Mimi looked up at the sign—“Experience Kauai, The Garden Isle. See The Home Of The Menehune”— then down at the excursion vessel. Her fascination with the legendary dwarf-like people pulled at her, but the peeling paint and cracked front window of the boat screamed maritime disaster.
Mimi had grown up on this island, in the house of her Auntie Wendy, near the Wailua River. As a child, she’d played in the Ka Lae O Kamanu Heiau— a ceremonial place sacred to native Hawaiians—right outside her auntie’s front door. The tourist information placard on the larger upper heiau, across from Opekaka Falls, says “Built by the Menehunes, Hawaiian Dwarfs or Brownies.” But Auntie Wendy had insisted that morning over coffee that the lower heiau had more power.
“What do you mean, more power?” Mimi asked as she nibbled on freshly baked banana nut bread.
“See how the granite boulder in the corner offsets the kukui nut tree?”
Mimi peeked through the window curtain. “Yeah . . . so?”
“The opposites anchor the heiau in two worlds—the seen and the unseen. That’s why the birthing stones are nearby. After childbirth a kahuna—ancient priest— places the umbilical cord in an indentation on the stone, then seals and marks it with a petroglyph. Placement near this particular heiau ensures that the infant will have a favorable life.”
Mimi thought about that―a favorable life. She remembered the night they told her that her parents were dead. She had watched them leave that morning, holding hands and laughing in anticipation of a day at the ocean. She had stayed behind with her aunt. Often now she wished she had drowned with them.
The man she eventually married turned on her, and then away from her. Maybe it was her fault―so needy. He threw her bones of affection; complete with strings. She tried to please in every way, until one day she woke up in the emergency room getting her head stitched from a beating. Norman had come home drunk, and she had picked the wrong dinner menu.
She pushed the image away and returned to the little people. “What about the Menehune? Are they real?” Before her aunt could answer, Mimi said, “When I was about five I had a dream—I think it was a dream—that a little man with a beard waved at me though my bedroom window. It was as if he was saying, ‘Hi, I’m here to protect you.’”
Wendy got up and hugged her niece, then sat down again and said, “Well, I believe they were here. The Hawaiians say they arrived around 300 A.D. Legend says they came from New Zealand, lived as fisherman and farmers for about a thousand years, then one day disappeared. It’s assumed they went back home, but no one knows for sure.”
With that morning’s conversation fresh in her mind, Mimi looked around for help. An old man, dressed in a tank top and faded cut-off jeans, sat in a kiosk. She walked over and asked, “How much does the Menehune trip cost?”
The man pushed himself to his feet. “Twenty-five dollars. It’s the cheapest cruise up the Napali Coast. Guaranteed to see Menehune.”
“They don’t really exist, do they? They’re just legend, right?”
“No they’re real. Here’s proof.” He pointed to the counter. Beneath the glass top were Polaroid’s of small muscular, bearded men, standing on a beach. Upon closer look, she had to admit that the dwarfs looked authentic. Perched next to a dugout canoe, they couldn’t have been more than two or three feet tall. Maybe, Mimi mused, she just wanted to believe they’re real.
“Don’t worry about the boat neither. She’s old but sea-worthy.”
“How much for a private charter?” Mimi clutched the Nikon camera at her side, “I’m a photographer and I want to get the light right.” She planned to shoot the cathedrals, the most rugged section of the coast, and wanted to catch them with the sun high overhead to avoid shadows.
“You can have six hours for $300, if we leave by ten. I’ll even throw in lunch.”
Mimi smiled. “Do you have any of those little local bananas? I just love those.”
“Consider it done.”
They met at the boat an hour later. Captain Jeff, the same man at the kiosk, heaved aboard an ice chest and a basket of bananas. Mimi grabbed for his arm as she held her footing across the rickety plank.
“The main thing you need to do is keep one hand on the boat at all times.” Mimi took a seat at the stern. A moment later a young, good-looking man appeared on the dock. “Hi, I’m Doug, the second mate and Jeff’s son.”
