Archive for August, 2011

HORSES, BARKING DOGS, AND MINISTERS
August 22, 2011

The SCAM, when Kauai was young. A sweet helpful minister, barking dogs, hippies, and a great lawyer. Getting along. Those were the days.

Holt Camp, when we drove up the drive, was a disaster area. It looked as though it had been turned inside out and upside down. The girls in the back of the van groaned.

“The horses,” I cried. “My god, David, the horses.” I didn’t wait for the bus to stop but jumped out, kimono flying, and raced barefoot through the trees.

The barn hadn’t been touched. It looked exactly as it had when we left it last night. As far as I could see I had a barn full of bored, hungry horses. Nothing more.

I ran down the covered passageway opening stall doors. It was so late, nearly two-o’clock, I thought it wiser to let them wait until dinner to eat. They could graze. None of them would fall down faint from starvation. Their water buckets were full, so they’d not run out of that, which was a relief. I felt better already. Some of the girls who’d followed me were fussing over the horses, patting them, talking to them, the horses seemed willing to forgive, but we could hear cries of dismay and anger from the camp.

David, Ty, and the minister had driven to the house, followed by a pack of bounding, barking dogs. The cats were not in sight, but when I opened the stall doors, chickens and ducks appeared out of nowhere to peck around the rich nut-smelling bedding.

“Where shall we begin, Mrs. Holt,” one of the girls, the littlest schoolteacher, asked.

“We’ll being by taking a swim,” I said. “I feel grungy as hell. Bet you do, too. Call the others.”

Before we could gather the others, David, Ty, and the minister came running from the house.

“Don’t touch anything.” David said. “Get a camera someone. Who has a camera? We have to get pictures of this.”

“Why? What is it David? The horses are fine.”

“It’s incredible that’s what it is,” the minister said. “If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believe the police could be so destructive.”

“One of our members is a professional photographer. I’ll call him. He’ll be glad to help. He can also act as a witness. He’s a respected man in the community. He won’t believe this either. Meanwhile if you folks need anything, food, clothing, showers, baths, help yourselves to our facilities.” The minister ran back to his van and drove away.

“I don’t know what the hell to make of this,” David said.

“Run down and tell those kids not to touch anything,” I said to the schoolteachers. “Please.” My knees were weak. Why had they spared the barn? The horses, locked in their stalls, had been sitting ducks. I sank into a canvas chair.

David stood with his feet planted apart, his arms folded, looking past the barn out to sea. “i haven’t the guts to check the boat.”

“There was malicious destruction done here,” Ty said. “We’ll get pictures. Then we’ll talk. I’m glad to see this with my own eyes.”

When the phone rang I reached for it with a despairing hand. “Hello,” I said.

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SKIERS, SURFERS,TEACHERS AND OTHER ASSORTED CHARACTERS
August 20, 2011

I have a cast of a thousand characters. Very Kauai. Very complicated plot. Funny, too

I’d never seen him in a pair of shorts before. he was a stocky little guy; the muscles in his calves bulged. Except for the violent head movements, he seemed undisturbed.

In the middle of the room the seven members of the skiing team held conference. They spoke quietly but with great animation. Poor things. They thought they’d found safe haven. When this was over I must try to call their parents or their coach.

At least they were clothed. They’d been sleeping in what looked like red, white, and blue kid’s pajamas, minus the feet.  Even sleeping they were a team.

I recognized three kids rom the church camp next door. They looked bewildered but plucky. I wondered if any of our neighbors, the church members, had witnessed our departure. If they had, help must be on the way.

One curious sight, as curious because I recognized them as that they be there, I am decidedly apolitical, were two members of the City Council and the Mayor. I couldn’t bring myself to believe they’d been sleeping in the camp. If they had, they were the only ones with enough sense, or time, to put their clothes on. The Mayor even wore a  coat and tie.

Two prim and proper elementary schoolteachers, who had arrived yesterday from California, looked anything but prim and proper. Of the entire bunch, these two young women easily answered the description of ‘hippy’.

