I’m all mixed up. What’s happening with my life? I’m sitting here alone in our rental car and Gary’s inside a pizza place using the phone. I can’t see him talking. I don’t want to see him talking. He said he was going to call our Aunt Halani and try to find out why she’s so upset.
I told him it’s all because of me. It’s obvious. She was pointing right at me. Yelling things in Hawaiian that meant something bad. I’ve never had anyone act that way towards me in my whole life. Everything that’s happened to me in the last couple of weeks is all new. I don’t feel like I’m dealing with all of it very well. Especially now.
Gary is pretty upset too. He apologized to me over and over before he got out of the car. It seems like he thinks this is his fault. I don’t blame him for it. He was just trying to show me where our family is from. How could he know that my Tutu’s sister would act that way? Everything started out fine and then she just snapped.
I didn’t know what the words she was saying meant and Gary didn’t either. Once he got out of the car, I googled the words I remembered her saying. Lapu and akua she said over and over. They both mean devil, ghost, or spirit depending on which translation you go with. I looked at all of the first page’s search results because I didn’t believe it at first.
So my grandma’s sister, who I don’t remember ever meeting, starts yelling that I’m a devil or ghost in Hawaiian after she’s known me for 30 seconds? I don’t understand. Why would she treat me that way? Why would she say those things?
Gary just walked out of the pizza shop. He’s walking towards the car now.
Gary opened the driver’s side door and sat down with a thud.
“Aaaaahhhhhh,” Gary says in a frustrated exhale.
“What’d she say?” I ask. I’m not sure I really want to know.
Gary pauses for what seems like way longer than he should.
“Gary?” I say. “Are you going to tell me?”
“Well, I already looked up what she was saying,” I tell him. “Those words she was calling me. So, don’t worry, I already kind of know.”
“You did?” Gary asks.
“Yeah, I only remembered lapu and akua,” I tell him. “I forgot the rest, she was talking too fast.”
“Josie,” Gary says with another long exhale. “I don’t know what’s going on here. I’m just as confused as you are.”
“Well, what did she say?” I ask again.
“I’m just gonna be honest,” he says. “She doesn’t want you in her house and she doesn’t want to see you again.”
I sit for a moment trying to absorb that my great aunt hates me.
“What did I do, Gary?” I ask, my voice cracking.
“I don’t think you did anything,” he says gently. “She seems to think you’ve got… you’ve got something in you. Or on you. She called it a traveler.”
“A traveler?” I ask. I’m stunned now. This lady must be crazy.
“She said she felt it when she touched you,” he says. “She said she felt it wanting to jump into her. Or onto her. That’s why she says you can’t come back.”
I’m reeling now, I guess you would call it. My body is bobbing back and forth in the passenger seat of our KIA rental car. I feel dizzy. I can’t think straight. And my stomach is hurting so bad again. I can’t think of anything to say.
“Josie?” Gary asks. “Are you OK?”
“I don’t know,” I say. “I don’t know.”
“Josie,” Gary says with hesitation. “I think this might have something to do with the man. The man you keep seeing.”
My brain takes in the information, “the man,” as odd and out of place in this conversation. But then in a split second, it makes sense. That stupid man. That stupid man from Gary’s show that won’t let me be.
“I think you’re right,” I whisper.
“You do?” Gary asks.
He’s surprised at my response.
“What else could it be, Gary?” I say.
Everything is starting to come together now. The man running into me at Gary’s show. Then showing up in the car with me, and punching me in the stomach in the kitchen. I saw him in my dream on the plane. He’s hanging around me still. I can’t see him but maybe Halani can. Maybe he’s sitting right next to me. Or … right on me.
“Gary,” I whisper. “What are we going to do?”
“I asked Halani that,” he says. “She doesn’t want to get involved. I pushed her, though. Tried to make her feel bad. I didn’t know what else to do. I brought up my mom and told her no one’s around anymore who can help us.”
Gary sits back and rests his head on top of the head rest. He’s too tall to benefit from using the head rest the way you’re supposed to.
“So, will she help us?” I ask him.
“No,” he says. “She told me that if we find someone who practices Huna they might be able to help us.”
“What’s Huna?” I ask him. “Is that religious or something?”
“It’s not a religion,” Gary says. “It’s hard to explain and I don’t even know that much about it. It’s more like a spiritual practice.”
Neither Gary or I are religious. I wouldn’t even call us spiritual. I don’t really think about stuff like that.
“Do you know anyone who does Huna?” I ask him.
“No,” he says. “But it shouldn’t be that hard to find someone. We’re in the middle of Hawaii. I bet if I ask around, I can at least figure out which direction to go in.”
We both sit in silence for several minutes.
“Gary, what are we going to do when we find this Huna person?” I ask him. “Are we going to tell them everything about the man? Everything?”
“I think we have to, Josie,” he says reluctantly. “How else are we going to help you?”
I’m thinking it over and I guess I agree with him. Nothing has been right since I first saw the man. And it seems like everything is getting worse. I’m still in pain. I’m confused. I don’t feel like myself and my great aunt is afraid enough of being around me that she called me a devil and threw me out of her house. Could things actually get worse? I wonder to myself. And then a voice in the back of my head answers. Yes, they could get worse.
“I want to do it, Gary,” I tell him. “Let’s try to find someone who can help me. Maybe if I can get help, Halani will see me again.”
“I wouldn’t count on that, Josie,” Gary says softly. “She made that pretty clear.”
“Ok,” I say. “Well, maybe at least I’ll feel better.”
“Maybe,” he says. “You stay here. I’ll start at the pizza shop. The owner’s in there and was pretty cool. I’ll see if he knows anyone.”
“Well, should I come with you?” I ask.
“Just wait here and relax,” he says. “You’ve been through a lot today. I’ll be right back.”