “What’s going on?”
“Get back to bed!” her mother commanded. Ana knew right away not to argue. The tone in her voice said it all. She immediately went back to her room.
“None of this meth stuff was my idea,” Peter continued. “Jeff’s the one that cooks and deals. I was against it the whole time. Then they screwed me over. Now you wanta board me up in some damn school on another island.” He plopped down in a chair across from his mom, thoroughly disgusted. “I’m sorry I’ve disappointed you.”
Sara fumed as she looked at Peter. She wanted to believe him. She had heard too much about what goes on in the houses that create the drug labs. She knew how tempting it was to get involved and make money off it. But she wanted to give her son the benefit of the doubt. She wanted to believe him.
“Peter,” she said, calming down, “we don’t want to send you away. But we think this will help you, get you away from these bad things in such a critical time in your life. All we want is the best for you and for Ana. It’s all we can do.”
“Locked up. On another island. Wonderful,” Peter griped.
His father sat down next to him. “Son, you know I went there. I was a boarder too. You’ll find it’s not what you think it is. And it will be good for you. And since I graduated from there, I think we can get you in. They don’t take many, but I feel we have a shot. And to be honest, I think you should take it. You won’t regret it.”
“But it’s my last year,” Peter said. “Everybody knows me here. I won’t know a soul at Lahainaluna. I’ll just be the weird kid who got shipped off for his senior year for being a meth junkie. They’re not gonna want me there.”
“You don’t know that, Pika,” his father said. “I was on the same slippery slope as you are when my parents sent me there. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. Trust me, you will be fine there. And besides, if I hadn’t messed up and got shipped off, I would have never met your mother. You wouldn’t even be here. And my life would have been a mess.” Sara smiled sweetly at him. It was a smooth move on his part. Might even get him lucky later on.
Peter stared at the brochure advertising the boarding school at Lahainaluna. He traced the outline of the red crest at the top of the page. “Since 1831 huh?” he said quietly. “Terrific.”
Sara put her hand on Peter’s arm. “You are a smart, charming, handsome young man. You are better than all this that’s going on around here. You can be the man you want to be. Just let us help you.”
“I’m sure I’d make a great pig farmer,” he said sarcastically.
“Don’t stare down your nose at the pigs, son. It’s not as bad you think,” his father assured him. “There are worse places to be if you’re a pig, ha ha.”
“Yeah, a nice vacation before the big luau, that’s for sure,” Peter chuckled. “Maybe they’ll put me in an imu after they’re done with me too.”
“No, that’s my job,” Sara laughed. Peter tried to smile. “Come here.” She hugged him tightly. She didn’t want to let him go. He didn’t want her to either. The fear and realization that he was going to be leaving home began to hit him and he began to sob in his mother’s arms.
“I’m sorry, Mama,” he sobbed. “I’m sorry.”
“I know. It’s going to be OK though. Just trust yourself.”
His father patted him on the back and directed him to go to bed. He smiled at his wife, still sitting at the table. He winked at her and offered his hand, “Your turn now, little lady.”
She didn’t hesitate and jumped to wrap her arms around his burly frame. “After you, big man.”
It was early Sunday morning. There was still a feeling of the night air that melted the senses, that crisp feeling a morning has just after sunrise. The palms and plumeria trees swayed in the breeze along the narrow streets of Lahaina. The sweet aromas of the tropical flowers were all around. One never grew tired of it even if one lived there. It was early, but the little town was bustling as usual with tourists staying on the island, as well as from a cruise ship docked in the harbor. It was a typical fall day in West Maui.
Peter stood with his mother and sister on the sidewalk across the street from Maria Lanakila church while they waited on his father who was parking the car. His arms were crossed, still not wanting to be there, particularly not wanting to go to Mass. He rarely had gone in the last few years over on the Big Island, always making an excuse not to go as he got older, much to the chagrin of his parents. It was partly one of the reasons why his predicament had come to this. Instead of going to church on Sundays, he would go hang out with his friends all day, which ultimately got him into trouble.
They stayed the night before at a hotel outside the airport in Kahului, then rented a car to drive over to West Maui, as it was the weekend for boarders to check in at the dorms. It was also the weekend Peter had been dreading for weeks. However, his little sister Ana was delighted as she got to fly on a plane over to Maui and stay in a hotel for one night. She was beaming as she felt like a tourist on another island. She was just there like everybody else. She loved it.
“Can we go to Hilo Hattie’s after Mass, please?” she pleaded. Her mother rolled her eyes, as did Peter.
“We have that on our own island,” her mother answered, knowing full well they were not going to go.
“Yeah, hello,” Peter added, “Hilo is like an hour away from our house. It’s where it started. Duh. Not to mention the one in Kona. Gosh you’re a dork.”
“Knock it off,” his mother scolded.
Ana kept pleading. “But this is a big one, the one you always hear about. My friend Sara says it was the first one, dork. We’d be stupid not to go.”
“You’re both wrong,” their mother said again. “The first one was opened on Kauai. And besides that, we are not going in the first place. Now, no more asking. Here comes Dad.”
“I don’t see why we have to go to church,” Peter said plainly.
“Because this is our last Sunday for a while as a family. And you are going,” his mother answered.
“Yeah,” Ana added on for good measure. Peter shook his head at her.
His dad came walking up dressed in his favorite aloha shirt. It was the one he always wore to Mass. It had a mix of red and pink orchids and plumeria on it. His wife always thought he looked handsome in it. “I couldn’t figure out if you have to pay on Sundays for that parking lot,” he said.
Peter pointed at a sign by the sidewalk. “It says right there, Dad. Free during Mass.”
“Ah, I guessed right then,” his dad said gratefully. “Glad some things don’t change. All right, let’s go in.”
The church was crowded as it always was on Sunday mornings. There were the usual locals that came every weekend and then there were the tourists trying to catch a Mass during their vacation. But this Sunday you had to take into account the added attendance by those coming for moving day at Lahainaluna High School for the boarder students. And it was common to see people from other islands attending Mass before taking their kids mauka to the school to drop them off for the school year.
The family found a pew where the four of them could fit. Peter sat down, a look of boredom across his face. He gazed around the chapel studying the intricate decorations around the altar. It was a typical Hawaiian church that was open-air, windows open on both sides of the church, with one long center aisle and the old style choir loft in the back behind the congregation. Mass began with the opening hymn that was sung in Hawaiian. The sound of the harmonic choir was infectious. Everyone turned, particularly the tourists, to look back at the choir to watch them sing their beautiful music. Hawaiian churches were renowned for their heartfelt and strong singing from the choir and congregations, and Maria Lanakila was no exception. Peter’s father smiled in approval at the lovely music and he sang along proudly. The choir even turned Peter’s sour mood a little more cheerful as well.
It was then, in the middle of the opening hymn, that he saw her. In the pew in front of them, just to his left, he saw a young girl around his age. She was a petite girl, plain and simple, with dark hair and a pretty complexion. But something about her struck Peter in a way he had never felt. She was beautiful. Her hair was drawn back in an ordinary ponytail that displayed the delicate features of her face. He was totally taken by her. He noticed her profile right away and he looked her up and down as coolly as possible. She had a feminine side that was very easy on the eyes as well. He stopped himself from staring at her in such a way, especially in the middle of Mass. He tried to look away, but he kept finding himself glancing her direction, studying her small hands as she held her hymnal. And she sang along with the congregation, loudly and beautifully as anyone else in the room. Peter felt weak in his knees. Who was this beautiful girl? He had to know.
Peter decided to pick up one of the hymnals in the book holder in front of him. He looked over at his father’s book to find the page number and he soon joined in singing. His father patted his shoulder proudly, happy to see him participating. But Peter was just trying to get her to look his way. When the song ended, he got his wish. He continued staring as he put his book away, trying not to be obvious, but he couldn’t help it. She had him in a trance. As she placed her book away, she glanced over at him and smiled and quickly turned her attention forward again. Peter smiled in recognition. She knew he existed now!
People filed out of the church after Mass had ended. The courtyard of the church was a beautiful spot with tall trees all around it and a nice grassy area near the front door. People stopped to talk and visit and the locals, kids and adults alike, would often sit on the grass to enjoy the morning air. The local paper vendor would hand out free copies of the Maui News for them to read as well. There was a large mango tree on the side of the church and kids were trying to knock the large fruit from the branches using sticks or rocks.
Peter kept his eye on his newfound interest, hoping she wouldn’t go too far after church was over. He wasn’t disappointed as she sat down on the grass with a newspaper in hand. He leaned on the far stone wall behind her, trying to act casual and not be noticed. He watched as some kids desperately tried to knock some mangos from the tree. He decided to help them out and picked up a short stick from the ground. He jumped to the wall and grabbed the low branch and reached out as far as he could and knocked four mangos from the tree. The kids erupted with squeals of excitement as the fruit fell.
The girl glanced over her shoulder, watching the kids laughing and having fun. A couple mangos bounced her way and one even landed in her lap. Then she noticed the culprit in the fun; she caught Peter in the corner of her eye just as he was jumping down from the wall.
Smiling at him, she held the fruit out to him. “I believe this is yours.”
He brushed off his trousers and approached her. His heart pounded in his chest. The sound of her voice was heavenly. He liked it instantly. “Sorry about that,” he said. “Didn’t bonk you on the head did it?”
“Almost,” she laughed. “But I survived.”
“Why don’t you keep that one,” he said smoothly. “I think they’ve got enough.” The kids were busy trying to peel and eat the large pieces of fruit. They were quite happy.
“Thank you, I’ll get my uncle to cut it up later,” she answered.
Her uncle? he thought. He stored that one in his brain for later. Perhaps she was from out of town. Or maybe her uncle was the only one in her family who knew his way around a mango. Peter had no idea.
“Sounds good,” he answered.
Just then, Peter’s mother called out to him. “Peter, we need to go. We need to get up there.”
He frowned at her and then turned back to the girl on the grass and smiled. “Sorry, was hoping to talk more.”
“Peter, that’s a nice name,” she said. She didn’t know what to think of him but she obviously was interested in him. But who knew if she’d ever see him again? Maybe next week at Mass? She had no idea. She did think he was cute though.
“Oh, thanks,” Peter stammered. No one had ever told him he had a nice name. He nearly plowed into a little kid as he turned to leave. “Sorry kid. Um, I guess I gotta go.”
“OK,” she said, turning back to her newspaper.
He had left the courtyard and she could not see him anymore. She frowned a bit, feeling a bit sorry that he had left so soon. She was hoping to talk a little more too. There was something about him that lingered in the back of her mind. Something comfortable, something very natural about him. She smiled as she scanned over the paper, the mango resting on her lap.
Suddenly, a head popped over the wall directly behind her. “Psst, hey!” Peter called out. She turned to see him red-faced, trying to hold his head above the wall long enough to speak to her. She laughed at his antics and his obvious strain to stay above the wall. “Hey, I never asked you your name!”
Laughing at him, she answered sweetly. “Kaila.”
“Kaila. Nice! I love that name. Nice to meet you. See ya!”
He disappeared behind the wall, landing with a thud. Kaila could hear a muffled grunt on the other side as he must have landed hard. She chuckled to herself and went back to reading.
The car turned off the main highway and headed up Lahainaluna Road. Peter’s father drove slowly up the mountainside and took a trip down memory lane as he did, it had been years since he had made this drive towards the high school. He had a broad smile on his face. Peter was not paying attention though, his mind was still on meeting Kaila. He was hoping he would get to see her again sometime. The church was his only thought for the moment on where she would be. At least on Sunday mornings. He snapped into reality as his father began to play tour guide.
“That’s the old smoke stack from the sugar mill, long time ago,” his father pointed out. “Looks like a coffee store in front of it now. They grow coffee on the sides of these slopes.” Both kids looked up at the tall stack as they drove past. It was old and rusty looking, but stood proudly as a symbol of how things used to be on the island at one time. They passed neighborhoods on either side of the road. “Kids on this side of the island all come right here for school. All on this road here. Almost symbolic.”
“What do you mean?” Peter asked.
Without hesitation, his father explained. “The preschool is right here, near the bottom of the hill.” Peter noticed the small school and sign as they passed. “Further up is the elementary. Then a little ways further is the junior high. And at the top is the high school. With the best view you ever did see, son.” Peter gazed up the side of the mountain, trying to pick out where the high school might be among the buildings dotting the hillside. He was impressed. “The older you get the further up the mountain you go.”
“That’s neat!” Ana exclaimed.
Peter nodded as well. That’s pretty cool, he thought to himself. He kept looking from side to side as they slowly ascended the hill. Soon, he spotted way up high on the mountainside a single letter displayed very noticeably. It was a reddish-orange giant letter ‘L’ outlined in white. He was intrigued to say the least.
At the same moment, his father caught sight of it as well. “There it is,” he said, almost in awe.
Ana saw it too. “Oh neat! They put a big ‘L’ up there for Lahaina!”
“No,” her father corrected. “It’s for the school, Lahainaluna. It’s been there since 1904.” Peter sat very impressed. A school has its own emblem on the side of the mountain? “There is a lot of history surrounding this school. I want you to learn and appreciate it, kids. The school is very old. It goes back to the 1800’s. Supposedly the first graduate from here is buried near the site of the ‘L.’ They light it up at the end of the school year. They have a festival in his honor every spring, David Malo Day.”
Peter had definitely heard about David Malo in school but the ‘L’ on the mountain intrigued him more. “What do you mean they light it up?” Peter asked. “They shine some spotlights on it or something? What do they do that for?”
“No, they actually light it on fire.” He had Peter’s attention now. “They call it the ‘Lighting of the L’. On the day of graduation, students hike up there with lime and put it all around the edges. And right as graduation ends at Boarders Field they light the ‘L’ on fire very slowly until it’s burning bright on the mountainside. Everyone back here at graduation just stands there and watches. Well, basically everyone on this side of the island watches it. It’s a great tradition here. You can see it for miles they say, even on Molokai and Lanai if it’s clear.”
Peter stared at the emblem high upon the mountain. “Wow, they really do that?” Just as he spoke, he saw the sign for the high school. ‘Welcome to Lahainaluna High School.’ The car pulled in the drive. There were many people milling about and cars everywhere. They found a parking space near the large football field that prominently sat near the entrance of the school. Peter and Ana were glued to the windows, looking everywhere. A large scoreboard was displayed at the far end of the field beyond the end zone. It had bright red and white lettering that read ‘The Imu, Home of the Lunas.’
“The Lunas,” Ana said out loud. “Hey, I like that!”
“Yeah,” her father said. “The team is supposed to be good this year. That will be something fun for you too, Pika. The football games are always fun here.”
“Yeah, I might catch a few,” Peter nodded. He got out of the car and looked around the campus. The buildings lined the main road and went back further than he could see. His expression seemed sorrowful as he looked at the place he would be spending the next nine months. People live up here? he wondered to himself. He took a deep breath and sighed heavily. Then something caught his eye. He finally realized how high up they were on the mountain. The view was nothing short of spectacular. The town of Lahaina stretched beautifully along the coastline. The neighborhoods and schools below stretched all the way down to Honoapiilani Highway. To the left he followed the highway as far he could until the road disappeared around the pali. Beyond the town across the channel was the island of Lanai. One could see it from the shore but from up this high it was amazing. And the island was nearly clear of clouds. The highest peak was easily visible. Peter breathed easier as the view soothed his very soul. It made him feel at home. The views they had at home on the Big Island were this way. He was beginning to feel better. To the far right was the island of Molokai. The majestic cliffs towered above the sea with trails of clouds clinging to the tips of the mountain peaks. His father came and stood beside him as they both took in the awesome view before them.
“You really went to school here, Dad?” Peter marveled.
“Sure did, Pete.” He put his hand on his son’s shoulder. “It’s going to be fine, OK?” Peter nodded nervously. He knew very soon he would be left here by himself. “Now come on, let’s head inside and get you settled in.”
The banner in the lobby read, ‘Welcome to David Malo Dorm.’ Peter glanced around the lobby. Near the check-in window, which also served more permanently as the dorm office, was a study lounge with an array of couches and lounge chairs. He dragged his one suitcase behind him as he frowned at his new home.
“Mr. Lane! Aloha!” a man’s voice called out from inside the office window. “Welcome back ‘ol boy.”
Tad smiled broadly. “Aloha Bob, great to see you,” he responded. He gave Bob a big hug through the window. “Been many years. Glad to see a familiar face. Not much has changed I see.”
“Yep,” Bob replied. “They still got me here. I guess they figured I’ve been here this long, may as well put me to good use. Hello Mrs. Lane, nice to see you.”
“Hello Mr. Campbell, nice to see you too,” Sara answered, shaking his hand. “This is our daughter, Ana.”
“Hey there, young lady.”
“Aloha!” Ana said cheerfully.
“And you must be Peter.” Bob walked out to the other side of the counter to shake Peter’s hand. Peter silently greeted him. “I’m Mr. Campbell, the boarding foreman. I remember when your pop was here.” Peter didn’t know what to make of a person who had stayed at the school for that long.
“That’s a pretty long time,” Peter finally spoke.
“Hey, I’m not that old!” his dad exclaimed.
“Well, actually,” Bob continued, “I went to school here too.”
“No kidding,” Peter said. He was impressed – or at least felt very sorry for Mr. Campbell.
“Yep, it’s pretty common for those of us working here. It’s like family, you just never want to leave.” Bob tried to say the words in the most sincere way. He could see the apprehension on Peter’s face.
Just then, a young man came sliding down the hall on his shoes and skidded to a stop. “You’ve got to be the new guy!” he announced.
“Vincent!” Bob scolded. “You know about running in these halls. Excuse him, please.”
“New guy?” Peter asked. “How do you know that?”
Vince spoke as he always did, confident and matter-of-factly. “Everybody knows, roomie. Come on, lemme show you around!”
“Roomie?” Peter asked again, flummoxed.
Bob stepped in to slow down Vince’s eagerness. “Yes, Peter. This is Vince Amoy. He’ll be your roommate this year. Vince, this is Peter’s family.”
“Hello!” Vince proudly said to them.
“Hello,” they all said in unison.
Vince quickly turned back to Peter. “Hey, lemme help you with your stuff.”
Peter motioned to his suitcase standing next to him. “This is it.”
“All right then!” Vince yelled. “We’re off!”
Peter looked back at his parents with a ‘save me’ expression on his face. “Go on, we’ll catch up,” his dad said. “Go take a look around.” He grabbed the handle of his suitcase and dragged it along and tried to keep up with his new roommate.
The two boys turned a corner and went through a door that opened to a long narrow hallway with rooms on either side. A small open room to the side opened up at the hallway’s end where a desk with computers lined the wall. Vince played tour guide as they walked. “Over here is the computers where you can do school work, look things up. Forget about surfing porn, it’s all blocked.” Peter did his best to chuckle. “Rooms on either side. No chicks, so forget about that too. Girls are all next door in Hoapili. You get to see ‘em in the cafeteria and class, so no worries.” Peter looked curiously at each door. There was a glass window in each one. You could see into each room clearly. “Yes, not much privacy up here buddy. Gotta keep your nose clean. Foremen walk the halls at any time checkin’ on us. Make sure we’re not lightin’ up, burnin’ the place down or disemboweling one another.” Peter looked at him funny. “Don’t worry, I gave up disemboweling people a long time ago.”
Peter laughed out loud. “Oh yeah, how come you need a new roommate?”
Vince winked and put his finger to his lips. “Shhh!” Peter laughed again. “I’m kidding. He graduated last spring.”
As they walked, most doors were opened to the rooms. Most of the boys left their doors open like it was one big family home. People came and went as they wanted up and down the hallway. Most only closed their door to sleep at night. Peter felt a little awkward about the lack of privacy.
Vince could tell he was uneasy. “You get used to it. The windows I mean. That’s why most of us just leave the doors open.” They passed the room with the Kapuli brothers. “That’s Kai and Oki.”
“Hey, new guy!” they both yelled.
Suddenly, a short skinny kid came racing out of his room shirtless right in front of them. “Aughh!” he yelled. “I got tracker-jackers on my ass!” He pointed a toy bow and an arrow, tipped with a suction cup, down the hallway and shot it and watched happily as the arrow stuck to the glass on the door. “Cornucopia! All for one! Aughh!” The kid went racing down the hall joyfully after his arrow.
“What the hell was that?” Peter asked, befuddled.
Vince rolled his eyes and replied, “That’s Fin. Ignore him. He’s trapped in his own world of make-believe ever since he saw the Hunger Games. He thinks he’s Katniss.”
Peter shook his head and laughed. “He knows Katniss is a girl, right?”
“I don’t bother to ask questions,” Vince said.
They stopped at a door in nearly the center of the hallway. “This is us. Welcome to your new home. I’m on the right.”
Peter scanned the room over. It looked much bigger than he had expected, even for a two-person dorm room. Each student had plenty of space on their side of the room. There was a desk to work at, twin-sized bed and a closet with plenty of storage. Peter arched his neck to see out the window.
“You got lucky, pal,” Vince smiled. “Since we’re both seniors, we got a window facing the water. Great ain’t it?” Peter curled his lip and nodded approvingly. “Freshman don’t get this great view.”
Peter rolled his suitcase to the foot of his bed and he sat down on the mattress. The bed felt good enough, he thought to himself. He felt a little less depressed than he had been. At least his roommate was cool. But he still sighed heavily. He still did not feel like he belonged here. He could feel the anxiety welling up inside him.
Soon, his parents and Mr. Campbell found his room and they all stepped just inside the door. “There you are,” his mother said anxiously. “What do you think?”
Peter didn’t really know what to say. What could he say? They were about to leave him in this room for the next nine months. He felt like the warden was giving them a tour just before his sentence was carried out. “It’s good,” he finally said. His mother gave him a long hug, while his father patted him on the back at the same time.
“I wanta see the girl’s dorm!” Ana said excitedly. “This is so cool!” Peter could not share in her excitement, however.
“We’ll see you at Christmas break, OK?” his father said. “Just use your phone and contact us whenever you want. You’ll be fine here.”
His father wasn’t much for speeches and even worse at saying goodbye, so Peter just nodded and stared at the floor mostly. His mother was emotional but knowing what they were getting Peter away from kept her from crying too much. She knew this was the best thing for him.
“Watch after him, Mr. Vincent,” she said sweetly to Vince.
“Oh you bet, Mrs. Lane,” Vince said happily.
“He’ll be in good hands,” Bob said. “Vince, fill Peter in on the daily activities and I’ll walk his folks out to their car.” Vince saluted like a soldier following orders.
With that, Mr. Campbell escorted Peter’s parents and sister out of the dorm and Peter walked out in the hallway and forlornly watched as they disappeared behind the door at the end.
Peter sat on the edge of his bunk, staring at the floor in a miffed state. He had already made peace with the fact that his parents had just dropped him off on another island at a school he was unfamiliar with and people he didn’t know. What annoyed him was the fact that his new roommate was lying on his own bunk, bouncing an old racquetball off the wall, repeatedly. Vince was completely oblivious to the fact that he was bugging Peter as well, which only made things more aggravating.
“Kinda early to be all down in the dumps, ain’t it?” Vince asked casually, still bouncing the ball off the wall while lying flat on his back.
“Huh? What?” Peter stammered. He was trying his best to ignore the bouncing ball. He wanted to stay lost in his thoughts. But the irritating sound was keeping him from them for sure. “Hey, can you cut that out?”
Vince ignored of him, of course. He just kept bouncing the ball off the wall with one hand and catching it with his other hand. “Sittin’ there mopin’, I mean. It’s a long school year bud, gotta get over it.”
With each bounce of the ball, Peter became more and more agitated. He brushed Vince’s comments aside. “Nah, nah, I’m not mopin’. I’m just thinkin’ is all.”
“’Bout what?” Vincent asked.
“Nothing.” Peter really didn’t want to get into a discussion about his feelings nor share them with someone he had just met. “Geez, can you cut that out? I can’t get one single thought straight in my head.”
Vince kept on bouncing the ball, as if it were his own nervous habit. “Well, what are ya thinkin’ about anyway?”
“I don’t know, but the one thought I keep having over and over is terrific,” Peter snapped sarcastically. Suddenly he jumped up and caught the ball in mid-air before it landed in Vince’s outstretched hand. “But maybe I can have a second one now.”
Vince rolled over on his side and smiled. “Nice snag, man!” He slowly sat on the edge of the bed and relented. “OK, I get it. I’ll stop.”
Peter sat down again on his own bed and started bouncing the ball slowly on the floor. “I knew it,” Vince said. “You just wanted it for yourself.” Peter chuckled at him. “Hey, you know what?”
“What?” Peter asked quietly.
“We need to look around, give you the grand tour, man,” he announced. “Plus I gotta fill you in on this stuff.”
Something to do sounded good to Peter. Anything to do sounded good at the moment. He stopped bouncing the ball and looked up at Vince asking, “Stuff like what?”
“Rules and stuff,” Vince answered. “Work detail, what time we have to get up, curfew, weekends, dress code, you name it. Come on, let’s get outta here.”
Both boys walked out into the hallway and Vince led the way. One detail had caught Peter’s attention. “Well,” he stammered, “What time do we have to get up?”
“5:45 a.m. bro,” Vince stated.
“No freakin’ way,” Peter retorted. He didn’t like the sound of that. He had enough trouble already just getting up for the regular school time.
“Oh it be so,” Vince responded.
“What the hell for?”
“Work detail, man,” Vince continued. “All the boarders have to work outside in the mornings. School grounds, the farm, the pigs.”
“The pigs?” Peter asked, as if he had forgotten. He knew from his father’s time here that there were pigs that were kept and raised at the school. But the one thing his dad had failed to mention was the 5:45 a.m. part.
“Yep,” Vince said. “School has pigs down at the pens. And we gotta little farm with taro, ti, corn, you name it.”
“And we gotta do all that?”
“For how long?” Peter asked.
Vince could tell this was all news to Peter as they walked down the corridor. “Some of us have cafeteria duty too. In the morning, we work for an hour. After school, two hours.” He looked over at Peter a bit concerned. “You didn’t know any of this stuff, man?”
Peter shrugged a bit as they entered a lounge area. “I guess I knew about it. From my old man I mean. Just didn’t’ think it was so much.” He scanned his eyes around the mostly unimpressive room. “I guess I didn’t think about how early it all was though.” Vince laughed out loud at him. “What’s this place?”
The boys stood just inside the doorway of a plain lounge area furnished with a couple sofas, a few armchairs and an old TV set in the far left corner. Behind the sofas were a pool table and dart board.
“Just a play lounge,” Vince answered routinely. “We share it with the girls. It’s the only place we can be with the girls besides in school. They can’t be in our dorm, we can’t be in theirs. Their dorm has one too.” Peter nodded. “The office is right past that doorway over there, so they know who’s in here all the time. And since we got mandatory study time every night, girls too, ain’t too many people in here anyway. Except on the weekends.”
“Yeah,” Peter shrugged again.
“That is, of course, after your three hours of work on Saturdays too,” Vince added.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed, Peter exclaimed, “Saturday too??”
Vince laughed out loud again. Patting him on the back he tried to reassure him, “Don’t worry about it, man. All of us are doing the same thing, girls too. You’ll get used to it.” Vince stared at the room for a while, as if he were contemplating all the years he had been here already. He nodded his head, thinking to himself. “Yeah, you’ll get used to it,” he said again.
Peter stared at the pool table. “Pool’s pretty fun,” he said.
“Yeah, we play sometimes. Watch some football. Hey, you like football?”
Peter nodded, “Yeah I guess so. I watch some with my dad sometimes.”
“Great,” Vince responded. “Our season starts in a couple weeks. The Lunas are supposed to be good this year.”
“High school football? Oh yeah, I guess so. My school back on the Big Island didn’t have a team.”
“Well, we do here. The games are fun.”
Peter looked past the pool table at the old dart board on the wall. It had a small chalkboard hanging next to it. “Anybody play that?” he asked.
“Nah,” Vince laughed. “Nobody around here knows the damn rules. Besides, I don’t think we have any darts either. Come on, let’s go.”
Following Vince back down the hallway, he said, “I don’t know anything about it either, I guess,” Peter said. In truth he did have a dart board in the garage at home that he and his sister had messed around with from time to time, but they didn’t know how to keep proper score either.
Vince turned to him and said, “Next stop, the glorious laundry room!”
Peter was fast asleep when an annoying noise suddenly awakened him. He couldn’t get away from the siren going off out in the hallway. He buried his head under his pillow, hoping it would stop. Thankfully, and mercifully, it did.
With a crazed look on his face, he wearily lifted the pillow from his face and asked his already sitting-up roommate, “What the hell was that??”
Yawning, Vincent replied, as if it were no big deal, “Wake-up call, dude. Time to go do the morning chores.”
“Already?” Peter exclaimed. “Classes don’t start until tomorrow!”
“Work starts today, buddy. Come on, you need to get going,” Vincent said hurriedly.
Peter buried his face in the pillow again and moaned, “Ugh. This was not in the brochure.” He finally got to his feet and got dressed in his work clothes, but did not really know where he should be going. “So where do we go?”
“Well, I already know where I’m going,” Vincent said wryly. “I found out yesterday. Benefits of being here three years. I got cafeteria this year. Not the most glamorous work, but at least there is no mud.”
“Well, great for you,” Peter answered. “But what about me?”
“Everybody meets at the farm the first day, then they’ll tell you what your assigned area will be. Just about everyone works outside. You get to move around some, but most newbies and freshmen get to work with the pigs.”
Peter rolled his eyes. “Terrific. I know that’ll be just my luck.” He thought quickly on what his options were. Go running down the mountain screaming his fool head off to get away from this place, or go introduce himself to the pigs. Then another thought occurred to him. “Hey, maybe I can get in with you at the cafeteria.”
“No chance, buddy,” he said flatly. “They know you are new. You gotta show up at the farm. You ready?” Peter nodded reluctantly. “All right, I’ll point you in the right direction. Let’s go.”
It was a beautiful West Maui morning. The glow of the sunrise gleamed around the peaks of the mountains, the air cool and crisp. The Myna birds could be heard chirping in the trees. The breeze swayed through the palm trees as the boys made their way down the slope towards the small farm near the school grounds. Peter recognized Fin in the group of boys walking to the farm.
“Hey Fin,” Peter said to him. “You going to the farm too?”
Fin thrust his fist into the air and answered, “Yes! My good man, we’re off to The Reaping to see who will be chosen!”
Peter laughed and shook his head. Two more familiar faces came up behind them, laughing out loud too. It was Oki and Kai.
“Geez, Fin,” Kai said laughing. “Haven’t you gotten over that yet?”
“He’s obsessed with the Hunger Games that came out this summer,” Oki explained to Peter.
“Yeah I heard,” Peter replied. “Speaking of the Hunger Games, I’m kinda starvin’ myself. When the hell do we eat?”
Fin skipped along and cut in, “Not just the Games…”
“But Katniss. Yes we know,” Kai said sarcastically, finishing his thought for him. They had heard it all too many times already from Fin. “We eat breakfast after work,” he said, answering Peter’s question.
They arrived at a small shed near the gardens for the vegetables and various plants. Boy and girl boarders alike showed up in their work clothes waiting to hear their assignments for the coming weeks.
Stretching up on his toes, Peter scanned over the small sea of faces to try and get a look at the girls in the crowd. It was the first time he had seen any of his fellow female boarders. For a brief second, he thought he saw a very familiar face. But there were too many people there. He could not get a clear look at her.
Soon, the farm foreman, Mr. Cantor, began to speak. “Good morning everyone. Aloha!”
The whole group of students replied in unison, “Aloha!”
“Welcome to another school year at Lahainaluna. I see some new faces, so welcome to you as well for the first time. Those of you who are returning boarders, you know what’s expected of you. Those of you who are new, you will learn quickly on what needs to be done. The upperclassmen and ladies will help you along.” Everyone listened intently as the glow of the early morning became brighter with each passing minute. “You new people will learn that there are many grand traditions here at the school and with being a boarder. One of which, as you know, is working on the school grounds to help earn your room and board and tuition at this great school. We have a beautiful campus, one of the most beautiful high school campuses in the country. We are blessed to have this location on the side of Mt. Ball with this majestic view.”
Mr. Cantor motioned down the side of the mountain and all the students took in the vast beauty of where they were standing. Peter looked on intently, as it was the one thing so far that he really liked. He thought the view was amazing. Yet he still kept trying to get a glance over in the girls’ section to see if he could catch a glimpse of the familiar face once again. But still, he could not.
“I was a former boarder myself,” Mr. Cantor continued. “It’s our duty and our privilege to be the caretakers of these school grounds. We have visitors from all over come to see our campus, our museum, and our variety of events throughout the school year. The biggest of which is graduation in May. So we must keep it looking beautiful and be proud in what we do. After you receive your assigned duties that is where you will be until we rotate around. We will let you know. No need to meet here each morning, just go to your assigned work area and get started. We work for one hour before breakfast, two hours after classes and another three hours on Saturday mornings. The rest of Saturday is free unless you’ve been bad. Then you’re back here with me,” he said, grinning wryly. The group of kids chuckled to themselves. He scanned over some papers in his hands. Clearing his throat he stated plainly, “We are all family here, a wonderful tradition of ohana. We work hard, we help each other too. So work together.” He paused for a moment. “All right then, let’s get to work. Let’s all have a great Monday!”
Just as Peter had expected, he was assigned to the pigs. He and two other boys whom he did not know walked over to the pens where the pigs lived. It looked just as he had imagined a pig pen would look, full of mud and dirt and a smell that could only belong to a bunch of pigs. The pen was much larger than he had expected, as there were quite a few pigs in there, a lot more than Peter had hoped.
He had seen pigs before, of course; they were a common animal raised throughout the islands. They were a prevalent food source and also the primary course served at the multitude of luau’s held for tourists on each of the islands. So seeing a pig farm in Hawaii was not all that uncommon. Yet, seeing them up close was not something Peter was used to. Some of the hogs were massive in size, weighing hundreds of pounds. They ranged in all sizes, even down to the cute little piglets.
The other two boys, Ty and Sal, went right to work giving the pigs fresh water and food. The barn had rubber waders hanging on the wall that the workers could put on to keep from getting too muddy. The barn was also equipped with a watering hose and small tools to clean the mud off the waders after they were done. Part of their duty was to keep the equipment clean after finishing the chores around the pig pen. The shed was centered in between the two main pens, with each pen holding a certain number of pigs. It seemingly kept each pen separate, with only a small fenced-in pathway in between them for moving pigs from one side to the other.
Peter didn’t ask too many questions, he just did what the other two boys were doing and followed their lead. Ty and Sal had obviously tended to the pigs before. Peter noticed another worker on the other side of the shed, but could not tell who or how many others were helping.
Ty spoke up as he was filling a trough with some water. “I think we got this side if you want to go to the other side and help her out with the little ones,” he suggested.
“Her?” Peter said out loud. “Oh, the little ones are kept on that side, OK. I’ll head over there.” Peter was a little surprised to hear that a girl was working in the pig pen. He sloshed towards the shed and kicked the mud off his waders a little, then walked through the middle to the other side. As he approached, he could hear the sound of many much younger pigs and piglets squealing happily. He peered around the corner to see a young girl standing over a trough inside the pen pouring feed into it. She was surrounded by several little pigs. She giggled with delight as she fed them. Peter smiled at the sight and nearly laughed out loud but he didn’t want to startle her.
Clearing his throat, he raised his voice so as to be heard over the squealing and said, “They said I should come over here and help you out.”
The girl didn’t turn to look and see who was talking to her, but kept putting out feed. A smile appeared on her face when she heard his voice and then she said, “I think you are following me, aren’t you?”
When she spoke, Peter instantly remembered the sound of her delightful voice. He felt his stomach swell with excitement as if he had butterflies inside. He knew it was her. His heart began to pound. She was the one! he thought. She was the one he had noticed in the crowd earlier. He could not believe his luck. He could not believe she was here at this school with him. And on top of that, she was a boarder too!
He fumbled for something to say. Finally he was able to make a sound. “Hey, it’s you from the church! Kaila!”
Kaila turned around and smiled at him. “Hey there yourself,” she said kindly. “Aren’t they cute?” She laughed as the little pigs tromped around her feet. “Ha ha! I missed these little guys.”
Peter laughed and answered, “Yeah they are. I think they like you!”
He stepped into the pen with her. He still could not believe his good fortune. Even standing there in the pig pen in rubber waders, her feet and legs covered in mud, she still was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. “I didn’t know if I’d get to see you again. Such a nice surprise to see you here,” he said very gentlemanly.
“Likewise,” Kaila responded with a smile. “It’s good to see you too.” She tried to move around the swarm of pigs. “Hey, can you grab that hose and water the trough over there for them? Then we’ll be done.”
“Oh sure,” Peter responded and immediately grabbed the hose and walked it over to the watering trough. He was all too happy to help her out. He was astounded it was actually her.
“The mango was good by the way,” Kaila said.
Peter had almost forgotten. “Oh, that’s great. I’m glad you liked it.” Just then he stumbled over some excited little piglets and nearly fell into the mud. He caught himself on the fence just in time. The pigs went scampering away, squealing with delight.
Kaila laughed out loud. She had already stepped out of the pen and had begun to wash off her waders. “You OK in there? Need me to send in a rescue team? Ha ha!”
Peter laughed at himself as he held on to the fence. “I think I’ll make it. But be ready to come in after me just in case,” he chuckled.
Just then a very tiny piglet came snorting around his feet. He nearly did not see the little animal.
“Oh look!” Kaila shouted. “I didn’t see him! Look at him, he’s so adorable!”
Startled, Peter looked down at his feet. “Oh wow, I didn’t see him either! Hey little guy!”
He was indeed the cutest little piglet ever. And he was not even covered in any mud. He was perfectly clean still. His little snout sniffed around Peter’s feet.
“Awww, you nearly stepped on our little baby,” Kaila said warmly.
She skipped around the fence to where he was standing. Peter slowly bent down and scooped the tiny piglet into his gloves. The piglet squealed momentarily and then settled quietly into Peters hands. “Hey there little guy,” he said again softly.
Kaila came up behind and leaned over the fence. He held the pig up so she could see him. “Oh my gosh, he is so cute,” she said, lowering her voice. They did not want to frighten the little pig. “Would you look at that? I’ve never seen one so small. Awwww…”
“Wow, neither have I,” Peter replied.
“Look at him, he loves you,” Kaila said, smiling widely. “Ha ha, he wants to go to sleep right in your arms. Isn’t that sweet.”
“Yeah, who wouldn’t?” he chuckled. Kaila rolled her eyes at him. “Yeah, so much excitement in here, he’s all worn out. Poor little guy. Here, you wanta hold him?” He raised his arms so she could get hold of the piglet. She still had her gloves on and the little pig easily settled in her hands, never squealing once. He snorted in her hands, as cute as can be, and then laid his little head down against her arms. Peter smiled proudly at her. “He loves you too.” Kaila smiled back at Peter. She was loving every second of this moment.
Time was getting short and they needed to get back to school to get cleaned up for breakfast. So she slowly lowered him to the ground inside the pen and let him scamper free. They both watched as the little piglet joined the rest of the pigs over by the feeding trough.
They cleaned their waders and the rest of the tools and stowed them away in the shed. “So,” Kaila began. “You are a boarder here too. You must be new.”
“Yeah, who would have thought that, huh?” Peter replied. “Never would have guessed I’d be running into you here after seeing you at church the other day.”
“Yeah, me neither,” Kaila said. “So this is your first year?”
“My first and my last,” Peter said matter-of-factly. “What about you?”
“You don’t see too many boarders come in for their senior year,” Kaila said curiously. She knew there was a lot more to his story. And he obviously was not willing to share too much just yet. “I’m a senior too, so we will be graduating together.”
“Hopefully,” Peter responded. “I suck at school.”
Kaila laughed. “Oh, I think you’ll be fine. Sometimes it’s not easy here, but you’ll make it. You survived your first day with the pigs, right?”
Peter laughed in response. “Yeah, nine more months and maybe I can go pro working with pigs.”
“That’s the spirit,” she laughed. “Come on, I’m starving. Let’s go get some breakfast.”
They walked together back to the dorms and before going their separate ways, he stopped and called out to Kaila. “It was great seeing you again. I’m glad you’re here.”
Looking over her shoulder as she walked towards her dorm, she said with a smile, “Same here.”
Peter stood in line in the cafeteria, patiently waiting to finally get some breakfast. The early morning rise and work made him famished. Yet he could not help, but smile at meeting Kaila again. For the first time he actually felt happy to be at Lahainaluna. And he marveled at the odds of seeing her at church when he first arrived on Maui and then again here at school, and doing the same work detail as he was. He just felt there was a reason behind all the coincidence. He could feel it churning in his belly. Or maybe he was just hungry.
He chuckled out loud when he noticed Vince in the serving line, wearing a hairnet and white coat. Vince noticed him first though and before Peter could get in the first crack. Vince shook his head and said, “I know where you got assigned by the look on your face and by the smell. Want some eggs, pigman?”
“Whatever dude,” Peter laughed. “Nice hairnet. Yeah, I’ll take some eggs.”
Standing next to Vince in the serving line was a large Samoan girl named Taney. She was serving the ham. “Oh looky here,” she said. “We gotta new face. Hey cutie, you want some ham?”
“Uh, sure,” Peter said shyly.
“He’s my new roommate, Peter,” Vince told Taney.
“Hi new roommate Peter,” Taney said, smiling broadly.
Oki came sliding his tray up the line behind Peter. “What’s up boyyyyzz? Excuse me Miss, may I have some of those eggs too?”
Pointing his serving spoon at Oki, Vince responded, “Call me ‘Miss’ one more time son and you’ll be eatin’ ‘em with a fist sandwich.”
“Yes Dad,” Oki replied coolly. “I’ll take some ham too, hairnet boy.”
“Keep the line movin’, you toad,” Vince snapped.