Minus their granny glasses, walking shorts, and sturdy shoes, long hair hanging down and T-shirts, wet from the rain, they could have escaped from any one of a dozen x-rated movies.

The rest of the crowd was made up of surfers, boys and girls, some from the mainland, some local. Most of them looked bored. One brawny kid had actually gone to sleep on the cold cement floor.

I envied him.

Most of the kids were wrapped in towels or paisley spreads. One kid was a knock-out in a bright yellow sheet tied over one shoulder like a toga. This kid had a long red beard and thick curly hair. His eyes were fierce and blue.  If he started to sing, I’d know for sure I was in the wrong dream.

Not one of us, except the Mayor and his gang, had the good sense to grab a pair of shoe. We were, all of us, mud halfway up our calves. The hem of my robe was a solid band of thick red slime.

We were a sight.

When David appeared from out of an office behind the counter, a cheer went up. David raised his hand and there was silence. “I called Ty. He’ll be here first thing in the morning. He says for all of us to keep our cool. Obey the…” he paused “…our captors and keep your mouths shut. He’ll have us out of here before noon tomorrow. ”

Another cheer.

“That’s enough of that,” a cop said. I watched the little fat Mayor sidle edgewise towards the door.

KAREN’S HAVING A GOOD DAY
August 19, 2011

I’m just messing around here. Hopping about…

Wednesday morning was so beautiful it could have been framed and hung in a gallery. A fresh breeze was blowing offshore and there was just enough cloud cover to make th morning nippy. The entire western sky was an electric pink trimmed at the top with a deep dove-gray. The clouds didn’t burn off until after ten o’clock and by that tine Alex and I were home, cleaned up, and ready to relax. Old Alex bounded out of the barn like a frisky colt and soon all the horses were cavorting around like dolphin in a tank.

My yoga, which I practice nude on a raised wooden deck that David built for me in the forest, was one of those rare transcendent moment I frequently, but not frequently enough, experience.

I didn’t lift. I floated off the ground. I could have remained standing on my head all morning. It’s a terrible confession to make, but often I feel more at home standing on my head than I do standing on my feet. The peacock, an asana which I had been practicing diligently for years, was perfect. I was the peacock. I stretched out, my body horizontal to the deck, but six inches above it like a beam, balanced on my forearms, and when I unfolded my gorgeous tail-feathers even the cardinals in the trees took note. Oh, let that damn cop be out there somewhere.

When I meditated my Sahasrara Chakra was so charged I could feel the lotus petals open. My Kundalini Sakthi was so powerful I could have run electric trains or bent spoons with my mind. It was after sessions like this that I usually consult the I Ching, but this day I had no questions to ask. I enjoy communicating with the oracle, but I hate to bother her for nothing.

A little more of that, I thought, walking homeward through the forest, and I’d not only stop the aging process, I’d put it in reverse.

David came home for lunch and afterwards both of us went for a swim. The water was the temperature of tepid tea; I could have floated around in it all day. The breeze had stopped, the clouds had dissipated, the sky was a Van Gogh blue. It would be a hot afternoon.     I went home for a siesta, alone, David went back to work. He had a lot to do to keep us afloat. When he left he gave me a friendly pat on the fanny, “If Adams calls and we have to go in, let me know. We’ll make a night of it. Drinks and dinner. Maybe some dancing. Might as well.”

I nodded, and washed and dried my hair before taking a siesta.

Adams called around five. Yes, he had a good flight. Smooth. First class on a 747 was the only way to fly. The flight to Kauai was pleasant. yes, his room was fine.

TROUBLE AT THE BEACH
August 17, 2011

Trust me, there are giggles but I have to get these people in a lot of trouble before I can get them out.

Her started towards the house, naked as usual, when he saw three figures on the beach. They were acting strangely. David said he couldn’t tell what they were up to, but it didn’t look right to him, so he turned around and went back to his office and put his shorts on.

“You walked up the beach?”

“No,” David replied, “I walked in the shadows of the trees, but when the girl started to scream I ran out on the beach.”

