My Kind of Town

Don Chapman

Otherwise going eetch

>> Kona

Mano Kekai's boat was one of the last to arrive back at the harbor. Cruz saw his boat chugging across the busy water to his slip, a low-rider today, the water nearly up to the gunwales it was so loaded with fish.

Mano didn't need to direct his two veteran crewmen to unload their catch from huge industrial-size Igloo ice chests, they automatically leaped to the task. Which was a good thing because two weightlifter types who had to be plainclothes cops greeted Mano at the dock and took him aside to talk.

Like a lot of Hawaiians, Mano did not grow up with an innate sense of trust or reverence for gun-toting government officials. Watching from across the water, Cruz saw him answer the detectives' question tersely at first, then indignantly. To their last question, Cruz could read the answer on Mano's lips: "No f* way!" They asked a few more questions, gave Mano a business card and left him seething.

Cruz waved, walked up warily.

"F* cops," Mano steamed. "You know what they asked?"

"Yeah. Did you kill Daren?"

Rage rose again in his eyes. "No!"

"Eh, Mano, relax," Cruz said, raising his arms in self-defense. "I know it couldn't be you."

He was angry, but at least not at Cruz. "Thanks."

"No, I mean I have proof that lets you off the hook."


Cruz nodded toward the harbor. They turned and faced the water and Cruz spoke softly. "Daren made it back to the boat alive that night."

"How you know that?"

"His beard. He shaved it off. When you took me out to his boat to see Sonya, the sink backed up. It was Daren's beard. After he jumped off your Zodiac, he made it back to his boat, shaved and then went for a swim."

Mano blinked, shook his head to free up room for an idea he'd never before considered. "Shoots," he said, thinking out loud. "You got to wash all that hair off, otherwise you going eetch all night."

His eyes swept across the harbor, taking in the happy activity of fishermen.

"Daren should have been here for this," he said. "This is what he lived for."

"Hey, you should be happier with this haul."

Mano semi-grunted.

"You can't blame yourself now."

Mano shook his head solemnly. "But my dumb haole friend is still dead. And it was my aumakua what did it."

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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