Mai Tais and Murder
J.C. Long © 2017
All Rights Reserved
The sound of banging drew me from the nap I’d fallen into on the uncomfortable, lumpy couch I’d inherited in my new condo. I looked around, confused until I realized someone was knocking at my front door rather impatiently.
I hurried across the room, threw open the door, and was greeted with the sight of a burly Islander pulling a dolly loaded up with boxes. The movers were there, finally. I glanced at the watch I wore on my wrist. It was nearly noon, so only, oh, two hours late.
“Aloha, we’re with the movers,” the man said unnecessarily.
“I thought you were going to be here by ten,” I said, stepping out of the door and allowing the man to wheel the dolly inside.
“Yo, you got choke boxes, braddah.” It sounded like it was meant to be an explanation, but if it was, I didn’t understand it. I’d been in Hawaii for two weeks, and I had not come close to catching on to the local pidgin. I understood what was being said around me about seventy percent of the time, and then suddenly I had no idea. Perhaps he saw the confusion on my face, because he added, not unkindly, “You got a lot of boxes.”
I nodded my understanding, deciding not to press the issue of the lateness; I’d learned in my brief time living on the island of Oahu that things in Hawaii ran differently, as if time followed different rules there. Things that would be done at a quick pace back in Seattle just happened slower here—the whole aloha, relaxed island attitude to blame, I supposed. It definitely wasn’t a bad thing—in fact, I found the lifestyle here to be worlds better than what I experienced on the mainland. It was just an adjustment. Grace assured me I’d get there eventually, and I was mildly successful already, becoming way more relaxed than I had been in Seattle, but when it came to things like this, I couldn’t help but get a little irate.
Didn’t people in Hawaii want their packages on time, too? At least pizza delivery still ran on time.
I stood back and allowed the man and his companion to wheel in more boxes. They were about halfway through unloading when the second man stopped and pulled the door down on the back of the truck, leaving the rest of my boxes inside.
“Hey, what are you doing? Those are my boxes!”
“Nevah mine, braddah. Try wait, yeah? We come back bumbye. We gone go grind.” The bigger guy came out of the condo behind me, patting my shoulder with a beefy hand.
I ran a hand through my hair. “I’m sorry, I don’t quite understand…”
“He said they’ll come back in a bit. They’re going to get lunch.”
I looked over and saw a tall, dark-skinned Islander, bulging muscles all but ripping out of the tight maroon V-neck T-shirt he was wearing. He was about an inch over six feet, with dazzling white teeth and short-cut, dark hair. His eyes were a surprisingly light shade of hazel that contrasted his skin.
“Oh, uh, yeah, okay. Thanks.” God, I sounded like a stammering idiot.
If the hunk of an Islander noticed, he didn’t say anything. “You’ve been here a few weeks, right? Why are you just getting boxes? Not that I’m stalking you or anything,” he added quickly, eyes widening a bit as he probably processed what he said. Saying you weren’t stalking someone made it sound like you were stalking someone. I hadn’t taken it that way, but when I thought about it, I could see how it could sound stalker-like. “I live in the condo next to yours.” He pointed over my shoulder at the door to his place.
I had my suspicions that he was blushing, but with his face as tan as it was, it was hard to tell. It did look like the skin on the exposed, smooth expanse of his chest and neck had reddened a bit, but was likely just wishful thinking.
That’s when I realized I was staring at his chest. Goddamn it, here I was, a twenty-nine-year-old man acting like a fifteen-year-old. “I’m Gabe Maxfield.” I introduced myself to establish that I was not, in fact a bumbling idiot. “Nice to meet you.”
The guy took my hand and shook it firmly. His touch was surprisingly soft despite the few calluses I could feel, and a warmth spread through me that had nothing to do with the blazing sun. “I’m Maka Kekoa. Hauʻoli kēia hui ʻana o kāua. That’s nice to meet you in Ōlelo Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiian language.”
I tried to repeat it, and he smiled at the way I stumbled over the words. “To answer your question,” I said quickly, trying to move past the embarrassment of butchering the language, “I wasn’t in a rush to get everything since this place came mostly furnished. I shipped them from Seattle at the cheapest—and slowest—rate.”
“Oh, you need these guys back here at a certain time?” he asked, gesturing toward the movers, who still hadn’t driven off, much to my surprise. They were standing close together, watching our interaction with quite a bit of interest.
“I’m supposed to meet a friend today at three, so they need to be here and finished before then.”
Maka nodded and walked to the passenger door of the truck, rapping on it with his knuckles. The door opened and some words were exchanged that I didn’t hear—not that I was paying attention. My eyes were too busy traveling over the nice muscles of Maka’s arms and the very pleasing shape of his ass.
