Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 28

I finally got a Hawaiian ocean view, and I couldn’t even enjoy it! As I sat on a rocky cliff and stared out at the choppy waters, I couldn’t concentrate on anything but all of the drama that led me to this point! A simple birthday dinner turned into a chaotic misadventure that took me away from a cozy home and a dream job, and if sharing a space with eight family members and eight cats wasn’t enough, I also developed health problems that required surgery! Oh sure, the dangerous felon who caused us to go into the Witness Protection Program appeared to have a close proximity to our household in the region, but somehow, this operation haunted me more! I bested Wade before, so I felt confident in my ability to do it again, but I had never gotten any surgical procedures prior to this juncture! Fighting with a dastardly criminal, well, it’s not easy, but I’m in control when it happens, but I would be completely helpless once I fell under the influence of the anesthesia! I kept beating myself up for not taking better care of my health and preventing this from occurring! I mean, I was eating better and exercising more, but I still felt I could have done more to mitigate this damage! I did my last gynecology exam a few years ago, but they told me I could wait three to five years to do my next one! Should I have been doing it more? I had no inkling what I did to cause this problem, but I grew shameful of myself for letting this happen! Doctor Iona said that eighty percent of women have fibroids, but I hadn’t heard of any else having them, so, at that moment, I felt so alone! Yes, I was actually alone right then, but I really felt isolated because of this!

Or maybe I wasn’t by myself! The pressure of someone resting their hand on my shoulder surfaced in mid-thought, and initially, I assumed it was Aidan coming to console me. When I glanced up, I nearly fell off the edge as I beheld a pale, old man with white hair and knobby knees standing next to me! Thankfully, I maintained my stance, and I admonished myself or getting duped like that! Aidan had smooth, warm skin, and this guy had dry, balmy palms! I took a mental note to utilize more caution in vulnerable positions like that in case that reprehensible convict decided to show up, and preceding me collecting my wits enough to enquire about his identity, the old man asked, “Are you looking for the Moku Oka Make?”

“Unless that phrase translates to sanity, then no, not likely,” I answered somewhat bitterly. I regretted allowing my emotions to become transparent to him because I was certain that he would question my well-being, and I dreaded having to relive all of the awfulness of my latest drama! Unless by some miracle he contained a remedy for my woes, I would have preferred to have returned to doing wallowing in self pity!

“Yep, I’ve been searching for it for years now!” the old man prattled on as though he hadn’t heard my agitated remark. “It would be swell if I could obtain the cure for everything that ails these aching bones! I thought I found it once, but it turned out to be a seafood restaurant! A darn good one, but it didn’t solve much…”

I perplexedly responded to that, “Uh-huh! So, is this Moku Oka Make a remedy or a place?”

He filled me in, “It’s both! It’s a sacred site that can rid you of all your ailments! Everyone in the area’s been searching for the Island of Death!” 

“The Island of Death?” I questioned. “The Island of Death helps restore your life?”

“Legends say if you visit this land, it will save you from dying!” He mulled over this information for a bit, and then he commented, “I suppose the name is somewhat misleading, but the natives swear the gods called it that.”

A territory that can heal the terminally ill? All I could think of was that this sounded right up Wade’s alley! Then it registered to me that perhaps this was the reason that reprobate had come to this locale! “So, no one has ever discovered this terrain?”

He relayed to me, “Some people have stumbled upon it, but no one can ever seem to find it again. One bloke found this bejeweled broach that a lady lost during her exploration of the big blue- it was missing for over a century! When he tried to show his mates where he found it, it was gone!”

“So, if someone wanted to hide something valuable, they could put it there and it would stay hidden for ages?” I queried with the wheels in my head spinning in a very specific direction…

“Possibly,” the old man assessed. “They’d have to know where the Moku Oka Make is though in order to retrieve it again, so I don’t fancy that as probable. Why? Are you a pirate?”

I affirmed, “No, not at all! Quite the opposite! I’m actually… a farmer.” I almost revealed my background in law enforcement, and once I gave him that illogical statement, I hoped that he wouldn’t call me out on it!

He did! “How is a farmer the opposite of a pirate?”

“Uh… Well… Pirates bury treasure, and farmers dig it up!” I judged that reply to be fairly clever, especially with the limited time I had to concoct it, but the old man had to think about it for a stretch. Before he extended this inane argument, I posed to him, “What if someone stole the mo’o’s gift from the gods and didn’t want anybody to ever see it again, could they stash it there with some assurance that nobody would come across it again?”

“Who the bloody hell would do that?” the old man exclaimed. “Don’t they know what kind of disaster that would bring upon the region? Upsetting the mo’o causes famine, floods, earthquakes, and…”

I supplied for him, “And droughts?”

He confirmed, “Yes, definitely! Someone would have to have a real disregard for humanity to do something so reckless! Or a complete ninny!” 

If my nemesis hadn’t been in a prison cell when Lake Ana Wai was evaporated, I would have completely blamed him for this incident! Since it wasn’t the case, I wondered if he had an ally in this state that may have abetted Wade’s crimes here, but he was such an unlikeable wretch that I couldn’t imagine anybody coming to his aid like that! Then again, he convinced a respectable police officer to sacrifice her long career to bust him out of prison, so I reckoned that it was a possibility! But if the culprit behind the theft of the mo’o’s most prized possession had an alliance with that scoundrel, he or she most likely would’ve given him this location to assist in his efforts, so they probably didn’t ally themselves with that prick! I couldn’t figure out their motive for doing such a heinous act, but it was becoming more and more evident where they put the mo’o’s gift at least!

“Care for a taste of brandy?” The old man pulled out a flask from his pocket and offered it to me.

“I…” I nearly turned it down due to my desire to stay vigilant in the event that I had to engage in an epic battle with my enemy, but it was so tempting to have a drink after all of the grief I endured in the last couple of weeks! It generally seemed like a dangerous notion to take any consumable substance from a  stranger, but I reasoned that if this fellow had intended to kill me, poison would have been pointless- he could have pretty easily pushed me off of this cliff! It felt odd to entertain the concept of partaking in liquor again, but I remembered that I wasn’t pregnant, and guzzling down some booze seemed like blatant defiance somehow, so I accepted, “Yeah, alright!”

I took a few sips, and it had a stronger punch than I recalled! I handed it back to him, and he took a swig as well. Phew! It wasn’t poisonous after all! He delightfully opined, “Ah! This isn’t the Moku Oka Make, but it makes you feel like you’ve been there!”

After a few minutes, Aidan approached us and joked, “Oh, so this is what you do when you disappear from my sight! Are you enjoying your date?”

“Don’t say that! Me wife would kill me!” The old man surveyed the perimeter as though she was lurking around the corner watching and waiting for him to mess up.

“Babe! I got something to tell you!” I attempted to sit up, but I suddenly felt slightly dizzy! “Wow! That brandy sure is strong!”

Aidan rushed towards me to assist, but the old man was quicker and aided me in regaining my balance. When I was propped up, an old lady came hobbling over here. She shouted at my new acquaintance, “Seymour! Who exactly is this trollop?”

Seymour refuted that accusation, “Hey! She’s no trollop! I don’t think… Are you?” I shook my head, though admittedly, I didn’t entirely know what a trollop was! I was fairly certain I wasn’t whatever unflattering characterization that she accused me of though! When Seymour got that confirmation, he contended to his wife, “Yeah, see! Neither of us were up to any mischief! We were simply searching for the Moku Oka Make!”

“You’re both thick!” Seymour’s wife spat.

“Excuse me, I like my women thick!” Aidan stated firmly. Seymour’s wife ogled at him peculiarly, and it rapidly occurred to him what she meant. “Oh, by thick, I mean…”

Seymour’s wife ignored Aidan and scolded her husband, “While you were out trying to find your blasted Island of Death, you made yourself late for your appointment with a doctor who can heal the stuff you’re trying to get a mythical place to save you from! Now, come on!”

“If Doctor Kidd could make my aches and pains vanish, then I wouldn’t need to keep going to her!” Seymour bickered as they walked away.

“So, you and this English dude were looking for an Island of Death?” Aidan surmised as they elderly couple continued their squabbling while they grew distant from us. “And it’s a beneficial site to visit…?”

I explained, “It’s an island that saves you from death, but I’m assuming that this description fo it wasn’t catchy enough of a name for the original inhabitants…”

Aidan nodded his head, but his expression reamined baffled. “I see… So, you’re hoping that this ancient magic will spare you from surgery on Friday?”

“Oh! I didn’t even consider that! I wonder if that would work…” I espied Aidan’s visage preparing to debate that subject, so I let him know, “But that’s not why we need to locate it! Seymour said that people lose things there ’cause they can’t find the area again!”

“So, you want to go treasure hunting?” Aidan guessed.

I folded my arms in a slight irritation of his hypothesis. “Really? You’ve known me for two years, and you picture me getting excited about digging around for antiquated keepsakes?”

Aidan shrugged. “Maybe! I don’t know how much of that guy’s alcohol you drank!”

