6.2   "Return of the Rain" (cont'd)

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After Keawe flung the lid of his great calabash and created the sun, his life-force, known as Mana, surged throughout the newly created universe and gave rise to Ku and Hina:

Ku and Hina, male (kane) and female (wahine), are invoked as great ancestral gods of heaven and earth who have general control over the fruitfulness of earth and the generations of mankind. Ku means "rising upright," Hina means "leaning down." The sun at its rising is referred to as Ku, at its setting to Hina; hence the morning belongs to Ku, the afternoon to Hina.

Source: Hawaiian Mythology by Martha Beckwith, as quoted in:

Matthew Lawless made his way along the Red Road toward Kukio Kai. All the way down Ohalani Road it seemed as if someone else had been doing the driving: some other force was pressing his foot on the gas, applying the brake at curves, turning the wheel on his behalf.

As much as he wanted to turn around and go anywhere else, he knew he had to see Willow and the baby. To confront the unconfrontable.

When Matthew was 12 his parents divorced, leaving him to be raised primarily by his mother. His father had already been something of a ghost in his life, passing in and out of the one-story brick rancher with furtive ease and, it sometimes seemed, a felonious disinterest in Matthew’s existence. This man who slept in the bedroom down the hall from Matthew’s room was like a stranger. He drove him to school with scarcely a question or lesson for survival, and yet at one point, early on, he had been full of the promise that all young fathers possess. But the promise dissipated quickly. The years leading up to his separation from Matthew’s mother had been scarred by a silent mistrust between the two of them, the disappointment accruing until there was no more promise and the commitment had been mutually rescinded. He left, and Matthew rarely saw him after that.

Matthew viewed his father’s departure as abandonment, especially since he was at a difficult age – a “world of confusion” is how he phrased it to Willow once. He knew that his relationship to the baby he was about to meet was different than the relationship he had with his own father. Willow is the one who wanted the baby, after all, and she had all but rejected the notion of the father being involved in its raising: “He will know of you but he probably won’t know you,” she told Matthew. “There will be no expectations set that you should have been there. No notion that you abandoned him. He won’t think of you the way you think of your father…”

It was, he supposed, an easy out for him. For that he had been grateful when she told him she was pregnant: he had all the benefits of sex without any burden of the outcome. Looking for a change in his life, he was in no position to be a father, and Willow wanted to nothing more than to be a mother. So it sounded logical at the time, a perfect arrangement, except now, confronted with the real likelihood of invoking in this unknowable child the same sense of failure invoked when his own father drifted out of his life—. Matthew’s trust in the arrangement was faltering: Willow was wrong. She could control her own feelings around fatherhood but she couldn’t control the boy’s. That would be the child’s task, his burden of inheritance: to absorb the multitude of signals coming from society and compare them against his own condition. From somewhere within all the information he would construct an identity of his own definition and seek out a place for himself, and of his own choosing, in this world. Matthew knew all too well that you can’t tell a person who they're supposed to become.

As he approached the vicinity of Kukio Kai, he found himself willingly, very intentionally, pulling Yoda off to the side of the road.  The stranger had yielded control of the vehicle back to the self. Matthew drove his truck onto the gravelly lava parking spot of one of the several cliffside fishing spots that dotted the Red Road. He set the truck to park and turned off the ignition.

Ahead of him, the Pacific crashed against black lava rock, the white froth of its waves heaving in discordant rhythm.

He would have to think about this one.

Pualani drove along the Highway toward Kurtistown to pick up the Rinpoche’s phone and shoulder bag. She was going opposite the flow of traffic, which was starting to fill up the road all the way to Hilo. Along the way she couldn’t stop thinking that we must all be freaks of nature: accidents of chemistry and physics, random electrons carried here on meteors hundreds of millions of years ago. Why else all this indecision and these ridiculous relationships. As the yellow stripes on the road whizzed by, she began to wonder what will happen after the human race goes extinct. (It happened to the dinosaurs, after all, and before them an ocean full of creatures.) When we’re gone will some other group of species evolve and take ownership of our wistful paradise, bound to its solitary beauty the way we once were, in love with it but always yearning to defeat its gravity and travel across the skies to see what’s hiding among the stars?  Or will they be content with what they have, happy just for the sun and land and the sea? Of course that begs the question: what will all of this have been for once we’re gone – this grand experiment. Us. Will the beings that follow us comb through our wreckage and make proclomations about us, trying to discern who we were and passing judgment on how we lived?

(These are questions that don’t come up frequently around breakfast tables in Snohomish.)

Pualani cranked the steering wheel as she cut through Kea’au town. The car was turning with more difficulty now, ever since Kyle had thrashed it on his flight from Puna. She was having nearly as much difficulty managing the car as she was trying to stabilize her feelings.

She drove past the outdoor market then onto a series of streets that disappeared into the trees along the northern flank of the volcano. She glanced at the address she’d written down on a piece of scratch paper. As her poor little wreck of a car struggled up a residential road, she peered out the window trying to read addresses on the mailboxes, their white stenciled numbers counting off time and immeasurable finalities.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mytravelphotos/5474411079

Before the dinner hour, Prudence walked down to the health food store along the bayfront to buy some incense. Reason was there behind the cash register, as she often was. When Prudence came up to pay, she said of the incense Pru had selected, “Oh, I like that one. They also make a killer patchouli. You should try it.”

