My Kind of Town

Don Chapman

Dying for love

>> Kona

"I'm the captain of the boat now, Magdalena," Sonya Chan told the 19-year-old, one of the 12 Filipinas Sushi Leclaire had recruited out of the brothel bars of Manila. "And you can have a better life than the one Sushi told you about. But I'll need your help."

The girl saluted playfully, "Yes, my captain!"

"Thank you." Sonya needed a smile. It had been a while. "Now, come over here so I can teach you how to steer the boat."

"Me? Oh my god!" Magdalena exclaimed.

"See this," Sonya said, pointing to the compass. "Keep those two lines together and you'll be OK. Anything happens, just yell. I want to check on Hideki and the others."

"How long until we meet Sushi and your friend Daren?"

Friend? No, he'd never been her friend. Daren Guy had gone pretty much from just another guy at the Yacht Club straight to boyfriend. And how it had happened baffled her still.

He wasn't the usual Sonya type. SInce she was 17, she'd been looking for a guy with money and a future. That was part of why she had the boob job, to add allure. Daren was a fisherman with an old boat and his future depended entirely on fish and weather. And though he was tall, lean and muscled, there was something about Daren that made her want to take care of him. Now she wanted to whack him.

"This afternoon, I hope." Sonya did not want to be at sea after dark.

The moment she stepped down into the cabin, Sonya smelled it, sour, putrid, not yet overpowering, but moving in that direction. In a nook normally reserved for the yacht's crew, Hideki the boat-jumping Japanese fisherman lay with eyes closed, ghastly pale. His lungs made a soft gurgling sound when he breathed.

"I'm sorry, mum, his breath is so bad," said Agnes, the Filipina for whom Hideki had jumped seven stories from the deck of the Tuna Maru, landing awkwardly. "We tried Listerine."

Sonya didn't know that he'd broken a rib and partially torn a lung, but she knew that putrid smell from when her father, who'd worked at Pioneer Mill, broke his thumb on the job and refused treatment, until gangrene eventually set in. This was the same kind of smell. Her father almost lost the thumb because of his macho attitude. How much worse would it be with an internal injury?

The smell was starting to get to her.

"OK, ladies, anybody who wants to get some fresh air, you're free to go up on the deck."

All but Agnes fled. Hideki needed a doctor, Sonya knew, but calling a doc could cost her millions. She tried to convince herself that if Hideki died, he died for love, not because of her.

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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