This story probably shouldn't be told. It would give up too many secrets. Most people wouldn't know and it would hardly be worth mentioning anything about Lanai, Hawaii. Most people wouldn't know nor would they care it is the sixth-largest of the Hawaiian Islands and the smallest publicly accessible inhabited island in the chain or that it is the 42nd largest island in the United States. Who cares?
The FBI seemed to care. In fact, that was part of the decision to put her there. Jenny had never been to Hawaii. Most computers would not have made a guess to search for her there. Who would want to live on such a god-forsaken place?
The island is shaped like a bean; with the length (parallel to Maui) about thirteen miles and the width about seven miles. Although most of the islanders living there don't care either way, it is supposedly of a volcano. From Google earth, one can see that the 3,000 foot high mountain range facing Maui is actually part of the ridge a crater. The flat habitable part of the island which the city is nestled in is actually in the mouth of that crater.
Most of the residents have never been off of the island, except to go to a class reunion. Most of them (the reunions) are in Las Vegas. Most of the islanders worked for Dole Pineapple until they moved to the Philippines. Most of the people from everywhere else do not know or care about the fact that when Dole left, the company built two large luxury hotels on the island to give the inhabitants some kind of work.
Everything on the island, food, gas, cars, anything you can think of comes from the mainland. The theater has English speaking films on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. There are Japanese films on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Sunday is for the Filipinos.
The community center is a large lap siding wood framed building with a gymnasium, a stage and a few meeting rooms. On half the days, everybody goes to the gym after work and plays basketball. The men play and the wives and children sit in the stands to cheer. On the other days, ping pong tables are brought out and lined like cordwood on the basketball court. There are no bars on the island, but plenty of drunks.
There are at least seven different churches for the 3,000 people. After regular school, the Japanese children go to Japanese school to learn the language, customs and culture.
The few visitors are the rich. They fly in for a month to stay in their million dollar houses for a brief respite. The not-so-rich pay about $400 per day to stay in either of the two luxury hotels. The one next to Manele Beach is the Four Seasons Lanai. The one at the edge of Lanai City is the Lodge at Koele.
That is where Jenny works. Today she turns the switch on the 1985 Yamaha FZ750. It cranks over a couple of times and roars awake. It started! Sometimes, the weather is damp after a morning rain, and it can be finicky. She probably stuck one of the wires with a probe, checking for continuity. The pin hole in the wire will occasionally create a short. It was almost a gift. On Lanai, you get what you can on Craigslist.
Her father had taught her how to trouble shoot an electrical system when she was in high school. This one had a bad fuse and the local boy had no idea how to fix it. In good condition, this race quality crotch rocket would be worth thousands on the mainland. Here, it was worth what somebody that could repair it was willing to give. She had purchased it for $ 500.00 and fixed it herself. She had fiber glassed the tank and fairings. She had applied bondo in a thin coat over the little chips and painted it.
Today she would not be riding her 21-speed Panasonic across town to work. She went through the gears and the sound of the four-cylinder, 20 valve engine echoed off of the wood houses on the way. The young boys stopped what they were doing and stood silently as the most astonishing rice burner slalomed around the town square. "What a fucking idiot!" one of the boys said to his friend who had almost given it to her.
They were young, but they also watched in silent awe and fascination at the woman seated on it.
They watched the forty-year old woman leaned over the gas tank as she leaned into the corners. They watched this mysterious haole from the mainland. There was so much they didn't know about her. For a woman who was probably older than their mothers, how could somebody that age look better than the girls they went to school with?
They watched. Her denim cutoffs were hemmed at the bottoms but rode up almost scandalously to the top of her thighs. Her burnt umber boots were laced up to the top, just below her knees. Her suntanned legs were an indication of a person who had spent most of her time outdoors. Her reddish brown French braid stretched out behind her like the tail of a cheetah turning to catch a gazelle as the bike went around the corner.
