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    Mark Arbour
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Gap Year - 3. Chapter 3

January 8, 2004

Kahului, Maui



She sighed, much as Kai and I had, as soon as she was in the Toyota. “When this is all over, then I will have time to cry.”

“You’ll have lots of time to cry,” I said sadly, remembering how I’d felt. “Cry all you want, that won’t bring him back.”

“He’s in a better place now,” she said, and mumbled a silent prayer. I could see why religion was so intoxicating, especially at times like these, because that meant you didn’t really have to say goodbye. We drove on in silence for a bit. “I saw you talking to Malo.”

“That was a thrill,” I said sarcastically.

“You should stay away from him. He’s bad news,” she warned.

“That’s my plan,” I said.

“What did he talk to you about?” I’d wanted to have this conversation with her when we were at the house, but I probably wasn’t going to be able to stall her. She was too direct for that.

“Wanted me to promise that you’d move out of your house,” I said casually.

“Ha!” she said. “Like that’s going to happen.”

“How are you going to stay there?” I asked. She gave me a dirty look for being logical.

“I’m going to have to figure out a way to buy them out,” she said.

“I already tried that,” I told her. “He wouldn’t go for it.”

“You are not buying me a house,” she asserted strongly, then paused. “He wouldn’t let you buy it?”

“No, he wouldn’t. Wouldn’t even talk money. Said he wants it, and you have to move,” I told her.

“Well where does he think I’m supposed to live?” she demanded.

“I don’t think he gives a shit,” I said.

She nodded. “He’s hated me since I picked Mano over him. He’s never going to forget that.”

“No, he’s not, so you have to move, and then you can be done with him,” I said firmly.

“That house is full of memories of Mano and Kai,” she said, and wiped away a tear. “How can I give that up?”

“Your memories are not in that house, they’re inside you,” I said, sounding ridiculously philosophical. “And you’ll give it up because you have to.”

“What if I refuse?” she demanded, getting stubborn again. “They’re going to haul a widow out of her house a week after her husband is buried?”

“They are, but they weren’t going to give you a week, they were going to do it in three days,” I said.

“Were?” she challenged.

“I promised him that you’d move out peacefully if he’d give you two weeks to do it,” I said.

“You promised him that? You had no right to do that!”

“Maybe not, but you don’t really have a choice, and instead of two days, I bought you two weeks,” I said.

“Alright, then why is he talking to you about this and not me?” she demanded. I punched in the code to the gate, then answered her question as I drove up to the garage.

“He probably talked to me because he hates you,” I said. “Sometimes, when you’re stubborn like this, I can kind of see why.”

“Very funny,” she said dismissively, but smiled slightly. We got out of the car and I started walking her out to the back patio.

“The other reason is that he wanted to know if my family and I were behind you.”

“What did you tell him?”

“I told him you were like a mother to me, and I had your back,” I said. She smiled and patted my cheek.

“Good.” We sat at the table by the pool and gazed off at the ocean.

“That’s when he offered me the deal, that you get two weeks,” I said.

“Why would he do that?” she asked.

“This past year, we’ve been in a battle with drug lords who make Malo look like the small-time piece of shit that he is,” I said. “He knows to pick his battles.”

“You think he’s afraid of you?” she asked, and laughed, as if there was no way he’d be afraid of me.

“No, I think he respects the power and influence of my family, and that made him pause in his tracks,” I said. I spoke those words deliberately, staring directly into her eyes, and she finally got what I was saying. “If he starts a war with us, he’ll find himself totally fucked.”

“Right,” she said skeptically.

“I’m dead serious,” I said firmly.

“Well that may be, but I can take care of myself,” she said.

“What about Kai?” I asked. “You’re going to start a war with a punk mafia boss. How’s that going to affect him?”

“Malo won’t hurt Kai,” she said.

“Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. You going to take that chance?” I challenged. She got really frustrated at that line of reasoning. “Besides, even if he doesn’t, that’s a lot of stress to pile onto both of you.”

“But I love my house,” she objected plaintively.

“If you start a war over this, Kai and I will be involved, and I’m going to have to call my father and have him come over and clean things up,” I said. “He doesn’t do well with collective decision making. He’ll jump in, take charge, and fix things. And that means you’ll be moving.”

“Why do all these people think they can snap their fingers and make me do what they say?” she asked, seriously annoyed. I laughed at that, really pissing her off.