“I can see the resemblance.”
Doug came aboard and sat down next to Mimi. “Has my dad been telling you Menehune stories?”
“Well, yes as a matter of fact he has. Do you see them too?”
“Oh sure, along with Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.” Doug chuckled and turned toward his dad. “I see you’ve got a live one. I guess we’ll eat tonight.”
“Go ahead and push us off. I heard from the Holo-Holo crew there’s spinner dolphins out along the coast today. If nothing else, she’ll get some good shots of their antics.”
Mimi couldn’t believe her luck. The seas were calm, the weather perfect. Mimi worked for a stock photography company andKauaishots sold well. In spite of the beauty all around, she remembered the last ugly day of her marriage.
Normanstopped her outside the courtroom door.
“So, you did it, you bitch. You don’t deserve anything from me. You’ve done nothing but cost me money since the day we met.”
Mimi turned to leave, but, Norman grabbed her shoulders. One strong push put her back against the wall. His flushed, contorted face was inches from hers. “Remember I know where you live, work, and go. You better watch your back and stay out of dark alleys.”
A security guard bounded over. “Hey, mister, let go of her, unless you want to spend the night in jail.” Normanreleased his grip and Mimi steadied herself.
“Norman,” she spat, “I hope that made you feel like the big man you’re not.”
“Are you all right, ma’am? Do you want to press charges?” The security guard looked at his watch―almost lunchhour―not a good time for paperwork.
“No, I’m fine . . . more than fine.” Mimi turned on her heels and marched to the elevator. It wasn’t until the door closed that she burst into tears. An elderly woman gently caressed her arm and handed over a tissue.
“Tough day, dearie?”
She dabbed her eyes with the tissue. “No, it’s a good day . . . the best day.”
Hours later she was inHawaii. Her boss at Photo Stock, always glad for more tropicals, jumped at her offer to return to Kauai. She called her aunt from the airport.
“Hi, Auntie? It’s me. I’m on the island.”
“Mimi! Already? How’d it go in court?”
“Well, it’s done. But he pushed me up against a wall and threatened me. Thank God, it was in the courthouse—security intervened.”
“Oh, no, not again. Was it as bad? Did you have to go to the hospital?”
“No, no, I’m fine . . . more than fine, but can I come home for awhile?”
“Of course, dear. I’ll get your room ready.”
* * * *
As she unpacked her camera, the dolphins and flying fish came by for portraits. Mimi set her shudder speed to catch their midair antics. What a treat. Jeff slowed down as they approached the dive spot. Tourist catamarans bobbed on gentle waves and snorkelers slid into the water like jelly bellies toppling off a scoop of ice cream.
“Let’s not stop here,” Mimi said. “Motor up the coast and stop at that beach by the arches. There are usually kayakers. They’ll add size perspective to the photos.”
Captain Jeff pushed on the throttle. “You’re the boss.”
An hour later Jeff and Doug tied up to a mooring near the beach. The protected cove, with its postcard perfect view of palm trees swaying in the breeze―a favorite lunch spot.
Mimi tried to be inconspicuous as she admired Doug―solid―in body and mind. She could depend on this man. He would come through for her in any emergency; she knew this. Doug brushed his long brown hair back as he pulled sandwiches from the cooler and scooted the basket of bananas next to Mimi.
“So you grew up on the island?” Doug’s gaze drawn to Mimi’s auburn hair shimmering in the sunlight.
“Yeah, my Auntie Wendy lives in Wailua. My parents died when I was five in a boating accident on Oahu, and Wendy took me in. She’s my best friend in the world.”
Doug slid closer to Mimi. “Same with me and my dad. My mother left us when I was little. Couldn’t handle island fever and went back to the mainland with some guy she met in a bar. Never said goodbye. They weren’t married—my dad raised me—we’re tight.”
Jeff swung off the upper deck and grabbed a sandwich, “Don’t go talking trash about me behind my back. You’ll give this pretty lady the wrong impression. She’ll think I’m a nice guy or something . . .”
