THE DUKE

Part XXXVI

Darren walked toward his home, wanting nothing more than a hot shower to remove the nearly ingrained aroma of cooked meat and shellfish following his shift at the Cannon Club. The waitresses had been stunned by the fifty dollar tip the Colonel left, but seemingly more stunned, silently, about the fact that Darren had turned it in at all. The looks of disbelief they gave him before he left told a sad story, or at least that’s how he took it. His credibility, as the only Haole working at the club, was so low that they had little expectation he’d act with any sort of honor towards them. Their reward for his turning in the Colonel's tip money lined his left front pocket. He should have received no more than four dollars of the fifty-dollar tip (tips were divided nightly based upon hours worked, seniority, and kind of work performed) but instead had been given a twenty-dollar bill. Twenty dollars was half what it cost to fly from Honolulu to St. Norbert College round-trip.   Whether Darren wanted to accept the Colonel’s bribe or not, he knew, in a way, he already had.

The lights at Star’s house were all on downstairs so Darren had no compunction about knocking. Star came to the door, then through it when she realized it was Darren. Neither he nor Jimmy had ever been invited inside the house, and Star’s parents were only ever seen entering or leaving it. Star always came out or nobody answered the door.’

“I’m sorry,” Star said before Darren could say anything.

“What for?” Darren replied.

“For getting it so wrong with the Colonel and Elvis at the beach and all that. I know you figured it all out. I could see it in your eyes before you left with Mrs. Levy.”

Darren wondered about surveillance. He seemed to be the object of everyone’s attention when it didn’t appear that anyone was watching him at all. How could Star have seen him with Mrs. Levy outside the canvas when she was inside with Judy and Elvis? He shook his head ever so slightly, to clear it and get back to why he’d stopped by. Star was the best advisor Darren could think of, even if she wasn’t always right.

“The Colonel was at the club tonight,” he began and then detailed everything that had happened following the dinner.

“You kept the twenty?” is all Star asked.

Darren nodded, ready to explain that he couldn’t fail to accept without insulting the entire body of wait staff at the club.

Star hesitated, before going on. “The Colonel is threatening you, but with a bit of an offer, as well. Interesting.”

“Why interesting?” Darren asked.

Star moved to sit on the top stair edge of the porch. Darren joined her, waiting for a reply to his question

“Because you’re nobody, out here, in Hollywood, or anywhere else,” Star finally answered. “Why is this situation important enough for him to threaten you? The fifty-dollar bill is immaterial, as that much money, although it’s a lot to you and me, means nothing to him.”

“Why does any of it matter?” Darren said, after almost a full minute of thinking about the situation, and wondering why in the back of his own mind he couldn’t get over the fact that he now had half the plane fair back and forth to St. Norbert. If he worked just a bit longer and got a job once he got to college, he might just be able to fly home for Christmas. Family life was almost never good at home but it was a whole lot better than spending Christmas in some holiday abandoned college dormitory, and then have other more blessed students return to campus only to feel sorry for him.

“Whether Elvis comes to dinner tomorrow night, and or the party next week, what does it really matter to anyone?”

“You stepped into something you have no understanding about, and neither do I, really,” Star replied. “Not only do we not understand most of this, but we also don’t understand why we don’t understand, if that makes any sense at all.”

“It makes perfect sense to me,” Darren said, a small smile forming.

“I haven’t really understood from the beginning.”

“This all has something to do with the Duke and his ragtag bunch of local Hawaiians, or whatever they are passing themselves off as Hawaiian,” Star replied, with a snort.

“The Duke’s not Hawaiian?” Darren asked, astonishment in his voice.

“Of course he’s Hawaiian,” Star shot back, “but his followers are a collection of other ‘locals’ who are local only in their declaration that they are. The Duke is a true Hawaiian by blood, and there are very few of them left."

“What could the Duke want from Elvis or any of this?” Darren asked, his tone going from astonishment to bewilderment.

“They want their island back,” Star said. “It’s called the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement and Duke is a big-time player behind the scenes.”

“What scenes?” Darren replied. “I’ve never heard of the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement before and I’ve been out here for a long time.”

“So, how does Elvis attending a party at the Cannon Club help them, or even the Duke, in any way?” Darren asked.

“The Duke took a real hit when he was removed as the Sheriff of Hawaii,” Star replied. “He’s now got a highly paid but mostly honorary position with no power and nobody to influence any power he might have over. He hangs out at Queens Beach and the Outrigger Canoe Club, where we picked him up. He obviously wants to be more than a socially accepted local figure of some historical import, but not in any line of succession for anything. His relationship with Elvis could change all that in an instant, but he probably has to force the issue because the cold-hearted and blooded Colonel probably doesn’t want him, and certainly doesn’t need him.”

