Different Kind Of Nirvana
William Starr Moake
My boss, Richard Newberry, was a multi-millionaire oil man from
California and he had a mansion on Maui. Dick called it the Big
House to differentiate it from the other houses he owned on the
island. It was big all right, six bedrooms and a dining room the
size of an average restaurant, but the design was the ugliest
thing I ever saw. The outside of the house was built to look like
a sailing ship with a bow on one end and a mast sticking up from
the roof. Each to his own, I guess, but the architect must have
felt embarrassed. The house sat on several acres landscaped with
exotic fruit trees and ornamentals from all over the world and
I enjoyed wandering the grounds. I used to peel some bark off
the cinnamon tree and chew it while I walked around. It tasted
just like the spice you buy in a supermarket.
was hardly ever at the Big House. He spent almost all of his time
in California taking care of his oil business. That's what I don't
understand about most rich people. They keep making more money,
but they don't know how to take life easy and enjoy themselves.
Big House was several miles from Hana, the only town in that part
of the island. I lived in one of Dick's other houses on the opposite
side of Hana. My place was no mansion, but it was good enough
for a normal guy like me. When Dick wasn't around, I had the run
of the Big House and the use of his Land Rover. This upset the
estate manager, a cranky old bastard named Cornell. We were constantly
bickering with each other like low-rent versions of Magnum and
Higgins on the TV show "Magnum PI." He wasn't British
and I wasn't a private investigator, but we had the same kind
of relationship. In other words Cornell was a genuine pain in
the ass. He liked to brag that he never had to pay employees in
the old days.
mean they worked for free?"
were glad to help out in such a beautiful place," he said.
were suckers. You ever heard of the minimum-wage law?"
like that are exactly what's wrong with this country."
me something, Cornell. Do you work for free?"
not the point."
didn't think so."
an estate manager as cheap as Cornell, Dick probably wrote off
the Big House as a charity and got a tax refund every year.
didn't care as long as I could take a dip in the swimming pool
and drink Dick's liquor when he was gone. He kept me on the payroll
because he was paranoid. He wanted someone around who could handle
a problem if it got out of control. Dick owned a small cattle
ranch just for fun and the ranch hands were a rowdy bunch who
couldn't be trusted. They smoked pot and drank on the job and
Dick made a lot of enemies by firing them one after the other.
Local people never forgot things like that and Dick was afraid
someone would try to get even some day. Set fire to the Big House
or catch him alone and bury him in the rainforest. I was his insurance
policy. I used to be a cop and I know how to take care of trouble-makers
without making waves. Dick is a very private man who hates any
kind of publicity.
few weeks ago Dick's two daughters came for a visit. Lynne was
19 and not much of a looker: short hair cut butch-style, glasses,
bone skinny. But Christy was a real beauty. She had long blonde
hair, a baby face and a body that was too perfect for a 16-year-old.
San Quentin quail, as they say in California, and quite a tease
to boot. She liked to sunbathe naked beside the pool while the
gardener pulled weeds or mowed the lawn within easy eyeshot. She
knew he was watching, but pretended she didn't notice. I called
her on it one afternoon.
driving the gardener crazy. Why don't you put on a bathing suit?"
sat up in the chaise longue and covered herself with a large beach
towel, lowering her sunglasses to squint at me. "Well, at
least he's not a dirty old man."
not that old."
you get a good look?"
seen naked girls before, but I don't think your dad would approve."
smiled. "He's in California."
supposed to keep an eye on you and your sister when he's not here."
we in some sort of danger?"
could be if you don't start wearing clothes."
be a nag. This is paradise and I want to enjoy it au naturel."
don't speak frog."
a surprise for an educated man like you."
don't like me much, do you?"
never thought about it one way or the other."
make a deal. You start wearing a bathing suit and I won't tell
your old man about you getting into his liquor cabinet."
laughed. "The pot calling the kettle black!"
the dope you smoke with the ranch hands."
you been following me?"
didn't have to, they brag about it in Hana. You're getting too
famous for your own good."
stared at me, sulking.
we have a deal?"
stay away from the ranch. Your dad would kill both of us if you
on the pill."
he know that?"
I guess it'll be our little secret."
just decided. I don't like you."
wouldn't have it any other way."
ran into Lynne in the Big House. Apparently, she had been watching
Christy and me from the veranda.
was that all about?"
sister is trouble."
poured myself a drink. "Is that an order?"
been depressed ever since mom died."
doesn't look depressed to me."
took a seat in a rattan chair. "What happened to your mother?"
not supposed to talk about it."
want a drink?"
grinned at me. "Are you trying to loosen my tongue?"
old enough to drink in some states. I won't tell anyone."