His argument still sounded assinine to me, but I opted not to engage in an altercation over something so minor. I chose to table that issue, and I illuminated him, “Whoever stole this mo’o’s gift could have taken it there!”

Finally, it dawned on him that this discovery had major significance! “Alright, so it’d be worth checking this site out! But no one knows where it is?”

“Nope,” I affirmed.

“And nobody knows anything about its appearance?” Aidan probed.

I sighed, “No!”

Aidan emitted an exasperated exhale, and then he articulated, “Gosh, this may wind up being a waste of time, but so what! Your mom and my sister are at the animal shelter wiating to see if someone claims that cat, and I have no interest in joining them! Seriously, before we went into Witness Protection, I contemplated getting a pet for our apartment, but I’m kinda burnt out on pet care now!”

We both chuckled as we wrapped an arm around one another’s waist and initiated our quest to find this legendary setting. As we ambled by the seashore, I prayed that Seymour hadn’t told me an inaccurate account of this terrain!

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 27

Aidan rang his hands anxiously as I glanced around the room in order to find something to distract me from my apprehension. That didn’t help because the walls were plastered with posters of women with pregnant bellies and babies! I spotted a bulletin that depicted various different std’s, and while they were hard to look at, it did momentarily make me forget what I was scared of! “Ben almost gave me that one!” I pointed to one of the panals, and Aidan ogled me in suprise. I expounded on that subject, “When he got busted with that prostitute, they gave him a physical exam, and he had it! Thank goodness I wasn’t sleeping with him towards the end of our marriage!

He twitched his mouth as though he wanted to smile, but a smile never fully formed! “I guess the one plus side to him becoming a Fay was that all of the maladies he sustained as a living being vanished!” We chuckled slightly, but neither of us could think of any avenue in which we could have carried on this topic, so we sat in an awkward silence once more. After a minute or two, Aidan conversed, “So, a Hawaiian doctor is gonna examine you? That’s pretty cool!”

“Not really!” I refuted. “He’s a doctor who happens to live in Hawaii- he’s not any different than a mainland doctor! What, do you imagine he’s gonna come in with hula gear on or something?”

“Sorry I’m late!” A tall and extremely stocky man entered wearing a white lab coat, board shorts with a tropical, floral print, and a bare chest! He moved his braided ponytail out of the way of his stethoscope, and his sandals squeaked as he moved across the floor! “Festival practice ran long!”

I retracted my previous statement to Aidan, “Then again, maybe he is uniquely Hawaiian!”

The doctor offered, “I can change into sandals if it this bothers you, but I figured expediency would be a greater priority.”

“This is fine! Let’s get this over with!” My heart started pumping wildly as I wondered about all of the different possibilities of my conditions’ origin, and I didn’t want to wait a second longer than I had to in order to confirm what I suspected!

“Right! Well, I’m Doctor Makalo Iona, nice to meet you!” He shook my hand as well as Aidan’s, and then he sat on a stool and scanned a file. “You must be Mister and Missus Swetinbedde.”

I couldn’t resist getting choked up from this! It was difficult enough acting like a married couple prior to my readiness to say my vows, but now we were these newlyweds with an infant possibly in the works! And we would have to raise him or her in that hayloft with eight other people and eight cats too! Maybe nine if the shelter permitted Mom to keep Jinx! All of the milestones I thought I had a choice on got rushed, and I didn’t even have the comfort of my true home to fall back on! It sort of irritated me that I began crying since I worried that this might slow the process down! I needed to hear the bad news quickly so I could grab a tray of brownies and nurse my emotional wounds immediately!

Aidan rushed to my side and put his arms around my shoulders, and Doctor Iona pat my hand sympathetically. “Hey, hey! It’s going to be okay! ” Doctor Iona reassured me. “Whatever the results are, we’ll take care of it! Alright?” He seemed so confident in obtaining a solution that I ceased my sobbing, and once he saw that, he instructed, “Go ahead and lift up your gown so I can examine your belly.”

“Do you hear anything?” Aidan inquired as Doctor Iona placed his stethoscope on various points of my abdomen.

“I can hear her lunch digesting,” Doctor Iona replied. “You’ll have to do a BM in an hour.”

I was slightly relieved to receive a tiny bit of goodness to look forward to! “Oh, finally! It’s been so long!”

Doctor Iona read my file again and asked me, “You’ve been experiencing frequent urination, avoidance of alcohol, and mood swings. Any pain or abnormal periods?”

“Oh, I can’t remember when I last menstruated! It’s been more than a month!” I bit my lip in fears of the outcome of this only leading in a single direction!

“It’s alright- it’s a doctor exam, not a game show! There’s no wrong response!” Doctor Iona ensured me. He took out his wand and informed me, “Hang tight- I’m going to do an imaging spell.”

I gripped Aidan’s hand tightly- too tightly! He wanted to be supportive, but he couldn’t focus on anything else but his pain! Oops! I was too terrified to apologize right then, and after Doctor Iona’s wand floated over my torso, all I could concentrate on was mentally preparing myself for what was doomed to transpire! The wand emitted a white glow as it slowly hovered over me, and once it traveled from one side to another, it floated back into Doctor Iona’s palm. He walked over to a screen behind Aidan, and we braced ourselves for an emotionally ominous impact! Doctor Iona studied the image that developed on the screen, and he gasped, “Oh no!”

Aidan and I grew positively alarmed at this spectacle! I mean, if a physician ever says something like that upon seeing your results, it can’t be anything good! “What? What is it? Is something wrong?” Aidan pressed him.

“Yeah… I have to use the restroom! Excuse me!” He dashed out of the room.

“Wow! Thanks for giving us both heart attacks!” Aidan bitterly muttered.

I requested to Aidan, “Can you see what’s on the slide?” My pulse skyrocketed as he looked at the screen! At least, it did for a flash. After a considerable stretch, I got impatient and grilled him, “Well? What do you see?”

Aidan reported, “Nothing appears human shaped!”

“You know, it takes a while for a fetus to develop human parts,” I illuminated him. “Mom said if I’m eight weeks along, it’ll look like a blueberry.”

“Oh, in that case, there is something there!” Aidan told me with his skin growing pale as a ghost.

“Holy crap! We’re having a child?” I exclaimed in disbelief. Even though this was the result I expected, my brain still didn’t want to accept it. I was leery about Mom bringing another cat into the house, and I didn’t relish bringing another person into that chaos!

Aidan stammered, “We’re… You… There’s multiple masses in there!”

In that instance, I could have sworn that my eyes grew wider than my head! “Multiple masses? So, we’re having twins? Triplets?”

“There’s five there minimum!” Aidan croaked out.

“Five?” I nearly fainted! Laraleigh struggled immensely with her five kids, and she had them all separately! I couldn’t imagine how intense it would be to have them all at once! We would have to buy five cribs and stuff them into our small apartment! Well, when we finally go to leave Witness Protection anyways! I reckoned we could squeeze them into that stupid barn without a fuss! But I didn’t want to do that! I severely wanted to go back to my old life as a detective by day and a supportive girlfriend at night! That was never going to happen ever again though! I realized my entire lifestyle was about to get altered- again! Nothing would ever return to what made me happiest!
I started bawling again when Doctor Iona re-entered into the vicinity. He espied Aidan’s position, and he jocularly commented, “Ah! You cheated!”

Aidan disputed that, “No, her ex cheated! I never… Oh, you meant the image! Well, now we know we’re about to to parents to… uh, five-tuplets? I don’t know the word for it!”

“It’s quintuplets,” Doctor Iona educated him. “And you’re not having quintuplets. You’re not having a baby at all!”

“So, what is it? Some kind of curse?” I puzzled. I wouldn’t have put it past Wade to pull a stunt like that as a cruel joke and/or to keep me distracted from his activity! I began to wonder if his silhouette showed up in Kai Lawai’a to do more than buy a bag of flies…

Doctor Iona announced, “You have fibroids. They’re basically small tumors. Don’t freak out!” He beheld our horrified faces, and prior to us exhibiting a strong reaction, he explained, “They’re benign, and actually, they’re super common! Up ot eighty percent of women have them and don’t know it! Most of t he time, they show up and just hang out there. Kinda like a wart!”

I asked him, “So, my uterus will simply have to settle for being pop marked like an ugly, old witch?”

“No,” Doctor Iona answered. “You’re one of the cases where they start to grow and cause uncomfortable symptoms. We’re going to have to remove them, but you should count yourself lucky!”

“Uh-huh… This outta be good!” I sardonically remarked.

Doctor Iona asserted, “You’re lucky ’cause you came to ME with this issue! Not to toot my own horn… Well, maybe a little! But many other ob/gyn’s don’t have the surgical skill to remove fibroids! Several will advise their patients to get pregnant fast, and in a few years, it’ll grow enough where they have to take their entire uterus out! You get to keep yours and have a baby when you please! And you’re lucky that they’re fairly small ones, so the surgery won’t be too complicated! Once, I had a lady with a fibroid the size of a watermelon!”

