One and Two and One Is Four (for GK and BG)
This is NOT a contest piece
They came to the funeral together. I hadn’t seen either of them since that Super Bowl party at Jimmy’s house. I’d needed a break from that whole group scene after that. It turned into a five-year hiatus.
Jimmy looked the same, except he’d had more hair the last time. Brian appeared to have lost fifty pounds. Maybe more.
I watched them walk down the aisle, talk to the people at the front. Ikaika’s mom had died maybe seven years ago, and I didn’t know what his dad looked like, but it didn’t seem he was there. Perhaps he’d passed away too. Maybe there were some brothers and sisters up there. I’d just gone through the line hugging each person, telling them I was sorry for their loss.
When the two walked back up the aisle, Brian saw me, did a small double-take, then pointed me out. They both waved, came over, and slid into the pew next to me.
The music had been a traditional Hawaiian playlist, not even a hapa haole number. Then all of a sudden, one of Jimmy’s songs came on.
“Hey, Jimmy, Brian.” We shook hands. “Long time no see you guys. Hey, Ikaika must have requested that they play your music at his funeral.”
Jimmy laughed. “Nowadays, if I ever play live, it’s mostly at funerals of family and friends anyway, so it’s appropriate.”
“Yeah,” Brian said. “He really liked your songs, Jimbo. If anything, besides Hawaiian music, your stuff had the charm to sooth that savage breast of his.”
We laughed. Soothing Ikaika’s savage breast was indeed a trick. And from my experience his breast turned savage a lot.
“Do you know how he died?” I asked.
Jimmy said, “His sister says it was just sudden. A massive coronary. I happened right here, in this church, at Sunday service.”
Brian and I had met Ikaika through Jimmy, a party at Jimmy’s house for a CD launch. Back then Jimmy’s trio, two guys on guitar and a female lead singer, played all over town regularly. Their group, Sunrise, drew crowds everywhere. That CD launch was big, a little too big for Jimmy’s house, but spilling over into the street didn’t seem to be a problem for the neighbors. Most of them were part of the party anyway.
Brian and I had been talking to Jimmy when Ikaika came up to him. “Kimo!” he said, “I owe you some money, brah!”
We discovered he would always call Jimmy “Kimo,” Hawaiianizing him. Jimmy stared at him for a moment, then broke into a big smile.
“Ho, Ikaika, long, long time, brah.” They shook hands and then hugged. “How come you think you owe me money?”
“Cuz, brah, I always shoplifted your guys’s albums. You know me, right? I figure I must owe you maybe a hundred bucks by now.”
He pulled a wad out of his pocket, peeled off a hundred dollar bill, and shoved it in Jimmy’s pocket. Jimmy tried to give the money back, but Ikaika wouldn’t hear of it.
“Hey, Lan, Brian, this is my old friend Ikaika. Ikaika, this is Lanning and Brian. Ikiaka and I were Boy Scouts together.”
Ikaika stuck out his hand and shook both of ours. “Howzit, guys, how you like dat? So funny we wuz scouts. Ho, lemme tell you, we wuz nevah prepared for not’ing, except maybe steal beer from my folks refridge-a-rator.”
Jimmy laughed hard, so did Brian. This guy made me way nervous.
“So Kimo,” Ikaika said, turning back to him. “I sorry I nevah seen you long time. My folks split up, an I wen move Big Island wit my mom. My frickin faddah finally hit her too much times.”
Jimmy reached up and patted him on the shoulder. “Eh, no worries, Ikaiks, I knew it was bad for you and your mom. I so sorry I couldn’t help you more.”
“Eh Kimo, you always helped me plenny everytime you lemme sleep your treehouse wen I ran away from home. Ho man, my faddah. What a fuckah, yeah? Ficken Korean’s an deir fricken drinkin an gambling an shit. Beating up my mom was like fun for him. An he always gave me dirty lickens too. I tought my mom and me was da nex ones he was gonna plant in da canefields.”
Plant in the canefields? I thought. What the fuck? I’m Korean. So’s Jimmy. I don’t know about Jimmy, but I didn’t think my dad or I fit this Korean description. And if this guy was Korean, it was well hidden behind the dark face and physique of a Hawaiian powerlifter.
“Sorry to hear that, Ikaika. I’m glad you guys got away safe.” He reached up and patted Ikaika on the shoulder again. “Hey man, how about a beer?”
“Nah, Kimo, gotta go. I jes wanted fo come an congratulate you. Now I gotta go rake in da kala. No money, no honey, right?”
He hugged Jimmy again. Then he shook our hands and slipped away through the crowd.
“Wow,” I said to Jimmy, “you two were scouts. Really?”
