I don’t want to read this story.

Don’t want to know their names, imagine their faces.

I catch my breath as the words surface;
Tin Can Alley, barefeet football,
brown skinned boys wearing white silk shirts.
See them behind the wheel- immortal for the night;
hear the ease in their laughter
stronger than daylight and the poor.

Too close to home.

It is my father’s stories of his Hawaii.
There were few comforts, but
there were dances at the Ala Wai Club,
Violet’s in Kalihi- stew bowl for 25 cents,
there were beatings, Japs, Haoles, Blahlaz, and curfew;
dirty cops way too willing, rats that climbed up
tin gutters, girls with nice legs who gave it up
easy, and if you were lucky, real lucky,
a job at the shipyard

Was different back den Chris
no can believe, was so hard. But we work
go drink, talk story, forget for little while

This is not Michener’s Hawaii.

I skip to the end where she commits suicide-
and like a child burning ants, feel
a false sense of power. The end gathers me up
for the journey back.

This story is the unwanted family heirloom
the ugly vase,
the chipped china,
the bastard child everyone whispers about,
but no one calls by name.

Saturday night wasn’t busy in the Kapi‘olani building,
so no one from the Honolulu police could predict
an early morning phone call
that changed Hawai‘i forever.

Before the call came, Agnes Peeples
walked into the building at 12:45 a.m.
Agnes said her husband was driving
when they encountered a car filled with men
where King and Liliha intersect.

Although the cars didn’t hit,
Agnes and a man from the other car fought
resulting in blood seeping from her ear.
She remembered the car’s license number: 58-985,
and Cecil Rickard recorded her statement.

The phone rings at 1:47 a.m.,
so Captain Hans Kashiwabara picks up.
Tommie Massie reports an assault
and wants the police to visit his house.

The captain calls Detective John Jardine.
Then Jardine contacts Rickard
who instructs police to drive to the Massie home.

Detective Harbottle, Detective Furtado, and Officer Simerson
listen as Thalia Massie speaks:

She was at the Ala Wai Inn and went for a walk
at about midnight
when a car with four or five Hawaiians came by.

She was forced into the car and punched.
They drove her to a secluded area,
removed her from the car to the bushes,
and raped her six or seven times.

she alleged, six or seven times,
in her beautiful green dress.
I was that green dress.

I am the ghost
of that green dress.
These days,
I float ethereally
from where the Ala Wai Inn stood
and down John Ena Road
near Fort DeRussy,
where people—
Mrs. George Goeas, Alice Araki,
and Eugenio Batungbacal—
testified they saw me
pass them by,
which places me
in the area late that night.

I am the ghost of the green dress
that Thalia wore,
when she said she was abducted
by five young locals
and brought to a place–
dark, isolated, desolate–
in Ala Moana,
known as "Beach Road,"
where only a few
small fishing boats
creaked in the dark
and dogs whined, their cries
coming from the old
animal quarantine station.

I am the ghost of the dress
that weaves in and out
the psyche of Hawaii's people.
I am there when the brah on
on the street says:
"Eh haole, what you looking at?
You like beef?" Or when the local
kid cannot understand why he hates
guys in uniform and feels
like he wants to punch them out,
but will sign up
to fight with them in Iraq
because he needs a job.
He does what he does,
but can hardly wait to bug out.

I'm there when the haole looks
at the local kid "funny kine," or can't
look him in the eye because
he's not white or thinks
the kid's stupid because
he can only speak "da kine"
you know, Pidgin,
and look down on him,
as if he were low class,
uneducated, poor. Trash.
Animosity working both ways.

Unlike hospital-green frock,
I was once viridescent,
as sunlit slopes
of the Ko'olau mountains;
as the pleasure
garden sullied by the vertiginous
minds of whomever did this,
to her, my wearer.

I was viridescent as the ocean
in a green-bloom of limu,
a green that accentuated
the color of her fair skin
her light, soulful eyes
and red lips,
fine brown hair.
To have seen her,
you would have been
hard-pressed to say
she was pretty,
but unconventionally
attractive, she was taller
than most women in the islands
and had the kind of lugubrious
chic-ness made of money and unhappiness,
as she walked away from the Inn
in an inebriated sway.

In the car
where she said she was raped,
I don't remember
if I were lifted gently from her legs
or shoved up to her waist
with trembling hands
or pressed by desire
against the heaving
want and weight
of desperate men.
I don't remember if they nestled
their need into my neckline
as they drooled into her cleavage,
if they even did, indeed.

After whatever happened,
once at home,
I was taken off
and hung like a scarecrow
in her bedroom.
She called the police
to say that she'd been beaten
and raped and the detectives
came to take her statement,
but Detective Bill Furtado
and his partner George Harbottle
did not inspect me much,
hanging in her room.
Only much later was I scrutinized
whereupon they found but a tiny blood
spot and a bit of soil.
Nothing more.
I remained green.
Was clean.

I don't know when it happened,
maybe this part
folded into my imagination,
but some months later,
I was stripped from the hanger,
and stomped on, in anger.
Torn across the bodice,
I was dragged out
and taken to the backyard
where I was hung and set on fire.
Burned in effigy.

“It ain’t in effigy I wanna burn ’em
but in the flesh, real bones, covered in dark skins.
The papers didn’t give her name, jus said ‘a beautiful
young woman, cultured and of gentle bearing.’ For
sure she was white and raped. We wouldn’t stand for
that where I come from.“

That’s what my buddy said.
Maybe he’s right.

My own blood boiled seeing them
black boys right on top—on top, mind you—
of white girls.
Even on surf boards it still ain’t right,
skin on skin.
On the beach they’re laughin’
strummin’ ukuleles, singin’, smilin’,
oh, yes, smilin’.

And then those colored girls here
don’t act polite. You say hello, they look
right through you like you not even there.
At home no girl treated me that way.

This ain’t no dreamy Hawaii,
no joy zone. The movies lie.
Things ain’t right here. Color’ds
don’t know their place.

We heard the Admiral called them rapists,
sordid people, brutes and hoodlums.
Two of them are even from that orange race,
the one they say we gonna fight one day.

My buddy told me I jus had no guts because
I didn’t wanna go down to the jail to burn ’em.
Then he shoves the paper in my face, “Read those names.
Ida, Chang, Kahahawai, Takai, Ahakuelo.
What are they? Not American.“

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