Chapter 2 - The Kingdom
My pumpkin landed in the Kingdom of Hawaii at 14:02 local time. I grabbed my carryon bag and stood in the middle of the aisle before any others could unbuckle their belts. I was the second person off the plane and at a dead run up the ramp to the terminal where Chuck was waiting for me. When I reached him, he bent down and hugged me and gave me a quick kiss. I wanted a passionate kiss like in the old movies, but I noticed someone with him. He was shorter than Chuck with dark brown hair, but his t-shirt stretched over his muscled arms. I didn’t ask who he was. I figured Chuck would introduce us. Chuck put his arm around me and turned to walk to the baggage claim.
It felt good to be near him, but I wanted so much more. I thought he would kiss me passionately and cause my hair to stand on the back of my neck. I thought he would buy me one of those leis or at least a bunch of daisies. I expected ukuleles or a brass band. The only music I heard was the tinkling sounds of Aloha Oi piped through the airport speakers. The only fanfare was the sound of the pigeons cooing and the roar of airplanes taking off from the open-air terminal. The sick smells of too sweet flowers and rotting pineapples that were packed in the boxes set out for the last minute tourist souvenirs were the only welcoming scents of the tropical isles.
I followed my husband. As he led me to the baggage carousel, he smiled down at me, leaned over, and whispered, “Baby, I’m sorry I didn’t getchu any flowers. I just didn’t have any money for ’em.”
I smiled up at him, and then leaned into his broad chest. All was forgiven.
My boxes arrived one by one. Chuck laughed at the first one, guffawed at the second, stared at the third, and frowned at the fourth.
“What all do you have in these?” Chuck asked.
“Everything. Everything we need to start house-keeping,” I replied trying to sound reassuring.
Chuck gave me a half grin, turned to his friend, and asked him if he’d grab a baggage cart. While he was fetching the cart, Chuck told me that Richard was a guy he met at the enlisted club. He was an assistant to one of the high ranking colonels on base. When Richard returned, Chuck introduced him for the first time.
“Richard, this is my wife, Lilian.”
“Thanks for getting the cart,” I told him as he shook my hand.
Richard stared down at my chest as he answered, “No problem.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” I said to his back as he turned to help Chuck with the boxes.
Chuck and Richard pushed the cart to the taxi stand as I followed behind with my carry-on. They were grinning at each other, sharing a joke, and I had a feeling it was about my boxes. It was a little crazy. I just wanted everything to be perfect. A TV wasn’t exactly required for a house to be a home, but I wanted things to be comfortable for us, as comfortable as they could be so far from .
Chuck hailed a cab, put the boxes in the trunk, and Richard and I followed Chuck into the backseat of the cab. Chuck told the driver the address for a hotel in , the Outrigger. Waikiki, the first place on my list of things to see in . Sitting between two huge guys trying to see past them as we drove along the highway, I saw huge skyscraping condos and mountains on the left past Richard’s crimson cap brim. Out the right window and past Chuck’s broad chest, there were airplanes sitting on a tarmac, ocean and palm trees, and more ocean. According to a sign on the highway, we drove by . I expected to see giant ships and maybe a few Japanese planes still smoking and wrecked in the ground, but all I could see from the highway was the greenery surrounding the base and the occasional spire sticking up from a docked ship.
“Have you been to ?” I asked Chuck.
“No, haven’t had free time, or a car.” he said.
I focused my attention back on the scenery. Everything was primary, red, green, blue, and gold, like jewels sparkling in a treasure chest. The air was hot and salty as it blew through the open windows of the cab. But it wasn’t the fresh air that I imagined while looking at on television. It wasn’t much different from . Less smog, but the smell of diesel was just as strong.
We exited the highway, and I began to feel as if I had entered an episode of Magnum PI. I recognized the streets and buildings as if I had been here before, but the people didn’t match the pictures in my head. They looked out of place, strange. There were streets lined with white faces, not brown. Scenic boat tours were offered by older wrinkled white men wearing brilliant Aloha shirts. The people strolling down the sidewalks and the ones offering 3 t-shirts for $10 were all white. As we pulled up to the Outrigger, I noticed that our cab driver hadn’t spoken a word the entire trip, and now, he only gave us the total on the meter. I caught an accent, but it was so unfamiliar that I was unsure what to call it.
Chuck paid the brown man and exited the cab. I glanced at the driver as I scooted across the cloth seat to get out, and I tried to tell him thank you. But he either didn’t hear or didn’t care.