“Were there lights on at the house?”

“I didn’t notice if there were. Once the girl really started screaming I just ran.” Like me, he didn’t stop to think.

“What happened then?”

“One of the figures fell to the beach. The other two took off running.”

“Away from you?”

“Yes.”

“Can you describe them?”

“No. Not really. One of them had long hair. I could see that, but they were to far away to see much else and running fast.”

He’d almost reached the girl’s side when he heard me swear and the door bang. He was afraid someone was after me. When he heard me yell, he yelled back. That’s what the cop heard, and that’s when David took a shot at the fleeing shadows.

“It was a stupid thing to do, it only made them run faster. They were too far away to hit. But at the time like those you’re not always thinking straight.”

Ty grunted.

I told David about the cops and their delicate ears and he laughed.

“But one thing I don’t understand, ” David said, “is how did that cop get here so fast? Where in the hell did he come from?”

“He was staked out,” Ty said. “You must expect that. I should have warned you. Not that it would have made any difference, probably. It’s a common practice in a case like this. You can count on being under pretty close surveillance at least until after the trial.”

I couldn’t bear to think of the trial. “Spies,”I said.

“No, Karen. They’re here to protect you, too. Nuts come out of the woodwork in cases like this.”

We were quiet for quit a long time.

“I guess I’d better warn the guys in the camp,” I said.

“You never saw those people before?”

“Never,” David said.

“The cop sent the girl to the house afterwards? Alone?”

“Yes. He did. I’d forgotten about that.”

“We’d better go through that place with a fine-tooth comb. Can you think of anyone who would harm you? Make trouble for you?”

“Have you given up on the land condemnation plot?”

Ty laughed. “The plot thinens. This doesn’t smell like the State. They’re not above planting a little grass, but the rape bit is a little too far out even for them.”

THE ROAD TO HANALEI
August 16, 2011

On the road to Hanalei the world goes by.

One day we opened our gates and the world, like the tide in a tide pool, poured in. Our land is fenced, the horses and other animals run free, but along the highway the property is long and deep and a virgin wood, we haven’t touched it, shield us from the sounds and sights of the road. We have a gate with signs on it, which everyone ignored. Our first trespassers were shaggy hikers coming down from the Kalalau trail, foot-sore, dirty, and fierce-looking, searching for a safe place to spend the night.  Many of them were school teachers, summertime R & R, in their late twenties and early thirties. Once we had two physicists from the University of California. David and they had a ball.

They cleaned up at our house the day they left the island and it was difficult to believe they were the same two men. Shorn of their scraggy beards and tangled hair, minus a few layers of grit and sand, dressed in mufti, shoes and all, they were mundane; the most ordinary looking pair of four-eyed eggheads you can imagine.

Once we had two Irish Catholic priests from the Philippines. They helped build the irrigation system and plant our orchard. We send them lichees and read strawberry guavas when they are in season. They write and promise to return, with two little nuns next time.

*

I love to visit the camp. I am a visitor there, always welcome, but a visitor nonetheless. By now we have several permanent residents and we’ve become, not only friends, but good neighbors, and that’s harder to do. We respect each other. We each have our territories, our space, and we don’t intrude. We drop in on each other, we drop hints, which is at it should be.

“I got a’idea about these damn Japanese beetles that’s eatin’ all the tomatas. Can I see ya’about it later?”

That would be Lew, he’s our senior resident, both in age, and time of residency. A tough and leathery ex-cowboy from the south West, he’s a wizard with plants and animals. I couldn’t hire a man to work as hard as Lew. sometimes he makes me feel guilty. When he gets and idea and he gets an idea it’s usually a good one, and he can bring it to fruition, too.

Once I offered to pay him for a job and he wouldn’t speak to me for a week.

I’ve never been to the camp and been displeased. It’s sort of family oriented, coeducational, free-for-the-asking Bohemian Grove. People come and go and are scattered about  in there like Indians in a forest.

