Drawing on his years of service with the Los Angeles Police Department, Waid has woven a compelling new series of novels set in the L.A. of the early 1960s, featuring eager young patrolman, Mike Montego.
Gritty, realistic, and fast-paced, all six Montego novels (print editions) are available for ordering through this website, and as e-books via the Amazon Kindle store.
Here are the titles in the Mike Montego series. Click here for more info:
KONA GOLD Jess Waid’s latest publication in the Mike Montego crime drama series is now available…
Here’s Kona Gold‘s first chapter, to whet your appetite:
The corner of my eye catches a light-blond boy’s head slowly rising above the tall seat-back in front of me. Soon, big brown eyes appear, and a moment later a tiny toy soldier in combat gear holding a rifle is marching across the top of the “ridge line.” It has my complete attention.
I hear a throaty drawn-out sound. Suddenly, GI Joe tumbles and falls, bouncing against my huarache-covered feet before it lies still. Then, I realize the throaty sound must have been “boy-made” machine-gun fire.
Amused, I unclasp my seat belt and retrieve the wounded soldier. While doing so, I briefly recall the army of toy soldiers I once had, except mine were of World War II vintage, made of lead, not plastic. They were bivouacked amongst dirt clods in a field across the street from my foster home in the east San Fernando Valley and not aboard a new Boeing 707.
I return GI Joe atop the seat-back and wait for the towheaded boy who had ducked out of sight to reach up and grasp it. I guess the boy to be about three years old. I continue holding the toy over the edge where I’m sure the tyke can see it. A few seconds pass before small fingers curl over the top like tiny crab legs. They don’t move for a long moment, and then suddenly they snatch the soldier from my grasp.
Instantly, a slight thrill courses through me. It brings a smile as I refasten my seat belt and return my gaze out the port side window. I’m sitting just in front of a silver swept-back wing. Soon, I’m reflecting on my own childhood as a foster kid, and my years with the strict Christian family in the Valley, North Hollywood to be exact. I brush the thin scar on my neck, courtesy of Paco, a Mexican bully with a switchblade who didn’t like the fact that I spoke no Spanish yet had the last name of Montego. When he confronted me with his switchblade, in a rash move, I disarmed and cut him with his own knife.
That incident had a lot to do with my leaving the Valley at the end of my sixth grammar school year and moving to another foster home in Torrance to live with a Japanese family, the Konos—actually two families, as the son and his wife also resided there. While in their care, I learned kenpo, an Okinawan fighting style. Aside from school, it became my life. Learning the Oriental martial art, and sparring with the teenaged son, Kenji “Kenny” Kono, whom I considered to be my older brother, gave me the self-confidence that carries through to this day.
Occasional clouds interfere with my view of the rippled sea below; but it doesn’t matter because I’m mentally working at sorting out my life. I recently married a gorgeous gal, and I should be happy and looking to the future with my beautiful bride. But here I am, 32,000 feet up in the azure sky, flying over the Pacific to Honolulu, seeking a time-out; needing time to think, to evaluate the major step I took by marrying Julie Preston in such haste.
The tall, spectacular strawberry blonde swept me off my feet, taking me to some very erotic places during our intense two years of lovemaking. Admittedly, discovering her many bedroom talents shocked me at first, but quickly they enraptured me. Now, however, I believe her sexual prowess has trapped me. Hey, I enjoy the sex, but eventually I want a family. She doesn’t. That ill feeling is why I’m taking a month-long break in Hawaii, but mixed in with my sadness is a pang of guilt.
I tell myself this respite is necessary, that I’m not running away. Okay, maybe I am. I try to picture my future with Julie, but my mind continues to work on the past. It seems the only good thing of late is making detective grade and being assigned to Homicide in LAPD’s Hollywood Division. Thankfully, my new boss, after checking the work schedule, let me take my accumulated overtime along with my regular vacation time.