Between the three of us, we managed to get the four boxes up to the hotel room that Chuck rented from the rather unfriendly hotel clerk. We were too broke to offer a tip to a bellboy who insisted on helping us. I doubted we’d have his help when we left the hotel. We stacked the boxes in the corner, and Chuck took a Nestea plunge onto one of the beds. It was a double room.
Richard did a belly flop onto the other one.
Then the two men started planning what they were going to do that night in Waikiki. Chuck wanted to take me to the beach, and Richard wanted to go bar hopping and pick up a chick.
All I wanted was my husband, alone, for the rest of our lives.
“Whadda ya wanna do, Lilly?” Chuck asked.
“I’m really kind of tired, but whatever you want to do is fine with me.”
“We can jus’ relax for a bit before we go out. Richard, do you wanna go get us some ice?” Chuck asked.
“Sure,” Richard said and grabbed the plastic container and the thin liner. He went for ice, and Chuck turned to face me.
“Me and Richard are sharin’ the cost of the room, so we can stay in tonight. Please don’t be mad about us not bein’ by ourselves,” he says. “And besides, we have all our lives to be together.”
I smiled and kissed him with all the desire I had saved for months. We kissed until we heard the card slide into the door lock. Richard entered with the bucket of ice, and suddenly, he didn’t seem like such an annoyance.
“Thanks, Richard,” I said as he offered to get me a glass of ice water.
“You’re welcome,” he said looking at my face this time. “So what did you guys decide to do tonight?” Richard asked.
“Well, Lilian’s too young to get in the bars, so I think we’ll go hang out on the beach. But you can go to the bars if you want,” Chuck said.
“I’m going to the Iguana,” Richard said as if this was the only place to go on .
Richard took a shower and dressed in his blue jeans and OU t-shirt. Just before he left for the bar, I asked him about his shirt. Richard told us about his wrestling experience in high school and explained how he wanted to go to OU on a scholarship, but hurt his knee in a car accident and had to turn it down. He said that’s why he joined the Marines. I asked him how he got in the Marines if his knee was hurt.
“They aren’t as picky as OU.” With this, he grabbed his wallet and headed out to the Iguana nightclub.
“Are you ready to see the beach?” Chuck asked.
“Can’t we stay here and cuddle while Richard is gone?” I asked.
“We can, but I haven’t been out of the barracks in two weeks, and I’d really like to get out for a while.”
“Alright, I’m going to take a shower first though.”
I really only wanted a bed and a pillow, but I was excited to be with Chuck. After all, I did want to see the famous beach. I took a quick shower, put my hair up in a ponytail, and dressed in my favorite jean shorts and pink tank.
We headed down the street strolling along the familiar beach. I’d never been here, but I kept seeing places that I’d seen on TV; the brick sidewalk lined with art galleries, boutiques, and tourist shops, the beach-side bars where tourists sat in plastic chairs on the beach and drank umbrella drinks, and the bronze statue of a huge Hawaiian man with a long board. A rainbow of flower leis hung from the statue.
We walked past the Wyland gallery, and I couldn’t help staring into the shop. The paintings were a mixture of fantasy and reality. Which is reality and which is fantasy, I didn’t know. The world above the water was what people saw and believe is real. The world he painted below the surface was what the whales and dolphins and fish see, what they believed was real. I stared at a painting done in various shades of gray. It was a humpback whale in the night ocean. In a separate section of the matted painting, a whale tail stuck out of the ocean, and the painted moonlight made the ripples on the water almost move.
I lingered too long, and Chuck tugged on my hand to move on.
“Come on Lilly. They’re just pictures.” I relented and followed him. I couldn’t tell him what I thought about the painting. I didn’t know why at the time, but I didn’t think he would understand my fascination. He didn’t ask, and I didn’t tell. Chuck pointed out all of the bars along the strip and the movie theaters.
“We go to the movies during the afternoon to get out of the heat,” Chuck explained.
“Does it get really hot here?”
“Not really hot, maybe ninety-six or a hundred, but it’s an air-conditioned place and there aren’t many places in with air conditionin’.”
We spent a lovely evening exploring the nooks and crannies of Waikiki and . We rode the bus between sections. After a Jack-in-the-Box dinner, we headed back to the hotel. I was really ready for a pillow.
Chuck slipped his card in the door, and I heard the very definite sounds of sex slipping out through the crack that Chuck made in the door. He quickly shut the door.
“Um, let’s go down to the lobby and make a call,” Chuck said as he turned my body back towards the elevator. I couldn’t move another step. Even if I wasn’t pissed, I couldn’t drag my ass to the elevator again.
“Why don’t you go make that call, I’m just going to knock on the door until he answers,” I explained.
“Lilian, it’s okay. We’ll just give him a few more minutes and then we’ll call from the lobby.”