Mimi raised her camera and snapped a picture of the palm-tree-fringed beach. “This looks like the background in those Menehune photos you showed me this morning.”
“It is . . . they were right there.” Captain Jeff pointed to the beach.
Mimi chuckled and put her camera in its waterproof container; tossed it and her sandals in a mesh bag. “I’m going to swim over and hike up the trail a ways. I’ll let you know if I see any dwarfs.”
Mimi pulled her caftan cover-up over her head, distracting Doug, who walked into the closed cabin door.
“You, okay?” Mimi rubbed the back of his head.
“Oh . . . what? Yeah, I swore I left that door open. Here let me hold that while you climb down.” Doug handed Mimi her bag as she descended the ladder into the ocean, his eyes walked over her wet body.
Alone on the beach, Mimi clipped on her trail sandals. This was the northwest end of the Kalalau trail. She had hiked the trail many times from the other end near Ke’e beach—it felt strange to start from this end. Higher on the mountainside the wind rustled the forest. She swore she could hear giggling children.
Mimi thought about the leprosy epidemic before the turn of the century. Native Hawaiian families hid in these valleys to avoid exile to Molokai. She could relate to their fear of ostracism. Only with Wendy did she let her guard down. Norman had managed to turn her love to mistrust. Her secret desire―to matter to someone, to be important to someone—seemed as far away as ever.Norman paid attention to her only when he wanted something for himself—usually sex. But if she needed him, he brushed her away with a word or two—if she was lucky.
But here . . . here she felt different. With her camera, she could capture beauty―God. She breathed deeply, filling her lungs, feeling high. High thinking, high intentioned, loving, and kind. Her soul was at peace.
About an hour later, Mimi swam back to the boat. Doug pulled her aboard and said, “Something’s wrong with the motor.”
Captain Jeff, hammer in one hand, wrench in the other, was kneeling on the deck, surrounded by engine parts. “Goddamn it! The carburetor’s shot. Doug, radio Point Allen and tell ’em to send one up, pronto.”
A moment later he was back. “Dad, they say they can’t get one until tomorrow, morning. It looks like we’ll have to spend the night here.” Doug shot a suggestive glance at Mimi.
Mimi read his mind. “Well, I guess if you have to spend the night somewhere, there are worse places than Napali.”
That evening, as they ate the last of their sandwiches and beer, Captain Jeff told them about the Menehune.
“My favorite story is about a lazy workman, Pī. He earned so little money that his family went hungry. The villagers worked for Chief Ola building aqueducts to divert water from the Waimea River to the taro fields. Pī, to avoid the work, came up with a plan. He climbed the mountain trail to find a sleeping Menehune guard―Menehune only come out at night. Pī told him that if they came down to the river that night, he would leave a feast for them. He worked all day preparing food for the tiny people. That night, after they ate their fill, the Menehune reciprocated by chiseling rock and building walls. In one night they built a dam and channeled water to the fields. After that night Pī’s family never went without. The chief showed his appreciation by providing for them. Just like Doug’s going to do for me in my old age.”
Doug laughed. “Sure Dad, in your dreams.”
“You know,” said Captain Jeff. “A section of the Menehune ditch and wall is still there today.” Mimi made a note to herself to photograph it after they got back.
Mimi bedded down on the lower deck cushions, so she could watch the stars. They hadn’t anticipated the overnighter so she slept in her swimsuit with a beach towel as a blanket. Doug and Jeff took the inside bunks. As Mimi drifted toward sleep, a loud thud snapped her back. Raising up on her elbows, she saw the basket of bananas slipping over the side of the boat.
“Hey!” Mimi jumped up, hoping to save the bananas. Just then she heard a thump and a human cry. At the rail she looked over the edge—a tiny body floated face down. “Child overboard!” she cried.
Mimi, jumped in, turned the small body over, and dragged it toward the beach, careful to keep its head above water. Once ashore, with the moonlight reflecting off the white sand, she saw that this was no child. It was a little bearded man.