What I found strange, while still in Patrol, was that many of the radio calls I caught were dysfunctional families in deep trouble. The Watts, the Darrs, the Gerlachs, and the Knights. Perhaps, the Knight couple might not have been abusive to each other, but they sure as hell had acted weird. Husbands simply did not do what Orrin had LuAnne doing, whoring out of their small pad … and both ended up paying dearly for their offbeat lifestyle. And now, as a detective, I have the Brenda Mackay case. Brenda’s upcoming trial is in five weeks. I’m learning to call victims by their first names. It helps me gain a sense of compassion.
Brenda, a battered mother of four, faces the death penalty for fatally shooting her intoxicated husband while he slept. I’ve since learned that the man was violently abusive to her and their oldest boy. Although Brenda is a defendant whom I arrested, I consider her the victim.
In addition to all of this, there’s my own screwed-up situation. I’m not talking about abuse, here. What I mean is, what’s my future with Julie going to be like? I love the beautiful woman with the long shapely legs … at least I think I do. Even having that thought bothers me. But the feeling I had when we got married unexpectedly in Las Vegas is now a vaporous dark cloud swirling inside me.
Was it simply the physical attraction and basic lust that drew me to her, and I mistook it for love? No, not true. I love her, and she loves me.
Julie knew early on that I wanted children, two preferred; but now she is set on having a career in interior design; it’s all she talks about, and she’s convinced raising a family would interfere…. Okay, having kids might well do so—
Abruptly, the towheaded boy’s action above the seatback snags my attention. The toy combat soldier is advancing once more. Only this time, it’s thrusting the rifle at me, and again I hear the gurgling sound of gunfire.
Then slowly, above the ridge line, saucer-sized brown eyes appear, obviously to observe the enemy—me. Unblinking, they watch me, waiting for my response.
A warm feeling flows around my heart. I sense a smile on my face.
I clasp a splayed right hand to my chest and toss my head back against the seat, eyes shut, pretending to be mortally wounded. For effect, I let out a soft agonizing groan. The male passenger beside me chuckles. When I hear the boy giggle, I peek. Just then an attractive honey-blonde-haired woman’s face appears above the seat back; she worriedly glances at me, her light-blue eyes conveying “I’m sorry” as she gently turns the boy around and down out of my sight. I can’t hear what she says to her child.
The brief picture of the lad reminds me how much I want a son, and then preferably a daughter for the boy to protect, but I really wouldn’t be upset with a girl as the firstborn. To be fair, I don’t want Julie bearing a baby nine months from now, but I do envision starting a family within a few years. I’ve read medical reports claiming that newborns are healthier if the mother is in her twenties when giving birth. But what do I know?
Am I rationalizing? Probably.
The big plane passes through a cloud leaving the window misty.
My mind swirls. I realize Julie has experienced bad times with men. It’s no wonder she is unsure about wanting to get pregnant. And what if she discovers she can’t give birth, thanks to her untimely abortion? The second man in her life, the asshole art professor at UCLA, got what he wanted and then dumped her when she turned up pregnant. It explains why she’s not positive she ever wants to have babies; and her father molesting her that one time when she was a young girl sure hasn’t helped.
I catch myself rubbing a thumbnail, a nervous habit, and instantly stop. But not having a good answer to our current situation frustrates me. All I can do now is wait and see what Julie decides. That’s what Eagon Quinn told me to do.
Eagon, a retired homicide detective and my lifelong mentor, is now a practicing criminal attorney. It was he who suggested I refer to victims of violence by their first names. Margie, his attractive legal secretary and paramour, agrees.
Still, I’m finding it difficult to see Julie as the mother of my children. Hell, if she now were to give me a child reluctantly, would she be a good mother?
She has to be. I don’t want another divorce. Dammit—once is enough.