Aidan’s jaw dropped, and I begrudgingly admitted, “Fine, that was pretty good!”

“I have an open spot this Friday,” Doctor Iona let us know. “Or at least I will when I cancel festival practice. Mahina really needs the extra work, but it’ll be solid overall! Ugh, I hope she practices what she can on her own!”

“Maybe you can get someone else to run the practice,” Aidan suggested.

Doctor Iona rubbed his chin contemplatively. “Hmm… Ricky might be able to, but he’s so timid when it comes to taking charge…”

Aidan advocated, “Maybe Ricky would do great as a leader and just needs someone to give him a chance!”

“Perhaps…” Doctor Iona considered this notion.

“Um, hello? Can we get back to me and my ugly uterus?” I vociferated to get their attention.

Doctor Iona shook his focus off of that situation, and then he instructed me, “Come in at noon on Friday. Don’t eat anything for eight hours before that juncture! Do you have any questions?”

Aidan posed to him, “Can you prescribe something for the pain?”

“Sure, how much pain are you in, Missus Swetinbedde?” Doctor Iona opened up his prescription pad and readied himself to write something down.

“I don’t need anything, I’ll feel fantasti in an hour when I have that BM!” I contemplated that sentence for a moment, and then I altered my sentiments, “What am I saying? I’m having surgery in a couple of days! That’s not something I even dreamt up in my nightmares! True, I suffered worse fates than that in my worst dreams, but still! It’s absolutely frightening to have to have my body cut open like that! Yeah, I originally believed I was gonna give birth, so I guess either way, I was doomed to have something extracted from me!”

Doctor Iona consoled me, “It’s only a small incision, and then magic does the rest.”

That didn’t comfort me much. I felt grateful that I didn’t have a bun in the oven when the kitchen was essentially on fire, but this circumstance wasn’t optimal either! I wasn’t ready to become a mommy, but I wasn’t ready for an operation either! “Are we done here?”

“We’re done here,” Doctor Iona confirmed.

“Hold on! We’re not done yet!” Aidan differed. “That pain medicine question was for me!”

Aidan motioned towards the extremity I clutched with too much force, and normally, I would have begged for forgiveness for that, but I was rather preoccupied in that instance! While Doctor Iona acquiesced to his wish, I slipped out into the hallway. It seemed like the receptionist was motioning towards the billing department, but I planned on letting Aidan take care of that. Right then, I needed to be alone and figure out where this procedure fit into the rest of the pandemonium that comprised my existence!

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 26

As Aidan and I walked through the dirt road surrounded by stone houses with thatched roofs, we scanned the crowd to pick out a target. So far, no one in that village was shunning us, but nobody seemed to slow down enough to pay us any mind! Finally, we espied a woman in a green smock sweeping near a row of fruit stands, and we decided to approach her. We had barely moved an inch when Laraleigh jumped in front of our pathway! She excitedly regarded us, “Guess what I found!” 

“A certain wanted criminal?” I didn’t really believe that was a feasible possibility, but I couldn’t picture myself getting thrilled by anything else at that juncture!

“Postal coconuts!” Laraleigh gushed.

Aidan noted, “You say that like we’re supposed to know what that means!”

Laraleigh avidly explained, “They’re coconuts that you can send in the mail! Like, without a package! You can write on them like they’re postcards and then put them in the post! Isn’t that wild?”

“You didn’t actually send one, did you?” I pressed her. “We can’t communicate with anyone outside of the island- it would give away our position!”

“I know that! I sent one to Lani Noni just ‘cause I could! I bet Minna’ll get a kick of that!” Laraleigh grinned at the concept.

Aidan differed, “No, she’ll assume it’s a love note from some dude even if you signed it and didn’t put any romantic words there.”

Laraleigh shrugged. “Whatever! I’m having too much fun with a kid-free trip to let anything bother me!” She spun around in circles with her arms open wide until she crashed into a large, rather gruff looking man. “Sorry!”

“Watch it, you dumb, blonde bimbo!” he growled.

“Still not bothered! Whoo!” Laraleigh resumed her festive movements.

I told Aidan, “I’m assuming her husband doesn’t do much babysitting!”

My sentence was said quietly, but Laraleigh still heard me and suddenly grew motionless and despondent. “He works for twelve hours a day sometimes, so I never ask! When he does volunteer, he falls asleep and, well, you can imagine what sort of trouble the children get into under that circumstance! God, I miss that sleepy hunk!”

“Ah, there is something that can spoil your kid-free day!” Aidan pointed out.

“Butthead!” Laraleigh spat.

Aidan shot back, “Don’t call me names!”

Laraleigh countered, “Stop being mean!”

“Quit fighting! For Pete’s sake, you’re both in your forties!” my mom resurfaced and admonished them.

“What is that?” I stared at a cloth bundle that she cradled in her arms.

She uncovered a portion of it, which revealed a black cat! “Isn’t he cute!”

I bellowed, “No! Well, yes! But that doesn’t matter! You have eight cats already! And between our farmwork and cooking and taking care of your already large swarm of cats, you’re exhausted enough! Do you really wanna add to that list of chaos?”

Mom confirmed, “Yeah!” I gave her a reproachful look, and she elaborated, “He’s alone and scared! What am I supposed to do? Just leave him out here?”

“Yes! Especially since he might belong to someone!” I argued.

“He’s too skinny to be owned!” Mom bickered.

Aidan put in, “He doesn’t seem very malnourished to me! I think you got too used to your fat felines!”

Mom remarked, “That’s my ex’s fault! He fed them like they were babies!”

“And yet he had issues with sharing food with me!” I recalled.

“Oh, please let him stay! I’ve already named him Jinx!” Mom beseeched us.

Aidan advised her, “The proper procedure for this sort of dilemma is to take it to the shelter and see if anyone is missing a pet.”

Mom acquiesced, “Alright, that’s fair. My ex and I used to find ours on the side of the road and stuff, and it never occurred to us to do that! Huh, I wonder how many people’s kitties we stole…”

“You talk about your ex a lot,” Aidan observed.

“So do you!” Mom riposted.

Aidan contested that, “It’s not my fault- I got forced to live with her!”

As they squabbled, I decided to be productive and searched for an individual to interrogate about the mo’o. While I did that, my eyes were drawn to a dark corner of the block. The shadowy mass stood upright, and I instantly recognized it as that same silhouette that’s been haunting me during the whole duration of us residing in Hawaii! He held up a bag that he retrieved off of the floor, and it looked as though the vessel held dozens of flies! “What the hell?” I puzzled.

The dim figure overheard my incredulous reaction, and after craning his neck to confirm the source of the sound, he took off! I couldn’t get any of the others’ attention in time, so I shouted, “Somebody get him!” as I followed his movements.

“Thief! Come back!” I commanded as I tailed him. I didn’t have enough knowledge on his previous actions to discern whether or not I had delivered a fib, but I expressed that phrasing to get bypassers to side with me for once! I was hoping that at least one good samaritan would support my effort, and thankfully, a few citizens attempted to capture him also! I normally wouldn’t have involved the community with a perilous feat, but I didn’t esteem that I could do it on my own! Not with a child’s wand! And if I truly was pregnant, I would have had someone precious to protect! He swerved into a dark alley, and I prayed that I hadn’t convinced innocent victims to stumble into a trap!

“We don’t know where he went!” a fellow reported to me as soon as I caught up.

I inquired, “What do you mean? It’s a dead end, and you were right behind him, you had to have seen it!”

He replied, “Well, I didn’t! There was a flash, and he was gone!”

A woman picked an item up and petitioned me, “Is this what he stole from you?”

She had collected the bag of flies from the foot of a cinderblock wall, and I had no choice but to claim, “Yes, I need these! They’re super important!”

“Why?” a little boy pondered.

“Uh…” My thoughts whirled around profusely in an attempt to unearth an excuse, and with my focus on our unofficial case, all I could produce was… “It’s a gift for the mo’o!” Everybody stared at me blankly, so I clarified, “The mo’o from Lake Ana Wai! It left, and I’m trying to get it to come back so my farm can prosper again!”

A little girl stated, “That’s not how you get a mo’o back!”

I implored her, “How do you get a mo’o back?” I spotted Aidan at the edge of the crowd, and I proclaimed, “Kennedy! I got our flies!”

“Oh, wonderful! We need those!” Aidan articulated with as much normalcy in his voice as he could, but hie baffled eyes indicated to me that this scenario made no sense to him whatsoever.

“If someone offends a mo’o, they’ve committed a grave offense. Only a powerful gesture of goodwill could tempt them to return,” an elderly lady sagely educated us.

That made me inwardly snicker- if Wade was striving to persuade the mo’o to reappear, he was probably getting frustrated with a lack of response from a creature turned off by his evil heart! Aidan woefully commented, “But we’re trying to replace the gift that got stolen from it, shouldn’t that be enough?”

An elderly man queried, “You don’t know much about the mo’o, do you?”

