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My Kind of Town

by Don Chapman

Sunday, January 13, 2002


The Honolulu Soap Co.:
Sunday digest

>> Queen's Medical Center

Lily Ah Sun stepped onto the empty elevator, pressed the button for the ICU. She leaned dreamily against the wall, her lips still tingling from her cousin Quinn's kisses. She barely noticed the door open.

She did, however, notice when the door closed behind a very tall, very brown, very naked woman. Lily recognized herfrom the stories her tutu had told her many years ago. "Ho'ola," Lily whispered.

Ho'ola, goddess of life, healer, rescuer, touched her nose to Lily's and breathed deeply. "Love. "You smell of love."

Lily blushed.

"There is no shame," the goddess said, "in love that is true."

"I am on my way to see Quinn," Ho'ola said. "To share the blessing I gave to you."

>> The stitches to her face made talking difficult, but Serena Kawainui wanted to talk. HPD Detective Sherlock Gomes had asked about her past, before she met Sen. Donovan Matsuda-Yee-Dela Cruz-Bishop- Kamaka. Serena was 24 and working as a stripper when she met the senator. She'd been in the business since she was 15. Of course there was more to it than dancing. Customers wanted a little private time with her, for which they'd pay a ridiculous amount.

And Serena was glad to do it because stripping and selling herself was what got her out of a series of foster homes. Her own parents were addicted to alcohol and cocaine, which led them to leave Serena and her younger brother Lude at home for extended periods without parental protection, not to mention food and electricity.

Gomes listened as her words poured out, and Gomes knew what he had to do. He couldn't change her past, but he could influence her future. He could offer her a secret Sherlock Gomes Scholarship.

>> When the goddess got off the elevator, she stepped past two male doctors who didn't seem to notice her.

But Ho'ola did leave behind a distinctive scent, which the docs noticed - eucalyptus, ginger and sea brine. One of them, glanced at Lily.

"If you don't mind my asking, what kind of perfume are you wearing?"

"I'm not," she said.

"Too bad, I've smelled that scent around here before, but nobody ever knows where it comes from."

Ho'ola, apparently, did a lot of her work in hospitals.

>> "So this Sherlock Gomes Scholarship, what is it exactly?" Serena Kawainui said, distrustful as always of men.

"Here's the deal," Gomes explained. "First you go to a rehab clinic for a while." When she crashed the senator's car, she was drunk and loaded on ice and pakalolo.

"Then we get you in school, college or professional school, to learn another profession."

"We'll also take care of the plastic surgery. But with this scholarship, there are certain performance standards."

"Meaning that in return you want sex."

"No," he said firmly. "Meaning random drug tests to make sure you're staying clean. Grade checks to make sure you're following through."

Serena had quit dreaming a long time ago. But there was one old dream that had never quite gone away, and it came to her again, filling her head with visions of fabrics of many colors and textures.

Gomes noticed a dreamy look come over Serena's face, a faint smile to her lips. And he knew there was hope for this young woman. "What's your dream?"

"I want to design beautiful clothes."

>> Lily pushed open the door to her brother Lance's room in the ICU slightly, peeked inside. And she was hit by a familiar aroma - eucalyptus and ginger and sea brine. Ho'ola had been here too!

Opening the door further, seeing her father slumped in a chair, Lily could only feel pity. She had never seen her father so devastated. Apparently he cared for Lance more than Lily had thought.

But her mother Grace could not have presented a more different picture. She practically glowed as she leaned over Lance as he lay unconscious, whispering to him.

"Hey, Dad, Mom," she said softly.

The sound of her voice jerked Sheets Ah Sun back from the depths of his private hell, which had very little to do with the condition of his youngest son.

Lily walked to him, leaned down, kissed his cheek. "Hi, Dad," she said warmly. And then Lily's mother swept her up and breathed deep the lingering scent of eucalyptus, jasmine and sea brine.

"You saw her too, didn't you?"

"Yes."

"I'm so glad," Grace said. "And she touched Lance!"

Lance had fallen and hit the back of his head on a concrete curb during the hate crimes bill rally at the Capitol and had been in a coma ever since. It was, Lily knew, her brother's big coming out, his first public admission that he was gay.

Holding Lily's hand, Grace whispered into Lance's ear and he twitched, a vague smile forming on his lips.




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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