I sit back and realize even in my musing, that I’m swearing more. As a preteen in the Valley, I tasted a piece of green Palmolive soap for fifteen minutes every time I was caught doing so. The punishment prompted me to go to the local library and come up with a Spanish word or words to spout for my future swearing. I’d decided on Spanish, because that ancestry is in my blood. Anyway, I found Tanto sabio suited my purpose. Mostly I’d say “Tanto.” What resulted, of course, was eventually getting tagged “Tonto” by my grammar school classmates. They simply misheard my Spanish pronunciation. I still get called Tonto by close friends, thanks to blurting Tanto from time to time when I’m shocked or pissed.
Freeing my mind, I try to visualize what I will do during the next four weeks in Hawaii. Ol’ Sol high overhead has gained on the big silver bird. I pull out my pocket Bulova, the only thing I ever received from my dad, a tango dancer and a gigolo according to Mom; a tall, slim, dark-haired man whom I remember seeing only one time as a toddler. They divorced shortly after I arrived. I adjust the time on my watch back to noon after the pilot announces over the PA system we are on our final approach into Honolulu and to fasten our seat belts. After pocketing the Bulova, I re-fasten mine, snugging it tighter.
Then I pull out a small card from my shirt pocket. Kenny had given it to me. It’s for an outrigger business owned by Nakai “Kai” Isakawa. I smile. Thanks to the Konos, I have a place to stay upon my arrival. Kai owns an apartment building, and has a single unit that I can rent for half the regular cost. It recently became available, he said. I look forward to meeting Kenny’s cousin, mostly because of what he told me about him.
The bell dings and the seatbelt sign turns off. Passengers fill the aisle.
Seeing the woman with the little boy struggling to remove a carry-on from the overhead bin, I quickly reach up, free it for her and place the bag on the seat next to the tyke who begins bouncing up and down.
She gives me a “thank you” smile and says, “I hope DJ didn’t bother you too much.”
I realize she’s talking about her little boy. “Not at all—he’s a neat kid.” I reach out my hand and tousle his light-blond hair. “DJ, I’m Mike. You take care of GI Joe now—you hear?”
The boy stops bouncing, and beaming broadly, jerkily nods his head.
“I can see you have a way with children,” the attractive mother says.
“Yep. I love little kids—and you’ve sure got a winner in DJ.”
The passengers begin moving down the aisle toward the front exit. I follow the mother and DJ all the way out to the baggage claim area. While waiting for our luggage to arrive, DJ is pulling at his mother’s arm as if he wants to come over to me. I hear her say, “Please stop, DJ.”
The blonde woman glances furtively at me when she realizes what DJ wants to do.
I hesitate a moment, then step over to her. My six-one height puts me a good half-foot taller than she, even with her wearing black pumps with two-inch heels.
“You mind?” I bend a bit and when she releases DJ I lift him high overhead until he squeals with pleasure, then I settle him firmly on my left forearm. The mother seems a bit uncertain but also somewhat relieved.
A smile slowly fills her lightly powdered face.
“I take it you’re here on vacation,” I say, “… unless you live here?”
A worried expression instantly covers her comely face.
“No, we’re not here for fun … I have a family matter to attend to, and then we will return to Los Angeles.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am. I didn’t mean to—”
“Please, it’s okay … Mike, I believe you told DJ your name was?”
It’s my turn to smile. “Mike Montego, and you are?”
Her smile returns. She reaches out, “Sally Cordray. You look a lot like my husband, Sam, except for your blue eyes. He also has black wavy hair, but he’s not as tan.”
“My father’s Spanish blood explains my olive complexion. But Mom’s Scandinavian blood for sure gave me the blue eyes.”
“Yes, they certainly are a deep blue, almost cobalt.”
The baggage belt begins moving and we step closer to it.
My tan “two-suiter” comes out early on. I lower DJ to the floor, then grasp the bag and set it at my feet. DJ pounces on it and begins marching his toy soldier around the leather handle.
“If you don’t mind, Mrs. Cordray, I’ll help you with your luggage.”
“That’s kind of you. I see my bag—it’s there, the large brown one.” She points it out.
