Friday, February 27, 2015

Aloha, Baby (A Short Story Serial - Part 2)

Blue eyes, dimples, and a hot surfer's body means trouble, right? There's only one way for Katie to find out...

  Last week I posted the first section of my short story Aloha, Baby. If you didn't catch that post, jump to Part 1. Then come right back to see what trouble Katie gets into this week...

Losing seventy pounds was sure something to celebrate, but at the same time it created problems Katie never expected to deal with. Like, what to do when the hot-bodied surfer, Jack, turned out to be the DJ at her roommate's favorite dance club. Katie was positive he had ‘Trouble’ stamped on his butt. Didn't he?

Part 2

I stepped off the elevator carrying a white Styrofoam cup of frozen yogurt and smiled at my neighbor Darla out in the hall.
“Hey lady,” Darla said in her smoker’s rasp.
“Hey Darla.” I juggled my backpack and fished out my keys. Our building was surrounded by residential neighborhoods. From our fifteenth floor unit, we gazed over the tops of palm trees and red-roofed houses to the aqua ribbon of ocean at the edge of the world. Or that’s how it felt.
“You need a nice young man to take you to dinner.”
“Nope.” I glanced over my shoulder at her and laughed. “You do.”
Darla laughed too, a sound as wrinkled and leathery as her skin. She owned an extensive collection of old cotton bathing suits in graphic block prints and neon colored flowers. Straight from the sixties, they had built-in skirts, bullet boobs, and wide shoulder straps. She seldom wore anything else. Today’s choice had sunshine yellow hibiscus blossoms on a green background.
“Oh, I’ve done my time.” Darla punctuated her thought with a loose cough. “Miss Bitty and Stinker keep me busy enough.”
Miss Bitty and Stinker were cats. In my mind, they were the finishing touches on a perfect nightmare. In my ugliest fantasies, I ended up like Darla, living alone, dressing crazy, and talking to my cats all day. I wouldn’t be Meli’s roommate forever. Then what? It’s not like I had much hope of getting married. I’d had no practice with men. Seventy pounds ago it wasn’t an issue. Now, at size eight and with Meli coaching from the sidelines, it might be.
Our apartment was fairly standard. There was a short entry hall with a galley kitchen on the right and two bedrooms on the left. The kitchen was separated from the living room area by a waist-high counter. Two bar stools on the living room side to allow visitors to sit and watch the cook, if we ever cooked. We were more into Lean Cuisine frozen dinners.
Across the living room was a sliding glass door leading to the lanai. Our carpet was beige, the walls were beige, and our furniture was made from a pale polished wood. If it weren’t for the forest green couch and bright coral flowered pillows, the place would have resembled a bowl of oatmeal.
I plopped onto the couch and dug my spoon into the frozen yogurt, quickly shuffling exchanges in my head. Weight Watchers would prefer I wrote everything down and I would…later. Hula Girl, our dancing doll, was in her usual spot standing next to the TV. Flipping a switch made her hips swing and her grass skirt swish while the music box played The Hukilau Song. The rest of the time she listened to my problems and gave me advice about diet and exercise and stuff. Okay, so I talked to a plastic doll. Everyone’s got their little eccentricities.
Today she was quiet until I remembered Jack, carving the curl of a wave, his shoulders and chest broad and sun-kissed over a pair of those ubiquitous baggie shorts all surfers wore.
She smiled like the Cheshire Cat.
“What? I barely know him.”
Hula Girl just grinned at me.
Thank goodness Meli wasn’t home from work yet. If she knew I talked to a doll, I’d never hear the end of it.

A quick cloudburst right before sunset had cleared the air of most of the day’s heat, though it was still muggy in the apartment. The door to the lanai was open to let air circulate, and the smell of plumeria blossoms from the trees down below floated through the living room. That smell was my very favorite thing about living in Hawaii.
By the time Meli got home, the yogurt container was in the garbage, and I’d taken a shower. My hair was pulled up in a French twist and I had the curling iron in hand, creating a corkscrew cascade of bangs to frame one side of my face. Any hairstyle turned into an ongoing battle between my natural curl and the moisture in the air. My weapons were mousse, gel, and a tall white can of Paul Mitchell Super Hold hairspray, unless it was really muggy. Then I pulled out my big gun: Aqua Net.
Meli blew in, a four-foot-eleven whirlwind of Chinese-Filipino energy. “How you gonna get your tee shirt off with your hair all done up?”
At five-foot-six-inches, I always felt gawky around her. “Very carefully?”
“Lo-lo. You shoulda taken the shirt off first.” She shook back her waist-length black hair and crossed her arms, leaning against the door jamb.
“I said I’ll be careful.”
“Do it now so we have time to fix what you mess up.”
I mock-glared at her in the mirror before reaching for the hem of my t-shirt. She was going to yell at me even louder when she saw what I had on underneath. I wore a cheap bra I’d bought forty pounds ago. Now it was faded, frayed, and hopelessly baggy. Every time she saw it she ragged on me to get rid of it. I lifted the hem, carefully keeping the neckband of the shirt away from my hair.
“Stop right there.”
I froze with my hands at about shoulder level.
“This thing needs to go.”
With a snap, she unbuckled the bra. It stayed up because my arms were raised, though one boob popped out of the cup.
“Damn it,” I said under my breath.
“No, you damn it. You’re a pretty girl. You shouldn’t wear crap like that.”
I got the t-shirt off with a minimum of trauma to my hair before turning to face her with my bra at half mast. “No one sees it except you.”
“Even I shouldn’t have to see that nasty thing.”
“All right, I promise I’ll throw it away.”
She raised her chin and smirked. “No, sistah, you’re going to give it to me and I’m going to throw it away.”
With a heavy sigh, I dropped the bra into her outstretched hand and pushed past her out of the bathroom, trailing the t-shirt behind like a drooping tail.
“Now go put your dress on.”
“Yes, mother.” I let my bedroom door slam just a little harder than necessary.

