The phone rings and Kai jerks awake. He opens his eyes in the darkness of his room. The phone rings again and this time he crawls across the bed to answer it. His head hurts. He stayed too late at work—after work—last night. Bartending brings in enough for him to survive for the time being, but late hours are rough.
He answers the phone. “Yeah.”
“Brah, it’s blowing up at Makapu’u. We’re heading down there right now.”
“I’ll be there.”
“See you there, man.”
He hangs up and lies in bed for a moment. Worried he’ll fall back to sleep, he gets up and pulls on his board shorts. He opens the small refrigerator in the small kitchen of his small apartment. He chugs the last of a bottle of “Sunny D” with vodka mixed in. It tastes like the screwdrivers he had last night and he grits his teeth as his stomach only shakily accepts the fluid. He tosses the bottle into the trash and steps from the kitchen linoleum onto the living room carpet. Standing against the wall where a couch should have been are three surfboards. He hesitates before the elephant gun. Blowing up? Surely the waves aren’t that big, especially at Makapu’u. He grabs his short board instead.
After securing his surfboard in the rack, Kai climbs behind the wheel of his car. The battery barely turns the engine over but it somehow fires off. Still running after twenty years, he thinks. Nothing beats a Toyota. He pulls out onto the street and heads east out of Honolulu. Traffic is just picking up as the morning crowd journeys to work. It takes him nearly thirty minutes to reach Koko Head but the traffic clears there. He winds around the rocky coast on the two-lane Kalanianaole Highway. It straightens past the crater and he picks up his speed. The sun is just coming up over the water to his right.
A shiny black car pulls out from one of the turnoffs and drives slowly in front of him, sightseeing. Kai rides his tail, frustrated at being slowed down. His head feels better but his sore muscles are crying out for the comforting salt water. The sightseer continues in front of him, finally speeding up, but Kai continues to ride his tail. They turn up the slope of Makapu’u and the sightseer turns to leave the highway at the head of one of the hiking trails. Kai pushes on the gas pedal and crests the top of the hill, and the view opens up in front of him with rich blues and greens. The highway curves to the left along a cliff. Sharp green mountains stretch away there, and ocean and beach stretch away to the right.
Suddenly there is a bright flash in the sky. It seems the entire sky has turned white. Kai shuts his eyes against the pain the bright light causes. He hears a grinding crash and feels his car jerk. He opens his eyes to see the light fading and his car sliding along the stone barrier that separates the highway from a fall over the cliff to the water. He slams on the brakes and the car stops. He looks up and sees another car coming toward him. Instead of following the curve of the highway, the car drives straight into Kai’s car. The impact is minor, the other car already nearly stopped.
Kai realizes his Toyota has turned off. He switches the key to the off position and steps out. The other driver steps out, as well. Kai waves him over near the barrier and away from the highway. Where they are, any drivers coming over the crest of the hill will not see them until it’s too late, and Kai doesn’t want to be run over.
“Why’d you run into me?” he asks the other driver.
“I don’t know,” the driver says, a confused look on his face. “There was a bright flash, and then my car was dead.”
Kai nods and looks at his car. The right side has been destroyed against the rocks. The front corner, where the other car impacted, barely shows a scratch. He looks over the barrier and down to Makapu’u beach where he sees a few people paddling on their surfboards. His friends. How he longs to be with them.
“Look at that,” the other driver says. He is pointing along the highway from the direction he came. Other cars are stopped in the middle of the highway for as far as they can see. “That’s strange, isn’t it?” the other driver comments.
Kai only nods.
The other driver reaches into his pocket and pulls out a cell phone. After messing with it for a few moments, he says, “My cell phone’s dead, too.”
Kai stares at him for a moment, and then a small smile reaches his lips. Something strange is happening. No one will be coming for his car anytime soon. He’s free of this.
He goes to his car and takes the surfboard from the rack. With the board under his arm, he walks past the other driver’s car and begins the trek toward Makapu’u.
“What are you doing?” the other driver asks.
“Surfing,” Kai says, and keeps walking.