“I would be so mad if I was in your situation,” I said, and that made her laugh too.

“You would be,” she agreed. She sighed again, a loud sigh, and we both gazed out at the ocean for a couple of minutes. “I probably don’t even have a job, so where am I supposed to live?”

“I’ve got both of those problems solved,” I said.

“Oh you do, do you?” she challenged, to let me know she wasn’t going to get railroaded into doing something she didn’t want to do.

“I do,” I said firmly.

“We’ll see about that,” she grumbled. Before we could argue about that, Kai, Kalia, and Leilani walked up.

“Have a seat ladies,” I said, as I stood up.

“We need to put this stuff away,” Leilani said, which sparked my brain to notice that Kai was carrying an armful of food tins.

“Here, I’ll help.” I took a couple of the tins from him, noticing they were pretty heavy.

“Thanks,” he said with relief. I led them into the guest house kitchen, because I was hoping Kai’s mom would get used to it. Kai and I put the tins on the counter, and as soon as we put them down, the three women descended on them and began putting shit in the fridge, or in the oven to heat.

Kai and I left them to their work and made another trip to the van to get the rest. “How much fucking food do we need?” I asked.

“Dude, we eat like horses, and it’s not like my mom and aunts are skinny. We need a lot,” he said, cracking me up. We dropped off the food and helped them put it away.

When we were finished, Kai’s mom wiped her hands on a kitchen towel, and seemed really comfortable. “This place is really nice,” she said to me. “I don’t remember it being this nice.”

“We just finished remodeling it,” I said. “Want a tour?”

“I do,” Kalia said, which meant they all did except Kai, who continued to put away food and store the containers. I showed the three sisters the slightly smaller of the two rooms, then took them into the bigger room, the one Kai and I had slept in last night.

“They did a really nice job with this remodel,” Kai’s mom said, as we stood in the family room, having quickly toured the small house.

“They really did,” I said. “The interior designer does amazing work, and he has a good construction crew that works with him.”

“That house over there is the main house?” Leilani asked, pointing at my home. That should be obvious, but I was polite.

“It is,” I said. “I’ll show you that one in a minute.”

“I would enjoy that,” Kalia said.

“That must mean this is the guest house,” Leilani concluded. She was doing a very good job of convincing me that she wasn’t very smart.

“It used to be,” I answered calmly. “Someone’s moving in here permanently though.”

“Who’s moving in here now?” Kai’s mom asked.

“You are,” I said. She stared at me in shock, while her sisters jumped in to help seal the deal. They’d clearly been coached by Kai.

“Kiki, this is perfect,” Leilani said. “What a great place, and room for you and Kai.”

“And this setting, with a pool and the beach,” Kalia said, nodding affirmatively. “It’s like a dream come true.”

“Makes it a lot easier to surf,” Kai said, grinning slightly at her.

“We just need to move your stuff up here,” I said. She glared at me, not because she was mad, but because she was being manipulated into doing something.

“So this is your plan?” she asked me in an accusatory way.

“Well yeah,” I said, with the same tone I’d used to utter ‘duh’.

“I don’t want to be a charity case,” she grumbled.

“Good, because I need your help,” I said. Now I not only had her attention, but everyone else was paying attention too.

“You need my help?” she asked, skeptically. “With what?”

“Come on, I’ll show you,” I said. I led them into my house, which prompted me to continue our tour. That took a lot longer, because the house was huge, and because Leilani and Kalia were really curious about everything. I practically had to be rude when I refused to let them look in my sex closet. It made me laugh to myself to visualize the looks on their faces if I’d shown it to them. The only person who wasn’t enjoying the tour was Kai’s mom, because she’d seen it before, and because she wanted to know what I needed her help with. When I finally finished showing them around, I led them into the big dining room and pulled out the plans for our compound.

“What is this?” Kiki asked.

“This is what I need your help with,” I said. “I bought up the houses around this one, and we’re going to tear them down and turn this into a family compound.” I showed them how there were houses lined up with a pool in the middle, and explained how there was one for me, my siblings, and my cousins.

“This is really cool,” Kai said, admiring the design. “This whole point will be yours.” He gestured to the jut of land that poked into the ocean, and now that I owned those other houses, we owned all the property on this peninsula.