Peter sat down to eat his breakfast with all the boys from his hallway; Oki and Kai, Fin and the Kaapana cousins, Michael and Aneko.
“So what do you think so far, Peter?” Kai asked.
Fin chimed in as well, “Yeah, you like us here or what?”
“Yeah, it’s pretty cool I guess,” Peter replied. “It’s quiet here, I like it.”
“Ha!” Oki laughed. “That’ll change real fast.”
“Yeah, wait until tomorrow when classes start,” Kai added.
Peter thought for a moment. He was kind of dreading the start of classes. Studying and taking exams was not his favorite thing. “Yeah, classes. Pretty crazy huh?”
“You could say that,” Michael responded. “Just imagine about 900 more students here tomorrow. Yeah, you could say it’ll be a little crazy.”
“Whoa, that many?” Peter was astounded. He had never known the school had so many students. “Back on the Big Island, my school was about fifty total.”
“You ain’t in Kansas anymore, pal,” Michael said emphatically.
“So what are you guys doing tonight after work?” Peter asked. “Doing anything the last night before classes start?”
Without looking up from his breakfast, Oki answered, “Same thing we do every Monday night. Mandatory chorus practice.”
Peter gave him a strange look. “Huh? What’s mandatory?”
“Chorus practice, buddy boy,” Fin said wryly. “We go and sing. Gotta do it every Monday.”
“Singing?” Peter was beside himself. “I can’t frickin’ sing, man. I can’t sing worth a flip.”
“Neither can we. But it don’t matter,” Fin quickly added. “We all gotta do it. Boarder tradition.”
“Even the girls?”
After he heard that, Peter was not too upset with the idea anymore. It was just another good reason to see Kaila again, he thought.
“Well, what the heck do we sing anyway?” Peter asked.
Oki chimed in, “You know, old stuff. School songs, the alma mater. Yonder Lahaina Mountain.”
Fin automatically began to loudly sing the opening to the latter song, “Ohhhhhhhh, yonder Lahaina Mountain!!!”
Oki punched him in the arm. “Oh my ears! Quiet will ya? I’m tryin’ to eat here.”
“You gotta be kiddin’ me,” Peter wailed. “I don’t know any of that stuff.”
“Man, by the time you leave here, you’ll know ‘em all by heart whether you like ‘em or not,” Kai replied.
Peter did not much like the idea of learning to sing old songs, but if he got to see Kaila again, it would be worth it.
In the afternoon, Peter was relegated to working on the school grounds, picking up plumeria leaves and palm fronds and doing various other odd jobs to help keep the school grounds clean. He looked all around the area for Kaila, but he never saw her. He took a glance down the hill at the gardens and the pigpen, but she did not appear to be down there either. He shrugged his shoulders, wondering where she might be working. But at least he would get to see her soon at the first chorus practice. There was something about her that he just could not get off his mind. He did not know why he enjoyed talking to her so much, but he did nevertheless. All he knew is he could not wait to talk to her again.
The room filled with the boarders from both dorms. The girls filed in and sat in three ascending rows, filling half of the small stage in the music room. The boys filed in and took their places on their side of the stage. Soon the stage was full with nearly an equal amount of boys and girls. The boys were on the left and the girls on the right. They chatted amongst themselves and even across to the opposite side, some seeing old friends from the previous year.
It was apparent who was a veteran of the chorus and who was a newcomer. Those who had been there before were at ease and chatting happily while the new students, including Peter, sat quietly and nervously waiting to see what was going to happen next. It had already been a long day of working around the school and some were very tired.
Peter sat in the middle row and thought to himself how exhausted he was. It was only the first full day and he was already worn out. Classes had not even started yet. Alongside him were the Kapule brothers, Kai and Oki, playfully bickering as usual while Vince scanned over the girls’ side.
“Whoa man,” Vince said in a low voice. “There are so many hot girls this year. Damn…” Vince nudged Peter with an elbow and whispered, “Dude, check out that blonde on the back row. She is hot, man.”
“Oh yeah?” Peter said looking in that direction. But he did not notice the blonde in the back row. Instead the first face he saw was down in the front row. He could only see her profile, but that was all he needed to see. His heart swelled at just the sight of Kaila. She was so beautiful. He kept staring at her as she talked casually to the girl sitting next to her. Peter recognized her too, the Samoan girl who was serving in the cafeteria, Taney.
Soon, the music teacher stood in front of the students and asked everyone to settle down. The room fell quiet almost immediately. “Aloha and good evening everyone and welcome to your first night of chorus practice!” the woman said cheerfully. “I’m Mrs. Song.”
Almost in unison, the entire gathering said in reply, “Aloha, Mrs. Song!”
Peter leaned over and asked Vince in a whisper, “The music teacher’s last name is ‘Song’?”
Vince answered quickly and frankly, “Yeah, she’s aptly named.” Peter did his best not to laugh out loud. But others heard him and turned to stare at him. Peter pretended to cough instead.
“Excuse me,” he said, trying to nonchalantly divert attention away from himself.
At that moment he caught a glimpse of Kaila. She turned quickly to see who was coughing and smiled when she saw who it was. She quickly turned back to look at Mrs. Song, but with a wide grin on her face.
“I see a lot of new faces,” Mrs. Song continued. “So welcome to you as well. We have a lot to cover so just follow with the music books you were handed on the way in. A lot of these songs you have heard before in intermediate school and some you may not be familiar with. But rest assured you, will all learn them quite well as the school year progresses. We have lots of fun events planned for this year where we will sing.”
Peter looked on with a curious expression. What other events? he thought to himself.
“Maui Fair is coming up in October, we have the Christmas concert here at the school and at the Cannery Mall in Lahaina, not to mention David Malo Day in April and lastly, graduation ceremony, just to name a few. However, opening convocation to present the class of 2013…” A few of the seniors started to whoop and holler in the crowd, but quickly quieted down. “Is coming up this week.”
Peter looked on with amazement. This was another thing that he had not really thought about. He remembered his father talking about how the school sings a lot of songs, but he never fully realized to what extent. In fact he never really gave it much thought at all. He was now understanding what a big part singing played in the boarding program.
“There are some other events still in the works as well, perhaps even a concert over at the Queen Mall in Kahului,” Mrs. Song announced. That created a great amount of excitement amongst the students. The Queen Ka’ahumanu Mall was a beautiful shopping area located in the valley, or middle of the island, situated in the heart of the hustle and bustle of the tropical island’s business district. The boarder students were rarely granted permission to leave West Maui. So getting to take a field trip there was always a treat for them, even if it was to put on a concert. They were all very excited about it.
They began to practice songs for the convocation, including the alma mater, which Peter had never heard at all. And they worked on other local songs such as the one his friends had mentioned, Yonder Lahaina Mountain. And lastly, they practiced Mrs. Song’s favorite, O Kuo Aloha.
When the students began to sing the last one, Peter was astounded to see how enthusiastic everyone sang the tune. Some even placed their arms over the person’s shoulders next to them and began to sway back and forth as they sang. Peter did not know what to think. He was amazed. He held his book high in front of him and tried to learn the words and follow along. It was a beautiful song. He glanced over at Kaila and remembered watching her sing in Mass just the day before, singing the hymns in Hawaiian. He remembered how beautiful she looked as she sang so enthusiastically. His heart pounded as he felt weak in the knees again. He wanted to get to know her. He wanted to know everything about her. He was completely taken by her beauty and grace. He knew then that he wanted to be a part of her life.
It was one of the happiest moments he had had since he arrived on the island. All of a sudden Peter felt something amazing. He was glad that he was there.
Chorus practice had ended and the students began to file out and head back to their dorms. Kaila and Taney gathered their books from their seat and followed the line out. It soon became a small crowd all bunched together at the exit waiting to funnel through the door.
Someone bumped into Kaila, but she could not see who it was. But a familiar voice quickly spoke up and apologized. “Oh sorry,” the voice said. When Kaila turned around she realized it was Peter. He smiled instantly when he realized who he had bumped into. “Oh hey! Fancy bumping into you here, literally. Sorry about that.”
“Yeah, just runnin’ us over aren’t ya?” Kaila chuckled.
“Ooo it’s that cute skinny boy from breakfast,” Taney interjected. “Hey cutie, you walkin’ us ladies home?”
Kaila and Peter both laughed. “Yeah, sure. Why not?” Peter answered. “I’m Peter, by the way.” He reached out to shake Taney’s hand.
Shaking his hand, Taney beamed. “Oh, soft hands. I love a man with soft hands. Gives me all kinds of goose-bumps just thinkin’ about it. Don’t you think so too?”
Rolling her eyes, Kaila said, “This is my roommate, Taney. You’ll have to excuse her.” Kaila pinched her in a playful manner.
“Ouch!” Taney exclaimed, “Don’t do that! You know it makes me all flush and giddy. You see the way she treats me?”
“Ha ha,” Peter laughed. “Hey, how’s it going?”
The three of them emerged from the building out into the cool night. The sky was littered with stars. They walked slowly towards Hoapili dormitory.
“I was doing just fine until she accosted me,” Taney replied.
“Oh, such a big word for you,” Kaila said flatly.
“You like that word?” Taney asked whimsically. “I love fancy words. I love football players too. Especially those lineman with the tight asses and that cute quarterback too. I hope I have math with him again. He can show me algebra anytime. But those lineman are the best. The big, beefy ones. Especially when they put on those tight pants. I just love those tight asses. You play football, sweetie?”
Kaila and Peter burst into laughter. They were both very amused by her anecdotes. “No,” Peter said, still laughing. “I never played much football. I spent most of the time on the bench or on the ground.”
“Oh, I think you should play,” Taney answered. “The Lunas are going to be excellent this year.”
“Nah, those guys would flatten me like a pancake,” Peter said.
“Well, what’s wrong with pancakes?” Taney said as they reached the door to the dorm.
“Nothing,” Peter laughed. “I just don’t want to become one.”
“Yeah, not a good career move,” Kaila concurred. “Thanks for walking us home. See you at the pig pen tomorrow?”
“Oh no problem,” Peter said politely. “My pleasure. Yes, I’ll be there, same time, same place. We have to check on our little baby.”
Kaila smiled at him broadly. “Yes.”
“Yes, thank you for the escort home, honey,” Taney said. “I needed the walk out in the cool air. I was gettin’ all flush inside during practice. You sleep good, sugar.”
“Same to both of you. Good night.” He watched as they entered the dorm and then he turned to head back to his.
Kaila and Taney walked down the hallway of their dorm. Girls were up and down the hallway, trying to get settled for the night and getting ready for the first big day of classes tomorrow. Their dorm was the same as the boys’. Each room had a glass window in the door and it was shared by two girls.
Taney plopped down on her bed. “Oh, I’m so tired. Have to be at the cafeteria by six.”
“I never did the cafeteria before,” Kaila responded. “Is it hard?”
“It’s OK. I just don’t like being around all that food,” Taney replied with a yawn. “I do get to talk to everybody though. So what’s the story with you and that cute skinny boy?”
Kaila didn’t answer right away. She situated her notebooks into her backpack to get ready for tomorrow. “Nothing. We just both work down at the pig farm. I just met him today. Well, yesterday actually. I saw him in town at church too.”
“Well isn’t that lovely,” Taney teased her. “Well he sure is sweet on you.”
“Oh please,” Kaila said. “I hardly know him. We just met.”
“That doesn’t matter,” Taney persisted. “I could see it written all over his face. He couldn’t keep his eyes off you. You can tell when someone just knows.”
“Don’t be silly. Knows what?”
Taney didn’t blink an eye. “When someone knows they have found the one for them. Their true love. That one single person in the whole wide world who is their true match. Their cosmic counterpart that they alone align with in the heavens. That one person whom they were meant for. Their soulmate.”
Kaila rolled her eyes again. “That’s just silly. You saw all that in just five minutes, now did you?”
“Mmm hmm, as sure as the sun rises.”
Kaila gripped her hands on the back of her desk chair and stared quietly at her desk. Could what Taney was saying be true? she thought to herself.
She shook her head and said out loud, “Well, I can’t be worrying about that. I’ve got other things to deal with. Like Senior English. I have no idea what I’m going to do for my term paper.” She thought for a moment more about what Taney was saying. “He is kinda cute though. But I don’t know anything about him.”
“That all comes with time,” Taney said. “But once true love finds you, there is no denying it and no way to escape it. And I mean true love, not just that silly puppy love. I mean the real deal. You feel so happy and euphoric and you can’t even explain why. Your whole world, your whole perspective changes when true love finds you. It just hits you like a smack in the face.”
“Well, aren’t you the great sage tonight. I still think you’re nuts,” Kaila deadpanned.
“Don’t say I didn’t tell you so,” Taney assured her.
“Well, if I ever get smacked in the face, you’ll be the first to know,” Kaila answered. “In the meantime, we’ve got school to get ready for.”
Back at the boys’ dorm, it was a little more lively than at Hoapili. Fin was racing up and down the hallway with his bow and suction-cup arrows still pretending it was the Hunger Games. Michael and Aneko were sitting at one of the computers and Vince and Kai were playing pool. Peter walked up to the pool table and watched them play.
“Where you been?” Kai asked as he took a shot.
“Just talking to some girls,” Peter said coolly.
“Mr. Casanova here,” Vince said.
Peter shrugged him off. “It’s no big deal. Just the girl I worked with this morning and her roommate Taney.”
“Kaila and Taney, yeah we know them,” Kai said. “Vince has a crush on Taney. He likes his women big. Just like Fat Mazy.”
“Shut up man,” Vince snapped. Peter laughed.
“That’s why he volunteered for cafeteria duty, so he can flirt with Taney,” Kai kept on.
“Whatever,” Vince quipped.
“Who’s Fat Mazy?” Peter asked.
Oki came running in the room all of a sudden. He heard the conversation from out in the hallway. “Only the biggest legend there is on Maui. The biggest, hairiest, scariest and, according to Vince, the sexiest woman to live on Maui. We almost caught a glimpse of her this summer.”
“You’ve never seen her?” Peter asked. “Why is she so legendary?”
Kai piped up. “Vince is convinced she is this huge lady who lives with cats and has this way of seducing men. It’s his lifelong dream to be seduced by her.” Oki laughed out loud.
“Don’t listen to them,” Vince said to Peter. “And it’s all just smoke and mirrors. She ain’t got no cats.”
Michael and Aneko were listening to them and decided to chime in as well. “No, it’s true,” Aneko said. “She’s a legend. She really does live with a bunch of cats.”
“See, Aneko never lies,” Kai said.
“I thought you meant that it was true that Vince loves fat girls,” Peter quipped.
“Hey roomie, you’re supposed to be on my side,” Vince whined. “I bet she’s not even fat. That’s what I’m trying to prove.”
“How you gonna do that?” Peter asked.
Kai took another shot on the pool table. “He’s been trying for months to sneak a peek at her through her windows. And recruiting us to go along with him.”
“Ah, you wanta see her just as much as I do,” Vince said flatly.
“Seriously? Peeking through her windows?” Peter asked. “You guys are crazy. She probably doesn’t even exist. You guys are just making this up.”
“No, it’s true,” Oki said. “Something so wild like that has got to be true. We’re going again this weekend. Wanta come? It’s our own personal Sasquatch hunt.”
“Don’t do it,” Aneko insisted. “I’m telling you it ain’t what they think.”
“Nah, I’ll sit this one out,” Peter laughed. “Let me know what you find though. Maybe you’ll come back with a blurry photo for evidence or something. You can go on Geraldo.”
Kai took one more shot and sank the eight ball. “Ha! You lose Vincent.” A few seconds later the cue ball rolled into a pocket too.
Vince smiled. “Guess again, pea-brain. You lose.”
It was early the next morning, just past six, when Peter arrived at the pig pen. And just as the day before Kaila was already there, surrounded by the young, happy, squealing pigs. Peter chuckled to himself as he watched her. She noticed him as he was putting on his rubber boots.
“Good morning, sleepyhead. ‘Bout time you showed up,” she snickered. “Grab a pail and help me out, they are ravenous.”
“Hey there,” Peter said. “Hey, I’m on time. Aren’t you the early one!”
“I love getting here early. I don’t mind,” she said.
Peter retrieved a pail from the storage area and helped her with the feeding. He looked around the campus and noticed there was already activity happening in the parking lot.
“Wow, I guess this the first big day. I see cars coming up the hill already,” he remarked.
“Yeah, gonna be crazy from here on out,” Kaila replied. “You’ll be amazed at how many people will be around once they all get here.”
“Yeah, I heard. I don’t know if I’m prepared for it yet. Hey, where’s our baby?”
Kaila laughed and motioned behind her foot. “He’s hiding behind my leg. He’s being shy today.”
“Ha ha, I see him now. Hey little fella,” Peter said as he reached down to pet his cute snout. The tiny piglet just squealed and backed away a few feet.
“Aww, you scared our baby!” Kaila laughed.
“He’ll come around,” Peter said.
They both kept feeding the rest of the pigs and eventually Peter made his way over to the watering hose and began to give them fresh water. Kaila watched him as he moved around the pen quietly. She liked that he talked to her so easily. She was quite intelligent, so at times that seemed to intimidate boys that she encountered, but not Peter. He talked to her quite comfortably and she noticed that right away. She liked a boy who could talk to her confidently. She was not used to that. But she also liked his quiet demeanor as well. She had a certain curiosity about him. And the fact that Taney had noticed, in all her wisdom, how comfortable Peter was around her and how Taney just knew that he was smitten with Kaila. Kaila’s interest had finally gotten the best of her. She wanted to know more about Peter.
“So what’s your last name?” she asked finally. Her mind was full of questions actually, but that was all she could think of. Their time was short in the mornings and she knew she had to take advantage of it, but that was the only question she could muster at the moment. Maybe I am becoming the shy one, she thought to herself. That would certainly be a first for her.
“Oh, sorry. I never fully introduced myself,” Peter said as he wrestled with the watering hose. He tromped through the mud and extended his hand in a playful manner. “I’m Peter Lane, nice to meet you Miss…”
Kaila smiled. She was liking his comical side too. Something most boys never did around her as well. But not Peter, he was just himself around her and quite comfortable. She enjoyed how natural he was. It was refreshing to her.
“Alapai,” she said sweetly and shook his hand.
“Kaila Alapai,” he said. “That’s pretty. Kaila the Advisor. I think it sounds better in Hawaiian. Pleasure to meet you, Miss Alapai.”
“Smarty-pants,” she laughed. “It’s nice to meet you too, Mr. Lane. So what island brings you to Maui, if I may ask?”
“The Big Island,” Peter answered. “I lived on the north side in a small village.”
“Oh it’s beautiful over there I hear,” Kaila commented. “I’ve always wanted to go over there. I’ve always wanted to see the lava flows at night. I hear it’s pretty scary.”
Peter laughed. “Yeah, that’s why we live on the north side as far away from the south side lava zones as possible. Kinda scary, yeah, but I kind of like the way it just quietly flows out. You just get out of the way. Nothing you can do about it. Besides, if it wasn’t for the volcanos, these islands wouldn’t be here and neither would we.”
“Very true,” Kaila said. “But I’m kinda glad the one on Maui is dormant.”
“Haleakala?” Peter said. “Well, technically it’s still active, but it hasn’t erupted since the late 1700’s. And the one we’re on right now hasn’t erupted in about half a million years, so I think we’re safe.”
“What are you, a geologist?” Kaila laughed.
“Nah, I just like Hawaiian history,” he chuckled. “Fascinating sometimes. Can’t make a career out of it though.”
“Well, I’m very impressed,” she added. “And you never know. You’d probably make a good teacher.”
“I don’t know, I’d probably want to strangle the students if they ever got outta line,” he laughed. Kaila laughed too.
She thought some more about what to ask him. It was almost time to go. She was feeling so out of sorts and she didn’t even know why. Finally she thought of something else.
“Wasn’t that typhoon awful last year?” she asked. “I heard the Big Island had a lot of damage. It wasn’t all that bad here.”
“Yeah, and right after the earthquake we had a few years ago. I definitely remember that. Shook my house good. My mom got mad because some of her dishes broke. But yeah, the Kona side got some bad damage from that wave. It was wild.”
“Oh, I forgot about the earthquake,” Kaila recalled. “I think there were some bridges that had to be repaired on the Hana side from that.” She thought for a moment more. When he mentioned his mother it kind of made her sad. “Your mother lost some dishes, huh? That’s too bad. Was that her at Mass the other day?”
“Yes, my dad and little sister too,” Peter said.
“You have a nice family,” Kaila said politely.
“Thank you. What about yours? Do they live here on Maui?”
Kaila knew he would ask her sooner or later. She did not usually like talking about it. But she did not mind telling Peter for some strange reason.
“My aunt and uncle do,” she answered. “Actually they live not far from here. Makai, just off of Lahainaluna Road in a neighborhood. I have my scooter there.” She hesitated in telling him about her parents for a moment more.
“Oh really, that is close,” Peter said. He was still wondering about her parents. He just assumed they lived on another island and that was why she was staying with relatives when she was not at school. “You have a scooter huh?”
“Yeah, a little blue one. It’s baby blue. I love that color. I get to use it on weekends sometimes if I don’t have too much studying.”
“Hey, I like that color too. Maybe you can take me for a spin on it. I have a bicycle back home, I’ll take you for a spin on it someday.”
“Oh,” Kaila laughed. “Sounds like an even trade. You got a deal then.”
“So,” Peter hesitated, “are you originally from Maui?”
“I’m really from Oahu,” she finally conceded. “My mom still lives there. But me and my two sisters live here. I have one older and one younger. Leilani lives at her own place. Kari lives with my aunt and uncle. It’s a long story.”
“That’s OK,” Peter said, trying to be considerate.
“My mom has always been kind of out of it,” she began. “And my dad just left her when we were real young. Not even sure where he is. She was never the same after that though. That’s why we all came here. Her brother took us in, they didn’t have any kids. And one of the main reasons I’m a boarder. Leilani was too.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Peter said. “That must be hard. I can’t even imagine. Your aunt and uncle must be good people.”
“It’s OK. And yeah, my uncle is. But my aunt is a little strict if you ask me. She drives me nuts. I’ll be so glad when I get my own place.”
It was almost time to get back to the school. More and more cars were coming up the hillside for the first full day of classes. They needed to get back to the dorms and get breakfast before school started. They cleaned off their gear, put away the tools in the shed and started walking back up to school.
“Hey, you know how to play darts?” Kaila asked.
“Yeah, you know, darts.”
“Well, I guess so,” Peter laughed. “I played maybe once. I don’t know the proper rules or anything, but yeah I know how to throw a dart at the board,” he laughed. “Do you?”
“Sure,” she said, smiling. “I can teach you the rules. Maybe we can play sometime in the lounge on the weekends.”
“Sounds like fun to me,” Peter agreed with a smile. “Race you to the dorms!”
They both took off running up the hillside, laughing as they ran together. School hadn’t even started and they were both already having a blast.
The day of the first school assembly arrived and the seniors were processing across the school grounds towards the gymnasium. Peter marveled at the size of the student body, and it was just the one class. Classes had begun and it was just as his friends from the dorm had told him, pure chaos. There were people everywhere on campus. He felt almost lost in a sea of high school kids the first few days of finding his classes. He soon got used to the routine but not to the hustle and bustle of such a large school. It was a far cry from his small school of fifty students back on the Big Island.
He followed his classmates into the school gym and luckily he found his roommate to sit next to on the wooden bleachers. The scene in the gym was a wonderful sight to see. All the students were dressed in school colors, the boys in red shirts and the girls all in white shirts. The boys filled the left side of the stands in red with the girls on the right half all in white. Football players wore their red jerseys scattered throughout the boys section. There were so many students some even sat on the floor in front of the first row. A few stood off the side of the bleachers as there was not enough room for everyone in the stands.
Then the rest of the student body from the lower classes began to file into the gym and fill in the stands opposite the seniors. Within minutes the entire gym was filled to the brim. Peter was stunned at how many students could fit inside.
Soon the chatter of the students settled down as three girls stood before the assembly and began to sing a Hawaiian greeting to the class. All eyes were on them as they chanted. Peter felt a soothing warm feeling go over him. He had not witnessed this at his school back home. He was very intrigued and proud at the same time. As the girls sang, he noticed Kaila over in the girls’ section sitting amongst the throng of students. She was on the first row of the bleachers, her head turned slightly as she watched the girls sing. He could see her profile, just as he could the first night of chorus practice. All he could think of was how beautiful she looked sitting there.
Vince noticed where Peter was staring and smiled a sly grin. He leaned over and whispered to him, “Nice view.” Peter felt a bit embarrassed as he knew he was caught staring at Kaila. Peter pretended not to hear him though and kept listening to the girls sing.
As the girls finished, the crowd cheered wildly. Soon, the cheers quieted down to near silence as the whole assembly rose on cue. Students on the front row, who had been sitting on the floor, held up homemade banners they had decorated in fancy colors and flowers that read ‘Class of 2013’ and ‘Seniors of 2013’. Mrs. Song stood in the middle of the floor silently waiting for her cue.
A voice came over the loudspeaker and announced to the assembly, “Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you for the first time, the class of 2013!”
The seniors cheered wildly again and some even whooped and hollered. Peter could not help but smile broadly and feel just as proud as the rest of the senior class did. He had only been there a couple of weeks, but he already felt like one of them.
Mrs. Song raised her arms and the crowd quieted once again. She signaled the girls’ section to begin. The girls began the alma mater in traditional fashion, singing the first note. Then the boys sang the second note, signaling the entire class to sing their parts in duet. It was a stirring sight to see. Peter had only practiced the school alma mater a few times by now, but he had already learned his parts very well. The whole class sang together so beautifully and harmoniously that it put a lump in one’s throat. It was as if they had been singing the song together for years. And for most of them in the class, they had.
After the alma mater was over the crowd applauded and cheered. But they knew there was more to come. A student from the boys’ section walked out to the middle of the floor carrying a ukulele. On cue once again, Mrs. Song raised her arms to signal the next number, O Kou Aloha. As the boy played the notes of the song on the ukulele, the kids sang loudly and with great enthusiasm. It was an amazing display. The students put their arms around each other’s shoulders and swayed back and forth as they sang the wonderful song in Hawaiian. Again the boys sang their part along with the girls in duet in perfect unison. It was everyone’s favorite to hear and to sing. Once it was over the crowd cheered on and on. Mrs. Song clapped along with them with a huge proud smile on her face.
After the assembly was over, the students began to file out of the gym one by one. The boys started to climb down the bleachers and all the while Peter kept an eye on Kaila. He wanted to talk to her again even though they had just worked together earlier that morning as they always did. Vince could not help but notice him looking at her again.
“You look like you are in a trance, man,” Vince quipped. “Forget it man. Nobody has gotten more than a hello out of that girl. You know who her sister is? At least she can party, she was the most beautiful girl who ever went here. But Kaila, nah, she’s just all about studying.”
Peter looked at his roommate crazily. “What are you talking about? I talk to her all the time.”
“You mean Taney talks to you all the time and Kaila just stands there,” Vince said assuredly.
“No,” Peter said. “It’s just me and her. We talk all the time. She’s the one I’ve been working with every morning. Didn’t I tell you? She talks a blue streak, man.”
Vince shook his head. “No freaking way. She’s a stone wall. She’s nice lookin’ like Leilani, but she’s a freaking stone wall, man. She never said anything to any guys the whole time she’s been going here. Like she’s stuck up or something. Everybody knows that. She never says a word.”
“Well, she’s makin’ up for it now,” Peter said happily. Peter patted him on the shoulder playfully. “Just gotta have the right touch, buddy boy.”
“Whatever, dude,” Vince said with a frown.
Vince watched as Peter bounded down the bleachers, made his way through the throng of people and eventually caught up with Taney and Kaila. He was stunned as Peter slid right up next to Kaila and started talking to her. She laughed out loud as they walked and talked. Vince shrugged his shoulders and said under his breathe, “Unbelievable.”
After work the boys were in their room. Peter was studying and Vince had assumed his normal position on his back, bouncing the rubber ball on the wall. Peter tried his best to keep from pouncing on him.
Suddenly, Peter saw from corner of his eye a person whizzing into the room. “Dude,” Fin said as he rushed in. “You keep bouncin’ that on my wall, I’ll be forced to thrash you, Cornucopia style.” He lurched forward and caught the ball in mid-air.
“Thank you!” Peter said sarcastically.
Sitting up in bed, Vince snapped back at Fin, “Dude, you couldn’t thrash a puppy. Then it would probably lick you to death. Give me that.” He snatched the ball out of Fin’s hands.
“Whatever. Stop bouncin’ that damn thing, will ya? I’m tryin’ to study,” Fin pleaded.
“You never study, you just gawk at Jennifer Lawrence all the time,” Vince laughed.
“Excuse me,” Fin interjected. “Her name is Katniss! Get it right.”
Peter shook his head and laughed. “Geez, Fin. I think somebody must have dropped you on your head when you were little.”
“Look at him,” Vince said. “He’s a runt still.”
Fin opened his mouth to try and have a comeback but he was interrupted by more people barging in the room.
Oki and Kai came plodding in. “All right, what’s going on here? You causin’ trouble again, Finster?” Kai poked at him.
“It’s Fin, you moron,” Fin shot back. “Bite me.”
Oki plopped on Pete’s bunk and Peter just gave him a look. “So we going to the game tonight or what?” Oki asked.
“Yeah right,” Vince said.
“What game?” Peter asked. He had given up on doing any of his studies. “Get off my bunk.”
Oki ignored him though. “The Lunas, you dummy,” he said frankly.
“Oh yeah, football,” Peter panned. He was never much into the game. But he went along with the conversation. He was more interested in getting Oki to get off his bunk. “Who we playing?”
“I have a schedule on the wall over here,” Vince answered. “Umm, King Kehaulike. It’s a home game.”
“Yeah, we’ll kick their ass,” Kai bellowed. “They won easy last week too. Hey, you know that running back, he’s in my math class. I bet I’m faster than him.”
Peter looked out the window. It was early in the evening, but he did not see any signs of people showing up for a game. “Well where is everybody? Don’t they play here?”
“Yeah right,” Vince laughed. “We got that nice field, but there ain’t no stands. Not yet at least. I hear there will be in a few years, long after we’re gone, of course. Nah, they play all their ‘home’ games down at the War Memorial.”
“Oh,” Peter said. He had no idea where that was. “Where’s that?”
Leaning back on his pillow, Vince answered, “In the valley in Kahului. Which is why none of us get to go. Nobody has a car and we can’t leave West Maui anyway.”
“It’s in Wailuku,” Kai corrected him.
“Sometimes we get to go,” Oki said.
“Oh yeah,” Vince said sarcastically. “Ferry us on a bus like kids. Yay.”
“They have it on the radio?” Peter inquired.
“Yes,” Kai droned. “Which is what we’ll probably be doing tonight as usual.”
Peter got up. “You guys are suckin’ all the fun and the air out of this room. I’m gonna go outside for a bit for some fresh air.”
“That’s not all Fin sucks,” Vince laughed. All the other boys laughed too.
“Ah, screw you Vincent,” Fin retorted as he left the room too.
“Buy me dinner first,” Vince replied, laughing even harder at himself.
Peter walked down the campus road towards the ‘Imu.’ He loved looking at the view from the hillside as the sun began to set. The clouds that hung over Lanai most of the day had disappeared and the island was clearly in view in the setting sun. He walked along the edge of the fence that surrounded the football field, then stopped and leaned against a fence post. He noticed someone walking up the main road from down the hill. He could not tell who it was at first, so he just kept watching the nice sunset over the islands and sea.
To his surprise, the person walking up the hill from the neighborhoods below was Kaila. Peter’s heart swelled up in his chest and he felt butterflies in his stomach. He had seen her many times since school began, but still he was just as excited to see her each time he did. Her hair was up in a ponytail just like the first day he saw her.
“Hey there, stranger,” he called out to her. “Who let you out?”
Kaila giggled excitedly as she saw him. “Hey! You following me again?”
“Nah, I’m just waitin’ for the game to start. Nobody is showin’ up though,” Peter said with a smile.
She laughed even harder at him as she came up next to him. “Silly, they don’t have their games here.”
“Well, that explains the poor attendance.” Kaila couldn’t stop giggling. “Yeah, I know. I’m just kiddin’ around. What are you up to?”
Leaning against the fence next to him, she said, “I was just down at my aunt’s house. I told you it wasn’t far. I wanted to go check on my scooter, see how much gas it had in it. I dropped some things off there too.”
“That’s’ cool,” he answered. “Must be nice having your house so close.”
She wrinkled her nose and frowned a bit. “Yeah, it’s all right.” She breathed a heavy sigh. Peter could not help but notice.
“You all right?” he asked with concern.
“Yeah, I guess so,” she said. “Same old drama down there. She’s yellin’ about my older sister again.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Nah, it’s OK.”
Peter stared out at the sunset some more. The sun was almost down by then. “She’s got her own place, huh?”
“Sort of,” Kaila replied. “She lives with this guy. Nothing’s cheap around here.” Peter nodded. He definitely knew that. “You should see her though. She works at one of the luaus. She’s the one that comes out near the end and gets to dance by herself. She’s the Tahitian princess.”
“Oh wow,” Peter said. “She must be really pretty.”
Kaila nodded in agreement. “Yes, she’s beautiful quite frankly. Boys fall all over her. That’s why she got that job. She’s good at it too.”
“Not as pretty as you though, I bet,” Peter said coolly. He could not believe he had just said that. It just came out. The opportunity was there.
Kaila blushed when she heard him. “Oh…me? Not hardly, ha ha.” She stammered for something more to say. She tried to change the subject. “But anyway, it’s my sister’s deal, so I don’t worry about it. Don’t you just love these sunsets? I never get tired of seeing this.”
“Yeah, me neither. It’s amazing.”
Kaila looked over at him. “Since you insist upon stalking me, how about I teach you a lesson in darts? We can listen to the Lunas on the radio.”
“Sounds like a plan to me,” Peter said happily. “Let’s do it.”
Kaila had gone to get her darts from her room, so she told Peter she would meet him in the lounge of her dorm. The dorm attendant was there so it was OK for boys to come in the girls’ lounge.
When Peter arrived he wasn’t familiar with the room, so he looked for the area where the dart board was located. They had a pool table just like the boys’ lounge and even a ping pong table just as you walked in. In the middle of the room were two columns that separated the pool table area and the lounge chairs and tables. He did not see the dart board right away, so he assumed it must be past the columns. Kaila did not appear to be in the lounge yet but he decided to walk around anyway. He slowly rounded the columns and then he spotted her. There she sat at a small round table alone with her head down, scanning over her smartphone.
Just a glimpse of her sitting at the table made him smile. She had let her hair down and it was draped over her cheeks as she hovered over her phone. His heart raced as he walked towards her. She was so beautiful to him. When she noticed someone approaching, she looked up and saw Peter. She smiled broadly and jumped out of her chair.
“Hey! You made it!” she said sweetly.
“Yeah,” Peter said. “Sorry I’m late, traffic was awful.” Kaila laughed out loud. She loved his playful sense of humor.
“Ready to get schooled in darts?” Kaila asked as she proudly held up the darts. A radio sitting on a nearby table was tuned into the Lunas football game.
“Sure am,” Peter responded. “Got the game on, huh?”
“Yeah, it just started.”
Peter glanced around the lounge, admiring the different things the girls had. “You have a much nicer lounge than ours, I can tell you that,” he commented. “We don’t even have a ping pong table.”
“Yep,” Kaila laughed. “We got it all here. Better than the Ritz-Carlton.”
“In that case, tell the waiter we’ll have two mai tai’s,” Peter joked.
Kaila chuckled, “Yeah that would be nice. And keep ‘em coming.”
They approached the dartboard on the wall. Next to the round board was a small whiteboard for keeping score. The scoreboard had two rows of numbers, fifteen through twenty, and at the bottom of each list was the letter B. At the top of each row was a place for each player’s name. Kaila picked up the marker and wrote the letter K on one side and T on the other.
Peter looked at the letters curiously and wondered aloud, “What is the T for?”
“T is you,” Kaila said promptly.
“My name doesn’t start with the letter T.”
Kaila smiled broadly and teased him, “K is for Kaila, that’s me.” She curtsied to him and Peter laughed.
“And T?” he asked.
“And T is for trouble. That’s you.” Peter laughed out loud. He loved the way she teased him.
“I’m trouble, huh?”
“OK. I can live with that,” he laughed. “So how do you play this game?”
Pointing at the scoreboard, Kaila explained, “See these numbers, fifteen through twenty? You try to hit each one during your turn. Whichever one you hit, you put a mark by it on the board. Simple as that.”
“Easy enough,” Peter nodded. “And B is for ‘bullseye’, right?”
“Yes. And you won’t have to worry about me hitting that one. I never get a bullseye,” she complained.
“Awww. That’s awful,” Peter snickered. “But I bet you do sooner or later.”
“Nope, never.” She walked to the line on the floor to stand behind and faced the dartboard. “We take turns. You get three darts each turn. I only have one set so we’ll have to share these. And no, I don’t have cooties.”
“Whew!” Peter exhaled. Kaila slapped his shoulder playfully. “Who goes first?”
“The lady does, of course. Stand aside, buddy boy.”
“But of course. How silly of me,” Peter laughed. He stepped to her side and watched her throw her first dart. She hit the eighteen on her first try. “Hey, not bad!” Kaila smiled broadly and she continued to throw the other two darts. One hit two and the last one landed on eighteen again, right next to her first one with a thump.
“Two eighteens!” she called out happily.
“Holy cow!” Peter exclaimed. “You’re an ace at this! Man, I’m losing already. So how do you score that?”
She walked over to the scoreboard and showed him. “It means I get one slash for the first one and I complete the X for the second one. If I get a third eighteen, you put a circle around the X and then it’s closed out.”
“Yep,” she answered. “Once a player hits a number three times it’s theirs to keep adding to and the other player doesn’t get any points if they hit that number after that. So if I get another eighteen before you can get three of them, it’s mine. I own it. And you suck.”
Peter laughed as hard as he could. “It’ll be yours, huh?” Kaila nodded proudly. “All right, we’ll see about that.” Peter retrieved the darts from the board and stepped to the line. He threw his first dart and it landed on the outer edge, scoring nothing.
“Boo!” Kaila teased.
“My eyes were closed,” Peter said, trying not to laugh.
He threw the next two darts and one landed on fifteen and the other on eight.
Kaila nodded in recognition. “Not bad, not bad. So now you get a slash mark by the fifteen on the board.”
“I think I’ve got the hang of it,” he replied. “This is fun.”
They began to play darts and listen to the football game on the radio at the same time. A couple other students were in the lounge watching TV or just sitting and chatting. But otherwise Kaila and Peter pretty much had things to themselves in there. No one bothered them as they played. A cheer came from the radio as some excitement was happening during the football game.
Kaila leaned towards the radio to hear what had just happened. “Hey, I think we just scored. The Lunas are winning already.”
“Sweet,” Peter said. “My dad said they are supposed to be good this year.”
“Yeah,” Kaila nodded. “They’ve even made the playoffs a couple times. Never won it all though. Those other schools on Oahu are tough to beat.”
“Yeah, I remember. Not too many teams did well from the Big Island, either.”
“So how’d you like living over there?” she asked him.
He grabbed the darts from the board and talked while he threw them. “It wasn’t bad. Not quite as busy as Maui is. So it’s mostly quiet. But you are far from everything. Have to drive a long ways to do anything. They don’t call it the Big Island for nothing.”
“You get bored?” she asked.
“Yeah, sometimes. It’s probably why I’m going to school here now. Got too bored I guess.”
“Oh yeah, what happened?” Kaila’s curiosity was getting the best of her.
“Got busted,” he said flatly. “These friends of mine, they were cookin’ up meth. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it, but they kept saying they can makes lots of money with it. Well the cops had already found their lab and one night I was on my way over there to pick them up. But they had already split. I guess they knew the cops were coming. As soon as I drove up they busted me as an accessory. I had to go to juvenile and everything. My mom was pissed.”
“I can imagine.” Kaila thought for a moment. “So…”
“I’m not into that stuff, I promise.” Peter assured her. “I never take drugs, never even tried them. I’ve never wanted to. Just lousy friends. So they sent me here to get me away from them I guess. My dad got me in since he was a boarder here a long time ago.” He was a bit concerned about what Kaila was thinking about him now that he told her the truth. “You believe me, right?”
She nodded. She knew he was being sincere. “Well, that’s not the person that I’ve been talking to these past weeks. I know you are not like that. So don’t worry.” She paused for a moment. “It’s good you have parents who care so much for you to try and get you away from that stuff. There are worse places to be.”
“Ha ha, my dad said the same thing. ‘Nothing wrong with being a pig farmer’, he said.”
Kaila smiled. “I like your dad.” Peter threw another dart and it hit the bullseye. “Hey, nice shot!”
Peter laughed out loud. “Not bad, huh? Let’s see you top that!”
“Beginner’s luck. Has to be,” she chuckled. She skipped over to the board and made a mark for him for the bullseye. After she retrieved the darts she bounced back over the line and stood next to Peter. “That was awesome. I’m having fun.”
“Me too,” Peter said as he inched closer to her. As she was aiming the dart, he casually placed his hand on the small of her back. She paused for a moment, almost shocked as she realized the warm touch of his hand on her back. She couldn’t believe his boldness. But he was very comfortable around her and she could sense that. She felt the warmth of him next to her and he had a natural scent that was intoxicating to her. Or maybe it was the cologne he wore. Either way, she loved it. And the fact that he was so calm when he was around her. It was something she had never experienced before with another boy. She tried her best to keep her composure as she aimed the dart. She finally let it go and the dart bounced oddly off the frame of the board and landed on the floor.
“Ugh,” she gasped. “That was terrible.”
Peter laughed a bit and said, “Sorry to distract you.”
“Oh I bet,” she said, smiling broadly. “You did that on purpose.”