“No!” Aidan admitted. “We’d gladly fetch the water guardian its gift, but we have no inkling where someone could have hidden it! Do you know?”

“Uh, sorry guys!” Samena arrived in the alleyway and changed the subject prior to anyone having the ability to illuminate us on our interest. “I hate to interrupt, but-.”

I cut her off, “No, you don’t! You love interfering with our research!” I folded my arms and gazed at her contemptuously. I didn’t bother with any congenial formalities- it was obvious she was trying to meddle with our affairs! I couldn’t fathom her motive for doing so either except it might have benefited some Fay Folks, and that premise irked me even further!

Samena pleasantly ensured me, “No, no! You’ve got me all wrong! First of all, I was notified of a robbery in this vicinity…”

“The prick got away, but we got our belongings back” Aidan held up the bag of flies for her to view, and when she ogled at him peculiarly, he defended against her acumen, “What? We need these for our job!”

“No judgment here!” Samena relayed what I could only assume was a lie based on her visage. “Can I get a description?”

I retorted, “No, you may not!” She seemed startled by my brazenness until I added, “No one saw him. He wore a dark hood that covered his face. All I can say is he’s about six feet tall and a medium build.”

Samena descried, “That could be anyone!”

“Tell me about it!” I got forcibly reminded of when this anonymous villain showed up in my murder case, and I vividly remembered how devastatingly frustrating it became to have so little to go on regarding my lead suspect! I hated to give Samena any amount of sympathy of any kind, but I couldn’t resist the urge to pity her plight a bit!

“The main problem got solved… We got our valuables back!” Aidan pat the bag of flies, which Samean strove to appear understanding on.

I asked Samena, “So, we’re done now, right?”

She answered, “Hold on! Before you take off, I gotta get details of the incident.” I cringed as she pulled out her notebook, and I begged the universe to keep her questions to a minimum!

“How did it start?” Samena posed to us.

“We had the flies, and then we didn’t!” Aidan lamely narrated to her.

Samena surmised, “He snatched it from your possession?”

Aidan teased her, “Isn’t that how robberies work?”

“He didn’t threaten you or anything?” Samena catchized.

“Not today,” I conveyed that like a joke, but in reality, assuming that I was correct about Wade, my reply was accurate!

Samena enquired, “How did he get away?”

I gave her a confused gesture. “There was a flash, and he was gone.” She didn’t initially buy that story, but since the spectators around us vouched for our accuracy, she had no option but to believe us. Their willing cooperation made me feel less guilty about involving them in this potentially perilous process! No one got hurt, and they abetted our credibility! I glanced at my watch, and when I saw the hour, I brought up, “Listen, I have a doctor appointment to get to, so we gotta go!”

“Take this!” Samena shoved a business card into our eyesight preceding our departure. “If you think of any other details, call me!”

“Fine!” I accepted the card in order to expedite our exit, and after I tossed it into my purse, Aidan and I headed out of the scene.

As we grew distant from Samena, she hollered, “If you feel like talking about anything else, contact me anytime!”

We traversed down a couple of blocks, and when we were positive we had gone out of her earshot, Aidan threw the bag of flies in a nearby trashcan while I griped, “Did your sister send her a coconut to announce the plans we made yesterday or something? How does she always know where we are?”

“Let’s not fixate on her,” Aidan suggested. “We have a monumental procedure to prepare for! We might leave the clinic as parents, and…” He beheld the terrified expression on my face, and he grew quite nervous himself, so he altered his tune, “On second thought, let’s just bash Samena some more…”

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 25

“You shouldn’t do that!” my mom cautioned me as I sat on the counter to eat a pint of ice cream.

“Is that an actual rule, or did your cats cause you to start saying that by habit whenever anyone goes up here?” I asked her.

Mom poured a box of macaroni into a boiling pot, and then she answered, “Both! But I was actually referring to your dessert. Dairy isn’t good for you when you’re nauseous.”

I bitterly filled her in, “I’m not nauseous! The Hekekias said they didn’t want me to return to work ‘til I’ve been cleared to safely do so by a doctor!”

“You sound angry about that?” Mom observed.

“I’m not! I’m just irritated that the new owners of Lopaka’s ranch can talk about the mo’o without a detective up their ass!” I delivered that in a joking manner, and that wasn’t the true cause of my dampened sentiment, but that sincerely did irk me!

Mason gasped, “Ooh! My teacher heard you swear!”

I refuted that assertion, “Ass is another word for donkey, and I’m a farmer now, so…”

“You seemed pissed when you left the field!” Mom argued.

“Did I? I thought I was acting calm and collected,” I asserted.

Mom differed, “You growled! Like an actual growl! And your stomping left holes in the dirt!”

That assessment surprised me slightly. “Wow! And that was me showing restraint!”

“I didn’t think you cared for this agricultural stuff so much!” Mom’s brows furrowed as she stirred the noodles.

“Skipping a day of fruitless labor doesn’t bother me in the slightest! I…” I hesitated in revealing more. Aidan and I kept our findings for this mystery exclusive between the two of us as a matter of precaution, and while I trusted my mother completely, I was prudent to keep the amount of people who were privy to this information to a minimum because the more individuals who knew these secrets, the greater the odds were of an enemy discovering our movements. Even if someone fully intends to maintain confidence on something, sometimes things spread incidentally! I had to give her something though since I doubted that Mom would let this go without a distraction coming along to convince her to let it escape her mind! I probably could have used Harper’s diversionary tactics in this instance, but she was busy writing away for school! Or doodling devious drawings in an effort to fool the instructor into believing she was taking notes. Either way, she was busy, so I had to come up with a solution on my own! I had to tell my mom something without really uttering much of anything, so I mulled it over and eventually chose the most plausible possibility that I could unearth, “Learning about Kaleo and Kalani was much more interesting than listening to what they’re learning…”

Jackson spoke into his headset, “The equation is not linear because the graph formed from its plot points does not pass the vertical line test…”

Mom kidded, “You don’t find pre-algebra fascinating?”

“I didn’t even enjoy paying attention to it when I studied it a decade ago! No, two decades ago! No, a little more than two decades ago… Dang, I’m old” I realized with a sigh.

“It’s okay, sweetie!” Mom consoled me. “There’s plenty of older moms out there who thrive equally as much as younger ones!”

Her comment made me choke on my snack! Willow exclaimed, “Uh-oh! She’s throwing up again!”

I denied that, “No, I’m fine!” I articulated to Mom, “I haven’t thought that far ahead yet. I’m waiting to see what Doctor Iona says tomorrow. If I am pregnant, I’ll freak out about my age and giving birth and stuff! Meanwhile, I have enough to freak out about without a baby looming in my future! Like my boyfriend is out there doing a shift with his stalker for crying out loud!”

“Oh, Aidan loves you too much to do anything with her!” Mom ensured me.

“Even if he didn’t have me in his life, he doesn’t care for her at all! I’m not concerned about that whatsoever!” I responded as I scraped the bottom of the rocky road’s container. “How’s he supposed to get anything done under that circumstance? And how many jolts can that woman receive without needing medical attention?”

Mom inquired, “Why do you care about that?”

I replied, “Well, I may not like that lunatic much, but that doesn’t mean I want her to get hurt!”

“No, I meant why do you care whether or not they get any farming done?” Mom challenged me. “You’d leave immediately whether they succeeded or not, so why does it bother you if their production is low?”

“Well, it’s not like I want Lani Noni to fail, I simply… Well…” I admonished myself for allowing that bit of insight slip out! I was concerned about Aidan getting intelligence for our unofficial case, but I obviously couldn’t tell her that, so I had to concoct another realistic explanation for my behavior. I wracked my brain to obtain results right away, but it went blank! I almost panicked, but fortunately for me, I espied something on the stove that would deter her from continuing along with this line of questioning. “Your pot is boiling over!”

My mom swiftly tended to her cooking, and I slid off the sink so she could more easily strain out the water that was left. After I got down, Kinsey approached me and requested, “My teacher wants to talk to you.”

I grimaced at this notion. Why would someone from their school want to speak with her uncle’s girlfriend? They don’t usually call parents over for anything good, so whatever she intended to discuss with me couldn’t have been very swell! I tentatively verified this with her, “With me? Are you sure?”

Kinsey nodded, and I surged with nervousness once I got this confirmation that it hadn’t been a mistake on her part! I apprehensively followed her to her laptop until I noticed her notes on public hangings from the colonial days, then I was positive as to why an educator would seek my insight! I sat down, and a very mousy and slightly older lady waited for me with a less than genial expression on her face. I awkwardly smiled and waved, but she didn’t return the gesture. “How’s it going? Beautiful day, huh?” I cringed at my choice of icebreaker! She likely wasn’t in the same state as me, so I expected a biting remark regarding that err!

“You’re one of her guardians, Missus Swetinbedde?” she petitioned me.

“Call me Sophia,” I invited her to do so without a hint of enthusiasm- I grew weary of this alias! Sophia Swetinbedde lived a far from ideal lifestyle and had no options on how to live it! I couldn’t wait until I could go back to introducing myself as Shannon again!

