My Kind of Town

Don Chapman

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Charming as ever

>> Kona

Fueled by the three little bottles of Johnny Walker he'd sucked down on the plane when he was overcome with memories of Sonya Chan, ace columnist Cruz MacKenzie was on a roll at the press conference he'd stumbled into at the King Kamehameha Yacht Club. Having already offended his colleagues with his comment about the shark bite that ripped million-dollar Lotto winner Daren Guy's nylon neon lime shorts in half really looking like it had been done with pinking shears, he pressed ahead: "One other thing. That stuff stuck to the shorts -- it looks like tuna fish."

Except for some dirty looks, he was mostly ignored.

As the press conference broke up, Jonah Hancock, chief biologist with National Marine Fisheries, walked away from the lectern with half of Daren Guy's shorts in a zip-lock freezer bag. Cruz's colleagues of the free press turned and walked away to file their accounts of official statements. Cruz walked about 12 steps to the bar.

"Charming as ever, Cruz. Have another drink," said Don Dzuraski, the former Honolulu attorney who had taken refuge in Kona as a bartender at the yacht club. It seemed like the right thing to do after getting disbarred for losing so many drunk-driving cases, including three of his own.

" 'Nuff's enough. Make it coffee, the real kind, with caffeine, not that fake stuff."

"Fake stuff? You still haven't gotten over Sonya, have you?"

A clever rejoinder failed to immediately materialize, so Cruz went straight for denial. "That was a long time ago."

Don poured a cup of steaming coffee. "Six months only."

Cruz's mind was running six months in arrears, which left his motor skills hanging alone in the present. "Shhhhpt..." he sort of sputtered and spewed a mouthful of scalding coffee back into the cup and mostly missed, and blew so hard that black ripples splashed over the rim and onto the bar. "Ouch! This stuff's hot!"

"Brewed straight from the volcano."

"Well, scalding half my taste buds means I won't have to bother ordering a decent wine with dinner."

Cruz thought the line deserved at least a vague smile, but Don just stared across the bar with a studious look that was not becoming his usual macho-garrulous-rowdy-raconteur demeanor. Don wiped coffee from the koa bar with a white towel. "You don't know about Sonya, do you?"

Cruz motioned mildly, he thought, with the cup for Don to continue, but sloshed more coffee on the bar.

"The pro from Mauna Puka went back to his wife."

Didn't matter, Cruz wouldn't see her. Like Satchell Paige said: Don't look back. Imua, Hawaiians say, forward. "So who's the latest lucky guy?"

"Not so lucky, and late is the right word -- Daren Guy."

Cruz would be seeing Sonya after all.

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


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