“Mmm hmm.” She tossed the other two darts and both landed on twenty. “See? I’ve already overcome your powers.”
Peter laughed again. “That was awesome. Oh man, now I’m really losing bad.”
“Get used to it,” she snickered. She marked down her score, grabbed the darts and sauntered over and gracefully handed them to him. She definitely did not mind flirting with him. She liked how easy it was to be around him. It just seemed to fit, but she just could not put her finger on why. That question seemed to stick out in her thoughts. Why was she so comfortable with him? Why did it feel so right? She tried to push those questions aside and just enjoy the moment. Of all the years she had been a boarder at Lahainaluna, she had never had this much fun.
Peter had some thoughts on his mind as well. He wanted to ask her if she had any weekend plans but did not know how to approach the subject without sounding too obvious. He really wanted to spend more time with her though. He wondered if she was feeling the same way. He could sense something about her that was completely foreign to him. But he was loving it nonetheless. He wanted to know more.
“So, you have a lot of studying this weekend?” he finally asked. Just then the Lunas scored another touchdown in the football game. “Hey they scored again.”
Kaila pumped her fists in the air. “Woohoo! This weekend? I guess I have some math to do and I’m still wracking my brain about my senior paper. But I still have time on that. You?”
Flipping another dart at the board, he casually said, “Nah, I guess I have some math too. Gotta history test next week.” He thought for a moment more. He knew they would not need the whole weekend for homework, that was for certain. “What else are you gonna do?”
“Well…” she said as she slid next to him for her turn at darts, “Tomorrow I was going to take my scooter over to the Cannery Mall to watch my little sister in the keiki hula show. Would you like to come with me?”
“Oh yeah, sure,” Peter answered excitedly. “I’d love to meet her. Both your sisters dance, huh? Did you ever learn that?”
“Of course. My mom had us all in hula. It was fun. But Leilani, she’s definitely the best at it. You have to see her too. Maybe one night she can get us in at her luau.”
Peter nodded. “That would be cool. I’d love to go.” He meant it too. He really wanted to spend more time with her and this was a perfect way. He felt on top of the world after she asked him to go with her Saturday.
Kaila continued, “Kari loves to dance too. She’s so cute in her little hula skirt.” Peter laughed at her. “So, what do you know about West Maui?”
“Nothing really,” he said frankly. “I’ve seen the church and the school. All I know is the view up here is amazing. But Hawaii has a lot of that. Waimea has some great lookouts too. Maybe I can show you sometime.”
“Yeah, that would be great,” she said sweetly. “I’d love to see where you’re from. I’ve never been to that island.”
“It’s got some great places,” Peter said proudly.
“Well, maybe I can show you around West Maui a bit. You up for it?”
Peter threw another dart and it plunked right in the center. Kaila’s jaw dropped in amazement. “You tell me where and I’ll be there. Bullseye!”
“That…is…amazing!” Kaila exclaimed. She laughed out loud. “`Never played much before’ my ass! Now I’m losing. You rock!”
Peter’s face turned flush. “Nah, beginner’s luck.”
The game on the radio had ended and it was time for the boys to leave the lounge for the night. The Lunas won the game over King Kekaulike, 29-0.
Peter and Kaila had started to become closer with each passing moment. In fact, Peter thought it was the best day so far and he hoped things would keep getting better. He never expected anything like this would happen when he first arrived at Lahainaluna. But he was loving every minute he got to spend with her.
Deep in her heart, Kaila knew there was something special about Peter. His past did not bother her. She knew in her heart he was not that sort of person. She did not quite know where all this was leading, she just knew she was happy spending time with him. She had been on dates with a few boys, but never had she made such a strong connection with someone like this before. They just seemed to click. She could not explain it, she just knew it.
She stepped outside with him before he headed back to his dorm. The air was crisp and the breeze had picked up a bit. She stared into the heavens and breathed a heavy, happy sigh. “We might get a little shower tonight.”
“Yeah, looks that way,” Peter replied.
“I love it,” she said. “Brings out the sweet aromas on the plumeria trees. Well, thanks for showing me up in there. That was fun.”
“Hey, I had a great teacher,” he said smoothly. “I had fun too, thanks for asking me. I can’t wait til tomorrow, should be fun.”
“I don’t have the pigs tomorrow at work. I’m helping Taney in the cafeteria,” she said. “So I’ll see you after work?”
“Yep. I have the landscaping tomorrow. Might be mowing grass, I dunno. But yeah, I’ll see you then.”
He was hoping to at least give her a hug, but he was not sure if he should or not. She was thinking the same thing, but was waiting for him to make the first move. Finally she thought, What the hell, and took the initiative. She leaned into him and wrapped her arms around his neck. Peter was all too glad to give her a hug in return. He laced his arms gently around her waist. Her scent intoxicated him. She felt so soft in his arms, so sensual, so right. His heart pounded in his chest. He had been wanting to be this close to her all evening.
She looked up at him, smiled and said softly, “Good night, Pika. Thank you.”
His face beamed with emotion. He was definitely falling for her. And he loved that she knew his real name. Everything about her just amazed him.
“Thank you too. Good night,” he said lovingly to her. “You sleep well.” He was dying to kiss her but he did not want to seem too forward. He hoped that time would come soon. The hug was more than wonderful, though. A perfect ending to a perfect night.
Vince stood next to his bunk, busily stuffing clothes into a backpack when Peter entered their room. He had just come from the showers after the Saturday chores were done. The hallway was bustling as many of the boarders had plans to head out for some free time away from the school for a change. The weather was perfect as usual and it was a good weekend for some fun.
Peter noticed his roommate packing all sorts of things into his backpack. “What’s all that crap you are bringing? I thought you were going paddleboarding?”
Vince kept stuffing clothes into his backpack and casually said, “We are. Just clothes and whatever.” He threw a glance over at Peter. “You still coming with us, right?”
“Looks like you’re packing for a week,” Peter laughed. “And what is that, a flashlight?”
Vince winked at him. “You didn’t see nothin.’”
“Yeah right. What do you need a flashlight for? Sun not bright enough for ya?” Peter kidded him.
“Yeah, yeah. Whatever,” Vince deflected him. “You still coming right?”
Peter could tell he was hiding something. He decided just to drop it, though. “Yeah,” he answered nervously. “Just doing this thing first with Kaila. Then we’ll meet you there.” He tried to deflect any curious questions about where he and Kaila might be going. “What’s the name of the beach park you are going to?”
“Papalaua. No tourists. Just locals go there. Last one before you get to the pali. Kaila knows where it is.”
“OK cool,” Peter said as he was heading for the door.
But Peter wasn’t getting away that easily. “Hey,” Vince called out. “What ‘thing’ you got with her?”
Slowly turning around, Peter shrugged. “Just this thing down at the mall with her little sister.”
Vince rolled his eyes. “Oh you’ve got to be kidding. The keiki hula? Ha ha! Been talkin’ to her a few weeks and already whipped!”
“Whatever man,” Peter laughed. “You should talk. You’re in love with Taney.”
“Oh bite me. I don’t like her,” Vince deadpanned.
Peter kept on. “Yes you do. You drool every time when you’re next to her in the serving line. Even at the mention of her name, ha ha.”
“Here, you need a towel? Got a little on the side of your chin there,” Peter teased him. Vince slapped his hand away. “We’ll see you down there.”
Vince got in one last dig at him. “Have fun at the kiddy hula.”
Peter walked down the school’s main road to the entrance just past the football field. The sun was bright overhead and the sky was clear over the channel and islands in the distance. Both were clearly visible with no cloud cover. A large cruise ship was anchored a great distance from the shore and Peter noticed the small tenders bouncing across the waves towards the Lahaina pier. They carried tourists from the cruise ship for a day on Maui.
It was “Boat Day” as the locals called it. Once or sometimes two or three times a week, depending on the season, the cruise ships touring the islands would drop anchor off Lahaina. On top of the usual crowds of tourists in Lahaina, there would be hundreds more canvassing the small streets of the quaint little town. The local shopkeepers embraced the cruise business from the tourists whole-heartedly as well. And the good thing about it, as far as Mauians were concerned, was that when the sun went down, all the tourists from the ship went back onboard and things would go back to normal.
Kaila had told him to wait by the entrance while she retrieved her scooter from her aunt and uncle’s house. A few minutes passed when he finally heard the sound of a small scooter motor come puttering up the hill. Kaila came bouncing along on her baby blue scooter, with sunglasses and a white helmet on. Her ponytail was fluttering in the breeze out from underneath her helmet. A big smile crept over Peter’s face as he watched her approach. He held out his thumb as if he were hitchhiking.
Kaila smiled back as she came to a stop right next to him. “Need a lift, mister?” She whistled at him. “I wasn’t gonna stop ‘til you flashed that skin at me, ha ha! Nice shorts!” It was true, the boarders rarely got to wear shorts while working at school or attending classes. Although he still had to wear a collared shirt as it was required for boarders if they were going into town. She had never actually seen him in casual wear. And for that matter, he had never seen her in shorts either. He had to admit, she looked pretty darn good in them too.
“You’re looking good in yours too,” he laughed.
Sitting down behind her, he grabbed the spare helmet off the backrest and put it on. He flung his backpack over his shoulders and then swung onto the scooter.
“All set?” she asked.
“Yep. Let’s see what this hog can do.” They set off down the hill towards Lahaina. He placed his hands above her hips and she grinned as she felt his warm touch on her waist.
“Hey, watch those hands, buddy,” she yelled out over the engine hum in a teasing manner.
“I’ll be good,” Peter said. “At least for now.” Kaila laughed out loud.
Like most things in West Maui, the Cannery Mall was not far away once they reached Honoapiilani Highway. The usual bustle of traffic was going up and down the busy road in the late morning. There were shops and businesses all along the palm tree-lined main road and people and cars were everywhere as usual. Within a few short minutes they were pulling into the crowded parking lot of the mall.
All kinds of people were milling about inside the mall and soon they found the small stage in the center where the hula performances were held. Several rows of folding chairs were set out in front of the stage and were nearly filled. Other onlookers were standing behind the chairs waiting for the show to begin. An announcer on stage was about to introduce the first dancers.
Pointing towards the stage, Kaila said to Peter, “Look up front. See all the kids on the floor?” Peter craned his neck and spotted the small group of kids sitting on the floor between the stage and the chairs. He chuckled to himself.
“My little sister was like that too,” he said. “But mom could never get her to dance hula. She was chicken.”
Then Kaila spotted her older sister standing behind the chairs. “Hey, there she is.”
Kaila skipped over to the group of onlookers and happily slid next to her unsuspecting sister. “Leilani!” she called out.
Leilani hugged her sisters neck, saying, “Hey there, girl. You made it. What’s up?”
“Yeah, made it just in time.”
Peter came and stood with them. Kaila had forgotten already to introduce him.
“Hey, what’s up?” he said casually. He got a quick glance of her sister. She was definitely beautiful. He could see why she was the Tahitian princess at a luau. Her hair was long and dark and her face had an endearing glow with a body to match. He could tell she worked out a lot to keep in great condition.
“Hi,” Leilani said. “Who’s this?”
Embarrassed for forgetting Peter for just a second, Kaila blurted, “Oh, I’m sorry Peter. This is my sister, Leilani. Leilani, Peter.”
Peter reached over to shake her hand. “How’s it going?”
“So where’s Koni Boy?” Kaila asked. “Did he come?” Peter was wondering who Koni Boy was. It was the first time she had mentioned his name.
Leilani didn’t answer though. Instead she gestured toward the stage. “There she is!”
All three of them looked up to the stage and saw the group of keiki come out, all dressed in traditional hula skirts. The crowd of parents and tourists all oohed and aahed and applauded as the children lined up to start the dance. Cameras came out and people started taking photos all over the place and some even used the smartphones to video the dance.
“Oh my gosh, they are so adorable,” Kaila said. She smiled proudly at her little sister as they began to dance.
“Which one is she?” Peter asked.
“Third from the right,” Leilani answered. “Dammit, they gave her a skirt that’s too long for her. Morons.”
Kaila scowled. “Oh it’s OK. Just watch. Look at her, she’s doing so well!”
Peter could not tell one way or the other if her skirt was too long or not. But he did think she was doing well with the dance. He could tell that Kari was their sister. Her face looked very much like Kaila’s. She had a broad smile on her face as she danced and twirled and slowly moved her hands in the air.
“Yeah, she’s doing great,” Peter agreed. “My mom would love this.”
Leilani glanced over at Peter. Her radar went up once she heard that. Not too many boys his age comment on what their mothers love or don’t love. Unless of course he is around a girl he likes and is trying to get in good with her. Her curiosity of him began to peak. She wondered why Kaila had not mentioned him before.
“So, you are a boarder too?” she asked him. “Where you from?”
Peter nodded casually as they continued to watch Kari dance. “Yeah. I just transferred over from the Big Island.”
“You a senior?”
Leilani thought for a moment. She knew that was not too common to become a boarder just for the last year. “Oh really? That’s pretty rare at Lahainaluna.”
“Shh!” Kaila scolded them. “Watch her, this is the best part.”
“Sorry,” Peter whispered.
The first dance ended and the crowd applauded enthusiastically. Kari was eating it up and so were the other kids. But they all stayed in character and the instructor quickly got them lined up for the next routine. Kaila and Leilani looked on proudly. The next number was more up-tempo and the girls danced the hula in the traditional manner to the Hawaiian music. The crowd applauded again as the familiar music played and the young girls swayed in sync to the rhythmic sounds.
“Oh! She’s doing so good!” Kaila beamed once more. She noticed Leilani looking past the crowd as if she were looking for someone. She knew who her sister was looking for, though. And she was not all too surprised he was not there. “You looking for Koni?” she asked, as if she didn’t know.
“I’m pretty sure I know where he is,” Leilani said with a frown. “Probably talking to some chick at the food court.” Peter looked in that direction. He just assumed this Koni character was her boyfriend. But he already got the impression he was not the best boyfriend in the world.
“What?” Kaila asked. She seemed surprised.
Leilani shrugged her shoulders. “That would be my guess. Go figure.”
Peter thought Koni Boy must be blind. Why would he be off talking to some other girl if he were dating a good-looking girl like Leilani? He got the feeling he did not really care to meet him. He sounded like too many guys he had known before.
“He better not be,” Kaila remarked. “He’s crazy if he is. You should go drag his ass over here.”
“Ah, forget him,” Leilani insisted.
The third and final dance had begun and they all watched intently. Kari did her routine flawlessly and was still smiling from ear to ear. Soon the dance ended and all who were not standing already stood and cheered for the young hula dancers. Peter was impressed to say the least at how well she had done.
While they were clapping, Leilani noticed a tall sender boy coming their way. She immediately broke away from the group and approached him. Kaila watched where she was going and knew it could only be Koni Boy. Leilani was saying something to him intently but she could not hear over the clapping noise. Moments later, Kari came running up to Kaila and Peter. She had spotted them in the crowd from the very beginning.
“Kaila!” she screamed as she came running up, still dressed in her hula skirt. “Did you see me?”
“Hey Kari, yes!” she answered back. “You did an awesome job! We saw the whole thing.”
Peter chimed in as well, “Yeah, you did great up there. Everyone did. I’m Peter, by the way.”
“Oh thank you! I’m Kari!” she beamed. “Are you Kaila’s boyfriend?” Peter blushed a bit and Kaila rolled her eyes. “I think I messed up in the last one, but I hope nobody noticed.”
“No, you did great!” Kaila repeated.
“Where’s Lani?” Kari blurted out.
Before Kaila could give her an answer, Leilani came walking up behind them with Koni Boy. He had a smug look on his face and his arm around her shoulder. He was dressed in a leather jacket and his hair fixed just right. One could tell he thought very highly of himself. Peter kind of shook his head. We’re in the tropics and this guy’s wearing a leather jacket, Peter thought to himself. He did not like him already.
“Right here, kiddo,” Leilani answered. “Nice job up there!”
“Yeah, great job,” Koni Boy said coolly. Peter and Kaila both looked at him like he was very obviously full of it. He did not even see the dance. Leilani just glared at him. “What?” he said innocently.
“Thanks Koni!” Kari gushed. She had no clue he did not see her dance. But she loved flirting with him. She loved Leilani’s boyfriend and thought he was cute. She just was not old enough to know better. Kaila did though, and for that matter, Leilani did too.
Koni Boy noticed Peter standing next to Kaila. “Hey what’s up, dude?”
“Hey Koni, you going to take me paddleboarding?” Kari asked with a broad smile.
He answered in a very suave manner, “You bet, little lady. Anything for my favorite hula girl.” Kari giggled with delight.
Peter wanted to barf right then and there. He could tell Koni Boy was a snow job artist from the second he met him. Koni Boy just stood there with a silly grin on his face.
Leilani glanced over at Kaila. “You guys gonna meet us there?”
“Yeah, we’ll see you down there,” Kaila answered.
“Who wants to stop for a shaved ice first?” Koni Boy asked slyly. Peter rolled his eyes. He knew exactly what Koni Boy was up to.
Kari squealed in delight, “Me! I want fruit punch and grape!”
Kaila and Peter both shook their heads, “We’ll pass.”
“All right, let me go treat my two favorite hula girls to some shaved ice!” Koni Boy was truly a smooth character. Leilani forced a fake smile on her face. She was still upset with him and figured he only wanted to go back to the food court area to see whoever it was he was talking to earlier.
Leilani glanced back at Peter and Kaila. “OK, we’ll see you guys. We’ll be down there in a bit.”
Peter and Kaila walked outside towards her scooter. Peter couldn’t help but state the obvious. “Man, that guy is the phoniest thing I’ve seen since I got here.”
Kaila laughed. “You noticed, huh? Yeah, I thought he was cute when I first met him. But all he does his flirt with every girl he sees. He thinks he’s Mr. Wonderful. I wish she’d just dump him.”
“What is he rich or something? And what’s with the leather jacket? This is freakin’ Maui.”
“I know right,” Kaila laughed. “Yeah, he’s always had money. His dad is VP or something of some tech firm in Wailuku. It’s based out of Oahu, but he pretty much runs this branch. And Koni Boy got his job there because of his dad. So he has this great salary and he didn’t even earn it.”
“Figures,” Peter said. “What does he do there?”
“I don’t know, he’s some kind of software developer. I don’t even think he does anything there. He always just brags about being this great hacker though. Like he’s so hot. Whatever.” They hopped on the scooter and she started it up. “All set back there?”
“All set. Let’s ride.”
“All passengers keep your hands inside at all times,” Kaila quipped.
“Oh, my hands are in a great place,” Peter laughed.
Kaila giggled, “Shut up.”
They headed south on Honoapiilani towards the beach park. It was the first time Peter had gone back this way since he had arrived with his parents from the airport. There were all kinds of beach parks along the way, each with their own name in Hawaiian. Many had picnic tables and pavilions with nice paved parking lots. The larger ones had enough grassy areas for kids to play in bounce houses for birthday parties. Other parks were no more than a stretch of sand with barely enough room to pull a car over to stop there. They passed another beach park with lots of kids running around and what appeared to be yet another birthday party. Out on the water were people playing in the surf and even a few paddelboarders. Peter loved the sea air in his face. He breathed a heavy sigh of contentment and also felt relieved to be away from school for a while.
Soon they reached Papalaua even though it wasn’t marked with a sign. Kaila knew where to turn. Several cars and jeeps and trucks were pulled just off the road onto the sand and as close as they could park under the palm trees as possible. It was quite a ways from Lahaina and the bustle of tourists at the larger parks. This was one that only the locals came to. It was quiet and peaceful and although the beach was narrow it was very long. And the water was serene and perfect for paddleboarding. Only gentle waves lapped the shoreline under the glistening sun.
Kaila parked her scooter under a tree. They immediately saw friends of theirs from school and a few other locals who were older. Several kids were already out on the water standing on boards as they slowly paddled around. One yelled out from well off the shore.
“Peter! You made it. Woohoo!” the voice cried out.
He finally noticed it was Vince. “Hey man!” he called out.
They took off their clothes and had their suits on underneath. Peter started to look around and finally realized something. They did not have boards of their own.
“Hey,” Peter motioned to Kaila, “I think we forgot something.”
Kaila was on top of it though. “No worries, we got that covered too. Follow me. Yaseo will have some for us.”
Sitting under a small canopy was an older Asian boy who was well-tanned and wore an old ratty straw hat. He sat reclined on a beach chair in the sand with his shades on and hat pulled over his eyes. He appeared to be in his late twenties, but his dark tan made him look older.
Kaila called out to him as she tromped through the sand. “Hey Seo! How’s it goin?”
“Kaila! Hey girl, what’s going on?” Yaseo said very coolly. He had the appearance of the quintessential beach bum, the iconic surfer dude of the islands. He looked as if he never left the beach. However, he was the best equipped beach bum any of the locals had known. He was always prepared with at least seven or eight surfboards and several paddleboards as well. He drove an old beat up van and pulled an old trailer behind it for his equipment.
“Hey, not much. This is Peter from school,” she said.
Peter waved a hand to him. “Hey, what’s up man?”
“Just hangin’ loose man. Hangin’ loose,” Yaseo drawled.
Nodding in as cool a manner as he could, Peter answered, “That’s cool. That’s cool.”
“Can you hook us up with some boards?” Kaila asked him. But she already knew the answer. She knew he would let them.
Yaseo stretched his arms in the air and yawned. “Sure man, go for it. See any fins on the surface, give me a holler. I might hear ya or I might not. But either way you’re screwed.” Yaseo chuckled at his own wit.
Kaila laughed too. “Yeah, yeah. Thanks Seo.”
They both dragged a board and a long paddle over to the water and pushed past the small waves and then stood upright and began paddling out towards the others. It had been a while since Peter had been on a board but it felt good to be back out again. Kaila was a pro and she effortlessly paddled all around the water. The kids whooped and hollered and acted silly as they played around. They were having a great time. Soon they noticed Koni Boy pull his Jeep over and he, Leilani and Kari jumped out. He had his own paddleboards in the back of his Jeep and they began to paddle out as well. Kari sat on the front of Koni Boy’s board as he chauffeured her around the water. Kari had a broad smile on her face as she loved every minute of it. Leilani was not far behind on her own board.
“It feels so good out here,” Leilani said as she caught up with the group.
“Yes, I could get used to this,” Kari laughed.
“Yeah, not having to work at all. I’m sure you could, kiddo,” Kaila said. Peter and Leilani both laughed.
Peter motioned to Koni Boy, “Nice Jeep you got over there.”
Koni ignored the compliment like a complete idiot. Instead, he casually commented, “Eh, I couldn’t carry the boards in my convertible so I had to bring that old crappy thing.”
Peter was really not liking him by now. He didn’t care for the smug attitude that Koni Boy had.
Kaila just rolled her eyes. “Oh sure, not enough room in the Jaguar either, huh?” Kari began to laugh. But Leilani gave her a crooked look.
“Ha. Wouldn’t you like to know?” Koni Boy answered slyly. Then Leilani began to glare at him instead. “Come on, little lady,” he said to Kari. “Let’s go for another ride!”
“Woohoo!” Kari yelled.
Kaila waited until they were out of earshot and then she finally blurted out, “I can’t believe you’re still with that creep. Lupe and Nani don’t like him either.”
Leilani just brushed her comments aside though. “Well, it’s none of their business what I do or who I am seeing, right? What do you care anyway?”
“Nothing. I just think he’s a jerk.”
“Well so what?” Leilani charged. She tried to change the subject as she paddled around in a semi-circle. “Hey, you gonna come see me dance tonight? You can bring your friend here. I gotta table for Kari and Koni Boy, you can sit with them.”
Kaila looked over at Peter. “Wanta go?”
“Yeah sure,” Peter answered. “We get back before curfew?”
“Yeah, just barely, but yeah. We can leave after her dance is over.”
Leilani spoke up, “I can probably hook you guys up with some free food too. Poi and pulled pork.”
“Hell yeah, that sounds good,” Peter said. It had been a long time since he had some good poi and Kalua pork. Not to mention a luau. “Beats the heck out of the cafeteria.”
“Great,” Leilani said. “I’ll leave some passes for you at the employee entrance. They’ll show you where to sit.”
Kaila liked the idea of the luau and getting to spend more time with her little sister and getting to show Peter around some more. But she did not really like the idea of having to sit with Koni Boy. If it meant some free food at a luau, then maybe it would be worth it.
She and Peter paddled around some more out on the placid water. She watched him as he paddled in front of her. She had never seen him without a shirt. There was no doubt she liked the way he looked. Every now and then he would look back at her and smile and she would almost blush in knowing he caught her catching a nice long glimpse of him. He has to like how I look in my swimsuit too, she imagined to herself. She was beginning to feel quite smitten with him just as he was with her. She was really looking forward to going to the luau with him.
Suddenly, Peter froze on his paddleboard and stared at the shore. They were a good hundred yards off shore but could still easily see people on the beach.
Kaila noticed his reaction immediately. “What is it?” she asked.
But Peter didn’t answer her right away. Koni Boy had already brought Kari back to the beach. She was playing in the sand, but it was who Koni Boy was talking to that made Peter freeze. The young man looked eerily familiar from a distance and it sent a chill down his spine. A sense of anger began to come over him. He watched as Koni Boy talked to the other man for what seemed only a minute or less. Then the man jumped into a small sedan and sped away towards the pali. It was then that Peter was really not liking Koni Boy.
“What are you looking at?” Kaila asked again.
Peter shook his head. “I thought for a moment I knew that guy Koni Boy was talking to.” Kaila looked over to the beach again, but the man was already gone.
“Oh? I didn’t see him. What about him?” she asked curiously.
“I don’t know. I couldn’t tell if it was him or not.” But Peter was almost certain he knew who it was. He just did not want to say right away. “For a moment I thought it was somebody from back home. I don’t know.”
“Oh neat,” Kaila answered. “Wonder how he knows Koni.”
“I thought the same thing,” Peter replied. He decided to forget about it though. “Eh, may have been somebody else. Who knows?”
They continued having fun out on the water and on the beach. Eventually they all sat on the sand in the shade and had some lunch. They spent the rest of the afternoon talking and joking around and went back out on the water a few more times until it started to get late. They were all getting tired and Leilani needed to get back in time so she could get ready for the luau.
Peter had a lot of fun meeting Kaila’s two sisters and getting a chance to spend more time with her too. He was finally feeling comfortable in his new home and was glad he was meeting new friends. But most of all he was certainly happy he had found Kaila. She was one of a kind.
Three shadowed figures went racing across the boulevard as the sun began to set.
“Come on Oki,” Vince hissed under his breath. “Keep up, will ya?”
“Yeah, come on!” Kai echoed as well. They were way ahead of poor Oki.
“Yeah, yeah,” Oki barked back at them. “You guys aren’t lugging this crap around.”
They reached their destination on the darkened side street and all three boys hunkered together low to the ground.
“Take a knee, boys,” Vince whispered.
Throwing the backpack to the ground with a heavy thump, Oki answered, “We already are, doofus. Damn, that thing weighs a ton. What the hell you got in there? And why did I have to be the one carrying it?”
Vince ignored him though. “All right men, here’s the plan. We didn’t get too far last time due to Kai’s weak knees.”
Kai pushed him over and Vince fell back on his rear. “Up yours, man.” Vince started laughing even though he was flat on his back. Oki thought it was amusing too.
Lifting himself back up, Vince became serious again. “This time we take that element out of the equation.”
“Ooo, such big words,” Oki teased him.
Vince continued, “This time we take advantage of the big mango tree over on the side.” He pointed to the right side of the house. “I’ll climb up there high enough so I can see into that side window.”
Kai did not seem convinced. “Well, what do we do? Stand around with our thumbs up our butt? Plus it’s too dark up in that tree. You can’t see to climb.”
“That’s what the flashlights are for, dummy,” Vince said matter-of-factly. “I need you to give me a boost to that first branch, then you shine the lights on the branches so I can see where the hell I’m going. Just don’t drop me this time.”
“Whatever,” Kai said flatly.
“Well, what the heck do I do?” Oki asked.
“What else? We need you to keep watch for us,” Vince answered.
Oki frowned and pouted. “Why do I have to be the one who keeps watch all the time? I wanta see Bigfoot too and so does Kai. And what if we see Tua again?
Kai shook his head. “I don’t wanta see some humongous lady that needs to be shaved down. I’m just here so I could get away from the dorm. Ya’ll can have the Yeti.”
“She’s no Yeti,” Vince again tried to assure them. “That’s what I’m trying to prove. She’s a goddess. She has to be. I bet she’s a demon in the sack.”
“Oh, don’t make me imagine Sasquatch in the sack,” Kai muttered. “I just ate.” Oki started laughing out loud.
“Quiet, you guys!” Vince hissed. “I bet you’re both wrong. Come on, let’s do this thing. Get the stuff out.”
Oki began pulling items from the overstuffed backpack. He pulled out flashlights, gloves and a large bundle of ropes and straps. He looked at the ropes strangely. “What the heck is this?”
Vince answered as if it were no big deal. “It’s a climbing harness. What else?”
Kai lifted the ropes and looked at him crazily. “You need a climbing harness for a mango tree?”
“Safety first,” Vince said casually. He started to secure the harness around his waist. Kai and Oki looked at him as if he were mad.
“Aren’t we pressed for time?” Kai asked smugly.
“I’m ready. Let’s go. Oki…”
Oki rolled his eyes. “I know. Go keep watch. Bite me.”
They quietly crossed the street and snuck into Fat Mazy’s yard. Kai and Vince quickly ran over to the large mango tree. Kai showed his flashlight into the branches while Vince threw the long rope from his harness around a branch high above. He caught the end as it fell back down to him and he pulled it taut.
“All right, lift me up,” he whispered. Vince put his foot into Kai’s cupped hands and Kai lifted him easily to the lowest branch. Vince swung the rope over to Kai. “Hang on to it tightly.”
Kai kept his light on the branches just above Vince’s hands and Vince slowly made his way to a good vantage point that overlooked the side window of Fat Mazy’s house.
Oki kept watch from the other side of the street, watching cars pass by on the nearby main street and the next one down in the neighborhood. So far the coast was clear.
Vince inched up the large branch, his legs wrapped around it as best he could. Soon he was in a comfortable position. He then produced a pair of binoculars and lifted them to his eyes. Holding on to the branch with one hand, he peered through the glasses using his free hand. He tried to hold himself as steady as possible.
Oki whispered loudly from across the street, “He see anything?”
Kai echoed his question to Vince, “You see anything?”
“Shhh!!” Vince hissed under his breath. He wobbled a bit on the branch and he dropped the binoculars and let them dangle from his neck. He quickly wrapped both arms around the tree branch. Kai did his best not to laugh out loud. “Cut it out, man! This branch is big.” He was able to steady himself and then was able to grab the binoculars again with his free hand.
Suddenly Oki called out, “Car!”
Vince froze in place and Kai ducked behind the tree trunk. But the car merely passed through the neighborhood on a side street a block away and never turned down their way.
“Sorry, false alarm,” Oki said.
Vince shook his head and went back to his snooping. The light was on in the window, but still he could not see anyone inside. We need to get her attention, Vince thought to himself. But he knew fireworks were definitely not an option this time. He thought for a moment. Suddenly he saw some movement from inside. He saw shadows on the floor just outside the room. He could not tell if the window led to a bedroom or some other room. “Come on, come on,” he whispered under his breath. Then the light in the room switched off. Startled, Vince let the binoculars down and stared intently at the window. His eyes widened as a figure cloaked in shadow came towards the window. Holy crap, it’s her! he thought to himself.
Kai noticed his reaction. “What is it? You see something?” But Vince didn’t answer. He kept staring at the figure in the window. He couldn’t tell if the person was large or not, it was too difficult to see.
“Shut off the light!” Vince called from above.
Turning off the light, Kai glanced over at the window. He too saw the figure in the window. “Whoa!!” he whispered under his breath in astonishment.
“What is it?” Oki hissed again. Suddenly his attention was drawn away from Kai and Vince. A police car passed across the intersection two blocks down. Oki’s eyes widened. “Uh oh.” He tried to get their attention. “Guys…”
Vince whispered down to Kai, “You see that man? Is that the Yeti?”
“I can’t tell! Can she see us?” Kai answered, trying to keep his voice down.
Then Oki saw the police car again, coming from the other direction, except it was now only one block away. Oki panicked. “Guys! It’s the cops!”
Kai looked away from the window when he heard that. “Huh?”
“The cops!” Oki cried out again.
Just then an outdoor light placed under the house awning on the side was turned on. Kai was startled and turned and tripped on a tree root. The light startled Vince as well and he lost his grip. The binoculars fell from his hand as he listed to one side of the branch, barely hanging on.
“Grab the rope, dude!” he whispered loudly, nearly shouting. Kai barely caught the rope in time as he fell to the ground. But Vince couldn’t hold on any longer and he slipped off the branch. The roped pulled completely taut and Kai lurched forward from the ground to try and keep hold of it. Oki came running over into the yard when he saw Kai struggling. Vince was swinging from the tree like a piñata.
“The cops are comin’, man!” Oki said desperately. “We gotta go!” He noticed the outdoor light on and then he saw Vince dangling from the rope high in the tree. He began to laugh uncontrollably. Kai began to laugh as well. Oki kept on laughing. “Holy crap, Vince!”
Kai tried his best to stand up while grasping the rope, yet he stumbled backward again on a tree root and lost hold of the rope. Oki made a lunge for the falling Vince. He plowed into his brother the same time Vince toppled on top of both of them. The three boys lay there in a heap with Kai and Oki still laughing.
Vince was all right and scrambled to his feet. “Come on, let’s beat it!” They had no idea if the person in the window had seen them clearly but there was a good chance they had. They ran as fast as they could down a few blocks until they thought the coast was clear. The boys stood panting, looking behind them to see if any cops were after them. Vince stood in a ridiculous mess with the harness and binoculars wrapped around him awkwardly and the ropes strewn all around his feet. Sweat poured down his face as it did Oki and Kai’s. They were still laughing at their latest stunt. Vince laughed along with them.
“You looked like a bunch of bananas swinging from that tree!” Oki laughed.
“Well, could you make anything out?” Oki asked curiously. “You think she made us?”
“No, but I can tell you this,” Vince panted. “She’s definitely not the tree trunk we thought she was. I couldn’t see her face, but I could tell she had a great body. The rumors are true boyos, she’s a sexual goddess!”
“Wow!” Oki exclaimed. “Dang man, I wanted to see.”
Kai looked at him as if he were insane. “Are you crazy? Dude, she was winder than the window! We needed to cut the side-walls out from the window frame just to see the rest of her. I thought she was gonna come out and pounce on us.”
Vince laughed out loud. “What window were you lookin’ at? You must need glasses, bro. I know what I saw. Ten bucks says the woman in that house is hot.”
“Man!” Oki said again. “I wish’d I’d seen that.”
Kai rolled his eyes, “Dude, she is the house! You’re on Vincent, ten bucks! And trust me Oki, you don’t wanta see her.” He looked at Vince and his harness pathetically. “You look stupid in that thing, you know that?”
Vince shrugged his shoulders. “Hey, it worked didn’t it? No thanks to you, butterfingers. Safety first, buddy.”
Kaila and Peter arrived just before sunset at the luau. Their tickets were at the employee entrance just as Leilani had told them. They found their table near the back of the seating area and to their surprise found Kari sitting there alone. Kaila and Peter sat down with her.
“Where’s Koni Boy?” Kaila asked curiously. “I thought he was sitting with you.”
Kari shrugged her shoulders. She was playing with the napkins on the table while she sipped some juice. “He just dropped me off.”
“What?” Kaila was incensed. “He just left you here by yourself?”
“He never even came in,” Kari asserted. “He said he had stuff to do. He waited for Lani to go backstage first though. She was gripin’ at him before.”
“Man,” Peter said. “What’s with that guy? Say, is that POG you’re drinking there?”
“Yeah,” Kari said cheerfully. She had already forgotten about Koni Boy. “I love POG. Doesn’t everyone look so pretty in their fancy clothes and wearing the lei’s? I love to people-watch.”
“Sounds good to me,” Peter laughed.
Kaila rolled her eyes and laughed. “That’s for breakfast!”
“Well,” Peter countered. “I’d rather have a mai tai, but I know they won’t bring us one. So POG it is.”
Kaila just shook her head and laughed at them both. “How about some iced tea? Duh.” She slapped Peter playfully on the shoulder.
When it was time for the imu ceremony the three of them crowded around the underground oven with all the other tourists to watch the men carefully unwrap the banana leaves off the cooked pig. Then they watched them load it onto the tray and walk it to the kitchen in ceremonial style. They had seen it done many times before, but never tired of it.
The three of them had to wait until all the tourists had gone through the buffet line but they did not mind. There was still more than enough food left. All three of them loved the pork and all the tasty side dishes that came with it. After eating in the school cafeteria for weeks Peter and Kaila were delighted to have some great island luau food.
They watched the entertainment on stage as they ate. As the sun finally set all the way and was completely dark outside, it neared the time for Leilani to take the stage. The performance by the Tahitian Princess came towards the end after everyone had eaten and was focused on the show. Plus it had to be nighttime. Soon it was time for her dance. The lights went down all around the arena and the crowd quieted down. Still in the darkness, Kari could see her sister already standing in place on the stage.
“Look! There she is!” Kari whispered. She pointed toward the stage. Leilani’s solid white dress glowed in the darkness.
At that moment a lone spotlight appeared on her and she began the traditional dance of the Tahitian Princess. The crowd watched in awe as she danced ever so gracefully and delicately. Leilani was excellent too. She did every move, step and gesture of her hands perfectly. Her beauty matched the beauty and mystery of the dance she performed. Kaila was so proud of her and she felt special to be able to get to see her dance before a crowd this size. After she finished, the crowd roared with applause for her and some even gave her a standing ovation. The luau ended with the traditional fire dance, performed by one of the muscled male dancers. It was a favorite of everyone at all the luaus.
Kaila leaned over and poked Peter in the arm. “You can do that too, right?”
Peter grimaced and laughed, “Oh sure. Of course I can. Do it all the time.”
She smiled and leaned into him and slipped her arm inside his. He smiled back at her and pulled her in closer.
A wide grin came across Kari’s face and she exclaimed, “Ooooo!”
They both laughed and Kaila pulled her arm free in embarrassment. She playfully slapped at her little sister’s shoulder.
Just as the final dance ended, to their surprise, Koni Boy appeared out of nowhere and sat at their table. He had a sly grin and acted very smoothly as if he had been there the whole night. Peter and Kaila looked at each other with odd expressions. Peter was none too happy to see him.
“Hey, what’s up you guys,” Koni Boy said casually. “I miss anything?”
“Only the whole thing, silly,” Kari laughed. Kari did not mind that he had just shown up out of nowhere. But Kaila and Peter knew better. Just who he was with, or what he was doing, they did not really know, but they had a good suspicion Leilani would not like it.
Kaila snipped at him, “Where were you? You left her here by herself. Lani would be pissed.”
Koni Boy shrugged her off though. “It’s no biggie, you guys are here.” He tried his best to change the subject. “So, Peter…” Peter looked at him cockeyed. What could he possibly have to say to me? he wondered. “I hear you’re the man over on the Big Island. The man who gets things done.” Kaila wrinkled her nose and wondered what he meant by that.
Peter was beginning to understand what he was getting at and his suspicions of who he saw talking to Koni Boy on the beach earlier. He felt like slugging the guy. Whatever he meant it was not true and Peter knew he was saying it to rile him up and raise Kaila’s suspicions. Peter did not like him at all and wished he would just get up and leave.
“Nah,” Peter answered sheepishly.
Koni Boy slapped his shoulder playfully. “Ah I’m just kiddin’ ya dude. So how’d my girl do tonight? She look freakin’ hot or what?”
Kaila just stared a hole through him. But Kari just laughed and Peter sat there looking at him like he was an idiot.
“She looked graceful and elegant, you doofus,” Kaila finally said. “And you missed the whole thing.”
“So I’ll catch the next one,” he retorted.
Peter had had just about enough. Koni Boy had already put a damper on what was a nice evening. He tapped Kaila on the sleeve. “Hey, we better get back. It’s almost curfew.” Kaila gave him a look that said gladly without even saying it aloud.
“Kari,” she instructed. “You wait for Lani to come out so she can take you home. I can’t fit three on my scooter or else I’d take you.”
“I know the drill,” Kari answered. She gave her big sister a hug goodbye and even gave one to Peter. However, they did not say anything to Koni Boy and just left him sitting there.
As they rode home, Peter held on to Kaila’s waist as they whizzed down Front Street in Lahaina. There was always plenty of tourist traffic even at nighttime on the main street of the quaint little town. Peter looked all around the shops and restaurants as they passed and also the great night view of the waterfront. Lanai was off in the distance and one could see its outline in the darkness on the horizon. Many people were walking up and down both sides of the streets. It was a typical night in Lahaina. They came upon the courthouse square by the old Banyan tree and where the historic Pioneer Inn was located. Kaila pulled to the side so he could get a look at the massive tree.
“This is the famous Banyan tree,” she explained. “You ever seen it? It’s really old.”
Peter shook his head. “No, this is the first time. It’s cool.”
The enormous tree stood in front of the Old Lahaina Courthouse. Its branches spread all over the entire square. It seemed to have more than one trunk, as some branches formed on the ground in other spots. Some of the larger branches were so long and heavy that posts had to be put in place to hold them up. Peter noticed the posts all around underneath the mighty tree. It was a favorite spot for people to gather and sit on the park benches. During the day it was a very popular spot for photos. Plus it was right near the marina where the ferries, yachts and other styles of boats docked.
“It’s nice here,” Peter said.
“Yeah, I like it here,” Kaila agreed. “The church where I saw you is pretty close by.”
“Yeah, I thought so,” Peter said.
They started onward again and headed for the school. As they rode along, Kaila thought deeply about what Koni Boy had said jokingly to Peter. What had he meant by that? she wondered. She finally decided just to ask Peter.