“Bullshit. I’m tired, and I don’t care what’s going on in there. I just want to go to sleep.”
Suddenly, the hotel room door opened, and a young girl smiled at us as she left the room.
“Aloha,” she said as she tugged on her white shirt with written in red on the front and then pulled her dark hair back into a knot. She walked in between us and smiled up at Chuck who stood there with a simple look on his face. I just stared at her red backside which also read in white as she walked down the hall to the elevator. Once Chuck recovered, he slid his card again in the lock.
“Sorry, man,” Chuck said to Richard as we entered the room.
What the hell? Why were we sorry? He was the inconsiderate asshole. I shot Richard with my eyes, and he didn’t look at my face anymore, but told Chuck that it was no big deal, “She wasn’t that great anyway. Too demanding,” he said.
I grabbed my carry-on bag and went to the bathroom to take another shower. Wet sand scratched between my toes. I rinsed my feet off in the shower and realized that the sand had rubbed rash-like blisters between my toes. It was amazing how a little bit of sand from that beautiful beach could make me bleed and never want to wear shoes again.
When I got out of the shower, I heard cackling laughter coming from the room. I decided to let the thought of the girl and the sex go and join the laughter. I walked into the room, and the laughter stopped.
“I’m sorry I was such a grump earlier, I’m just really tired.”
Both of the men grinned and accepted the apology. I just didn’t want things to start off wrong, so I let this awkward situation become my fault.
“I’m really ready to hit the sack,” I told both of them as they seemed to not understand that I wanted them to agree and allow me to sleep.
“Sure, Lilian. Here, you get comfy,” Chuck said as he scooted off the bed and sat on Richard’s used, rumpled bed.
I walked to the other side of the bed and pulled the covers down.
“Do you mind if I go back out with Richard?” Chuck asked.
My hand stopped involuntarily as I tried to scrunch under the covers, “What?”
“Do you care if I go to the Iguana with Richard for a while? I’m just not sleepy, and I know you are. That way, we can get out of the room, and you can get some rest.”
Shocked and worn down by the day, words were lost in my throat. I scrunched down further in the bed, and ignored him.
“Lilian, do you care?”
Yes, I care. “No.”
Without another word said, but a kiss on my cheek before he left, Chuck escaped the room with Richard. I didn’t hear him return in the night, but when I woke at 5 o’clock the next morning, Chuck was lying on top of the covers, and he reeked of beer. He had fun, but he didn’t have the money for flowers.
Chuck had to go to work today. I relished poking him until he got out of bed. Chuck shit, showered and shaved, woke Richard so he could do the same, and they took a cab to the opposite side of the island. Before Chuck left, he told me to try to find a hotel on the other side of . Every phone call I made from the hotel cost 75 cents. I made one collect call to my mother to let her know I was okay, and I made two calls to different hotels in the phone book “on the other side of the island.” I only found one available, and it was $300 a night. I knew Chuck didn’t want me to do that, so I called him at work and gave him the SITREP.
Chuck told me he’d check with housing and find out something. He also said not to call from the room phone anymore.
At noon, I got hungry. Chuck left $5 for me on the nightstand. I assumed this was for my lunch. I didn’t call him to ask. I really didn’t care if it was supposed to be for lunch or not. I certainly didn’t give a shit if it was reserved for anything after last night’s stunt. I put my favorite jean shorts on again with a red tank, grabbed the key, and walked barefoot to the elevator carrying my flip flops.
When I walked out of the hotel, the warm sun greeted me and seemed to lighten my mood. I smiled at the couples walking in and out of the hotel holding hands. That’s me. I was a happily married woman living in a paradise. I stepped out onto the sidewalk and immediately jumped back. My feet were still burning while I slid into my flops. Stupid.
A Denny’s sat across the narrow street. Five bucks wouldn’t get me far there, so I turned to the left to see what I could find. I passed a Smorgasbord. The sign in the window read $6.95 for lunch. Next. I walked to the end of the narrow street that opened onto .
Tourists were everywhere and from everywhere. I walked to the right across . I didn’t see any fast food restaurants, but I kept walking hoping I would run into something familiar. I passed the theater that Chuck showed me. It seemed like something out of an old film. The box office sat along the street. Once a customer paid for a ticket, she had to climb this massive concrete stairway to enter the building. It seemed like a waste of space to me, but I guess it was built for kings or queens, or just schmucks who think concrete is better than palm trees.
I continued past restaurants and looked at each menu posted outside. There was nothing to eat less than $10 on any of them. I contemplated going back to the hotel and eating out of the vending machine.