“Wow, all this stuff,” Darren said, a bit of disappointment in his tone, “And I thought talking about the origin of the universe at the East-West Center at the university was complex and sometimes weird.”

“Hawaii is just starting to be fought over,” Star replied. “It’s only been a state for four years, in fact, this month. The preachers came to convert the Hawaiians but fell in love with the islands so much that they took a good portion of it for themselves, and then the military came and did the same thing. Now the Japanese and Chinese want a good portion too. There’s going to be big trouble out here for generations to come.”

“Where do you get stuff like this?” Darren wanted to know.

“I read a lot,” Star replied, sniffing into the air in front of them, before changing the subject.

“What are you going to do?” Star asked.

“I don’t know what to do,” Darren replied. “That’s why I came to see you.”

“Figured,” Star said, but then didn’t go on.

“What do I do?” Darren finally, after almost a full minute, asked.

“Mission,” Star said, and then paused. “Go ask Colonel Banks or maybe Jimmy’s father about their mission. What is the mission? It’s the answer to the question ‘what am I doing here? So, what is your mission?”

“My mission?” Darren asked himself, even more than of the woman he was sitting with. “I think my mission is to keep my job, get paid as much as I can, and then leave here.”

“Those are objectives to accomplish your mission,” Star replied, almost instantly. “What’s your mission? Answer the question behind the word.”

Darren sat and thought, not only about his ‘mission’ but about Star. She was extremely intelligent, although fully capable of great gaping errors in her judgment, like telling the Colonel everything about their plan without knowing him at all. His mission, he knew full well, was to get to Saint Norbert College, off the island, and be able to pay for his higher education. He had no other reason for being not only where he was but in being alive at all. He could not say that to Star, he knew. She had guessed his mission, he knew too, so why did she want him to verbalize it? So, she could repeat that he’d said it, and thereby make him appear to be cold-blooded about any decisions he made about any and everything else. All decisions could then be described as merely serving objectives to accomplish his mission.

“I don’t know,” Darren replied, tentatively, his hope that she would tell him his mission. He could then deny it. But she was too smart for that.

“Think about it,” Star whispered, getting up and walking to the screen door of her house. “I’m certain I'll see you and Jimmy before tomorrow night,” and then she was gone, the screen door gently banging when it closed.

Darren walked toward the Fort Ruger back wall, feeling the same exact relief he always felt when he left Star, or when she left him. The woman was scary, in a different way than Mrs. Levy, but still at nearly that same level.

He climbed the wall with ease, rolling right over the barbed wire that had slowly crumbled away with time. It looked like barbed wire but more resembled one made of rigid decaying cookie crumb spikes when you encountered it physically.

He walked down his deserted street toward his home. He saw the lights in the distance and stopped to take the neighborhood in. Through the spaces between the homes on his right, he could see the lights that ran along Kalanianaole Highway all the way to Hawaii Kai and Koko Head. He felt deep inside himself that one day such cheap WWII structures he was looking between would cost fortunes to buy.

His mission, he thought. If he were to tell the real foundational truth, which he could not ever do to or with anyone, was to leave his family as far behind as was possible. Going off to Saint Norbert was merely the top objective to the accomplishment of that mission. Star would more than likely never guess that because he gave her no opening or data to support that, and Jimmy had little knowledge of it, as well.

Darren would never abandon the family, but he would, he hoped and prayed, be able to structure his life in such a way that he only had to encounter it in selected dosages of short duration. He would, very soon, never be hit by his father again, or have to watch his father hit his mother. He’d never have to endure being locked in a closet and then forgotten in there because he was too hurt and angry to let anybody know they’d forgotten him.

Saint Norbert was waiting for him and there was no way he was going to be swayed or deviated from his secret mission to get and stay there. Saint Norbert, Darren had studied and discovered in shock, was the Catholic patron saint of children. Saint Norbert was his saint and, if a saint could be dedicated to anybody, then it had to be dedicated to Darren. He’d told Jimmy that secret only to have his best friend laugh and tell him that he wasn’t a child anymore. Darren had been complimented by his friend but also disappointed. He was a child. He expected that college would teach him how not to be a child anymore. That subject was not in his freshman curriculum but it didn't have to be. His brother would be a sophomore when he was freshman, and as unlikely as it seemed, would have to serve as his guide in finally reaching any kind of acceptable maturity. If his brother could not serve or would not serve then he would go it alone, as he’d done for so many years.

“What’s my mission, Star Black?” he said, before laughing out loud, as he made his way to the front door of his home. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

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More about the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement can be found in the
Arch Patton CIA assignment,
Down In The Valley

Arch Patton Down In the Valley

Arch Patton, Down In The Valley