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…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 21

Aidan was quite bewildered when I pulled him away from the table so abruptly! Once he recollected his wits, he realized that I must have performed that action for something urgent, so he queried, “What’s up?”

“The hooded man!” I exclaimed. “He’s here! He’s over there by the… And he’s gone! Dammit! Maybe I should’ve just ran after him instead of grabbing you!”

“I’m never gonna say no to you grabbing me!” Aidan cracked with a wink. “He couldn’t have gone far! Let’s go!”

As we dashed for the door, I briefly worried that the others might notice our sudden departure, so I glanced behind me to ensure that they wouldn’t disrupt us in our important but covert pursuit. Apparently, Minna was still going for it with that guy even though he was showing clear indications of disinterest, so everyone’s attention fixated on that drama and no one caught sight of Aidan and I slipping out!

When we went outside, Aidan I surveyed the scenery to find signals of where the silhouette might have fled to. We didn’t see anything that looked disturbed, at least not position-wise! There were some people gagging at the spectacle of a man who’s skimpy outfit left little to the imagination, but the witnesses to this tawdry display were probably disturbed by something besides a ruthless and toothless villain bumping into them! After visually sifting through the occupants of this area, we came up empty, which prompted Aidan to ask, “Do you think he escaped into the rainforest behind the bar?”

“Maybe…” I answered while contemplating the issue for a moment. “… Hmm… Oh! That tunnel! He might’ve gone there to hide since it’s supposed to be secluded from the public and he assumes we wouldn’t follow him there! I dunno how we’ll get past that old dude who yelled at us… How did he fly under his radar?”

“When we catch up with him, we can find out!” Aidan responded. I nodded, and we sped towards the other end of the boulevard!

Right when I started dreaming up different methods of sneaking past that specific resident’s suspicions, we beheld a pop-up concessions’ stand near the cave’s territory. With billowing disappointment surging within me, I noted, “He couldn’t have gone this route! That means we lost him and this whole thing was a waste of time! We should’ve stayed behind and watched the theatrics between Minna and her dreamboat!”

Aidan consoled me, “Well, that passageway may be closed, but another lead is open…” He gestured to the store we had stopped in front of, and my spirits rose up again when I could see that we presently had access to the Hekekias’ Hut! Once this circumstance sunk in for us, we briskly entered into the shop!

“Welcome to the Bumboocha Bungalow!” a cashier merrily greeted us.

“I thought it was the Hekekias’ Hut,” I puzzled.

She filled us in, “The new owners renamed it, but they’re too cheap to replace the sign. I mean, I know it’s expensive, but it’s been over a year! And they’re not the ones that gotta repeat this spiel a hundred times a day!”

As Aidan and I ambled around and pretended we were interested in their wide variety of goods, Aidan probed, “So, what happened to the Hekekias’ Hut?”

“The owners died,” the cashier conveyed to us. “They weren’t even that old! They were only a little old, kinda like you guys!”

“Thanks for that!” I reacted in a jovial fashion, but I wasn’t really thrilled with her depiction of us! If we were actual customers, I would’ve exited the facility immediately, but since we needed intelligence from this twit, I laughed it off. “How did these still technically young individuals kick the bucket? Did it have something to do with that locked up property a few doors down?”

The cashier mulled it over briefly, and then she shrugged. “Maybe! Someone took the mo’o’s makana makamae, but I don’t know why the Hekekias would sabotage themselves like that!”

Aidan and I gazed at each other in both excitement of an important discovery and complete confusion! We didn’t have the foggiest idea of what a makana makamae was, and it mystified us as to what could someone have taken that would motivate a water guardian to curse an entire region! “I’m sorry, someone stole a what?” I petitioned her.

“Why is that any of your business?” Samena materialized into the business unexpectedly!

“Ugh! Don’t do that!” Aidan vehemently requested.

Samena inquired, “Don’t do what? Appear so suddenly or grill you with hard questions?”

Aidan replied, “Both!”