“Hey,” she yelled back at him as they rode along. “What did Koni Boy mean back there about you being the man on the Big Island?”
Peter didn’t quite want to answer, but he did somewhat evasively. “I don’t know. I wasn’t anything over there. But that guy is trouble, I can tell you that. We shouldn’t hang around with him. Neither should your older sister for that matter. He’s a jerk.”
“He said you get things done?” Kaila kept prodding. They finally reached the top of the hill and she turned onto the street where her aunt and uncle lived. They both got off the scooter and she parked it in the garage. She looked to see if the light was on. She wondered if she should go in or just head back to the school.
“No,” Peter said. “He’s just full of it. It was guys like that that got me in trouble. And I think I may have seen him talking to somebody that I knew back home today on the beach. If that was who I thought it was, I’d just steer clear of him. They are nothing but trouble. I promise you. I came here to get away from guys like that.”
Kaila nodded. She knew he was being truthful. “I understand. I believe you.”
Just then the front door to the house opened and her uncle stuck his head out.
“Hi Uncle Lupe,” Kaila said. “This is Peter from school. We were just parking the scooter and are about to head back. We’re almost late.”
“Hello, Sir,” Peter said. He noticed a woman in the background staring outside at them.
Lupe nodded at him. “Where’s your little sister?”
“She’s coming,” Kaila answered. “Leilani is bringing her.”
“With Koni too?” Lupe inquired. The woman behind Lupe cringed her lower lip at hearing Koni Boy’s name. She continued to glare at Peter as well with the same suspicion. Yet she said nothing.
“Yes, probably,” Kaila said. “He was there at the luau waiting on her. Well, he showed up at the end at least. We’ll see you, we need to get back.”
“OK, be careful.” Lupe never really acknowledged Peter. He was not sure if that was a good or bad thing.
They began to walk up the hill the short distance back to school. Peter wondered aloud, “He didn’t say much. I hope he liked me.”
Kaila laughed. “If you can get a nod from my uncle then you are OK.”
Peter chuckled and said, “OK, I can live with that.”
“My aunt’s another story. But she’ll come around and talk to you eventually. She definitely doesn’t like Koni though.”
“Oh good,” Peter said. “I like her already!”
He walked her all the way to the steps of her dorm and was hoping she wouldn’t go inside just yet. She stopped of course and smiled at him sweetly.
“Thanks for showing me around today,” he said sincerely. “I had a lot of fun. And the food was great. And it was nice meeting your sisters too. I love being with you.”
Her heart leapt in her chest when he said that. “Same here. It’s nice to have someone to bum around with. I had fun too.” There was an awkward pause. Both of them knew what they wanted, but were still too shy to make the first move. Finally Peter put his arms around her and hugged her tight.
“You have a good night and sleep well,” he said softly to her.
They held each other for a moment, smiling at one another. He wanted to kiss her so badly. He did not know for sure, but he thought perhaps she really wanted to kiss him too.
“You do too,” she replied and then turned to go back inside. Peter breathed out a heavy sigh as he watched her disappear behind the closing door.
Taney sat on her bunk listening to music when Kaila returned to the room. She pulled the earbuds from her ears.
“Hey you, where you been?” she asked Kaila. “Don’t you have any studying to do?”
Plopping down on her bed, and looking exhausted, she replied, “It’s almost lights out. I’m pooped. I’ll work on it tomorrow.”
“You figure out what you’re going to write for English Lit?”
“No, not really,” she answered bluntly. “I thought about it some today. Somebody mentioned out on the boards that they may have seen a whale. I didn’t see it though, it’s too early for them.”
“No way,” Taney said. “They must have been blind. Ain’t no whales here yet.”
“Yeah, I know. But it got me to thinking. Maybe I can do something on whales. Maybe some kind of history on them in Hawaii. There is that museum at the Whaler’s Village.” She started to second guess herself about the idea. “I dunno. I’m still thinking about it though. What about you?”
Taney yawned. “I don’t know. You know me, probably something about Samoa.”
Kaila just stared at her toes. She was feeling very tired all of a sudden. “Yeah, you’d be good with that.”
Just then Kaila’s cell phone chime went off, indicating she received an instant message. She looked down at her phone and smiled happily. It was from Peter saying,
Thank you for a great day I loved it! Goodnight.
Taney became nosey. “Who’s that from? What you smilin’ at girl?”
Kaila quickly tapped away on her phone to answer.
I had a great time too. Thank you! Sleep tight.
Kaila beamed as she stared at her phone. She loved how sweet he was to her.
“Oh I bet it’s that skinny boy,” Taney laughed. She already knew that it was Peter by the way Kaila was smiling so broadly.
“Yeah, it was,” Kaila admitted.
Taney put her work down and a serious expression came over her face. She even looked a little anxious. “Hey, I need to tell you something,” she began.
Kaila did not look up, she had gone back to examining the worn polish on her toenails. “Yeah, what is it?”
Taney fumbled for the words. She became even more nervous with each moment. Finally she got the words out. “I – I have a crush on you.” Kaila froze and her eyes widened. She looked up just a bit and stared at her desk chair. “I mean, I’m attracted to you. Kinda sorta.”
Kaila was aghast. My roommate is attracted to me! Oh, what next? she thought to herself. She tried to compose herself and find the best response to this surprising revelation. “Surprising” was an understatement.
“Um, what?” was all she could get out. She looked for an escape route. A black hole or time portal or something to another dimension to dive into. Anything. But no such luck. She was trapped.
She gulped down some air and finally answered. “I mean, what about all the boys in football pads and tight ends and tight asses?”
Taney looked more composed now that she got her feelings off her chest. “I like them too. I mean, I – I like them both. Girls and boys.”
That did not seem to help. Kaila kept trying to convince herself this was not happening. It could not be happening. Then she remembered something. “Well, what about that incident that got you in here that you told me about?”
“My crime of passion?” Taney asked calmly.
“Yeah! Didn’t you say you stabbed some guy in a fit of jealous passion?”
Taney sat up a bit in her bed. “I wasn’t jealous of him flirting with that girl. I was jealous because I liked her too.”
Kaila looked befuddled. She had no more ideas. She was fresh out. “Oh,” was all she could mutter.
“And I didn’t stab him with a knife or anything. I just jabbed him with a pencil in math class at my old school.”
“Oh, well. Good. I guess.” Kaila was completely flummoxed. She fumbled for something else to say. It was something she had never encountered before. No other girl had ever told her that she was attracted to her. And now she was getting it from her roommate of all people. She could not wrap her brain around it. “Look, um, you’re my friend. I care about you. I just can’t…care about you in that way.” She bunched up her blanket nervously in a ball in her hands. “Know what I mean?”
“Yes,” Taney said. “I just had to make sure. That’s all. I hope you’re not mad.”
“No, it’s OK,” Kaila said, somewhat relieved. She wanted this conversation to just go away. “Just had to make sure, huh?” she laughed.
Taney breathed a heavy sigh. She was somewhat relieved herself. “Yeah, you know why?”
“Because of that skinny boy. I know he’s sweet on you. I had to check so I didn’t have to stab him too.”
Kaila burst into laughter. Taney chuckled too. She was glad her friend was not angry with her. Kaila was glad for the tension reliever. And so was Taney for that matter.
The weeks passed and Kaila and Peter continued working together in the mornings at the pig pen and then on Friday nights they kept meeting in the lounge for darts and even some pool. They tried to spend as much of their free time with one another as possible. On weeknights they would take long walks around the school campus and catch nearly every sunset each evening after dinner. They had just enough time before the mandatory two-hour study period to get in their strolls together. They were inseparable. And with each week they became closer and closer and got to know each other as each day went by. It became their routine each week to listen to the Lunas football games on the radio Friday nights while they played pool and talked.
The Lunas continued to have a stellar season and strung together shutouts of Kamehameha Maui, Maui High and even their rival Baldwin. In fact, they were so tough, they had five shutout games in a row at one point in the season. They were undefeated and looking terrific heading into October.
Peter was much better at pool than he was at darts, but still loved to do either one with her. Kaila did too and with pool she was not quite as skilled, but always up for the challenge. And besides that, she loved just spending time with him. It was not work, just good quality free time. Weekends were mostly busy with studying so they cherished the times they did get to be together.
It was Friday night again and the Lunas were playing against Kamehameha Maui once more. Only a few students were in the lounge and Peter and Kaila had the room nearly to themselves as before. There were only two boys who were talking to some girls by the TV. They were laughing rather loudly and teasing each other and it was easy to hear them by the pool table.
Gathering the billiard balls together into the triangle, Peter said, “This time you get to break.”
“No!” Kaila protested. “I like to see you break. You do it better than I do anyway.”
Peter shook his head. “No, you get to break too. You won that last game. Just try it.”
“Oh yeah,” she laughed. “You scratched on the eight-ball.” She relented though and lined up the cue ball for the break.
Peter noticed how close to the edge she was placing the white cue ball to the bumper. “How can you do that so close to the edge?”
Kaila laughed, “This is how I do it, so hush up.”
“OK, I’m hushin.’” He watched as she awkwardly held the pool cue at a high angle and tapped the ball towards the group of balls. The cue ball barely nudged the bunch and only a few balls aimlessly rolled away for her break.
“Dang it!” she cried. “That’s why I don’t like to break. I got nothing.”
“Maybe you could try it from an angle like I do,” Peter suggested. “And not so close.”
“You do it your way, I’ll do it my way,” she answered smartly. “Besides, I can see your eyes when I’m leaning over for a shot.”
Peter laughed and smiled deviously. “Well it is a nice view.”
Kaila flashed him a wicked grin and answered, “Pay attention, young man.”
“Believe me, I am!” Peter laughed.
The laughter across the room became louder from the group on the couch. Peter chuckled to himself as he and Kaila both eavesdropped. “Almost as bad as Vince and the guys in our dorm. They are always clownin’ around.”
Kaila stared at the table, lining up her next shot and responded, “Well, at least your roommate isn’t hitting on you.”
Peter’s eyes widened. “Oh no way.”
“Oh yes way. Was really weird. But we talked it over and now it’s not an issue. But still…”
“Yeah, that’s awkward for sure.”
“So, tell me,” Kaila said, trying to deflect his attention. “You know what you’re going to write for your senior paper?”
It was a topic he had not put much thought into. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “No, not really. I figured I’d do something on coffee or whatever.”
“Dang it!” she said with exasperation. “Everybody’s got a topic but me.” She was intrigued however by his answer. “Coffee? What about it?”
“My mom works over in the Kona plantations. She knows a lot about it. I used to help her when I was younger, so I learned a few things. I might write about that.” Kaila was impressed. He had not said much about his family or what they did. She was glad that he had actually put some thought into the paper already. After all, it was one of the larger projects for seniors in English class.
“What about you?” he asked.
Kaila stood with her pool queue resting against her side. She wrinkled her nose with a frustrated look on her face. “I don’t know. I’m having trouble finding something. And we have to turn in our proposals next week. It’s like I have writer’s block or something. But I can’t even get to that point. I can’t even come up with an idea. I have idea block.”
Peter chuckled as he took another shot on the table. “You like to write or something? I’ve always been lousy at it.”
Kaila perked up. “Oh I love to write. I’ve been writing since I was a little girl.”
“Wow, no kidding?”
“Yeah,” she continued. “And I plan to go to journalism school at Hawaii Maui College. I’m hoping to get an internship during the summer with the local newspaper or something like that. Would be great.”
“Oh, you mean like a reporter?” he asked.
She shrugged her shoulders and answered, “I dunno. Maybe to start out. I’d really like to be an author though. It’s just so hard for a writer to make it as an author. But I just love to tell stories. Would be great to do it for a living. Far-fetched but still great.”
Peter nodded in agreement. “No, I don’t think so. I think you should go for it if that’s what you wanta do. At least you know what you wanta do. I have no clue.”
Kaila gave him an uncertain look. “You don’t’? Aren’t you going to go to college? We could go to the same one!”
“I haven’t really thought about it too much. I know we can’t afford it. My grades aren’t near good enough for a scholarship. My parents never went either. I just figured I’d have to start working as soon as I finished high school like they did.”
“Oh no,” Kaila said, trying to encourage him. “Apply for a loan or something. You never know. You can do whatever you want.”
“I suppose so, yeah.” Peter seemed very downtrodden about the subject and she could tell it bothered him. But it bothered her even more. She at least wanted to see him have some kind of goal after high school.
“Well, what do you want to do once you graduate?” she finally asked.
Peter had the answer to that all prepared. “Oh, my dad works construction on the roads. He can get me on easily I bet.”
Kaila looked at him like he was a madman. “Road work? Are you serious? Come on, there must be something better than that that you wanta do. Sure he can, but that doesn’t mean you have to.”
“Well what’s wrong with it?” he said, sounding defensive.
“Nothing. I just think you could aim a little higher is all. The whole world is out there for you. I bet you could find a way into college if you tried. What kind of things interest you?” She clearly wanted to help him, but she could tell he had already resigned himself to the same fate as his parents. “What do you like to do?”
“I don’t know,” Peter answered. “No one has really asked me that to be honest.” He thought for a moment. “I guess I’m good with my hands, you know, fixing stuff and working outside. I kinda like the coffee groves and stuff like that. Haven’t really thought about it.”
“See!” Kaila exclaimed. “Maybe you could go into science or something and learn all about how to grow coffee or something like that. Not just be the one that harvests the beans. Or be a business manager, learn the business side of it. Like I said, there are so many options out there. You just have to pick something you like.”
Peter smiled at her. He loved her enthusiasm about everything. And it was nice that someone actually wanted to know what he liked and was genuinely concerned about his future. He had not thought much about it at all until now. “Yeah, I guess you’re right,” he said.
She aimed at the eight-ball and closed one eye, staring down her shot and said, “Of course I’m right! Eight-ball in the corner.” Then she struck the cue ball crisply and easily sunk the eight-ball in the corner pocket. She leapt for joy at seeing her shot go in. “Ha! I made it!”
“Wow, great shot! Now you rule at pool too!”
“You better believe it, baby!” Kaila said with a smirk. She put her pool cue away and sat down on the couch by the dart board. Peter had not noticed, but she had brought a small sack with her and set it on the couch when they had arrived. “Hey, come here. I have something for you.”
He came and sat next to her on the couch and said, “You do?”
“Yeah,” she said, grabbing the sack and placing it on his lap. “I found out from a little bird that it was your birthday. Open it.”
He looked at her slyly as he unfolded the paper bag and removed its contents. Inside was a small knitted blanket. His eyes widened in disbelief. It was perfectly woven with fine, soft yarn and had a pattern of alternating colors of dark green, blue, black, and light brown. He held it in his hands, smiling broadly.
“Thank you!” he said sheepishly. “This…this is beautiful. Did you make it?”
“Yes. It’s a mixture of our favorite colors.”
“Really?” Peter did not know what to say. “Wow! You are so talented! This looks like it was professionally made by a machine or something.” Kaila beamed at hearing that. Peter looked at it as if he were about to cry. “It’s wonderful. I don’t know what to say.” He just sat there looking at her, falling ever deeper in love with her. “No one has ever made me something before. Thank you. I love it.” He leaned over and gave her a long hug. “This must have taken you forever. When did you have time to work on it?”
“I’m glad you like it,” she said sweetly. “Just at night before I would go to bed.”
“I love the colors.” He held the soft fibers of the blanket to his nose. He smiled as if pleasantly enamored with it. “Mmm, it smells just like your perfume.”
“Ha ha. Yeah, I guess because it was on my lap all these weeks while I made it.”
“It took you that long?”
“Yeah. I know it really doesn’t get cold here but sometimes you might want it for your legs or something. Or just to think of me.”
He looked at her with pure love in his eyes which poured out from his heart. “It’s the best gift I’ve ever received.” He looked it over more closely and noticed the varying colors with each knitted section. It was exquisitely crafted. “You had all this yarn with you?”
“Yeah, I collected it over the years, learning it from my mom and my aunt. I have this big box full of it. I just love digging through it and seeing what I can come up with next. I guess you could say I’m sort of a yarn geek. Ha ha!”
Peter laughed out loud. “A yarn geek, I love it! You just do a yarn dive, huh? Sounds fun.” He sat there chuckling, still holding the blanket close to his face. “I didn’t know one could be a yarn geek.”
“Yep, we’re out there!” Kaila laughed.
Peter looked it over once more and smiled gratefully. “Well, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. I know it was a lot of work. Thank you. I love it.”
“You’re welcome,” she said as she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
It was almost time to head back to their respective rooms. They stepped outside into the crisp night air. A smell of fresh rain filled their lungs and it felt comforting in a familiar way to both of them. The pavement was somewhat wet and rain dripped from the plumeria leaves.
“Looks like we had a little shower,” Peter said.
“I know! I love it,” Kaila replied.
Peter held her hand. It felt so natural in his own. As he gazed at her he realized he never wanted to let her go. There was something about her that he just craved. And he had the notion she was feeling the same way about him. Their eyes stayed on each other as he slowly pulled her into him. They both knew what they wanted. Peter thought his heart would be pounding at this moment, but he felt more calm and serene than he ever felt in his life. He embraced her lovingly and she held him tightly, with her soft hair pressed against his chest. Still holding each other, he pulled his head away just slightly and she gazed up at him as he slowly, lovingly, kissed her. Passion welled up inside them, an incredible sensation of love they had never felt before. They kissed even more passionately as she melded in his arms. It was the most amazing kiss either one of them had ever experienced.
She looked at him dreamily and smiled lovingly at him and whispered, “Goodnight, Peter. Happy Birthday.”
“Goodnight, Kaila. Thank you,” he said softly to her.
She went inside the dorm and the doors slowly closed behind her. Peter just stood there in a celestial, astral state of happiness. He could not even feel his feet on the ground. He knew his feelings for her were as real as the rain that had just fallen. For the first time in his life he knew something as certain as anything he had ever imagined or felt before. He knew it was her. He knew she was the one person in the world for him. Now he knew what had hung in the back of his mind so mysteriously, yet so beautifully, since the moment he saw her that first Sunday morning. He sincerely and completely loved her.
The game on the radio was over and Lahainaluna had scored another huge win, defeating Kamehameha Maui 35-3. The Lunas were now 7-0 on the season and had already secured a spot in the state playoffs. The next game was against the school rival Baldwin and most of the boarders were excited since they would be able to ride on buses to go watch it in person. Indeed they were having a historic season.
Peter walked down the hallway of his dorm, but he still could not feel the floor. He seemed to be floating down the hall. He was completely wrapped up in ecstasy and happiness. When he reached his room he did not go inside since he noticed from the window Vince was not in there. For some reason he did not want to be by himself. He was too ecstatic at the moment. He wanted to spread that feeling or at least share it. It was the most amazing thing he had ever felt. He almost felt like roller skating down the hallway and letting the breeze blow across his face. He laughed at the thought of it and wished he had some skates.
Instead he floated further down the hallway where he found Fin sitting in front of one of the shared computers. Vince and the Kapule brothers were fooling around in the boys’ lounge as well. They were throwing rolled up wads of paper at an empty wastebasket across the room. It was nearly time for lights out, but they tried to savor as much free time as possible. Besides, it was Friday night.
Peter plopped down on the sofa and smiled broadly. “What’s goin’ on, fellas?” The small blanket rested on his lap. He lifted it to his nose again and inhaled the sweet aroma of Kaila’s perfume. He nearly melted in his seat.
Vince smacked on some gum while aiming a paper ball at the wastebasket. “Where the hell you been? Out romancin’ again? We’re playing for champion of the universe. I make this and it’s all over but the shoutin.’” He took a shot but the paper ball bounced off the rim of the wastebasket. “Dang it!”
“He was over there hangin’ out with his girlfriend again,” Kai piped up.
Peter smiled unapologetically. “Sure was. It was great too!” Vince gave him a sly look as if he knew what had happened.
Oki stood up and took his shot at the makeshift goal. “Now it’s up to me, boys. I’m the champion of the universe if this goes in. Here it comes losers, the fat lady is about to sing.”
“I’m tellin’ ya,” Vince said assuredly. “She ain’t fat.”
“Whatever,” Kai droned.
Oki took his shot and the paper ball went straight into the basket. “Swish! Nothin’ but net!” Vince and Kai both groaned in defeat.
Peter laughed out loud at them. He looked over his shoulder to see what Fin was up to. “What are you doin’, Fin?”
“What else?” Vince interjected. “Gawking at Katniss Everdeen on the internet.”
Fin sat at the computer nodding approvingly. “She’s so sleek,” Fin said, elated. “So quick with the bow. And she looks hot in that black outfit.”
Vince walked over and stood behind Fin with his arms folded. “You gotta get over this Jennifer Lawrence thing, man. You’re driving us all nuts.”
Fin was unfazed however. “Just look at her. Such grace and style. She can take me to a cave in the forest any day.”
Vince had had about enough. He grabbed the mouse from Fin and started doing a quick search online. “Look, let me show you something, dude.” Within seconds he pulled up images of another character Jennifer Lawrence had played in the recent movie X-Men: First Class. Across the screen were dozens of images of her dressed as the comic book character Mystique. “See that, Fin?”
“Uh-huh,” he said befuddled.
“That’s your favorite actress playing another character. She actually does act in other movies you know.” All the other boys gathered around the computer. “That’s her dressed as Mystique in all that blue.” Indeed the character was blue from head to toe. “And you know what?” Fin shook his head in silence. “That ain’t no costume. It’s all body makeup. No clothes, no nothin’. Just her and all that blue.” The boys gawked at the screen and Kai even leaned in to get a closer look. “Blue or not, this is where she looks freaking hot, pal.”
Fin just stared at the screen in amazement. He slowly clicked through each image with his mouth agape.
“You’re welcome,” Vince said wryly. He could see he had Fin in a trance.
The call came for all boys to head to their rooms for lights out. Everyone left the room except for old Fin. He had to hang around for a few seconds more.
On Monday morning, Kaila sat in Mister Tran’s English Literature class. All the students turned in their proposals as they entered the class one by one.
“Thank you. Thank you,” Mister Tran said to each student. “Hope everyone had a nice weekend.”
She noticed Mister Tran scanning over each proposal as each one was turned in. She watched nervously and was wary of what her choice had become and was second-guessing herself. She knew she had to make a good impression in his class in order to get a leg up on possibly getting a commendation for journalism school. And Mister Tran was her best shot since he had an extensive background in the field before becoming a teacher.
“OK,” Mister Tran continued. “It looks like everyone has turned in their proposals. Very good. I will look them over and let you know by Wednesday if they look good enough to proceed. Now let’s pick up our discussion from last Friday.”
Kaila tried to breathe a temporary sigh of relief as she listened to the lecture. At least for now she had a reprieve. Good, I can breathe until Wednesday, she thought.
Yet she found herself daydreaming now with Peter evermore on her mind. She kept thinking back to how wonderful their first kiss was last Friday night. The thought of it just gave her butterflies. She could not help but smile. She felt closer and closer to him each day. She recalled working with him at the pig pen earlier in the morning and how the little pigs squealed with joy as they scampered around his feet. She laughed quietly to herself as she thought about it. There was something about Peter that she truly adored. In fact, she felt herself craving to be with him. It was all so foreign to her. No boy had ever affected her in such a way. Even though the times with him were so happy and wonderful, this new feeling was a bit scary as well. She never knew another person could make her feel like that.
At the end of class, Kaila collected her books into her backpack and tried to slip out of class unnoticed by Mister Tran. But she could feel him training his black-rimmed glasses in her direction as she passed his desk. She thought she had made it past when suddenly Mister Tran called out to her.
“Kaila, a moment please?” he asked.
She froze in her tracks. Oh no, she thought to herself. This is not supposed to happen ‘til Wednesday! “Um, sure,” she said reluctantly. “What can I do for you, Mister Tran?” She tried her best to act casual. But she knew what was coming.
Mister Tran pulled her proposal from the stack of papers. Kaila could not help but notice hers was right on top. Oh great! she shrieked inside her mind.
“Kaila,” he began. “I glanced over your writing proposal for senior paper and I was a little disappointed.”
Kaila’s spirit sunk. “You were?”
“The history of whales in Maui?” he asked sarcastically. He held her paper up like it was yesterday’s trash. “Come on, Kaila. Where did that come from? That’s something I would ask sixth graders to write.” This is exactly what she did not want to hear. She was looking for the nearest window to go jump through. “Please tell me that’s not the best idea you can come up with.”
“I don’t know,” she stammered. “I suppose it’s not the best. I…I guess I had a hard time coming up with one. I don’t know why.” She knew why, but she sure wasn’t going to tell Mister Tran. Her reason smelled of pigs each morning just as she did, was from the Big Island and was totally gorgeous. “What should I do?”
“Ah, you know what you should do, Kaila,” Mister Tran answered. “You are the best writer in the class. The best I’ve seen in years here at this school. I know you have real talent in you and I know you want to enroll in journalism school next fall.” She looked at him with a smile. She appreciated his accolades. “So now’s your first moment in your career to shine. I want you to challenge yourself for this paper, not just write up something I’ve read a hundred times already. Challenge yourself. Surprise me.” He paused for a moment to make sure he had her attention. “OK, fine. If you want write about whaling history in Maui, do something different with it.”
“Different?” Kaila said, blinking her eyes and trying to focus.
“Yes. Be the journalist. Do your research. Any kid can go to that museum at the Whaler’s Village and turn in a report on what he or she saw there.” She felt a bit embarrassed knowing he had guessed part of her research plan already. She then realized how typical her idea was. “If you want to go there, fine. It’s a good place to start. But read those passages on the wall. And I mean really read them. Study those artifacts they have on display. Use your imagination. I know you are a great story teller. Try and put yourself there in the days when those men were hunting whales. Think about Lahaina as it was in the whaling days. Really put yourself there. Act like you were a journalist during that time. Make it fun and exciting! If you do that, then I’ll accept your proposal.”
Kaila thought about it for a while. He could tell the wheels were turning in her head. He smiled, as he knew he had gotten his point across. “OK,” she said. “You gotta deal. I’ll do it.”
“Great,” Mister Tran said. “Then you go to it. Just remember, never settle for ordinary. Go for the extraordinary!”
“I will Mister Tran. Thanks, I appreciate it.”
“You bet,” he said as she rushed off to her next class.
Two weeks later the football season had winded down to its final regular season game. The Lunas were to meet their other island rival, Maui High, at War Memorial Stadium. It was also Maui High’s homecoming game. The stands would be filled with half the fans all dressed in their school color, light blue, and the rest of the fans from Lahainaluna would be dressed in their traditional red. From the field it was nothing but a sea of blue and red in the stands.
The previous week had shockingly ended in a loss to Lahainaluna’s other island rival Baldwin. The Lunas were defeated in a tough match, 20-17, for their first loss of the season, but still remained an outside chance of receiving a first round bye in the state playoffs. They had to win against Maui High to secure the first round bye.
The Boarder students from Lahainaluna filed off the school buses to attend the big game. It was a big treat for them to be able to travel to the middle of the island. All of them were decked out in their school color, red. The atmosphere was electric and it was a perfect night for football in Hawaii.
Taney and Kaila sat together in the stands while Peter and his friends were still climbing their way up the steps.
Kaila shouted out to them and waved, “Peter! Over here!” Peter waved back and smiled at seeing her. That butterfly feeling hit his stomach as soon as he saw her again.
He slid next to her on the bleachers and warmly said to her, “Hey there.”
She leaned into him, desperately wanting to kiss him, but held herself back, and said happily, “Hey yourself!” She looked past him to see the Kapule brothers and Vince and Fin clown around as they eventually sat down too. “Hey guys.”
“What’s up?” Kai said loudly as he gazed over the playing field. The players were warming up out on the field in several rows, stretching and loosening up. “Go Lunas! Woohoo!!” The girls just laughed out loud at him.
Taney chimed in with him. “Yes! You go boys! Woohoo!”
“Ha ha,” Kaila laughed. “Calm yourself, you two. The game hasn’t even started.”
Taney shook her head. “I don’t even care. This is my favorite part right here.” She craned her neck to get a better look at all the players down on the grass. “Mmm-mmm. My, my, my. Look at all those fine specimens out there. I’m in tight ass paradise.” Kaila and Peter both laughed at her. “That’s right, stretch those quads real good. And touch your toes. Oh that’s it. Very nice indeed.”
“You are crazy girl,” Kaila teased her.
“Yep, this is my favorite part right here, watching these big beefy boys stretchin’ out. I just wish I had some binoculars.”
Peter couldn’t help but laugh at her. She was hilarious. He turned his attention to Kaila. He sat close to her. He loved feeling just the touch of her shoulder next to his. The smell of her light perfume, it was a scent like no other. He loved how it intoxicated his senses. Her essence attracted him even more. If he were a blind man, he would know it was her. He fumbled for something to say. They usually had a dart board or pool table while these games were on the radio and the conversation was easier. But now they had the whole game in person and were free to sit next to each other the entire time.
He finally thought of something to say. “So, your teacher finally agreed to your proposal, huh? On your paper?”
Kaila nodded as they watched the teams prepare for the kickoff. “Yeah, he did.”
“That’s good,” Peter said. “Gonna do a whale story, huh? Should be good.”
Kaila wasn’t so optimistic. “I don’t know. We shall see. So they were OK with you doing Kona coffee?”
“Yeah,” Peter replied. “I’ll probably work on it during the Christmas break. My mom can fill me in on a lot of stuff. Find the rest on the internet I guess.”
The game started and the Lunas took control early on. The crowd cheered with nearly every play. The boys all slapped high fives on every big play by the Lunas. They quickly jumped out to an early 14-0 lead.
Peter and Kaila went down to the concession to get sodas and popcorn for themselves and Taney. As they climbed back up the steps, the Lunas scored yet another big touchdown. The crowd roared and so did Peter and Kaila. They nearly dropped their snacks in turning around to see what had happened.
As they walked down the aisle back to their seats, the boys were being silly and tried to take some of their popcorn.
“Hey, free popcorn!” Fin teased.
“Yeah, thanks for getting ours. Where’s yours?” Vince chuckled.
Peter held it away from them and laughed, saying, “Hey, you know where you can get yours. Paws off.”
They sat back down and Kaila handed Taney her soda.
“Oh thank you dear,” Taney said, gulping down a long drink of soda. “I needed that after all that yelling.’ They are doin’ so good! And lookin’ so fine too.” She nudged Kaila on the shoulder and whispered, “Check out that number seventy-one. I’ve been watchin’ him all night.”
Kaila laughed out loud. “Hey, maybe he’s in one of your classes. You might get lucky and get to talk to him.”
“Talk to him?” Taney sighed. “Girl, I’ve been tryin’ to get his attention all year long. He’s in my math class.”
Kaila’s eyes widened a bit. “Is that so? Do tell then, what’s his name?”
Taney nearly blushed as she took another sip from her drink. “Barry,” she said sheepishly.
“Ah, I see,” Kaila said with a broad smile. “Been holdin’ out on me haven’t you? Ha ha. You go girl!” Taney giggled and slapped her shoulder again. She turned her attention back towards the hulking Barry sitting on the sideline. She breathed another heavy sigh as she stared at him.
Kaila turned to Peter. “Hey, you wanta go with me tomorrow after we get done with work?”
She did not have to ask. It was a given he would go with her anywhere. “Sure,” he answered. “Where to?”
“I was thinking of going over to the Whaler’s Village at Ka’anapalli to go check out that whale museum. Wanta come? Maybe we can go to the beach afterwards.”
“Absolutely. Sounds fun to me. Don’t have to ask me twice!”
Kaila loved his enthusiasm. She hugged his arm tight. She loved being close to him. “Great! We’ll make an afternoon of it.”
Halftime came and went and by the end of the third quarter, the score had grown to 24-0. The Lunas were well on their way to another shutout as their defense had played exceptionally all evening long. Fans began to slowly file out of the stands as the clock winded down in the final quarter. And soon the horn sounded and the Lunas had put the finishing touches on another shutout, 31-0.
As the students made their way back to the buses and cars, Tua stood guard at the exit making sure all the fans left the stadium safely. Soon, he spotted some familiar faces coming through the crowd.
He called out to one of the boys, “Hey Vince! What’s up?” Vince saw him near the gate and headed his direction. Oki and Kai followed him like little sheep.
“Tua man, hey what’s up?” Vince asked as he gave Tua a fist pump. “Great game, huh?”
Tua nodded as he continued to watch the crowd and talk to Vince at the same time. “Yeah, good game. Hope they do good in the playoffs. Hey listen.” Vince looked at him casually. “I found this the other night in the neighborhood near the old prison. This wouldn’t happen to be yours, would it?” Tua produced a small push-button flashlight from his pocket. Vince’s veins ran cold and he got goose-bumps with seeing the familiar flashlight.
“Um, yeah, it might be mine,” Vince stammered. “Must have dropped it a long time ago. Silly me.” Kai and Oki looked on with wide eyes, not saying a word.
Tua continued with a frown on his face. He already knew who it belonged to. “We had a call about a disturbance a few weeks ago near the old prison. Know anything about that?”
“Uh, no. Sure wouldn’t.”
Tua cut to the chase. “Look man, just stay away from that woman’s house, OK? There’s no reason for you to be going around there. That goes for you two guys too.” Kai and Oki still stood speechless. “I’m not going to warn you guys anymore. I know all of you are trying to graduate. So take my advice, just play it cool guys.”
All the boys nodded. “Sure man,” Vince said. He grudgingly took the flashlight from Tua and stuffed it into his pocket.
“Thanks guys,” Tua said. “Have fun at school.” All three boys walked as fast as they could towards the buses.
Kaila, Peter and Taney were close behind as they walked out of the stadium. Kaila caught site of someone familiar to her as well as they passed the exit. Koni Boy was leaning against a car talking to a girl she did not recognize. Her blood pressure began to rise at seeing him with some other girl and not Leilani. She shook her head and nudged Peter with her elbow.
“Check that out,” she said flippantly. “No shock there.”
Peter nodded. “Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me. And at a high school game. Very classy.”
Just then, Peter heard a voice that made his blood run cold. “Hey Peter, what’s happenin?’” The person had stopped him in his tracks as they had almost reached the bus. Peter turned around to see his old friend from the Big Island: Jeff. Kaila looked at him curiously as did Taney.
“Jeff?” Peter asked, surprised. “What are you doin’ here?” Now Peter had confirmed who he had seen that first day at the beach while paddleboarding. His heart sank when he saw his old acquaintance.
“Ah, just enjoying the game,” Jeff said smoothly.
Peter shook his head, still shocked at seeing him. “No, I mean on Maui, what are you doing here?”
“Oh you know man, just visiting friends. Hangin’ loose. Catchin’ some waves. You know how it is.” He smiled coolly at Kaila and Taney. “Hey what’s up, cuties?” He was very smooth indeed.
Kaila just glared at him. “Nothing.”
Taney ignored him too. She was more interested in seeing if any players had come out yet.
Kaila looked over her shoulder and noticed that Koni Boy was watching them as he continued to talk to the other girl. She looked back at Jeff and instinctively knew something was up. She did not like Jeff at all and could tell Peter was uncomfortable with him too.
“Is that so, huh?” Peter asked, becoming somewhat agitated. “You’ve never been to Maui in your life. But here you are. How about that? What are you really up to, man?”
Jeff ignored him. “Yeah, how about that? So, you gonna graduate or what old buddy?”
Old buddy? Peter thought to himself. Whatever. “Yeah, I guess so. Hopefully.” He answered sarcastically. He glared at him. He knew Jeff was just being a jerk. “Well, we’re headin’ back. Take it easy, Jeff.” He had no intention of talking to Jeff any further. He wanted to get as far away from him as possible.
“Yeah, sure,” Jeff drawled like a snake. “Get back to school. Hit them books. Need to get that diploma. We’ll be seein’ ya man.”
“Uh-huh,” Peter said as he turned his back on him. They quickly made their way over to the buses and climbed aboard.
As the bus pulled away, Peter watched from the window seat as Jeff casually walked back over to the car where Koni Boy was. Peter shook his head in disgust and said under his breath, “Perfect. Just perfect.”
The next morning Kaila and Peter were strolling hand in hand through the outdoor shopping center called the Whaler’s Village. It was situated in the coastal resort area of Ka’anapalli. The quaint surroundings were lush and green with tropical vegetation everywhere. It was tailor-made for tourists in every way. The side road leading to the mall was dotted with one resort after another with the mall situated in the middle and the resorts continuing on past to the end of the road. The grounds were surrounded with palm trees, plumeria, hibiscus and a vast array of other tropical plants and flowers. Across the road from the resorts and shopping was the Ka’anapali golf course, which was perfectly groomed as well for the golfer’s enjoyment and experience. Looking inland as the backdrop to all this colorful tropical display were the West Maui Mountains standing majestically, overlooking the coastline.
They entered the mall and walked past a large replica of a humpback whale skeleton on display. Ka’anapali and Lahaina were the center of whaling back in the 1800’s and were also some of the prime areas of Maui to whale watch in the winter months. The replica was a fitting display for the mall’s namesake and a favorite spot for photo-taking by tourists and shoppers.
Kaila knew where she was going, so Peter just tagged along. She had her backpack on with pad and paper and snacks for later inside. Peter carried a long oddly shaped pack over his shoulder as well. Kaila had been wanting to know what he had brought along but he still had not told her what it was. She was curious what he might be up to.
They found the elevator and Kaila pressed the button. “We have to go up. It’s on a floor by itself,” she explained.
“That’s cool,” Peter said. “This is a great shopping area. It’s crawling with people. Nice and fancy.”
“Yeah, it’s great isn’t it?” Kaila beamed. She enjoyed walking around the shops there. “I love these stores. But most of them are way outta my league. But you can still look, right? Ha ha.”
It was indeed a fancy area to browse and shop. And people were everywhere as usual. Shops lined both sides of the open air mall with a nice wide walkway in the center, adorned with more tropical flowers and plants and even tall palm trees. At the end of the walkway were beachside restaurants as well as a beach walk and of course the famous Ka’anapali Beach. The beach was one of the longest in Maui, if not the longest, and the views were breathtaking of the channel with Lanai and Molokai off in the distance. The channel was ideal for whales in the winter since they were protected with the surrounding islands. Plus the depth was shallower in the channel due to the closeness to the island chain. All winter long locals and tourists alike are dazzled by the charming existence of the humpback whales. And it’s never uncommon to witness their incredible ability to breach the water at any given moment in a playful display of their power and presence. It was indeed a quaint little village with the shopping and resorts around. The mall was definitely aptly named.
They reached the top floor and the museum entrance was right there. A small gift shop and ticket desk was at the front with a young man, no more than twenty, manning the ticket counter. He sat with his headphones on and stared blankly at a smartphone. He barely noticed the two of them walk in. Kaila pulled her small wallet from her backpack and produced several one dollar bills and handed them to the attendant. “It’s my treat,” she said happily to Peter. “Two please.”
“Students?” the attendant asked.
“Four dollars please,” he said, not even looking up from his smartphone.
“Lunch is on me then,” Peter said. “To go with our snacks.”
She smiled back at him and said, “OK. Perfect.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek as they walked into the main room of the small museum. “I’ll take champagne with my caviar.”
Peter chuckled and replied, “As you wish, madame.”
At the entrance to the room was a fairly large model of a whaling ship that was encased in glass.
“Cool,” Peter exclaimed. “Sweet model.”
The room was small but was filled abundantly with artifacts in display cases on the floor, photographs and more display cases on the walls, and video screens with repeating programs about certain topics. The museum was laid out in a pattern for you to follow going through the history of whaling in West Maui over a period of time. If you wished you could rent an audio player and do a self-guided tour or just walk along and read the plaques on the wall that said the same thing as the audio player. Kaila and Peter opted to read them since money was short as it was.
Each time period had detailed descriptions of how the crews worked on the whaling ships, the tools they used (with some of the real tools on display), and the smaller boats used for the actual whale “chase.” There were details about everything from descriptions of each crew member and what their job and title was, to everything you wanted to know about the whale itself. Also listed was what each part of the whale was used for and what items were made from them and sold in the marketplace in the 19th century.
It was fascinating information to read and both Kaila and Peter read each plaque intently. Kaila stopped from time to time to jot down notes as they went along.
They came to a display case that caught her attention in particular. It was filled with whale bone or large ivory teeth that were made into scrimshaw. It was an art that was created by crew members themselves after spending long and lonely days at sea. Kaila studied them closely and said in a whisper, “Wow! These are amazing. I guess I don’t remember this case.”
“Maybe they just added it,” Peter said.
She continued reading the plaques on the wall and soon began to laugh. “Look at what they used to call taverns back then: ‘grogshops.’ I bet those were rowdy places. Ha ha.”
Peter smiled and quipped, “Nothing like a good grogshop.” He walked to the very back of the room. “Hey, look at this. It’s where they used to sleep.” She came up next to him and looked at the wall-sized display behind glass depicting a typical crewman’s quarters or forecastle. They were below decks and the only light that came in was from the above hatch through which they could enter. Inside it depicted a room with hammocks or narrow bunks and typical belongings a crewman would carry with him such as a sea chest for personal items, knives, lanterns, pipes and even harmonicas.
“Looks cozy,” Kaila snickered. “I bet a hammock feels darn good after a day at sea chasing whales. Just lay back and sway with the ship.”
“And play the harmonica,” Peter added. “You gotta have a harmonica.” He looked at the sign on the wall and read it aloud. “Instead of ‘forecastle,’ they called it a ‘fo’c’sle.’”
“Too funny. I bet they used some really crude slang back then.”
Then, as if out of nowhere, Peter piped up. “Maybe you could do your paper on that.”
Kaila looked at him funny. “What? 19th century slang? Old timey cuss words?”
Peter laughed at her, trying not to be too loud. “No silly. Write a story about these guys. Not just write a paper about the history. Write a story with them. Make up something. Use all this cool stuff in your story and all these old terms and whatnot. Anybody done that idea yet?”
