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Tony Nacapui wasn't going for it.  "Nah, brah, I no like..." he said, his mouth set and jaw muscles twitching.

"Eh come on Tony, no be stink fut," Francis said, "an' besides, if no lemme ride 'em now, one day when you not looking, somebody going cockaroach 'em and den wat?"

Tony considered that eventuality, especially since Francis and his gangstah brothers were the notorious nocturnal bikenapper crew.  You would find your bike had been dissected by some made bike doctor.  A day or two later you would see Francis or one of his brothers riding down the street on one Frankenstein monster bike made up of parts of your bike and that of other hapless kids from around the neighborhood.

He now had to consider the situation at hand.  "I no can len you ride cuz my faddah sed if he ketch me lend da bike fo anybody ride, I goin' get dirty lickens."  Tony reaffirmed his position by putting both feet on the ground as he straddled the bike with both hands on the handle bars.

"Chee, Francis," I said, putting my school bag down at my feet, "just cuz you mo' big den us two guys..."

"Neva mind, Haole boy," Francis said. He called me Haole boy cuz I was more fair skinned then the kids at Main Camp in Kahuku. Had mostly filopino and Japanee families who lived around Kahuku Sugar Mill camp.

"Tony ain't stupid, eh Tony?" Francis continued. "You going let me ride no?  Tony-boy!" He put his arm around Tony's neck like he and Tony were old pals and he tightened his arm at the elbow.

"Ow..OWW..eh no make!" Tony said. "I ain't stupid okay, Francis? And you ain't riding my bike an' dass it." Tony wrenched himself away from Francis and was rubbing his neck.

Francis had not expected resistance.  He was the undisputed playground bully.  He constantly picked on us fourth graders.  He was ace at cutting in the cafeteria line and nobody called him on it.  When he "borrowed" money from you, you could kiss it goodbye because you would neva see that quarter again.

Francis had one eyebrow; it ran from the top of one eye right across to the other without interruption. Kinda one uni-brow like one hairy caterpillar over his eyes. Oh yeah, Francis had one homemade tattoo.  It was supposed to be an "F" for his name but he messed it up and it came out a funny shaped "B".  He said it was "B" foah "Bool" as in "I'm da bool around hea".  We secretly said it stood for "Bodinky" cuz he was Puerto Rican.  We never told Francis that doe, cuz we liked having teeths.

"Eh Francis, you beddah cut that out," I heard myself say.

Francis cocked his head and looked in my direction. "Why, Haole boy?  You tink you can take me?" Francis snorted. "You tink you AND Mistah 'No Let Me Ride His Bike' can take me?"

Whoa. It hadn't occurred to me or Tony that we could join forces against Francis. Tony's eyes flashed, as he too considered the possibility for the first time.

"Eh, come'on Tony, we go," my mouth moved with a will of its own.

"I toll you be'fo, Haole Boy –no butt in." He stepped away from Tony and poked at me with a stiff finger to punctuate each word, "I said fo' you to beat it, brah befo' I punch your mout."

I took a step back to keep my balance.  I stooped to pick up my school bag. Mr. Hisanaga had given us homework again out of the dreaded "Learning From Numbers" math book. The five pound volume lay on the bottom of my bulging book bag.

"That's it, peetot," Francis laughed at me struggling with my bag, "take off."  He turned his attention to Tony, "me and my bestest friend Tony going riding."

I turned to go, holding the school bag with both hands.  Now what happened next began as a slow motion picture and then cranked up to a blur of color and sound. I swung around, holding the bag chest high, with both hands. The bag narrowly missed Tony who saw it coming and ducked.  The arc of the bag continued through Francis' chest, a direct hit, he had just let out a breath and was looking down at the spiffy reflector tape adorning the silver fenders.

The end of the bag sort of crumpled into his chest and then popped out again.  It was amazing.  Tony turned to see Francis topple to the ground.  Francis eyes were so large; together they looked like one large fried eggs.  For just a moment, I thought I saw his eyebrow separate, but only for a second.

On his knees now, he stared at the ground his arms at his side. I think he was having one out of da body experience.  He made no sound right away, only a kind of "eeeeep....eeeeep...eeep" coming from his mouth.

