By Peg Keeley
Lonnie half ran up the stream bank, slapping branches and vines away as they obstructed his path. Within a few minutes he was out of breath and had a cramp in his side from running. Got to pace myself, he chided. He slowed a little, remembering Kono's instructions to follow the stream to its head. He hoped he would know when that came. Half an hour later, he stood before a spring staring into the deep blue richness of the crystal clear water. The spring was about twenty feet in diameter and the clear view of the underwater cave at the bottom gave a false impression the water was shallow. It was more than fifteen feet deep. Beds of beautiful multicolored flowers that buzzed with a wealth of assorted insects surrounded the spring. Above, the birds were singing brilliantly in the treetops. Lonnie looked up, noting the sun's position and Kono's instruction to turn right. The ground ahead of him now rose steeply for nearly one thousand feet up the side of the ridge. How will I ever do this? One step at a time, he answered himself. He took the first step
To Lonnie's dismay, the sun was well past its zenith by the time he neared the top. He rested for a little while, trying to catch his breath and took a few bites of the pork for energy. He guessed from the sun's position it was mid afternoon. He wondered how much farther he had to go. He took out the map, traced the line of the stream, and then followed the green lines that indicated the higher elevation up the ridge. He tracked it towards the east to the highway. Sighing as he realized he was not even half way, he put the map back into his pocket. Keeping the sun to his back, he continued the steep ascent towards civilization.
"Danno," Kono murmured.
"You still alive, man?"
"Yeah. You doing okay?"
"Come and go," Kono mumbled back. "How far you figure he's gone?"
Danny had been trying to mark the passage of time against a shadow falling on stick before him. "Gone something over two hours. Maybe close to the top of the ridge by now."
"Yeah," Kono whispered, remembering the beauty of the pinnacle of the ridge. "I know he's gonna make it, Danno."
Danny did not answer right away. "I hope so." I don't want to die out here. Not alone. Lonnie will think he failed somehow. He will go through life feeling the blame for something that could not be helped. Like World War II and Lincoln Adair. He grinned inwardly at himself. Adair sent Audrey with me so she would now have to endure the death of another loved one. Now it looks like Adair will survive me. How strange. And what will become of Lonnie and Audrey? I have to hang on. I must remain alert, strong, not matter what. The pain of his injuries had dulled somewhat; he was thirsty; and completely helpless. He could close his eyes and imagine himself with Lonnie, speaking words of encouragement and support. Keep going Lonnie, keep going.
Lonnie slashed and hacked away at the increasing jungle growth as he pushed his way up the last few feet to the crest of the ridge. He allowed himself an elated moment of triumph. Now he must descend the other side nearly two thousand feet back down to the sea. No more climbing, but the way was overgrown and the shadows were lengthening. He began to worry about what he would do for light once the sun was down. With no torch and no matches, how would he see? And with no sun how would he keep from getting lost? Panic drove him harder and harder and he got faster and faster. In several more open places, he nearly ran ahead.
Suddenly the ground fell away beneath him and with a shocked cry, Lonnie dropped through the tangles of branches, roots, and vines some fifteen feet to land on the soft muddy earth with a thud. Down here it was twilight. He scrambled to his feet and looked back up. He'd fallen into a good-sized sinkhole. It was about nine feet across the fifteen feet up the sides. He had sunk up to his ankles in black, sticky mud at the bottom. This was not good. With time ticking away, now he had to find a way out of this mess, too. He experimented with climbing up the vines and roots that dangled from the sides and made it about half way once, but it got too slick to go on and he fell back down again. He looked around for another way out. There was a small cavelike hole in one corner of the sinkhole that looked like it was where water ran off during floods, but it was too dark to see where it led. It might lead nowhere or it might lead to a lava tube. The islands were riddled with lava tubes most of which ran to the ocean, but they were dangerous, slippery and sometimes with confusing mazed passages. News stories came in every year about people who died exploring the tubes.
