Authors: Jill Marie Landis
the Maidens shouted back. They all snapped to and bustled over to line up again. Precious climbed back onto the table top.
Pat hit the button, and Don Ho’s recording of “Pearly Shells” started.
“Ooh!” The crowd cheered and applauded as soon as they heard Don’s voice singing a recognizable song. Some of the older guests teared up. The legendary entertainer had appeared at the Hilton Hawaiian Village for years.
The Maidens started dancing. Kiki turned up the megawatts on her smile. She focused on the audience and not the manager as he started tapping on his cell.
EM WALKED BESIDE her uncle as they exited the Ali’i Tower, prepared to wander the grounds and decide where to have dinner.
“I’m thinking we should have something substantial. We haven’t had anything healthy all day,” she said. “There’s a Benihana’s across Rainbow Drive.”
“I’m not in the mood to eat.” Louie sounded lower than the sun after sunset.
“Once you see food you might change your mind. Did you get registered for the contest?”
“Yeah. It went quick. They were really organized. None of those hip young men running this thing would have been careless enough to lose a lifetime’s worth of recipes.”
“I’m sure you’ll remember your entry recipe once you start mixing. Get a good night’s sleep and tomorrow you’ll . . .”
They had crossed the grounds headed toward the beach. They were approaching the beach bar when Em recognized the shrill, short
bursts of a police siren.
“What’s going on? Sounds like it’s coming from the beach,” she said.
Louie was tall enough to see over the growing crowd. “I hate to say it, but it might be the girls.” He always used the term
“Oh, no,” Em groaned. “Not already.”
Louie grabbed her arm and maneuvered through the crowd of swimmers, surfers, and tourists knotted around the Hau Tree Bar outdoor bar. Kiki and the Hula Maidens were seated on the ground with their arms linked together.
As Em and Louie walked up they started chanting, “We shall not be moo-oo-oved.”
Pat yelled, “Louder, ladeeze!”
Apparently, Pat had opted not to join the sit in but was running things from the sideline.
If things weren’t bad enough, a news crew was set up on the beach side of the bar, complete with a handheld camera. Em recognized Moanike’ala Nabarro, the KITV reporter and weather girl. She was holding a mic, conferring with the camera operator.
As much as she hated to get embroiled in the Maidens’ latest fiasco, Em knew there was no way out. She walked up to Pat, whose buzzed hair was spiked and glossy with pomade. The essence of Old Spice wafted around her. Em tugged on the sleeve of Pat’s bright aloha shirt until she had her attention.
“What happened?” Em asked.
“Do ya want the long or the short of it?”
“Abridged, if possible.”
Pat started holding up fingers as she ticked off facts.
“One, the ladies were performing. Two, the manager tried to stop ’em. Three, he claims he don’t have a cabaret license or somethin’. Four, folks started yellin’ for him to leave them alone and let ’em dance. Five, Kiki said hula is a cultural experience, and ya don’t need a cabaret license. Six, the manager called hotel security. Seven, hotel security was afraid of the crowd ’cause it’s gettin’ surly. Eight, security called 911. Nine, the beach cops rolled up on their big wheels. Ten.” Pat stared at her hands. “Damn it,” she said. “I’m outta fingers.”
“Just go on,” Em urged.
“Well, the news crew was doin’ a weather spot on the Waikiki sunset at a Pineapple Upside Down Cake Contest and heard the commotion. They arrived the same time as the police pulled up. Kiki told the weather girl the Maidens have every right to perform.
She said, ‘We’re the Hula Maidens!’”
Pat paused to take a breath.
“And here we are,” Em sighed.
She spotted a guy who had to be the bar manager. He appeared to be more flustered than the other staff. The waiters and waitresses were doing their best to accommodate the customers despite the swelling crowd. Cops were spread out around the edge of the crowd, some in uniform, some still obviously cops in aloha wear. All remained stoic, no doubt wishing they were anywhere else right now.
A voice came over the two-way radio hooked to the nearest cop’s belt. “The paddy wagon is here.”
