It Was 1993
Arch, Cyn and Harpo sat in the bushes by the side of Hwy. 30 on Maui. It was warm and dry, a welcome relief from the cold windy mountaintop on the Lahaina Pali Trail. Cyn wanted to wait in the safety of the bracken, since it was unlikely that they’d be found unless an organized and detailed search was conducted. But there was no long term solution available in the bushes.
“We’ve got to cross, and cross now,” Arch said. “This early the road’s clear for long periods of time. And we can’t let their sacrifice go to waste, if that’s what the result is.”
“We can climb back up the slope at any time, and be able to spot the boat a lot better than we can from the beach across the road,” Cyn countered. Harpo looking from one to the other questioningly.
“If they’ve been taken then they’ll have to tell them where we are, and that won’t take long,” Arch said, dreading having to tell her just how that information would be forced out of them. “If that’s what happened then the time before they talk is now, and that means everything. So far there’s no search, no traffic, no change, at all. So we’ve got to go right now.” Arch didn’t want to force her. Realistically there was no forcing her. Either she saw it his way, or if Doug and Atlantis were caught their chances for survival diminished to near zero.
“Okay,” Cyn finally said, following a big sigh. “I’ve gone along this far, what’s one more idiotic move?”
Harpo got up and began to thread his way through the thick brush toward where the road lay stretched out along the coast, as if he understood completely.
“Amazing dog,” Arch whispered, before catching himself. “Dingo, I meant.” He followed Harpo toward the highway. In minutes the three of them were squatting down behind the heavy duty road guard that lined both sides of the road. The guard was only a few feet high, but they could not be seen unless they stood up or leaned forward and over to see what cars might be coming, which is exactly what Arch did. There was nothing.
“Let’s go,” he said, moving to help Cyn and the dingo. But they needed no help. Both leaped the guardrail together, ran across the fifteen or so yards of road, and jumped the rail on the other side. Arch ended up crossing the road alone.
Brush, not totally dissimilar from what they’d hidden in on the other side, overgrew the space between the two roads. The other road, the one that ran between the highway and the water itself, had been hidden by the height of the bushes and the occasional tree growing along the narrow stretch.
“There’s another road,” was the first thing Arch heard Cyn say when he was fully engulfed by the brush.
They stopped to take the scene in. The road was a very narrow one, with insufficient width for two regular cars to simultaneously pass in both lanes. One car would have to pull over to let another car going the other way. There were residences dotting the property between the narrow road and the rocky coastal area where the water gently beat against the sand.
“What now, Mon’ Capitan?” Cyn asked.
“The brush is too thick to stay inside while we make our way along,” Arch indicated, waving his hand back at the brush they’d just come through. “We need to get to that beach I saw from above, so we can see the harbor, check out the action around the marina, if there is any, and then wait.”
“Well, that means we creep along the shore, walk on this road, or swim,” Cyn said, with a laugh. “My vote goes for the road. I’m too tired to swim, and the shore’s a dead giveaway that we’re either nuts, lost or looking to rip off one of the vacation homes.”
“Okay,” was all Arch could think to say. There were no brilliant choices waiting to be made. “Chances are that this road is little traveled, and if there’s activity or trouble coming it’s probably going to give us some warning along the main road.”
He looked back to where the road started, nearly a mile or more from where they’d crossed the main road. Most probably the little road was used almost exclusively by the residents of the houses. There could be no other reason for its existence. The beach had to be at the end of the road, but it was a safe bet that not many people either knew about it, or used it with any regularity, because the water was harbor water and not the cleaner wilder water the open ocean provided. The beach was invisible from their present position because there was a rise in the road before the marina. The only thing visible on the cliff end was a one story house with an old television aerial poking out from its flat roof, sticking out from the rise.
“That’s where we’re headed, and the longer we stay on this road the more we’re exposed,” Arch said, pointing at the house a half mile distant.
“Well, let’s go,” Cyn said, throwing the canvas sack over her shoulder and taking off at a run. Harpo started running next to her.
Arch took one look around and then ran after them both. In spite of Atlantis’ admonitions, they’d left everything in the buses across from the main road before they’d crossed. Both of them had decided that if they made it they wouldn’t need anything they’d brought with them that wasn’t in the sack, and if they didn’t make it then it didn’t matter what they carried with them.
They reached the short narrow driveway that lead to the house in less than ten minutes. There had been no cars, or traffic of any sort, that Arch could hear or make out on either the little feeder road or the main one in that time. It was almost too quiet, he realized. Was there a road block set up already and search parties being organized?
“What do we do now?” Cyn asked, both she and Harpo having stopped half way up the driveway, bushes on each side of it providing plenty of cover.
“Anybody home, you suppose?” he said, more to himself than to her.
There was no mail in the open mailbox, and no newspapers accumulated at the front door. The one good sign was that the double garage door was open with no car inside. And actually that was good news and bad news. It meant that although there might not be anyone in the house for now, it was likely that someone would be back, or the door would not have been left open.
