6.10.13

Island Hopping

"So where do you lovebirds want to go?" Morgan gunned the jeep's engine before tearing out of the driveway in second gear. "If you want to do the really touristy stuff, there's a lavender farm and some botanical gardens nearby."

Jason's eyes lit up. "I could be a cheap, slutty whore for either of those options. Joe?"

"I dunno," I replied slowly. "I think I'm in the mood for something a little more off the beaten path. You've been here awhile, Morgan, what tickles your senses?"

"Honestly," she said, "I'm far more knowledgeable about the local food and drink than places to go wandering. Karl's kept me pretty busy. So if you're hungry, I'm your girl. But now that I think about it, there is one place that comes to mind..." She made a left and we began our descent down the mountain.

When we reached Kahului, we continued North until the road became just slightly wider than what felt safe enough for one car to manage. We hugged the rocky coastline as it twisted back and forth upon itself, with Morgan driving like she was piloting a runaway roller coaster. A sudden climb and three frighteningly blind curves brought us to a valley filled with small houses and one bright green shack on the right-hand side of the road. Morgan pulled over by the shack and killed the engine.

"Get ready for the best banana bread of your life," she said with a grin.

"After that ride, Im not sure eating is what I want to do," Jason replied.

"I guess you shouldn't have ridden shotgun then," I laughed. "Let's get ourselves a loaf." We walked up to the shack, bought a round of lemonades and a loaf, and sat at a round picnic table. The view overlooking Maui's Northernmost shoreline was nothing short of spectacular: Atop a tiny inlet carved by the sea, there wasn't much to do but stare down at the little houses and marvel at the ocean beyond.

"I wish I could have brought my mom here," I said.

Morgan turned to me. "What's stopping you?"

"About six feet of earth."

"I'm sorry she didn't get to see it, too," she replied. "Has she been gone long?"

"About 14 months. She went a bit too early for my liking, but that's always how these things go, isn't it?"

"She never wanted to come here," Jason said. "We invited her to join us on our honeymoon." Morgan raised an eyebrow.  "I know. Crazy, right? But she hadn't gone anywhere fun in such a long time. She refused, said the humidity and the heat would be too much. And she's from Indiana. I think she made a mistake and she made it on purpose. I wish I knew why. She would have loved it here."

He took my hand under the table and shared a look with me that I'd seen so many times since she died.  Jason had lost his mother just before graduating college. Neither his nor my mother had gone quickly; we both had watched a parent slip slowly from vibrance to a dull shade of gray. I had only recently come out of the fog that surrounded my head when she died. Being on Maui would have been such a relief were it not for the reasons we had been drawn here.

Morgan looked at her lemonade. "This needs a higher octane if we're going to keep talking like this. Still refreshing, though. Are you boys ready to move on?"

"Almost," I said. I stood up and walked to the edge of the ridge where the little green shack was perched. I stared out at the sea and whispered a quick message of love to a woman who could not hear it. The stone around my neck grew warm. I felt Pele's voice creep inside my head.

"You are not alone, Nui Kahu. You are watched from above the soil, below it and upon it. She is there. But so are the ones looking for you. Start dancing."


I came back to the others. "Let's get moving. I get the sudden feeling that we shouldn't stay around one spot for too long."

Morgan quickly scanned the horizon. "Do you know something I don't, Joe?"

"I hope not. I think it's nerves. Or the urge to explore. Either way, let's get going. This can't be the only thing worth seeing on this road, right?"

A hummingbird flew past me.

At least, it sounded like a hummingbird.

"Drop!" Morgan yelled. Jason and I both threw ourselves at the ground and inched our way under the picnic table. She pulled a pistol out from some hidden corner of her outfit and positioned herself just below the hood of the Jeep. Another hummingbird sound, but this time it hit the tree near the table with a loud crack. Glancing at the tree, I could see that these weren't birds flying through the air, but darts. The kind you'd fill with tranquilizers and shoot at wooly mammoths.

The lady in the green shack shouted "What the fuck?" just before closing her window and calling what I hoped was the police. A third dart shattered the window and sent her diving for the floor with a scream.

Jason looked at me and then at the car. "Well, at least they aren't trying to kill us. How do we get out of this? We can't exactly stroll over to Morgan."

"Strolling is definitely out of the question but rolling isn't. The table. Let's get to the Jeep behind it."

"You watch to many bad movies."

"You can complain when I'm done saving our butts from a serious tranqing." I tipped the table towards what I hoped was the direction the darts had come from. Within seconds, one had punched into the table with a satisfying thwack. "It's holding. Come on."