Kaila’s mind started running. His idea was not half bad. And maybe that is what Mister Tran was getting at. “You mean like a novel?”
“Nah, it’s a short story. Make up characters and everything.”
“You make it sound so easy. You ever written a short story?”
Peter laughed and shook his head. “Heck no. I don’t have that kind of brain. I’m more of a ‘write an essay from an encyclopedia’ kinda guy. I have no clue how to write a story.” But then he added, “But you do. I know you’ve got it in you.”
“Don’t sell yourself short,” she said. “You could write anything if you wanted.”
“So could you.”
“But you may be onto something, Mr. Lane.” She tapped her pencil on her chin, staring at the forecastle display. She looked across the room at the model ship towards the entrance. She surveyed the entire room full of artifacts and displays, her mind racing a mile a minute. “Yeah, you may be onto something. I could bring this to life.”
Peter agreed whole-heartedly. “You bet you can.”
She smiled at him broadly, as if a light had just gone on inside her head. “I think you got it. Yeah, I think I’m gonna do it!”
“Sweet!” Peter said.
“I think I’ve seen enough here. Have you? What’d ya say we go eat lunch now?”
“Even better idea! I’m starving,’” Peter said.
“Me too. Let’s get outta here.”
They walked outside into the bright sunshine and made their way through the crowd of shoppers. They finally got back to the parking garage and set out on her blue scooter. They headed out on Honoapiilani Highway and rode further up the coastline. Soon Kaila turned at a stop light for a small road that was basically an entrance for some condos to the left and the Westin Resort on the right.
“We checking in here?” Peter teased. “Sounds like a plan to me!”
“Dream on, buddy boy,” she shouted back at him. “No silly, there is a beach park here too.”
“Oh,” Peter laughed out loud. “Well that’s good too.”
She parked the scooter and slapped him playfully on the shoulder. She pretended to be insulted, but he knew she loved his sense of humor.
They parked in a small lot adjacent to the large resort. An open-air pavilion sat on the edge of the parking lot, with rest rooms, picnic tables and open-air rafters for a roof. Just beyond the pavilion was a large area of bright green grass, freshly manicured and well-maintained. And past the grass was the long narrow sandy beach of Ka’anapalli. Here you had the same breathtaking view of Lanai as well as Molokai. A few sunbathers lounged on the grass under the tall palm trees. Others walked along the beach or played in the light surf.
The locals called this beach North Beach, as it was technically still part of Ka’anapalli Beach. However, the two beaches were separated by a large cliff that jutted out into the sea several hundred yards called Black Rock. The cliff was over a hundred feet high and was a large mass of jagged black volcanic rock. Some daredevils would even dive off the cliff, including a ceremonial dive at sunset by a Hawaiian performer each evening at a local luau. It was an iconic spot on the island and well-known in photographs in travel magazines and websites. On either side of the impressive cliff was long stretches of pristine beach; North Beach being the quieter side with not as many resorts as the south side.
Peter walked through the pavilion and onto the soft grass. A piece of lava rock was alone on display near the sidewalk with a plaque fastened to it. He stood and read the words intently. The park was called Kahekili Beach Park. Kaila came skipping up behind him carrying their lunch.
“Huh,” Peter said out loud, “This used to be an airstrip.”
“Yeah, I know,” she said. “Back in the 60’s. Used to be nothing out here back then.”
“Amazing,” Peter said, looking all around at the large resorts that lined the beach. “Hard to imagine. It says here it was used into the 80’s when it finally closed. Bet it was cool flying in and out of here right next to the water.”
“Yeah, I bet so,” she concurred. “They have a small airstrip now over by Kapalua. Big time tourists use that one that stay at those fancy golf resorts. They even have a pro tournament up there each year. Those guys use that airstrip a lot.”
“Oh, that would be sweet,” Peter laughed. “Have your own plane.” He came back to Earth though, remembering how hungry he was. “Hey, let’s sit on the grass and eat. Want to?”
“Sure.” She just loved his romantic side.
They sat on the grass and stretched their legs out. The grass was so soft you did not even need a blanket. They sat and ate their sandwiches and people-watched and stared out at the amazing view over the ocean. Peter noticed the sidewalk that ran along the grassy park.
“Is this the beach walk?”
“Yeah, it goes for quite a ways in both directions,” Kaila answered. “People jog and stuff. I like to walk on it too during the summers early in the morning. It even goes around Black Rock. Gets kinda tricky over there, you just gotta know where to go. The other way it ends up just past Duke’s.”
“That’s really cool. Keeps you from gettin’ all sandy.” Peter nodded approvingly. “Don’t have that where I’m from. The coast is real jagged over there. Lots of high cliffs or just lots of lava rock. Not too many long stretches like this.”
“You’ll have to show me one day,” Kaila hinted. She wanted to know everything about him. “Yeah, with all the tourists, some good things do get built around here. Might be crowded and lots of traffic here at times, but I do love the beach walk.”
Peter picked up on what she mentioned and was not going to let it go unnoticed. “Sure, I’d love to take you there one day. Show you the Volcanoes National Park. You have to see it at night. Take some flashlights with us to walk on the old lava and see the glow of the lava all around. It’s cool. And seeing it flow into the sea is really cool with this big cloud of steam.”
“Yeah, I’d love to see that!” Kaila said excitedly.
They finished their lunch and decided to take a walk on the beach walk towards Duke’s restaurant. The walkway ended near the popular spot which was actually part of another resort. None of the beaches in Hawaii are private, so one could walk along the beach or beach walk and see the fancy resorts up close and personal and see how beautiful they are. The resorts along the way were no exception either.
Even though Peter and Kaila both grew up in Hawaii, neither ever really got to see the fancy resorts thoroughly unless they knew someone who worked at one. So it was always a treat to get to see them up close. The landscaping at each one was meticulous and well-kept on a daily basis. The tropical surroundings and décor were always tip-top. Lanai’s were decorated with tropical plants and flowers, swimming pools surrounded by palm trees and other flora and fauna, and tropical birds were singing and flying all around. Peter marveled at each resort as they walked by them.
Once they reached Duke’s they took off their shoes and walked hand in hand along the beach back the other way. As they walked and watched people go by and others play in the surf, Kaila started recalling what had happened after the game the night before. “So that guy you saw last night, Jeff? He was the one you saw that day while we were paddleboarding, wasn’t he?”
“Yeah, that was him,” Peter answered. “He was talking with Koni Boy that day.”
Kaila looked straight at him and finished his thought. “And Koni Boy was there last night too. He was watching us.”
“Yeah, I saw him too. Talking to some girl.”
“That rat,” Kaila said, wrinkling her nose. “So who is that Jeff guy, anyway?”
Peter cleared his throat. He knew this conversation was coming. But it did not bother him. He wanted her to know what had happened. “He and I used to be friends back home, but then he started getting involved with these other guys around 10th grade. They started messin’ around with meth. I didn’t like it at all so I tried to stay out of it. But Jeff kept trying to get me involved. He started becoming this big shot on the north side, acting all cool. Like he was some kind of drug kingpin. It was like he completely changed.” Kaila listened intently to him as they walked. “I told him over and over I didn’t want to know anything about how to make it, sell it, all that stuff. But one night he pressured me into keeping watch outside this guy’s apartment while they supposedly were getting a new batch ready. As soon as I showed up outside the building, cops were everywhere. Turns out no one was inside, but all this drug stuff was in there. They wanted to know why I was there, so they took me in. Said I had been seen before with this other guy and Jeff, that sorta thing. My parents flipped out. I don’t blame them either. But I never did anything wrong, I knew that stuff was bad news.”
Kaila digested all that he said. She asked flatly, “So why did you even go there?”
Peter shrugged his shoulders and said, “You saw how the guy was. Always the smooth talker. I mean, he was my friend since we were kids. But I was just stupid going there. I guess I didn’t see any harm in standing outside. He has this way of talking you into things. But all he did was leave me there high and dry and I was the one who got hauled in. Nothing happened to that jerk. I was just stupid.”
“Did he follow you here or something?” she asked. “He is a jerk, by the way. And Koni Boy is even dumber for hanging around with him.”
“I doubt it, but he knows I’m here.” Peter said. “Expanding his enterprise I guess. If he thinks I’m going to help him again, he’s got another thing comin.’ And yeah, you need to tell Leilani to dump that moron Koni Boy.”
“She probably won’t believe me, as usual,” she said, rolling her eyes. “She’s so stubborn.”
They strolled all the way back to Kahekili Beach Park where they ate lunch. They stopped and watched as some scuba divers carried their equipment from a nearby van in the parking lot for a shore dive. Each diver slowly put on their dive vest and then helped one another strap an oxygen tank to their back. Then they chuckled as the divers waddled towards the water with their big fins on their feet and heavy tanks on their backs until they finally reached the water.
“Ever try that before?” Kaila asked. “I never have. I’m sure it costs a lot.”
“Nope,” Peter answered. “I just skin dive with a mask. Or snorkel some. See lots of fish that way too.”
“Yeah, me too,” Kaila responded. “I bet you can see a lot more though scuba diving. Might be fun. Sometimes you see green sea turtles right near the beach. They’re neat.” They stood cooling their feet on the green grass as they watched the steady stream of people on the beach pass by. “Hey, I want to take you to a special place. It’ll be quieter too.”
“I’m in.” Peter said with a big smile. “Lead the way!”
They hopped on the scooter and headed further up the coast towards Kapalua. The further they rode, the less traffic there was as well as buildings, homes and resorts. She turned on a small secluded road that was dotted with tropical vegetation on either side. It was a nice shady street and felt cool under the tree cover. Soon she pulled into a tiny paved lot that was adjacent to yet another beach, although a much smaller one. It was called Napili Beach. There were still some resorts on the beach but they were much smaller and somewhat older than the previous ones they had seen and not quite as modern. Plus there were very few tourists on the curved beach that overlooked the scenic bay.
Mauka from the beach were the championship golf courses of Kapalua. They were situated on the very western tip of Maui and had incredible views of Molokai. The wind, however, was exceptional on this side of the island and provided an extra challenge to golfers who came to play the pristine golf courses.
The sand was cool and soft in the late afternoon sun and the wind came off the bay at a crisp pace. The tall palm trees swayed in the breeze as the sun glistened off the tiny waves that trickled into the quiet beach.
“This is one of my favorite beaches,” Kaila said. “I wanted you to see it. It’s so peaceful.” She began to kick off her shoes and t-shirt and stripped down to a bikini she had on underneath. “Come on sexy boy, time to hit the water.”
Peter could not take his eyes off of her. She definitely was easy on the eyes. He thought she was very beautiful and sexy in a bathing suit. His heart raced as he took off his t-shirt and kicked off his shoes. She watched him from the corner of her eye as he took off his shirt. She couldn’t help but grin a guilty smile. He looked quite handsome to her as well.
“Race you to it!” Peter yelled out. They both went running into the aqua blue water and laughed and giggled the whole way. They swam out several yards from shore until their toes no longer touched. The water felt wonderful. They did not get much time to relax during the week with all their chores at school, so it was wonderful when they did and have a little fun. They splashed and teased one another. Peter would dive underwater and sneak up on her and grab her legs and feet and she would let out a squeal each time he did.
He dove down again as she tried to catch him but he was too fast. “Oh come back here!” she cried out, as she laughed out loud at the same time. “You rascal!” She swam in closer so she could stand on her toes. As soon as her foot set down though, he grabbed her legs and she squealed yet again. He came up for air right in front of her with his arms wrapped around her waist. “I think you like doing that, mister.”
“Yes ma’am, I do,” Peter said slyly. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders as they kissed softly yet passionately. Their lips pressed firmly together as they embraced affectionately under the gentle waves. She held him tightly after they kissed again, her heart pounding. “Oh, Peter,” she whispered. “I’m crazy about you!”
Peter caressed her beautiful face gently and looked lovingly into her eyes. Those were the best words he could ever hear. He had felt the same about her from the very start. “I am so crazy about you, Kaila. I have been from the very beginning.”
“I have too,” she confessed. She kissed him again softly. “It was a little scary because I had never felt these things before. But I can’t deny it. I’m totally nuts about you!” She looked deep into his eyes and let herself get lost in them. “Peter Lane. What should I do with you?”
“Anything, as long as it’s good!” Peter laughed. She laughed at his cute sense of humor. But then his face grew serious. “It doesn’t matter where we go or what we do. All I know is that I want to be with you. And I know that’s a big thing to say. But I can’t deny what I feel in my heart. I feel this connection with you that I can’t explain. But the same thought, the same conclusion winds up the same in my head. And that’s being with you. I don’t know how I know, but I just know. Does that make sense?”
Kaila looked as though she wanted to cry. No one had ever said such loving words to her. And the gravity of what he was saying was immense, yet it did not scare her. She knew what he was saying and it only validated her own thoughts and feelings about him.
“It’s crazy,” she began. “But yes, it does make sense. The connection we have. The feeling I have is so deep in my heart. It’s like I’m almost about to burst!”
“Yes!” Peter exclaimed. “That’s exactly what I feel!”
“It’s amazing! It’s like I’ve…” she stopped for a moment. She shook her head, smiling at him. “…always known.” They stood in stunned silence for a few moments just looking at one another. “From the moment I saw you. I just knew it was you.”
Peter’s heart just melted right then and there in his chest. All he could do was wrap his arms around her and hold her tight. Finally some words escaped his mouth. “You make me so happy.”
She pulled her head away and smiled and cheerfully said, “You make me happy too.” They started to walk towards the shore with their arms around each other’s waist. “So, you gonna show me what you brought in that case you’ve been carrying around all day or what? I bet I know what it is too.”
“Yep,” Peter chuckled. “I’m sure you do from the shape of it.” He grabbed the soft case and unzipped it and pulled out an old wooden ukulele. It was not a fancy instrument, but one that was simple and refined. “You told me you knew how to dance like your sisters. I thought maybe if I played for you, you would dance for me.”
Kaila smiled sheepishly. But she knew what he was up to all along. It was one of the reasons why she suggested coming to the more secluded beach. “Oh you did, did you? Ha ha. Well I had a feeling that was what you were carrying.” She dried off some with her towel and then wrapped her towel around her waist to substitute for a hula skirt. She then tied her hair up in a ponytail. “So you play the ukulele. You’re just full of surprises.”
“Ha ha! Yeah, I guess I am.” He sat on a tree log on the edge of the sand and began to strum his fingers on the ukulele and played a simple tune for her to dance to.
“Oh you play well,” she complimented him. She raised her arms and poised on her toes in the sand. Soon she slowly began to sway to the music in the traditional manner of the hula. His face beamed while he watched her dance. She was so graceful and so beautiful as well. She blushed as she knew he was watching her every move. Yet she loved dancing for him. It was the most romantic moment she had ever had. Still she felt like being playful with him, even as she danced. “I should have brought my coconuts and my grass skirt.”
He laughed out loud. “We’ll remember that next time.”
As she danced she looked behind him towards the mountains. As the sun began to set, a rainbow formed in a stunning arc over the green, rocky hills. “Look,” she said, motioning behind him. “It must be raining up there. Isn’t that beautiful?”
Peter looked behind him and saw the pretty sight. “Yeah, it sure is. But not as beautiful as the view I have.” Kaila blushed as she danced and blew him a kiss. He was suave indeed. He continued to play and as she danced, birds began to gather in the nearby trees as they were attracted to the music. He glanced up and noticed several small birds with red crests. “Hey, look! Red-crested cardinals. They came to watch you.”
“Ohhh,” Kaila sighed as she danced. “They are so pretty.” She continued dancing to the music and her thoughts drifted to what they were saying to each other earlier. “You surprised me from the start, you know that?”
“Oh yeah?” he laughed as he played. “How so?”
“Guys never come up to me. I mean, if I were in a bar, I bet I could get any guy to buy me a drink, but none, and I mean none, would be brave enough to actually try and talk with me. But you, you just did it so easily, so naturally. I have to admit I liked that.” Peter smiled at her broadly. “And then, you know what really got me?”
“When you touched me,” she said softly. “No man touches me. But you did that night playing darts the first time. Your hand rested gently on my back. It was so caring, so warm. It sent chills through me. But I loved it.”
Peter looked at her very lovingly. “I’m so glad you did. It just came natural to me.”
“Why did you? You hardly knew me.”
He calmly answered her, “I just felt so at ease with you. Just this comfortable feeling that I couldn’t explain then. I just liked being there with you. It just felt… right.”
An older couple on the beach stopped by to watch her dance as they were leaving. The woman smiled as she watched Kaila dance. After the song ended, the couple clapped for her.
“You two are so lovely together,” the woman said. “That was such a wonderful dance.”
“Thank you!” Kaila said.
“You live here, don’t you?” the woman inquired.
“Yes, we go to school together,” Peter answered.
“How wonderful,” the woman said. “We didn’t realize we would see some hula dancing right on the beach!” Peter and Kaila both laughed. “Do you mind terribly if we take your photograph together? You two look so nice together.”
Kaila answered, “Oh no, we don’t mind.” Peter stood and walked over to Kaila with his ukulele and stood next to her. He put his arms around her waist and held his ukulele at his side.
The woman snapped their picture and thanked them. “This will look so great on my online page! Thank you.” Her husband shook her head. “What an adorable couple. I can see how in love you are.” Peter and Kaila smiled and blushed as they looked at the sand. It was true though. It was written all over their faces.
“Thank you,” Kaila responded. “Enjoy your stay on Maui.”
“We will, thank you,” the man answered for his wife. “Come on dear, let them be.”
They both laughed as they watched the old couple walk up the beach and head for the parking lot. Peter put his ukulele down on a towel and they walked over to view the sunset over Molokai. They embraced and kissed again to put a perfect ending to a perfect day together. As the sun continued to set, she hugged him tightly and kissed his neck and ear and whispered softly to him, “I love you, Peter.”
He melted in her arms and whispered back, “I love you, too.”
After weeks of rotating around the various chores, from working in the taro fields to mowing the lawns around the campus, Peter found himself back at the pig pens one early November morning. He was looking forward to it since he knew he would get to work with Kaila again.
The myna birds chirped high in the trees. The grass was still wet from a light rain overnight. The air felt crisp as he walked down the path towards the pen. A thick layer of clouds hung over the crest of Lanai off in the distance. A feeling of Hawaiian autumn was in the midst. The tradewinds had shifted and the air, although still tropical and warm, had cooled just a bit. Peter took in a long, deep breath and sighed heavily. As he rounded the corner in the barn he heard the sounds of little pigs rustling and snorting around. He also saw Kailas familiar ponytail tossing about as she scattered food for them. He smiled widely and happily as he watched her.
Finally noticing him, she called out to him saying, “Hey there! You’re late.”
He slipped on his boots and said, “Yeah, I know. I’m slackin’ today.” He slogged his way into the pen with her. Immediately a swarm of piglets surrounded his feet, squealing happily and hungrily. He leaned over the pigs and gave her a quick hug. “Good morning. Have a good night?”
“Good morning. Yeah, sure did,” she said warmly.
“Good to see these little guys again,” Peter quipped. “Where’s our baby?”
“Ha ha,” she laughed. “Look over there behind the big one. He’s being shy today.”
Peter peered around a much larger pig and there was ‘their’ pig relaxing in the mud in the corner. He leaned over and called to the young piglet. “Hey buddy! Aren’t you hungry today?” The little pig immediately jumped to his feet and ran towards Peter. “Wow, look at how much he’s grown!” The pig snorted around Peter’s feet as he patted him.
“Awww,” Kaila sighed. “Still cute as a button.”
“Gettin’ too big to pick up now, geez,” Peter remarked. “Little guys grow fast. Don’t get in too big a hurry, boys and girls. Delay that date with the imu as long as you can! They seem nervous today. Maybe we’re having bacon for breakfast.”
“Oh, don’t say that!” she scolded him and laughed at the same time. “Hey, did you hear? The Lunas got a bye for the first round of the playoffs. That means they only have to win in the second round and they are in the state finals! Isn’t that cool?”
“Yeah, that’s awesome,” Peter said as he tossed feed around. “When’s that game gonna be?”
Kaila exited the pen to go and retrieve the watering hose. “I think their next game is on the seventeenth. Hope they win. Hey, do you know what you are doing for Thanksgiving break? Are you going back home? Because if they win, the state championship is the Friday after Thanksgiving. You don’t wanta miss that.”
“Oh it’s that week, huh?” Peter asked. He had no clue. “Yeah, I guess a lot of football games are that day it being a holiday week. They play the championship in Oahu right?”
“Yeah, in Aloha Stadium.”
“Well,” Peter continued, “I had talked to my dad about that week. He says it’s too expensive to fly back and forth for just that week. Plus I’m going there for Christmas since we get a longer break. That’s why I was late actually, I was talking to Vince about it just now. He said he could put me up at his parent’s house during that week. Over in Kihei, I think.”
Kaila liked that answer. She was glad he would be staying that week. “Great! Should be a lot of fun. I know a lot of people will get together to watch the game if they actually advance. The boarders, I mean. None of us can afford to go over to Oahu just for a football game.”
“Yeah, no kidding,” Peter said matter-of-factly. “Sounds good. I hope they win too! Plus we can do some more stuff together that week. That’ll be sweet.”
“I know, I can’t wait!” Kaila gushed. “We can venture out past West Maui during the break. I can show you around a lot more.”
Peter gave her a thumbs-up. “I’m ready when you are, baby!”
They cleaned off and hurried back to the dorms as they were late for breakfast. Peter joked along the way as they walked fast up the hill, “Mmmm, I can smell that bacon already.”
“Oh hush,” Kaila snickered as they hurried. She slapped him on the shoulder playfully. “Now I want some bacon too. See what you did?” Peter laughed heartily at her.
It was the night of the second round of the playoffs. The week before, Nanakuli had won the big showdown over the heavily favored Konawaena Wildcats, 25-23. Now they had to face an even tougher foe in Lahainaluna for a chance at the state title.
Kaila and Peter were back in their familiar lounge spot by the dart board by themselves. However there were many more people gathered in the lounge on account of them wanting to watch the game on TV as well. One neat thing about the state playoffs is that all the games are televised on a statewide cable channel. It was always a treat to watch your high school team play live on TV. Several of the boarders were in the lounge from the girls’ dorm. Even Vince, the Kapule brothers, Fin and several boarders from the boys’ dorm were there. It was a festive atmosphere with snacks on the table that the dorm staff had provided. Many of them wore their school color red shirts to the party.
“Gotta lot more company tonight,” Peter said as he tossed the darts at the board. “Lot more than usual.”
“Yeah, it’s exciting,” Kaila agreed.
Oki came and plopped down on a couch nearby to watch them. “Someone’s actually playing darts?”
“Yeah,” Peter countered. “What of it?”
Oki watched lazily from his chair. “So how do you play? Is it hard?”
Kaila rolled her eyes. “How do you play? You just throw the dart at the board. Duh.”
“Well, duh,” Oki said mockingly.
Taney came in and sat down beside Oki. Her weight lifted the cushion just slightly and Oki rolled towards her. “Hey you guys, what are you playin?’” She startled when Oki accidentally rolled towards her. “Oh, hey honey. Lookin’ for some sugar? Not now, hon’. Meet me later when things quiet down.” Kaila and Peter laughed out loud at her.
“Oh you wish,” Oki said, embarrassed as he straightened himself on the couch.
“Don’t they look cute together playin’ their little dart game?” Taney said charmingly.
Oki rolled his yes. “Oh yes, divine.”
Peter looked back at Taney as he threw his darts. “Hey, you wanta play with us? We’ll show you how. It’s easy. We can do a three-way.”
“Oh don’t tease,” Taney quipped. Kaila nearly fell to floor laughing.
Peter’s face turned red with embarrassment. “I guess I walked into that one. I mean, the three of us can play a game.”
“Um, hello,” Oki spoke up. “Another person sitting here. We can play teams. Hello!”
Taney chuckled and patted his knee. “Ooo a couple’s soirée. This keeps getting better by the second.”
That was all Kaila could handle. She dropped to floor laughing uncontrollably. Taney laughed hard at herself too. Peter just shook his head and smiled, his face still red as a beet. He threw a couple more darts to try and ignore them laughing.
Oki just sat there oblivious. “What the heck are ya’ll laughing at? We gonna play darts or what?”
Taney kept chuckling and said, “No that’s OK. I pulled my quad muscle the other day. I’ll just watch ‘til the game starts. You’re gonna come sit next to me by the TV aren’t you sug?’”
Oki just rolled his eyes and jumped off the couch and went over to the TV. The game was about to start on the other side of the lounge and people were finding a place to sit and watch. They gathered folding chairs around the armchairs and two couches. Taney found her way over and got the last spot on the couch while Kaila and Peter sat next to each other on folding chairs.
The game started and before long the Lunas had scored the first touchdown. The room erupted as they took an early 7-0 lead. People did high-fives around the room and some even hugged each other. The Lunas stout defense held tough throughout the first half and by halftime had built a 14-0 advantage. Spirits were high all around the room. Even the staff members were enjoying the game and just as excited, as most of them were former alumni and boarders themselves.
Peter was loving the atmosphere. He and Kaila got up and stretched their legs during the intermission. They helped themselves to some snacks and soda that were laid out on a table.
“Man, this is great,” he said. “I’ve never been a part of something like this before. I think they might actually win and get to the title game!”
Kaila nodded in agreement while she stuffed some chips in her mouth. “Oh I know! Isn’t it great? Seeing them on TV too! They did good like this the last two years, but they didn’t make it to the title game in Oahu. They lost both times in the second round. That’s why everyone is so excited this year. Everyone thinks this is their best team ever!”
“That’s pretty cool,” Peter asserted. “They are pretty tough, that’s for sure. I bet Nanakuli doesn’t even score.” They walked back over to the dart board. “Wanta play some until the game comes back on?”
Kaila beamed at him. He didn’t even have to ask. She loved their pastime of playing darts together. All the other people in the lounge just sat or stood around visiting with one another during halftime. They had the dart board area to themselves. He stood at the line and she sidled up next to him with her shoulder touching his. She loved being close to him this way. He loved it too and smiled as he took in her lovely natural scent. He sighed heavily and paused throwing the first dart, adoring every second of her being so close to him.
“I’m glad you’re staying next week,” she whispered to him.
“Me too,” he whispered back. He was dying to kiss her right then and there. She could sense his yearning as she wanted to kiss him just as much. But they resisted.
They played a few more rounds of darts together then went and took their seats again over by the TV. Whoops and hollers rang out inside the lounge as the Lunas took the field. As they watched the game, Peter reached over and held Kaila’s hand in her lap. When the team scored, everyone leaped for joy in the room. Kaila and Peter didn’t miss the chance to give each other a long-lasting hug with each score. As the clock ran down in the final quarter, everyone in the room counted along with it all the way down to zero. When the horn sounded on the TV, the entire room erupted in cheers once again as the Lunas had triumphed over Nanakuli 28-0. Kaila hugged Peter tightly and even snuck in a quick kiss during the wild celebration. The Lunas had finally done it. They had advanced to the state championship game in Oahu.
Peter sat behind Kaila on her scooter as they rode down Honoapiilani Highway slowly. Up and down the boulevard car horns blew in celebration as the whole west side of Maui had learned of the Lunas big win.
“This is awesome!” Peter yelled out, laughing at the same time.
Kaila pumped her fist in the air as cars passed by. “Woohoo! Go Lunas!” she yelled. She beeped the little horn on her scooter as well as they rode on.
She pulled down a side street that led to Front Street in Lahaina and found a parallel parking space along the seawall. “Let’s walk down here for a while, check out the crowds.”
“Sounds good,” Peter agreed.
They walked along the seawall of Lahaina on Front Street. The shops that lined the street were all open and buzzing with shoppers in and out. An occasional horn blew, still celebrating the Lunas victory as the cars rolled down the busy street. The sun was setting over the water and the islands in the distance. And Kaila and Peter slowly walked hand in hand down the sidewalk.
“This is a cool little town,” Peter said. “Kinda reminds me of Kona. But this place is a lot more festive. I like it.”
“Yeah, I love it down here,” Kaila answered. “I never get tired of it. I’ve never seen Kona. You’ll have to show me someday. I heard about the tsunami though last year. Ruined a lot of shops in Kona, right?”
Peter nodded and said, “Yeah, that was bad. One of the resorts that my dad does landscaping for part-time was damaged a lot. It had these cottages that were lifted right off the ground and moved by the waves.”
“Geez, that is scary. Those alarms are so loud. They scare me to death.”
“Yeah, we heard them that day,” Peter continued. “But where I live we are way up high. It came in during the night too. One shop had surveillance video inside their store in Kona showing the waves coming in and fish flopping around inside. It was bizarre.”
“It’s just awful,” Kaila said, grimacing. “But those poor people in Japan, oh my gosh. We were lucky here compared to that.”
“Yeah, no doubt. That was intensely bad. I hope it never happens again.” They stopped on a corner next to an ice cream shop. “Hey, let’s celebrate the big win. My treat.”
“Mmmm,” Kaila answered. “You took the words right outta my mouth.”
He treated her to a scoop and they sat on the wall in front of the historic Baldwin home to eat their ice cream. They sat and watched the tourists and cars pass by.
“Mmm, this is good chocolate macadamia nut,” Peter sighed as he ate his ice cream.
Kaila had gotten a cone for hers. “I’m trying Kona Coffee flavor in your mom’s honor.”
Peter laughed at her. “Haha, she would approve of that. Well how is it?”
“It’s delicious!” She took another lick and offered it to him. “Not bad, huh?”
“Yeah, pretty good,” Peter concurred. “Here, try this one.”
He fed her a bite of his ice cream as she smiled sweetly at him. “Mmmm, creamy. I love it. Two good choices.”
Peter laughed and nudged her with his shoulder. “Yeah!”
“Can you imagine this place a few weeks ago for the Halloween street festival?” Kaila asked, licking her lips.
“Pretty crazy, huh? I heard about it.”
Kaila pursed her upper lip and responded, “Yeah, they said like over twenty thousand people were down here. Too bad we couldn’t come. Kari wanted to do the keiki parade with her costume but my aunt didn’t want to fool with the crowds.”
“Yeah, I don’t blame her,” Peter said, nodding. “Probably some crazies down here too.”
They took their ice cream and walked some more along the small grassy lawn behind the town library. They reached the corner of the wall overlooking the water. Peter stared down at a flat, slanted rock that rose just out of the water near the edge.
Kaila noticed what he was staring at. “That’s called a birthing stone. Royals from the monarchy way back when would use it when a pregnant woman was in labor. Brought good luck or something. I think women wanting to get pregnant would come sit on it for good luck too, or thinking it made them fertile.”
“Pretty cool,” Peter said. “Don’t jump down there just yet though.” He chuckled at his own wit.
“Oh get outta here!” Kaila smirked, and slapped him on the shoulder. “You get to run behind me just for that. Up the mountain!” Peter could not stop laughing as they walked back towards the busy street.
Thanksgiving week the boarders, as well as the rest of the school, had the week off. After all cleaning activities were done the boarders were dismissed from the dorms for the duration of the break. Some went back to their homes on other islands. Others stayed at homes of relatives or friends on Maui.
But even though school was out, anticipation for the big championship game that coming Friday was riding high all over the west side of Maui and much of the island itself. It would truly be a historic event if the Lunas could somehow pull off the upset. Lahainaluna would be facing a tough foe in the highly favored ‘Iolani Raiders from Oahu. Not only were the Raiders heavily favored, but they had won six of the last seven state championships, including the last five in a row. The Lunas were trying to win their very first football title in school history. On Thanksgiving night, the students and people of Lahaina, and the island of Maui as well, would send the boys’ football team on a great send-off for their journey to Oahu and perhaps history.
But before then, Kaila and Peter had an entire week to take advantage of and spend lots of quality time together. And take advantage they did. Vince did not seem to mind Peter taking off each day with Kaila on her scooter. Peter did stick around as much as he could beforehand, helping Vince with his small chores around the yard and his parent’s house. He did not want to be a rude guest to them. So he did do his share in helping Vince before Kaila came by to pick him up each day.
As planned, the two ventured out all around the island and not just on the west side. She showed him the middle portion or the valley of the isle. They went to the campus of Hawaii Maui College and the nearby natural wonder called the ‘Iao Needle. They hiked together around its lush and dense rainforest valley and even had a picnic on the grounds during midday.
They spent time on the south beaches of Wailea and Makena. And they hiked the short trail that meandered over the high-rising cliff that rested between Little Beach and Big Beach, with its expansive views of the South Maui coastline as well as Molokini and Kahoolawe.
She explained the significance of each location as it pertained to Hawaiian culture and to recent history. Molokini was a half-moon shaped volcanic crater that rose above the ocean surface hundreds of feet. It rested in the channel between Maui and Kahoolawe. Tour boats would take divers and snorkelers out to the crater each day to dive and swim around the lush underwater reef that was teeming with tropical fish and vegetation all around the small island.
Peter was fascinated with her vast knowledge of the area and though he knew of many of these locations, he had no idea there were so many other interesting facts about them as well. For instance, he knew that Kahoolawe was uninhabited and was used by the military during World War II as a practice targeting range. However he did not know about the concentrated effort currently underway to rehabilitate the island’s fragile ecosystem and plant-life. Years of bombing left the island devastated and nearly barren. Its particular location, along with the island of Lanai, left both islands very dry most of the year. So that made efforts to spawn new growth even harder for volunteers dedicated to preserving the island. A small group of volunteers, given special permission by the state, would travel by boat to help recover old, unexploded ordnance or used shell casings all around the island. They would also take delicate care of what little vegetation remained and try to encourage the plant life to spread in areas wherever possible.
As they ventured higher upon the slopes of Haleakala, the tallest and most prominent peak on Maui, their vantage point of these islands became more incredible. In fact the view from the western side of the volcano, or Upcountry, was nothing less than spectacular. One could see the lush green slopes all around the vast mountain and all the way down to the valley floor where the majority of the businesses, towns and neighborhoods were. Further out towards the south you could see all four of the nearby islands, Kahoolawe, Molokini Crater, Lanai, and Molokai, with the impressive West Maui coastline in the foreground.
They stopped along the lazy country road and sat in some nearby grass to rest. They sat next to one another, taking in the incredible view. The slopes of the Upcountry were quaint, and basic farmland, but amazing at the same time with the stunning view of the valley below.
Peter shook his head in amazement and said, “Unbelievable. Been here since August and I had no idea there were places like this on Maui. This is amazing.”
“Isn’t it though?” Kaila said warmly. “Each island is so unique. But this one I just love. After growing up on Oahu and then I came here, I was just stunned by all this. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Peter nodded approvingly. “I definitely agree with that. I don’t either.” He hugged her closely and kissed the side of her head. “I grew up with big fancy views on the Big Island, but this… this is something. It’s like you can see half the state from here. It’s incredible.”
Kaila piped up, “They say on really clear days on the Hana side, you can see the Big Island way off in the distance. I’d like to drive you over there on the Hana Highway, but my scooter wouldn’t make it. I’d really love to take you all the way to the top of Haleakala, but again, my scooter would just die.”
“Yeah, I heard the Hana Highway is really windy and steep in some places. Bet it’s cool though. And here in the Upcountry too. How high is the volcano anyway?”
“Just over 10,000 feet,” Kaila answered. “Not near as tall as the one where you live. What’s it called?”
“Mauna Kea,” Peter said. “You can ski up there, ha ha.” Kaila chuckled at him. “Ski in the morning, then head down to the beach for a mai tai at sunset.”
“Now you’re talking!” Kaila exclaimed. She stretched her arms out and breathed a heavy sigh. “This is the best Thanksgiving break ever.” Peter leaned over and kissed her. She knew what his response would be to that and she did not mind at all. “Now, you are going to come over for pie tomorrow right? Tell Vince he’s welcome too.”
“Absolutely,” Peter said. “Wouldn’t miss it. And Vince wouldn’t miss an opportunity for another piece of pie any old day. Then we can watch the send-off for the team later on.”
“Yeah,” Kaila said, remembering. “I almost forgot! That’s going to be exciting.” She stared out towards the ocean and started thinking about her writing assignment. “They are almost here.”
“The whales,” she said matter-of-factly. “Pretty soon they will start showing up all around Maui. But mostly on our side. We’ll see them all the time.”
“Yeah, that’s cool,” Peter agreed. “You don’t see them too much where I live. Should be neat. Have you ever gone out to see them on a whale-watch tour?”
“I wish,” Kaila retorted. “Are you kidding? Costs way too much. But oh would I love to…” She trailed off as she gazed out to sea once again. After a moment she shook off the daydreaming from her mind and got to her feet. “We better start heading back down. It gets cool up here after sundown and I don’t have a jacket.”
They stood with their arms around one another for a while longer watching the incredible sunset. She hugged him tightly and then skipped over to her scooter and tossed him his helmet. “Hop on, partner! Let’s ride!”
“All right!” Peter called out. “Let’s ride this hog!” They rode all the way down the long and lazy road, all the while with the amazing sunset in view.
All during the next day, Peter and Kaila sent each other instant messages online, wishing each other Happy Thanksgiving and making plans for later in the day. Peter sat in the den at Vince’s house and read another note from Kaila on his phone.
Don’t forget. We’ll watch the send-off parade near my house. Lahainaluna Road near the lei stand.
He tapped away on his phone to fire off a response.
Oh I won’t forget babe! Missing you today.
His phone bleeped quickly with her reply.
I miss you too. When are you coming?
Just waiting on Vince and we’ll be over.
Vince came wandering into the den. “Who’s winning the game?” he asked, staring at the TV.
Peter had not even been paying attention to the football on TV. He just shook his head and answered, “I don’t know. Who’s playing?”
“Man you’ve got it bad, don’t you?” Vince said bluntly. “You got your head way up in the clouds.”
Peter chuckled and said, “Whatever man. We’re just instant messaging.”
“It’s true. I bet you don’t even know the TV is on, ha ha!” Vince propped his feet up on the sofa. “Instant messaging? I thought you two just texted.”
Peter shrugged his shoulders. “Sometimes we text, sometimes we IM. Same thing. Just whatever we feel like using. You still coming with me over to her aunt and uncle’s right? Then the send-off?”
“Sure,” Vince answered. “As long as pie is involved. The other guys from the dorm will be there too on the street.”
They sat for a while longer watching the football game on TV before they headed over to Kaila’s aunt and uncle’s house. When they arrived there were several of Kaila’s relatives there as well, along with Kari and Leilani. Vince was always happy to see Leilani since he had a longstanding crush on her. In his mind there were several “goddesses of the island” and Leilani ranked near the top. He frowned though when he saw that Koni Boy was there too.
Kaila gave both Peter and Vince a hug as they walked up the driveway. Everyone was outside sitting on lawn chairs and picnic tables. All sorts of food and beverages were spread on the tables and music was playing through a window from inside the house.
“Hey guys! Glad you made it!” she said happily. “Peter, you remember my Uncle Kahauolupea?”
Peter reached out and shook the large man’s hand and said, “Aloha, sir. Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for having us.”
Vince did the same, saying, “Aloha. I’m Vince. Nice to meet you, Mr. Alapai.”
“Likewise,” he said. “Aloha! Call me Lupe. Welcome. Help yourselves to some food. My wife Nani is seated over there.”
“Thank you!” Peter said. He gestured towards Lupe’s wife. “Hello Mrs. Alapai.” She gestured politely, but said nothing. She was even more quiet and observant than her husband was. Peter was not sure if she liked him or not.
“Hey, why did you stop instant messaging me earlier?” Kaila asked Peter.
“Oh,” he answered. “Sorry, I meant to tell you. It kicked me out. I couldn’t get logged back in right away. I got some email saying my password needed to be changed.”
“Oh, I see. I wonder why?” Kaila said.
Nani continued to observe the scene in her yard. She frowned even more at Koni Boy laughing and carrying on amongst a small group of people including Leilani. He broke away from them when he noticed Peter and Vince. Nani watched him closely as he casually walked up to them.
“Hey guys, what’s happening?” Koni Boy said very coolly. “It’s the big man himself.” He gave Peter a slap on the shoulder and abruptly turned around and went back to his group conversation.
“Whatever,” Peter grunted under his breath.
Vince leaned over and asked Peter, “What’s that douchebag doing here?”
“You know him too, huh?” Peter answered. “He’s with Leilani I guess. He’s a moron.”
Vince shook his head in disgust. “Geez man, she could do a zillion times better than that jerk. Now I’ve lost my appetite.”
“Ha ha,” Peter laughed. “Give it five minutes.”
They went over to the refreshment table with Kaila and helped themselves to some sodas and fresh pumpkin pie. They sat together at one of the picnic tables in the front yard.
Vince sunk his teeth into a big bite of pie. “Mmmm, best second dessert I’ve had all day.”
Kaila laughed as she took a bite too. “Ha ha, yeah I love Nani’s pies.” Her aunt came walking over to the table. “Delicious, Aunt Nani!”
“Thank you,” Nani said cordially.
Peter stood to introduce himself. “I’m Peter Lane, thank you for having us. This is great pie.”
“You’re welcome. I’m glad you like it. Enjoy yourselves.” She was definitely a woman of few words as well, yet polite and hospitable. She went back to her lawn chair.
Peter sat back down and asked Kaila, “Hey, did you talk to your mom today?”
“Yeah,” Kaila answered. “Right before you got here. She’s fine but I get the feeling she is by herself. I wish she could be here. Did you call your parents?”
Peter took a swig of soda. “Yeah. Mom was cooking. My dad said they watched the game last week. Said they’ll watch the championship tomorrow too.” He wiped his mouth with a napkin. “Kinda weird not being there.”
Kaila stared at her plate for a moment. “Yeah, I know.”
As the sun began to go down, people started to gather on Lahainaluna Road a couple blocks away for the send-off parade. The kids helped Kaila’s aunt and uncle clear the food and tables from the front yard and even helped in the kitchen before they headed that way too.