The teacher’s stern tone didn’t waver in the slightest as she relayed to me, “Missus Swetinbedde, I have something I would like to notify you of…”

I told her, “Listen, if this is about her constantly mentioning dead people, it’s probably my fault! My job deals with…” I almost took another misstep, but luckily, I stopped myself prior to me stating anything incriminating! But how would I tie in fatalities with my current occupation in an orchard? “…Fays, and you know, they’re…”

“Yes, I’m aware of their heinous activities,” the teacher affirmed. I earnestly wanted to protest her unfair judgment on Fay Folks, but then she went on, “And I wasn’t aware of her, um, strange interest! I’m a history teacher, so all of my subjects are deceased! No, this is about something much more important. Kinsey… Hey, have we met before?”

“I don’t think so!” It perplexed me as to how she reckoned that she previously met me! She didn’t resemble any of the figures I had run into recently! Not unless she was the one who I had seen in that hooded silhouette…

She queried, “Have you ever been to Anaknock, Maryland?”

This reference caused me to choke again, but this time it was on my own spit! If she knew my hometown, then she might have recognized me as somebody other than Sophia! “I live in Hawaii…”

“My niece, Aubrey, lives out there, and you look like a person who’s in a lot of her photos!” one of my best friend’s aunts insisted.

“You don’t say…!” I strove to stay nonchalant, but inwardly, I was shook up! We couldn’t get our true identities found out! That would compromise our safety! Maybe! I steadfastly held onto the premise that Wade was already here, but still! I didn’t want the complication of starting over with all new backgrounds in a new and possibly even more remote region! I had to get off and report this security breach to Agent Hearne pronto! Which was kind of annoying! Wasn’t his team supposed to prevent these events from transpiring? “I gotta go!”

She made an urgent bid to persuade me not to leave, “Don’t go yet! I’ve got to tell you that Kinsey-!” I cut her off by shutting the laptop closed. I felt a bit bad for my rudeness, but whatever Kinsey did couldn’t have been as egregious as her teacher’s hazy remembrance of my true identity! Probably! I mean, how much trouble can a youth get into in an online course? Mom announced that the youngsters’ lunch was ready, and I snuck out the backdoor with my cellphone in my hand…

Agent Hearne hastily greeted me, “Missus Swetinbedde, what’s going on? Are you under attack?” 

“Huh? Oh, that! Nah, that’s how the imps always sound at mealtime,” I reassured him. “And I’m somewhere private, can we drop the Swetinbedde thing?”

“Fine,” Agent Hearne complied. “So, what’s going on, Miss Vidette?”

I revealed, “Kinsey’s teacher recognized me! She’s related to my friend and former neighbor that lives in Brigid’s Garden Mobile Home Park.”

Agent Hearne reacted in shock, “But we checked out everyone! No one should have any connection to you!”

“Well, this lady did!” I was glad he couldn’t catch a glimpse of my visage because I did not have the patience for any egotistical stubbornness, and it showed!

“Hmm… I better check into this! Which teacher was it?”

I conveyed to him, “I dunno. Kinsey’s history teacher. I didn’t catch her name.”

Agent Hearne enquired, “Why were you speaking with her?”

“No clue! We never got to the part where she discussed some important news with me.”

“Alright, I think I found her… Huh!”

I petitioned him, “What? Did she broadcast our location to everyone and now we have to move somewhere else?” I didn’t bother to disguise my disgust over this scenario. Oh sure, I would’ve hated to not have solved the enigma of how Lake Ana Wai disappeared, but I could have fought our nemesis on better turf! He knew I didn’t want to be here in the first place, so there was no point in pretending I liked it here with him! I imagined other people in Witness Protection were more grateful to him for keeping them secure, but unlike the rest, I was willing to risk danger! At least when it came to protecting my family and my community! I wondered if the next attempt to conceal us would have proven more effective or if that prick would find us at our new hiding spot too…

Agent Hearne let me know, “No, no! We have procedures to mitigate this sort of mishap.”

“Oh!” My disappointment was heavily present when I verbalized that phrase.

“Kinsey’s failing her classes,” Agent Hearne informed me. “”They all are! How does anyone fail kindergarten?”

I discerned, “That’s probably what she was gonna say to me before I hung up.”

Agent Hearne conversed, “I’ll let you know if we receive any more updates on Mister Toonella’s case. I thought I got close to him the other day, but it turned out to just be an open sewer!”

This anecdote didn’t amuse me to any degree, but I detected the actions in the abode heightening in volume, so I decided to end the conversation and go investigate. “Okie dokie, bye!”

I wasn’t certain if he had more to discuss, but I hung up on an individual for the second instance within that hour! An increase in cacophony in that cottage could not have signified anything pleasant! I ran inside, and to my startlement, Minna as well as Aidan and Laraleigh had returned! “Minna used her magic to get the tasks done, so the Hekekias told us we could leave early!” Aidan clarified my obvious confusion in this development.

“Ugh! They’re really trying to distance themselves from us!” I grumped.

“So?” Laraleigh stared at me in bafflement as to why I would ask such a thing.

Once again, I wa at a loss for words on my conduct! I considered drumming up another excuse, but instead, I opted to proclaim, “Um, I’ve got something to tell you…”

Laraleigh countered that, “Hold on, we’ve got something to tell you first…”

Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 24

In the midst of all of the chaos that the kids were creating, I heard Aidan call out, “Shannon? Shannon? Where are you?”

“She’s probably in her closet,” Minna let him know from upstairs. “I’d hide in there too if my chair would fit!”

“Did you give these monsters something sweet?” Aidan asked in an accusatory manner.

“No! The package said those popsicles were sugar-free!” Minna aggravatedly answered him.

I assumed that Aidan didn’t respond because he was uncertain whether he should believe her or not. He didn’t say anything, and a few seconds later, he unceremoniously burst into the closet with me and rapidly closed the curtain as though that thin veil would protect us from the ravenous running. He joined me on the floor and observed, “Well, I don’t see any barf buckets, so that must mean you’re feeling better!”

Cracking the tiniest of grins, I kidded, ‘Physically, sure.”

“How long has that been going on?” Aidan indicated to the ruckus occurring within feet of us.

“About an hour. Once they finished their homework, Minna gave them permission to get a healthy snack. The label really did say they were sugar-free,” I vouched for Minna’s claim. Aidan stared at the hyper activity both in confusion and exasperation, and then I urged him, “Tell me what you learned from the Hekekias today! You promised me results, and I’m dying to hear them!”

I didn’t sincerely expect all of the facts that Aidan vowed to collect in my absence, although that would have been amazing if he did! I would have loved to have obtained the identity of the person responsible for the taking of the mo’o’s gift, an offense that made  him or her drain Lake Ana Wai, in order for us to confront them  tomorrow instead of another day of drudgery on the farm, but to prevent a monumental disappointment, I kept my expectations low. Aidan didn’t ac as though he had any juicy gossip to spill, but he didn’t behave like he developed a sense of guilt for coming home empty handed either, so I grew quite interested in the wisdom that he intended to impart on me! Aidan relayed to me, “Honestly, Laraleigh started pining for her husband ‘cause she hasn’t been able to speak to him in a week and a half, and then your mom was like, ‘Oh, I don’t miss my husband at all!’ And then she spent ninety percent of the time complaining about Wade! I guess she had a lot of pent up anger about him!”

My eyes went wide upon hearing that. “She talked about Wade?”

“Don’t worry! She didn’t mention any of the murders he committed!” Aidan assured me. “Oddly enough, that was the one thing she didn’t gripe about…”

“It’d have to be her trying to follow the Witness Protection guidelines! Or maybe since she didn’t know he was doing it, it didn’t drive her crazy,” I reasoned. “If It were Kinsey’s husband, maybe I’d worry…”

Aidan shuddered. “Don’t jinx it! Let’s not have history repeat itself!”

I knocked on the wooden wall next to me and expressed, “Let’s hope she’s in killers due to a desire to work in law enforcement like us! I was fascinated by crime solving when I was her age! Not specifically murder, but still! So, you didn’t get anything useful for our little, unofficial case?”

“No, I got a little something! It’s not the groundbreaking clue I was hoping to deliver to you though! Sorry for that!” Aidan apologized.

“Forget about it! Just explain what you did find out,” I recommended.

Aidan took a deep breath, but prior to him uttering out a single word, we got our eardrums rattled by Laraleigh bellowing, “Calm down and be quiet this instance or I swear, I’ll make you all unable to make noise ever again!”

I was positive that the children knew that she was using hyperbole, but the seriousness of her tone motivated them to obey her order. Aidan and I peeked out the curtain to discern whether or not they’d keep this up, and we espied everyone standing around awkwardly. Mom broke the silence by announcing, “We brought home pizza!” The youngsters became pretty excited, but she warned them, “If you misbehave during dinner, your mother says you’re going to bed without supper!”

Harper promised, “We’ll be good!”

