My Kind of Town

by Don Chapman

Sunday, December 9, 2001

The Honolulu Soap Co.:
Sunday digest

>> Ala Moana Beach Park

HPD Detective Sherlock Gomes lived in the real world, and liked it. This goddess business was a little hard to take. And yet he knew what he and Dr. Laurie Tang had seen when Gomes twisted open the hatch on the WWII-vintage mini-submarine that surfaced at the Diamond head end of the park minutes ago -lifting Laurie out of the water in the last yards of her swim. And now the old gentleman who appeared out of nowhere was telling him that the big, brown, naked woman they saw inside the sub, kissing the head of the lone occupant, who turned out to be a skeleton, was Ho'ola, goddess of life.

"I'm sorry to interrupt," Laurie said, handing the cell phone back to Gomes, "but my presence is required at work." Work being at the Queen's ER.

"But we're not through with my questions." Gomes, the tough detective again.

Later, Laurie wouldn't know what came over her, wouldn't have any logical explanation, because she'd never done anything so bold before. But she blurted "We could talk over dinner tonight. I'm cooking."

It was not, Gomes noted, a question. "Let me grab my notepad out of the car so I get your address. Mr. Ahuna, could you come along too. I'd like to get your number as well."

Watching from behind a row of monkeypod trees, Sen. Donovan Matsuda-Yee-Dela Cruz-Bishop-Kamaka felt mixed emotions. On the one hand, he was glad that Laurie and Gomes appeared to be leaving, so Donovan could see Gomes' car and get his license number. On the other hand, he seethed at the way Laurie and Gomes were walking. Laurie touching Gomes arm as she spoke.

"Let me get your information first," Gomes said, pulling a notepad from the trunk.

"No sense I give you my number," Jimmy said. "After this I'm going with Ho'ola, to live in her valley. My wife died two years ago, we never had any kids, no need I stay here. But do me one favor, eh? Call Froggie Matsuo, my old friend from the shipyard. Tell him he needs to find a new second baseman for our makule team."

Late for work or not, Laurie still couldn't pull herself away. As a physician, she believed in science and reason.

And yet medicine also taught her that unexplained things happen. There were times when a patient survived and the only real explanation she could come up with was "miracle." So like Gomes, she relied on logic and the reality of the here-and-now. But unlike the detective whose religion began and ended at St. Philomena Catholic Church, Laurie believed in a broader spirituality. So the last thing she expected to see was a big, brown, naked deity walking around Ala Moana Beach Park.

"Where is Ho'ola's valley?" she said.

"It's where you never grow old."

"OK, Mr. Ahuna, just so I got this straight," Gomes cut in, reading from the precise script in his note pad. "So you saw the sub twice, once before at Queen's Beach and then today." Meaning the WWII-vintage Japanese mini-sub that surfaced at the Diamond head end of the park minutes ago, lifting Laurie out of the water in the last yards of her swim.

"At's right."

"And then the woman we saw inside the sub..." The woman who was kissing the head of the lone occupant, who turned out to be a skeleton. "She just disappeared. Nobody else out of hundreds of people saw her except Dr. Tang, me and you..."

Jimmy nodded.

"And you say she is Ho'ola, goddess of life."

"At's right again."

"Hey!" Laurie said. "There she is now!"

Sure enough, there was Ho'ola, 50 yards away, beckoning to a guy who was jumping onto a mo-ped, glancing over his shoulder and vrooming away from the goddess. Neither Gomes nor Laurie recognized Sen. Donovan Matsuda-Yee-Dela Cruz-Bishop-Kamaka.

"That guy was running from her," Gomes said. "Maybe she wasn't in a blessing mood?"

"No no," Jimmy said. "Blessing, helping, saving, preserving - that's who she is, it's what Ho'ola does. But not everybody wants the blessings of a goddess, or a god. So foolish to run from her. That one ..." Jimmy nodded in the direction of the disappearing mo-ped. "... something bad going happen."

Ho'ola watched the mo-ped disappear with hands on hips, head tilted, the international sign of an unhappy woman. The goddess was disappointed that a man who needed her help had gotten away. If ever there was man who needed to be healed and saved it was that one. Well, he'd had his chance. Ho'ola did not twist arms.

Still, Gomes saw, nobody else had noticed the big, brown naked woman. Although the guy fleeing her on the mo-ped obviously had.

Ho'ola, turned, beckoned to Jimmy Ahuna.

Gomes and Laurie watched as Jimmy joined Ho'ola. After he picked up two fishing poles and a tackle box he'd left on the beach, she took him by the hand and they walked across the water. And just beyond the reef, Jimmy and Ho'ola disappeared from view.

"They just disappeared," Gomes said.

Laurie smiled at the way his detective mind worked. "Well, they were walking on water. Who knows what else Ho'ola can do?"

"Mm." Gomes considered this for a moment. "And that's the second time we've seen her do that, just vanish into air."

Laurie glanced at her watch. "I really do have to be going. I'm already late for work, and I'm not exactly dressed for the ER."

"Like I said, I'm cooking tonight."

"Good, I need to talk this out."

Later, walking back to her car, Laurie would wonder what on Earth had come over her. Because all of a sudden she stretched on tip-toes and kissed Gomes' cheek.

Gomes watched Laurie walk away. What the hell had come over him? What self-respecting guy needed to talk out anything? But he did need to talk with Laurie. Was it a blessing that Ho'ola had given him and Laurie, like Jimmy said, or a magic spell?

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

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