Carrying both pieces, I walk with her to the exit. In the corridor, two young women, each with a hibiscus flower pinned in their long black hair, wearing thick grass skirts and flowered-printed tops are placing variously colored orchid leis over the heads of arriving passengers and welcoming them with “Alohas” and pretty smiles.
Off to my right, I spy an Asian man holding up a small cardboard sign showing my name. Kenny’s cousin, Kai Isakawa, is there to greet me. An attractive dark-skinned lady wearing a flowery mu’u mu’u covering a very pregnant body stands beside him. I assume she is Noelani, Kai’s Polynesian wife. Her straight, long coal-black hair hangs to the curve of her bottom.
I leave Mrs. Cordray’s bag at her feet, give her a parting comment, pat DJ’s head, and then turn and wave at the greeters. I approach them saying loudly, “I’m Mike Montego—you must be Kai and Noelani.”
“Aloha—Yes, and welcome to our island, Mike. Noe and I trust that you had a good flight.” They display big smiles.
“A very smooth trip, Kai.” I shake his outstretched hand. His grip is strong.
Noelani faces me holding a lavender and white orchid lei. She slips it over my head, lightly kisses each of my cheeks and then says, “Aloha ‘auinalā, Mike.”
“Wow, what a welcome.” I thank her, while grinning widely.
“Come on, Mike.” Kai, a lean muscular man, several inches shorter than me, gestures toward the street. “Your limousine is waiting.”
We head in that direction. At the curb he says, “Wait please, here with Noe—I’ll bring the car around.” I realize that Noe must be his wife’s nickname.
“So, when is your baby due?” I ask her.
“In three weeks.” She flashes another smile.
Nearby, I spot Mrs. Cordray and DJ. A lavender-colored lei is draped around her neck. She’s glancing about, lugging her suitcase, coming our way, holding a sleepy DJ in her free arm. I assume she’s seeking a cab to take them to a hotel. She seems flustered, so I feel a need to help. Hey, what can I say?
I turn and suggest to Noelani, “If there’s room in your car, perhaps we can give that woman and her little boy a lift. I met them on the plane. She seems very nice, and the kid is neat.”
Noelani smiles again. “Of course, Mike. Our station wagon can carry all of us with no problem.”
We both step over to Mrs. Cordray, and I introduce her to Noelani, who then says, “Can we give you a lift to your hotel?”
A cheerful glow appears on Mrs. Cordray face. “How very nice of you.” She then tells me where they’re staying as she shifts the nodding DJ to her other arm.
“Then please follow us and you’ll be there shortly,” Noelani says.
I take the bag and lead the women back to where I’d left mine just as Kai arrives. He’s driving a “woodie” wagon, a ’52 Ford Country Squire, the rear part of the pale green four-door wagon’s body is made of wood; a metal encased, chrome-trimmed, spare tire is mounted on the back. The decades-old vehicle is in “cherry” condition, a “hip” term I learned attending Hollywood High.
Noelani informs her husband that Mrs. Cordray and her son became friends of mine during the flight. She then says, “I’ve offered to drive them to her hotel, the Royal Hawaiian.”
Kai bows slightly toward Mrs. Cordray, smiles and says, “Very good.”
She props DJ between us on the bench seat behind the driver.
En route, I get a bit nosy, one of my proclivities—I’m a detective now—anyway, I ask the mother “How long do you expect to be here in Oahu?” I glance at DJ. His blond head is against my leg; he’s fast asleep.
“I really can’t say for certain. I have to make burial arrangements for my brother.” She hesitates for a moment. “Basically, it’s just a matter of how long it will take to make the appropriate arrangements, and also to take care of his personal effects.”
Her comment shakes me.
“Chris has, er, had lived here for quite some time,” she sighs. “He really loved the islands … I truly believe he’d want to stay here.”
I watch as she dabs a hankie to her moist eyes.
“I’m sorry, ma’am. I didn’t mean to be nosy.”