“Why is it so strange to you that we wanna learn about our own land?” I countered her.

“What do you wanna do with this land?” Samena catechized us.

It boggled my mind as to why she found our farm work even the slightest bit suspect, and I strove to unearth a manner in which to respond that wouldn’t make her sound dumb! Yes, it was a stupid enquiry, but I wouldn’t want to provoke any already edgy adversary! “It’s an orchard, so we’re trying to grow trees…”

Samena pressed us, “For the Fay Folks?”

“Yeah…” Aidan confirmed. “Okay, fine! You found out we’re employed by Fays, and since everyone here thinks they’re all criminals, that gives you a fishy impression of us, huh?”

You’re employed by them?” Samena’s expression grew rather dumbfounded.

I took offense to that, and I ranted, “Yes! Fay Folks are still human beings who wanna earn a living and live their lives just like the rest of us! They have monstrous appearances, but they’re not monsters! Is it too much to believe that a few of them might want a little dignity?”

Samena shifted to a more defensive posture. “No, no, no! The KPD doesn’t operate with any prejudices in its system! I’m simply attempting to figure out what the connection is between your agricultural occupation and this conquest to gather info on the mo’o!”

“It’s not that difficult! We gotta jump through hoops to maintain our crappy aqueduct, and it’d be nice if we could restore hydration to Lake Ana Wai!” I folded my arms and stared at her with irate eyes. She could claim she was unbiased all she wanted to, but I was positive she had targeted us because of our association with the Fays! I would have eaten my hat if she possessed a valid intention for this interrogation!

“Your file said you came from Massachusetts,” Samena conversed. “You traveled that lengthy distance so you could help a couple of Fays? What do you get out of this arrangement?”

Aidan told her, “A job! Well, that and the satisfaction of doing a good deed!”

Samena raised an eyebrow to that. “You went through all this trouble ‘cause of the goodness of your heart?”

“You must’ve been in the detective field for a lot of years! Obviously, you’re jaded to the thought that decent individuals still exist in the world!” I threw that out there based on my personal experience with many of my colleagues. When I first started in this post, I met a lot of men and women who had a very blight view of humanity, and while most of the planet had no clue how close they came to total annihilation, the mood around Anaknock became infinitely more optimistic once Aidan and I pulled us from the brink of armageddon. I assumed that the rest of the population would have adopted a similar attitude towards the morality of their fellow humans, but she proved me wrong on that! I didn’t like this lady very much, but I began to feel sorry for her and pondered if our paths had crossed for a definitive purpose…

“Don’t try to recruit me into your credence!” Samena barked.

Apparently, I was incorrect about this being a preordained encounter! All of my pity for her vanished, and I had no problem with backing away from this endeavor!

Aidan assured her, “We’re not trying to recruit you into anything! We’re just trying to help! That’s what we came to Hawaii for! And after we’re done in Hawaii, we’ll do it again somewhere else- that’s what we do!”

Samena couldn’t argue with that logic, but she wasn’t entirely accepting of it either. All of a sudden, it occurred to me that her crime-solving instincts led her to the hunch that there was something fictional about our backstory, which worried me tremendously since our background was completely contrived! I doubted that I even knew half of what the FBI put on our files! If Samena was anything like me, she wasn’t going to give up until she knew the facts, and we couldn’t have that because our cover would get blown! It would completely compromise our security, and while I welcomed a confrontation with Wade, I wouldn’t want to risk putting the others in danger! That dastard may have worked out the general range of where we were (in my opinion), but I couldn’t allow any activity that may harm our loved ones! Or Minna! I had to do something to throw her off of our trail, and as I espied some hoodies on a rack, I came up with, “I saw a mysterious person hanging around that empty pond tunnel! I couldn’t see any distinguishing features on him, but I did see him go inside with two teddy bears!” 

“That location is off limits to the public. The citizens of this district are adept at keeping trespassers out of there,” Samena remarked.