The young boys could almost smell her; like a pile of freshly laundered shirts stacked on the porch overnight in a cold cedar chest. There was freshness about her like new oranges or apples pulled from the refrigerator. She was not a woman covered in rogue, lipstick, perfume or hairspray. They could all imagine sticking their noses in the camel toe of her cutoff jeans or lace panties beneath; same smell. You could inhale forever; like into an oxygen mask after running for a touchdown.
Jenny's blue oxford men's dress shirt sleeves were rolled up above her elbows. The boys could see her tanned, toned arms flex as she turned the throttle back and feathered the clutch. "What a fucking woman; what a fucking bike." The different boys said to themselves individually.
The sun was not always out. The roads were not always dry on this tropical island. Jenny rode when she could. If it was raining when she got off, she could still always walk home, or often when it was light, she would ride home in the rain. This was the best time for the young boys. They would line the streets if they could to watch this woman, wet to the skin riding home. She was too focused on not tipping over to realize the boys were salivating at her nearly see-through blouse and almost useless bra which God had mercifully made almost transparent in the drizzle.
Jenny rode up the main approach to the Lodge at Kōele. To fully appreciate the lodge, you had to be in your seventies. You had to have been there when this road led to the oldest ranch on the island. This part of the island served as the headquarters of Lanai Ranch, founded by Walter Murray Gibson who was one of the leaders of the large colony of Mormons who came to the island in the mid-1800s The pine trees back in the fifties were even then over a hundred years old. They formed a long avenue on each side of the dirt road to the main ranch entrance.
Now, over fifty years later, Dole Pineapple had moved. The owners had erected two luxury hotels to give the local people some type of work. The pines, close to a hundred years old, framed the entrance like the hotel had been there for a century. Jenny turned when she got to the entrance and parked in the parking lot. For the guests, the entrance was magnificent. Once they arrived at the end of the long approach to the entrance, The main entrance was a series of grand entrance doors into a multi-story lobby.
Once in the lobby, the doors on the back of the lobby framed a view across an emerald lawn and between rows of dwarf ornamental trees to a large pond. Beyond that was a white "greenhouse" full of orchids
Jenny's job was to manage the orchids, ornamental trees and prodigious amount of flowers on the site. It wasn't a job she chose to do for her life's work.
Her husband, Michael, had been an accountant. He had discovered that the office he had been working for was a front; a money laundering bank for a drug cartel sending money out of the country. The FBI had promised him immunity from prosecution for his testimony. They had been in the witness protection for over a year now.
The island had been selected through some computer searches. They had tried to pick a place the family had never been to; had no relatives; and had nothing they were interested in in terms of hobbies. The island was a blessing and a curse.
What kind of people went to Lanai? What kind of people ever left Lanai? Lanai was acontronym of concepts. It was like who drives a Cadillac? The very rich and the very poor. Who lives on Lanai? The very rich and the very poor. Lanai was a collection of extremes. The poor were there to serve the rich. The poor, who had never been off of the island served the wealthy wanderers; flitting from the mainland to Hawaii, and then on to Niece or Monaco.
They may have not been poor in a literal sense, if you believe that means lack of money; not being able to feed yourself or going without a cell phone. This is the place the very wealthy vacationed. This is where Bill Gates chose to have his wedding. This is the land of constant sunny weather; 200 inches of rainfall per year. It is where orchids grow wild. Children do not have to pack a lunch on the weekends. They go out on their bikes with spears cut from small ironwood trees, or take slingshots to hunt pheasants. They do not go hungry. They can always find mangoes, papayas, bananas, macadamia nuts or pineapple when they are hungry.
If you have never walked to college in the snow with cardboard to fill in the holes; if you have never had to push a car off the road because it could not get up the ice covered hill, how can you really appreciate what you have? They can be considered poor to the sense that they have never walked the narrow streets of Mont San Michele; climbed the Eifel tower; or had their pockets picked in Times Square.
.... There is more of this story ...