Trish yelled, “Paddy wagon is an offensive slur against the Irish.”
“Nowadays everything’s a slur against somebody,” Pat said.
“Round ’em up,” the officer in charge ordered.
Pat turned on him. “Seriously? You’re
going to arrest a bunch of old ladies?”
Kiki yelled, “Hey, I represent that remark, Pat.”
“Stand down.” The officer went toe to toe with Pat.
Uncle Louie nudged Em. “We have to do something.”
Aware of the news crew, Em lowered her voice. “You can’t risk getting hauled off before the contest. You’ve got to be at that orientation meeting tomorrow morning.”
“But . . .”
She knew Louie would protest and argued, “Look, anyone familiar with the show knows you’re connected to the Maidens in a big way. Take my advice and get out of here. I’ll do what I can.”
He looked crestfallen. “You sure?”
“Yes. Now scoot back to the edge of the crowd. Don’t do anything to call attention to yourself.”
Em waited until he took her advice, then she walked over to the officer in charge. He had salt and pepper hair and looked to be in his mid-fifties, no doubt stationed at Waikiki while counting down to retirement.
“Excuse me, Officer.” She read the name on his badge. “Officer Young. Is there any way we can fix this?”
“Yeah. We can get these women out of here, so everyone can get back to enjoying what’s left of the evening.”
The crowd had begun a chant on their own and was getting louder.
“Hu-la Mai-dens! Hu-la Mai-dens!”
“Do you know these nuts?” the officer asked Em.
She swallowed. They were definitely her nuts, and she and Louie were indirectly responsible for them being on Oahu.
“Then convince them to stop resisting arrest. I’ll see what I can do after we get them outta here.”
Em worked her way over to where Kiki was sitting cross-legged on the ground. Two officers followed her. She yelled to be heard over the crowd.
“Kiki, this will go a whole lot smoother if you all get up and go with the police.”
“We haven’t done anything.”
“Look around. You’ve created a real mess here. Half of Honolulu will be down here in an hour if you don’t comply.”
Kiki’s chin jutted. “Good. We can use some back up.”
Em went down on one knee and leaned closer. “Stop this now before you all spend time in jail. It’s not cute or funny. If for no other reason, think of Uncle Louie. Don’t ruin his place in the competition.”
Kiki tried to extract her arm from Lillian’s. The Iowan was sitting next to her, sobbing her eyes out. “I should have brought Bob! Who’s going to bail me out?”
Precious, seated on the other side of Lillian, grabbed her hand and whispered, “Pretend we’re together. We don’t want to end up playmates for hard core prisoners.”
Lil let out a wail that nearly drowned out the chanting crowd.
Kiki allowed a patrolman in Bermuda shorts to take her arm and hoist her to her feet. He held on, indicating Lillian should be next. She rose with Precious clinging to her. The trio was escorted to the police van waiting on the delivery drive that ended at the sand. Their supporters surrounding them fell silent.
Following Kiki’s example, Suzi, Trish, and Flora went peacefully, waving to their fans as they were led through the crowd. Tourists, beach-goers, and hotel guests parted like the Red Sea to let them pass. Big Estelle brought up the rear of the line.
As they walked by Moanike’ala, the reporter, Lillian grabbed her mic. “Please, Bob, if you’re watching, send bail!” she cried.
Em followed them to the van.
Big Estelle wasn’t as complacent as the others. “This is your fault, Kiki!”
Kiki made a show of huffing and puffing as she grabbed the door handle to pull herself up. She disappeared inside the van.
“If they don’t have a sense of humor here, how’s that my fault?” Kiki’s voice carried out the van door.
“You should have gotten permission,” Big Estelle shot back as she grabbed the handle by the door and hefted herself inside.
“It’s easier to say oops later,” Kiki said.
“Now Mother will be here unsupervised while I’m in the pokey. No telling what she’ll do.” Big Estelle stuck her head back outside the van. “Em, will you keep an eye on Mother?”