Tony's mouth had popped open.  He had a speck of white saliva on one corner of his mouth.  He looked at the bag I still held with two hands, one end slightly out of shape. Tony was frozen in time with his hand completely over his mouth.

"You going get it now," Tony said trying to comfort me. "Thanks a lot," I thought. I could see me walking home with Tony's bike wrapped around my head.

Then Tony hopped on his new bike with the fancy reflector tape on the fenders and cranked down hard on the peddles leaving puffs of dirt as he sped down the shady dirt road to the highway.

I squinted at the backside of Tony as he rode quickly around a corner and disappeared.
I looked over at Francis.  He still had those fried egg eyeballs. "Francis, you ok?" I said tentatively thinking of me in prison for murder by school bag.  The math book would be used as evidence by the prosecuting attorney.  Mr. Hisanaga would bring me math tests and pass them through the bars.

"eeeeeeeeeeeep.....eeeeeeeeeeeep....." Francis continued, now holding his chest with one hand.

I hesitantly walked over and helped him to his feet.  He hunched over, holding his stomach now, balancing on stiff legs.  "Hoo man, I sure got you a good one, no?" I said trying to sound cheerful.

Francis nodded his head, his eyes now half closed.  Through the half closed eyelids I could see flashes of his life playing across the screen of his eyeballs. Kicking sand on a Fred Kawai for the first time, tripping Ida Yonemine who walked by, sticking gum in the pigtails of the Kiku Morita the girl who sat in front of him on the school bus, eating kakimochi and making everybody smell his breath, twisting my arm behind my back to see how far I would lift off the ground. Ahh...good times...good times.

I picked up his school books and we walked slowly to the bus stop in front of Burger Mill road.

"You know, Francis," I said, "your tattoo really doesn't stand for "Bool" does it?

He shook his head.

"What it stand fo' den? " I asked.

"eeeep....eeep...bo...bo...bodinky....eeeep" he wheezed trying to smile.

We rode the bus in silence.  When his stop came, I handed him his books.  He took them without a word and stepped off into the street.  I looked down the road from my seat and I could see the weathered beaten shacks of the North Shore plantation camp where he lived.  Rusted cars without wheels snoozed in the high wind swept grass.  A skinny dog ran out wagging his tail, barking at the bus.  A Buick with primer door creaked by slowly scrapping its bottom on the deep holes in the coral filled road.

As the bus pulled away, I looked out the back window.  Francis stood still on the spot where he stepped off the bus.  The skinny dog sniffed his feet and wagged his tail. As the bus moved away, Francis never moved getting smaller in the distance.

Years later, I was walking down Kuhio Avenue in Waikiki and passed a bar with live rock music screaming out the front door.  A couple of girls in sprayed on skirts were milling around a burly doorman.  Another doorman "helped" a haole guy to his feet and out the door. He just missed crashing into me as I passed the place.  The guy stumbled into two Samoans who were standing talking on their cell phones. Ah, I will let fate take its course, I thought.

The first doorman put his arm around one of the girls and gave her a big bear hug and then looked over at me for a second.

He had one continuous eyebrow.   It was Francis.

I dropped my gaze and kept walking.  I could feel his eyes on my neck as he tried to get a fix on me.

At the corner, I waited for the light to change.  A smile started on one corner of my mouth and a smile spread across my face.

"Eeeeeeeeeep....eeeeeeeeeeep!' I wheezed out loud, "I da Bool", I said laughing.

A tourist couple standing next to me stepped away and looked at each other.  The lady tightened her grip on her handbag and her husband wished the light would change more quickly.

I wondered where Tony Nacapui was and as the "walk" signal blinked, I stepped into the street thinking of the windswept plantation camps now ghosts of my childhood memories.

About Author

Kamaka Brown is on staff at AW. Originally from North Shore of Oahu, he now is a tropical transplant living on the West Coast. He is a stand-up comic performing in clubs, concerts and other venues in Honolulu, Las Vegas, Pacific Northwest and Los Angeles. In the summer of 2009 Kamaka toured Southern California and Pacific Northwest with his "If Can Can. If No Can No Can" Hawaiian Pidgin English stories with slack key guitars.

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