Monday, July 22, 2013



Chapter 2:  Full Moon

George waited until the house was silent. He slipped out of bed, cracked open his bedroom door, and listened. The steady rhythm of Kapuna's snore whispered from the other bedroom.
He crept into the kitchen to peek at the clock. It was eleven. Even though it was normally only a twenty-minute walk to the square, he decided it was time to go. The burn would slow him, and he didn’t want to be late. The ritual had to take place at midnight under a full moon. If they missed it, they’d have to wait until next month, and that would be a lifetime away.
Plus, Jonathan would be totally mad at him if he had to wait.
George slipped out the back door.
Sweet flowery scents floated on the night breeze. Walking the road would take less time, but there was a greater chance of being spotted, so he headed for the beach. He walked down the low lava rock wall that separated his yard from Mr. Kim’s.
Barking erupted from the neighbor’s house. It was Poi Dog. George jumped onto the grass and sprinted under a row of palm trees. The last thing he needed was for Mr. Kim to catch him in his backyard again.
He raced down the beach, past an outrigger canoe pulled high up on the sand. The burn on his leg began to throb again, and he slowed to a walk.
Thirty minutes later he neared the town square with the giant banyan tree that covered almost the whole block. He whistled to let Jonathan know he’d arrived.
Jonathan emerged from the shadows. “You’re almost late,” he said in low whisper and then laughed like Bela Lugosi.
“There’s plenty of time.”
“You bring the knife?’
“No, I forgot.”
“Then what are we going to use?”
George bent down and picked up a piece of sharp coral. “This will work. We only need a little blood.”
“Okay then,” Jonathan said. “Let’s do it.”
George stabbed his thumb. A tiny blob of blood welled on his skin. He handed the coral to Jonathan. “Your turn.”
Jonathan jabbed his thumb and raised his arm. Blood trickled down his hand and into the cuff of his shirt.
“Weird,” George said. “Your blood looks black in the moonlight.”
“Woooo. . . that’s because I’m the zombie king. Press your thumb against mine and we’ll be zombie kings together.”
George put his bloody thumb on Jonathan’s and felt a foreboding shiver run down his arm. When he spoke, his voice came out in a loud, hoarse whisper. “Under this sacred tree, witnessed by a full moon, we make this pact.”
“Forever we share the same blood.”
“Together we’ll stand against mummies, monsters, and denizens of the dark.”
“We’ll share in the fight against all curses, real and imagined.”
“Blood brothers forever,” George said.
“Brothers forever,” Jonathan echoed.
“It is done,” George said. “Hey, you’re getting blood on your shirt.”
“Shoot! My auntie will kill me.” Jonathan slipped off his shirt. On his arm, a big irregular patch of white skin gleamed in the moonlight.
“Hey, your white blob has grown. It’s bigger. Now it kind of looks like a ghost. Does it hurt?”
“No. Not even if I scratch it.” Jonathan dug his thumbnail into the white skin. “I can’t feel a thing. Auntie Mary thinks it’s from the sun.”
“You’re kidding.”
“I wish I were. Then I wouldn’t have to wear long-sleeved shirts all the time.”
“Bummer,” George said, thinking sometimes it was good to be poor. His grandparents couldn’t afford dress shirts for everyday wear. He bumped his burn and winced. “Wish this burn didn’t hurt.”
“Your wish is my command, oh blood brother of mine. Follow me,” Jonathan said and started off at a fast pace.
“Where are we going?”
Jonathan grinned. “To the Hauola seat.”
George snorted. “You’re crazy.” A lot of stuff Jonathan believed wasn't true. The power of the Hauola seat was one of them. “It’s just old superstition.”
“You shouldn’t make fun of what you don’t understand,” Jonathan said and walked faster. George had to hurry to catch up.
“Don’t be mad.”
“I’m not. I’m just tired of you thinking you know everything. I thought once we were blood brothers things would change.”
“Yeah, like you would stop making fun of the things I believe in.”
“I’m not making fun of anything.”
“Then you’ll sit in the Hauola seat?”
“I’m following you, aren’t I?”
Jonathan didn’t answer.
George shoved him. “Loosen up. I can’t wait to try it.”
They hurried past the library to the low rock wall that bordered the bay. Moonlight glinted off the water, and it felt like they were in a black-and-white movie.
“There it is,” George said, trying to sound excited, hoping to put Jonathan back into a better mood. He pointed into the water at the cluster of large rocks that circled the Hauola stone.