“I’d rather keep an eye on a rabid Rottweiler,” Em mumbled.
Then to Big Estelle: “I’ll try,” she said.
Pat had followed along, toting the duffle with the boom box.
“Get in.” Young nodded toward the open van door. “You’re part of this crew.”
Pat threw up her free hand. “Hey, I’m just the sound tech.”
“We’re taking you in, too.”
“Aw, come on, man,” Pat said.
He signaled another officer. Pat handed the bag over to Em.
“Don’t lose this. If you do, it’ll be the end of us.”
Officer Young turned to Em. He lowered his voice.
“Come to the Waikiki substation. It’s just down Kalakaua. Give us about an hour. Between you and me, they won’t be held long. The show of force is just to teach ’em a lesson and get the crowd to disperse.”
As the news crew jogged past, Em heard Moanike’ala Nabarro say, “Let’s get some shots outside the station.”
The crowd surged toward the police van and started booing as the doors closed. Uncle Louie appeared at Em’s elbow.
“If the bar manager’s smart he’ll offer everyone a free round of drinks before they decide to block the van’s exit,” Louie said.
“If he was smart he wouldn’t have let this thing explode,” Em said.
A surfer standing behind Louie had overheard. “Free round of drinks? I heard free round of drinks.”
A stampede ensued as the crowd headed toward the bar and started claiming tables. When the paddy wagon pulled out with lights flashing, no one was paying attention.
The fate of the Hula Maidens was already yesterday’s news.
LOUIE WAS TOO depressed to go with Em to the station. She left him in the suite muttering something about ordering room service after he lined up his cocktail making equipment.
She followed the directions the concierge gave her and drove the rental van down Kalakaua Avenue to the Waikiki substation. It wasn’t much bigger than the Hanalei Post Office. The Maidens were slumped in chairs in a holding area. Em ended up at the desk of a lieutenant who had been assigned to get them out of the building.
“You sure you can handle them?” Lieutenant Chun looked skeptical. He wasn’t about to turn them loose without someone taking responsibility for them.
“I’ll try my darndest.”
The lieutenant shook his head. “You know, my wife’s not gonna believe it. If we didn’t live all the way over in Pearl Ridge and traffic wasn’t so bad, I’d call and tell her to come down and meet ’em. She never missed a single episode of
Trouble in Paradise
. She’s a hula dancer, you know. Real kine, not like these ladies. But they’re funny, eh?”
“You were never on the show much,” he said.
Em shrugged. “I was too boring to get much air time. I hid from the cameras a lot.”
“I think I put the fear of God in ’em,” he said.
Em figured a lecture from an officer of the law might work on Lillian and Precious, the newbies, but Chun was wasting his breath on Kiki and the others. The only thing Kiki was afraid of was losing a live audience.
Before she walked away from a living, breathing HPD officer, Em said, “May I ask you something, Lieutenant Chun?”
She explained about the theft of Louie’s Booze Bible and added, “That notebook is my uncle’s life. It’s invaluable. I’m thinking we should give up on Hilton security and call the police. Could you take a report?”
Just then a brawl broke out in the lobby where the details of a fight at a big Samoan reunion were being sorted out. Lieutenant Chun pushed away from his desk. At six-four he towered over her.
“Lady, you bettah jus’ let hotel security work it out. We got real worries here. A bunch of Medicare age hula dancers and a stolen recipe book isn’t gonna ever be high on our priority list. I’d say you got better chances of recovery with Hilton security.”
He left Em and went to help other officers subdue a Samoan grandmother after she tossed a skinny Chinese guy against a wall.
By the time Em had squished the Maidens into their rental van and was on the way back to the Hilton, they had already broken the law again. There were more passengers than seatbelts inside the van, and so Precious was draped over three laps in the middle row.
“Louie had better be watching out for my mother,” Big Estelle yelled from the far back seat.
The last time Em had seen Little Estelle she’d been with the two muscular servicemen at the bar.
“I’m sure she’s fine.”
“You don’t sound like she’s fine. You sound like you have no clue.”