She lay him on his back and repeatedly pressed on his tiny chest, until at last the man coughed and sputtered out sea water. As he opened his eyes, Mimi heard rustling from behind the bushes. Five more dwarfs with pointed beards emerged onto the beach. Mimi stood and stepped back, wishing she had her camera.
As she watched, two of the men lifted their fallen friend, another grabbed the basket of bananas that had washed ashore, and they all took off running into the jungle.
Unmoving, Mimi stood and stared long after they were gone. Well, that was no dream, she thought. But how am I going to make anyone believe it without photos? She looked toward the boat. Doug was on deck, scanning the waters with a spotlight. As the light landed on Mimi, she waved and called out, “I’m all right.”
“Decided to go for a midnight swim?” Doug held out his hand and pulled Mimi up on deck.
“Oh, the bananas fell overboard. I tried to retrieve them, but they’re gone.” Mimi liked Doug and didn’t want him to think she was nuts. Maybe she’d tell him later.
Doug threw a towel around her shoulders and seized the opportunity to pull her in for a soft kiss. Whatever it was she had been doing in the middle of the night didn’t matter . . . she was beautiful in the moonlight.
Mimi’s knees went soft as she kissed Doug back, then giggled, thinking how different Doug was from Norman, the investment banker. Normanwould be livid that she had drug him out on this rickety old boat and now they were stuck. It would be all her fault―vacation ruined again by her. Doug, however―beyond sweet, delicious.
The next morning, after the parts store delivered the carburetor and Captain Jack installed it, they motored back to Port Allen. Just as Mimi had finished stashing her equipment in the trunk, Doug came up behind her.
“Say, Mimi, can I have your phone number? I’d like to see you again, if that’s possible.”
“Oh.” Mimi hesitated. She had just gotten free from a bad marriage―did she really want to get involved with someone else so soon? On the other hand, it’s just one date . . . he didn’t ask her to marry him.
Doug appeared uncomfortable with her silence, then relieved when she said, “Sure. I’m staying with my Aunt Wendy in Wailua. I have pen and paper in the glove compartment.”
Mimi retrieved a notepad and scribbled down the information for Doug. As she handed it over, Doug grasped her arm and pulled her toward him. Mimi didn’t resist the kiss—it came with a flush of warmth—but she didn’t linger for more. Pulling away from his embrace, she fumbled for her keys, the blush draining from her face. Doug watched as she bumped her head against the rearview mirror, struggled with the ignition, and fumbled with her sunglasses. She looked at him, laughed, thought about how silly she must look, and said, “Call me tomorrow.”
* * * *
Doug phoned the next day and invited her to take a sunset cruise just the two of them. The moon would be full in a couple of days and they could take his dad’s boat. The sea would be calm, just as it had been all summer.
As Mimi hung up the phone, Wendy came in the front door with a basket of bananas. “Hi, bought some more of these from the fruit vendor on the road. We can’t seem to keep them in stock, with you around.”
“You know, Auntie, the strangest thing happened on my trip up the Napali Coast.”
“You mean, besides being shipwrecked with a gorgeous sailor?”
“I think I met real Menehune.”
Wendy laughed. “Yes, and legend has it they like bananas too.”
“You’re right. One of them tried to steal a basketful and hit his head on the boat. I pulled him to shore and his friends came to help.”
Wendy laughed again, this time at least partly in disbelief. “Did you get any photos?”
“No. But I’m going to leave another basket at the upper Heiau tonight and be ready this time with my camera.”
That evening, Wendy took her bananas and her camera up the road to the Poliahu Heiau. She placed the basket where the Lele or altar once stood near Anu’u, the oracle tower. As she stood on the sacred spot, she sensed a wind change and a dreadful feeling. The sky clear―she felt change on its way. Shaken, she stepped outside the rock wall and hid behind the Hala screwpines. As it grew dark, Mimi who had drifted asleep, awakened to the sound of nose-flutes and laughter. The grasses rustled as if someone, giggling, was rolling down the adjacent hillside.
