I. HAWAIIAN CHRISTMAS CAROL
OR, HOW DA F**KIN' HAOLES STOLE KALIKIMAKA
AND A MIRACLE ON HOTEL STREET
It's A Wonderful Life, Eh, Braddah? Spare Change?
(Part One of a Series)
Little Holly shivered in the doorway of a crack-den slash peep-show just off Hotel Street in Chinatown. It was almost fifty degrees out, as cold as it ever gets in Honolulu. Holly was wearing her work-clothes, a soiled man's white T-shirt tied up above her non-existent belly, torn short-shorts pulled all the way up into her crack, and over-sized flip-flop slippahs. Nothing else against the cold and rain. But it was really the lack of cocaine that was getting to her.
The Holidays, though almost invisible in Buddhist Hawaii, were bad for business. Even the least skanky crack-whore could barely do enough johns to buy a teeny little rock. The johns just weren't out there in the cold rain on Christmas Eve. The cops were, but they never paid for it, and they might even bust a girl, if she didn't give it up nicely. Either way, it didn't help to have them on the stroll, cruising around all pissed off because they had to work the holiday. Even if it wasn't their holiday.
Holly may not have been the least skanky ho in Chinatown at the moment. (It's a long time between showers when you're homeless.) But she was always the most beautiful. Actually, she was the only beauty among the bruised, beaten, sick, homeless and misshapen filles de joie downtown. Even in the tourist enclave of Waikiki, among the pro's imported from the Mainland, "Holly the Ho" would have stood out, if she took a shower, washed her hair, and put on a nice dress and high heels. But that would have required a home, or at least a place to bathe. And clothes, which she would have sold or traded for crack in a heartbeat anyway. It's hard out there for a crack cocaine addicted teenage whore.
Still, it was Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year, right? Holly had to take that on faith, which she didn't have a lot left of. Her memories of the holidays tended towards brutal beatings of her dishrag Mom, followed by brutal rapes of her little brother and herself by their Dad, the police captain. That was mostly all she remembered from her middle-class existence, abandoned at the age of fifteen, when she ran away from upscale Lanikai, almost three years ago. Brief interludes of television fantasy were all Holly really had of the true spirit of Christmas. It all amounted to another feeling of emptiness, right next to the hole in her crack addiction, and the one in her belly. She hadn't eaten for days.
A car slowed down on Smith Street, and beeped the horn. Holly flip-flopped over there quick as she could. There were two Local males in the front seat. She asked if they wanted a date. They asked how much. She said $50, each. They laughed, and then the one in the passenger seat squirted a beer right in her face. He must have been shaking it up while they talked. The driver sped away, laughing.
The beer dripped down Holly's face. It tasted good. It was the first food she'd had all week. She wished they'd thrown the bottle. But now she was drenched in beer, and it stank. She stood in the chilly rain for a while, hoping it might wash away the beer. It didn't. It seemed to spread the beer all over her. She would have cried if she wasn't so numb, and tired, and pretty much used to it all. A radio upstairs in one of the tenements nearby was playing "It's A Holly Jolly Christmas."
Holly lay down in the middle of the street and just passed out. She hadn't slept in days, and it finally hit her. She lay there for a good ten minutes. One or two cars swerved to avoid her. Then one stopped. It was a Chuckie Cab, a big Cadillac. The driver, a large stupid-looking white guy in one of the company's trademarked lava-puke bowling shirts got out and knelt down beside her. She was so out of it she didn't even stir when he shook her. It was as if she were dead already. She didn't react at all when he picked her up and put her in the back seat of his cab and drove off. Nobody did. He could have taken young Holly up to the pineapple fields, raped, murdered and buried her, and no one would ever have known, or cared. It wouldn't have been the first time a young girl went to fertilize the sweet & sour fruit.
Instead, the driver, whose name was Kris, took Holly to his crappy little apartment on the edge of Waikiki, down by the zoo. You could smell the elephant shit when the wind was right, and hear the monkeys screaming. It was a cramped tiny hot-box of a place, up on the fifth floor of a walk-up, nasty and dirty like Kris himself. He parked his cab in his spot under the building, slung Holly over his shoulder and carried her up to the apartment. Mrs. Yamamoto gave him a dirty look as he passed her apartment. But she always did that. She'd hated haole's since her days in a Midwestern internment camp, as a little girl. Kris put Holly in his own bed, debating with himself whether he should remove her clothing. He decided not to. He turned off the lights, and went into the other room.
Kris got a quart of eggnog out of the fridge and sniffed it. Not too bad. He took a swig and winced. Even fresh, it was foul stuff. Like pumpkin pie, it got dragged out every year at this time, though no one really liked it. Like fruitcake and mince pie. Why? Kris had no idea.
He took the quart of eggnog into the bedroom and turned on the light. Holly was still lying there just as he had put her, her mouth open now, snoring gently. Even like that, she looked like a young Katherine Hepburn. That was what had struck Kris about her. He couldn't figure out why she was so familiar, at first. Then he remembered admiring the young actress in some very old movie. "Bring Up Baby," maybe? The one with the tiger. Or was it a leopard? It was always on that black & white movie channel on basic cable.
Kris stood staring at Holly's beautiful face and sipping the execrable egg-nogg. Christmas, he thought. Is she supposed to be my present? Show me a sign, God. Somewhere an elephant farted. Kris turned off the bedroom light, closed the door and went out into the kitchen slash living room slash office slash storage place and sat on the only chair. It was a comfortable recliner that he often passed out in. It was all cloth, and stank of his sweat. Kris thought about going back out to work, but he felt tired, suddenly. He'd been working non-stop for two days, trying to raise his cab-rent and his apartment-rent and his furniture-rent and all of his other expenses. Even being poor in Honolulu costs a lot of money. But he fell asleep. It was Christmas Eve. Joy to the world, the Savior is born.
[ PART TWO copyright 2008 Cosa Nostradamus.]
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