They weren’t! Though admittedly, they weren’t as insolent as usual! They were just very voluminous and voluble! And any moment they zipped their lips, my mom opened her mouth up! Apparently, she didn’t get her fill of grievances against Wade during her workshift! Then Mom made the mistake of describing the cashier at the pizza shop as a lookalike to some movie star who peaked in the eighties- Minna found him on social media, and then she decided that they were soulmates! Even if Aidan and I attempted to go in a private corner and discuss the news he learned, we would have hardly been able to hear each other! Nobody got quiet until bedtime, and we were too sleepy to talk about anything, so I laid there wondering what on earth Aidan meant to share with me!

I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, and when I returned to our pushed-together cots, I glared at Aidan with a slight envy! Oh sure, it was easy for him to slumber- he already knew what the secret was! As I inwardly grumbled, a twig snapping outside caught my attention! Initially, I thought it might have been a wild animal or that stupid goat from next door again, and I was prepared to ignore it and go back to striving to get a sufficient rest, but then I detected soft murmuring in the near distance! Someone was out there! Was it Samena scoping out our abode, or did Wade discover a method of entering the premises and plotted to strike us down at this late hour when our defenses were down? Whoever it was may have believed they were making a move at a juncture of low opposition, but they would shortly find out how wrong they were! I grabbed my wand and tiptoed down the stairs…

The whispers I perceived didn’t sound aggressive at all- they actually seemed rather ethereal and creepy like a ghost! Or at least how I imagined a ghost to project themselves, I never saw any who weren’t actor portrayals! I felt positive that this individual had a true human form, and even if they had no other purpose there than to enact some strange ritual, they were still trespassing and had to get dealt with! I didn’t see anything different from the norm, but there was a soft glow emanating from around the corner! I opened the door as softly as possible, and I crept towards the perpetrator’s area. They had ceased their mutterings, so I knew they must have sensed my presence! Perhaps I was heading straight into a fierce combat…

“Freeze! Police, don’t move!” I shouted as I jumped into their vicinity.

“Aah!” Minna screamed at my abruptness. When she realized it was me, she grumped, “You know, you’re not a police officer in the Relocation Program!”

I ought to have held gratitude that I did not encounter a violent confrontation, but it annoyed me to have my adrenaline built up like that for whatever nonsense she had just set in motion! I stashed my wand back in my pocket, and then I somewhat vexedly addressed her, “Fair point, but you evoked my cop instincts! What the hell are you doing over here?”

Minna lied, “Uh… I’m sleep-walking!” I ogled her in a fashion that clearly communicated that I didn’t buy her statement whatsoever, so she confessed, “Alright! I was trying to call the Night Marchers over to come get me!”

“Listen, I’m not gonna let you off yourself!” I articulated to her in a serious tone. I recalled that suicidal tendencies were common amongst those with severe mental health issues, but it really stunned me to see this in her! She had always appeared too determined in her missions to even consider this! I didn’t care much for her, but I couldn’t let her go that route! “Thank goodness those beings don’t actually exist!”

“They do exist! But I’m not planning on joining them in the afterlife! I simply… Well, those souls have been wandering the planet for thousands of years, and I feel like at least one of those men would be lonely enough to seek some companionship…” She trailed off as she gazed dreamily at the stars.

I vociferated, “For Heaven’s sake! You’re trying to drum up a romance with a spirit? What about your pizza guy or the hundred other dudes you call romeo?”

Minna unabashedly responded, “The heart is an ever-changing, fickle beast that can’t be tamed!”

“What in the f does that mean?” I read my share of poetry when I was in high school, so I wasn’t incapable of interpreting flowery language, but it was too late and I was too tired to summon the patience to make a bid at understanding this drivel!

“I…” Prior to Minna completing her explanation or even her sentence, she erupted in a shower of electric convulsions!

“Sorry!” Aidan stepped out onto the stoop with a remorseful visage. “If I had any idea the two of you were hanging out together, I would’ve stayed inside! I just never dreamt that this was even a remote possibility!”

Minna rolled herself out of his range, and then she wildly asserted, “Ah, I see my first paramour has engulfed himself in jealousy! If you remove this restraining order spell, we can-.”

Aidan barked, “Will you keep it down? You’re gonna wake up the Hekekias!”

“He’s heartbroken!” Minna cooed.

“She’s trying to date an Ancient Hawaiian apparition,” I briefed him. Aidan seemed perplexed by that, so I advised him, “Don’t try to make sense of it!”

Aidan heeded my word, and then he directed Minna, “Get in the house! We’re not supposed to go outdoors at night!”

Minna pointed out, “I can’t if you’re next to the entryway!”

Aidan gritted his teeth as he begrudgingly budged. He moved a considerable stretch from the building, and Minna forlornly went into the cottage. While she remained in my proximity, she requested, “If anyone shows up, will you come get me?”

“Absolutely!” I swore, and when she got far from my scope, I added, “Not!”

When Aidan reappeared on the porch, I shut the door and beseeched him, “Since it’s finally peaceful and we’re alone, describe the intelligence you gathered earlier! Quickly so we don’t get interrupted again!”

“Anela resurfaced in the garden,” Aidan revealed to me. When he beheld my bewildered expression, he reassured me, “There’s more! As Lopaka retrieved her, he got into an argument with Kaleo and Kalani about property, and then Lopaka yelled that he couldn’t wait to get out of this neighborhood!”

I surmised, “He decided to sell the ranch afterall?”

“Yes, but there’s more!” Aidan disclosed. “He was like, ‘Even if the new owners can bring the lake back, your farm will still probably fail!’ as he stormed off!”

“Ouch! That’s a harsh thing to…!” It suddenly dawned on me what significance that event held! “Hold on, the new owners wanna restore the water?”

Aidan assessed, “I doubt he would’ve said that otherwise.”

My mind reeled from this information! It wouldn’t have surprised me in the least bit if Wade purchased land next to us in order to breach our boundaries! I couldn’t fathom how he would’ve obtained the financing for this feat, but I could picture him roosting by us so he could bypass the security measures and ambush us whenever we left the premises! I didn’t voice this to Aidan though because I was in no mood to argue on whether or not that reprobate was on the island, so instead, I opined, “It sounds like we have to have a conversation with the newest residents of the region…”

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 23

“Something stolen?” Kalani puzzled. “The mo’o don’t often have many, if any, possessions…”

That response was unacceptable! The cashier wouldn’t have made something like that up! Okay, so I didn’t know her well enough to vouch for the honesty in her character, I didn’t even know her name, but I doubted that she would have invented a wild story for us! What would the point have been? To fool us and dissuade me from coming back for those purses I wanted to hold? She sounded pretty certain that this mo’o had something go missing!

Kalani’s face contorted as though she had a sudden flashback of knowledge on the subject, and she supposedly recalled, “Oh, she could have been referring to the makana makamae…”

“Yeah, that’s what she called it! What is that thing?” I pressed her.

“Kalani, can you come here for a minute?” Kaleo’s expression looked fairly angry and possibly even slightly frightened too!

After setting the bag of plant food down, Kalani acquiesced, “Of course, ipo!”

Prior to her scuttling off and avoiding this discussion, I grabbed her arm and told her, “Oh, no! I’m not gonna have two people leave me in suspense like that! Tell me what it is or… well… Oh! I’ll have the Bamboocha Bungalow sell those purses to someone else!”

Kalani discerned the determination I held on this topic from my brazen eyes, so she begrudgingly relented, “Alright, alright! A makana makamae is a sacred gift usually given to the recipient by the gods. Don’t ask me what the mo’o’s makana makamae was- it could be anything! Really, no one is even certain about the mo’o’s appearance, so how would anyone know what its gift is?”

I definitely had more questions, but both Kalani and Kaleo seemed impatient to chat about… whatever, so I loosened my grip on her. The pair of them went a considerable distance for a private discourse, which prompted me to spread the plant food around more quickly. I had a hunch that I touched a nerve with them, and I was dying to hear their reaction to this interaction! If this tidbit had been the motive for them trying to hide from me, then I reasoned that they must have harbored the identity of the person responsible for the disappearing lake! If I could just learn their name, I could confront them and find out where they hid this object! It would restore the vibrancy of this region to have their water source return, and it may have foiled whatever sinister plot Wade had up his sleeves! The Hekekias would directly benefit from the renaissance following the completion of this enigma, so why would they keep any knowledge of this event a secret? What consequence could have been worse than the financial ruin from their failed farm? My curiosity was rapt, and that sentiment only heightened the closer I got to them! Right when I started to get within inches of them though…

A loud bell rang from the front of their house! Everyone glanced around in confusion- even the Hekekias! Once we collected ourselves, Kaleo announced, “We have a visitor! Huh, it’s been so long that I forgot what that noise sounded like! We’ll be right back!”

“Is that my romeo?” Minna popped out of our cottage and glanced towards the anterior of the property with a fervid anticipation.

