THE DUKE

Part XIV

 

Jimmy headed the Corvair around the tip of Diamond Head, only slowing in an attempt to avoid deeper runnels of mud that had flowed down from the mountain and across the road, that had only occurred a bit earlier.  The mud, if it got on the Spyder’s paint and dried, was extremely difficult to wash off without damaging the car’s bright red finish. They drove with the top down, against Darren’s wishes.  The slight spray, flying up from the tires of cars in front of them, was bothersome, although neither Jimmy nor Star, who was more exposed in the back seat, seem to be bothered at all.

There was no more talk of taking Darren home to change.  Star Black had alluded to having a relationship with the Duke and that was something neither boy could overlook, given how important it was to get the Duke to approach Elvis about the dinner.  There was no way to determine how long Elvis would be on Oahu or, even if he wanted to have the Cannon Club dinner, or that the Duke would be able to reach him and convince him.  How Star Black had come to know the Duke was another mystery.  She was a surfer of some renown, for a woman, and that fact could not be denied, but she didn’t seem the kind of female surfer who took to social gatherings or introductions well, either.

Darren knew he could get into the hair salon restroom and wash most of the shave ice stain from his clothes, although if his mother saw him, then it would be curtains for his ruining another set of clothing.  Getting to Elvis, or having Star get to the Duke to get to Elvis, was more important.  Darren was also relieved that Judy and her sister had been sidelined in their efforts.  If he got to the Mainland to attend college in the fall without ever visiting Judy’s bedroom, then he might be able to live the rest of his life without always thinking back about how cowardly he’d been when it came to confronting a girl, who was little more than his own age.  Only his experience with Judy gave him a fairly understandable explanation about why Jimmy, notoriously brilliant, disciplined and independent, fell completely apart every time he was in the presence of Star Black.

Jimmy parked the Spyder under the portico that extended out from the lobby of the Moana.

“How are you going to find the Duke?” Darren asked, climbing out and holding the door for Star.

“Now, where would a beach bum be found, do you suppose?” Star replied, ignoring the open door, instead climbing up and over the back of the low-slung automobile.  She slid a bit and then seemed to bounce down before springing to her feet.

“You’ll scratch the paint,” Darren said, slamming the car door. “It’s not Jimmy’s car.  It’s his dad’s, and his dad will certainly notice the slightest mar in the finish.”

“Do you mind, Jimmy?” Star asked, walking around the back of the car, heat waves from the rapidly cooling engine coming up through its two rows of rear hood vents.

“The paint?” Jimmy replied, weakly, before adding, “no, it’s okay, you just polished it up a bit.

To make his point Jimmy walked to the rear of the car and gently polished the area Star had come down with one bare hand.

“Oh, please,” Darren murmured, before following the fast disappearing young woman into the lobby.

He looked down at himself.  The red and yellow had sort of faded together.  There was no point in trying to sneak into the hair salon bathroom.  If he did wash the indelible syrup out of his shirt and shorts somehow, then he’d have nothing dry to change into anyway.

“Queen’s,” Star threw over her shoulder, bending down to remove her flip flops and immediately head of in the direction where the saltwater natatorium stuck out from the edge of Kapiolani Park. Darren and Jimmy knew the park well, and Queens Beach too, although they never hung out there.  That beach was one of the local ‘Kama’aina’ refuge beaches and Haoles were unwelcome, to put it mildly.  Queens Surf, one of the closed-in reef surfing beaches was just offshore. On an extremely lucky day, Darren had ridden all seven of the contiguous reefs to arrive on the sand next to Kuhio, at the edge of downtown Waikiki.  Riding all seven sets of surfing beach waves in one go was considered a remarkable feat for anyone, much less a young Haole.  The ride from just off Diamond Head, and then all the way in, had taken almost ten minutes.  Ten minutes of great challenge and a lot of fun, even though Jimmy was the only witness, and he cared about as much about surfing as Darren cared about playing the organ.

Jimmy and Darren didn’t need to be told not to follow Star.  As the young and beautiful woman she was, the fact that she was a Haole would no doubt be completely ignored by the local surfers who hung out there.

