Hula Nights

by William Starr Moake

1

Using a skillful combination of lies and begging, I managed to swindle a week's leave during the Christmas holiday and I caught a hop to Hawaii on a giant C-5 cargo jet. I was going crazy at Travis Air Force base working 12-hour shifts and drinking myself into a coma when I was off duty. A live-in love affair gone hinkey, the grim return to barracks life, no way out except flight to the palm-encrusted shores of the Aloha state, land of forgetfulness and hula girls dancing in the balmy torch-lit nights.

I had been trying to get to Hawaii for ten long years -- even longer if you counted a childhood of watching "Hawaiian Eye" and "Adventures In Paradise" on television. As young and gullible as I was, I thought those shows were filmed in Hawaii, but the illusion worked its magic. The fake Hollywood sets defrosted my spirit on many lonely winter nights in Michigan.

Then trying to wrangle a job on a Hawaii-bound ship in San Francisco after high school. The Irish news stand owner had been a merchant marine sailor in his younger days and he promised to help me. Another lying Mick having fun with a wide-eyed boy. At least he never wanted to slip it up my ass like the flamers on Eddy Street.

So I settled for South Florida, marriage and the 9 to 5 treadmill, never suspecting that my wife was an evil slut. She looked so wholesome with her clear blue eyes and round German face. At the tender age of twenty how could I have known that she was Eva Braun reincarnated directly from Hitler's bunker when the cyanide took effect? After the divorce, a period of serious craziness fueled by copious amounts of booze. Loneliness and despair annealed by devastating hangovers.

And then a light at the end of the burrow: a job offer from Honolulu! Three days later I received my draft notice in the mail. You are hereby ordered to report to Vietnam to get your fucking head blown off. I bargained with the devil and traded two years in the Army for four years in the Air Force. Some deal when I only wanted to be left alone like the sons of the leisure class.

Now I was finally winging my way to Honolulu on the cusp of a nervous breakdown. When the gods wish to punish you, they give you what you want wrapped in barbed wire. I needed a drink to calm my nerves on the C-5, but I chickened out at the last minute and left the pint of whisky out of my duffel bag. Court-martial offense and all that. A hideous cell in Levenworth prison. Not for me.

A couple hours after takeoff, I heard the unmistakable sounds of drunken banter coming from the crew area at the rear of the plane. I wandered back there and found the many-stripers passing around a quart of bourbon.

"You want a drink, airman?" one of them asked me.

"Does a bear shit in the woods?" the master sergeant cackled.

Things were definitely looking up. I took a swig out of the bottle and slid down onto the bench seat.

"Aren't you guys afraid the pilot will stroll back here during the flight?"

"He's got his own bottle in the cockpit," the master sergeant said.

All four of them stared at me as I blinked nervously. Then they broke out in drunken laughter.

"Just kidding, airman."

"If you see Major Dickerson," the tech sergeant said, "hide the bottle under your shirt."

They laughed again. I had always heard that flight crews were pretty loose, but these guys were a riot. We passed the bottle around and jawed for awhile.

"Your first time in Honolulu?" the master sergeant asked.

"Yeah."

"You'll love it. Best pussy in the world on Hotel Street. You're not a virgin, are you?"

"Me? I got laid when I was twelve."

"You sure you're not still spanking the monkey?" the tech sergeant grinned.

"I have to spank the little bastard once in awhile to keep him in line."

The master sergeant let out a horse laugh and slung his arm over my shoulder. "I like this kid. What kind of work do you do at Travis?"

"Weather observer. I tell you guys when the weather is safe to fly."

"We don't pay much attention to weather reports," the tech sergeant said. "One time we landed in fog so thick I couldn't see my hand in front of my face."

It was nice to know that my efforts were well appreciated. "Meteorology is more of an art than a science," I said to get even. "Sometimes I invent a thunderstorm and add it to the weather report just to liven up a boring shift."

"The only thing the pilot really cares about is the altimeter setting."