This was, I realized, the first inkling of physical attraction toward another man I’d felt since things had gone so bad with Trevor two months before. Since then I’d been living in a bit of a fog on many levels, including my libido. I just didn’t feel the drive—I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d jacked off. Seeing Maka seemed to have poked the bear, so to speak, and I felt myself begin to harden.
I was surprised when the two movers hopped out of their truck, rolled up the back door, and once again started moving boxes. One of them shot a glare at Maka as he went by and muttered something under his breath, but Maka didn’t seem to notice.
“How did you do that?” I demanded when he rejoined me
Maka shrugged, once again flashing those pearly whites. “I have a way with people.”
“Clearly. I need to get you to teach me.”
“Maybe that can be arranged sometime.” Was he flirting with me? Or had I been out of commission so long that I was misreading a simple conversational reply? Why was interacting with a man so complicated? My mind had to go running off in three directions at once, and I didn’t even know if this guy played for my team, so to speak. “It was nice to meet you, Gabe. I’ve got to get going. Tell Pako and his boy that if they have any trouble with anything, they should give me a call, okay?”
“Will do,” I said with an awkward chuckle. “Nice to meet you, Maka.”
“Aloha.” I waved at him as he left. He’d rounded the corner into a second section of the parking lot when I heard sniggering behind me.
I turned to find the big guy who’d come to my door first—the one Maka called Pako, I think—standing on the porch leaning on the box-loaded dolly, watching me. “What’s so funny, exactly?”
“That moke, you gotta be careful,” he said, as if that cleared anything up. “He dangerous, you feel? Braddah stay with mad temper.”
I looked back in the direction Maka had gone in. “Huh? That guy?”
My ignorance earned me a dismissive gesture. “Mento mahalini be comin’ here not understandin’ nothin’,” he muttered under his breath to his companion who was closing the back of the now empty moving truck.
“Yo, braddah, get the kala,” his friend said, nudging him. I wondered what kala meant, but all became clear when he turned around and held out his hand in a universal request for money.
I sighed, dug out my wallet, and shoved a ten into the guy’s hand before making my way back inside, not waiting to see if they were going to leave or not. I felt a wave of despair wash over me as I took in the mess that now filled the main room of my small condo. There were nearly twenty boxes—the remnants of my life in Seattle. Seeing them all there made my condo feel claustrophobic. It was like a tower of cardboard shadowing the small couch and cheap off-brand television the place had come with.
The boxes were roughly the same color as the hardwood floors, and they obscured the eggshell-colored walls of the tiny square of the living room. Behind one stack, I could barely see the half bar wall that divided the main room from the kitchen with its slightly different shade of white walls, blue tile floors, and black appliances. It would take me forever to unpack them. At least it would give me something to do during the nights when the doubts and regrets came. I’d taken to fighting them off by watching Hawaii 5-0 reruns on television, and that could only work for so long, despite how beautiful Daniel Dae Kim was.
I sat down on the lumpy couch and grabbed the box nearest to me, ripping the tape clear and opening it to see what was inside. I closed it right back up, cringing against an emotional jolt. Of course the first box I grabbed would contain the few mementos of my relationship with Trevor. I liked collecting shot glasses, so any time either of us traveled we would get one to add to the collection. Considering Trevor left me with very little, I thought I could at least take the shot glasses.
Looking now at the closed box, I could see that maybe that had been a mistake.
I set the box aside and targeted safer boxes. I’d written “clothes” on all of the boxes that had clothing inside, so I dragged them each—all six of them—into the bedroom and unpacked them. The amount of sweat coating me when I finished surprised me; it was mid-October, after all. However, in Hawaii, it was damn near eighty degrees, and I didn’t have my air conditioner on—who needs an air conditioner in October? The windows were thrown open to tempt in the nice Hawaiian breeze, though, and if it weren’t for the manual labor of moving the heavy boxes, I would have been fine.
I didn’t stop unpacking the boxes and filling up my small closet until my cell phone rang. I dug around on my bed to find it, following the sound. Where was the damn thing? It was an iPhone 6S, and how I could lose something so big when I hadn’t left a three-foot radius all afternoon was beyond me.
It went to voicemail before I finally found it inside one of the boxes. How the hell did it get in there?
The missed call was from my best friend, Grace Park—the reason I’d upped my sticks to Hawaii in the first place. In the aftermath of everything that went down with Trevor, Grace was the one who convinced me a change of scenery was in order. I didn’t actually require much convincing, though—Seattle had become like a prison for me, sapped of the joy and beauty and warm feelings I once felt toward it—so I couldn’t give her all the credit.
I dialed her back, knowing I was going to catch hell for missing the call.
“Hey, Grace, I’m sorry. I was unpacking boxes and couldn’t—”
“Sorry for what?” Grace asked over the phone. I knew it was a bait question, as one of her favorite things to do was goad people into admitting fault without her ever having to engage them in an argument. I’d told her on more than one occasion that she should really consider becoming a lawyer; she’d be good at it.
