How it All [Kinda] Began

Forever Poi, the fourth in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series, has taken much [much!] longer than anticipated.  But there were extenuating circumstances truly not in my control, so I’ll just count my blessings and offer gratitude to the Great Power that is that it’s nearly there.  Hurrah!!!!!

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I went for another final edit (#23), but glad I did—found a couple of “flaws”.  You read and review, scrutinize and consider, yet you still don’t necessarily always catch those wily little buggers  As writers, we often see what we think is there and sometimes what’s not there.  This is a good reason to have someone else take a gander—new [fresh] eyes, that sort of thing.

I thought I’d go back and share when JJ, Rey and Linda seriously [or not] discussed the possibility of becoming Hawaiian private eyes.

And speaking of time, it was hard to believe that the Connecticut Caper—as Rey laughingly called it—had happened nearly a month ago. Yet in some ways, it felt like a year. The entire episode seemed dreamlike and distant.

I dropped onto the only piece of furniture I’d purchased for the Brentwood apartment so far: a beautiful two-piece leather sleeper sectional sofa that set me back a lot more than budgeted for. But it would serve as a perfect focus piece and last for years, and I wasn’t planning on being that extravagant with anything else. It rested to the side of a large deep-set fixed window with solid panel shutters. Sitting here, I could gaze four stories below onto a lush courtyard with two burbling fountains.

Christmas was around the corner and it felt strange to not have my nephew Quincy racing around, trying new seasonal recipes, or sticking Quincy-would-like gift suggestions in obvious places. The first week of December, Mom usually had the B&B decorated with lights, holly and ivy, and a couple of tinsel-trimmed Christmas trees. A stunning silver menorah rested on the dining room sidebar for Jewish friends and guests.

I’d made a move to California. Sold all belongings, put the Wilmington condo up for sale, packed clothes, and wondered what I’d gotten myself into besides a three-day weather-forecasting job at a local community television station. I’d have to find other work, of course, if we didn’t make money serving as professional sleuths (which I had doubts about), but it was a start. Rey was planning on getting the detective agency going in the next month or so.

Yes, that was correct: detective agency. Back at the Moone manse, as the three of us were packing and making promises to stay in touch, Rey had revealed a plan that she’d been considering since May-Lee had been wheeled away: opening a private investigation agency in California. To make her happy and keep me sane for the remainder of the brief stay, I’d said I’d consider the wild notion that seemed as probable as a Minnesota drought in January. But somewhere and somehow over the weeks, I’d decided maybe it wasn’t that wild after all.

Even Linda had gotten caught up in Rey’s enthusiasm. I wasn’t quite sure how to inform them about California’s strict licensure. They’d be devastated to learn they weren’t going to be private investigators any time soon. Among other things, we’d need a combination of education in police science, criminal law or justice, experience equaling three years or 6,000 hours, and to pass a criminal history background check. Oh yes, we’d also have to receive a qualifying score on a two-hour written exam. It was surprising that Rey hadn’t yet discovered that; or maybe she had and had simply refused to accept facts. In any event, at present, in addition to scouting offices, my cousin had signed up for a business course. Kudos to eager and determined Cousin Reynalda.

The drive back from Connecticut had afforded Adwin and I time to talk about life, goals and objectives, feelings and family. By the time we’d reached Wilmington, we’d decided that moving in together was probably not a great thing. We truly weren’t that compatible or in sync, and that was fine we both acknowledged. I loved Adwin, and he loved me, but in the grand scheme of things we weren’t really a romantic couple or marriage material; we were more of a buddy-bud duo. We’d remain in touch and he’d visit California, and I’d see him—and Fred—whenever I returned to North Carolina. We’d take the odd vacation together. Pledges were made and, with a bit of luck, they’d be kept.

I stretched bare legs onto the sofa, and sipped mango nectar from a bottle via a straw. It was thick and sweet and perfect for the sunny weather outside, and seemed to work well with little, decadent mouthfuls of a Red Velvet cupcake I was enjoying. I’d been off sweets since Connecticut—hadn’t wanted to see another cookie to save my life, but this morning, after a three-mile power walk, I’d dropped by Suzee-Sooz’s Cupcake Houz and bought the sinfully delicious treat that was nearly the size of a soccer ball. (Okay, a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much.)

“Hey you.” The door opened with a bang.

“Hey yourself and watch it. I don’t want to buy a new door, thank you,” I groused, watching Rey all but dance into the small L-shaped living room, Linda in tow.

Both were dressed in the same Chip & Pepper jeans and similar Aloha shirts. While Linda sported colorful Converse runners, Rey wore strappy sandals. I half expected them to have the same polish on their toes and fingers. Maybe they’d both been deprived of high school friendships and were making up for missed girly-girl BFF moments.

I looked back at the shirts. Hawaiian wasn’t Rey or Linda’s usual taste. Oh-oh.

“What’s up ladies?” I asked suspiciously, putting my drink aside but keeping the cupcake on my lap. I suspected I’d be needing sugar-enhanced comfort momentarily.

Linda closed the door and followed Rey. They leaned into the kitchen counter comprised of pretty pale blue and dusty rose ceramic tiles. I liked the cozy, bright kitchen, but why did I suddenly suspect I’d not be enjoying it for long?

Rey moved into melodramatic mode. “The licensing requirements to become private eyes in California are tough.”

“We’d don’t have the qualifications or background,” Linda affirmed.

Oddly, neither looked deflated or upset. I smiled dryly and said nothing.

“I know, you’re thinking that our detecting days are over before they’ve even begun.”

Not really, but I eyed Rey expectantly.

“They’re not!” she announced gleefully, hanging an arm around her friend’s shoulders. “Guess what?”

“I couldn’t even begin to,” I responded wryly, gazing from one to the other.

Rey grinned. “We’re going to become…”

“Hawaiian P.I.s!” Linda finished with a jubilant grin.

“Pack your bags, Jilly!”

The Red Velvet cupcake caught Rey in the middle of the forehead.

An index finger sporting neon blue polish removed some of the frosting clinging to her brow. She licked it and smiled. “Delicious. Mahalo.”

Should all go well, Forever Poi will be available around the beginning of August.

Aloha, my friends.