"In that case I'll have a vodka and tonic."
choice on a hot day like this," I said, mixing her drink.
I handed her the glass. "When did your mother die?"
years ago. My dad took her on a vacation to Mexico and left us
girls in California. One night they both had too much to drink
and dad tried to drive back to the hotel. The car hit a cactus
or something and rolled over. Mom was --"
took a big drink from her glass.
get the picture."
like he was right."
don't understand. He didn't mean to crash the car. It was just
I can see how Dick would feel responsible for what happened."
was afraid he might commit suicide after he returned from Mexico.
He didn't get out of bed for a week."
must have been tough for you girls."
was all right, but Christy didn't understand why everything had
changed. My dad made her go to a psychiatrist for years."
really. She's still pretty messed up."
not a psychiatrist, but I don't think parading around in her birthday
suit is the answer."
blushed. "It's her way of getting attention."
definitely worked with the gardener."
gave up on teenage girls when I turned twenty-one."
prefer older women?"
don't know if it was the vodka and tonic, but all at once Lynne
seemed to be flirting with me.
than nineteen," I said with a smile.
I have another drink?" She held out her glass.
won't make you any older."
want to talk to you."
wasn't paying me enough for this kind of work. What the hell was
he doing in California while I was playing no-touch football with
his young daughters?
listened patiently while Lynne talked about college and how unhappy
she was without a boyfriend like her sorority sisters. It was
all Greek to me. I never went to college, but if I had gone, I
sure as hell wouldn't have wasted my time worrying about whether
my fraternity brothers were getting laid more often than I was.
By the time she finished her third drink Lynne was slurring her
should take a nap," I suggested.
will be when the booze wears off. I have to go to Hana anyway."
enjoyed talking with you," she said, batting her eyes. "Thanks
me a favor a keep a lid on your sister."
always try." She wagged her head sadly. "I'm the watchdog
daughter, in case you haven't noticed."
all right," I said, grinning at her. "You just drink
next morning I woke up at four and I couldn't get back to sleep.
I have insomnia regularly. When I was a cop, I worked the graveyard
shift and it screwed up my body clock or whatever they call it.
After I made breakfast and chased it down with two cups of coffee,
I decided to drive over to the Big House and check on the inmates.
Cornell wouldn't be awake that early and I could tiptoe past his
cubbyhole apartment on the ground floor without him knowing I
left the Land Rover on the road and unlocked the gate with my
key. The first streaks of light were in the sky as I strolled
down the driveway. The first thing I noticed was the front door
of the Big House stood open. I went directly to the living room
and did a double-take in the doorway. Lynne and the gardener lay
on a blanket on the floor near the sofa, both sound asleep and
as naked as jaybirds. With one hand she gripped his erect member
and he had a smile on his sleeping face.
be damned, I thought, she stole the gardener from Crystal. He
was only a kid himself, but I would have bet money he was gaga
for the younger sister. Maybe there was more to Lynne than met
the eye. While I was wondering why Crystal hadn't made it a three-some,
I was suddenly struck by a feeling of panic. I hurried up the
stairs to Crystal's bedroom and found it empty like I feared.
under my breath, I beat it back to the Land Rover and ground a
few gears on my way to Hana. I had a good idea where Crystal would
be. A ranch hand named Larry Acoba was a pakalolo dealer on the
side and he lived in a run-down shack near Waianapanapa State
Park. I arrived there just as the sun was peeking over the ocean
horizon. I banged on the front door until I heard a commotion
the fuck is it?"
was pulling up his pants when he opened the door. "You tryin'
to be funny?"
caught him flush on the jaw and he fell backward.
Acoba struggled to get to his feet, I kicked him in the chest.
on floor and tell me where she is."
came out of the back room wearing panties and covering her breasts
with her arms. "Leave him alone."
dressed. You're going home."
don't have to listen to you. You're not my goddamn father."
you don't get dressed right now, I'm going to hog tie you and
parade your naked ass through Hana."
old man would fire him," Acoba said.
know how old this girl is?"
didn't ask her to come here."
judge won't give a shit. It's called statutory rape and drugging
a minor. You'll be lucky to see daylight for fifteen years."
you better go with him," Acoba said.
thought you'd see it my way." I took a step toward Crystal.
