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My Kind of Town

Don Chapman

Tuesday, June 24, 2003


‘Shark-eaten’


>> Kona

Utilizing all of his journalistic expertise, after the plane landed in Kona Cruz MacKenzie caught a taxi and headed straight to the King Kamehameha Yacht Club. He knew people there. They might be able to shed some light on Daren Guy and maybe on what had happened out in the bay to the state's first million-dollar Lotto winner. As a columnist, the key operative word for Cruz was "exclusive." It was even more powerful than "free drinks." At the yacht club, he knew, he'd run across several sources and at least one angle that no other journalist would find.

You can sure tell your veteran news hounds.

Cruz walked through the polished koa-and-brass swinging doors of the yacht club and into a press conference, complete with camera crews from all four major Honolulu TV stations and their flood lights, plus a video cam from the community college journalism program.

Some exclusive.

"Shark-eaten."

That was the assessment of Jonah Hancock, chief biologist with National Marine Fisheries Service. More than just a scientist, he was the consummate "water man." An accomplished surfer, swimmer, diver, sailor, paddler, fisherman, Hancock was tan and fit, with a strong Irish jaw, flat belly and confident look, even as lines from too much sun over too many years B.S. -- Before Sunscreen -- jabbed at the corners of his eyes.

Lights flashed and motordrives whirred as Hancock held up Daren Guy's half-eaten nylon neon lime surf shorts in a clear plastic zip-lock freezer bag for the assembled media.

The bite went straight up the Velcro zipper. Every guy in the room flinched. "Definitely shark-eaten. We have also confirmed that these were his shorts. No other remains or articles of clothing have been found."

A chunk of something that looked repulsively like dried meat clung to the tattered fringe of the shorts and a gasp went up from the supposedly hardened press types. A respectful funereal pall settled over the gathering.

Cruz hated funerals. "Looks to me like they were cut by pinking shears," he muttered from the back of the room.

Poor taste, totally not P.C., but that was Cruz. He couldn't help himself, partly because that's what they really did look like and partly because after years of relative peace in Hawaii between the sea's two aggressor species, fatal shark attacks on humans did not go down easily. Plus, his job description called for unbiased thinking, which meant questioning whatever any would-be source says. As Cruz saw it, he got paid to be a wise-ass on a fairly regular basis.

Jonah Hancock could be a wise-ass, too. "Pinking shears? You do a lot of sewing, Mr. MacKenzie? What a lovely hobby."



See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek. His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin. He can be e-mailed at dchapman@midweek.com

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