“It already is,” I said, then looked at his mom. “This project is going nowhere because we haven’t been able to get the approvals done.”

“So you want me to help you with that?” she asked.

“I do. I also want you to work with the contractor to make sure he stays on track,” I said.

“Who’s the contractor?” she asked.

“Joe Kelekolio,” I responded.

“I know him,” she said, shaking her head. “He’s lazy.”

“I need you to light a fire under him. Can you do that?” I asked, feeling sorry for Joe even as I did.

“I can do that,” she said.

“I told you I had a place for you to stay and a job,” I said. “This would have been a lot easier if you wouldn’t have argued about every damn thing.”

She laughed, then suddenly got a sober expression on her face. “If I didn’t argue about moving here, I wouldn’t be happy here.”

“That’s pretty whack, Mom,” Kai said.

“Whatever,” she responded, sounding just like me, which made me laugh pretty hard.

January 9, 2004

Ho’okpipa, Maui



It was one of those beautiful January days in Maui, with temperatures approaching 80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Scott had mentioned going to Jaws, but the waves weren’t good today, so we’d decided to just surf here. That turned out to be a good decision, since the water here was super active.

The wave I’d ridden in had given me a nice landing in the water, but the wave right after that one decided to make me its bitch. It hit me when I hadn’t gotten me breath under control and used its force to rip the lanyard off my body and thus deprive me of my surfboard, my source of buoyancy. Then it held me under until my lungs were starting to hurt, then just when I thought the damn wave was going to drown me, it almost spit me out, sending me surging to the surface. I broke the water and gasped at the air, floundering until I felt a strong hand pull me up. “You got wiped out,” Keenan said with a smile. “Hold on to my board.”

I was too out of breath to argue so I clung to his surfboard and breathed, while he went and retrieved mine for me. He slid it next to me and I transferred back to my board. “Thanks,” I said, even as I reattached my lanyard.

I started to paddle back out to the surf when his words stopped me. “You’re going back out?”

“Fuck yeah,” I said, smiling. He probably thought I’d let that wipe-out blow out my day, but I was having a blast, and my father had taught me that you had to pay for the good waves with an occasional asshole wave.

He shook his head at me and headed toward the shore. We were surfing on the beach at my house, and there were quite a few people here helping Kiki move her things in. Since a lot of the crap they were moving was Kai’s, he had to help. Thinking of him prompted me to stare up toward the gazebo, where I saw Kai watching me. I waved at him, and he flipped me off, which was so funny I started laughing, even as I paddled to where the break was.

“I thought I was going to have to rescue you and give you CPR,” Scott Slater said in his slutty way when I made it over to where he was.

“You probably paid that wave to knock me on my ass,” I joked.

“You know…” he said and geared up to lecture me on my surfing technique.

“Dude, everyone catches a bad wave once in a while,” I said, to shut him up. “Remember last time we surfed, and you took that wave so bad we had to call it a day?”

“Right,” he said, annoyed at me for reminding him of how that wave had knocked him on his ass, and making him sound like a pussy for not coming back out here like I’d done.

“So what’s the deal with you and Keenan?” I asked him. For some reason, I was in the mood to bug him, and I figured that would do the trick.

“We’re friends,” he said, and looked at the water anxiously, as if hoping a good wave would come along and end our conversation. I had to bite back a chuckle, since it was a dead period right now, with nothing worth catching.

“You don’t treat him like he’s your friend,” I said.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked.

“It means that when he’s with you in public, you make him walk behind you, and you act like he’s your house boy,” I said.

“I do not do that,” he said, with real anger in his voice.

“Well, you do,” I said dismissively. “Wasn’t he the dude who was there with you the whole time when you were in the hospital? He was the one who called my dad and told him you were hurt, wasn’t he?” I asked him those questions like I didn’t know the answers.

“He was,” he responded, and it came out as a snarl, something I never saw from Scott Slater.

“Doesn’t make you look cool to shit on a dude who obviously is totally into you,” I said. Before he could lose it, the water changed, and that changed us. We immediately shut up and maneuvered in front of this big ass wave that was forming. It was funny to see how much I’d annoyed him, so much that he ended up maneuvering much more slowly than he usually did. Unfortunately, I’d fucked up my timing, so the wave ended up picking me up until I was damn near vertical, then letting me slide gently down its backside. Scott was even more unlucky than I was, because he’d been a bit in front of me, so instead of picking him up, it crashed on top of him.