“I have no inkling how he got away with it, but if you go down there, you’ll see the toys in there!” I sensed her skepticism heightening, so, in a very casual tone, I added, “You can do what you want with that tidbit, but while we were on the topic of helping others, I thought I ought to report that to you!”

“Hmm…” Samena seemed to be considering this concept, and I suppressed every twitch in my body to outwardly celebrate this pending victory! I waited patiently, and at long last, Samena relented, “Alright, I’m gonna investigate this! But always remember that I have this county thoroughly covered! If you’re up to no good, I will find out!”

Aidan and I politely smiled and waved to her, and I cheerily bade her, “Let us know if you need a hand with anything!” Once she disappeared from our sight, Aidan gave me a perplexed look, so I relayed to him, “Eh! I was just being polite! If we stay in her favor, maybe she’ll leave us alone!”

The cashier enquired, “So, are you guys, like, criminal masterminds or something?”

“No!” Aidan refuted. “We’re f’ing farmers! Gawd, why is that so hard to believe?”

“Ah, I see…” the cashier behaved with a disposition that did not really convince me that she did understand the situation. She appeared to have decided that she didn’t care one way or another about our possibly nefarious nature as she posed to us, “So, did you all wanna buy something, or…?”

Aidan started to decline, “No, we-.”

I insisted, “Yes, we do!” Aidan wordlessly wondered about this move, but I couldn’t tell him my plan, so I showed it to him by appealing to the cashier, “Can I purchase one of the purses in the window?” 

‘What color?” she wanted to know.

“Uh, I dunno! I can’t decide between the purple one or the pink!” I wasn’t totally lying- both bags were adorable, and I would have bought either of them, but prior to that happening… “Hey, what were you saying about the mo’o getting something taken from it?”

As she plopped the totes in front of me, the cashier sought clarification, “Oh, you mean the makana makamae?”

While I examined the cute wares, I heard Aidan’s phone chime, but I ignored it and continued, “Yeah, what is that?”

The cashier opened her mouth to elaborate on this, but Aidan’s frown at his device prompted him to interrupt, “Actually, it looks like we have a problem here…”

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 20

Our anticipation mounted high as we braced ourselves to receive a really dramatic revelation, and then Clifton announced, “Kaleo has a bit of a criminal history, but it’s all petty stuff. And seeing how it was all against Fay Folks, given that he and his wife fall into that category now, we didn’t think it posed a threat to any of you.”

“That’s it?” My hopes of obtaining juicy information that could assist Aidan and me in solving the mystery of how Lake Ana Wai disappeared had deflated so unceremoniously that it soured my mood in a nanosecond! I couldn’t accept this as the conclusion to the story he had for us! Did he truly believe Aidan and I would go through such an extravagant measure merely to learn about some cockamame misdemeanors?

“I’m sorry, did you want me to tell you that we transplanted your family to the home of a murderer or something?” Clifton retorted.

I admitted, “Kinda, yeah!”

Clifton shook his head. “Listen, I understand you two miss your jobs, but you can’t go fishing for a crime to solve like that! Try to find a way to relax more! I’m sure Mister Toonella will get captured soon, and you’ll be home before you know it!”

“That’s not true!” I disagreed. “I thought they’d nab him before our plane hit the ground!”

“And who says we’re not relaxed?” Aidan challenged him.

Clifton pondered, “Were you relaxing when that mob was trying to force you into an asylum?”

Aidan responded, “You guys are going through a lot at the moment- why add more stress to yourselves?” Clifton posed to us.

Neither Aidan nor I had a snappy comeback to that. He had a valid argument about the chaos we were currently undergoing- it was difficult to claim that we would be better off pursuing a case where we could potentially create another adversary who aspired to propel us into our demise! I knew that Agent Hearne would have most likely boiled over if we had to go through Witness Protection for our aliases, and normally, that would have been enough for me to put a lid on this venture, but something inside of me steadfastly maintained the stance that this vanishing pond had a link to Wade somewhere! He brought those teddy bears to the empty bank for a reason, and I felt determined to figure out his motives for doing so! Perhaps his fatal illness caused him to lose his mind, but I couldn’t rule out that he had a more sinister intent for putting those toys in that location! I couldn’t fathom what, but it couldn’t have been for anything good! Regardless of what scenario would prove to be the truth, I simply had to get to the bottom of this enigma!

