Thunder and lightning storms are rare on Oahu; the temperature seldom varies enough, or quickly enough, to create the conditions that produce them. When they do occasionally occur they tend to be prodigious. Those visiting for only a few days often fail to recognize the special nature of such storms. They're too concerned to make every moment of sun, sand and surf count… and who can blame them? A thunder storm is disruptive, intrusive, an annoyance. And, “hey,” they complain, “we get weather like this at home – we came to Hawaii for the sun.”

Those who have lived in the islands for even a short while, on the other hand, tend to revel in the sudden downpour and the loud crack of thunder that reverberates as it rides the trades. Most to be savored, however, is the jagged bolt of lightning that re-illuminates however briefly the usually azure skies that have gone unaccustomedly black.

Late in the afternoon during one such storm – and sensing something portentous in the unusual weather – I decided to go for a walk. Living alone and having no real attachments to speak of, I could engage in such absurd behavior. The streets of Waikiki were awash with water and, uncharacteristically, empty of pedestrians. The Ala Wai Canal off to my right was lost in a wall of rain. The palm trees that grew along the sidewalks shook like mad dogs shedding water after a swim. The normally dry rustle of their fronds had been replaced by the sound of a swarm of hungry locusts. I turned to the left. Up ahead I could just make out the wane lights from the upper floors of the hotels and condos along Kuhio and, just beyond that, Kalakaua Avenue. The entire scene reminded me of something from the palate of a Dadaist or Surrealist painter.

Needless to say, I was soaking wet before I had taken three steps. I wandered for fifteen minutes with no purpose or destination. Up one and down another I traced and retraced the mandala-like network of streets that ran between Ala Wai Boulevard to the north and Kuhio Avenue to the south. The thunder continued to roll overhead and in the flash from one particularly spectacular jolt of lightning I understood what I needed to do.

One after another I began entering the foyers of the apartment buildings and condos that were found in such profusion here. I'd stand, puddles of water forming at my feet, and press a button selected at random from the bank of intercoms that could usually be found in such establishments. Not too long ago, in many of these same buildings, you could gain admittance only from a doorman. I wondered what I might have done back then.

Karen, is that you?” I'd say into the little grill above the occupant’s last name.

No one named ‘Karen’ here, Brah. You must have the wrong apartment,” was the usual response. “Mahalo.”

Sometimes the reaction was far less polite. “Take a hike, asshole. I don't know anybody named ‘Karen’. You'll have to do better than that!” So much for Polynesian hospitality; the weather, obviously, was taking a toll on everyone’s nerves.

Ten minutes or so later, I slogged my way up the white coral walkway and entered an elegant little place on Kanekapolei with wind-whipped royal palms in front and a porte cochère that must have dated from the sixties. I jabbed a button with urgency and intent.

Aloha, Karen, are you home?

Yes,” a disembodied voice answered with a tinny, distorted electronic accent. “Who’s there?

It’s me, Steve…

‘Steve’… I don't know anyone named ‘Steve’.

That’s OK,” I replied. “I don't know anyone named ‘Karen’, either, but I’ve been looking for you for a long time.”

A drop of water from my hair beaded and rolled down my forehead onto the bridge of my nose where it followed the contour of my cheek before she answered.

I guess I've been looking for you, too. Come on up. I'm in Number 225.

I heard the metallic ‘click’ of a bolt being withdrawn electronically. Before I entered I looked outside. The rain had stopped and the sky had begun to clear. The lingering scent of ozone was strong as too were the rain washed fragrances of ginger and plumeria. People were out and about again. The streets sparkled as all manner of debris was being washed inexorably into the storm drains where, eventually, it merged with the warm, life-giving waters of the Pacific.

"In Search Of"
Copyright: © 2009 James C. Clar
James C. Clar's work has been published in print as well as on the Internet. Most recently his short fiction has found a home in the Taj Mahal Review, Shine: A Journal of Flash, Bewildering Stories, Apollo's Lyre, Flashshot, Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, Everyday Fiction, Golden Visions Magazine, The Magazine of Crime and Suspense, Antipodean Sci-Fi, 365 Tomorrows and Static Movement. His story "Starbuck" was voted story-of-the-year by the editors of Long Story, Short for 2008.

1 comment:

  1. “That’s OK,” I replied. “I don't know anyone named ‘Karen’, either, but I’ve been looking for you for a long time.” ~ This sentence really gave me the chills! Good story!