“If you can believe it.” Jimmy shook his head. “I don’t know why he likes me. I think he kind of hates most people. And because his dad is Korean and such an asshole, he really hates Koreans. But he knows I’m Korean, and for some reason he still likes me. Let me tell you, I’m glad about that. Who would want to mess with that guy.”
“Yeah,” Brian said. “He’s a scary dude, all right.”
I nodded. “You guys grew up together, so that must have something to do with him liking you, huh?”
“I guess. But it’s not really like we grew up together. After we both quit the scouts, I would only see him when he’d show up at my front door, wanting to sleep in my treehouse because he’d run away from home. My folks were wary of him, too. You know my dad, the HPD cop, right? He always said that I should steer clear of Ikaika. That he was trouble.”
“Why does he call you Kimo?” I asked.
“I’m pretty sure it’s because of his Hawaiian side. His mom’s pure. So he’s fifty-fifty Korean-Hawaiian. His mom is so nice. A real loving woman. Always warm and so open. I think it’s like killing his Korean half."
“Is he, uh, a for real dangerous guy?” Brian asked. "He carries a lot of money. Kind of shady, not?”
“I don’t know about the money, but Ho, let me tell you, he did some heavy duty drugs back when we were scouts, and I’m pretty sure he kept on doing them. He would get so nuts sometimes, I thought he was gonna kill someone. He told me he would go driving in Waikiki with his friends, they’d look for soldiers, see one, jump outta the car, and beat the shit outta the guy. That’s what he and his friends thought was good fun.”
“So when did he leave with his mom?” Brian asked.
“Gotta be high school, I guess.”
I said, “I wonder what kind of job he’s got, yeah, with all that money?”
The three of us never figured out the answer to that question.
Now, another Sunset album was playing. I said, “The last time I saw all you three was when Ikaika got into that fight with the cops who came to break up our Super Bowl party at your house. When’s the last time you saw him, Jimmy?”
“You wouldn’t believe it, but I ran into him maybe nine months ago at the police station. We both were arrested for DUI, although I shouldn’t have been. I was sitting in the holding cell, and then in comes Ikaika. So we talked all night, both got driven to court the next morning, and when we got up before the judge, me, I found out that I was only being charged for speeding because my alcohol level wasn’t above the legal limit after all, so why I had to spend the night in jail I still don’t know, and Ikaika, they took his license and sentenced him to community service.”
Jimmy looked at me. “Hey, now that I think about it, Lan, why are you even here? I know you didn’t particularly like him, and I figured that and the fight with the police were probably why you stopped coming to my house.”
I laughed a little.
Ikaika truly scared the hell out of me, and I only saw him four or five times at Jimmy’s house. That Super Bowl fight with the police had been the last straw. I was always uncomfortable when he was around, and not only could we see that he was explosive, but that he was willing to take on the Honolulu Police Department. I couldn’t take that whole scene anymore. I didn’t want to be the next target of Ikaika’s rage.
But two months ago I had been parked at Beretania Times Supermarket. I was getting into my car, just on the other side of the bushes from the bus stop, when I saw out of the corner of my eye this big guy who stood up from the bench and walked over toward me. My heart started pounding cuz I thought he might want to pound me, and then I recognized Ikaika. But he had remembered me first.
He said, “You Lanning, yeah? You Jimmy’s friend.”
His handshake was so much lighter than I’d remembered.
“Yes, it’s me. But I, I haven’t seen Jimmy in years. How about you?”
“Jimmy talks about you all the time. Him an Brian, dey miss you brah. You come up all da time. Dey always say stuff like, ‘Eh, you know what Lan would say about dat,’ or ‘If Lan was here, dis or dat would happen.’ You stayed away too long, Lanning. Dey your good friens. Brah, you gotta hole onto friens. Go call um up. You gotta do it. I bet you miss dem too, yeah?”
Ikaika’s bus rolled up to the stop. He pulled out his bus pass and waved it. “Senior citizen. I canna believe I dat old already.” He laughed. “Latahs, Lanning. No forget your friens.”
He walked away, then stopped and turned around. “Lanning, I real sorry I broke up your gang.”
That last comment chilled me with an electric shock.
For the past two months I kept wondering if I should call Jimmy and Brian. Maybe just show up at Jimmy’s house with a six-pack. I checked the papers to see if he were playing music anywhere. No luck. I couldn’t figure out what to do.
The music had stopped and the Minister began to speak, so we sat back and I didn’t answer Jimmy’s question.
I’d been sure they’d both be at the funeral, and I was glad they were, even though it was a horrible way to come together again. It was so good to see the two of them. They were good friends. I could feel the good energy. Ikaika had been right. Good friends, you have to hold on to them.