Chapter 2: The Start of Something Else
Copyright© 2015 by Jake Rivers
After two weeks I was thinking more of Judy Canova than Martha Canova so I knew I was ready to go to Pearl Harbor and save the company ... well, if you can't laugh at yourself you might as well give up! I stopped by to see my sister Bess, she was five years older than me, and almost certainly a lot wiser.
"Gonna miss you Jer. I didn't want to say anything before, but I always thought Martha was a cold hearted bitch!"
"Jeez sis, just say what's on your mind."
"You want us to take care of the cabin for you?"
"Sure, though I'd rather not have anyone other than you guys stay there." I gave her the keys and left my truck (a 1952 Dodge – I drove one in the Army and loved it. I scrounged around and found a beater and spent six months and too many bucks restoring it) and she drove me to Sky Harbor Airport.
Flying United out of Terminal Two, I landed in Honolulu after a long flight. I stayed at the Ala Moana Hotel for two weeks while looking for a place to live. In a bit of luck I found a small house to lease in Ewa Beach. It was a very compact, a large bedroom with bath and two small rooms, about ten by ten each, and a small, but well equipped kitchen. I used one bedroom for an office and the other for storage.
The small house was a block from the beach, and my generous housing allowance covered maybe half of the lease. I'd told Roger, the division chief that I didn't want to go unless I could stay at least a year.
While I was at the Ala Moana I spent some time on the beach, and certainly, the bar. At that time the venerable hotel was a popular place for stewardesses to layover. One day in the middle of my stay, I made a feeble attempt to learn to surf. I quickly realized that while I had a lot of skills, standing on a board floating on the moving ocean was not one of them. Walking back across Waikiki beach to return the board to the rental place, I saw a girl sunning on the sand. She was lying on a towel on one of those woven roll-up mats and had on a bikini. I used the term bikini somewhat loosely ... what she had on was a bikini.
I had never really believed the old saw about clothes making the woman. That is, a woman is what she was; the clothes were just a decoration, not the essence of the woman. In this special case though, I was quick to concede that this woman was enhanced in all possible ways by what she was wearing, or in this case maybe not wearing.
She was long—she looked like she could look me in the eye and I was an inch shy of six feet—and she was lean. Not skinny by any means, the curves were all there and in the right places, but other than that she was quite trim, with a well-toned musculature emphasizing the curvy parts.
Her hair was that shade of dirty blond sometimes called, dishwater blond. I had never felt that was a particularly attractive description, to me she just had dark blond hair with light blond flecks. Rather attractive, actually. The suit, more accurately, the two tiny pieces of material masquerading as a real swimsuit, was an off shade of gold, perfectly complementing the bronzed skin she had so obviously worked hard to attain.
She was quite lovely; I would go so far as to say she had a classic beauty. She reminded me of Gene Tierney in "A Bell for Adano", a movie Gene played with her hair blond. In my quick glance (no more than a minute or two) as I passed by, I did see two slight mars in the face that so enchanted me. There was the tiniest crook in her nose, which I thought was cute, and her lips were a tad too pouty. Ah, but pouty or not I had the strongest impulse to kiss those lips to awaken the sleeping beauty.
By no means was I concerned with valor, but discretion ruled and I made my way on up the beach. After returning the board, I made my way back to my room for a shower and a nap. Several days later, on the eve of my move to Ewa Beach, I sat at the outside bar under the huge banyan tree. Thinking, of all things, of loneliness, I paid no notice when someone sat on the stool next to me, I just gave a slight body shift to allow more room.
Pulling my pack of Camels out of my shirt pocket, I carefully selected the last of my self-allowed daily smokes. Twirling the 'cancer pill' slowly, I thought back to Martha's "Dear Jerry" letter. Idly thinking about betrayal, I stared at the slowly turning white cylinder, flipping the lid of my Zippo with the 8th Army insignia on it. Open, closed, open, closed, like a mantra: "betrayal, betrayal!"
A voice, low, sultry, breathed in my ear, "you gonna smoke that thing, or play with it all day."