But there seem no other way. He tapped the narrow entrance with a stick. It seemed solid enough. He got onto his stomach, and slithered into the opening. He could feel fresh air on his face. It really did go somewhere! Lonnie inched along slowly, feeling his way through the blackness with the stick and his fingers. The only sounds were the steady dripping water drops and his rapidly pounding heart. His eyes were useless. Never had he experienced such total dark. The sharp, cold rocks cut his chest and legs, but he kept moving afraid he would panic if he stopped even once. The narrow tube continued about twenty feet, then started to descend more quickly, but the ceiling seemed to be getting higher. Lonnie could now crawl, then stand and walk, still testing each move with the stick. Suddenly, there was nothing but space before him. He stopped still. He reached out again, tapping all around him. He was on a ledge that dropped off. Clinging to the rock floor in the dark, he felt despair. No where to go, no way back. Lonnie began to shake and cry in terror.
"Danno, you alive, man?" Kono whispered.
The response was not immediate. "Yeah, Kono. How you doin'?"
"Pitiful," he mumbled. "Wishing I done some things different." Kono's speech was a bit slurred. "Know what I mean?"
Danny did not reply.
"Wish I'd married this beautiful wahine I knew in high school. Perfect chick."
"Yeah?" Danny murmured. It is good to have something to make me stay awake. Stay here. Talk to me, Kono.
"Wish I had, Bruddah. What am I gonna leave, huh? No one to remember me."
"Why didn't you?" Danny mumbled back.
Kono licked his dry lips. "Don't know, Danno." He was quiet for a few minutes. "Waited too long. Too long. I was gonna ---- too long. She married a surfer guy -- Do Ho type."
Danny tried to stop the shivering. "Sorry."
"Nobody like her again," Kono continued to mumble. "I close my eyes now -- I see her." He sighed. "What you see?"
I see my children weeping.
"What you see?"
"Too tired," he muttered.
"You see Carrie Donagon?"
"What?" Danny murmured.
"Nice wahine, but you waitin' too long." Kono gritted his teeth as he gave a cough.
"Save your strength, Kono," Danny murmured.
"I'm gonna die here, Danno. But not you. You gonna live for your boy and girl."
"You're gonna live, Kono," Danny tried to put emphasis into the statement.
"That Carrie lady know you have feelings for her?"
Danny tried to give a laugh.
"You need to tell her, Danno. You like the lady, Danno, I can tell."
"It isn't the lady, Kono."
Kono gave another agonizing cough. "Lonnie -- you gonna say it's Lonnie."
"Doesn't really matter now, does it?" Danny whispered. He tried to move his leg and the left one sent a fiery message of pain up through his hip.
"I told you, you gonna live through this. When you do, you tell her."
"She doesn't really know me -- she won't understand."
Kono nodded. "You'd better tell her you're Steve's undercover man, too. Let her make the choice."
Danny had no desire to discuss Carrie now or any another time. If I die, what will become of Lonnie and Audrey? Where is Lonnie right now? "Almost four hours," he whispered. "Maybe soon." He could feel the life slipping away a little at a time. If I could just know Lonnie was safe first. It is starting to get dark. I cannot even see Kono just a few feet away from me. Is it the darkness of night or of death? I wish we had a light.
"Carrie! Carrie!" Audrey called from the balcony of Carrie's apartment where she watched the birds playing in the birdbath fountain in the courtyard below.
"Yes, sweetie," Carrie responded from where she was taking notes from the newspaper.
"It's getting dark out here. Can you turn on the light?"
"Sure." She rose and walked to the switch. "Want a snack? I have some fresh cut up pineapple, mango and papyri."
Audrey came to the doorway. She was tired and her limp was a bit more pronounced. "Will you feed me?"
Carrie made a scoffing face. "I will not, Miss Lazybones."
"Rats," Audrey replied sliding onto the chair as Carrie passed her a bowl of fruit.
"This world isn't going to pamper you forever, you know." Carrie advised her. "Everyone needs to learn to make their own way -- you, too. You can be a great woman if you determine that you are going to be the best."
Audrey slowly moved a piece of mango into the bowl of the spoon. "Is that what you did?"
"Yes, I guess it is," Carrie admitted. "I decided that I was going to be the best anchorperson on the Islands and I did it."
Audrey giggled. "I like seeing you on TV. You look different, but still you."
"Yeah?" Carried speared a piece of pineapple.
"I bet Danny and Lonnie wish they had this," Audrey commented as she chewed on the fruit.
Carrie gave a thoughtful smile. "That's probably for sure. I don't think either one of them is in to eating nuts and berries and stuff."
"Lonnie likes Poptarts," Audrey informed Carrie. "I don't think that's in any of the four basic food groups." Silence settled briefly punctuated only by the sound of utensils tapping on china. Finally Audrey spoke again. "It's awful dark in the jungle at night, isn't it?" Her voice was hushed.