It’s always neat. It’s always clean. It’s always tidy. Which is more than I can say for my house sometimes and the world outside the gates.

Compost heaps work and they don’t smell.

Firepits are banked.

Territories are raked and swept, with what often turns out to be homemade brooms.

MEET SOME HIPPY HOLT CAMPERS
August 15, 2011

Probably an unpopular bit of dialogue but you know how hippy kids were…

“The real HVB tourist is fat and ugly. He spends the money.”

“He’s seventy years old and drives a red Datsun rent-a-car. Look out for him. He won’t pick you up hitch hiking, he’ll run you down.”

“He’ll pick you up,” piped up a cute little blonde., “and if big fat mama wasn’t in the front seat with him we’d have to beat him off with a stick.”

“You’re all missing it,” drawled a tall slender girl, “the real HVB tourist is three fat haoles in glow-in-the-dark muus. I don’t know what’s worse, their saggy old arms or those atrociously phony Hawaiian prints.”

“I like the old guys that wear  black silk socks with garters and sandals.”

“I like the ones who find something to bitch about so they won’t have to leave a tip.”

“How about the ones who live on soda crackers they steal at Woolworth?”

I decided it was time to break this up. “Kids, you sound awful. Someday you’re going to get old and fat…”

“I will not get fat,” the little blonde said.

“You didn’t get old and fat, Mrs. Holt…”

I was indignant. “Well I’m not a hundred years old  either.”

“Neither are they. Ninety percent of those slovenly old bats are not any older than you,”  the tall girl answered.

“Someday you will learn,” I said, “that people age differently. But whether I’m old or fat is not the point. The point is it’s ugly for young people to say such cruel things about older people. If anything you should pity them and be kind to them. Weren’t you taught to respect your elders?”  The tall girl looked down her nose at me and said, as she strode off, “When my elders do something I can respect them for I’ll respect them. Not until.”

She had me there.

The kids continued to have fun picking on the tourist. It’s true, I’m afraid, we seem to be getting a sadder and shabbier lot every year. I continued reading. One rather notoriously odd-ball columnist picked up on David’s inventive genius, quoting, he said, a close friend. “David Holt…that mad genius…is as at home with his sinister mechanical tricks as he is with his somewhat weird assumption that the universe is shaped like a three-cornered hat…”

He was a three-dot man.

I didn’t think I would say anything about that to David.

I, he continued, on the other hand, was an outspoken pagan more at him in a Bullfinch that the Good book. “Karen Holt collects strays…both two-legged and four-legged…she calls herself a born again Druid…the last of the practicing Luddites…she and Holt make an unlikely pair.

She’s a kook who loves her horse more than her children…and it shows. A long-haired middle-age hippy with revolutionary overtone…if she dislike this country so much why doesn’t she move to Russia?”  This guy read my war record, anyway. I hope it was juicy.

MORE HIPPIES, DRUG DEALERS AND MR. ADAMS
August 15, 2011

Segments of my new novel, THE SCAM. At last a funny book has come to town and Kauai is the location. Scroll down to IN THE ZOO and read up.

“Condemning our land?”

“For a park.”

“They can do that anytime they want. Why the hanky panky?”

“This is just speculation, Karen. Ty believes us. It’s got to be a frame. But who? Why? The land is the only thing he’s got going. He figures if they can prove they’re condemning a filthy hipped-up drug scene it’ll look better all the way around.”

“Keeps the good citizen in line, eh? If he keeps his nose clean his land won’t be condemned.”

David nodded. “Something like that. And there’s always the question of money.”

“They’d rather steal it?”

“They’d rather steal it.”

“is that all?”

“No. It gets worse.”

“Jesus!”

“The media.”

This time I nodded, remembering the woman with the flash.

“According to the radio we’re the Manson family of Kauai. They’re having a field day. I’m a mad scientist. You’re a kook. We’re growers. Addicts. Pushers.”

“Baby boilers.”

“Yep.”

“Can’t we sue?”

“They’re careful to leave themselves out. It’s all inference at this point.”