Then, I noticed some dark-skinned men walking in a group across the street. They looked like businessmen headed for lunch or back from lunch. I hoped for the former as I crossed against the light. It seemed to be okay to jaywalk around here. Like a school of fish, people followed the brave leaders out into the midst of very intimidating vehicles. The vehicles stopped, perhaps out of confusion or maybe respect for the absolute bravery. Or maybe like confused sharks, they couldn’t pick just one fish to pounce on, so they let them all slip by.
After following my own school of tuna, I found the huge man in the group of businessmen and followed the back of his head down to a little street where he turned left. I turned behind him and saw the glass door to a restaurant just closing behind him. I walked cautiously up to the door that read L&L Drive-In. I’d never seen a drive-in restaurant without a number of car stalls with call boxes, but this place didn’t have any. It barely had a parking lot. I looked at the menu posted on a sheet of metal hanging behind the register. Korean barbeque seemed to be the main staple there, and I recognized the meat on the menu, but not the words. The man ordered a Chicken Catsu box lunch. I looked at the menu quickly and found that it cost $4.50 with a small drink. Sold!
“Can I take ya orda.” the robust girl behind the counter said so fast that I only recognized ‘order.’
“Chicken Catsu box lunch,” I said in my offensive accent which let her know that I was not a local.
She wrote it down, passed the ticket behind her, and rung me up. She didn’t tell me how much; just took my five, and slid me a nickel on the counter. I saw the man in front of me leave his nickel on the counter. I decided to do the same. I tried to smile a thank you, but smiles were commodities. Hers must have been worth a lot. She didn’t give it away.
I sat at a table close to the door, so I could see the street. The guy I followed watched the counter, so I watched the counter. His food came up, and the girl called out his order. He retrieved it and stopped for a fork at the end of the counter. When she called my order, I mimicked the tall man.
I opened the Styrofoam container, and the smell knocked my sense of home back into my thoughts. It was a fried chicken cutlet with barbecue sauce and a large scoop of macaroni salad. I couldn’t have done better. I scarfed the lunch like I hadn’t eaten in weeks. The people in the restaurant stared at me while I ate. At this point, I knew I was doing something not kosher with the natives, but I was too involved in eating to care at the moment. By the last bite of salad, I still didn’t know what I was doing. I looked around and noticed that the man who I followed was still only a few bites into his lunch. Eating fast was apparently not the thing to do. The men were enjoying their lunch talking about their weekends and laughing.
“Ya know da kine, she picked up da kine and trew it at me?”
“Nooo!” the other men said in unison.
“She crazy, bra?” The men laughed.
I felt like an intruder. I was. I picked up my trash and dusted my crumbs into the Styrofoam container. With no trace of my existence left behind, I ventured back onto the street and back to my hotel.
At 6:30, Chuck returned to the hotel room with Richard, and another guy.
“This is Chief,” Chuck said.
This new person, Chief, was Native-American. He shook my hand, and told me he was glad to meet me. I was always glad to meet new people, but I was also always glad to have my husband alone. Chuck explained that we would be moving to the other side of the island the next day.
“The housing office gave me some money to rent a temporary room at the hillside hotel in . It’s only a few minutes from the base. But Chief and Richard wanted to spend the night here in tonight. I told them it was cool with us.”
Not cool. “So where are you from, Chief is it?” I asked unsure if that was a name that I could call anyone.
He laughed, “Yeah, I think every Native-American in the military is called ‘Chief’.”
“What’s your real name?” I asked determined not to call him that.
“Javier, but it’s okay if you want to call me ‘Chief’ like everyone else. I’m used to it.”
“What do you wanna do tonight, Lilian?” Chuck asked.
I couldn’t think of anything. I was on a tropical island with beautiful beaches, and I didn’t really want to do anything, except stay in the hotel and have my husband alone.
“Do ya’ll want to go down to the beach?” I asked.
The guys all agreed since beach combing was the cheapest and most entertaining thing to do in Hawaii, so we set out for the sand.
We never quite made it to the sand. We walked up and down the strip of wide sidewalk that ran right next to the beach. Richard and Chief ogled every woman who walked by, and I just grinned at their little boy crushes on brown bodies. They never saw a face. At one point, I looked up at Chuck to share the joke, but he was busy following a neon pink g-stringed butt up the street. My blue eyes turned gray, and I wanted to laugh at him the same way I was laughing at Richard and Chief, but I couldn’t. Instead, I looked straight down at the bricks. I couldn’t show him my eyes. I’m happy to be with him.
“Thanks for the lunch money,” I said to him bringing his attention to me.
“What lunch money?” Chuck asked.
