A Cold Day In Paradise

Another excerpt from a book I am working on. All based on true facts.

It was a cold December day in Hawaii. Who would have thought? A cold day in the tropics seemed to be an oxymoron of tropical life but it was the truth. The temperature dropped to an unusual, unseasonable, unprecedented and unreasonable fifty five degree Fahrenheit. It stayed that way for a week as a cold front stalled and then passed through the Hawaiian chain. It was a sight to behold to see so many Hawaiian locals wearing parkas while the touristos on Waikiki tried as they might to stay warm. They failed. They couldn’t keep warm and none of the hotels had central heating.

Waikiki was deserted. Kalakaua Avenue was deserted. Kapiolani Beach Park was deserted, Ala Moana outdoor shopping mall was deserted. Everything was deserted. Quiet, silent desertion. The relatively new Hilton Hawaiian Village complex was shuttered: awaiting the tropical blizzard that was sure to come with this cold snap perhaps. This was not a problem for me as I was used to this: fifty five degree Fahrenheit was nothing but a cool early spring temperature. It was the first day to wear shorts up in the great white north – even though this was December in Waikiki.

I had been here for almost six months. Acclimatized, I was becoming used to a very nice routine. I did have a job for a time at the Waikikian Reef Hotel as a bus boy. I decided shortly after our first sail to Kauai that I needed to sustain this lifestyle. I did have enough bucks in traveler’s cheques but for me that was not enough. Being frugal – not cheap – frugal, I was determined to support myself throughout this adventure and not to depend or lean on anyone. Unlike Keith, who after many, many months still hadn’t found work. His wife Peggy and Katie their daughter were still slugging it out at the clubhouse kitchen all the while that Keith held his own court on the upper deck. By this time I had many friends and acquaintances so I avoided Keith like a tropical storm.

Having a job here did not come without risks. I was Canadian after all. I did not have a green card or landed immigrant status. If I was caught out working here illegally I could be deported. That would not be good considering the adventure I was about to embark upon. Nevertheless I did my best. The Canadian social insurance number was nine digits long, similar to the US’ except the order. Canada’s was 123-456-789 whereas the American social security number was 123-45-6789. All I had to do was use my own number and change the order as in 123-45-6789. Coupled that with an American home address that I took from a recent relationship I had had with a gal from Boston and voila. Before you could say Johnny Paycheck I had a job.

All was right with my world. I had a job and was making money supporting myself. I had made a few friends – some Aussies, some Kiwis, some Americans – and had an on again off again relationship with an Aussie girl named Pauline. I still missed Nina. Nigel continued to avoid me as if I was Pele’s husband Ku.[1] He kept to himself or kept company with his Brit friends. To my surprise, he took a job in September delivering a large yacht to Vancouver. He linked up with the Dutch owner who was not comfortable returning to Vancouver without an experienced mariner. Lucky for me Nigel fit the bill.

“I should be back the end of November.” He announced one day. “While I am gone try to paint the Akaru-Hime’s hull.” and that was it. Goodbye and good riddance.

The tropical lifestyle catering to the tourists was exciting. Washing dishes and clearing tables was not but hey, I was young fellow without responsibilities. I was living on a sailboat berthed at the affluent Ala Moana Yacht Club. My living room was Waikiki and my backyard was the never-ending, limitless expanse of the Pacific Ocean and the other Hawaiian Islands. Life was indeed good and fruitful. I was living the dream.

“Thank you Lord for thinking about me…” I prayed from time to time. I was forever grateful and never let Him think otherwise…every single day that I lived there.

The restaurant work was interesting, especially the afternoon shift until two in the morning. That was when all of the action and fun took place. There was a lounge adjacent to the restaurant’s kitchen. Along with the restaurant I had to service that lounge as well as an underground beach bar named Davey Jones’ Locker – hauling ice and clean dishes and condiments to and from the kitchen and dishwashing area to these outstations. I liked to think of my working space as my culinary “Headquarters.” I became familiar with most of the staff – mainly women servers and hookers who frequented the place. One of them, named Cindy, took a shine to me but in a plutonic manner. She was at least fifteen years my senior. She would often tease me playfully accusing me of being an imposter.

“If you’re from Boston Jimmy then I am an Eskimo.” She would say to me.

An Eskimo Pie I thought.

“You don’t have the accent, the drawl honey. C’mon, where ya from Jimmy? Canada I think…eh?

She laughed.

“Boston Cindy. Really, I am. I have a refined accent. The Queen’s English don’t ya know.”

She was right of course.

“Yeah right.” she would tease, raise her right eyebrow then throw a kiss my way.

I loved Cindy.

Davey Jones’s Locker was situated next to and below the hotel’s beach pool. There, behind the bar in the dark, musty and very smoky underworld lounge that was decked out in nautical piratical décor, was a large magnified window that stretched the entire breadth of the bar. Here the patrons could watch as the bathers frolicked around in the water of the swimming pool above the bar. Those swimmers that were in the know, especially the woman, would swim down and underwater to the pool side of the window and present themselves as playful teasers to the bar’s patrons. It was good exotic fun.

I had one weird moment while working there. An older man, a Hawaiian, came up to me one evening while I was having my break in the restaurant. He was a large man, as most Hawaiian men are. His face was weathered, his hands calloused and huge. He had a full head of black curly hair that was streaked with gray that bespoke of his age. His features reflected a friendly disposition in a face that was almost cherubic but characterized by years of hard living.

“I have been watching you young man.” He said to me out of the blue.

“Oh?” Was all I could say to him. Why? I thought to myself.

“Yes…yes. I see a great deal of pain through your eyes, as if you have experienced many dark things that you should not have had to witness…at this stage of your life. Yes, many bad things.” He shook his head. “Your facial lines and features tell me many things. You appear much older and much wiser than you would seem to be for a man of your age.

“You do?… I do?… Really? I said.

“I only wish you good things…very good things”

“But I’m only twenty two.” I said.

Not hearing me, he smiled, and then continued. “Soon you will meet Kanaloa, and He’e and other water dwellers. He and they will bring you good luck and help you navigate and cross the great water. But first you must see Kane, and test yourself through him. You will prevail as I see you embraced with Amakua who will wipe away your tears”

Whaaat the Fuuuck? I thought.

He left as abruptly as he showed himself to me.

I shook the vision of him off of my brain cells. That…he…was creepy. Who was Kanaloa? Amakua? And He’..he’..he…eh? I chuckled to myself as then a cold, tingling shiver went up and down my spine. I shuddered…uncontrollably. I will have to ask Cindy

“Pay him no heed Jimmy. He comes in here often and is often drunk. His name is  Kukani but we call him Koo-Koo. He is harmless.”

“But who or what is a Kanaloa, an Amakua, or a Kane Cindy?”

“Beats me Jimmy. Hawaiian folklore perhaps…don’t worry about it.”

But I did. I could not dismiss what he said to me. His visitation left an uneasy feeling in me. Thankfully…in time, I forgot the incident and carried on with my Hawaiian life.

[1] The warrior god and husband of Pele goddess of fire and brimstone.

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A very big Hawaiian with a beautiful voice. He died too young.