“Hey!” Aidan cried out when we reached Lani Noni. “That’s our truck ahead of us!” The five children realized we were in the van behind them and threw some funny faces in our direction. “They went somewhere without us?”

Clifton pointed out, “Well, you went somewhere without the eight of them!”

I groaned, “The house was empty today? So, we could’ve had enough privacy to finally… do things?”

Aidan bemoaned this lost opportunity, but Clifton spared us no pity! “Well, you two interrupted Tarosh and me, so forgive me if I don’t feel too badly for you!”

“We forgive you for nothing!’ I folded my arms and pouted.

“Romeo!” Minna chimed as she wheeled herself out. “Oh, you came to see me! I knew you would! You were only ignoring my texts ‘cause you had too much to tell me and it wouldn’t fit in a small message! I’m here for you, baby! Talk to me!”

Clifton urgently requested us, “Please hurry!”

I entertained the idea of delaying my departure from his vehicle to enact revenge for his slight, but Minna’s overbearing antics were too cruel of a penance for Clifton’s offense, so I hopped out with alacrity. Immediately following our withdrawal, Clifton peeled out of the area! Minna called out to him, “Wait! Don’t be afraid of intense feelings!” When he became a dot in the distance, Minna cooed, “Aw, he’s too shy to admit his burning desire! Isn’t that adorable?” Everybody glanced at each other for cues on how to react to that!

“Did I tell you that we’re both scorpios?” Minna asked the people sitting at the dining room table.

“Yes, several times while we headed back here,” I answered from the ledge of the loft where Aidan and I were eating. “And a couple more times once we got inside!”

Minna gushed, “Scorpios are known for being very romantic and passionate! Together, we’ll be explosive!”

Mason wondered, “Is that a good thing?”

“Not everyone can handle that sort of intensity, but I thrive on it!” Minna purred. “You wanna see a picture of him working on a tractor?”

“Not really,” Harper honestly told her.

Minna displayed her phone for everyone to view it anyways. “He doesn’t just help farmers, he is one! Isn’t he dreamy?”

Aidan shooed a cat away from his plate when it tried to steal his meal, and then he riposted, “Yeah, his boyfriend thinks so too!”

“Minna, don’t you wanna go for a guy who’s a little more available?” Mom probed.

“You can’t choose who you fall in love with!” Minna shot back.

I nearly choked on my bite upon hearing that sentence! My mom had previously expressed a similar sentiment to me, but my situation was rather different since I was falling deep for a man who I believed was responsible for a series of brutal killings! Aidan turned out to be innocent, so it was totally okay for me to love him, but it wasn’t so okay for Minna to keep getting enamored with men who were already taken! Then again, she appeared to get smitten with any reasonably attractive fellow who crossed her path! This observation struck me with some inspiration though! “You should see some of the hot dudes in Eka Nahele!”

Minna puzzled, “Eka Nahele? What is that? A music group?”

“No, it’s this really nice town in the rainforest,” Aidan filled her in during his attempt to shield his dish from the sneaky kitty. “I didn’t pay much attention to the men’s looks though, there were a lot of strange individuals there! Oh, you’d fit right in!”

“If you’re trying to set me up with somebody, you can forget it! My heart is already set!” Minna happily sighed as she hugged an image she saved of Clifton.

Laraleigh brought up, “I thought you had a huge crush on my brother.”

Minna shrugged. “I still like him, but I’ve felt some distance between the two of us lately. Probably ‘cause of the restraining order!”