“We gonna break in?” Cyn asked. “It’s part of your M.O., after all.”
Arch ignored her, and then walked past her toward a narrow deck that appeared to run most of the way around the house. Harpo walked at his side, as if they both lived there.
“Come on,” he said to Cyn, not waiting for her to follow, however.
The deck was initially narrow, but it led to a much larger one that ran around the whole back of the home. From fifty feet in the air, the view was stunning. The whole harbor was exposed, along with the marina and just about everything built on it and sitting in the water around it.
Arch went to the back sliding window, which he found to be locked. There were two picnic tables on the deck, and eight chairs with a big gas-fed charcoal barbecue set out near the railing.
“The boats still out there,” Cyn said, with relief in her voice.
Arch turned once more to examine the exterior of the back of the home.
“How are we going to know whether Doug and Atlantis are okay if the boat stays where it is?” Cyn asked, looking over at the “Are we just supposed to wait here until these people come home, or what?”
A small couch sat near the door, up against the side of the house, under the only long window that ran almost the entire width of the place. Harpo sniffed the two soft cushions, and then hopped up and laid down, looking perfectly happy and at home. Just above the couch Arch spotted something on a small counter sticking out. A black leather box sat next to the window.
The narrow black box opened with a snap, and a pair of Zeiss binoculars slipped out when Arch tipped it up. 10X40 numbers were stamped into the metal on the top near the lens caps.
“Nice,” Arch said, removing the caps and setting them on the counter gently.
He checked out the Coast Guard boat first. The big powerful inflatable bounced about on the waves, just outside the harbor. Two men appeared to be the only crew. Both men stood, hanging on to the superstructure of the Zodiac. From what Arch could see, it looked like they were having an uncomfortable time of it, but it was tough to see them clearly because of the boats violent movements. Just outside the harbor the sea was very rough. The men could have waited just as effectively only a few yards inside the protective arms of the harbor, but evidently the people who’d ordered them there hadn’t thought of that, or didn’t care. Arch liked the set up because it would make any crew member less attentive to anything else around them. Working surveillance in misery wasn’t much surveillance at all.
Arch turned his back on the ocean and concentrated on the boats in the harbor. He went from boat to boat, examining each closely. The boat they were looking for would have to be significant enough to be seaworthy for a long haul between the islands in rough water. There were only four boats that could possibly measure up in size and condition. The one in the poorest condition of the four had writing across its stern, which Arch presumed was the name of the vessel. It read “Kung Hei Fat Choi.”
“Well, I’ll be,” he said to himself.
“What?” Cyn asked, proving that her hearing was excellent.
“The name of that boat,” Arch said, handing the Zeiss lenses to her.
Cyn stared, working the little focusing knob on one lens and then the focus bar mounted on the center of the glasses.
“I’m going to bet you mean the Kung Hei thing,” she said.
“Yeah,” Arch replied, surprised. “The expression means ‘congratulations and be prosperous.’ It’s a saying the Chinese use at their New Year.
“Oh, I thought you might have caught the ‘Choi’ part, since our guy is supposed to be named Chow.
“I did,” Arch agreed, taking the glasses back, this time focusing in on the marina built along the back of the pier. “Chow for Choi. That might be a bit of language humor for an American raised Chinese kid.”
“That might be the boat, but what about Doug and Atlantis?” Cyn replied.
“That doesn’t help us with them, and it’s not like we can just up and leave them. We got them into this mess.”
Arch didn’t miss the tone of her voice. He’d gotten them all into this mess, and she knew it. That she’d thrown in at all was amazing, and being willing to take part of the blame even if she didn’t really mean it, was simply icing on the cake.
Arch scanned the outside of the marina, homing in on an outdoor section that was filled with umbrellas, tables and plenty of white chairs.
“Well, well, well, you dog you,” Arch said, bringing the glasses down and laughing out loud. “Here, see what you can see at the outermost table at the marina there.” He handed the glasses to Cyn.
Cyn put the lenses to her eyes and homed in on the outdoor section of the marina.
“He found a drink,” she said, “and she’s having one with him, and they’re both smoking away. I guess they didn’t get caught.” Cyn handed the glasses back to Arch.
Doug and Atlantis sat across the water at a table drinking unknown drinks, with smoke wafting from their hands.
Arch turned his head, as he re-inserted the glasses back into their leather container.
“Shit,” he whispered. He’d heard a sound and it was a sound that was unmistakable. The sound of a garage door functioning. Arch instantly concluded that that could only mean one thing. The people who lived in the house were not only home but they had parked in the garage and the sound he’d just hear was the door closing.
“C’mon,” he hissed to Cyn, leaning down and heading for the side access to the outer deck. Cyn ran behind him with Harpo at her heels. They got half way around the house before a couple appeared in front of them.
“Well, hello,” a big woman carrying a sack of groceries said.
Arch, Cyn and Harpo stopped dead, facing the woman. From around her broad figure a man stepped forward, with a smile on his face.
“Just visiting?” the big man said, wearing a blue uniform with a gold badge on his chest.