They spend their last day on a drive to the north, all the way to the end of the road at the Pololu Overlook. The view is astounding, a narrow valley surrounded by steep mountains, everything green, green, green. In the distance, they can see lush ocean cliffs, one of them striped with a hanging waterfall.
Lindsy reads the dozen warning signs at the trailhead and begs off, recalling the ankle she blew out two years previous on just such a trail. Skye marches double-time, skiing the muddy spots, tightroping the rocky margins, and descends to a rivermouth bordered by shady pine groves. A low branch carries a board swing dangling by ropes, looking out on a gray-sand beach.
Marching back is an Olympian effort, and by the time he gains the top he is lusting after air conditioning. He finds Lindsy up the road, stretching at an odd angle to feed a hank of grass to an old horse.
“Why are you being so careful?”
“Last time, he went after my boobs.”
“My kinda horse.”
“I told him they are reserved for human fondling only.”
They stop in Kapa’au and find a row of stores that seem to have escaped the tacky-gift syndrome. Lindsy gets a bottle of plumeria body lotion. Skye buys himself a puka shell necklace and gets Lindsy a necklace of tiny white shells interlaced with grains of olivine, the same semi-precious gem that fills the green sand beach at Papalokea. They drive off into the sun, past tracts of housing that look like they were shipped in from suburban California.
Skye keeps thinking he should bring up the inevitable, but Hawaii is too beautiful. He will save the real world for the contiguous 48.
“He was coming to San Jose for a production of his musical, based on the song ‘Copacabana.’ I told him that my friends and I refer to ‘Copacabana’ as the Liquid Paper Song. If we get an obnoxious song stuck in our heads, we simply sing the first few lines of ‘Copacabana’ and it cancels out the previous song. And he said, ‘I’m sorry.’”
Lindsy murfs out a laugh.
“He was very sincere! And I said, ‘No! We use “Copacabana” because it’s a good song.’ And he said, ‘I’ve been accused of writing songs that are a little too infectious.’”
“You’re so lucky getting to talk to these people. What are you working on now?”
“A story on creative writing and brain function.”
“Really? I’m impressed.”
“I’m shocked they went for it. They usually do stories like Ten Tips for Writing Knockout Endings, which sounds exactly like Ten Sex Tricks that will Drive Your Man Crazy.”
“Diane Ackerman. A remarkable poet who writes best-selling books on science.”
“Haven’t heard of her.”
“That’s why I tell Barry Manilow stories and not Diane Ackerman stories.”
She stretches cat-like on her seat and puts a hand on his thigh. “It’s getting mountainous.”
“So what now? Will you take me to California?”
“Don’t you think you should go back to Salt Lake?”
She swats him on the arm. “You want to get rid of me? Fuck ‘em and leave ‘em?”
“Don’t you think you need to figure out what to do with your marriage?”
“Fuck my fucking marriage.”
“Fine. So end it. But you need to resolve it one way or another.”
“You’ve got a lot of fucking nerve.”
Thus, the playful argument turns ugly. And silent. She stares out the window, smoldering, for the last fifty miles. That’s okay. He expected as much. Ugly truth is not romantic.
Still, he’s surprised at her dedication. When they arrive at the garage, she pays the fee, tosses her things into her car and drives into Nevada.
Skye sits in his truck a long time, with no idea what to do next. He settles on the obvious first step – ignition, and turns left onto the main drag. When he sees Winners Casino he considers the possibility of a good old-fashioned brain-drain. The digital aviary crowds out his thoughts, and quite naturally he ends up at the Big Kahuna slot machine.
This time he’s losing. Not that it matters. By the time he finally hits a bonus, he’s down a hundred bucks. The machine goes into its automatic spins and he lets his eyes drift, to a presence he assumes is a cocktail waitress.
It’s Lindsy, eyes red from crying. Skye stands and wraps her up, inhaling her almond smell.
“One more night?” she asks.
Photo by MJV