“If I give you a treat, will you leave me alone?” Aidan snapped. Everyone gazed at him peculiarly, so he clarified, “I was talking to Lulu!”

“You can thank Wade for that,” Mom remarked. “He used to give them tons of treats off of his own fork! It’s been two years since he moved out, but they still haven’t forgotten these bad habits! He’s gonna haunt me forever!”

Minna conversed, “You can parade as many beautiful beaus in front of my face as you want to, but you can’t convince me to worship anyone else but my beloved Romeo!” She spotted a photo on Laraleigh’s cellphone, and her interest piqued. “Ooh, who’s that?”

Laraleigh bellowed, “That’s my husband, and if you lay your hands on him, I’ll tan your hide from here to New York City!”

“Why New York City?” Minna catechized her.

“It’s far away!” Laraleigh barked.

I proposed to Minna, “If you really feel that strongly about Clifton, how about you prove it? We’ll go to Eka Nahele tomorrow, and if none of the hunks there tempt you, then… well, we’ll figure that out later!”

Aidan threw a piece of meat for Lulu to run after, and in the same instance that the feline munched on this morsel, Minna reached her decision, “Alright, fine! I’ll do it and show you all!”

Lulu aimed to return to Aidan’s side, but Aidan put up a force field and blocked her! Once both matters settled, we ate more peacefully. I was quite curious on what poor soul would have the misfortune of getting Minna’s attachment, but I was more eager to get some answers from the Hekekias’ Hut, put a rest to the stumper of wha Wade wanted with that evaporated body of water, and pretend like we followed Clifton’s advice about backing off all along!

“Can I ask you something?” Kinsey inquired to Aidan and I as we sat in a booth at a tropical restaurant.

“If it’s about the red hair, I’ve already explained that to you!” I muttered while pulling my hat further over my eyes. If she kept discussing our attempt to conceal ourselves, then Aidan and I would never be able to blend in with the crowd and get this operation done!

Kinsey assured me, “It ain’t about that! I just wanted to know… “ She turned her tone into a whisper, “… Did y’all ever kill anybody on the job?”

From their table ten feet away from us, Laraleigh commanded, “Don’t answer that!”

“That’s a yes!” Kinsey grinned triumphantly. “What’s it like?”

“I can’t give out classified info,” I partially expressed the truth there- I certainly couldn’t spill details of certain cases, and while I could illustrate the science and psychology behind using lethal force, I couldn’t give her a first-hand account on it. I did see a few victims die during my shifts, but I wasn’t about to divulge any descriptions of that to a teenager! Especially since we were striving to create an inviting atmosphere for Minna to attract a potential new boyfriend! The sooner she was occupied with a budding romance, the sooner the love of my life and I could slip out of there to do our secret mission! Determination brewed in Kinsey’s eyes, so I excused myself from her presence, “I’ll be back. Feel free to change the subject, babe!”

Kinsey was objecting to my suggestion behind me, but I ignored her as I walked over to Minna at the other table. I sat next to her and checked in, “See anyone you like?” 

“Nope!” Minna reported.

“That’s ‘cause she won’t quit looking at pictures on her phone!” Mom tattled on her.

I glanced over her shoulders, and when I beheld that Minna was ceaselessly scrolling through Clifton’s social media pages, I snatched the device out of her clutches! “Hey!” she protested.

Undaunted by her agitation, I challenged her, “How about now?”

Minna begrudgingly scoped out the premises, and then she opined, “No one here compares to my Romeo!”

Not believing that a packed and hip establishment like this could have no promising prospects, I surveyed the space for myself. After a minute, I found a gentleman at the bar that made me wish that Sandra was here so I could watch her drool over his handsomeness! I pointed him out to Minna, “What about him?”

“Gosh, he’s gorgeous! But I couldn’t betray my dear, sweet Clifton over a dreamboat who looks like someone who could give me hours of pleasure!” Minna mulled over her statement and then changed her tune, “Nevermind, I’ll go talk to him!”

“Atta girl!” I encouraged her as she wheeled off.

