I directed Aidan, “Look at that!” I pointed to the nearby shop in excitement- finally, we found something of interest that would make this morning’s trip worthwhile!
Aidan glanced at the building with far less enthusiasm. “Listen, those purses are nice and all, but we have more important things to-!”
“No, that’s not what I meant! Although, they are pretty cute…” I peered at the bags displayed in the window with enthrallment, but then I quickly shook that idea off and instructed him, “Look at the sign above the door!”
“The Hekekias’ Hut!” Aidan gasped. “Maybe we can figure out what they’re hiding from us!”
I dismally responded, “Yeah, maybe tomorrow. The store is closed!” My hopes deflated once more since it didn’t seem like we were destined to unearth anything significant that day!
Aidan queried, “I suppose we gotta give up and go home, but how are we supposed to return home if we don’t know where we don’t even know where we are?” He contemplated that for a second, and then he realized, “Oh, duh! We have a map!” He opened up his GPS and then reported to me, “Eka Nahele!”
“Gesundheit!” I joked in order to indicate my lack of clarity. Seriously, he said that as though the name would instantly strike a chord with me!
“It appears to be a rainforest town,” Aidan elaborated. “The roads to this area take longer to travel than the ones to the desert, but if you go directly through the jungle, you can get to Eka Nahele faster than Kauhale Maloo! So, Clifton kinda lied to us!”
I theorized, “Maybe he was just going by his navigation system. I imagine it’s not very safe to go through the wild! Didn’t Kaleo say he and Kalani died taking the quote en quote scenic route?”
The topic I brought up stirred up the cogs in Aidan’s head. “If he took the scenic route, then he would have had to have gone through the greenery behind the store ‘cause there is no other scenic route close to this location! I think we should explore where he took his final steps!”
“Are you thinking his death had something to do with Lake Ana Wai’s disappearance?” I asked him.
“Possibly,” Aidan answered with a shrug. “This territory is directly adjacent to the hills by our neighborhood, so he could’ve witnessed something related to that event by accident.”
I tacked onto that concept, “Or maybe he did something to make that phenomenon occur! What if he was the one who upset the mo’o? Or his wife did! Oh, but then he would’ve taken that tunnel and wouldn’t have run into that pack of wild boars! I still can’t believe a pack of pigs did them in!”
Aidan stated, “If he was telling the truth on that! I mean, it’s one of those things that is so outrageous that it has to be true, but what if he died from something moe related and he concocted that story for whenever people inquire about it ‘cause he doesn’t wanna implicate himself?”
“It’s pronounced mo’o,” I corrected him.
“Whatever!We’ve only got one method of finding out if he was being honest or not! Let’s go!”
I argued, “Hold on, it’s not the only method! We could ask around a bit! I doubt that dude by the cave will be very helpful to us, but we could talk to other folks in the city! They might not have communicated to the inhabitants of Kauhale Maloo, so they might show us some more kindness!” Aidan considered my proposal, but before he could settle on his reply, I saw a lady passing by and stopped her, “Excuse me, could you-?”
Prior to me finishing my sentence, she turned her nose up at us! “Hmpf!” She walked away in a huff.
“I guess our reputation preceded us!” I lamented.
“Alright, so then we’re taking my route now?” Aidan presumed.
I refused, “No! We’re not risking our lives with those apparently deadly pigs! Do you normally give up that easily on an assignment?”
Aidan told me, “No! My reputation never comes into play- I’m always in different disguises! Hey…!” A lightbulb went off in Aidan’s mind. I caught onto the notion immediately, and I nodded vigorously in agreement. Aidan surveyed the scenery, and then he suggested, “We can shield ourselves behind those trees!”
“But that’s the pig trail!” I protested.
“They’re not gonna be this close to humans!” Aidan shot back. “If we hear them coming, we can easily hop out of their terrain!” I acquiesced to his logic, and we cautiously approached the forest.
We reemerged with gray hair, wrinkles, and heavily outdated fashion, and as we trekked back to the street, I checked our getups and whispered, “These look fantastic!”
Aidan grinned and then quietly remarked, “Not bad for children’s wands!”
The two of us shuffled over to a small group of young people, and in a hoarse voice, Aidan petitioned them, “Pardon me, kids! We were trying to reach out to the Hekekia family, but they don’t seem to be answering the door! Do you know if they’re okay?”
“Dude, for real? You didn’t hear?” one of the youths gawked at us in disbelief. “They croaked!”
“No!” Aidan and I feigned shock at that revelation.
Another member of their party supplemented her friend’s briefing, “Yeah! But they moved away after they turned into Fays. Isn’t it ironic that they of all people turned into Fays?” Her comrades all laughed at that image, but Aidan and I stared at her blankly, so she furrowed her brows at our behavior. “Do you guys not know them or something?”
I fibbed, “Oh no, we do! We… We’re simply old and forgetful, you know…”
“Kaleo and Kalani were notorious Fay-busters!” the first adolescent explained, “We used to have a huge problem with Fay Folks around here, so they did all they could to drive them out! Kalani posted their activity on social media, and Kaleo pulled pranks on them left and right! Kinda funny, but the problem didn’t really go away ‘til they did! I dunno why!”
“The Fays left the region?” I puzzled. I was so startled by this information that I forgot to use my disguised tone!