"I guess so," Carrie agreed, wishing that Audrey had not brought up the subject.
Audrey gazed out of the window. "I sure hope they are all right. Lonnie doesn't like the dark."
Carrie carried the dishes to the sink to keep Audrey from seeing her expression. Carrie was a firm believer in premonitions. She had been feeling something dark and forbidding all evening, like something crawling up her skin. She could not shake it and knew it was still another two days before Danny and Lonnie would return. I'll be stark raving mad by then. She had had more than a passing thought about a permanent relationship with Danny, but kept trying to dismiss the idea. I know he likes me, I think he could love me, but not with Lonnie in the way. And I will never get past that boy. Never. I don't know why I even stay any more. It seems unfair to have our lives dictated by a jealous preadolescent. She gazed out into the darkness herself. It sure is dark out there.
Lonnie did not know how long he had clung to the edge of the drop off. It was cold and wet in the tunnel. He was shivering now, but finally he was coming to himself and realizing that no one was coming to his rescue -- if he did not think for himself, he would most definitely die. And what would happen to Kono and Danny then? He rallied himself around the fact that they needed him and began to collect his wits.
He looked over the edge into the dark again. He could hear running water somewhere. He pushed a small rock off the edge and counted the seconds until there was a splash. He estimated the bottom to be only about fifteen feet away. Then what? How deep is the water? He felt around, found another rock and dropped this one, trying to gauge from the splash how deep the water was. He could not tell. I will have to take a chance. For all the times I have hated the deep water, I hope it is deep enough down there. He maneuvered himself to the edge, dangled his legs over, held his breath - and hesitated. Again he bolstered his courage, held his breath and this time quickly pushed off.
He hit the water in moments, sooner than he thought he would, and as he plunged beneath it, he gasped, for it was icy cold, but he kicked towards the surface, never so happy to be in water in his life.
He broke the surface, struggling to stay afloat. He tried to recall Mark's words about being one with the water and all, but it was difficult in total darkness not to panic completely. He opened his eyes and could see a faint light from a circular opening off to the right. He doggie paddled towards it, a gentle current pulling him along. There was a two-foot diameter opening out through the side of the lava tube where the stream of water was splashing into a brook. The force of the water quickly pushed him through and he was outside in the twilight of evening. He gave a whoop of joy -- it was like being born to life again. He got to the edge of the brook and scrambled out onto some rocks. He sat there several minutes, gasping and appreciating everything around him. He was very hungry and pulled out the pork wrapped in leaves. He took the map from his pocket. He needed to figure out where he was. The light was diminishing quickly. He needed some form of light. He had no matches, and could only faintly recall what Mark had done in making the fire.
He collected a few handfuls of dried leaves and twigs, and, using a few strands of thread from his shorts, he fashioned a way to spin the stick back and forth against the small, flat rock amongst the tinder. He tried and tried without success. The light was nearly gone now. What will I do in the dark? I can't see anything! What if I fall into another hole? Dad and Kono are going to die and it's my fault! Why did I have to fall into that stupid hole in the first place? He blinked back tears and in frustration and anger spun the stick again. It worked for Mark, why won't it work for me? There was the faint glimmer of red glow for a mere moment, then it went out. Encouraged by the momentary flash, he went at it again with new vigor. At last a little wisp of smoke rose from the little pile of leaves and the edge of one leaf brightened with a flickering red glow. The red quickly spread down the leaf and to a second. A tiny thread of flame burst out between them. Gingerly, Lonnie fed it like a fragile infant, poking the edge of a shred of leaf to the edge of the little flame. It spread and in seconds the little flame was burning several leaves and a small bit of light was thrown across the tiny pile. Lonnie nursed the fire along and watched mesmerized as it spread from leaf to leaf to twig to small stick. It had taken nearly thirty minutes, but he'd become a fire starter. It was a moment of complete elation and joy. The darkness was forced back several feet into the shadows. Lonnie quickly threw more wood on the fire and sat back to watch it burn. He was tired; his eyelids were heavy and closed by themselves against his will. He wanted nothing more than to wait out the night right here. It may be a good idea. Dad would say that is what I should do. When the sun comes back up I can see my way. It couldn't be too much farther. I don't want to fall into another hole. But what about Dad and Kono? They didn't look too good when I left them. Will they die? Kono wanted me to get out of the jungle before nightfall. Maybe another boar is going to come!