"Now and then I screw with that, too. I figure it will make the flight a lot more interesting if you don't know exactly where the ground is in zero visibility."

The master sergeant looked at me and chuckled. "He's messing with your head, Larry."

"Jesus, I hope so."

Most lifers were easy to rattle because they were as dumb as fence posts. They couldn't hack it in civilian life and the military gave them a home so they wouldn't end up in jail or on welfare. After the bourbon was gone, I went back to my regular seat and fell asleep, dreaming of hula girls.

I was rudely awakened when the huge aircraft skidded to a stop on the runway at Hickam Air Force base. I looked out the window and noticed how little pavement remained ahead of us.

"What kind of landing was that?" I sputtered.

"Hell, we had at least twenty feet left before we hit the water," the tech sergeant smiled as he came down the aisle.

The son of a bitch was still sore about the altimeter story. Screw him if he can't take a joke. I hurried to the exit door and waited for someone to open it. Hurry up and wait, the most common pathological condition of military personnel. Eyes glaze over. Brain turns to stone. Saliva dribbles from lower lip. No cure except time. Eons later the door swung open and I got my first glimpse of Honolulu. In the distance coconut palms sprouting like giant weeds between gleaming skyscrapers, steep rainforest mountains rising behind green hills carpeted with rows of houses, fluffy little clouds sailing across the tradewind-blown cyan sky. The scented tropical air caressed my face like the supple hands of a hula girl. Ah, the fabled rainbow isles! Where have you been all my life?

II

After I retrieved my duffel bag, I asked for directions to the weather barracks. I knew a guy who was stationed at Hickam, Jeff Hilliard. He was from upstate New York and something of a geek, but I couldn't afford to be choosey. I didn't have enough money for a hotel if I wanted to stay twisted and Hilliard had promised to find an empty bed for me in the weather barracks. It was probably against regulations (since nearly everything was), but hopefully I would only be there to sleep. As for food, I planned to eat two breakfasts each day at the chow hall -- one right after I woke up in the morning and one before I passed out in bed at night. That would prevent starvation and leave me free to spend all my money on various forms of depravity. My kind of vacation. Soothe the nerves before I end up in a rubber room.

Luckily, Jeff was off-duty and in the barracks when I arrived. He introduced me to his roommate, a rather odd-looking fellow named Regis Sinclair. He was tall and thin, had a long nose and freakishly large Adam's apple. He reminded me of a satyr. Mischief lurking in the beady eyes. Invisible horns and hooves. The dreaded goat dance. I had seen it all before. Incipient madness.

"Technically, I'm AWOL as of eight o'clock this morning," he said.

"Rege didn't go to work today," Jeff explained.

"Won't they come looking for you?" I asked.

"Let them look. I won't be here within a few short minutes. Care for a tour of the island? I have a car at my disposal."

"Just don't wreck the goddamn thing," Jeff grumbled. "I'm still paying for it."

"I'll change into civvies," I said.

"Good idea," Sinclair agreed. "The sight of a uniform is like a red flag to these island waterheads."

"Aren't you coming with us?" I asked Jeff.

"I have to work the swing shift."

"Jeffrey is a devoted military man," Sinclair smiled. "He thinks only of his duty."

"Make sure the gas tank is full when you return," Jeff said.

"Not to worry," Sinclair said. "Now run along before you're late for work."

The car was an old Plymouth that burned oil and the back seat was littered with empty beer cans. Sinclair drove like a maniac through the front gate.

"I like to piss off the guards," he grinned. "Let them see me out of control when they have to maintain military bearing. How do you know Jeffrey?"

"He was my roommate for awhile at Travis."

"You have my deepest sympathies."

"Where you from, Sinclair?"

"Rhode Island. I was flunking out of my second college when the draft board decided to shanghai me."

"So you joined the Air Force like a good draft dodger. Same with me."

"I wonder how many men actually volunteer for the Air Force of their own free will?"

"Jeff did."

