Last night, Cruz MacKenzie had seen a dark fin on dark water, so smooth, silent, spectral, it could have been an illusion. The night removed proportion and perspective. But now, illuminated by the angled rays of the rising run, the glistening fin was so big that it cast a shadow at least five feet across the surface of this remote little lava lagoon. And as the shark entered the shallows, the water it displaced had nowhere to go but up and out, creating a wake like a torpedo's as it swam back and forth 20 feet from the beach.
"He's waiting," Mano Kekai said.
It occurred to Cruz that he'd never seen a shark in the wild. Once, after diving with his old friend Scot Bishop off Kaena Point, Scot asked if he'd seen "the shark."
"There was a big tiger, 10 or 11 feet, cruising the surface while you were taking pictures of that sting ray in the cave."
"Why didn't you say something down there?!"
Scot had replied: "I didn't know how you'd react."
Well, Scottie boy, we're about to find out. Wish you were here.
The big fin disappeared. Mano pulled a canvas bag filled with ulua chunks from the cooler and waded into the sea. To Mano, the big shark was his aumakua, the shark god, and he was bringing an offering. To Cruz, it was a big damn shark and they were chumming. He spat on the inside of the mask, rinsed it with salt water as his heart began to pound the "Jaws" theme.
"By the way, some of Mano's children can be playful and..."
"They're young, like teenage boys, they like to act aggressive. They'll swim right up to you, maybe bump you and..."
"Act like you belong. Trust Mano. Let your flippers do the work. And keep your hands close to your body, their skins are rough enough to cut your skin. You don't want that."
Blood in the water? No, Cruz did not want that. He took a deep breath, then another, crossed himself, and he wasn't even Catholic.
"Remember," Mano said, "oneness, connection. "
"That's how I'd like this to end. Still in one piece. Everything still connected."
Mano pulled on his mask and fins and dived into the water. Cruz followed, wondering if the Hawaii Publishers Association gives the Pa'i Award for Stupid Columnist of the Year posthumously.
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Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek.
His serialized novel runs daily
in the Star-Bulletin. He can be e-mailed at