Laraleigh commented, “She’s gonna blow it!”

I admonished her, “That’s not fair! You don’t know that!”

“Oh, yes I do! She’s not exactly smooth with pick up lines…” Laraleigh elucidated. “We really should have given her some stuff to say!”

“Why didn’t you mention this earlier?” Mom grilled her. “I’ll go grab her before… Oh, too late!”

Minna went up to the gentleman, and in a silky voice, she invited him, “Hey, hot stuff! You wanna come back to my place? We can’t have sex there ‘cause I have a bunch of roommates, but we could play a mean game of Parcheesi!”

I cringed at the disaster I watched unfold! I was expecting something cheesy that a man interested in her could overlook, but this was a failure beyond repair! Didn’t she just express a sensual desire for him seconds ago? Why would she utter anything of that sort? I grew extremely exasperated at this mishap, and my singular optimism at this juncture laid in the off chance that some of the other eligible bachelors in this joint hadn’t seen this blunder! I reviewed the room, and it wasn’t too reassuring! Suddenly, it wasn’t so much of a problem anymore… I saw something frightening that forced me to forget all of my other woes!

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 19

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…

Crimes of the Fay II, Chapter 18

“What is that?” I peered at the bottom of my boot, and I was quite confused by the blue shards that had embedded themselves into my footwear! Aidan gazed at them in perplexity for a second, and then he stooped down to examine it. “Eiww! You’re touching it?”

“Frogs, snails, and puppy dog tails- we’re disgusting creatures!” Aidan kidded. He studied the pieces briefly, and then he concluded, “They’re egg shells!”

I slapped my forehead in comprehension of the circumstances. “Oh duh! We’re by an egg farm- why wouldn’t it be that?”

As I picked the entrails out of the affected outsole, Aidan probed, “Are you sure you’re alert enough to investigate a possible crime scene today?”

“No,” I told him. “But we don’t really have a choice! I’m not getting any sleep ‘til I see that doctor next week, and depending on the results, I still might not get any sleep!”

“If you are pregnant, you should try to find a trick to help you fall asleep,” Aidan advised me. “You know, you’ll have to take care of yourself more than usual so everyone stays healthy…”

I joshed him, “And if I’m not knocked up, can I go back to abusing my body?”

Aidan retorted, “No, that’s my job!” He contemplated that sentence a bit, and then he clarified, “I meant that as a sexual thing, not domestic violence…”

“Yeah, I got that!” I grinned. As we passed by Aracauma Kahuna, I observed a very antiquated and somewhat small wooden fence closed off by chicken wire that surrounded an oddly vibrant field, which prompted me to bring up, “How do they keep their grass so healthy looking? For real, no one is living there, so it’s not like anyone’s trying hard to get this result!”

“I dunno!” Aidan shrugged. Once we went by the rustic, red barn and approached the front entrance where the old-fashioned home rested, we saw a realtor’s sign with a “pending” label on it, Aidan changed his tune, “Yes, I do! Seller’s magic!”

I wistfully commented, “I wish the Hekekias would sell Lani Noni! Then we wouldn’t have to worry about upkeep that stupid farm in this god-forsaken place! Oh, if they sold it, we’d have to move somewhere else!”

Aidan cautioned me, “Be careful what you wish for! We could wind up somewhere worse!”

“How could it be…?” I interrupted myself once something occurred to me, “Nope! Not gonna say it and tempt fate!”

“Yeah, let’s try to manifest Wade’s capture into existence instead!” Aidan suggested. “Since that tip from Oklahoma was a false alarm, he could be anywhere! Man, how can an out of shape, old man on his deathbed remain at large for so long?”