He quickly glanced around at the shadows. His heart skipped a beat as he saw a pair of red eyes glowing back from the darkness. He lifted a burning stick to see better and the mongoose scurried away. Lonnie sighed and grinned in spite of himself. He sat by the fire a little while longer, chewing on the last of the pork. He pulled the map from his pocket and tried to look at it by firelight. The immersion in water had almost washed away Kono's blood mark, but it could still be seen. He traced the stream with his finger, then moved northward over the ridge and down -- but how far? He scanned the paper for another stream in the area and finally found one. It seemed too far east from his last position. He puzzled over it. If this stream is really where I am, I am less than a mile from Route 360. All I need to do is follow the stream!
Hope leaping within him, he jumped up. He tore out the last of the leg of his shorts and wrapped it tightly round and round a stout stick with vines, then rubbed the leaves containing the pork fat against the cloth as best he could. He dipped the stick into the fire. The home made torch flared up. Lonnie hoped it would keep burning and, refolding the map, began to follow the stream northward.
Danny could no longer tell reality from hallucination. A monstrous boar with the torso of a man danced before him throwing birds and flower petals while laughing in hysteria. It looked at him with its gigantic boar's head and said in a man's voice: "The kings gain their invincibility from consumption of their enemies." Danny's heart thundered in terror. The monster roared with hideous laughter again while he screamed in anger and fear. Suddenly he was on the beach stabbing the bizarre creature over and over with an unrealistically huge knife. Dismembered fingers were dancing and running around him on the sand like crabs, squealing in horror. The boar's head flew off the sand and stuck him in the abdomen. His belly exploded with blood and organs pouring out like a gutted animal. He gave a shriek...
...There was darkness around him except for the pale light of the moon that was rising through the trees. The moon? Of course. The Kahana Nui always finished the test by the full moon. He was shivering uncontrollably with a cold sweat.
"Kono?" he murmured. "How are you doing, man?"
Silence answered him.
"Kono?" he repeated fearfully. Had Kono left him? A flash of logic reminded him that Kono wasn't going anywhere. Loneliness was oppressive. "Hey, answer me, man. Kono?" He tried to see through the night, but could not. He thought of Lonnie. If he didn't make it to civilization before nightfall will he stop and wait for dawn? I hope so. He could get terribly lost in the dark. I am not likely to see the dawn. God, to be free of this pain! I can look forward to death to end this. But what of Lonnie? I promised him I would wait. I have to wait. What if Lonnie doesn't make it? He has to make it. What if they never find us? What if we just rot away for years? Is Lonnie trapped somewhere? Lost? Hurt? He felt as though if he just relaxed, he could fly away over the trees and be free. I must grip hold of the earth itself if necessary. I promised Lonnie.
The torch had begun to sputter and flicker. Lonnie increased his speed down the streambed. If I lose the light now, what will I do? Even as the thought crossed his mind, he slipped on the wet mossy bank and stumbled to his knees. The torch fell from his hand into the brook and with a hiss he was in the dark.
"No!" he screamed in fisted rage. It is so unfair! I have tried so hard and nothing will go right! "I am trying!" he yelled at no one in particular. "I'm trying! Why won't it work?!" If I am one with nature like Mark said, why is everything fighting me? He sat down and the edge of the stream sobbing. After several minutes, he subsided and just sat listening to his own breathing and heartbeat. Then he listened again.
He strained his ears to hear.
Just as he began to believe it was his imagination, he heard it again.
The sound of a car on the highway. It was faint and far away, but he was sure he had heard it. He stumbled on through the stream, afraid he would somehow lose the highway. Water splashed around him as he slipped on rocks and mud, but he kept striving ahead.
He suddenly burst out into a clearing, bathed in moonlight bright as day. Just ahead, like a black ribbon laid out on the carpet of the earth, was highway 360.
Tears of joy and relief blinded his eyes as he staggered to the road. It was silent and dark. The asphalt radiated the heat from the day. The sky was ablaze with stars and he could smell the ocean. Moonlight sparkled on the waves as they crashed on the shore a quarter mile away. He could see the lights of Wailua up the road. He began to run.