Koni Boy came up to Peter and Kaila and put his arms around both of them, saying, “Headed down there, guys? By the lei stand, right? Ha ha, see you there.”
Perplexed, Peter looked at Kaila and asked, “How’d he know that? Man, that guy bugs me.”
Kaila shook her head. “I dunno. I guess Leilani told him. Let’s get down there. The coach buses are already at the school.”
They walked down the already crowded road. Students, parents, former alumni and many others lined the street, holding banners and signs. Some had red banners that read ‘Go Lunas!’ on them and others had large handwritten signs wishing them good luck and others saying ‘Take State!’ They made it down to the part of the road where there was a portable stand selling lei’s on certain occasions like graduation day. It held a good vantage point to watch the parade coming down the mountain. The sun was down and the crowd grew more eager in anticipation of the team to pass by on their way to the Kahului airport. It was truly a festive atmosphere. The crowd began to cheer when they heard the initial sounding of the police siren way up the hill.
“Wow, this is really cool!” Peter exclaimed. Suddenly he heard a voice behind him.
“Hey Peter, how’s it hangin’ dude?” Peter whipped around to find Jeff standing right behind him. He looked at him crazily. Why in the world would he be here? he thought. Why would he care? Peter just ignored him though as the first flashing lights appeared on the crest of the hill.
The crowd roared as the first police car passed, followed by a fire engine flashing its lights and blaring its horn. People cheered and shouted loudly as the buses approached carrying the team. Horns honked and sirens were on full blast as two more police cruisers passed. Then the crowd cheered even more wildly as the buses finally passed by. Peter, Kaila, Vince and everyone else around them screamed at the top of their lungs, cheering them on as the team went by in shiny, silver coaches. “Go Lunas!!” they all screamed and kept cheering like crazy. It was a tremendous display of school pride and revelry. Peter could not believe he was present to witness such a fun and rare event on the island.
As the last police escort passed by, the entire street let out one last cheer in celebration. As people got back into their cars to leave, the horn honking and cheering continued all around the area and around Lahaina. The school and the town were ready for the big event. The team was on its way with a grand send-off to the airport for the short flight to Oahu where they would try to make school history the following day.
It was a warm and mostly sunny afternoon in Aloha Stadium on Oahu when the Lahainaluna Lunas took the field in the state championship against the ‘Iolani Raiders. The stands were nearly filled on both sides of the stadium. The forecast called for scattered showers, which was typical on Oahu, but otherwise it was a perfect Hawaiian afternoon for some football. The fans wore their respective colors throughout the stands with Raider fans in their dark blue and white and Luna fans in their signature red.
On TV the scene looked even more surreal to the Lahainaluna faithful back on Maui who were all gathered at an outdoor viewing party. The large gathering cheered loudly as their team ran onto the artificial turf of Aloha Stadium for the opening kickoff. Comments ranged from ‘let’s win it guys!’ from the men and ladies speaking their approval of how nice the players looked in their white jerseys and reddish orange pants and matching helmets. One could hear a person even saying how they did not care for the dark blue uniforms the Raiders were wearing.
Peter sat next to Kaila and Taney in the crowd and watched the game being projected on an outdoor screen. “This is so cool. I can’t begin to tell you,” Peter said. “Look at all the people.”
“Yeah, it’s amazing!” Kaila concurred.
The crowd of people watched anxiously as ‘Iolani took control of the game early. The fans collectively groaned as they scored the first touchdown of the game and took an early 7-0 lead. The crowd became even more tense as they scored yet again and added a two-point conversion to go up 15-0. The mood had quickly turned sour amongst the crowd in thinking this could be a long day for their team.
“Oh man, this is making my stomach churn,” Taney moaned. “I think I need some Tums.”
“Ah, they just look nervous,” Peter said. “They’ll turn it around. They hardly allowed any points this season.”
As if right on cue, the Lunas defense did begin to put the clamps on the high-flying Raider offense. They held for a punt, then promptly put their offense in gear and marched sixty-five yards, capping the drive with a nifty long touchdown run by the quarterback. The crowd leapt to its feet in jubilation as the Lunas finally got on the board, pulling them to within eight points, 15-7.
“That’s what I’m talking about!” Peter yelled. He was very much into the game, as was everyone else. High-fives went flying all around the excited crowd.
Once again the Lunas defense held the Raiders to another punt and quickly took the next possession all the way down and scored again on a long pass. The crowd on TV and in the viewing party went crazy as the Lunas made it 15-14.
“Oh, I’m feeling better now!” Taney laughed as she clapped for her team.
“Oh man, that was a freaking great play!” Kaila shouted. “I feel better too!”
However, the Raiders put together their own impressive drive right before halftime. The teams went to the locker rooms for the break with the score 22-14. Although they fell behind early, the Lunas proved they were up to the task against the Raiders and made an exciting game out of it.
The people watching the contest got up and stretched their legs and talked and mingled with one another. Peter nodded in satisfaction that they were clearly in it.
“Wow, they did good in coming back there,” he said. “All they need to do is make some adjustments in the locker room and I bet they can beat these guys. Our quarterback is awesome.”
“He’s also cute as he can be too,” Taney added.
Kaila shook her head and laughed, “You think the whole team is cute!”
“It’s true. I do.” Taney chuckled.
“Anybody want some bottled water?” Peter asked. “I’ll go get us some.”
“Sure,” both girls said.
Kaila and Taney both watched as he went over to some ice chests to get some water for them. He high-fived his friends from the dorm and they talked about the first half together.
Taney looked over at Kaila and said, “He loves you, you know that don’t you?” Kaila did not answer. She just kept watching him with soft eyes, loving everything about him. “I can see it in his eyes when he looks at you.”
“I know,” Kaila finally said. “It’s pretty scary too, I have to admit. Just something about him though. I can’t explain it. I just feel so at ease with him.”
“Have you talked to him about after graduation?” Taney asked, a hint of concern in her voice. “I mean, what he’s gonna do?”
“A little bit. I wouldn’t worry about it.”
“I bet your mama and your aunt will though,” Taney continued. “He probably hasn’t even thought about college. I know guys like that.”
Kaila began to get annoyed. “Don’t worry about it, Taney.”
“I’m just sayin,’” she pressed.
“He and I will cross that bridge when we have to,” Kaila assured her. Peter came back carrying three water bottles. He could see the discouraged look on Kaila’s face.
“Here you go,” he said. “Everything OK?”
“Yeah, I’m good. Thank you.” She gave him a light kiss on his lips. “Third quarter is about to start.”
The game resumed and the crowd’s excitement grew yet again to a fever pitch. It became a tough and exciting see-saw battle in the third quarter. As soon as the Lunas would pull within a point, the Raiders would answer with another score. It went back and forth this way on into the fourth quarter. The crowd became tense as the final stanza ticked down and the Raiders held a 29-20 lead. The Lunas became hampered by some costly turnovers, but then their defense created one of their own. However they found themselves deep in their own territory. But with great determination and fortitude, they meticulously drove the length of the field in one of the game’s most impressive drives. With eleven minutes remaining, they scored on a sensational run from nineteen yards out, pulling within two points, 29-27. The stadium went crazy as no one knew how the game was going to turn out.
The Raiders got the ball back and appeared to be taking control on offense. But then the Lunas made a big stop and forced them to punt once again. The Lunas immediately began to march down the field like a well-oiled machine.
“Oh my God!” Kaila said breathlessly, “I think they are gonna do it! All we need is a field goal and we have the lead!”
“This is crazy good,” Taney laughed nervously. “I can’t believe this!”
The Raider defense did their best to slow them down, but the Lunas crept closer and closer to the goal line with each play. With less than eight minutes on the clock, the tension was thick in the stands and in the crowd watching on TV. The crowd quieted down and sat on pins and needles as the next play was run from the two-yard line. Amazingly, the stout running back plunged over the goal line in stunning fashion. The crowds erupted with glee as the Lunas took their first lead of the game, 33-29. Fans were in hysterics, shouting for joy and jumping up and down. It was an incredible comeback and the Lunas only had to hold on for just over seven minutes before they could finally celebrate.
However, seven minutes is a long time in football. After another heroic stop by the Lunas, the game appeared to be in their hands as they took over near their own twenty-yard line. However a miscue on offense suddenly turned the ball back over to the Raiders with only two minutes remaining. The Lunas fans groaned in agony as they watched helplessly.
“Come on defense!” Peter yelled. “You gotta stop ‘em!”
Everyone was yelling for the defense to hold them tight. The Raider quarterback calmly called out the play over the crowd noise, he dropped back to pass, and in one play, threw a perfect strike covering twenty-six yards to score a touchdown. With that, the air went out of stadium and all over Maui like a huge balloon being punctured. In one play, the Raiders had regained the lead, 36-33.
Peter, Kaila, Taney and the whole crowd sat there stunned and quiet as they watched their team mope to the sidelines to prepare for the kickoff. Less than two minutes remained and it seemed like a daunting task to once again try and march down the field for yet another score after taking the lead only moments before in thrilling fashion.
With time running out, the Lunas took the kickoff and began to frantically drive down the field. As they neared midfield, the crowd became hysterical once again. Could they actually drive down and tie, or even win the game before time expired?
“Oh God, I can’t watch,” Taney gulped nervously.
The seconds ticked away. With each gain, with each play, the crowd sensed that one last comeback drive was almost inevitable. It was as if the football gods were with the Lunas. They effortlessly and efficiently drove the ball inside Raider territory. The tension in the crowd on TV and at home was incredible. One could slice it in the air with a knife. Everyone was standing on their feet as the Lunas continued their final drive.
They needed to get closer to possibly attempt a field goal and send the game to overtime. They had miraculously moved all the way to the Raiders’ thirty-four-yard line, but were still too far to attempt a field goal. So, with less than thirty seconds to play, the quarterback dropped back to pass, looked in all directions, then found a man down the middle and heaved the ball towards him. In a flash, the ball went sailing too high over the receiver’s outstretched hands and a defender came diving in behind him. He snatched the ball away before it hit the ground, making a lunging grab. The Luna faithful’s cheers silenced almost immediately as the defender rolled on the ground clutching the ball in his hands with a clean interception.
“Noooo!!!” yelled the crowd watching on the screen. Everyone was stunned as the referee signaled it was the Raiders’ ball. The interception was made all the way down on the nineteen-yard line.
The Raider fans at the stadium cheered wildly and players mobbed their teammate who made the incredible catch to seal the victory. The offense took the victory stance for the final play and the quarterback took a knee to run out the clock. Fans cheered wildly as the Luna fans stood quietly shocked, dumbfounded.
The ‘Iolani Raiders had triumphed and won their sixth straight state title, 36-33. Despite the bitter loss for the Lunas, it was an incredible game for both sides and a hard fought victory for the Raiders. It was one that they certainly had to earn.
Kaila stood there speechless, as did Taney and Peter. They were not the only ones. The entire crowd was astonished by the heartbreaking outcome to the game that ended in a frantic fury. Some stood and shook their head at the screen, others smiled in stunned disbelief.
“I think I’m going to cry,” Taney finally said.
“I can’t believe it,” Kaila echoed. “They were so close! I feel so bad for the seniors in our class that played. Oh this sucks!”
Peter stood shaking his head as well. “Wow, what a game. Those guys lucked out. I just knew we had at least a field goal coming. Man that sucks. But what a drive there at the end. People will be talking about this one for a long time to come.”
It was true. It was truly a heartbreaking loss for the Lahainaluna Lunas. But it was a hard fought victory for ‘Iolani and the Luna players congratulated them on the field as an excellent display of sportsmanship. Coaches from both sides commended the players for an outstanding game. It was one that most football experts had chalked up as to being a lopsided affair leading up to the game. But the Lunas proved them all incorrect in putting up a tough challenge. They held their heads high despite the disappointing loss and brought home the runner-up trophy to commemorate one of the most memorable seasons in school history. The Lunas had lost but could only look forward to next year in hopes of returning to the state title game.
As the days neared the Christmas break, Peter and Kaila prepared for what they knew would be a long time before they would see each other again. Peter would be going home to the Big Island to spend the holiday with his family and Kaila would be spending one week in Maui and the remainder in Oahu with her mother. It would be weeks without each other, but at least they would still be able to stay in contact via phone, email and instant message.
Leilanai had saved enough money to pay for her and Kari’s flight to visit their mom and Uncle Lupe was gracious enough to pay for Kaila’s ticket so she could go too. He knew what it meant to his sister to be able to see her three daughters at Christmas even though she could not afford to fly them over.
It was mid-December and the students were finishing up exams and getting ready to break for the holidays. It was the day before Peter was to fly out for the long break. He was doing chores out on the school grounds and Kaila was working in the school office. She was filing papers when she peered out the window to see Peter gathering palm fronds on the ground to cart them off. She watched him as he worked steadily and with dedication. A feeling of warmth cascaded over her as she watched. She loved him even more as each day passed. Although both of their futures were uncertain with graduation only months away, she knew she wanted to be a part of his life. All she could feel was a tremendous pull towards him that nothing or no one could impart. All she knew was it was there to stay and that she loved him deeply.
After she was done filing she went outside in the warm breeze. She looked for him in hopes he would almost be done with his chores as well. Like clockwork, Peter came rounding the corner towards the dorms. She smiled broadly as he approached. She was wanting to kiss him the instant she saw him but held back as they were at school.
“Hey there, handsome man,” she said sweetly.
Peter smiled lovingly back at her and answered, “Hi baby. I was hoping I would see you.”
That was music to her ears. She was hoping the same thing. “Oh yeah? Me too. I was watching you from the window this morning. Looks like you got a workout.”
“Yeah, I don’t mind. Good for the soul. Hey, what are you doing after we do the Christmas choir thing down at the mall?”
Kaila shrugged and said, “I dunno. What’d you have in mind? I’m up for anything since you are leaving tomorrow.”
“I have a surprise for you that I want to show you afterwards,” Peter said, smiling deviously. “Right down by the Banyan Tree Square in town. We can leave from the mall.”
“Oooo!” Kaila exclaimed. “I like the sound of that. I can’t wait!” She wanted to grab him and plant a huge kiss on his lips, but she behaved. “I have to say I’ve never really liked surprises, but for some reason with you I don’t mind.”
“Oh you don’t?”
“Well, it’s just the way things have been growing up,” she began. “I never liked them because not all surprises are good surprises. Like with my mom and stuff.”
“Well, I promise. This is a good one,” Peter assured her.
“Good!” Kaila said cheerfully. “I’m all in with you. Do your worst, Mr. Lane!”
The boarder’s choir all assembled at the Cannery Mall to put on an outdoor Christmas concert for shoppers and holiday revelers. All of them dressed in matching red shirts and dark pants. A small crowd gathered in front of the mall to watch them sing many well-known Christmas favorites. By now the boarders had been singing together for several months so the choir sounded wonderful and Mrs. Song was extremely pleased with them. The crowd clapped politely after ever number they sang.
Soon the short concert was over and the students were dismissed for the afternoon. Kaila and Peter immediately jumped on her scooter and headed for the square in downtown Lahaina.
“Let’s get a space where you can leave it for a couple hours,” Peter suggested.
“Hmmm, you definitely have my curiosity,” she yelled back to him. “I’ll find a space in the lot on Prison Street.”
She parked her scooter and they headed towards the big banyan tree in the square. They walked under the large tree towards the back right corner near the Pioneer Inn.
“Where in the world are you taking me?” she wondered aloud.
“You’ll see,” Peter answered as he led her across the square.
Behind the old courthouse and the Pioneer Inn was a small marina mainly used by local businesses running ferries to and from Lanai and Molokai. But there were also local vendors that offered various outings on the water such as snorkeling and scuba trips, dinner cruises and last, but not least, whale watching expeditions.
Peter stopped short of the marina and looked down the sea wall at all the various kiosks for each business. He read them all, looking for the one they were going on.
“Oh my gosh!” Kaila burst out. “Are we going out on the water?”
Peter smiled from ear to ear. “Yep!” He found the attendant house he was looking for and approached it. “I have tickets for the 1:30 trip, please. Under Peter Lane.”
The attendant at the desk handed him the tickets saying, “Aloha. Here you go. Thanks for sailing with us. Boarding starts in ten minutes.”
Kaila began jumping up and down in excitement just like a little kid. “We’re going on a whale-watching trip? Oh my gosh, Peter! You are the sweetest!! This is so great, I can’t believe it!” She hugged his neck tightly and gave him lots of kisses. “Oh man, this is definitely a good surprise, ha ha!”
They went and stood in the line for boarding. “I figured you’d like that. I’ve never been either so I’m looking forward to it. I called ahead and they said lots of them are out there now. Besides, I wanted to do something nice for you, for us, for Christmas.”
“It’s a perfect Christmas gift. Thank you!” she kissed him again. She did not care if people were around. “But didn’t it cost you a lot?”
He shrugged modestly. “Nah, I’ve been saving for a long time. From helping my dad on some landscaping jobs and with my mom at the coffee plantation.”
“You are just the sweetest. I love you, Peter.”
He put his arm around her as they boarded the large vessel for their harbor cruise and said warmly to her, “I love you, too.”
Soon, the large boat was full of passengers eager to see the humpback whales up closely. The boat pushed back from the pier and then slowly maneuvered around before it headed out to sea. Kaila and Peter stood along the rails as did many of the other tourists.
The breeze flowed through her hair as she laughed out loud. “Ha ha! I feel like a tourist!” She felt around in her back pocket and produced her smartphone. “And thank God I have my phone to take pictures! Come here, let’s take one now.” Peter stood next to her with his arm around her and she held her phone out in front of them and snapped a selfie. She kissed him on the cheek. “Our first photo together. I love it.” She cradled the phone in the shadow of her arm to look at the picture she had just taken.
“No, the first one was down at Napili Beach,” Peter reminded her. “With that old couple.”
“Oh that’s right,” Kaila said, recalling the day. “Gosh I wish we had that one too. I bet we look cute!”
“Of course we do!” Peter said. He peered out over the water and began looking for any sign of whales as they ventured further out. “Let’s keep a sharp eye out.” Kaila put her phone away and watched with him.
Within minutes the captain of the ship announced a sighting on the port side opposite of where Peter and Kaila were. A lot of commotion could be heard from that side as it was obvious they had spotted something.
Kaila shrieked and grabbed Peter by the hand. “Come on! They are over here!”
They quickly ran to the other side of the ship and luckily found a place along the railing again. For a moment they could not see anything in the dark blue waters. Kaila looked everywhere, frantically trying to see what everyone else was looking at. Suddenly a tremendous humpback whale emerged on the surface alongside the ship right underneath where Kaila and Peter were standing. The huge mammal slowly swam alongside, as if being curious of the people onboard. They could see the large hump rise above the water and one could nearly see its entire length. Its exposed body was long and slender with large dimples around its face. Small barnacles flanked its side in little patches, but otherwise the whale had rubbery smooth hide.
“Augh!! There he is!” Kaila shouted. They both leaned out and looked at the large whale in astonishment.
“Oh man, it’s huge!!” Peter exclaimed.
The whale let out a loud burst of air from its blowhole as it swam by, startling the passengers. Kaila laughed in delight. “Ha ha! Look at him!” Suddenly another whale appeared a few yards out from the other one. It quickly went under after taking a breath of air and its enormous tail lifted high in the air as it dove. Cameras started clicking and the crowd gasped in awe and oohed and ahed at the amazing site.
“Oh my gosh, my camera! What am I thinking?” Kaila shrieked. “Ha ha, I’m so excited I nearly forgot.” She quickly handed it to Peter. “Here quick, you’re better at this than me.” He took the phone and got it ready for another opportunity. Soon whales were surfacing all around the ship. “This is incredible! Who knew there were so many? And look how docile they are.”
There were smaller boats in the area giving private tours to smaller groups of people as well. Peter noticed a whale swimming directly towards the small craft. “Whoa, check that out!” he said, pointing towards the boat. Several people watched in astonishment as the large whale swam towards the small boat and disappeared underneath and then resurfaced on the other side of the boat. “Wow, I bet those people are freakin’ out, ha ha! They got a really close look.”
“Oh man, I wanta jump out and swim with them, ha ha!” Kaila said. “They are so big!”
They walked from side to side to get the best viewing spot as the ship trawled around in the channel. The boat never left the area between Maui and Lanai as it was the best spot to view them. The channel was a perfect sanctuary for the whales during the winter months as they were surrounded by islands on every side. As the tour continued, Kaila and Peter soon learned from the captain that the whales will not eat the entire time they are in Hawaii. They only will give birth to their young during this time and will not eat until they migrate north to the shores off Canada and Alaska the coming spring.
Kaila watched the whales in astonishment. She had lived in Oahu and Maui all her life but had never seen the humpback whales this close up and personal before. She was in complete awe of them. “Wow,” she said. “I had no idea there were so many! You even see little ones. I wonder how old some of these calves are. They were probably born here!”
“Yeah, who knows?” Peter commented. “Could be days or weeks. I’m getting some good shots with your phone too.”
“Great! Thank you.” She curled her arm inside his and kissed him on the cheek as they continued to watch.
Without warning, one of the captain’s crewmembers shouted from the upper deck, “Thar she blows! Full breach! Starboard side!”
Peter and Kaila were on the right side this time. They quickly looked in the direction he was pointing to witness a whale soar out of the water into the air and slowly fall on its back with a tremendous splash. Its massive fins extended outward on either side and made equally impressive slaps on the water as the giant whale gracefully flopped on its back.
“Whoa!” the entire boatload of people shouted.
“I got it!” Peter shouted. “I got a shot of it!”
“That was amazing!!” Kaila exclaimed excitedly as well. “This is so freaking cool!” They stared at each other in disbelief. “Oh man, Peter. I am never going to forget this day.”
“Ha ha! Me neither!” Peter answered. “I’ve never seen anything like it. And I’ve lived here all my life.”
Soon another whale emerged adjacent to the ship and again Kaila and Peter were in perfect position to see it. Peter snapped photos of the great mammal as it passed underneath them along the surface.
“That is so close. I could almost reach out and touch her,” Kaila said.
“Oh wow, I saw its eyes. She was looking right at us! Did you see that?” He showed her the photo on her smartphone. “You can see it in the picture too. I think she smiled at us.”
“Ha ha! Yes! I see it!” she cried out as she threw her arms around him. “You know, this is going to help me so much on my paper. I can’t begin to tell you. I am loving this! Thank you! Thank you!” They turned their attention to one another for a moment as he took her in his arms and passionately kissed her.
“Yes, your paper is another reason why I thought this would be good. I’m loving this too,” he said softly. “Every minute of it. Especially you. I am so in love with you.”
“I love you too, Peter! So much.” She kissed him softly again and they embraced each other close.
The captain announced they must start heading back to the port as their time was up. The crowd groaned but at least they were treated to a wonderful display of nature. People stayed glued to the railings as the boat inched closer to Lahaina, looking for any other signs of whales. As they drew closer to shore, the less they saw of the large animals.
They held one another as they rode back in to shore. Kaila watched the beautiful scene in front of them that was Lahaina and the West Maui Mountains. The tall green-covered hills dotted the skyline in a magnificent display. As they sloped downward the terrain turned from green to brown as it was drier closer to the shoreline.
“Look. You can see the ‘L’ above our school,” Kaila pointed out. Peter looked where she was pointing and he soon found the letter high upon the mountain, looking like a small spec from the great distance. “Pretty soon they will be lighting that for us.”
“Yep, in just a few short months.”
Kaila gulped somewhat, realizing the gravity of the thought that graduation was coming very soon. “It will be so amazing to see that, knowing it’s for our class.” Peter nodded. She paused for a moment, thinking deeply about what was to come. “What are we going to do, Peter?” she whispered. “What if you have to leave after we graduate?”
Peter did not hesitate in answering. “Don’t worry, baby. I’m never going to leave you.” She held him tightly and tried not to think about such things. “I know I don’t have the kind of money Koni Boy does. I know he buys Leilani anything she wants and can probably even provide a nice fancy home and land. I know there is no way I can compete with that. But still, you won’t have to worry.
Kaila pulled away and looked him in the eye. “You think I need any of that stuff? Pika, I would eat ramen noodles with you every day if I had to. That’s how much I love you.”
Peter’s heart welled up inside him when she said that. He pulled her in close once again and breathed a heavy sigh. It was the most romantic and loving thing anyone had every said to him. And he knew she meant it.
The next day, early in the morning, Kaila parked her scooter in front of the Kahului airport. Peter had his backpack flung on his back.
Kaila looked somber. It was only two and half weeks but she still did not want to be without him for even a day. She was going to miss him immensely. “You got everything?” she asked.
“Everything but you,” Peter said suavely. She buried her head on his shoulder. “Yes I do.” He saw how sad she looked. “Hey, it’s OK. It’s just the holidays. You know I will miss you too.”
“I know,” she sniffed. “I hate it anyway. Promise me this is the last time you leave me.”
Peter caressed her face lovingly and said, “I promise.” He kissed her long and passionately and then said farewell to her. “I love you.” He began to hurry to the check-in and then turned and shouted back, raising his phone in the air, “We’ll keep in touch every day!”
She fought back tears as she nodded and waved to him. She stood on the sidewalk until he disappeared into the terminal.
Peter sat on the edge of his bed in his home on the Big Island and tapped away on his smartphone, instant messaging Kaila on Maui.
What are you doing today? I miss you already.
I miss you too, baby. Just helping Nani and Kari around the house. What are you up to?
I think I’m helping my dad do some grounds work around the resort at Twin Palms. Mom wants us to pick up a tree later too.
Yeah, Kari is dying to get one too, lol. I need to start writing, but still thinking on it. Message me when you can!
I will. Try to relax some too. After all, you’re on vacation lol. Have a great morning baby, I love you.
Don’t work too hard over there. I love you too.
Peter stuffed his phone into his back pocket and went into the kitchen. His mother was cooking some bacon and eggs for breakfast. It was rare for her to do that but he presumed it was because he was home for the first time in a long while.
His sister Ana came bounding into the kitchen. She breathed in the fresh smell of cooked bacon and closed her eyes, savoring the aroma. “Mmmm bacon, it smells so good. What’s the occasion?” she bluntly asked.
“Your brother is home, silly,” Sara answered.
“Yeah, silly,” Peter kidded her. Ana rolled her eyes at him. “Smells great, Mom. Where’s Dad?”
She scooped the eggs onto their plates straight from the frying pan and placed a few slices of bacon along with them. “He’s outside putting things in the trailer. He wants you to help him today. So eat up.”
“Yeah, I know, he told me.”
After he ate a big breakfast, he headed out with his dad and rode down the long scenic Highway 19 towards the Kona coast from Waimea. From the northern slopes of Mauna Kea, the view was breathtaking on the ride down the mountain. One could see the vastness and sheer size of the island of Hawaii. The town of Kailua-Kona dotted the coastline with small homes and businesses and a variety of resorts. The western side of the island was by far the most populated as the terrain was more suitable for traffic rather than the mountainous and windy areas of the east coast, or Hilo side. As they reached sea level, the land was barren and black as far as the eye could see. Lava fields from eruptions centuries before covered the landscape on either side of the road. Occasionally there were small clusters of lava rock piled a few feet high along the road in honor of Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes. Some of the lava pilings were simple and others were adorned with individual flowers and leis. Peter never tired of the scenic road into the main town on this side of the island.
They arrived at the Twin Palms resort about a half-hour later and began work on the resort grounds, cleaning up palm fronds, leaves, and mowing the lawn. His dad smiled as he watched him work tirelessly around the resort grounds.
“Hey Pika,” he called out to his son. “Kind of like the work back at the school, eh?”
Peter chuckled and said, “It’s exactly like at the school. Without the pigs, of course.”
“Yes, without the pigs. I’m proud you are doing so well there,” his dad commented. He handed him a small bag of litter he had gathered from the property. “Here, go throw this in the garbage up there near the entrance of the lobby. Then we’ll almost be done.”
Peter twirled the bag around and tied it securely as he lazily walked towards the lobby entrance. As he placed it in the garbage can, he heard a voice behind him.
“Hey Peter. What’s happening?”
Peter turned around in surprise to see Jeff. He was beside himself in seeing him yet again, back from Maui.
“Jeff?” Peter exclaimed. He looked over his shoulder to see if his dad was watching. Sure enough, his father had noticed him as well. “What are you doing here?”
“Thought I’d find you here,” Jeff answered, very nonchalant.
Peter wrinkled his nose at him, “Is that so? What are you doing back from Maui? Through making the rounds over there?”
“Ah you know man, just takin’ care of business everywhere, dude.”
“Well leave me out of it. And how did you know I was here?”
“Don’t worry about it,” Jeff said coolly. “Just seein’ what you’re up to, bein’ it’s Christmas break and all.”
“Yeah, whatever Jeff. I don’t want any part in what you or Koni are doin,’ you got that?” Peter turned his back and walked towards his dad at a quick pace. Jeff just stood and watched him walk away.
“What the hell is he doing here?” Peter’s dad asked with a bit of anger in his voice. “He know you were going to be here?”
“I don’t know. Not a chance he knew I’d be here. But he’s been showing up on Maui too, hangin’ around this jerk named Koni Boy. I have no doubt he’s probably tryin’ to sell over there too.” Peter was visibly annoyed and his father could see it. “I’m getting tired of that asshole following me. Pardon my French.”
“You let me know if you see him again,” he told his son. “Go wait in the truck, I need to go talk to the manager and let them know we are done.”
Peter sat in the truck, waiting on his dad, and pulled out his phone to message Kaila.
Guess who I just ran into? That idiot Jeff that I knew from here. He’s back over here now. Can you believe that?
What? What a jerk. What did he want?
I dunno, just asking what I was doing for the break. He’s full of it though. We are done here at the resort. How’s your day going?
Pretty good, just missing u terribly. I think we are going with Uncle Lupe to look at Xmas trees. What are u doing?
I know, I miss u like crazy too. Oh, probably gonna go help my mom at the gift shop at the plantation. Then maybe get a tree later on too. My dad is back, we’re going up there now. I luv u. TTYS
OK, luv u 2 TTYS
The Kona Coffee Plantation was further south on the island’s western slopes of Hualalai overlooking Kona. The higher elevation and rich volcanic soil made it ideal to grow coffee trees and thus created some of the best and well-known coffees in the world. Although a relatively small area for plantations, there were still many of them all located in the same vicinity. It was quite comparable to the grape vineyards of Napa Valley in California. Instead of the rich soil of the valley for the numerous vineyards, the slopes of the volcanic mountain provided the ideal place to grow numerous plantations of coffee beans. And Sara worked at one of the most trafficked gift shops by tourists in the Kona coffee district.
She spent years working as a laborer in the groves picking beans from the trees. She taught this art to Peter and to Ana as well as they grew up. As she got on in years, she soon moved to the tourist shops around the plantations and worked behind the counter or doing anything else that needed tending to, such as brewing fresh samples of the many different varieties for people to try. She was at the sample stand when Peter walked in.
“Hey Mom,” he said as he hugged her shoulder real quick.
She smiled sweetly at him and said, “Hi Pika. Grab that fresh pot over there and help me fill these cups.” Peter obeyed and started helping her fill tiny paper sample cups for the line of customers waiting to try the coffee. “It’s good to have you home.”
“Yeah, it’s a nice change of pace from school,” Peter answered. “Busy today, huh?”
“Yes. Many buses stopping by.” She handed him the empty coffee pot. “Here, set this down and hand me that last one. Then we’ll need to brew some more.”
After about a half hour the crowds started to die down and they began to clean up the sample area. Peter was busy cleaning tables and sweeping the floor when he noticed an all too familiar face once again. Jeff was milling about in the souvenir room with a toothpick in his mouth just a few steps away.
“Dammit,” Peter muttered as he set his broom down. “Mom, I’ll be right back.”
She noticed his old classmate in the shop and nearly lost it when she saw him. “Why on Earth is he here?”
Peter tried to assure her. “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll get rid of him. It’s like he’s following me or something. I’ll be right back.” He quickly walked across the floor to confront Jeff who was looking at books on coffee growing tips. “Brushing up on harvesting beans, Jeff?” he asked sarcastically. “I think you and I need to step out back.”
“Sure thing, buddy,” Jeff said with fancy grin.
Peter’s heart pounded as they walked outside behind the shop using the employee entrance. His angered expression spoke volumes. He felt like punching Jeff’s lights out right then and there.
“OK man,” Peter huffed. “Tell me what you are up to. And I wanta know now! Every time I turn around you are there. What do you want?”
Jeff acted very cool and innocent. “Hey, what do I want? I’m not the one who left and abandoned his friends. You still got work to do here, buddy. I’m a little ticked off that you up and left. Now you’re Mr. Boarder Man. Like you’re some kind of big shot now.”
“What work?” Peter demanded. “Hey, last time I checked man, you’re not the one who ended up in jail! There is no more work for me to do here. I’m done with you morons. Especially you. So I suggest you stop following me. And you’re wasting your time with that idiot Koni Boy over on Maui too.”
Jeff raised an eyebrow and said, “Oh I beg to differ, buddy boy. He’s actually been quite helpful.” He snickered at his ingenuity, knowing Peter had no idea what he meant. “But you do still have work to be done, Lane. If you weren’t so stupid in getting caught that night, we wouldn’t have lost all our product. That was your fault, dude!”
“No, no, no, jerkface. You guys took off and left me there for dead. I had no idea where you guys were. You obviously knew something was goin’ down or else you wouldn’t have split. You bailed on me and I walked right into a trap, thanks to you. You lost that stuff on your own, pal!”
“Gotta make it up, man,” Jeff said matter-of-factly. Peter took note of how his old friend had begun sounding more like a street thug than his childhood friend. “Time to hit the pavement again. Sales are down.” Jeff leaned in closer to talk quietly so as to not be heard by anyone else. “But now we got a man on Maui to help us tap into that market. So, you runnin’ off seems to have helped in our favor. Time to start makin’ up for what you lost us. Seems like you’ve got some rich customers right where you’re goin’ to school. I could see that at the stadium that night. Yep, real nice untapped market.”
Peter was about to explode he was so furious. “Now you listen to me, pal! Just so we are clear. I went to jail and you didn’t. I didn’t want to have anything to do with your stupid lab anyway. I never sold and I am not gonna start. I’m done with you man. I’m not goin’ back to jail again for you or nobody. Just stay the hell outta my life.”
“Gotta make it up,” Jeff said again.
Peter fumed and poked him in the chest. “No I don’t!”
Jeff slapped his hand away and said, “I’m afraid so, bro. No way around it. Time to stop pourin’ coffee for old ladies and pickin’ up Christmas trees and start doin’ the job at hand, man.”
Peter ignored him but picked up on one thing he said. “And how do you know about that? Pickin’ up a freakin’ tree! And another thing, everywhere I go you seem to turn up too. I don’t think that’s all some kind of coincidence.”
“I have my ways bro,” Jeff said smugly. “Little minions of my own.”
“Well you can take your little minions and your little enterprise and shove them up your ass! I’m outta here. And I better not see you again.” He stormed back inside and slammed the door behind him. Jeff nodded confidently, put a toothpick back in his mouth and went back to his car.
Peter recounted the day’s events to Kaila on the phone that night. She was astounded that Jeff was following him everywhere and demanded that he get into the drug dealing. She was extremely worried about him. But he did his best to reassure her that he would not let Jeff get the best of him.
“Maybe you could just go to the cops,” Kaila suggested.
“No, he would just rat on me again and just implicate me. Knowing him he’d probably say he had nothing to do with meth and it was me all along.” He paused for a moment. “Don’t worry though. I can handle him, I’ve known him my whole life practically. But it’s like he’s someone else now. He’s totally changed. He took the wrong path quitting school like that. He’s probably realizing that now and just being jealous.”
“I know,” Kaila responded. “I just don’t want you to get into trouble again. Listen, I need to go, but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what we can do after graduation next year. I’ll send you an email tonight.”
“OK, sounds good. Thanks for listening to me. I’m glad you understand. Sleep good tonight.”
“Of course, baby,” Kaila said sweetly. “I will, you do too. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
He spent the rest of the break with his family and celebrated Christmas as they always did every year. He saw Jeff one more time at a grocery store, but decided to ignore him when he did.
Peter and Kaila continued to talk and message online with each other every day throughout the break. But as New Year’s approached, Kaila still had not started on her paper yet. She decided after Christmas and her visit to her mom’s that she would buckle down and really get going on it and have it done before classes resumed in January.
Peter reminded her to just think about the trip they went on together to see the whales up close, and all the times they spent watching them from the beach and also the visit to the whale museum. He recalled his idea of approaching the paper as if she were there during those days in the 19th century when Maui was the center of whaling in the Pacific.
She thought that was good idea and remembered all the notes she had taken at the museum. She studied them closely and contemplated all the phrases and terms that were used in those days. She decided to go riding alone on her scooter one late December day after Christmas. She rode to all the beaches where she and Peter had visited during the fall and thought endlessly about what she could write.
She stopped at the beach parks near the pali and watched the people paddleboard and surf. She rode all the way to Napili and watched sunbathers sit in the sand and children play in the surf in the shadow of Molokai. She rode back down to Ka’anapali Beach just on the north side of Black Rock at the same park where the airstrip had once been. She kicked off her shoes and walked along the edge of the water barefoot taking in the majestic scenery. Her mind began to wander and she started to imagine how these shores must have looked nearly 200 years before. How people lived, how they dressed. How they gathered food and fished the waters in order to survive. She thought about how they reacted when explorers came and missionaries arrived to try and bring Christianity and schools to their land in the middle of the Pacific. How the natives got along with the newcomers. And how the whales would play an important part in Maui’s long and colorful history.
She stood and stared out to sea with her sandals dangling from her fingers. She stood until her mind transported back to those days of the early to mid-19th Century. She let all modern things in her surroundings disappear from her mind until it was just her and the beach and the waves. The waves came washing ashore one after the other, endlessly, wave after wave… until her mind was finally ready.
The sea shimmered like the shiny placid surface of a distant planet. The sun shone brightly and lorded over an endless blue sky and the never-ending vast ocean. A sea bird skimmed along the water’s surface, darting high and low over the waves that lapped at its wings. As it soared effortlessly over the sea, it set its eyes on the one resting place in the boundless world of water. In the distance was the whaling ship, Callia. The bird came to rest high upon a mast on the mighty sailing vessel.
Down below was the sound of the crew bustling about with excitement. Higher up from the bird’s perch was the topgallant where a kanaka had climbed for the lookout. He yelled down to the crew and pointed feverishly to the port side of the ship. “Thar she blows!!” he yelled out. “Port side!!”
On the bridge stood Captain Tucker, a hulking, broad-shouldered seaman. He had a finally trimmed beard and mustache that was already showing several days of new growth and a head full of dusty dark hair. He looked weathered as an experienced seaman would, but carried his chiseled frame with an air of confidence. He stood with a monocular, staring out to the sea in the direction the kanaka was pointing.
He pondered silently for a moment, studying the seascape. “Hmmm,” he murmured under his breath. “There she is!” Standing next to Tucker was his first-mate, Soli. He grabbed Soli by the arm and growled with enthusiasm. “There she is, Soli! Bring ‘er about!”
“Aye, sir!” Soli called out.
Tucker strode over to the bridge railing overlooking the main deck. He barked out orders with a booming voice. “We are comin’ about lads. All hands on deck! Outta that fo’c’sle, dammit! The chase is on! Ready those damn boats, ready those lines! Prepare to lower away at my command!”
Men poured out of the barracks, or forecastle, and the crew scrambled to their assigned posts as he commanded. Six men each assembled at the four smaller whaling boats. There were two boats on each side of the Callia used for the whale chase. They stood and waited for orders to lower them into the sea. As Soli steered the ship in the whale’s direction, the men watched attentively as the intensity of the moment grew.
The ship’s steward, a young boy no more than twelve, pointed and shouted with excitement, “I see it! Thar she is!”
“Smitty!” yelled Tucker. “Ready those blades and lances! Need to be on the spot when I say so!”
The ship’s blacksmith, known only as Smitty, gritted his brown teeth and called back, “Aye aye, Cap’n!”
“Lower away, men!” Tucker commanded to his crew. “Get them afloat! She is in our sights!”
Quickly and effortlessly, the crew worked like a well-oiled machine. In less than a minute, weapons and tools of all kinds were lowered within the boats down into the water. Six men were aboard each of the four whaling boats and began to row towards the pod of humpback whales. Tucker himself descended a rope ladder into the lead boat along with the six-man crew.
“Keep ‘em in your sights men! Faster, faster!” Tucker howled over the choppy seas. As they neared, Tucker heaved with approval. “That is it boys, steady as she goes. We have gotta fine catch today men. Let us not waste it. Onward!”
The four boats were nearly upon the pod of whales, when without warning, one of the large mammals surfaced just under the captain’s boat. Some of the men let out a gasp as the big tail splashed and disappeared underneath the foamy surface. The tail itself was nearly the size of the whale boat.
“Oh she is playin’ tricks on us, eh?” Tucker chuckled. “Have no fear, lads. Today we become the giants of the sea!” He set his foot on the edge to survey the lot. The four boats were positioned strategically around the constantly diving and surfacing whales. “Harpooners ready! No time like today! Let us do what we came for!”
In a flash, harpoons darted through the air from all four directions. The first buried its tip into the dark flesh of the stricken, spinning beast. A second, then a third came, all hitting their targets directly. The whales tossed about, giant fins slapping the water, massive bodies crashing into others and the boats alike. In an instant the sea had quickened into a massive fray of whales and manned boats. The dark aqua blue sea turned into a foaming, churning sea of blood red.
“Man the lines! Hold your ground men!”
The fight had escalated to epic proportions. The bloodied water soon attracted sharks. In the melee, some men spilled from the boats and tumbled into the water. The captain began to cuss and swear over the raucous scene as other men dropped their blades to rescue their mates from the swirling sea and the hungry sharks. Any man caught between an agitated whale and a boat’s hull would mean certain and instant death. They pulled one man to safety, then another. Just as a shark darted for the last man, they were able to pull him to safety as well. Once quickly aboard, the crew continued their assault. Two and three more strikes from a lance and harpoon and soon the two whales had stopped tossing about and the crew was able to start hauling them over to the Callia.