"He doesn't count. His brain was addled at birth."

We were moving through heavy downtown traffic when Sinclair reached over the seat with one hand to rummage through the beer cans. I grabbed the steering wheel when we almost sideswiped another car.

"What are you doing?" I demanded.

"See if you can find a full one back there. I'm dying of thirst."

"Stop at a liquor store."

"I'm afraid I'm a little short on cash."

"I'll buy."

"You've made a friend for life," he said.

I bought two six-packs of beer, some ice and a styrofoam cooler. Sinclair took the freeway on-ramp and we headed toward the North Shore, land of surf bums and beach bunnies.

"The waves are up today," he said.

"You surf?"

"Surely you jest. I wouldn't be caught dead on a surfboard, but I like to watch the big waves roll in. A truly frightening spectacle to behold. Gets my blood boiling to see the awesome power of the ocean. If we're lucky, we might see a surf nazi go down for the count."

"You have a strange sense of humor. I like it."

Sinclair glanced over at me. "Keep the beer flowing and we'll be as close as brothers."

He was on his third beer when he stopped in front of an old house in Wahiawa and honked the car horn. A moment later an attractive young island girl came outside. She had straight black hair down to her waist and looked to be in her late teens or early twenties. A hula girl at last!

"We're going to the North Shore," Sinclair said. "Get in."

The girl looked at me, then turned to Sinclair. "I can't go today. I have to stay with my auntie."

"Why?"

"She's sick."

"What kind of nonsense is this? She's probably faking."

"Regis!"

"You won't help by feeding her hypochondria. Tell her to call a doctor if she thinks she's sick."

"I can't do that."

"Don't be a trollop. I'm risking prison to spend the day with you."

The poor girl looked confused. "I have to tell auntie I'm leaving."

"Chop, chop," he told her.

He finished his beer in a single swallow and opened another one. "You have to take a firm hand with these island girls. They're raised to distrust haoles and they need discipline to behave like real women."

"I'll try to remember that."

Once were were underway, Sinclair formally introduced me to Kim Leilani Randall.

"She's a very mixed breed," he said. "Part Korean, Hawaiian, Portuguese, Filipino, Japanese and Caucasian." He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. "I think of her as my sweet little poi girl."

"I wish you wouldn't say that," Kim objected. "It's embarrassing."

"Now, now, don't get moody. This is Captain Lawrence. His father is a two-star general and I want you to show him some respect."

Kim's eyes grew wide when she looked at me. "Your dad is a general?"

"Retired," I said, playing along.

"Are you a pilot?"

"Jet fighters," Sinclair said. "Shot down two MIGs over Vietnam."

"Cool."

"He's on R & R and I want you to get him a date for New Year's eve. We'll all go to the rock music concert in Honolulu."

"My girlfriends already have dates that night."

"Persuade one of them to break her date. This soldier needs warm female companionship before he returns to the war."

"I'll see what I can do," Kim promised.

"No canine for the son of a general. She must be worthy of him."

"None of my girlfriends are dogs. What a thing to say."

"Touchy, isn't she? Must come from all that inter-racial breeding."

Kim punched him on the shoulder.

"A tomboy, too," he said, ducking.

"You take it back."

"I'm surprised she bothers to shave her legs. These wenches will turn lesbo overnight if you let them."

Kim folded her arms and glared at him. By the time we got to Waimea Bay, she had stopped sulking. She jumped out of the car and ran down to the beach like an excited little girl.

"The ocean always brings out the fish in her," Sinclair observed. "I think she has gills hidden somewhere."

I was stunned by the size of the waves, the biggest I had ever seen. They were mountains of surging blue water draped with white foam and spray. One crazy bastard was actually trying to catch a ride on his surfboard. He looked like an ant in a flushing toilet bowl.

"How big are the waves?" I asked.

"I'd say thirty feet. They only get this huge in the winter."

The surfer stood up on his board, shot down the steep face of a wave and then wiped out when the crest collapsed over him. His board flew into the air and he remained underwater for a very long time before popping up like a cork.