There was a sudden blaze of white blinding light and an explosion of a blaring airhorn. He fell to the ground as the roar rushed past him. He curled up in fetal position, arms over his head, terrified, huddled on the pavement.
The truck had stopped, missing the boy by less than a foot. The driver, issuing an oath jumped from the cab and ran back. "You okay, kid?"
Lonnie looked up at him dumbfounded.
"Hey, kid. You okay?" the man repeated. "What happened to you?"
The ranger at Wailua Station gave a start as the trucker burst through the door, Lonnie in his arms. The officer mentally started to run down the possibilities of what the problem was. Lost child -- none reported. High way injury -- the marks were wrong. Run away -- some merit to that.
"Kid says his camping party was attacked by a boar," the driver announced.
The officer's eyes narrowed. There had been no permits filed for the weekend. "What camping party?"
"Kahana Nui," Lonnie managed to utter as the driver deposited him into a chair. He pulled the damp, tattered map from his pocket.
The ranger rose and walked to the inner office door. "Tracy!" he called, "come hear this."
Tracy Fujama came out of his office. "What's up?"
"Kid says he's part of a Kahana Nui party that got attacked by a boar."
Tracy visually assessed Lonnie. Kahana Nui was one of his pet peeves. He had reported on several occasions that the program was not operated with proper safeguards and that someday someone would get hurt. No one ever had -- until now. "Kahana Nui, huh?" he murmured. He noted the scrapes and bruises on Lonnie and the boy's near total exhaustion. "Where were you camped?"
Lonnie lifted the map he had been offering for several moments. "Kipahulu Valley." Tracy accepted the map. "Near the temple ruins."
Tracy carefully unfolded the wet paper onto the desktop. "Kapeau Temple." Tracy walked over to the snack machine and gave it if fierce kick. A Milky Way bar dropped out. He handed the candy to Lonnie and pulled a Pepsi from the small fridge. Pulling up a chair beside Lonnie he said, "Now, tell me all you know."
Lonnie took a bite of chocolate. "My Dad, Kono and Mark Pauiuu were attacked by a boar at our campsite. Mark is dead. The others are hurt real bad." Tears began to well up in his eyes once more. "I tried and tried, but we couldn't get out. They made me leave them and come for help."
Tracy was trying to imagine a boar big enough to injure three grown men. "Big boar?"
"Kono said the biggest he'd ever seen." Lonnie gave a yawn. "I killed it."
"You killed it?" That seemed a little unlikely.
"Well, it sort of ran onto my spear," Lonnie explained.
Fujama gazed at the map another moment. "Phil," he called to his partner. "give a call down to the Cultural Center for me."
Phil walked back into Tracey's office and closed the door.
"You don't believe me," Lonnie mumbled.
Tracy shook his head. "I didn't say that, Lonnie. I need the facts." He went back to the map. "How did you get across the Kipawili Ridge?"
"I kept going. I had to." Lonnie finished the candy and took a big drink. He belched from the carbonation.
Phil came to the door. "Mark Pauiuu filed the paperwork for a Kahana Nui this weekend. It's in the office down in Hana."
Tracy nodded and looked at the map once again. "See if you can raise Dr. Reynolds on the radio."
Lonnie's eyes brightened. "You're sending a doctor?"
Tracy raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, if your dad was a rock, he'd fix him right up. He's a geologist studying the crater up here." He pointed to the central part of the island on the map north of Danny and Kono's location. "They can reach your dad the fastest."
Phil returned. "Got him on line."
Tracy walked into his office and closed the door. "Matt?"
"Yes, Tracy," came Reynolds British accent.
"Sorry to trouble you folks this evening. We have an emergency down in the Valley. A boy just dragged in here claiming to be part of a Kahana Nui party that got attacked by a boar. There may be two men badly hurt. Can you send a team down by the 'Ipi'mea stream just north of the Kapeau Temple area. I'll have a rescue team standing by." He sighed.
"We're on it."
Tracy hung up and walked back out to Lonnie. "Dr. Reynolds will find them." He tried to sound reassuring.
"But he isn't a real doctor. You didn't send a real doctor."
"A rescue to team will be sent as soon as your dad is found."
"You don't think I'm right. You don't think they are there."