“I am sorry too, and you’re not being nosy—and please call me Sally. I’m not used to being a ‘ma’am’.” Although slightly grinning, she blinks away a welling tear.
“Then call me Mike. If there’s anything I can do, just say the word.”
She gives me a sad expression, her brow furrows. “Thanks, Mike.”
Thinking her brother likely was near her age, for sure less than thirty I ask, “Was Chris’s death unexpected—sudden?”
She eases out a breath and carefully shifts DJ’s head over to rest on her lap. Her fingers then fuss with a thick lock of his hair.
“Yes, the Honolulu police chief phoned me yesterday and said he was a victim of a street robbery—claimed he resisted … was fatally stabbed.” A pained expression pierces her pretty face. “It happened two days ago.”
“I’m sorry. Very tragic.” I place my hand over hers still atop DJ’s head and notice in the rearview mirror Kai’s dark eyes shifting toward Noelani, beside him in the front seat. Her head turns toward him, but no words are exchanged.
Their silent gestures give me the distinct impression they know something about her brother’s death. Now I’m more than a bit curious.
Lifting my hand off of Sally’s I sit back.
Several minutes later we arrive in front of the famous pink hotel on Waikiki beach. I help Kai pull out Sally’s large suitcase. He then goes over to the hotel valet and advises the uniformed man to make certain that his newly arrived guest, Mrs. Cordray, will be properly taken care of.
In the meantime, I say “So long” to her, and pat a sleepy DJ on the head.
As the woodie rolls toward Kai’s rental unit, my island abode, I lean forward in my seat and comment, “Kai, I noticed when Sally mentioned her brother’s death, you and Noelani showed some concern.”
“You’re very perceptive, Mike.” Kai glances at Noelani. She nods her head slightly. He continues, “We have very few homicides on the island, so I believe Mrs. Cordray’s brother is, er, was Chris Davis, a waiter at the Moana Hotel, and also an avid surfer … a nice guy, too … well liked by the locals.”
Kai steers the wagon left onto Kaiulani Avenue. I have a cop’s habit of noticing the street signs on the roads I’m traveling. While on patrol as a rookie cop, I quickly learned to know at all times what street I was on. One never knew when one might have to use the phone in a Gamewell call-box or a car radio to call a Radio-Telephone Operator, RTO, downtown in Communications Division for help.
“Actually, you will be staying in Chris’, uh, apartment,” says Kai.
Although surprised by his words, I do recall him saying on the phone before I left home that an apartment he owned had just become available. A block later, I’m still waiting for him to tell me more about Chris Davis when we pull up in front of a rather plain, two-story white apartment building.
“We’re here,” he says putting on cheery tone. I sense it’s a bit forced as I spy four red paneled doors with metal numbers on them, two on the ground floor and two upstairs.
Feeling somewhat frustrated at not hearing more about the death of Sally’s brother, I dismount and grab my suitcase.
“Your apartment is that one,” Kai points up to the one on the second floor fronting the street. “It was cleaned today and Noe stocked the fridge with cereal, fruit, vegetables and meat to get you through a couple of days. She also put in fresh linens and a bar of kukui nut soap just for you in the shower.”
He grins. I nod with a smile and he leads the way upstairs.
I follow Noelani who turns her head back toward me with a long look that at first is confusing, but then I interpret it to mean she’s hoping I will understand. I’m thinking it’s because a murdered victim previously lived in the apartment and she is concerned my knowing so it might bother me, especially her being aware that I’m a homicide detective and a new friend to the deceased’s sister.
I say nothing until I reach the top of the stairs and am walking on the balcony leading to the doorway.
“I do appreciate all you guys have done for me. Please, I’d like to take you to dinner—I won’t take no for an answer.”
Kai pauses, spins around, and pipes, “How about a rain check, Mike—tonight, you dine at our home. Noe will prepare tonkatsu with shredded cabbage, boiled rice, miso soup with tofu, wakame and scallions.”