I asserted, “It’s ‘cause they’re not searching in the right area! He obviously went… Well, somewhere they wouldn’t expect him to go!” I almost said that he traveled here and they weren’t searching here due to their steadfast belief that he couldn’t have possibly discovered this random location where Witness Protection moved us, but I didn’t feel like arguing with Aidan right then. We needed to concentrate on examining where Lake Ana Wai once stood so that we could solve the mystery of how it disappeared! If foul play did actually occur and we delivered justice to the innocent citizens affected by this disaster, then this whole misadventure in Hawaii would become at least somewhat worthwhile! I knew I was correct in this debate about the identity and the existence of the elusive silhouette, but I figured that I would have to wait for Aidan and the others to learn that on their own. Once that day finally graced our lives, I would thoroughly enjoy giving them a hearty I-Told-You-So! Until that instance transpired, I would have to bite my tongue when it came to this matter. So, as an alternative to that subject, I decided to refer to something else, “Can you believe that Minna thought Clifton revealed that info to us as an excuse to flirt with her?”

Aidan laughed, “Yes! When she was stalking me, I yelled at her to go away, and she acted like I was coming onto her! God, she really needs to meet a dude who wants a woman to obsess over him like that!”

We headed towards a stone wall at the end of this cul-du-sac, and a wooden sign above the cavern entrance overtly once bore the words “Lake Ana Wai” on it, but someone sprayed over it with paint. “I guess people were slightly bitter by their loss!” I surmised. “Not that I blame them…”

With our wands brandished, we crept into the innermost part of the structure. It was standard protocol for our profession, but for me, this venture had an extra element of potential danger because I anticipated catching Wade in the act during our visit. In the act of what, I had no idea, but still! I wanted to ponder all of the possibilities of his purpose in these parts since it struck me as odd that he wasn’t seeking out immediate revenge against us- seriously, what could he have conceivably been doing that was more important to him than that? However, I tabled that notion for the time being in order to focus on our mission at this juncture. If we did happen to catch him red-handed doing… whatever, I could have certainly grilled him on it later! I didn’t detect anyone’s presence in there, but that didn’t necessarily signify that nobody was there! As we neared a wide expanse, I surprised myself by hoping we would get ambushed! I realize that it sounds insane, but I was more than ready to cease this expedition! If I hadn’t already made that abundantly obvious to you readers…

We each jumped into the center of the rocky room, and in unison, we announced, “Police! Don’t move!” No one moved a muscle due to a lack of anybody other than us being in that facility! The terrain was rather jagged, but we couldn’t spot a single feasibility for remaining clandestine! “Can caves be haunted?” Aidan petitioned me. “This space feels haunted…!”

“Don’t be silly!” I rebuked him. “There’s no such thing as- Aah!” I beheld a mass in a nearby corner that made my eyes grow wide and my skin grow pale!

“I knew it!” Aidan exclaimed. “Where’s the ghost? Where is it?”

I recommended, “Will you calm down? There aren’t any ghosts in here! Probably. But there is something spooky over there…”

Aidan shined his cellphone’s light in the direction that I indicated to, but his expression wasn’t one of shock as mine had been. He stepped closer and furrowed his brows when he glimpsed at the curios that frightened me. “This looks like a bunch of crap! Dried up flowers, bottles of sand, some rocks… Hold on, is that cologne? Ooh, that’s a decent brand!”

“Do you see the bears?” I inquired.

“What about them?” Aidan quizzically replied.

I questioned him, “Don’t they seem familiar to you?” Aidan stared at me blankly, so I clicked my tongue out of annoyance and then refreshed his memory, “It’s from that souvenir shop in Kauhale Maloo!” It still didn’t register for Aidan, so I grouchily filled him in, “Those were the toys that the hooded figure held up when I saw him!”

At last, Aidan showed some mild interest in the significance of this discovery! “Hmm, that is strange! What on earth would compel this individual to stash them here?” He used a jinx to raise some of the items, and as he pored over a hula dancer car ornament and a box of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, he scratched his scalp in confusion. “It’s looking like he has a date with an eclectic taste in gifts!”

“There’s gotta be something more meaningful to these objects than that!” I couldn’t accept that Wade had gone through the hassle of procuring these various commodities without having some sort of dark and cynical purpose to them!