"You think they are dead!" Lonnie concluded. He was too tired to be afraid of this man in uniform questioning his report. He simply pointed to the faint blood mark. "There. We made it that far. My dad and Kono need help -- right now tonight. They will die before morning." In spite of his exhaustion, his voice rose with anxiety. What if they don't believe me? What if they won't go? He looked from face to face of the adults and read their doubt. "I want to call Five-0."
Tracy blinked. "What?"
"I want to call Five-0," he repeated with a little more determination.
Tracy, in spite of his indecision, cracked a grin. "Five-0 does big crimes, not lost campers."
"I'll call collect," Lonnie added. "Steve McGarrett is my 'anakala."
The two officers exchanged looks. Fujama motioned towards his partner. "Phil, the phone."
The first shoved the phone across the desk to Lonnie. The boy carefully began to dial the number with trembling fingers.
It rang just once. "McGarrett."
At the sound of the voice, Lonnie's composure collapsed. He began to sob, unable to utter a word.
"Hello?" Steve's tinny voice crackled down the line. "Lonnie? Is that you?"
"Uh-huh," he managed to get out.
"Lonnie, what's happened?" Steve's voice with filled with alarm immediately.
"Unca' Steve," he gasped around the tears. "A boar -- Mark is dead -- my dad...."
Steve, at the other end heard his own voice getting crisp and direct. I need information and I need it now. What is happening? Something has happened to Danno and probably Kono as well. "Lonnie, where are you?"
"Let me speak to the park officer," Steve said, wishing he could take the time to soothe the frightened child.
"Tracy Fujama, ranger Wailua," he said curtly into the voice. Damn the kid really is on first names with Five-0's chief!
"What is going on?" Steve demanded.
"The boy was brought in by a trucker who found him on highway 360."
"He was in a party of four." Steve announced, gripping the phone receiver.
"So he told us, sir," Tracy replied. "A scientific team in the area has been dispatched to locate them and send the exact location back to the rescue team. We will find them, sir." He felt sweat collecting beneath his collar.
"I'll catch a chopper and be there in two hours."
"Yes, sir." Tracy hung up the phone. He wanted to tell McGarrett that in two hours the missing men would already be on their way to Honolulu, but he did not dare. He glanced at Lonnie, then motioned Phil back into the inner office. "Stay in close contact with the team. Let's get the rescue teams here ready to go. If there is something left to retrieve, let's be ready to roll."
Tracy walked back out to Lonnie. The boy was slumped in the chair, sound asleep.
Danny gave a start. The quick motion sent a spasm of nauseating pain through him. In spite of begging his body to remain still, shivering sent new shards of torment. He could smell rotting flesh. The boar. A mountain of stinking meat. "Kono?" he whispered out again through the dark, but knew there would be no answer. There had been no answer in an eternity. Kono's words "I'm gonna die here, Danno, but not you. You gotta stay alive..." echoed through his mind. The offensive odor drifted past his nostrils again. Kono?
A bright light suddenly stabbed into Danny's eyes. The shock caused him to startle and he began to shake uncontrollably.
Reynolds and two of his party members first saw the black mound of dead boar reflecting dimly back in their bright flashlight beams. "This is the place," Reynolds commented stepping forward and spotting Kono's slumped body on one side of the boar.
"This one's alive!" the team member announced, seeing Danny's movement. He splashed through the edge of the stream and knelt before the injured man. "Jeez." He noticed the festering wounds and could hear the death rattle in Danny's chest.
Reynolds tried the radio, but they were too close to the mountain ridge for it to transmit. He tossed the unit to the third man. "There's a flat area about a kilometer from here."
The man hurried off.
Reynolds' partner carefully spread an insolated blanket across Danny. Reynolds came close to assess the situation
Danny shivered again, but not as badly. He tried to rally his mind, knowing something had changed. There was warmth, closeness. He managed to open his eyes and was looking into the hairy nostrils of Reynolds by the strange shadows of the flashlight. "Lonnie made it?" he whispered.
"'Ello, there," Reynolds said in a cheerful way. "We've got you now. Sent for a team to get you out of here. Won't be long now."
Danny knew he could let go now. Lonnie was okay. He was tired -- it would be so easy to just let it all go. Fly away. He closed his eyes.
"'Ey, there." Reynolds jostled his arm. "You'd better not go off on me here. There's a young boy counting on you. And we told 'em you're alive. You'd bloody well better stay that way now."
Danny wanted nothing more to do than to slip away into eternal sleep. "Kono?"
