By the time Skye returns from the hotel’s business center, Lindsy is out of the shower, her hair wrapped in a towel. She gives him a broad smile, which he takes as absolution from last night’s withholdings.
“Hi,” she says.
“Hi.” He bends over to give her a kiss, then leans back against the wall. “One of the first things you told me was how you always wanted to go to Hawaii.”
“Sure. That corny slot machine.”
“So would you?”
She unwinds the towel and takes a brush to her hair. “Sure. Someday.”
He slides a fold of papers onto the nightstand. “Boise to Kona Kailua, six a.m. tomorrow.”
She narrows her eyes, working the ethical calculations, then slaps the bed. “Yes.” Then slaps it some more. “Yes. Yes. Yes-yes-yes-yes!”
Skye smiles. “I like the sound of that.”
The barren terrain of Nevada has long ago lost its charm, but as they near Boise they begin to encounter trees, grasslands, hills covered with vegetation.
“No offense to your lovely suspension-free truck, but I’m not getting why we left my car in Winnemucca.”
Skye assembles his story. “Recently, a mechanic friend gave it a once-over, and he threw in a lot of extras. I keep discovering things.”
“Oh. Okay. Mind if I plug in my iPod?”
“Ha! Good luck.”
Lindsy unwraps a white cord and slips the tip into a jack next to the radio. A song by Coldplay fills the cab with lush stereo sound, from speakers that did not previously exist.
Skye unrolls a hand. “There you go. Right there.”
“Damn! Nice mechanic.” She lies back and takes his hand.
They check into a hotel next to the airport. This time, the excuse is easy. With Hawaii in their near future, he wants to wait one more night. Lindsy works that pout, but the word Hawaii slips its way in like an aspirin, and soon she’s lying next to him, giving him a neckrub.
The question that Skye can’t seem to answer is, Why is he making excuses? But then, he’s Nature Boy. He goes whichever way the road takes him.
The approach to Kona Airport is a forbidding field of black-brown lava, and soon they’re standing in one of several courtyards that make up the terminal. After temperate Tahoe and dry Nevada, the humidity of a Hawaiian August is striking, and he fights off the rental clerk’s offer of a sporty convertible for the insulated comforts of an SUV. They drive across the lava fields (apparently a flow from ’87 that took out the old airport) and dip downhill into a cozy-looking beachfront town.
“Here’s Kailua, honey.”
“Ooh!” says Lindsy. “He calls me honey.”
“Do you mean, in the forty-eight hours I have known you, I had not yet called you honey?”
“Yes, and it was killing me! Hey, let’s check that out.”
They park next to a flea market, two dozen tented vendors glommed together into a single organism. Skye stops at the entrance to smell a large papaya.
“Now that takes me back.”
“Back to where?”
“My dad was stationed on Oahu when I was seven. And we had papaya trees right out front. I used to climb onto the garage roof to get the fruits. So I’m expecting a few smells to transport me to second grade.”
“I love how smells do that. Did you get to the Big Island?”
“Yep. Took a flight out here. All I remember is the volcano park, lava flows, steam rising from the ground.”
Skye gets the papaya and leads Lindsy into the market, where the primary challenge seems to be sorting the genuine local stuff from the tourist crap shipped from China. A general lack of quality drives them back to the parking lot, where they find a renegade rooster, a bit of rope still tied to his foot. Skye stops and looks around.
Lindsy puts a hand on his ribs. “What?”
He fetches a glossy white blossom from the top of a lava-rock wall and holds it to his nose. The smell is thick and tropical, a grain short of too sweet. He hands it to her. “Plumeria. They use it for the leis.”
The fragrance drives her eyes skyward. She holds it to his nose as she kisses him. It’s a good combination.
They check into the Kona Beach Hotel, an old-school, big-building resort with a fifty-foot outrigger in the lobby. Skye hands Lindsy his debit card and sends her to the gift shops. He’s just done showering when she makes her entrance in a lemon sundress, printed with white silhouettes of plumeria blossoms. And a fake-plumeria hairclip. It smacks of trying too hard, but when she turns to walk to her suitcase the fabric twitches against her ample ass, and Skye thinks it best to shut up and enjoy himself.
They stroll the beachfront hand-in-hand, the street lined with torches, and stop beneath an oversize banyan tree, its branches stretching over the road in a sinewy jumble. Their destination is the Royal Kona, a hotel built to resemble a cruise ship, and the wide spread of lawn next to its waterfront. The object is a luau, and although Skye is perfectly prepared for a big fat Hawaiian cliché, the program turns out to be entertaining and insightful. Burly Hawaiian men dig up an earth-roasted pig, serve its mouthmelt flesh with a native buffet and top it off with dark rum mai-tais.
Their island band seems better than most, ranging from slack-key jazz to high-voiced folk songs in Hawaiian. The after-dinner show is a dance troupe, taking a narrated voyage through Hawaii’s founding cultures: the frenetic hipshake of Tahiti, a Maori spear dance accompanied by grotesque face-making, and the flawless grace of hula. Skye enjoys a visual meal of the wide-hipped waihine, their stomachs framed by dance-toned parentheses. Lindsy takes in the muscular warriors, crotches barely covered as they take assertive postures, thump their chests, and work a leg-wobble that doesn’t quite bridge the cultural gap.
The lead male is a buffed, dark-haired demon whose strenuous solos paint a glimmer over Lindsy’s baby blues. The showstopper, however, is a Tahitian fire-dancer who licks his torches, the flames playing across his face, then passes them under his legs (very close to his privates), before proceeding to a mind-bending display of spins and throws.
Between the mai-tais, the dancers and the tropical warmth, Skye feels suitably worked up, and takes all opportunities to glance at Lindsy’s moon-white breasts, barely contained by her thin-strapped dress. They stop beneath the banyan tree to indulge in an old-fashioned makeout session.
Which makes it that much more surprising when he lands on their bed and, pleading the long day, hands her the remote. He’s not sleepy, but the flesh is clearly unwilling, and he is determined to follow all roadsigns. He eventually drifts off, feeling the heat of frustration from the other side of the bed.
Photo by MJV