“Our friend is sailing his boat from Shipwreck Beach to Lahaina Harbor,” she said. “I think he wants to sell it.”
“Next time you see him,” said the blond, “tell him there’s a haole in town looking for him, okay?”
“Sure,” Song agreed. Her unappreciative opinion of Kamehaloha Kong was based primarily on the fact that he owed her money for meals eaten at the Sunrise.
From his corner table Julian Crosby eavesdropped on the conversation. Shamelessly, he admired the bikini girl. As she turned to walk out of the café her shoulders rocked gently and her long arms swayed like palm fronds touched by the Trades.
He paid his bill and needlessly left a tip. Out the door and onto Front Street he sauntered, past the Pioneer Inn and all the way to the far end of the pier where the Carthaginian sailing ship was docked. There he stood out on the launch, watching rays of golden sunlight dance over the straight that separated Maui from the Island of Lanai. A colorful dragonfly whirred round his head.
On this splendid Hawaiian morning, Julian took a moment to acknowledge his friend and stockbroker, Kevin Miles, who had first suggested and then facilitated this Maui vacation. You were right about this place, my friend, he silently acknowledged. Here a decrepit attitude doesn’t stand a chance for survival.
Driving his rented car, Julian spent most of the morning exploring the leeward side of the West Maui Mountains. He stopped at a busy farmer’s market in Wailuku to buy mangoes and a pineapple then drove mauka to Pukulani and Makawao, where Hawaiian paniolos worked on upcountry ranches. Later, on the eleventh floor balcony of Kevin Miles’ ocean-view condo, he cooked ahi on a gas barbecue and assembled a salad made from tropical fruits. He drank an entire bottle of Chardonnay to toast his arrival in Hawaii.
The view from the balcony of Kevin’s condo was sublime. Molokai Island appeared distant and surreal at sunset as the billowy clouds concealed its conical summit. Its leeward canyons were cast in fiery shades of pink and mauve. As dusk fell Julian heard the sound of waves breaking onshore. The white foam was oddly luminescent in near darkness. In the distance, a sugar train whistled as it chugged through the cane fields from Kaanapali to Lahaina Town.
The ocean breeze kept the eleventh-floor apartment cool, and Julian slept more soundly than he could remember sleeping in years. It was barely light when he opened his eyes. For a moment he lay in bed trying to recall a dream he was certain he’d dreamed. A curious image presented itself.
Sitting on a bridge near a rainforest waterfall was the round-bodied Hawaiian he’d seen in the photo at the Sunrise Café. With bare feet and busy hands the ‘fruit juice philosopher’ was weaving baskets out of freshly cut palm fronds. Aware of the haole’s presence, he extended his thumb and little finger. “Aloha, brother!”
“Aloha,” said Julian.
“A little out of your element, aren’t you?” said the basket weaver.
Julian shrugged. “I think everybody’s looking for a little piece of paradise...”
“True, brother. But Paradise is nothing more than a state of mind. Don’t you agree?”
“Come on now,” said Julian. “Who could argue with splendor like this?” Of course he was referring to the prolific natural garden, as well as to the emotional comfort it seemed to impart.
“The rainforest is beautiful, but it’s also very dense,” said Kong, “The haole can never fully understand its mysteries…”
“What’s a haole?” Julian asked. “I keep hearing the word, but I’m afraid I don’t know it.”
The Hawaiian laughed at him. “You are haole!”
“The blond girl at the Sunrise said we would meet.”
“Could be we have important business,” the weaver speculated.
“With all due respect,” said Julian, “business is the farthest thing from my mind.”
“A poor choice of words on my part, brother. I’m sure that your trip is intended for pure pleasure!” The Hawaiian laughed so hard that he nearly fell off the rock on which he was sitting.
“So where do you fit in?” Julian wanted to know.
Kamehaloha’s black eyes suddenly went serious as he surveyed the newcomer from head to toe. “Kahuna’s power is very curious,” he said, nodding. “I search your soul. I uncover your dreams and fantasies. Then I work through your sense of possibility.”
“No offense,” said Julian, “but I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“It’s my job to throw the world off its axis,” said Kong, and he again busied his hands with his task. “Kahuna may do a little mischief, brother, but I never make knots that are impossible to untie!”