“Which romeo are you talking about” Laraleigh thought about it and then changed her tune, “Wait, what am I saying? It probably ain’t any of them! Go back and make sure my kids aren’t up to no good! We’ll call you if there’s a man for you.” Once Minna ducked back inside, Laraleigh gestured that she had no intention of doing that.

Aidan strolled over to me and quietly queried, “What did they say?”

I reported to him, “The mo’o had a sacred gift stolen from him. Or her or whatever!”

“That explains all of the strange assortments of stuff in the cave,” Aidan surmised. “Someone was tempting the moe to come back!”

“But it doesn’t explain why the Hekekias are sabotaging themselves by not coming forward about the incident!” I noted. “Or why that silhouetted man would bring those tokens in such a covert manner! What could possibly be so negative about restoring Lake Ana Wai?”

Before Aidan could reply, we heard the Hekekias returning, so we instantly turned our attention to the gardening and strove to portray ourselves as working all along. When they reached our vicinity, we gazed up, and Aidan petitioned them, “Who was it?”

Kaleo casually filled us in, “Eh, just some religious people. They’re leaving now. Did you wanna talk to them, or…?”

“Nah, I’m good!” Aidan politely declined.

“You guys get solicitors all the way out here?” Mom catechized them. That was such a pertinent facet to consider that I wished that I had brought it up! What were door-to-door travelers doing in such a remote location? And was it a mere coincidence that they just happened to arrive at such a crucial juncture in our investigation?

Kalani shrugged. “Some people are so desperate that they would…” She trailed off as she espied the haphazard fashion I had strewn the plant food, and then she neglected her previous sentence. “Were we having a bit of difficulty with this task?”

I fibbed, “I thought I did a fantastic job!”

Kalani stared at me in perplexion, and then she suggested, “How about I give you a few tips on how to improve your fantastic work?”

“That sounds great!” I chimed. It lightened my mood to know that I would get another opportunity to dig a little deeper into her chasm of lore on the background of this case, and my alleviated sentiments caused this nauseous sensation that I  didn’t even realize that I had to dissipate slightly! I had no clue how utterly stressed I was until I got that tiny iota of welcomed news!

“Actually, I don’t think she’s well enough to continue working,” Kaleo apprised.

The possibility of losing this shot at progress gave me a sinking reaction in my stomach! Or maybe it was the nausea resurfacing… I attempted to suppress the urge and convey an apt fitness to do the menial activity needed to be done in order to get close to my source of history on this conundrum by standing up straight, nonchalantly leaning against a tree, and commenting, “I feel totally fine! I can do this!” The impulse to vomit only grew stronger, so I took a deep breath and insisted, “Yup, completely fine!” It got to a crux where I couldn’t deny the inevitable, so I confidently assured them, “At least I will be in a minute! Excuse me!” I dashed between the plants and rushed to the homestead!

From the corner of my eye, I could see how startled Minna and the kids became at my sudden appearance, but I didn’t have a second to spare on accounting for my behavior! As I hastily ascended the staircase, Minna wondered, “A man did come for me, didn’t he? Who is it?”

I ignored her as I made a beeline for the bathroom, and I pulled Mason out in the middle of him brushing his teeth prior to me slamming the door shut! As I began retching, I was amazed that I managed to hold off this action until I parked in this spot! The abode’s entrance opened up, and I heard Aidan asking Mason, “Is she alright?”

Mason gave the latrine a nervous gander, and then he notified Aidan, “Well, she’s still alive…”

Aidan ran to the second story, and when he observed Mason there, he probed, “Why are you doing this again? Didn’t you already do that before you logged on to your school computer?”

“I did, but during our break, Jackson quadruple dared me to eat a clove of garlic! I can’t turn down a quadruple dare!” Mason asserted.

“Yes, you can! You can always say no to doing something stupid!” Aidan chided him. “Get back to your class! It’s not like anyone can smell your breath from here!”

Aidan walked into the restroom as I flushed the contents of the toilet down, and he asked me, “How are you feeling?”

I sardonically answered, “I’m beginning to sympathize with the scoundrel who took the mo’o’s gift and destroyed the farm! Only I’m pissed at him or her for not finishing the job and left Lani Noni still standing! If they had just burned the place to smithereens, we wouldn’t be in this mess!”

“Remind me not to leave you alone with anything flammable!” Aidan joked. Kind of.

“I don’t get it!” I exclaimed as I slid into a sitting position. “Kaleo and Kalani are going through all this trouble to save this dump, but they’re not doing anything to punish the person who turned it into garbage! It’s like they’re trying to do everything to salvage it but that!”

Aidan sat down beside me and remarked, “You’ve had witnesses who seemingly don’t act in their own self interest before. The Hekekias are no different than them! They’re obviously scared of something that would occur if they reveal too much.”

I argued, “Their orchard is on the brink of total ruin and they’re edging near total loss of income- what other consequence could they fear?”

“I dunno, but we can find out from them after we crack this mystery wide open and release the truth to the world!” Aidan proclaimed.

“We could search the city my doctor is in before my appointment,” I proposed. “But it’s an hour away from here, what could they possibly tell us about the issue?”

Aidan mulled it over for a moment. “Hmm… Well, we know that someone took the moe’s gift, but we don’t know where they took it to! Maybe they brought it to that fishing village because of… some reason!”

I considered that concept briefly. “It’s possible, but Kai Lawai’a is right by the ocean- you’d think that a water guardian could easily go retrieve it there!”

‘I don’t know! I don’t know how the water guardian system works- I can’t even say the word correctly!” Aidan exasperatedly sighed.

“Sounds like a valid question to bring up with the townsfolk on Wednesday,” I denoted. “Unless we can get the Hekekias to fess up before then. Ugh! I was starting to feel better ‘til I thought about doing agricultural stuff again! Not that there’s anything wrong with individuals who want to go into this department, I just don’t belong here! I wanna go home! I would even take the most boring assignment at the department over all this pointless drama!”

Aidan differed, “I wouldn’t say it’s pointless! There’s a purpose behind everything that goes on in your life!” I ogled at him in disbelief, and he retracted his statement a smidgen, “I don’t have the foggiest notion of what the purpose of this tedious adventure is, but there’s gotta be one!”

I inhaled deeply, and then I esteemed, “Okay. I think I can stomach the rest of my shift now. Let’s go!”

“Actually, Kaleo said that you should take the rest of the day off to be sure you’re not worsening yourself,” Aidan let me know.

“What a load of crap! He doesn’t care about my wellbeing- he’s trying to keep us from getting close to the truth!” I objected. At least I did until something registered to me… “You can go back though!”

Aidan seemed hesitant on that proposition. “But what if I’m away from you and then you take a turn for the worse?”

I contended, “You’re not gonna be that far from me! I was able to run up here without barfing, it’s not far! Besides, the rugrats may be mischievous, but I’m positive they wouldn’t let me keel over! Not even Kinsey! She may have an unnatural affinity for death, but so far she hasn’t done anything to cause it in anyone!”

My humor made me chuckle, but then it saddened me to get put into a circumstance where I had to so helplessly depend on others to do what I wanted to get done. Aidan gave me a supportive squeeze, and then he avowed, “I’ll come back with loads of vital clues for us!”

“You had better!” I stated. Aidan smirked and then kissed the crown of my scalp.

“Um… Why are you guys hanging out near the toilet?” Willow studied us with her head cocked in addlement.

Neither of us had a quick explanation, so Aidan shot back, “Don’t you ever knock when someone’s in here?” Willow gestured that she wasn’t sure. Aidan and I got up, and then Aidan promised, “The evening will provide the right results, I swear!” As I watched him walk out the door, I inwardly questioned whether or not that was an oath that he could keep!

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 22

“Is it a little problem that can wait ‘til after I buy one of these bags from this nice cashier for wasting so much of her time?” I petitioned Aidan with an iota of hope in my voice. He shook his head, and I bemoaned, “Dammit! I knew you wouldn’t have asked if it was!” I handed back the purses to the cashier and requested, “Save the purple one for me!” Aidan started walking out the door, but I paused to change my mind. “No, the pink! No… the purple one would match more things! But the pink one is cuter…” Aidan re-entered the facility and dragged me towards the exit, so I told the cashier, “Just hold on to both of them! I’ll be back!”

“Have a good night!” the cashier politely regarded me, though her expression indicated that she didn’t really believe that was feasible for me.

When we returned to the boulevard, I inquired to Aidan, “Alright, what was so important that we had to abandon a promising lead?”

Aidan replied, “Apparently the dude Minna was hitting on has a girlfriend, and she’s a little bonkers…”

“More bonkers than Minna?” I know that sounded like I was trying to deploy some insult comedy, but I truly felt perplexed by that notion! Seriously, who could have been behaving more irrationally than a serial stalker?

“She got into a pretty aggressive argument with Minna, and she’s threatening to call for backup!” Aidan reported. “Wow, I never thought I’d ever be rushing to go rescue my crazy ex, but here we are!”

I questioned him, “Why are we gonna get involved with this? Couldn’t we let her spend the night in jail? She’d do fine! She’s better at acting natural with our cover story than us!”