Mimi rose quietly and looked toward the Heiau—the bananas were gone. Damn! She’d missed them. While moving toward the sounds, she got her camera ready. But the more she walked, the more the voices retreated. Finally, at the edge of the canyon, only silence greeted her. Might as well pack up, Mimi thought―I’ll try again some other night.
* * * *
Doug arrived at five the next evening to pick her up. Mimi had never seen him wearing anything besides swim trunks and t-shirt. Tonight he wore slacks and Hawaiian shirt, hair pulled back neatly in a ponytail, eyes soft and kind. How could those eyes ever fill with anger? She wanted to believe in them―to trust them.
Mimi had shopped earlier in the day for a new dress. Normanliked her in black. This time she chose a slightly clingy tapa print.
Doug carried a fresh plumeria lei. “I brought this for you,” he said looking amorously at his date. He lifted the flowers over her head and let them fall around her neck and shoulders. “You certainly are beautiful.”
Mimi giggled and gave Doug a swift sweet kiss.
They drove south to Port Allen Harbor. “The weather’s changing,” Doug said. “They don’t think the storm will amount to much, but this will probably be our last night of calm seas.”
They pulled into the marina parking lot, under a full moon. “Look at that . . . I’ve never seen it so bright golden.”
Mimi shuddered―something wasn’t right. But how could anything be wrong―in the moonlight, with Doug? She brushed away the dread.
Doug stowed the dinner chests―steel coolers that latched on deck. Mimi climbed to the upper deck as Doug slid the ropes from the dock pilings. He took his place at the wheel and started the engine and they eased up the coast.
“To me, Kauai is the most beautiful place in the world,” Mimi said dreamily. “Look at sky against the hills―a pristine paradise in every way. California’s nice, but I could stay here forever.”
The island o fNi`ihau loomed in the distance―where the last native holdouts lived; those who refused to let go of that which was true to their heritage.
Doug directed the boat toward the same beach they had previously spent the night. He spread a tablecloth across a folding card table and unpacked their dinner of native foods: grilled mahi-mahi, sweet-potato salad, deep-fried taro root, and limu (edible seaweed) with ground kukui nuts. For dessert, haupia, coconut custard. The only imported item―French champagne.
Mimi gazed at the full moon over Doug’s shoulder. “I remember a moon like this the night Wendy told me my parents were dead. I thought I saw their reflections in the light.”
Doug lit two candles. “Legend says the beautiful goddess Hina sits resting on the full moon, with her tapa board and beater nearby.”
“Hina? What’s her story?” Mimi loved Hawaiian legend, as much as she loved Hawaii.
“Hina had a vicious husband, Aikanaka-the-Wanderer. He stayed away for years at a time. Meanwhile, her beloved son,Maui, would visit. When his father returned,Mauialways left, and Hina worked day and night at her husband’s command. Finally she was too tired to go on. She tried to escape on a moon rainbow as Aikanaka raised his hand to her in anger. She climbed one step at a time, but before she got away, her husband grabbed her ankle and twisted. Hina pulled free and limped to the sky, free at last. See . . .there she is and her ankle still twists as she sits.”
“I think I do see her, there on the edge of the moon.” But Mimi’s thoughts were elsewhere. She swallowed the rest of her champagne, took a deep breath, and said, “I think I should tell you that I’m recently divorced.” Mimi shifted in her seat and continued. “It was a brutal marriage. He hit me, and I was psychologically beaten. So I relate to Hina. I feel somewhat twisted myself.”
“Well, let’s just take it slow, you and I,” Doug said softly. “I’m a patient man.”
Suddenly a strong wind whipped the tablecloth and dishes toppled onto the deck. The plastic plates clattered against the railing and glasses flew into the water. The boat bobbed more vigorously now.
“I thought you said the storm wasn’t due for another day.” Mimi grabbed a garbage bag and filled it with as many chased-down dishes as she could catch.
Doug stood and headed for the cabin. “Let me radio Port Allen.”