He turns and moves down the outside corridor. Three paces later he stops and turns back to face me. “You do like pork, don’t you?”
“Yep, specially when it’s home cooked.” I’d tasted a lot of Japanese cuisine when I lived with the Konos. My only reservation, the subtly sweet tasting wakame, an edible seaweed mainlanders call “sea mustard.”
Inserting the door key, Kai says, “I suggest you take the afternoon to walk around—enjoy the local sights. I’ll be back here to get you at six.”
He and Noelani step into the apartment. I follow. She opens the front curtains letting in the daylight as Kai gazes around the interior, then they leave.
All the talk about food has my tummy also talking. Before going to find a place to dine, I unpack and hang up my dress trousers and two dressy shirts. Besides the Levi’s I’m wearing I have a backup that I fold and drop into a dresser drawer along with my briefs and two pairs of dress socks. I rarely wear shoes or a suit except for work, so my wardrobe is limited. My normal attire finds me in Levi’s with a sweat shirt, gray, blue or white, with the sleeves cut off mid forearm; but figuring such clothing might be too warm for Hawaii, I also brought two pairs of beige Bermuda shorts and four short-sleeve Izod Lacoste polo shirts in addition to the red one I’m wearing. I do plan to buy a couple of Hawaiian shirts to fit in with the other vacationers. What the heck, I might as well play the tourist role, and I head for the door.
Skipping down the stairs, my eyes catch a brief movement at the front window of the adjacent apartment. The corner of a white curtain had just dropped back into place. I write it off to a neighbor being curious.
Although it’s the rainy season, the afternoon air feels balmy, and the light trade wind, a breeze actually, coming from the east, the leeward side of the island, offsets any extreme humidity. The freshness along with the mixed fragrances of blooming tropical flowers has me feeling very relaxed, even though a bit excited. I attribute that to the unknowns of the island.
The number of people on the sidewalks is surprising, and I can tell by their casual pace and gazing about along with their pale skin tones, some overly pink from too much sun, that most are visiting like me. Having inherited my dad’s Latin trait, I tan easily, and rarely burn. Along with my dark hair, I’m thinking I might possibly pass for a local.
Soon, I enter an area called the International Marketplace, a part of the Polynesian Village, and find a free table at Don the Beachcomber’s. Although tempted, I resist the fancy rum drinks. Instead, I order a tall lemonade and a crispy mahi mahi salad.
After downing the light meal, I decide to check out the famous beach.
Scores of sunbathers in all shapes and sizes are spread out prone, supine, on their sides or sitting on the dimpled sand. The scene resembles a marshmallow quilt splotched with the many colors of bathing suits, beach towels and a few large umbrellas, not to mention skin tones.
I continue strolling and eventually find myself in the courtyard at the Moana Hotel. I pause to read a colorful poster advertising the radio show “Hawaii Calls,” and quickly realize it is broadcast from here. Mom’s husband, a fire department captain, Steve Buckingham, when he’s not on a three-day shift at the station, often tunes into the weekly program hosted by Harry Owens. At least he has done so when I’ve been around. Mentally, I hear the lilting tune “Sweet Leilani” playing in my ears with the background sounds of the pounding surf and the bounding baritone voice of Webley Edwards proclaiming, “The sound of the waves on the beach at Waikiki.”
Funny, whenever I think of ’ol Steverino I recall my high school years, the only time in my growing stage when I got to live with my working mom. She figured by then I was old enough to care for myself after school. Actually, every afternoon following the three o’clock bell, I either was out on the athletic field, on a tennis court at nearby Plummer Park, depending on the season, or in the gym practicing various kata, (forms) until dinnertime. Mom and Steve usually arrived at the small house before me. Anyway, I learned to tolerate the nit-picking guy during that three-year period, and now I can only hope that Mom is happy with him. Even if she isn’t, as I sadly suspect, she would never tell me. The little lady rarely shows any hostile emotion.
