Tuesday, December 2, 2014

At the End of the Rainbow (Part 3)

After some time conversing in the building, the two ladies decided to walk to Don Quijote together, since it was only just across the street. This was part of their Thursday routine—they would take one shopping cart between them and shop together while they talked, although sometimes they would walk in silence and observe the tourists, or the young couples with rings in their faces and hair bleached and dyed like orange skunks, or the line of taxi drivers squatting and smoking in front of the building. On some days, the sky would be flawless and blue and the sun wouldn’t be too hot, and on those days, the ladies told each other they felt strong, 20 years younger. Today, after finishing their circuit around the supermarket, they knew without telling each other that it was a strong day. There was a McDonald’s several blocks from their building and so they decided that, since it was still breakfast time, they would get pancakes and Portuguese sausage and a coffee.
Alice took Dorothy’s arm and, shooing the pigeons gathering around the rubbish can, helped her climb the short incline that led to the door of the McDonald’s. After ordering, they moved to the back of the lobby to wait for their food, and as they waited a teenager rushed through the crowd, striking Dorothy like a glittering bolt of metallic lightning. After checking that Dorothy wasn’t hurt, Alice realized that it wasn’t a teenager at all. It was Mrs. Kim.
Including her garishly bouffant hairstyle, Mrs. Kim stood a full six inches shorter than Dorothy. She was a neighbor that the friends saw regularly, although she had only lived in the building for about seven or eight years. Where she came from they could only speculate, although they often joked that she was a spy sent to watch the American military in Hawaii. Mrs. Kim always seemed to be in a hurry, they had never heard her speak, and she always wore a pair of fit-over sunglasses, even indoors, which made it impossible to know if she saw or recognized them.
“Hello, Mrs. Kim!” called Alice loudly, so that it was impossible for Mrs. Kim to ignore her. She stopped, and coming about-face, stared up at the friends from behind the black shield resting on her nose. Alice and Dorothy nodded their heads, and Mrs. Kim also nodded. She turned her back to the two friends, and then pulled a large plastic cup from her purse and filled it with tea from the beverage station. Then, after grabbing a handful of napkins and ketchup packets, marched out of the front door towards the bus stop, her shiny gold and magenta tracksuit audibly swooshing, even in the buzzing crowd. Dorothy and Alice laughed aloud, taking the tray of food to a corner table to eat.
After finishing breakfast, the friends slowly descended the ramp to the sidewalk on Keeaumoku Street, where Dorothy spotted her neighbor, the tall haole boy, with a girl she often saw him with, who she assumed to be his girlfriend. The couple was holding hands at the curb, apparently waiting for the bus.
Mite, my neighbor,” Dorothy said fondly to Alice. “He’s a good boy, look at him. Good manners, and smart. He choose Japanese girl to marry. They going to have good life.”
Alice studied the pair and nodded. “Yes, you right. Come on, the light going to change. Let’s cross the street.”
The two friends passed the haole boy. Then, wriggling like a mongoose from a dumpster, out of the crowd in front of them came Mrs. Kim followed by a woman they often saw her with, Mrs. Lee, who was using a large umbrella as a cane. Ignoring them, Mrs. Kim and her sidekick made for the curb at the bus stop where the haole boy and his girlfriend stood. The couple was looking up the road and, having noticed the bus coming, stepped to the very edge of the curb in order to be the first to board. Mrs. Kim saw the bus too, and walked to the edge of the street, her white sneakers hanging dangerously over the curb into the heavy traffic. Glancing sidelong at the haole boy, she then inched towards him until she was so close she leaned on his hip.
“Eh, mite!” cried Dorothy, exasperated. “She pushing him so she first! That haole boy, he has good manners, I know he will let her go first but he should not.”
“Hoo. We’ll see,” said Alice coolly.
Although Mrs. Kim was focused on the approaching bus, for some reason she couldn’t resist a peek at the giant next to her. She leaned forward, her gaze fixed to her left, then slowly she looked right and up, up, up to try to glimpse the top of the huge haole. Just at that moment, however, a sudden gust of wind blew the teal visor off her head and onto the pavement. Mrs. Lee, who had been watching a couple arguing in the parking lot behind her, was startled and suddenly wheeled about. Unfortunately for Mrs. Kim, Mrs. Lee had propped her umbrella on her shoulder and, as soon as she turned, it smacked Mrs. Kim in the face, knocking her glasses off and sending her to the pavement. Shocked, Mrs. Lee struggled to help Mrs. Kim to her feet as the bus hissed, halted, and the haole boy and his girlfriend disappeared up the stairs and into the throng of rowdy kids, tourists, and weirdos. The bus closed its doors and groaned onward in the direction of the mall.
The two friends chuckled as they crossed the street, arm in arm.
“What I tell you? That is a good boy,” said Dorothy proudly.
“Eh, you right,” Alice agreed.
“You know, something interesting always happen when we go outside. I like always go outside. I ken not stay home and watch TV.”
“No, I don’t like,” said Alice absently. She was concentrating on watching the traffic signal so the pair could cross safely.
“I like—I like to go out. Watch the handsome man.”
“Yes, yes.”
“But no handsome man here!”
“Oh, I see handsome man,” said Alice after some vague consideration. “Not today, but sometime.”
Dorothy paused as the pair stopped for a car exiting the parking lot of an apartment building. “What about that haole boy we see?”
“What haole? I see too many haoles everyday,” laughed Alice, the wrinkles gathering in her eyes.
“No no, you see him, he is our neighbor. You remember. He is handsome and has manners too.”
“Hoo, yes. He is not my type, but I understand if someone say he handsome. He look like singer.” She laughed again. “I don’t like that kine man.”
The friends approached the building and Dorothy felt at the strap of her white purse. She pulled the flap and retrieved the gate key, handing it to Alice to let them in. Alice held the door for Dorothy, who shuffled into the lobby and pushed the elevator button.
“Take it easy!” Dorothy called to Alice, who had gone to get her copy of the free newspaper. “That’s what I going to do.”
She entered the elevator with the handyman. “My on fourteen,” she said, and he pushed the button for her.

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