Lovely, Cold and Dead
It was another magnificent dawn on Oahu, the sea soft and rumpled and the sun blazing up from the horizon, an offshore breeze scattering plumeria fragrance across the frothy waves. Flying fish darting over the crests, dolphins chasing them, a mother whale and calf spouting as they rolled northwards. A morning when you already know the waves will be good and it will be a day to remember.
I waded out with my surfboard looking for the best entry and she bumped my knee. A woman long and slim in near-transparent red underwear, face down in the surf. Her features sharp and beautiful, her short chestnut hair plastered to her cold skull.
I dropped my board and held her in my arms, stunned by her beauty and death. If I could keep holding her maybe she wouldn’t really be dead. I was already caught by her high cheekbones and thin purposeful lips, the subtle arch of her brow, her long slender neck in my hands. And so overwhelmed I would have died to protect her.
When I carried her ashore her long legs dragged in the surf as if the ocean didn’t want to let her go, this sylphlike mermaid beauty. Sorrow overwhelmed me—how could I get her back, this lovely person?
Already cars were racing up and down Ala Moana Boulevard. When you’re holding a corpse I your arms how bizarre seems the human race—where were all these people hurrying to in this horrible moment with this beautiful young woman dead?
I did the usual. Being known to the Honolulu cops I had to call them. I’d done time and didn’t want to do more. Don’t believe for a second what anyone tells you—being inside is a huge disincentive. Jail tattoos not just your skin; it nails your soul. No matter what you do, no matter what you want, you don’t want to go back there. Not ever.
So Benny Olivera shows up with his flashers flashing. If you want a sorry cop Benny will fill your bill. Damn cruiser the size of a humpback whale with lights going on and off all over the place, could’ve been a nuclear reaction—by the way why would anyone want a family that’s nuclear? Life’s dangerous enough.
So I explain Benny what happened. He’s hapa Pilipino—half Filipino—and doesn’t completely trust us hapa haoles, part white and part Hawaiian. To a kanaka maoli, a native Hawaiian, or to someone whose ancestors were indentured here like the Japanese or in Benny’s case Filipinos, there’s still mistrust. Didn’t the haoles steal the whole archipelago for a handful of beads? Didn’t they bring diseases that cut the Hawaiian population by ninety percent? And then shipped hundreds of the survivors to leprosy colonies on Molokai? While descendants of the original missionaries took over most of the land and became huge corporations that turned the Hawaiians, Filipinos, Japanese and others into serfs? Those corporations that now own most of Hawaii, its mainline media, banks and politicians?
I’m holding this lissome young woman cold as a fish in my arms and Benny says lie her down on the hard sidewalk and the ambulance comes—more flashing lights and she’s gone under a yellow tarp and I never saw her again.
Couldn’t surf. Went home and brewed a triple espresso and my heart was down in my feet. Sat on the lanai and tried to figure out life and death and what had happened to this beautiful woman. Mojo the dachshund huffed up on the chair beside me, annoyed that I hadn’t taken him surfing. Puma the cat curled up on my lap but I didn’t scratch her so she went and sat in the sun. I’d seen plenty of death but this one got to me. She’d been young, pretty and athletic. Somehow the strong classic lines of her face denoted brains, determination and hard work. How did she end up drowned in Kewalo Basin? Benny’s bosses at the cop shop would no doubt soon provide the answer.
Bestselling novelist, international energy expert, war and human rights correspondent and award winning poet Mike Bond has lived and worked in many dangerous, remote and war-torn regions of the world. His critically acclaimed novels depict the innate hunger of the human heart for good, the intense joys of love, the terror and fury of battle, the sinister vagaries of international politics and multinational corporations, and the vanishing beauty of the natural world.