They moved down the wall to where it was the closest to the stone.
“You coming in?” he asked as he stripped off his pants and T-shirt.
Jonathan shook his head. “Nope. Nothing wrong with me.”
“Okay.” He slipped into the ocean, wearing just his underwear and the bandage on his leg. The salt water seeped through the gauze and stung his burn. He gritted his teeth.
Carefully he made his way to the Hauola stone, climbed onto its natural seat and settled his feet into a hollow footrest. He slid back a bit and leaned against the tiny lip of a backrest. It was kind of comfortable.
“What now?” he asked.
“For starters, you can laugh at my jokes.” Jonathan said.
“Only if they’re funny.”
Carefully George peeled off the bandage and let the gentle waves lap against the wound. At first, the salt water stung like the devil, and then nothing.
“Here’s one I made up myself.” Jonathan cleared his throat. “In Hollywood they’re calling slippahs, flip flops.” He paused. “You’re supposed to ask me why.”
“Okay. Why?”
“Because if you try to flip in them, you’ll flop.” He waited. “You’re not laughing.”
George raised his leg from the water and squinted. The burn had faded to a pale white. He grinned and started laughing loud enough to be heard all the way to the mainland.
“It wasn’t that funny.”
George splashed his way back to shore. Jumping out, he shouted, “Look at my leg! It’s healed.”
Except for the loss of pigment, the skin looked almost normal.
“You’re the best blood-brother ever,” George said and slapped Jonathan on the back. Then he slipped into his clothes. “This calls for a celebration.”
“Like what?”
“Let’s have a shaved ice.”
“At The Dolphin on Front Street.”
“They’re not open.”
“So we’ll help ourselves tonight and you’ll pay them tomorrow."
“I don’t know . . .”
A police siren pierced the silence. Its whine grew louder. In seconds, flashing red lights and bright headlights raced toward where they stood.
“Come on,” George said and pulled his friend into the shadows. To his relief, the cars sped past without slowing. Two police cars followed by a black sedan. “Hey. They’re turning onto your street.”
“I bet it’s the neighbors,” Jonathan said. “They’re always causing problems. Let’s go spy out what’s happening.”
They ran down the street, keeping to the shadows. When they arrived, the cars weren’t in front of the neighbor’s house. They were parked in front of Jonathan’s. The three cars created a barricade across the front of the yard. The two police cars and the large black sedan with the round Hawaiian Health Department seal painted on its door.
Electric lights glared from every room of the two-story house.
The front door flew open. Two police officers, a man in a black suit and a woman in a nurse's uniform led out Jonathan’s cousin Alice. She was crying.
Jonathan’s auntie Mary emerged, her face stricken white. She grabbed at the suited man’s arm.
“Stand back,” the man ordered and brushed her hand away. “Or you’ll be arrested for interfering with official business.”
“Wait here,” Jonathan whispered. “I’ll go see what's going on.”
“I’m coming, too.”
“There’s no point in us both getting in trouble for sneaking out.”
It didn’t feel right, but George said, “Okay.”
Jonathan stepped into the light.
“There he is!” shouted one of the officers.
Two gloved men rushed toward Jonathan and grabbed him.
Jonathan whistled three quick chirps. George knew it was a warning for him to stay hidden, but it seemed wrong. He should do something. He should help.
The tall man in the dark suit herded Jonathan and Alice into the back seat of the black car. It was like they were like criminals.
“Don’t take them away,” Auntie Mary pleaded. “They’re fine. There’s nothing wrong with either of them.”
They were fine? What was she talking about? Of course they were fine. What was going on?
Jonathan straightened. “Don’t worry, Auntie. It’s a case of mistaken identity, like in the movies. Alice and I will be home tomorrow.”
George knew he should do something, but what? He couldn’t think.
The car engines hummed to life. The black sedan pulled away from the curb. The police cars followed.
George sunk lower into the shadows, tasting bitter bile. He’d just failed his best friend. His blood brother. The worse part was that he knew Jonathan wasn’t going to be fine and there was nothing he could do about it.
The lights of the cars disappeared around a corner, the sound of their engines growing fainter as they drove into the night.
George was left standing alone in the dark. Alone and wondering what to do next.

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