Prudence smiled politely. Patchouli made her nauseous. Time may be an antidote for many things but it can’t erase the memory of certain things: notably, the miasma of beer-soaked wooden floors and rank tequila in a hippie-strewn cervecería along the muggy coast of western Mexico.

“I’ll pass.”

On her way out the door she scanned the bulletin board, her glad ritual, to see what was new. 

Amid the usual pleadings and offerings of debris that people were shedding from their lives was a 3x5 card with large thickly drawn letters announcing, WANTED!! Then in even sloppier letters: KYLE WETHERLY aka RINPOCHER THE MAGNIFECENT. For crimes against the Hawaiian people. Below it a phone number and a message: Anonamous tips welcome.

Prudence raised her hand toward the announcement. The thumbtack was within pinching reach of her thumb and forefinger. She paused. Looked around. (Reason’s attention was occupied by a magazine.)

She pondered.

She decided instead she was going to head back to the Garden Snack Club for the dinner shift. She wouldn't give the Rinpoche another ounce of her energy. Kyle Weatherly had, she was quite certain, gotten out of Puna. Gotten off the Big Island. Was somewhere now en route to swoon and sleaze his way into somebody else’s world.

As far as she was concerned, he was gone for good. And he was safe, she was quite sure of that. Men like him don’t leave this life willingly, even less so at the hands of impetuous men like Peter Pualoa. They go kicking and screaming and after the good ones have already passed on before them. And even if they don’t get what they deserve on this planet, their deeds are dealt with on another plane. Of this Prudence was certain; this was her faith, cobbled together and wobbly though it sometimes was.

She left the 3x5 card on the bulletin board because sometimes it’s pono to do nothing at all.

Source: http://yosemitenews.info

The history of mankind, Manu used to way, is written with the deeds of men. The story of the Rinpoche, however, is a story not of deeds, indefensible though they were, but of fleeing. Kyle Weatherly had fled every encounter in his life since his youth. Never one to fit in with his suburban swim club siblings and parents, he had very few friends of his own and was a genuine friend to no one. At seventeen, he turned his back on his upbringing and initiated the first of many escapes. It began with Oregon then was followed by Scottsdale, then Hawaii, Mexico, India, Nepal, Tibet, Big Sur, Taos, Bend, even Baja, all the time writing stories, weaving tales, selling a great many things but mostly a fabricated version of himself. And then he returned to the Big Island.

During his retreat at Kukio Kai, Kyle had preached about the difference between freedom and flight. One’s inner light is a mooring, he proclaimed, a post to latch your ship to during a storm. It is also a path forward, a way. It is freedom. The act of leaving a place is a willful act borne of a sense of completion with it, of satiety, or by deciding to leave behind something that is no good for you. Leaving is therefore an act of freedom. Flight, on the other hand, is avoidance. To flee something is to run from that inner light, to unlatch yourself from your self and cast your being into the unfamiliar and ominous night, full of righteousness and fury.

The story of the Rinpoche is, of course, a story of ironic departure. No one would ever know what had become of him. It was as though he were magically erased—incinerated by the volcano, washed out to sea by a rogue wave, suffocated by Pele’s perfume, snatched by the menehune…who knew.

When the kid from Kurtistown and his friend saw the Rinpoche’s satchel on the trail at the edge of the caldera the morning after the wind storm, what they didn’t see over the edge of the crater wall was a crumpled shell lying down below, empty, vacant, just a pair of running shoes, walking shorts and a tunic, all crumpled in a heap. There was no body there, however, only the clothes. Sunlight came after the night of the Rinpoche’s flight and confirmed it.

He was gone.

They say that when the Night Marchers come, if you look at them they will take your soul. Believing himself impervious to fate, that night Kyle pressed a handkerchief against his nose and mouth to block the gasping blasts of smoke billowing around him. Great thundering footsteps echoed across the caldera’s walls and shook the ground beneath him. Consumed with fear, he crouched behind the shrubs near where he’d tossed all of his things. Dry brittle lightning illuminated the sky and a hot wind swirled around him. He was naked and sweating profusely. He looked up and said a quiet prayer. The invisible army approached with their torches flaring and drummers drumming. With his face burning with rage, he stood and stared the oncoming Night Marchers right into their eyes.

“Close it up, early?” Prudence suggested.

“Heck, yeah,” said I’ilani, covering a bowl of food with plastic wrap. “Gotta get June to her tūtū’s house this evening because I have a man to do business with.”

“Mom….” groaned the young girl.

“Ahhh, sugar ant, when you’re older you’ll know.”

Prudence turned off the neon Open sign in the front window. “Kamoku’s a lucky man.”

I’ilani made up a little song and sauntered around the kitchen: “Cook all day and cook all night…”

“Please,” said the girl.

I’ilani let out a boisterous laugh.

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