17.1.10

The Estate

Morgan moved quickly along the roads (by quickly, I mean she drove 45 mph) to get us halfway up Haleakala in under thirty minutes. During the drive, she gave me some background on professor Diessen's current project. Apparently, he was hot on the trail of some ancient place of worship for the Hawaiian goddess, Pele. I knew enough about her to ask Morgan why we were on Maui instead of the island of Hawaiʻi.

"Actually, the work he's doing now is in preparation for a trip to the Big Island," she said. "He's been looking at some petroglyphs on Kahoʻolawe, and he believes that Pele's story, and thus, her worship really began here on Maui. So we're doing a bit of work here before moving on. Nearly done, actually. It's been quite fantastic, and not just because of the fine weather and even finer people."

I nodded. "There's a few stories that suggest she arrived on Hawaiʻi from the Northwest, so that would make sense. Isn't one of the theories about how she got there that she supposedly got into a fight with her big sister, and was torn apart?"

Morgan smiled. "You know your mythology. One of the old stories is about that fight, and it was supposed to have taken place near Hana. But the professor thinks..." She looked at me, trying to decide how much to say. "Well, I should probably let him explain it, lest you think everyone you're meeting tonight is conked."

Jason laughed. "You don't know Joe. He feels out of his element if he isn't surrounded by crazy people, myself included."

"Well that's refreshing news," Morgan replied. "And tell me Jason, just what flavor of crazy are you, to be coming along on this possibly-dangerous-but-impossibly-gorgeous adventure?"

"For starters, I get separation anxiety. Also, I have to keep Joe out of trouble. You see, we have an arrangement of sorts. I get to go first."

She raised an eyebrow. "Go first at what?"

"Dying," Jason said matter-of-factly. "I guess it goes back to the separation anxiety. I'd pretty much lose my mind if he was gone forever and probably just take a handful of pills the day after his funeral."

"It's touching," I said, "in a Fatal Attraction kind of way. But I agreed to the deal, so here he is. Jason will make sure that I do not surf, cliff dive, that sort of thing."

"Or drive the Road to Hana," Jason added. "He drives like Evil Kneivel."

"It's very touching, in a way," I said. He's the Kevin Costner to my Whitney Huston."

"Ugh," Jason grunted. "A thousand comparisons you could make, and you chose that pile of crap?"

Morgan laughed. "Well, I can certainly see his charm." She turned to Jason. "Don't you worry about Joe, love. He's in good hands. Luckily for us all, I happen to know a thing or two about keeping people out of harms way." She turned into a driveway and brought the Jeep to a stop . "Right, then. We're here. Best to get inside and show you to the big man himself."

We climbed out of the car and walked up to the house, a modern ranch layout with plenty of wood and glass and light. Morgan opened the door and ushered us in. I couldn't help but notice her keen sense of the surroundings as she glanced about the front yard before shutting the door.

"Professor," she called out. "The guest of honor has arrived."


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