Reynolds glanced over his shoulder. "He's alive, too. Lost a lot of blood."
That was a relief that rallied him a little. Thank God. "Smell's bad," he commented.
"Yes, old boy. Gangrene," Reynolds said bluntly.
Danny stared at him. It is ME rotting.
Crunching footfalls announced the return of the member who'd gone to radio for help. "They are on their way," he announced to Reynolds.
Reynolds scowled slightly and patted Danny's arm. "We'll find a way. It's almost over."
Almost over....the tingling lightheadedness dimmed Danny's vision first. Almost over....for an instant everything seemed clear and he felt aware of every breath, every blade of grass, and every drop of water in the stream. Aware of the men sitting with him and he could hear Kono breathing. Almost over...an inky murk washed it all away.
Carrie had provided Audrey an exciting day. They had toured most of Carrie's favorite boutiques where Audrey had tried on several pricey outfits, then visited Carrie's hairdresser where Mario, her stylist played with different styles on Audrey's hair all afternoon while fixing Carrie' appearance for the evening news.
They arrived at the news studio right on time and Carrie accepted her preliminary script on her way to make up. Audrey loved the rare visit to the studio and was thrilled when one of the makeup apprentices made up her face as well.
"Can I be on TV, too?" she asked, wide-eyed.
"Maybe sometime," Carrie replied, "but not tonight -- not without Danny's permission."
She pouted. "He'd never do that. He hates news people."
"No, he doesn't," Carrie answered. "I'm a news person."
"He says they don't tell the truth. He says they sens -- sens --" Audrey sought for the word, "--sensationalize the news. What's that mean?"
Carrie swallowed her sudden rush of indignation. How can we ever make this relationship work? I don't go around maligning teachers, why does he say this stuff about the news? How can we be so close when he doesn't even understand what I do? She glanced at Audrey's reflection beside her in the mirror as the makeup artist passed the brush over her cheeks. "Look, Audrey, suppose I was going to tell you a story. And I said: 'The rabbit ran out of the field.' Not much of a story, huh?"
"What if I said: 'The terrified rabbit dashed from the field, with the dog at his tail. He cleared the fence in a single leap and the last the dog saw of him with his little cotton tail as it disappeared in to the wood.' You see, news people make the story more interesting to people. We help people understand what is happening."
Audrey scowled. "Why was the dog chasing the rabbit?"
"That doesn't matter, Audrey. You enjoyed the second story more, right?"
She nodded slowly.
"Well, some people don't like interesting stories, they just like the facts. Danny is like that."
Audrey's eyes lightened up. "Like the policeman on that old TV show Danny watches. 'Just the facts, Sir.' Danny is still like a policeman!"
Carrie froze. "Danny is a teacher, Audrey. He likes teaching." Am I telling her this or me? God, what a wretched thought! I see the way he is when he tells some of his cop stories. I've seen the fire in his eyes, the glow -- he comes alive. But it is the past and let it stay where it belongs -- in the past.
Audrey gave a humph.
A young man with a headset on rapped on the open door. "Five minutes, Carrie."
Audrey jumped up. "Can I watch?"
"Sure, but from the booth. If you giggled or coughed or something on the set, all of Honolulu would hear you. My boss would not be happy."
"Danny always watches the news when you are on," Audrey giggled. "And sometimes, when he thinks he is alone, he talks to you."
"Really?" This ought to be good. "What does he say?"
She wrinkled her nose. "You know. Mushy stuff."
"He likes the color of your eyes when you wear the blue jacket."
"And he wishes he was running his hand through your hair."
Carrie touched the tresses next to her ear. "He told you this?"
She giggled. "No! He tells the TV!"
"Oh, yes, I forgot. Anything else?"
"He says, 'Good night, Sweetheart,' when it ends. I think he sings a little song like that."
"He sings?" Carrie was captivated.
"Well, he kind of mumbles sings, you know?" Audrey's eyes danced. "He loves you."
"Yes, I know."
"Do you love him?"
"Yes, I do," Carrie replied openly.
"Then you should get married!" Audrey laughed and hugged herself.
"It isn't that easy, Audrey."
"Cause of Lonnie. Lonnie hates you -- he hates me, too. Tell him it's too bad."
Out of the mouths of babes. Just as Carrie started to speak again, there was another rap on the door. "Come on, Carrie -- two minutes."
End part 4
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