Rommel Garcia and Cindy Okamura, both 22 years old, jaywalk across Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki holding hands, after Cindy initially stopped. He pulls her along. Rommel has a thick head of black hair, his round, lined, dark-complexioned face looks much older than he really is.
A police officer stops them on the sidewalk. “You’re supposed to cross the street in the crosswalk,” his eyes on Rommel full of hate.
“Yes, sir,” Rommel says. He has a heavy Filipino accent. Cindy leans her slight form against him, glaring at the officer. “We’re sorry, sir,” Rommel says. He squeezes her hand.
Hamamoto, Cindy reads on the officer’s HPD nametag.
“Driver’s license,” Hamamoto snaps, glaring.
Rommel reaches for his wallet and gives the officer his Hawaii Driver’s License.
Hamamoto barely glances at it. He looks Rommel up and down. Rommel is dressed in his oatmeal-colored suit, his dressiest dancing clothes. His shoes dressy, brown leather.
“Where you going?” The officer doesn’t look at Cindy.
Rommel says, “The Key, sir.”
Still, the cop glares at him. “If I ever catch you jaywalking again, you’ll spend the night in jail. Understand?”
“Yes, sir. I’m sorry, sir. It won’t happen again. Thank you, sir.”
The officer hands back Rommel’s license. Cindy keeps quiet, Rommel’s grip so tight on her hand.
As they go to Rommel’s light blue Datsun 280Z parked on the Ala Wai, Rommel is silent. His silence is heavy, heavy. It’s as if their night out’s been overcome by toxic fumes. Cindy says, “He should be out catching criminals instead of harassing citizens.”
Rommel says nothing. They cruise around Waikiki and Diamond Head in his air-conditioned car for about half an hour, Rommel relaxing. He hums to the pop music on the radio. Baby, come back…
Later. They arrive near a neighborhood bar in the McCully area, neon signs of pink, green, yellow, blue. They get out of the car, Rommel smoothing his suit. They go in under the skeleton-key-shaped neon sign above the doorway, the air inside heavy with cigarette smoke. Rommel strides in, Cindy on his arm. People turn to look. A mid-30s Japanese-American woman hugs Rommel.
“Cindy,” Rommel says, “this is Sandra. My dancing partner.”
Sandra smiles and says, “I can see that Rommel has good taste.”
Charmed, Cindy smiles back. “Nice to meet you.”
“Come,” Sandra says. “We’ll get you some privacy.” She leads them to a booth deep in the back.
Four East Asian men sit in the next booth. Their long eyes look Rommel and Cindy over.
Sandra brings their drinks after she cards Cindy. “Girl. You look so young! When Rommel brought you in, I thought, ‘Uh-oh. A minor.’” They laugh. “I thought you were sixteen, tops.” Sandra then stays and chats with the couple until the pupus come.
Rommel and Cindy sit side by side. She leans into him again, laughing. They talk about nothing, everything, Cindy doing most of the talking, sipping her vodka-tonic. She says nothing more about the policeman. Rommel eats boiled peanuts, his white teeth flashing in the low light of the bar.
Then they hear a guy from the next booth say loudly, “Yeah, maybe. But I don’t speak Ilocano,” his voice full of contempt. He looks over at Rommel.
Cindy looks at Rommel. He keeps his eyes lowered, his face expressionless, but a muscle in his cheek jumps.
Later. Rommel and Cindy are at his place, and he’s pounding it into her, baring his teeth. She bites her lip and says nothing.
Angela Nishimoto grew up on the windward side of Oahu, works on the leeward side, and lives in Honolulu with her husband. She holds an M.S. degree in botanical science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has had numerous publications, and has completed her first novel, Isabella’s Daughter.