“Go on.”

“I made the front pages in the morning papers.”

“In your cute little shorts?”

“We even made the Editorial Page. Slow day in the islands. You made the inside pages, Ma, sorry. Maybe next time.”

“Next time? I’m going straight.”

“Karen, there could be a next time.”

When the phone rang, I jumped three feet. It was long distance. Collect. Before I could tell him we’d changed our minds, he began, “I don’t have much time, Mrs. Holt. But it’s all there. It’s coming through. Can you give me more time?”

“Of course,” I sighed.

“If I double the manpower I can move faster. Are you in a rush?”

“How long the way we’re going?”

“Maybe a week. Maybe more. Maybe less.”

THE CLAN GATHERS
August 13, 2011

These are just teasers. Introducing new characters. Remember where we left Karen? Well…

From the entrance room we were hurried up a narrow flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs was an immense barn of a room. It ran the entire length of the building. Instead of cells, iron beds lined the back wall.  Along the far wall were three open toilets and several cracked and rusted basins. The bars in the women’s windows didn’t seem as formidable as the bars in the men’s cell downstairs. We were the weaker sex after all. Then I remembered those husky skiers.

Not to worry, sergeant, I thought, if the bars on our prison were made of silly putty you’d never catch a member of our team breaking out. those girls would sit on their bunks with their hands primly folded until hell froze over if someone in authority told them to.

I loved them for that.

As for that pair of school teachers, I’d not have been a bit surprised if they hack saws hidden about their person. If they wanted out, petite and fragile as the darling creatures were, they’d have got out. If I were a National guardsman, and I caught sight of that pair, I’d get the hell out of their way. Fast.

And I loved them for that.

We heard the van start-up on the way back to town to pick up the others. I walked to the barred windows and peered out, just to see what it felt like. What a pretty morning. The sun was beginning to pop above the trees on the palm strew golf course and the ocean side was as blue as the early morning sky.

There was no dividing line at the horizon. I felt sorry for all those free-swinging golfers out there in the open air, they were out there all alone.

We were together. In the slammer. Finger-printed. Arrested. Mugged.

Criminals. All of us.

There were quite a number of us gathered at the windows now. when the second van-load of prisoners arrived all of us cheered. Downstairs somebody started to sing; we’d lost Jake, but not Old Black Joe. As the rest of the girls filed up the stairs, we all joined in.

When Ty arrived, natty in his blue-dyed boots and blue polo shirt, the Wailua Hilton was rocking. Just after Ty arrived two yellow church buses drove up. The clan was gathering.

The school teachers and the skiers were practicing a bumpy hula in the middle of the room and everyone not dancing was hanging on the bars singing.

We were so  noisy even the golfers across the highway paused to listen.

Ty looked up and waved. I couldn’t tell whether the expression on his face was a grin or a grimace, but either way it didn’t dull my spirits one bit. I kept right on singing, “I wanna go back to my little grass shack in Kealekekua Hawaii…

*

Ty had arranged bail for all of us, put up the money himself, and even arranged transportation.

BUST
August 12, 2011

I’m skipping around. Poor Karen and the people in the camp.

…in a line of ten, the same car, thank god, and we pulled out.

Slowly, blue lights flashing and turning, sirens softly wailing, we drove into the night.

*

At the station some kid cop gave David a pair of jockey shorts and let him make a phone call. I was left alone in the dimly lighted room, sitting on a hard concrete bench, freezing, turning blue, scared, trying to sort things out.

No one spoke to me although many people, cops and others, walked by. There seemed to be a heavy load of traffic in the police station that night, but no one paid any attention to me or looked me in the eye. It was as though, sitting there with my teeth chattering, my hair all hanging down, I didn’t exist. I was invisible. Decent, law-abiding citizens didn’t even see me. I was convinced, and I still am, that had I rolled up my eyes, swallowed my tongue, and fallen off the bench, they would have kept right on walking.

Long before David came back, the others arrived.

It was a mixed bag.