“Like what?” Aidan challenged me.

I thought long and hard about this enquiry, but I couldn’t unearth a valid motive for any of it! It did appear as though somebody stored their cheesy, romantic tokens there, but it didn’t make sense to me as to why anyone with a stable brain would do that! “It can’t be random! This isn’t a busy locale! It means something to someone!”

Aidan mulled my reasoning over for a beat, and then he concurred, “You’re right! I can’t picture any person going out of their way to store a bunch of trivial stuff! It must have some kind of value! But what? Some of these shit is too small to hide paraphernalia in it.” 

“Maybe they’re curse conveyers!” I hypothesized as Aidan’s hex held a coin in the air. It forcibly reminded me of the penny I found in the airplane’s lavatory, and I inwardly theorized that Wade planned on enacting a similar slow-release spell on someone to harm us! Though I wasn’t confident anyone would unwittingly transport something as large as a candelabra, and I doubted that any rational adult or even a child would accept candy from a stranger! I couldn’t share my thoughts on our adversary to my boyfriend, but I had one wonderment that I could broadcast to him… “Why would they collect so many different artifacts though? That isn’t easy magic to do! The individual would be too exhausted to give anything to anybody!”

“Unless there’s a group of them all sharing the burden,” Aidan affirmed. “But if that was the case, I suspect Lopaka or the Hekekias would call the police after seeing some shady folks hanging around their neighborhood! And it’s not like there’s any approaches they could take where they could fly under the radar like that!”

As if on cue, the floor beneath Aidan vanished! I peeked into the square hole and asked him, “Are you okay?”

He answered, “I’m fine! Who puts a trap door in a spot like that? If they’re trying to trap an intruder, there’s so many other places a perpetrator would go over prior to… Oh, there’s a ladder!”

“What’s down there?” Since the love of my life was apparently not in any peril, my intrigue piqued! It’s rare to stumble across a secret storage chamber without some sort of sinister intention! Did it shield evidence of the lake’s disappearance? Or was it freshly created in order to shelter our nemesis? The potentialities were endless!

“It’s a long tunnel!” Aidan proclaimed. “You know we gotta follow it, don’t ya?”

I responded, “Uh, yeah!’ I put my cellphone and my wand away, and then I descended into the shadowy chasm…

Once I touched the surface, I shut the seal above us in case… I don’t know! I guess the culprit behind this stunt could return and attempt to ambush us from acquiring… whatever they strove to keep from the world! The tunnel almost seemed natural, but the wooden support beams were a dead giveaway that at least one human being used it for a definitive objective! My hopes were raised high that we would run into a clue pertaining to this conundrum, but when we espied sunshine pouring in from another entryway, I grew a little bummed! My optimism consoled me by convincing me that the sight behind this portal would explain everything…

Nope! It appeared that we arrived in a perfectly ordinary region! Well, not totally ordinary! The houses had a very sophisticated construction, but they still used a very rural style in their lumberwork and thatched roofing! Also, lush plantlife was everywhere that our eyes could reach! Before we could voice any uncertainty to our position, a resident emerged from his dwelling and shouted to us, “Hey! Can’t you two see the sign?”

“What sign?” I glanced around, and I shortly ascertained that we were standing in front of a notice that warned inhabitants that the channel was closed and that trespassers would be prosecuted! I blushed, and once Aidan and I jumped out of range of the shaft, I apologized, “Sorry! We’re new here!”

“Freakin’ howlies!” the man muttered as he stomped back into his abode.

Aidan noted, “I don’t think howlie is as inoffensive as Clifton claimed!”

I conversed, “Probably not! Speaking of him though, perhaps we should call him and get a ride home. Oh, but we don’t even know where we are though…”

“I’ll check my GPS,” Aidan volunteered.

“Hang on!” I requested as I discerned something in the distance that caught my interest. “Before we leave, we gotta dig into something first!”