Aidan responded, “That’s ‘cause she’s deluded herself into believing she’s a part of the family for ages! If she was on her own, I wouldn’t bother, but I’m worried about the rest of the bunch! They’re innocent bystanders to… whatever a woman crazier than Minna would do with her friends!” I grasped his point, and I agreed that we needed to intervene! As we made our way down the street, I inwardly prayed that the nuts wouldn’t be too hard to crack!

By the entrance of the bar, we heard Minna shout, “Listen, I realize that you’re taking this breakup pretty hard, but there’s no need to resort to violence!”

“What? We’re not breaking up!” a man whom I could only assume was the object of Minna’s affection objected to Minna’s characterization of the situation. He then turned to his girlfriend and negotiated with her, “Come on! Let’s go home! Do you really wanna have police witness this?”

“Oh, they called law enforcement! It shouldn’t be so bad in there then as long as Samena didn’t pick up on this incident and decide to assist!” I assessed. Aidan and I opened the door, and we were shocked to see Samena throw a chair against the wall with enough force that it splintered into pieces! “Hide!” I directed Aidan.

Samena howled at her boyfriend, “Is this what you do when I let you tag along on my cases, Makoa? You let any old floosie come on to you?”

Makoa refuted that accusation, “I didn’t let her! She wouldn’t take no for an answer! I’m the victim here, why are you yelling at me? If anything, you should go arrest her for harassment!”

“That won’t be necessary!” my mom interjected. She seized the handles of Minna’s wheelchair and relayed to Samena, “We’ll take her home, and we’ll make sure she keeps her distance!”

“Oh, am I getting another restraining order? Man, this is becoming a weekly thing!” Minna remarked.

Mom pushed her away from the scene and threw Samena an awkward smile as she departed. As Laraleigh corralled her crew, she brought up, “Wait, where’s my brother? I better text him again!” Aidan’s phone chimed, and Laraleigh heard it. “That’s weird! It sounds like he’s in the restaurant…”

Samena gazed towards the table Aidan and I were hiding under, and we momentarily panicked! I mean, it’s not like we were breaking any laws- it simply would have been super uncomfortable to confront her under these conditions! And we did not need another reason for Samena to harbor venom towards us! I wasn’t sure what we were going to do until… “Whoops!” Harper cried out as she fell forward. Her wand accidentally discharged a spell that flew behind her and landed on some decorative bottles hanging from the ceiling, which busted open and dowsed Samena in a ton of liquid! I was grateful for all of the commotion that this caused because no one could hear Aidan and me snickering!

“I am so sorry!” Harper apologized in a manner that almost seemed completely sincere.

“What did you do?” Laraleigh rushed back in and became horrified at the sight before her! It felt so tempting to stay and watch this drama conclude itself, but I realized that we had the perfect diversion, so I nudged Aidan and we left.

We espied the remainder of Laraleigh’s kids by the truck, and I surveyed the group, “Where’s my mom and Mi… I mean Grace?”

Kinsey recounted, “Your mom convinced Grace to magick them home by saying Clifton was gonna check in with us there. Mama said to… Hold on… You guys were in the bar the whole time?” 

“Not exactly…” Aidan shifted his stance guiltily.

“Where have you two been?” Laraleigh roared loudly enough to make us jump in fright. “I could’ve used your help back there!” 

Aidan shot back, “How would we be of any use? We’re mere farmers here!” Laraleigh glared at him, and I foresaw a bit of sibling rivalry until we spotted Samena leaving the building. Aidan swiftly darted into the vehicle and beckoned the others, “Let’s go, guys!”

While I hopped into the front seat with my boyfriend, Harper peeked in through the small window in the rear and commented, “Looks like my distraction worked! You’re welcome!”

“Thank you! We hid ourselves ‘cause… Well, we…” I stumbled on my speech a little.

“It’s okay! I’m not about to pry into why you were alluding authorities!” Harper assured me. “Do you know how many times I’ve had to do that recently?”

Her assistance was very much appreciated, but I didn’t like where this conversation threatened to head to! “I don’t wanna know!”

Harper acknowledged, “Good point! If anyone ever interrogates you on it, you can honestly say you don’t know a thing!” Harper sat down in the bed of the truck and pantomimed buttoning her lips, and Laraleigh appeared as though she had questions, but she decided to let it go and rolled her eyes at the ridiculousness of this circumstance.

On Monday, Mom as well as Laraleigh, Aidan, and I headed to the field. Kaleo and Kalani were standing at the other end waiting for us, and I was mentally preparing myself for the discussion that needed to be had when something unexpectedly hopped in front of our path! I pulled out my wand and readied myself for a perilous battle, but to my surprise, it wasn’t Wade ambushing us- the intruder was just the goat from next door! “You again! Go home, Anela!”

Anela stuck her tongue out at us, and I didn’t want to start my morning by getting bitten by a goat, so I decided to do a jinx. Prior to me performing any sort of hex though, Lopaka peered over the fence in the distance and asked, “Why do you have a child’s wand?”

“Why is your pet in our yard?” I retorted.

“Touché!” Lopaka hopped over the rail and retrieved the animal. “Forgive the intrusion! She’s rather stressed out since we had strangers exploring the property.”

Mom wondered, “You have tourists coming to your ranch?”

Lopaka explained, “No, no! The folks who bought the egg farm down the road were interested in expanding their land, and they gave me a great offer! A part of me doesn’t wanna give up the place that I dedicated my whole life to…” He glanced over at the Hekekias and added, “Another part is cool with it though! I lā maika’i!” 

He ushered Anela back under the fence, and secretly, I thought that if Lopaka did decide to stay, the Hekekias ought to goat-proof their perimeter! As soon as we ensured that trespassing critters had vacated the vicinity, we renewed our effort to begin our workday. It felt fairly flustering though after our brief but somewhat negative interaction with their neighbor, and while we didn’t really exude any true friendliness towards him, he acted more kindly to us than he did them! When we grew closer, I could discern agitated scowls on their faces, and I feared an awkward shift ahead! Kaleo let out an exasperated sigh, and then…

“So, how was your weekend?” Kaleo cheerily posed to us as if nothing out of the ordinary had recently transpired.

“Fine,” I tersely expressed. How could I have summed up everything that occurred in the last sixty hours or so in a few words? I could’ve gone until our clock-out time with all that went on during this period! And then there was the stuff that we couldn’t reveal to them…

Mom jumped in and supplemented that, “We explored some of the cities close to here! It’s bizarre that we’re within driving distance of a desert and a rainforest!”

Kalani chuckled, “Yes, Pele certainly created a unique space! So the children all have school today?”

“Yeah,” Laraleigh confirmed. “Mina is tutoring them.” She espied the startled looks on the Hekekias’ visages, so she clarified, “She’s a PhD candidate, so they’ll do fine with her unless one of the distance learning teachers is hot…”

“Would she get a tad distracted?” Kalani tittered.

With as much stoicism as she could muster, Laraleigh asserted, “Just a tad.”

The Hekekias clearly found that concept amusing. None of us did, but we also didn’t have the patience to explain it to them. Once they absorbed this merriment, Kaleo instructed us, “Well, we couldn’t afford any more saplings, so we used the last of our money to buy seeds. So, today we’re gonna work on tilling the soil and do some planting. Everyone, grab a shovel!”

We all trudged towards the shed, but Mom stopped me in my tracks, “Sophia, you can’t do any strenuous labor!”

“Why not?” Kaleo wondered.

“She may have… a stomach problem!” Aidan illuminated them in a technically true rationale of my possible condition. “Oh, that reminds me… We gotta take off early on Wednesday for a doctor appointment.”

Kaleo shrugged. “Alright. Don’t hurt yourself here- we can’t afford any workman’s comp! Although, the Department of Agriculture would probably cover it… Oh, nevermind! Still don’t get hurt! Sophia can help tend to the saplings.”

Kalani grabbed a bag of plant food, and I trailed her as she traveled between the trees. As we stationed ourselves between the greenery, I recognized that I had the ideal opportunity to quiz Kalani on the mo’o! If I played my cards right, I thought I could have wrangled more facts about the disappearing lake from her too! I mulled over how to subtly bring the subject up, but then she conversed, “Do they still sell those adorable purses at the Hekekias’ Hut?”

“They call it the Bamboocha Bungalow now, but yeah, they do!” I informed her. “I had the cashier hold the purple and pink ones ‘cause I couldn’t decide between them!”

“Tell you what… When we get Lani Noni profitable again, I’ll take the pink and you can have the purple!” Kalani proposed.

I grinned at that prospect. “Deal!” I paused for a moment, and then I put forward, “Oh, that cashier holding our purses said something kinda strange…”

Kalani raised her eyebrows upon hearing that. “Oh?”

“Uh-huh,” I confirmed. “When I mentioned Lake Ana Wai, she began telling us that the water dried up ‘cause the mo’o got something stolen from it. She didn’t have a second to spare o go into more detail than that though. Do you think you could clear that up?” Kalani’s lip twitched nervously, and…