"Too bad," Sinclair said. "I thought he was a goner for sure."

He reached into the glove compartment and took out a plastic bag of pot. "You smoke?"

"Once in awhile."

"This stuff will blow your head off. Homegrown Maui wowie."

He rolled a joint and lit it, taking a deep hit. When he passed the joint to me, I took a small toke and coughed violently.

"Mustn't waste the sacred herb," he cautioned. "It's the one worthwhile thing that comes from the neighbor islands. Honolulu is the the only civilized place in Hawaii."

"I take it you don't care for the other islands?"

"Quasi-primitive, like Borneo with colored television. The natives are far too restless for me. They'll eat your liver like they did to poor old Captain Cook."

We walked down to the beach to share the joint with Kim.

"Did you see that wipe-out?" she squealed.

"Calm down," Sinclair told her. "Too much excitement is bad for your complexion." Then to me: "She breaks out in pimples at the drop of a hat."

Kim ignored him and sucked on the joint. I must have been been gawking when she stripped off her clothes to reveal a bathing suit that barely covered her gorgeous body. Sinclair frowned and said, "I wish you wouldn't drool. It inflates her ego and makes her impossible to bear."

"Sorry."

Kim smiled at me with flashing eyes and handed me the joint.

"You're not going in the water, are you?" Sinclair asked her. "I don't want to have to call the paramedics."

"I just want to get some sun."

"Isn't she adorable? A precious little flower that only blooms in the sunlight."

Sinclair kept rolling joints and I got so stoned the rest of the day seemed to pass like a dream. At one point we were at Sunset Beach, Sinclair climbing on top of Kim in the bushes, both of them as naked as goats. Me sitting cross-legged in the sand watching the giant waves break in a strange kind of slow motion. Or so it appeared in my wooly-headed condition. One wave ran up the beach and soaked me before I could rouse myself out of the stupor. Dripping salt water, I fled to the safety of the car and another beer. The last can.

Later more beer and more joints, crossing a rustic bridge into the beach town of Haleiwa, little shops drifting by the car window, Sinclair and Kim laughing in the front seat, shrill madhouse laughter, the sun setting, people strolling along the waterfront, all like a dream made of liquid cotton.

I didn't remember the drive back to Hickam. I woke up in the back seat when Sinclair shook my arm. It was dark outside.

"Time for beddie-bye," he said.

"Jesus, what was in that dope?"

"THC."

"Where's Kim?"

"I dropped her off at home."

"It feels like rats are gnawing the inside of my stomach. Where's the chow hall?"

Sinclair pointed. "See that building over there all lit up?"

"Aren't you hungry?"

"Not for that slop." As he walked toward the barracks, he added: "Don't forget you have a date on New Year's eve."

Slop was right. Greasy scrambled eggs, creamed chipped beef on toast (appropriately known as shit on a shingle), burnt sausage, coffee that tasted like dirty socks. I forced it all down, trying not to gag. Sacrifices had to be made if I wanted to continue indulging myself in island-style debauchery.

I watched TV in the barrack's day room until Jeff got off duty.

"Where do I sleep?"

I followed him to an empty room at the end of the hall. When he turned on the light, I noticed the room was crammed full of beds and chairs.

"We store extra stuff here," Jeff said. "Take your pick."

I sat down on the nearest bed and pulled the blanket back. No sheet, but I was too tired to care.

"What did you think of Sinclair?"

"Very funny guy. Is he going to be arrested?"

"He'll talk his way out of it. He's done it before. You wanna watch TV for awhile?"

"I'd rather get some sleep."

"Make sure you're out of the barracks by ten in the morning. The barracks chief does a walk through inspection then."

"I'll be gone at the crack of dawn. Hit the light, will you?"

III

Jeff wouldn't loan his car to Sinclair again because he had returned it with the gas tank nearly empty.

"If you put a lump of coal in his ass," Sinclair smirked, "it would turn into a diamond in a single day."