They walked on the wet sand to Kuhio Beach and decided to wait there.  The tide was low, but the surf was running fairly strong at about six feet.  Anything over four feet was considered high surf along the protected leeward shore encompassing all of Waikiki’s beachfront.  Walking out on the concrete pier made viewing Queen’s Beach easy, as it lay only about three hundred meters toward Diamond Head from where they leaned on the waist-high stone ledge running right out to the pier’s end. When Darren had been in grade school at the nearby St. Augustine Elementary, he’d often played with the other kids on the horizontal lower pier that ran along toward the Moana a bit, and about thirty yards out from the beach.  On high surf days, the waves would come in and wipe the low wall clean of everyone on the wall, to be thrown physically off the pier and into the inshore lagoon by such a seemingly gentle series of very powerful waves had been a wonder of great fun.

They waited for half an hour.  Nothing could be seen of any human activity at Queens Beach. Finally, impatience got the best of Jimmy.

“Let’s go over there,” he said, beginning to walk back down the pier toward the beach.

“We’ll do more harm than good,” Darren replied, “and Star told us to stay away and let her do her thing, whatever her thing really is.’

“She may get herself into trouble,” Jimmy said, his pace increasing the closer they got to the sand, “being a Haole, and all.”

Darren knew there would be no stopping Jimmy since he’d somehow concluded that Star might be in danger and that he should be there to protect her.

The walk to Queens was short.  Neither the Duke nor Star were anywhere to be seen when they got to the actual part of the sand known as Queens, however, but there was a group of angry-looking locals that surged forward to meet them.

“You no be here, Haole boy,” the obvious local leader said, moving in closer in order to be as menacing as possible.

It was almost impossible not to be totally intimidated.  The local, or Kanaka, leader of the pack of Hawaiians, likely weighed more than Jimmy and Darren put together and, although he was the largest of the group, the fact that there were six more of them, all closing in, was even more intimidating.

“Ah, we’re with Star and the Duke,” Jimmy said, pointing further down the beach toward where Star had disappeared.

“You no local,” the Hawaiian went on as if he had not heard a word.  The big bear-chested man, looking more like a Hawaiian warrior god than a regular human, punched the index finger of his right hand into Darren’s chest.

Darren recoiled from the physical contact.

Jimmy stepped in front of him and confronted the Hawaiian leader.

“Maybe you could try speaking English instead of pidgin and we might listen to you,” Jimmy said, aggressively, leaning in toward the big man who was at least six inches taller and many times thicker in every respect.

Maybe,” Jimmy said again, this time dragging out the seconds like he was thinking very seriously about something before he went on.  “You might consider the fact that the new state of Hawaii is filled with male macho crap, like what’s going on right here, but it also enjoys the lowest murder, assault, and other physical contact crimes in the nation.”

“What you sayin’, Haole?” the Hawaiian replied, his expression more one of surprise rather than anger.

“What I’m sayin,’ Kanaka boy, is that you’re all talk and no fight, and I’ve been around, in these places that pass for schools out on this island long enough to know that, so get out of our way.”

The Hawaiian said nothing, but his breathing changed to heavy slow inhalations and exhalations, while his facial expression went from one of surprise to a total deadpan look.

“And another thing,” Jimmy went on, completely ignoring, or missing the fact that the Hawaiian was giving every anthropomorphic indication that he was about to blow up like the nearby active volcano called Kilauea on the Big Island, “this Haole thing has to stop.  You use this word, and we might as well call it what it is; and that’s the ‘H’ word, to insult others simply because of the color of their skin.  I’m not going to take that from you or anyone else.”

Darren literally backed up a few steps, his toes curling in the deep sand in preparation to run.

“Color skin?” the Hawaiian hissed out, his voice sounding more like it was coming from a huge rearing and poisonous snake than a human being. “You white color Haoles come to our lands and take all, then claim you insulted?”

“You going to get out of the way, or am I going to make you?” Jimmy replied, ignoring the Hawaiian’s complaint.

Without warning, the Hawaiian reared back, raised his clenched fist, and struck Jimmy on the right side of his head.

Jimmy went down instantly to the sand, his crumpling body giving every indication that he was either dead or unconscious by the time he lay sprawled flat on the sand.

The big Hawaiian stood still, his right fist unclenching and dropping to his side, while his companions stood frozen in place.

“Make me?” the Hawaiian finally asked, his tone changed to a low and controlled whisper.

As one, the Kanaka group of locals began moving slowly backward, as if the move had been choreographed.  Finally, they turned, the big Hawaiian looking over his shoulder as he slowly walked away with his friends.

