My Kind of Town

by Don Chapman

Thursday, November 1, 2001

Never grow old

>> North shore of Molokai

Because she was a goddess, Ho'ola traveled. Or at least disappeared, doing what a goddess must do. Rescuing, saving, healing, sparing -- those were Ho'ola's skills and duties. Kind of a spiritual EMS crew and ER rolled into one.

On those occasions when Ho'ola traveled, Shinjo Eiki worked on his submarine. If it wasn't for the submarine lying above the high water line on wooden slats under a thatched roof, Shinjo might have forgotten why he had come to Hawaii, and that back in June 1944, when he arrived here, Ho'ola welcomed him to her valley and he'd put his mission on hold. He had found a place where all of his needs and wants were met. He had found security and happiness. He had found a woman who loved him well. He had found -- or had it found him? -- the valley of Ho'ola, goddess of life. And so he stayed, tending Ho'ola's garden, fishing for food, hunting it in the mountains, never growing old.

Yet while Ho'ola did disappear, whenever Shinjo needed her she was there. She fulfilled all of his needs and wants, including the occasional Craftsman tool and industrial-size barrel of motor oil.

This was one of those days when Ho'ola was away, or so it seemed to Shinjo, and he was working on his submarine. And she startled him, as she had on that first day, emerging naked from the sea, a sight that never failed to take his breath away.

"You think still of your mission," she said matter of factly.

Wiping oil from his hands, he nodded.

"You are free," she said, "as we all are to make choices."

"I choose you."

She led him to the beach and washed the sweat and grime from Shinjo's body, and they lay down together and loved as as an act of worship. Afterward, well, even a goddess likes to rest her head on a man's arm. And Shinjo was happy to have her nestled there, even if she was twice his size. "Do you know what year it is?" she whispered.

The question startled Shinjo. "No idea."

"1967." Twenty-three years had passed. Neither of them had aged.

Ho'ola read his thoughts. "That is life here, eternally. But you must know once you leave there is no coming back. I will not be here. This place will not be here."

Shinjo was content to stay, losing track of the years, living in the paradise of Ho'ola's valley, making love with a goddess and never growing old.

But then one day in August of this year a steamer trunk floated ashore.

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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