He suggested that I rent a car since he had no money.

"I don't think I can afford it."

"Nonsense. They only cost eight dollars per day."

"You sure?"

"Absolutely. You want to see the rest of the island, don't you?"

It turned out to be nine bucks per day for a compact car, but that was still incredibly cheap. Sinclair started for the driver's seat and I hooked his arm.

"I'll drive."

"If you insist."

"I've seen you drive and I didn't buy any insurance."

"Mistrust between friends is a tragic error."

"You want to pick up Kim?"

"She can't come. It seems her aunt really was sick. In the hospital today and Kim won't leave her side. Not to worry, we'll find some attractive nymphs to keep us company. The island is rife with them."

In the car we wore only bathing suits and unbuttoned sport shirts. I drove barefoot to the Waianae coast, letting the laid-back island lifestyle seep into my pores. Sinclair warned me to watch out for hostile locals in the area.

"Trecherous waterheads," he muttered. "Sometimes they throw rocks at tour buses."

"Why did we come here?"

"Look for yourself. Some of the most beautiful beaches on Oahu."

The surf was small enough to get into the water at a beach park in Nanakuli. I swam out and caught a few waves body surfing. When I looked to shore, I saw Sinclair surrounded by four young local men. One of them pushed him and I swam to the beach.

"What's going on?" I asked Sinclair, trying to be nonchalant.

"Who are you?" the pusher said, glaring at me through bloodshot eyes.

"I merely asked that young lady over there if she would like to dance," Sinclair smiled.

"I apologize for my friend," I said. "He gets a little crazy once in awhile."

"I'd like to break his face," the pusher said.

"Let's go, Sinclair."

I grabbed my towel and led him by the arm. The four men followed us to the parking lot and watched us get into the car. As I pulled away, Sinclair poked his arm out the window and gave the finger to the locals.

"Goddamn it, Sinclair. What are you doing?"

"Drive faster, please."

I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the four local men piling into an old car.

The race was on. They followed us through two red lights and a stop sign before we hit the main highway. I had my foot in the carburetor, pushing the four-cylinder engine for all it was worth. Sinclair had his head out the window screaming obscenities at our pursuers. Lucky for us, their old car couldn't keep up with a new rental car.

"Left them in the dust where they belong," Sinclair gloated.

"You crazy bastard. Are you trying to get us killed?"

"I thought I handled myself rather well, considering the odds."

"You asked his girlfriend to dance on the beach."

"Why not? There was music in my soul when I saw her."

"I can't understand how you've managed to survive in Hawaii."

"Live dangerously is my motto. Let's go to Waikiki and have a few drinks with the touri."

I kept a wary eye on him the rest of the day. In Waikiki we went to an open-air bar on the roof of a building overlooking the beach. The cute waitress wore a sarong and a flower lei.

"Is hair pie on the menu?" Sinclair asked.

The waitress stared at him and tapped her foot.

"In that case, bring me an ale."

"No ale. Just American beer and Heineken."

"Uncivilized place, but I like the view. I'll have a double margarita with no salt. Join me?"

"Draft beer," I told the waitress.

After three double margaritas, Sinclair began expounding on his philosophy of dealing with "the fascists," as he called our military supervisors.

"Never take any shit from them. Huge mistake to roll over and play dead when they threaten you. In reality they need us far more than we need them and they know it. After all, we didn't ask to be in uniform, did we? If they want us to take part in this ungodly war, they will simply have to tolerate a certain degree of lassitude."

"What if they don't agree?" I inquired.

"Fuck with their heads. Pull the circuit breakers at work during a heavy thunderstorm, then unplug the teletype machines. Nothing goes out, nothing comes in. Drives them absolutely bananas with all those planes lined up on the runway."

"You're going to hate Leavenworth prison. It's like boot camp for ten years."

"Hogwash. We have the upper hand, Lawrence. Always remember that and stick it to them. If you don't, they will have you licking their jackboots."

