My Kind of Town

by Don Chapman

Saturday, October 20, 2001

The rumor surfaces

>> Waterfront Plaza

"What a fruitcake" was one of the nicer expressions city editors and news directors used to describe people who over the years had called to report seeing a World War II vintage mini-submarine in island waters. Especially when they added that a fading red circle was painted on the sub's hull -- the unmistakable sign of the Rising Sun.

The rumor had been floating around for years, literally, but was never taken seriously. At least not in the real world. In fact, the few folks who called the papers and TV stations and claimed to have seen the spectral ship surfacing might as well have been reporting that Elvis and Sasquatch just arrived aboard a UFO in Waikiki, where they and some guys who lost relatives at Roswell were joined by Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny for Mai Tais at Duke's, with the exception of the Easter Bunny who was getting seriously polluted on Blue Hawaiis.

Cruz MacKenzie of the Star-Bulletin had received just such a call several months ago, soon after the release of the film "Pearl Harbor." A throw-net fisherman at Queen's Beach, a retiree, said he'd seen the sub rising from the sea early that morning. MacKenzie, like most journalists, lived on logic and literal thinking. A sub launched by Imperial Japan still floating around 60 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor? Yeah, right. As if. How would the skipper survive? What would he eat and drink? How would he power the sub? How would he service it and maintain it? And why didn't the U.S. Navy detect it?

But the old fisherman was adamant. Drunks often are. MacKenzie figured the guy had merely seen a small whale, maybe with a red splotch where it had run into a ship or a shark, and confused the spout of sea water for a periscope. But MacKenzie made a note, labeled it "Ghost Sub" and filed it in his "Delusional Kooks" file. He also made a copy and e-mailed it to his old pal Rick Carroll. Maybe Rick could do something with the story for his next volume of "Spooky Tales." It sure wasn't news.

>> Royal Hawaiian Hotel

At times of crisis, at times of joy, Lily Ah Sun needed to talk to her two oldest friends, the identical but very different twins Fawn and Shauny Nakamura. They talked about everything, and Lily wanted to tell them the news about her and Quinn, and their kiss. And when Lily had run into Chuck Ryan at the Mai Tai bar last night, it was obvious that he and Fawn had hit it off. Lily wondered if it was mutual for the 27-year-old virgin. Only one way to find out. Make the call, and start talking.

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek.
His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin
with weekly summaries on Sunday.
He can be emailed at

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