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My Kind of Town

by Don Chapman

Sunday, November 4, 2001


The Honolulu Soap Co.:
Sunday digest

>> Pearl Palms

"What?!" Shauny Nakamura said into the cordless phone. "Fawn and Chuck Ryan?!" Fawn was Shauny's identical but very different twin.

"I got that distinct impression when I ran into Chuck last night."

"Where?!" Shauny almost always spoke in exclamation points.

"The Royal Hawaiian Hotel." Lily heard the unspoken question. "I'll tell you about that part later. But he was absolutely glowing. Said he and Fawn spent the rest of the day and into the evening together, including a walk on the beach."

"Fawn?!" This was radical behavior for Fawn, the 27-year-old virgin who vowed to remain a virgin until her wedding night. Which of course was one reason she had not come close to sniffing a wedding night. But then neither had Shauny, whose policy on intimate behavior could be called open door.

Lily could hear both surprise and jealousy in Shauny's voice. It was Shauny who, when they met this guy Chuck while working out at the Honolulu Iron Works, had invited him to have lunch with them. Then Lily and Shauny started drinking, and Shauny was too blitzed to notice that while Ryan laughed at her jokes, he was charmed by Fawn, and she by him.

"How did that happen so fast?!"

"After they dropped you off."

>> North shore of Molokai

Seeking a quiet cove far from civilization on that June day in 1944, Shinjo Eiki turned his one-man submarine away from Oahu. He would return when he had fixed whatever was blocking both torpedo tubes. His goal was still to sink an American ship at the entrance to Pearl Harbor, blocking it. He could still save Japan. And he could still bring honor to himself, the half-brother of Tojo Hideki, Japan's military dictator.

As he neared the southeast corner of Oahu, Shinjo cursed his luck because again he had a clear shot -- this one a cargo vessel. After it passed, he continued across the Kaiwi Channel. Shinjo followed the contour of Molokai's west shore, and then along the north shore, skirting the rocky outcropping at Kalaupapa, until he felt the pull of one particular cove. The mountain cliffs came down to the sea, with a small beach at the edge of a narrow valley. Shinjo lingered there for half a day, looking for a sign of human activity, and found none. When afternoon shadows fell across the valley, he pointed the sub between two arms of lava that created the little cove, and ran it onto the beach.

Shinjo emerged with his pistol drawn and was pulling a tarp over the sub when he heard something in the water behind him. Whirling, he saw a tall, brown woman emerging from the water. A tall, brown woman who was the most beautiful creature he'd ever seen. A tall, brown woman whose naked body and long black hair glistened with sea water.

Shinjo jumped down to the beach, still holding the pistol.

"You don't need that," she said, her voice ringing like sacred music. "This is my valley."

Shinjo didn't know a word Ho'ola spoke but somehow knew what she meant. He threw it into the sea.

"I am Ho'ola," she said, holding out her right hand.

Shinjo reached out, took her hand. How could this be? Ho'ola had just stepped from the sea, yet her hand was warm as sunshine!

Seldom is a mortal man blessed by an actual goddess. Shinjo did not realize it was happening to him, even as Ho'ola led him along a path. All he knew was that all longing was fulfilled in this place.

The path led beneath a canopy of trees to a clearing where a waterfall cascaded down a steep cliff. Beside a pool was a thatched home, and beyond that a garden. Ho'ola bade him bathe in the waterfall.

And so it was that Shinjo Eiki put his mission on hold. He had found a place where all of his wants were met. He had found the valley of Ho'ola, goddess of life. And so he would stay here, tending Ho'ola's garden, fishing and hunting.

And because she was a goddess, Ho'ola traveled. Or at least disappeared, doing what a goddess must do. Rescuing, saving, healing -- those were Ho'ola's skills and duties.

Yet while Ho'ola did disappear, whenever Shinjo needed her she was there.

This was one of those days Ho'ola was away and he was working on his sub. "You think still of your mission," she said matter of factly, startling him.

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.

"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. "

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.

Shinjo pulled it up from the beach, opened it, found a set of encyclopedias. In Volume J, Shinjo read about prosperity in modern Japan. He read how America, after it kicked the living snot out of Japan in the war, had led the way for Japan to rise from the ashes. In Volume H, he read about the heroic role of Japanese-Americans in WWII in Europe, and how they had come home to Hawaii, joined the Democratic Party and taken over state politics.

In Volume T, he read about his brother. And with that his mission was revived. It was too late to save Japan from defeat, but he could still honor his family. What terrible irony that after the American victory at Saipan -- a battle from which a Japanese submarine had been diverted to deposit Shinjo's one-man sub off Pearl Harbor -- Tojo resigned in July 1944. Nine days after the surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, Tojo attempted suicide, but failed. The ultimate dishonor. Shinjo read through bitter tears that Tojo was hanged two days before Christmas 1948. Tojo's soul could find peace only if Shinjo could fulfill his mission.

As always when he needed her, Ho'ola was suddenly there. "How was your reading?"

"My mission, I must fulfill it now. For my brother."

"Yes, but It has changed."

It had, but Shinjo didn't yet know how.




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 dchapman@midweek.com



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