“Nothing,” I said quickly. I wasn’t going to play her game. “What did you need? Am I late for lunch?”
“No, no. I might be a little late, though.” From the sound of it, she was talking to me from her car; I could hear the road and the occasional roar of engines zooming past her. “I got caught up in a photo job.”
I snickered. “Hiding in the bushes taking pictures of dirty old men cheating on their wives?”
“No, I was taking pictures of a client’s neighbors allowing their dogs to use the client’s yard as a toilet without cleaning it up. You’d be surprised how many times it’s happened, and by how many different neighbors. Apparently the client isn’t well-liked in this neighborhood.”
I did not get the appeal of Grace’s job. “Sounds…glamorous.”
“Glamorous or not, the lady actually paid my steep fee for me to do it. I made three hundred dollars taking pictures of dogs for two hours. I’d say that’s a win in anyone’s book.” I said nothing, because I had to concede her point. “You go to the restaurant, and I’ll meet you there as soon as I’m done with my meeting, okay?”
“Sounds fine, I’ll—” I stopped talking, though, because she was no longer on the other end of the line. Grace had a really annoying habit of not saying goodbye when she ended a phone conversation, and quite often hung up while the other person was still talking. It was one simple word that took less than a second to say, so she wasn’t saving any time. What was so hard about saying “goodbye”?
I considered spending a bit more time unpacking but found the idea to be distasteful, so instead I jumped in the shower to get ready to meet Grace. I hadn’t really been out of the house since moving there, except a few times to go grocery shopping or pick up essentials. I hadn’t been feeling up to it. Grace, though, had had enough of my moping around and took it upon herself to get me reintegrated with the real world, insisting I meet her for lunch at this place she knew. After browbeating me into accepting, she told me to meet her at the restaurant she took me to on the day I got there for a quick lunch before we hit the rental shop. It wasn’t far from my place, so I agreed—reluctantly.
She was right, I knew, which only irritated me. It was about time I got back out into the world. I couldn’t live the rest of my life locked away in my condo. Besides, even though it had only been two weeks, I was burning through the money in the trust fund my grandfather left me much faster than I wanted to. It was time for me to return to civilization, get a job, and move on with my life after the disaster that was Trevor. Maybe even find a new man.
The face of my neighbor, Maka Kekoa, flashed through my mind, unbidden, and I turned the shower knob to cold to fight the sudden physical reaction my body had. It was unusual for me to lose so much control of my body; typically, I could will away erections with very little effort. This one, though, even with the needling spray of cold water, persisted.
I needed to leave pretty soon to get to lunch on time, but I didn’t want to go to a meeting with Grace while sporting an erection. I turned the shower back to warm and lathered myself up with soap—first concentrating on cleaning and then on making myself feel good.
The intensity of the sensation of my soap-slicked hand on my cock was overwhelming; it had been so long since I’d even touched myself that I could feel the end already approaching. I didn’t mind, though. I wasn’t looking to draw it out or enjoy it, just get it over with and get on with my day. It felt like just a few strokes before my orgasm struck me. My mind rebelliously summoned the muscular arms and gorgeous ass of my new neighbor, and it sent me over the edge, my orgasm bubbling through me and emptying out onto the wet tile floor of the shower.
In the wake of it, I didn’t feel that satisfaction one felt after good, hot sex; it was more of a hollow, fleeting relief I knew wouldn’t last, but it was finished for the moment, which was what I wanted in the first place.
That urge now taken care of, I finished my shower, pausing to study myself in the long mirror hanging on the back of my bathroom door. I was of average height, around five feet eight, with skin that was still creamy and pale from the near-constant cloud cover of Seattle. That paleness was a testament to just how infrequently I’d ventured outside; was it even possible to live in Hawaii without being tan? I was living, breathing proof that it was.
A sparse smattering of freckles spanned out across my shoulders and the bridge of my nose. My body was normal, leaning toward skinny. I had a decent amount of muscle definition in my chest beneath a soft fan of dark chest hair. My stomach was just flat, maybe a bit soft. I gave it a little poke, frowning at just how flabby it felt.
There wasn’t much I could do about the stomach, though, I thought as I toweled my bland brown hair. It was just shaggy enough to occasionally be annoying but wouldn’t earn me the “surfer brah” stereotype.
I dressed in basic cargo shorts and a sky-blue polo shirt that brought out the flecks of blue in my otherwise green eyes. I’d learned to dress to draw out the few things I saw as my good features a long time ago, and my eyes were definitely at the top of that—very short—list. I didn’t bother spending much time trying to tame my hair; it would simply do what it wanted no matter how long I tried to coax it into some semblance of order. I’d long ago given up that particular fight.
Dressed and ready to face the day, I set out to meet Grace. As I climbed behind the wheel, I was surprised to find that I was actually excited for lunch.