Meli had a good job. She worked in the business office of a big law firm, Bernstein & Rowe, and made a decent salary doing it. Family connections helped her find the job, and family connections helped her get a deal on a shiny blue BMW. Family connections are key, whether you live in a small town or a big city like Honolulu.
My family connections went in a somewhat different direction. My dad was a Navy officer. He and my mom had moved to Honolulu when I was in high school. When they moved on to their next duty station, I stayed to go to the University of Hawaii. After graduation I couldn’t come up with a reason to move back to the mainland, so I took a job at one of the local hospitals. Every winter I took a trip to wherever my parents were living to get my cold weather fix. This year they were in Norfolk, Virginia, which was warmer than many places they’d lived. At least I’d had an excuse to wear a sweater.
While Meli finished getting ready, I caught part of an episode of Entertainment Tonight and wondered what it would be like to be famous. Hula Girl pointed out real surfers didn’t like artificial girls.
“So what?”
“What?” Meli called out from her room.
Actually, I’d been talking to the doll again. Hula Girl told me I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
“Shut up already.” Oops. Out loud again. The doll was starting to get on my nerves. It was almost like she wanted me to get together with Jack.
Meli poked her head out of the bathroom. “Did you say something to me?”
“Let’s go.”
She came out of her room, running a comb through her silky hair. She wore a pair of dressy shorts with a black bustier top. In her high black pumps, she was almost as tall as me, at least until I put on my own high heels.
“You lo-lo. First I’m dragging you out against your will, and now you’re rushing me.”
“As if.”
Meli curled her lip and looked down her nose at me. “Shut up already.” The comb flew in the general direction of her bedroom. “I hope we can catch up with this guy Dave from work. He keeps trying to go out with me, but my mother would freak out if I brought a haole home. She only wants Asian boys for me.”
“So this isn’t a date?” The humidity made my scalp itch under my perfect curls. I had to keep reminding myself not to scratch it or, for sure, everything would frizz out, despite the layers of product and hairspray.
“Oh, no.” Meli made her eyes wide and shook her head, like a kid who’d been caught being naughty. “Did I mention he has a twin brother? Super cute, both of them. They went to Pepperdine to play volleyball and just moved here a couple months ago when Dave got the job at Bernstein & Rowe. I’m pretty sure his brother doesn’t have a girlfriend.”
I tried to ignore the suggestion in Meli’s words. If he was an athlete, he probably liked skinny girls. Even though I knew my strappy black dress said “Size Eight” on the tag, I still felt like an imposter.
“You’re not going to wear that watch, are you?” Meli pointed to my black Swatch.
“Um…maybe not.” I unbuckled it and tucked it in my purse. Meli was right. It didn’t go with the outfit. Without it, though, there was a pale stripe around my wrist.
Meli glanced at me significantly and raised an eyebrow. “Fix that.”

She was out the door so fast only Hula Girl heard me muttering about bossy roommates as I searched my jewelry box for a bracelet wide enough to work.

So do you think Meli will get Katie out on the dance floor? Check back next week and see!

Jump HERE for part 3.


  1. Nice job, Liv. I particularly liked they way you chose your words and details to create an image of Darla in my head. I also liked the plastic hula doll as a sort of non-sentient character.

  2. I just read the first two installments. What a fun piece! Looking forward to reading more.

  3. When this story originally appeared in an anthology, I dedicated it to all my best girlfriends from when I lived in Honolulu. One of them read it, and said it was just like the kind of night we used to have back in the day. I hope you like the rest of the story, Sara, and Mike, I didn't have a plastic doll to talk to back then, but if I had I might have demonstrated a little more common sense. Thanks you guys!