Later we drove to the windward side of the island and stopped at Bellow's beach in an old Air Force base. The sand looked like powdered sugar and Sinclair went swimming with the blond teenage daughter of an Air Force major and his wife who sat in lawn chairs under a tree. I offered the major a beer from our cooler to distract him from watching Sinclair play octopus with his daughter.

"Where are you boys stationed?" he asked.

"My friend is a weather observer at Hickam. I'm on leave from Travis."

"How do you like the islands?" the wife asked.

"Very impressive. The climate is wonderful."

"We've been here two years now," the major said. "Best duty I ever had."

"I wish I could get transferred."

I had to continue this drivel for half an hour until Sinclair finally waded out of the water. I strolled over to him as he toweled off.

"Her parents are right over there," I said, nodding my head in their direction.

Sinclair smiled and waved at them.

"He's a major, Sinclair."

"So what?"

"You practically raped their daughter in front of them."

"I did no such thing. We were simply frolicking in the surf. Quite a looker, isn't she?"

"All fifteen years of her."

"I've noticed something about you," he said, opening a beer. "You seem to lack a certain spirit of adventure. Need to buck up and stop worrying so much. Only make you old before your time."

Maybe he was right. I had been hanging onto my sanity for far too long. It was probably futile to keep clutching at the last worn-out thread. I wondered if the mental institutions in Hawaii were comfortable. Guarded walks through tropical gardens, poi for lunch and basket weaving on cool rainy evenings. Didn't sound so bad when I thought about it.

When Sinclair rolled a joint and lit it, I glanced toward the major and smiled wanly. There was no going back now. All was lost. I snatched the joint out of Sinclair's hand and toked on it ferociously.

IV

On New Year's eve we were sitting in bleacher seats at the Honolulu Civic Center listening to Blood, Sweat and Tears wail away on the stage. My date was a beautiful Japanese college girl named Yoshi. Sinclair and Kim sat a few rows below us and the place was packed to maximum capacity and filled with pakalolo smoke.

I am stoned out of my mind. Floating in a kind of reverie, hardly listening to the music, just feeling the pulse of it in my stomach. Total strangers pass joint after joint to each other along the bleacher seats like factory workers on an assembly line. Here one comes again. Must take it to keep the line moving. I inhale a hit and pass it to Yoshi, who smiles at me. Perfect white teeth. Almond eyes. Long black hair. My hula girl.

Time stands still and I think, Here we are in the middle of the Pacific ocean listening to a band with a strange name. No tears here, much less blood or sweat. Just thousands of people wallowing in a pleasant groove. Groovy, man. Did I say that out loud? Who cares? Nothing matters except the music and the feel of Yoshi's leg against mine. Such a sweet leg, long and smooth like ivory. I want to kiss it, drape it over my shoulder, go exploring in her netherlands. Oops, was that my hand? Naughty boy, Yoshi's eyes seem to say.

Suddenly, the music ends and the band wanders off the stage. General pandemonium as everyone makes for the exit doors. Pushing and shoving and shouts. I grab Yoshi's hand and our group moves as one toward the door. More shoving. Will we be trampled by this herd? I grip Yoshi's hand so tight she lets out a yelp. Sorry, don't know my own strength.

Finally, we squirt out the door into the warm humid air. Sinclair and Kim are waiting for us beside the concrete walkway. I look up into the starry night sky and take a deep breath. At that very moment the sky literally explodes.

"What the fuck?" I stammer, nearly falling down.

My heart is beating wildly. It has finally happened, I think. I've lost my grip. Then all at once I recognize the explosion as fireworks.

"Happy New Year!" Sinclair shouts.

"What's with the fireworks?"

"Don't they have fireworks on the Mainland?" Yoshi asks me.

"Only on the fourth of July."

Sinclair is in a lip lock with Kim, lifting her off the ground. I give Yoshi a sheepish look and say, "Happy New Year."

She leans over and kisses me on the mouth. "Happy New Year, Tom."