“Huh?” Doug said into the radio receiver. “What do you mean a hurricane? . . . How bad is it? . . . Not as bad as Iniki? . . . Well that’s reassuring . . . How much time do we have to get back? . . . Okay, thanks.”
He hung up and called to Mimi: “We gotta go―now!”
Doug and Mimi scrambled about, stowing away loose items.
It took all of Doug’s strength to pull the wheel against the wind and waves. Mimi huddled inside, fighting the urge to give up dinner to the open sea. She had no idea a storm could come up so quickly.
As they passed the cathedrals―spiked peaks with deep, steep canyons, some impassable―Mimi noticed twinkling lights that flickered like tiki torches. People can’t be living there, she thought. For years she’d heard rumors of aging hippies living in the canyons, but she doubted it.
The lights clustered together and climbed the mountain. Just when she loosened her grip to see better, a wave hit them broadside. Thrown against a wall, Mimi banged her head. The boat hovered near its side, taking on water.
Doug had managed to hold on to the railing, but he’d lost control of the wheel. With a strength bolstered by dire need, he hoisted himself back on deck, grabbed the wheel, and with a final tug righted the vessel.
“Are you okay down there, Mimi?” No response. But he couldn’t leave the wheel. “Mimi?!” he screamed above the wind.
“I’m all right . . . just a bump on the head . . . keep going.”
They got back to port drenched. Doug tied up the boat, then supported Mimi along the plank to the dock. Under the lights there, he noticed the gash above her eye. “That needs attention. Hold on” Doug hopped back on board, grabbed the first-aid kit, and returned to help Mimi to the car. Once inside, he turned on the overhead light and opened a bottle of peroxide.
“Ouch, careful, that stings.” Mimi’s eyes watered from the pain. “How bad is it?”
“Oh, you’ll have a headache in the morning, but not deep enough for stitches.” Doug’s eyes blurred and he put his arms around Mimi. “I thought I lost you out there. I’m so sorry. I checked the weather this morning and there was nothing about a storm.”
Mimi looked into Doug’s eyes. Who is this man, she thought? Strong yet sensitive. Most sailors were gruff, not her type at all. This guy was smart, kind, and caring. On the other hand, that’s what she thought about Norman at first. It was too soon . . . way too soon.
The trip back to Wailua took twice as long as usual. Roads were flooded and wind gusts tossed cars out of their lanes. Doug reclined the passenger seat, so Mimi could rest, and maneuvered them homeward.
“Doug?” Mimi pulled her seat up slightly, still holding gauze to her head. “I was ten years old when Hurricane Iniki hit in 1992. Wendy and I evacuated to the high-school gym in Lihue. I’ve never been so frightened. They had us all in the center of the floor for hours. They boarded the windows . . . I thought we were going to die. The wind roared as loud as a jet plane. Do you remember that hurricane?”
“Oh God, yes. Like everyone else on this island, I wish I could forget it. My dad and I lived in Kapaa, but we were mauku. Mimi knew this meant they lived toward the mountains. We watched as the Coco Palms Hotel flew apart in pieces. The hotels over here―all their roofs blew off. Guests huddled in closets and bathrooms as torrents of water poured down the walls. I remember when the eye passed over, people ran for the airport, only to be forced back to shelters when the full force of the storm hit.”
“I’m afraid. Is this storm going to be as bad?”
“Not according to the Coast Guard report. It looks like it’s going to brush us. So, don’t worry, okay? I’ll take care of you.”
And then it hit Mimi—she actually believed him. If she didn’t know better, she’d swear Doug was her twin soul. They’d had similar childhoods, with missing parents and island adventures. They were creative and intelligent, yet chose to work only at what they loved―Mimi, photography; Doug, sailing and fishing.
For once, Mimi decided, she would say what was on her mind. “A week ago, I felt lost, off track. But since we met, I’ve felt like you were pulling my real self back out. It’s a new feeling.”
“I feel the same. Before I met you, I felt musty, covered with dust and grime―like an old book on an ancient library shelf. You dusted me off, opened me up, showed me what I forgot about myself.”