As soon as the wave passed us, I looked around for Scott. I saw his board floating about fifty feet away from me, then finally I saw him break the surface near me, probably looking like I had just after that last wave wiped me out. “Here!” I said, and hurriedly paddled toward him. “Grab my board.”

It was funny, because I was reliving the same thing that had happened to me, only this time I was in Keenan’s role. I took off my lanyard and handed it to him, then swam off to get his board. A couple of waves came along, making that more difficult than it should have been, but I finally got his board and made it back to where he was. “Thanks,” he said.

“No problem,” I responded. I went back out to surf, while he went toward the shore. I spent a couple more hours in the water, primarily to avoid all the hubbub of the move, and managed to catch a couple of good waves. As so often happened, it was my stomach that convinced me to quit for the day. I got to the beach and lugged my board up the steps to my house, grumbling at what a pain in the ass that was at the end of the day when I was already tired, but it was so worth it.

“Saw you coming up,” Kai said, meeting me at the top of the stairs. He gave me a nice kiss, then took my board for me. “I’ll rinse it off, then meet you in the hot tub.”

“Awesome,” I said. It was, and it was nice that he was being nice, but he was almost being too nice. I’d noticed that yesterday, and it seemed even worse today. After we’d gotten his mother squared away, he’d pretty much latched onto me. Then last night when we were in bed, he’d asked me to fuck him, and I’d bottomed for him this morning.

Leilani saw me stepping into the hot tub as she came into the pool area carrying a box. “Did you have fun in the waves?”

“They were great!” I said. She smiled, then lugged the box into the guest house. I’d just sunk into the hot water when Kai came out and joined me.

“I am so fucking jealous,” he said, and not in an entirely joking way. “The waves today were kick-ass.”

“Did you see me get owned by that wave that damn near drowned me?” I asked.

“I heard about it from Keenan,” he said, grinning. “He was laughing about it.”

“Was Scott Slater laughing?” I asked, so hoping he was.

“No, he came up here in a really pissed off mood. He grabbed Keenan and they left,” Kai said.

“Did he say why he was mad?” I asked innocently.

“No, but he was hella pissed. He was being so dramatic, Keenan rolled his eyes at Scott behind his back as they were leaving,” he said. I tried not to laugh my ass off at that.

We had a nice dinner on the patio, and then they showed me the progress they were making with moving stuff in. It was a mess, with crap strewn all over the place. “This house is about the same size as your old house. How come your stuff doesn’t fit?” I asked. Kai smirked at his mother.

“I haven’t finished putting it all away,” she said. “When I do, it will be nice and tidy.”

“There’s some storage space in the garage you can use too,” I offered. Her eyes lit up with excitement.

“Uh oh,” Kai said.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she demanded.

“It means that if you are forced to make do with the space here, you’ll make it work, but if you have a huge closet to store crap in, you’ll keep stuff that you should throw away,” Kai said to her logically.

“Nonsense,” she said dismissively, even though Kai and her two sisters seemed to think Kai had nailed the issue on the head.

“Well, to keep you from becoming a hoarder, you can only have part of the space,” I joked, then led them out to the garage. There was a 10 by 15-foot room that was about one-third filled with things, mostly from the construction projects here. “You can have half of this space, and it can’t be a fire hazard.”

“Thanks,” she said. “Now we have to get back to work.”

“Seriously?” Kai asked, since he was so ready to be done for the day.

“I have to call my father,” I told him. “Maybe if you spend a couple of hours working on the move now, you can surf tomorrow.” That last line was directed more toward his mother.

She frowned but nodded. “Let’s get to work,” he said, with new motivation.

I left them alone and walked down to the gazebo even as I pulled out my phone. I dialed my father and was surprised that he answered on only the second ring. “Hey there!” I said cheerfully.

“It’s good to hear from you,” he said in a friendly way. I noticed that it was 5:00 in California, so he was probably at the office, winding his day down so he could head home.

“I’ve been busy, so I thought I’d give you a head’s up and let you know what I’ve been doing,” I said.

“What’s going on?” he asked, much more nervously, since he could tell I hadn’t called him just to share details from my travel diary. I told him all about the deal with Kai’s mother and her getting thrown out of her house by some dipshit hood, knowing that he would probably get freaked out about that. I was right. “You need to have security on you,” he declared when I’d finished my preamble. “I’ll call and set that up as soon as we’re done. I can be over there day after tomorrow to make sure things are alright.”