Oh what a fool I've been. Worrying too much again. Must learn to ignore The Fear and plow ahead regardless of consequences. Life can be an escapade if one has the balls for it.

All night long we had heard a rumor that Santana would appear at the festival being held in Diamond Head crater. Sinclair was convinced it was true.

"Meet you there in the wee hours," he said.

"You taking off?" I asked.

"Kim and I need a little privacy. We're going to a hotel."

"What a lecher."

"Don't forget Diamond Head," he said as they walked away.

"Looks like we've been abandoned," I said to Yoshi.

"You want to go to my apartment? It's not very far."

This night was unfolding like a rose petal. "Sure, sounds great."

A nice apartment with her roommate asleep in the other bedroom. Glasses of wine and music turned low on the radio. A game of tonsil hockey while I struggle to unhitch Yoshi's bra. Damn things should be burned. Naked on her back in bed. Dainty breasts and very little pubic hair. Visions of the Kama Sutra as she wraps those lovely long legs around my waist. Home, James!

While Yoshi slept, I got dressed and slipped out of the apartment like a thief in the night. Must avoid messy entanglements at all costs. The ugliness of recrimination and guilt. As painful as a boil on the ass.

It was nearly three in the morning and most of the bars were closed. I didn't feel tired and the last thing I wanted to do was return to Hickam, so I decided to drive to Diamond Head and see if anything was happening that late. I parked my car on a side street and started up the entrance road. As I got closer to the rim of the crater, I could hear music and the drone of voices.

The inside of the crater was a swarm of people. My mouth dropped open when I recognized Carlos Santana on the stage. As I made my way through the crowd, a guy wearing a head-band handed me a paper cup of something that looked like fruit juice.

"Acid, man!" he shouted over the music.

I smiled and emptied the contents on the ground when he wasn't looking. I found an unguarded cooler and swiped a beer. Later someone passed me a joint, which I bogarted until I felt the rush kick in. Stoned again.

I wandered around for awhile, looking at all the happy faces. Then I spotted Sinclair bobbing up and down among a small group of people. He was stark naked and doing a goat dance for the amusement of onlookers.

"If it isn't Pan from ancient Greece," I said.

"Weeping hemorrhoids, you made it!" he shouted.

"Where's Kim?"

His eyes shone like crystals. "Lost in time, down the path to eternity." He slung his arm around my neck and whispered: "Shhh. Don't tell her I'm here if you see her. She's a puritanical witch when it comes to spiritual matters."

"Did you bring her with you?"

"Haven't the slightest idea," he laughed. "But she might sneak in if we're not on our toes. Men must stick together against the tide of female sorcery or we'll all be turned into frogs."

"You're twisted on acid."

"Not a bit. Only had the tiniest taste, just to be sociable."

"You're naked, Sinclair."

He looked down at his dong. "The emperor wears no clothes! Don't you get it?"

"Afraid not. What did you do with your clothes?"

"Gave them to the poor in spirit. It was only fair. I have to set a good example in this wicked world."

Since I was wearing swim trunks under my pants, I slipped out of the jeans and handed them to Sinclair. "Put them on, please."

He looked troubled as he climbed into the pants. "I'm very disappointed in you, Lawrence. I want you to know that."

"You'll get over it," I said.

"Very disappointed. I expected better treatment from a comrade in arms."

"Blow it out your ass."

"I beg your pardon. Do you kiss your mother with that vulgar mouth?"

And so on until Sinclair came down a few hours later. Different bands played, we wandered around looking for something to eat, I shared a joint with a cute red-headed girl, Sinclair trotted behind me babbling like a rabid monkey. The people who were still awake watched the sun rise over the crater rim. Someone started clapping as if God had staged a light show.

I fell asleep listening to a jazz band. When I woke up, the sun was blazing hot and Sinclair was gone. I went to the rental car and found him sleeping in the back seat. He jumped up when I poked him.

"Huh?"

