On Saturday, September 29, the first book in the new Hawaiian Storm series will launch. Some readers might remember a book titled Torn Roots. A version was published three years ago by Amazon in a program that has since been cancelled. I’ve revised and expanded it, with some new characters. I’d like you to meet Sophia Keahi.
Chapter 9: Wise woman
Thursday, 11:30 a.m.
The Hana Cultural Center Museum was a single-story, white building with a corrugated tin roof. A low porch was in front, with three wicker chairs and a low stone table to one side. On the table were four glasses and a pitcher of water with lemon slices in it. Twin, intricately carved doors stood wide open, inviting them into a dim interior. Vanessa hoped it would be cooler than the outside.
She made a brief detour to take a look at the building next to the museum. It was also made of wood painted white. It looked like a small clapboard house with a veranda that stretched across the width of the front. But the sign over the veranda burst that illusion.
“Oh, my god,” she could not help but say. “I cannot believe that this town, in the United States, used this building as a one-room police station and courthouse until 1978.”
Kaimi laughed. “That’s Hana for you.”
He led the way up the steps to the Hana Museum. Inside were glass display cases and shelves. Vanessa took in the t-shirts for sale and lingered over the display showing photos from the tsunami that struck Hana Bay in 1946.
Vanessa looked up when Kaimi said “Eh, Sophia.” A small, brown-skinned woman with grey hair that hung down to the small of her back was standing behind a counter. She wore thick horn-rimmed glasses and a bright floral blouse.
“Eh, Kaimi. Nice to see you again so soon. So, you have some questions about the protest yesterday?”
Kaimi turned to Vanessa and cocked an eyebrow. “I knew you’d know why I came before I got here,” he said, turning to the grey-haired woman again.
What is going on? Vanessa wondered. Is Kaimi trying to say she’s some kind of witch?
“Who’s your friend?” Sophia asked.
Kaimi became formal. “Ms. Sophia Keahi, please meet Special Agent Vanessa Storm. Special Agent Storm, Ms. Keahi of the Hana Cultural Center.”
Sophia beamed through her glasses at Vanessa. “So. What can I do for the Federal Bureau of Investigations?”
Vanessa could not help but smile back. “We just have some questions about the people at the protest.” Where is Kaimi going with this?
“What do you know about the woman who led it? Rowan … something,” Kaimi continued.
Sophia’s gaze was fixed on Kaimi. “Don’t pretend you don’t remember her name, ke keiki.” Nephew.
“All right, makuahine.” Auntie. “Rowan Fields. You told me she was going to give me a lot of trouble.”
“Was I wrong?”
Kaimi sighed. “No, you weren’t wrong, Sophia. But how did you know?”
“Would you like a cup of herbal tea, dear?” She came out from around the counter, adjusting a knickknack on a shelf as she passed.
“No, thank you,” Vanessa replied.
Sophia walked out onto the porch and sat gracefully on a wicker chair beside one of the doors. She poured herself a glass of water from the pitcher on the stone table.
Kaimi and Vanessa followed her out. Kaimi crouched, sitting on his heels, and Vanessa sat in another wicker chair.
Sophia took a long drink. “What do you want to know, Kaimi?”
“I want to know who Rowan Fields is and what she’s doing here.”
“She’s a haole who, like many who come to these islands, has fallen in love with them and wants the best for them. She wants to preserve their life and beauty.”
“So she organizes protests?” “Her heart is in the right place. But she doesn’t know as much as she thinks she does.”