The people in the camp were prodded in by threes and fours, little kids, too, to sit beside me on the bench or on the concrete floor in the narrow hallway. The strays, people I’d never seen before, moved freely among us. Gaping. Watching. Rudely staring. One of these characters caught my eye and gave me a knowing wink.

No one said a word.

After awhile a couple of women came in, looked around, nudged each other, whispered something I couldn’t hear and started towards me. They appeared to be harmless enough. Before I had time to grasp the situation one of them whipped out a camera, with a flash, and blinded me.

I was to have seen more flattering pictures of myself.

The only reason I didn’t make the front page is because David looked so much cuter in his borrowed shorts.

Dozens of pictures were taken that night. I’ve kept none for my scrapbook.

*

After the picture-taking session the camp people became restless. At one point I tried counting noses, but that was impossible, people moved about too much. Everything was in flux, there was constant churning.

We were a peaceful bunch. I think everyone was in shock.

I was startled to discover Kuuipo, Bobby Lim, the Postmaster, in the crowd. He was standing in a corner speaking to a big Portuguese cop. They were talking together earnestly. Kuuipo was wearing a brown-leather jacket and white cotton boxer shorts with over-size cinnamon-red ants running rampant across the front and back. He was shaking his head violently.

I’ve never seen him in  a pair of shorts before. He was a stocky little guy; the muscles in his calves bulged. Except for the violent head movement, he seemed undisturbed.

In the middle of the room the seven members of  skiing team held conference.

ENTER LORRAINE
August 12, 2011

Old timers will recognize this character and place….

Lorraine owns and runs a bar just outside of town. She’s one of the best friends we have and her bar, the New Papeete, has got to be the best place on the island to sit and sip a few.

We love its authentic Tahitian shabbiness. Everything slightly beat and battered, chairs with wobbly legs and hard wooden seats that got more comfortable  and stable the longer you sit. Blowfish, and conch shells, woven and fringed palm leaves, and ti-leaf decor, it adds up to all that’s left of real island hospitality; the one place in the world where the real spirit of Aloha survives.

Lorraine is mother of the world. We can talk to her about everything, and, after a few of her generous drinks, we usually do. That night was no exception.   it was a quiet night at the New Papeete. The sky was gray and overcast. It was going to rain. It was a Monday night and most of Lorraine’s habitues stay home on Monday, recovering from Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night, and all day Sunday. In true Polynesian style, on Tuesday and Wednesday, they work.

With few interruptions, David, Lorraine, and I sat talking on her poster bedecked verandah overlooking the only road through town. Across the narrow two-lane street what remains of our low-land jungle, tangled hao, koa, and thick tendrils of dripping Philodendron, rattled in the wind. Someone had shot out the street lights, no car passed, not a star peeped through the drizzly cloud-cover overhead. Had it started to pour on Lorraine’s tin roof, I swear Sadie Thompson and a gang of rowdy sailors would have come laughing through the rain to join us.

David told the story. I spoke very little. Lorraine listened attentively. Solemnly. Her great intelligent brown eyes moved sadly from David to me, like someone watching a geriatric tennis match. She’d nod, or heave a sigh or take a deep breath. She knows and adores my Father. She and my mother had been the friendliest rivals. At last, and it was unlike Lorraine, I’ve never heard her say an unkind word about anybody, and so unexpected, considering the tale David had told, she said, “That sounds like one bod lady fo’me.”

We were too stunned to comment. We had one more drink, all of us.

When we left, Lorraine took u both in her great motherly bosom, nearly suffocating me with her wonderful flower-scent, kissed us both on the cheek in the French fashion and bid us good night.

“Not to worry,” she said. “Lorraine feex up every-ting honky-dory.”

We smiled and waved as we drove away. the headlights, when David turned them on, did not brighten up the landscape. As we drove off  David said, “Now what the hell do you make of that?”

*

I’ll tell you what I make of that, I’d never tell David, he wouldn’t understand. When it comes to crystal ball gazing, David, as well as Lorraine, and me, has his own idiotsyncracies