Darren stared at his friend without leaning down or attempting to assist him in any way. He intrinsically knew Jimmy was badly hurt and needed immediate and serious medical help.

“Not his head,” Darren said to himself, as he raced over the top of the sand toward Kalakaua Boulevard, the busiest street in downtown Waikiki.  Jimmy was the smartest person Darren had ever met and just being around him for a short period was more entertaining than the volumes of other things Darren had done in his short life.  As he ran, he wondered what he would do if Jimmy was so instantly taken from his life.

Upon reaching the sidewalk on the ocean side of the street, Darren ran at top speed to the Moana Hotel, and on up the stairs and into Lewis of Hollywood, where his mother worked.

“Mom, mom, mom,” he yelled, once he got inside the shop, rushing to every stall until his mother came out of the back to confront him.

“Jimmy’s hurt badly at Queens Beach and he needs a doctor right now,” he got out.

“Sit down,” his mother said, grabbing him by the arm and pushing him into one of the vacant beauty chairs.  “Tell me,” she demanded, leaning down until her face was only inches from his own.

Darren breathed in and out rapidly, trying to put together the right words to explain what happened, but his mother wouldn’t wait.

“Surfing accident?” she said.  “I told you about surfing there, with the waves coming in low across the sharp reef.  People get cut up there all the time.”

“Doctor,” Darren breathed out.  “He’s not conscious,” he started to explain, but his mother gave him no time to finish the sentence, instead of turning to grab a nearby telephone, her expression changing from one of accusation to worry and concern.

The shop turned into a place of bedlam, with customers and the other beauticians moving to surround Darren.  They began asking questions, all talking at once to the point where Darren couldn’t understand any of them

“I’ve got to get back,” he said, jumping to his feet.  “Jimmy’s alone on the sand and I’ve got to help him.”  With that, he broke through what had become a small crowd and raced to and out of the front entrance he’d come in only moments before.

Running at full speed, he reached the place he’d left Jimmy’s broken body and then stopped to look around.  Jimmy wasn’t there.  Slowly, Darren scanned the surrounding area and spotted him.  The same group of locals who were responsible for hurting the boy was ministering to him on the grass located at the very edge of Kapiolani Park. They’d moved his body from the sand to the grassy park area he realized, although Jimmy was still lying flat on his back and as obviously unconscious as he’d been in the sand.

Darren heard sirens and felt some relief, as he ran to where Jimmy lay.

“Hurt bad,” the big Hawaiian said, kneeling at Jimmy’s side.  “Not meant to hurt this bad,” he went on.

Honolulu police cars pulled up, one after another, blocking all traffic on Kalakaua.

The first police officer to reach them came at a run.

“What’s his condition?” he asked in an authoritative voice, leaning down, and then physically pushing the big Hawaiian back.  “And, what in hell are you doing in all this Ahi?”

The big Hawaiian got to his feet slowly, while the officer knelt at Jimmy’s side, his fingers going to the boy’s neck.

“Halawa, I going back to Halawa jail I think,” the Hawaiian named Ahi intoned as if he was very used to saying the words.

“He’s still alive,” the cop said, “and he needs to get to Tripler as fast as possible.”

As he said the words an ambulance pulled up by the police cars parked at all angles out on the street.  The ambulance stopped, and then very slowly began moving again, driving up over the curb and moving right into the park atop its beautifully cut and manicured grass until stopping where they were.

Two technicians, attired like doctors about to go into surgery, jumped out of the ambulance’s doors and raced to where Jimmy lay.  In seconds they were at the ambulance again, opening up the rear of the vehicle and pulling out a wheeled gurney.

Darren stood watching, unable to do anything to help.  In minutes Jimmy was loaded onto the gurney, the gurney slid into the back of the ambulance, and then the vehicle was gone, lights and siren blazing. Other than a small gathered crowd of people watching, the pack of locals who’d been there earlier, and the big Hawaiian, there was nothing to show that something serious had happened except the two dark tracks the ambulance had dug in the grass as it’d made its rapid departure from the scene.

‘Who are you?” the policeman asked Darren.

Darren didn’t know what to say, other than that he was nobody, so he said nothing, just looking blankly back into the cop’s eyes.

“Doesn’t matter now,” the officer said, finally.  “The Army’s on the way and they’ll handle that part of the investigation. You stay right here where you are.”

“The Army?” Darren whispered to himself.  What was the Army going to do, and why was it involved at all, he wondered?