“No, you won’t,” I said assertively. “It’s all handled.”

“Will, people like that just don’t go away,” he said.

“They do if they get what they want,” I said. “I made a deal with him that she’d be out of the house in two weeks. She moved most of her stuff out today. So if anything, I should be his favorite person, because the job will probably be done ten days before it was supposed to be.”

“Why were you involved in this in the first place?” he asked, unable to let go of his outrage now that he was fired up.

“I told Kai’s mother that it was because he knew who I was and didn’t want to pick a fight with my family,” I said in a calm, unemotional way. “So it’s handled.”

“Where did she move?” he asked, after he thought about it for a minute. It was incredibly irritating that he didn’t bother to acknowledge that I’d solved what he had thought was going to be a massive problem.

“Into the guest house,” I said. “Malcolm just finished it, and it’s really nice.”

“That will be convenient for Kai,” he said, referring to the beaches.

“It will, and I hired her to oversee the construction on the compound. She knows the contractor, and she’s pretty pushy, so I figure she can bulldoze through the red tape here on Maui,” I said.

“I thought she worked at that restaurant we went to?”

“She did, but Mano’s thug brother was leaning on her boss to fire her, so this solves that problem,” I said. “Besides, I got the feeling she was ready to do something different now.”

“Makes sense,” he agreed.

“Rumor has it the thug brother was the same guy who organized Scott Slater’s attack,” I said.

“Asshole,” Dad said. “Did you see Scott?”

“I did. He looks hotter than before, but still not hot enough so I’d let him fuck me,” I said.

He laughed. “Good call on that one.”

“The doctor made him look more like Kelly Slater, so he really does look handsome,” I said. “He’s pissed off at both of us.”

“Why’s he pissed at me?” Dad asked, typically focusing on himself first.

“Because he has this hot new look and you haven’t seen it yet,” I said. “And now that you’re married, you’re not fuckable.”

“I’m not. Guess I need to get over to Maui,” he said with a hint of dread.

“It’s not tough duty,” I said. “Waves rocked today.”

“They did?” he asked. I told him about the waves I’d caught and what I did with them until he got back to the original conversation. “Why’s Scott pissed at you?”

“Because I called him out for treating Keenan like shit, like he’s nothing more than Scott’s houseboy,” I said.

“Why’d you do that?” he challenged. “It’s not usually a good idea to mess around with other people’s relationships.”

“I’m glad you never do that,” I said to him sarcastically, then changed the subject so we didn’t get in an argument. “He’s also mad because I called him a pussy.”

“Sounds like you were trying to piss him off. I have no idea why you’d do that,” he said in a really annoyed tone.

“I called him a pussy because when I got wiped out by this massive wave, I went back out to catch another one. When he got blown away by a wave, he hit the beach,” I said.

Dad chuckled. “No pain, no gain.”

“That’s what you taught me about the ocean. I always remember that when it hammers me,” I said.

“How long are you going to be in Hawaii?” he asked.

“Not much longer,” I said. I paused to look around to make sure no one could hear me. “It’s kind of weird. Kai got dumped by his boyfriend, and he’s taking it pretty hard, then his father died, so he’s kind of latched onto me.”

“And you don’t want to help him out?” Dad asked, implying that I was being an unsympathetic piece of shit. It took all of my restraint not to just hang up on him.

“No, I’m doing that, but I also don’t want to lead him on,” I said.

“That’s a tough position to be in,” he said, considering my dilemma. I rolled my eyes in frustration with him, at how he could be so fucking annoying one minute, then sympathetic and understanding the next.

“Yeah, so that’s what I’m balancing,” I said.

“Sounds like you have a good read on the situation,” he said. “I’m sure you’ll make the right call.”

“Thanks,” I said.

“I’m really impressed with how well you handled all that situation with Kai’s mother,” he said.

“Thanks,” I repeated, then we ended our call. I probably would never understand why he couldn’t get to that final point in the first place without taking me on some wild emotional journey first, but I decided that was just how he was, and I’d have to deal with it. I took out my dugout and did a couple of hits, and that put me in a good enough mood to go in and help out with the unpacking project.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Arbour; All Rights Reserved.
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