All of the assembled juveniles gazed at me particularly, and before they could react further to this oddity, Aidan jumped in, “Well, we had best go mourn for our departed colleagues! Thank you for your assistance!” We shuffled off prior to them saying another word.
While we scoped out the village for more witnesses to interrogate, I privately decided to keep my mouth shut during these interactions! I’ve occasionally donned guised gear to fool criminals in my cases, but I never usually had to do it for very long! Plus, we were adopting aliases for our aliases, so it got confusing! I sort of felt foolish for not pulling off this stunt with the same agility as my boyfriend, but he wasa full-time undercover officer and I only did it if he and his colleagues weren’t available! He also had several years worth of experience from his previous pastime of scamming notorious villains! He was adept at being dishonest for the correct reasons, but I was so deeply programmed in exhibiting highly moral choices that it never occurred to me that I may need to deploy skills in deception in the future! I kicked myself for always acting like a goody-two-shoes, but I didn’t have many minutes to spare since we were fast approaching a couple with a small tot! I wasn’t planning to speak, but I had to pay attention to any intelligence we may gain from this interaction! That and I couldn’t have predicted if my character would called on or not…
“Aw, are you two lost?” the wife graciously inquired.
“No, we’re here on vacation,” Aidan replied. “We got a little confused though! You see, we-.”
The husband probed, “Where are you from?”
Aidan frowned upon that enquiry. “Where are we from? Massachusetts. Anyways, we went by this farm, and-.”
“Do you come from a home or do you have a caregiver?” the wife wanted to know.
“Neither!” Aidan refuted that. “We’re not that old!”
The husband nicely offered, “It’s okay! We’ll help you get back to your house!” He put his arms around each of us and gently escorted us towards the closest building. It seemed like a perfectly lovely florist, but this strange man bringing us into a place we didn’t know spelled out peril to me! I had no idea why he kept talking to us in that coddling manner, but I was almost positive that this weirdo was attempting to kidnap us! Had we gotten too close to the facts? Was there a larger organization in charge of this operation that aimed to silence us? Regardless of the scenario, I banked on discovering this intelligence soon enough- I wasn’t about to go down without a fight! I hoped that I could uproot some of their secrets during this battle, and after I drew out my wand…
That man’s efforts ceased when a familiar voice called out, “It’s alright, I’ve got them!” The man stepped aside, and we saw Clifton wearing the scrubs of an orderly! “Everyone’s worried about you down at the center!”
“If they were so concerned, then why did they allow us to get out?” I acted defiantly for no real reason other than I felt as though Clifton intended to admonish us for our recklessness. I held gratitude towards him for getting us out of a precarious situation, but I dreaded the inevitable lecture we would receive as though we were disobedient children! I wasn’t in the mood to endure more patronizing treatment!
“It was a momentary lapse in security, that’s all! Now, come along, Dorothy! Come along Lucas!” Clifton beckoned us. More snarkiness bubbled beneath my surface,but a cloud had gathered and watched the proceedings with an avid earnestness. Evidently, this occurrence hadn’t been a kidnapping! Either that or dozens of people had been in on it! I eliminated the latter as a possibility following the onlookers’ cheering when we relented and complied with his wishes to get into his van. I was so irked at how famously this expedition flopped, and as the vehicle’s doors shut, I prayed that my inner turmoil would suffice as enough of a punishment for Clifton!
Aidan and I used our wands to disassemble our frock, and I took my sweet time so I could avoid eye contact with Clifton! We rode in silence for a stretch, and I was at peace with it, but Aidan eventually cut through the awkwardness by conversing, “That was pretty clever to dress up like a hospital worker!”
Clifton politely disagreed, “That was a lucky coincidence! I was already wearing it when my phone pinged! My boyfriend likes the outfit- please don’t make me elaborate further!”
“I would like an elaboration!” I declared. Aidan ogled at me with wide eyes, so I assured him, “No, not about his… clothing! Your phone pinged you, and you came out here, so you have a surveillance spell on us?”
“Of course!” Clifton confirmed. “Do you think we’d let you just roam free under your circumstances? That is to say… you’re welcomed to leave Lani Noni, but if you do go anywhere, we have to monitor your movements in case something happens to you while you’re gone or you get any crazy ideas like sneaking back to Maryland…”
I posed to him, “We would never do that! Well, um…. The point is you’re watching everywhere we go and everything we do?”
Clifton filled me in, “No on the second part. Agent Hearne detected chatter about citizens in this district reporting a senile old couple wandering unsupervised in the locale you were in, and we put two and two together. So.. are you gonna tell me why you did this, or…?”
“Can we just make a pact not to reveal your quirk if you keep our thing a secret?” Aidan strove to bargain with him.
“Ugh, don’t make me take you into an interrogation room!” Clifton beseeched us. “I had a whole afternoon planned…”
I gave in, “Fine! We got the impression that the Hekekias were hiding something from the world.”
Clifton didn’t appear overly disturbed by that claim. “Aren’t we all?”
“No, I meant that they have a darker skeleton in their closet!” I expressed to him.
“Dark skeletons, that’s quite the picture you’ve painted!” I folded my arms and eyeballed him crossly, so he admitted, “Okay, there is one thing…”
Aidan and I gazed at each other in dumbfoundment! “There is?” we each exclaimed in unison. My jaw dropped- the government knew an awful actuality about our landlords and they sent us to live with them anyways? I inwardly vowed that he had better have a plausible excuse for this offense…