"How did you find the car?"

He looked around. "Is this your rental car?"

"Never mind. Is your head straight enough to handle Hickam?"

He was staring at the pants he wore, my pants. "I should go look for my clothes."

"You'll never find them."

"My wallet was in my pants pocket."

I started the engine. "You didn't have any money."

"Come to think of it, you're right. Screw the wallet."

"You remember the goat dance?"

He looked at me while I shifted into gear. "Of course. I don't have amnesia, you nitwit."

"It was a very ugly. You didn't do it right."

"How would you know?"

"A satyr is supposed to make women swoon, not upchuck and tear out their vaginas."

A stupid grin spread across his face. "You have a shockingly depraved sense of humor."

"Same to you, goatman."

V

I went out with Yoshi one more time. She was mad about me sneaking out of her apartment, but I invented an desperate lie for an excuse and she bought it. I loved trusting women and their empty little heads. Leveled the battle ground since they had the ultimate weapon between their legs.

I took Yoshi to see a movie and then to a restaurant in Waikiki. Over drinks after we ate, she asked if I would write to her. Here we go again. She just couldn't leave a good thing alone.

"I suppose I could write," I said, feeling cornered like a bug-eyed rat.

"Liar," she smiled sadly.

"I like you, Yoshi."

"You won't write."

"Please don't be that way. We're young and insane on a beautiful tropical island, aren't we? Let's enjoy the evening because tomorrow I'm off to the war."

She giggled. "You're stationed in California. Regis told me."

"I'll cut his goddamn tongue out for deceiving you."

"Travis Air Force base," she insisted.

"Ton Son Nhut air base, just outside of Saigon. My orders are top secret."

"Will you stop? I won't write if you don't want me to."

Bleeding Christ, why was she doing this to me? All I wanted was one last guilt-free romp with an attractive young woman I would never see again. Was that too much to ask?

"All right, send me a postcard," I said.

I gave her a phony PO box number at Travis. What else could I do? It was her own damn fault for trying to pin me down. Once again we ended up in her bedroom, trying out a few more positions from the Kama Sutra. A goodbye hump from my hula girl and then a clean escape. She would remember me always, tell her grandchildren about the love of her life who vanished into the mists of time.

I didn't have enough money left for a commercial flight and the only Air Force hop I could get was on a KC-135 weather plane. Sinclair showed up at the last minute as I was preparing to board the jet.

"Didn't want you to leave without a little souvenir from the islands," he said. He handed me a small hula girl doll with a battery-driven motor that made her hips swivel. "I couldn't find a full sized blow-up model, but with your tiny member I thought this might suffice."

I grinned at the homely SOB. "I only wish I had a gift for you. Tell you what, I'll have this guy I know at personnel headquarters arrange your assignment to Vietnam."

"I'd be most grateful if you would. I hear they have excellent dope over there. Not to mention all that hairless gash."

"Well, it's been surreal. Don't let the waterheads eat your liver."

He saluted with his left hand. "Adieu, mon capiten."

The KC-135 flew all the way to Alaska, dropping weather instruments out of its tail like a big bird taking a shit. Then southeast toward California and hours later a landing at McClellan Air Force base. I went to the motor pool and was lucky enough to catch a ride with a major who had an appointment at Travis. I made it to the weather office ten minutes before my shift started and my CO looked rather disappointed to see me.

Close call, but the bastard would have to come up with another reason to court martial me.

_______________

William Starr Moake grew up in Michigan and worked as a journalist for several years in South Florida. After majoring in anthropology in college, he traveled extensively, freelancing as a travel writer/photographer. Moake is the author of two published books of fiction, a novel and a short story collection. His second novel, Terpsichore's Children, was published in October. When he is not writing, Moake works as a freelance web designer and software programmer from his home in Hawaii, where he has lived since 1972. Website: http://www.stormpages.com/starrbooks.

email William Starr Moake

Hula Nights © 2003 by William Starr Moake

 

 
     
     

 

 



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