Snapping out of my reverie, I saw the bikini girl sitting on the next stool, cigarette poised in her slim hand, waiting for a light. With a sudden show of complete calm, I dropped my Zippo on the floor, putting a nasty dent in the tip right corner, the first dent in the previously pristine lighter.
"Sorry about that, I was thinking."
Carefully, I opened the lid and flipped the thumb-wheel and ... nothing. Quickly I flipped it again, and again, and ... still nothing. I looked up to see the bartender lighting her cigarette with a book of bar matches.
Giving me a smile to die for, she said, "You're smooth, I'll give you that. Anyone else would have just lit my cigarette, but you actually have my attention. Now if I could just find something to drink I might be happy the rest of the evening."
Some have accused me of being slow, but never stupid. I waved to the bartender and when he got there the girl asked for a Mai Tai. That was way too sweet for me, so I said, "Scotch rocks is fine with me."
Waiting for the drinks, I leaned back and looked at her. Sure enough, it was the bikini girl in person. She had an army uniform on, and by the caduceus insignia with a large 'N" superimposed I deduced she was a nurse, and the silver bars on her shoulders meant she was a lieutenant. I had to admit she was almost as good looking with a uniform as she was with skimpy beach wear. Almost.
"I'm in the inactive reserve; does that mean I have to salute you?"
"Not indoors, and certainly not in a bar," she said, laughing.
The drinks came and we were quiet for a moment as we took a couple of sips. Seemingly as one, we turned to each other.
Smiling at her, I tried again, "I'm Jerry Kinsolving. I've been staying here for a couple of weeks, but I'm moving tomorrow."
"I'm Angie Brown. It looks like I'm moving tomorrow also, whether I want to or not."
I raised an eyebrow, so she continued, "My lease was up and my landlord wanted to raise my rent a huge amount. I've got a lead on a place between Tripler Army Medical Center and the Fort Shafter Gold Course. Three girls were sharing it but one of them is transferring to the VA Hospital in San Francisco."
Without thinking, but gallantly in retrospect, I offered, "If you need any help, let me know. I gave her one of my business cards that had the office number for GE in Pearl City.
We chatted for a bit, and then she gave me a clear smirk, and asked, "So I'm the Bikini Girl, huh?"
I stuttered for a bit, not making any sense, when she took pity on me.
"I overheard you talking to the bartender. I certainly noticed you lingering around me while I was getting some sun. I wasn't sure if you were a window shopper that was just looking or if you actually admired me as a person."
Finding my tongue at last, I offered, "There is no question of my interest. You are a lovely woman and I'd like to take you out to dinner after we both get moved and settled in." Wow, was I smooth!
We chatted for a bit then she had to leave. The next morning I took my few bags and met the movers at my new home for the next year. I didn't have much, no furniture, mostly books and some personal stuff ... certainly no pictures of Martha. The fireplace at the cabin had neatly taken care of those.
One thing that hadn't worked out for me though—I had been positive that I could score with one of the ever-present Stews, but it never happened. Sure, I got some thanks for the drinks and a dinner or two, but it was chaste times on Waikiki Beach. Angie showed the promise of more than making up for it though.
That Friday night I got a call from Angie, so I spent the better part of the weekend helping her get settled. It wasn't all work though, I got to know her much better and wound up with a date for the next Saturday night. For myself, well, I'd settled into a routine at work and at home.
At work I was working twelve hour days, four days a week. I didn't mind the hours but I was resolved and religious about, not working on weekends and on Fridays, I'd come in at six and take off at noon. After the first week it was clear that most of the problems resolved around operations. I worked with the computer operators different shifts during the second week. I called my boss and gave him a report.
"I see three major areas to be resolved along with a couple of less important items. The main problem is the training of the computer operators. I plan on doing some personal training while working with Navy staff on redoing their training program. The next problem in importance is that error messages are not always clear. There are too many spurious messages, which are just informational. These should be looked at by operator request, not by alerting the operator. There are no error messages for some major problems, and some are just hard to understand. The other key area I'd like to look at is their backup procedure. They don't have a good back-up process documented, which leads to inconsistent results. I can clear this up with them over the next couple of weeks.