We rolled the table to the Jeep and slipped in. "Stay down!" Morgan yelled as she tried to come around the driver's side. Another dart whistled outside and smacked into a rock three inches from Morgan's hip. "Can one of you fling open the door?"

I reached between the driver's seat and the door to grab the handle. A dart hit the armrest as it flung open. Morgan crept to the door's edge, then threw herself around it and into the seat. She slammed the door, gunned the engine and tore down the road like the hills behind us were on fire. "So, did we interrupt somebody's game of lawn darts, or was that an attempted kidnapping? I'm inclined to go with B. Joe, are you okay?"

"I'm fine. The important thing," I said as I glanced backwards,  "is that the road behind us still appears clear. Whomever that was, they wanted to say hidden."

"Yeah, well, that's not a bad plan of action for us either at the moment," snorted Jason. "Morgan, are there any spots ahead where we can hide out?"

"I'd actually feel better if we just kept going round the island till we were back in our own part of town," she replied. "But... I still kind of want to take you to the place I was talking about earlier. After this morning's little storytime chat, I can't stop thinking that it may be important."

Jason and I exchanged a look. "Um, do you really think it's a good time for a field trip?" I asked.

She looked straight ahead as she said, "I'm really not sure if we have a choice." Morgan started to slow down the jeep. "We won't be long on the ground, promise. In fact, you can see it from the car."

She made a left-hand turn onto a dirt road that led up the terrain of West Maui and towards the mountains. Jason and I kept glancing behind to see if anyone was tailing us as she made several turns onto paths that were barely distinguishable as roads. She brought the Jeep to a halt in front of a tall stone that, for all intents and purposes, was like a six foot tall version of the Iao Needle. Below and to the Northwest I could see Kapalua's large resort that was undoubtedly filled with golfers and diabetes.

"Here we go," she said, and pointed to the mostly unremarkable stone.

"Where's the bowl, though?" I asked automatically as I got out. I didn't know where the thought had come from, but I couldn't stop myself from saying it.

Morgan looked over at me. "What bowl? Karl's bowl? Why would you ask that?"

I jumped out of the jeep and walked over to the stone. "I don't know why I asked it. I kind of just realized I was talking." I ran my fingers along the stone, tracing a long vein of what appeared to be obsidian. "And am I crazy, or does this rock appear to be humming?"

"Hello, that's fresh," said Morgan as she jumped out of the Jeep herself. She pressed her ear against the stone for a good ten seconds before stepping away and turning to me. "There's something off with you, and I don't mean to tease. It's just..." She paused for a moment and then suddenly she leaned in very close to my face. "The stone isn't humming, Joe. You are."

"Say what?"

"Well, you or something on you, that is." She pointed at the necklace I was wearing. "Any chance that's made of the same stuff we've got stuck in the ground here?"

I Pulled Pele's present out from under my shirt and held it to my ear. For a split second, I heard laughter. But Morgan leaned in towards my chest and then pulled back, shaking her head.

"Just when I  think I've pinpointed the source, it shifts," she said. "I don't know where it's coming from, but I hear it."

"Um, guys," Jason called from the Jeep, "is it safe right now to just pull over on the side of the road and stare at rocks?"

"You see any cars headed towards us," said Morgan, "Just tell me and we're off, ok?" She turned back to me. "So. What is it?"

"It's a marker, but I have no clue what it's trying to point out to us. I mean, look around. We aren't close to any known sacred spots, are we?"

Morgan cocked her head at me. "Are you sure you haven't spent much time studying this island? I was about to point out the same thing. This stone here isn't remotely close to any known Heiau and would go unnoticed by most people. And yet, here it is, humming."

"Maybe it's not special all on its own,"  replied. "Maybe it's connected to something. Have you found any other stones like this?"

"Funny you should ask. There's at least one on each island. It's admittedly a lot of ground to cover for our team, so we're not sure how may exist"

"Have you mapped them?

Morgan looked around again. "Tell you what. Let's go back to the house and I'll show you some of my work. I haven't figured out the connection yet, but I'm never one to shun a pair of fresh eyes."

"Can we stop for a round of mini golf in Lahina on the way back?"

She laughed. "Do you really think that's wise right now?"

"Nobody's followed us yet."

"Yet," she muttered. "Okay. A quick round of mini golf and then it's back to work. And Joe..."

"Yes?"

"Do you think Jason is safe here?"

"I don't know."

"Neither do I," she said as she glanced back at the Jeep. "Come on, let's go. Though I might need a shot of the family's finest before we ride."

I laughed. "You and me both, sister."


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