DOWN IN THE VALLEY
By James Strauss
Arch scrapped the idea of hiking in through the Waialua Forest. The topography was just too difficult. By the time he and Matisse were anywhere near the base of the stairs, mid-day would long have passed. He’eia Stream ran all the way from deep inside the Koolau valley and only broke through to the surface near the base of Heeia Pier. Arch and Matisse sat just outside the He’eia Pier Store. Old man Chow’s kid, a man nobody could ever remember the name of, ran the place. The kid ran the place Hong Kong style. You could get anything you wanted at his store, if you had enough money and time. But the marine fuel concession he held really paid for the availability of the rest. Marine fuel was almost twice the price of regular gas, but in Hawaii any boat had to be run on it, instead of by the same gasoline put into cans at regular gas stations. The fact that half the price went directly into the concessionaire’s pocket was never discussed. Boater’s were used to the outrageousness of the arrangement, and the injustice at least meant that little places like Chow’s small dive were dotted around the shoreline of Oahu.
There was a continuous stream of all kinds of people entering and leaving Chows. When it broke up a bit, Arch asked Matisse “Tell me what you know about the climb.” When Matisse didn’t reply, he followed up with “Can we do it?” Matisse continued to consume his spam and eggs served over a hot sticky mass of white rice, turned black by a liberal pouring of Aloha Soy Sauce.