But Tucker was not satisfied just yet. “We need the big ones, men! Keep your eyes peeled, we need the big ones!” The men looked bewildered already. They thought they were fighting the big ones already. But the captain knew better. He knew the largest of the females and most certainly the alpha male were still out there. He could tell by the tail size what age and what girth they would be. He knew the largest were still yet to be found. And what was more, the larger the whale, the larger the yield of blubber and oil. “And dammit men, use your legs to anchor y’self! I do not want any more of ya pulled in, dammit, ya hear?”
Suddenly the boat tipped sharply to the left, nearly throwing three of the men out. A low, bellowing groan could be heard as a massive whale surfaced directly underneath them. Tucker toppled backward into the boat, right on top of another man. He braced himself as the boat rocked viciously back and forth. He quickly peered over the side to catch sight of the beast. His eyes widened. Other men’s eyes widened as well in sheer terror. Not only was it the giant alpha male, but the female as well that was even longer in size. The men watched in amazement as two massive tails disappeared under the water in stunning fashion.
“There is our prize, men! Steady yourselves! Resume the chase!” He yelled as loudly as he could at the other remaining boat. “After them, men! Go! Go!”
The men rowed as quickly as they could. Gasping for air and straining over the waves and wind, they followed the whales in steady pursuit. The captain howled orders through the driving wind as waves crashed into them and salty mist poured over them like rain from a clear sky. Harpooners stood at the ready, waiting for the next glimpse of whale flesh. Soon a large hump appeared on the surface along with a blast of air from the whale’s blowhole. And with incredible precision, two harpoons sliced into the sides of the great whale. With most of its large hump exposed and fins and tail thrashing about, its size became abundantly clear. They had speared the largest male and he fought tremendously. The captain yelled for assistance from the other boat. It took every man on the ropes to keep him in tow. Another strike of a harpoon and his struggles subsided.
The captain looked about anxiously. The lines were taut and the men struggled with the beast alongside. He was massive and had the strength of thirty men at least. Tucker knew the other boats would still be occupied with the first catches. The male would be enough but the female would be the ultimate catch. She was much longer and wider.
Suddenly, she was there. The giant humpback whale breached halfway out of the water and came crashing down right alongside her mate in an effort to free him from the sailors’ grasp. The boats rocked backwards like corks in a bottle as the stunned men fell backwards.
“Stand your ground!” Tucker scowled. “Get a line on her!!”
But the men could barely struggle to keep hold of the male and he nearly broke free from them. The female again made a mighty splash but it was not as big as the last one and the men held their captive firm. The mighty whale was tiring and could only watch as her mate would soon tire completely and succumb to the whalers. Her giant tail tipped upward as she disappeared into the depths. Tucker looked around frantically, but she was never to be seen again. Despite the large catch of the male, Tucker was miffed at not getting a shot at the enormous female. He screeched and swore over the melee that he needed more boats for the final chase, but they never came. It took two boats just to secure the huge male and tow him back to the ship.
By the time Tucker and his men reached the Callia, Soli and the remaining crew had already begun processing the first catches. They sliced the blubber into ‘bible leaves’ with a mincing knife and began rendering the oil in a skimmer or ‘try pot.’ Nearly every part of the whale was salvaged including the most precious parts of the whale, the junk and case. They used blubber pikes and spades and flensers. A cooper stood at the ready to keep the tools sharpened as the crew had to work quickly to secure every part of the catch and immediately prepare it for sale on land.
As Soli barked orders to the crew onboard, he kept an eye on the massive catch Tucker was bringing next to the ship. The animal continued to thrash from time to time as they slowly brought him alongside.
“Steady, steady boys!” Tucker yelled.
The ‘monkey rope’ was lowered to the front boat so the harpooner could fasten it around his waist. He then quickly made spade holes in the whale and secured lines that hung down the ships side to hold the whale’s weight steadily and evenly. The final spade hole was near the tail. He hopped effortlessly on the edge of each boat to get to the end of the whale. Sharks circled closely by in hopes another unlucky sailor would topple over the side. As the harpooner inserted the spade the whale lurched forward with amazing force. One of the already secure lines whipped around freely as it was not was being held firm enough from the deck. Soli quickly grabbed the line from the crewman and pulled it taut just in the nick of time. The line went sailing right at the harpooner’s head but he ducked just as it snapped against the side of the ship. The whale stopped stirring as it was finally trapped for good.
Tucker howled up to the crew on the ship, “Dammit man, hold those lines! You almost decapitated my harpooner!” Tucker took the killing iron in his hands and gripped it firmly. He stepped onto the back of the mighty animal and with one ghastly lunge, the whale was sent to his demise.
Captain Tucker climbed aboard as the men worked feverishly to process the last of the catch. Barrels were rolled to the edge to catch the oil being fetched out. “Five and forty more, men!” Tucker yelled out and the men echoed his words in victorious chant. The crew of the Callia worked into the night until their catch was secure. The captain surveyed his crew and took note of the lay. The men were famished and beaten into the dust with weariness. Tucker stuck his smoking pipe between his lips and lit the tobacco stuffed into the chamber. With a puff of smoke and a satisfying nod to his first mate, he gave the signal to sail back to port.
The eastern sky began to glow like a candle when first lit. A dark hue of red mixed with orange began to peel across the horizon as the Callia lurched towards Maui of the Sandwich Islands. They were making their way toward the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Lahaina.
It was 1831 and Lahaina had become the whaling center of the Pacific in just a few years time. The oil, or spermaceti, from whales was big business and that brought big business to Maui. The blubber oil was boiled down to be used for making candles, lamp oil for illumination or lubrication for machinery. It was even used in textile mills and for making rope. Baleen, or whalebone, was used to make flexible items such as corsets, collar stays, buggy whips and toys. And whale teeth were especially prized in making rings, jewelry and scrimshaw. The latter was a favorite gift for the ladies from sailors who carved them while at sea on long voyages.
As the sun peeked over the mountains of West Maui, whaling ships dotted the harbor off Lahaina. Most were anchored in the bay a great distance so that a tender was necessary to come ashore. However the Callia, and it’s prominent and well-known Captain Tucker, had an anchoring site just off the main shore of downtown Lahaina. The ship lowered anchor and the crew began the arduous task of bringing their bounty from the ship on the small whale boats to land, one load at a time.
Tucker stepped onto dry land and puffed away on his smoking pipe, quietly observing as his men brought ashore their valuable cargo. A cool morning breeze wafted ashore and the endless palm trees fluttered in the wind. The never-ending, yet lovely sound of myna birds cackled all around in the trees and the lush tropical vegetation. He was truly ready for a short stretch of shore-leave. But first, business was to be had. He raised an eyebrow as he heard a familiar voice behind him.
“Welcome back, Captain,” said the man. “How does it feel to be on steady ground again?”
“Aye, Padre! The last face I look for, but the first I see.” Tucker snarled with his pipe still in his mouth. “But me legs never have trouble with the wobbliness. I would not be the skipper if I showed that kind of weakness. The captain must always be the pinnacle of strength!”
“Ah yes, Captain. But still we are all just human, are we not?”
“To most, Padre,” Tucker chuckled. “So, Padre. What do I owe this early morning greeting after such a long hard job at sea?”
“Cooperation, sir,” the man answered flatly. “As head of this mission I trust your men will act accordingly while on leave with my fellow missionaries and the natives as well.”
“Why, Padre,” Tucker replied slyly. “The men will always act with the upmost stature. As always of course.”
“Of course. And the lascivious acts and depravity will be held to a minimum I trust this time? There are more and more sailors taking leave here now and we are trying to keep a respectable order in this settlement. As I say, I only ask for your upmost cooperation in this matter.”
Tucker clearly began to look annoyed. “Padre, they are just boys on liberty. Time to unwind and be merry for a while. Nothin’ wrong with a little liberty and lettin’ the lads rest before they head back out for another grind at sea, eh?”
“Yes, well they seem to take liberty with a great many things while they are resting.” Tucker exhaled a large puff of smoke as if it were a sign of his contempt for the preacher. “Do I have your cooperation, Captain?”
He cocked his head slightly and smiled at the preacher. “Wouldn’t have it any other way, Padre.”
“Thank you,” the preacher said. “Good fortune in the market, Captain. Good day.” He began to walk back into town towards a line of thatched homes and businesses when Tucker called back to him.
“William!” The preacher stopped and turned around. “Make sure you keep those native girls outta my market while we men are doin’ business. The men will be in the grogshops soon enough.” Tucker chuckled at his own wit. “As will I.” William could only frown at him though. He nodded and continued on his way.
The town of Lahaina sprawled down the tropical shoreline. With the influx of whalers, more and more shops and homes were built, some with wood brought in from other locales and others of thatch that were constructed by the natives. It was a bustling community of Native Hawaiians and missionaries alike. Sailors arrived nearly every day, ranging from America to Europe as well as Asia. The sea port was a busy one with ships arriving and departing daily. The monarchy of the Kingdom of Hawaii was also located there with the current ruler Kamehameha III. Trade and land management were the main businesses there with whale oil being the prime commodity of the time. As on the ships, the town was a melting pot of many different cultures. The missionaries did their best to maintain order while teaching Christianity to the natives and to any of the foreigners if they so desired to join them.
After business was conducted in the market and the ship’s crew received their pay for the catch they brought in, sailors of all walks of life headed for the local merchants for food, drink, and of course, entertainment. The missionaries tried their best to keep the men from becoming too disorderly with drunkenness, but also from using the local women as prostitutes. However, to their dismay, some of the women were all too eager to receive the precious gifts from the sea such as fine jewelry and scrimshaw in return for other favors.
Night had descended upon Lahaina and that brought meals and prayer and meditation amongst the missionaries and their Christian followers, but also it brought song and revelry with everyone else in town. Captain Tucker sat at a table in one of the local grogshops with his first and second mate, Soli and Smitty.
“Drink up, lads! To a fine catch and fine day’s pay!” howled Soli.
“Aye!” the three men yelled.
The tiny tavern was full of men and even some women, both Hawaiian and some that were American and European. It was a raucous scene of song and celebration.
“Drink up, for we sail soon again, my boys!” Tucker drawled.
Soli became anxious though. “So soon, Captain? We have just pulled in. Why such a hurry to get back? We do not even have provisions yet.”
“Aye, I have already bargained with the harbor master. I gave him extra barrels of potatoes this time to have me ship refit in two days time.”
“Two days time?” Soli whined. “But why, sir?”
Tucker leaned in to talk more quietly to them. The two men did likewise as they knew he was up to something. “You men saw what I saw out there, did you not?” The men stared at him blankly. “I want the large one, the alpha. She was longer than the Callia, I say. She is the one I am after. She will bring in a month’s pay just herself.”
“Aye, I did see ‘er, Captain,” Smitty said, as he downed some more beer. “Largest beast I ever laid me eyes on.”
“Aye,” Tucker agreed. “The largest. And she is mine!”
Soli did not seem convinced though. “I saw ‘er too, sir. She was mighty indeed. But we know how those large ones are way out at sea. The deeper we go out, the deeper they can go under. You think we will find her again?”
“Aye, I think we can lads,” Tucker answered confidently. “She will remember the Callia, rest assure you. We took her mate and even some of her offspring. Several of them. One does not soon forget that. Not even a whale.” Soli and Smitty listened intently, putting their mugs down. “Never underestimate the cunning of the sea and its beasts, lads. But if we find her and lure her to shallower waters in between these islands, maybe we can outsmart her.”
“With all these ships around in the channel?” Soli blurted out. “Could be dangerous.”
“Aye,” he agreed. “So we would have to work fast once we get her shallower.”
The three men agreed. Soli and Smitty would get working on arranging the crew in short notice and recruiting more, as several dropped out after each stint at sea.
The tavern became even more crowded and rowdy as the celebrating continued through the night. The women laughed and giggled as the men offered them drinks and dancing. Fiddlers played in the corner along with a piano player and couples danced all around the room. Two men brawled at the front of the bar while one woman sat on barstool and watched with a bored expression. One man went sailing across a table and collapsed on the floor in a heap. The woman happily grabbed the victor’s hand and pranced out with him. One by one the women would duck out a side door into the darkness with a man in tow, while the rest stayed and drank their fill. No one took notice of where the ladies were going with them or at least no one had the decency to say anything. The bartender looked the other way as his pockets were being filled otherwise.
Just after 3a.m., William the preacher entered the tavern with an exasperated look on his face. He made a beeline for Tucker’s table.
“Padre!” Tucker yelled over the fray. “Never thought I would see the day! Come sit down and have a drink with us!”
“No thank you, Captain. I do not think I will. May I have a word with you, please?”
“Why, you can have two if you like!” blustered Tucker.
“Captain, if you do not mind, I would like to speak with you outside!” said William, sounding more and more annoyed.
Tucker smiled and slapped Soli awake from his slumbering position and shoved him aside. “Excuse me, mates. It appears I am needed in the – hiccup! – breezeway outside. Will only be a minute. Save my drink will ya? No wait, on second thought, I will take it with me, ha ha!”
The two men stepped out of the noisy bar out into the night. Lamps were lit up and down the pathway along the market. Laughing could be heard in the huts nearby and within the bar. The wind blew at a steady gait in the late night air.
“Orwyn, why must we revisit this conversation every time you make port here?” a tired William asked. “I am getting reports of all kinds of drunkenness around here and unclean acts I do not wish to delve into. I am even hearing of the men, some of your men I might add, taking the women off for their own unsavory desires.”
Tucker straightened himself and glared at William. “Listen Richards! ‘Tis no concern of mine what the men do as long as they are back on my ship when I order them to be! When they are on liberty they can take liberty however they want.”
“No they may not!” William argued loudly. “Their acts are immoral and some are even profane. I look the other way with the drinking but when they start corrupting the women, I can not and will not! Women from my own flock!”
“If they are from your flock, Padre, you need to keep a tighter reign on those girls. Either that or they have found a better option.” Tucker winked at him and William became incensed. He kept his composure though. “Besides, Padre, where was this place when I found you six years ago? If not for me, you would still be lying on the ground with nothin’ more than palm fronds over your head.”
William took a deep breath. He could see he could never quite win with the captain. But he could certainly keep trying. “I agree, Tucker, that the whalers have brought wealth to this area. But you have also brought your bad habits. I understand you are aiming to return to the waters quite soon. Perhaps if you were not so hasty, the men would not be so eager to carouse so often and with so much vigor. The men need rest.”
“Without the men, Padre, the wealth would stop coming to this area. The oil is like gold to the people here, is it not?” Tucker said wryly. “Is it not? And they are resting, Padre. Blowing off steam is what men do to unwind.”
William ignored him though. “Perhaps a little control and direction would keep things in order? They would be better served and rested if they came to the church instead of engaging in drinking and revelry. I have even seen them drinking in the streets. Perhaps you could rest them longer.”
Tucker walked forward and got closer to William’s face. “They cannot rest if they are up at your mission hearing you preach. If they do not sail, they will not bring in the oil. If they cannot bring in the oil, then they cannot spread gold all over the place!” The two men stared each other down intently. But William said nothing. “Now, if you will excuse me, Padre. I have a pint I would very much like to finish.”
Two days later, the crew was set to head out on the Callia once again. Soli had recruited a dozen more fresh men for the voyage as well. They rowed on the whale boats out into the bay off Lahaina with the captain in the lead boat. As they approached, Tucker observed the massive ship with fondness.
“Ah, there she is, the old-fashioned girl!” bellowed Tucker. “Ready for the blubber hunters to board ‘er once again!”
With the precision and efficiency of an army platoon, the crew set sail on the Callia out to open waters in search for the captain’s prize. It would take half a day’s time to sail to the area where they last encountered the whales. To pass the time, the cook sat on a barrel and played his fiddle to amuse the men. As a rite of passage for the new crew members, or greenhands, a ritual called the Neptune Ceremony was performed. Each man was shaved with tar with a large razor. The men winced with each scrape of the blade along their faces. The seasoned men watched and laughed as the music played.
“Thataway lads!” Tucker shouted. “Nothing like scrapin’ tar to leather your face. Make ya look like a true blubber hunter!”
“Harsher than the girls back in Lahaina, eh?” joked Soli. “Lady fever will bring a man down even further!” The men laughed out loud. “Better to have a burnin’ on yer face than a fiery itch down below!” The men bellowed with laughter even more.
“Sounds like a man speakin’ from experience!” Smitty crowed. The crew erupted even louder. They all turned to see if the captain was getting a good laugh as well. But his attention had turned to the sea.
Tucker whirled about and yelled abruptly, “Kanaka! Get yer tail in gear and climb to the rings!”
Immediately one of the Hawaiian kanaka’s began to ascend the crosstrees to the masthead rings for the lookout. Within minutes the kanaka pointed east of the ship off the starboard side and yelled, “Thar she blows!”
“I knew it!” Tucker exclaimed. “Man your posts, men! Get to those lines! Outta them bunks! We got whales to catch! Soli, bring ‘er about!”
The crew dropped what they were doing and raced to their assignments. Soli grimaced as he flung the wheel around and aimed the bow towards the whales. The Callia skipped along at full sail. One man pointed towards the water to the tip of the bow as it plowed through the sea. Dolphins were leaping in and out of the water at the head of the ship, keeping pace as it sped along.
As they neared the pod, the sails were pulled in and the ship slowed. Tucker gave the order to lower away the whale boats and soon the chase was on in the four boats. Tucker shouted orders and cursed and swore as the men captured the whales one by one and carried them back to the ship for processing. The sea turned red once again and sharks circled all about. The catch was successful but the captain kept his eyes peeled for his ultimate prize. Where can she be? he thought quietly to himself.
As the day’s end drew closer, the crew efficiently and quickly processed the remainder of the catch and heaved the whale boats aboard the ship. But Tucker kept one kanaka assigned to the rings to keep a sharp lookout for the large female.
“What say you, Captain?” Soli asked. “What is the tally of the lay? Are we set to return?”
“No, not just yet!” Tucker snapped. “She is out there. She has been watchin’ us the whole time.”
“Are you sure, sir?”
Tucker glanced over at his first mate and answered, “Would you not?” Soli nodded in understanding. He knew his captain was right. “Yeah, she is out there all right and she knows who we are.”
Just then the kanaka yelled from above, “Captain! Blow astern!”
Soli and Tucker whipped around on the bridge and immediately caught sight of the misty water shooting into the air from a whale’s blowhole. “Thar she is!” Tucker hissed. “See the tail, mate. ‘Tis her, all right. And she has got some company.”
“Aye,” Soli nodded. He took note of the sheer size of the tail as it disappeared into the depths. “She be the one, sir!”
“Bring ‘er about!”
“Aye, sir!” Soli flung the wheel around and the ship lurched to the left to make a wide turnaround. “She looks to be headed inland!”
“Aye, she is!” Tucker shouted. “All the better. Let us give her an escort.”
The sun began to set behind them as they raced towards Lanai and Maui. The crew lit torches and set them around the deck of the ship. Waves crashed against the Callia as the wind gathered force. The kanaka stayed high on his post, pointing in the direction of the whales each time he saw them surface. The whales were swimming along at a rapid pace and it took everything the crew had to keep up in the ship.
“Full sail!” Tucker barked ever louder. “Keep ‘er in your sights!”
“Ol’ girl is too fast!” Soli cried.
“Aye, stay on ‘er!”
Daylight grew dimmer and it became harder and harder to spot the whales on the water. Tucker became agitated as he feared they would lose sight of them. He angrily looked around the deck of the ship, trying to think of way to better spot them. He glared at the sky, then back down around the ship. “Put those torches out!” he yelled. “’Tis too hard to see! We will use the light of the moon!” Quickly the crew doused each torch and almost instantly the light of the full moon shone brightly on the churning waves. The shape of Lanai was clearly in view and Maui could be seen on the darkened horizon as well.
Immediately the kanaka regained sight of the pod and called out, “Port side off the bow!”
Tucker leaned over the railing and strained his eyes. “Yes, it is her! She is following us in just as I expected.”
“It may be the other way around,” a weary Soli answered. “I think she is takin’ us in, sir!”
Tucker placed his hand on his bearded chin. “What do you have in store for us, girl?”
The Callia rounded the bend and headed straight into the channel between Lanai and Maui. Torchlights could be seen burning off the coast of Maui in the night. The ship raced behind the pod of whales and inched closer and closer to the Maui shore. Soon the pod slowed and began to circle in a group close together. Tucker surveyed the situation in the moonlit blackness of the night on the swirling sea. He could see the mastheads of the other anchored ships off Lahaina. He knew he had to make his move now or risk getting too close to them.
“Let us take them now,” Tucker commanded. “Never lose sight of the largest!” He ordered the men to light all the torches they had. They would need them on the whale boats as well. The weary crew assembled at their stations and awaited his command. With a raise of his hand, the crew lowered the boats down into the sea. One by one they set out towards the circling pod of humpbacks that were ever closer to the shore of Maui and the armada of anchored ships. “Move quickly men! We waste no time!”
Meanwhile, Soli kept the Callia as close as possible so they would not have far to bring the catch. All the torches were lit on board the ship so all could see them easily. Soon the harpoons flew through the night air at the targets. The whales thrashed about with fins splashing and bodies swirling. Tucker yelled out orders from his boat and kept his eyes on the female. With the ship and the four boats, they had the pod surrounded and the nighttime fray all illuminated in torch and the light of the moon. The dark water in the huge arena slowly turned to dark red in a mixture of darkness and moonlight and firelight. Waves crashed around the lurching, fighting whales as the men yelled and fought bitterly to contain them.
From the shore of Lahaina, people became aware of the commotion at sea. They could clearly see the ship and whale boats in a frenetic fight, all lit up with the numerous torches out on the water. More and more gathered to watch the amazing sight in the dead of night. William Richards came running to shore to see what was happening. In an instant he knew who was out there. “It is Tucker!”
Soon the sight of shark fins could be seen everywhere in the midst of the battle between man and whale. Tucker looked feverishly around to spot the prized whale he had been hunting. Soon he got his wish as she surfaced with enormous strength. One of the boats, which already had a smaller whale in tow, came lunging sideways from the wave created by the female and went crashing into the side of the Callia. The men were able to stay aboard but still struggled with their catch. Soli immediately tied a monkey rope around his waist and ordered the men to lower him down.
“Get this one secure!” he screamed to the men. He bounced on the edge of the boat, trying to help the men steady the catch and the boat at the same time. He held the cutting spade steadily as he tried to secure lines to the whale.
Meanwhile the other three boats struggled to gain control of their catch while Tucker kept his sights on the thrashing female. They rowed every which way to try and trap her but she was too cunning and quick. Even with her sheer size, she was able to elude their every move and harpoon.
Soli secured one line, then two lines to the captured whale. As he hopped down to secure the last line to the tail, he slipped on the side of the boat and plunged into the water. He shrieked in terror as he knew sharks were right there. Immediately he was pulled out and he regained his footing. If he could secure the last line, the whale could be pulled taut. In a flash, the female did a half breach again and sent wave after wave of thundering water towards Soli and his ship. The captured whale lunged and one of the lines whipped around just as before. But Soli was not quick enough and the line caught him right in the midsection and pinned him to the side of the ship. The captured whale was now held taut and ready for the killing iron. But in the melee the crew did not see that Soli was trapped in the line.
A man finally saw him and yelled out at the top of his lungs as another was about to thrust in the killing iron. “No!! It will crush him for sure!”
“Don’t!” Soli cried. “Don’t kill the whale!!” Soli tried to yell some more, but could no longer get the words out. Blood gurgled up his throat and into his mouth as his body buckled under the pressure.
Another man shrieked, “Cut the line! Cut the line!” He lunged forward and sliced the ropes on the taut lines and immediately Soli fell into the water. The captured whale lunged forward and snapped the other lines and swam free. “Get the boat away from the ship, or we will be broken apart!”
They tried to row about and get in position to rescue Soli, but the waves were too strong. Soli smashed against the side of the ship in a bloody heap. He gasped and choked on the water as he tried to stay afloat. The rowers inched closer to him and as they reached for him, a shark came darting between them and the ship. It chomped Soli directly in the belly and swam away with him as he screamed a blood-curdling scream. The men looked on, stunned and helpless.
The rest of the whalers were in a frenetic race to capture their prey or scuttle back to the ship. Tucker screamed out orders and cursed and swore as the raging sea made it almost impossible to do either. Tails and fins and bodies thrashed and spun about as the men began to lose control. Swells of ocean rolled in every direction and men screamed for their lives as it became clear the conditions were out of control.
But Tucker kept his eye on the wild female and maneuvered the boat between her and the ship. He could see she was tiring and the waves were starting to calm, so he saw one last opening to try and get harpoon lines on her. But in that moment she disappeared under the waves. Tucker looked everywhere anxiously. “Look alive, lads! She will come up anywhere!” At that instant, what happened next shocked and horrified Tucker and all of his men.
The sea swelled like a huge bulb of blood and black as the enormous whale came soaring into the night air in a full breach. From the shore of Lahaina the crowd gasped as they watched the stunning display. Tucker and his men stood helplessly and screamed as the massive whale came plunging down upon them in a thunderous, crushing blow. The tiny boat splintered under the colossal size of the female humpback and sent a tremendous burst of water in every direction as whale, fins and tail slapped the ocean in incredible fashion. The sound of the thundering boom echoed across the channel and could be heard on shore. People watched in shocked silence. After she disappeared into the depths, all that was left was a swirling mass of blood, wood and broken, dead bodies.
As the sun rose the next morning over the slopes of the West Maui mountains, the town of Lahaina slowly clambered to life once again. Talk was all around about what had happened the night before and many were still amazed at the startling loss of Captain Tucker and several of his men. Attached to the market wall was the second mate’s log of the ship Callia, showing the tally of the lay. Below the details were footnotes describing the rest of the expedition. One note simply read, ‘Harpooned, but escaped – 3.’ The last note read, ‘Death at sea – 8.’
William Richards strode along with another man down the main street of Lahaina and approached a colleague of his. “Good morning, Mr. Andrews! How are you this fine day, sir?”
“Splendid William, thank you.”
“Tragedy out on the water last night, I am afraid.”
“Yes, I heard. Such a shame it was,” Mr. Andrews replied. “Tragic, very tragic.” He noticed the dark-skinned man standing beside him. “And who might this be?”
“Lorrin,” William began, “I want you to meet my protégé who has been studying under me.”
“Hello, sir,” the man said to Mr. Andrews. “I understand you are the headmaster at the new school.”
“Yes I am! Mr. Richards has told me you would like to attend our school. I am pleased to hear this. My name is Lorrin Andrews. What is your name, my son?”
“Thank you, sir. David is my name. David Malo. A pleasure to meet you.”
Mr. Andrews shook his hand and said, “Well, David Malo. Let me show you to your new school.”
Peter sat on the couch near the dart board in the lounge at Hoapili dorm. Kaila paced the floor nervously in front of him as he read her paper. After he finished, he rested the pages on his lap and looked at her with an awestruck expression. She froze in her tracks, waiting eagerly for him to say something.
“Well??” Kaila gasped in anticipation.
Peter finally opened his mouth. He looked dumbfounded. “Wow,” he calmly said.
She took a few steps toward him, looking at him quizzically. She threw her hands together as if in prayer. “Wow?” she exclaimed. “Wow what?”
Peter finally composed himself, snapping back to reality after reading the gripping story. “I mean, wow, you did it! You pulled it off.” He picked the papers up in one hand and while looking at them said, “This is incredible!”
Kaila’s eyes and mouth opened wide and she excitedly responded, “Really? Yes!!” She leaped into the air and nearly fell on top of him on the sofa. He caught her in his arms and she tumbled next to him laughing all the way. “You really think so?”
“Yeah, I do! You really nailed it!” He hugged her tightly. “You’re really going to be a writer. Not just a journalist, but a real writer!”
She was ecstatic and hugged him back. “You really think so?” she asked again.
“I do! You have real talent, baby.”
“Ohhh, I’m so relieved! Thank you!” She gave him a quick kiss, hoping no one saw her. “Oh my gosh, I worked so hard on that. It took me so long to finally get myself in gear. But you know what I did?”
“No, what?” Peter asked. He was so happy for her. And he was incredibly happy to see her as well. He had missed her immensely.
Kaila straightened herself on the couch and replied, “I got on my scooter one afternoon and just started riding around thinking. I went to all the places that you and I have gone together.” He squeezed her hand as she talked. “And I just sat and thought. I cleared my mind of everything. Then went back to the house and just did it.”
“Well, you did great, sweetheart. Mr. Tran will give you an A for sure.”
“Did you finish yours up?” she asked.
“Yeah, pretty much,” he answered. “I left it in the room. Vince was still working on his when I checked back in earlier.”
They jumped up and began to play darts again. They were very happy to see each other after the long break. It had been some time since they played darts together too. She was delighted to have him standing next to her again as she took her turn at the darts. His intoxicating, manly scent and just his warm presence made her feel content and completely in love. She was incredibly happy to have reunited with him.
Peter was overjoyed as well, remembering how lovely her perfume smells on her. How she tossed her ponytail. How she laughed. It had only been a few weeks, but his heart filled with love for her in seeing her again. He never knew he could miss someone as much as he missed Kaila.
A few days later, Kaila sat in Mister Tran’s literature class. Everyone had turned in their papers days before and was eagerly awaiting their grades on them.
The teacher walked up and down the aisles handing each student their paper without saying a word. Some students smiled at the grade they received and others gasped in seeing they had not done well. When he reached Kaila’s desk, he handed her the graded paper and smiled at her over his glasses. Kaila raised an eyebrow and she lifted her paper to see what grade she received. A big red letter A was circled on her cover page along with a yellow Post-It note that Mister Tran had placed especially on hers. She looked around the room to see if any other students had the yellow sticky note on theirs but she saw none. She hovered over her desk to conceal it and read the note.
The note read: This is what I was talking about, Miss Alapai. I knew you had it in you. Excellent work and a fabulous tale. Well done! You have exceeded my expectations! David Malo would be proud. Aloha!
Kaila smiled proudly. She caught Mister Tran’s attention as he sat down at his desk and nodded to him in appreciation. He smiled and nodded back to her.
The days began to pass quickly for the seniors and as May approached the excitement among them was growing day by day. A hint of Hawaiian spring was in the air and signs were beginning to show around the island as well as on the school campus. Plumeria trees that were bare during the winter months were beginning to sprout leaves again and clusters of fragrant flower buds began to appear on them as well.
Many activities were happening nearly every week, including the Honolulu Festival in Waikiki that many of the seniors attended on Oahu. But more importantly for the boarders was the annual David Malo Day hoolaulea. It was fast approaching and boarders played an important part in the yearly festivities.
David Malo came to Lahaina from the Island of Hawaii in 1823 and studied with the missionaries. He became one of the original students at Lahainaluna in 1831. The year 1836 marked the beginning of the Boarding Department which he helped establish for students all around Hawaii to come and learn. Later on, he worked with Kamehameha III in drafting the first Declaration of Rights in Hawaii and in 1841 he became the first superintendent of schools. At his request, he was buried near the site of the ‘L’ high above the school on Mount Ball, or Pau Pau Pau.
In mid-April the boarders would commemorate their founder by opening their dorms for an open house, provide a sumptuous lau lau dinner and then join with the school’s Hawaiiana Club to entertain guests with song and dance. It was always the biggest day of the year for the boarders and preparations went into full swing after the winter break.
Choir practice with Mrs. Song became more focused than ever as they practiced for the upcoming festival as well as graduation. As Mrs. Song directed each student one at a time on where they should stand, Vince fidgeted in his seat.
“Man, I’ll be glad when we are done with these practices,” he whispered to Peter. “We’re gonna have to go unwind somewhere on a beach after all this is over. All of us.”
Peter nodded and whispered back, “No doubt, man.”
Then Vince had a brilliant idea. He leaned over to Peter and whispered, “Hey, let’s start a chain and send a message to everybody in here.”
“Start a chain?”
“Yeah,” Vince hissed. “I’ll start it and then you pass it down. And then so on and so on. They’ll get it.”
“Oh right, OK,” Peter agreed. “So what do you want to pass down?”
Vince shot a quick glance at Mrs. Song down in front and made sure she was not watching him. He leaned in and whispered, “After -party at Ukumehame. Saturday night with all the boarders. Pass it down.”
Peter pursed his lips and nodded in agreement. He covertly leaned over to Oki and whispered to him, “After-party at Ukumehame. Saturday night, all the boarders. Pass it down.”
Oki smiled deviously and agreed. He leaned over to Kai and whispered in his ear the same thing, but of course, a slightly different version. “Party at Ukumehame Saturday night with the boarders. Wear a purple shirt, pass it down.”
His brother gave him a funny look. Oki urged him to comply and smiled devilishly. Kai smiled and understood: Get the word out about the party, but have some fun with it too. He looked down the row to see Vince smiling like a jackal and gave Kai a thumbs up in saying “Pass it on man!” Kai leaned over to Fin and whispered, “Party afterward Saturday. Ukumehame. Boarders wear purple, go in groups in taxis. Pass it on.”
Fin looked up. “Huh?”
“Pass it on, man!” Kai hissed.
Fin shrugged and obeyed, but he really did not hear what Kai had said. He leaned over to the next boy. “Party at Ukumehame Saturday. Your mama is a taxi groupie. Purple monkey dishwater. Pass it on.”
The boy began to laugh and Mrs. Song shot a glare towards the upper row with a raised eyebrow. “Let us continue people,” she commanded. “Turn to page twenty-two in your music books.”
Fin snickered and looked down the row. He could see Vince pleading for them to keep passing it on. Fin elbowed the boy to continue. He smiled and whispered the message to the boy seated in front of him.
Soon the message had reached all the way down to the girls in the front rows. Each message was received with snickers and almost boisterous giggling. Vince could not help, but laugh to himself as he watched what he had created mutate down the bleachers. He could barely contain himself from laughter.
Mrs. Song was not amused at all. “Let’s pay attention people! We have to be ready for this weekend!” She shook her head wearily. “I can see what’s going on with you people and I can only imagine it started with you, Vincent.” He stopped smiling and cowered behind the person in front of him. “Can we please knock it off and get back to choir practice?”
“Yes ma’am,” Vince said. “I’m sorry.”
After practice was over the kids gathered their things and all of them were laughing. They had all received the main portion of the message that there was to be a boarder party at the beach park Ukumehame. But the rest of the message had been garbled in such comedic fashion that some were in stitches over it. After all, it had passed through dozens of kids just as Vince had planned.
Taney in particular was quite amused by it all. As she threw on her sweater she said out loud, “Vince, I know you started this. And don’t bother denying it. I just have one question though. Who the heck are the Purple Monkey’s and how long has yo mama been a gypsy road queen, taxi-drivin’ groupie for them?”
The whole room burst into laughter as well as Vince. He did not care if the joke was on him. He was just happy at what he had created all during choir practice. To him, it was his crowning moment.
It was the morning of the annual celebration for David Malo Day. Peter and Kaila were down at the pig pens tending to the pigs. Later that afternoon parents and former alumni would descend upon the campus for the annual lau lau dinner and open house.
As Peter watered the troughs for the pigs, he called out to Kaila on the other side of the pen. “Hey you know, I’ve been thinking.”
“Uh oh, don’t hurt yourself,” Kaila joked.
Peter laughed, “No really. I think we should use some other online messenger to chat with each other. The one we are using seems to be real flaky.”
“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that too,” Kaila agreed. “I keep getting emails telling me to change my password. Let’s use that other one that doesn’t have email.”
“Yeah, let’s see how that works. We can get an ID created later on. How you comin’ over there?”
“Sounds good,” Kaila answered. “I’m done, slowpoke. I’m waiting on you.”
Later that morning Peter setup a user ID using another online chat tool that was not tied into email. He sent Kaila an email telling her he was logged in and what his new username was so she could find him online. Within moments Peter’s phone beeped signaling he had a new message. She was online with her new ID. He smiled at her choice of username, Hulagirl2012. He typed into his phone:
Hey it works. Hey there Hula girl!
Hey there! Love the name you chose, DartVader, lol. That should be my name since you are always losing, lol.
Very funny. What are you doing today before the dinner? I gotta finish some homework and I have a test next week.
Well, Dartboy, I need to get a few things at the ABC store at the mall. But I’ve got some studying to do too after that. Wanta get it done so we can go to the beach park tonight.
Yeah, that’ll be fun even though we can’t stay all that long.
Yeah, it’ll be fun though. I gotta go baby. I’ll ttys. Luv u.
Luv u too!
Kaila grabbed her backpack and headed for the door. She walked down the hill and hopped on her scooter and headed downhill towards town.
She casually walked around the mall and headed towards the ABC store, all the while messaging Peter back at the school.
People everywhere here today. It’s crazy.
Oh yeah? Must be ‘Boat Day.’
Yeah, I think it is. Lots more tourists than usual.
She browsed through the store taking her time. She walked up and down the fragrance aisle looking for what she needed. Exasperated, she tapped quickly on her phone:
Dang it! I can’t find what I need here.
What are you looking for, babe?
I want to get some more of my favorite lotion with the plumeria scent but they are out. I think I am going to check over at the store on Front St. I’ll ttys baby.
She made her way over from the mall to the crowded downtown main drag of Lahaina. Indeed it was ‘Boat Day’ and tourists were all up and down the busy seaside street. Luckily she was able to find a two-hour parking space on the street, although she did not need that much time.
It’s chaos down here. I hope they have it though. Not getting my hopes up with all these people.
I thought I told them to stay on the ship until you were done shopping!
You need to tell them again Dartboy.
It’s DartVader, lol.
She made it into the busy convenience store and quickly walked over to the lotions. Yes! she muttered to herself, as they had only two more bottles. She grabbed them both and headed for the checkout. As she stood in line she noticed a familiar person flipping through the magazines behind her.
Her eyes widened when she heard the person walk up behind her and say, “Hey there, hula girl. What you up to?”
Startled, she turned around to see Jeff. “Huh?” she asked, befuddled. She wondered why he would call her that. “Oh, you’re that guy from the game. What do you want?”
“Yeah, Pete’s buddy,” he said calmly. He extended his hand and introduced himself. “I’m Jeff. How’s it hangin?’”
Kaila did not shake his hand though. She just stood and glared at him. “You’re not his buddy from what I have heard. What are you doing here? What do you want?”
“Ah Peter, he’s just jokin’ around. Nothin’, just doin’ a little shoppin.’” Kaila did not trust him any further than she could throw him. “So where is ol’ Pete anyway?”
“You should know,” Kaila shot back. “You seem to know every move he makes. Me too for that matter.” She took her lotion to the counter as it was her turn in line. “He’s not interested in whatever you are up to. So just leave us alone.” The clerk behind the counter gave Jeff a suspicious look. Jeff decided it was best if he let it be for now.
“We’ll let Pete decide on that,” he said coolly. “I better get back to my shopping. Nice runnin’ into you, sweet thing.”
“Whatever,” Kaila muttered. She smiled at the clerk who checked her out. “Sorry about that. He’s an idiot.”
“No argument there,” the clerk laughed. “Mahalo and come again.”
She sat on her scooter outside by the sea wall and tapped the keys on her phone.
Guess who I just ran into? You will NOT believe!
Oh no. Who?
[_ What??? Oh man, this has got to stop. _]
He’s such an a-hole! He just pops up outta nowhere, just like he did with you.
I’m sorry baby. We may have to call the cops on him. This is getting bad. Tell me about it when you get back. Let’s get off this thing.
Why? You think he’s up to something?
I get that feeling. Just doesn’t smell right.
OK, I’ll see u in a bit.
When she returned to the campus Peter was waiting for her to walk up the hill to the school entrance. He hugged her and gave her a quick kiss.
“What is that jerk doing?” she asked nervously. “Is he following us or what?”
Peter shook his head. “I dunno. He’s definitely up to something. He followed me around back home and now he’s following you. That pisses me off.”
“What are we gonna do?”
He stared at the ground trying to think. “He knows I know what he does and more than likely is still doing it. If I go to the cops, he’ll just rat me out again. Leave me hangin’ like he did last year. I dunno, I’ll think of something. But I do not want him following you around. I’m so sorry about that. Really ticks me off.”
Kaila took a deep breath. “It’s OK. I can just tell him off again if I ever see him again. We got this thing today and I still have to study some. We’ll worry about it later.”
“OK,” Peter said. “Again I’m sorry for what he did. He’s such a moron. I’m glad you got your lotion though. I love the way it smells on you.”
“That’s why I got it, baby.” She leaned over and kissed him deep and hard, not caring if anyone saw them at the school. “I’ll see you later.”
Peter just smiled as she walked back to the dorm. Her kisses always brought him to his knees. It made him forget about everything else going on. He loved it.
The doors were opened to the dormitories and parents and guests and former boarder alumni milled about outside and inside, talking and mingling with each other. The festivities of David Malo Day had begun and all the students were dressed in their best attire to welcome their guests.
Kaila’s aunt and uncle came, as well as Leilani and Kari. Peter’s parents had called him earlier in the afternoon and apologized for not being there, but said they would be thinking of him. Peter said it was OK and he knew they would be there for graduation next month.
Mr. Campbell stood proudly at the doorway of the boys’ dorm, welcoming guests. “Mahalo for coming! Please come on in.” Vince came walking in escorting his mother. “Aloha, Mrs. Seau. Welcome back! Vince, I trust your room is in order.”
“Of course it is!” Vince said proudly.
“That will be a pleasant surprise,” Mr. Campbell said.
After the open house, the guests made their way over to Boarders’ Field where the lau lau dinner would be served. Afterwards they would be entertained by the Hawaiiana Club performing various Hawaiian dances and then the Boarders’ Chorus would sing on the steps of the amphitheater.
