Opening Chapter of Cry Ohana, Adventure and Suspense in Hawaii. by Larry and Rosemary Mild
Chapter 1

Hank Pualoa leaped in the air and spiked the volleyball into a waiting two-hand block. He watched it spin out of bounds toward the picnic tables.

"Side out! Over here, hon!" Hank called from the makeshift court staked out with towels and sneakers in the grass.

Malia stopped the ball with her bare foot, and her husband loped over to retrieve it. But as he reached for it, she pressed down harder to get his attention. He snatched the ball out from under her foot and defiantly stood eye to eye with her, his craggy face brick-red from playing hard under the afternoon sun.

She scowled. "Hank, we gotta go."

"Your timing's lousy, Malia." He tucked the ball under one arm. "We're only behind by one point."

"It's never a good time for you. If you're not winning big you're desperate to get even. Believe me, it's time to quit."

Hank shrugged apologetically at the other players and sent the ball back to them with the impact of his fist. "What's your problem?" he muttered as they returned to the picnic table to get their belongings. The words slurred and his muscular bulk wobbled from a whole afternoon of drinking beer.

She grabbed his arm. "Look at that sky. We need to get going before we all get soaked." Turning her face away from his sour breath, her dark eyes glittered with controlled anger.

Mynah birds squawked overhead in the monkeypod trees like a quarreling family. Not that peace and quiet didn't exist in the Pualoa family. But Malia's mother, stubbornly tied to the old ways, lived with them. She believed that her side of the family descended from the alii, Hawaiian royalty. The mother interfered a lot and thought her daughter could have made a better marriage for herself.

The Pualoa family had spent the day picnicking with three other families at Kakaako Waterfront Park. While infants and toddlers napped, older children roller-skated and biked along the promenade. Or, shrieking and giggling, slid down grassy knolls on flattened cardboard boxes.

The Pualoas were kama aina, children of the land. They called the island of Oahu home, and on their island they felt protected. The Koolau and Waianae mountains watched over the locals, while the Pacific Ocean gushed up to embrace and nurture them. Hank and Malia were still sweethearts—most of the time. Only the boozing brought heated flare-ups between them. The more successful Hank's construction business became, the more he wanted to relax with a drink in his hand.

Malia shifted their eighteen-month-old son to her other hip and kissed his forehead. They called him Kekoa, "courageous one." With her free hand, she brushed back her bronze shoulder-length hair, revealing an oval face with wide-set eyes and sensual lips.

"Where's Leilani?" Hank asked.

Malia tilted her head seaward to where their four-year-old daughter sat on the low lava-rock wall, idly kicking her bare heels. Hank and Malia had named her Leilani, "heavenly child." She sat alone, daydreaming, taking refuge from her parents' argument.

By the time Malia had turned back toward the table, Hank had already hefted another paper cup to his lips. He drained the beer from the cup, crumpled it, and tossed it in the trash.

"That's enough, Hank. Don't you care about us?"

"You better believe I care about my ohana, my family. I bust my okole to make a living and keep us together."

"You do," she said. "You do, and I love you for it. But it's not getting any easier for me. Honey, your boozing's getting in the way."

"Don't be naive. When you work harder you gotta relax more. That's all. I work six days a week. Can't I have a day off and do what I want?"

Malia anxiously scanned the sky. A nearly full but oddly misshapen moon continued its ascent over the Koolaus. Was it her imagination or had she caught its pocked face leering at her? Without warning, the clouds thickened, murky and threatening, as a squall rolled in from over the mountains. A rainbow appeared, a huge arm fighting its way through a hole in the clouds—but only a fragment of it, still deciding where, or if, to touch down. Another omen, she thought. But of what? Hope or doom? The first drops fell, catching them out in the open.

"Hank, get everything to the car!"

Malia reached down and bundled Kekoa to her shoulder. He squirmed a little, but dropped off again quickly. Leilani scrambled down from the wall and ran to help. She carried the straw beach mats and her mother's purse to the car.

The '62 Chevy Caprice wagon had seen better times. Patches of mustard-yellow primer bled through the maroon paint, and rust grew like an unforgiving weed along its seams, but no actual holes had appeared yet. The ceiling cloth over the front passenger seat sagged onto Malia's hair like a spider's web. She held the annoying veil up with one hand while facing the children in the back seat. Leilani whined.

"Shush, Leilani, you'll wake Kekoa."

"But he nap all the time. I got no one to play with."

"Sweetheart, that's what keiki do."

Hank arrived at the rear of the wagon, where he slammed the second ice chest up against the rear seat.

"Easy, Hank, you'll wake the baby."

"So?" he grunted from the way-back. He followed with a loud beery belch and an innocent grin.

"So! You want to hear da kine all the way home?"

Hank came around to the side, stuck his head in the driver's window, and rested it on his crossed arms. "Was one nice party, eh, sweetie?"

"Yeah, sure, nice party. You getting in? It's late. I wanna put the keiki t' bed."

"They one great bunch of bruddahs, eh? We talked story for hours. Went through one whole mess of brew. Sheesh, plenty strong stuff." His arms slipped off the window well, and he sat down hard on the paved parking lot. He swore.

"Hank Pualoa, that's no kind of talk for your daughter t' hear."

Still sitting, he reached up and opened the driver's side door. "Hey, Malia, about time she know about the real world, eh?"

"I don't like that. You stop this right now."

"Gawd, you're beautiful when you're mad." He tried to get up using the car door as a prop, but it swung away, dropping him on his backside once more. He swore again and pulled himself up into the driver's seat. With a sheepish grin, he met her angry glare. "What now?"

"You gonna be able to drive us home?"

"Course! Drive better with a few belts under m' belt. Besides, you never learned to drive." He laughed, fiddling with the key until he found the ignition, and started the engine.

Malia reached over and turned off the ignition switch. The engine knocked and hissed to a halt. "We could wait here awhile. Maybe I should get you some coffee. You're in no shape to drive us anywhere."

"I thought you were in this great big hurry t' get home. Make up your mind."

"I am. I mean I was, but I want us to get there in one piece."

"Don't you worry none. Relax, I'm in good shape."

Hank restarted the car and revved the engine simply because he loved to hear it roar, and without waiting for the motor to warm, shot out of the parking lot onto Koula Street, burning rubber and scattering pebbles.

"Look out!" Malia yelled, but he continued to increase speed in the two blocks to Ala Moana Boulevard. She screamed, "Hank, the light, the light, it's red!"

He heard brakes screeching all around him in disaster's chorus. Thunks and crashing sounds came from everywhere. Metal crunched and bunched. The Chevy wove crazy-like, sideswiping a taxi and escaping the tangle in the eastbound lane. Somehow the station wagon entered the westbound lane toward home free of impact, but ... a truck barreled toward them, toward her side, like a tank.

Leilani screamed, "Mommy-y-y!"

End of Chapter
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