My Kind of Town

Don Chapman

Monday, April 12, 2004

Get on the Buddha bus

» Liliha

As he mostly lip-synched along with the chanting, Sen. Donovan Matsuda-Yee-Dela Cruz-Bishop-Kamaka, still wanted by the law for several offenses, was blending in very well. He was practically invisible, just another monk in shaved head and orange mendicant robe waiting outside while the second Lama Jey Tsong Khapa visited his boyhood home for the first time since realizing his Buddhahood here at the age of 2. Later there would be a dedication of a shrine -- now covered in palm fronds -- in the front yard.

The senator was so invisible, even Sherlock Gomes, who'd arrested him, didn't notice him as he scanned hundreds of monks in orange.

The senator had stumbled into the monk thing one day when both the money and the pakalolo were running low, and he and Ku'u, the young woman he'd rescued from an abusive boyfriend, were realizing they weren't a great long-term match. So he'd rolled a couple of fatties and wandered down to Pipeline for the finals of the Pipe Masters, that classic mano e mano between Kelly Slater and Andy Irons, but really to watch the big waves and ponder his rather limited career options. A bus full of orange-robed monks showed up.

Maybe it was the weed, or maybe it was God, or maybe it was just that being a monk sounded better than being an inmate, but he chatted up a couple of the younger guys, who introduced him to their mentor. And when they left, the senator was on the Buddha bus, soon having his head shaved and pulling on an orange robe.

That was just three months ago. He enjoyed the order, something lacking in his life for too long, Buddhist philosophy made sense to him, and the lively debates were far more intelligent than anything on the Senate floor. All in all, not a bad life, although he was still having a hard time with the chants, none of which were in English. So he lip-synched a lot.

How odd, there was the same guy he'd seen at the Blaisdell last night -- a hard look and apparently, from their accidental bump, packing a piece beneath his orange robe. Definitely not one of them. Last night Donovan thought he was part of a security detail. But not now. He edged through the crowd in that direction.

The Buddhist training was having an effect. The senator was acting entirely altruistic, compassionate as a Buddha, because the best thing for his self-interest was to turn and distance himself from whoever this guy was and whatever trouble he might be planning.

The senator stumbled, bumped the guy, again felt something hard right where you'd expect a shoulder holster to be. "Forgive me," he said, bowed with fingertips pressed to his nose.

His fellow monk sneered at such clumsiness.

Sherlock Gomes saw it 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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