The boarder students all helped provide food to their guests in the serving line and even waited at table for them. Others brought out drink refreshments and at the end of the dinner they brought out dessert.
After dinner, the Hawaiiana Club took to the stage in different groups, dancing various hula dances with boys only, then girls only and then both of them together. The crowd applauded cheerfully after each routine. Parents and family were proud as they watched their children perform for them.
Finally it was time for the Boarder Chorus to perform. All dressed in white, they took the stage and lined the stone steps as Mrs. Song stood before them as director. She was dressed in a beautiful red outfit to complete the school colors on stage. Peter and Kaila and all the boarders stood and sang proudly the songs they had been practicing all year long. Everyone in the crowd watched intently with broad smiles on their faces. The chorus was doing a wonderful job and it showed on Mrs. Song’s face. The finale was the school alma mater which was everyone’s favorite. The boys and girls sang the duet in a wondrous harmony that rang out across the field and cascaded down the mountain. The crowd cheered and gave them a standing ovation. They had pulled it off and the festivities ended on a successful note. Mrs. Song could not have been more proud of them.
Students carpooled and shared taxis, rode scooters or even walked down to the beach park for the after-party. Lights were strung around the trees, sodas were iced down and some people were even out in the water under the moonlight. Everyone was laughing and having a good time. They did not have long due to curfew, but almost all of the boarders showed up for the beach party.
Kaila and Peter arrived on her scooter to the festive atmosphere. Peter walked over to the coolers to get them something to drink. There was a collection hat sitting nearby to take up funds for the drinks. He dropped in a few dollars for them. He saw Vince and Kai standing on the sand and walked over to them with Kaila.
“What’s up, man? You made it!” Vince yelled. “Welcome to my luau!”
“Yeah,” Peter laughed. “Thanks. Where’s the pulled pork and poi?”
“Yeah, Vince,” Kaila chimed in.
He shrugged his shoulders and laughed. “You got me there. I forgot it. But have a good time. Ha ha!”
They saw Taney sitting on some tree roots with another girl and walked over to say hi. “Hey roomie,” Kaila said. “How’s it going?”
“Hey girl,” Taney answered. “Hey cutie pie.”
Peter shook his head and laughed. “Hey.”
“This is my friend, Sasha,” Taney told them. “She lives in Kihei.”
“Hi Sasha, nice to meet you,” Kaila replied. She raised an eyebrow at Peter. She had a feeling Sasha was more than just a friend.
“Hey, same here,” Sasha said.
“I’m Peter. And I don’t know why she calls me that.” Taney and Sasha both laughed. “Can I get you two something to drink?”
“No we’re good, sweetie pie. But thank you,” Taney quipped.
Kaila and Peter went and sat on the sand near the edge of the waves. Music was playing from within one of the cars parked along the roadside beach. It was a fun atmosphere and everyone was unwinding after such a busy day and all the preparation that led up to it. More and more local friends stopped by the beach and soon several dozen people had descended upon the informal party. Even Leilani and Koni Boy showed up in his car. Peter frowned when he saw him since he had no desire to speak with him. It did not matter. The two split up as soon as they arrived to go and talk to the other friends. Leilani found Peter and Kaila sitting on the sand together.
“Hey you guys!” Leilani called out to them. Kaila stood up to give her a sister a hug. “Everyone sounded great tonight! And the Hawaiiana’s did so well! Gosh I miss that stuff.”
Peter nodded in agreement. “Yeah, it turned out great. I had never been a part of that kind of thing before. It was cool.”
“Wait ‘til graduaton,” Leilani countered. “That will blow you away. Everyone just stops in Lahaina. People who aren’t even there at the ceremony. It’s surreal.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard. Should be really great.”
More and more people came out onto the beach and eventually the three of them had to stand and mingle with everyone else or get trampled on. It was a typical get-together for the local young people, just unwinding and having a good time beachside.
Soon Koni Boy came over and put his arm around Leilani and made himself the center of attention. Peter made no effort to try and speak to him. He just frowned and tried to ignore him. Soon Koni Boy had all kinds of people around him, including Leilani and Kaila, talking and laughing and trying to be the center of attention. Peter did not care though. Instead he decided to find his friends from the dorm.
All of the sudden someone grabbed his sleeve. Not surprising to Peter, it was Jeff again. Peter looked at him with contempt.
“Now why am I not surprised to see you here?” Peter asked dejectedly.
“Hey buddy,” Jeff said in his usual slick tone.
“What the hell do you want now?” Peter said, sounding very agitated. “I thought I told you to piss off.”
“Great party, isn’t it?” Jeff answered, ignoring him.
Peter became impatient with him. “What do you want, man?”
Jeff leaned in closer to him even though no one could hear them over the party noise. “Listen, this is a great opportunity to get some new customers. Now’s your chance to make up for what you lost.”
Peter pulled back from him with an alarming look on his face. “Are you crazy? I’m not selling anything for you here!” He hissed as he tried to keep his voice down. “Not here or anywhere! You are totally losing it, man.”
Jeff grabbed him by the arm and pulled him back towards him and got right in his face. “Look man, you got no choice in the matter. You don’t get out of our operation just like that. I told you the time is coming to make it up and now is that time.” His slipped his hand into his pocket and then produced a small white bag wrapped very carefully. “Now take this. We got a big crowd, should be easy pickings. Don’t worry, I’ve got people staked all over to keep the crowd busy. We got your back.”
Peter was stunned at seeing the tiny bag of drugs being held out to him. And what did he mean about others staked out? he thought to himself. He could not believe this was happening. He looked around the crowd to see who he might be referring to. But it was impossible. It was dark and only the lights from the strands hanging from the trees provided any kind of lighting. Peter felt trapped and frightened and also lots of anger. He fumbled for something to say. “No way, man,” was all he could get out. His mind began to swirl. How could he get out of this?
“Take it, man!” Jeff hissed under his breath again. “You need to get goin’ on this!” He leaned in closer and whispered, “Come on DartVader, now’s your big chance.”
Peter’s brain froze. What did he just say? He was even more stunned than before. He was shocked beyond reason. Now it all came rushing back to him in a flood of hints and clues. Now it all made sense. Peter stood and looked at him in horror. Jeff smiled at him deviously as if he knew he let the cat out of the bag on purpose and there was nothing he could do about it.
“What did you just say?” Peter blurted out. He was certain others around them could hear him. “There is no way in hell you would know that name.” Jeff just kept smiling like a jackal. Peter spotted Koni Boy in the crowd. And at that precise moment they locked eyes with one another. Then Peter knew what was going on. Like a light going on in his mind that revealed something very nasty and stunning at the same time. “You little bastard!” he shouted. He swung his arm to release Jeff’s grip on him. He knocked the bag to the ground and instinctively kicked sand on it to cover it up. Jeff looked at him crazily. “You’ve been spying on us? On the internet?” Peter’s mind raced, trying to piece it all together.
“Aw, grow up would ya?” Jeff snapped. “What the hell did you knock it away for? Where is it now?” He scrambled around trying to see where the tiny bag had gone.
Peter did not care though, he was glad Jeff could not find it. His mind was still reeling from this shocking revelation. “You’ve been spying on me and my girlfriend online? Are you freaking kidding me? You’ve read everything we’ve said to one another?” Peter’s mind was about to explode. He wanted to smash his face in right then and there. “No wonder you knew every move we made!” Then something else dawned on him. “No, no, no. I’m not buyin’ it. I know you. You’re too stupid to know how to do that! You couldn’t hack your way into a straw hut. No, somebody was helping you.”
“Oh blow it out your ass and help me find this damn thing!” Jeff scowled.
Peter started nodding disgustedly and panned around the crowd again. He spotted Koni Boy once again, yucking it up amongst the crowd but still looking straight at Peter. “Koni Boy…” he whispered. “Kaila said he was some kind of software guy where he works and he always brags about how he can hack stuff. Holy crap! He’s the one giving you all this information about us!” Peter did not know whether to maul Koni Boy and Jeff right on the spot or drop to his knees and cry. He had never felt so betrayed in all his life.
Jeff panicked and continued to berate him. “You better help me find this, man, or you’ll be in bigger trouble than you already are!”
Kaila had noticed how visibly upset Peter was from across the way and she began to walk over to them. “Hey, what’s going on? Are you OK?” She noticed Jeff pawing around in the sand like an animal. “What’s he doing here?”
Peter grabbed her hand. “We gotta get outta here. He was trying to set me up again with more of his drugs. Come on, let’s go!” Kaila’s eyes widened but she said nothing as she knew he was telling the truth.
Just then, police cars came riding up fast and slammed on their brakes in the sand on the edge of the road. Lights were flashing, but no sirens were blaring. Everyone on the beach stopped talking and was shocked to see the police arrive. The police parked in such a manner that they blocked in several vehicles to keep them from backing up, including Jeff’s car.
“Oh my gosh!” Kaila shrieked as she grabbed Peter’s arm.
“Yeah, they probably know something is up,” Peter said. “Look, they blocked in his car!”
“Jeff’s! Come on, let’s go.”
The four policeman, including Tua, carried flashlights and began calmly telling everyone the party was over and they all needed to leave. There were too many people at the small beach park at night and it had become dangerous so close to the busy road.
“Come on, everybody,” Tua called out. “Everybody go home.”
Everyone began to disperse and pile into cars that they had arrived in. Some even started walking up the road back home. Peter and Kaila slipped away amongst the crowd and found her scooter where she left it and hopped on. Peter looked all around to see where Jeff had gone. He was no longer on the beach searching in the sand for the lost bag of meth. Soon, he caught sight of him trying to get to his car. But Peter smiled when he saw that he was still blocked in by the police cars.
When an officer spotted Jeff, he shone his light in his face. “Mr. Sokoli, is this your vehicle?” Jeff nodded without saying a word. “We’d like you to stay behind for questioning. Wait here, please.” Jeff’s face fell ashen and he looked around desperately for his buddies and a way out. But he never saw them and only stood alone in silence.
Peter smiled and whispered to Kaila who was in front of him on the scooter, “Come on, let’s take off.” She pulled away unnoticed and blended into the traffic streaming away from the beach park.
As she pulled into the driveway of her uncle’s house, Peter jumped off the scooter and ripped his helmet off. His face was still red with anger after learning all that Jeff and Koni Boy were doing.
“What is it?” Kaila hissed under her breath. They tried not to make too much noise. They were late for curfew as it was and they needed to hurry back to the dorms.
Peter shook his head wearily as he stared at her. “You won’t believe this. They have been spying on us.”
“Who?” she asked, sounding shocked.
“Koni Boy has been hacking our accounts online and spying on us. And passing everything he finds over to Jeff. That’s how he kept popping up everywhere we went.” Kaila’s jaw dropped with her eyes widened in horror. “And get this. He knew my username on the chat tool we just started using. DartVader! He called me DartVader right there on the beach!”
Kaila put her hand to her mouth in shock. “Oh my God! No one but us would know that!”
“Exactly! Those assholes have been spying on us! Every word, every sentence we have written to one another.”
“Oh my God, oh my God!” Kaila kept repeating. Her hands began to shake. Tears began to form in her eyes as the feeling of disgust and betrayal began to cascade throughout her body. “I don’t believe this! Why? Why?” Then she realized something even more awful. “Do… do you think he watches Leilani too?”
Peter shook his head. He had no clue. “I don’t know. It’s his girlfriend. But knowing that sleazeball I wouldn’t put it past him.” Kaila gasped in horror once again with her hand to her mouth. “Leilani, oh no…” Tears began to stream down her cheeks. “She has no clue. He could be spying on anyone we know! And why? Why us?”
“Jeff was trying to get to me to do his dirty work. And somehow he found Koni Boy to help him. I guess criminals just seem to find each other somehow.” Peter felt awful. He could see how hurt and betrayed Kaila appeared. “I’m so sorry, Kaila. I didn’t mean for this to happen. Please forgive me. I can’t believe they did this to us.” Kaila just stared at him in disbelief. She did not know what to say to him. “Come on, we need to get back to the dorms.”
As soon as they started to walk back to school, one police car came riding down the short street and parked right in front of their house, lights flashing red. The cops stepped out and flashed a light in Peter’s eyes. They were two of the same cops that were at the beach. One of them was Tua again.
“Yes, sir?” Peter said nervously.
“We’d like to ask you a few questions please,” Tua said. He looked over at Kaila and said, “You too, miss.”
A light went on at the front porch of the house and Lupe and Nani stepped out in their night clothes.
“What’s going on, officers?” Lupe asked.
The officer did not answer him though and continued to look at Peter. “Were you two down at the beach party just now?”
“Yes, sir,” Peter answered.
“Do you know Jeff Sokoli?”
“What’s your relationship with him?”
Lupe walked closer to the other officer and asked again, “What’s going on here? What did they do?”
“We just need to ask them some questions, sir.” Lupe looked on very impatiently. Nani stood on the front porch seething, staring a hole right through Peter.
Tua repeated, “How do you know Jeff Sokoli?”
“I knew him growing up,” Peter said, his voice shaking. This was all too familiar. He just wanted to die right then and there. Kaila looked on in shock and dismay. “In grade school and high school on the Big Island.”
“We’ve been following his movements for quite some time now,” Tua stated. “Are you aware of any drug activity at the beach party tonight?” Nani and Lupe’s ears perked up when they heard that.
Peter swallowed hard. He knew he could not lie. There was too much at stake. Graduation was only a month away. Kaila’s plans for college. All this came flooding into his mind as he stood on the driveway. “He tried to push some on me,” Peter finally said. “He tried to get me to sell it for him. I refused. I didn’t even touch it. I told him I was done, I was never helping him again. I got in trouble back home for it.”
“Yes, we know about your misdemeanor,” Tua answered.
Nani was incensed. She was about to go off like a volcano. “Kaila, get in the house!” Neighbors began to come outside to look upon the scene. Nani became flush with embarrassment.
The other officer held up his hand though. “No ma’am. We need her to stay right here for now.”
Kaila was shaking. She had never been confronted like this before. She just froze and would not move. She looked at Peter with sad eyes. She knew what her aunt was thinking and what she would try to do.
“Mr. Sokoli showed some drugs at the party?” Tua asked. Peter nodded. “Did you see it?” Peter nodded again. “What was it? What happened to it?”
“Meth-amphetamine. I never took it though. I knocked it from his hands and it got lost in the sand. That’s when we decided to leave. I didn’t want any part of it.”
“That was a smart move, or we would have to take you in if you had taken possession of it.” Tua cleared his throat. “Jeff was taken into custody just now. Bags of meth were found in his trunk.” Peter shot a glance over at Kaila. At least that was some good news. “He claims he was coming to see you at the party.”
“He was following me everywhere,” Peter explained. “Kaila too.”
“That’s right,” Kaila finally spoke up. “He snuck up on me in the store today.” Tua raised an eyebrow at hearing this.
“It was like he was spying on us,” Peter continued. “Maybe even online. He knew everything we said to each other.” The officers listened intently.
“Tell him about Koni Boy,” Kaila insisted. Nani’s eyes widened as she listened.
Lupe stepped forward some more. “What about Koni Boy?”
“Anikoni James?” Tua asked. “What about him?”
“Yes,” Peter answered. “I guess that’s his name.” He looked over at Kaila for reassurance. She nodded yes. “We suspect he might be hacking our accounts and spying on us. He may be relaying it to Jeff. That’s how Jeff knew everywhere we were going and things we said online.” Nani was about to go ballistic. Lupe became visibly angry as well.
To Peter’s surprise, Tua answered, “We have been investigating some possible security breaches in our online fraud department. It is ongoing, but there have been some indications involving a high-tech firm on the island.”
Peter looked over at Kaila, “He works at one, doesn’t he?”
“Yes, he does,” Lupe answered for her.
“We are looking into that,” Tua said. He studied Kaila and Peter for a moment. “You two are about to graduate soon, aren’t you?” They both nodded. “You were wise not to take anything from Jeff. But let this be a warning to you, both of you. Stay away from these kinds of parties and people like Jeff. It can only end very badly for both of you if you get involved with people like that.” Kaila began to cry again. She was so scared she could not help herself. “I don’t need to question you further. I’m going to let you go back to school. But if we need to ask any more questions down the road, we will be contacting you.”
“Thank you, sir,” Peter said. “Sorry for the trouble tonight.”
Tua noded to Lupe and said, “Sorry for the disturbance, sir. Goodnight.”
The officers got in their car and left and the neighbors began going inside as well.
Nani came bounding down the driveway and grabbed Kaila by the shoulders. “You get inside this instant!”
“But Nani, I’m going to be late for curfew!” Kaila protested.
“You are late already! Get inside!”
“Do as she says,” Lupe commanded. Kaila sheepishly walked towards the front door.
Then Nani turned her wrath on Peter. “How dare you bring this shame to my house! No one in this family has ever had anything to do with drugs and I won’t allow it now! This is disgraceful! How dare you come here and embarrass us like this! I want you out of my sight, young man!”
Peter tried to plead with her. “Mrs. Alapai, please. I am very sorry. It wasn’t my intention at all. I am not involved with that guy anymore.”
“I don’t care!” Nani shouted. “You are never coming near this family again. You hear me? You are never to see her again!”
Kaila began to cry profusely. “It’s not his fault!”
Nani whirled around and shouted even louder, “Get inside, I said! What would your mother think? How do I explain this to her? And how I have failed her? Get inside the house!” Kaila went dashing through the front door crying all the way. Peter’s heart sank as she disappeared inside. All he wanted to do was cry too. He was so stunned at the sudden turn of events that he did not know what to say.
“Just go on back, son,” Lupe said. “You are already late.”
He watched helplessly as they both turned and walked back inside and Nani slammed the door. He could hear yelling in the front room as soon as the door closed. He lowered his head and sobbed uncontrollably. “What have I done?” he cried.
Three mischievous, snickering, shadowy figures ran across Honoapiilani Highway in the cover of darkness. It was early Sunday evening when Vince and the Kapule brothers made one last ditch effort to catch a glimpse of the mysterious ‘Fat Mazy.’
Oki worried out loud, saying, “I’m not sure we should be doing this. Don’t you guys remember what Tua said?”
“Shhh!” Vince scolded. “Keep your voice down. We are almost there.” They crouched down on the corner away from the street lights across from Mazy’s house. “All right, let’s keep outta sight as much as possible. Remember what Tua said. I have a plan.”
“That’s what I’m trying to say, doofus,” Oki griped, rolling his eyes.
“What’s your big plan?” Kai whispered.
“OK,” Vince began. “This is what we’re gonna do. When we -”
Suddenly, the porch light switched on at Mazy’s house and the front door opened slowly.
“Oh geez!” Vince gasped and instinctively put his arm up to quiet the others. “Get back! Get back behind these shrubs!”
The three boys quickly ducked around the corner and nearly dove into some bushes. They made sure they were not heard or seen as they tried their best to keep watching the front door through the leaves and branches. A person emerged from the house, but they could not see him or her clearly yet.
“Oh geez! Somebody’s comin’ out!” Oki whispered.
“Shut up!” Vince hissed back.
They watched closely as they heard a young man say goodnight to an unseen person in the house and then walk down the porch steps towards the street. Both brother’s jaws dropped and Oki and Kai put their hands up to their mouths.
Vince’s eyes widened with his jaw dropping to the ground as well. “Is that – Fin?” He leaned closer through the shrub to get a better look. “Holy crap, it is! It is Fin!” All three boys were about to burst. But Vince waved his hand for them to keep calm. “Shh, shh!” They watched as Fin turned up the street towards the school, walking in a hurry. After he was out of sight all three boys began to laugh as hard as they could. “Come on, come on. Let’s go. We’ll get spotted for sure.” They quickly went another way before heading back towards the school.
“Oh my gosh! Can you believe that guy?” Oki exclaimed.
“All this time,” Vince added. “No wonder he never said anything when we were always joking about that lady. Well that son of a gun. How about that? He is Mr. Suave, I have to admit. I told you guys, she must be the foxiest chick you’ve ever seen.”
“Suave?” Kai said excitedly. “Hell man, he’s a legend!”
Oki started shaking his head. “Nope. I ain’t buyin’ it. I still think she’s as big as a house. There’s gotta be some other explanation.”
They headed back to the school as it was almost curfew. When they arrived Vince made a beeline for his room. He walked in to find Peter sitting at his desk staring at the wall. “Hey man,” Vince said excitedly. “You are not gonna freakin’ believe this!” He looked at Peter sideways as he did not budge or even look up. “What’s the matter with you?”
“Nothing,” Peter answered. Of course he was lying though. He had spent the entire day trying to talk to Kaila. He called, sent her online messages and even waited outside her dorm. He went to church but she was not there either. He felt sick to his stomach knowing he could not talk to her and feared the worst. He knew it was not good. He thought there was no way she would avoid him purposely. He knew her aunt and uncle were keeping her away. But not seeing her was agony. He sobbed countless times throughout the day, knowing how much pain and embarrassment he caused her. But he knew all he had to do was see her face to face and they could talk it over. He sensed her pain and sadness. He could feel what she was feeling and it ripped away at his heart.
“Still can’t find her, huh?” Vince asked.
“No, I’ve tried everything. It’s killin’ me, man.”
Vince forgot about Fin for a moment. He could see his roommate was in despair. “Hey, just give her time, man. She’ll come around. She loves you, right?”
“Yeah,” Peter answered, his hands trembling.
“Ain’t nothin’ stronger than that, buddy. Just hang in there. She’ll come around when you least expect it.”
Peter nodded and looked over at him appreciatively. “Thanks, man. I hope so.”
He tried calling her and messaging her again that night, but still he received no reply. By the next morning he had hardly slept at all. He was hopeful she would be down at the pig pens for morning chores. But she was nowhere to be seen. His heart sank when he realized she would not be coming. He knew she must be at school, but obviously got assigned to another detail. He spent the hour tending to the pigs alone. He stood and sobbed as he could not control his emotions. His heart ached to see her and to talk with her.
At lunch he finally caught a glimpse of her in the cafeteria. His heart leapt inside his chest when he saw her. He was also quite relieved she was still at school. He knew they could not keep her away with less than a month to go.
She looked very sad. Her head was down as she stared at her tray and did not eat. Peter was not hungry, so he put his tray at the window and slowly walked over to her table. His hands shook as he approached her. She sat by herself, fumbling with her fork. He sat next to her. He could sense that she knew it was him.
“Hey,” he said softly. “Are you OK? I – I’ve been looking for you everywhere. I tried to call and instant message. I’m so sorry. Please don’t be mad at me.”
She just stared at her untouched food. He waited desperately for her to say something. Finally she did. “I know you have. But I can’t talk to you. I’m sorry.” She immediately got up and left her tray on the table and Peter sitting there in disbelief.
“Kaila, wait!” Peter called out. But she was out of the cafeteria quickly. He got up to go after her, but Taney had been watching from the serving line. She stepped out from behind the counter to stop him.
“Just let her go, Peter,” Taney said. “You don’t know what she went through at her house the other night.”
“That’s why I need to talk to her,” Peter said desperately. “Taney, please.”
She patted him on the shoulder. “Give her time, OK? She’s traumatized right now. And she’s got graduation to worry about. For her sake, give her time.”
Peter looked very flustered. Tears welled up in his eyes. “Taney, I’m a mess too. If I could just talk to her…”
“I know you love her. She knows that too. Don’t worry, OK?”
Peter reluctantly flopped down at the table next to Kaila’s deserted lunch. He put his head in his hands and tried to contain himself. He sadly picked up her tray and placed it in the return window.
He had gone through several days with no word from her. She was not answering any of his calls or messages. He began to lock himself away in his room and was barely eating enough. Every thought of her just made him break down and cry again. He tried to hide it from his roommate but Vince knew he was terribly distraught.
After dinner on Friday evening Peter decided to wander around the campus just like he and Kaila had done countless times together. He ended up at the steps of the girls’ dorm, hoping by some miracle Kaila would come walking out the door. He leaned against the railing and faced the view towards the sea. He had never been so sad in all his life. Inside the dorm was the girl he loved more than anything, but he could not speak with her. He truly did not know what to do.
Suddenly he heard the door open and a voice spoke to him. His stomach lurched with butterflies in hearing Kaila’s voice and instantly he became nervous. It was her!
“Hey,” she simply said. He turned around to see her, his sad eyes looking at her, his hands trembling.
“Hey!” he finally said.
“I was sitting by the dart board. And I saw you through the window.”
Peter gulped and searched for something to say. He had never been so happy to see a person in all his life. “Do you wanta take a walk?”
She breathed a heavy sigh with her hands in her pockets and answered, “Sure.”
They began to slowly walk down the main road in front of the school. The sun was setting over the islands and the sky was brilliantly painted with a vast array of colors. “Thank you for coming out,” he began. “I’ve missed you terribly.”
She stared at the ground as they walked. “I’ve missed you too.”
“Kaila, I’m sorry about what happened. I know I put you in a terrible spot. I can’t tell you how sorry I am. I know how mad they must be at me. It’s been hard though not seeing you.”
“Yes, they are very upset with you,” she answered. “They even called my mom. They don’t want me to see you anymore.”
“No, that can’t happen,” Peter pleaded. “They don’t understand, I’m not part of that stuff anymore. I know it looked bad but I know you believe me.”
“It doesn’t matter to them. And you are the one who doesn’t understand.” She stopped walking and looked straight at him. “I owe everything I have to my aunt and uncle. I wouldn’t be here without their help. And my mom knows that. They know I’m going to college and they don’t want anything to stand in the way of that. And I understand that. They just see you as some guy with no direction in life after graduation who would just be holding me back.”
“And how do you see me?” Peter asked flatly. She turned away though. She could not look him in the eyes. “Kaila, please. Do you really see me that way too? I know that you don’t.”
She sobbed slightly and would not turn around. “No, of course I don’t. But they still won’t let me see you anymore. They want us to end it.”
“Kaila no, please look at me.” He gently put his hand on her shoulder. “Please look at me.”
“I can’t,” she whimpered. “I have no control when I look into your eyes.”
“Baby, what we have can never end. You know it as well as I. We found something in each other that is the most precious thing in the world. We found true love, Kaila! True love! You know how rare that is? Most people go through their whole lives never experiencing it. Even some married couples can’t even say that. But we have! And you know it’s true. You even said so yourself. We’ve talked about how incredible this feeling is, this connection we have. We can’t explain it, but we just know! We just know it, baby! I know you are the one for me. I have known since the day I first saw you. That feeling in the pit of your stomach, in my very soul, that you just can’t explain.” His words poured out as he began to tremble. Tears streaked down his face. “Kaila… you are the love of my life!”
She turned around trembling and sobbing as well and looked in his eyes. “I know, Pika. As you are mine.”
“I would do anything for you, baby. You know that. We have such deep love for one another. We are bound together by something no words can describe. It never ends. It cannot be stopped. And I can assure you, I will never give up on our love. I am yours forever, Kaila.”
She began to sob uncontrollably. She understood the gravity of what he had just said. He truly wanted to spend his life with her. He tried to embrace her but she would not let him. Through her tears she finally said what he never wanted to hear. “It just won’t work.”
“It can work, Kaila! I love you. And I know you love me too. I can feel it! Don’t you understand? To be able to actually feel someone’s love for you? It’s the most amazing thing ever!”
Tears were streaming down her face as she listened to him plead with her. But she only shook her head. “It doesn’t matter anymore, Peter. I can’t talk to you anymore. You can’t contact me anymore and we can’t see each other anymore. I wish it didn’t have to be this way.” She left him standing there in the road stunned.
“Kaila, please!” he cried out loud. “Please don’t do this! Please.” He cried uncontrollably as she walked away leaving him there. “Please no!” Her words ripped through him like a dagger. He fell to his knees in despair. He cried until his words became a whisper. “Please don’t go. Please.” But it was too late.
It was the day of graduation and parents and family had gathered at Boarders’ Field. People were everywhere as cars began arriving for the yearly historic commencement exercises.
Peter had stayed in a hotel with his family the night before as the students had vacated the dorms a few days ago. He sat in the back seat of the rental car with his sister as they turned the corner onto Lahainaluna Road. The road was lined with large handmade banners for graduates that family members had hung for some of them. Some said ‘Congratulations’ and some said ‘Good luck on the mainland!’ or others read ‘Class of 2013!’ There were many along the way saying various similar things. They were strung all along the way on both sides. There was also stands selling lei’s and fresh goodies to eat that some families stopped to buy for their graduate.
They parked the car and Peter retrieved his cap and gown from the trunk. He was dressed in a nice suit and tie. His face appeared to be sullen though. The last month had been the worst he had faced in his life. He managed to finish all his work in order to graduate, but spending all that time without any contact with Kaila had been excruciating. He had only caught glimpses of her from time to time, but she held true to her word in not communicating with him. His heart was broken beyond repair and it showed in his expression.
His mother straightened his tie for him. “We’re proud of you, Pika. Don’t be sad. It’s not a funeral.”
Peter’s dad tried to assure him. “It’s gonna be OK, son. Maybe you’ll get to see her tonight. Just know we are proud of you.”
“Thanks,” Peter answered. “I’ll see you after it’s over. I gotta go find the formation for the guys.” He headed down the main road towards the gathering area for the male graduates.
All the men were dressed in red caps and gowns. And there were many. Peter could not tell, but it seemed like over a hundred young men gathered all dressed in the same colors. It was quite a scene in itself and they had not joined the ladies yet. Handshakes and high-fives went all around as they began to line up in their assigned places. Peter stood near the middle of the line with his last name being in the L’s. When they called out his letter in the alphabet, he thought of the giant ‘L’ upon the mountain that they would soon see all aflame. A selected few of his dorm friends that were graduating and other seniors from the class had made the annual trek earlier in the day up the mountain to the site of the ‘L’ and David Malo’s gravesite. They lined the letter with lime and gasoline as was tradition. Inside the vertical part of the letter were bars that signified league championships for the school and on the horizontal part of the ‘L’ was the number thirteen for the class year.
Organizers made the signal that the graduates were about to begin their march towards Boarders’ Field. They slowly walked single file up the road towards the stone staircase that led to the field. As they approached the stairs, they met with the ladies all dressed in white caps and gowns. Each man matched up with one lady as they walked two-by-two up the stairs and into the open field. Shouts of joy and whoops and hollers rang out as the men joined together with the ladies. Onlookers on the road that watched the parade of graduates cheered and shouted congratulations to them. Behind the parade the sun had already begun setting.
Peter strained to see if he could find Kaila in the crowd of white and red caps and gowns, but she was too far ahead of him to try and make her out. Soon, the entire class had gathered in their respective seats and the ceremony began.
One by one, the graduate’s names were called as they crossed the stage to receive their diploma. People cheered and clapped as each name was called. Peter knew Kaila would be one of the first to be called and when he finally saw her, his heart pounded out of his chest and his stomach churned with butterflies. She looked so beautiful in her white cap and gown. And he was so proud of her too. He had learned that her term paper had earned such accolades that Mr. Tran had recommended her for a partial scholarship at Hawaii Maui College. He leaped from his seat when they called her name and clapped and whistled for her as she crossed the stage.
Soon, his turn came to do the same and when they called his name he could hear a smattering of clapping and his dad and sister’s distinctive voices yelling out, “Way to go, Peter!” He smiled for what seemed like the first time in ages as he walked across the stage.
After all the graduates received their diplomas, they returned to the stage and lined the steps of the amphitheater to sing to the gathering. By this time the sun had set and darkness descended upon the ceremony. Peter saw Kaila clearly now on the bottom step as they prepared to sing the traditional songs they had learned all school year. He smiled proudly at her and kept his eyes on her, hoping she might see him. As they sang the finale of the school alma mater, high upon the mountain the letter ‘L’ slowly began to glow in firelight. The rousing tune reached its crescendo as the ‘L’ became brighter and brighter on the hillside. Soon it was fully ablaze in an amazing display, with the bars lit and the class number thirteen equally ablaze in fiery glory. People turned to see the amazing site as the graduates concluded the incredible song.
The wondrous sight could be seen for miles. People down on the coast in Lahaina stopped what they were doing to watch the ‘L’ come to life with fire on the side of the mountain. Cars even pulled over to watch it and locals and tourists alike were astonished. People asked what was going on and what it meant. Soon everyone knew the latest class of seniors had just graduated Lahainaluna High School.
The crowd erupted in applause and cheering. The principal came to the podium and announced loudly, “Ladies and gentleman, the Class of 2013!” The applause became almost deafening as the graduates lifted their caps and tossed them into the air.
As everyone laughed and cheered Peter looked down to see Kaila smiling at him broadly from across the way, as if to say, Congratulations. We did it!
After it was all over, the graduates met out on the field with their families and friends. Peter’s mom put a lei around his neck and kissed his cheek.
“Congratulations, Peter! You sounded wonderful. It put a lump in my throat.”
“Thanks, Mom.” He hugged his parents and his sister amidst of big throng of people. He felt someone tap him on the shoulder. To his surprise he saw Kaila as he turned around. His heart burst with love for her. He could barely contain his emotions as he saw her and the thought that she had sought him out in the crowd.
“Hi, Peter. Congratulations!” she said to him.
He wanted to hug her right then and there but he resisted. “Same to you,” he said in return.
She was standing next to a woman he had never seen before. “Peter, this is my mom. I wanted you to meet her.”
“Oh, I see!” Peter exclaimed. He shook her hand and said, “Nice to finally meet you, Mrs. Alapai.”
“Nice to meet you too,” she said.
“Um, this is my mom and dad. And my sister Ana. Mom, Dad, this is Kaila and her mom.”
They all exchanged pleasantries and congratulated each other. All the while Kaila and Peter looked at one another silently. He wanted to tell her that he loved her so terribly. But she knew what he was saying without him having to say a word.
“We better go, Peter,” Kaila said. And she led her mother back into the crowd.
“Goodbye, Kaila,” Peter said sadly. His dad hugged his shoulder and tried to comfort him.
“That was very nice of her,” he said. Peter tried his best not to cry as he sadly watched her disappear into the crowd.
Soon his roommate Vince and other dorm friends appeared out of nowhere wearing their caps and gowns. He slapped high fives with them all. “We did it, man!” Vince yelled out.
Just then, two administrators approached a beautiful woman wearing a lavish Hawaiian dress. She was incredibly beautiful and almost everyone noticed her. “Ms. Stern, so nice to see you again.”
Vince and the boys looked on curiously. It was hard to take their eyes off the stunning middle-aged woman.
“Hello Ms. Maiselle,” said the other teacher. “And congratulations to you, Fin! Your mom must be so proud.”
Vince’s eyes widened in disbelief as he watched Fin stand next to his mother. Maiselle? It has to be her, thought Vince. She put his arm around him and said, “Yes, I’m very proud of little Fin here. And he sang so wonderfully. Mahalo.” Vince looked at his buddies and mouthed the words in total shock. That’s Fin’s mom!
Maiselle noticed the boys standing there with their mouths agape. “Oh, these must be some of your friends. Congratulations, boys. You should ask them to come by for refreshments afterwards, Fin.” Vince’s eyes stayed glued on her. “I’m sure they know where our house is.” She turned to walk away with Fin with an amused grin on her face.
“Um, thank you,” Vince stammered. He looked over at Oki and Kai. “Holy cow!”
Fin stopped and turned around before he left with his mother. He leaned over and punched Vince in the shoulder jokingly. “Nimrod!”
Vince could not help but smile as he watched Fin walk away with his mother, quite easily the most stunningly beautiful woman on Maui. At least to Vince she was.
Oki and Kai and even Peter laughed out loud. “Oh man,” Oki said. “He got you good!”
Vince started laughing. “I told you she wasn’t fat.”
Summer had started and Peter remained on Maui staying with Vince at his house until he found a place of his own. The two of them and the Kaupule brothers had decided to rent an apartment in town. His cell phone rang one day and it was his father.
“I just wanted to give you an update on the latest with your old friend, Jeff.”
“Oh really?” Peter asked. “What did you hear?”
His father went on to explain that charges had been filed against Jeff on the Big Island as well. He would be facing some serious jail time to the extent that he had been involved in dealing drugs. He also informed him about Koni Boy and how Peter and Kaila had suspected he was spying on them online. The police informed his dad that indeed Koni Boy had been breaching the security of several internet sites in order to read his and Kaila’s emails and online chat sessions.
“You know how they caught him?” his dad asked.
“The emails you saved. That was really smart, Pika. Both you and Kaila. They investigated the dates and times those password reset emails were sent and discovered Koni Boy was committing the breaches while he was at work at that high-tech place on Maui.”
Peter gasped over the phone. “Isn’t that even worse than doing it from home?”
“Yep. They traced an IP address right back to his company. So they started investigating the company. Well, as you can imagine, that did not sit well with his employer. It became clear that Koni Boy acted alone and the company was not charged. However he is facing multiple counts of internet intrusion and computer crimes.”
“Wow,” Peter drawled. “Unbelievable.”
His dad continued, “I even heard they got rid of his father just by association. He was pretty high up in the company, but the other executives did not like the embarrassment or the publicity. The pressure of being sued by these huge online companies was too much. His family had a huge home and a lot of land up near the Kula area too. I hear he’s having to sell it since they both were let go.”
“No kidding?” Peter asked. “They will have to sell it?”
“Absolutely. After having a criminal record like that? Probably lose everything. They won’t be able to find a job in that field ever again after all that. Just goes to show you, doesn’t matter how smart these hackers think they are, it all comes around to bite them.”
“Well, I guess it serves him right for spying like that. What a loser.”
“So when you are coming home, son?” he asked.
“Well, I’ve been thinking, Dad. I think I might stay. I feel like I need to be here.”
“You sure that’s what you want to do, son?”
“I don’t want to give up, Dad,” Peter said confidently. “I love her that much.”
“I know you do, son. You do what you need to do. I had a feeling you would say as much. Listen, I talked to a man I know who works for the county over there. Think he might be able to fit you in.”
“Thanks, Dad. I think I’ll give them a call.”
“They already know you are coming.” His dad paused for a moment. “Let us know if you need anything.”
“I’m proud of you, son.”
Kaila sat at the breakfast table at her aunt and uncle’s house. She still looked quite sad. It has been several weeks since graduation and she could not get Peter out of her mind.
“You all right there, kiddo?” Lupe asked as he walked in.
“I’m OK,” she answered. “I just miss him.”
Lupe looked at her with concern. “Don’t let Nani hear that.”
Kaila looked at if him as she were about cry. She shook her head. “I don’t know what to do. I hate this.”
Lupe looked over his shoulder to make sure Nani was not in the room. “Listen, I heard from a friend of mine with the county that he has taken a job with them on the road crew.”
Kaila looked at him with wide eyes. “What? How would know that? Are you sure?” She looked at him suspiciously too. “And why would you find that out?”
“Oh just a hunch I had. I was curious.” He walked over to the computer on the kitchen desk and started doing a search. “Looks to me like they are working near the pali today. That’s right on your way to your summer job at the paper if I’m not mistaken.”
Kaila stood up eagerly. “Are you serious? Nani would have a fit.” But she ran over and gave him a hug. “Oh thank you, Uncle Lupe!”
“Thank him for what?” Nani asked as she walked in. She glanced over at the computer and saw what he had pulled up. “Oh no. I thought we had gone over this! What are you showing her that for?”
“Nani, please,” Lupe pleaded with her. “Look at her. She hardly eats anymore. She’s been moping around here for months. She loves him, Nani.”
“But I said…”
“Baby, you remember how we met? It was the same way. In high school. Neither one of us had any money. I didn’t go to college either. But now look at us. Trust me baby, I wouldn’t change any of that for the world.” He put his arms around her and kissed her. He could see that he was getting through to her.
“I know, but – that was a long time ago,” Nani said quietly.
“Times haven’t changed that much.” Lupe smiled at her broadly. She smiled at him too, forgetting Kaila was standing right there.
“But your sister,” she continued. “What will she say?”
“Let’s let her worry about that, OK?”
Nani knew he was right. She had to let Kaila decide on her own. She looked over at Kaila and smiled. “You better go, you might be late for work.”
Peter stood along the hot road in the mid-morning sun. He wore a white hard hat and held the sign for traffic that said ‘slow’ or ‘stop.’ The oncoming traffic on his side was stopped for the moment as a row of cars slowly passed from the other direction. He stretched his knees as they became tired of standing in one place for so long.
He got the signal on his walkie-talkie that the way was clear, so he turned the sign around to say ‘slow’ and signaled for traffic to continue by. The cars started slowly up the hill that wound its way around the rocky pali.
He paid little attention to the cars passing by until at the very end of the line he noticed something very familiar. At the very end of the line a baby blue colored scooter puttered by. A young girl in a white helmet and with sunglasses on, with her cute ponytail hanging out from under her helmet, went riding past. His heart raced as she slowly rode up the steep hill. His hands shook as he tried to steady the sign post he was holding. He thought for sure she had seen him but she never looked his way. As she neared the top of the hill, his hope began to fade as she was nearly out of sight. He stared at the ground and felt all those sad emotions rushing back to him, as if he wanted to sob right then and there.
But from the corner of his eye, and to his pleasant surprise, he saw the tiny blue scooter turn around in the middle of the road and head back towards him down the hill.
In the fall of 2012, The Lahainaluna Lunas attempts a historical and amazing run for their first ever high school state championship in football. During these exciting times, Peter Lane is reluctant to switch schools his senior year. Yet his troubled past makes it inevitable; thus, he becomes a boarder student on the beautiful campus in West Maui. Here he meets his destiny in a lovely, beautiful, and strong-willed student named Kaila. Peter quickly finds his world is turned on end as he is so enchanted with her. And soon he accepts his new environment as his home, realizing his life will never be the same. Set on the majestic tropical slopes of the West Maui mountains, The Lunas follows Peter and Kaila as they experience the rigors of daily life in such a unique and historic place, steeped in rich Hawaiian tradition. This young couple not only discovers the best gift of all; they also realize that nothing can break the bonds of true love.