“The five dollars you left on the night stand.”
“I didn’ leave five dollars.”
“Oh shit. Was it Richard’s money?”
“I don’t know, but I’ll ask ’im later. I should’ve thought about your lunch. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. We’ll pay him back.”
We wandered back to the hotel room with two girls in tow. One for Richard and one for Chief. When we got to the room, Richard suggested a game of strip poker. Chuck was all for it, Chief, too. The girls were game.
“Jet Lag,” was my excuse; I went to bed and pretended to sleep.
Chuck asked Richard about the money. Richard said it wasn’t his money. It had to be. Chuck dropped the subject.
The giggling girls soon lost their tops (they are only wearing bikinis and shorts) and the guys were working on their bottoms when I noticed my pillow was wet. I wasn’t aware that my tears were running. I only noticed when Chuck called my name when I tried to suck in a breath between them.
“Lilly? Are you awake? You wanna play?”
I ignored him and lay still while I clamped my hands over my mouth. Chuck didn’t press when I didn’t answer. He kept playing with the girls until he was down to his boxers, and the girls were completely naked. Chuck folded and crawled into the bed behind me. I could feel his erection on my bottom as he spooned onto me. He rubbed slightly up and down on my butt. He slid down a little further, and I felt his swollen head prodding my bottom. When he nearly entered my asshole instead of my vagina, I flipped over to face him. His partners in crime lost their final bits of clothing and were standing up to take their underwear off by the tiny dining table. I skirted over their form, looked into my husband’s eyes, and mouthed the word, “no.”
His eyes flooded me with accusation. I pushed back from him to the edge of the bed and closed my eyes. I felt the bed bounce. Chuck grabbed the covers and pulled them around his body. He exposed mine in the process. I pressed my eyes shut.
A few minutes later, I heard the shower come on in the bathroom. A few minutes after that, I heard moans from the shower and the bed next to Chuck started to squeak. More moans. More squeaks. Thirty minutes later, the girls were leaving, and the guys were trying to get them to stay the night. Vomit came up in my mouth, and I swallowed it. I curled into a ball. The air conditioning was on high, and I shivered as I lie there tasting the remnants of dinner and trying to crush this new formed memory of a military style orgy. I felt Chief and Richard staring at me, and I cracked open my eyes as someone lay a blanket over the top of me, but my tears clouded my sight.
Seven days after my plane landed in Hawaii lying on the bed alone by Chuck in the hillside hotel room that we moved into, he jacked off under the covers to a Hustler magazine. I cried silently into my pillow as the ancient spring mattress echoed my husband’s dissatisfaction and subtly bounced with the movement of his arm. This wasn’t the first time, but it was the first time I said anything.
“What are you doing?” I asked playing the ignorant innocent.
As the bed suddenly stilled, Chuck replied, “Nothin’.”
“You’re shaking the bed.”
“I can’t sleep,” I complained.
He stopped moving until he thought I was asleep. Then, he turned the page.
We moved from the temporary hotel to a real apartment the next week, seven hundred and fifty dollars a month for a studio apartment with avocado, shag carpet. We bought a futon from the PX on home layaway so we would have a place to sit and a bed. After that first week of Chuck’s “teaching me a lesson,” life smoothed out for us. Almost every weekend, Chuck and I went to the beach in Kailua where the surf was very low during the day like a big beach on the side of a lake in Texas instead of the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes, Richard and Javier would come with us and bring beer or sodas. We took sandwiches and water for picnics and played in the calm waters.
I found a job at the PX with security my third week in . I had no idea what I was getting into when I took the job. I’d never worked in security services before, and I soon found out that policing a store was not something I enjoyed, especially the dressing rooms. At the PX, security guards ran the ladies dressing rooms. Six garments in. Six garments out. I spent most of my time dealing with military wives requesting different sizes from me and bitching because I told them I couldn’t leave my post. Either that, or the women would ask me to keep an eye on their rug rats. They would turn over their 3 month, 6 month, 2 year, and 4 year old treasures to a stranger in a uniform to pick out something to wear to the e-club that night.
Then they would ask, “Does this look alright?”
Smiling, “Beautiful,” I would say no matter how atrocious the outfit. If they show up at the club with a dress that makes their butt look the size of a beach ball, it serves them right for making me watch their brats.
When I got home every day after work, Chuck would ask me what was for supper and then laugh when I gave him the standard go to hell look. We took turns making meals. I cooked hot meals, while he provided sandwiches or take-out. While we munched, Chuck and I watched TV, talked, and laughed at the stories about the women I had to deal with during the day. We made love almost every night after that rough first week. I never spoke of that first week. I just let it go.