Not far from my temporary abode, I locate a Mom and Pop market, and to my surprise find it sells wheat germ; one of the major vitamin sources I add to my liquid breakfasts. I’d earlier located a blender in the kitchenette.
Climbing the stairs to the apartment, ready for a siesta, and passing by my neighbor’s window, I see no curtain action. Inside, I toss the paper bag containing two new cotton “Aloha” shirts onto the bed. I learned the locals don’t refer to the flowery shirts as “Hawaiian.” I had purchased the lighter absorbent fabric rather than the more prevalent flowery shirts of non-absorbent rayon because I don’t care for the uncomfortable feeling of wetness on my skin that the local humidity is sure to cause.
There’s a light knock at the door that wakes me from a doze. Realizing Kai has arrived, I spring off the bed, grab one of my purchases and go to open the door while slipping on the shirt.
“Ah, I see you went shopping. Nice rag.” He smiles. “Ready?”
As we cruise toward his home, he tells me Kenny had made him aware that I study Okinawan kenpo and wished to use his dojo during my stay. He then lets me know that whenever I wish to work out I should feel free to do so. Also, he tells me he’s usually there every late afternoon conducting classes.
“I really do appreciate that, Kai. Maybe we can do some sparring—compare our styles. I’m sure you can teach me some new moves.”
“Yes. Kenny told me you’re at the godan level. I’m looking forward to doing so.” He gives me a wink.
I watch the colorfully clad tourists on the sidewalks as we roll along. Until I went shopping, I had no idea so many different patterns for Aloha shirts were possible.
Eventually, unable to contain my cop curiosity, and figuratively biting my tongue for being nosy, I decide to pry.
“So, what more can you tell me about the Chris Davis homicide?”
Kai glances sideways at me. “How about we hold off talking about it until we’re at the dinner table?”
I nod, now convinced he knows something more about the murder.
A long block later on Kapuni Street, he steers the woodie into a short driveway.
“Kai, you should’ve told me you live close by. I would’ve walked.”
“Didn’t want you getting lost, Mike.” He chuckles slightly.
The furniture in his home is rattan wickerwork; a tall wooden Tiki occupies one corner. I briefly had read Maori mythology and knew they believed Tiki was the creator of first man.
The interior décor is totally Polynesian and well done. Not crowded, yet very eye-catching. I’m guessing the dark hardwood floor to be teak. Several woven reed mats placed at various angles lay in front of the furniture leaving mostly bare pathways.
Hours later, we are well into our meals when he finally brings up the Davis homicide.
“I’m sorry to say that we have a number of locals who take issue with haoles, our term for white folk. What I’ve heard is Chris apparently got himself involved with a gang of those angry types—and I have no idea how or why he did—but it brought him trouble.”
“I take it you knew the guy pretty well?” I ask in a questioning tone, interested by his having said “gang,” and wondering if he truly is as ignorant as he claims.
“Yes, I knew him mostly from his surfing prowess. Chris was a big kahuna on the board. We call his style he’e nalu, literally, it means wave sliding. He surfed the Bonzai Pipeline, Sunset Beach, Waimea, Makaha, and all the other locations following the monster waves.”
I’m immediately impressed.
When he pauses to take sip of coffee, I say, “I’ve never used a board, only body surfed several of the beaches on the mainland.”
He smiles. “We call that he’e umauma, sliding with the chest.
“Young guys, like Eddie Aikau, Gerry Lopez, and Fred Hemmings—obviously you don’t know them—have copied Chris’ sleek style. He was very precise on the board.”
“I gotta say, Kai, based on what you’ve told me about him being a big kahuna, that his being the victim of a street robbery makes little sense. For crying out loud, he lived here for years. The guy had to know his way around the locals.”
Kai’s shrewd expression now convinces me there’s much more to the Chris Davis homicide; however, his response is merely, “You want some more tonkatsu, Mike?”
Now, I’m damn curious. What is my new friend not telling me?