A sudden squall jerked them back to reality. Mimi grabbed the seat and Doug the wheel as he pulled the car back in its lane.
“Whew! Look there’s your aunt’s house. If this is as bad as it gets, we should be okay. Unless, of course, it floods.
Wendy greeted them at her front door. “Oh my God . . . I was so worried.” Wendy grabbed her niece and hugged her close. The same thought pulsated through both of them: No one else in this family can die that way.
“Let me get some blankets and towels,” said Wendy. “The water and power’s out and the river’s rising. I can hear tree trunks crashing down the embankment. The radio says the storm will only brush us, but to be prepared for flooding.”
“How’s this house with hurricanes?” Doug eyed the stain glass windows.
“Well, it barely survived Iniki, and we were flooded pretty bad. I think if it happens again, I’ll be forced to move. I’m getting too old for this.”
Doug turned the radio up.
Residents of Wailua are advised to evacuate to Lihu’e. The Red Cross has set up shelters at all the public schools and at Convention Hall. The river is rising quickly and will be at flood stage within the hour.
With that, Wendy took charge. “Go change your clothes, then we better get going.”
Within ten minutes, they had filled two suitcases and a box with food. Wendy found clothes for Doug. She herself wore emergency rain gear.
But when they got out to the cars, water two feet deep was cascading down the road. “There’s no way out unless we swim,” Doug said.
“I think our best chance is to stay here. The house survived last time . . . odds are it will again.”
Once inside, Doug bolted the door. Eying the attic crawl space opening, he said, “I think we should sleep in the attic. The roof survived the last hurricane and if the downstairs floods, at least we’ll be dry.”
“There’s a ladder on the back porch.” Wendy pointed behind her. Doug spun on his heels and scrambled through the back door. He came back with flashlights, a portable radio, batteries and the extension ladder.
Doug pushed the ceiling door open with the edge of the ladder, steadied it against the molding and climbed through. Wendy handed him the emergency supplies, blankets and pillows. The two women followed.
Huddled in the attic, they listened to the wind roar. Then Mimi heard another noise. It sounded like rocks hitting each other. “Must be the heiau coming apart,” She said aloud.
“No, that heiau has made it through worse than this. It’s probably rocks rolling down the road.” Wendy knew the road was too far, but what else could it be?
The night passed slowly as the three captives, curled under their blankets, drifted in and out of sleep. Wendy propped herself in a corner and Mimi snuggled up to Doug. In spite of the storm, she felt protected.
Around midnight Mimi woke to silence. Doug wasn’t there. She glanced at the attic window. She thought she glimpsed a shape or a shadow. Did she see a hand wave? She looked over at Wendy—sound asleep. Mimi grabbed the flashlight and descended the ladder to the floor below. Doug sat in the corner staring at her.
“How can this be?” Mimi said. “No water on the floor, not one thing out of place.”
“Come outside.” Doug took her hand and led her to the front yard. A carefully erected ditch and wall surrounded the house, keeping the flood waters at bay.
“Did you do this?” Mimi knew it was a ridiculous question.
“Yeah, right. I’d have to be Hercules. I have no idea how this happened.”
Mimi chuckled and remembered the waving hand she’d seen through the window, then about another legendary aqueduct built in one night.
She took Doug’s hand in her own. “I don’t know who you are, or why you’re here, but together we have power. Do you feel it?” Mimi gazed into Doug’s eyes.
“I know I feel different, but I can’t pinpoint exactly what’s changed.”
“Me either, but I know it’s good.”
“It is definitely good.”
And they kissed―completing the connection.
Wendy came out with the portable radio.
The storm has moved out to sea again. Except for flooding, there is no major damage and no fatalities. Properties along the Wailua River got hit the hardest, and Lydgate Park is piled with debris and closed to the public.
“I can’t believe our good luck. Nothing is damaged.” Then Wendy saw the wall and ditch. “What? . . . how’d this happen?”
Mimi laughed. “We have no idea . . . must have been the Menehune. Look!” They turned, and there on the walkway by the garden gate rested a basket of bananas.