An excerpt (LC), with more to come:
“I’d like to give every cop I see the broad side of my shoe in the seat of his pants” Hay said.
“If you did”, Kimiyo answered, “they put you in jail”.
“if they put me in jail, you could bake me a cake with a file in it, bring it down to the jailhouse and I could file through the bars on the window and run away fast”.
Kimiyo and Hay were lying on the bed in their room in the Old Sailor’s Home, Chinatown Honolulu. They had been in Honolulu three weeks. Hay had spent the morning job-hunting, while Kimiyo read at the Public Library. They had had a late lunch of a bottle of wine and cheese sandwiches. When they awoke from their siesta, Hay went down the hall to the women’s toilet for a shower, then they had tea and a pastry and lay back down. Mister and Missus Lazybones” they sometimes called themselves. Kimiyo had just told Hay about her visit to the police station.
A librarian that Kimiyo had chatted with told her that Chinatown was too dangerous to live in, so walking home down Hotel Street, passing the Police Station, she went in. It was a small office with only one policeman standing beside a desk looking at a sheet of paper.
“Hello”, she said. The policeman glanced her way, turned back to his paper, finally put it down on the desk and saunted over. He put both hands on the counter, arms out straight. The arms were patterned with bright tattoos, one being Betty Boop, bare-breasted in a grass skirt.
“What can I do for you Lady?” He said thrusting out his chin.
“I am new in neighborhood, hear Chinatown is unsafe, and wanted to inquire”.
“Wanted to inquire”, the young policeman echoed.
“Is danger? Murders here?”
“You have statistic?”
“Nope”, he said after a long pause, “wad you move into Chinatown for?”
“It had cheap rent. I like ambience here”.
“Ambience”, he echoed after another pause. He looked her up and down slowly. “You single?
“No. Married”. Kimiko felt uneasy, that the policeman wasn’t proper. “Why?”
The policeman stared hard at her.
“My advice to you, Lady, is watch yer back, stay out of the shadows, and get outta Chinatown toot-sweet”.
He went back to the desk and picked up the sheet of paper.
“They learn their roles watching cop shows on T.V.”, Hay said.
They felt snug and happy in their little room. There was a window beside their bed looking out onto a closed empty space and a small built-in table. There was a knee-high refrigerator, zinc kitchen and a shelf by the door, under a slanting ceiling, beneath the stairs up to the second floor.
“And my brave job hunter” she asked, are you my professor yet?”
“I’m starting to get the Slovic despair. I was with Ishikawa again today, it seems like both he and the Dean, Fujita, are pacing the floor waiting for me to drop in. I told you, Fujita is a Browning expert and we have bird twitter conversations. It’s the big Hawaiian State University, but they are not even sure about arranging a few lectures for me. Tomorrow, I go to see Lilian tiger…”
“That’s a fun name!”
“She teaches creative writing at the Kapiolani Community College and uses my stories in her literature classes. I think I’ll get something there, and maybe at University of thePacific Rim—that guy was very impressed that I knew Ginsberg and spent a lot of time with García Márquez in Barcelona. That’s Doctor Kato. Half of the professors here are Japanese descendants”.
“At the library, too”.
“We are in Asia, my Tokyo Rose!”
“We go for walk?”
Kekaulie Street is a pedestrian street, under Orchid trees, in the middle of five bustling marketplaces. It was dusk when they stepped out of the big heavy glass doors of the Old Sailor’s Home. Among the market litter, the army of the homeless, like a single mass, was settling into the chained doorways and the niches of the street, shopping carts parked, laying unfolded carton, taking a last nip, a few playing cards, few playing with their children murmuring. It was too early for the corner drug dealers.
“Our neighborhood”, said Hay, when they had crossed King Street, “is Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde. So Mister Serious during the day, so monster at night”.
“Tomorrow I’m going to the Employment Office before I go out to Kapiolani, that guy where we stayed at Pi’ikoi told me they had a free telephone, fax and copy machine there”.
“Yes, my pretty scholar”
“I have library friend”.
“The one who told you about the murderers, rapists and mad druggies of China town?”
“Yes. Coy her name”.
“Coy? That’s a funny name”.