"How do you want to leave?"
you lay a hand on me."
disappeared into the back room and returned fully dressed and
clawing at her hair.
the way," I told Acoba,"you don't work at the ranch
the drive back to the Big House Crystal started crying.
it out of your system," I said.
hate you!" she blubbered.
broke your word. I can't ever trust you again."
swear I'll get my father to fire you."
I'll have to tell him about all your shenanigans."
won't believe you."
he will. He's not as stupid as you think."
don't care if he believes you."
should care. With your history of psychiatric problems, he might
decide you need a nice long rest in a peaceful sanitarium out
in the country."
wouldn't do that to me."
was bluffing, but she didn't know that. The truth is Dick wouldn't
commit his daughter if she murdered ten people. He was a member
of a dying species called loving fathers. He would find excuses
for whatever Crystal did and protect her at all costs. But I could
tell she was too unsure of their relationship to realize she had
carte blanche with him. Some day when she was older she would
find out and then the serious trouble would begin.
we got to the Big House, Lynne was awake and hung over and pretending
that nothing had happened. The gardener was gone.
well?" I teased.
she could answer, Crystal launched into her.
and your big fucking mouth. What did you tell him about me?"
Lynne looked at me and I shrugged innocently.
not part of the family, he's an employee. You want me to tell
him everything about you?"
already did that herself," I winked.
now on leave me out of your goddamn gossip with the help."
Crystal stormed out of the living room.
guess she put me in my place."
going on?" Lynne asked.
mad because I pried her loose from a dope peddlar she was shacked
up with last night."
asked you to keep track of her, but apparently you were busy last
stared at me and blushed.
understand. Even a watchdog has to have some fun once in awhile."
grinned sheepishly at me. "You saw us, didn't you?"
didn't see anything. That's my story and I'm sticking to it."
feel very embarrassed."
all human, even me."
would really appreciate it if you didn't tell my father about
can see you're not going to let this rest, so let's make a deal.
You keep Crystal out of trouble for the rest of the time she's
here and I'll forget how I found out you have a birth mark on
your right butt cheek."
rolled her eyes and cupped her hands over her nose like she was
praying. "All right, it's a deal."
up, will you?"
beamed her best smile at me. "I'll try."
way I see it everyone is born into his own kind of hell and we're
all looking for a way out. Rich people get jaded spending their
money because they finally realize they can't buy what they really
need -- peace of mind, nirvana, whatever you want to call it.
Poor people think they would be happy if they only had more money,
but they're fooling themselves, too. Then there's the rest of
us who have enough money to pay the bills and take a vacation
once in awhile, but we're not happy either. I can find nirvana
in several stiff drinks, but it doesn't last and there's always
a price to pay the next morning.
don't think there's a way out for any of us. We just have to make
do with whatever we've got and forget about happiness. Humans
aren't capable of being happy for long. Even if we get what we
want, we stop wanting it and start looking for something else
to want. We're a bunch of scared animals clinging to a rock hurtling
through space. The individual little hells we live in don't mean
much compared to the big picture. All we can do is suck it up
and try to grab some temporary relief wherever we can find it.
I'll settle for a tall drink and a cool breeze on the Big House
veranda because I know it's a waste of time to expect more.
is a hard case. He still thinks his money will buy him a one-way
ticket to a better place. I wouldn't try to change his mind because
it wouldn't do any good. He's on his own path, which is different
than mine, and he has to follow it until he reaches the end.
view from the veranda was very pleasant. The sky was clear and
the ocean looked churned up with waves crashing against the lava
coastline a quarter-mile beneath the the estate grounds. Directly
below me Cornell was grumbling to the pool man about the filter
or something. I heard him say Dick was expected to arrive in a
few days, which meant I would have to clear out of the Big House
soon and drink my own liquor at home. But today I wanted to linger
for awhile and take a walk along the cliffs to smell the sea spray.
It opened my sinuses better than anti-hystamines.
grew up in Michigan and worked as a journalist for several years
in South Florida. After majoring in anthropology in college, he
traveled extensively, freelancing as a travel writer/photographer.
Moake is the author of three books of fiction, two novels and
a short story collection all published since 1999. When he is
not writing, Moake works as a freelance web designer and software
programmer from his home in Hawaii, where he has lived since 1972.
William Starr Moake
Different Kind of Nirvana
© 2004 by William